This is the first of two posts about selling clothes online. This post will focus on some basics of selling your clothes online (and buying clothes online too!), and the next post will include more in-depth reviews of the two tools I use, Poshmark and Tradesy. If you want to join those sites, please let me know and I send you an invitation which will give YOU extra spending cash and me a bonus as well :D.
Where to start?!
First, what brought you here? Why sell one’s clothes online?
For me, I am obsessed with decluttering and also have a more limited budget since I returned to graduate school a few years ago. Why not declutter my closet while making money from what I was getting rid of? I find a lot of women are interested in decluttering, which I think is an extension of nesting and trying to control the immediate environment around us.
If one is interested in seriously decluttering one’s life, may I suggest Marie Kondo’s best seller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. There are many blog posts about it. I have not completed the full process (which can take months), but have begun. The woman really gets into the psychology of clutter. There are several articles about how this decluttering approach, called the KonMarie method, has fueled donations to Goodwill and Salvation Army, as well as contributed lots of goods to the growing online clothing resale and consignment space.
So decluttering is awesome, but why not instead of selling clothes online…
Why not donate clothes?
I believe donating clothes is a wonderful thing to do, and I still do it on occasion. If we’re all honest, it’s also the most convenient thing to do: When you are moving, you get to bring some big bags over to Goodwill or Salvation Army and then not have to think about it again. I fully support those organizations and buy from them as well (I got a great dresser for my dining room a few months ago for a nice price). That being said, those organizations receive many more bags of Stuff than they can sell (which is usually how they make money), and a variety of things may happen to the items, including being shipping to second or third world countries (where the clothing competes with local textile industries) or being sold to produce insulation or furniture filling (do you really think someone is going to buy your t-shirt from junior high?). There are many articles that discuss this, but this one from 2002 really brings the point home: How Susie Bayer’s T-Shirt Ended Up on Yusuf Mama’s Back. I sell some clothes online because I know they are going to someone who wants and will use the item, which gives some sort of lovely order to the world. I also feel less guilty buying a new dress if I sold two or three items already in my closet to get it!
Okay, so what are the basics of selling clothes online?
Each website sells it’s own experience. Understanding the personality of each site will help you find the best one to sell and/ or buy at.
These are businesses, so this is not just about you selling your clothes online, but people also need to buy clothes so that the business takes a percent of the sale as profit. I should also clarify some terms. Online consignment specifically refers to turning over your goods temporarily and having the company sell the item for you, only after which you will receive money for your item. Think old school consignment shops. Peer-to-peer is when you sell directly to another person, with the company providing the platform to do this. Think eBay.
There are almost as many models for selling clothes online as there are companies facilitating this, and some are neither “consignment” nor peer-to-peer, and will buy items from you directly, or have a hybrid approach. I will go over specific sites later.
So online clothing resale is becoming big business, with businesses taking a cut of the sale, so how do they make real money from people reselling their old wares? DESIGNER, BABY. I am now much aware of the subtleties of Louboutin soles, Hervé Leger stitching, and Louis Vuitton leather styles than I was a year ago (hey, I need to give my mind a break from thinking about planetary atmosphere experiments sometime!)
Just to be clear, you do NOT need to have designer wares to sell clothes online. There are plenty of people like me who have more Ann Taylor than Phillip Lim in their closets. Just realize that the online resale space is largely geared towards this, because that is how they make their money. This brings me to how this industry is making such big business: Each website sells it’s own experience. Understanding the personality of each site will help you find the best one to sell and/ or buy at.
Also, many individuals are making a living by selling clothes through these websites and acquire their inventory by buying items wholesale for manufacturers or buying items for very low prices at local used clothing stores. That’s not my personal interest, as this is a side activity for me, but it’s out there if you want to research more.
Some basics on selling clothes
- You can sell new or used clothes, but try to makes the items as fresh as possible, like you would give a good friend.
- NWT means “new with tags”. If you have the tags on the item, be sure to label it NWT to get more money.
- For high items like designer shoes or purses, save receipts, tags, and original packaging to increase the resale price and as partial evidence of authenticity.
- Be ready to ship items within a day or two of receiving an order.
- Take lots of pictures, ideally wearing the item if it looks good on you. The pictures sell the item!
- If the website allows counter offers to your price, price the item higher than you want to sell. People will usually offer you a lower price than listed.
Some basics on buying clothes
- Don’t be afraid to buy ‘used’ clothes online– there are actually lots of NEW clothes online that people bought and never used, so want to sell. Sometimes people just wore things once or twice.
- I’m admittedly more nervous about buying shoes on a clothing resale site, but to each her own, and again some people buy shoes but never use them and then its too late to return them.
- Know your SIZE and stick to brands you buy a lot of clothes from if you are curious.
- Buy items where they show pictures of the ACTUAL item, NOT only a stock photo. Some people buy items in bulk and the end item is not as nice as the stock item.
- Look for warning signs: Do they sell multiple of the same items or a lot of high end items but it’s not clear how a person could own that much? Personally, I prefer to buy things from seller’s that are not buying items in bulk or are not just buying from a local consignment place and selling for a higher price. I want to know the history of the item, not have it be 3rd or 4th hand.
- Know the website’s return policy: This is HUGE.
- Know the website’s authentication process for high-end designer items. A guarantee of authenticity is NOT the same as having the item authenticated by the company; rather, it just means that you get a refund if you (on your own) figure out if the item is counterfeit.
- Don’t be afraid to ask the seller questions about the item, even as simple as “are there any stains or defects”– that way you have a record that you asked!