Given enough time and the right tools, reselling clothing online can become a profitable side job or even a full-time job. But before you start selling online, consider recurring costs like shipping labels, storage, and fees from the reseller app and payment processor you use. Other factors like communicating with buyers, taking high-quality photos, and promoting your items on social media can take your business to the next level. The most successful online resellers rely on their personal style and invest time to keep customers coming back.
With the recent rise of resale apps like Depop and Poshmark, the idea of selling old clothes online is catching on. Many people have turned clothing reselling into a lucrative side job or even a full-time job, gaining thousands of followers and making dozens of sales per week.
The secondhand clothing market is projected to more than triple by 2030, according to a 2021 study by resale platform Mercari and research firm GlobalData, as more fashion enthusiasts clean out their closets and search thrift stores to find valuable pieces to resell.
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But whether you have a collection of band t-shirts or office wear, finding success on these platforms takes time and effort. Before you dive into your closet, there are a few things you need to know.
YOU SET YOUR PRICES
Unlike consignment and resale shops, you can price items yourself on an online platform. Before listing an item of clothing, search for it on multiple platforms to find out what price it is currently selling for. Depending on age, condition, and brand, prices can vary widely.
You can also take advantage of direct messaging to negotiate with shoppers and use features in apps like Depop and Poshmark that let you accept offers and create multi-item discounts.
“Sales can be sporadic,” says Andrés Castillo of Los Angeles, who sells rare designer pieces through Depop, eBay and Instagram under the name Debonair Vintage. With rare or high-value items, it can take a while to find the right buyer, especially if you’re looking to break even or make a profit.
THERE IS A BIG TIME COMMITMENT
“I treat (reselling clothes) like my job,” says Eve Perez, a full-time student in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, who sells under the name Fitsfinesse and was featured in Teen Vogue in 2021 for her Depop success. She responds to messages every day, in addition to taking product photos, sewing custom pieces, and packing and shipping orders.
Clear communication with first-time buyers is essential: “If you don’t build that relationship, then you’re not going to get sales or repeat customers,” he adds.
Although you have control over pricing, reselling online requires much more time and energy than selling at consignment stores. According to Depop, sellers who list consistently (around 15 items per week) sell more over time.
“It takes a lot of time and dedication,” says Castillo. Top sellers need to learn how to take eye-catching photos, understand shipping rates, negotiate over text, and research brands and trends to get the most out of their inventory.
OVERHEAD EXPENSES ARE ADDED
Yes, you can set your prices, but there are some overhead costs to consider. Online reselling platforms charge commission fees, plus additional fees for shipping through the platform or accepting payments through a processor like PayPal. Depop takes 10% of each sale and eBay takes 15%; Poshmark charges $2.95 for items under $15 and 20% for items over $15. PayPal, which integrates with Depop, Poshmark, and eBay, charges another 3.49% plus 49 cents per transaction for payment processing. .
On top of that, you’ll need to pay for packaging, label printing, and possibly inventory storage, including bins, hangers, and shelves. Top sellers also recommend adding a personal touch to shipments, such as free stickers, small accessories, or a thank you note. When all those costs are added up, you may find that only the highest value items are worth listing.
You can cut costs by reusing shipping boxes and envelopes and by printing labels at your local FedEx or UPS store instead of buying a label printer. Or reduce shipping costs for shoppers by bundling multiple items into one shipment, which can motivate shoppers to buy more from your store.
THE SOCIAL ASPECT IS A PRIORITY
The most successful online resellers have one thing in common: a strong personal brand. Finding your niche and building a loyal following is essential to long-term success on a reselling platform.
“It’s like Instagram, but to sell,” says Perez, who focuses on curating a consistent aesthetic and marketing her store on social media platforms like TikTok.
Castillo grew his business by catering to a very specific market: vintage designer collectors, specifically for Moschino and Chanel. She sells through various platforms, using his Instagram to rent pieces to stylists for photo shoots and red carpet events. Although he targets a fairly small community, his narrow focus helps him reach his ideal buyers.
Other top sellers on reselling platforms can be seen taking a similar approach, with store themes ranging from band t-shirts to vintage dresses. “Lean on your personal taste,” says Castillo. Even if you don’t have a curated collection to sell, custom packaging or a unique photographic background can help your items stand out.
Both Pérez and Castillo emphasize the importance of interconnecting social media platforms to reach as many potential customers as possible. Creating a dedicated Instagram Business account and following other sellers and designers online can help attract buyers to your store. Check popular pages for trending hashtags and add them to your posts. Taking the time to promote on social media can help turn your wardrobe into a significant income.
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Dalia Ramírez is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: email@example.com.