With enough time and the right tools, reselling clothes 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 for the reselling app and payment processor you use. Other factors such as 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 marketers lean into their personal style and invest time in building customer loyalty.
With the recent rise of resale apps like Depop and Poshmark, the idea of selling old clothes online is becoming increasingly fashionable. Many people have turned reselling clothes into a lucrative side job or even a full-time job, gaining thousands of followers and making dozens of sales a week.
According to a 2021 study by resale platform Mercari and research firm GlobalData, the second-hand clothing market is expected to more than triple by 2030, 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 outfits, finding success on these platforms takes time and effort. Before diving into your wardrobe, there are a few things to know.
YOU SET YOUR PRICES
Unlike consignment and resale stores, you can set the price of items yourself on an online platform. Before listing an item of clothing, research it on several platforms to find out what price it is currently selling for. Depending on age, condition and brand, prices can vary significantly.
You can also take advantage of direct messaging to negotiate with buyers and use features on apps like Depop and Poshmark that let you accept offers and create discounts on multiple items.
“Sales can be sporadic,” says Andres 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, finding the right buyer can take some time, especially if you’re looking to break even or turn 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 hit Depop. She responds to messages daily, in addition to taking product photos, sewing custom pieces, packing and shipping orders.
Communicating clearly with first-time buyers is key: “If you don’t build that relationship, you won’t get sales and repeat customers,” she adds.
Although you have control over the prices, reselling online takes a lot more time and energy than selling at consignment stores. According to Depop, sellers who list regularly — around 15 items a week — sell more over time.
“It takes a lot of time and dedication,” Castillo says. Top sellers must 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.
OVERHEADS ARE ADDED
Yes, you can set your prices, but there are some overheads to consider. Online reselling platforms charge commission fees, as well as 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 takes $2.95 for items under $15 and 20% for items over $15. PayPal, which integrates with Depop, Poshmark and eBay, charges an additional 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, like free stickers, small accessories, or a thank you note. When all of these costs add up, you may find that only the higher value items are worth listing.
You can save costs by reusing mailers and shipping boxes and printing labels at your local FedEx or UPS store instead of buying a label printer. Or, reduce shipping costs for shoppers by consolidating multiple items into one shipment, which can encourage shoppers to buy more from your store.
THE SOCIAL ASPECT IS A PRIORITY
The most successful online marketers have one thing in common: a strong personal brand. Finding your niche and retaining your audience is critical to long-term success on a reselling platform.
“It’s like Instagram, but to sell,” says Perez, who focuses on maintaining a cohesive aesthetic and marketing her store on social media platforms like TikTok.
Castillo has grown his business by addressing a very specific market: collectors of vintage designers, especially for Moschino and Chanel. He sells on multiple platforms, using his Instagram to rent pieces to stylists for photo shoots and red carpet events. Although it targets a fairly small community, its narrow focus helps it reach its ideal buyers.
Other bestsellers on resale platforms take a similar approach, with boutique themes ranging from band tees to vintage dresses. “Rely on your personal tastes,” says Castillo. Even if you don’t have a curated collection to sell, custom packaging or a unique photo background can help your items stand out.
Both Perez and Castillo emphasize the importance of networking social media platforms to reach as many potential customers as possible. Creating a dedicated Instagram Business account and following other online sellers and designers can help drive 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 serious income.
Dalia Ramirez is a writer at NerdWallet. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.