Selling new or used clothes online can be a profitable niche for many businesses. But there is no doubt about it, you need to have an eye for detail, bargains and trends, and sourcing your products can be time consuming.
Whatever your approach, you have plenty of options when it comes to choosing where to sell your clothes online. There are now a multitude of apps and websites used by professional clothing sellers, each with their own loyal base of fashion-conscious buyers.
In the past, eBay was often the go-to marketplace for clothes sellers, but it may no longer be your best option. So, in this article I am going to discuss some alternative marketplaces for selling clothes, and outline the key features of each.
Where can you buy clothes to sell profitably online?
For those who are passionate about fashion and have an instinct for what will sell, making money selling clothes online can seem like a dream come true. But, whether you are looking to sell new, designer or vintage products, how and where you source your merchandise is crucial.
When it comes to used fashion, some businesses look for hidden gems at flea markets and thrift stores. Another approach is to buy clothing bundles, through sites like eBay, Facebook and Craigslist, then sort and price individual products for resale. Selling used clothes may sound like it could only ever be a side business, but some really large companies operate in this area, such as Germany’s ubup.
Some professional sellers take advantage of end-of-season sales, buying up overstocked items and holding onto them until the season comes round again the next year. What’s in style one season might not be in style the next, so there is a relatively large element of risk here.
Buying up limited edition items is another approach, as the price can jump up almost instantly for cult streetwear brands like Supreme. By following news of limited edition “drops” at retail stores and arriving very early, sellers can pick up items that will sell online for many times the retail price.
Once you have sourced your products you will need to choose a suitable platform to sell them on. There are many options and you need to choose the one to best suit your needs. Here are some of the more high profile marketplaces for selling clothes online:
At a glance
Sellers can incorporate their own branding
Global base of “twenty-something fashion lovers”
Difficult to get a boutique approved
£20 set fee per month, and 20% fee on sales
Large catalog of globally recognizable brands
Community events known as “Posh Parties”
Fee of 20% of the listed price, $2.95 min
Pre-paid postage labels and mail via USPS
Recommended pricing feature
19.8% commission fee on sales over $50
Pre-paid postage labels and mail via USPS
Returns are sent direct to Tradesy
Pre-owned high-end designer items
Banded fee structure, $26 minimum
Sellers send items to Vestiaire Collective
Concierge selling service available
Peer to peer shopping app
Lower end of price range
Fees are 10% of sales price
Seller responsible for shipping
Men’s clothing only
Affordable to higher end clothing
6% commission fee
Money back guarantee for buyers and sellers
ASOS launched its marketplace in 2010. The marketplace is aimed specifically at professional sellers and is now home to nearly 800 boutiques from around the world. ASOS has a varied seller base. Buyers will find plenty of vintage wear, but ASOS also work alongside new, independent brands and artisan sellers. The consumer audience are “twenty-something fashion lovers”.
Sellers must apply to become a boutique seller on ASOS Marketplace. ASOS only accept a small percentage of those that apply and they require evidence of successful selling experience. Feedback will be given if you are not successful and you may apply again in the future. Once an account is approved, sellers can set up a boutique and are allocated an account manager.
As you might expect the criteria for sellers is quite rigid, especially when it comes to photographic standards and listing volumes. Vintage sellers are required to have 20 active listings a month; independent brands and multi-brand sellers must maintain 15 active listings a month. However, there is the option of holiday mode should a seller need to take a break from selling clothes online.
ASOS charges a set subscription of £20 (approx. $26) a month, and a 20% commission when an item sells.
Shoppers will find many globally recognizable fashion brands on Poshmark. The site has a catalog of more than 5,000 brands and 25 million listings, and is available in the United States only. With Poshmark, you can sell new or used clothes online.
To get started, sellers use the Poshmark mobile app to photograph and list their items ready for sale. Once a sale has been completed, sellers print off a pre-paid postage label and either mail it via a USPS mailbox or arrange a collection.
Listings are free. Sales under $15 attract a flat rate $2.95 fee. Sales of $15 or more are charged at 20% of the listed price.
Tradesy is designed for selling designer clothes online. Sellers set their own prices but the site has a recommended pricing feature which reduces research and ensures items are priced realistically. Tradesy is available in the United States only.
Sellers need to download the Tradesy app, take their photos, create a listing, and the item will become available for sale.
When a sale is completed, sellers pack it up and mail via USPS using a free shipping kit, or wait for it to be collected.
There are no listing fees at Tradesy, however, sellers pay a 19.8% commission fee on any sale over $50. Withdrawals are subject to a 2.9% transfer fee.
This site focuses on luxury pre-owned designer clothes and accessories.
Sellers download the app and list items from there. When an item of clothing is sold online, the seller ships it to Vestiaire Collective using a prepaid shipping label, where the item will be authenticated and then sent to the buyer.
Vestiaire charge a minimum of $26 per item plus a percentage of the sales price on a sliding scale ranging from 34% to 18%.
When the item is shipped to the buyer, the payment is processed. Funds are transferred to the seller’s bank account or PayPal twice a month.
Another option is to use the concierge service and let the site do the selling, mailing, photography and pricing. This option is more expensive, but it might be attractive for some sellers.
Headquartered in London, Depop has been described as a peer-to-peer social shopping app. Prices are mainly on the lower end of the scale, and casual clothing dominates.
Sellers list clothes for sale online using the app. Listing is free, and payments are made via PayPal, less a 10% commission fee.
The seller is responsible for shipping the item directly to the buyer.
Grailed is one of the few clothes selling sites that focus purely on men’s clothing. There is a mix of affordable and higher-end clothes for sale online, organized into four main sections.
Buyers make an offer on items which the seller can then accept or counter. Sellers can accept as many offers as they like, then whoever pays first gets the item. Commissions are paid via PayPal, and funds are released into the seller’s account once tracking information is uploaded.
Shipping costs are included in offers from potential buyers, and if the item is purchased through the buy it now option, shipping is included in the final sale price. Sellers can edit shipping costs in each of their listings.
The commission fee is 6% plus PayPal fees. Grailed offer a money-back guarantee for both buyers and sellers.
Which site should you choose to sell clothes online?
Choosing the right platform to sell clothes online is one of the many decisions you need to make. You will need to consider the type of clothes you are selling, your listing volume, your customer type and more to decide which marketplace suits your business the best.
Diversification is great too. Try out different platforms to see how your sales and profit margins develop. Just be careful not to oversell, particularly if you list one-of-a-kind items on multiple marketplaces.
While Amazon and eBay dominate the online marketplace arena in many product categories, your options for selling clothes online are much more open. Research, experiment and find the best fit for you and your business.