The Pros and Cons of Reselling Your Old Items Online
When your closets can’t hold any more things, when your kids have outgrown their stuff and when you want some extra cash to use to freshen up your wardrobe, there’s a solution: Sell your clothes and accessories online.
A plethora of sites exist for you to work with: eBay, Poshmark, Mercari, ThredUp and The RealReal are just a few of them. Each features a different fee structure, items they will accept and selling policies — some buy your items outright, some accept them to sell on consignment and keep a share of the proceeds, some allow sellers to post directly and negotiate with buyers. Or, you can control the process and sell to local buyers through platforms such as Facebook Marketplace.
Selling your used clothing and accessories online also will help the environment by diverting tossed aside items from landfills. And the twin benefits are propelling the industry, according to a 2021 report from ThredUp.
The secondhand industry is expected to double in the next five years to $77 billion, the report states. In 2020, there were 36.2 million first-time sellers among the 52.6 million total sellers throughout the year. It’s anticipated there will be 118.8 million future sellers.
In terms of the environment, the ThredUp report said that each year, an estimated 36 billion articles of clothing are tossed in the trash each year — 95% of which could have been reused or recycled. And Gen Z members are fueling the push, too, now thinking about the sustainability and future resale market of clothing when making a new purchase.
Putting cash in your wallet and helping the environment are big benefits of selling your clothes online. Read on for more pros and cons.
The Pros of Online Selling
You won’t sell your stuff at a profit, but quality brands could bring a decent return.
Julie Ramhold, a consumer analyst with DealNews.com, a shopping comparison website, sees the benefits of online sales.
“Something is better than nothing,” she said. “Clothes laying around and taking up space can be a pain, and while it might be nice to just donate them to someone in need, if you’re strapped for cash, you probably want to get at least a little something for your great taste. It might not be much, but selling online does mean the potential of getting something for your clothes rather than just donating them for a tax writeoff, and if you sell enough, those somethings can really add up.”
The number of selling platforms has improved the experience, too, she said.
“It’s relatively easy to do,” Ramhold said. “Years ago if you wanted to sell something online, eBay was basically your only option. These days, that site has been joined by a ton of others, including many that are solely focused on selling gently used, high fashion pieces. … And the more sites that are added, the easier it all becomes. There’s enough competition now that with a little research you can absolutely find a high-rated site to sell your clothing with relative ease, no matter what you’re trying to clear out of your closet.”
While many sellers want to sell on their own, the best online resellers have the marketing infrastructure to make sales easier for those who want to work directly with prospective buyers.
“One of the biggest advantages of using an online marketplace is the fact that you will be quickly connected to a large community of shoppers who are already searching for clothing and other items,” said Eden Cheng, who specializes in digital marketing and is the co-founder of PeopleFinderFree.
“Also, the good thing about being part of an established online marketplace is that it will provide a level of trust between you and the buyer, which makes it easier to get sales conversions. … Most of these marketplaces also come with their own digital marketing programs that are packed with tools that are designed to help you get products in front of all the right customers, at just the right times, 24/7.”
The Cons of Online Selling
Selling online is a challenge, too. It’s time-consuming to gather items, make sure they are clean and pressed, and research the best site for your particular item. The RealReal, for example, accepts only the biggest names in designer fashion. Then, depending on the site you choose, you could be responsible for writing a winning description, photographing the items and haggling with buyers.
And then there is the fee comparison. With The RealReal, for example, you’ll receive up to 85% of the selling price. ASOS Marketplace charges a 20% commission fee.
“Perhaps the biggest con to selling clothing online is that odds are you won’t receive payment for what it’s actually worth,” Ramhold said. “Even if you opt to sell it yourself on eBay, there’s a chance that if you price it too high you won’t be able to sell it, and if you allow bids, then you might not see them go as high as you think the item is worth. And if you’re selling to another service to allow them to sell it for you, then it’s almost assured you won’t be receiving what it’s worth, as they need to make a profit on their service, so they’re likely going to underpay you, only to price it much higher when they turn around to sell it themselves.”
And selling on your own carries potential pitfalls.
“It is not always a smooth process,” said Diana Zola, founder of Nina Zola, a silver and leather accessories brand. “I have experience with selling my clothes over the internet, and I have had some less than savory interactions. Some people try to bargain with you and tell you your items are not worth what you are selling them for. A lot of the clothing pieces I sell are vintage and in good condition, so I always try to be fair with prices.
“As well, many people ‘no show’ which can be very frustrating. Some people prefer to pick up the items and then never actually come to get them. Meanwhile there are other people who wanted to get the same things, but I had to turn them down because I promised them to the person who never showed up.”
Despite fees and inconveniences, Ramhold said the process is worthwhile.
“The benefits of selling online outweigh the negatives, as you can profit off of clothes you may have never even worn. As well, the items are not going to a landfill and someone can enjoy the clothes a second time around.”
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