We all have unwanted clothes collecting dust at home. Old t-shirts folded at the back of wardrobes; wear-it-once sort of dresses shoved into drawers. So many unwanted clothes, in fact, that the average woman in the UK accumulates an estimated £22,000 of unworn clothes throughout her lifetime – we literally have money hanging up in our closets!
So, if you’re looking to turn your clothes into cash, this handy guide will help you tap into the ever-growing online resale market (spoiler alert: it’s huge).
The best places for selling clothes online:
Combining the best bits of an e-commerce site and a social media feed, Depop mimics the typical online shopping experience. You can categorise your listing according to size, colour, brand, condition and price point, and make listings searchable through popular keywords. Sellers interact with buyers through direct messages, and you will be notified every time somebody likes, saves or comments on your listing. This is a great way to accumulate followers who will see every new item you post appear in their feed.
As a beloved resale app among Gen Z, Depop is the ideal place to sell vintage gems or sought-after branded garments. In the UK alone, one-third of all 16-24-year-olds are registered on the app, while 90% of Depop users are under the age of 26. To enter this lucrative market, however, you have to pay some fees. Depop deducts 10% of the total amount (including postage), while PayPal takes a further 2.9% and £0.30 per transaction. In return, sellers are covered by PayPal’s protection policy.
As Depop’s much older sister, eBay gives you access to a huge range of potential buyers who are searching for more than clothes. Private sellers can list up to 1,000 monthly listings for free, before being charged 35p for every new listing posted. eBay then deduct 10% of the final transaction value, including postage. If you’re looking to shift a lot of stock, you might prefer to post on £1 listing weekends, a frequent promotional event designed to minimise seller fees.
Sellers then have the option to post items for auction, where buyers bid for the highest price, or allow speedy buyers to purchase immediately. For really valuable items, sellers can set a reserve price at a minimum of £50 which ensures items don’t sell unless the bids reach that amount. This option, like many extra listing features, incurs extra fees because they ‘can help your listing stand out and attract more buyers’. When you generate a listing, eBay recommends a price based on recent sales of similar items, so you don’t over or under inflate value, though you’re more than welcome to decide for yourself. And in the instance something goes wrong, eBay launches an investigation to ensure fair outcomes for both sides.
Selling secondhand clothes really is as easy as a few taps on your phone. Facebook Marketplace is great for rehoming clothes in your local area without incurring any seller fees. You simply upload a listing and buyers in the surrounding area will contact you if interested. Most transactions happen cash-in-hand, meaning you don’t have to worry about postage costs or handing out your bank details. The Marketplace has since merged with Facebook selling groups which has made it easier to target particular groups of buyers. Though, don’t expect to make a handsome profit on rare vintage items; this option is best for selling a large bundle of clothes quickly and cheaply.
Similar to Gumtree, Preloved allows you to post free ads and list items to sell in your surrounding area. Like Facebook Marketplace, there are no seller fees, and the emphasis is on local buyers directly picking up items. It’s another fuss-free way to shift unwanted clothes, but it’s not a guaranteed money maker.
Short for Shop In Your Pocket, Shpock combines the premise of Facebook Marketplace and Preloved all in one handy app. Through their app or website, you can sell fee-free to local buyers. Though there is an option to pay via PayPal, most transactions happen cash-in-hand where the buyer pops round to collect the goods they paid for. Shpock does not get involved in transactions, so cash-in-hand offers greater peace of mind. Sellers should expect a lot of haggling, whereas apps like Depop allow you to be firmer about the set price. Again, it’s better to shift bulk generic items, like old baby clothes or school uniform, rather than niche and valuable garments.
If you have designer goods waiting to be rehomed, this French-owned luxury resale site is your best bet. Vestiaire Collective works differently to the rest; instead of posting items directly to the buyer, you send sold items to Vestiaire who must authenticate them before forwarding them on. This reassures buyers that what they’re receiving is genuine. When uploading items, they must belong to one of the 5,000 labels listed, from Gucci and Stella McCartney to more upmarket high street brands, such as River Island and Zara. Items are listed for a set price, which must be a minimum of £20, though buyers can also make offers which you’re not obliged to accept. As the luxury premise suggests, the seller fees are pretty hefty. For items up to and including £130, Vestiaire deducts £13, while for items over £130, Vestiaire deducts 25% of the sale price. The other downside is that you’re not paid immediately. Once a buyer has paid, you must ship the item to Vestiaire and wait for them to authenticate the item. You are then paid the Thursday after the item is shipped to the buyer.
Similar to Depop, Vinted lets sellers upload items and liaise directly with the buyer. The main difference is that there are no seller fees; instead, buyers are charged a small fee per transaction. This difference is usually reflected in the price, where items are listed for slightly cheaper than they are on Depop. There is also the option for the seller to make a direct offer to interested buyers, or for the buyer to make an offer on a listing. You only get paid, however, when the buyer marks your item as received so you need to hold on to proof of purchase.
Top tips for maximising your listings
Curating your store front
Even if you’re looking to flog some old clothes fast, every seller needs an attractive profile page. Whether a potential buyer finds you through your listing or username, they’ll likely want to scroll through your profile to make sure you’re legit. First impressions count, so make sure your bio and listings are in shape! For your bio, it’s advisable to include some key policies and info, including whether or not you ship worldwide, whether you accept returns or swaps and what sizes you’re selling.
For the more curated seller, you’ll want to find your niche. Maybe you’re selling individually sourced vintage dresses or you specialise in secondhand children clothing – this should also be referenced in the bio! A funky shop name and logo will further help to develop your brand.
Novice and experienced sellers alike should be consistent and uniform in their approach; standardised captions, photos and bios gives your profile a store front feel that will keep buyers coming back for more!
Capturing the buyer’s attention
When users buy with their eyes, every good listing starts with a good photograph. Potential buyers will often find you through a keyword search, so it’s important to make sure your photos stand out from your competitors. You only get a few photos per listing – Depop allows for up to 4 images, while Shpock only allows three – which is why you need a variety of images. Buyers are less likely to purchase from sellers who use generic stock photos, so it’s worthwhile to include a combination of the following: the garment pictured on the hanger (highlighting the front and back if the design is different either side); a close up of the garment tag (so buyers can determine the size and brand); and a photo of you wearing the item (here buyers can see how to style the item and what it looks like on). In any case, your photo should have a non-distracting background and be lit with natural lighting. You might want to experiment by switching your images around to see what works best and attracts more attention.
Writing a selling caption
Once your photos have hooked in a potential buyer, they’re heading straight to the caption. Buying secondhand clothes online can be risky, so making your caption as detailed as possible helps the buyer to envision how a garment will fit and look on.
Your caption should include the following:
- Describe the item with key search words (a white long sleeve crewneck jumper is better than white sweater)
- The size and whether its fits true to size
- The brand
- The condition (how many times has it been worn? Is it brand new with tags? Are there any minor faults?)
- Relevant hashtags to boost your search (#whitejumper #crewneckjumper #brandname etc.)
- Where you will ship to, including if you post on certain days.
You should also invite potential buyers to ask any questions. Interested buyers might be after specific measurements of the item. Others will ask about your height or request more photos of you wearing an item to determine if it will fit.
When listing, it’s important that you categorise your items correctly so that your items appear in relevant searches. For Depop, this is ‘category’ (e.g. skirt), subcategory (e.g. midi skirt) and brand label. You might also want to list your item in multiple sizes (e.g. size s and size 8) but make sure you specify that you only have one to sell. The best way to infiltrate the search page is to keep refreshing your items. To do this, you simply need to go to edit your listing and post it again. On Depop, this moves your items to the top of the search bar.
Finding the right price
For resale apps where you set the price, you’ll want to make sure you’re pricing your items fairly. Several factors will play into this. If the item is in pristine condition, is in high demand, is brand new with tags (BNWT), is out of stock or from a covetable brand, you can price much nearer to the original retail price. A quick scroll through similar listings will help you find a happy medium. While you should never undersell yourself, you have to be realistic about what people will be willing to pay.
You will also need to calculate the cost of postage if you’re selling on apps like Depop and Vinted. The buyer pays for the postage, so providing an accurate quote will avoid you shipping out of your own pocket. Postal companies like Royal Mail have price calculators so you can work this out beforehand, especially if you’re shipping internationally. When it comes to packaging, I try to fit thinner items into large envelopes. That way, I can send the item as a large letter instead of a small parcel, which can be several pounds cheaper to send.
Even if you have a firm idea of what you want to sell an item for, be prepared for buyers to make offers. The most important thing to know is that you’re in control of the item price. Always be firm but polite. If you are willing to negotiate, have a minimum selling price in mind and don’t be guilted into receiving less money than you bargained for. Most people will still buy your item for the full price and, if not, know that somebody else will!
Building your reputation
Gaining trust in your customers is pivotal to selling a lot of clothes. It can be difficult to secure your first sale when you open a new account, especially if you don’t have any reviews or followers. Here are some simple ways you can build and maintain a good reputation:
- Answer buyer queries promptly and in a friendly manner. Customer service is a huge part of the buying experience. Make sure you leave your app notifications on so you can reply as quickly as possible. A swift message exchange can convince a buyer to take the plunge.
- Interact with potential buyers. It’s really important to build a rapport with your customers. This could be replying to a comment, offering them a discounted price or notifying them about your shop sale. Admittedly, this is somewhat of a balancing act. You know how pressured you feel when 10 shop employees jump on you the minute you enter the store? That’s how bombarding peoples DMs can seem. As long as you’re polite and to the point, there’s no harm in messaging somebody who liked your item. Maybe you want to let them know you’re open to answering any questions or you can ship the same day. Some people may say ‘no thanks!’ while others might not reply at all. But it might just convince one unsure buyer to commit to a purchase.
- Keep in contact. Once you’ve secured a sale, update your buyer regularly and notify them of when you’ve posted your item. The quicker you can ship the better, but don’t be afraid to let your buyer know if there will be a slight delay. It’s much better to be honest than keep your buyer in the lurch. Check in with them and make sure everything arrived safely and as described. Hold on to the receipt as proof of purchase should any issues later arise.
- Ask for feedback. On apps like Depop and Vinted, you can leave a review on your buyer’s profile after they’ve made a purchase. Happy buyers are likely to return the favour but, if they don’t, you can always politely request feedback. After all, reviews can make or break future sales.
- Bundle deals. If a buyer is purchasing multiple items, it’s courteous to offer them a bundle deal. This could be offering a slight discount or providing combined postage. Depop have a promotional setting that allows sellers to offer free shipping if a customer buys more than 1 item from your store.
- Managing customer demands. It’s good to be prepared for a range of buyer queries. Some will be after a discount, while others might request tracked shipping. This is where some brief shop policies will come in handy. It’s good to make buyers aware if you’re open to offers, swaps or returns. Never accept a demand that is going to put you out of pocket, such as reserving a popular item that others will be willing to quickly buy. Remember that you’re only reviewed by the buyers who go through with a purchase, which gives you the flexibility to manage expectations from potential buyers and set some shop rules.
As the cliché goes – one woman’s trash is another women’s treasure – but that doesn’t mean unwanted clothes should be binned. I hope this guide helps you to put your online store on the thrifting treasure map and reap the rewards of selling your old clothes. In doing so, you’re helping to keep garments out of landfill and making some extra cash in the process!
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