The clothes reselling experiment is here! Have you ever been curious about reselling your clothes, but weren’t sure which platform was the best one to sell on? In the name of investigative journalism, this post is different: I actually tried selling things myself on each resale site. Read on for a deep dive on whether I actually sold anything, the pros and cons for each site, a detailed fees comparison, and insights into who exactly each platform is for.
I sold a total of six items. The first thing to note is that I didn’t have very much to sell, because I don’t have a lot of clothes. Five were from my own closet and one was a dress I picked up from Goodwill to try to flip. Mostly casual designer with some mall brands mixed in. Here’s a list and the prices I sold them for:
- 3.1 Phillip Lim dress – $100
- Dries Van Noten shorts – $79
- Joshua Sanders sneakers – $55
- Band of Outsiders dress – $60
- A.P.C. sweatshirt – $20
- Zara dress (thrifted when I was in LA) – $49
If you want to sell things like picture frames or electronics, then this post won’t be very helpful to you. My resale experiences are limited to clothing and accessories only.
There was only one way to test the sites as quickly as possible: cross-list the same items at the same time and see which sold first. The only one I listed separately was Instagram for logistical reasons.
The five platforms I tested:
*Some links below are affiliate links.
There are lots more platforms cropping up every day, but I chose these ones based on reach and the items I was selling. These are also all peer-to-peer sites where you list and ship items yourself instead of sending your items to a company who will do all that stuff for you. While my stuff fits in well with luxury sites like The Real Real or Vestiaire Collective, I didn’t test them because their fees are high, and I’m willing to put in the legwork to sell things myself on other sites. It’s important to note that for me, the goal of reselling is to make the most money possible, not to pick the easiest platform. However, if you have premium designer goods and you have no time, full-service sites might be your best bet.
In terms of marketing, I didn’t promote my listings outside of the platforms, because I didn’t want my tiny blog presence (haha!) to color the results. Gotta stay true to the scientific method, y’all.
Oh, and while I’ve been using eBay for years, this was my first time selling on all the other platforms. Note that the experiment lasted for only three weeks, so these are my initial impressions.
EBAY: 4 ITEMS SOLD
Ways to list: Website, app, a bunch of third-party tools
Users: 171 million
International or US only?International
How It Works:
eBay is the most customizable online marketplace there is, and that’s its blessing and its curse. Perfect for people who like to DIY, here are just a few choices you can make–auction style or fixed price format, how long your listings stay up, shipping methods and how much to charge for said shipping, and whether or not you’ll take returns.
Because you can basically sell anything that’s not nailed down, browsing auctions for fun is a non-starter here. No one’s going to find your item unless they’re actively searching for it, because people shop eBay when they are looking for a specific item. For that reason, eBay is about selling sought-after items and knowing your products well enough to get the right keywords popping up in search.
I used to always do auctions, but lately I’ve been into fixed price listings where I ask for how much I want, with an option for buyers to submit their best offer. I also like to keep the listings up for only 7 days to create a sense of urgency. The results:
- Zara dress – Sold on the first try at the listed price (yay!)
- 3.1 Phillip Lim dress – Received three offers, which I rejected. I accepted an offer after relisting a second time.
- Dries Van Noten shorts – No offers the first time, but relisted and sold at the listed price.
- A.P.C. sweatshirt – No offers the first time, but relisted and I accepted the offer.
Because this is all about being scientific, I tracked the number of views and watchers I got for every listing.
My Dr. Phil psychological observations:
There was a ton of interest in a few items the first time I listed. But when I automatically relisted them a second time, interest got cut in HALF. When someone comes across an item for the first time on eBay, there’s a sense of urgency and scarcity. Will someone else snap this up? Will the seller not bother relisting this if it doesn’t sell? But when they see the item pop up again, there’s less motivation for buyers to take action.
Listing items is not for the faint of heart. eBay was founded in 1995, and it definitely shows in the user interface. To list an item, there are 13 required fields, and at least 20 more optional ones. Even though I’ve listed items plenty of times, I still make mistakes. For example, when I put up the Phillip Lim dress I forgot to check the ‘only ships within the US’ box and a person from France won my item. Oops. Thankfully, she agreed to pay the shipping, so I took a risk and sent the dress without any tracking (you don’t have that option for international shipments.) Everything worked out for me, but it could have been a problem.
-Lots of fields to fill out, which can help weed out undesirable buyers and lowball offers.
If you have similar items, you can create templates to save time.
-You can schedule your listings so they appear at optimal times. Sundays at 8-9pm EST is my old standby. LOVE this feature.
-Access to analytics like page views and watcher counts, so you can get a sense of demand.
-It’s easier to sell things quickly, because you can limit the duration of the listings
-Set it and forget it. You can make your listing really awesome, and then just let it chill.
–Cool calculator tool so you can see how much you’ll profit
-Figuring out shipping options and pricing can be intimidating
-Steep learning curve. It’s hard to know you need to add tracking to your shipments, until that one time a buyer says they didn’t receive the package. I learned this the hard way.
-Non-paying buyers are rare, but it happens
Type of seller it’s for: People who have items that are in high demand and harder to find. People who are very detail-oriented and are fairly well-versed in shipping options.
Target audience: People who are looking for hidden gems or mega deals
Brands that seem to do well: eBay is basically for everyone, so there aren’t specific brands that it caters to
POSHMARK: 1 ITEM SOLD
Ways to list: App only
Users: 15 million
International or US? US only
How It Works:
Poshmark has a lot in common with social media sites: you share, like, follow, and comment on other people’s closets, so it has a real community feel. There’s also more of a focus on marketing than on the products themselves. The more you engage, the more likely you are to make sales.
Unlike eBay, there’s more structure in place to help sellers out: Poshmark charges buyers a flat rate for shipping, so all you have to do is print out the shipping label when something sells. This is no doubt why people flock to Poshmark–it’s just less hassle.
Buyers also have to “accept” your purchase within a certain timeframe, and after that they can’t try to return your item.
I’ll admit. I was super biased against Poshmark before I even started. The interface is super busy, and I already was annoyed I could only list things by downloading the app.
As I started to list, I quickly realized my detailed (read: wordy) eBay descriptions weren’t going to fly here, due to character limits.
Then I noticed Poshmark crops your photos to a square shape, which kind of sucked for me because I take all my pictures the tall, skinny way. That means that some of my pictures got cut off and didn’t show the clothes off as well as they could have.
Immediately after I put up my first listing, I started getting followers, likes and shares…for no apparent reason.Wait, what–now I’m getting invited to themed sharing parties that aren’t relevant to my clothes at all? I check out a couple of other people’s closets and they all seem to have over 100 items listed. Hmm, my closet looks kind of sad with only six items in it…
I quickly got a comment on the Phillip Lim dress. The girl said she was waiting to sell a couple things and then my dress was “on the top of her list.” YEAH RIGHT. I got another offer on the dress, but it was too low, so I rejected it. Overall, I got the impression that the buyers on Poshmark really aren’t very serious and just like and follow your stuff so you might reciprocate.
You can send private offers to people who like your items, so I tried that a couple times, and it got me my one and only Poshmark sale. I originally listed the Joshua Sanders shoes at $79, and lowered the price to $55, but only netted $37.51. When I was creating the offer I didn’t know what I was doing and accidentally clicked the free shipping box. That meant I’m the dummy who paid the $6.49 shipping fee and not the buyer. Obviously with a sweet deal like that, the buyer jumped on the sale.
After I sold the shoes, Poshmark sent me a tip that I should wrap my item nicely, which set me in a panic. Oh no, will they give me a bad review because there weren’t cute stickers and a handwritten note? I took my chances and wrapped it without the trappings, and the buyer still rated me five stars. Phew.
I also got firsthand experience on how the $6.49 flat rate shipping comes in handy for heavy items. If I was responsible for shipping the sneakers myself, it probably would have cost about $12-$15.
If you’re not into the Poshmark culture, you can feel a little lost. For example, I still don’t know what the heck a “dressing room” is.
Even though I didn’t follow anyone back, I still racked up 347 followers. Still I chose not to engage with anyone and randomly shared my items once a day or so, which seemed to get a few likes here and there, but no sales.
Just to test whether or not the number of followers directly relates to sales, as a last-ditch effort I asked a Twitter friend to share my listing to her 255k followers. She shared it twice and I received a total of two new followers, one like, and no sale. Hmm.
Ultimately, I wasn’t willing to play the game of Poshmark, and my sales suffered for it.
-Flat fee for shipping, up to 5 pounds
-Buyers have to connect their credit cards when they sign up, so sellers get paid right away. No deadbeat buyers!
-No PayPal fees
-There’s no guessing game over how much money you’re going to make. When you list your price it tells you exactly how much you’ll net. There were a few times I went to drop a price, but then the handy feature told me how little I’d be making, so I thought twice about lowering the price.
-Need to consistently engage with the community, which takes time
-No email notifications for messages
-Can only list items on desktop after downloading the app
Type of seller it’s for: Shopaholics. You want your closet to look full and fun to browse, not sad and anemic like mine.
Target audience: Trendy millennials. People who want to look good, but don’t want to spend a lot of money. $15-$30 seemed to be the sweet spot in terms of selling prices.
Brands that seem to do well: Lululemon, Madewell, Free People
DEPOP: 0 ITEMS SOLD
Ways to list: App only
Users: 10 million
International or US? International
How It Works:
Depop is basically a shoppable Instagram for reasonably-priced streetwear and vintage. When you do a search, there are no filters for things like sizes or brands–just one picture and a price. That means you’ve really got to tell a story in the one thumbnail photo to get people to click through. Sellers tend to infuse a lot of style and personality into their photos, so Depop doubles as a way for people to express themselves. Here’s an example of a typical Depop shop.
Sidenote: The website is super light on information, so I e-mailed Depop with some questions for this post. A rep named Taina sent back detailed answers within a day. Color me impressed!
Like Poshmark, listings on Depop are done through the app only. The process was relatively smooth, with only a few required fields to fill out, although a couple things stood out to me:
I could only upload four photos. I show a lot of detail in my pictures, and four usually isn’t enough for me. And my tall, skinny photos were cropped to squares again.
I had to select brands from a list and the dropdown didn’t have two of the brands (Joshua Sanders and Band of Outsiders) with no way to add new ones. I have no idea if tagging a brand even matters, though, because it doesn’t appear in the product description.
Right after I had my first listing down, I got a message asking me to sell them the item outside of Depop. Scam alert.
Like eBay, after I put up the listings, I closed out the app and moved on with my life.
In three weeks I had 4 likes on the Joshua Sanders shoes and the A.P.C. sweatshirt…and that’s it.
After a while I forgot I had listings up, and I got an e-mail saying that my listings were deactivated because I hadn’t logged on in 28 days. But since I didn’t promote or engage at all, I didn’t have high expectations for Depop at all.
If I had to do it all over again, I’d tap my existing social media networks and build out a full shop with a distinctive look and feel. If I didn’t have an Etsy shop, I’d probably pick Depop to sell vintage.
-Easy to upload
-Can get away with minimal product descriptions (if you have a large following)
-Can only upload 4 photos
-Can only list items through the app
-The brand list isn’t comprehensive
Type of seller it’s for: Creative people who have a strong brand or existing fanbase. Odds are your favorite influencer has opened up their closet to sell their old clothes on there.
Target audience: Hipsters
Brands that seem to sell well: Here’s what Taina has to say– “Our community is obsessed with vintage and streetwear. The term “vintage” itself is one of the top 5 terms that people search for when browsing on Depop. In terms of brands there’s definitely a massive interest in the ones which are closely related to sustainability, Patagonia in the UK and Reformation in the US. Supreme and Nike have always done really well on Depop, but lately we are also seeing a lot of interest in brands like Gucci and Off-White. Guess, Missoni, bum bags and bucket hats seem to be having a revival as well, probably because of summer and festivals.”
HEROINE: 0 ITEMS SOLD
Ways to List: Website
Users: Hard to say, but last time I checked there were 13,000 listings. The men’s version, Grailed, boasts over 700,000 users.
International or US? International
How It Works:
Before I talk about HeroineI first have to explain the site it’s modeled after, Grailed. Grailed is a super niche men’s marketplace for rare, high-end designer fashion. On their website, their tagline reads: That specific piece you obsess over owning, but can’t ever find or afford. The Grailed founders decided there should be a marketplace like that for women, and so Heroine debuted in October 2017. To make things easier to find, Grailed and Heroine categorize listings into what they call ‘Grails’ and ‘Cores’:
Grails – For high-end designers and luxury niche brands such as Céline, Acne and Reformation.
Core – For desirably-priced staples ranging from Vintage, Levi’s to J.Crew.
Here’s an example of a typical Heroine listing.
I was happy to see I could create a listing from the website. Again, the process was super easy and my tall, skinny photos were the perfect proportions for the site. But when I got to the part where I had to choose ‘Grail’ or ‘Core,’ I kind of had an existential crisis:
Was 3.1 Phillip Lim a grail or a core???
I spent way too long deciding. After I had submitted the listings, I had a change of heart and decided to change the category, only to realize that wasn’t possible.
I thought Heroine was right up my alley, because I had some rare designer items and Heroine is for fashion enthusiasts. But like Depop, I didn’t get much action on Heroine, except an offer for the Joshua Sanders shoes, which I had already sold on Poshmark and forgot to remove here. Weird, but I didn’t get an e-mail or anything saying I had received an offer. I only found out by randomly logging into the site one day.
-Images don’t need to be cropped
-Can list on the website
-Niche, designer-obsessed target audience means you can command higher prices
-No email notifications for messages, so it’s easy to miss possible leads.
Type of seller it’s for: People with discerning tastes who hang out in fashion forums for fun. The type of person who will camp out overnight to get the latest hyped sneakers.
Target audience: Hardcore fashion enthusiasts who are still trying to track down that one item they saw on the runway three years ago. People who love to buy sought-after items and then sell them later to fund new purchases.
Brands that seem to do well: Premium designer brands that are highly valuable, like Balenciaga, Rick Owens, Céline. Hyped streetwear brands like Supreme, Off-White, Yeezy. Conceptual, high-fashion items that non-fashion people probably find very weird.
NOIHSAF BAZAAR: 1 ITEM SOLD
Ways to list: E-mail
Users: 13,000 followers
International or US? International
How It Works:
Have you been on the reselling scene for years now, but are tired of fees and wading through stuff that’s not your style? That’s where the Instagram community comes into play. Noihsaf Bazaar is a highly curated Instagram feed where indie people can sell their stuff to like-minded folks and avoid paying the usual fees. To purchase an item off of any Noihsaf Bazaar feed, you leave your ZIP code in the comment section of the post and tag the seller. The first zip code to be left will “win” the item and the seller of the item contact the buyer on how to proceed with purchase. All a seller needs to invoice someone is a PayPal e-mail address. If you sell an item, you then pay the account owner a flat fee of $2.80, also via PayPal.
Noihsaf Bazaar is also very similar to another Instagram account I used to use, thegeneraleconomy. I’ve sold items by Alexander Wang, Rachel Comey and Proenza Schouler for the price I want easily, but recently I’ve noticed an influx of items that seem much less curated. I guess that’s bound to happen once accounts get more popular.
I was really excited about Noihsaf Bazaar, because I had been following the account and could see how quickly things would sell. It wasn’t uncommon for a post to go out and an hour later have five zip code comments.
I didn’t know exactly how to submit a listing. There wasn’t a website or anything. But all the listings seemed to follow the same format so I copy/pasted one of them and edited the info to suit my item. I then sent the descriptions and pictures to the e-mail address listed. I got an auto-reply “welcome e-mail” that detailed all the rules and FAQs. OK, cool, but shouldn’t I get that info before I submit my item?
You have no idea if or when the account owner will post your stuff. The next day I got an Instagram notification that I was tagged in a post. Yay, my stuff was up! But it was 11pm on a Friday…
My merch quickly got lost in the fray. There were at least 20 other items that were listed at the same time. The feed moves really fast, kind of like Twitter, so I feel like having your items posted when people are online makes a difference.
I decided to submit my listings again to see if I could get them to list at a better time. Again, I got a weird time. Ideally, my stuff would be posted in the morning on a weekday when people check Instagram before work. But I had no way of timing it.
This time I did end up selling the Band of Outsiders dress to a girl who lived in my old neighborhood. I felt like I was selling stuff to a friend. I mean, I could click over to her feed and see what her curated life looks like. I’ve always liked the idea of sending my stuff to “a good home” where the buyers will actually wear and cherish my items. These Instagram feeds feel like they fit that bill.
-It’s super niche, and most everyone has similar tastes as you. If your style fits the aesthetic well, you can sell things instantly.
-Pay fewer fees
-It’s super niche. Your stuff really has to be of a very specific type to be listed. Fast fashion will be rejected.
-Can’t control when your listings get sold/could be sub-optimal times
-No sense of rules until after you e-mail your listing.
Type of seller it’s for: Conscious shoppers with a minimalist streak. Skews very ethical. Most likely has a closet full of Everlane.
Target audience: Conscious shoppers with a minimalist streak. Skews very ethical. Most likely has a closet full of Everlane.
Brands that seem to do well: Indie brands like Ace and Jig, Jesse Kamm, Elizabeth Suzann with the occasional Madewell item mixed in.
How Much You’ll Make–Comparison Chart
There’s one thing I haven’t talked about: the fees. So it’s nice and easy to compare, here’s a chart that details how much you’ll pay on each platform if you sell an item.
|eBay||10%||2.9% + $.30 (domestic)|
|Poshmark||Items less than $15 — $2.95; Items more than $15 — 20%||none|
|Depop||10%||2.9% + $.30 (domestic)|
|Heroine||6%||2.9% + $.30 (domestic)|
|Noihsaf Bazaar||$2.80||2.9% + $.30 (domestic)|
And here’s one that shows how much you’ll net at certain price points, assuming $6.49 shipping fees.
|Site||$15 Item||$40 Item||$100 Item|
It’s interesting to see that at the lower price points, the fees are relatively even, but at the higher price points, the 20% Poshmark commission significantly impacts how much you’ll net. In green are the sites where you’ll make the most money, and in red are the situations where you’ll make the least.
My Personal Favorite
I like to kick it old school, so my resale site of choice is eBay.
Two reasons: Urgency and high buyer intent. I don’t like my things hanging around and want them to move within a few weeks. With eBay I’ve been able to consistently sell items fairly quickly for a decent price. I also like how the focus is on the products themselves, and less on marketing. If my item is valuable and people want it, they’ll find it themselves.
I also just want to do all the work upfront and then move on with my life. Nor do I want to spend time selling things for $15, since the little profit wouldn’t be worth my time. Plus, I sell from my own closet instead of flipping items, and small, curated closets don’t seem to do well on Poshmark or Depop.
My ongoing strategy: if I’m selling expensive designer items ($75 and up), I’d first try my hand at Instagram first, and then if they don’t sell, I’ll go to eBay.
So, Where Should I Sell My Stuff?
Just because eBay works for me doesn’t mean it will work for everybody. eBay is very much dependent on the actual products you are selling. So what’s the best platform you for you then?
It’s time for me to bust out my favorite answer: It depends.
There is no one platform that is better than the other, because it all depends on your goals and what you have to sell. There are three main factors I would consider:
- Where your target audience shops
- How much work you’re willing to put in
- Whether your strategy is based on volume or a more curated approach
First, gravitate toward the platform that has the audience who will buy your stuff. For example, if you’re selling a $12 plain Abercrombie shirt on eBay, and there are already 10 others just like it listed, this isn’t a good bet.
Next, think about the type of person you are, and how much work you want to do.If you don’t want to put in the work to make a great listing, don’t do eBay. If figuring out shipping makes you go cross-eyed, but you’re willing to constantly market your goods, go for Poshmark. If you have a great vintage collection and love to show your personality, Depop’s for you. If you’ve amassed a drool-worthy collection of designer goods, Heroine or Grailed is right up your alley. If you avoid fast fashion and prefer cult brands that no one’s ever heard of, then Instagram communities with like-minded folks is the way to go.
Finally, think about the nature of each platform. For sites like Poshmark or Depop where there’s a culture of shopping one’s closet, having one or two things to sell won’t cut it. However, for fewer more expensive items, places like Heroine, Noihsaf Bazaar and eBay are totally fine.
When in doubt, here’s a strategy so you can cover all your bases: list on multiple platforms and stay on top of removing the listings that sell.
Your turn: what have been your experiences with resale sites, and which one’s your favorite? What are your best selling tips?
Feature Image: Unsplash