Back to blog

Learn with Threecolts

Small group workshops to help you learn, optimize, and grow.

Learn About Coaching

Selling Used Clothes Online – A Comprehensive Guide

Threecolts
Geri Mileva
Published
October 25, 2023
Modified
October 26, 2023
A woman carefully examining a used brown jacket in a thrift store

Consumers are becoming more conscious of their environmental impact, and wearing second-hand clothing is one way to reduce their carbon footprint. In the US, the secondhand apparel market share increased from 5.3% in 2017 to 12% in 2022. This is forecasted to more than double by 2027.

As a $211 billion USD industry, selling used clothes online is a lucrative business opportunity for those who know where to find and market used clothes. In this comprehensive guide, we share in detail how to source second-hand apparel, where to sell it, and how to succeed in this business.

Preparing Your Inventory

The first and most important rule to become successful in this business is to find cheap clothes that you can sell for a decent profit. Here are great places where you can find lots of good and cheap inventory.

  • Thrift stores contain hidden gems and will allow you to find unique items to sell. You need to shop with an open mind and make an effort to sort through racks, but your patience is rewarded when you find vintage and unique styles that will be popular online.
    • If sorting through racks is time-consuming, stores like Goodwill sell items by the pound so you can get several pieces of inventory for less than a dollar. However, try to avoid common-looking clothes from fast fashion or unknown brands. There are a lot of these items in thrift stores, but they don’t resell for a lot of profit.
  • Yard sales and estate sales are also great places to scout for used clothing. Go to high-end neighborhoods or nice locations where you can find luxury items that you can resell for a high price. However, the inventory is often limited and you need a really good source to find anything profitable.
  • Discount retail stores sell items that are still new but cheaper than retail. These clothes are mostly considered excess inventory or out of season. The good thing with these items is that they’re authentic and brand new, so you don’t have to worry about damage or counterfeits. You can also purchase multiple quantities of the same item so you can make multiple sales per listing and even sell across multiple eCommerce platforms.
  • If you’re intent on starting big, you can purchase from wholesale used clothes suppliers who sell used clothes in bulk and by kilos. This also gives you a huge assortment of different styles for a particular item so you can get started with multi-channel selling right away.
  • eBay listings are also great sources for used clothes. You can search listings with poor-quality images or intentionally misspell your search. You can also search using overlooked or more descriptive keywords. You’d be surprised at the number of secondhand clothes you can buy this way then flip for a nice profit.
Above: Used clothing in wholesale-sized lots on eBay.

When selling anything second-hand, you should always look for quality items. Just because it’s used doesn’t mean it has to be worn out. Like any other business, selling good-quality items will increase your reputation and lead to repeat business.

When sourcing used clothes, look for top, popular, and luxury brands that are in almost new or very good condition to resell. However, it’s a mistake to assume that just because a brand sells for a lot when brand new, it will sell for a lot when used. It’s still best to check resale prices online to see how much profit you can get from a used item.

Once you’ve purchased your inventory, inspect each item for defects like stains, missing buttons, and other flaws. State any defects in your listing for transparency. Wash or dry clean clothes to ensure cleanliness and preserve their quality.

Finally, organize your items by categorizing them by size, style, or type. Use inventory management software to track your items and easily update stock levels.

Choosing the Right Platforms to Sell Your Items

Once you’ve got your initial inventory ready, it’s time to sell them on the right platforms. There are multiple online channels where you can list used clothes. Some of them are dedicated to second-hand items and are niche platforms, while others are more generic but attract tons of traffic.

Here’s a list of the common websites to sell used clothing.

eBay homepage

1. eBay

eBay is one of the largest and most popular online marketplaces where you can sell any used item. You can sign up for a free eBay account and create your first 250 listings without paying a fee. After that, it’s $0.35 per listing.

Pros:

  • Large Audience: eBay has a massive user base, increasing the potential for your listings to reach a wide audience.
  • Auction or Fixed Price: You can choose to auction your items, allowing buyers to bid on them, or list them at a fixed price.
  • Seller Protection: Safeguard yourself against fraudulent buyers with eBay’s seller protection policies.

Cons:

  • Fees: eBay charges listing fees and final value fees, which can reduce your profits.
  • Competition: Due to its popularity, competition among sellers can be high, making it challenging to stand out.
  • Policy Complexity: eBay has complex policies and rules that sellers need to navigate.

Best for: Casual sellers with a small and varied inventory.

Poshmark homepage

2. Poshmark

Poshmark is a dedicated fashion marketplace where users buy and sell used and new clothing, shoes, and accessories. It’s popular for carrying second-hand items from Louis Vuitton, Coach, Lululemon, Nike, and more.

Pros:

  • Fashion-Focused: Poshmark is tailored specifically for fashion, attracting fashion enthusiasts and potential buyers.
  • Social Selling: The platform encourages social interaction and sharing, which can help promote your listings.
  • Prepaid Shipping Labels: Poshmark provides prepaid shipping labels, simplifying the shipping process.

Cons:

  • Commission Fees: Poshmark charges a fixed commission fee on each sale, which can eat into your profits.
  • Limited to a few countries: While expanding, Poshmark is primarily available in the US, Canada, India, the UK, and Australia, limiting your potential market.

Best for: Casual sellers with trendy and branded items to sell.

Depop homepage

3. Depop

Depop is a mobile-centric marketplace that focuses on vintage and unique fashion, making it a popular choice for selling used clothing with a distinctive style.

Pros:

  • Youthful Audience: Depop has a predominantly younger user base interested in unique and trendy clothing items.
  • In-App Messaging: The platform offers in-app messaging, enabling direct communication with potential buyers.
  • Seller-Friendly Interface: Depop’s user-friendly app makes it easy to list and manage items.

Cons:

  • Transaction Fees: Depop charges a 10% commission on each sale.
  • Limited Countries: Depop is only available in the US, UK, Australia, Italy, Germany, and France.

Best for: Casual and serious sellers who want to reach a younger audience.

Check out this full comparison of Poshmark and Depop to learn their similarities and differences.

Kidizen homepage

4. Kidizen

Kidizen is a top-rated kids’ clothing app where you can sell pre-loved kids’ clothes. Kids easily outgrow their slightly used clothes and practical parents love to shop for the best deals to style their kids.

Pros:

  • Niche Market: You have a captured audience looking for specific items.
  • Ease of Use: The Kidizen app is user-friendly and designed specifically for selling kids’ clothing.
  • Beautiful Storefront: Kidizen gives you a unique storefront designed to showcase your products.

Cons:

  • Limited Market: The platform is exclusively focused on children’s items, so if you have a broader range of products to sell, you may need to use additional platforms.
  • Competition: While Kidizen has a niche audience, there can still be significant competition among sellers offering similar items.

Best for: Casual and serious sellers focusing on used children’s clothing.

Listing and Marketing Your Products

Once you’ve joined the platforms where you’ll sell used clothes, it’s time to create product listings for each of your items. Write compelling and accurate product descriptions that detail the conditions of your items. Since you’re selling used clothes, you need to disclose the exact condition of these items. You also need to provide accurate sizing information and post good-quality photos.

Selling on multiple channels can be challenging and exhausting. You have to ensure every platform has accurate product descriptions, the same photos, and synced inventory. Not to mention, each platform has different seller dashboards with different features. Manually managing listings across them can quickly become confusing. However, it’s necessary if you want to maximize your products’ exposure.

Fortunately, there are tools like ExportYourStore that help export and sync your products between marketplaces. This lets you easily manage your product listings across different platforms using automation rules and an intuitive dashboard. It will also sync inventory so that when the item gets sold on one platform, the listing is updated on the others.

ExportYourStore works with eBay, Depop, Poshmark and more, so it’s the perfect solution for anyone selling used clothes.

After creating your listings, it’s time to promote your products. Share your store across social media for maximum visibility. Take advantage of the social selling features of platforms like Depop and Poshmark. If you’re listing on eBay, optimize your product descriptions with keywords to boost their visibility in search results.

Delivering Great Customer Service

Selling used clothes online is a highly competitive niche, and often, delivering great customer service becomes a product differentiator. Customers will flock to your store if you know how to take care of them. That includes providing timely responses to product inquiries, fast shipping times, and hassle-free product returns.

Great customer service makes 89% of customers more likely to repeat a purchase. Having loyal customers is key to better profits, especially since retaining old customers is cheaper than getting new ones.

Another advantage of good customer service is to avoid product returns and reduce negative reviews. In any industry, negative customer reviews are bad for business, but it’s especially true for those selling used clothing. Margins are already slim, and handling product returns not only eats up profits—it might also lead to a loss.

If you do end up with negative feedback, you don’t always have to accept it. If you believe it was given unfairly, you can contest it. For example, eBay gives you 5 instances per year to request feedback changes.

However, if negative feedback can’t be avoided, make sure to respond to it properly. Don’t just leave it unanswered. Future customers who read the reviews section will appreciate a brand that responds well even to negative remarks.

A woman looking for used clothes to sell online in a thrift store

Managing Returns, Refunds, and Dead Inventory

Even with accurate listings and great customer service, there will be times when you’ll get requests for product returns and refunds. You need to honor these requests while remaining profitable.

Start by creating clear and transparent return policies and guidelines. Most platforms like eBay already have default or minimum guidelines in place, so you have to be familiar with them and remain compliant. Prominently display your return policies and set clear expectations for buyers on return timeframes, condition requirements, etc.

Returns also come with fees, so bear these in mind when handling disputes. It’s always best to avoid returns and disputes if you can to protect yourself from unwanted fees. Consider offering partial refunds or exchanges as alternatives to full returns when feasible.

Odds are that not all of your used clothing will sell and you can end up with dead inventory. If you’re selling with Amazon FBA (which many sellers do even when they aren’t selling on Amazon), note that Amazon charges to get rid of dead inventory. If you can’t sell these items, look out for free inventory removal offers and take advantage of them.

Scaling Your Business and Staying Competitive

If you seriously want to make great money selling used clothes online, you have to think about scaling your business and remaining competitive. This goes beyond the occasional wardrobe cleanup and posting of preloved clothes.

Continue to expand your inventory and purchase used clothing from new sources. Diversify your stocks by offering various clothing styles, sizes, and brands to cater to a broader customer base. You can also introduce new categories like shoes, accessories, and other complementary items.

If you feel your current niche is too broad or competitive, you can target another one or go for a less crowded market. You can build your expertise in a certain niche to gain credibility and attract dedicated customers.

The fashion industry frequently has new trends, and staying on top of them will help you adapt to market demands. For instance, sustainability is a growing fashion trend that favors the concept of buying used clothing. Ride this trend further by looking for eco-friendly brands or thrift items made with sustainable materials.

Keep up with seasonal demands by offering discounts or special promotions for holidays or seasonal changes. Rotate your inventory to keep your listings fresh and relevant, featuring appropriate clothing for each season.

Tools to Help You Start and Grow Your Business

Selling used clothes online becomes easier when you have the right tools to help you automate your business. These tools will reduce manual tasks and give you better insights into your operations.

ExportYourStore

Quickly export and sync your products across channels like eBay, Poshmark, Depop, Shopify, Etsy and more with this user-friendly multichannel listing software. You don’t have to worry about outdated listings, out-of-sync inventory, or lost sales.

With ExportYourStore, you can optimize your listings from a centralized dashboard and ensure they appear on each channel following their unique requirements. You can also automate product listings using customizable rules so you can enjoy hands-off store management and focus on other aspects of growing your business.

Onsite Support

Reduce product returns and avoid bad reviews with centralized customer support software. Onsite Support integrates multiple platforms like eBay and Shopify so you can provide seamless customer service regardless of where your customers engage with your brand.

Turn upset customers into brand advocates by offering timely support. Deliver faster answers and cut support costs with help articles, FAQs and personalized autoreplies. With Onsite Support, you can increase sales, protect your brand reputation, and build loyal customers.

Successfully Sell Used Clothes Online with Threecolts

Selling used clothes online has never been easier than now. With dedicated marketplaces for preloved items and a rising trend in sustainable fashion, today is the best time to get into this business. You can clean out your wardrobe and sell those preloved items or you can scout through garage sales and thrift stores to build a thriving used-clothes-selling empire.

Armed with the best tools, such as those provided by Threecolts, you can grow your business from a side hustle to a profitable venture that can even expand internationally. Just keep in mind that selling used clothes involves hard work, and the more upfront work you do, especially in scouting the best deals, the more dollars you’ll earn.

Likewise, not all used clothes will sell for the same amount. Some will be more profitable depending on their condition, brand, and demand. Other platforms will also be more popular depending on the target market. With ExportYourStore, you don’t have to guess which online channel will sell the most items. You can list your products across multiple channels and optimize them seamlessly from one intuitive dashboard.

Get started selling used clothes online today and earn a decent profit while helping the environment.