Online consignment stores make it simple to unload rarely used outfits and make money at the same time. Shoppers are often eager to find clothing at a discount. “It’s often the first thing avid fashionistas check in the morning and the last thing they do at night,” says Malinda Sanna, founder and CEO at consumer insights company Spark Ideas.
Consignment shops traditionally market items on behalf of sellers and pay after a sale. However, Krista Fabregas, e-commerce and retail analyst for FitSmallBusiness.com, says several business models are often lumped into the same category as consignment shops. One of those models is peer-to-peer selling. “You set your price. You handle your listing,” Fabregas says. “[The site] just takes a commission.” Other sites will pay an upfront fee for clothes rather than take a percentage of the sale price.
ThredUp. While other consignment shops focus solely on luxury brands, ThredUp makesonline clothing sales accessible to the average person. “Our sweet spot is those brands you can find at the mall and wear every day,” says Samantha Jacob, a ThredUp spokesperson. That means popular names like Old Navy and J Crew are welcomed.
Sellers can request a clean-out kit to send in women’s, children's, maternity and plus size clothing for consideration. The postage is pre-paid by the company. ThredUp uses an algorithm that looks at the brand, style, season and current inventory to price items. Depending on what is submitted, the site may make an upfront payment or list clothes on a consignment basis. Sellers receive anywhere from 5 percent of the sale price for women’s items valued lower than $14.99 to 80 percent of the price of goods expected to sell for $300 or more.
ThredUp has a payout estimator on its website for those who want to value their goods before sending them. Items that are not accepted or that do not sell are recycled. Sellers can also ask for their clothing to be returned, but they must pay a fee to do so.
The RealReal. For luxury goods, The RealReal is one of the top online consignment shops. “Buying and wearing pre-owned has lost its stigma, especially when it comes to designer clothes,” Sanna says. “It almost comes with bragging rights to say you got it off The RealReal.” Burberry, Chanel and Hermes are just a few of the brands sold on the site.
Like ThredUP, sellers can request a shipping package with pre-paid postage to mail their clothes. In some areas of the country, The RealReal also offers in-home pick up of goods for consignment. Sellers get paid on a sliding scale. Those with sales of less than $1,500 will get a 55 percent commission as will all items priced lower than $120. The percentage climbs to 70 percent for those with sales in excess of $10,000, and an 80 percent commission is paid on some fine watches and all Hermes Birkins.
Items that haven’t sold after a year can be sent back to sellers, at their cost. Otherwise, unsold clothing is donated to charity. A free valuation service is provided to those who want a price estimate before sending in a piece of apparel.
Poshmark. Poshmark isn’t a traditional consignment shop, because sellers must manage their own listings. Sellers take photos, upload descriptions and determine their own price. “The benefit of going to them is they market the apparel,” Fabregas says.
Sellers also keep far more of the sales proceeds than they would through a traditional consignment shop. For items with a sale price lower than $15, Poshmark charges a flat fee of $2.95. More expensive items are subject to a 20 percent commission. When an item sells on Poshmark, the company provides a pre-paid shipping label that sellers use to mail the purchase directly to the buyer.
While luxury goods can be sold on Poshmark, the site accepts listings for hundreds of brands at various price points.
Vestiaire Collective. Focusing solely on high-end brands, Vestiaire Collective is making a name for itself as a site for pre-owned luxury goods. The website caters to a global audience and operates on a hybrid system that combines elements of a traditional consignment shop with peer-to-peer sales.
Sellers send photos and descriptions of their items to the site for review. If approved, Vestiaire Collective lists them on their site, and sellers hold onto the clothes until they are sold. Once a sale is made, the consigner is provided a pre-paid label to send the item to the company. The purchase’s authenticity is then confirmed and the item is shipped to the buyer. Site commissions run from 18 to 33 percent, depending on a product’s value. A flat fee of $25 is charged for items sold for less than $70.
For those who don’t want the hassle of taking photos or shipping multiple items, Vestiaire Collective offers a concierge service. Not available in all areas, this option works like a traditional consignment shop. The website handles all the photos, descriptions and shipping and also stores items until they sell.
[Read: 10 Ways to Save on Your Wardrobe.]
EBay. There is no reason to go out and open a new account to sell your clothing online when you may already belong to one of the largest marketplaces on the web. “I wouldn’t discount eBay,” Fabregas says. “It’s the biggest consignment shop out there.”
While eBay isn’t exclusively for clothing sales, it has a customer base that dwarfs many of the niche sites. It also provides 50 free listings a month, and its commission is only 10 percent of the final price, although there may be additional fees for certain payment methods. Originally an auction site, eBay now lets sellers set a fixed price for their items.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of eBay is the flexibility to offer any brand of clothing for sale and to bundle items into lots for easier packaging and shipping. Fabregas adds that people shouldn’t be put off by the prospect of mailing their items. “Clothing is the easiest thing to package and the cheapest, too,” she says.
If you have a closet full of items you no longer wear, now may be the time to reevaluate your wardrobe. Don’t let your clothes gather dust when you could be selling them for cash on one of these top online consignment shops.