Anyone ever tried to sell used clothes online?
If you have, you probably know what a giant headache it can be. From fielding questions from people wanting to know which brand your Topshop dress is, to the constant queues at the post office, trying to sell used clothes can sometimes feel like waaaay more trouble than it’s worth. And by, “sometimes,” I mean, “almost all the time.” Over the years, however, I have experimented with a few different methods of selling used clothes for cash, and today I thought I’d list some of them, for those of you who’re currently standing in the middle of a clothes mountain, thinking, “NOW what?”.
This obviously isn’t an exhaustive list of ways to sell used clothes, it’s purely the things I’ve tried myself, so suggestions are always welcome!
Where to sell used clothes
eBay is probably the best-known place to sell used clothes online, and some would argue it’s still the best. I’ve sold hundreds of items on eBay over the years – in fact, I once had my own eBay shop, which I had aspirations of turning into a full-time business. That didn’t work out, unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately: I much prefer blogging to retail!), but I continued to sell used clothes there for a long time. I stopped selling on eBay a while back, when they changed the rules and stopped allowing sellers to leave negative feedback for buyers. I felt it led to a real change in the community: when buyers know they can’t get bad feedback for a transaction, it makes them much more likely to not pay, to quibble over the price, or to cause other problems, safe in the knowledge that there are no real consequences for them. That was my experience, anyway, and although I did eventually come back to eBay, and will list something there occasionally, I tend to find it more trouble than it’s worth these days.
My main issue with eBay is that so many buyers now expect to get something for more-or-less nothing: many of them aren’t willing to pay what I would consider to be a fair price, even if the item is brand new with tags, and that can be very frustrating. I’ve listed plenty of items from high-end brands, some of them in brand-new condition, and had them sell for just a few pounds, which just isn’t worth it, especially when you take into account the amount of time that goes into photographing the item, creating the listing, responding to questions, and then packaging it up and taking it to the post office.
These days, when I do sell used clothes on eBay, I always list my items as “Buy it Now” rather than putting them up for auction: it can take much longer to sell them that way, but at least I know I’ll get the price I want, and won’t end up having to walk to the post office for 99p. eBay now offers sellers 20 free listings per month, which also makes the service more attractive, as you only have to pay if your item sells: previously I would sometimes end up paying more to eBay than I actually made from it: not a good idea!
When I got tired of my eBay items selling at auction for less money than it cost me to package them up, I decided to try my luck with ASOS marketplace. This is part of the hugely popular ASOS retail site, and allows you to register for a profile and start selling your used clothes online. Unlike eBay, where items are mostly auctioned, ASOS marketplace allows you to set up your own “boutique” where you can upload photos of the items you’re selling, and set your price. It’s free to list, with ASOS taking a percentage of the value if your item sells.
I listed around 10 items on ASOS marketplace a couple of years ago, but didn’t have a lot of luck with it. Each listing runs for three months (assuming the item doesn’t sell), and I think I only sold one or two items in that time. In retrospect, I probably didn’t put enough effort into my listings: unlike eBay, where many sellers will simply photograph their item on the bed or floor, ASOS marketplace is primarily used by of professional sellers and brands, who put a lot of effort into making their clothes look as good as possible. Most items are modelled by a person, rather than just hanging on the back of a door, and the site has the feel of a “proper” online store, which means that if you want to sell there successfully, you need to make your listing as professional as possible. On the plus side, I liked the fact that I didn’t have to pay anything for the items which didn’t sell, so there was no financial risk in trying it out.
Consignment stores are retailers (either online or offline) who will sell used clothes on your behalf, either in their store or on their website. There’s no upfront charge for this service, but the consignment store will split the proceeds of the sale with you: the percentage they take will vary, but a 50/50 split seems fairly common.
I had my first experience of consignment back in 2014, when I took a bag of used clothes to a consignment store which had opened in my local area. The main thing to bear in mind if you’re trying this method of selling old clothes is that your experience will differ from store-to-store (or site-to-site if it’s an online store): not only does each store have different policies, their location will also play a role in your success or otherwise.
In my case, the store I visited was in a small town which isn’t exactly known for fashion: I knew from this that I’d probably make a lot less than I would from a consignment store in the centre of a busy city, say, and I was right. I took in 15 items of clothing, of which they sold 9, with me making just under £40. It’s not a lot of money, but these were all items I’d previously attempted to sell on eBay/ASOS without success, so I figured it was better than nothing, especially considering that there was no work involved on my part: I simply dropped off the clothes, and they did the rest.
Depop is essentially a cross between eBay and Instagram: the layout is very similar to the latter, but instead of simply posting photos of your breakfast, or whatever, you post photos of clothes and accessories you want to sell online, and people can either hit the ‘buy now’ button, or make you an offer. All payments go through the Depop app, which takes a cut of the profit, but other than that, it’s up to you to negotiate with the buyer and handle the sale.
I do have an account on Depop, but have only tried listing a couple of items there, neither of which sold. Obviously there could be lots of reasons for that, which have nothing to do with the app itself (wrong clothes, wrong price etc), and it seems to be pretty popular, so it could be worth a shot. Of course, if you have a decent-sized Instagram following, and post a lot of outfit shots (meaning that your followers are likely to like the kind of things you wear), you might prefer to cut out the middle man altogether, and sell via Instagram. I know quite a few bloggers who sell used clothes that way, and they seem to do really well out of it, although it’s not something I’ve tried myself.
I became aware of Twicely last year, when their ads kept popping up on my Facebook feed, and I was initially really excited about it, thinking I´d finally found a way to sell used clothes without all the hassle of the other method´s I´d tried. This site basically works on a consignment model: first of all, you order a (free) shipping bag from them, which you fill with clothes and accessories, and then send back. They’ll then go through what you’ve sent, and either make you an upfront offer for it, or sell it on a consignment basis, meaning that you get a percentage of the sale price it it sells. Any items they don’t accept can be returned to you, but be aware that you’ll have to pay the return shipping for this!
I’ve used Twicely a couple of times now, with varied results. The first time, I made around £20, from two large bags of clothing, which I was really disappointed with. I decided to give them another go, though, as I liked the convenience of just being able to send them my items, and receive an upfront payment without the hassle of having to list it all myself. This time, I made around £80 altogether, which was much better: again, though, a lot of items were rejected, despite being brand new (sometimes with tags), and the ones they did accept were listed for much less than I felt they were worth. When I asked why this was, I was told that I’m “not a popular size”, and that they struggle to sell items in the size I’d sent them. That´s fair enough, I suppose, but if they know a particular size is hard to sell, I wish they’d just state that on their website, so I’d have known not to bother.
I probably wouldn’t use the service again, for that reason (although £80 seems like a decent amount, I know I’d have been able to earn much more on eBay for the same items, if I’d had the patience to list everything!), but if you’re lucky enough to wear a “popular” size, you might do much better. It’s also worth being aware, however, that Twicely are very picky about brands, and will only accept high street brands from the higher price brackets (think Boden, rather than Primark), and well-known designer items. I had quite a few retro brands and lesser-known designers rejected, even although the items were worth more than some of the other stuff I’d sent. They do have a brand list on the website, so it’s really my fault for sending those items in the first place, but it’s worth being aware of.
Cash for Clothes
My last resort when it comes to selling old clothes is an organisation called Cash for Clothes, which, as the name suggests, will pay cash for your used clothes. Unlike the consignment store model, you don’t have to wait for the items to sell before you get paid: you get cash upfront, with the organisation simply weighing your bag of clothes and calculating your payment based on that. As with all of the above venues, they require the clothes to be clean and in good condition, but they don’t have any restrictions beyond that, so if you have a large volume of unwanted clothing to get rid of, it can be an easy way to make a small amount of money from it. “Small” is the operative word here, though: Cash for Clothes pay 50p per kilo of clothing, so I don’t recommend it for high-value items: rather, it’s a way to make a little bit of money from a large-scale clearout, particularly if it contains a lot of lower value items, which you don´t want to sell individually.
As I said, this is by no means an exhaustive list, and is made up of only the methods I´ve used personally to sell used clothes. Unfortunately, a lot of the other websites I´ve found have been based in the US, and either don´t accept items from the UK, or the shopping costs would be prohibitively expensive (One of the reasons I don´t use Instagram to sell, for instance, is that I know how expensive it can be to ship items internationally, especially if you´re using a method that´s trackable…), so I haven´t tried them, but would love to hear your experiences if you have! Do you sell used clothes? How do you do it?