Is your closet at max capacity? Or are your kids’ closets bursting at the seams? Either way, you’re due for a clean out — and in my house, we’ll be making three piles: keep, donate, and sell.
The third category is new, after a recent attempt to unload some of my daughter’s old items opened my eyes to the online consignment trend. It turned out to be a great (and easy) way to make some extra cash. We caught up with Julie Wainwright, the founder and CEO of online luxury resale store The RealReal. She offers some important dos, don’ts and considerations for sellers — newbie and experienced.
If you’re selling: The key stat is how many customers (or unique visitors) the site or shopping app gets each month. “You want is the largest audience possible,” says Wainwright. Also important? How long, on average, it takes someone to make a sale on the site — a question you can pose to customer service if the information isn't readily available online. Look too, Wainwright says, at the percentage of the sale you net, as well as how and when the site pays you. Some sites, she says, pay monthly. Others hold the money for 90 days. Finally, look whether the site answers buyer questions and ships the items, or is this something you do? “Consider how engaged you want to be,” says Wainwright.
Here’s the lowdown on a few platforms that will help you clear out your unwanted items online:
- Site statistics: About three million sellers and buyers.
- How you sell: First check their Designer Directory to see if they’ll accept your goods. If you’re a go, print a pre-paid FedEx shipping label to send your stuff in. Once they receive your items, they’ll authenticate, photograph and price them for you. Your pieces that don’t make the cut will be returned.
- Sale time: On average, three days.
- Your commission: You start by earning 60 percent of an item’s price. Once you hit $7,500 worth of annual sales, they bump you up to 70 percent.
- Payment process: You get paid on the 15th of every month for the previous month’s sales.
- Notes: The RealReal specializes in luxury consignment. Think high-end designer brands like Marc Jacobs, Jimmy Choo and Gucci. You can sell more than just clothes on the site — shoes, bags, jewelry and even artwork are accepted.
- Members: Over one million.
- How you sell: Like The RealReal, thredUp makes the closet-to-store process pretty seamless. You request one of their “CleanOut” bags online. Fill it with gently used clothes (kids and women’s), shoes, accessories and purses. (See their site for quality standards.) Then ship to them for free. They receive it, sort it, accept the items suited for retail, price them and post them. Note: They typically accept only about half of what they receive. Anything, they don’t accept will be donated to their charity partners or textile recycling companies. If you want them back, you can pay $12.99 for the return.
- Sale time: Mainstream brands typically sell in about three weeks. Higher end brands move more quickly. "Tory Burch shoes typically sell within five days — and Prada is known to sell that day," says spokesperson Farrell Klein.
- Your commission: It depends on how much thredUP lists the garment. If it's less than $39.99, then they'll pay you up front — the lower the listing price, the smaller the commission (i.e. you'll earn 25% if your garment is $10-14.99). With these lower-priced items, you’re paid upfront, regardless of whether it sells or not. If your item is over $40, however, then it's up for consignment. You’re only paid if they sell, but can earn 50 to 80% of the selling price. Again, it depends on the listing price. The more expensive thredUP prices it, the greater percentage of the sale's profits you net.
- Payment process: Cash out with PayPal 14 days after thredUP either buys your items or sells them via consignment. Alternately you can use the money as shopping credits on the site.
- Notes: A reporter who works with me tested this out, sending in a bag of items she would have otherwise donated — everything from a J. Crew bridesmaid dress to Lucky Brand boots and a cotton dress from Target. The site offered her close to $50 — an outright payout on everything but the bridesmaid dress, for which she earned $26 on consignment when it sold (and it did). She says she threw in a few brands — like the Target dress — that she didn’t think they’d take, and was surprised by what sold. The lesson? When in doubt, send it in, especially if you’re planning to donate it anyway.
- Unique monthly visitors: Millions says a spokesperson. For context, the platform's top 25 sellers average over 100,000 people following their closets.
- How you sell: Poshmark’s site and app is based on peer-to-peer sales, and there are no brand requirements. You can list items for free by creating a profile and snapping photos (via your iPhone or Android device) of the items you wish to sell. You're in charge of the pricing and the posting. When you make a sale, they’ll send you a pre-paid, pre-addressed label to send off your merchandise to its new owner.
- Sale time: Three to five days, on average.
- Your commission: For sales under $15, Poshmark takes a flat commission of $2.95. You pocket the rest. More than $15 and you keep 80% of your sale.
- Payment process: Once your item has been delivered and received by your buyer, the earnings (which you can shop with or withdraw as cash at anytime) officially become yours.
- Notes: The RealReal’s Wainwright says Poshmark is great for moving lower-priced goods. “The women in my office use it to sell their Zara and H&M pieces.”
With Kelly Hultgren
Jean Chatzky is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.