Our Step-By-Step Guide to Setting Up an Online Clothing Resale Shop

A woman photographs an outfit to sell online.
Getty Images

Shopping usually means spending money — but what if you could use your passion for shopping to make some money?

That’s a real possibility, thanks to the booming world of online clothing reselling.

With platforms like Mercari, Poshmark and eBay, it’s easy to launch your own online clothing resale business.  These six steps will help you get started.

1. Select a Platform

Your first step? Pick a platform.

Several online marketplaces are available for you to resell your clothing. Here’s a breakdown of three of the most popular options.

eBay

Everyone knows about eBay. It’s been around since the ‘90s, and you can buy and sell nearly everything, from car parts to cribs to new and used clothing.

What’s good about selling on eBay:

  • You can promote your items with eBay advertising, which is a simple and affordable way to get more eyes on your item.
  • You can sell your products around the world.
  • Once you list your items, you don’t have to do much with your store to make sales

What’s not so good about eBay:

  • Listing items can be time-consuming due to the amount of detail required.
  • Your buyers have up to 180 days to make returns, that means you could be required to provide a refund up to six months after making the sale.
  • Buyers have two days to pay for an item after purchasing it, so you may have to wait a bit to get paid.

Shipping

You can charge a flat shipping rate or let eBay calculate it based on distance, packaging and item’s size. When you purchase your shipping label through PayPal, you’ll pay commercial shipping rates which are less expensive than purchasing a shipping label using another method.

Fees

Ebay’s fees can be a bit confusing. Your final fees will ultimately depend on the final sale price. Learn more about their selling fees.

Pro Tip

Here’s how one writer earned $800 a month by reselling thrifted clothes on eBay.

Poshmark

Poshmark is best known as a marketplace that combines shopping with the interactivity of social media.

What’s good about selling on Poshmark:

  • The social aspect is great If you like being part of a community.
  • It’s simple to list your items.
  • Poshmark calculates exactly how much you’ll receive after your fees are taken out.

What’s not so good about Poshmark:

  • It can be time-consuming as you have to build followers, share your items, follow other sellers, list regularly and more to keep your store relevant.
  • The shipping fees can be off-putting.
  • There seems to be more emphasis placed on selling over buying, so there’s more competition.

Shipping

There’s a flat-rate fee of $7.11 for packages weighing 5 lbs. or less.

Fees

You pay a $2.95 fee for sales under $15 and a 20% fee for transactions over $15.

Pro Tip

Want to get started with Poshmark? These five expert tips will set you up for success.

Mercari

Mercari is a simple resale platform that gives users the ability to sell everything, including technology, handmade items, home goods — and clothing.

What’s good about selling on Mercari:

  • It’s easy to list your items.
  • The commission you have to pay is lower than some other platforms.

What’s not so good about Mercari:

  • Sales can be slow.

Shipping

You have three options:

  • Buy shipping labels through Mercari at up to 60% off retail.
  • Purchase separate shipping.
  • Use their pack and ship service.

Fees

They require that you pay a flat 10% commission on each sale. No listing fees or varying percentages.

Pro Tip

Check out our round-up of six of the best places to sell clothes online.

2. Choose Your Inventory Wisely

After choosing a platform, it’s time for the fun part — shopping!

You have a few different ways to build inventory for your reselling store:

  • Retail arbitrage: This is when you go to buy items that are on sale at a deep discount and resell them for a profit.
  • Resell pallets: Retailers like Amazon and ThredUp sell resell pallets featuring customer returns in bulk. This allows you to buy a lot of inventory at a discount. You can purchase a ThredUp Rescue Box on their website. You’ll have to do some research to track down resell pallets from other retailers.
  • Thrifting: Thrifting is a common way to find inventory. Just visit your local thrift store and look for quality items to resell online.

When looking for inventory, you’ll want to avoid:

  • Items with damage, stains or holes.
  • Items with strong odors.
  • Luxury goods that aren’t authenticated. If an item doesn’t state that it’s authenticated, you’ll want to inquire about whether it is and request an authentication card or certificate.
  • Items missing brand or size tags.

3. Set Your Price

A woman types on a computer with clothes surrounding her that she's trying to sell online.
Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

The price you set for your inventory can be the difference between making money and breaking even — or losing money — as a reseller.

When pricing your items, you’ll need to keep the following things in mind:

  • What prices similar items have sold for.
  • What you’ll have to pay if you offer free shipping.
  • The fees charged by your platform.
  • The costs of packaging.

Don’t forget to include the cost of your time and your overall income goals.

4. Take Pictures That Sell

Pictures are worth a thousand words — so think about what you want your items to say.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Lighting: Use natural light when possible or invest in artificial lighting that will accurately showcase your items.
  • Camera: Most smartphones can take high-quality pictures. Just be sure you use the right settings and angles.
  • Styling: Decide whether you want to use a mannequin for your items, create a flat lay, or hang them. There’s no right or wrong answer; it often comes down to preference.

Here are some more general tips to help you make the best of your visuals:

  • Keep your background free of clutter and distractions.
  • Stage your photos.
  • Don’t use flash.
  • Enhance your images with light editing.
  • Zoom in on the details.
  • Clearly show any imperfections.

5. List the Details

Your listing information — like your pictures — can make or break a sale.

It’s essential to include both basic information and any additional info to help your potential buyer make a decision.

Here are some things to include in your descriptions

  • Item measurements.
  • Color.
  • What occasion or activity it’s best suited for.
  • Anything that makes it special.
  • The material.
  • Size, including special sizes like petite, wide or big & tall.
  • Condition of the clothing item.

6. Promote Your Listings

Once your listings are live, you can set it and forget it, or you can promote them to try to sell your items quicker.

Here are a few ways you can promote your listings.

  • Social media: Set up a social media profile for your reselling business. Add images of new items to your profile listing where they can be purchased and the price. You can also consider sharing behind the scenes of your reselling business to drive traffic to your selling platforms.
  • Paid advertising: Some platforms like eBay and Mercari allow you to promote your listings, which helps them get seen by more people. They have a simple advertising system, so it’s easy, and you only pay if you sell the item.
  • Facebook groups: There’s a Facebook group for everything. Connect with other resellers and thrifting lovers to get more eyes on your store and the items you have for sale.

Quiana Darden is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.