In my last post, I gave an update on how I’m doing with most of the “20 for 2020” goals that I set for myself back in January – and later revised in May, after it became abundantly clear that this year wasn’t going to go at all as planned. I probably should have divided my last post into at least two parts, as it was a long one that covered all of my goals related to health/personal growth, writing/work/productivity, family/relationships, fun, and other miscellaneous objectives.
The only area that I didn’t cover last time was my wardrobe, so that’s what I’m going to delve into now. However, in the interest of avoiding “marathon posts,” I’m now going to wisely divide my wardrobe goal review into two or three parts (we’ll see how it goes…). Today’s post covers my first wardrobe goal: “Sell designated items on eBay or similar site.” I wrote about this topic twice back in September, once right after I first listed thirty items for sale and again a few weeks later after I had learned some key lessons that I wanted to share. It’s now over three months since I started selling online and closing in on the end of the year, so it’s a good time to reflect back on how selling my wardrobe castoffs has worked out for me.
Selling Clothing Online – By the Numbers
Let’s start with some numbers… To date, I have sold 29 wardrobe items online via eBay and Poshmark, and I have earned a grand total of $975.62 (after fees). It’s been nice to be able to recoup a portion of my losses for mistake purchases, but of course it would have been much better not to have made those buying errors in the first place! More on that topic later – for now I just want to share data and photos of what I sold online.
Here’s a quick snapshot view of the items I’ve sold:
If I look at item types for what I sold, here’s how it shakes out:
- 10 jackets/coats
- 3 cardigans
- 1 top
- 6 pairs of pants/jeans
- 3 pairs of shoes
- 6 jewelry items (4 necklaces, 2 pairs of earrings)
Where Things Sold
Of the 29 items that I sold online, 15 sold on eBay and 14 sold on Poshmark. As you may recall from my September posts, I listed everything on eBay first and later cross-posted the items on Poshmark after a reader suggested that I might have better luck there. I’ll get into my experiences with both platforms in a bit, but first I’ll highlight what sold where.
I sold the following 15 items on eBay and earned $647.30 from those sales, after the eBay fees were subtracted:
Here’s a breakdown of those sales by category:
- 7 jackets/coats
- 1 cardigan
- 4 pairs of pants
- 1 top
- 1 pair of shoes
- 1 jewelry item (a necklace)
The 14 items below were sold on Poshmark for a net income of $328.32 (after the 20% Poshmark fee was subtracted from the sales prices):
My Poshmark sales can be broken down as follows:
- 3 jackets/coats
- 2 cardigans
- 2 pairs of pants
- 2 pairs of shoes
- 5 jewelry items (3 necklaces, 2 pairs of earrings)
It’s important to note that I listed some additional items on Poshmark that had not originally been posted on eBay. In fact, seven of the items that sold on Poshmark (a jacket, a cardigan, and the five jewelry pieces) were not previously listed on eBay (I did all of the eBay listings first). It may look like jewelry sells better on Poshmark, but I only listed one necklace on eBay (a black “pearl” toggle necklace from Cabi) and that was one of the first items that sold. I’ll share more thoughts about selling jewelry online later on in the post when I get to some of my lessons learned.
What is Still Listed for Sale
At this point, I still have 22 items listed for sale on Poshmark and 8 items listed on eBay, as shown below.
The reason why there are so many more items listed on Poshmark is because of the multiple additional listings I made on that platform after I started to sell there. Because I was having a lot of early success with selling online, I identified more items in my closet and jewelry box that I didn’t really love and was ready to pass on. I was excited at the prospect of making more money through online selling, so I took the time to photograph additional items and get them posted.
It’s relatively easy to list something for sale on Poshmark, once you ensure that you have good images (they must be square pictures or cropped to be that shape) and some basic information to share with prospective buyers. Listing on eBay is more time-consuming, as there are many more required fields to complete before an item can go live to be sold. For these reasons, I only listed the additional items on Poshmark. I also wanted to focus the bulk of my efforts on just one platform for the sake of ease.
Thoughts on eBay vs. Poshmark
I originally listed my items on eBay for two main reasons. First, I had some minor experience with selling on that platform previously and between my husband and myself (we share an eBay account), we had some history and ratings there, which helps with credibility and buyer trust. Second, I had heard that Poshmark included a social media aspect, which didn’t appeal to me at all. Anyone who has been reading my blog for a while knows that I have a love/hate relationship with social media. It can be a major time-sink and contribute to anxiety and overwhelm, which are both common issues for me.
Since I just wanted to sell a small number of items as opposed to becoming a longer-term seller, I thought it would be easier to just stick with eBay because of my familiarity with it and my not wanting the process to take too much of my time. It was only when a longtime reader (and experienced Poshmark seller) suggested that I might have better luck selling my items on Poshmark that I decided to take the plunge there. It was her contention that I would do well there since I had a cohesive collection of items that might elicit repeat buyers. That type of thing may very well happen for many Poshmark sellers, but it hasn’t been my experience. I did have one buyer purchase both a necklace and a pair of earrings, but otherwise my purchases on both platforms have been one-offs.
I’m glad that I’ve now experienced selling on both eBay and Poshmark, as I’ve bought items on both sites many times and I believe that I will now be a more courteous and respectful buyer (not that I was a bad buyer before!). It’s helpful to understand how the other side operates because I had little idea previously what it was like to be a seller. For one, I didn’t know that Poshmark takes 20% of all sales proceeds and that in most instances, sellers on that platform have to “eat” the cost when reduced shipping is offered (although there are some special “closet cleanout days” when Poshmark pays the shipping differential).
I also didn’t realize that if I “like” items (Poshmark) or add them to my watchlist (eBay) without intending to buy, I might unnecessarily get a seller’s hopes up that they will soon make a sale. I wish there was a “bookmark” option (other than the standard browser feature) to allow prospective buyers to easily go back and revisit items without having to express interest via “like” or the watchlist. Maybe that feature will be added at some point, but I’ve learned as a seller not to get too excited when someone clicks “like” or “add to watchlist.” I generally make an offer to that person just in case, but more often than not, said offer is met with crickets. I’ve found that most serious buyers will either just purchase the item outright or make an offer, but of course there are exceptions to this.
Why I Prefer eBay
Your mileage may vary, but I’ve decided that I prefer eBay over Poshmark and plan to stick to that platform moving forward. The following are my reasons for that decision:
1 – I like the “list it and forget it” approach.
While it takes longer to complete a listing on eBay versus Poshmark, once the listing is up, there’s little more that needs to be done besides making and responding to offers and perhaps adjusting photos, copy, and pricing if an item isn’t selling (if you don’t want to be patient and just wait for the right buyer to come along). Poshmark includes a “sharing” feature that isn’t required but helps a lot to get listings to appear at the top of search results within the app (which defaults to “just shared”). It’s advisable to share all of one’s listings at least once per day, but many seasoned Poshmark sellers recommend sharing the items in our “closets” (what a seller’s listings are called) three or more times daily. In fact, there are actually services out there that sellers can pay to handle the tedious sharing process on their behalf.
With Poshmark, there are also “parties” that occur four times per day that are usually centered around particular brands or themes (i.e. jackets/coats, jeans, active wear, bags, shoes, boho, preppy, plus size, petites). I’m not sure how much it helps to share listings to the parties, but I’ve been consistently doing it in the hopes that my items might attract more attention. I don’t think I’ve sold anything as a result of these parties, but because they exist, I’ve felt compelled to participate whenever I can. This action doesn’t take a lot of time, but it’s something I need to remember to do at a particular time (the “parties” are two hours long), which takes mental energy and foresight.
Then there’s the social media aspect of Poshmark, which involves “following” other sellers and sharing their items to one’s feed (which is similar to a Facebook or Instagram feed). I read on the Reddit Poshmark subreddit that this isn’t actually beneficial for sellers, as items are only placed up higher in search results when the seller shares them him/herself. Although this hasn’t been specifically stated by Poshmark, the theory is that sharing exists to get more people to buy via the act of perusing other sellers’ closets and consequently seeing things that catch their eyes. I believe this, as I have made a few such purchases myself since I started selling on Poshmark. Conversely, I’ve only bought things on eBay when I’ve been on the hunt for very specific items and searched for them there. There isn’t an eBay feed to scroll through (although you can look through the various category listings); there are only search results to review if one takes that action.
2 – I’ve made more money on eBay.
As mentioned above, I’ve sold 15 items on eBay for a total of $647.30 after fees. This comes out to an average of $43.15 per sale. In contrast, I’ve sold 14 items on Poshmark for $328.32 after fees, which works out as only $23.45 per item on average. That’s a big difference!
Now it is true that I started selling on eBay first (about three weeks earlier), so perhaps some of the more desirable items sold there first, but I don’t think that accounts for that much of the difference. For one, Poshmark takes a much bigger piece of the pie (20% versus about 10% for eBay – it varies by category). Yes, creating the listings and handling shipping are much easier with Poshmark (sellers are emailed a shipping label to attach to whatever packaging they choose), but other than that I’ve found Poshmark to be much more time-consuming and involved and for a lower profit.
3 – With eBay, sellers get the money right away.
Once a buyer purchases something on eBay and pays for the item, the seller receives the money right away. With Poshmark, the funds are not available until after the buyer gets the item and “accepts” it (which is done by clicking a box within the app), which they don’t always do right away. A seller will have the proceeds deposited into his/her Poshmark account automatically after three days if the buyer doesn’t accept the item right away (some buyers never accept an item!).
It’s important to note, though, that funds deposited into a seller’s Poshmark account are only available at that point for purchasing items via the app. Should a seller wish to direct-deposit the money into their checking account or receive a check in the mail, that will take at least a few days longer. What all this means is that it can take up to two weeks after a sale to be able to use the money. That may not matter to some people if they don’t need it right away, but it is a factor to consider when comparing the two platforms.
One potential caveat here is that eBay recently moved from processing payments via PayPal to doing “managed payments,” which may result in sellers being paid more slowly than before (the site says “payouts are consistently initiated Monday through Friday, within 2 business days of order confirmation”). I don’t know a lot about this, but it’s something to consider if you’re deciding between selling platforms. I just signed up for managed payments (it won’t be required until sometime next year) and I haven’t sold anything since then, so I’m not sure how it will impact my payments just yet, but hopefully I won’t see much of a difference. I actually like the idea of money being deposited directly into my checking account versus having to deal with PayPal transfers, even if it takes a bit longer.
4 – Poshmark seems to have more of a “garage sale” mentality.
As I highlighted under reason #2 above, I’ve earned more money on average for my eBay sales than my Poshmark sales. I think part of that is because Poshmark buyers seem to be more determined to receive “a deal” than eBay buyers are. Of course, all online buyers want to feel that they’re paying a fair price for what they’re purchasing, but it seems like most Poshmark buyers will hold out for a really low price on a lot of items. I’m sure this varies, especially when it comes to more high-end designer goods (which is not what I’m trying to sell), but I’ve seen this pattern at play during my short tenure as an online seller.
I’ve had far more of my eBay items sell for the asking price or slightly below, whereas I’ve often had to keep lowering the price of my Poshmark items in order to sell them. I’ve gotten more “lowball” offers on Poshmark, too. If the offer is too low, I generally ignore it, but otherwise I will counter-offer, which has resulted in more sales on eBay versus Poshmark. I’ve found that I’ve had to list my Poshmark items for quite a bit higher than what I hope to sell them for just to make up for the strong tendency for buyers to haggle and get a “good deal.”
More Observations and Lessons Learned about Online Selling
Jewelry and Shoes are Harder to Sell Than Clothing
I haven’t found jewelry to be particularly easy to sell online, but that may be because many of the pieces I’ve listed are not name-brand items. Only one of the jewelry pieces that I sold did not have a brand attached to it, a pair of earrings with inlaid turquoise stones. The other five pieces were from well-known brands like Brighton and Cabi, which prospective buyers likely search for by name.
My jewelry items that have not sold (and haven’t even gotten many “likes”) are mostly either handmade (not by me!) or I don’t recall their makers (although I still have a Chico’s necklace listed). I think that since most online resale purchases are found via Google searches or through queries within the individual selling platforms, it’s going to be challenging to sell pieces that aren’t from particular recognizable brands. If one is highly adept at including keywords that are frequently used in searches, they might have better luck, but this is not an area of expertise for me and I didn’t take a lot of time to do keyword research, either.
As for shoes, while I have sold three pairs, I’ve also had four other pairs listed for months that have received very little traction. I think that while many people are okay with purchasing clothing online, they can be more squeamish when it comes to buying used shoes. This is understandable because although it’s very easy to just throw used clothing in the washing machine, cleaning pre-owned shoes is more complicated and cannot be done as thoroughly as many might prefer.
It seems like more current shoes and those from certain desirable brands may sell better, as well as brand new, unworn shoes. In fact, the first item that I sold on Poshmark was a pair of “new in box” shoes. I’ve been surprised that a pair of peep-toe booties that I only wore twice have no likes on Poshmark and very few views on eBay (we can’t see how many times an item has been viewed on Poshmark), but I guess maybe the brand (Earthies) is more obscure or less desirable.
More Recent / “Current” Items Sell Better
This seems pretty obvious, but I wanted to share this observation anyways. Even within the more in-demand brands (for my items, Cabi and Athleta have done well), pieces from the past year – or maybe two – sell a lot better. I think this is because more prospective buyers are searching for them specifically, as opposed to just perusing offerings in their size from a certain maker.
This realization would lend credence to the practice of reviewing one’s closet often and making earlier decisions regarding passing things on, especially if one wants to sell them online and recoup some of their losses. I actually “sat” on some of my items for a few years, partly because of the “sunk cost fallacy,” when ironically I would have been able to make more money on them had I acted earlier. We usually know deep down what we will or won’t wear, but guilt often has us hold on to things in the hope that we might wear them one day.
Dresses and Skirts Don’t Seem to Sell Well
I have three dresses and one skirt listed and they have gotten very little traction. One of the dresses is “new with tags” and is currently being offered at around a quarter of the original retail price (I got it on sale myself, but I’m selling it at a loss), but I’ve had no “bites.” Perhaps dresses and skirts usually sell better, but most people aren’t dressing up much due to the global pandemic. However, some of the items that I’ve been able to sell have been fairly dressy. I think a difference might be that those pieces could be worn to an office versus going out, and some people are still going to offices these days or wearing business clothes (at least the top half anyway) for Zoom meetings.
Of course, I may be reaching with this observation because of a very small sample size, but I really thought my dresses and skirt would have sold by now, as they’re all fairly current (the skirt may be less so, but I don’t know its year of manufacture because I bought it at a resale shop). I remember when I used to shop in-person resale a lot, though. There were many dresses, skirts, and suits on offer and many of them weren’t at all current. I think people tend to hang on to these items longer than with other pieces, so maybe they’re not being searched for on resale sites quite as often.
Obscure Designer Items Take Much Longer to Sell
I have two designer items that I thought would sell well but aren’t. One item is a designer handbag that retails for almost $700! I had no idea when I purchased this item at a resale shop last year that it retailed for such a high price. I actually thought I would use it, but it turned out that I did not (the bag doesn’t have enough structure to it for my preferences). It’s still in excellent condition and continues to be sold via the designer’s website, but I’ve had no interest in it at all from prospective buyers.
In contrast, I see tons of Louis Vuitton, Kate Spade, and Coach bags listed on Poshmark (I don’t see eBay listings unless I search for them specifically, but I see a lot of Poshmark listings when I do the “sharing” there). I don’t know how well such items are selling, but I would think sellers wouldn’t keep listing them if they aren’t being sold for good prices.
I also have a well-made designer skirt listed, but I had never heard of that designer (Didier Parakian) previously, just as I had never heard of the handbag designer (Paige Hamilton). The skirt probably also retailed for a high price, but I can’t find it online anywhere. It doesn’t really matter, though, because these items are only worth what someone will pay for them and the demand seems very low. Perhaps the perfect buyer will come along eventually, but I might lose patience for the selling process before that happens.
November and December Aren’t Good Months for Sellers
I only sold one item during November and just two items so far this month. This is in sharp contrast to the excellent sales I experienced during September and October. At first, I thought this was just my experience, but many of the sellers in the Poshmark and eBay subreddits have also been complaining of slow sales during these last two months. I’ve read that “new with tags” items may still be selling well to give as gifts, but sales of used items have slowed way down. I was originally going to stop selling my items at the end of the year and just donate the rest, but I may wait until the end of January just in case things pick up after the holidays.
It makes sense that there might be fewer sales of pre-owned items when people are focused on holiday shopping, as most gifts given are new items. Even though a lot of people shop for themselves on the online selling platforms, they’re likely busier at the moment with holiday-related activities (even if there won’t be many gatherings this year, I’m sure gifts and cards will still be exchanged in many instances). I also think that many people have less disposable income to spend on themselves in light of the ongoing pandemic, which may also account for the sales slowdown. Additionally, the US election and its aftermath may also play a role for US-based sellers. I think many Americans are feeling very unsettled at the moment with the state of politics in our country, not to mention the sharp increase in Covid-19 infections and related restrictions that are happening here.
The Bottom Line – What’s Next?
I’ve said a lot here and I’m glad I opted to make this a standalone post since it’s still quite long! I hope you’ve found my observations on online selling helpful and/or interesting, even if you never intend to sell anything online yourself. Now that I’ve shared why I prefer eBay over Poshmark and told you about some of the things I’ve learned during my recent selling experience, you may be wondering what I’m going to do now.
At this point, I don’t see myself listing anything else on Poshmark and I will probably revert to just being a periodic buyer on that platform very soon. I don’t like the energy required to be a seller there and I think it’s more geared toward sellers who are doing it as a full-time business or at least as a “side hustle.” I’ve read that sellers who have hundreds of listings tend to fare better than casual sellers like me who are just trying to offload a handful of items, perhaps because of the “culture” and social media aspect of the platform.
I do have about ten more items that I plan to list on eBay soon, but I may not get around to doing that until early next year. When I stop selling on Poshmark, I’m probably only going to list a few of those items on eBay that aren’t already represented there. I’m not going to take the time to list the non-name-brand jewelry pieces because they just don’t seem to sell well. This is probably due to their not showing up easily in searches (it’s much easier to search by a brand name or specific item name than by generic terms like “silver beaded earrings”). It will take me longer to list the new items on eBay than it would on Poshmark, but after that, I won’t have to think about them other than to check maybe once a day to see if I need to send out any offers to “watchers.” I won’t have to share anything, follow anyone, or worry about “shopping parties,” which will be a relief!
I don’t plan to ever be more than an occasional online seller in the future. At one time, I thought it might be fun and lucrative to source items at local resale shops and sell them online, but I’ve come to realize that I wouldn’t enjoy that work and it’s not worth the time and energy (to me) for the relatively low profit I might receive. Sure, if I could easily source designer items at low prices, it might be worth it, but I’m not sure how to do that and I don’t have the “hustle” that such work would likely require. I see myself perhaps listing ten or so items per year and being okay with it taking a while for them to sell.
Feeling the Pain of Shopping Mistakes
I hope to continue to improve my shopping success percentage such that the need to offload mistake purchases will be greatly minimized, but I know that it’s impossible to make zero mistakes. I will mostly stick with donating my castoffs like I’ve done for many years. I used to also take some higher-end pieces to a local consignment store, but they’ve recently become much more selective about what they’ll accept. A friend had better luck there this past month, so I may give it another try, including perhaps for pieces that are currently listed online but aren’t selling. I know that I’ll receive less money this way, but my time is worth something, too, and selling online can be both labor-intensive and time-consuming.
Part of the reason why I opted to sell items online this year was to “feel the pain” of poor shopping practices more fully with the hope that I might learn my lesson and do better. I sincerely hope this has been accomplished. I do feel that I will think more deeply about what I choose to buy now, especially when it comes to final sale items (like many of the Cabi pieces were). I will also endeavor to adhere to my shopping priorities list more fully and pay closer attention to return deadlines (a few items that I listed for sale should have been returned but I missed the return window).
While I’m glad that I was able to recoup some of my losses in recent months via eBay and Poshmark, it took a lot of my time and energy and I don’t want to do much of it again. I’ve learned some important lessons and have a better understanding of the seller’s side of things, so I don’t regret the time spent. I also hope that what I’ve learned can help others who are either currently selling online or may be looking to do so. If my words can help others to save time and improve their success rate, then I’ll be all the more grateful for the experience.
This post only covered selling on eBay and Poshmark, but I know there are many other ways to sell online, including Mercari, Depop, Tradesy, ThredUp, and The RealReal (for luxury items). There are also local selling options, such as Facebook Marketplace, Offer Up, LetGo, and Craigslist. All of these platforms have their ups and downs and it’s a very individual decision about which one to use. This post only offers my perspective on selling online and it’s only related to clothing-related items. There is a lot more to know and learn, and I welcome your input to add to the conversation and knowledge base here!
Please feel free to share your thoughts on online selling – and buying – via eBay, Poshmark, or any other platform.
- What did you like – or dislike – about those experiences?
- What tips do you have for those who are interested in selling – or buying – online?
- If you have anything else to say about what I wrote in this post, you’re welcome to weigh in, too!
I’ll be back again soon with more wardrobe updates to close out the year, as well as thoughts on my “enough” theme and my word/theme for 2021 (I haven’t selected it yet, but I’m pondering…). Wishing you a happy and safe holiday season!