How to Make a Killing By Selling Your Clothes on an App
Sometimes it takes a while to realize you have a hoarding problem. My revelation happened this summer, when I took one look at my packed walk-in closet, overstuffed dresser drawers, and cramped attic space. I knew it was time for a massive closet clean-out, but where to begin? I refused to throw anything away (clothing is one of the biggest contributors to landfill waste) and hesitate to consign more expensive, well-loved pieces because the experience can be intimidating and isn’t guaranteed to pay out. It seemed all that was left was to go digital.
Believe it or not, some women make six figures a year using the popular marketplace app Poshmark. (Yes, you read that correctly.) So why not me? I dowloaded the app, starting listing my clothes … and made over $2,000 in two months. Not quite six figures, but I’ll take it. But while I quickly gained 1,000 followers (users who follow your listings) and a steady flow of traffic, I started to resent the 20 percent cuts Poshmark takes and its limited shipping options. Then I found Depop.
Started in 2011, the Milan-based Depop mobile marketplace app is relatively new. It works similarly to Poshmark: Download the free app, create a store name, and take photos of items you want to sell (anything from clothing and accessories to antiques and records). You plug in a few basic selling details – item type, price and description – and anyone in the Depop community can purchase it.
Like Poshmark, sellers and buyers can follow each other, ‘like’ cool listings, and leave love notes. But Depop lets you direct message each other (to negotiate a deal, for instance). It takes less than two minutes to post a listing, and the Depop community is friendly, creative and super-helpful. Inspired to start up your own Depop shop? Here are some tips for how to make the most of your experience:
Learn how to optimize Paypal services.
First, the boring housekeeping stuff: Use Paypal for all payment processing. Think of it as a separate bank account for all of your e-transactions — it’s super easy to use, has a convenient shipping center that can save you trips to the post office, and protects your private financial information from fraud. Paypal is connected to Depop’s Instant Pay feature, which makes purchasing quick and painless (no checkout forms to fill in) by delivering payments and buyer details straight to your Paypal order history. Learn more about Paypal here and register for free.
Familiarize yourself with the shipping process.
Before I set up my shop, I had absolutely no clue about the delicate process of shipping. But Depop lets you make all the rules. Depop gives you the option of choosing USPS, UPS or FedEx, adding insurance to your package, and receiving delivery confirmation emails. Ultimately, keeping better track of your orders means keeping customers happy and diminishing complications. It’s your job to determine things like what your individual shipping schedule looks like, whether you’ll ship domestic or international, and how much you’ll charge. Depop has this helpful beginners guide to shipping prices, which you should use as a loose guide.
My advice? Stock up on multiple-sized flat-rate envelopes, buy a large roll of bubble wrap for shoes and fragile items, and use a mail scale. Precisely weighing your packages is economical (if your item weighs less than 13 ounces, you will save a couple of dollars). Generally, you never have to charge more than $11 shipping unless you’re shipping a bundle (more than one item).
Always triple check that you’re mailing the right item to the right person, and verify that the buyer’s address on Depop is the same as the one listed on their Paypal. Another tip: Provide proof with either with a tracking number or pictorial evidence. It’s not only courteous but acts as added fraud-prevention for you.
Always be patient, courteous, and honest.
When you’re a new shop on the block, it might take some time for your business to take flight. Don’t get discouraged if it’s been several weeks and you still haven’t made a single sale — use it as motivation to improve the quality of your listings and cultivate a niche in the Depop community. If reselling vintage clothes is your thing, capitalize on that! If you take care to make a good first impression with your first few sales then others will start to take notice of your glowing reviews.
Just like with any other retail job, it’s inevitable that you’ll encounter situations that will test your patience. Your initial reaction to rude feedback might be panic or even outrage, which is totally understandable. After all, even one bad review can damage your credibility as a seller. But take a moment to chill out before responding. Remember that anyone can easily screenshot and publicize your responses, so it’s important to always be honest and courteous, even if you know you did nothing wrong. Conversely, if you know you made a mistake and sent out something that was defective, own up to it. Offer a discount on their next purchase or a refund if it’s that unforgivable.
Clearly outline your shop’s policies by making an FAQ post.
To avoid having your inbox flooded with questions like “do u swap :))))” or “can u ship international??” (read: major headache-inducers), it’s important that you write a store policies post to answer frequently asked questions and outline your shop’s particular do’s and don’ts.
At a loss for what to include? Take notes on what other successful sellers do. For instance, you’ll find that most sellers don’t allow for returns or refunds to ward off scammers. Make it clear that you only ship domestic if you don’t want the extra expense of international shipping, and provide a rough time frame for how long shipping and handling takes (1-3 days, etc). Having a clear-cut set of rules to go by will make your store operate smoothly and appear more put-together, which ramps up your credibility.
Don’t make your leisure space your workspace.
This one is a personal struggle of mine. Whatever you do, don’t transform your bedroom into your main base of operations. You’re almost certain to 1) lose and/or damage your items 2) suddenly decide you want to hold onto something you sold because it still looks so amazing hanging in your closet or 3) have a mental breakdown while desperately trying to organize what’s for sale and what’s not. Instead, find a clear space in your home that’ll help keep you organized. Then, begin process of whittling your wardrobe down to your must-have essentials (we’ve provided some helpful tips on how to get your closet looking fashion-editor-worthy here).
All of the clothes and other goods you plan on selling should be stored in appropriately labelled bins or on racks by season and category (“winter: coats”, “summer: dresses”, etc). When it comes time to ship, you’ll be thankful you’re spending less time searching/mourning and more time making a profit.
Model your clothes and spend time taking decent photographs.
Besides reliability, aesthetic presentation is the most crucial element of making a sale. According to Poshmark insiders, modeling your clothes will actually increase your chances of selling them by 90 percent. The chances are even higher if you model against a bright and minimal space, coordinate your merch into a fierce outfit, and include a few close-up shots to highlight details.
Don’t fret if you’re going at your photography solo: Use the timer feature on your phone camera and prop it against a window or piece of furniture (just make sure to use the rear camera, as it has better image quality).
Connect with your buyers.
The best way to gain a loyal following is to check out the featured shops on Depop’s Explore page. Challenge yourself to reach out to other sellers and leave a compliment or ask for advice. You’re more than just a shop, so show it with a friendly meet-the-seller post. Inject a bit of personality into you listings with a story about the item, or why it’s valuable to you. You can also link to your Instagram so that Depoppers can get to know you beyond the app.
Every once in a while, do something nice and offer flash sales or holiday discounts. Many times, sellers like to add a personal touch by writing their customers a thank-you card with their purchase as a way of encouraging them to become repeat customers.