I have been selling clothes online for many years now. It started off with me selling my own clothes, and now I run a full-time eBay business. I sell clothes online for profit by buying cheaply and then maximising the amount I can get for them. It takes a bit of practice to get it right (and I am still learning all the time). But I have found that there are specific tools I use every day that make selling clothes online quicker, easier and more profitable. Some of these might seem totally obvious, but they really do make a difference to my business.
These are the twelve items I use on a daily basis when I sell clothes online.
1: A Clothes Rail
This might seem like an obvious one, but a clothes rail is essential to keep your clothes in the best possible condition for reselling. As soon as I get back from buying clothes to resell, I hang them up. The longer they stay in the bag, the more creased they will become. It will save you a lot of time later on if you just hang them up straight away. Generally, if you’ve bought clothes from a charity shop they will already have been steamed and pressed so you want to preserve as much of this as possible. A big bag of ironing will just slow you down and put you off listing those items (unless you like ironing of course!).
I got my clothes rail from a secondhand shop. It has a base at the bottom for shoes and bags.
If you don’t have a clothes rail, you can find inexpensive ones that fit into your space on Amazon.
2: Space-Saving Non-Slip Clothes Hangers
I changed all of my clothes hangers to thinner, non-slip versions. The thinner they are, the more you can fit on your rail of course. If you go for non-slip felt ones as well, then you won’t find other items sliding on to the floor whenever you go and get something off the rail.
I picked some of mine up in Poundstretcher, where I think I paid around £3.99 for a pack of 10. I also bought around 50 in bulk from Amazon, where you can get more or less the same value. Hangers covered in felt make such a difference, and the more space you can save, the better.
3: Dressmakers’ Dummies
If I had to pick one thing from this list which has made the biggest difference to how I sell clothes online, it would be these. I first bought the female version and then bought the male one later on as I branched out into selling men’s clothing too.
They make your photos look more professional, and the clothes look better than when laid flat on a surface or hung up on a hanger. I’ve found that if people can visualise the item of clothing as it might look on them, there’s more chance they will buy it. (I started off by laying clothes flat on the floor, and I can also tell you that having these mannequins instead really helps if you have a bad back!).
I got mine on eBay for about £25 each. Initially this seems a bit of an outlay; of course, you can sell clothes without them. However they have definitely made a big difference to the appearance of the clothes in my photos, and an impact on sales ever since. They are about the same price on Amazon.
I picked a size 12/14 for my female one, and Large for the male one, as these are fairly average. These sizes work well for 95% of the clothes I buy as most things fit on them. Anything that’s several sizes smaller or larger then I will just lay flat.
4: A Handheld Steamer
Even when you hang items up immediately, there will be a couple of items with fabric that creases no matter what you do. I use a handheld steamer to get the creases out while the item of clothing is on the mannequin. This is very quick and easy, and saves a lot of time.
The next items are things you probably have in your house already.
5: A Lint Roller & Refills
Perfect for quickly cleaning up a garment while it is on the dummy. Often little bits of fluff and lint will find their way on to the clothes you want to sell. I keep a stock of these nearby when taking photos, to quickly whip the offending fluff away. I get mine from IKEA or eBay.
Another must-have is a little pair of very sharp scissors. I use these for snipping away threads that have become loose. If these show up in photos they can make the item look unkempt, or perhaps even damaged. A little tidy-up with a pair of scissors does the trick.
7: A Tape Measure
This is a good idea to have on hand when it comes to listing your items. I have found that the more measurements I can give on each item, the more likely it is to sell (and not be returned due to a poor fit). As a minimum, I take the following measurements:
Tops and shirts: underarm to underarm, shoulder to hem
Dresses: underarm to underarm, shoulder to hem, waistband and hips
Trousers and shorts: inside leg, waistband, rise
As I mentioned in this post about maximising sales on eBay, if measurements are not already included many people will just breeze on past your listing. People like to have information readily-available to them when buying and will often not want to wait for an answer from the seller.
8: A Stain Remover
Unfortunately it’s inevitable that, no matter how vigilant you are about checking items over before you buy them, you will find that some have marks and stains when you get them home. A good stain remover pre-wash often does the trick, unless it’s something like oil or paint.
If I can’t remove a stain, I just cut my losses and pop the item in a bag ready for the next car boot sale I do or to donate back to a charity shop.
9: Plastic Mailing Bags
These are an essential when posting clothes. You’ll want your parcels to be as flat as possible to minimise postage costs. Instead of using padded jiffy bags, use mailing bags. They are cheaper than jiffy bags as well. I buy all of my postage bags on eBay, and try to have at least two different sizes in stock at once. If you buy them in bulk, they work out cheaper per bag.
10: A Digital Postage Scale
This is another item which has made life so much easier. I use a proper digital postage scale for weighing my parcels, rather than just a kitchen scale. I use this exact one.
Because this has such a large base, it makes it easy to accurately measure even the largest parcels. This is really useful when you’re calculating your postage costs when listing an item. It’s the worst thing when you don’t realise you’ve not added enough to cover your postage costs until after an item has sold. This scale can cope with parcels weighing up to 15kg. I love this thing so much I also have one in the kitchen instead of an ordinary kitchen scale.
11: A Royal Mail Size Guide
As you probably know, Royal Mail charges for postage based both on an item’s weight and its size. It has categories like Letter, Large Letter, Small Parcel and Medium Parcel. To make life less complicated and to ensure you are calculating the correct postage cost, buy yourself a Royal Mail Size Guide. They are expensive if you get them from the Royal Mail itself, so I buy mine on eBay for less than £3.50. I have a couple of MDF guides like the one in the photo above, and they work perfectly.
With a size guide, a good postage scale and plastic mailing bags you can keep your postage costs to the absolute minimum. This will encourage sales and make sure you are not out of pocket.
12: An Inventory Spreadsheet
Spreadsheets are a little dull sometimes so I’ve put this right at the end. It’s still important though to track your income and expenditure if you are going to sell clothes online. If you are buying clothes to resell, you must register this extra income with the HMRC for tax purposes.
I have a fairly simple spreadsheet that tracks my outgoings and my sales. As soon as I buy an item I record its purchase cost on my spreadsheet so that I don’t forget how much it was (essential if you buy from car boot sales). When it sells I input the sale price (including any postage charges I added) and deduct all associated fees (purchase cost, PayPal fees, eBay fees and postage costs).
You can then get a figure which shows your profit after costs. It’s not only essential for tax purposes, but also to help you see where you are making the most profit.
You can also see instances where you haven’t made money, or less than you thought, so it’s useful to work out what works and what doesn’t. I have learned over time which brands or types of clothing I should avoid, and have a general idea now of what my highest price should be when purchasing particular items so that I do make a profit.
If you are new to reselling, best of luck in your entrepreneurship and I hope this post helps you to make the process quicker, easier and more profitable. Feel free to ask me any questions in the comments below.
If you’re an experienced reseller I would love to know what essentials you rely on in your business!