How To Sell Clothing & Accessories On eBay

I’ve had moderate success selling on eBay.  My focus has been clothing, although I’ve sold a few other items here and there.  I have 100% feedback (244).  Not a “power” seller by any means, but I do have some tips for those of you who may be new to selling apparel and accessories on eBay.

Deciding What To Sell

To start, do you have anything to sell?  This can be tricky, as you may have an item of clothing that you feel is very valuable, but it may not be worth much on eBay.  The opposite is also true.  For example, I have a beautiful Max Mara leather coat that I got at a deeply discounted price when I worked at a boutique in college.  I never wear it, and it’s original retail was upwards of $700.  However, having done some research on eBay Max Mara listings, I’ve found that this particular designer does not sell well.  So, I’ve decided to hang onto it.  I’d rather keep it and give it to a friend who loves it rather than sell it for $40 to some random stranger.

The first step I would suggest is to visit eBay’s Pulse page.  This tracks top watched items on eBay in all categories.  In Clothing, Shoes & Accessories top items typically will include vintage and designer handbags (especially Chanel).  However, random things will always pop up.  During the election this year, nearly every top-watched item was an Obama ’08 tee-shirt.  You never know.

The best research you can do, however, is comparison shopping.  On eBay, of course.  If you have an item you’d like to sell, see how other sellers are pitching it.  Keep in mind that you are not allowed to 1) take other seller’s photos or 2) swipe their entire listing copy.  However, you can certainly look to other sellers for inspiration, either on layout, terms of service, pricing, or keywords.

Presentation Matters

I cannot stress this enough; take clear and detailed photographs of your item.  For clothing, I recommend anywhere from 5 to 10 photos per listing.  You would be amazed by how interest is piqued when the photography is compelling.  Especially when you are selling a unique item.  Following are some additional tips for photographing clothing and accessories:

  • Use a form mannequin, or a model.
  • Find good, natural light.
  • Photograph against a solid-colored wall, if possible, in an uncluttered area.
  • Keep your photographs at a manageable size (no more than 800 pixels wide).
  • Take photos of tags if item is new.
  • Take photos of ANY irregularities or damage.
  • Ensure that close-up photos are taken of unique fabrications.
  • Pin clothing if necessary, but make sure you state this in the listing.

I highly recommend self-hosting (I use Photobucket but there are many other options).  Don’t bother with eBay’s photo hosting.  You only get your first photo for free but all additional photos are 10 cents apiece.  This can very quickly eat into your profit.

Writing Your Listing

This is often the most difficult part of listing.  If you plan on selling many items, create a template to speed up the process.  Be as detailed as possible, and ensure the following information is included:

  • Measurements (chest, waist, hips, inseam, etc.)
  • Fabrication
  • Condition (new, used, vintage)

Optional information may also be included as follows:

  • Cleaning (dry clean only?)
  • Purchase Location (if new)
  • Original Retail

When writing a description, use bullet points (much like I’ve used above).  It’s awfully difficult to read a two paragraph description with absolutely no formatting.  Keep it simple.  There’s no need to go into great detail about your history with the item.  Buyers just want to know as much as possible about something they might possibly purchase.

Shipping

Unless you have time to go to the post office constantly, I recommend using USPS Priority Shipping for domestic buyers.  You can do everything online (through Paypal) and schedule carrier pick ups at your house.  It’s totally easy.

I do recommending opening up listings to international buyers, but do some research.  There are often issues with items getting held up in customs and it’s expensive to insure items through USPS.  Use a private insurance carrier like DSI.  When dealing with international buyers, make sure you have educated yourself about shipping restrictions.  If a buyer asks you to mark the item as a “gift” on the customs form, this means they don’t want to pay additional duties when the item arrives in their country.  This is a personal choice on the part of the seller, but I usually say no, unless I really like the buyer.

Make no promises about delivery time.  Obviously you should get the item shipped out ASAP, but as I said, items can get held up in customs and it’s entirely out of your hands.

Insurance.  You can require insurance or leave it up to the buyer.  Any smart buyer will decline, as they are covered under the Paypal Buyers Protection Policy.  As a general rule, offer insurance (don’t require it, this is a turn off – unless it’s a VERY valuable item) and either work the cost into your shipping and handling fee or eat the cost if you are worried or the item sold for greater than $50.

Don’t go overboard with handling fees.  If you use Priority Mail, the boxes are free.  Additional costs essentially include tape, packing materials and printer ink.  I charge $2 shipping and handling, and each of my buyers receives their items wrapped in tissue paper with a thank you note.  So, when I see someone charging $5+ for “handling” fees, I laugh.

Returns

I suggest not allowing returns or saying that returns are only allowable at YOUR discretion.  Just make sure you detail any flaws with the item in your listing.

Additional Tips & Information

I have provided a few photographs from my past listings to give you an idea of what sells and what does not.

{ Vintage }

a. If you have vintage, great.  Rage on.  If you don’t, please don’t list a battered old item as vintage when it’s not.  People will know.  If you’d like to try out selling vintage apparel, look for used and vintage lots on eBay.  I recently purchased a lot of five vintage dresses for $25.  2 were too damaged to sell, but three were lovely and I resold them on eBay for a $100 profit.

{ Well Worn }

b.  You may think this is gross, but it can be lucrative.  There is a unique market on eBay of men with a particular fetish for women’s feet, used shoes and socks.  I stumbled upon this when I had a shoe listing removed for violating well worn rules (I had included a photograph of myself in the shoes and my legs were not cropped below the knees).  I ended up selling quite a few old heels for a good chunk of money.  The shoes shown above?  $300.  Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

{ Designer }

c.  It’s no surprise that designer items sell well on eBay.  The top brands are Coach, Prada, Marc Jacobs, Chanel, Dior, etc.  If you happen upon a great (and I mean GREAT) deal on a designer item, you may want to consider reselling on eBay.

{ Tunics }

d.  Don’t ask me why, but tunics are a sure thing with fashion-loving girls on eBay.

Below I’ve posted some of the POS graphics I use on eBay to give you some inspiration and ideas.

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3 Responses to “How To Sell Clothing & Accessories On eBay”

  1. Alissa Says:

    Hi Penny! It’s Crabby from Jez. Not sure where to put this, so here- have you been to slickdeals.net? It’s kind of overwhelming at first, but I’ve gotten some great deals for gifts for fam/friends, plus some great couponing advice for CVS/Rite Aid and for the major supermarket chains in CA. I’m really getting into couponing and have saved a ton of money on stuff I need anyway. It’s worth checking out!

  2. Lowti Says:

    Heya!

    Popped over from Jezebel, and just wanted to say that I’m really enjoying your blog so far. Let’s just stay it hits close to home. Wishing you luck with the debt battle!

  3. pennyplastic Says:

    Crabby!! Thanks for the tip, I have bookmarked the site and will be checking back in.

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