Best way to learn? By making mistakes! In episode 13 of the podcast, we shared our top 10 biggest reselling mistakes and the lessons we learned from them to become better resellers. Whether you’re a new or seasoned reseller – or maybe you’ve never even heard of the concept of thrifting to sell until now – we’ve got something to share for everyone.
Mistake 1: Losing sight of your purpose for reselling.
Whether you want to get a thrift fix, rotate your wardrobe, or make a full-time living off reselling clothes online, everyone has a purpose for reselling. It’s so important to be able to identify that reason / goal and keep it front and center as you navigate your reselling journey.
One of the most common questions new resellers ask is, “is it worth it?” I don’t think you can honestly answer this question until you define your reselling purpose. There are many reasons to resell – in the podcast, Shannon shared that she uses her sales on Poshmark as a way to rotate items in her closet. I enjoy hunting for others and appreciate the extra cash for travel and baby expenses.
Both of these reasons and purposes will yield completely different results. So, defining what motivates you to thrift to resell will help set realistic expectations. You can’t expect full time results with part time work. Define your “why” and keep that close by.
Mistake 2: Packing items poorly
Shannon shoved a bunch of plastic bags into a box in place of bubble wrap and it resulted in a bad rating. The lesson: don’t send a package you wouldn’t want to receive. Unless you are reselling on a platform like Amazon (https://www.sunkenstone.com/blog/reselling-on-amazon/) where they have a service called Amazon FBA (Fulfilment By Amazon) which handles the packing, shipping, and tracking processes beautifully. But of course, packaging your items yourself will add an extra layer of protection and will decrease the chances of the item getting damaged in transit. You can check out these plastic poly shipping bags.
Mistake 3: Not thinking like a buyer
eBay, etsy, Poshmark – regardless of which platform you use to resell, always experience the platform as a buyer first. This will help you think like a buyer when you’re listing your items. You’ll be more mindful of taking better pictures, writing better item descriptions, handling disputes, shipping things in a timely fashion, and so on. When thinking like a buyer, spend some time thinking about what sort of product title would attract you to click on a listing. A lot of businesses don’t do this, but they really should. By using certain keywords, more people should be able to find the listing. Perhaps people selling on these platforms should consider using a Free Title Builder to make sure their listings stand a better chance of pulling in more page visits.
Mistake 4: Taking bad pictures
Customers are more likely to click on a clear, bright photo than a dark and blurry one. Flaws and details are hard to see in poor quality photos. Shannon learned that taking better pictures in day light yields better sales.
Take the extra time to take pictures from every angle of the item. You don’t need a fancy light kit to start out. All you need is a window with natural light, a white presentation foam board, and an app that will brighten your photos. I like to avoid the use of filters and try not to go overboard brightening the photo because I want it to be as close to the actual item as possible. I love the Snapseed app for natural brightness.
Since reselling is a hobby and I don’t have time to take pictures during the week, I take them on the weekend when I have enough daylight hours and list throughout the week.
Mistake 5: Buying brands for the sake of buying brands
Just because you found a brand name at the thrift store, doesn’t mean it’s always going to sell. The Coach shoes Shannon thrifted to sell? They are right back at Goodwill. I always try to remember: some of these items have been discarded at the thrift store for a reason. I like to consider things like: age of item, quality, style, and the volume at which they are already being sold online. I always look up the value on Poshmark or eBay to check for things like average selling price, item descriptions, number of likers / watchers. I take all of these factors into consideration when I’m out hunting or sourcing items, especially brand names.
Poshmark doesn’t make it a big secret either. Those Posh Parties? That’s Poshmark’s way of telling us which brands are trending on their site. I use those to inspire some (not all) of my purchases.
Mistake 6: Being an impatient seller
Sure, certain items will sell within the first week or even day of listing them. But that’s not always the case. Most listings sit for a few weeks or even months before I will make a sale. There are steps you can take to encourage buyers to move quickly (like offers, discounts, bundles) but I’ve learned not to get too eager right off the bat. I’ve also settled for low offers when I knew in my gut it was a bad move and I ended up losing on the sale. Now, I let things settle for a bit; patience will often pay off in the long run!
Mistake 7: Letting reselling ruin your thrift shopping experience
Going to the thrift store to source (or shopping with the intention to purchase items with the goal of reselling your finds) can be a lot of work. Many resellers will agree that sourcing is not the same as thrifting for yourself. It requires a great deal of strategy, focus, time, and more patience than most people realize.
Many new resellers often get overwhelmed and will quit after a couple of sourcing trips. Shannon shared that the hours she spent sourcing quickly went from fun to miserable, and admits that the time she invested into sourcing wasn’t worth her return on investment. She lost focus of her original goal of reselling simply to rotate items in her closet. Soon, she was cramming full-time work into a part-time schedule.
If sourcing feels overwhelming to you, we recommend reevaluating your approach. Are you staying true to your original purpose? Has anything changed? Be sure you’re honest with yourself about what you can realistically take on when it comes to reselling.
Mistake 8: Thinking you’re going to please everyone
Getting that first dispute on Poshmark or eBay can be tough, but at some point in your reselling journey, you’re going to have an unhappy customer and that doesn’t make you a horrible person or seller. We all overlook flaws, forget to ship things, or send the wrong item. It can be frustrating, embarrassing, or down right annoying when you’re dealing with an accusatory customer. But the way you approach the dispute is key. I try to maintain professionalism and always tell the truth. If it was my fault, I admit it. If it’s not, I stick to facts, not emotions to respond.
It’s really easy to miss flaws when you’re shopping and shipping multiple items, and it’s impacted a few of my big sales. Now I’m sure to take the extra time to build a thorough inspection into my sourcing, listing, and shipping time. I turn things inside out, check every seam, pocket, zipper, and try on the item if it’s in my size.
Mistake 9: Forgetting about fees
It’s happened to me many times on Instagram: A reseller will post their sales and profits. I buy into the hype and forget that what I see is not what the seller actually gets. Every reselling platform collects fees. Plus you have to take into account the cost the seller paid for the item (when applicable, sometimes it didn’t cost them anything.) I am always sure now to build this into my decision-making strategy when sourcing: find an item, look up comps, calculate the platform fee, and estimate my take home (net) sale. Is it worth it? Maybe. Maybe not. All depends.
Mistake 10: Not having an organized inventory tracking system
Whether you’re selling 20 things or 2000 items, inventory can get out of hand VERY quickly – especially if you’re trying to sell on a large scale without using a tool like inventory software to help you stay on top of what you actually have in stock. I’ve had to reconsider my storage space several times before settling on something that realistically works for my reselling business. Once I started selling on a semi-consistent basis, I realized quickly that I needed to create a simple spreadsheet to track income and expenses, sales, inventory, and other important financial information. In addition to the spreadsheet, my friend actually recommended that I consider getting expense tracking software (download here) to make sure I keep all of my receipts and expenses recorded digitally too. This will keep them secure, ensuring I don’t lose them. Obviously, it’s important to have a spreadsheet too, but my friend said that those receipts need to be kept for tax season. Therefore, it makes sense that it’s all kept securely on my computer.