Where to Sell and Make Money: A Comparison of Poshmark, eBay, & Mercari
This summer I’m posting a series of articles focused on getting past the typical summer sales slump. Last month I posted How to Instill Confidence in Your Online Buyers because addressing a buyer’s fears and motivations will help improve your sales. One recommendation I mentioned is selling on the right platform for you and your buyers. I’ve been selling on three platforms for a few years now. I’ve grown more experienced with selling and the platforms have also changed. As such, I decided to write an updated comparison of Poshmark, eBay, and Mercari to help you decide which platform, if any, is best for you.
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If you don’t have a Poshmark account, you can receive a free $5 bonus when you sign up with my code SFGIRL2015. On Mercari, you can currently get $10 when you sign up with the code JENMHM. The amount varies by promotion.
This comparison is based on both my experience as a seller and what I’ve read and heard from other sellers. My own experience is based on having a small closet of 50-60 items available at one time for most of my early selling. Earlier this year I hosted a Closet to Cash listing challenge and boosted that number to well over 100 items available at a time and have maintained it since.
1 | Poshmark
Poshmark is my main selling platform. I mostly sell and occasionally buy items on it. Here my primary focus is on features as they relate to selling.
Poshmark is social. You share and comment on listings, welcome new Poshers, share items to parties, and host virtual parties. You can even host real-life Poshmark parties and attend Poshmark events in your city. Sharing also results in more exposure of your listings. You have a direct influence on who sees and how many people see your listings.
No cost and easy to list! You can list as many items as you want. The sky is the limit. Just snap pictures on your phone, type or speak your description, click a few buttons, and you’re done. You can list items in a few minutes or less once you have a system in place.
Many, many selling features. You can offer discounts when people buy multiple items from you, offer private discounts to those who like your items, and share your items directly to people’s dressing rooms. Poshmark offers free authentication on luxury items sold for $500 or more. This gives buyers more confidence to make big purchases that they otherwise wouldn’t risk.
Simplified shipping. All items are shipped using USPS Priority mail. Poshmark provides a shipping label and you can get USPS boxes for free. Anything under 5 lb ships for a flat rate of $6.79, so there’s no hassling over shipping costs unless you sell something heavier.
No returns. Once the buyer receives and accepts your item, the money is yours. You don’t have to worry about returns because someone doesn’t like it or it doesn’t fit. The only exception to this is if someone opens a case against you. In general, there are no returns or refunds.
Fast payout. Payment is processed immediately when a buyer purchases an item. Once a buyer receives the item, he or she has 3 days to accept the item or it’s automatically accepted. You can then cash out and receive your money a few days after that. You don’t have to wait weeks to get your money.
Promote your items on social media. Poshmark makes it easy to share your listings on Pinterest, Tumbler, Twitter, FB, and Instagram. You can grab a widget to add your closet to your website if you have one. It’s easy to post your listings across social media.
Only good feedback (love notes) are shown. Ratings and negative comments are not public.
Achieve Posh Ambassador status. Once you meet certain criteria, you can become a Posh Ambassador, which means your closet is recommended to new users and you have access to a newsletter. You also get special opportunities like first dibs on PoshFest tickets.
Poshmark is always improving. Every business tries to improve itself, but it’s apparent with Poshmark. The company launches new features regularly and hosts a conference, PoshFest, each year to teach and inspire sellers. They’re attempting to expand their market as well starting with Canada. That’s more potential buyers for your goods. Poshmark is active in helping every seller to be successful.
High commission. Commission is 20% on sales of $15 or more. Sales under $15 have a flat commission of $2.95. That’s not that highest commission I’ve seen on resale sites, but it’s not the lowest either. And it matters because commission cuts into your profits. When you sell an item for $7, you earn $4.05 in profit, while your buyer pays $13.49 because of the added expense of shipping. Ouch!
Shipping costs deter buyers. Shipping is $6.79 for anything 5 lbs and under. That’s a steal for heavy items like a pair of boots, but too much for a lightweight pair of earrings. Some buyers and sellers want more shipping options such as tiered pricing and first-class shipping offered.
Time-consuming. Everyone who’s making big sales and profits on Poshmark is putting a significant amount of time into it. That’s not just listing items. You have to share your items to publicize them. You could spend your life on the app. If you break down your profit into dollars per hour listing items and then sharing them, you may make very little per hour of your time.
Lots of boutique/wholesale items. Since the wholesale portal opened and PM pushed boutique items, the marketplace has been filled with them. The items on PM’s wholesale portal are expensive and there’s steep competition from other people selling the same thing. If you’re selling what everyone else is selling, it can be hard to make a profit.
No immediate customer service. Customer service is done by email only. It can take 1-2 business days for PM to get back to you. When they do, sometimes it’s generic replies in customer service language that does not answer your question or directly address your issue. This is difficult when you want to be a good seller and have your issue addressed immediately for your own sanity and for the buyer’s satisfaction.
Seller/buyer dispute resolution. This is a pro or con depending on what you like or dislike about it. An employee decides on a resolution after you and the buyer provide comments and additional pictures for the disputed item. Poshmark guarantees every order is accurate per it’s description, but that doesn’t mean they resolve cases correctly every time. Not everyone likes this method of resolution, especially if they’ve been unfairly on the losing end of it.
Items are priced higher. Items are listed for higher prices and sell for higher prices on Poshmark than on other platforms. This may be because the commission is high or to provide wiggle room for offers and negotiation. Higher prices may mean more profit for you, but it may also deter people from making offers or buying your items.
Offers. Some people love that offers are allowed and some people hate them. I don’t like receiving lowball offers. No one does. Offers can be valuable though because they give you a chance to negotiate and make sales that otherwise may not have happened.
Poshmark is a great place to sell on-trend clothes and accessories for men, women, and children. It’s quick and easy to list items. Shipping is straightforward with labels automatically sent to you. The platform is social, although it can be time-consuming to share items, which is generally needed to make more sales. Despite the high 20% commission and shipping cost of $6.79, I like selling on-trend items over $10 on Poshmark because they bring in the right buyers for that.
2 | eBay
International marketplace. You can sell to people around the world, which means more potential for more sales. Poshmark, Mercari, and many other platforms only sell within the US.
Sell (almost) anything. You can sell all sorts of things like household items, memorabilia, random trinkets, old toys, and clothing.
Phone customer service! When you have an urgent problem, you want to speak to someone and get answers right away. You can do that with eBay. They’re available every day from 5 AM to 10 PM. Not all customer service reps are great, but at least you get quick service.
Minimal time commitment required. You can list your items and forget about them if you really want to. You don’t have to spend your time sharing your items.
Free listings each month. You receive 50 free listings per month and more if eBay is running a promotion or you have your own store. You pay a fee for the store, but you pay less than the standard commission for each item that you sell. It can really be worth it.
Optional returns. You don’t have to offer returns on eBay. If you want to be a Top Rated Seller (with all its benefits), then you have to offer returns. This may work to your benefit. (See the downside of this below.)
Optimal shipping costs. When you use PayPal to ship, you get commercial shipping rates. It might only cost $2-$3 to ship something that’s a few ounces. That’s something most buyers are willing to cover. If you offer free shipping, you’re on the hook for only a few dollars in shipping costs.
Slow payment. Winning an auction or buying an item doesn’t automatically result in charging a person’s credit card or deducting money from an account. The buyer has to pay you, which can sometimes take days. You can request immediate payment but that may deter potential buyers. Sometimes buyers don’t pay at all so you have to email or invoice them encourage them to pay. After a certain about of time, you can open a case against a buyer. In the meantime, you can’t do anything with your item but let it sit in your storage or closet. It’s a hassle and waste of your time.
PayPal allows returns. When you allow a buyer to pay using PayPal, the buyer has 180 days to file for a return. It doesn’t matter if you stated no returns in your eBay listing. The buyer may still be able to return the item. So 5 months and 20 days after a sale, you could get a notice that a buyer wants to return an item for one reason or another and you may have to accept it. That’s far too long in my opinion.
Detailed listing. Listing on eBay can be time-consuming. eBay has so many things to click on just for the item itself: clothes material, shirt style, dress color, sleeve length, material, etc. Then there’s more to click on such as deciding if you want to offer your item for auction or Buy It Now. You don’t have to fill in every detail using the dropdown options, but it’s still too many. I’ve found the eBay site to be slow too, taking up additional time when listing compared to the other platforms mentioned here.
Pay for additional listings. After your first 50 listings free per month, you have to pay for additional listings. I don’t list paying to list items because eBay already makes a commission when items sell. Don’t make me pay to list my items too!
Shipping requires weighing everything. You can decide whether the buyer pays or to offer free shipping. Either way, if you guess the weight for your packaged item incorrectly or you weigh it wrong, the additional cost will come out of your profit. Sometimes potential buyers will not purchase your item because shipping costs too much. There’s also an ongoing debate about whether it’s better to offer free shipping or not.
Pay an additional shipping fee. In addition to paying commission (a final value fee) on the item, you also have to pay a 10% fee on shipping costs. This is true whether or not you provide free shipping or the buyer pays for it. You still get a good discount by getting commercial shipping rates, but shipping that initially costs $2.92 will actually cost you $3.21.
Limited buyer feedback. eBay doesn’t allow sellers to leave negative feedback for buyers. You have the option to click “positive” or “report buyer” and leave a comment. I think this can allow dishonest or hard-to-please buyers to exist much longer on eBay than they should, possibly buying from you in the meantime.
Buyer protection. Again, some people like this feature and some people don’t. It stings to lose money or an item to an unfair buyer. Those that have been bit too many times tend to dislike buyer protection. That said, you can try to resolve the issue with the buyer first. If that doesn’t work, you can contact customer service by phone to help with an unfair claim.
eBay is more work to list items and prepare shipping than on other platforms, but you can sell almost anything to millions of users around the world. Competition can be steep because there are so many sellers and items, which means lower prices for your goods. I often list things to eBay when they haven’t sold on the other platforms and want to bring my items to a new audience. It doesn’t hurt to give the platform a try given the limited free listings you get each month.
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3 | Mercari
My perception of Mercari is that it’s less refined than Poshmark and eBay. I like to think of it as the Wild West of selling platforms. It’s improved a lot since I started using it a few years ago. It still has a ways to go, although I don’t know how much of it (like scamming buyers) is in their direct control.
Lowest commission! At 10% commission, this is the lowest of all the platforms mentioned here. For that reason, I think it’s worth cross-listing your items to Mercari. If you can put up with any difficulties or hurdles on the platform, it’s worth it because you keep more of your profits in the end.
Free and easy to list items. Mercari has improved so much here! Some of the recent upgrades include listing 8 pictures instead of 4, automatically fixing the lighting of your pictures, selecting a bunch of pictures to list at once, moving pictures around, and taking long versus square pictures. Mercari has done a lot to make listing faster and better. You can list on your phone or from a computer.
Listing promotions. Mercari is great about offering promotions to list items. Past promotions have been something like paying only 5% commission on women’s shoes listed on a certain day and lower the price of your item for a bump up in the search results.
Private chat. You can message a seller about an item without having it publicized to the whole world. Some people want to ask questions or negotiate on price privately, so this is a good feature to have. This feature is available on eBay and to an extent on Poshmark too.
It’s unrefined. Mercari feels the least refined of the three platforms I use, although it’s gotten better over the years. I think the app could have a better interface and better features. The first thing you see when you open the app is a series of items that sold in the last 10 minutes. That’s not the first thing I want to see as a buyer or a seller when I open the app. When you search for an item, it shows both available and sold listings by default. That makes for many more listings to sort through for the item I want to buy or for historic prices of sold items.
Shipping costs have increased. Mercari raised its shipping prices earlier this year. It’s still a good deal compared to regular shipping USPS rates, but it’s now roughly equal to or more expensive to ship items over 1 lb on Mercari than on Poshmark. As a seller, you either have to eat the higher costs when you offer free shipping or convince the buyer that it’s worth it to pay the higher shipping cost through the value and price of your product.
Payment is slow. Your funds are held until you and the buyer rate each other, which is recommended but not required within 48 hours of the item’s delivery. You have to wait several days to submit a request to Mercari to release the funds if the buyer is non-responsive. It also takes up to 5 business days to receive your money when you ask to transfer your funds.
Items get lost in the shuffle. When you list it and forget it, there’s a chance your item will get lost in the sea of thousands or millions of other listings. You can’t promote your item by sharing it as on Poshmark or paying for it to be placed better as on eBay. The only way to promote your item right now is to lower the price of it, which will bring it up in the rankings. You’re only allowed so many a day though, and it requires that you lower the price, which cuts into your profits. Your best bet to get new eyes on your items is to relist them frequently so they show as newly listed.
Scamming buyers. I’ve heard many stories of buyers and sellers being scammed on Mercari. To be fair, this happens on every platform and I don’t think Mercari can prevent all cases of it. I think Mercari had more issue with it in the early stages of the app. Policing and procedures have improved since then. I’ve been fortunate to not have encountered such buyers or sellers on any platform I’ve used to date.
Poor referral and credit system. I’ve been fortunate to earn credits by referring people to sign up for Mercari. The new user gets a whooping $10 in credits. The seller gets $2 and the credits expire within 5 days of issue. The credits used to expire after 30 days and then the terms changed suddenly without warning. When I asked customer service about this, I got the run around about terms changing and sent to a page that said nothing about it. Mercari also limits lifetime credits to $200. As a seller, it seems like Mercari implements a credit system that purposely disadvantages sellers from taking full advantage of it. Poshmark gives $5 for each referral. There’s no cap to your referral earnings and they never expire.
Customer service. Customer service is done through email only. Responses are fairly quick (within a day), which is not as fast as a phone call with eBay but faster than the email responses I receive from Poshmark. I haven’t had to deal with a buyer dispute yet, so I don’t know how well or how fairly they handle disputes between buyers and sellers.
Rules and regulations. I think Mercari scans listings each night for possible illegal items and infringement of rules. This is good in some ways because it aims to keep counterfeits and duplicates off the site and only allowed available listings on the site. It’s ridiculous in other ways because people can get strikes against them for silly things. I once wrote back to someone in a message that an item was sold on another site and got a generic email about not listing things that are not available. You can also get suspended for having two accounts linked to the same physical address, even if they really do belong to two different people living together.
It will be interesting to see how Mercari keeps up with some of the larger selling platforms. Mercari has improved a lot over the past few years and continues to release new features regularly. For now, it’s a good platform for selling lightweight lower priced items in comparison to Poshmark because the commission is lower and shipping is cheaper for items under 1 lb. I only list items that I can afford to lose (not high-end luxury goods) given its history and not knowing how well the buyer and seller protection works. Still, you can’t beat being able to list for free and the low commission. Those are what keep me coming back around.
Here’s my take on the best platform by feature:
User interface: Poshmark
Ease of listing items: Mercari
Breadth of allowed items: eBay
Shipping: Poshmark – easiest; eBay – cheapest
Payout timeliness: eBay using PayPal
Seller feedback: Poshmark
Customer service: eBay
I’ve tried to give an honest review of each platform based on my personal experience and what I’ve learned from other sellers. My goal is to provide you more information to decide which platform is best for you to use to sell your items. After all, every seller wants to make sales and see a nice profit for their efforts. Part of that comes from selling on the right platform for your and your buyers. After reading my perspective, I’m interested to know your thoughts on these and other selling platforms.
Where do you sell your items? What has been your experience selling on there? Do you have a favorite place to sell and why?