Why You Should Be Selling on More Than One Platform
As much as I love living frugally, I love having two side hustles of selling thrifted clothes online and blogging to help me earn income towards my financial goals. Moreover, I’m excited to share what I learn from these side hustles with you to help you achieve your goals too. Last month, I posted 22 things to do when your items aren’t selling. This was specifically in response to a drought in selling that I faced recently and I know everyone who sells faces from time to time. Today I want to delve into one of those tips in more detail, specifically selling on several platforms.
You might already be selling on several platforms. That’s great! If not, here are some reasons to consider doing it.
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.
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Reason #1: More sales
The number one reason why I support selling on more than one platform is that, when done correctly, it results in more sales. More sales = more profit.
Each platform has different buyer demographics. From my experience, Poshmark users are primarily women. There are more male buyers now that men’s items are being sold, but the overwhelming majority of users are female. eBay has a more proportionate distribution of male and female buyers. While I wasn’t able to find exact data to support my beliefs while researching this, if you spend any amount of time on the two platforms, you’ll very likely come to the same conclusion.
So if I have an item that I think will appeal more to men, it makes sense that I should list it on eBay. You may make a sale on Poshmark, but you’re likely to find more buyers in your target demographic on eBay or elsewhere with many potential male buyers. That’s why I list men’s clothing and shoes in both places.
Reason #2: Lower seller fees
Another reason I recommend selling on more than one platform is that different platforms have different seller fees. When you make a sale on a platform with lower fees, that’s more money in your pocket. Who doesn’t want that?
My primary platform for selling items is Poshmark. I love selling on Poshmark because it’s fun and I make a lot of sales. But it’s also time-consuming to list and share items. In addition, PM takes 20% of sales above $15 and $2.95 for items $15 and under. That’s double the 10% fee of eBay and Mercari. (Note that eBay fees vary. They’re generally 10% for what I sell.)
A 10% fee difference in fees makes a noticeable difference over time. For every $1000 of items you sell, you keep $900 on Mercari and $800 on Poshmark. That’s a $100 difference in fees, which is a lot when you think about how many coffees or lunches you could buy. You could buy many more thrifted items if you want to reinvest it right back into your business.
As a seller, you have to cover a seller fee, the cost to obtain your items, and government taxes on your earnings. All of that eats away at your profit. So if you can make more sales and keep more of your earnings by selling on sites with lower fees, doesn’t it make sense to try it?
Reason #3: Bypass restrictions
Another reason to sell on multiple platforms is to bypass restrictions on selling certain items. Each platform has items that it will and won’t allow to be sold. When you sell on multiple platforms, you can get around some of these restrictions to sell the items that you have.
For example, men’s and children’s items were not allowed to be sold on Poshmark until 2016. Before that, if you listed men’s or children’s items, you could get a warning or banned from the platform for being non-compliant with the rules.
If you have a husband and children, you know they probably generate a good amount of used clothes that you could sell. Or maybe you have access to lots of men’s and children’s clothing while out thrift shopping. Instead of avoiding buying those items and missing out on potential profits, you could just list them elsewhere. That’s what I did ith my men’s or children’s items. I listed them on Mercari or eBay, where they were allowed and potential buyers would look for them.
When I considered selling clothes on Amazon, I realized there were many hurdles and restrictions to doing so. Amazon requires you to fill out an application and it doesn’t allow the selling of used items. So it wasn’t worth my time to try to apply to sell on the platform.
One positive of selling on Amazon though is that you can sell your own private label items. This means that you can buy a generic product and sell it under your own brand. If this is something you’re interested in doing, then it may be worth it to you to apply to sell on Amazon. You could sell your own brand of items on Poshmark or eBay too. Amazon has an unbeatable customer base of millions upon millions of people.
By the way, this handout on 5 things to do before you start selling online has tips on exactly how to save time and energy when starting out. Be sure to click on the button below to grab a copy!
Reason #4: Sellers flooding the market
As with any endeavor, people will flock to it once the word is out that there is money to be made doing it. There’s a low barrier to entry when it comes to selling clothing online, so more and more people are easily getting into it every day.
I have experienced this while selling on Poshmark. When I first started selling on the platform, Lululemon items sold like hotcakes. Now I have can have Lululemon items that sit for months unsold. Why is that? I believe it’s because there are now a lot more Lululemon items available on PM. Potential buyers have more options. They can be more selective about who they choose to buy from and what they pay. If one seller’s price is too high, they can move onto the next seller.
The same is true for boutique items found on PM. These are new items often sourced from wholesalers and do not have a brand associated with them. Some sellers sell them under their own brand.
This past summer, I looked for a swimsuit with a green palm leaf print. This has been a very popular style over the past few summers. I can’t tell you how many boutique listings of this swimsuit I saw, and they were selling for all different prices. Some sellers had them listed so low that I wondered if they made any profit on them.
I write this about my experience with Poshmark, but this can happen on any platform. You can get around this by finding a new product to sell, but this can be difficult. If you want to continue selling the same items, your next best move is to sell on a platform where there aren’t as many people selling the same things as you are. Or sell on a platform with lower fees so that you can charge less to compete with other sellers.
Reason #5: Overcome being banned
Similar to the idea of having multiple streams of income to provide you financial security, here you have multiple platforms to provide you consistent sales. I’ve heard of many sellers who devoted all their time and energy to one platform, only to wake up one day and find they’ve been banned. Not only did they lose all the positive feedback that they worked hard to earn, sometimes the company held their money too.
When you sell on one platform, you could go from making hundreds of dollars a day to nothing if you’re banned, the platform changes its policies or direction, or the site goes down. Give yourself the chance to ride the ups and downs of selling and make more consistent sales by selling on more than one platform.
Counterarguments to selling on multiple platforms:
I would be remiss if I didn’t address the counterarguments and provide suggestions for overcoming them.
It takes too much time.
It does take more time to list on several rather than on only one platform. That’s why I suggest starting on one platform and then advancing to two or three when you’re ready. I’ve found that I can handle selling on three platforms simultaneously with relative ease. You may find that two or four work best for you. The key is not to spread yourself too thin, especially when you’re starting out selling and learning the ropes.
One way I’ve cut down drastically on listing time is to take pictures and write a description once and then copy and paste it wherever I list an item. On Poshmark, I almost always take the maximum of 8 pictures and write a description using my own template. I then take screenshots of the four best photos and copy the listing’s title and description. I’ll open the Mercari app, select all four pictures at once, and paste in the description, revising or adding details as needed. I select my shipping method, enter a starting price, and publish my listing. It takes less than a minute per item.
It’s a hassle to deal with different policies and rules.
It can be a hassle to have to learn how a platform works, but it doesn’t take much time if you’re willing to do it. It only takes a few minutes to read an article on what you’re allowed and not allowed to sell and only a few more minutes to read up on shipping options. Since you already know how one platform works, you probably have shipping supplies and a printer available to you. As mentioned above, try to copy and paste as much as you can from one platform to another and you’ll be quickly ready to sell.
It’s difficult to keep track of cross-listed items.
You do have to be careful about cross-listing items and accidentally selling them on both. I think it’s doable for an individual seller with even up to several hundred listings. Once an item sells on one platform, I disable or remove it from the others. For popular items that I list at a low price to sell quickly, I’ll have my phone or computer on hand to remove listings quickly. Otherwise I can leave listings on for hours and it hasn’t been an issue. I’ll look over all my listings every week or two and make sure there’s nothing I missed still listed as available for sale.
If you do accidentally sell an item twice, you can cancel one of the orders and apologize to the buyer. This may affect your top seller rating on eBay, but it’s allowed on every platform as long as you don’t do it too often.
If you have thousands of listings, there is software available that can track your inventory for you. You may also be working with a partner or assistant at that point and one person can handle this duty.
Start with one platform. Pick the one that you think will work best for you given what you’re selling. When you're ready, start on another one. Give yourself anywhere from 1 to 3 months to try out a new platform. If you’re selling items and making a good profit, great! Keep doing it. If not, then drop it and try another one.
I did this exact thing when I started selling online. I started selling on Tradesy around the same time that I started selling on Poshmark. I found Poshmark to be easier for listing items. I also sold a lot more items right away. I abandoned Tradesy after a few weeks having sold only one or two items.
Last week I received an email from Tradesy stating that their commission policy is changing. As of 10/10/17, the commission rate is 19.8%. If I want to cash out instead of spending my money on the site, I would incur an additional 2.9% fee. A 22.7% commission fee is steep compared to other platforms such as Poshmark, Mercari, and eBay. This is an example why I support giving yourself options by selling on multiple platforms.
My eBay Example
I want to end this post by giving you an example of how selling on multiple platforms has worked for me. I mentioned in a previous post that my August sales were low. I spent a good two weeks at the end of August with maybe one sale. I list to Poshmark first because that’s my primary platform for selling. But following a disappointing Labor Day weekend even with a Closet Clear Out event, I decided I needed to do something else.
The day after Labor Day, I posted almost fifty listings to eBay. It was relatively easy because I followed the method I mentioned above of uploading the same photos and copying and pasting descriptions. Within one week of putting up those listings, I made six sales. Not a bad week at 6/46 listings sold. In the following weeks (my listings are for 30 days), seven more items sold bringing me to a total of 13/46.
When I was starting out thrifting, I scoured the web for sites on eBay sales. I looked for examples of items to sell myself. I came across a few websites that I really liked and devoured the content. Two of those sites are now essentially defunct. But I’m still really thankful for the examples they gave.
I’ve never thought to do the same because I don’t think my sales have the same wow factor. My numbers aren't as big as other sellers. Still, I want to show some examples like those sellers did when I first started and why it may be worth it for you to sell on multiple platforms.
1) Bailey 44 sweater
2) Lululemon Scoop Me Up tank
3) Athleta Start Up tank
4) Pendleton plaid wool skirt
5) Theory silk tank
6) Equipment Lucida dress
These items could have sold on Poshmark or Mercari for more at some later date, but sometimes it’s better to make a sale when the opportunity presents itself and then move on. I’d rather sell these things than hold onto them and wait for a sale that may never happen. And just to note, while I started on Poshmark and then listed on eBay in this example, I could have done the reverse and likely made some sales too. Now after a slow August, September and October sales have picked up again.
Readers who sell, what you do think of selling on several platforms? What platforms have you tried and do you recommend? What platform do you want to try? How do you keep track of your inventory so you don’t accidentally sell something twice?