You might have overlooked it in favour of what seem to be more popular product lines like electronics, but it is one of the biggest product areas on eBay and selling clothing on eBay really could net you some fabulous profits.
There are over 12 million listings and it’s no wonder, as everyone needs to buy clothing and eBay offers a wider, cheaper range than many high street shops.
So, let’s look at some sources and tips if you’re interested in eBaying clothes.
What’s important to remember when sourcing clothing for selling on eBay?
It’s a massive part of eBay! Which is good, but also means you can’t hope to sell every type of clothing well. So choose a small part of the market to concentrate on. This will make things a whole lot easier and make it more likely you’ll benefit from repeat business.
Clothing is seasonal. So think ahead. Start sourcing your stock a few months before customers will want to buy it, i.e. winter clothing in the late summer and summer clothing straight after Christmas.
Clothing is very fashion/trend orientated. Styles and colours that are hot one year sometimes won’t sell the next. It’s generally best to focus on what’s fashionable right now – although past season’s lines are available very cheaply from some sources that sell at heavily discounted prices too.
Tip: Keep up to date with current and upcoming fashion trends by reading popular fashion magazines, and keep an eye on what the popular high street stores, Primark, Top Shop and River Island, etc. are stocking.
What sort of clothing to source
As I said, the clothing sector is massive so it makes sense to choose a niche to operate in rather than trying to cover everything. Several eBay clothing sellers I’ve talked to have told me that about 80% of their sales are for women’s clothing, so that should give you a clue.
Bear in mind that clothing also sells in other categories. For example, there are listings for sports clothing in the “Sport” section. So look in other places for ideas, too.
What about footwear and accessories? Footwear also tends to have lots of listings. But remember, you need to carry a wide range of sizes, and there are extra problems with sales that don’t fit. Accessories like bags, belts and jewellery are strong sellers too and would make a good complementary range.
New or used clothing? One of the interesting things about selling clothing on eBay is that you can sell both brand new or used clothing.
If you sell new clothing then try and ensure it can genuinely be described as BNWT – brand new with tags. Buyers often look for this and will be willing to pay more.
Used clothing should, however, be in “as new” condition with no marks, stains or tears – unless that is part of the design or it is vintage clothing of course.
Branding... designer brands, high street brands and unbranded goods. Here are a few things you need to think about when selling clothing: Unbranded clothing doesn’t sell for much – buyers can sometimes get it cheaper at Primark and similar stores without paying the shipping. So avoid unbranded stuff unless it’s unique or unusual in some way.
There’s a good level of interest in designer-branded clothing, both new and used, but customers can be cautious about bidding due to the risk of fakes. (If you do sell designer clothing it’s best if the item comes with the original packaging and original labels.)
Good quality high street brands seem to sell best of all on eBay. These are of good enough quality to sell for decent prices but aren’t appealing to the fakers.
Places to source clothing at good discounts
Wholesalers and distributors. If you’re looking for new items you can go direct to clothing wholesalers and distributors. Most will sell direct to eBayers, have a fairly low minimum order quantity (MOQ) and will let you mix styles and sizes so you won’t have to buy a large quantity of exactly the same item.
A good place to look for clothing bargains is surplus stock wholesalers. These sell ex-retail, ex-chain store, past season’s lines, mail order/catalogue returns, manufacturer’s surplus stocks, samples and similar lines at very attractive prices. Just check what you are being offered... last year’s styles will usually sell for less.
Some contacts are listed later and you can find details of clothing wholesalers and distributors in most areas by using the Secret Source Finder database at www.secretsourcefinder.co.uk
Importing. Since most clothing is actually made abroad (even British brands) one idea is to cut out the middleman and import direct from the manufacturing country. Try Alibaba.com and EC21.com for sources.
Charity shops. They have a bit of a reputation for being overpriced but worth keeping an eye out for quality branded clothing, and are also good for vintage items which have a following on eBay. Check the £1 rail or similar.
Car boot sales and jumble sales. Using these sources calls for sorting through a lot of junk in the hope of finding some gems. On the plus side prices are usually very cheap – just pence per item.
Small ads. Keep an eye on the small ads in newspapers or classified ad websites like Preloved.co.uk. Good for job lots of baby/children’s clothing. You will have to sort through them to find valuable items but they are usually very cheap.
Aim to stock a range of sizes. Remember your customers will come in all shapes and sizes. The more sizes you stock the more people you will be able to pitch your listing at. Focus on the most common sizes: 10/12/14/16 for women and 28, 30, 32, 34 and 36 waist for men. (Although there is a niche in outsize and petite clothing too.)
Generally, it is more efficient to have a SMALL number of ranges in a WIDE range of sizes than a LARGE number of ranges in a LIMITED number of sizes. That way you can use the same listing for different sizes and just change the size.
Check and double-check sizes. This particularly applies when buying surplus lots. Look for US/European sizing which differs from the UK. If buying mixed job lots check to see if you are being offered a good mix, i.e. not all XXS and XXL!
Cut-throughs. If you’re looking to buy surplus stocks and ex-chain store lines you might find that the brand labels have been removed on the instructions of the brand involved. If they have been removed they might not sell for such high prices (although there’s still a demand from buyers wanting good quality clothing at a bargain price).
RRPs aren’t the same as selling prices! Often, clothing lines don’t sell at the full RRP, not even in high street shops. So make sure you buy cheaply enough to sell at a good discount on eBay.
Beware of fakes. It’s against eBay rules to sell them, of course, but it won’t impress your customers either. Fakes can often be of good quality but a poor quality label often gives them away. (Be aware that listing some high-end designer clothing items can attract extra checks from eBay.)
Selling tips... making more sales
Take extra care with your pics. Make sure the lighting and colour is as good as it can be. Clothing looks better modelled on someone rather than just hung on a hanger/flat on the floor – or consider buying a mannequin or body form to model them on. Clothing usually looks better displayed against a background of a contrasting colour.
Give very detailed size information. Descriptions like S, M, L can mean anything. Stating the actual waist/chest/leg length, etc. will get more interest and reduce the risk of returns.
A good tip is to measure the item yourself – say length, distance under the arms, arm length, and so on, and state this in your listing. State sizes in both centimetres and inches to make things easier for buyers.
Be a bit more flexible about returns than you otherwise would. There’s more chance a clothing item might not fit or not be what the buyer expected than with other items. Also allow for this in your returns policy.
Used clothing should be laundered. This is required by eBay rules, but it will also give a better impression if it’s nicely ironed and packed in a new bag with a card stiffener etc.
Consider opening up an eBay Store, once you have a good range of stock. Clothing can attract a good level of repeat business and multiple purchases and this is a good way to make it easy for buyers to keep coming back.
Sources to get you started
Here are a few sources courtesy of Secret Source Finder (www.secretsourcefinder.co.uk) to get you started:
Bargain Footwear & Clothes (BFC)
Specialise in supplying traders with low cost clothing, footwear and also soft furnishings. Deal mainly with surplus stock, end of lines, ex-chain store, ex-catalogue and bankrupt stock. Also offer some constant repeat lines in a range of colours and sizes
Tel. 01924 261236
Eles Clothing are established distributors of discount wholesale clothing, British outlet fashion clothing brands, job lots and stocklots, bringing you famous high street clothing at low wholesale prices, specialising in ladies fashion wholesale clothing. Current cut label major high street brands.
Eles also specialise in eBay starter packs.
Tel. 0115 938 3133
Clothing factory shop. Range of famous brands in childrenswear, ladies, menswear and also homeware at discounted prices – usually up to 70% off.
Tel. 01623 554026
Specialise in the wholesale of ex-chain store designer women’s clothing. Stock comprises production overruns and order cancellations from the leading chain stores. Stock does not include returns, seconds, or damaged items.
Tel. 01509 262382
Specialise in wholesale fashion and accessories with low minimum order quantities. Clearance, salvage, overstocks and residual items in the textile and clothing industry from small boutiques through to large national chain stores. Prices start below 10% of RRP, aiming to offer 50%+ resale profit margins.
Tel. 0845 468 7336
Army surplus wholesaler, clothing and equipment. Hats, gloves, trousers, jackets, shorts, shirts etc.
This tends to be a popular niche on eBay!
Tel. 01234 740327
Login to post comments (we'd love to hear from you!)
To post a comment on this article, or any of the articles on the site, please login or sign up for FREE below. You'll also be able to see what real users have to say and get unlimited access to all reviews featured on whatbizopp.com.
Create an account