A Mom’s Guide to Selling Used Children’s Clothes on eBay
written by Alexandra Reid
My first introduction to the seductive world of eBay was as a buyer. While expecting my second child, a girl, I became increasingly addicted to buying cute outfits for her – long before she even arrived on the scene! But what to do with all these wonderful outfits once your little ones are not so little? The following guide is an overview to my approach to selling used children’s clothing on eBay — selling can be as equally fun and addictive as buying!
Preparation of Clothes
First, you need to sort out that big Rubbermaid bin of clothes that lurks in your basement or under the bed. Everything should be freshly laundered, with extra attention paid to minor stains or flaws (i.e. get out the Chlorox pen). Next, sort the clothes by season, gender, size, and finally arrange into outfits. Why outfits? Well, you’ll find that a well chosen shirt, pants and even a pair of socks will sell much better together than those items on their own. If you find you have items left over, try to make them into groups such as three pairs of pants. People are often looking to fill blanks in their child’s wardrobe.
Next, you’ll need to photograph each outfit or group. The best display method I’ve found is to use two pieces of white or black Bristol board (depending on the main color of the clothes) as a backdrop to lay the clothing on. Natural light is best, so try to take photos during the daytime if possible. If you have to take photos at night, stick to using the white background, as it reduces the flash glare. I usually lay the Bristol board on the ground and arrange the clothes as if a child were wearing them (i.e. tights under the skirt, and shirt over top the skirt).
Once you have everything photographed, the fun begins!
Seasonal Timing of Sales
Overall, it’s best to start selling the clothes roughly two months before the appropriate season begins:
October – winter clothes
November/December – Christmas time, so anything that is name-brand and new with tags
January – slow, due to the Christmas rush, budget time
February – great time, cabin fever? Winter clothes
March – last of winter clothes; start selling spring jackets, raincoats, summer clothes and pajamas
April/May – get all your summer clothes listed
June/July – rest of summer clothes; end of July start selling ‘back to school’ clothes, Fall weather
August – Fall weather, Halloween costumes
September – Fall weather; start selling winter clothes, coats and boots
Using Auction Templates
Before you can start selling on eBay, you will have register as a seller on the site. Please read through eBay’s Overview to Fees. If you don’t already have a Paypal account now is the time to open one. For safety and simplicity, I’ve found it’s easiest to only accept Paypal as a payment option. Once you’ve registered as an eBay seller, you can use free auction software such as Auctiva. There are many benefits to using this software: 1) free photo storage and editing software 2) design and reuse templates of your old listings to save time, 3) custom-made profiles for selling, payment and shipping, and 4) scheduling multiple listing to end a specific auction time (i.e. Sunday night). And it’s free!
Below is a walk-through of a standard auction-style Auctiva listing. I will only describe the features that I feel are most relevant and do not cost additional fees.
NEW LISTING – pick your eBay site: Canada and your sale type: Auction
TITLE – You only have 55 letters, so chose them carefully. You will want to state the Brand name, size, type of clothing, and number of pieces of clothing. Plus, in the case of Gymboree, many people search by the name of clothing line (i.e. ‘My Best Friend’). You can look this up on sites such as www.Gymbohaven.com One of my titles was “Gymboree MY BEST FRIEND 3pc 6-12M Outfit” and I still had 15 letters left over. People often use acronyms to save on letters: EUC = Excellent Used Condition; NWT = New With Tags. You can look at other eBay auctions for ideas on how to write your titles.
CATEGORY – Pick the most relevant category for your item. For the above example, I used: Clothing, Shoes & Accessories > Infants & Toddlers > Girls’ Clothing > 6-9 Months > Outfits & Sets.
ITEM DESCRIPTION – This is the most crucial part aside from the title. I try to keep this short and sweet, as people do not usually like to read a lot of text. Here is an example:
Welcome to my auction! I am listing my daughter’s Fall and Winter wardrobe. All of her clothes are in Excellent Used Condition and sized 6-12M, unless otherwise noted.
In this auction are the following:
From the Gymboree ‘My Best Friend’ line, jeans with a light blue long-sleeve shirt and a matching striped knit poncho.
Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have. All items are from a pet and smoke-free home.
With the above description, I can easily change the auction’s description by rewriting only one sentence (in bold) of what is actually listed in that particular auction. If you are selling a lot of items, reusing templates and listings is an important time-saver!
IMAGE SELECTION – The first photo is important to set the tone for your auction, as this is only image the buyer will see. (Make sure to pick the ‘Gallery Image’ option under Marketing Tools). Auctiva allows you up to 24 photos per auction, so you can always include close-ups of details that you think would help sell your items (or describe flaws). I usually find that one well-taken image is enough though since Auctiva will show the seller a ‘super-sized’ photo for free.
PRICE – Start Price, this can be tricky at first. You don’t want to list it too low and lose money on a potential sale, nor do you want to start too high and miss a sale. As a rule of thumb, I’ve been starting my auction at what I would receive for my used clothes at a consignment store. If an outfit sells for $13, you would receive 40% of that, so I would start my auction at $4.99. Again, with experience you see what tends to sell well and can adjust your price accordingly.
Duration of Auction – usually I pick 7 days, so an Auction would start Sunday night, and end the following Sunday night; unless I’ve overlooked something, and need to list for 5 days starting on a Tuesday night, to have it ‘catch-up’ with the main Sunday night auctions.
TEMPLATE – This is the ‘creative’ side of Auctiva. You can choose from a large variety of templates to give a theme to your auction (For example, if selling Christmas outfit, use a Christmas template). If you have set up profiles for Payment and Shipping, they will automatically show up on your design template.
MARKETING TOOLS – There are many additional options here, but you really only need the ‘Gallery Image’ option.
SHIPPING TOOLS – This is allows you to select your shipping locations and services. I find this option the only limitation to using Auctiva. I usually set a flat rate estimated to be the maximum amount to ship in Canada or the USA. Then when the listing is ‘live’ on eBay, I revise my listing to use the eBay shipping calculator. All you need to add to your listing is your postal code, the weight and size of the item (a kitchen scale and sewing measure tape are good to use). This means when potential buyers click on the listing, the shipping price would be set for their particular location.
Canada Post has a great deal with eBay which allows you to register yourself as a small business owner. This allows you to receive a VentureOne card which entitles you to business rates (you can use the shipping calculator on the website) and order eBay related shipping items (eBay packs and labelopes). This is worth doing as it will significantly reduce shipping costs for you and your buyers, plus you can print off pre-paid postage labels and post your items in your local mailbox directly.
CHECKOUT OPTIONS – Paypal is the safest and simplest option to use.
Lastly, you can Preview your Listing, Estimate eBay Fees and Error Check your listing. Then all you need to do is save your listing until you are ready to schedule it. Usually the best time to schedule your auctions is to have them end on Sunday night, between 6 – 10pm. This allows buyers to look at your listings all week and weekend, and hopefully decide to bid on them. The only exception to this would be a holiday weekend, when people could be away.
I hope that you find this guide helpful and I wish you Happy Selling on eBay!