How to sell on ThredUp successfully 

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Welcome to another installment in our popular second-hand selling series. This time, we’re focusing on how to sell on ThredUp, a platform on a mission to inspire a new generation to think secondhand first.

There’s no denying that the second-hand fashion market has exploded in recent years. The modern marketplace is teeming with consumers who place sustainability and style on an equal footing. And why shouldn’t they, when scoring a designer dress or vintage jacket is as easy as a quick phone scroll?

What’s more, second-hand selling is a great niche market for entrepreneurial fashionistas to explore, as research shows secondhand clothing is on track to take 10% of all global fashion sales.

Looking to tap into a market of eager consumers looking to pop some tags? The good news is that most ThredUp buyers have way more than $20 in their pockets. The bad news is you’ll probably have Macklemore’s 2012 “Thrift Shop” hit stuck in your head for the rest of the day now (you’re welcome!). 

But enough of giving you earworms with cheesy song lyrics. It’s time to dive thred first (see what we did there?) into the fascinating world of secondhand fashion and learn how to sell on ThredUp. 

What is ThredUp?

Often dubbed the “Amazon of resale,” ThredUp has been at the forefront of the secondhand movement since its inception in 2009. 

ThredUp’s unique value proposition lies in its significant environmental impact. To date, the platform has processed over 137 million items, saving approximately 1.2 billion pounds of CO2 emissions by extending the life of clothing. To put that into perspective, that’s the equivalent of taking over 140,000 cars off the road for a year!

Having firmly established its position as a sustainable fashion powerhouse, the accolades for ThredUp have been pouring in thick and fast. For example, it was named one of the “Most Innovative Companies” by Fast Company for its role in weaving the clothing industry into the circular economy. It’s also been featured in major publications like Forbes and Vogue

By reducing waste and promoting the reuse of clothing, ThredUp is playing a pivotal role in fighting against the detrimental effects of fast fashion. As such, it takes the edge of guilt away from sellers and shoppers alike, making the process of trading second-hand clothes not just easy, but downright enjoyable.

How does ThredUp work?

Learning how to sell on ThredUp is child’s play compared to many other ecommerce platforms out there – primarily because the ThredUp team does most of the heavy lifting for you. 

It’s a refreshingly user-friendly approach to online sales. Sellers simply send in their preloved items using a ThredUp Clean Out Kit, and ThredUp takes care of the rest—from photographing and listing the items to managing sales and shipping. 

Of course, there are a few intricacies to be aware of. So, if you’re considering dipping your toes into the resale waters, it’s essential to understand what sells, how ThredUp listings work, and what your payout potential is. To that end, we’ve compiled everything you need to know about selling on ThredUp into a handy beginner’s guide.

How to sell on ThredUp: A beginner’s guide

To master the art of selling on ThredUp, you’ll need to establish which are the best items to send in, how to set up your account, and how the pricing and payout structure works. Here’s everything you need to know.  

Which products sell well on ThredUp? 

Knowing which products are in demand is the first step on any journey toward selling success. ThredUp keeps a live update of what they need at the current moment to help sellers maximize their acceptance rate (not all clothing is accepted – more on that coming up in the next section!) and payout.  However, here’s a list of general trends to help you even further. 

Top-selling categories

  • Designer and luxury brands — High-end labels like Gucci, Prada, and Chanel are always hot sellers because, let’s face it, who doesn’t love a bit of luxury at a fraction of the price?
  • Popular retail brands — Mainstream brands like FRYE, Madewell, and J.Crew that strike a balance between affordability and style consistently perform well. 
  • Sustainable and ethical brands — Eco-friendly brands like Patagonia and Reformation are always popular with consumers searching for guilt-free shopping experiences.
  • Athleisure and activewear — The athleisure trend is here to stay, meaning brands like Nike, Athleta, and Adidas that blend comfort and style are always likely to fly off the virtual shelves.
  • Vintage and unique pieces — Vintage fashion has a dedicated following, so retro items that have stood the test of time can be real gems on ThredUp. Think Levi’s jeans, 90s slip dresses, and those quirky jackets that scream personality.
  • Maternity and kids’ clothing — Parents love a good deal, making brands like BabyGap, Carter’s, and Hatch popular choices.

Seasonal garments

ThredUp will likely reject clothing that doesn’t fit the current status quo – which is arguably fair enough, given that they’re footing the warehousing costs. So, there’s no point trying to sell light summer dresses or beachside apparel while it’s blowing a storm outside. Likewise, buyers are unlikely to look for cozy sweaters during sweltering summer months. 

ThredUp is all about catering to what’s trending. So, to curate your submissions like a pro and offload your items at the right time for the highest return, you’ll need to have your finger on the cyclical pulse of fashion. This is excellent news for those with bags of ‘I’ll never wear that again’ 90s nostalgia or animal print madness lurking at the back of their wardrobe! 

Picking items that make the cut

While mastering how to sell on ThredUp can be an awesome way to line your pockets while clearing out your closet (there you go, you can switch that Macklemore song out for some Eminem now!), it’s not a free-for-all on any old tat. To pass muster and make the grade, your items must meet ThredUp’s stringent standards. On average, only 50% of items make it through the 12-point inspection, so choosing wisely is essential.

ThredUp’s quality control standards

Even though your items are preloved, they’re expected to be only lightly used and in good condition. As such, any clothes you send should be clean and freshly laundered. Furthermore, ThredUp won’t accept garments, apparel, or accessories with:

  • Excessive wear and tear like pilling, fading, shrinkage, or stains. And as for odors? Forget it!
  • Damage like rips, holes, or broken zippers.
  • Missing labels or altered hems. 

Items without size labels are also a no-no, with the notable exception of handbags and a few select, highly sought-after brands (did someone say Lululemon?). 

Prohibited items on ThredUp

The list of banned categories comprises:

  • Menswear
  • PJs
  • Intimates
  • Jewelry
  • Formal gowns
  • Non-apparel items
  • Counterfeit items

How to start selling on ThredUp

Now you’ve got a better idea of what’s hot and what’s not, it’s time to set up your account and get selling! Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to get started.

Step 1: Create your ThredUp account 

You can create a ThredUp account with your email address or by using Google, Amazon, Facebook, or Apple. If you sign in using your email, you’ll need to create a password. With other account creation methods, you’ll be prompted to verify the associated account.

Step 2: Order your Clean Out Kit

Click the ‘Sell’ tab and select the ‘Get a Clean Out Kit’ button. The kit costs $10, and you can choose between printing a free shipping label or requesting a ThredUp bag to package your clothes in. 

A quick heads up – bags can take a couple of weeks to arrive, so the shipping label option is the speediest of the two options. Once your items are bagged up and ready to go, send them to ThredUp via FedEx or USPS.

Eco alert! It’s worth noting that you have the option to donate as well as sell clothes through thredUp. Clothes donations provide support to a charity of your choice, so you can still do your bit for the planet, even with clothes that don’t meet ThredUp’s stringent quality standards.

Step 3: Choose your processing time

It can take up to eight weeks for ThredUp to receive, sort, and process your items. Looking to make faster cash? To expedite the process, there’s an option to pay $16.00 and cut the processing time down to three weeks. 

The ThredUp sales process

Items that pass ThredUp’s rigorous quality processes are priced and listed for thrifters to browse. As a seller, you have a 12-hour window to update your listing price before bidding starts. Once that window passes, your listing will be active and available to bidders for a further 12 hours.

So, what happens if your items don’t sell within the bidding window? Good question! 

In the event of non-sales, item listings are extended for either 60 days or 90 days. Typically, designer or premium brands have 90 days to sell, whereas small brands will only get 60. Sellers are permitted to adjust prices within this time to facilitate a sale. 

If your item sells within the given timeframe, you get a payout – provided that the buyer doesn’t return the item within 14 days. But here’s a curveball for you – items that don’t sell become the property of ThredUp. 

ThredUp pricing and payouts

ThredUp’s price estimation tool (under the ‘Consignment 101’ tab) allows you to select the brand and category of your items to get an idea of how much you’ll make. Bear in mind that 

ThredUp payouts vary by brand – i.e., the higher the brand value, the higher your payout will be:

  • Premium and designer brands can pay out up to 80% of the selling price
  • Mid-priced brands can pay out up to 60% of the selling price. 

However, budding fashionistas looking to master how to sell on ThredUp successfully should also be aware that there’s a 50-strong list of brands that are ineligible for payouts

Once an item sells, you have up to one year (yeah, right, as if you’d wait that long!) to claim your earnings before your moolah is automatically converted into a ThredUp gift card. There are three ways to cash out your payouts:

  1. Take ThredUp credit to use towards your own purchases.
  2. Cash-out via Stripe (you’ll pay 1.5% plus a standard $0.25 bank transaction fee).
  3. Cash-out using PayPal (there’s a 2% transaction fee, but funds are immediately available).

Is selling on ThredUp worth it? 

Depending on your goals, maybe. But, it’s likely not the best fit for serious ecommerce entrepreneurs. Typically, it’s a much better platform for amateur sellers and everyday folks looking to squeeze a bit of spending money out of a few long-forgotten purchases. 

Why? Essentially, it all comes down to seller control and support – or lack thereof:

  • Sellers are reliant on ThredUp to handle listings, sales, shipping, etc, and have very little control over inventory, pricing, and customer communications. 
  • Fulfillment times can be lengthy, meaning there’s often a significant delay between sending in items and receiving payouts.
  • There are no ‘cash cow’ opportunities for bulk listings. 
  • Support can be lacking as ThredUp primarily focuses on buyer satisfaction rather than seller needs.

So, with all this considered, is it really worth it? 

Ultimately, probably not. For dedicated second-hand sellers looking for high-volume sales, the truth is that learning how to sell on ThredUp will unlikely result in any significant bottom-line gains. 

Alternatives to selling on ThredUp

For secondhand fashion maestros who mean business, platforms like Etsy, Wish, eBay, and Amazon Renewed offer much more flexibility and control – not to mention significantly higher consumer visibility. 

If you’re serious about multichannel selling, Linnworks can help. We offer integration with hundreds of global online marketplaces, including leading second hand sales channels, D2C platforms, shipping providers, and 3PLs.

Request a demo today to learn how to connect and thrive in the multichannel marketplace!

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Linzi Trafford


Linzi Trafford is a SaaS-loving, self-professed grammar nerd. She’s written for industry leaders like Crunchbase and Spotify, tech-for-good firms like UpMetrics and Recite Me, and a whole heap in between. When not hammering away at her keyboard, you’ll find her hiking with her rescue dog, singing with her band, or getting stuck into a good old-fashioned whodunnit novel.