Now that you are a Posh addict selling the shirt off your back, maybe it’s time to think about turning your Posh closet into a business. You don’t have to go in to retail; there are also money making opportunities in consignment and resale. I am writing about retail because it is what I do and not because it is the most lucrative of all Poshmark businesses. I will also be doing one on one mentoring for ONE closet just starting retail so please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your closet name, why you want to go into retail and what your #poshgoals are for your closet!
Disclaimer: If you are here to learn about suppliers, you are out of luck because I won’t be revealing them. All the retailers on Poshmark had to hustle to get their suppliers and I refuse to stomp on their efforts. If this really is your “dream”, then you’ve got to do the legwork and build your own buyer-supplier relationships. Sourcing for products is the very foundation of your business and sourcing for solutions to a problem is how successful people remain successful. If your problem is having no suppliers, get in on the hustle or GTFO of retail.
The most important thing you need to do before you can do any retail is to obtain your seller’s permit (a.k.a. sales and use tax permit/sales tax permit/reseller’s permit/general business license). Most vendors require you to show some kind of business license/seller’s permit before allowing you to view their products so it is pertinent you get your account asap. Each state has a different application process so just Google “seller’s permit *enter state here*”. You can either register online or register in person at your local Comptroller office. It shouldn’t take more than a week or two to get your permit number, but this also depends on which state you are in. I received my California seller’s permit almost immediately.
Click here if you are a California resident.
You can buy wholesale without a permit but there are only a handful of vendors that allow this and you don’t want to limit yourself to a small selection of items.
Now that you’ve gotten your account number, it is time to stock up on products! If you think that this is the fun part of retail, think again. This happens to be the hardest part. We have a tendency to buy what we like and that really isn’t how retail works. No one cares what you like, unless everyone else also likes the same thing.
Buying tip #1: Do NOT buy everything you think is cute
Really, don’t. What you think is cute may not be everyone else’s favorite piece. Your style may not be mainstream and the items you absolutely hate could end up being your bestselling pieces. This is hard and there are times I still pick pieces that I really like but don’t sell as well.
I absolutely love this ruched dress… and no one else does.
I absolutely hate this fit and flare dress… and I regretted buying only one pack.
Buying tip #2: Buy what is popular. DO NOT buy items that are “on sale”
Wholesaler vendors put items on sale all the time because THEY ARE NOT POPULAR. Avoid this mindset at all costs: “if a dress is $7 a piece, I can sell it for a good price and make more margins.” There is a reason why items are that cheap; they are not selling! Clearance items are usually those that are the least popular in wholesale world. Popular items are the ones that sell out at original wholesale price. You want to keep a look out for those.
So how would you know what is popular? This is where your buyer-supplier relationship comes in. You can ask your vendor for their best selling styles, colors and more! Most vendors are pretty honest about these things. I steer clear of the sketchy ones that lie to me. You can also play the waiting game. Hold off buying any of the new arrivals and wait for items to be re-cut. Those items that sell out and get restocked are your vendor’s best selling items.
Buying tip #3: Know your costs
If you are just starting out in retail, absolutely do not buy clothing over $20 a piece. Once you get more settled into retail, you can start thinking about buying more expensive pieces but if you are just starting out, keep your costs low. My advice for new retailers is to stick to pieces that are $11-$16 each. I will explain more in the markup/margins section.
You will also be paying for shipping if you are not picking up items from your vendor in person. Shipping is not cheap. If you live outside of California, shipping costs are crazy high. Shipping just one pack could run up to $14-$18 (depending on your vendor). You don’t ever want to just buy one pack. At least try to go for at least 3-4 packs per order. I pay close to $25-$30 to ship 4-5 packs (to a Texas address) but this is just a ballpark estimate. Some vendors charge even more for shipping; I once had to pay $60 for 7 packs.
Here is the math:
$30 divided by 5 packs = $6
$6 divided by 6 items in a pack = $1 more a piece
Buying tip #4: Build relationships and always haggle
When ordering items in person or through the phone, you can ask the dreaded “WHAT’S YOUR LOWEST?” question. Some suppliers do not haggle, but most do! Once again, I cannot stress the importance of your buyer-supplier relationship. Always know your suppliers’ staff by name, have conversations with them, ask them how their day is going and make small talk. In business, relationships are everything. When you have a good relationship with your suppliers, they quote you better prices.
Selling tip #1: Keystone Markup
Margins are the percentage of your revenue you retain as profit. Unless you are selling quantities like Forever 21 or Walmart, you want at least 50% margins on all your items. Why, you ask? You usually get items in packs of 6 and with keystone markup, you cover the total cost of the pack after you sell three pieces. This means you can sell the remaining three pieces at any price at all and that is all PROFIT! Yay! You can read more about Keystone Markups here.
Here is the math:
You buy an item for $12 + $1 shipping = item costs $13
Add another dollar or two for your time. No one works for free. If you don’t think your time has any monetary value, then you’re doing business the wrong way.
So now your total item cost is $14.
To earn 50% margins on this piece you need to get $28 from its sale.
Remember Posh takes 20% off your sale price. This means you need to price your item at $35 (the very least) to make 50% profit margins.
Then remember all the people on Posh who absolutely will try to bargain with you. You need to leave at least $5 bargain room on your items for hagglers and price drops.
Total sale price $40. **
**Pricing psychological experiments stress the use of “9” in your pricing. So it maybe better to price something at $39 rather than $40. Read the article here. I’ve tested this out myself. A lot of my $39 items sell faster than my $40 ones.
Selling tip #2: Quantity
The one time you can avoid keystone margins is if you are pushing out high quantities. If you are making 10-15 sales a day, you can maybe drop your margins to a lower level.
Here is the math:
Posher Amazing has a total item cost at $14. One day, she sells the item for $35 and gets $28 from the sale after taking out Posh commission. She earns $14 from the sale.
Posher Better has a total item cost at $14. She sells two pieces of the same item in one day for $28 each. After Posh commission is taken out she gets $22.40 for the sale and earns $8.40 profit. But since she sold two of the same item in a day her total profit for the day is $16.8. That’s $2.8 more than Posher Amazing!
In simple terms: If you are to lower your price, it will take more items sold to cover the cost of your entire wholesale pack. But if you are pushing out really high quantities per day, this doesn’t matter because you actually do end up covering the cost of your wholesale pack in the same amount of time a keystone markup-er (who pushes less quantity than you) takes to cover hers.
Selling tip #3: Sharing/Replying
Remember the old adage “consumers must see an ad at least 7 times before they notice it”? Yup, it’s true. This is why sharing your items/other closets is so crucial to making sales. If you think retail is just listing an item and sitting back waiting for it to sell, you are seriously mistaken. Selling retail means you have to be very active on Posh. If you do not have time for this, do NOT go into retail.
You also have to answer questions in a prompt manner. No one is perfect. I miss comments all the time due to mass tags/thank you for sharing comments/posh love from amazing PFFs. If you miss a comment and reply 2-3 hours later, there is a 95% chance you’ll kiss that sale goodbye. In my experience, 15 minutes is the maximum amount of leeway you are given.
Selling tip #4: Sales/Discounts
So what about sales? When you put up a sale post and tag everyone, you get a few people that will take advantage of your sale. But sometimes, none at all. Unless you are sharing that sale listing 24/7, people tend to miss it (remember the magic 7 number). In my entire Posh history, sales have never worked me. And when I say “work”, I actually mean profitable. When you hold a closet sale, know that you are slashing your profit margin. This means you have to sell more to claim that your sale is profitable.
Here is the math:
You make 4 sales on items marked at $35 on an average day. After you take out Posh commission, you earn $28 per item. Multiply that by four and your total sales are at $112.
Let’s say you hold a buy one get one 50% sale = ($35 + $35 + $17.5 + $17.5) x 80% = $84 total sales. This means you need to sell one more item at $35 to match a non-sale day.
To make matters worse, you just sold 2 items at 17.5. For the BOGO 50% off sale to be PROFITABLE (i.e. you earn way more money from it than you would a regular day), you need to increase the amount of sales you made on that day itself to make up for the items you are selling for half price.
If you cannot do this, the sale is not profitable.
Regular day profit margin for the sale of 4 items = $14 + $14 + $14 + $14 = $56
BOGO 50% sale profit margin on sale of 4 items = $14 + $14 + $3.5 + $3.5 = $35
You will need to increase your profit margins by more than $21 on a “sale” day for it to be considered profitable. And mental note: this number keeps on increasing with each item you sell at half price.
Selling tip #5: Price drops
Price drops work waaaaaaaay better than sales do but only if you have a significant amount of likes on an item. If you price drop an item by 10%, everyone who likes it gets the notification (yes, you already know that). After your price drop, one special person thinks that it is a great deal and buys it. All the other “likers” see the item as sold and Robert Cialdini’s Social Proof theory kicks in. “Any more of these?” comments start to pop up and you end up selling more of the same piece. Yay! You just covered whatever loss in profit margin you might have been hit with when you sold the first piece at 10% off.
Always, always, ALWAYS try to have a relationship with your customers. Offer return customer discounts and free gifts to keep your customers loyal. I like sending out little birthday gifts to loyal customers and also offer free gift wrapping during holiday seasons. Let your customers know they are indeed special and have a place in your heart. You will build a loyal customer base and gain great PFFs.
Be truthful. You don’t want to lie or mislead your customers. If something will not fit, tell your customer that. Do not lie just to make a sale. If something runs small, tell them before they make a purchase. You may not know how an item fits because you had no time to try it on and your buyer gives you a (dreaded) one star for this. Take notes and make sure to remind all future customers about the fit.
That said, you also need to know how you want to run your customer service. I offer exchanges if my customers are willing to buy return shipping through Poshmark. I also take the stance that I am not better than my customers but I am also not worse than any of them either. Relationships are based on mutual respect and if someone cannot respect me as a human being, I’d rather lose their business than be treated terribly. Know what your limits are and be true to yourself!