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The ins and outs of consumer-to-consumer shopping

People are turning their unused clothing and beauty products into a money-making endeavour.
Consumer-to-consumer (C2C) shopping has created a not-too-shabby "side gig" opportunity for many people.

Our online shopping habits have changed in the last year and a half.

From stocking up on essentials (toilet paper, please) to simply trying to lift our pandemic spirits, we’ve spent more time “adding to cart” than ever before.

We’ve discovered the convenience of virtual grocery shopping and have even refused to let lockdown disrupt our daily ’fit game, filling our e-baskets with the latest styles (read: sweats). And there’s one more thing that’s changed: who we’re buying from online.

Consumer-to-consumer (C2C) shopping is on the rise, allowing people to make money selling their clothing, accessories and even unused beauty products directly to a worldwide community of shoppers (present company included) looking for a good deal — or, perhaps, a piece no longer available in store. Unlike eBay, these websites and apps are focused squarely on style, with a healthy dose of social thrown in.

“We operate on three value propositions, starting with simplicity. It has to be easy to sell, whether you’re a newbie or experienced,” says Maria Morales, general manager, Canada, for Poshmark, a leading digital marketplace to buy and sell fashion. “We’ve relieved the pain points so that our resellers can focus on what matters most: connecting with their shoppers.”

That social aspect, she continues, is pillar two, as sellers and buyers alike join Poshmark to be “part of a community, to socialize with each other. Since our launch in Canada in 2019 we’ve seen 1.1 billion social milestones met, from likes to shares to comments. They’re following and engaging with and supporting each other, becoming what we call PFFs — Poshmark friends forever. People are making connections on Poshmark that go beyond a shared love of fashion, and beyond selling and buying.”

She points to one group of resellers in Edmonton who have become friends IRL (in real life), meeting up to go thrifting together. This social aspect, Morales explains, actually helps the success of reselling: “The more you engage and connect, the more followers you have and the more eyeballs on your closet. It’s a simple matter of increasing your reach, but the actual friendship part is a real bonus.”

It’s turned out to be a boon for Mother Earth, too. Sustainability is the third pillar in Poshmark’s plan; in 2020, the marketplace launched Reposh to allow users to relist an item purchased on Poshmark and give it a third, fourth and even fifth life.

“We wanted to create a space connecting people to find new owners for their fashion and lifestyle items,” says Maud Behaghel, global strategy director at Vinted, a European C2C platform boasting more than 45 million members that recently launched in Canada. “Our business model is based on circular fashion, and this is where we see our current responsibility—making sure that more and more people find an easy-to-use and convenient tool that empowers them to buy secondhand.”

Luxury reseller LXR, based in Montreal, has been living and building on a philosophy centred around sustainability since 2010. “We believe in giving pre-owned luxury goods a second life at affordable prices,” says CEO Cam di Prata, adding that, with a huge assortment of timeless designer handbags and accessories contributed by sellers around the world and carefully vetted by LXR, a second aim of the brand is to “democratize luxury” — that is, ensure every-day aspirational consumers can have access to quality pre-owned luxury items, at more affordable prices than brand new.

C2C has also created a not-too-shabby “side gig” opp for many, gaining certain high-powered sellers a highly engaged and loyal community of followers, all looking to fill their dressers with their favourite influencers’ duds. Take Jessica Luxe, a digital creator and prolific Poshmark seller, whose feed is full of OOTD inspo, who says, “Buying and selling on Poshmark is so easy; getting a listing up is so fast, and the biggest attraction for me as a seller is that every order includes tracked shipping so there’s no extra guesswork that needs to be done. As a buyer, I love securing my dream items — like my Balenciaga Triple S — for less than retail price.”

Real connections made between sellers and shoppers seems to be a key to success — and the reason Luxe has more than 500,000 followers on Poshmark. 

“When I see a user liking multiple items, I can look at what items they’re looking to purchase from my closet, add their likes to the bundle and then make them an offer with a discount on top,” she explains. The platform has also introduced a bulk sharing feature, which allows sellers like Luxe to multi-select the listings they wish to share, saving her time while allowing her to connect with even more so-called Poshers.

Social media, too, plays a big role, with Instagram and TikTok acting as extended marketplaces.

Luxe often shares social stories on what she’s selling, and even the most unique personalities have found their way into the reselling space. Viral sensation and canine trendsetter, Tika the Iggy, with more than a million Instagram followers, recently launched her own closet on Poshmark, targeting another shopper soft spot, offering leashes, collars, onesies and more, a portion of her proceeds benefiting an organization called the Rainbow Railroad, which helps LGBTQI+ people escape state-sponsored violence.

Indeed, the magically designed (and dare we say, more-aesthetically-pleasing-than-eBay) digital realms of Poshmark, Vinted and others offer more than just a place to sell, and buy, fashion — they also create an experience that feels like a champagne-popping party with friends, right at your fingertips.

“When I first joined the app, there were so many welcoming messages and people didn’t hesitate to answer any questions I had,” says Luxe. “Now that I’ve learned more about how it all works, the community has inspired me to be that for other people — it’s such a positive space.” 

Poshmark’s tips for selling

1. Get social. Once you list an item, let people know by sharing them with your Poshmark followers and to the in-app Posh Parties that take place three times daily. Also, connect to your social network and share your listings outside of the app.

2. Utilize price drop notifications. With the new price drop notifications feature, you can reach out to Poshers who have liked your item and entice them to click “buy it now.” It even helped one seller make 47 sales in 24 hours!

3. Entice with great photos. If a photo is worth a thousand words, a great cover shot could be worth a lot more! Making the extra effort to ensure great lighting and composition could mean making more on your item.

4. Maintain a full closet. Shoppers are looking not only for variety, but for a seller they can trust. Find those pre-loved items in great condition and get them listed!

5. Provide a five-star experience. Buying from fellow Poshers and not large companies is part of what makes Poshmark such a great place to shop. When you take time to ensure a great experience — by accurately describing an item, being responsive and sending sales off in style — you’ll receive positive seller ratings and repeat customers.