When I first started selling reloved clothes, bags, and accessories online I also asked myself, “Is it too late to start an online selling business?”
My first answer was, of course, a resounding ‘Yes!” That’s why I only made this online selling gig a side-hustle for quite some time and didn’t worry that much about its profitability.
I have been selling preloved clothes and accessories online for a couple of years and it has become my full-time gig now. It started out just a side-hustle of mine, a hobby if you will, and also a way to recoup some money from all the purchases I have made in the past so I can buy new clothes.
And because I love shopping (I still do) and I love experimenting with my personal style, over the years, I have accumulated tons of stuff that were just collecting dust in my closet.
This is despite the fact that I have been selling most of these things online after I wear them and I have been also giving away A LOT of things to my friends and family and charity.
Due to my continuous accumulation of stuff, which also means, continuous posting of items for sale online, by sheer luck, I was able to grow my customer based in Carousell and eBay Philippines until it reaches the point wherein I finally realized that I can make a living in doing this.
If you’re going to ask me now if it’s too late to start an online selling business then my answer is ‘No!” It’s not too late to start an online selling business (especially preloved clothes bags and accessories).
Reasons Why It is Not Too Late to Start an Online Selling Business
Since I’m an online seller of preloved goods and since my blog is all about the preloved market, I will keep the discussion within these parameters.
According to the latest available data from the World Bank’s website, there are more than 108 Million Filipinos as of 2019. And out of those 108 Million Filipinos, how many do you think need clothes? How many of those 108 Million Filipinos will buy clothes? Even without checking out the exact number, you know that it’s a lot right?
And year by year, the population continues to increase thus the demand for clothes will also continue to increase.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Most of us are familiar with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs which is an idea in psychology proposed by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation.” You may put clothes on the Base Level which is the Basic Human Needs – Food Clothes, Shelter, and, now in the modern world, you may even classify clothes as something that provides Self-Esteem Needs which is also part of the Hierarchy of Needs.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia Graphics by AndroidMarsExpress
Advancement of Technology
Because of the advancement of technology, mobile phones, laptops, computers, tablets, and other devices that enables us to access the internet have become so much cheaper. A lot of people nowadays have these gadgets including children and senior citizen folks.
Access to the internet also gave us access to customers to far-flung places, even to places that you have never heard of. And also vice-versa, the internet also gave people access to online sellers from various geographic locations.
Online Selling Has Become Easier and Relatively Low Cost
Online selling is also now easier and relatively free for almost everyone. There are so many available selling and marketing apps on the internet that can help you reach your target customers at relatively no cost and some are even free.
I have been selling on eBay Philippines, Carousell, Grailed, and Instagram for the past few years and I have never paid anything to use those apps. There are paid features though in those websites, however, I personally decided that in order for me to keep my operational cost, I try my best to use the no-cost options.
I do, however, spend on financial institutions such as Paypal (to receive payment on Grailed), GCash, and banks. Usually, these are transaction fees, transfer fees, withdrawal fees, etc.
Gone are the days when you have to have a brick and mortar shop in order to sell anything. Gone are also the days when the only option to market is to advertise in traditional media such as TV, Radio, and Newspapers which are very expensive.
There are so many options available now to anyone to help them sell and market their products online for free or for a very low cost.
A Lot of Options (And a Lot More to Come)
As years go by, there has been an increasing number of options when it comes to the other needs of your online selling business such as online selling platforms, couriers, payment options, banking needs, etc. And it will just continue to increase in the next few years.
One of the barriers in online selling in the past is the high cost of shipping, nowadays, there are a plethora of couriers to choose from. I do still prefer to ship via JRS and LBC since I find them very reliable.
But as years go by, depending on where you are located and where your customer is, you may opt to use smaller couriers that are cheaper and have a strong network in your region.
Most of my Metro Manila customers are opting for a same-day delivery service which was not widely available a few years back. Some of the most popular same-day delivery service available now include:
And I’m hoping that it further increases more to cover more places and also to encourage better services and lower costs.
Online Payment Options
I remember the days when I still have to collect payments at Palawan Express (from provincial customers). I don’t do that anymore. Now, aside from the regular online banking option, you can now receive payments via mobile wallets and digital banks. These options helped me save a lot of my time spent queuing at remittance centers.
Aside from receiving payments, digital banks are also offering high-interest rates, and some of them even have features wherein you could earn some more money thru their referral programs. The most popular nowadays is GCash and Paymayaand I’m guessing that there will be a lot more options to come in the near future.
Opportunity to Learn Business (Hands-On Experience)
Even if you don’t aim for this to become your full-time gig, selling online will help you a lot in learning about business. It will expose you to business fundamentals such as (but not limited to):
- Supply and Demand
- Customer Management
- Resource Management
- Online Marketing
- Insights in Various Industry (in my case – Fashion)
- Accounting and Taxation
- And more…
If you are a Business Management student or if you’re studying anything related to Business such as Fashion Merchandising, then selling preloved clothes and accessories online is a very low-cost and easy way to put into practice the theories that you learn in school.
Help Our Environment
The fashion industry especially fast fashion has been one of the leading industries in producing waste materials that often end up in landfills. It’s also one of the leading industries in carbon emissions according to an article in Business Insider.
If you’re going to sell second-hand clothes online, in a way, you are also helping keep these items away from the landfills.
One thing that I also do (that you can also do) aside from selling the pieces that I bought from thrift stores outright, is repair and refurbished some of the damaged items and sell them at a lower cost.
Help Our Community
Online selling business is just like any other business. You have the chance and opportunity to help your community by being able to provide jobs once your business grows.
And also, since online sellers have an online presence in various social media (of course), you also provide inspiration to the members of the community who are looking for ways on how to augment their income.
I follow a lot of online sellers on Instagram and it really makes me happy whenever I see posts about people who started selling online because they got influence by another online seller.
Making business work and grow and sharing the growth journey to our community in a way could help inspire people to find ways to alleviate themselves and their families out of poverty.
It Will Never Be Too Late To Start a Business
I have mentioned this in my past posts and I’m going to mention this again. We Filipinos have a saying, “Habang May Buhay, May Pag-asa.” In English, it means, there’s always hope while you’re still alive.
And I believe this to be true. It’s never too late to start anything in our lives. It can be a new hobby, a new career, or a business.
There are lots of successful people in history that have proven this. One of the most famous entrepreneurs who found success in business later in his life is Mr. Harland David Sanders. His business is now very popular around the world and I’m sure that you also know what his business is. It’s none other than KFC.
Again, I can only speak for what I do. I’m in the business of selling pre-loved clothes, bags, and accessories and I’m lucky to have stumbled upon this business because I find it really fun and entertaining.
I love clothes and I love fashion and as years go by, I’m even enjoying it more and more. I also love thrifting (A LOT), even if I probably reach my FI phase in life, I will still be thrifting.
I find joy in discovering vintage garments, weird garments, designer clothes, avant-garde garments, and more. In my mind, it’s like a big game of scavenger hunt.
And as a bonus, I also get to earn money by playing scavenger hunt.
When I was starting, my relatives frowned upon this idea. They asked me, who buys second-hand clothes. But now, since I have been giving them some of my items every now and then (I give them second-hand clothes and bags as my gifts every Christmas) and they always find it surprising how on Earth I found those items.
They thought that thrift store items are all old and outdated. Of course, there are tons of old and outdated clothes at thrift stores but, there’re tons of new and stylish clothes as well.
There’s a lot of gems to be found at thrift stores and at Japan Surplus stores if you know what to look for :-).
It’s a Growing Industry and It’s Here to Stay
According to ThredUp 2020 Resale Report, “The secondhand market is expected to hit $64B in the next 5 years.”
Yup, 64 Billion US Dollars!!!
That’s a lot of money! And personally, even without that kind of number, I truly believe that it’s a growing industry based on my personal observation of selling second-hand clothes online. The reasons why I believe that it’s a growing industry are:
Consumers Are Looking for Cheaper Options
Secondhand clothes are often cheaper than their retail counterpart. Brand new clothes from designer brands that usually cost $500 and up and some even cost a few thousand dollars are often sold in the secondhand market for a fraction of that price.
Diverse Style Alternatives
In the Philippines, dressing up is a bit more conservative style. However, due to the influx of East Asian secondhand clothes in the Philippines, we are discovering beauty in avant-garde styles and in androgynous styles and monochrome colors which are often not available in our shopping malls.
The secondhand clothing market opened an opportunity for the locals to discover and enjoy a variety of styles without breaking their banks.
People are Becoming Conscious About the Environmental Impact of their Purchases
I am noticing an increasing number of people who are supporting the secondhand market because they want to minimize their impact on the environment while saving money at the same time.
It’s an exciting time to be an online seller because of the increasing number of people who want to support this business. This is also a business that requires a small capital and can be done by almost anyone.
If you are looking for an additional source of income then I suggest that you spend some time studying if this online selling business idea is a good fit for you.
Even though online selling is easier now compared to years before, it’s not a get rich quick scheme and should not be treated as such. It’s a legit business that needs your time and perseverance in order to make it work.
Are you also an online seller? Feel free to share your insights about this topic in the comment section below.