MF 212 : The art of pricing items for sale on Poshmark
In this episode, I talk about factors that go into pricing your items for sale on Poshmark and how to apply the “salvage value” principle when selling used clothing. More at www.bemovingforward.com.
Part 1: A new podcast to kick old habits
It’s hard to believe but I haven’t had a chance to talk about my new podcast series! If you listened to episode 200, you’ll know that I’m currently penning my first book with my friend and former Star Trek: New Voyages co-star Andy Bray. We’ve been working on it for over a year and a half and are doing final edits with our editor Megan Prikhodko. In preparation for the book launch and to introduce Trek fans to our book, we decided to launch a companion podcast series called Making Fake Star Trek.
As of this week, we’ve released 4 episodes and are having a fun time with it. This podcast also continues my journey of getting me out of my comfort zone. As I talked about on episode 207, I’ve been stretching myself as a podcaster. Due to limited time, I’ve shortened the format of this show and have let go of the “nice but not necessary things” such as editing, music and sound effects. This allows me to focus my time solely on content. Similarly, the Making Fake Star Trek podcast is produced in the same vein. Neither Andy nor I have time to devote to edit the podcast. Moreover, the only time we can record the episodes is during Andy’s drive home from work (8 pm EST for me / 5 pm PST) as he lives on the West Coast and has a wife, several kids, and a myriad of pets that keep him busy at home. As such, we’ve had to deal with unpredictable signals, static, and even a dropped call or two. In the past, I would have obsessed over making sure the sound quality was perfect and put in hours editing each episode, splicing in neat sound effects and music. But this year, I just don’t have the time. Moreover, we’re not trying to produce a radio show. Our goal with the podcast and the book is to bring listeners into conversations that Andy and I have every week, reliving our glory days. As such, the unpredictable quirks make this podcast organic and real. This is how I went from not having enough time to do one podcast last year to this year, doing two.
In a future mini-series, we’ll talk about podcasting. As with Poshmark, I’ll break down the steps to move you forward, one step at a time. Now that I’m doing two shows, I’ll have that much more insights to share with you.
Part 2: The art of pricing items for sale on Poshmark
This week, we dive into the art and science of pricing your listings on Poshmark.
Because many of you may be selling on Poshmark as a side hustle, listing items you own but don’t want or need anymore, I’ll start with an overview on pricing used items.
New but never worn items
First, consider the condition of the item. If the item is “new with tags,” meaning you bought it off the rack at a store or online and have never worn it, it’s reasonable to list it for the price you paid for it. If you bought it on sale or at a special, you can even list it for the normal retail price to maximize your profit which is known as “retail arbitrage.”
If you have used items you want to sell, the two most important factors are condition and age.
“Used” doesn’t mean crappy
Regardless of how old the item is or how used, make sure it’s clean and presentable. “Used” does not mean you can sell your 20-year old sneakers that are falling apart at the seams. Put some effort into polishing those shoes, removing stains or scuff marks from older items and do the basics such as dry clean, iron, and make minor repairs to garments you want to sell (e.g. fix up hanging threads or loose buttons).
Apply the “salvage value” mindset to older, used items
With older items, get into the mindset of “salvage value.” This is a phrase I learned years ago in a business accounting course. It’s commonly applied to office or farm equipment and refers to any proceeds you make from a sale on an item once it’s exhausted its shelf life. I won’t get into the nitty-gritty of the accounting concept which applies to tax deductions and amortization but to simplify the concept, imagine you have a really old computer. It’s outdated, slow and can’t run the latest OS BUT it still works. You wouldn’t able to sell it for the original price you bought it for but as long as it’s working, there is some value to it. Simply put, if you sell that computer, the money you make is the computer’s “salvage value.”
Unlike new items you’ve only had for a few weeks or months, your old items have lived out their shelf life. In other words, if you’re no longer wearing them, they’re not doing anything more than taking up valuable real estate in your closet. The goal with these items is to liquidate them and turn them into cash. Consider pricing them low so they’re attractive to a buyer. Remember, be upfront about the condition in the description. Even if you don’t make much money on the sale, that’s money you wouldn’t otherwise have in exchange for an item that you aren’t using anymore. The more you’re able to get rid of, the more space you’ll free up and the more cash you’ll add to your coffers. While a few bucks may for an old pair of shoes or a shirt not seem like a lot, it can add up as you sell more items on Poshmark.
For retail businesses, look at your profit margin (a look at wholesale)
If you’re in the clothing business or you’ve upped your Poshmark game by buying wholesale, pricing is about profit margin. What is wholesale? Essentially, you’re buying items in bulk; not from a store but a supplier. This supplier is often a third party that gets its clothes direct from a manufacturer that only sells them business-to-business (B2B) to retail businesses, not individuals. Wholesale is not just limited to stores like my Dad’s. Poshmark has a program that allows individual sellers to buy from select wholesalers, and platforms like Alibaba provide access to tons of suppliers overseas. In essence, buying wholesale allows you to get a lot of a particular item while paying less per unit. From there, the business or individual can charge a markup, usually 30-40% over cost. While that sounds high, keep in mind, the sale price is the fair market value (i.e. what a buyer is willing to pay for it) and the retail business has to buy a large quantity to pay a lower per unit cost. The markup is the profit, which is a business’s lifeblood. This is what pays the bills, keeps the lights on, and in the case of my Dad’s business, pays his staff, and helps build the business.
Offers: say “no” when it’s low
This leads us to an important point. When it comes to offers, don’t just accept the first offer that comes your way, especially if it’s too low. While this sounds like common sense, for individuals that are selling for the first time, you may a psychological pressure or “tug” to accept the first that comes your way. Case in point: a friend of mine started on Poshmark last year. She listed an expensive, name brand purse that she only used once and ended up accepting the first offer that came her way even though she knew it was a lowball offer. She regretted the decision afterward. When I asked her why accepted the offer, she said she felt like she wouldn’t get any other offers. She fell victim to fear of missing out (“FOMO”) syndrome. She had no evidence to back this up, only a feeling. Despite her gut telling her the price was too low, she accepted.
It’s a powerful feeling to have an offer come your way and if you’re not used to selling items, you may be inclined to accept, even if your gut tells you not to. You may feel that you’ll never get a better offer or you may even have doubts on whether you’ve priced the item correctly.
Put those fears aside. If you feel an offer is too low, decline it. Remember, Poshmark is a big place and if one person tenders an offer, chances are others will too. For my Dad’s business, we’ve had many occasions when we’ve declined offers and it’s important to let go of that doubt. Often times, declining an offer led us to get a better one or an outright sale at the list price from another buyer.
Below are some basic guidelines on pricing that can help you feel confident and secure in saying no to a lowball offer.
List price = optimal satisfaction
Think of your list price as representing optimal satisfaction. It’s the ideal price (original or higher which we can think of ideal or maximum satisfaction) discounted (minus a little satisfaction). Remember to look at your net after Poshmark’s commission in coming up with this price.
Identify a bottom line threshold
Think of a “bottom line threshold.” This is the absolute lowest you might be willing to sell that item for. This doesn’t necessarily mean you will sell at this price and avoid the trap of answering comments that ask “what’s the lowest price you’re willing to sell this for.” For my response to this question, check out episode 209. Instead, the bottom line threshold is a consideration. It’s the maximum amount of satisfaction you might be willing to give up in order to close a sale. If you’re a first-time seller, you may want to write it down on a piece of paper. This isn’t a number you will share with a potential buyer, nor is it a price you will even necessarily agree to sell it at if offered. It’s simply a marker such that anything below that number is a no go. If an offer comes below this marker, decline it.
Continue building your Poshmark store and engaging with fellow Poshers and at parties. As you build up your listings, consider the price you’re listing your items at. Consider condition, age, and satisfaction quotient. Come up with a “bottom line threshold.” Remember, this isn’t necessarily a price that you’ll agree to sell at if someone offers it. It’s simply a price floor, a guidepost to let you know when an offer is not worth considering. You may or may not end up selling at that price. Once you define this, stick to your guns and reject any offers that fall below that floor. Moreover, don’t be afraid to decline an offer if your gut tells you to.
Download my 5-step checklist for getting started on Poshmark
Part 3: What I’m reading / read
The Virgin Way: Everything I Know About Leadership by Richard Branson (****1/2): a great book about leadership that is also a revealing look at how Richard Branson thinks when it comes to building businesses, entrepreneurship, and his approach to relationships. Normally, a book with too many exclamation marks would annoy me but in this case, they fit perfectly with Branson’s larger than life personality and accomplishments. His “just do it” philosophy is explained in great detail and his introspection about how he takes risks, why he does so, and the influences in his early life that contributed to his success, are refreshing. This is a book that will make you want to try something new and get out of your comfort zone. It’s also a fun read. I highly recommend this book.
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