Selling stuff online can be a great way to earn some money. Some people even make a full-time living off of it! This is particularly true when it comes to footwear. Here are some tips to help you figure out how to sell shoes online.
Determine Which Kind of Shoes You’re Selling
Some types of shoes are more popular than others. That means that they are easier to sell, even if they aren’t in amazing condition. Here are the most common types of shoes people sell online:
- Women’s shoes: These are the most popular, by far. They also have the largest number of retail sites dedicated to their sale.
- Men’s shoes: Some men will spend as much money on their shoes as women do. Sports shoes and dress shoes are the most popular types of men’s shoes.
- Children’s shoes: Kids grow really fast. What this means for you is that there will always be a market for their shoes. That said, because kids grow so quickly, the turnover rate for children’s shoes is high.
- Classic shoes: Timelessness means widespread appeal, particularly for collectors.
- Shoes for crews: These are shoes that are designed specifically for people working in specific professions. Common examples are nurses, chefs, and construction workers. This type of shoe must meet profession-specific technical criteria like waterproofing, non-slip soles, steel toes, etc. The market for these shoes is narrow, but the buyers are willing to pay top dollar.
- Sport shoes: Sports shoes can be marketed to both amateurs and professionals. Sports shoes, sneakers in particular, attract collectors who are willing to pay through the nose for shoes that will complete their collections. Hint: If you’re selling specifically to athletes, you’ll want to focus on details like comfort and durability.
Assess Their Condition
The condition of your inventory is vital to your sales. You want to make sure that any shoes you sell are in the best possible condition. Shoes usually fall into one of these categories:
- Excellent: No visible flaws, as close to new as possible, very little wear (if any)
- Very good: Worn a few times but there isn’t any noticeable wear or tear.
- Good: A few scuffs or scratches and the sole might have signs of wear. There might even be some patina on interior soles.
- Fair: Obvious signs of wear like scuffs, scratches, a worm sole, and the interior will have a dark patina.
- Poor: Not usually wearable. Will probably only be enticing to someone who rehabs shoes or someone who needs a match to a shoe they lost or broke. This is a very small market.
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Do Some Pricing Research
It is rare that you’ll sell shoes online for more or even the same price that you originally paid for them. The exception to this, of course, is if you’re selling footwear that is now considered rare and/or collectible.
A good way to figure out how to price your shoes is to look for similar shoes on a variety of resale sites. What are other people charging for shoes in the same condition as yours? You could also look up your shoes’ values using collectible sites, etc.
A good rule of thumb is that even shoes in excellent condition typically only fetch about 75% of their original purchase price.
Take Good Photos
Some sites, like Mercari and Poshmark won’t allow you to get a payout until the buyer approves your shoes. A good way to avoid getting caught in a trap of complaints or returns is to take really good pictures of your shoes for your listings.
A good idea, if you can afford it, is to use a lightbox. This way you won’t have to worry about shadows, etc. You can make your own if you don’t want to buy one.
If a lightbox isn’t something you can buy/make, make sure you do the following when taking your photos:
- Use a solid and neutral-colored backdrop (if you don’t have a blank wall, you can hang up a sheet).
- Daylight is best. You can buy daylight-simulating light bulbs for a few bucks.
- If possible, try to light from multiple angles. This will reduce shadows. Desk lamps work fine for this.
- Take photos of the shoes from every angle: front, back, sides, top, bottom. Make sure to highlight anything that could affect the value of the shoes, like wear or unique embellishments.
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List on Multiple Sites
Cross-post your shoes (aka list them on multiple sites) to increase your chance of making a sale. Make sure to mention this in your listing. This helps create a feeling of scarcity and will encourage people to buy quickly.
Experiment with a few different sites to figure out which ones are best for your shoes and your target market. After all, not every site caters to every audience. Sites like The RealReal, for example, focus only on high-end designer shoes. Others, like GOAT, cater to sneaker fans.
If selling online isn’t ideal or you need to make money quickly, selling your shoes locally through consignment shops can be a good solution.
Hint: High-end brands and “trending” shoes will fetch more money.
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Having goals is great (and necessary!) Even so, it is important to be as objective and practical as possible. If you ask too much for your shoes, they won’t sell. If the market is flooded with the exact pair of shoes you’re trying to sell, you’re unlikely to get somebody to buy your inventory.
Remember: Nostalgia is only valuable to the current holder of an item. Just because you love a pair of shoes or they were a gift from someone special, that doesn’t mean that someone else will be willing to pay more for them.
Getting paid is the goal, right? Part of that means using the payment portal that your buyer wants to use. Most resale sites use PayPal and/or Venmo. Many of them will also allow you to deposit your earnings directly into your bank account. Make sure you can get paid by a system before you list your shoes. Protect yourself. Make sure to use a service that provides protection for both the buyer and yourself. That usually means paying an additional “goods and services” fee through PayPal. It’s worth the extra. There are scam buyers as well as scam sellers. You need to make sure your money is protected if you get buyer claims that the item never arrived, was damaged in shipment or is not as described.
Some of the resale sites will cover shipping costs for you. Many have tools to help you navigate the process of shipping your shoes to your buyer.
If you’re working with one that won’t, like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, sites like PirateShip can be very helpful for figuring out how much your shipping will cost. You’ll want to invest in a small digital food scale so that you know how much your shipments will weigh. This is very helpful when calculating shipping costs.
If you’re shipping independently, make sure you purchase insurance for the item and get its tracking information. Very expensive shoes should also be shipped “signature-required.”
If You Are Selling Locally
Safety is key when you are making the sale in person. Always meet your buyer in a public setting. One that is crowded is a good idea (that way you’ll have lots of witnesses if the buyer is shady). Some sellers and buyers even insist on making exchanges in locations like police station parking lots!
If the buyer pays you in advance, you can offer contact-free porch delivery. You can “ship” the items directly using a delivery/task service like Uber or Roadie.
Always have a friend with you if someone will be handing over cash.
Calculate the Time Involved
Selling shoes online can be very time consuming. You’ll spend time prepping the shoes (cleaning, polishing, replacing laces, etc.), photographing them, and building your listings. Then, when your shoes finally sell, you’ll spend time packing them up and shipping/delivering them.
You probably won’t get rich selling your shoes online, but if you’re dedicated, you can turn it into a relatively profitable side hustle.
Is Shoe Reselling Legal?
Most of the time, if you have legally purchased the shoes, they are yours. You should be able to sell them without having to worry about running afoul of the law.
Where this gets tricky is the wholesale market. If you’re going to buy a brand name shoe on the wholesale market, you’ll want proof that the shoe is real and not a knock-off or counterfeit.
You’ll also want to always take your own photos. “Borrowing” someone else’s photos is a no-no because those photos are copyright protected. You can copy the shot using your own camera and shoes, but never steal someone else’s work. In addition to being illegal, doing that shows bad taste.
Watch Out for Scams
Here are some of the most common red flags for web-based shoe sellers:
- Asking you to hold an item for a long period of time.
- Asking you to ship the item before you’ve been paid (some sites will allow this, but you’ll know that when you create your listing).
- Offering to overpay you via a digital portal like PayPal or Cash.Me but only if you’ll give them their “change” in cash or as a check.
- Buyers who want your stuff but don’t want to buy it on the platform you’re using.
Scam alert: Watch out for Zelle payments when selling online. To learn more, check out this video:
The Bottom Line
Anybody can learn how to sell shoes online. The key, like with any other money-making venture, is patience and a good work ethic.
Yes! Amazon allows you to resell just about anything that you’ve legally purchased.
That depends on the type of shoe you’re selling and the type of buyer you’re hoping to reach. Learn more about the different resale sites here.
If you’re patient, diligent, and willing to work hard at it, yes you can!