How to Start an Online Thrift Store

December 8, 2023
Reading time10 minutes
Jaqueline Corradi
Jaqueline Corradi
Content Manager

When it comes to how to start an online thrift store, you can find good opportunities and create a profitable business. Many customers are looking to buy second-hand items to have a more sustainable way of life and also to find unique pieces of clothing, accessories, furniture, decor objects, and much more.

According to a Statista research, it's expected that the second-hand apparel market will reach more than 350 billion US dollars, by 2027. While online resale ecommerce must grow as well and reach over 100 billion US dollars.

Why Do Customers Like to Buy on Online Thrift Stores?

There are several reasons why customers choose to buy pre-owned items online, and you can use them to drive attention to your ecommerce.

Eco Friendly

Climate change and how to implement changes to preserve the environment have worried people worldwide. And, this includes creating sustainable ways to consume goods and services. Thrifting has risen as an alternative to avoid wasting items that would be discarded.

Find Unique Items

Another great advantage of buying pre-owned items is the possibility of finding singular items that are real treasures. For example, vintage clothes and accessories that aren't even produced anymore. They represent a piece of history and can turn an outfit into something much more special and original.

Besides, you can find items from luxury brands' past collections made by famous fashion designers. Not only fashion lovers enjoy online thrifting, it's an attractive market for different types of collectors.

Price

Another online thrift store attractive is the price of the items. Many customers look to buy second-hand products because it enables them to afford products they couldn't buy if they were new, such as electronics.

Easy and Practical

An online thrift store offers a much more convenient way to buy pre-owned products. The items are well organized by categories, and you have the advantage of not needing to leave home to find what you need. You can look for the same item in different stores and compare prices in a matter of seconds.

10 Steps on How to Start an Online Thrift Store

Learning how to start an online thrift store is similar to opening other types of ecommerce stores. You will face some challenges that are particular to selling online, but you will need to develop specific skills regarding how to buy and sell second-hand products.

1 - Choose a Niche

The image shows a garage sale, there are various products on d a table, including a TV and a telephone.

What online thrifting niche do you want to focus on? Fashion, decor, collectible items? The options are vast, and you can opt to have a variety of products or focus on a specific niche, for example selling only rare jerseys or old video games.

When you aim at such a specific public, it can be easier to deal with the competition since you will have fewer stores investing in the same products that you have. However, your target audience will be smaller.

If you sell a wide range of products and aim at a broader market, your number of potential customers will be larger, so the competition. It may be more difficult to outstand your online thrift store from the others, and gain visibility.

It's up to you to evaluate what you think is worth more, both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages. But, always make sure there is demand for the products you wish to sell, and do market research before deciding.

2 - Get to Know Your Target Audience

To learn how to start an online thrift store and be successful, it also takes a lot of research to understand who your target audience is. To know what are the best marketing strategies to be applied, you need to understand your target audience's behavior.

When you understand your potential customers, your marketing and sales strategies are much more likely to succeed. You can offer what they are looking for, communicate to them using the channels that they prefer, show how your products help to solve their demands, and provide content they find valuable.

To begin figuring out who your target audience is, try to answer the following questions:

  • Where is your target audience located?
  • What is their age range?
  • How often do they buy online?
  • Where do they buy on the internet?
  • What are their pain points?
  • How do your products offer a solution to them?

This data already enables you to create persona profiles, which can be described as fictional characters that contain the main characteristics of your audience. When you draw the marketing actions to promote your business, you can do that according to the persona profiles, to be more accurate and get the desired results.

3 - Select Where You Will Sell Your Thrifted Items Online

When the subject is how to start an online thrift store, you have more than one way to sell the products. You can commercialize them on your brand website, sell on a general marketplace like Amazon, sell on marketplaces specific for second-hand items, or social media platforms.

Having a website of your own, it's interesting because it gives you more autonomy. You can choose how you want to display the products and categorize them. It's up to you to personalize every page and create the design. But, you will need to conquer visibility and drive traffic to your online store from scratch.

On the other hand, marketplaces and social media platforms already have visibility and authority on the internet, which you may enjoy. But, you may have to pay some fees, which can increase the price of the products. Analyze the options carefully, and keep in mind that you can sell on multiple platforms.

4 - Define How You Will Source Your Products

How will you find the items to sell in your online thrift store? You can buy at other thrift stores and make your curation, or buy directly from people who are getting rid of their items. There are even thrift stores that recycle pre-owned items and create new ones.

Many thrift stores have become famous because of the team's ability to find rare pieces. The sellers dedicate a considerable time to visiting flea markets, garage sales, and many other places to offer the most wanted products by their customers.

5 - Find a Place to Store Your Products

The image shows a store full of old furniture

Usually, online thrift stores start with a small stock, which allows you to store the products in your own house. However, as your ecommerce grows, you may need to rent a storage place. The bigger the inventory gets, the more organization it requires. Tools like CRM (Customer Relationship Management), and online inventory will be very useful.

6 - Make a Business Plan

Creating a business plan is a step that shouldn't be skipped when we talk about how to start an online thrift store. It is going to serve as a roadmap, you will describe your business, where you want to get, and how.

Instead of taking action as you go, when you have a business plan and dedicate yourself to its creation, it's easier to set efficient strategies. You and your team are going to have a deeper understanding of the ecommerce business and be able to make accurately driven decisions.

The business plan has to be complete, addressing the multiple aspects that are required to maintain and develop your online thrift store. Make a list of the things you don't know about, such as taxes, supply chain, and warehouse issues to research each one and include in the plan.

To begin writing, you can answer basic questions: what type of products do you plan to sell (physical, digital, or services)? Who is your customer? Will you need to invest in an external site to open the ecommerce?

Set a list of short and long-term goals. Then, according to them, set milestones and key performance indicators, which are essential to know how to evaluate your business and your team's progress.

Check if you include all of these points in your business plan:

  • Company overview
  • Products you are going to sell
  • Where you are going to sell your products
  • Target audience
  • Product sources
  • Market analysis
  • Logistics
  • Marketing plan
  • Financial plan
  • Goals

7 - Create Your Brand

Having an online thrift store doesn't mean that you don't need to worry about creating a brand for your business. This is important so people can be reminded more easily of your store and you can develop better marketing strategies.

After defining your niche and your target audience, create a visual identity that represents your brand values. The website and your social media elements must be aligned with your brand identity to create a cohesive image.

8 - Build Your Thrift Store Website

Building a thrift store website is easier than you think, and it doesn't require design or coding skills if you opt to use an ecommerce website builder. There are many platforms out there that offer an easy-to-use website editor, which allows you to choose a pre-built template, and customize the pages as you need.

Evaluate which is the best website builder for your company, and get to know the tools it offers to you to have a personalized website that meets your customer needs. The website has to be aligned with your brand's visual identity, and be well-organized, so visitors can easily navigate through it and find the products they are looking for.

Define a domain name that is easy to remember, avoid words that are hard to spell, and don't put special characters. Separate the product into categories, and provide a complete product description on the product's page, along with high-quality pictures that show the item as close as possible to reality.

Pay attention to implementing SEO best practices, which are going to help you rank your pages better on search engines like Google. Plan the keywords to be used on each page, customize the URLs according to them, write meta descriptions, and add alt text to images.

9 - Launch Your Ecommerce

Once you have everything you need to start an online thrift store, review all the items according to your business plan. Then, it's time to launch your store. Pay close attention to how the website will work in the first days, you may need to make some adjustments in the beginning.

Keep track of the key performance indicators you have established in your business plan, and put all efforts into offering the best customer service. Remember that even with the best plan, there are things you will need to learn as you go.

Resilience is necessary when launching a business. Mistakes happen, how you deal with them is what will make the whole difference in the future of your thrift store.

10 - Promote Your Brand

Conquering visibility is essential to promote your ecommerce and reach potential customers, and you should start planning marketing strategies as soon as you begin creating your ecommerce.

Based on your target audience, define which social media network you are going to use, create your company's profile or page, and develop a schedule to post regularly. Social media are valuable assets to engage with leads and customers where you can boost brand awareness, display your products, sell, and get to know more about your audience.

Use PPC (pay-per-click) campaigns on social media and set them to appear only to the people who have your customer's profile, which will help you save money and have better results.

Enjoy your website features as well to create content marketing strategies, for instance, by inserting a blog section into it and writing articles on different stages of the buyer's journey.

Research relevant keywords to your market niche, and develop articles focusing on them can help you appear on the first search result page at Google, conquer visibility organically, and grow in credibility and authority in your area.

Keep Improving Your Online Thrift Store

Now that you have learned how to start an online thrift store, what about putting your ideas into action? Look for inspiration and use your creativity to create an amazing thrift store. Don't forget to continue searching for ways to enhance your business whether by offering a wide variety of different products or by improving customer services.

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