Anyone who’s ever been on a tight budget has at least considered buying and selling stuff online. Ebay is probably the most famous way to do that, but it’s not the only one! (We do also encourage you to sell on Ebay. Check out our online auction tips and tricks here!)
Mercari and Poshmark are both newer than Ebay. They take a new approach to selling and buying on the Internet: They want people to sell and buy right from their phones. Each is a free app for which you can make an account without putting down a penny. Using apps to sell clothing and little household things is already a great idea. But what are the pros and cons of each of these platforms? Here at The Budget Diet, we decided to find out!
Before you read, download both apps and check out the websites for both Poshmark and Mercari. If you’re really interested in getting to know them, make profiles – they’re free – and do some window-shopping. Our research will help you make a decision when considering Mercari vs Poshmark, but only your experience will tell you which app is exactly right for your needs.
Who are they?
Even though Poshmark and Mercari are similar companies, they had very different beginnings. If you want to know which one’s better for you to use, you’d better learn about who runs these apps and what they’re like. After all, if you’re going to sell your stuff for cash online, you’d better know what your customers are going to be like!
A first-of-its-kind app, Poshmark started in California in 2011 as a place to sell and buy high-end fashion items. Soon, for designer clothes and brand-name shoes, Poshmark was the way to go. Instead of making people log onto a clunky web page like Ebay does, it let people list what they wanted to sell right from their phone. People logged on by the thousands to sell clothes for cash. Poshmark started doing well and getting attention almost as soon as it began.
Think of Poshmark as something like Material Wrld, except that instead of selling women’s clothing to a company, you’re in control of your listings. Even used designer clothing is worth a lot, but women who want to keep up with style – but who don’t want to buy a $300 Gucci purse new – much prefer to pay $150 on Poshmark for a slightly used accessory that’s still in good condition.
Make no mistake, though: the point of this app is to help women be fashionable. A Poshmark buy is stylish first, inexpensive or used second. Even new clothing that features in Poshmark’s “Boutique” category is often overstock or wholesale. That’s how Poshmark can sometimes offer new clothing while still maintaining prices as much as 70% lower than the ones you’ll see in stores.
Poshmark draws a specific type of customer:
- Fashionable women
- Budget-minded people
- Clothing enthusiasts
- People who own designer brands
If this sounds like you, read on! A good Poshmark customer is also potentially a good Poshmark seller. Poshmark may be a good way for you to make some extra money on your closet.
Mercari started in Japan two years after Poshmark started in California. At that time, there was no place in Japan for people to sell their used goods easily online. Mercari changed that. They called themselves a “flea market app” and let users sell whatever they wanted. Like Poshmark, Mercari let people buy and sell from their phones. It became so popular in Japan that it soon became available in the U.S. and the U.K., too. Now, ten billion items are sold on Mercari every month. You read that right – billion! Part of this is because it is the primary used selling and buying app in the country of Japan.
So who uses Mercari?
- People looking for a deal
- Anyone trying to get rid of their extra junk
- Collectors (sometimes)
- People who enjoy shopping for fun
There’s some overlap with Poshmark’s users in this crowd. You can sell clothing on Mercari, too. But in general, Mercari goods won’t be designer, and they tend to appeal to a broader audience than Poshmark does. In fact, people sometimes refer to Mercari as an “online flea market.” You can find everything from baby clothes to sports apparel there.
Aside from a short list of things that aren’t allowed, including weapons and counterfeit goods, there’s nothing that Mercari won’t let you list or buy. Unlike Poshmark, where it’s very important that the merchandise looks its best, Mercari items may be bought and sold in less-than-mint condition. This is a marketplace where you could buy or sell an iPhone with a cracked screen as easily as you could buy or sell a genuine Persian rug.
If you’re the one selling, though, just make sure that you’re honest about the item’s condition! Both Mercari and Poshmark almost always come down on the buyer’s side in a dispute.
What’s it like to shop on an app?
Easy! In fact, it’s almost too easy. Buying on both Mercari and Poshmark is almost a one-click process. If you’ve ever gotten sucked into Amazon’s shopping app, you’ll know that buying online is both fun and addictive. Coupon codes make the first few Mercari or Poshmark buys a breeze, but watch out! Before you know it, you’ll have an online shopping habit.
Worse still, Mercari lets you choose to use your earnings as a salesperson on more Mercari merchandise instead of withdrawing it to your bank account. If your only goal is to support a harmless shopping habit, then this might be a good strategy, but if you really want to earn cash, then it’s so deadly that we have to count it as a con against Mercari.
If you’re going to use this platform, go in with a simple plan: don’t buy! Instead of getting hooked on the cheap merchandise, fill your mind with visions of the fast, easy cash that you’ll make by retailing off your old clothing and CDs. Selling is definitely our recommended use for these apps, and when we talk about using these apps, we mean making extra money.
Opening a free Mercari account represents a huge improvement over giving your things to consignment stores and hoping for the best. When you sell with one of these apps, you can tailor your own marketing plan, develop relationships with buyers, and even share your sells on social media.
Being a Social Seller
Mercari and Poshmark are both app-based. In fact, their apps are highly rated in both Google Play and iTunes. Once you see something in your closet that you want to sell, the rest is easy:
- Stage it with some good lighting
- Take a few pictures of it with your phone
- Upload it directly to the app
- Fill in the details of your listing without ever once having to sit down at a computer
It’s fast and convenient. While Ebay, Amazon, and even Craigslist let you list from a phone, nobody makes it as easy as Mercari and Poshmark. (If you want to see how you can use those other services to make even more money online, check out our free guide!) You can sell from your dorm room, your kitchen, your mom’s kitchen, or a reasonably clean train station. The world is your oyster.
Selling via app is better, especially when the app is free and handy. No Internet at home? No problem. All you need is storage space on your phone and either unlimited data or a nearby source of free Wi-Fi. Sure, you’ll still need to print your shipping labels – more on that later – but the whole idea is that you’ll barely need to sit down to sell your stuff on Mercari or Poshmark. It’s not just a game changer for people who want to make extra money, it’s a game changer for people with lives. Think of all the time you’ll save!
The Social Media Advantage
Both Mercari and Poshmark are very serious about getting social. Think of how Facebook gets users to engage. You like pages, Friend people, and follow groups. That kind of social behavior is so addictive that Facebook eats up a huge amount of time, even though you’re not going to make any money by stalking a friend’s profile! Imagine if the time you spent on Facebook also made you richer.
Poshmark does this particularly well. If you like a particular seller on Poshmark, you can follow their store and watch for their prices to drop. Over time, they may list more clothing that you like. If you’re the seller, this means that you’ve become someone’s personal fashion consultant. They trust your taste in clothes and are more likely to buy from you than they are to just search for a designer that they like. This is how you build a loyal, lucrative following.
Poshmark also allows sellers and buyers to join in “Posh Parties.” These are limited-time online gatherings that include clothing items that all have something in common. For example, a Posh Party might focus on swimwear or Bohemian fashion. The result? A clubby online atmosphere that can introduce buyers to a large handful of new sellers all at once. If you’re a seller, it’s a virtual runway where you can woo customers actively.
Mercari doesn’t hold parties, but they are famous for the ease with which their sellers and buyers can communicate through the app. Let’s say that you list a plushie for $11.95. Within five minutes, you have a buyer. Wonderful! You can essentially text that person with details on the sale. In fact, Mercari encourages you to communicate as actively with them as possible. Later, that customer may follow your profile and become part of your base, especially if you sell a certain type of merchandise, like collectible dolls.
This is a lot like what Poshmark does, but of course, Mercari’s range is a lot broader. Your customers will search by dozens of categories of goods, from home decor to technology, and if you corner the market in, say, furniture, you could become a go-to seller overnight. Although Mercari doesn’t do “parties,” they do love having people share their sale items on other social media networks. Many Mercari sellers also maintain their own blogs and marketing networks using Tumblr, Instagram, and Facebook.
You can find almost anything on Mercari.
Poshmark does have its own blog, where it gives fashion advice based on what its sellers are hawking. However, it’s not the most useful part of their resale empire. Only the company itself posts there, and their posts are relatively infrequent. The vendors that they highlight are few and far between, so the likelihood of you getting any direct benefit from this activity is low. However, we give Poshmark an A for effort, and their hard work on social media engagement is a big point in their “pro” category.
How to Sell
Let’s get down to the good part: how to make that sweet, sweet cash using one of these apps. Since we’re running down the good and bad points of these two apps, let’s compare how they look from a seller’s point of view.
Commissions: how do they compare?
First of all, we should state that creating an account on either Poshmark or Mercari costs nothing. They’re both free apps, and until you sell, you don’t pay a dime. At that point, though, you’ll be on the hook for what could be a stiff commission, depending on which platform you use.
A successful Mercari seller pays 10% of an item’s sale price to the company. That’s the case whether you sell a keychain for $0.40 or a trunk for $40.00. The buyer may pay for shipping, or the shipping cost could come out of your profit. But you can count on Mercari for consistency. If 10% of your earnings sounds like a lot, consider that almost every online selling platform will charge a commission on successful sales. Be glad that Mercari charges just 10%. Poshmark asks for double that.
When your piece of posh clothing finally sells on Poshmark, you’ll have to fork over a large portion of your profit. For sales of less than $15, you would pay Poshmark a flat fee of $2.95. Whether the item that you sold was worth $14.99 or $0.50, $2.95 is what you’ll pay for the privilege of having sold it on Poshmark.
That means that if you price your items too low, you could end up owing Poshmark money – and that’s not even factoring in the shipping cost! If you decide to sell something worth more than $15, then you’ll pay 20% of the sale price to Poshmark. In comparison to Mercari, this is a lot. So why do people do it? There are a few reasons.
- Larger price maximums mean that sellers could take home more money from each sale
- Poshmark is specifically marketed for clothing people, who may be willing to pay more for designer brands
- The social aspects of Poshmark selling are better for building a following
On Poshmark, a piece of designer clothing might sell for thousands of dollars, even if it’s used. Rare sneakers in mint condition, for example, might sell for the app’s maximum price, $7,500. On Mercari, an expensive rug or a piece of furniture could cost as much as $2,000, but that’s as much as a seller can possibly charge there. Most items available through Mercari will be far cheaper than that.
So where does this information fall out on our list of pros and cons? It’s hard to say. The apps have slightly different purposes. People go to Mercari to find a good deal. That’s why they call it a “flea market.” The idea is to get interesting and useful products at a low cost. The idea behind Poshmark, on the other hand, is to afford high-end clothing that would normally be too expensive to be practical.
When a seller on Poshmark lets go of a pair of sneakers for $7,500, they still get to keep $6,000 of that money, even though Poshmark charges large fees. Even though the percentage of the sale that Poshmark takes is high, the amount of money that the seller gets to keep is large, too, just because the sneakers were so expensive in the first place. If people who sold with Mercari had to give up 20% of what they earned, then they might try to set the prices on their items so high that they defeated the purpose of selling in an online flea market!
Poshmark commissions add up quickly
What this means is that Poshmark is a good place to make money if you’re selling rare, valuable, or collectible clothing. However, if you’re going to try to make a lot of money selling designer clothing and accessories it’s also important to know what you’re doing. If you have a Kate Spade bag in mint condition that you want to retail for $400, it’s very important to know whether it’s a counterfeit.
Selling counterfeit items, whether knowingly or unaware, violates Poshmark’s terms of service. Mercari is more affordable for everybody, so it lends itself better to people who are selling items of low or mid-range value, like that plant stand that you can’t tolerate anymore. Some affordable collectibles, like Funko Pop figures, sell well on Mercari.
But mostly, people who use Mercari aren’t collecting. They just want a quality piece of used merchandise. It’s less important to be an expert on your product when you’re selling on Mercari than it is when you’re selling on Poshmark.
So you should sell on Poshmark when…
- You’re a committed fashionista who knows how to value high-end clothes
- You have primarily clothing to sell
- You’re confident that you’ll get a very good price for your merchandise
You should sell on Mercari when…
- You just want to make some extra cash
- Your merchandise is of average quality
- You don’t want to restrict yourself to selling designer clothing
Mercari is a faster way to quick cash.
This is the fun part! Now that you’ve done the not-so-hard work of selling your stuff, you get to enjoy the extra money that you made. However, there are a few little things that you need to take care of first, like shipping and rating. Mercari and Poshmark handle these situations quite differently.
Mercari’s system is made to highlight the most popular, most honest sellers. That’s why it requires buyers to rate you before it releases the money from your sale. It doesn’t matter what rating you get. As long as the buyer doesn’t complain, you’ll still get your money. It goes without saying, though, that you want to encourage buyers to rate you as quickly and as highly as possible.
If a buyer doesn’t rate for a couple days after they receive their delivery, Mercari will email them a prompt, and if that doesn’t work, Mercari will rate you neutrally so that you can get your money.
That’s why it’s a good idea to stay in contact with your buyer. Here’s the big catch: once a seller has been rated, the buyer cannot return their purchase. That’s that! If they decide that they don’t like what came to them in the box, they must complain to Mercari before they rate. Otherwise, whatever they just bought, whether that’s a fancy feather duster or a large planter, is now their property for good.
Poshmark doesn’t require buyers to rate their sellers like Mercari does, but it does want buyers to make claims on broken or incorrect orders within three days of delivery. When you do so, they request pictures of the item to verify that it is, in fact, in the condition that you describe.
However, this policy doesn’t apply if the item simply doesn’t fit! Only damaged, incorrectly described, or counterfeit fashion is eligible for a return with Poshmark. Neither Poshmark nor Mercari allows users to trade with each other.
Getting Your Money
Both Mercari and Poshmark support a ton of payment options, including Paypal, Apple Pay, Android Pay, and all major credit and debit cards. Poshmark also allows buyers to pay using Venmo, but whether this is a truly useful feature is debatable and may depend on your circumstances. Since most of your customers will pay with a card, we consider it neutral as far as pros and cons go.
It’s easy to transfer money from Mercari or Poshmark to your bank account, but as we mentioned before, Mercari makes it wickedly easy to re-spend that money. If you avoid this trap, you may be able to receive your funds directly into your bank account. Poshmark also allows you to receive a paper check in the mail, if that’s how you’d prefer to get your earnings, which we do count as a pro. However you get paid, remember to track that profit for tax purposes.
“Getting paid is the best thing about selling online!”
Once you’ve made a successful sale, you’ll need to ship your item as soon as possible. That’s standard for pretty much every selling platform that you’d care to use. Unfortunately, you’ll need to find a printer at this point. Both Mercari and Poshmark will email you a prepaid shipping label that you will then need to tape to the outside of the package in which you ship the sold item.
Most public libraries have low-cost printing available, and for occasional use, this is probably your best option. A wireless printer is a better bet if you’re going to make Poshmark or Mercari a larger part of your revenue stream. Look for a printer that can interface easily with your phone, and when you calculate whether selling is worthwhile to you, be sure to factor in the cost of the toner it will need. There’s a good guide to quality printers over at Digital Trends.
Mercari lets you choose whether you’ll pay for shipping when you make your listing. Your item will probably sell faster if you do this, but of course, you’ll lose some revenue. Try to get the buyer to pay shipping when possible. Mercari’s low, fixed shipping rates are very popular among sellers. Like so much else about this app, the shipping setup is engineered to take all the guesswork out of the sale.
Be aware, however, that anything heavier than 150 pounds is officially not Mercari’s problem; you’ll have to figure out a way to get that huge sale to a customer all on your own! Large items, which Mercari defines as being over 108 inches in total length plus total girth, also can’t be shipped with a Mercari label. That said, you may be able to sell something big for more money, so the extra shipping cost may not matter to you.
Poshmark supports very much the same shipping label system as Mercari does. The app emails you a prepaid shipping label when your item sells, you print the label and attach it to your box. But with Poshmark, weight matters! If your sold item weighs more than five pounds, you’ll need to purchase a more expensive label. Its cost will be deducted from your earnings on the object that you sold.
This might not sound like a big deal, but it’ll matter if you want to sell anything weightier than a pair of lightweight jeans. Poshmark’s weight restriction definitely counts as a con, especially when you consider the app’s “Bundle” program.
If you sell on Poshmark, your customers can choose to buy multiple items from you for a reduction in shipping cost. But think about that for a minute: what if a customer buys two three-pound items in a Bundle, forcing you to ship them together? Poshmark shipping quickly becomes complicated and potentially expensive. Those designer shoes had better be worth the extra trouble you’ll have to take to get them to the customer!
Quick, secure shipping will guarantee good reviews and more business.
There are priority mail shipping options available for both Mercari and Poshmark, but both like to have sellers ship through the United States Post Office. For the most part, you’ll take care of the packaging you’ll need to ship them safely. If you take our advice, you’ll make sure and price your items such that you know that you can afford packing peanuts and other special measures. You can’t be too careful when your seller reputation is on the line.
We mentioned earlier that both Poshmark and Mercari will almost always come down on the buyer’s side in the case of a dispute. It’s worth mentioning again that, as far as these two companies are concerned, the customer is always right, even if the customer is wrong. If your buyers complain to Mercari or Poshmark about your products, you may not get a chance to explain yourself. Either will shut down a seller’s account in the case of any doubt.
This isn’t to say that sellers with poor ratings are kicked off of these services. Only a violation of terms can make that happen, and sellers usually lose their accounts when buyers complain about scams, lies, and counterfeits. They may decide to punish you if you break the rules about what you can sell, too. Mercari, for example, will terminate your account if you try to retail any of the following:
- Illegal substances
- Stolen property
- Counterfeit goods
- Flammable items
Poshmark, of course, won’t let you sell anything that isn’t a piece of clothing or an accessory. They also prohibit a number of items:
- Used underwear
- Non-fashion kids’ items
- Misrepresented Native American arts and crafts
- Stolen property
Neither company is known to be great at customer service, generally relying on form emails and automatic responses. However, they each do have call centers located in California. If you need their help, especially if there’s money involved, it’s worthwhile to stay on the phone. Otherwise, your issue might never be corrected on its own. Remember, each of these apps serves millions of users. One person’s account trouble could go completely unnoticed unless that person makes some noise about it.
Which One Is Better?
Now we’ve had a look at these apps side by side. There’s one question left: which one should you use?
There are some great perks to Poshmark.
- If you’re a fashionista with a well-stocked closet, you can make a lot of money.
- The app has a lot of great tools for building a following and selling proactively.
- There’s a high maximum price setting, so if you do sell valuable goods, you could stand to win big.
- Users know exactly what to look for in terms of quality and style.
But Poshmark also has some serious issues that we just can’t ignore.
- The high commission is almost a dealbreaker on its own.
- Only high-quality, designer clothing does well on this app, and it’s against the rules to sell anything that isn’t fashion-related.
- The shipping scheme is just a little too complicated to be convenient
Although it’s popular among people who care about stylish clothing, relying on Poshmark may be a better strategy for an online consignment professional than for an average person. Remember, there are other fashion resale platforms that allow ordinary people to re-sell their clothes online without requiring that they be designer. (Selling fees may be lower, too.) If you’ve got a closet to clean out, those might be better options for you.
Selling clothes on Poshmark isn’t the best idea for everybody.
Mercari, on the other hand, is the yard sale of the Internet. Its advantages blow Poshmark right out of the water:
- You can sell almost anything you want, even broken items, as long as you describe them accurately.
- Your customer base is enormous.
- You don’t need to be an expert on your merchandise unless you’re selling collectibles.
- Shipping is easy.
- Commissions are uniform and relatively low.
The only serious disadvantages of Mercari are manageable in comparison.
- You can’t set a price over $2,000.
- It’s too easy to keep shopping with your profits.
If you’re looking to make some extra cash in a versatile, low-maintenance way, Mercari is the way to go. If you’re committed to selling your clothes, you can still accomplish that goal using this app instead of Poshmark. You can still make a reasonable amount of money using Mercari, too.
The fact that Mercari takes so much less in commission from each sale means that you would make more money from selling $4,000 worth of small items on Mercari than you would from selling one $4,000 dress on Poshmark. (And let’s face it: if you ever happen to have a $4,000 dress on your hands, you can just open a one-time Poshmark account for that singular piece of clothing.)
People tend to have great experiences using the Mercari app.
There is just not enough that can be said about Mercari’s simple interface, much less its amazing and incredibly useful ability to put sellers and buyers into direct contact. When you decide to unload your extra stuff, download the free app and make a Mercari account. It’s the selling wave of the future.
What are your thoughts on using Mercari vs Poshmark? Be sure to let us know your experience in the comments.