How to Price Items for Consignment
Jul 7, 2021
When starting a consignment store, you'll quickly find that consignment pricing of items is one of the more stressful tasks. You don't want to price items so low that you lose money or upset your consignors, but you also don't want to price items so high they don't sell.
It will take time and experience to develop the instinct for pricing used goods. You'll make mistakes, but don't let them bother you. If you price something too low, someone will find a bargain --- which means they'll be back, and they'll tell their friends. And if you price an item too high, you can always mark it down later.
Pricing items can take up a lot of your time. To speed up the pricing process, create guidelines for yourself. Today, we'll look at how to determine a base price and adjust it for your particular item.
The One-Third Rule of Consignment Pricing
At my consignment shop, we sell clothing, shoes, and accessories. To establish a base price, we start with 1/3 of the item's original retail price, then add or subtract 10% for details that affect the item's desirability (wear, color, styling, etc.). You may need to adjust your base price ratio depending on the type of goods you sell.
Start by getting an idea of the item's original retail price. It doesn't need to be exact, just ballpark. There are a couple of ways to do this. I usually go to Google Product Search. Type the brand in within quotation marks (for instance, "Gap"), then add the type of item outside of the quotation marks (for instance, 'shirt' or 'dress'). For most cases, you'll pull up results for both new items as well as used items from eBay and others.
Laura (my wife) prefers, when possible, to go directly to the website that sells that product. In our example, she would go to gap.com, then search for a similar product. In either case, you should be able to establish a fairly realistic idea of what your item originally cost.
Every Consignment Item is Unique
Once you've established a base price, note what makes the item more or less desirable. Is it a style that keeps flying off the racks? Bump the price up 10%. Is it something you see all the time? Bump the price down 10%.
Let me illustrate with a working example. An embellished shirt from Gap sells for around $30 new. One third of that is $10 --- this is your base price. Suppose this particular shirt looks a little worn, so subtract 10% ($1) from your base price. The style is something you've been getting a lot of too, so subtract another 10% ($1) from the base price. This gives us a final price of $8.
Once you've set the price, ask yourself: would I pay that much for this item in a clean, well-lit, and well-organized store? Does it seem fair and competitive?
Practice Makes Perfect
Initially, consignment pricing will feel like a ton of work (and it is!), and you'll think it takes forever. Don't despair. Eventually, you'll be able to glance at a standard item and know, without Googling and without 10%-ing, what the consignment price should be.
Smart software like ConsignCloud can speed you up even more. As it "learns" your pricing, it will begin offering recommendations based on category, description, and brand. Teach your cloud well, and you'll find that what was once a time-consuming chore is now a breeze.