Written by Business Expert Wale Ameen
With the coming of the internet and the penetration of social media channels, every business now needs to have an online presence as a matter of necessity.
Also, the internet offers an interesting opportunity to make sales even without having a physical space, which comes with its own cost of setting up and managing. As such, every business person and entrepreneur looking to expand the scope and reach of his or her business most definitely must have an online presence in the form of an online store, as well as social media handles where sales can be easily concluded and sealed.
This opportunity to maximize the online world is even more important for organizations that run charities and not-for-profit entities who, by their very nature, do not engage in profit-generating activities but rather are out to give to society’s less privileged. This is because it costs almost next to nothing to set up an online presence such as social media accounts and eCommerce stores. Meanwhile the potentials such presence generates cannot be quantified as individuals all around the world can easily connect with such entities and even go on to patronize.
The internet thus provides a great opportunity for these organizations to maximize in order to generate a steady stream of income.
In this article, we break down all that you need to know about setting up an online thrift store, the benefits, and all that you need to take note of before launching out. We have also carefully reviewed and recommended 2 top POS solutions that we submit are ideal for you to consider adopting for your online thrift store. This follows an in-depth review we undertook of each point of sale system features, its pricing, and how well suited it is to be used for payment processing on your online thrift store.
We have done the hard work, so you don’t need to. All you need to do is to sit through this review and we are sure it will more than answer all the questions you might have regarding how to go about setting up your online thrift store. So after going through this article, we are sure you will be well equipped and ready to launch your online thrift store in no time.
What Exactly is a Thrift Store?
A thrift store is usually a store set-up for the purpose of selling second-hand clothes as well as household goods, electronics, usually in a bid to raise funds for a charity or non-profit organization.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary corroborates this as it defines a thrift store as ‘a shop that sells secondhand articles, and especially clothes, and is often run for charitable purposes.’
What is the Difference Between a Thrift Store and a Regular Store?
In terms of what the difference is between a thrift store and a regular consignment store is that, thrift stores are particularly donation-based and are run by charitable organizations and intended to be used for raising funds, while regular consignment stores are operated for financial gains and are meant to make profits.
Regular stores also sell brand new products with the sole aim of making a profit, while thrift stores offer second-hand products for a fraction of the cost and are not out to make profits.
What is an Online Thrift Store?
An online thrift store, from the above definition, is simply a thrift store that is run online via the internet. This could be with the use of a social media handle, an eCommerce website, a self-hosted website or a combination of all.
What are the Advantages of Having an Online Thrift Store?
An online thrift store is inexpensive to setup
Setting up a thrift store, or just about any other kind of store, is very inexpensive as it costs virtually nothing to be up and running. There are a number of e-commerce builder platforms that help users set up their e-commerce account and be ready to sell in no time. Examples of these include Woocommerce, Wix, and Sellify. With these options, you do not need to go all out to build a stand alone website, which will demand a lot from you, like paying for a domain name, hosting, and design.
You are not limited by time and space
With your thrift store setup online, you are able to expand the scope of what is possible and how much you can achieve. This is because, quite unlike a physical space, which may be limited in terms of space as well as time since people can only visit within a particular time frame of the day, your online thrift store affords you the opportunity to remain available all day, every day.
Continue to sell even when you are not online
Having an online thrift store affords you the benefit of continuous selling even when you may not be online at the moment.. Unlike physical thrift stores or stores in general, where you have to be physically present or have someone physically present in order to take orders and receive payments, an online thrift store ensures that visitors can make a purchase which you subsequently get notified of and then attend to once you are back online.
It can easily be connected to a payment gateway
Most e-commerce website builders offer their users easy connectivity to a payment gateway of their choice. In fact, you don’t have to lift a finger. All you need to do is simply make a few clicks and your payment gateway is integrated and you are ready to receive payments right away.
You can easily connect your online thrift store to your social media accounts and make more sales
With your thrift store online, you can easily connect your social media accounts to it, spread word about what you have to offer and what is available for sale, and encourage your followers to visit your online thrift store. With this, you are able to easily increase visibility for your thrift store as well as get more people to buy into the course your organization is pursuing.
Maximize the power of social media
In today’s world, social media has gone beyond just being a tool for sharing pictures and updates. Social media is now a powerful tool to be used by businesses. Aside from using the various social media platforms around as brand handles, you can make use of it as your full fledged thrift store.
Platforms like Facebook and Instagram have powerful features such as reels, stories, etc. that can be used to showcase your merchandise with their comment and messaging functions used to receive feedback. For payments, all you need is to have a payment link generated and you can receive and fulfill orders right on your social media handles.
An online thrift store helps reduce environmental pollution
Running an online thrift store means that you are contributing to the reduction of environmental pollution. It contributes to reduce the carbon footprint of humans generally.
Helps gives back to the society
Thrift shopping affords you the opportunity to give back to society by offering second-hand goods to those who may not be able to afford brand new clothing and other things.
Things to Consider Before Setting Up an Online Thrift Store
#1. Determine what kind of thrift store you want to run
Different thrift stores sell different second-hand products. Most stores have their own niche, and this could be clothing, furniture, books, or records. Others go on to sell a wide range of things. Do you want to be involved in selling just about anything, or do you want to have a niche and be known for specializing in a particular niche?
It’s important you decide what exactly it is you want to start selling before going in. This also will largely be determined by factors such as the availability of that merchandise (where do you intend sourcing it and how close is the source to your location) and your knowledge of that particular product. Another thing to consider is your target market. Who are you targeting? The good thing about having an online thrift store here is that you can actually target a wide and diverse range of people. But then again, it is still better if you narrow down and focus on a particular demography: students, young unmarried bachelors, etc.
#2. How do you plan to source your merchandise?
This is an important factor you want to consider. Even though your store is online, you will have to fulfill orders, and this will be dependent on having the merchandise available physically, which you will then dispatch once payment is received. You don’t want to set up your store and run out of goods every now and then simply because you are not able to restock quickly.
Where are you going to be sourcing your merchandise from and how do you plan to ensure you always get goods delivered to you on time? Do you also plan to make trips down on a weekly or monthly basis. You should have answers to these questions as they may determine the success or otherwise of your online thrift store venture.
#3. Know the rules that guide the re-selling of the type of merchandise you plan to sell
It is important that you know the rules guiding the type of merchandise you plan to sell so that you don’t run foul of the law. You should do your research and know all the intricate details involved in being involved in such a thing. If you need to get a license to sell, then these should be things you deal with before jumping in.
#4. How do you plan to fulfill orders?
Before setting out, you should put in place your order fulfillment channel(s). Will it be by collection or through courier services? You need to have these questions answered and have a solid distribution plan well planned out before you launch.
#5. What POS solution will your online thrift store use?
This is another factor you need to consider along the way as you are about to set up your online thrift store. Thankfully, there are a plethora of good options you can adopt and these will be highlighted later in this article.
How to Setup an Online Thrift Store
Step 1: Choose your preferred e-commerce platform builder
Decide on the e-commerce platform you prefer. You need to weigh the provisions of the various providers and see which one fits your desires. Most platforms offer some features for free, while other features are paid for. The top 10 choices you can consider are highlighted below. Alternatively, do you just want to stick with a social media platform like Instagram?
Step 2: Integrate with your preferred point of sale system and payment processor
Having made the choice of your preferred point of sale (POS) solution and payment processor, the next thing is to sign up for an account and then integrate this into your store. With this, you have sorted out how your customers will pay for purchases made in your store.
Step 3: Upload pictures of your merchandise
Once you have set-up your online store, the next thing you want to do is populate it with pictures of your merchandise along with their prices.
Step 4: Promote your store aggressively
Run ads, get your immediate network to follow your social media handles, and share your store link on forums, groups, and other channels.
Step 5: Consider implementing basic SEO rules
Given that this is an online store, you must be aware and adopt some SEO rules in order to ensure that your store is getting the maximum visibility it can get online and on search engines.
This involves using the right keywords in appropriate places, such as bio, store address, and description.
Maximize the potential of hashtags: You can create your own hashtag such as #ThriftBy (followed by your store name) and include it in all your social media posts. By doing so, you increase the visibility of your store and brand.
10 Best Free eCommerce Builders for Online Thrift Stores
As noted earlier, there are a number of e-commerce site builders that you can use in building your online thrift store. These platforms offer free services, but some services can be paid for. Some of these are:
- Wix: This is ideal for small online stores and those just starting out.
- Webstarts: It is a website builder that offers free online store
- SquareUp: Free to use but they collect 3% of every transaction processed.
- WooCommerce: It is about the best WordPress ecommerce plugin
- Magento: It is free to install and is ideal for enterprise-level businesses.
- Square Online: While it has a free plan, its paid plan costs between $16 – $79 / month
- Big Cartel: This is ideal for independent artists.It has both a free and paid plan.
- Shopify: You’ll find it handy if you have a large business. It offers a free trial.
- Squarespace: Is ideal for businesses in the creative space.
- BigCommerce: It is scalable and has tons of in-built apps to help your store.
Thrift Store POS Providers
Now, one of the major things to consider is the option of your preferred point of sale solution. The point of sale solution is important as this is the channel through which you will process payments from your customers. As such. It is important to choose the service most suitable to your use case.
The ideal POS solution should be one that helps you increase your sales, improve efficiency, and automate your business.
Factors of an Ideal Thrift Store POS solution
The ideal POS system should be one that is cost-effective for your business. Now this is rather relative as needs differ from one person to another and what might come across as being ideal in terms of cost for one person may not be so for another. As such, you need to look through the complete solutions available and choose the one that is right for you.
- Thrift Store Specific
Such a POS machine or software must have thrift store specific features that will ensure it works adequately for an online thrift store.
Below, we highlight our top-recommended POS solutions for online-based thrift stores.
Methodology—How We Chose the Best Thrift Store POS
In arriving at these POS recommendations, we have analyzed and reviewed these point of sale solutions; they have been thoroughly accessed and their features reviewed in order to ensure that they are specifically targeted for use with an online thrift store.
You can be rest assured that we have taken time to review each one of them in-house in order to ensure that they are adequately targeted and provide features that anyone running an online thrift store will find useful.
Since our focus here is to provide POS solutions that will adequately work well for online thrift stores, we have taken a look at point of sale solutions that basically have some specific features, one of which is that they should be a predominantly cloud-based solution. Another major factor we put into consideration is that such a solution must be targeted at small businesses, which also means they will be easy to set up and not cost much to run.
Other things we looked out for include:
- Must be able to process payments virtually instantly.
- The point of sale must have the provision to generate payment links.
- It should support multiple payment options.
- Must offer 24/7 customer support, provide tutorials and training.
Based on the above, our top recommended thrift store POS are:
Based on our review and analysis, Shopify comes out on top as a POS solution for online thrift stores. It is the best for e-commerce businesses.
While we consider the fact that it runs a monthly fee rather than offering a per transaction based pricing model, we up voted it above Square given its huge focus on e-commerce and the fact that it offers a more robust provision for getting you started on your online thrift store.
Shopify allows you to sell anywhere—online, in-person, or through any other channel. The only reason why it is not the first on our list is the transaction charges when it is compared to Square. Shopify is an all-ecommerce-focused POS brand, and anyone focused on online sales will find it spot-on to use.
From our review, Shopify is an especially great solution when it comes to integrating online channels with in-person sales channels. We especially like it as it supports order tracking for purchases that are shipped.
Shopify’s eCommerce platform is a well-detailed and comprehensive one that anyone looking to build a strictly online eCommerce presence will find great. It allows you to build and fully customize your site with over 70 plus templates available for your use, custom domains, and features a drag and drop builder that makes building your store a breeze. You do not need to employ a professional to get your online thrift store up and running.
With Shopify, you can embed your products anywhere, add a mobile friendly and secure checkout to your site, as well as create a customizable button for use if you have an existing. The entire system is adequately synced such that what you sell online is what you have available physically.
We like the fact that it boasts a competitive payment processing rate and has several marketing tools provided for in its base plan.
With Shopify, you can easily boost awareness of your thrift store by increasing awareness on social media networks like Instagram and Facebook.
How Much Does Shopify Cost?
Shopify allows you to easily setup your site and try out the service with a 14-day free trial. Its base plan, Shopify Lite, which lets you add products to any website or blog and accept card payments, costs $9 per month.
Its basic plan costs $24 per month. Its next plan, which is ideal for growing businesses, costs $69 per month, while its advanced plan costs $299 per month.
Based on the features we looked out for, Square POS is another great POS solution for online thrift stores. It scores high giving its its flexibility and ease of use. Square POS we submit is a great and one of the most ideal options for your online thrift store. In fact, Square is better when we consider it side by side with Shopify in terms of pricing since it is free and adopts a per transaction based pricing.
We are particularly endeared to Square given its free eCommerce option. This can serve as a ready option for you to consider in setting up your online thrift store. If you have not yet made up your mind on where to host your store, then you most probably want to consider it. It also comes with some great online ordering tools. Just what you need for your online thrift store.
With Square, you can process card payments while offline. It offers a free plan as well as free trial, and provides for multiple payment options such as contactless and mobile sales. It comes with no contract or monthly fees, simply charges per transaction processed.
Its drawbacks, which include limited inventory management features and basic reporting features can easily be overlooked for the many others it offers.
From our evaluation, Shopify scored high above all others as it earned marks for being a total e-commerce solution. Its cloud mobility, free e-commerce feature and online ordering tools are great features we believe comes handy when building an online thrift store. However, we found out that its reporting feature when compared with others like Lightspeed isn’t so in depth.
How Much Does Square Cost?
Square POS software is free to download, but its Pro Plan costs $60 per month, per location. It also has a premium plan that comes with custom pricing. It takes a flat fee of 2.6% and 10 cents per transaction, charges 2.9% plus 30 cents per eCommerce sale. Recurring billing and card-on-file transactions cost 3.5% plus 15 cents per transaction, while keyed-in payments cost 3.5% plus 15 cents per transaction.
Should you want to get its hardware along with it, Square’s hardware and their costs include:
Square Stand which goes for $169 or $27 per month for six months
Square Terminal which goes for $299 or $27 per month for 12 months
Square Register: $799 or $39 per month for 24 months
Card Readers: Start at $49
Running an online thrift store can be an exciting and rewarding venture. You just need to get it all right and you should have no issues at all. By following the guide in this article, you can set up your thrift store online in no time. Plus, you will be giving back to society and providing for the less privileged in society.
Q: What is the best POS software for retail?
A: Some of the best POS Systems for retail include:
Square – Best for selling in-person and online.
Shopify – Best for ecommerce.
PayCafe – Best for advanced reporting.
Helcim – Best for lowering transaction costs.
Q: Which POS machine is best for small business?
A: The 6 Best POS Systems for Small Business are:
Best Overall: Square.
Best Value: eHopper.
Best for Restaurants: TouchBistro.
Best for Retail: Vend.
Best for E-Commerce: Shopify.
Best for Inventory Management: ShopKeep by Lightspeed.
Q: What is the best cloud based POS system?
A: Some of the best cloud-based POS systems are:
Square: Best overall cloud POS system.
Lightspeed: Best cloud POS for store management.
Shopify: Best cloud POS for omnichannel sales.
Toast: Best cloud POS for restaurants.
Q: Do you need a POS system for an online store?
A: POS systems use POS software, but not all businesses will need POS hardware. If your business is an online store, then this means that all of your sales happen on your website, so you essentially do not need POS hardware to help you accept payments. However, if you run a physical cafe, you may need a register and a credit card reader.
Q: How much does a typical POS system cost?
A: Generally, a cloud-based retail POS system will cost anywhere between $0 to $300/month depending on various factors, but most small businesses will spend around $69/month before add-ons.