The Deets on Depop
by Sophie Lee
As Millenials and Gen Z members continue to come of age, the face of the workforce changes to match its maker. The youngest among us have grown up putting it all out there online. Our icons are self-made, having used a digital platform to capitalize on their unique personalities and strengths. From YouTube stars to the Kendalls and Kylies of the world, the message we are learning is that in 2018, you are selling yourself. Enter Depop, the Millenial’s Ebay, with its Instagram-like interface and thousands of pastel coated, vintage wearing users. The app allows people to sell their used, thrifted, or resale items, but contrary to other platforms, the users are not just selling clothing, they are selling an aesthetic.
With thrifting becoming increasingly trendy, apps like this one create a space for young people to run quasi-businesses. Many sellers simply go shopping for thrifted or vintage clothing and then resell at a higher price. On Depop, they are connected directly with their intended audience, which are mainly young high school or college kids who are looking for an expensive, vintage look, at a lower price. The stores are flooded with loose-fitting Levi’s and old name brand t-shirts, which are all parts of the teenage uniform. In fact, aside from the more rare vintage or high end pieces, most of the items are not particularly expensive. They sell because the user has crafted a well-lit picture of a to-die-for outfit. The sellers gain traction as reliable inspiration for buyers’ own closets with feeds that resemble carefully curated Instagram feeds. Prospective customers want what this seller has: that certain cool kid look we hope can be bought for $20 to $30.
While conducting research for this article, I came across a pair of lightly used American Apparel shorts that I thought would probably sell well on Depop. I decided to see if I could make some money on the app, since it did not look too difficult as long as you paid attention to what worked and offered fair prices. When I got home, shorts in hand, I got some of my old clothes together and decided to start listing everything. First, I looked up a few videos on YouTube to figure out just what I was dealing with. The resounding advice seemed to be to take good pictures and stay active online. I did just that. I carefully photographed all of the clothes, modeled the ones that fit me, and even edited them in a photoshop app to make the lighting look a bit better than it really was. Over the next few days I listed around five items, marvelling at how easy it was to just pop the photos up with a couple clicks. I made sure to add all the fun quips and appropriately cute emojis I could think of in the descriptions. If I could make 20 bucks this easily, I was going to be very happy.
After that, I just waited. Time passed and I even lowered my prices a bit, thinking maybe I had been too quick to judge how easy it would be to make money. I tried to follow the advice I had been given and stayed active, following others and liking items. Still, I was not getting much traffic on my page. After about a week, my luck changed and I got a notification from Depop saying that they had decided to feature my item on the explore page. I quickly realized that this was the key to “making it” on Depop. The likes started rolling in and my hope for starting a successful business was reinvigorated. I did not transform overnight, but I began to see how this community worked. Becoming popular was a fairly long haul that required daily interaction and quick, mass movement of product. The process snowballs; as you sell more and gain more followers, the sales pick up and you have to move with that momentum. Sellers on Depop need to gain something akin to brand loyalty in order to really be making enough money to consider this more than a casual interest. To do so is completely possible, as can be seen from the users selling hundreds upon hundreds of items for a minimum of $10 a piece. However, these users likely upload items daily and are basically running a mini store out of their immaculately decorated dorm rooms.
A week or so after my item was featured, offers actually started coming in. One girl gave me an offer that was $10 below what I was asking and another offered me a trade. Before either of these transactions could take place, someone else entirely bought both items. The next steps were easy. Depop has a shipping and payment system in place that runs through the app. The buyer sent me $25 through Paypal and in exchange, I printed out the USPS shipping label emailed to me and sent the shorts on their way. With my first sale under my belt, the window for me to build my business opened slightly wider. However, I also realized that taking advantage of that opportunity would require regular shopping trips, daily uploads and interaction, and a serious commitment to branding. It is clear why this job suits college kids so well, as they are well accustomed to personal branding, technologically fluent, and Depop serves as another path out of student debt. Depop is a fun and engaging community, and it only appears to be growing.