How To Start An Online Thrift Store [1000+ Online Thrift Store Name Ideas Included]

How To Start An Online Thrift Store [1000+ Online Thrift Store Name Ideas Included]

Looking for a side hustle? Or an in into this vast and beneficial eCommerce industry? Starting an online thrift store might be perfect for you!


An online thrift store is easier to set up than you think. Whether you’re doing it for charity, to build a side income source, or a full-fledged business; either way, it’s a great business plan because thrift store online shopping could be the next big thing.

Even the smallest business ideas need meticulous planning. This guide can help you start working in the right direction to building your sustainable and profitable online thrift store.

What Is An Online Thrift Store?

A thrift store is a place that sells used things such as clothes, books, and furniture. Most people do it in order to raise money for a charity. However, for those looking to build an online thrift store as a business, it can be a great option.

How Do Online Thrift Stores Work?

An online thrift store, also known as a consignment store, is a marketplace where used or second-hand goods are bought and sold at attractive prices. Typically, an online thrift store operates through an app or a website. 

Consignors can offer their second-hand books, apparel, furniture, and other such items to sell through your website or app. Since you own and operate this online thrift store and handle the transaction, you would be entitled to a part of the sales proceeds. The consignor would receive the remaining amount, as per the agreement. 

Many online thrift stores sell vintage items and are created primarily for charity, using their earnings for social benefit. If that’s what you want to build, then you always have the option.


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1000+ Online Thrift Store Business Name Ideas 

Online thrift stores need a name that resonates well with its customers. If you are planning to start an online thrift store, here are 1000+ online thrift store business name ideas to inspire you:

How To Start An Online Thrift Store

Starting a thrift shop online can be an exciting process. Listed below are 8 clear and actionable steps that you can take to get started.

Step 1: Select Your Niche

Deciding to enter the online thrift or resale business is a good beginning. But the way to succeed in any business is to identify the specific niche that you want to own in the broad area.

For example, you could resell second-hand luxury items and vintage articles, or you could resell second-hand clothes or furniture.

Choosing a niche depends on multiple factors such as your area of expertise, market demand, your understanding of the market, and your experience. Narrow down precisely what you would like to sell in your online thrift store based on how well you understand the product’s dynamics, its uses, and the life cycle. 

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Step 2: Study The Market 

External factors such as market size, customer behavior, and competition, the global economy, also play an important role when deciding your niche. 

  • Market size: Use Google’s Keyword Tool to know the search volume for your chosen product or market, and measure demand levels. For example, if you decide to resell vintage articles, identify what the keyword volume for those specific keywords is and what the first few search results are. This will help you get an idea if the market for such items is large enough for your business.
  • Customer behavior: Find out where your potential customers currently buy from, their purchase trends, spending habits, and purchase behaviors. Broadly understand your potential customer’s mindset, and whether they view your product as a trend or passing fad, or something worth owning.
  • Competition: Do a comprehensive study of the other online thrift shops in your niche. Gain insights into their size, offerings, policies, comparison with offline retail prices, and other aspects. If there are too many players in your niche, you may need to find a way to differentiate your offerings and create your own unique space.

Step 3: Complete The Preliminaries

Before you set up your online thrift store, you need to ensure compliance with local tax and business laws. Register your business with the Department of Revenue of your state and local research laws. Apply for the required licenses, get a sales tax permit, and open a business bank account.

Before you begin, establish the terms that your thrift store will operate on. Set clear policies for the treatment of unsold items, returned goods, insurance of the inventory, return shipping terms, shipping and handling time, and other operational aspects.

Step 4: Select Your Platform

The next step is deciding on a “location” for your online thrift store. Hosting your website gives you complete control over the features and customization capabilities. A self-hosted website involves a relatively higher investment but is beneficial in the long term. 

If you’re looking for budget-friendly options, you could begin on eCommerce platforms such as Shopify, Prestashop, WooCommerce, BigCommerce, and more. You could even operate from existing online marketplaces such as eBay, Etsy, and Amazon. Acquiring new customers is relatively easier on these high traffic channels.

Step 5: Source The Inventory

After setting up your virtual storefront, the next step is to select and source the inventory. You could source items for reselling from garage sales, storage unit auctions, clearance sales, estate sales, rummage sales, flea markets, and manufacturer overruns. 

To prevent overstocking or understocking, maintain a proper storage system, either at home or a rented space. Always research before buying; remember to “buy low, sell high” and watch your profit margins. Keep detailed records of your inventory at all times.

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Step 6: List The Products On Your Online Thrift Store

Once you have completed all the preliminary steps, the next step is to showcase your items for reselling in your online thrift store. Include high-quality photographs and precise descriptions of each piece, specifying its condition. Bonus points if you can add a product video.

Ensure that the photographs/videos depict the actual condition of the item and don’t hide any flaws. Any misrepresentation can damage your reputation and credibility. Refrain from copy-pasting a similar item from stock images.

Step 7: Create A Digital Marketing Plan

Building and executing a digital marketing plan is crucial to the success of any online business. Effective marketing efforts increase traffic and sales on your website. Optimize your website for keywords related to your website to show up in the search results. 

Maintain a blog, post regular updates on it, and participate in relevant forum discussions. Use social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to showcase your new blog articles, your showstopper merchandise, or even a fashion trend update. Use hashtags, and post in local groups.

Advertise through Amazon and eBay marketplaces, and Pay-Per-Click ads that appear at the top of search results pages. Target a specific market for selling a specific product. For example, target young parents if you’re selling second-hand children’s furniture.

Step 8: Build A Reputation

As with any other business, setting up an online thrift store from the ground up takes a lot of blood and sweat. Integrity and honesty are particularly crucial in the resale business. The smallest lapse can create credibility issues. 

To build a strong reputation, ensure that you pay your consignors on time and as per the agreement after an item has been sold. This prevents legal issues as well.

Also, ensure that the products displayed have all the necessary details highlighted for your customers to make a well-informed decision. The mantra should be ‘what you see is what you get’.

Building an online reputation takes time and effort. However, losing it takes one bad customer review.

How Much Would It Cost To Start A Thrift Store?

If done tactfully, you could start your thrift store at less than $1000.

You can build your online thrift store on Shopify and get a domain name on .STORE. You can source inventory from your family and friends and even put in some of your own.

As your online thrift store grows, you can invest more to build it properly into a full-fledged business.

How Hard Is It To Open A Thrift Store?

Staring an online thrift store doesn’t take a large investment. You can start with just a few items for sale, a website that showcases the products in the best light. This include:

Start promoting your website and gradually, you’ll have a successful online thrift store.

Are Online Thrift Stores Successful?

The success of an online thrift store depends on what’s its purpose.

Most online thrift stores are non-profit organizations and that’s because the only way to make a brick and mortar thrift store work is to become a charity organization and avoid taxes.

If you’re planning to start an online thrift store as a business that makes a profit, then setting up an eCommerce website would be the best way to do it. You could ask for donations and start building from there.

The overall success of an online thrift store will depend on your digital marketing activities. You could start with an Instagram account and build a following on the platform.

What Can You Shop From Online Thrift Stores?

Customers often question how advisable it is to shop from an online thrift store. Knowing that this is one of the key concerns of most of your users, you can address this on your online thrift store and help them with their purchase decision.

It all comes down to taking care of the basics such as:

  • Sharing high-quality photographs of the products
  • Adding a detailed product description highlighting any issues with the products
  • Sharing contact information and being quick in resolving customer queries

10 Ways To Promote Your Online Thrift Store

1. Optimize Your Store For SEO

SEO or Search Engine Optimization can be one of the best ways for promoting any kind of online store, including your online thrift store.

People search for things they want online all the time, and you just need to be able to put your store in front of them.

And especially in the case of an online thrift store, you can use relevant keywords like ‘thrift’, ‘refurbished’, or ‘used’.

That way, whenever people are looking for used products, your site will show up in the results higher than the stores selling non-used products.

Here are a few ways in which you can optimize your online thrift store for SEO:

  • You can use a free keyword tool like Google’s keyword planner for finding out popular search terms prevalent in your industry and include them throughout your site.
  • You can use a free image compressor for making your image file sizes as small as possible, which will increase your site speed and search engines love that.
  • You can create a blog and regularly post content on it. Not only will it help in driving traffic through SEO techniques but also show your visitors how active your site/business is.

2. Promote On Instagram

Social media is a really powerful tool for promoting online businesses. And Instagram is one of the most powerful of all social media platforms.

It’s never too early to build your Instagram following. Even if you haven’t launched the store yet, but have an idea, start working on your Instagram profile and building an audience.

You can create a buzz there about your upcoming store and get people excited way before you start selling the products. Keep posting content that fits your aesthetic, and that way the audience you’ll grow will be the right kind of audience for your store.

Once your store is ready, post a lot of good content consistently. Show your products, latest stock, behind the scenes, and so on.

You can encourage your customers to post their pictures of using your products and tag you. Reposting their posts on stories will usually be an incentive enough for them to post.

3. Use Paid Marketing

Paid Marketing is always a great way to reach a targeted audience. PPC and social media ads can help you show your products to the people who match your buyer persona because of their online activity.

If you don’t want to jump into paid marketing in the very beginning, just wait for a couple of months to have a great system and structure in place.

Once you get a good feel of what is popular on your site, you can start using paid marketing for them.

4. Send Emails

You can send information about your business to existing customers to attract them and make repeat purchases. Besides, it’s not necessary that everyone in your subscriber list is a customer of your business.

If you communicate the right things to them, even non-customers might finally make up their mind to buy from you. Since they had subscribed to your emails, it’s likely they had an intention to buy, and you just need to give them that push.

Besides featuring items that you think they would need, also include items that would appeal to your audience.

5. Make It Hip

So many young people frequent thrift stores looking for vintage clothing, furniture, and music. They love these stores so much because they are able to get something they like for a much cheaper price than they would otherwise.

Make your thrift store hip to target younger crowds, so that you can tap a completely different kind of audience.

6. Highlight Various Styles

Promote such items well that make your store stand out from the other thrift stores in the marketing. For instance, if you have designer clothing available, make sure you include it in your marketing material.

If you have a good collection of plus-size clothing, tell your audience about it. Include unique items in your product line, and make sure your potential customers are aware of them.

7. Place Classified Ads

Many people who like good deals, look through classified ads to find something of their interest.

By consistently promoting your store in the classified section, you might be able to attract a good number of customers.

In some cases classified ads are free, and in others, they are pretty cheap. You can also get a great discount on these ads by placing them for days or at a time with a low reading rate.

8. Expand Your Product Range

You can add some variety to your product range for enticing new customers into your store.

Try selling a multitude of things like clothing, jewelry, art, furniture, music, and so on, and make sure you keep adding new items consistently.

That will help in bringing back your established customers to the store again and again.

Keep an eye out for items that are in demand like vintage record albums or a particular piece of furniture, and add them to your inventory.

9. Offer Incentives

Thrift stores are anyway considered to be inexpensive places to shop from. And by adding more incentives for your customers, you can attract a lot of customers.

Offer special discounts for purchases over a particular amount or use a half-off sale to drive traffic to your store.

Even customers who have already purchased from you on a sale would likely return to buy again, to get two products for the price of one.

10. Advertise At The Right Time

Even though you can promote and advertise your online thrift store throughout the year, there are some times when you can do more to get a bit extra.

For example, during Halloween, people turn to thrift stores a lot instead of expensive costume shops, to buy their costumes and accessories for Halloween.

People are also on the lookout for antiques or fancy furniture during Christmas. Now if you promote your store well during such times you can get twice the results, or even thrice, than what you would get otherwise.


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How To Use eCommerce Merchandising For Your Online Thrift Store

Imagine yourself stepping into a mall and getting fascinated by a sweet aroma or soothing music. Physical retail stores retain their customers by luring them through different tactics.

However, merchandising an online store is a different ball game. Thus, online store owners must focus on various strategies besides designing an attractive website for eCommerce merchandising.

What Is eCommerce Merchandising For Thrift Stores?

According to Practical eCommerce, eCommerce merchandising is “the art and science of displaying products or offers on a website with the goal of increasing sales.”

While that’s a great starting point, there’s a lot more to eCommerce merchandising.

Good online merchandising isn’t just about displaying your products in a way that seems enticing — it’s also about optimizing the path to purchase irrespective of where the users enter your website or where they are in their buying journey.

It’s about getting users to products they’re looking for (or products most likely to drive the desired business metric) as quickly as possible. It’s about connecting users with your brand and giving them a great experience.

How To Sell More On My Thrift Store?

One of the most critical goals of an online store is to have users spend more time on its website.

Thus, online stores use recommendation engines to direct buyers to the landing pages of various products.

This is done by capturing a user persona. If enough data is not available, high-rated or trending products in that category can be recommended.

eCommerce startups know the amount of competition they face from their peers. One needs to provide a smooth buying experience to customers. Providing a single reason for complaint can result in the loss of a potential customer.

There are various ways to attract new customers as well as to retain existing ones.

Online stores such as Fashion Nova provide a discount on the first purchase to lure customers. Free delivery can also be supplied in the first couple of purchases to tempt customers. Having more customers through your eCommerce website will lead to engagement increasing the number of orders placed.

Does Visual Merchandising Hold Any Importance In eCommerce / Thrift Store?

eCommerce visual merchandising is displaying products on the websites of virtual stores to make them look attractive.

A strategically well-planned website helps to tempt customers to spend more time browsing the product catalogs.

Retail stores have their top-selling products put on eye level to gain attention.

Besides the best-sellers, you can have the new releases, latest flash sales, and discounted products on top of the website.

People usually are fond of sales and fall for it. There is also an option in eCommerce websites of sorting items according to price, trend, and other parameters.

Collection-based merchandising is applicable for electrical appliances and other home decoration items. eCommerce merchandising helps customers to fill the dots and purchase products together.

eCommerce websites have their best deals mentioned in the form of a grid on the home page. This is a simple psychology trick that says humans are attracted to the word “discount” and “sale” boosts sales.

Various tech startups in the eCommerce industry ensure to display most of their products in the carousel of the home page.

This helps customers to know the multiple products available without visiting various pages on the website.

For instance, a group of “top choices” can have various categories such as home decoration, electronic appliances, apparel displayed together in the carousel to show product diversification.

A combination of different products on one page increases the average number of items per cart. This is another notable eCommerce merchandising trick. For instance, suppose a customer wants to buy a blazer. On the landing page, they find a blazer, a matching tie, a shirt, and formal shoes. This way, they can be tempted to buy more products.

Customers are attracted by colors that appeal to them. Different customers have different preferences. Thus, listing various colors for a particular product can attract more customers. This is another eCommerce merchandising technique that provokes customers to visit more pages.


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What Is The Importance Of eCommerce Merchandising?

You’ve read about the various strategies adopted by online stores to list products available for sale.

These strategic methods help entice a customer to make a purchase. So, what are the benefits of displaying specific products to a specific set of customers?

eCommerce businesses are always looking for a way to skyrocket sales. The first step towards it is to build awareness amongst customers for a brand.

Retailers spend a good amount of money on search engine optimization and social media advertisements to increase traffic to their websites.

Lack of engagement can lead customers to leave the website instantaneously, increasing the cost of customer acquisition. Online stores need to ensure that customers are kept engaged while visiting the website. The first step is enabling customers to find the products they’re looking for at the earliest.

An increase in the visit duration of a customer improves the click-through rate and the number of impressions for a particular listing.

Impressions define the number of times an advertisement appears on the screen.

The Click-through rate includes the number of visits to a website by following a particular hyperlink. You’re competing with multiple other online stores that want to attract your customers.

Customers are unlikely to make a buy on the first visit to your website. Grabbing their attention is important to boost the chances of them returning to your site.

eCommerce merchandising is not just done to improve the customer experience. Rather the main goal is to increase sales. Online stores function to increase the ROI (Return On Investment) based on data.

With cutting-edge technologies, you can comprehend the shopping pattern of buyers and list your items accordingly.

How Should I Use eCommerce Merchandising To Increase My Thrift Store Sales?

  • Generate traffic for an existing eCommerce website.
  • Display complementary products based on the customer’s search. For instance, a customer intending to buy a mobile phone might also buy a back cover.
  • Turf defending is used by online stores to highlight similar items with competitors by displaying them together. Customer loyalty is maintained and is good for items that are frequently purchased.
  • AI-driven analytics in eCommerce merchandising is another contributing factor. Taking into consideration the number of sold units, the rating and comments received, and the number of sales to unique customers, a product can be recommended to a customer based on his search intent.
  • Image enhancing methods are used to improve quality, price, delivery, and available brands. This may include competitive pricing as well.
  • Generating excitement among customers. Excitement can be generated by announcing flash sales before a festival or by providing a specific discount.

What Is Assortment Planning In eCommerce Merchandising?

Online stores need to optimize for a better visitor experience and increase conversions.

There are many ways to increase profitability, one important tactic being assortment planning. Assortment planning is enhancing visual merchandising and store layouts to maximize conversions.

Retailers need to strike a balance between stocking too much variety and having too little mix of products.

Assortment planning goes beyond eCommerce merchandising, item purchasing, and seasonality trends. Some important factors include: reorder points, lead time, category proportion, and shelf life.

The first step is building a Customer Decision Tree (CDT) to know the product hierarchy.

For instance, a customer visits an online store to buy a shirt. He first checks the size, material, and then color. This hierarchy can be used for other customers as well.

Clustering products based on customer demographics, storefront type, and size can be useful to target specific customer segments.

Cross hybrid recommendation is another important parameter for assortment planning. For instance, various algorithms can be used to promote similar products in a shared category.

Assortment planning doesn’t mean to stock up only trending items and best sellers. Online stores should find a balance between product diversification and stocking of top items.


If you’re an organized person who enjoys working flexible hours, start your online thrift store by following the above steps. With minimal investment and sound planning, watch it grow, flourish, and prosper every day.

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