The Difference between Physical Consignment Shops and Online Consignment Shops

“Consignment” is just a fancy word for “selling and delivering goods to someone.” In consignment shops, sellers can bring in goods they want to sell, leave it with the shop owners to sell on their behalf, and possibly pay a small fee for the shop owners’ service. The sellers then come to collect their share of the profit later. As the owner of the goods, the sellers who utilize consignment shop services will keep ownership of their items until a sale is made— if one is made at all. If your goods don’t sell, then they are returned to you at no further charge. Now, there are two major types of consignment shops: shops with a physical address and online consignment shops. How are they alike? How are they different?


Consignment shops with physical addresses are typically locally owned, private businesses. Most consignments shops are known for having a very friendly, mom-and-pop atmosphere for the sellers. This makes them very popular among sellers in the area.

Unlike for online shops, you have to visit the store to present the items you want to sell. When you do, the shop owners will give these items their own identification tags, which account gets credit for the sale of the item in question. They then keep the items in the shop for prospective buyers to look at in person. In the event that a sale is made, the store owners call you so you can come back to claim your share of the profit.

Since consignment shop owners set their own terms, it’s important for sellers to do research on the store and its policies before using its services (i.e. learning how the profits will be divided, if there is a consignment fee, what the waiting period is before taking your goods back, etc).


Online consignment shops have a very similar process as compared to any physical shop. The shop collects the items from the seller, tags them, sells them, and then shares the profits with the seller. But how does all this happen if the shop is online?

After choosing what you want to sell, the next step is to take high-quality photos of the items and send them to the shop. Using existing photos from online ads is considered cheating— if you use ads of the product, the shop and prospective buyers won’t know the actual condition of your item.

Once you share your photos of your items with the online shop, it’s your responsibility to write short descriptions of the items to be posted with the pictures. It’s important that the descriptions have good online visibility (i.e. are SEO friendly) and, depending on the online shop, the shop owners might help you with this step of the process.

Setting the price is a little different for online shops, too. Many sellers who go to physical consignment shops go in with a price in mind, but for online shops, the shop owners might convince you to raise or lower your price depending on the item, how long it’s been “out of season,” and the condition it’s in.

From this point forward, the process is more or less the same as a physical consignment shop. Your items are tagged, and you wait for buyers to show interest.

The final step is to get the item to the buyer after a sale. Most of the time, you’ll have to ship the item yourself, but sometimes the online shop will do it on your behalf depending on what their policy is.


In both physical and online consignment shops, your items are typically made available for buyers for a 30, 60 or 90-day period. This window of opportunity varies from shop to shop. If within the shop’s specified time your item doesn’t sell, then it is usually discounted as a last resort. If the item doesn’t sell even after being discounted, that’s when the shop will return your items to you.

When utilizing the services of a physical or online consignment shop, you can usually expect to be charged a 25-60% commission in addition to a possible consignment fee. This means that the shop is contractually entitled to 25-60% of the profit from your item or items. Lots of consignment shops, both online and not, usually tread around 50-50 for an even split.


As the seller, you decide which method is better for you and your needs. Both methods of consignment have their pros and cons. Fortunately, Four Seasons Auction Gallery gives you to option to consign your sellable goods in person or online in accordance to your preference. For more information, or if you have any questions, feel free to contact us.