Consignment Meaning & How Consignment Shops Work in 2021

What Is Consignment? How Does Consignment Shop Work in 2021? Consignment Meaning
Consignment Meaning

Consignment means a term used to describe a situation in which items are placed in the care of a consignment store until a buyer purchases them. The consignor – the owner of the goods — retains ownership of the items until they are sold. When the item sells, the consignment store or person who sold it (the consignee) will pay the owner an agreed-upon percentage of the sale earnings.

Consignment sales are made on various things, including artwork, apparel and accessories, and books. Although secondhand stores and thrift stores are more commonly associated with the practice of consignment, some forms of retail sales may be viewed as a special form of consignment in which manufacturers rely on retail stores to sell their items to customers.

On the other hand, consignment arrangements would exclude merchants such as Walmart and most supermarkets, which buy goods outright from wholesalers and then resell them at a profit.


Consignment meaning comes from the French term “consigner,” which means “to deposit,” as in “to drop off” goods for sale.

How Does Consignment Shop Work?

For instance, a consignor may offer a doll’s house to a consignment shop to sell. The item will remain in the shop until it is sold. The toy has a price tag of $20. The shop keeps half of the sale price when it sells, giving the item’s owner the other half, which is $10.

A vehicle consignment dealer, for example, sells a person’s vehicle for a set amount.

Alternatively, a jewelry designer who sells her wares online could use a consignment store to sell her pieces locally in the shop.


  • Consignment meaning entails an agreement in which items are given to a third party (consignment stores or person) to sell.
  • The party selling the products on consignment gets a cut of the earnings, either as a flat charge or commission.
  • Selling things or services through a consignment arrangement might be a low-commission, low-time-investment method.
  • Although most consignment shops nearby and online will offer terms, some are willing to work out negotiations.
  • If you don’t have a physical store or an online marketplace to sell your items, consignment is a viable option.

Understanding Consignment

Consignment shops, particularly those specializing in specialty items, infant clothes and designer items have become popular in the 21st century. The millennial age, in particular, is notorious for their thrifty shopping habits. These habits includes avoiding high-end stores and designer boutiques in favor of deals available at thrift and consignment stores.

According to economists, rising student debt, stagnating salaries, and the psychological repercussions of the Great Recession of 2007-2009 are driving younger buyers to consignment shops and other cheap outlets.

How Can Small Businesses Use Consignment?

If your small business does not have its own store or physical location to make sales, selling your products on consignment may be an opportunity. Many businesses are prepared to accept new things on consignment in order to replenish their inventory. You would effectively be leasing your things to an online or nearby consignment store to sell on your behalf.

The difference between a consignment contract and a wholesale agreement is that you are not selling your products to the consignment store. Instead, the store operates as a third party, an intermediary working on your behalf to generate income from the sale, which normally ranges between 20% and 60%.

The Advantages

  • The primary advantage of consignment is that it allows small businesses to sell their products without incurring the cost of establishing their own storefront. Paying shop rents and salary for staff to handle the shop without guaranteeing sufficient sales is both costly and risky. For many small enterprises, it is not a feasible alternative.
  • Consignment allows small businesses to sell their stuff without having to pay for space or employees. Instead, the costs are borne by the consignee in exchange for compensation when the products are sold.
  • In addition to allowing you to sell things on a physical sales floor, a consignment contract puts your products in front of customers and prospective customers, increasing brand and product awareness.
  • Conversely, if a small firm operates a shop, selling on consignment helps them to sell a greater variety of products. This can help them attract more clients and distinguish themselves from the competition.
  • Sellers who do not have the time or desire to advertise their product for sale frequently find that consignment fees are a small price to pay to put the work in the hands of someone else, especially if they are successful in negotiating a low fee.

The Disadvantages

The following are the model’s major disadvantages for the business owner:

  • Reliance on vendors to offer a consistent supply of inventory.
  • Disposal fees if there are many unsold items, although it can be reduced by donating leftovers to charity. 
  • A need for a software solution that makes it easier to keep track of merchandise

The following are the key disadvantages for sellers: 

  • Receiving less than what could be gained by selling directly to buyers online 
  • Having to wait for payment

Consignment Payment Structure 

A person who wants to sell an item on consignment sends it to a consignment store or a third party that sells it on their behalf. Before the third party gets custody of the item, an agreement on the share of revenue when the item is sold must be struck.

Most consignment businesses have standard fee schedules that show the percentage of the sale price paid to the shop and the percentage paid to the seller. However, many consignment stores are ready to negotiate, especially for larger-ticket items, such as artwork, which have higher revenue potential. Consignment fees can range from 25% to 60% of the sales price, depending on the consignment store and sold item.

Consignment agreements are normally in place for a specific amount of time. If no sale is made after this time, the things are returned to their owner. Alternatively, by mutual agreement, the consignment term may be extended.

Types of Small Businesses That Can Use Consignment

Consignment could benefit any small business that sells items that could be physically placed in another store.

Going by consignment meaning, consignment contracts can benefit businesses that specialize in apparel, toys, accessories, and other popular retail items. Craft enterprises that produce handmade things such as cards, jewelry, and artwork are also viable choices. These companies do not have the financial resources or the number of items to create their store. They can, however, rely on consignment shops nearby to get their products in front of buyers in a physical store.


  • An artist has five huge pieces of artwork to sell but no location to display them to potential customers. So the artist decides to use an art gallery to display and sell their work. The gallery does not charge the artist a fee for wall space, but it does charge a sales commission on any works sold, which is included in the price.
  • Bethany visiting her grandmother’s house and discovering an old case full of clothes from the 1940s is another example of consignment. She decides to save a few pieces she likes and sell the rest. She goes to a thrift store and sells the garments on consignment. Bethany and the thrift store reach an agreement in which Bethany receives 60% of the proceeds from the sale of the things, while the thrift store receives the remaining 40%.

These examples clearly illustrate consignment meaning and how consignment works in 2021.

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1 comment
  1. I liked learning that small businesses don’t need a storefront to sell their products with consignment sales. My sister wants to ramp up the sales and move more products in her small business. I’ll suggest that she consider signing up with a consignment shop to boost her sales without needing to create her own storefront.

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