What Is Consignment? – Importance, Working, Examples, And More


Consignment is a business model which has become popular in recent years. In a consignment, there are two parties: the consignor and the consignee. Here, the consignee sells goods on behalf of the consignor. This way, they offer a unique approach to retail with the help of which there are huge benefits for individuals and businesses.

In this article, you will learn about the consignment business model along with an example of such a business. Apart from that, you will also have a brief idea of how this business model works in general. Finally, you will also learn some of the major pros and cons of a consignment business so that you have a better idea of what to expect. Hence, to learn more, read on through to the end of the article.

What Is Consignment?

According to Investopedia,

“Consignment is an arrangement in which goods are left in the possession of an authorized third party to sell. Goods sold in this way are said to be “consigned” to a third party for sale. Items sold on consignment are typically sold by consignment shops, which receive a percentage of the revenue from the sale (sometimes a very large percentage) in the form of commission.”

You can make a particular consignment deal on a variety of products. The products might include artwork, accessories, clothing, books, etc. On the other hand, some types of retail sales also fall under consignment. In this case, producers or manufacturers have to rely on retail stores to sell their products to the target customers. Nevertheless, in general cases, thrift stores and secondhand stores practice consignment more often.

However, big retailers and supermarkets do not come under the consignment business model. This is because such retailers and markets purchase goods and products through wholesale and sell those items at the markup price.

In a consignment, the party that sells the goods receives a portion of the profits, either as a commission or a flat fee. The consignor, on the other hand, focuses more on the marketing aspects of the business.

What Is The Example Of A Consignment Business?

In a consignment model, the consignor of the goods provides goods to a consignee. The latter is responsible for handling storage, inventory management, as well as other functions related to the sales of the products. Furthermore, in return for those functions, the consignee receives a percentage of the sales or a fee at a flat rate.

According to an article on Shopify.com,

“Consignment shops accept various products, with item demand and quality influencing how desirable an item is to consignees. Product supply and seasonality also play a role, as many consignment stores have limited storage capacity and prefer items that can sell quickly. A store specializing in a niche with fluctuating consumer demand may only accept certain items at specific times.”

One of the major examples of a consignment business is auction houses. Other examples include companies dealing with the transfer of goods and import companies. Thrift shops and secondhand stores also fall under the consignment business model. However, in recent times, many retail businesses are also using this business model in addition to their traditional business model.

A popular example of this kind of business is Zara. Apart from its retail stores and online stores, it also has a consignment business through which it sells vintage or secondhand items.

How Does A Consignment Work?

How Does A Consignment Work

An article on Indeed.com states –

“Consignment sales are popular in the retail industry, especially for niche products. Many consignment stores also sell second-hand goods on behalf of individuals. For example, a consignment store might sell previously owned prom dresses by offering to pay a 20% revenue fee to anyone who wants to sell a dress through their store.”

In a consignment arrangement, the consignor asks the consignee about their ability to sell within a certain time. Then, both parties agree on how much the consignor can pay to the consignee on the sale of each unit. In this case, most agreements end up with 40/60, 60/40, or 50/50 splits of profit.

After the agreement of keeping profits, the consignor offers a deadline within which the consignee needs to return the unsold goods. Once the consignee returns unsold goods within this date, they will not have to pay for those goods.

Hence, the consignor delivers the agreed-upon goods to the consignee. The consignee pays the consignor after the sale of the goods and after updating the inventory and balance sheet.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Consignment?

The following are the major pros and cons of this business model that you must know:


Here are the major pros of consignment that you will benefit from:

  • It is a great option for those businesses who do not have a shop (or any brick-and-mortar presence). Also, these works great for cyberspace.
  • Many online companies (like eBay) work as consignment shops. They offer a marketplace to people by taking a percentage of the profits.
  • A consignment removes the need for an individual or business to create a website, attract customers, and set up payment processes.
  • Sellers who do not have the time to advertise their products can choose consignment.
  • In most cases, the price related to consignment is much less as compared to creating a sales department. Here, you will not have to put the responsibility in someone else’s hands.


Here are a few cons of consignment that you need to be aware of:

  • Often, these shops and services charge a high level of commission or want a big portion of the profits. Hence, it can reduce the profits for the producer of the product.
  • Producers also do not have control over how the products are sold and marketed by the consignee. Here, these shops generally takes control of marketing and presentation.

Wrapping Up

Hope this article was helpful for you in learning more about how consignment works for business. As a consignor, you will have to leave your goods to a third-party seller (consignee) to sell the goods. However, before you choose a service for doing business, consider doing deep research. Consider sharing your views with us in the comments section below.

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