The rise of Chinese fast fashion brands like Shein, which offer dirt cheap clothing, has created a massive opportunity for resellers in Kenya.
The so-called “Shein reseller method” involves buying Shein items in bulk for rock bottom prices, then reselling locally at a markup.
Many regular folks are reporting huge profits, some even claiming to make Ksh100k+ per month reselling Shein hauls bought with just Ksh5,000.
Smelling opportunity, I decided to test this business model myself. I ordered Ksh3,000 of Shein inventory and spent a month trying to resell it all locally.
Here is everything I learned from my experiment trying the Shein reseller side hustle as a total beginner.
Table of Contents
Ordering My First Shein Haul
To source inventory, I created an account on Shein.com and browsed the massive catalog of women’s clothing priced ridiculously cheap.
I loaded up my cart with around 50 fashionable items like dresses, tops, and skirts that seemed appealing to the Kenyan market. Total damage was Ksh3,000 including shipping.
One week later I received 6 huge boxes crammed with items. I was amazed at the staggering volume of clothing I got for only Ksh3k!
Laying it all out, I was impressed by the decent quality given the absurdly low prices. Of course some pieces weren’t perfect, but I could work with most of it.
It was time to start selling.
Attempting to Resell Locally
My goal was to resell the 50 Shein pieces within 1 month and pocket at least Ksh10k profit.
I employed a variety of methods to offload the fast fashion haul locally:
- Posted photos of each item on Facebook and Instagram. This generated some social buzz but few actual buyers.
- Messaged old friends to see if they wanted anything. Managed to make 5 sales this way.
- Set up in-person pop-up “shops” at my apartment gate on weekends which pulled in a dozen or so neighborhood buyers.
- Listed the most promising 15 pieces on local e-commerce sites. Got a handful of sales this way.
In total after a month of hustling daily, I managed to completely sell out my inventory for Ksh13k total. After the initial Ksh3k outlay plus Ksh600 in other costs, I netted around Ksh9k profit.
Decent side money, but not nearly as lucrative as the hype suggested. Here are key things I learned:
Lessons Learned From My Test Run
1. Competition is fierce – Countless people are reselling Shein now. Standing out from the pack is essential but tricky.
2. Marketing is tough – As a beginner with no following, I struggled to drive buyer traffic. Could not rely on organic social buzz alone.
3. Time commitment is huge – Between sourcing, sorting, photographing, listing, and selling items, reselling takes serious hours.
4. Marketplaces trump social sales – The ease of e-commerce sites made them my best sales channel by far.
5. Narrower niche = better margins – Targeting a specific style/demographic could boost profits over a generic approach.
6. Startup costs add up – Between inventory, shipping, listings, etc. the overhead costs started mounting.
7. Going viral helps – Sellers who somehow capture a huge audience online have major advantage.
Verdict: Viable Side Hustle But Challenging
Overall, reselling cheap fast fashion like Shein in Kenya can be decently profitable but it requires significant effort as a side business. Going in expecting easy passive profits is unrealistic.
However, with the right audience reach, selling tactics, and niche, the Shein reseller model offers a relatively accessible way to pocket solid side money around a full-time job.
Next time, I would plan to:
- Source from multiple sites beyond just Shein to differentiate offerings
- Build engagement pre-launch on social to have a buyer audience ready
- Consider offline partnerships with vendors to sell inventory from physical stands
- Focus on a narrow style niche to better target a demographic
- Reinforce a strong brand identity through professional photography and packaging
For individuals in Kenya seeking affordable inventory sources to launch an e-commerce venture, tapping into sites like Shein remains a compelling starting point. But outsized success requires tremendous marketing, operations, and branding skill.
Overall, my test proved Shein reselling can be profitable but requires both grit and business savvy to scale. It makes for a robust side hustle but building it into a stand-alone passive income stream requires immense strategic work.
The key is bringing your own angle and audience to fend off the countless competitors selling the same cheap clothing sourced from China. This takes creativity and marketing skill.