What is A Consignment Sale?

A consignment sale is a business arrangement where goods are sent by their owner (the consignor) to another party (the consignee) for the purpose of selling them. The consignee agrees to pay the consignor only for the goods that are sold, returning any unsold items. For a UK audience, understanding consignment sales is important for businesses seeking flexible inventory management and sales strategies.


Key Aspects of Consignment Sales:

  1. Definition:
    • A consignment sale is a transaction where the consignor retains ownership of the goods until they are sold by the consignee. The consignee sells the goods on behalf of the consignor and takes a commission or fee for their service.
  2. Parties Involved:
    • Consignor: The owner of the goods who sends them to be sold.
    • Consignee: The party who receives the goods and is responsible for selling them. The consignee typically operates a retail store, online platform, or another sales venue.
  3. Process:
    • Agreement: The consignor and consignee enter into an agreement detailing the terms of the consignment, including the commission rate, duration of the consignment period, and handling of unsold goods.
    • Delivery: The consignor delivers the goods to the consignee, who takes possession but not ownership of the items.
    • Sales: The consignee displays and sells the goods. They keep track of sales and inventory.
    • Payment: The consignee periodically pays the consignor for the sold items, minus the agreed commission or fee.
    • Unsold Goods: At the end of the consignment period, the consignee returns any unsold goods to the consignor, unless otherwise agreed.
  4. Benefits for the Consignor:
    • Reduced Risk: The consignor retains ownership of the goods until they are sold, reducing the risk of unsold inventory.
    • Increased Exposure: Consignment arrangements can increase product exposure through the consignee’s sales channels.
    • Cash Flow Management: Payment is received only for sold items, which can help manage cash flow more effectively.
  5. Benefits for the Consignee:
    • Inventory Flexibility: The consignee can offer a wider range of products without the upfront cost of purchasing inventory.
    • Risk Mitigation: Since the consignee doesn’t pay for the goods until they are sold, their financial risk is reduced.
    • Customer Attraction: Offering consigned goods can attract customers seeking unique or high-demand products.
  6. Considerations:
    • Commission Rates: The consignor and consignee must agree on a fair commission rate that compensates the consignee for their sales efforts while providing value to the consignor.
    • Inventory Management: Both parties must keep accurate records of inventory, sales, and returns to ensure transparency and trust.
    • Legal Agreement: A detailed consignment agreement is essential to outline terms, responsibilities, and procedures to avoid disputes.
  7. Example:A UK-based artisan creates handmade jewellery and wants to expand sales without setting up their own retail outlet. They enter into a consignment agreement with a local boutique.
    • Agreement: The artisan (consignor) and the boutique owner (consignee) agree that the boutique will take a 30% commission on all sales.
    • Delivery: The artisan delivers a range of jewellery pieces to the boutique.
    • Sales: The boutique displays the jewellery and sells several pieces over the next month.
    • Payment: At the end of the month, the boutique pays the artisan for the sold jewellery, minus the 30% commission.
    • Unsold Goods: Any unsold jewellery is returned to the artisan after the agreed consignment period.


Consignment sales offer a flexible and risk-reducing way for UK businesses to expand their reach and manage inventory. By understanding the roles, benefits, and considerations of consignment arrangements, both consignors and consignees can effectively collaborate to increase sales and profitability. A well-defined consignment agreement and clear communication between parties are crucial for successful consignment sales.