What is Whatnot? A Guide for Sellers & Buyers to The Whatnot App

Marketplaces 101
What is Whatnot? A Guide for Sellers & Buyers to The Whatnot App

What is Whatnot? Whatnot is the newest reseller platform, growing at a viral pace. It started in 2019, focusing on Funko Pop collectibles but quickly expanded to cards, comics, and other fan favorites. Last summer, they opened up new categories like thrift, vintage, and estate sales and invited resellers to join. 


What Is Whatnot? 


Whatnot is a social selling platform that is one hundred percent based on live auctions. If eBay and Twitch had a baby, this would be it. Live stream selling combined with the thrill of real-time bidding turns out to be a winning combination for many buyers and sellers. 


eBay bidding operates on an auction-style format where buyers place bids on items, and the highest bidder wins. The bidding process on eBay is competitive, with automated incremental bid increases until the auction ends. In comparison, Whatnot bidding follows a live stream model, allowing users to place real-time bids during a scheduled auction event, creating an interactive and engaging experience for buyers.


Sellers present their items one by one, and buyers can bid on them with the click of a button. Hot categories on Whatnot right now are vintage, thrifted clothing, and all types of collectibles. The bids are binding, and payments take place immediately, so make sure you want that item before taping the button! 


How Do You Sign Up For Whatnot? 


Whatnot has a mobile app for iOs and Android users. You can also use your iPad, tablet, computer, or laptop to operate the platform. Bidding takes place on mobile devices, but you can watch from your laptop. For sellers, you will also ship from your computer or laptop. 


Signing up is as easy as creating a username and password. You’ll have the app downloaded and your account created in under a minute. I recommend setting up your shipping address immediately so you’ll be ready to shop! You can also easily become a “verified buyer” by uploading your driver's license using the app. This verification process makes buying and selling safer on the app, and some sales require it to participate. 


Whatnot Guide For Buyers


Everyone starts out on Whatnot as a browser and potential buyer. Even if your ultimate goal is to become a seller on Whatnot, I highly recommend that you spend several weeks watching shows and making friends. Having followers will help you a lot when you have your first sale, and you can pick up tons of great tips by watching experienced sellers. 


How To Find What You Like


When you are brand new to the platform, it can be overwhelming to figure out what to do first. You can browse sales by category, showing you the sellers you are likely to want to buy from. You can follow categories and follow sellers to make them easier to find in the future. The main explore page will have everything you are looking for. It will show you live sales happening right now and upcoming shows. 


Following and Bookmarking 


Pretty soon, you’ll figure out which sellers you enjoy watching the most. From their profile, you can follow them and bookmark their future shows. When the show is about to start, you will get a reminder on your phone. You can even save the sale as an event to your Google calendar! 


Preview what’s in the show


Many sellers will pre-load the items for auction in their shop so you can check out the goods before you shop. While you are there, you can tap on the bell to get notified when the auction for that items is live. You can also place a pre-bid on any item you want. A pre-bid will pop up right away when the auction starts, but you can still be outbid, so pop in and watch the show to ensure you get the item. 


Buy it now section 


While the platform's primary focus is live auctions, sellers have a “buy it now” section they can add to their store. Many sellers will put high-end or highly sought-after items they want top dollar for in their buy-it-now section. 


Bidding On Items


While watching a live auction, press the yellow bid button at the bottom of the screen to place your bid. On a standard auction, ten more seconds will be added to the clock if a person puts in a bid in the last few seconds. If the auction is in “sudden death mode,” then the auction will end immediately with no extra time given. Sudden death can be a lot of fun as everyone waits until the end to try to bid at the last second. This adds an extra element of fun to the whole deal. 


Shipping and discounts 


The buyer always pays for shipping. The shipping charge is based on weight and distance from the seller. You will get discounted shipping on additional items you buy from the same seller during the same show. 


Tip: You can leave and come back to the show while it is still live and your orders will still get you discounted shipping. 


Chatting While You Shop


Whatnot is an amazing community so far! I’ve had some really fun conversations with sellers and other buyers while watching the auction. Everyone is helpful and cheering each other on. Showing up to shows and chatting will help you make friends and followers, which will help you if you ever want to sell on Whatnot. 


Also, make sure you check out: 10 Great Marketplaces Every Reseller Should Consider


Setting Up Your Whatnot Shop: A Guide for Sellers:


Once you start watching auctions as a buyer, you won’t want to stop there! Many resellers will want to jump on this trend and try their hand at making live sales. Here is everything you need to know to get started selling on Whatnot. 


How does WhatNot work for Sellers?


Sellers on Whatnot get to be the host of their own live show where they get to show off and explain their items in detail while shoppers place bids in real-time. The best shows are lively, funny, and fast-paced. You can even play games and host giveaways during your sale. Whatnot will keep track of who buys what, so you don’t need to do any note-taking along the way. At the end of your sale, your Whatnot dashboard will give you all the information you need to ship your items. 


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Applying To Be A Seller On Whatnot

Unlike typical sales platforms like Poshmark or Mercari, Whatnot doesn’t allow just anyone to sign up to become a  seller and hop on a live show that same day. In fact, you have to fill out a pretty detailed application to be considered. Your application will not only verify your identity but will ask you questions about your social media accounts, where and how often you source inventory, and will even require photos or videos of your inventory. You’ll also need to upload a photo of your driver’s license to complete the application. 


Tip: Sellers have the opportunity to recommend other people they think would make good sellers to Whatnot. A bonus program will grant a seller $200 if they recruit another seller who gets accepted. Having an established seller recommend you might give you a better chance at getting accepted by Whatnot. 


What Is Seller Onboarding?


Once you get an email confirming that you have been accepted as a seller on Whatnot, you will be directed to schedule a live group onboarding session. These sessions will help you learn the rules and mechanics of Whatnot before they finally grant you access to host live events. You do have to have your camera turned on so they can verify your identity. You will also want to pay close attention as there is a short quiz you must pass at the end. This process might sound lengthy, but it helps ensure that users have a good buying experience on the Whatnot platform and helps keep everyone safe. 


Setting Up Your Live Whatnot Show


It’s time to prepare for your first live auction on Whatnot! The pace of setting up, hosting, and shipping items for a Whatnot sale is a lot faster than many resellers are used to. Here is how to set up your Whatnot sale in five easy steps: 

  1. First, go into the app and select the plus sign while looking at your profile. You’ll get a small pop-up menu of actions, from which you will select “schedule a live show.” You’ll be able to name your show, select a category, and upload a promotional photo or Video for your auction. 

  2. Next, you will start loading your shop up with inventory. While not all the fields are mandatory, it makes good sense to include a cover photo and a strong title for each item. If applicable, you can add a description with measurements, but this is not obligatory. You will need to add an estimated weight for each item, as this is how shipping costs are calculated. 

  3. You can also add “buy it now” items to your store for anything you want to put on sale without auctioning it. 

  4. Finally, you can create listings for any giveaway items you wish to run during your show. 

  5. While you wait for your show to begin, people can bookmark it, and you can promote it on your social media channels. Whatnot even has a “stories” feature similar to Instagram’s that you can use to communicate with your followers. 

Set The Stage For Your Whatnot Show


While technically you can run the whole show from your phone, you might want to have at least two devices logged into your account to help make things run smoothly. First, start the auction from the device you want to use as the camera. I use my iPhone for this and set it up on a tripod for stability. From another device (another phone, a tablet, or a laptop), you can also log into your account and use it as a remote control device to start auctions and type in the chat. Make sure to have good lighting and enough space to show off your items. Some people do their shows while sitting down and others while standing; the setup is entirely up to you. 


Tip: Make sure to have your phone or tablet plugged into a power source so you don’t wind up with a dead battery in the middle of a show! You can even buy a ring light with a USB connection built-in! 


Running Auctions


When it’s time to “run” an item, simply select the item from your store and “pin it.” This makes the title of the item appear on the screen for your audience to see. Now you can take the item out and show it off, make sure to talk it up and get people excited! When you are ready, run the auction. Whatnot will take care of the timing and keep track of who won. 


You can choose the length of time the auction will run. Shorter auctions are more exciting and help keep the pace lively for your show. You can also choose to run your auction in regular or sudden-death mode. During a regular auction, if anyone places a bid within the last 10 seconds, then more time is added to the clock to give others a chance to increase their bid. In a sudden-death auction, the auction will end abruptly when time is up. 




Giveaways help you build your following and keep people tuned into your show longer. You can do a giveaway at the start, middle, or end of your auction, or do all three! Giveaways are not mandatory, but they are a lot of fun. You run a giveaway the same way you run an auction. Instead of bidding, however, Whatnot will place a spinning wheel of names on the screen and automatically select a winner for you! 


Shipping Items You Sell On Whatnot 


Okay, you’ve hosted your first event. It was a success, resulting in many sales! Now what? Whatnot prefers for you to ship your items within two days of the sale. When setting up your live auctions, make sure to build in time for yourself to ship everything the next day. 


Shipping can only be done from a laptop or computer. Go to your dashboard, select the tab that says “shipping,” and select the show you want to create shipping labels for. You will be able to see a list of all the items sold, and they will automatically be placed in bundles with discounted shipping for people who bought multiple items. Remember, the buyer pays to ship, so you won’t have to worry about that expense. 

Whatnot will print a shipping label and a packing slip for each sale. You can choose to print these on a regular printer or with a label printer. You can only ship using the labels provided by Whatnot. 


For packages under 1 pound, first-class shipping will be used. You can ship in a plain box or a polymailer. For packages over 1 pound, priority mail with USPS will be used. You are welcome to use free shipping boxes from USPS but do not use any boxes that say “flat rate shipping” on them. You can order free USPS shipping materials and have them delivered right to your door! 


Once you have printed, packaged, and shipped your sales, make sure to return to Whatnot and select “bulk confirm USPS drop off” to complete the shipping process. 


Seller Fees & Getting Paid On Whatnot 


Whatnot seller fees are very reasonable; in fact, they are among the lowest of many online sales platforms. For a close estimation, you can expect fees to be around 11%. Here is how to calculate the exact fees on Whatnot.


  • Platform Sales Fee: 8% of the sales price.
  • Processing Fee: 2.9% of the total cost (sales price, tax, and shipping) plus .30 cents per item. 


Your funds will be available 48-72 hours after the buyer receives their item. You can track payouts inside your Whatnot dashboard. Your funds can be withdrawn to your Paypal account, or you can link a bank account. 


Whatnot FAQs:


Is Whatnot Legit?


Yes! Whatnot is a thriving community and a growing platform. I can personally say that I have sold items on Whatnot and been paid by Whatnot with no complications. They are still a young company, but they are expanding quickly. You can see from their careers page that they are actively hiring programmers, data scientists, and other key positions that prove Whatnot is here to stay. 


Can I Return Items?


Whatnot does not encourage returns, but the staff would gladly make things right if the item was misrepresented. For a return, you can contact Whatnot support directly. You are not permitted to return items for fit or simply because you changed your mind, but you can always resell those items on Whatnot or another seller platform of your choice! 


How Can You Build Your Following?


While sellers with large followings on social media do grow faster on Whatnot, it’s certainly not required. In fact, the best way to increase your Whatnot following is to be active in the community. Attend as many live shows as you can. Be friendly and helpful in the chat during shows, and people will naturally start to follow you. 


How Do You  Advertise Your Show?


Set up your Whatnot show in advance, so people have time to bookmark it! Some buyers will allow audience members to promote their shows in chat (please wait for permission to do so). You can also promote your show using social media such as Instagram and using the “story” feature in Whatnot. 


Can You Really Make Money On Whatnot?


It can be difficult to understand why some sellers might want to sell using a live auction-style when they can post the item on a traditional reseller platform such as Poshmark and ask for their desired price. The answer is that Whatnot works best for high-volume sellers. If you have access to lots of cheap inventory, then Whatnot can make you a lot of money using the “fast flip” business model. A fast flip means buying very low-cost-of-goods items and then selling them as quickly as possible, even if that means not waiting for top dollar on the items. Also, some items, due to their rarity or uniqueness, can actually end up selling for much more on Whatnot as buyers get into a “frenzied” state when they start bidding against each other to “win” the item. 


Does Whatnot Offer Referal Payments Or Bonuses? 


Whatnot offers everyone with an account a referral link to share. If someone signs up for a Whatnot account using your link, they get a $10 credit to shop with. When they make their first purchase, you will also get a $10 credit as a thank you for referring Whatnot a new member. 


Whatnot also has a special incentive for sellers. Once you are an approved seller on Whatnot, you can refer other great sellers. If they are accepted and host their first sale, you will get a $200 bonus for helping Whatnot grow its network of excellent sellers. You are not encouraged to give this link out freely; you should only provide it to people you feel will do well on the platform. 


How Can I Use Vendoo To Help Organize My Whatnot Sales?


At this time, you cannot crosslist your inventory directly from Vendoo to Whatnot. However, Vendoo still has many great tools you can use to track your inventory. 


  • You can create custom labels for inventory you sourced on Whatnot, and for items you are loading to your inventory for the express purpose of selling them on Whatnot. This will help you keep organized. 


  • When an item sells, you can enter it into your Vendoo inventory as a draft and then mark that draft as “sold.” Click on the “edit” button to enter Whatnot as the marketplace you sold on. This will help you track your analytics and show you just how much you are selling on Whatnot. 


My Personal Review Of Whatnot As An Established Reseller:


As a reseller for close to five years, I am always interested in new developments within the reselling community. Live sales were already becoming popular on Instagram, but Whatnot brings many more tools to the table to help you hold fun live sales very smoothly. Live auctions are also growing in popularity as other established platforms are gearing up to enter the race, such as eBay and Etsy. 


The first thing I noticed about the Whatnot community was how welcoming they are; the reseller categories are especially friendly. It helped encourage me to go from a buyer to a seller in just a few weeks. I applied and was accepted in just a few days, although the wait time does vary, and some people have waited several weeks or months to get accepted. 


I found the process of loading items and running actions to be very intuitive, and I was able to figure out all the tools without much help. Watching other sellers will also help give you ideas on how to run your own auctions. The shipping process was also relatively easy as they send you a packing slip and label for each sale. You can use the Whatnot dashboard to keep track of when sales are delivered to buyers and when you have been paid for each sale. 


I was able to sell double the amount of inventory within one week that I usually sell in a whole month across all the reseller platforms I am on combined. While my average sales price did go down by a few dollars, my volume more than doubled. I’m excited to keep going with Whatnot and see what the future holds. 

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