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Consignment is a business arrangement where a business, also known as a consignor, provides goods to a second party, known as a consignee, to sell on their behalf. However, the consignor still retains ownership of the goods until they are sold. The consignee pays the consignor their share of the proceeds from the sale only after the goods have been sold.


The phonetic pronunciation of the word “Consignment” is: /kənˈsaɪnmənt/

Key Takeaways

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  1. Consignment is a business arrangement which allows the consignor to ship goods to the consignee, who will sell the products. The consignor retains legal ownership of the goods until they have been sold.
  2. Consignment offers a way for businesses to introduce new product lines without taking big financial risks. The consignee benefits since they only pay for what they sell, reducing inventory costs and risks of unsold goods.
  3. The relationship between the consignor and consignee should be documented in a consignment agreement to prevent misunderstandings. This ensures both parties understand their obligations including product condition, pricing, insurance, and payment information among others.



Consignment is an important term in business and finance because it designates a unique commercial arrangement, providing benefits for both the consignor and consignee. This process involves the shipping or delivering of goods by a consignor (typically a producer or wholesaler) to a consignee (usually a retailer), who pays for the goods only after they are sold. It reduces the financial risk for the consignee and helps the consignor extend their market reach without typical distribution costs. The consignment model also allows consignees to carry more diverse inventory without the burden of upfront costs. Thus, it plays a fundamental role in optimizing inventory management, cash flow, and profitability for businesses.


The purpose of consignment in business and finance is to facilitate a more collaborative sales relationship between suppliers or manufacturers and retailers. Consignment is essentially a business model where a retailer agrees to sell products on behalf of a supplier, but the catch is that the retailer does not need to pay for the goods until they are sold to the end customers. This arrangement mitigates inventory risks for the retailer, thereby encouraging them to stock and promote more of the supplier’s goods. It’s mainly used when the retailer doesn’t have enough capital or is unwilling to take on the risk of buying their inventory upfront.Consignment also allows suppliers to tap into the retailers’ customer base and store presence to boost sales. It offers suppliers a greater control over the retail environments in which their goods are sold and how these goods are marketed and presented. This method is commonly used in retail sectors such as books, art, specialty goods, second-hand items, and in industries with seasonal or fashionable items. For instance, a clothes designer might consign their products to a small boutique or a local author may consign their books to an independent bookstore. The main advantage for the consignor (supplier) is the potential for wider distribution and hence, increased sales.


1. Clothing and Apparel Shops: One of the most common examples of consignment practices can be seen in clothing and apparel industry. Many boutique and thrift stores, such as Buffalo Exchange or Plato’s Closet, operate on a consignment model. These stores accept clothes from individuals, usually higher-end or designer items, and agree to pay the individual a percentage of the selling price once the item is sold.2. Art Galleries: Artwork often operates on a consignment model. Artists will allow galleries to display and sell their artwork, and when a piece is sold, both the artist and the gallery receive a pre-agreed upon percentage of the sales price. The artist retains ownership of the artwork until it’s sold.3. Used Automobile Sale: Many used automobile dealerships also operate on a consignment model. When a person wants to sell their used car, they may take it to a dealership, who will then handle the selling process. Once the car is sold, the owner of the car and the dealership split the proceeds according to their mutually agreed upon contract. The owner of the car retains ownership until the car is sold.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Consignment?

Consignment is a business arrangement where a business, also known as a consignor, provides goods to a third party, usually a retailer, to sell. The retailer is known as the consignee. The consignor still owns the goods until they are sold.

When is payment made in a consignment agreement?

Payment is only made to the consignor when the goods are sold. If the goods don’t sell, they are typically returned to the consignor.

What are the advantages of the consignment for the consignor?

The major advantage for consignors is they can place their products in retail locations where they will be seen by potential buyers, without any upfront costs. They only pay when their goods sell.

What’s the benefit for the consignee in a consignment agreement?

Consignees get to carry inventory without any upfront costs. They only pay for these goods if and when they sell, helping to reduce risk and upfront expenditure.

How are the profits split in a consignment?

Profit splits in a consignment deal are negotiated on a case by case basis. The consignor and consignee will agree on a split, which is often a percentage of the sale price.

How does consignment impact the inventory count of a business?

Goods on consignment should still be included in the consignor’s inventory even when they are out for sale at the consignee’s location since the consignor retains ownership until the goods are sold.

What kind of businesses typically use consignment?

A variety of businesses use consignment, but it is commonly seen in retail businesses, art galleries, online marketplaces, and second-hand shops.

How does a consignment agreement legally work?

A legal agreement or contract is typically drawn up that establishes the terms of the consignment agreement. This includes details on payment, how unsold goods are handled, responsibilities for lost or damaged inventory, and more. It’s important to consult with a legal professional to ensure the agreement is sound.

Related Finance Terms

  • Consignor: An individual or business that sends goods to a consignee in a consignment agreement.
  • Consignee:The party that receives the goods and sells them on behalf of the consignor.
  • Inventory Risk: The potential loss associated with unsold inventory in a consignment agreement.
  • Consignment Stock: The goods that are sent by the consignor to the consignee, to be sold on their behalf.
  • Consignment Agreement: A contract between a consignor and consignee, stipulating terms and conditions of consignment sale.

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