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How running a business on Depop can sharpen your commercial awareness

updated on 24 August 2021

Running a business can be demanding but have you ever wondered how it can improve your commercial awareness?

Whether you’re a trendsetter or just someone who loves fashion, you’ve probably heard of Depop – a social marketplace where 10 million people come to buy, sell and discover unique items. Using Depop to run a business is a great way for aspiring lawyers to unlock their commercial awareness. According to Airnow, the platform had more than two million active users (under 26-year-olds) in May 2020. Running a business on Depop can offer more than just an extra way to earn some money, you can also develop your knowledge and skills in:

  • financial management;
  • marketing and customer service;
  • communication;
  • time management; and
  • problem-solving.

In this article, we consider how selling on Depop could sharpen your commercial awareness.

Commercial awareness

Having an understanding of business and commerce is an essential skill for aspiring lawyers. According to recruiters, many candidates apply for training contracts but do not know how businesses work or operate. As a business owner on Depop, you will learn to understand your business’s aims (eg, to make money and grow your following), you will become aware of your major competitors on the platform and you’ll understand the commercial priorities of an online business. As part of this process, you will typically visit your competitors’ pages, and track your past sales as well as rising trends on social media to find out the most popular celebrity inspired styles or colours to help you maximise profits during peak times. Keeping up to date with developments in the industry is a fantastic way to develop commercial awareness. Recruiters will be impressed if you can:

  • demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit;
  • ensure compliance with consumer law;
  • cultivate an understanding of the e-commerce marketplace; and
  • implement business strategies to increase sales.

You must know the law

Commercial awareness involves knowing the law, the current deals, transactions and issues in the business world that might affect a client. Lawyers must have a concrete understanding of the business environment and how business is conducted. There’s no denying that consumers have important rights, so as a trader it’s important to understand what those are. This means becoming familiar with the Consumer Rights Act 2015 because it defines the contract between you and a consumer. The act is divided into three categories:

  • Sale of Goods Act – as a business owner you must ensure the goods you supply are of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose or match the description or image you have provided. This means disclosing any wear or tear, being honest and transparent before the customer buys the item. Similarly, a good lawyer discloses important information to their clients and doesn’t leave them in the dark. A seller who is unaware of this clause may suddenly find themselves with lots of complaints from customers demanding a refund.
  • Unfair contract terms – as a supplier, you must never enforce terms or notices to avoid your responsibility for death, injury, faulty goods and goods that aren’t as described or selling goods that aren’t for resale. You must be fair, transparent and always act in good faith – similarly, a good solicitor must follow the seven principles of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) to the letter of the law.
  • Miscellaneous and general provisions – this covers the portions of the contracts that include a choice of law, jurisdictional standing, merger and the damages of clauses. The impact of these clauses can be felt years after the contract execution because they control the remedy for breach of contract. A seller who ensures they have read these provisions displays meticulous attention to detail – a skill that is needed to perform a PESTLE analysis to decipher the political, economic, social, technological, legal and environmental factors of a news story.

Quality customer service

Commercial awareness stems from understanding how a business makes its choices. To uncover this, you must first understand the needs and concerns of the business’s customers, which tend to ebb and flow. As a seller, by responding to comments and direct messages you are constantly exercising your communication skills, including listening, questioning, and verifying and explaining (in layman terms) to ensure the customer receives and is pleased with your level of service. Good communication can lead to a bespoke service tailored to each customer that can influence your next business strategy and lead to increased revenue. For example, you might discover that a customer doesn’t mind waiting longer for a delivery and paying a bit more because the item is handmade or vintage. A sustainable customer does not mind paying pricey postage and packaging because you will be using eco-friendly packaging. Understanding what the clients want from a business or how to increase your retention rates, is a huge part of commercial awareness.


A good seller has in-depth knowledge of how the rise and fall in fashion trends can affect their online business or the e-commerce sector. Recent trends show that online customers have become conscious of sustainability, distancing themselves from the likes of Pretty Little Thing and Boohoo and are now willing to purchase items produced in a fair and ethical way. Recent research indicated that 57% of consumers are willing to change their purchasing habits to help reduce the negative environmental impact and 71% are willing to pay a premium for brands that provide it. If you’ve been keeping up with LawCareers.Net’s commercial news round-ups you will know there’s been a sharp rise in sustainable fashion and cruelty-free brands in the digital world following the pandemic.

As a seller, you should rethink whether to continue to sell fast fashion items or change your packaging; not every product you ship out must be wrapped in a series of printed paper and then put in a box, only the delicate items do. Perhaps consider using recycled cardboard, biodegradable or compostable for packaging. Your eco-friendly decisions will help you to build a strong reputation and earn you repeat orders, loyal customers and social media promotion. With this experience, it’s easy to see why there’s been a rise in law firms engaging with the Environmental, Social and Governance movement and making a conscious effort to go green.

Creativity and strategic thinking

As a seller, you must be innovative because your job requires seeking different ways of doing things. Your creativity will be displayed in problem-solving, how you take photos to market items in an aesthetic way, the words you use to describe your items, the choice of hashtags and their unique selling points and, how you package your orders. Some sellers include their business cards in each package while others include a discount code for the customer’s next order. As a lawyer, being creative in providing practical solutions to issues is an important skill in helping your client succeed.

Another key skill that sharpens your commercial awareness is strategic thinking; this involves making a series of decisions about what actions a business intends to take to become more successful. As a seller, this might involve increasing your prices at the height of the pandemic due to the closure of retail stores or prioritising items that are in high demand, such as sustainable clothing or comfortable loungewear items – everyone’s favourite work from home uniform! Strategic thinking as a seller could also include creating bundle deals to encourage more spending or offering a discount to regular customers.

Other ways to gain commercial awareness

Commercial awareness is not accessible only to Depop sellers – for example, you may have already developed this skill in your personal life or as a treasurer of your university law society. If you have a part-time job, you will have had experience providing customer service, which could have led to repeat custom and therefore a commercial gain. Think about what you have learned about the company – be it its customers, competitors, the broader environment in which it operates or where it is located. If you enjoy reading, why not take out a subscription with the Economist or New Statesman and keep an eye on the markets to get a general idea of whether stocks and shares are rising or falling. If you are unsure where to begin, the LawCareers.Net Commercial Awareness Hub is an excellent starting point. You’ll be oozing commercial awareness in no time!

Christianah Babajide (she/her) is the content & engagement coordinator at LawCareers.Net.