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Consignment vs. Sale: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on November 8, 2023
Consignment is sending goods to be sold by another party, retaining ownership until sale; Sale is the act of exchanging goods/services for money.

Key Differences

Consignment involves a process where goods are transferred from the owner (consignor) to another party (consignee) for the purpose of selling. However, the ownership of the goods remains with the consignor until the goods are sold. On the other hand, in a Sale, ownership of the product is transferred immediately upon the transaction, and the seller has no further claim to the product.
Consignment does not guarantee an immediate financial return for the consignor as payment is typically received only after the consignee sells the product to a third party. In contrast, a Sale typically ensures instant payment, or payment is scheduled based on agreed terms between the buyer and seller.
When goods are on Consignment, the risk associated with the unsold goods generally remains with the consignor. In a Sale, once the transaction is complete, the buyer assumes all risks associated with the product.
Consignment is beneficial for retailers who want to stock products without committing capital upfront, paying only for what gets sold. A Sale, however, involves a straightforward purchase, where the buyer owns the product after the transaction.
Businesses use Consignment to introduce new products into the market or to sell items that have a niche demand. Sale transactions are more straightforward and are the most common method of business transactions in the market.

Comparison Chart


Remains with consignor until sold
Transferred immediately


After the product is sold by consignee
At the time of transaction


Lies with the consignor for unsold goods
Lies with the buyer


Stock products without upfront payment
Straightforward purchase

Common Usage

Introduce new products or niche items
Regular business transactions

Consignment and Sale Definitions


Goods or property sent to an agent for sale, storage, or shipment.
The shop had a variety of products from local artisans on consignment.


An act of exchanging something for money.
The sale of antique jewelry fetched a hefty sum.


An arrangement where goods are left in the possession of another party to sell.
The artist placed her paintings on consignment at the local gallery.


The activity or business of selling products.
The company reported an increase in sales last quarter.


The act of consigning or sending property to an agent or correspondent in another place.
The boutique accepted the designer's dresses on consignment.


The exchange of a commodity for money or service in return for money.
The sale of the house was completed in two weeks.


A batch of goods destined for or delivered to someone.
The latest consignment of clothing arrived at the store today.


A public event at which goods are sold directly to customers.
The charity organized a bake sale.


The act of consigning.


The exchange of goods or services for an amount of money or its equivalent; the act of selling
The sale of such a nice house should be easy.


Something consigned.


A selling of property to the highest bidder; an auction.


A collection of goods to be sent, in transit or having been sent.


An offer or arrangement in which goods are sold at a discount
The store has a sale on winter coats.


The act of consigning.


The business or activity of selling goods or services
She works in sales.


The sale of one's own goods (clothing, furniture, etc.) through a third-party vendor, in exchange for a portion of the sale price, and with the consigner retaining ownership of the goods until they are sold or abandoned.


The number of items sold or the amount of money received for a number of items sold
Sales are better than expected.


The act of consigning; consignation.


An exchange of goods or services for currency or credit.
He celebrated after the sale of company.


The act of consigning or sending property to an agent or correspondent in another place, as for care, sale, etc.


Short for discount sale The sale of goods at reduced prices.
They are having a clearance sale: 50% off.


That which is consigned; the goods or commodities sent or addressed to a consignee at one time or by one conveyance.
To increase your consignments of this valuable branch of national commerce.


The act of putting up for auction to the highest bidder.


The writing by which anything is consigned.


(obsolete) A hall.


Goods carried by a large vehicle


See 1st Sallow.


The official act of consigning a person to confinement (as in a prison or mental hospital)


The act of selling; the transfer of property, or a contract to transfer the ownership of property, from one person to another for a valuable consideration, or for a price in money.


The delivery of goods for sale or disposal


Opportunity of selling; demand; market.
They shall have ready sale for them.


The written agreement between the sender and the agent regarding goods for sale.
Before displaying the products, both parties signed a consignment agreement.


Public disposal to the highest bidder, or exposure of goods in market; auction.


The general activity of selling;
They tried to boost sales
Laws limit the sale of handguns


A particular instance of selling;
He has just made his first sale
They had to complete the sale before the banks closed


The state of being purchasable; offered or exhibited for selling;
You'll find vitamin C for sale at most pharmacies
The new line of cars will soon be on sale


An occasion (usually brief) for buying at specially reduced prices;
They held a sale to reduce their inventory
I got some great bargains at their annual sale


An agreement (or contract) in which property is transferred from the seller (vendor) to the buyer (vendee) for a fixed price in money (paid or agreed to be paid by the buyer);
The salesman faxed the sales agreement to his home office


A discounted price of goods or services for a period.
The store announced a flash sale on winter clothing.


Who bears the risk for unsold goods in Consignment?

The consignor bears the risk for unsold goods in Consignment.

What is a flash Sale?

A flash Sale is a short-term discount or promotion on products.

When is payment usually received in a Sale?

Payment is usually received at the time of the transaction in a Sale.

Is Consignment more common than Sale in retail?

No, Sale transactions are more common, but Consignment is used for specific purposes.

Is the payment process different between Consignment and Sale?

Yes, in Consignment, payment is made after the product sells, while in Sale, it's typically at the time of transaction.

Are return policies the same for Consignment and Sale?

Not necessarily. Return policies are set by individual agreements or store policies.

Can a retailer return unsold goods in Consignment?

Yes, in Consignment, unsold goods can typically be returned to the consignor.

Which method ensures immediate payment, Consignment or Sale?

Sale typically ensures immediate payment.

Do consignees earn a commission in Consignment?

Yes, consignees often earn a commission for each item sold in Consignment.

What's the primary difference between Consignment and Sale?

Consignment retains the product's ownership with the consignor until sold, while Sale transfers ownership immediately.

Who owns the goods during a Consignment?

The consignor retains ownership until the goods are sold.

Which method is riskier for the seller, Consignment or Sale?

Consignment can be riskier for the consignor if the goods don't sell.

Who is responsible for damaged goods in Consignment?

Typically, the consignor bears the risk unless otherwise agreed upon.

Why might a business choose Consignment over a straightforward Sale?

Businesses might use Consignment to introduce new products or sell niche items without upfront capital commitment.

What indicates ownership transfer in a Sale?

A bill of sale or receipt usually indicates ownership transfer.

Can a Sale be reversed?

Depending on the terms, a Sale can be reversed if both parties agree, often in the form of returns.

Can a product be both on Consignment and on Sale?

Yes, a consigned product can be offered at a discounted price, combining both concepts.

Are there legal contracts involved in Consignment?

Yes, consignment agreements are often used to detail terms between the consignor and consignee.

How is revenue recognized in Consignment?

Revenue is recognized for the consignor only when the product is sold.

How do businesses benefit from Sale events?

Sale events can boost revenue, clear out inventory, and attract customers.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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