The smartest thing you can do as a beginning seller on eBay or Amazon is to start off small and work your way up as you learn. Begin with things laying around your home and then build up the volume of your inventory and momentum. Remember to keep an open mind and think outside of the box. Otherwise, you may miss out on some opportunities. Here are some ideas of where you can source products once you’ve found your niche and you’re ready to step it up a notch or two:
- Auctions (storage auctions, auctions houses, internet auctions): There are several auctions occurring in your local area. They may be advertised in the city newspapers or in business newspapers. Sometimes, you can discover scheduled auctions by visiting the websites of the local auction houses and joining their e-mail list. Commercial storage facilities conduct auctions on the contents of storage units, when tenants become delinquent on rent. Call up storage facilities to gather more information about scheduled auctions.
- Estate sales– A family or organization may conduct an estate sale in order to clear away the belongings and property of someone who is deceased. The sales usually occur right at the home of the deceased person. All sorts of stuff is up for grabs at these sales from artwork and collectibles to clothing.
- Liquidations sales/ closeouts– Companies that are going out of business will have massive sales where they get rid of their inventory at cost or very close to it. Some companies will have sales throughout the year on merchandise that is out of season or stuff that’s not selling quick enough for them to continue storing. It costs money to store things that aren’t bringing in revenue.
- Thrift shops– Most people call this “thrifting”. The process is just like the name implies. You shop at second-hand stores, like Goodwill for items that you can buy cheap and resell. This is a really good way to find used books that will quickly sell on Amazon. It’s also a great place to find vintage clothing, housewares, collectible items and new items, still in the original packaging.
- Craigslist and other classified ads- Check through the ads listed by people wanting to sell stuff at low prices. A lot of these people are really desperate for cash or they are planning to move, so they are in a rush to unload stuff. Once in a while you might stumble upon people who want to give things away for free, also. There are people who make a great living purchasing broken appliances and electronics, fixing them and then flipping them for a profit.
- Retail arbitrage– Buying deeply discounted at retail stores like Walmart, Target, or Big Lots and then flipping them on eBay and Amazon. The trick is to buy as low as possible and later sell at higher prices. There are a few mobile apps, like Profit Bandit that make the process of scouting for merchandise easier. Using price checker apps help you make the decision whether it’s worth it to by an item to make a profit.
- Garage sales – You can find these by searching for upcoming sales online via Craigslist, apps or the local newspaper. There are also a few groups of people on Facebook who advertise sales. The people holding garage sales will usually accept reasonable offers from buyers who haggle and bargain. Try to arrive early to get first dibs on the good stuff. Bring plenty of change.
- Flea markets and church sales– These are basically the same as garage sales, only the venues are different. Like garage sales, there are opportunities to find high-quality goods. Some people who hold these sales aren’t aware of the true value of what they are selling. Others just want to get rid of clutter and free up space and will practically give stuff away.
- Book sales– There are a lot of good deals to be had on obscure books at “Friends of the Library” type book sales. It will take some experience and the help of an app like Profit Bandit to uncover the books that are worth buying.
- Wholesale sources– You need to have a business entity in order to purchase products from legit wholesale sources. This requires a lot of research to target the right market and find the right products. Alibaba is a very well-known wholesale directory resource of products which can be imported from Asia. But, be careful: scams exist everywhere. Including, at reputable websites. There’s no need to waste your money on wholesale directories like World Wide Brands.
- Drop shipping– These are manufacturers and wholesalers which will actually pack and ship the products out to the retailer’s customers. The major advantage is that the retailer doesn’t need to worry about storing any of the inventory. I personally do not recommend it as way to source products. There are many scams and companies that pose as drop shippers but are merely middle-men that charge expensive membership fees for their services. A seller can run into some serious problems when a manufacturer or wholesaler runs out of a product and puts it on back order. I mention drop shipping here because it still continues to be a popular method of sourcing products, within reselling circles.
- Product creation/Private label products– It requires a large sum investment of money and time upfront, developing your own brand and working directly with manufacturers. It can be beneficial because you can have the same product created in bulk and can make sales of the same product in volume. This can be risky if you don’t do proper research and don’t know what the hell you are doing. The last thing that any seller wants, is to accumulate thousands of dollar worth of inventory that doesn’t sell. Private label creation should be left to experienced resellers, with lots of capital to risk.
- eBay– Yes, you’ve read this correctly. You can find sellers offering merchandise at wholesale on eBay. There are also sellers who auction merchandise there in lots at very cheap rates. These items can be resold on Amazon or eBay, provided that they are in demand and purchased at a low enough price.
© Copyright 2014 Susan Broadbelt