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When it comes to buying bulk lots on B-Stock, you will quickly want to make friends with auction manifests. A manifest is a document that comes along with each lot detailing the inventory included. Because you can’t physically touch or view the retailer’s inventory before you buy, the detailed manifest essentially brings the store to you. It is incredibly important to read the manifest before you place a bid– so you know what you’re potentially buying! Let’s take a closer look at manifests and break down what you need to know.
The first thing to know is that no two manifests look the same. Each retailer has a little different way of doing it, so you’ll find that manifests vary from marketplace to marketplace.
B-Stock offers two ways to view manifests. The first way is to download the full manifest and view it in a spreadsheet format. This allows you the freedom to customize the view, make notes, track inventory, add calculations, document profits, etc.
The second way is to view what we call an ‘interactive manifest’. This view provides ‘grouping tabs’ that easily summarize the contents of the lot for you.
Here you can see grouping tabs like brand, model, category, sub-category, and color. Depending on which category (consumer electronics, apparel, appliances, etc.) the auction lot is in, the grouping tabs will vary. In this example, we are looking at an appliance manifest. Within this interactive view, you can continue to sort to suit your needs. For example, you can sort by total quantity, Ext. MSRP, Category, largest to smallest values, and more. You can completely customize your view even within each ‘grouping.’
The ‘interactive manifest’ also includes a filter feature located in the upper right-hand corner.
This filter box is essentially a keyword search that allows you to filter and view things like description words (in this case gas models are filtered), unit types, specific brands, colors, etc.in the lot manifest.
While no two manifests are the same, there are several product details that can be commonly found on all manifests. This includes Quantity (QTY), Item Number/UPC/Model, Retail/MSRP, Extended Retail/Ext. MSRP, Item Description, and Category. Let’s take a moment to explain each:
Quantity (QTY): Represents the number of units per item included in the lot, and will ship upon auction completion.
Item Number or UPC: A UPC is a type of code printed on product packaging to help identify a particular item regardless of the retailer. Item numbers are used to uniquely identify items carried in inventory. They are used more on the retailer level as an internal way to track the item either in the store, online or in their warehouse.
Retail or MSRP: Retail refers to the total price charged for a product sold to a customer, which includes the manufacturer’s cost plus a retail markup. MSRP is the manufacturer’s suggested retail price; a price recommended for the sale of an item in all retail outlets.
Extended Retail (Ext. Retail) or Ext. MSRP: This is the value when the QTY of a particular item is multiplied by the retail price.
Item Description: This is a brief summary of the item with that UPC/Item Number/ Model included in the lot. Some retailers are better than others about providing a detailed description. We, at B-Stock, encourage the retailers to have a ‘more is better’ attitude regarding item descriptions.
Category or Department: This refers to the broad description of where you’d find this item in a store as a way to organize products, e.g., Sporting Goods, Outdoor Living, Kitchen, etc.
Manifests are a tool that allows buyers to make informed decisions on the current value of the lot. Smart buyers use the manifest to their advantage by doing proper research to calculate potential profits before placing a bid. How you may ask? Well, there are several ways to do manifest research.
First, you can look up the current market value (from other resellers) of an item vs. the retail or MSRP value listed on the manifest. Perhaps end-of-season sales or a newer version have caused the value of the item to be less than the retail value listed. Additionally, you must take into account the product’s listed condition, seasonality, and demand.
Second, you can use it to determine if you have buyer demand for the items listed. For example, if you know you have a buyer base for 70% of the items in the auction lot, you know you are risking a potential 30% loss. On a smaller scale, if the lot includes 20 size small leather jackets, for example, do you have a buyer base who will buy those items? The last thing you want is to not be able to sell 20 size small leather jackets and take a loss.
Third, you can use the Item Number or UPC to see if there are newer versions or models of the item that may be in higher demand. Just copy and paste UPC’s onto sites such as Google, eBay, etc. to pull additional product information and check the current industry pricing for that product and determine potential profitability. You don’t want to be left in the lurch with 15 obsolete models that no one wants.
Mistakes happen. And when it comes to manifests, they’re not excluded. Occasionally there are items listed in the manifest that don’t end up on the pallet when you receive it and vice versa. There are a few reasons why this could happen:
Every retailer does include a ‘margin of error’ percentage for their auction lots. You can find each marketplace’s error percentage in their Terms & Conditions.
Manifests are a buyer’s best friend. From helping you calculate your return on investment to determining if you can move most or all of the items in the auction lot, they are an important tool to use in the B-Stock buying process. Visit our Sourcing Network to check out all of the live auction listings and their manifests.