The Ultimate Playbook

If you’re interested in buying customer-returned, excess, and liquidation inventory but don’t know where to start, you’ve come to the right place! In this handy guide, How to Buy Liquidation Merchandise — The Ultimate Playbook we’re breaking down the basics of buying liquidation merchandise from stores and retailers including:

  • The benefits of buying liquidation
  • How to find liquidation inventory
  • The benefits of online liquidation auctions 
  • How to become a liquidation buyer
  • Best practices for buying liquidation 

Why buy liquidation merchandise?

Consider this: $400 billion dollars worth of inventory comes back to retailers each year. Much of this merchandise is fully-functional and like new, but returned for reasons like the wrong size, buyer’s remorse, or it didn’t meet customer expectations. Once returned, most of the merchandise cannot go back on primary store shelves. So what happens to it? Much of it moves into the secondary market for liquidation — giving business buyers a huge opportunity to get great inventory at a deep discount.

How do I access liquidation inventory?

Historically, accessing liquidated merchandise directly from a big retailer or manufacturer was pretty tough to do. It was typically only available to a few large liquidators who would buy it up from retailers, then break down the inventory into smaller lots to sell (with a markup!) to small resellers, other liquidators, and wholesalers. In this process, liquidated inventory would go through many middlemen, many markups, and inventory would be cherry-picked before getting to you. 

Fortunately, the liquidation landscape has changed. Now, small business buyers can purchase merchandise directly from top retailers. This means no cherry picking, no middleman, no markups. So, what’s changed? Enter the world of online liquidation auctions. 

Online liquidation auction sites

Online auction sites are similar to traditional live auctions but without rows of people and bidding paddles. Major retailers like Target, The Home Depot, Walmart, Amazon and more, use online liquidation auction platforms to get their excess, liquidation, and overstock inventory directly into the hands of business buyers. Gone are the days of backdoor business deals with less-than-reputable liquidators, buyers can now buy liquidation pallets and surplus inventory directly from retailers on a transparent platform. This makes it easy to buy liquidation from retailers.

Buying liquidation on B-Stock

This is where B-Stock comes in. We are the world’s largest online marketplace for customer returned, excess and liquidation inventory. Nine of the top 10 U.S. retailers use our online auction platform to sell their products into the secondary market. While B-Stock helps facilitate the transaction, we don’t buy, handle, or transport the merchandise; instead, we connect you directly to the retailer. There is no middleman involved and because it’s an online auction environment, there are no price markups. 

Who buys liquidation merchandise?

Resellers, businesses looking to expand their inventory, and registered business buyers purchase liquidation merchandise. On our B-Stock platform, we have hundreds of thousands of registered buyers, spanning 130 countries across the globe who purchase liquidated merchandise daily. Our retailers’ liquidation marketplaces accommodate our different buyer’s sourcing demands across all sizes, conditions, and categories. So whether it’s apparel, consumer electronics, grocery, or mixed lots, B-Stock fills the shelves (both virtual and physical) and the demands of our buyers. 

How do I become a B-Stock buyer? 

We’re glad you asked! Before you can begin, buyers on B-Stock must be a registered business with a resale certificate. After that, you can choose from 65+ marketplaces you’d like to register. 

How to apply to buy liquidation from retailers:

We suggest scoping out all of our marketplaces and deciding which ones fit your inventory needs

Each marketplace requires a separate application as each retailer has its own approval process.

To buy liquidation merchandise from retailers, you’ll need to apply separately to each marketplace you’re interested in since each retailer has its own approval criteria. The good news is that it’s pretty painless; plus, you’ll find out if you’ve been approved within one business day. More good news? There’s no cost to apply to any of our marketplaces. Watch our ‘How to Register’ video now!

Find and source inventory:

B-Stock Sourcing is your one-stop shop for bidding on bulk lots of inventory across all product categories, quantities, and conditions. You’ll find 1500 auctions open for bidding around the clock with the ability to search by category, marketplace, or region. With B-Stock, you will have access to a dependable, steady stream of inventory to keep your customers happy.               

Start bidding:

Once you are approved to purchase on a particular marketplace (or many!) you can log in and begin bidding! Please note: B-Stock considers all bids to be binding legal contracts so please bid carefully. To learn more about how the online bidding process works, read our article Buying Basics: Online Bidding for Beginners.

Best Practices for Buying Liquidation Merchandise

Before you place your first bid, let’s talk strategy. Here are four pro-tips we’d like to share with you before you begin your buying journey. 

#1 Read the manifest

This recommendation takes the top spot for a reason. The most important tip we can stress to buyers is understand what is in the lot you are bidding on. 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! Pay attention to the details like brands, size range, quantity, condition of items, etc. 

#2 Know your condition codes

Merchandise in the secondary market ranges from brand new in the box to salvage — and is usually sold “as is.” And since retailers usually categorize their conditions a little differently, you must read all the auction details to familiarize yourself with each condition type and its definition. No two retailers are alike!

#3 Factor in shipping costs

Always add in shipping costs to your buying budget to maximize your potential profitability. To reduce shipping costs you can look for inventory with distribution centers closer to your shipping location. Additionally, look for sellers that allow you to arrange your own shipping (“Buyer Arranges”), provide discounted rates for regional shipping, or offer consolidated shipping. If you’re purchasing from a distant location, look for sellers who offer negotiated rates with major carriers. 

#4 Think, quantity

While you can get a lower cost per item with larger lots, don’t buy more than you can sell. As a reseller, research what your competition is selling and how much demand exists for certain products. Bid and buy accordingly!

Best Practices for Shipping Your Purchased Liquidated Products

So you win your first auction lot and can’t wait to receive your first shipment, but how do you make sure it arrives safe and sound? Whether it’s a single case pack of mobile phones, a few pallets of liquidation inventory or a full truckload, depending on which marketplace you bought the merchandise from, the shipping styles will vary. Here are some of the different shipping terms and options you’ll find on our platform when it comes to receiving inventory: 

Shipping Terms

  • buyer arranged shipping
  • seller arranged shipping
  • free shipping
  • fixed shipping
  • binding shipping

Remember, because each retailer has its own shipping practices and policies it’s important to read individual auction details carefully! Because B-Stock does not house or handle any of the merchandise, we do not manage or organize shipping. We do, however, aim to make it as easy and streamlined as possible for our buyers by working with trusted logistic partners. Learn how shipping works on B-Stock by reading Buying Basics: Auction Lot Shipping Methods

Ready to Buy Liquidation Merchandise?

If you’re ready to start buying liquidation merchandise on B-Stock to grow your small business– let’s get started! Visit our marketplaces site to choose which ones you’re interested in and begin the registration process. 

Get Started

Editorial Team


B-Stock Editorial Team

Amberly Bliss, Owner

Amberly Bliss, Owner

Retail Deals

"I feel so confident shopping and bidding on items knowing that I am going to get what I paid for. And if not, there’s a killer customer service team that’s going to make sure everything’s alright in the end. That’s huge. It’s hard to take that risk when you’re first starting out."

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