If you’re starting a resale business, one of the most important considerations is inventory sourcing. Ideally, you want to find products that you can acquire cheaply, turn around quickly, and ship easily. Of course, this is easier said than done.
To get the most out of a reselling business, you’ll need to do a lot of research before even getting started. Sure, you could just buy whatever you can find that’s cheap, but that’s a great way to get stuck with a huge amount of inventory that doesn’t move. Here are our tips for finding the best resale inventory for your business.
The first thing to think about is where you’re going to be selling your merchandise. If you have a local market in mind, understand your area and what type of products are likely to sell well. A business focusing on surfboards in Nashville, snow boots in Los Angeles, or knit scarves in Miami is probably a non-starter. You’ll also need to understand any local laws or regulations that might apply to your business.
If you’re selling online, things are a little different. You’ll want to ensure you source inventory that will ship easily and travel well. Large items like furniture are extremely expensive to ship across the country. Meanwhile, products that are susceptible to heat damage may not do well in a delivery truck in the heat of the summer.
Also, different products do well on different online marketplaces. Think about the types of products you go to a specific website to buy. Yes, Amazon carries just about everything, but there are some products that sell more quickly there than others. And while you can technically sell almost anything you like on eBay, again, there are specific products that people go there to buy and others that most shoppers would never even think to search for.
The truth is, you’re going to spend a lot of time thinking about and researching your product line. You’re going to need to answer customer questions and thoroughly understand each item you sell. You’ll also need to follow the trends in that industry to know which specific items are likely to sell well next season and which are yesterday’s news. Just because someone told you that some specific type of product is a great seller, doesn’t mean those products are your forte. Instead, choose items that pique your interest, products that you’re passionate about.
Once you’ve decided on a type of product and a marketplace, you need to find items that you can purchase at a good discount. This allows you to mark them up enough to make money, while still keeping your selling price in a reasonable range. There are a number of places resellers find good deals, depending on the type of product they’re sourcing and how they intend to run their resale business. Here are a few.
Secondhand stores are often a great place to find amazing deals. We’ve all seen the news stories about that person who purchased some original work of art or historical artifact worth millions from the local Goodwill. These finds are few and far between, but if you know what to look for, you can find good deals at thrift stores and garage sales. Other places to look include estate sales, flea markets, and rummage sales.
The big downside to this approach is that it takes a lot of time to find those diamonds in the rough. You can spend all day driving around to various thrift stores and still have little to show for it. This means you’re not going to be able to scale your business well if you rely on an inventory sourcing method with so much required footwork.
If the online business world is more your thing, there are plenty of places to purchase merchandise on the web. Online selling marketplaces like Craigslist, NextDoor, and Facebook Marketplace are all full of people trying to get rid of good quality items for next to nothing. These websites are much faster to browse than driving all over town, but they still don’t allow for a great deal of scalability in your business.
If you want to scale up your business, you’re going to need to purchase a large number of products at a time. If you’ve ever seen the tv show, Storage Wars, you’re probably familiar with the idea of storage unit auctions. When someone fails to pay for their storage unit for a period of time, the storage company may decide to auction off the entire unit full of stuff, all in one go. You can find all sorts of treasures this way, and if you buy storage units that are mostly full, you’ll likely get a lot of product in one quick purchase.
The problem here is that you can’t really predict what you’re going to find inside once the unit is yours. Yes, you may see a few items from outside that look promising, but many people have purchased storage units only to find that all the junk inside is truly just junk. Still, if you’re comfortable with a bit of a gamble, this can be a fun way to stock up on resellable merchandise quickly.
Another way to get a large number of products quickly is to source inventory through wholesale marketplaces like Alibaba. Wholesale orders are designed for resellers to buy new merchandise in bulk. You’ll have to place large orders of dozens or even hundreds of products at a time, and in return you’ll get good discounts on the items you buy.
The downside here is that if you pick a product that turns out to not sell well, you’re going to be stuck with a whole lot of them. For this reason, you’re going to want to do extra research into whatever you choose to buy, making sure that you have found a product that will actually move.
Finally, if you want to buy a good quantity of merchandise but don’t necessarily want an entire pallet of a single product, liquidation auction sites are a great option. When stores have excess inventory that needs to be cleared out to make room for the next season, they often sell this overstock in online liquidation auctions. Resellers who purchase these lots can get steep discounts on new or like-new products from big brand names. Some auction lots will be all of the same category, such as a pallet of dresses or a truckload of pet products. Other lots will be mixed with all sorts of goods included in the same lot. Be sure to read all of the manifest details about a given lot before bidding on it.
The downside here is that you might need to arrange for shipping on your own, and you may have to have a warehouse space to receive and unload your products. Be sure to evaluate auction lots carefully as some may contain broken or salvaged products — however, there’s a market for that too!. But for the reseller who wants to scale their business quickly, you can’t beat large liquidation auctions from trusted brand names.
Whether you choose to source your inventory from online auction sites like B-Stock or somewhere else, there is likely to be a bit of a learning curve when you first start out. Remember, reselling is a business, and it should be approached as such. Do your research on every purchase you make and you’ll be setting yourself up for a successful and lucrative career as a reseller.