One of the biggest issues I see and hear from people as they begin this journey down Arbitrage Avenue is scanning. There are so many complaints and issues with it, but they all generally stem from the same issue.
“I can’t find any good items when I scan.”
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. There is no substitute for experience.
That being said, in addition to the simple experience of scanning, it is also vital to have some information at your disposal.
I cannot remember the first time I scanned, or the first item (is that supposed to be sentimental, like the first girl I——never mind). What I do remember though, is that before I ever scanned anything, I read. I devoured the following, in no particular order:
These were the main sources of my lessons on FBA. I read every blog on each site and both books in about 10 days. After that I’ve never looked back, although I still continue to absorb as much info as I can find, but I also “do” and not just learn.
I LOVE SCANNING.
I do not do it nearly as much as before, for time reasons primarily, but ultimately I enjoy it for the thrill of the chase, getting back to my roots, and, most importantly, because it makes me money.
Here are seven tips to help you find some success in scanning.
1. Look for the sale items
This should seem obvious.
Check endcaps. Check the front right when you walk in a store. Look for the buy 2, get one free. Look at items that are on sale and EXPECT a minor price drop if it is a repel style item, and just let it site for a few weeks while everyone else bought it and races to the bottom.
Pro tip: My most consistent sale items wins come in the pet department. I have no idea why, but when pet supplies have a sale its usually fantastic and its a very “unspoken” category.
2. Scan in sections
Nothing is more futile or wasteful than random scanning. Maybe you find a winner, but more than likely you leave frustrated and alone, like a Vegas call girl on Valentines Day.
But if you pick a section, and attack it ferociously and vigorously, you either find a few items now, or you don’t, but if you don’t you can simply skip it next time. If you are random, you may repeat scan things because you forgot if you did this 4 trips ago.
Example : scan all the peanut butter. See what you find. Regardless of the results, next time you are in Walmart you will not need to scan peanut butter. Scan all the Fisher Price little people. Spend the 15 minutes and be done. If a few are good, then next time you walk through any store, you can just grab them without scanning.
3. Utilize store reward and loyalty programs
These are wonderful, because they rarely require any commitment or extra cost to you as a purchaser, and with a dash of creativity can often provide great yields.
Target makes it simple, because you can just look for the tags that say “Buy 3, get a $5 gift card.” If you see that tag, scan. Often times you can find a few winners without even factoring in the extra $5.
Walgreens also is notorious for making this simple. Look for the blue tags that give a point value, and accumulate points for immediate or future savings.
And the best? CVS. There is at least one ExtraCare Rewards Bucks each week that can profit you via FBA. All you need to do is go find it, and, like my other favorites, there will be a yellow tag on each item serving as an invitation to scan.
4. Scan all the toy-opposites and minorities
I am not sure how to word that, but its a basic tenet of Jason Wilkey. Girl characters in a boy toy line do well, and boys in a girl line.
That pink paw patrol.
But for bigger profits, scan minorities. There was a Nikki doll that someone in our group made a small fortune on over the first few weeks of December.
Toy companies make less of the minority dolls, and, as a result, it is a pretty tested market for a reseller.
My wife just brought a black baby doll home from Marshall’s for 24.99, and I sent it in and it sold for 89.99 the same day it hit the warehouse.
How can networking help you scan?
Story: Two Friday’s ago, I posted in the FBA Master Facebook group the following : If anyone wants to share some Meijer bolo’s, feel free to let me know.
And guess what?
People did. I bought some of the items, and some didn’t fit what I was looking for.
The point is that networking helped me refine my scanning from an entire store to a specific shelf and item. I was immediately able to narrow down my search, which allowed me extra time to utilize tip #2 and start a narrow scan process.
There is almost no more important piece of my business puzzle than building and maintaining a network.
6. Make a plan
Like mentioned above, scanning blindly is often futile, unless you have four hours to scan. If you do, then scan away to your hearts content.
If you have a life outside aisle 12, then making a plan is paramount.
There are many ways to do this.
You can make a mention in the group that you are looking for ideas. You can source a gumroad list. You can run some Amazon searches before hand and scout keepa charts to get an idea of what items are worth looking for.
My favorite, and this is not a free option, is to use Oaxray. We mention it a lot, and that’s simply because we all use it and cherish it. With OAX you can run through sections on a store’s site and export a buy list, and when you walk in you will not be blind. You will know EXACTLY what to look for and how it can help you profit.
7. Consistency is key with clearance
This, used in conjunction with above tactics, is paramount for my success.
I do not go every single day, but I go as often as time and schedule allows. And just because on Saturday nothing is available, it does not change the fact that new products are discounted often, especially in regards to a Walmart.
Story: I was grocery shopping on Monday and saw a few things I wanted to get for Amazon, but I wasn’t able to at that moment. I walked through the lego aisle, like I always do, and things were normal.
However, I went back Monday around midnight, and I stumbled upon 7 Lego The Mine sets for $49. They weren’t there six hours earlier, and likely wouldn’t be there a day or two later. I am not saying go constantly, thats an impossibility, however, consistency scored me profit at that moment.
I lean towards OA at this point, because it is easier, faster, and I’ve got a tremendous amount of resources at my disposal.
But, there is no denying that there is and always will be huge profit in Retail Arbitrage, and scanning is a foundation of that method of business.