Editorial Note: This week’s guest post comes from Tyler Nelson. I didn’t know much about him, but John assured me that he knew his stuff and could provide some valuable contributions to our readers. Having read his post, I’m convinced John is right. Today he shares 10 simple tips and tricks that he uses to source inventory from Ebay.
Living in Alaska, I don’t have a lot of opportunities for retail arbitrage, and shipping is quite expensive because you have to be in the continental United States to be able to take advantage of the Amazon partnered shipping rates. To be able to make a living on Amazon, I have turned to the internet. At the time of writing, about 95% of my inventory comes from Online Arbitrage, and I am doing around $25,000 in sales a month. Of the 95% of my inventory that comes from OA, about 70% comes from Ebay. To help you make a buck or two (or thousands) off of products on Ebay, I have put together a list of simple tips and tricks that I use on an everyday basis that will help you out.
- Use browser extensions such as Invisible Hand and Context Search. Invisible Hand automatically detects lower prices, and Context Search allows you to search between Amazon, search engines, and other sites without having to copy and paste.
- Don’t be afraid to make an offer. The worst a seller can do is say no.
- Buy in bulk. If a seller has multiple units for sale, you can often get them at a deep discount, due to the fact that they will save a lot of money on shipping and can move more inventory. It works especially well with small items where they charge several dollars normally for shipping, and could ship 20 or 30 in a flat rate box for not much more. Many sellers will also send via a faster method when you buy in bulk. I’ve been able to convince dozens of sellers to ship via Priority Mail (3-5 days to AK) instead of Media Mail (10-20 days to AK.) But if you already have an ample stock of the item, you can save money by having the seller downgrade the shipping.
- If a seller is selling one item cheaply, take a look at the other items being sold by the seller. Not only is it likely that they may be selling other profitable items, but you may also be able to save on shipping. I have found this to be more likely with people selling stuff out of their closets, basements, garages, and whatnot, rather than full time sellers or businesses. (See #3.)
- Don’t be afraid to buy from new sellers. Buyers are less likely to buy from new sellers, so that leaves more deals available for you. If the item ends up being not what it is supposed to be, you’ll get your money back. Ebay customer service is top notch. I had to call them last week about a seller that didn’t issue a refund on a return, and was never put on hold. I had my money back (nearly $100) in 5 minutes.
- Take advantage of cash back options. One that is often overlooked is Ebay Bucks. With Ebay bucks, you get 2% cash back quarterly in the form of a gift certificate, with a maximum of $500 awarded per quarter. This adds up to as much as $2,000 a year. Don’t forget about cash back sites that link with Ebay (I got a $270 check from Ebates last month) and credit card cash back.
- Take a quick look on Half.com. Owned by Ebay, it is similar to Amazon with how all of the sellers of a specific item compete on the same listing page, and all items are “buy it now”. Unlike Amazon, the used listings are separated by subcategory, rather than lumped together (Which I like.) If you can find an item to flip on Ebay, there might also be sellers on Half.com. Also, there are often coupon codes, and the cash back offered by Ebates is a whopping 4% (quadruple what you get from buying on Ebay.)
- Look for sellers that offer instore pickup or local pickup. You’ll be able to get the inventory to the fulfillment center faster and beat anyone else that might have found the same product from the same seller.
- Sell stuff yourself on Ebay. The Paypal funds that you receive can be spent on inventory from other sellers. It is another way to gain feedback, which helps you with buying. It lets sellers know you are serious when sending offers and buying in bulk.
- Lastly, don’t be discouraged. If you go a couple of days without finding anything new, you’re in good company. By finding a bunch of products that aren’t worth flipping, you’ll save time with your future sourcing by learning more about what sells and what doesn’t sell. But if a replen that you have found becomes no longer profitable, check back from time to time. It may become profitable again. I found this out last week with an item that I would sell 50 a week of. The price on AZ went down and it was no longer profitable, but I checked again and it looks like I’ll be able to get back to selling 50 a week. The key to online arbitrage is perseverance and doing your due diligence with the products that you encounter. The only thing that can cause you to fail is giving up on yourself.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to hit me up via private message on Facebook.
This was enlightening, Tyler. Thanks. I’ve noticed the price gap between Amazon and Ebay but was never quite able to make the connection to how it could help my business before coming to this site. That you can pull this off from Alaska…! Well done.
I wish these tips were more specific and less general knowledge. For example, I would have liked to see the process the author used to find a few items. Chris Wilkey’s Youtube demo of OA was a great example. We need something like that for eBay arbitrage.
We have schedule a podcast with him that will air on Wednesday. Give me a specific question you’d like the answer to and we’ll see if we can get it worked in.