Product sourcing got you down?
In this line of business, there can never be enough sources to secure product. I do not care who you are or how much you make, if you are looking to grow product sales then this statement remains forever true.
The most tried and true product sourcing method for arbitrage sellers is……
This is where it all begins.
It has been described a dozen times by us, and hundreds of times by others.
For the purposes of Amazon sellers, this basically consists of buying something from somewhere, anywhere, and selling it online, on Amazon.com for more money. The possibilities for where to source retail product are limited by your awareness and your creativity.
Here is a quick list of five outlets for finding product that do not depend on what you can find at Target or Walmart on Any Given Sunday.
1. Goodwill/Thrift Stores
Where I and many started. Easy. Cheap. HUGE ROI. My exact process:
- Scan all unopened CD’s, DVD’s, and BluRay’s. And cassettes and VHS. Look for heavy metal or some B-movie cult classic horror crap on cassettes and video’s.
- Do a quick walk through of books, look for new, textbook, or fancy (I judge these by their covers!)
- Walk through the toys and scan any new in box toy/board game, and any used board game. Here is a great resource for board games which paid for itself in my first week of thrift store shopping.
- Walk through the home goods section, scanning anything new. This can include air filter, light bulbs, printer ink, you can likely find some surprising things that are new that you never would have sourced otherwise.
- It bears mentioning that if you have an eBay account you should quickly eyeball the ties. Every few visits I’ll find a Louis Vuitton tie used, but I’ve been able to flip those from $3 purchase to $60-100 sell price any time I get one.
- Check the endcaps in the front of the store. This is often where random closeouts or clearance from big box pops up, and you can score large amounts of a beauty item on the cheap.
- Finally check out the glass case/high end section of the store, generally a bunch of crap like used season 1 of Alf on dvd, or some beat up Air Jordans. But it is still worth a cursory glance.
I can generally find $25 – 100 buy cost in about 15 minutes of a walk through, but its only through experience that I am able. And my thrift store ROI greatly exceeds that of any other sourcing platform. It’s just the hardest to scale and repeat, and the most random one. But still huge value which I doubt will ever go away.
2. Any location you are at that sells retail
I recently scanned items (and bought them) while in line at a pumpkin patch. This goes into the creative portion of sourcing strategy. Anywhere I am at, if there is a barcode, it is a potential for profit.
Jason Wilkey has written about sourcing at airport gift shops for example.
Anywhere there is a barcode. Scan. Profit.
3. Garage Sales/Flea Market
The same general rules apply here that were talked about with the thrift stores. It is important to note that you are basically not going to get a receipt, and even if you do it will likely be handwritten.
While this can be great for profits and ROI, it can be devastating if you buy something suspect and it gets returned or somehow flagged for being counterfeit. So this is something that you must make your own decision with. There are items that are more risky, such as DVD’s for an easy example.
That being said, you can almost always score large lots of books for next to nothing, and if you train your eye even in the simple parts this can pay fast and easy dividends. I am a huge fan of books, have been since day one. After all, Amazon is just a bookstore anyway, right?
There are a ton of resources available for sourcing info for and from both. Jordan Malik has books, Jim Cockrum has product sourcing classes, and there are countless blogs and newsletters that have been around teaching for years, such as Skip McGrath’s almost legendary newsletter.
Craigslist can be used in conjunction with services such as IFTTT, where you can set alerts up if specific items are listed in specific areas it would notify you. This can help to automate some of the smaller scale but still lucrative and profitable sourcing.
5. Church Rummage Sales
I was debating leaving these in the same category as thrift stores or garage sales, but honestly, if you haven’t been to one, you are missing out.
Basically the concept is the parishioners of the church bring donations in for a rummage sale.
Church sells stuff.
In my experience these have higher quality items, because nobody wants to be the one to bring crap to the church sale. And you can often find “new” old stock, because people clean out drawers and closets.
You can go here and find some locations for church sales.
Retail Arbitrage will likely never die, simply because it is unpredictable and yields higher results for those who hustle. It does take more work at times, but the results speak for themselves. Competition will always be less, because it is location dependent and specific.
But what about those who want to sit still while they source?
Source Sitting Down Yo!
Maybe we have mentioned OA once or twice, but if you need a quick refresher there is some info right here.
That being said, here are 5 OA tools I like to use.
1. The Usual Suspects
These are websites that I do not check EVERY single day, but I probably come close.
Through experience of searching and buying, I have developed my own system of spotting items to search. And once I dig deeper, that is usually where I find success.
So many people look at the movers and shakers, or the straight price drops, buy a few items and move on. By using the sites as rabbit holes, I can chase for minutes or hours and come up with profit.
2. Using Amazon Itself
Amazon is one of the best sources for OA that I’ve ever seen. We have posted items and taught people what trends to look for, how to spot inefficiencies, how to package and split, and so on.
In case you can’t recall, check out this post.
They both go into much greater detail than I will here.
Just yesterday in fact someone posted an item that was a 12 pack, and when bought for under $20 per 12 pack could be sold for 6.99 each and profit around $15 per 12 pack bought. That’s an ROI of around 75% for 3 minutes of work. If you are unable to find these opportunities, watch some of the above videos, read some posts, join the facebook group and start to ask more questions!
This is a new kid on the block, and has quickly become a favorite of most people who use it. There are other options, but for my dollar this has proved to be an invaluable resource.
It basically acts as a massive scanner, and quickly analyzes data from a set list of sites and compares to the AZ listing, so that you can decide quickly whether something is profitable. It allows you to go through 100’s of items in minutes, which is astonishing actually.
Yes, we are affiliates of it, and we do receive a small compensation if you sign up through our link. However, that is not the reason we refer anyone to try it. Mike and I have both used it since beta launch, and have been very happy with the results. Chris is new to the software, but it didn’t take him long to know it was amazing.
You can read more about it here.
4. Buy Lists/Sourcing Groups
These are popping up like flies on ……… a ………….. picnic bench.
We run one, 25 Dollar List Club, there is Elite Product Sourcing, and there are plenty of options if you are wanting to go a pay route.
These have been discussed at length in a few places, and I am all in favor of them. I currently subscribe to 2, and it is my belief that as long as I more than double my money paid for the list in profit on what I sell, its worth it. I would likely join more, I simply do not have the time.
That being said, not everyone likes the idea of committing to a monthly fee, and I understand that.
We are going to try a new one using an idea from Ken Szovati (here is a link to his ebook about product sourcing, use the code “master” and get it for a dollar!), and it will consist of small lists of 5 to 10 items, limited to 10 people at the most. If this suits a person, great. If not, still great! Like I said, I love paid lists AS LONG AS THEY PROVIDE ME VALUE.
If you are interested in getting emails about this, subscribe here, and this is very much in progress. I believe it is going to be a difference maker though. We started with two lists, and the profit potential is big!
All in all, my favorite part of this job is sourcing.
Any way I do it is so much fun.
Next time we will delve into wholesale and private label, but I’m at 1700 words right now and it is highly unlikely anyone is still here.
If you are, enjoy this bologna sandwich.