The theme of the week seems to be replenishables. So I may as well stick with it, and throw my hat in the ring.
What is a replenishable?
It is a derivative of the word replenish.
To fill again.
Basically a replenishable item is something that needs to be bought repeatedly, for whatever reason. That is the reason these are such a desired commodity. Because you “discover” the item once, yet the dividends pay out in perpetuity until something causes that to change.
Many types of replenishables
There is a minor misconception among new people looking for replenishables.
The initial thought when perusing the aisles is that replenishables are only food or digestible items, because it makes the most sense. Although there are several varieties of items to choose from, we will start with food.
1. Food and Grocery
Food. Of course it fits this bill.
How many times do you need to buy pasta noodles? Every time you want lasagna, silly goose!
And if you are half of a carb loving human, you need a lot of lasagna. Especially at these numbers.
Want a quick and simple replen tip? Scan your pantry. Look at what you buy regularly. When you grocery shop and are getting your granola and quinoa, spend an extra 5 minutes scanning 10 or 15 other boxes in the aisle. Likely one of two things will happen. You will find a winner, and make a purchase. Or you will find an idea, and a rabbit trail attached.
Think about it. How many times a year do you buy socks? Bra’s? More than once?
I know people who flat out refuse to wash socks, and simply buy them as needed. To me, that’s crazy. But th
is isn’t entirely about me.
It’s about the customer.
Who “needs” more socks because he lost them in the wash or they got a whole hole in the heel or they are dirty or he can’t match them up in pairs or he is out of laundry detergent or he has forks for fingers and can’t function the effin washer.
It doesn’t matter the reasons. What matters is the category, and the potential, and the fact that people do not buy these only once like their favorite ugly christmas sweater, they buy them repeatedly.
3. Health and Personal Care
This one is partly more obvious, simply because we all can gauge what is a replenishable by gazing into our own bathrooms. Or medicine cabinet, since both are same category.
A few quick examples would be toothpaste, q-tips, toothbrush, vitamins and minerals, and so on.
Band-aids. Wash clothes. Shampoo.
See where this can go? The possibilities are endless.
Think outside the box.
One of the first BOLO’s I ever remember from Chris (I remember three, and to give you an idea of the power behind a replen, I still actively sell 40-50 units of one of these items per month, my brother sells another 50-100 of another, and the third I forgot about til now) was some Frozen Shoes from Kohls. They were these little kids sandals, and they were 9.99, which could be lowered to 5.5 depending on the Kohl’s promo at the time.
The were on Amazon between 19.95 and 32 for about 4 months, til I couldn’t get them.
All Chris told me was “replen’s aren’t always food.”
Since then, I can say that I have 5 replenishable style items in the toy category, and they sell between 5 and 25 each month, depending on the item. And I found a few more last week to test.
What toys need to be bought again and again?
Any Lego parts? Any Easy Bake Oven supplies? Any Nerf supplies? Barbie accessories?
Things are seldom as they seem. Toys are replenishables too.
Now that you know what to look for, roughly, how do you find them?
Well, there are a few ways. You can buy this course by Jason Wilkey which is devoted to finding replenishables, reviewed by Mike Garner right here.
You can go to the store and learn.
Two basic points on that.
Different strokes for different folks, but education is key in all endeavors. Study up. Learn about what people use over and again. Look for seasonal replens (Christmas lights, anyone?). Factor in big box discounts like the Big Lots quarterly sale, or keep an eye on Target’s Cartwheel app, and once you have an idea what products to buy you will recognize when the sale starts to buy, not worrying about the short term.
What happens in the short term is that people find the sale, scan it, buy it, and price crash it, as described here by Stephen Smotherman. Once this initial wave of sellers pass by (because the sale ended, the clearance is cleared, etc), he price generally goes back to where it belongs. This happens on one of my regulars every two months when a coupon pops up in the Red Plum mailers. So i sell less those two weeks after, then it goes back to normal. I wait it out, because I’ve done my homework.
Research trends. Research patterns. Know sales.
If you want this to act like a business and not a hobby, treat it like one.
This is a simple process for me. I would say that there is not one time I have gone into a store, DELIBERATELY LOOKING FOR PRODUCT, that I have walked out empty handed. I may not get 25 items, but I can find one anywhere I go.
So when I find something that has potential to be a consistent product, because of selling and sourcing potential, I buy 5. Maybe 10, just depending on price, rank, profit, etc. The things that fit my business model.
So I get my five items, and I send in.
And I wait and I watch.
There is ZERO reason to panic purchase anymore. In my first few months, I was prone to panic purchases. I would find an item, it would sort of come close to mostly fitting the rough outlines of what I imagined my business model to be, and I would buy it, because I was worried if I didn’t then someone else would.
That fear is gone now.
Because of experience.
Because I have seen enough deals in my day, actually in every day, to know that there is no reason to buy something I am not sure of anymore.
So I test my five or ten items, then make a decision for further testing. If further testing is required, I might grab 20.
And I send in and wait.
If it passes a few rounds of tests (and these tests are as fluid as the ranking system is, there is no set time or number of items to test, it varies based on circumstance), I then buy every one I come across.
Win for John.
I bet I succeed with 1 out of 30. Maybe 40.
But, after more than a few minutes of this, here is the luxury I get to have.
I can go to Walmart and scan clearance for 15 minutes or 25 minutes or whatever, because I know for sure the trip will be an overall victory because I can fill my cart up with enough items that make 2-5 dollars and will sell within a pay period.
To me, this is the foundation and definition of replenishable. I can buy without a list, without scanning, because I have a core group of items that people continue to use and use and use. I am not worried if I will have sales this week, because I know I will. November is about to start, and this month I will sell 30 _____ and make rouhly $6 each. I already know this, and they are already at Amazon waiting for someone to buy.
And this morning, as soon as my day started, I made some online purchases to start building up stock for December sales. Because i can buy them now, use my ebates, use my cash back cards, and profit on the sale. It’s become a no brainer item at this point.
All that being said, due to the nature of this business, I accept that it can go away at any moment for various reasons, and as such, I continue to look for more replenishables.
I do not anticipate stopping the search!
Great article! The thing I find fascinating about replenishables is that sometimes they come in waves… One item is good for a 4 months, and then it’s not so anymore… then another item comes along that is good for 3 months… then another that is good for a month… then not anymore… BUT that’s never the end of the story. If you ever have a replenishable “go bad” (profit wise) then go back and check on it a few months later. It might be good again.
We had one item sourced at Walmart for under $4 that we were selling TONS of for $15. It lasted about 3 months, and then it wasn’t good anymore, so we moved on. BUT we didn’t just forget about it. Two months later we checked on it again and it was now selling for $18!
Replenishables can come and go… but sometimes they come back again!