Our recent post on becoming an Amazon FBA Seller was wildly popular. But, at the same time, we received a lot of comments about how it could even be possible to make a profit selling on Amazon when they are known for their low prices and undercutting the competition. The answer is mastering retail arbitrage.
When it comes to retail arbitrage, the name of the game is to buy low, sell high. You are not buying the season’s bestsellers off the shelf to resell. You are shopping the best sales and bartering for the best deals. That’s what makes this such a popular side hustle for the bargain hunters, single moms, stay-at-home moms and more. Most of us ladies are the primary shoppers in our households. We know how to not only save a buck, we can probably save two!
Today we are digging deeper into the reselling game and looking at 45 ways to buy low, sell high and get the biggest bang for your arbitrage buck.
Wanting to learn more about becoming a reseller? Check out these popular posts:
- How to Become an Amazon FBA Seller with Cynthia Stine
- How to Make a Living on eBay with Sarah Titus
- How to Flip Items on Depop
Retail Arbitrage Tools You’ll Need
The whole point of retail arbitrage is to make a profit. But, it’s a little hard to lug around your laptop in order to do a little research when you spot a great sale. Luckily, there are a few great apps that can make your life a lot easier.
With both of the below apps, you will be able to see:
- the first two lines of the product title
- product image
- product category
- Amazon best seller rank
- total number of offers from other sellers
- whether Amazon is a seller
- lowest price for both FBA and merchant fulfilled
Amazon Seller app – This app was created by Amazon specifically for sellers. Not only can you compare prices before buying, you can also see your inventory, take care of customer service issues and more. This app is free.
Scoutify 2 app – This paid app has some advanced features making it valuable to any serious seller:
- results are much faster
- ability to use a bluetooth scanner
- add your sales tax for more accurate fees calculation
- ability to see price and rank history
- Set up buying guides & “to buy” lists
How to Shop for Free by Kathy Spencer – This book took my shopping to a whole new level. This is a must-have, especially if you are looking to flip kid’s clothes or toys.
Both Sarah and Cynthia give a rundown of additional tools specific to their preferred selling platforms in the posts linked to above.
Products You Can Buy Cheap and Sell High
- Baby *
- New & Used Books (not including Collectible Books)
- Camera & Photo
- Consumer Electronics **
- Fine Art (but new seller applications are limited)
- Health & Personal Care***
- Home & Garden
- Kindle Accessories
- Musical Instruments
- Office Products
- Personal Computers
- Pet Supplies
- Software **
- Tools & Home Improvement
- Toys *
- Video Games **
* Some restrictions apply during the holiday season.
**Specific products may still require approval.
***There are sub-categories that may still require approval, and an application fee.
Here are things we know have restrictions. These categories may be “gated” meaning you need to get approval as a seller in that category, the items may be prohibited altogether or items may be restricted based on condition. Certain brands are also restricted. Make sure you are staying up to date on the latest guidelines. This is another reason those apps come in handy!
- Automotive & Powersports
- Clothing & Accessories*
- Collectible Books
- Entertainment Collectibles
- Gift Cards
- Grocery & Gourmet Foods
- Industrial & Scientific (the BISS category)
- Jewelry (Note: Amazon is not currently accepting new seller applications for jewelry)
- Luggage & Travel Accessories*
- Major Appliances
- Shoes, Handbags & Sunglasses*
- Sports Collectibles
* may be open but need brand approval
New Items Only
- Clothing, Accessories & Luggage
- Grocery & Gourmet Food
- Health & Personal Care
- Shoes, Handbags & Sunglasses
- Toys & Games
The Selling Family has a great post on how to get approved for gated categories here.
45 Ways to Buy Low so You Can Sell High
I’m all for increasing the savings wherever you can. Here are some great places to scope out for a sale.
- Gamestop – Pick up cheap, but popular, games to resell on Craigslist or eBay
- Going out of business sales – big stuff can be flipped locally, small stuff can go to Amazon
- Clearance Racks – oh, how I love a clearance rack…
- Garage sales
- Thrift stores – go on the tag sale days for crazy deals
- Craigslist – if you have nothing to do all day but stalk the Free section you can pick up some good stuff
- Flea markets – a lot of wholesalers work the flea market scene, you may be able to buy in bulk
- Wholesale companies
- Discount Bookstores – there is a huge market for books
- Scanner Monkey – you are so not going to want to share this site with anyone else
- Grocery store – there is a whole subset of sellers focusing on this Amazon category
- Retired direct sales consultants – they may not be able to sell that inventory on auction sites, but you can
- Classified Ads
- Estate Sales
- Libraries – they often give books away for pennies on the dollar, or give them away free
- Outlet Malls
- Mass Retailers – Walmart, Target, etc. (shop those sales & clearance racks)
- Your closets – we all have new stuff lying around somewhere that we bought as a gift we didn’t give, received as a gift we didn’t want or forgot we bought and purchased another. Sell it! And sell your gently used but unwanted items, too.
- Buy on eBay to sell on Amazon and vice versa
- Liquidation stores – these can be a little dirty, gross and have expired items on the shelves, shop smart. You can’t sell expired merchandise.
- Toy stores – scope out the clearance racks
- Deal Blogs – subscribe to the big blogs that post in-store and online deals like Hip2Save. They recently shared a score at JCP’s winter clearance sale. Some of those buys may have made for a great flip.
- Rummage sales
- IKEA – As Cynthia tells us in her post above, people can buy IKEA online but the shipping time is like three weeks. People would much rather pay a premium to get their goodies with free two-day Prime shipping.
- Walgreens and CVS holiday clearance
- Costco and Sam’s Club
- Dollar Tree
- Black Friday sales!
- Tuesday Morning – every FBA seller I have consulted loves this place. It’s regional so that’s a big plus for those who have one in the area. A lot of us don’t and maybe we want some of their stuff. 😉
- Woot! – This is actually an Amazon store offering one crazy markdown per day. Who knew? They even have a garage sale section!
- Hit up the GottaDeal.com and SlickDeals forums. Keep in mind a lot of other sellers are probably in there, too. The offline bargains may be where the real deals are.
As a crazy couponer, this post wouldn’t be complete with additional ways to save and make money on these purchases. For those on a budget, thrifting may be the way to go in the beginning. It takes more time than money. For those that have a little more to spend and don’t want to spend day in and day out digging through Goodwill shelves, retail arbitrage is the way to go. Here are some ways to get the most out of your shopping trips both online and off.
- Ebates – If you are shopping online, you have to sign up. I’ve already made over $1,200 with this program. That’s nothing to sneeze at.
- Grocery loyalty programs – next you need to start signing up for loyalty programs at stores you frequent. This often gives you access to additional price breaks and other perks. Some of my favorites:
- Staples Rewards
- Walgreens and CVS Rewards – usually cash towards your next purchase after spending a certain amount, also special discounts on sale items
- Capital One No Hassle Rewards – You need a credit card or debit card on file at Amazon anyway, and if you are disciplined in your payments why not use it to make inventory purchases for the rewards? Credit Karma recently told me this was the card that would give me the most rewards based on my spending habits – approximately $150 per year. I can pick up $150 bills all day long.
- Best Buy Reward Zone
- Save 5% and get Free Shipping at Target – Apply for a REDcard
- JCP Rewards – $10 reward whenever you spend $100 in a calendar month
- Gap Rewards – 10 percent off every Tuesday in stores and on Gap.com, OldNavy.com, and Piperlime.com. Spend $1 in stores or online and get five points. Earn at Gap and all its sister companies: Athleta.com, Banana Republic, Old Navy, and Piperlime.com. For Gap and Banana Republic cards, earn a $10 reward certificate every time you accumulate 1,000 points. For Old Navy cards, earn $5 in rewards when you rack up 500 points. Combine this with the savings outlined in How to Shop for Free for some big savings.
- Tuesday Morning Perks
- RetailMeNot – always check for a coupon code before placing an online order
- Buy discounted gift cards through a reputable site like Raise.com or Cardpool to save even more on purchases.
Don’t talk yourself out of arbitrage because you think you need to flip things like designer handbags. Not so. People are reselling things like toner cartridges every day. There are three rules you need to remember when choosing product to resell:
- In-demand (don’t’ buy crap just because it’s cheap)
- Easy to ship
P.S. I would highly recommend NOT trying to resell designer handbags due to the strict guidelines in that industry.
I Have Limited Funds. How Can I Get Started?
Start with what you have. Clean out your closets. Go to flea markets and thrift stores. The first item I ever flipped was a huge Calphalon Dutch oven I spotted marked down to $.99. They were regularly priced around $90! I bought two – one for myself and one to sell on eBay. I made around $40. Not too shabby!
The rule of thumb with retail arbitrage sourcing tends to be a minimum 50% expected profit when making a purchase. That leaves plenty of profit that you can reinvest into bigger and better stuff to resell. And don’t forget to add in any associated listing and shipping fees. That can run $5 to $10 for most items.
Remember to pick your selling platform wisely. Amazon buyers tend to like the new, shiny, undamaged items. If you are picking up deeply discounted scratch-and-dent items, your best place to resell may be eBay, Craigslist, Offerup or Facebook Groups. It’s also my understanding that the clothing category is gated at Amazon, so the other platforms are a better bet – at least in the beginning – for new sellers with a penchant for apparel. The great news. You don’t have to pick just one!