Ed. note – this is a guest post from Jeff Roth at one of my new favorite Amazon seller blogs, ScanOnTheSide.com
If you’re an active FBA seller, chances are you’re doing so on a part time schedule. Part time selling on Amazon provides an actionable way to make some extra money online since anybody can find stuff cheap. With the natural time constraints doing FBA on a part time basis, having a solid plan of action is the key to succeeding in this role. What plan you ask? Well, I’m not going to tell you that ours is the be all end all of FBA but what I will say is that it works for us in our part time FBA business and can work for you as well.
Thrifting + Retail Arbitrage = Best of Both Worlds
Our preferred ‘part-time’ sourcing channels are:
- Thrift store (new in box items) and
- major retailer seasonal/post-holiday/clearance and
- regional discount store sourcing.
I highly recommend those three methods for part-timers because the high margin/low competition finds from thrifting new in box items provide a solid foundation of profits to allow for potential misses and high competition limitations of retail arbitrage.
Sourcing seasonal and post-holiday items at huge discounts at major retailers (e.g., Big Lots, Walmart, Kmart, Lowes, Home Depot, etc.) has also proven to be very profitable when you buy low right after the holiday, and then sell high 9 to 12 months later . Be sure to:
- See the history of what the best seller rankings were during the holiday season (ed. note – I use camelcamelcamel.com)
- Plan ahead to see which stores are getting rid of which post-holiday merchandise
- Keep an eye out for non-holiday items that are also lumped into the holiday clearance including toys and gadgets that sell year-round.
We like to focus on major retailers post-holiday because we know that these stores need to clear shelf space for their new merchandise.
Regional Discount Stores
Here, I don’t mean the dollar store but rather more ‘mom and pop’ retail stores that offer items you just can’t find regularly in the big box stores. You might not be getting items at insane clearance prices but with the uniqueness of the items sold here, the competition by in large is much less and thus the margins are still there. If these stores exist in our local area then I’m pretty sure they’re everywhere so do some research, start asking around (Ed. note – check your online or printed yellow pages under ‘General Merchandise’ and/or ‘Sports Equipment’ and/or ‘Toys’ etc.), and make a list.
Allotting Your FBA Time
My full time ‘real world’ job involves daily travel. This allows me the freedom to take 30-45 minutes a day to source during my normal daily route. It all comes back to time conservation and proper allocation of it. Part-timers don’t have time to walk into Target and comb the aisles scanning everything in sight like some recommend. It’s just not realistic. Instead, they plan ahead and attack the specific sections above, at the right times, when things are super cheap. Remember, if you find a good deal at one store there’s a good chance that same store has the same deals throughout their chains so strike while the iron’s hot.
Why not 100% Thrifting?
I have been asked “If you find such great things thrifting, why don’t you just do that and skip the retail stores?” My answer: If I only had 10 minutes a day, I would! Meaning, I have enough time to do both so why would I shut out a complete source of sellable items? If your time is limited, I would start with thrift stores. Once you know each store well, you will cut your scanning time in half and open up time for other opportunities including retail.
2015 and Beyond
So here’s to a prosperous 2015 for you in your business. Go and get approved to sell in every Amazon category possible. Many FBA gurus predict the ability to sell in categories such as Apparel, Jewelry, and others will become harder and harder as time goes on. Fulfillment by Amazon is a growing community where I learn things from each day and put to good use and you can too. Follow our plan of action and you too can have success doing FBA part time.
(Ed. note: here’s a reliable directory of thrift stores in your area. Also see more thrift store sourcing strategies here)
Photo by Kid’s Birthday Parties