Update April 2019: These hacks still work for me, I still use them to this date. (In fact, from the Spring through the Fall, I'll use these tactics to stock up on some of my favorite items to resell during Christmas.)
Many eBay and Amazon sellers are expert flippers. Their ability to find bargains online has a direct impact on how much profit they can make from reselling them (many times on the same site they sourced them from!)
Jordan Malik is one of the masters at this game, and he’s got a few tips that even casual sellers can use to save money on purchases that they can resell on Amazon or back on eBay. If you want to dig deeper into 'Buying Low to Sell High" check out his ebook on the topic here.
Note: this is not about 'drop shipping' an item you purchased on eBay directly from the eBay seller to your Amazon customer, or vice versa. That is a controversial, risky, and generally far less profitable way to flip items. Further, it may violate eBay or Amazon seller policies. Instead, this is about buying an item on eBay, receiving it, and then selling it back on eBay or Amazon
Here are 7 hacks:
1.) Use the free service IFTTT.com to find deals: IFTTT stands for “If This Then That”. Basically it’s an easy to use, do it yourself product alert service. There are lots of eBay ‘recipes’ that are ready for you to use within IFTTT, but this is a good one to boost sourcing success, according to Malik. Lifehacker also has a good article on the subject here. Once you have the IFTTT set up, you receive text messages whenever your search criteria turn up a new eBay listing, so you can pounce on the item for sale. Pretty slick.
2.) Save your searches with a simple bookmark: “I’ll do a search for an item on eBay, sort by newest listing, and exclude (in the results) non-U.S. countries so I know I won't be hit with considerable shipping charges,” said Malik. “Then I bookmark it so I can always come back to that targeted search.” Sorting by newest listing is important. This allows you to see items as they’re listed and get a jump on other bidders. It’s especially useful for buy it now (BIN) bargains.
3.) Use Malik’s free CleerPro.com browser extention to find comparative pricing info: With just a couple of clicks, you can find pricing info from all over the web (Amazon, CamelCamelCamel, eBay and more). I like the right click-feature that allows you to highlight a product name or (for books) UPC number, right click your mouse, and get right into the pricing info immediately.
4.) Look for bad photos: “I like to view eBay search results in 'Gallery' or use the PicClick site to quickly find undervalued items,” said Malik. “A blurry or dark photo is usually the first indication that an auction item will sell for far less than what it's worth.”
5.) Duplicate searches with misspellings: Once you’ve searched for your item, re-do the search with some misspellings and exclude the correct name. “Type a dash (‘minus sign’) right before the correct name in order to exclude it,” said Malik. “Your first search might be, Hello Kitty Alarm Clock, and the other one might be Hello Kittie Alarm Clock -Kitty.”
6.) Look for auctions that end at weird hours: “Look for items where the auction ends when people are sleeping,” said Malik. If you target U.S. auctions that end from 1:00 AM to 7:00 AM EST, you’ll find some. “This usually decreases demand for that auction,” said Malik. “The 'sold' auction price can be far less than the true market value of the item.” If you go into advanced search, you can adjust the ending times to find auctions that are ending at the time of morning you choose.
7.) Find sellers with no feedback or bad feedback: This is a controversial one and counter-intuitive. “On these items, competing bidders typically shy away from bidding too high or bidding at all,” said Malik. “They’re afraid the seller is fraudulent, and that reduces demand for the item. People forget, however, that eBay and Paypal provide more than adequate protection. In my opinion, successful attempts at fraud are minimal to non-existent for most items on eBay.”
With these tips and a little practice, you can find eBay bargains that fit nicely among your online product sourcing methods. Best of all, it’s faster than hopping in the car and driving to the local mall.