FINDING INVENTORY FOR YOUR EBAY BUSINESS
The key to a successful eBay business is to secure a steady supply of merchandise that you can resell for a profit. Before you start looking for sources for your inventory, you need to have a reseller's license for your state. See the Getting Started page if you need help getting one.
To deal with wholesalers you need to be prepared to buy in bulk. It's also very important to understand the eBay marketplace. EBay is known for being a wide marketplace which means you can sell a wide variety of things. Unfortunately, eBay is not a deep marketplace. You can't sell a lot of the same thing without causing the price to drop dramatically. Be sure to take this into consideration when deciding what to buy for your eBay business. Otherwise you could be stuck with a lot of inventory that you can't sell.
Everyone wants to know where they can get those hot products at wholesale prices. The quick answer is you can't. Manufacturers tightly control where their products go and most don't want to see their products sold on eBay. Many distributors require that you operate from a physical store front before doing business with you. If you know a store owner who is willing to order some product for you, then you are in luck. The rest of us will need to find alternative methods of finding products to sell.
Searching the internet for wholesale distributors will turn up a whole array of vendors. I suggest you take a look at a few of them to educate yourself on what is out there. However, be very careful and make sure you fully understand what you are getting into before you buy anything. Many web sites will try to sell you lists of distributors and wholesalers, but those are not worth the paper they are printed on. Others will sell you a CD full of products you can buy. Those discs are more valuable as drink coasters than as a product source. There are legitimate vendors out there, but there are many more sites trying to take your money.
One site that I find very interesting is www.alibaba.com. It is a directory listing global distributors, mostly in China, and buyers. The amount of product available is staggering. It is free to sign up and there is plenty of helpful information to help you get started. It is definitely worth a visit.
Another resource worth looking into is Yahoo's Wholesale Directory Listing. To get on the list, a real person at Yahoo must approve the entry. This list can be used as a starting point for further research.
Ebay has a dedicated category for Wholesale Lots. It is definitely worthwhile browsing the various categories for bargains. You might want to search by distance from where you live. If you can pick up the merchandise yourself, you can save quite a bit on shipping charges.
One final word of warning: when you are searching for wholesale distributors, don't pay money for anything that is NOT the actual goods for resale.
Attending trade shows is a great way to see up-and-coming products from all sorts of vendors. It is also a great opportunity to begin building relationships with suppliers and distributors. While some trade shows are open to the public, most are open only to qualified attendees. You need to contact the show administrator to see if you qualify to attend the show.
An excellent resource for finding trade shows in your area is Trade Show News Network. Their database contains over 15,000 global events. The database is searchable by event, date, city, state and country. It is free to register and use.
If you have never been to a trade show, they can be quite overwhelming at first. There could be several hundred exhibitors each trying to sell their products to you. I suggest you take it slow and don't commit to buy anything for the first show or two. Once you get a feel for what is out there, then you can make a more informed decision on which products to purchase for resale.
Liquidators, also known as asset recovery specialists, purchase large volumes of overstocks, closeouts, customer returns and salvage goods from retailers. The liquidator then groups the goods into smaller lots and resells them back into the retail supply chain. The lot sizes typically ranges from a single pallet to a semi-trailer.
If you are planning to buy from a liquidator, you need to be prepared to accept a large amount of merchandise, all of which may not be saleable. Be sure to obtain a detailed manifest of what is included in the lot. Don't buy from any liquidator that will not provide a manifest.
One of the largest liquidation sites on the internet is www.liquidation.com. It is free to sign up. There is a wide range of merchandise available. New lots come up frequently, so check the site often. Item lots are listed auction style with the highest bidder wining the lot. Before bidding, make sure to read the manifest and look at all of the pictures. Read the fine print. The majority of the auctions are listed as-is and there is no turning back once you make your bid.
Make sure you know what the product is before you buy it. I have seen lots of knock-offs being sold as the real thing. I don't know what recourse you have if you end up with a truck load of counterfeit products. If you are careful and patient, you can find a good deal.
Another interesting site is www.govliquidation.com. This is owned by the same company that owns liquidation.com. They are the exclusive contractor of the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service (DRMS) for the sale of surplus and scrap assets of the United States Department of Defense (DOD). The assets are located throughout the country. You can search the events calendar to find the date of any auctions near you.
The success of eBay has given an opportunity for a number of industries to grow. Leading the pack is the growth of drop shippers. The basic concept of drop shipping is very simple:
- A supplier of a product is looking for people to sell their product.
- You agree to sell the product for them at a stated "wholesale" price per unit.
- When you make a sale, you notify the supplier.
- The supplier ships the product directly to the buyer.
- Your profit is the difference between the final selling price and your "wholesale" price.
This concept sounds perfect for eBay. Unfortunately, there are a few problems. Your biggest problem is competition from other eBay sellers. There is nothing stopping a thousand other sellers from selling exactly the same product you are. As more sellers try to compete, the price starts dropping. It is the old supply and demand rule from economics 101 coming into play. As the competition to sell the product intensifies, the price will keep dropping until any profits you could make is no longer worth the effort.
The other major problem with drop shipping is the suppliers themselves. The so called "wholesale" price they quote you is most likely nowhere near the actual wholesale price. These suppliers are really middlemen selling product to you at a price between the MSRP and the actual wholesale price. These drop ship suppliers are in the business of making money off naive eBay sellers. They don't care if the eBay seller ends up making any money. They only want you to buy product from them at inflated prices.
The worst thing about the drop ship business is the emergence of sites that charge a fee for giving you access to their drop ship supplier list. Just like for wholesalers, if someone is trying to charge you for a list of drop ship suppliers, it is not worth the paper it is printed on. Only pay for the product you are going to resell, nothing more.
It is not impossible to make money drop shipping, but you need to do your homework. Make sure you check the amount of competition selling the same or similar products on eBay. Check what the item is selling for on www.overstock.com, www.ubid.com, Google Product Search, and Yahoo! Shopping. You may discover that the "wholesale" price from the drop shipper is higher than most online stores.
If you happen to live near one of these closeout retailers, then you are in luck. Hidden between the shelves of unknown home decor brands and the look-a-like brand name household products is every eBayer's dream. You can find designer home decor for bargain prices.
To find one of these gems, you have to be lucky and have a good eye for such things. You might want to ask the people working at the store when they get their shipments. The bargains don't stay on the shelves long, so you want to plan your visits accordingly.
You can use the store locater on each of the retailer's web site to see if there is a store near you.
When retailers need to make space for next season's product line, they will begin to mark down their current inventory. Your best bet is to look for clearance items from specialty retailers that have a strong following on eBay. Retailers like Pottery Barn, Pier 1 Imports and Crate & Barrel are good examples.
Clearance items don't stay on store shelves long. Either they are snapped up by customers or they are packed up for liquidation. Some retailers have special clearance stores where unsold clearance items from their regular stores end up. If you live near one of these stores, you will have an endless supply of goods to resell on eBay.
THRIFT STORES AND CHARITY SHOPS
These types of stores receive their goods from donations. Most of the donations are unwanted goods and clothing. Occasionally, philanthropic individuals will donate high value items or donate valuable items they don't know are valuable.
When you are visiting these stores, you are looking for the diamond in the rough. The key is you have to know what you are looking for. There is usually an abundance of glassware, dishes and clothing in these stores. Many are vintage items from the '50s and '60s. If you know what pieces of glassware are valuable from this era, then you have a chance of spotting that diamond in the rough.
An excellent resource for locating a thrift or charity shop near you is The Thrift Shopper. Just enter your zip code and it will return the usual Goodwill and Salvation Army stores plus any charity stores in your area.
FLEA MARKETS, GARAGE AND ESTATE SALES
Going around visiting garage and estate sales can be a lot of fun. It is a great opportunity to get out and meet your neighbors. It is also an opportunity to find all sorts of bargains. The price is always negotiable too. Of course you have to know what you are looking for. If you are planning to make a business out of going to estate and garage sales, you need to focus your efforts on the kinds of items you see most often at these kinds of sales. These would be collectibles, glassware and costume jewelry. The nice thing about most of these types of items is they are small and easy to ship.
FINDING BARGAINS ON EBAY FOR RESALE
The key to finding eBay bargains which you can resell for a profit is locating valuable items that the seller has listed poorly. Sometimes the seller does not know the maker of the item and will list it using a generic title. A lot of vintage and antique items will have a maker's mark, but unless the seller recognizes the mark, the seller will not be able to identify the maker. Unfortunately, for you to find those diamonds in the rough, you have to wade through thousands of generic listings. If you know specific details on what you are looking for, you can search the item description to try to narrow down the number of listings to look through.
Some sellers are a bit careless and misspell words in the title when they list the item. Because of the spelling error, buyers looking for that item won't find it. If you can find those listings, you can buy it for a fraction of its real value. To help you find these bargains, we created a Misspelled eBay Auction Search Engine. The tool generates a list of spelling variations and searches eBay for them.