In my last post I talked a little about the different ways of sourcing products to sell online. What I want to do in this series is look at each of these methods more closely and show you how you can make the best use of all of them. In this post I will be looking at the best way to go about Retail Arbitrage – real-life physical shopping.
This method is time-consuming, and requires patience, effort, and a willingness to carry a whole load of shopping bags or boxes. But for the seasoned bargain hunter, or anyone brave enough to face interesting looks from other shoppers as well as sales, it will come naturally. You might even enjoy it!
Like any hunting expedition, there are a few things you need to consider before you even set off, namely: Do you have the correct tools? Do you know what prey (or products) you are looking for? Is it the right time of year for what you are after? Can you get it cheaper elsewhere? Do you have a way to transport, and somewhere to store several entire dead deer (or those discounted items that seemed like a good idea at the time)? Let me tackle these questions one by one.
Every hunter needs their tools. In terms of product hunting, you will need something to help you identify whether a product is worth snapping up and re-selling through Amazon. And you will need it handy. It makes sense in this case to download an app to your phone, which can help you assess whether you stand to make a profit with a particular product. Everyone is different, and will prefer one app over another. Personally I would recommend something like Profit Bandit, which allows you to use the camera on your mobile phone as a scanner. You could also use the Amazon Seller App, or OAXRay, which can be used for several different kinds of arbitrage. However, there are various different apps out there, all with different features and varying price-tags. Often it is worth forking out for some sophisticated software, but always read the reviews and ask fellow sellers before signing up.
Write a list of products you want before you get out there. This can stop you being seduced by a particularly juicy deal, and ending up regretting what you have bought. If you want to focus your business on kid’s toys, then head straight to the kid’s section. If you want to focus on clothes, head to your preferred clothes shop, etc. Time is precious, don’t get side-tracked by shiny offers for things you don’t want, don’t get pressured into buying twenty discount exercise balls if you don’t know whether they will sell well.
Is it even the right time to go shopping? It’s a no-brainer that the best time to find bargains is at peak sales-period. And if that means getting up at 6 o’ clock to wait outside Toys r Us for an hour and bag those bargains before anyone else does? Stop complaining and do it, fortune favours the brave. If you are looking for products just before Christmas, it is likely that they will be more expensive, if you’re happy to spend your boxing day in your local store elbowing people out of the way, you are more likely to find something worth selling on. You get the picture.
Finally, before you head out, ask yourself how much you actually want to buy. It is good to set yourself a limit, in terms of money and quantity. This way, you don’t spend too much and you don’t end up with a home that looks more like a warehouse. If you have a van and a warehouse, great! Chances are you can buy as much as you want. If you have a Nissan Micra and an under stairs cupboard, limit the volume of stuff you bring back from your trip. Remember you have to actually be able to get it home and store it safely.
Once you have considered these things, it is time to hit the highstreet. If you have done the appropriate prep, the shopping part should be relatively easy. Just find some promising-looking items, scan, and then either discard or purchase! People often don’t realise that it is possible to haggle in highstreet shops, even if it is a chain. If you are spending lots of money in a shop, and if you are brave enough, ask for a discount! The worst thing they can do is say no, and chances are they will say yes and you will save money.
Finally, remember to keep a note of where you find the best deals, it might be worth looking at their websites to buy online. I won’t go into this now, as online shopping is something I will discuss in my next post, so stay tuned for more advice!