Woman using a box to resell customer returns

How to Source and Resell Customer Returns

What happens when a customer returns an item to a retailer? In many cases, you get a new opportunity as a reseller.

In the U.S. alone, nearly 5 billion items are returned each year. This has been escalated due to COVID-19, as more consumers rely on online rather than in-person shopping. With items available at the click of a button, many with free returns, it’s never been easier to make and return a purchase.

In many cases, returned merchandise is in great condition, save potential damage to the original packaging from shipping and handling. But, due to its status as pre-owned, these items are typically offered at a discount the next time around, either from the retailer or a secondary source like BULQ. That’s where resellers can score big.

Check out our tips for how to understand, source, and successfully resell customer returns.


Reasons for Customer Returns

Buyers remorse isn’t the only reason for retail returns. Especially when making purchases online, common excuses to send items back include:

  • Items appearing differently in person or not having the correct fit.
  • Buying the same item in multiple sizes and colors and returning all but the customer’s favorite.
  • Finding the item for a better price somewhere else.
  • Receiving multiples of the same item as a gift, especially during the holidays.

All of these reasons lead to perfectly good items being returned to retailers, despite them still having tremendous value.

How and Where to Source Customer Returns

Believe it or not, returns don’t always stay with the retailer who originally sold them. Many times they’re offered at a discount to secondary retailers, who sell the individual items or package them in bulk for liquidation or wholesale.

At BULQ, we work with top retailers year-round to liquidate/resell their returned inventory, making it available at a cost below MSRP. Along the way, we sort and organize these items, putting them in cases or pallets that make it easy for resellers to find specific inventory.

This process can also, but not always, include inspecting and testing the items, which creates two general types of returns.

Inspected Returns

Inspected returns are any returned items that were inspected and/or tested before being placed into one of BULQ’s designated conditions. Merchandise that is fully functional and has never been used is placed in New. Items that are fully functional, but show signs of use and may not be in original packaging, are deemed Like New. Products that are found to have significant cosmetic or functional defects are put in Scratch & Dent, and completely non functional items are Salvage.

Uninspected Returns

Unlike inspected returns, which are split up based on appearance and function, Uninspected Returns is its own condition. These items were NOT inspected and/or tested, meaning their condition can range from New to Salvage. They may be working, or they may be non-functional, and they may not come in their original packaging.

Typically, these items cost less than comparable New or Like New items. However, this condition can be a gamble – you may score a high value, completely functional item, but you could also have some inventory that is non functional. That’s why, especially for newer resellers, we suggest starting with New or Like New condition items in a category that you know well.

How to Resell Customer Returns

So, you’ve sourced some great returned inventory. Now, it’s time to sell it!

Similar to reselling new or overstock inventory, do some research to see which platforms have the biggest demand for your items. To start, try searching your items on eBay and Amazon to see what you’re generally competing with. On eBay, you can also filter by “sold” listings to see what the merchandise has actually been purchased for.

If the items you’re reselling are relatively new, check the retailer’s website to see if they’re still offering the product. Customers love a good deal, so if you’re able to offer a lower price, people might clamor for the discount.

You’ll also want to examine these returned items as you would any inventory before listing. Try to remove any stickers or discount marks, and be candid about any wear on the item or its packaging. Taking detailed photos is a great way to show customers exactly what to expect, which reduces the chance of receiving returns of your own!

Ready to source and resell customer returns? BULQ has you covered! We offer customer returns year-round, with new inventory added 3 times a day at 11am, 2pm and 5pm ET. And don’t forget to download the BULQ mobile app for iOS and Android to receive personalized inventory notifications based on your category and condition preferences. 

Check out our newly added lots to start sourcing now!

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