Whether you’re looking for a new way to make some steady money on the side, or you’re tired of the mundane 9-to-5 grind and are dreaming of starting your own business, you have something in common with a lot of successful entrepreneurs.
Forget what you think you know about entrepreneurs—not all entrepreneurs have to launch giant software companies like Apple or Microsoft. Many entrepreneurs have built, and scaled, their businesses right out of their homes, by reselling products for profit.
What is reselling?
The process of reselling is simple: You find great prices on desirable items and turn around and sell them to someone else.
When you buy low and sell high, that’s called arbitrage. “Retail arbitrage” is when you purchase items from a retail store — like hitting a big sale at Walmart — and sell it to your own customers for more. “Online arbitrage” is the same thing, except instead of going to a store, you are sourcing inventory off the internet.
Why do it?
There are countless reasons why people go into the reselling business. Maybe you’re tired of working a desk job and ready to take your career into your hands. Maybe you need more flexibility. Many resellers are parents wanting to stay home with their kids, and reselling gives them the flexibility to work from home in the evenings. Perhaps you’re a student who only needs a little extra cash occasionally and you’re not ready to commit to a business that requires constant attention.
Reselling gives you the flexibility to scale as big (or small) as you want, when you’re ready.
You decide how much time and capital you’re willing to invest, and grow accordingly.
Who are resellers?
Resellers aren’t all alike. That’s because anyone can be a reseller, as long as they’re willing to put in the work. The nurse that gave you your flu shot? Turns out he’s also flipping used tablets in his free time. And that Etsy seller selling refurbished furniture? That looks a lot like your daughter’s 3rd grade teacher. For these people, reselling is a side hustle. But some resellers scale their business into something much bigger.
Take the founder of NastyGal and author of the New York Times bestseller #Girlboss, Sophia Amoruso, for example. Before she was a household name, she started her business flipping vintage items she found in thrift stores and on eBay. She went on to run a successful private label company, with customers in over 60 countries and exceeded $300 million in sales in 2015. She also snagged a book deal and a television series on Netflix based on her accomplishments.
Basically, resellers can come in all shapes and sizes and from many backgrounds.
The basics of reselling
To get started, you need to find sources for items to resell. Sourcing is the process of finding and purchasing inventory to sell and is perhaps the most important aspect of your reselling business.
As mentioned above, you can source inventory in different ways, including retail and online arbitrage. Depending on your niche, you can hit up the sales rack at retail stores, thrift shops, flea markets, bulk membership clubs, clearance sections of your favorite stores’ websites, overstock websites, online marketplaces, as well as wholesale liquidation sites. Always be on the lookout for great deals. Finding good products at below-market prices is key to good margins!
Keep in mind, whether you choose to go into a niche market (only selling items in a specific category) or to sell items based on consumer demand, you’ll need to invest in your inventory. For a variety of reasons, including efficiency and risk mitigation, you’ll find it harder to turn profits if you are only able to sell a few things at a time, so plan to stock up!
To reach your best prospective buyers, you’ll also need to make decisions about where to sell.
Most people associate reselling with giant online marketplaces like eBay and Amazon, but if you’re a beginning seller, also consider flipping your items for profit on Walmart.com, CraigsList.org, Etsy.com, at flea markets, or any place where you can find people interested in your goods.
If you’re just getting started, definitely think about your online strategy. With 78% of Americans preferring to shop online, the Internet can’t be a channel you neglect. And online marketplaces are making it easy for entrepreneurial sellers to get started and scale up. On Amazon alone, top third-party sellers are generating hundreds of millions of dollars in sales. You too, can be one of these sellers!
Getting started can feel intimidating, but don’t worry. BULQ is here to help you not only as you take your first steps, but also all along the way as you grow and discover new questions to ask.
Before you start selling on Amazon or eBay, we recommend reading up on seller guidelines for Amazon and eBay, and we’ll help you dive deeper on a variety of beginner and intermediate topics on the blog. We even recommend several Facebook communities to join to get real-time answers to questions from other successful resellers who live and breathe the reseller lifestyle. We’re here to help you succeed!
As you can see, reselling is an easy step into entrepreneurship and there are many different paths to success. Whether you are focused on a specific niche or just focused on whatever products will be most profitable, whether you want to start a small side hustle or are ready to dive in and start reselling at high volume, there’s a way to scale your income to your ambition.
Excited yet? Next we’ll talk about specific steps for setting up your business and the skills needed for success.