Top 10 Things to Consider When Purchasing Liquidated Merchandise — For Newbies and Legends
We found this through, and would like to thank, a reseller that shared this excellent advice in a group on Facebook. We edited a few points to tailor the message toward our current and potential clients, but the essence remains. We believe these are the Top 10 things to really think about before buying pallets:
1. START SMALL
Never spend money that you can’t afford to lose. If you do, then be ready to hustle. This industry can be risky and, as much as we hate it, at some point you will lose money. Never replace those doubts with fear, but be cautious until you’ve found a little groove. Don’t look at what others have built. You will not "get rich" overnight, you might grab a bag, you could even luck out and hit one big, but don't treat the game like a casino or a racetrack. Treat it like an investment, because that's exactly what it is. For now, all you need to do is be curious, creative and consistent.
2. DON’T PUT ALL YOUR EGGS IN ONE BASKET
One of the greatest temptations is to niche your products and/or selling channels. Facebook, while reliable, is not the only channel. Ebay, Amazon, Letgo, Offerup, Etsy, Tophatter, Poshmark, Walmart, yard sales, garage sales, flea markets, swap meets and so many other avenues are available for resellers. Remember that some will come at a cost, but consider that a sign of growth. Well versed and diverse sellers have a much higher chance for rapid growth than those who rely on one program or one sales channel. There aren't many programs valuable enough to bet your life on in this little world.
3. EDUCATE YOURSELF
Don’t depend on a wholesale supplier's (or really anyone’s) words. Do your own research. Make your own connections. Learn from the mistakes of others and from your own. While we, here at Southern Liquidation, can provide a healthy portion of start up material, knowledge, and data, it is the investor's responsibility to understand how their money is being used exactly. There's a mountain of fancy words and acronyms to climb like "broker" and "direct source" -- there's bin stores and manifests, FOBs, ecom stores, LTL, damage rates, ROIs, AMZ, and that's just the beginning. It can be overwhelming, but they will come with time. Start figuring out the acronyms and conditional terms such as MSRP = Retail Value, DC = Distribution Center, TL = Truckload, etc. Take responsibility for the journey and for your inventory. Don’t expect anybody to tell you what you need or want to know.
4. KNOW WHAT TYPE OF PROGRAM YOU ARE BUYING
What is the difference between products such as MOS (marked out of stock) shelf pulls, customer returns, DOT COM returns, box damage, overstock, refurbished, new, etc. It's okay to ask questions, we know it seems like there are endless options. How can they all be so different? What is the difference between a dot com return and a store return? What makes a shelf pull a shelf pull, and what about manufacturing resets? Many questions to ask. Good news is, we've been through most of it and we have seen or heard of the rest. We, along with many others, exist to help everyone make a little money or find the discount they're looking for. You have an infinite questions limit...for now.
5. MAKE FRIENDS
The relationships one builds with a supplier or source will determine what is available for purchase, how much it is and how much it will cost. It's similar to a bartender hooking you up. Stop asking people if they “cherry pick” pallets. This phrase is a relative term and doesn't uncover the truth of any program. No one would ever say if they actually did, and there's no way to find out unless it's seen first hand. The majority of sorted and unsorted programs alike have been “cherry picked” at least once or twice before it arrives at the floor of a wholesaler's warehouse (a little secret…they can still be some of the most solid, reliable and profitable programs out there). We're not trying to rain on the parade, but this is reality for all liquidated merchandise trickling down the industrial ladder. Even if the pallets/loads are manifested, you cannot trust a manifest to be set in stone. Products are subject to be miscounted, misrepresented, lost, stolen, damaged and more while being accounted for or simply being moved from one facility to the next. If you ever try to manifest more than a couple pallets alone, you will understand why. There's many moving parts and products.
However, if items are manifested but missing, call the source. Talk it out. They may not be able to refund or even help you, but it may help them keep themselves, their supplier, or their supplier's suppliers honest. Believe it or not, most people are not trying to pull one over on you. Now, please still proceed with caution with any supplier in the game. Look into it, do some research. If you buy a load that is not manifested…. It is all on you, you should know the risk. Plus, you’re most likely getting a deal anyways, just one that might not have met inappropriate expectations. If you decide to take that risk and it doesn’t meet the imagined standard, own that mistake, lower your expectations and try again.
6. KNOW THE FLOW
Be a good detective. "Know who you are buying from" is probably one of the more crucial and most passed over tips. How long have they been in business? Do they have good reviews? Do the reviews look genuine? Don’t trust gossip groups or keyboard warriors who are unhappy within, but notice trends. Better yet, ask them for yourself. Every company will have a few customers who just don’t like them, and not one company can have all the best programs. It’s business. Interact with different crowds and companies, try new things, go out on a limb and find the right product for you, at the right price for you. Just like the money, this will not fall in your lap.
7. DON’T HYPE ANYTHING BUT YOUR BRAND
The quickest way to irritate a source or customer is to lie. Don’t brag about how much you can buy, the supplier probably has a bigger buyer. Don't hype one product or program over another (from your inventory or anybody else's). If you can buy one pallet, don’t say you can, or want, or are thinking about, or hope to be buying three truckloads soon. That's silly. Additionally, the ability to afford three truckloads does not demonstrate the capacity nor ability to move those three truckloads of merchandise. Overestimation is tacky, can ruin relationships quickly and can land you in some hot water with surplus inventory, misrepresenting programs, or an angry mob of customers. Most people are way too busy to fool with nonsense. Honesty is the best policy.
AND if you don’t know, simply tell the supplier, or us. We can help. We'll find out those capabilities together.
8. BE REASONABLE
Not every pallet is going to be a grand salami, home-run or even a base hit. It's unreasonable to expect to buy a yacht from the eyeball profit estimate of an AMZ Salvage Pallet. Wholesalers and liquidators pay for the products they sell, and someone along the way has to pay to have them built. Sometimes prices are higher, sometimes lower, sometimes your margins are killer, sometimes that margin shrinks. It can vary, just remember this is a marathon not a sprint. More effort will result in higher endurance which will earn you that yacht--one day, maybe... Look, slow and steady wins the race, alright? Don't rush things.
9. IT'S GONNA HURT A LITTLE
No perfect company exists. Even the best companies screw up from time to time. Good companies are known by how they address those mistakes, not being free of them. We know it might be hard to believe, but we've made plenty of mistakes before. Shoot, we will one up that and say that we are quite certain that we will make more mistakes in the future. Be patient and think the best of people until proven otherwise. Nine times out of ten no one knew the product was bad when it was purchased. Most products are untested and not manifested or accounted for in the first place. The supplier most likely didn’t even know the product was bad, nor their supplier. No one wants to buy or sell bad products. It’s no one’s fault, it’s a consequence of the risks we all assume when we enter this industry. However, it is said "No risk, No reward." Risks can pay off or come back to bite, that's what the word means. The reaction to the bites (coupled with some dirty words) will pave the road of success or failure a.k.a. how much money you will end up making. Is working it out easier than filing a lawsuit/being sued over a couple hundred bucks? Maybe cheaper too? Or less stressful? Now, if you can’t work it out in a reasonable time frame or are unable find a reasonable solution... well... then yes, we suggest leveraging the law. However, be aware of any policies or waivers that one can potentially sign off on unknowingly the moment that money changes hands. Court is arguably one of the most stressful and boring places on the planet, avoid it at all costs.
10. HAVE SOME FUN
Why so serious? Sure this is a business, but it’s also a blast! Enjoy what you do, learn new things, find new ways to invest, make some freakin' money. Yes, there are a hurdles to overcome purchasing on the secondary market, but it has a great upside. Anyone can do it, everyone can limit their competitive range, and generate a lasting stream of revenue, big or small. It doesn't matter if it's earning just enough money for that toy you've been saving up for, being a competitive business owner and aiming to be the best discount store in North America, or simply buying discounted goods or gifts. Some people even make it a family thing. Ultimately, you control what your money goes into and what comes out of the investment. This is a fun industry and has the potential to provide a lot of knowledge, cool products and could create long-term wealth for plenty of people that are open, patient and persistent.
We truly believe these 10 things must be considered when hopping on the liquidation wagon. The topics mentioned will not go unnoticed. One way or another, they will find every single reseller. We encourage everyone to revisit this from time to time as the groove can start to feel safe...too safe. Then, when it's least expected, the industry can pull a spin move while the unprepared fall flat on their faces. (After which, they should re-read 5. Make Friends from this post.) This blog only scratches the surface of our weird little world. Soon we will be diving into the depths of all things resale, liquidation and reverse logistics. Until then, we would love to hear your thoughts on this article and what you would like to see in the future.
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