Many online sellers make their start by sourcing on the go.
Summer-friendly sourcing opportunities like thrifting, yard and garage sales, estate sales, and flea markets can yield a lot of interesting inventory for beginners. At the same time, growing sellers might gravitate toward liquidations, auctions, and similar sources of unsold and overstock inventory.
If you’re doing some of this kind of sourcing, keep in mind that the goal is to make a profit, not take unnecessary risks. Sourcing on the go often requires snap decisions, but this doesn’t mean that they have to be guesswork.
The Profitability Checklist
Here’s a simple, rapidly completed checklist that you can use to decide—on the spot—whether it makes sense to buy inventory that you’re considering.
- How much does this item or product sell for online? Obviously, the average online sale price of items like the one you’re considering needs to be higher than the price you’ll pay—and high enough to leave you some profit margin as well.
- How many of them are sold every week? More weekly sales means a greater chance of selling one-off items, and if only five or ten sell in a week, you may want to avoid buying a lot of 250 items.
- How are shipping costs going to affect your margins? If average shipping costs are zero or near zero, you’ll need to take into account the fact that buyers are tending to expect free shipping for this item or product—and take into account how funding shipping yourself will affect your margins.
- How many other sellers are already selling similar products? If there are many more of this item sold every week than there are other sellers, you’re probably in good shape. On the other hand, if there are a lot of sellers for the number of items being moved, competition—including by lowering prices—is likely to be fierce. There are many other details that can be considered for larger business and selling strategy questions, but for sourcing on the spot, especially for sellers just starting out, this is a simple, basic checklist that produces good results.