To Share or Not to Share a BOLO

man-looking-through-binoculars2In our last blog post, we talked about how to capitalize on a BOLO. We shared many ideas of how to make the most out of both your time and your money when it comes to a BOLO.  Note: In today’s blog, we’ll be discussing retail store BOLOs (not garage sale, thrift store, or other types of BOLOs).

As you may know, BOLO stands for “Be On the Look Out” and generally refers to a hard-to-find product that you need to be looking for in order to buy cheap and flip for high profits. It only takes a few months of doing FBA to recognize that you keep finding a specific product that seems to resell fairly fast. Most BOLOs are  hard to find (i.e. limited production or out of print items), but sometimes it’s an item that can be found many places. You’re always on the look out for these items and sometimes hop from store to store looking for them. It could be clearance or regular priced, but you always are looking for them to buy and flip.

Some resellers are totally against sharing BOLOs while others share them often. So what should you do when you find a BOLO? Should you share it or keep the find to yourself? The choice is up to you, but I’d like for you to consider a few things before making your choice.

1. Is it really a BOLO?

Just because you scan an item and all the Amazon sellers are asking big bucks for it, doesn’t make it a BOLO. The rank and the ROI (return on investment) both need to be good. It would help if the product has good reviews and is a brand name. Just because you scan “Miss Suzy Cries A Lot” (a toy with no sales rank) and everyone on Amazon is asking $200 for it, doesn’t make it a BOLO.

2. Is it possible that this item really isn’t that hard to find?

Hard To FindThink of what would happen if you shared a BOLO that could be found at almost every Walmart store. Sure, you keep buying that item for $5 and selling it for $25, but what would happen if 100+ other resellers started doing the same thing? Chances are that, over time, the price would most likely be lowered significantly, and you would not resell your item as fast as you were before. Maybe you have the patience to wait for the prices to rise back to what you’d like to sell it for, but the timing for that possible rise is completely unknown. If the item is not hard to find, then it might be in your own best interest to keep this find to yourself.

3. Are you OK with revealing someone else’s BOLO?

Sure, you may have found a great item from Walgreens to flip. In fact, you drove all over town to visit all 10 Walgreens in your area to buy them out of that particular item. You sent the items in to Amazon, and they sold fast. You keep going to Walgreens to see if they will be restocked, but they never are. You decide to share your BOLO find online so you could help others, but someone else isn’t too happy about it. You see, they too have found that item and have been reselling it on Amazon for months. Their stores keep restocking, so they keep reselling. But now, someone else has shared this item online and what once was a quick source of income for them has now slowed down dramatically.

4. How would you feel if someone broadcasted your personal BOLO?

I’ve had one of my BOLO items broadcasted, and I wasn’t too happy about it. But it also didn’t ruin my day. I know that this is just part of business, and I expect it to happen again sometime.

I’m not telling anyone what decision to make when it comes to sharing BOLOs, but I do think that we all need to think about these things before we post a BOLO publicly.

So, what do you do if someone shares one of your precious BOLOs and you’re not happy about it? How you respond to this happening to you could either make or lose you money in the long run, so it’s very important to think about how to best respond.

1. Respond with respect. Most of the responses I’ve seen online to BOLO broadcasts have been rude and disrespectful. This kind of response does no good for anyone.

2. Respond with a direct message. Consider sending a direct message to the one who posted the BOLO and explain your situation. Perhaps they’d consider removing the post if they understood where you are coming from. I think most people would understand and possibly remove the BOLO broadcast.

3. Decide how you want to react with your current BOLO items on Amazon. If you think that hundreds of your BOLO items are headed to Amazon, do you want to sell out as fast as possible, or will you hold on to the item and wait it out? I teach that patience brings profits, but I also know that some of you work with a business model that focuses on quick flips.

BOLOs are great, but don’t focus your business around them. They are nice every now and then, but eventually others will find out about this item or the store you buy them from will not restock them anymore. A business model focused around BOLOs will not survive in the long run. You need to have a well rounded list of inventory items (long tail, short tail, BOLOs, etc).

What do you think? What experiences do you have with BOLOs? Is there a good time to share a BOLO? What have you learned about BOLOs that you’d like to share with the group? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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8 Responses to To Share or Not to Share a BOLO

  1. BigB from Canuckville

    I never thought to ask someone to take down a BOLO in a BOLO group, I am not sure of the ethics of that. Some BOLOs even off the shelf at a popular venue seem to be able to withstand the onslaught of hundreds of new sellers. You just never know, and yes I have been outed too :(

  2. I have joined a bolo group on Facebook. It is private and has a yearly subscription fee. I personally have no issues with sharing. I think there are so many items to sell that it is impossible to look for every one. Also, I do not believe bolos are particularly secret although we would all love to believe we are the only people who have found an item that no one else will ever find. It is just unrealistic thinking. Plus, to tie yourself down to one product can put you at risk. Constantly looking at new items in new categories is a must. Supply can dry up for all kinds of reasons.

  3. Excellent points Brian and Stephanie! Especially the point of constantly looking for new items in new categories. If we, as Amazon sellers are not able to constantly adjust, then our businesses will eventually die. It’s so important to consistently learn new things about the business, be open to changing things up, scan new categories of items, and even scan things we’ve already written off. We all need to continue to adapt in order to survive and thrive in this business.

  4. I have no problem with anyone outing one of my BOLOs. It will suck temporarily, but I will still recoup my money in time. If you were selling at unrealistic prices, you had a temporary monopoly and should have dropped the price a little to sell out before others played race to the bottom. You cannot control what others do, just stick to your business and hustle. So what if you lost one product, there are millions more out there!

  5. Stephen,
    Thanks for the article. Just found your blog when googling “fba strategies for after christmas”. It has been interesting reading.

    I know there are a decent number of fba forums out there. As I am trying to read as much as possible as a new seller, what are some of the more valuable ones that you read or participate in?
    Thanks!

    • Paul,
      Thanks for the comment. You’ll be happy to know that my next blog post is on FBA Strategies For After Christmas.” I hope it will give you some good ideas.
      As for FBA communities out there, I’m involved in many. There is a Yahoo email group called “The FBA Forum.” There are also many facebook groups that specialize in FBA conversations. Some of my favorite are ScanPower, Scanner Monkey, 3P COmmunity, Fast Turn Radio, Amazon Fulfillment FBA Seller, and Profit Bandit.
      Hope this helps!
      Stephen

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