Although my FBA business has transitioned to become more focused on wholesale over the past couple of years, retail arbitrage (RA) is still one of my top methods of sourcing. I’ve shared some of my favorite RA sourcing strategies with you in blog posts in the past:
The 2 Best Retail Arbitrage Sourcing Strategies
How to Find Profitable Inventory for Amazon FBA Sourcing
Our Favorite Amazon FBA Sourcing App
Today I want to give you my top 5 RA tips that don’t really relate to buying, but have everything to do with success.
1. Retail arbitrage is not illegal, so source with confidence.
Sometimes new Amazon sellers can be timid when sourcing in retail stores. They are shy about scanning items in public and worry they could get in trouble for what they’re doing. Now, some stores frown upon resellers, so the store policy might prevent you from scanning freely — but retail arbitrage is not illegal. You are not doing anything against the law by scanning inventory in a retail store, so scan with confidence. Respect the store policy, but don’t be afraid that you’re breaking the law.
2. Just tell the truth if another customer asks you questions.
If customers ask you why you’re scanning items or why you have a cart full of toys, don’t be afraid to briefly and truthfully answer their questions. You don’t have to elaborate if you don’t want to, but you can always give a short statement like, “I have an online store, and I’m buying toys to sell on Amazon.” There is no reason to be deceitful; sometimes people are just curious, not judgmental. A short, truthful answer is much better (and less suspicious!) than acting weird, evading the question, or just running away and hiding.
3. Be open with store employees about what you are doing.
The same thing goes with employees — if a store employee asks what you’re doing, give them a short, honest answer. Again, some stores are not reseller-friendly, so be careful about sourcing in those stores. Many stores, however, are more than open to the idea of Amazon sellers sourcing their inventory from their shelves. Many times I’ve had a store employee ask what I’m doing, and when I answer that I’m looking for deals to sell on Amazon, I get the answer, “Oh, we have more stuff in the back you can look at.” They actually help me find even better deals!
4. Develop good relationships with store employees and managers.
Along the same lines as the last point…
If you make it a habit to be truthful and friendly with store employees and managers, you will begin to develop relationships with them and have even more opportunities to buy amazing RA deals. I’ve had store managers ask for my contact information so they can let me know when a new round of clearance is coming up. I’ve had opportunities to ask store managers if they can give me an even better discount on already low clearance prices if I buy out all of a certain item. Being friendly and personable can go a long way in this business!
5. Leave the store better than you found it.
Believe it or not, a little kindness can go a long way when you’re sourcing in retail stores. Some stores don’t like resellers because they come in and trash the clearance aisle, and store employees have to clean up after them. Don’t be that way! Always straighten up after yourself, and offer to help organize inventory or clean up an aisle if you see an opportunity. Whether you get anything out of it or not, it’s just the right thing to do to be helpful and not destructive.
Hopefully these tips will help you have a more successful and pleasant experience the next time you are out doing some RA sourcing for your FBA business.
Again, I do want to mention that there are a few stores out there (Target and Kohl’s come to mind) that are not reseller friendly. In these types of stores, you could still discreetly make purchases in small amounts, but you wouldn’t be able to use your tax exempt certificate as a reseller. Personally, I don’t spend a lot of time in stores that aren’t reseller friendly because I’ve found too many other stores in my area that love for me to come and buy up lots of inventory at a time.
What tips would you add to my list above? Have you found some strategies that help you have a great day of RA sourcing, tips that don’t necessarily relate to actual buying decisions but can make all the difference in your long-term success? We would love to hear from you in the comments!
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Julie Iwuagwu says
I was able to watch the webinar on retail Arbitrage. Some of the question I have on RA was answered there. I enjoyed it so well. I have to thank you immensely for all your effort to get so many of us educated on intricacies about Amazon. You have a kind heart. God will reward you(make you richer 100 fold in your Amazon business).
Ed Dassie says
Thanks Stephen I just watched your webinar and it was very encouraging. Especially the comments on persistence and consistency, which I have a real problem with. Thanks a ton!!
I find myself frustrated at times with competition on RA. For example, I will create a listing with great photos and do extremely well with the product and along comes another seller and literally will list for half the price. Why??? Are they clueless how this works? Do they not want to make a good profit? They obviously do not do their homework. Wondering if you have experienced this and have any advice. Thanks in Advance! Alina
Stephen Smotherman says
I totally get your frustration. I’ve been there. All I know is that I need to let go of the things that I have no control over. If I dwell on this frustration too long, it will seep into other areas of my life. Who knows why other seller price for much less… maybe they have a huge stock and are wanting fast sales to get rid of their stock… or maybe they know that they can make more overall with smaller ROI but faster sales…. or maybe it’s a counterfeit item that cost them pennies… or maybe this… or maybe that… Too much thinking about this can bring us down. So the best thing is to hold fast to your price and see if they sell out and disappear. Or reach out to the manufacturer and seek a wholesale account (www.fulltimefba.com/addwholesale). If the other seller sells out, then you can sell again at your profits level. If they don’t leave then move on to other profitable items. Another option is to create a bundle that will be hard to copy. Overall, succeeding on Amazon is about riding the profit waves as long as possible… some waves are like tidal waves, and others are smaller, but most product waves are temporary. But you are not alone in your frustration. I hope this helps.
Thank you for the encouragement. 🙂