Resale 101: Selling Liquidated Merchandise: Local vs Online
Once you’ve acquired liquidated merchandise, the first question to answer is where are you going to sell it? There are multiple options, and you’ll need to think about which suits your business model. Do you enjoy the one-on-one interaction with customers, or do you prefer the anonymity of online selling?
Online selling options are endless, and there are multiple ways to sell liquidated merchandise locally as well. There are also hybrid models using the internet to sell to your local community. This article will discuss selling liquidation merchandise locally, on the internet, and locally through the internet.
Selling Liquidated Merchandise Locally
There are still plenty of people who prefer the human touch and want to buy products in person. You can use your social skills to engage customers in person and make sales. This form of selling leads to repeat customers and attracts additional customers through word-of-mouth. Certain product lines are particularly suited to local sales, such as furniture, appliances, large toys, or large power tools. These items are expensive to ship and can be sold without this additional cost if you can sell directly to a customer and avoid having to ship them.
Consider setting up your own discount retail space. Retail space in the right area will showcase your liquidated merchandise to potential customers and make your business visible to the community. Try to get space with high foot traffic and/or visibility from a heavily trafficked roadway.
The downside to renting retail space is the cost. You’ll have to consider factors such as rent, utility bills, taxes, and any staff costs, which can quickly mount, especially if you are looking at property in prime locations.
You need to have a reliable supplier that can provide a steady stream of inventory to keep the shelves full before you agree to rent a retail space.
Source: Oberlo, 2021.
Flea Markets and Swap Meets
Many cities hold flea markets regularly, and renting a booth or stall is relatively inexpensive compared to operating your own retail space. Flea markets are a good place to sell your stock, especially lower-priced items or products that are not easy to sell online (for example, items that would cost too much to ship). You can advertise your products on the flea market Facebook groups in advance to build interest.
When you are running out of storage space due to merchandise that isn’t selling, it’s time for a garage sale. Garage sales are good for clearing out space quickly, allowing you to bring in more profitable merchandise again.
It is essential to check with your city and Home Owner’s Association to see when and how these are allowed in your neighborhood.
Selling Liquidated Merchandise Locally Through the Internet
There is a happy medium between online and local sales – listing your sales online to your local area. Customers can pick up your products, or you can drop them off without incurring expensive shipping costs.
Facebook Marketplace is an online platform created by Facebook that allows users to sell merchandise locally.
The platform is entirely free to use, apart from additional tools and plugins. Facebook Marketplace charges no fees for listings or sales, unless you use Facebook’s Commerce Manager, for which you will be charged a flat fee of 5% on sales. In exchange for this fee, Commerce Manager allows you to create an entire catalog, run sales across both Facebook and Instagram; it also offers purchase protection and customer checkout, as well as the ability to track your sales and trends.
One of the advantages of this platform is that businesses can use it for advertising their stores and inventories to potential local customers. This allows businesses to test their local market and find out what sells, with minimal risk.
Source: Fundera, 2020.
In addition to using Facebook Marketplace, many sellers also use local groups to list their items. There will be buying/selling groups in most areas, or local community groups that also allow selling. In fact, Facebook makes it easy to post Marketplace listings onto your groups, and actively encourages you to do so, to reach more interested local buyers.
As with all Facebook groups, you need to be a member to be able to post – this acts as a kind of filter that makes sure both buyers and sellers are in the same local area. This makes your listings more targeted than general Marketplace listings, and is completely free to do. Just make sure you abide by posting or product restrictions agreed by the group admins; otherwise, you might get your posting privileges revoked.
Posting on Craigslist is very easy. You do not need to have an account to post on Craigslist, but having an account will make it easier for you to repost, edit and delete. Posting is also free, with a few specific exceptions.
OfferUp is a platform that attracts millions of visitors monthly, mostly in the United States. OfferUp’s convenient smartphone app (both iOS and Android) makes it very easy to navigate the platform. The registration process is very simple, and so is listing your products for sale. You can list a product very quickly by simply taking a photo and uploading it.
OfferUp charges no fees for posting, but you will be charged service fees for some transactions. Costs are shown when the listing is created. You can also choose one of two paid plans, Promote and Promote Plus, which will help promote your listings.
VarageSale is a virtual garage sale, a platform that facilitates buying and selling items at a local level, with millions of members, mostly in the United States and Canada. It is a family-friendly app that adds security to the process by confirming the identity of users through a manual review process.
Available also through a mobile app for Android, iOS and Kindle devices, VarageSale allows users to search for listings, filter results and check seller ratings. Listing products for sale is also very easy: you just need to take a picture and add a description. VarageSale is completely free to use, as no fees are charged.
Tips for Selling Liquidated Merchandise Locally
- Try selling at a flea market first or exclusively through local online channels before considering investing in a retail space due to the overhead costs. Flea markets and swap meets alongside Facebook Marketplace will help you to measure demand for products in your local area, before you consider retail space.
- Consider discount bins and loss-leaders to sell your liquidated merchandise. This means allowing some of your merchandise to sell at lower prices (even making a loss) in order to drive traffic. This will help your business gain a reputation as a low-cost alternative to your competitors, even if you price other products to drive profit.
- Use a combination of online and offline sales to find customers, in order to get established and find out how customers in your area like to shop.
- A focus on customer relations and friendly interactions is especially important when selling locally, as your sales will take place in person. Treat every customer as a potential returning customer, and don’t underestimate word-of-mouth sales and your ratings on online review sites such as YELP – especially as a new business.
Selling Liquidated Merchandise Online
3rd Party Marketplaces
Source: Oberlo, 2021.
eBay was founded to give individuals the opportunity to sell their own products, and so it is easy to use and ideal for beginners and non-professional sellers.
If you plan to sell large quantities of products, you will need to get a business account. Your options range from the Starter pack for $4.95 ( full year subscription) up to $2,999.95 for the Enterprise package
As for fees, for most categories, the final value fee is 12.55% or lower plus a $0.30 transaction fee, although this will vary depending on the category of products being sold. This flat fee does not include the payment processing fee charged by PayPal (2.9% + $0.30 of the total selling price, including the sales tax) – You can find a calculator for fees here.
The rules for selling liquidated merchandise on eBay are the same as for selling brand new items. Nevertheless, it’s essential to fully inform your customers about the source and condition of your products. This will protect your reputation as a seller and prevent returns and bad reviews.
As the largest online marketplace in the world, one of the most visited websites in the United States, and an app accessed by over a hundred million users monthly, Amazon presents you with excellent opportunities to resell your merchandise to a huge number of potential customers. They also provide you with many useful tools to reach your goals.
However, Amazon also has strict and complex rules sellers of liquidated merchandise have to adhere to. You will need to register for a seller account. Whether the account is Individual or Professional depends on your business needs. Each option comes with its own rules and guidelines, setting out how much you can sell per month as well as the fees charged. Amazon charges a 15% commission (processing fees included), higher than eBay. JungleScout also has a handy guide outlining what conditions of products can be sold for each category on Amazon.
Walmart Marketplace is a great option for existing businesses looking to sell new (overstock, shelf pulls, closeouts) and refurbished items. However, it should be noted that used items can’t be sold through Walmart Marketplace. You need to apply to become a certified seller on Walmart.com, and there are several eligibility requirements. There is no setup or monthly fee, and the marketplace is simple to use, no technical skills required. You can also manage your product listings on Walmart Marketplace through your Shopify account.
There are a number of other online selling opportunities – check out our guide: Where to Resell Online – The Top 25 Platforms.
Source: Fundera, 2020.
Build Your Own Site to Sell Liquidated Merchandise
An alternative to selling through an established online marketplace is to create your own website and advertise. The latter point is key here – without managing a marketing campaign, you won’t drive any traffic to your website.
Shopify is a cloud-based solution that provides you with the tools to set up and run your own online store. Shopify is a market-leading online sales platform that has helped 1,000,000 businesses in 175 countries with $200 billion in sales in 2017. Shopify offers both free and paid templates that make setting up your online store very easy.
Set up as a SaaS solution, Shopify is subscription-based, with plans ranging from the Lite Plan ($9/month) to the Shopify Plus plan ($2000/month) for high volume sellers, with several other plans in between. It also offers a 14-day free trial. Shopify charges transaction fees, unless you use “Shopify Payments.”
BigCommerce, one of Shopify’s main competitors, is also a SaaS platform that offers its clients the tools they need to set up and run their online stores. It provides easy and functional templates, with drag and drop features, including in their many free templates, particularly suitable for inexperienced users.
BigCommerce offers four plans, ranging from Standard ($29.95/month) to Enterprise. The Enterprise Plan is a custom plan, with pricing available upon consultation. BigCommerce also offers a 15-day free trial and charges no transaction fees.
Magento Open Source is a highly customizable e-commerce platform. It includes a number of very useful features like catalog management, mobile-optimized shopping, and integrated checkout, payment, and shipping features. Unlike it’s competitors Magento requires you to host this script yourself on a server. You will need technical experience with web hosting, DNS and script installation to make it work.
Source: WebsiteSetup.org, 2021.
Tips for Selling Liquidated Merchandise Online
- Invest in both online and offline tools – an investment in a UPC barcode reader and logger will save you time. Shipping label printers will also speed up the shipping process. Partnering with websites such as stamps.com can save you money on postage. If you’re working with larger quantities of merchandise, investing in stock management software is essential. Learn about these tools and more with our guide: Top Resources For Wholesalers: The Tools You Need.
- Explore the fees for each marketplace you plan to use. These will cut into your profits so you need to be aware of the cost before you set your prices. Fees can be different for each category as well.
- Larger marketplaces have seller forums where you can post questions and get answers from the seller community. This can be more helpful than trying to decipher a marketplace’s policy documentation.
- Consider purchasing inventory that is inexpensive to ship with higher price points – i.e., a lot of value in a small size (think smartphones).
- While building your own site may seem like a no-brainer, how will you get traffic to your site? And what will that traffic cost? 3rd party marketplaces charge a listing fee but they also have built-in traffic. Marketing is time-consuming and expensive, but necessary when choosing to run your own website.
There are multiple options available to you for selling liquidation merchandise both in-person or online. It’s always a good idea to explore your options by attempting to sell through multiple channels to find out what works for you.
Henley currently works as a sales representative for Direct Liquidation, assisting businesses with product sourcing of liquidated merchandise from the largest retailers in the world. Whether you are looking for a pallet or a truckload Henley is here to help you grow your business.
View Henley’s Bio on YouTube.
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