Targeted Product Sourcing Strategies for Online Sellers
Most resellers spend a lot of time looking for items to add to their inventory. For many salespeople, this may take up 20 or 30 hours of their week, while others may spend even longer than that.
For most of the early years of my resale business, I had to do the same. I spent the vast majority of my time randomly driving garage sales, church sales, flea markets, thrift stores, antique stores, and auctions. The hope was to find enough good wares to pay for my time and still be able to make a good profit from the items I found. Some days I did very well, while other days ended up being a total waste of my time.
It’s not just your time that you’re wasting, but also gas money, and maybe lunch money as you stock up all day. It also puts a strain on your vehicle, not to mention the mental stress of daily provisioning.
For those who may not live near good supply points, you may need to travel a fair distance, which will increase the time needed to supply. In some places, there may simply not be good places to stock up. I’ve lived and shopped in Florida, Virginia, Mississippi, and Ohio, and each location had its own pros and cons.
In Ohio, my supply options are limited. When I was selling clothes, for example, I had great competition for the very limited amount of profitable clothes. I had to be the very first through the door to make most of the sales worth my time. Even being the first through the door wasn’t always enough.
Many times I would be the first person in line for a garage sale or estate sale that advertised large amounts of profitable items. But once I entered the sale, I found that someone had shown up the night before and had been able to purchase most of the top items.
Incidents like these are common in my area, which is why I mostly only do target sourcing these days. With Targeted Sourcing, I only look for very specific items from very specific sources. I’m not driving randomly, but I already know where I’m going and what I expect to get.
A good example of this is my constant search for bulk lots of vintage 45s and 78s. Of course, many garage sales, flea markets, and thrift stores will have them, but they’ve often been picked out multiple times before I see them. The amount found at these locations is also usually very limited.
With targeted sourcing, I look for places that would have fair large batches of records, such as a jukebox supply company, radio station, and local or college libraries. Sometimes a warehouse that was used by a record label or distributor 30 or 40 years ago may still have inventory locked up in the attic or a back room. It only takes someone like me to do some research to find and buy these kinds of disc bundles.
Another good example are the movie collectibles that we regularly find in movie theaters and closed drive-ins. Most people would be surprised at how many collectibles can be found in these closed businesses. Most of our best buys have been found in these kinds of places.
Local businesses that close can also be very lucrative. Restaurants, for example, can have both collectibles mounted on the dining room walls and expensive high-end kitchen equipment, all at the same time. The auctions or auctions of these types of businesses can be great places to find bulk inventory.
Often, you won’t have much competition (if any) in these types of sales. I once went to a local shoe repair store’s foreclosure sale because I knew they had collectible tools and equipment mounted all over their showroom walls, and I was able to purchase hundreds of collectibles both off the walls and in the back room. I was the only one showing up for the collectibles, and most of the items I was able to purchase at the opening auction.
Targeted sourcing, however, may not be for everyone. If you don’t like spending hours researching and cold calling people and businesses, this may not be for you. Some of our best buys have taken months or even a year to complete.
I spent eleven months of routine phone calls and emails to acquire 500 pounds of antique uniform buttons from a warehouse owner. It was by far our best purchase last year, and it will make us far more money than any other purchase.
I spend a lot more time researching, but I still spend a lot less time researching sources of supply than when I was driving randomly.
However, not all attempts at Target Sourcing will succeed, and some leads may be a waste of time, but, overall, I’ve had much more success with Target Sourcing.