What I’ve Learned From Buying Things and Selling Them Online

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Flipping items online is one of the best ways to start a business. For a while, I had a mental block on how to start something for myself. I think a lot of us get there by trying to do too much and not having focus. I decided to break out of that mindset by buying various items in stores and flipping them online. After a few wins and losses on these flips, I want to share what I’ve learned with you.

The internet is truly a beautiful tool to make money with. As I type this, there are individuals and companies making loads of money by selling things on websites like Amazon and Ebay. A few months ago, I got an urge to start exercising my entrepreneurial tendencies. Not knowing where to start, I fell back on what come second nature to me. I got into selling items on Ebay as a teenager. I love electronics and my obsession at the time was cell phones. After going through several cell phones, I found out a good way to get rid of the backups, would be to sell them online instead of trading them into the store. I sold a few cell phones on Ebay and moved up to tablets. I’ve since sold about 5 phones and 2 tablets on Ebay, so I have some knowledge about how technology sells on the platform.

I’ve used arbitrage, or buying things for cheap and selling high, as was method to dig deep into how entrepreneurial I am. The one problem I have now is the lack of electronic items just lying around waiting to be sold. Thinking outside the box and having some guidance from third party sources, I began going to retail shops like Ross and Burlington to find that items on sale, to sell online for a profit. I can remember just a few month ago, walking into Ross, looking at all the shelves and walking right back out because I was so overwhelmed.The goal was to find something amazing, cheap and fun. Of course that doesn't mean much, so I left the store with nothing in hand. I count that day a failure and a learning experience. I let my emotions take over and let the experience go to my head. The second time, I made it a point to leave the store with something in hand so I went to a Burlington Coat Factory store and bought some shoe fresheners and bluetooth speakers. Walking around the store showed some opportunities, and I settled on bluetooth speakers on sale. I knew at that moment, branching out to more industries other than technology will pay off. I walked around the store a few more times before finding some shoe air fresheners on sale. My interest was piqued, so I bought both the speakers and shoe fresheners to post on Ebay. The idea was to learn from selling these items and understand how the whole process works.

Selling both of these taught me a lot about myself and the e-commerce process in general. The biggest lesson was to lower costs in order to maximize profits, so I bought my own shipping envelopes and started raising prices on products. The next time I walked into that Ross store, I wasn’t overwhelmed. Now I can walked into any store and do a quick analysis of what’s on sale and what will make the most sense to flip. Trying to find more opportunities in stores led me to find other stores such as the goodwill store chain, the local salvation army stores and even government auction sites. There are many options to find things for cheap and my search for these sources has led me down the discovery of dropshipping. This is the process of selling items to consumers, by having the manufacturer ship it straight to the customer. This cuts out having to handle fulfillment of orders and end up saving resources. I’m a supply chain professional by trade, so this should have been higher on my radar, but I searched deeper and found out there are many people utilizing this tactic to make the money on the internet. One outlet I found was Oberlo, which connects products on AliExpress and shipping services from Shopify, but there are other services just like this. Other than Oberlo, there’s Saleshoo, Doba and Gooten. I’ve been studying these services and trying to find out the right market I could use them in. Consumers want good quality products shipped to them quickly at an affordable price. Having the right products that falls in these categories would make the most sense. When I find that product, I’ll double down and begin a dropshipping business myself.

Learning to optimize profits from selling items online has been great. I’ve lost a few bucks here and there and have gained profits on other transactions. The most impactful change has been becoming a smarter consumer. Whenever I buy things now, I not only think about how much I should spend, but also if I can sell it back to the market at a later time for profit. I’ve also found opportunities to sell things from my network. My friend was moving out of his apartment and gave me his appliances he no longer wanted. I started thinking about how much money those appliances would make on Craigslist and prepped to sell them. Another venue I’ve found to get products is to sell sports memorabilia from giveaways at sporting events. As much as I enjoy sports events I have no big affiliations, so when I go to a baseball game and they give out memorabilia, I don’t hesitate to post it online for sale.

There are so many ways to start selling online with lots of opportunities to be become profitable. With the right niche, the sky’s the limit. This is is something I hope to never stop doing. There’s something about buying something for cheap and selling it later for profit. It gives me a high that drives me, and It makes me so excited. What are your experiences with selling things online?