Reselling During the Pandemic: Huge Challenges & Opportunities, But Perspective Helps Too

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Reselling During the Pandemic
A popular 2018 toy.

Reselling During the Pandemic

This pandemic has thrown all of our norms on their head and that includes the Amazon reselling game. Admittedly I had come into 2020 with a warehouse full of stuff but the goal of winding down our reselling business to a more manageable level. In 2019 I had already started that process and felt good about the direction we were moving in. Owning a massive Amazon retail business was never what I set out to do, but I don’t want to skip great opportunities either. Balance is always so hard to find.

Of course balance was thrown out the window in March when things changed for everyone. At first I was slow to jump on reselling opportunities as I focused on wrapping my head around what was happening. I also never considered buying any health/safety equipment to resell and don’t understand how/why anyone would want to. I get that for some people a sale is a sale, but there are so many other areas one could focus on instead of hoarding sanitizer.

Many Items Were Very Popular

One area we did quite well with was toys early on in the pandemic. We had a lot of them and prices spiked much earlier than I would have thought. Lego sets I expected to have to hold on to until at least Christmas were selling for crazy amounts. Other toys followed a similar pattern. It was like a mini 4th quarter!

Throughout the past 6 months there have been non-essential supply shortages too. Things like pools were in short supply and I admittedly missed out on some opportunities early. Eventually I sourced some pools, electronics, toys and other stuff and have done pretty well selling them, but we only have so much bandwidth so we have had to skip other opportunities.

Find seasonal items or clearance can be really good, but sometimes you have to hold a long time and sometimes it can be a bust. I bought these in 2017, but maybe they would not have done so well this year?!?

Finding Balance Is Hard

Balance is hard to find in life and in business and especially when you can find ways to make money. I think many resellers fail to take into account the impact on their life that this game can have. The reality of ordering, receiving, selling and shipping hundreds of a large item like a pool for example is not one for the faint of heart. I’m lucky my wife Jasmine is such a rock star. She really is the backbone of all of our reselling endeavors.

As we move into Christmas there will be many more opportunities, but they also come with increased competition. Yes, the Playstation 5 will be a great thing to resell, but the battle and time spent to get them will certainly take away from the profits just a bit. At what point do we hit our limit? Knowing that is as important in this game as having good bookkeeping.

I guess knowing your limit comes with experience. This year my experience has played a big part in helping me make some bolder decisions when it came to reselling. When I first started I often ordered 3 or 5 of an item and now that order may be 10X or 20X that size. I’ve learned to become more comfortable with my instincts and the fact that I mostly am right and when I’m wrong we tend not to lose big. Experience has also taught me to pursue avenues/products that far fewer people are interested in. Yes, I bought some Playstation 5s, but in November you might see me buying other stuff instead of wasting my time tracking down more.

Reselling During the Pandemic – Rewards & Records

One of the nicer side effects of reselling is the credit card rewards it generates. Thankfully I have been able to keep earning a decent number of points on my various cards throughout this pandemic because I am spending. I’ve bought and sold gift cards, much of the stuff mentioned above and even more as I rode the wave of 2020 and prepared for the Christmas selling season. My AT&T Access More card has gotten quite the workout for online purchases while I’ve also done well with grocery and gas bonus categories on some of my cards. To round out my earning strategy I can flex up my spending with Capital One Spark, Blue Business Plus and BofA Travel Rewards as well. And don’t forget my Chase Ink cards!

2020 also brought some new records for our reselling business. While we have always been very strong in October-December and decently strong the rest of the year, we broke our monthly sales records in June, July, August and September. It doesn’t seem like people are slowing down when it comes to buying stuff. I just wish online retailers could keep up with the demand.

Reselling During the Pandemic
There is nothing like filling up a cart or seven with some great deals!

Quality Control Is Out The Window

Yes, you can order a package and get it in a day, but is it going to arrive undamaged? The answer is largely no. I order from Amazon a lot and so much stuff is damaged now. The quality control is just not there and that worries me for my customers as someone who uses Amazon’s fulfillment service. If online retailers are able to keep this expanded market share they captured, then they need to do a better job of training and accountability. No one wants bent, cut, sliced or crushed stuff.

Quality control just doesn’t extend to Amazon and their shipping partners, but to us as well. As we are stretched thinner we must remember to maintain standards, keep up with returns, stay on top of fraudsters, make sure we are getting paid and so much more! It’s important that we maintain quality control and record keeping within our businesses as well. Easier said than done!

Reselling During the Pandemic – Bottom Line

And so this year has been unlike any other for just about every reason you can imagine. Everything we have gotten used to has sort of been flipped on its side, but for some reason that created opportunity for resellers. To be clear I have enjoyed some of that opportunity, but I would give it all up to be rid of this virus and pandemic. I also realize the significant loss of life, jobs and more that has happened and it weighs on me like it does so many of you.

With that said, now seems to be a great time to be in the reselling game, but if you are new just learn your limits. I still plan to wind down some of our reselling after this holiday season, but the reality now is it is as much a part of my life as the miles/points game and while I may pass on a lot more buys in the future, I’ll always be there to jump on a great opportunity.

How has your reselling game gone during the pandemic?

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10 COMMENTS

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10 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve been reselling on Amazon for several years. In March through May I did very well with puzzles. My FBA inventory sold out quickly and at good prices, but then they became harder to find. Many of the puzzle manufacturers closed for a few months. Now Amazon is back on a lot of the listings, but I have 100s of puzzles listed and ready to go when Amazon sells out leading up to Christmas.

  2. I really want to put myselt in the reselling game on Amazon. We get so many gift from family and friends from brand names clothes, shoes, wallet, hand bags, and beauty makeup. Amazon is really hard to sell brand names on it and I would love to know how people do it and I’m more than welling to work with anyone who could help in this.

    Thank you so much for any kind of help.

    • It’s hard to get approved for many brands on Amazon now because of so many scammers. It just takes time to build a business and eventually get approvals to sell various categories/brands. Even now there are some brands I cannot sell and it stinks! I’m not aware of any real shortcuts other than building with products that you can sell.

  3. My business for the last 8 years was ticket reselling. Obvious that went out the window in March. Been a tough 2020 and trying to find new things to resell. Any groups you’d recommend joining (already part of M2M reselling)? Or references?

    • Sourcing Simplifiers is a decent group for Amazon Reselling. If you search our site for the term “reselling” or “million dollar reseller” we have a decent number of articles on various topics about getting started.

  4. By the end of July I had done more business than the entire year of 2019. Looking forward to Q4 with trepidation. Shipping is the weak link going forward and I don’t think there is a solution yet. I am expanding to more marketplaces and mixing self-fulfilled with FBA and Deliverr. Shipping my own orders mostly by USPS was the saving grace during shutdowns. Most orders were delivered in a few days and I could almost name my price on some items. Amazon boards were filled with folks who discovered the danger of relying on FBA and got shut down.
    As someone who lives off reselling, I get nervous when I see points bloggers writing articles about reselling. Too many in this hobby care solely about the points and kill the margins for those of us that depend on reselling. This time of year, customers are more picky and returns go way up. Margins smooth out the unavoidable costs.
    I cycled my cashback cards quite a bit buying inventory, points were less useful at the time.

    • That’s fair Dave, but I’ve been writing about this stuff since 2014 and have very consistently told people it is a business and they should do it for a profit. I also have a $1M+ year reselling business so I feel that gives me some standing to share my experiences. I totally agree people doing it for little profit sucks and in the end they ultimately are probably costing themselves money given the time commitment and everything that can go wrong. I’ve been on a product or two with some newbie resellers this pandemic and their behavior drove me nuts. Not sure how to combat that.

  5. Been selling things that I already own and doing well. I won’t buy clearance items to sell until I get rid of what I already have.

    • Nothing wrong with that. Taking profits and reinvesting for growth is a great way to build a reselling business in a less risky way!

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