Not long ago there was a lot of buzz on eBay's e-commerce forum about a new book by Chris Green called Online Arbitrage: Sourcing Secrets for Buying Products Online to Resell for Big Profits. In it he offers expert, step-by-step instructions for buying and then selling products online.
These instructions were not available elsewhere, at least not in one source. It seemed Green was the seller's seller, with respected e-merchants like John Lawson and Stephanie Inge touting his work. Inge, for example, says Green is the person who convinced her to begin using Fulfillment by Amazon.
I started by selling wresting action figures on eBay. I'd go to Kmart, and see what they had, drive home and start looking them up on eBay to see which ones were selling
"As far as Amazon, he taught me everything I know," she says, adding, "He's a very smart guy with a brilliant business mind."
More than a book
Now, when you check out Green's new book you'll probably feel sticker shock. Amazon, for instance, sells the 480-page work for more than $200.
But that's because this is much more than a book. It includes bonus material, such as links to unlisted videos with Green at a computer actually showing you, step by step, how to do what he's written about. It's more like a class, than a book.
In Part 1 of our interview with Green, he explains what online arbitrage is, details some of his strategies for sourcing products online and gives examples of some of the sites he uses. In Part 2, he tells us about some of his best buys, explains how FBA fits into his business model, gives us tips for getting the best prices possible when you source and more.
Author has lots of know-how to share
Schepp: Tell us about your e-commerce background.
Green: I've been selling online since 1999, primarily on Amazon and eBay. I started by selling wresting action figures on eBay. I'd go to Kmart, and see what they had, drive home and start looking them up on eBay to see which ones were selling and at what price. Then I'd go back and buy the ones that were selling well.
I've still got every Steve Austin from the beginning to 2010, and they're not worth anything now, but I put so much time into them by now.
I've sold over $2 million worth of product purchased exclusively from retail stores (retail and online). I've used the exact same strategies in the book myself to acquire large quantities of products to resell online for a profit.
Online arbitrage is simply the name for sourcing inventory to resell for a profit using online retailers as the source
Schepp: What is online arbitrage?
Green: Online arbitrage is simply the name for sourcing inventory to resell for a profit using online retailers as the source.
You want to find products for sale at a price that can be resold for a higher price. This is primarily done by purchasing items at prices significantly lower than the market price or strategically selling products that are selling at an above-retail price under the right market conditions.
You could also source products from brick-and-mortar retailers, or wholesalers, but my book is strictly about the methods of acquiring inventory from online retailers.
The deals are out there
Schepp: What are some strategies for sourcing items online?
Green: There are chapters about using tools and websites to look at historic sales price and sales rank histories on Amazon items that gives you the ability to look back in time and make educated guesses about what will happen in the near to medium future.
You learn how to spot trends and how to quickly find related products. You learn how to quickly browse different websites looking for clearance products or best-sellers, and then quickly evaluate them for potential profitability. You learn how to set up price alerts and website monitors to immediately know of price changes or in-stock notifications.
The deals are all out there, but you have to be in the right place at the right time with the right information to be the one to capitalize. You'll also learn about different websites to monitor where people post deals all day long and how to quickly sort through all of the posts for the best ones for profitable products.
It's all pretty simple, really. There is even a chapter about how to outsource this research instead of checking so many websites yourself. Everything in the book is real. The examples put into the book were live and happening at the time. Videos captured the action.
The deals are all out there, but you have to be in the right place at the right time with the right information to be the one to capitalize
A lot of sites featuring bargain-priced or clearance items have community forums where people talk about good sales, so they're a good place to learn more about effectively using the sites.
A lot of the online retailers will release their first promotions in the early hours before dawn, because they can catch mistakes or details before people are shopping en masse. Set your alerts for 4 a.m., so that you'll catch them in the night.
Alerts are important
Schepp: Tell us more about setting up alerts so you're notified about good deals ASAP.
Green: There's so much content out there. You have to set up alerts because you have to filter the content.
Some of the deals are great for online resellers. You'll learn which brands and details you're interested in, so think about your keywords. You'll refine them over time.
There is often an "expired deals" section of the community forums. You can use past deals to refine what to search for next. "Price mistake" is a good keyword, for example.
By setting that up I get an alert on my phone when there is a price mistake, so I can see if it refers to something I may want.