I know that you’re busy decorating your new house and getting ready to hatch a sproglet, but now more than ever you need to boost your income. What if I told you that you could earn tons of money while shopping? I know you love shopping because you took me to buy clothes and bossed me around. (I got tons of compliments on my fancy threads, so thanks.) There’s a fun new side hustle called Retail Arbitrage and all the cool kids are doing it. It goes like this: You walk into some shop and they’ve got Alain Delon party masks at a deep discount. You check your phone and find they’re selling for much more on Amazon. You buy as many as you can carry and ship them off to Amazon, who sell them for you. You pocket most of the price difference.
Sounds easy, right?
You probably have questions. Start with episode 629 of the consistently fascinating Planet Money. It features a dude called Sam Cohen who buys some baby wipes from Toys R Us. Will he make a profit on this unlikely spot of retail arbitrage? Listen to find out! At under 20 minutes it’s a good primer for the topic.
Still interested? From there you can hear some success stories on The Side Hustle Show. There are a few episodes about Amazon FBA (fulfillment by Amazon) and related topics. I think the first one was How Ryan Quit His $50k/year Job to Sell Online Full-Time. One great thing Nick Loper (host of TSHS) does is collect all the links and websites mentioned during a podcast and put them into the show notes, so you can just listen and decide if retail arbitrage sounds like something for you without having to take notes and rewind to catch URLs or whatevs.
Nick puts his money where his mouth is and has given FBA a try for himself – this blog post is very interesting and more honest than the ‘success! success!’ stories you tend to get on entrepreneurial podcasts: My First Amazon FBA Clearance Arbitrage Shopping Trips – And My First Sales! It’s also got a lot of the steps you have to go through and the time commitment for every step.
There’s also one from Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income, a legitimate podcast superstar (100,000 fans on Facebook). Buying Stuff and Selling it on Amazon (For 6-Figures a Year!) with Jessica and Cliff Larrew. As always with an ‘interview’ on a financial podcast you can skip the first 8 minutes because it’s just the host rationalising every decision they’ve made in their lives up to that moment. I have to admit that I find Pat Flynn annoying, but apart from his rambling intros I can’t quite put my finger on why. He does a lot of cool things that add value for his readers/listeners. For example, he got the entire conversation with Jessica and Cliff transcribed, so you could print it and read it if for some reason you couldn’t listen to the podcast itself. You can just look at the comments there on that link to see how many people were inspired by that podcast.
With those 3 podcasts under your belt, you should have an idea of whether retail arbitrage is for you. Maybe you want something with less time commitment? How about…
If you’re feeling super-adventurous, you can get your own products made (with your own brand name and labels and everything) and sell those on Amazon. That’s called Private Labeling and, as always, The Side Hustle Show has a story about it – $33k in 30 Days? Getting Started with Private Labeling and Amazon. Maybe even more interesting is the change in direction at Niche Pursuits.
Niche Pursuits is run by Spencer Haws, who specialised in making niche websites. You know, long socks for dwarves. Short stilts for tall people. As that business got tougher (because of changes made by Google) he moved into ‘Authority Websites’ – sites that have every piece of information on a given topic. The kind of site that Google loves but that takes many years to build. Something like, for example, my soon-to-be-authority site Everything Asterix. But then he had a brainstorm and dipped his toe into Private Labeling. He made more money in a month than from his authority website in a year. So Private Labeling is his main focus now, and his last 4 podcast episodes have reflected that. Start here and follow the story – I’m finding it fascinating. How I Made $4,399 Selling a Physical Product on Amazon in Just 30 Days.
I’ve got no doubt there’s a lot of easy money to be made trying out these business models. There are some risks and time costs, but there are risks and time costs to smothering oneself in oil and running through a room full of candles. The first step is to decide if it sounds like something you could see yourself doing, then give it a try.
I’m on the prowl for bargains to resell and products to slap my face onto. Watch this space!