So you want to buy liquidation pallets? Well, our Complete Checklist for Buying Liquidation Pallets is a good place to start!
First, we go into basics like what liquidation is and how to turn retail arbitrage into a reselling business. Then, we cover registering on the B-Stock platform and to individual marketplaces.
The rest of this checklist is broken into five parts:
Part 1: Research
- Top reselling categories
- Sourcing options
Part 2: Finding the right auction
- Product conditions
- Things to consider before bidding
- Auction terms
- Paying for your winning auction
Part 3: Shipping
- Money-saving opportunities
Part 4: Storage & organization
- Size of liquidation pallets
- Inventory management tools
Part 5: Reselling
- Marketing tips
- Create your listing
At the end of this checklist, you will be able to print out a downloadable checklist to fill in for yourself!
What is liquidation?
Liquidation is becoming more and more commonplace as retailers and manufacturers look for sustainable solutions to their overstock and customer returned inventory. In short, liquidation is somewhere for unsold, damaged, or customer returned merchandise to go. Otherwise, it sits in warehouses taking up precious space, or goes to waste in landfills.
Retail arbitrage 🤝 reselling business
So, how does this all tie into reselling? At its core, reselling is just a more efficient form of retail arbitrage. Which is simply purchasing products from a retailer at a lower price and reselling them for profit. This concept can easily turn into a thriving and profitable business when you buy liquidation inventory in bulk or via liquidation pallets for a cheaper cost per item.
The role B-Stock plays
B-Stock is the bridge. We help run online auction sites for these companies looking to offload liquidation inventory. You, the buyer, get access to deeply discounted inventory from top retailers like Amazon, Target, Walmart, Home Depot, and Best Buy to turn for a profit. And sellers get to free up space, recoup some of their losses, and make way for new inventory.
Let’s jump right in!
First things first, are you registered?
Not only does your reselling business need to be registered with the IRS, but also with B-Stock. Before you can start browsing all the merchandise B-Stock has to offer (and there’s a lot!), you will need to register your business to each individual marketplaces that you’re interested in.
Upload your reseller certificate
In order to do that, you need to have a valid reseller’s certificate. You can read more about where to apply for a reseller’s certificate, and once you have it, upload a copy to your B-Stock account. What this certificate does is allows you to purchase inventory tax-free. It’s then your responsibility to collect the tax from your customer when you sell the item. It benefits your business by allowing you to avoid sales tax upfront and pass those savings on to your customer.
It is your responsibility as the buyer to do your due diligence and comply with federal and state laws. We recommend visiting your individual state’s Department of Revenue website to learn more about resale certificates.
Part 1: Research
Music to your ears, right? As with most things, you will want to do your research and find a category that appeals to you and makes sense for you. Moreover, you also want to make sure it will be profitable, too. Some earn more than others, for example, appliances and power tools have high returns, but with other categories, your margins may be thinner.
Top reselling categories
Any type of good you find in the primary market can end up in the secondary market. Many resellers find success within a category they know well. For example, if you’re a fashion guru you could start here. Or, if you’re a home renovation wiz, maybe stick with the home & garden category.
Here are some top reselling categories:
- Home & garden
Well, you’ve come to B-Stock, so here are your B-Stock sourcing options:
- B-Stock Auctions – Search across all B-Stock liquidation marketplaces by category, region, retailer, or even specific products.
- B-Stock Supply – Supply sellers range from Fortune 500 companies to small or medium-sized businesses.
- Private Marketplaces – 65+ private marketplaces on B-Stock for today’s largest retailers and manufacturers including Amazon, Target, Walmart, Home Depot, Best Buy, and more.
Other sourcing options include visiting local brick and mortar stores to buy out their clearance stock, scouting out local thrift stores, and estate sales. These options are a bit more manual, and you definitely won’t have the chance to buy in bulk like on one of our B-Stock sites. So if sourcing liquidation pallets is what you’re interested in, we recommend going with either B-Stock Auctions, Supply, or one of our 65+ private marketplaces.
If you choose another sourcing option, make sure it’s legit. Always look for reviews when possible to avoid any scam companies out there. If it seems too good to be true, you’re better off steering clear.
Many resellers get started with savings of their own. You really only need anywhere from a few hundred bucks to one thousand dollars to win your first auction depending on the auction size and category you’re in! There are also a couple of financing options you can look into such as Behalf, Fundera, and Kabbage. If you want to find other funding options for your small business, check out sba.gov/funding-programs.
Part 2: Finding the right auction
A note on product conditions: currently these vary slightly per marketplace and category. You want to thoroughly research the product conditions for any liquidation lot you are considering purchasing. For example, some lots will be listed as Grade A/B, B, or C. Then you’ve got overstock/new, like new/carton damage, shelf pulls, refurbished, customer returns, dotcom returns, and even salvage! Depending on the needs of your business, you can source inventory in just about any condition — even if you’re sourcing for parts to make repairs!
Things to consider before bidding
So you know what category and condition you’d like. But there are a few questions to ask yourself before placing a bid. Not only do you want to review auction details like when it closes, how many bids there are, where it will be shipping from, and what the retail price (or MSRP) is, but you should also make sure you have the appropriate space to receive and sort inventory.
For example, if you are ordering a full truckload, you want to make sure that you have enough storage or warehouse space for at least 24-26 pallets. This means anywhere from 5,000 lbs. up to 45,000 lbs of merchandise!
If you don’t have that kind of space- that’s okay! We also have single pallet auctions, which is a great way to get started. Ask yourself these questions before bidding:
- Is this the product condition I want?
- What is the shipping method?
- Have I factored in shipping costs so I stay within budget?
- Have I downloaded the manifest?
- What is the retail price or MSRP?
- Will be using the auto bid system?
B-Stock considers all bids to be binding legal contracts. Please bid very carefully.
Be familiar with online auction terms like a proxy bid and popcorn bidding. All bids placed on a B-Stock marketplace act as “proxy” bids. Your proxy bid is essentially your maximum amount. Our system uses your proxy bid amount to automatically bid incrementally on your behalf. So you don’t have to keep coming back to increase your bid!
If a bid is placed in the last five minutes of an auction, the auction end time will automatically extend for an additional three minutes. This is called “Popcorn Bidding” and it gives all bidders an equal chance of winning an auction if a last-minute bid is placed.
Paying for your winning auction
Once the auction closes, you will be notified via email whether you win or lose. If you wish to cancel a bid, please know that a cancellation fee may apply and a note of it will be made in your record. You will be prompted to pay for your won auction lot via wire transfer. Once this is confirmed, you will get your shipping instructions.
Part 3: Shipping
So you’ve successfully won and paid for your liquidation pallets – yay! Each retailer has its own shipping practices and policies, so it’s important to read individual auction details carefully before you bid. Also, because B-Stock does not house or handle any of the merchandise, we do not manage or organize shipping. You will see options like:
- Buyer arranged shipping
- Seller arranged shipping
- Free shipping
- Fixed shipping
- Binding shipping
Binding is the most popular shipping method used by retailers. With binding shipping, the cost will vary depending on a few different variables including zip code, weight, density, number of pallets, how many pallet spaces will be used during transport, and a few other factors. Read more about different shipping methods here.
Keep in mind that additional fees may apply. For example, if you do not have the proper equipment (ie. a loading dock or liftgate) to receive said shipment, you will need to pay an equipment fee. There are also fees for residential deliveries.
Note: You usually have two hours to unload the truck yourself, be prepared with extra hands on deck if necessary!
There are a few ways to save on shipping costs. The first obvious one is bid on lots with free shipping! Marketplaces like Walmart Liquidation Auctions offer B-Stock buyers 300 miles of free shipping (200 miles for furniture)! Another option is to check for auctions being listed out of nearby warehouses. The closer it is, the less it has to travel to get to you, the more money you save.
You can also try consolidated shipping if you win multiple auctions from the same seller. Consolidated shipping combines multiple LTL shipments into one full truckload shipment. By doing this, you can save time on shipments and reduce your costs. However, the two shipments must be coming from the same warehouse and you must win the minimum amount of pallet spaces necessary within a certain number of business days to take advantage of a single truckload delivery. You’re still required to pay your shipping costs upfront, but will be reimbursed the difference in B-Stock credit to apply to future bidding!
Part 4: Storage & organization
Size of liquidation pallets
Depending on the auction you bid on and win, you will definitely want to estimate the size of liquidation merchandise. Many liquidation auctions are for a pallet or a few pallets of goods. The standard US pallet size is 48″x40″. It takes up about 13 ⅓ square feet of floor space.
Consider the following:
- Do I need to hire help to unload the shipment?
- Do I have space to receive and sort inventory?
- Will I need to get a storage unit or warehouse space?
If you have a brick-and-mortar location, you want to be sure your stockroom has plenty of space to properly categorize and store inventory.
On top of the actual size of your liquidation pallets, you also need to account for how you will organize boxes, categorize inventory, and where you will store it. So, organization and maximizing your space become crucial.
Follow these steps:
- Break down pallets
- Check that you received everything listed on the manifest
- Test items functionality/ data wipe if necessary
- Separate items that can’t be resold
- Start photographing inventory to get ready for resale
- Store inventory by category, brand, or size
- Label shelving units or bins for easy access
- Regularly check inventory to see what’s running low
Pro Tip: Create a spreadsheet as you’re unboxing and check current market prices. This will help you calculate potential profits from your inventory.
Inventory management tools
There are programs out there that make inventory management a breeze. Shopify, QuickBooks, Airtable, and Sortly, to name a few, might be worth investing in if you plan to buy in bulk often. Pen and paper, or even a fancy spreadsheet are prone to human error. Avoid the hassle and let these management tools do the work for you!
If you’re worried about how you will keep things neat and tidy, read 9 Tips for Organizing Your Liquidation Pallets for more great tips.
Part 5: Reselling
Now the fun starts – it’s time to sell your inventory! Popular platforms include eBay, Amazon, Poshmark, and Mercari. Depending on your category, like apparel, some platforms will be better than others. You want to gravitate towards where your customers will be. Head over to 10 Best Places to Resell Online for a more in-depth look at each platform.
For whatever site you choose to go with, there a few things you can do to help make your listings stand out. Quality photos will always be key. Take the time to clean up items (as necessary) and make sure you have the best lighting possible when photographing. Be transparent with your product conditions and point out any defects in photos. Read more about taking good product photos here.
Create your listing
Your listing should have all the information customers would want. For example, brand name and model, size, color, and product condition should all be included. Optimize your visibility by using good keywords in the title that will come up in search.
Keep these marketing strategies in mind with your listing:
- Take quality product photos
- Write a detailed & catchy description
- Follow SEO best practices
- Share listing across different platforms
- Boost listings (if applicable)
- Respond to customer questions
How to become a B-Stock Buyer
B-Stock is your one-stop shop for the best liquidation inventory your business needs. The good news is there’s a starting place for everyone. B-Stock offers auctions from single pallets of inventory up to truckloads of merchandise. So you can source big or small with us.
B-Stock operates marketplaces for today’s largest retailers and manufacturers including Walmart, Amazon, Target, Macy’s, and Wayfair, among others. So you’re sure to find the best returned, overstock, and liquidated inventory from well-known sellers that your customers will love! Simply register as a B-Stock buyer and the marketplaces you are interested in and start bidding. We can’t wait to help fuel your entrepreneurial journey with awesome inventory!