How to Source Inventory for Online Selling

How to Source Inventory for Online Selling


If you are new to online selling, first off, I would like to congratulate you! You have taken a step towards what can become one of the most amazing careers out there these days. Depending on how much you put into your online business, it can become a steady part-time income stream, or it can become the main income for yourself and your family. I know plenty of people out there who have quit their full time corporate jobs to stay home and work online, and they are not only very happy doing so, they make much more money doing it than they did before! Selling online can be very easy, when done correctly. The main source of frustration for most people is finding a steady stream of inventory that they can turn for profit. I will help you find a few ways to procure this inventory with little or no hassle involved.


The first tip I have to offer is a basic one: Source your local thrift stores. Thrift stores are one of the top sources for online inventory. They offer rock bottom prices for the most part, and if you learn what to look for, you can make a killing by flipping these items online. Again, it depends what type of seller you are and what type of inventory you are trying to obtain. Thrift stores are usually best for finding dishware, antiques, clothing and collectibles. If you are looking for a steady stream of inventory that you can continue to flip, thrift stores will offer that, but it will require a lot of time and effort to search for the items, and you will seldom be able to find the same items again and again. For starters, check out Salvation Army, Goodwill, Savers and stores like these. If you get stuck trying to find them, simply do a Google search for thrift stores in your zip code.


After checking out your local thrift stores, look for surplus and liquidation stores. These stores offer deep discounts, and most of the time, you can lots of the same item. If you find a specific toy at this store, for example, you research it on your phone and determine it will have a great profit margin, you can buy all of the items that they have in stock. Sometimes at these stores, when you buy in bulk and talk to the right person, (a manager or even a friendly sales clerk with the power to do it) you can receive a discount for liquidating their inventory and clearing the way for them to get more items in. These types of stores are looking to get rid of their items quickly so that they can flip them, just like you, so don’t be afraid to wheel and deal if you know you are doing them a service. Another great thing about these stores is that they are constantly renewing their inventory and they usually have a lot of each item, meaning that you can buy in bulk and have enough inventory to keep your own store stocked. There are even liquidation stores online, where you can buy in bulk, such as


There are a few miscellaneous ways to get inventory at your typical stores, like you local grocery store, superstore or drugstore. The trick with regular stores such as these is to do one thing and one thing only, ignore every aisle except the clearance aisle. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true. Unless you coupon and you are able to get sale items for free, (another article entirely!) the place in these stores where you will find items with a good enough price to ensure a profit margin are the clearance items. Occasionally, I will stumble upon a great deal at my local Walgreens that blows my mind and I stock up and buy out their clearance. One time, my daughter found a $200 razor on clearance at her local Kroger store marked down to $50 because they were liquidating their stock of that item. I wouldn’t count on these miscellaneous stores to be your main source of inventory, but they definitely do come through from time to time…just keep an eye on those clearance aisles when you’re doing your shopping.


Finally, once you have exhausted all of these options, there is one source for inventory that is the best one ever, but it will take some time to build up to. The source is wholesale liquidation and selling inventory direct from the merchant. You will have to be a top rated seller most of the time before any of these folks will be willing to work with you, as well as have excellent feedback for your history with your selling site. You also have to have cash upfront to purchase the inventory. Once you find a specific item that works well for you that is a relatively small brand, reach out to the company managers, CEOs and owners and try to set something up. It takes a lot of people skills and sometimes you have to bug them for awhile before you get a response, but if you can become a wholesale distributor, you will have finally made it, and selling will be a breeze from there on out! Just remember that with inventory you mus go through and value your inventory at the beginning and end of each year, so have a suitable tax prep software on standby to use. Otherwise, the IRS could be knocking at your door. 

Good luck! I would love for some of you to share your stories of your favorite inventory finds. What was your favorite seller moment?