Most folks start with retail arbitrage which is catching items on sale or clearance at regular stores and thrift stores as you travel and then reselling them at the normal price or a slightly discounted price. Online arbitrage is the same thing except you you do it through your keyboard from home. You would not believe the kind of deals available out there and you can make them even sweeter by using rewards credit cards, rewards sites like Ebates.com, and gift cards purchased at a discount online.
To create an easier, lasting business you want to move to wholesale as soon as you can get accounts accepted by wholesalers though wholesale prices aren’t always that great. You can also buy wholesale pallets of new overstocked items or returns that stores have gotten rid of and get them at steeply discounted prices. Not every item will be in new condition and some may only be good for parts but there are good loads out there and ways to sell most anything for a profit. Eventually many sellers move into private labeling items purchased overseas and imported to create their own brand and lessen competition. Bundling is another option where you take two or more different items that go well together and bundle them to form a new third item others can’t easily duplicate.
There are lots of books on Amazon and blogs online on the subject to read. Many tools, both software and physical, are also available to make it easier to find products to sell with a good return on investment, find the discounts, make listing easier, track sales and expenses, print labels, package items, ship items, etc. Many tools are free or a one time payment. Others involve a monthly fee and should only be considered once you have tried selling online, met some success, and decided to keep at it.
If you like making things, Amazon now has a handicrafts department and Etsy is good for that. I have sold crocheted items on eBay.
I’m just starting out but have had some success. It took some effort and expense but I managed to get permission from Amazon (known as “ungating”) to sell in their top 3 categories which are closed to new sellers. They make you jump through a lot of hoops and most folks have to repeat the hoops numerous times to get ungated and some give up. I got in on the first try. It pays to do your homework. 😉 These categories have a lot of items that people buy over and over (replenishables) so they are very important for sustaining a business.
Right now I sell anything I can buy low and sell higher but I am forming a direction or niche for my business to capitalize on my current websites. I already have a tax resale permit and business entity which are necessary to not pay sales tax on purchases, remit sales tax collected, be taken seriously, and unlock business doors. I got inexpensive business cards for meetings and trade shows. Today I got business insurance which is a must and not expensive so it is all coming together. A better business bank account is next. I am also branching out to other marketplaces for items Amazon won’t let me sell and to cross-sell to other audiences. A lot of folks are also using local Facebook groups and Craigslist to sell when in an area for a long enough time or not RVing.
Next year, I am going to a tradeshow in Las Vegas to meet wholesalers and manufacturers. Woohoo!
It’s an up and down ride like a roller coaster so bear with me as I post updates.