Sourcing for FBA on a Budget

This topic of sourcing products on a budget is near and dear to my heart. My favorite clients have always been folks who are just getting started selling online. Teaching them how to source products to sell for profit is as much fun as anything I can imagine. And there are so many sources around!

Selling on Amazon using Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA) has become my main income in the last 6 months and I’d love for others to experience even more success than I.

Low Overhead Cost

The main message I’d like to get out there to entrepreneurs considering FBA selling is that you don’t need thousands of dollars to get started. The most expensive item you need you probably already have.  There are many tools, subscriptions and education opportunities out there that will help you do a better job and be more efficient, but in my opinion none of them are necessary to get started. So, with a hat tip to NIKE… “Just Do It”!

Sourcing in your Own Home

The best way to start with FBA is to begin with items around your house. Raid your bookshelf, your children’s game closet, the family supply of videos and video games first. Then look around for all those items you bought at the store and never used. Shampoos, As Seen On TV products and more. Anything with a barcode is fair game.

Once you’ve gathered a box full, sit down and pull up the Amazon.com website and do some research. Since your Cost Of Goods Sold (COGS) on these items is basically zero, you can safely send in anything worth pricing at $5 or higher. So plug the barcodes into the Amazon search bar and see what the lowest price is by an FBA seller. Remember, Amazon itself and other FBAers are your competition, NOT the 3rd party sellers who ship items themselves. You are using FBA, you have huge advantages and should price accordingly. The easiest way to do this, once you have the product page pulled up, is to click on the new price list and check the box to ‘show Prime offers only.’ This will show you only FBA sellers and you can look at the lowest prices.

Anything worth $5 or more put into a special pile to become part of your first shipment to the FBA warehouse.

Your First FBA Scouting Trip

Now, if you don’t have a box full yet, it’s time to look further afield than your own house. Here is where you’ll need the most expensive tool on an FBA list, but probably one you already own. You need a smart phone to be able to easily look up items while shopping. You could lug your laptop, around but the phone is much easier and more discreet.

Where do I suggest you start? At your favorite thrift store, of course. While you can sell used items on Amazon, for a newbie I recommend starting with new items for ease in getting started.  But don’t thrift stores sell used items, you ask? Well, for the most part they do. In fact, most thrift stores I frequent have about 90% used items. However, that means that 10% of their items are brand new in package. Remember all the items you found around your house? Other people have the same amazing  abundance of new unused items in their houses and most of those people will simply donate the item rather than ‘bother’ to return it to the store when they go on a cleaning binge around their houses.

So boot up that smart phone and download an App and let’s go scouting! What app to I recommend? For the newbie, let’s start with FREE apps. I recommend Amazon Price Check (iPhone & Android), ScanList (Android only) and Amazon Flow (iPhone only). You can use these apps with a scanner if you have one, but they can also capture the barcode with the internal camera of the phone, or you can simply type it in.

So check out your thrift store for a few new items to add to your first FBA box. For best results, I recommend you stick with the 3x rule on this shopping trip. That means that if you pay $10 for an item, the lowest FBA price should be at least $30. This will keep your profit margins safe and return more money for you to grow your business.

Is your box full yet? Don’t worry – future articles will give you 4 more places to source for FBA on a budget!

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About Kat Simpson

Respected as a trusted eCommerce speaker, educator, and entrepreneur, Kat Simpson has been a successful eCommerce merchant for over 10 years. She is an eBay Education Specialist and Silver Level PowerSeller, who also maintains stores on Addoway, Bonanza, Buy.com, and iOffer. Currently Kat is the producer of popular weekly Amazon FBA Podcast FBA Radio along with Chris Green of FBAPower.