For as long as I can remember, I have been around professional sellers on Ebay and Amazon. They have been selling 6 to 7 figures worth of items every month for the past few years.They generally purchase products from China, label them with their own brands and sell it on Amazon. Some of them now have well-established brands. I have seen them working hard, procuring, organizing, sorting, labeling and shipping stuff day-in and day-out. While I wanted to be able to have a business that makes money like they do, I could never see myself putting in 18 hours a day for my business. Call me lazy if you wish. I call work-life balance.
I was once talking with a friend (who happens to be a hardcore techy) about the possibilities with Amazon and Ebay and how my other friends were making bank. He did not believe in selling online as he was never into customer service. However, he did tell me something that changed my work-life forever after that moment. I now put in a few hours a week on a side business and make decent income without having a product of my own.
How to buy and sell without a product
I am buying and selling online, but I do not have a product. I sell about USD 3K a month. No, I am not selling a consultancy or service either. I am selling used textbooks — but I do not have to keep books with me or procure them like any other seller has to, or wait for a buyer to purchase from me. My model is as easy as 1-2-3 and it has been working great.
My process is simple:
- I find a book being sold by website XYZ.
- I find website ABC that is buying that book at a price higher than XYZ’s selling price.
- I place an order at XYZ, get the book, and sell it to ABC.
- I keep the difference.
The secret is finding books that are being bought by websites at higher prices. This is extremely tough to do if you do not have a technology aide. However, thanks to my techy friend, I was introduced to such technology — called Flippiness.
This is not a get-rich-quick scheme
Flippiness allows users to find special combinations that we call a flip. Flippiness has a free plan where you get flips that make you less than 5 bucks per flip. But if you are serious about making money this way, I recommend no less than the Gold plan, which costs 100 bucks a month.
Like any other business, you need to be careful. You need to understand that a website will only pay you if you send them a good book. No one is going to pay you what they quoted if you send them a book with any of the following flaws:
- Different edition (international or an older edition)
- Different cover (hardcover vs. softcover)
- Poor condition (some sellers have torn books or loose leaf books)
- Different ISBN (ISBN is the number that uniquely identifies books)
You will still make these mistakes knowingly or unknowingly for the first few times. You will, however, learn from your own experiences. There is a helpful community of people who reply on Flippiness. If you are a Facebook user, you can join it too and get some help when you have a question.
Is this for you?
You are the only person who can answer that. I’d recommend that you not put in $100 a month to start with. Sign up as a normal Bronze user and flip a few cheap books. Decide on how much you want to invest ($50 is good to start with), and only buy a book cheaper than that. Send the book out and see if you made any money. You will also get acquainted with the process and the amount of work it requires from you.
Once you have flipped a few books, then you can decide if you want to continue. If you feel this is for you, then you can start putting in more time and money — and reaping the benefits.