Because you are doing FBA part time your sourcing time is even more valuable compared to others. To get the most out of your trips to retail stores you need to have a plan and stick to it. As I know all too well its very easy to get sucked into scanning items that are just a waste of your time. Here are 5 tips that will help make your sourcing stops more efficient and save you valuable time and effort.
- Customer Service Desk First – As soon as you go into the store, ask Customer Service where the Clearance or Discontinued items are located and if any new clearance areas were recently added. More than likely they’ll just tell you to look on the endcaps and the usual clearance item locations but sometimes they may point you to a new clearance area they may have added. I have found great new clearance finds this way because I know for a fact that most scanners simply cruise the endcaps for their clearance sourcing and don’t go that extra step and ask to find these new adds.
- Ignore anything under 50% Off. Now I know I’ll get some flack for saying this but here’s why I think its something you should stick to. We’re talking about part-time FBA. You need to use your time wisely. Can you find good FBA-ready items at 30% off? Of course but you’ll probably need to scan 20 items for every 1 that works. If you stick with the 50% off or greater items your odds go way up of finding profits and you don’t waste time doing so.
- Cell Phone Signal Coverage – Amazingly there are still way too many dead spots near us for Verizon LTE (my carrier) coverage which is needed for my favorite scanning app Profit Bandit to work. Make sure you find areas within a store than have good coverage because you may need to pile items in a cart to scan in that spot if there are dead spots within that store. Don’t waste your time trying to get a weak signal in those poor coverage spots. If the entire store is in a dead zone than you need to either put it on your black list or get one of the downloadable database apps and not rely on the internet for your sourcing data.
- Coupons – I’m not a big couponer myself but when I have a chance to save 10% or more on my entire purchase I won’t pass that up. There are many coupon forums online that will help you find the good deals so don’t ignore the power of a 10% savings when every dollar counts. We use the Target Red Card which takes 5% off any purchase and have really appreciated the ease of this. Most stores offer great deals with their own store cards so get on their email lists as well. Pretty much every major big box retailer has rewards programs that offer coupons in some fashion so why not sign up and see what they offer.
- Ask for More – This one might not be easy for many people to do but its something I do often with fair success. What am I talking about? Ask for an additional discount. I usually ask for an additional 25% off and get between 10-20%. I have had much better success approaching the section manager first and having THEM ask the store manager. Why? It gives some power to the section manager and makes them look good if its a success and it gives a nice buffer for the store manager to come back with a counter-offer once they have time to ponder your request. I will only do this if I am willing to buy a large # of clearance items from that store right then and there and let the manager know this up front. This lets them know you’re serious and ready to do business. Remember, you’re actually doing THEM a favor by clearing valuable shelf space they need for other items. Don’t worry: They’re still making money on your purchase so don’t feel bad for the big boys.
Hopefully you can use these tips to make your retail sourcing a lot more efficient and profitable.