Last year, I shared a spreadsheet that I used to track my purchases and sales, well, this year, as I reflect on 2015, and my moving targets for reselling in 2016, I am moving toward a different system, Inventory Lab (note, this is an affiliate link), I’ll write more about it in the coming weeks, if you want a sneak peak, check out Oren’s review. I thought I’d share the path I’ve taken to getting here, in hope that it will help some who have considered reselling, or have started reselling recently.
Starting Out – 2012
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away….. Oh wait. A few years ago, in a time I can’t fully remember, I read a post from Greg the Frequent Miler about double dipping through the Ultimate Rewards Mall, to earn 20x or more Ultimate Rewards Points via Kohls. That was what started me out, although it took a few months to truly test things out. However, Kohl’s was such a centerpiece of my initial reselling strategy, that it became a centerpiece of any of my future presentations, because it was such a great story.
I kept going though. I expanded to Lowe’s when Chase Freedom offered the quarterly bonus there, and I happened to find some products that were profitable on their own — they were Porter Cable, and I even drove out of my way, after a business trip to Ghana, just to pick up even more units. Back then, I was primarily focused on the points, and the pure profit was well, pure gravy.
2013-2014 Much of the Same
I started out with such small numbers in 2012, that they barely mattered. 2013 started to matter, but really only generated me a few hundred thousand points. 2014 I did even better, primarily because of Matt’s Mile Madness competition, where I had still blogged under Quick City Visits. I pushed myself that year, and nearly tripled what I had done in 2013. I was still very focused on Kohl’s and Lowe’s, but, at Matt’s CharlotteDO, I had the chance to meet someone that helped change my course in reselling. He shared some tips, I shared some tips, and we’ve kept in very regular contact ever since. In fact, he was part of the reason I did ResellingDO earlier this year, and am working to host another in 2016. Needless to say, I expanded my sourcing even further, thanks to him and BigHabitat in 2014. Incidentally, starting Tagging Miles in 2014 with Joe helped me to meet others, I’ll get to the importance of that in a moment.
2015 – A Transitory Year
I was starting to see more money coming in than I had expected when my wife and I had started the venture. The points were the real goal up until this point, but, wow, extra money to offset manufactured spending expenses helps. That’s how I was looking at the profit at the start of the year. I was also starting into some really fun stuff, we’re talking quick sellers, 15-20% profit, and sold faster than I could buy more. January, February, March, these were months were I was starting to see much more potential in what started as a mileage earning hobby.
I went into a low point in late March through July. I had been more focused on traveling. I do that. I like to travel. After all, that’s why I started this whole thing. That’s why I tried to accumulate so many miles, and if you can’t enjoy the fruits of your labors, then, why bother, right? Well, that all changed in July. Hosting ResellingDO ended up being a great opportunity, even greater than I had initially expected. I met lots of great people, folks who helped me want to do more.
A bit asynchronous, but, I remember a conversation I had with Greg the Frequent Miler at the end of April. He noted my interest in reselling, and asked how it was going. I think my response was something to the effect, that reselling can generate a couple to a few hundred thousand miles and points, but still paled in comparison to credit card churning. Of course, this was before most of the negative news hit, like Chase’s new rules.
Cut back to July. Now I wasn’t necessarily looking for miles and points from reselling, yeah, they were great, but now, with this new found confidence and optimism, I was focused on the bigger prize. Around the same time, I had posed the question: How do Miles and Points influence your financial planning strategy? In it, I highlighted:
You should block and tackle your debit, reduce expenses where you can get Big Wins, and then focus on increasing your income, thereby reducing the previous two to a lesser percentage.
Why? Because you can only save so much, but you can always earn more. Reselling for me, has been that path to earning more. It was no longer about reducing my travel expenses, it was the pursuit of Big Wins, and increasing my income. When you find a product that sells fast and nets you 50-100% Return on Investment (ROI), I consider that a Big Win, its the sort’ve thing that you can look at and just smile, then try to get more of, before the next big thing.
Another integral part though, as I alluded to earlier, is that you have to build a network. John Donne said, “No Man is an Island”, and nor should you, man or woman, when you pursue reselling. I’ve been fortunate to have met many really smart people, and keep in contact with them on a regular basis. This is truly one of those gigs where, when you can build a small group of folks you can trust, a rising tide floats all boats. So I would implore you, network, make friends, and help each other.
2016 – A New Year, New Goals
Toward the end of 2015, it started to become apparent: If I bought enough product–that could be sold at a profit–then the points and miles would just be there. Of course, when I did that, I had a front room (aka warehouse) that looked like this:
As I look forward to 2016, my reselling strategy will be shifting. I’ll still jump on most every deal I reasonably can from stores such as Best Buy, Staples, and the other popular ones everybody mentions. But I need to get smarter. I still work a full time job, which I do not plan on giving up anytime soon. I also really like to travel, and that isn’t changing anytime soon. So I need to figure out how I can get smarter.
My point is not to highlight my successes, but to highlight that it takes time, and is often an evolution of thought, a moving of the goal posts if you will. I would offer: Identify what your goals are when you get into reselling. Consider what you really want to get out of it. Is it miles and points, leveraging shopping portals? Is it profit? Is it a mix of the two? Figure out that, then start identifying what you need to make those goals. Definitely feel free to check out my Beginner’s Guide to Fulfillment by Amazon (and following posts), but realize, the answer might be dabbling in Retail Arbitrage, or focusing on Online Arbitrage, a mix of the two, or a third option. But remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day.