People are creatures of habit and because of that, a strategic investment in selected “discontinued products,” could reap a small fortune.
Few of us like change, yet it is inevitable, and that is certainly true with consumer products. Often a seemingly good selling product is discontinued by the manufacturer. It could be anything, a particular brand of coffee, a favorite type of cleaner, a certain brand of shirt, anything. When you spot a popular but discontinued item, it can be sold on eBay for profit. No, it’s not unethical, it’s simply called supply and demand.
In Comedy its All About Timing
When a comedian delivers a joke, if the timing is off, the joke falls flat, but if they time it perfectly, the crowd goes wild. It’s much the same on eBay; you have to understand the market, choose the right price and not get swamped with inventory. This isn’t an area where greed pays, a fair profit, certainly, but greed, no way. And why is that, business ethics? Well yes and no, certainly we should always treat our customers honestly and fairly, but the real answer is competition. Don’t get into a price war with your competition; it’s much better to wait till they are out of inventory, then hit hard.
FACT: There is always another seller who will undercut your price.
Expiration dates can be a blessing or a curse. A blessing in that people want to buy the item(s) before the clock runs out. A curse based on the fact once the date has passed, you may be left holding inventory that is worthless. If you see the expiration date fast approaching with your profit margin dwindling, consider selling in bulk.
FACT: There will always be another discounted item to sell. Don’t lose your shirt chasing a dream on a single item.
WARNING: eBay does not allow the selling of expired items.
Dipping Your Toes in the Selling Waters
The best and safest course to sell discounted items is to find a source, buy a few and see how they sell. It’s easy to get caught up in the experience and buy hundreds of units costing thousands of dollars, then be left holding unsold inventory. Much better is to test the waters before going all in. The key is to establish a business model, then repeat the process, rather than trying to “win the prize,” based on a single discontinued product. In this case, as with many things in life, slow and steady wins the race.
Learning From The Masters
I will never bet my house on a discounted product. However I would bet it on one important fact, there will always be discounted products. How can I be certain? Just take a look at Nabisco, Johnson, and Johnson, Kimberly Clark, and others. They all study consumers and have ascertained that everyone wants the latest and greatest. That’s true whether you’re selling iPhones or baby diapers.
FACT: Cosmetics, first aid kits, non-perishable foods, baby products are always in high demand
FACT: New products from major manufacturers demand shelf space, pushing out older products and creating opportunities for discounted product sellers.
Selling at a Premium
Earlier we mention not to be greedy, and that holds true, but it’s perfectly fine to be opportunistic. While a majority of consumers are always enticed by the latest and greatest, there are groups of consumers who want to stick with the tried and true and are willing to pay for the privilege. This isn’t a time for price gouging, only decide on a fair markup, factor in eBay selling fees and reap the rewards.
Loving our Hair and Paying For the Privilege
Statistically speaking, hair color is a big seller on eBay. Why? When a woman finds a particular brand of hair color that works, one that makes her feel young and beautiful, they have no desire to switch and experiment. Manufacturers, on the other hand, are constantly whipping up new combinations, new names, new ingredients, new advertising, etc., all in interest to drive sales. That’s perfect; it works for them, it can also work for us. Check for clearance items at Walgreens and Walmart; often you’ll find discontinued hair color marked down substantially. In one case, a box sold for $5.00 at Walgreens, then was flipped for $45.00 on eBay. The opportunities abound if you’ll just take the time to study the market, then search for the discounted item locally, then place a sale on eBay. In case you’re wondering, men also have the same ego, and many want to get rid of a little gray. No harm in that, especially when we can pick up a discontinued box of hair color for men. It’s simply the human condition, the clock is racing forward, and we all want to slow it, if only for a little while.
This category is going to take a watchful eye and a quick move when the time is right. This isn’t something that happens every day, but when it does, a lot of money can be made.
Case in point, Hostess Twinkies in 2012. The company petitions the courts to allow them to declare bankruptcy based on a labor strike that closed their bakery doors. If you’re a lover of Hostess Twinkies, this might be a vivid memory.
In that case, the story made the national news and while some would have yawned, “who cares,” eBay savvy sellers raced to the big chains and raided the shelves of the soon to be discontinued confessionary, the illustrious Twinkie. Seemingly overnight, sellers were posting auctions for Twinkies, and some went for $30 a box. That is a significant ROI, and the savvy sellers made a killing. This is an excellent way to generate fast cash if you can zero in on a popular discontinued food item.
Here’ us a list for you to consider, it is by no means complete but should serve to stimulate the imagination and get you hunting for more.
NOTE: In all cases look for major, easily recognizable brands
- Skin and hair color (major brands are best)). An example would be Pantene and Redken.
- Refills for air fresheners
- Big brand breakfast corals
- Duncan Hines cake mixes and the accompany frostings. Other major brands are fine too.
- Discontinued coffee, particular K-cups are a sure winner.
- Deodorant (which are always being discontinued as the roll out a new one)
- Almost anything to do with doing laundry, detergents, fabric softeners, dryers bars
- Products to help people stop smoking. This is a good one, as not only can you make a good profit, you’re helping people become healthier
- Sunscreen (check the SPF rating)
- Almost any popular vitamin or health product
Learning When an Item Will Be Discontinued
Okay, this all sounds great, but how can you find out when an item is going to be discontinued? It’s not that hard, more than anything, keep an eye on the news and as you get more familiar with the process, you’ll begin to hear about more and more discontinued items. That said, here are a few methods I use to speed the process.
Use the eBay search engine and search for “discontinued” in the category of interest.
Check manufacture’s websites
Set up a Google alert for any product of interest or simply for the keyword “discontinued.”
Search Google for “discontinued hair color” substituting hair color for your interest.
Check the reviews for a product of interest on Amazon. That one will take some time, but often customers will vent about their difficulties and mention their favorite product is discontinued.
Listen to other shoppers, who’ll often verbally vent about not finding their favorite brand.
Consideration When Buying Inventory
Always check completed items on eBay, this will allow you to set a competitive price and help ensure your success.
Once you’ve uncovered a “sure thing,” where can you find an abundance of inventory. That one will take a little legwork, but here’s where to start looking.
- Local grocery stores
- Big Lots
- Five Below
- Local liquidators
- Flea Markets
IMPORTANT: Always do your research and determine the cost and potential profit before buying in bulk.
Anytime you move into something new, in this case, discontinued products, determine ahead of time your risk capital. With any business or investment, the key element is to complete your journey in profit, while also enjoying the trip.