In part two of our three part Craigslist series, we are going to explain how to sort and price the pallet merchandise we’ve just hypothetically purchased. If you missed our first post, shame on you! Ok, no worries, you can read it here.
From the first post we selected two separate pallets to review, one from the Via Trading and one from Discount Wholesaler, Inc.
Via Trading Customer Return Pallet
Our first pallet happens to be a pallet of Assorted Household & Kitchen Items containing 80 pieces for $549.00. This is not the landed cost, in fact, we should add about $175.00 to our pallet purchase for freight costs.
When the freight is added to the total cost, our landed cost now comes to $724.00 (approximately $9.05 per unit). This assumes all units/pieces will be sell-able, and unfortunately this is usually not the case with customer returns. With returns, you can expect to have some throw away items. We cannot factor in a throw away count until we inspect the entire pallet.
Discount Wholesalers Pallet
Our East coast pallet comes from Discount Wholesalers based in Chester Springs, PA. This general merchandise Gaylord (large box on pallet) was advertised as mixed assorted gadgets, baby items, ASOTV items, and more. So, when buying a pallet like this, we should be ready for any number of assorted items; no two pallets are ever alike. This gaylord pallet was $375.00, and when we add in our estimated freight, we get a landed cost of $550.00.
We do not have an average cost per unit because this pallet did not come with a piece count or manifest. No worries though, this is not uncommon with liquidation merchandise. The total cost per unit can be figured out once all items have been counted and inspected.
Sorting Customer Return Pallets
Processing pallet merchandise begins prior to the truck arriving at your door. Clear a well-lit area where you can visually inspect each item. It’s also a great idea to use a folding table or other flat surface to visually inspect merchandise. In addition, I keep a few tools handy including a box cutter, screw drivers, flashlight, and a shop vacuum to clean up any broken items (yes, there is a potential for broken and/or spilled items). Make sure to keep an extension cord close to the processing area in order to test items that require power. Having said that, an assortment of batteries should be on hand as well.
As items are removed from each pallet, look for visible damages first along with any accessories that were supposed to come with the item including cords, parts, and instructions. If the item is electronic, plug the item in or install batteries to fully test functionality.
Manifested Pallet: Visually inspect each item from the pallet and cross reference items with the pallet manifest. If the manifest lists retail pricing keep in mind the MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail pricing) is often higher than what an item will actually sell for within a store. This is where a little research comes into the equation.
It’s difficult to apply a flat percentage markup to all items across the board because some items will sell quicker than others (I call the slower moving items- dogs). Higher value name brand items should be priced accordingly. I like to start higher valued items at approximately 50-70% of retail. If you price high there is room for negotiating the final sales price. Everyone likes to haggle! Start too low and you have little room to negotiate pricing with a Craigslist buyer.
It’s tempting to try and apply a modest markup and move merchandise quickly, but remember not all items will be sell-able when dealing with customer returns. The amount of throw away will increase your overall price per unit. Some items may not sell at all making your cost per unit even higher…right? I would recommend trying to get as much as possible on the higher ticket items to make up for the lemons. Make sense?
Without a Manifest: Just as with, inspect each item from the un-manifested pallet looking for damages, missing parts, and product functionality. Separate items making two categories (1) higher value items and (2) lower value items.
Sorting of the two distinct categories enables you to recognize which items can be sold as a single, and which items will be sold as a grouping. Smaller, less valuable items can be arranged in a lot or group, such as a listing for “miscellaneous office supplies,” which might contain a bulk quantity of binder, paper, staplers, pens, and so on. Trying to sell a single binder on Craigslist would be a waste of time, but someone is likely to respond to an ad that contains multiples of similar items.
Time to price the items – Once sorting has been completed and you have a good idea of overall waste, it is time to get a pricing strategy going. I use small Post It notes to mark each item for my records. Pricing each item is a time consuming task because there is a fair amount of research involved if you are not price savvy.
If unsure of an items retail price, perform an internet search using the items name, UPC code, or item/model number. Lower priced items can be cross-searched on sites such as Walmart.com, Target.com, etc. I’ll say it again: make sure to price items with enough room to “bargain” with buyers.
This concludes part two of our three part Craigslist selling post. Within the next week, we will release our final post on this subject explaining the basics of ad listing, photographing items, and buyer communication. At the end of our series, you should be ready to supplement income using Craigslist to sell liquidation merchandise!
Our 2017 Liquidators Guide chronicles 12 years of wholesale product sourcing experience and includes my personal black book of direct source contacts! As an industry expert, I'll share the success I've enjoyed along with the mistakes I've made buying and reselling liquidation merchandise.
If you are thinking about buying pallets of liquidation merchandise from a liquidator, broker, or direct from department stores, you need to check out The Liquidators Guide