Most Amazon Sellers know that Black Friday is a great day to find inventory to resell on Amazon.
Unfortunately, you can't just show up at the store after Thanksgiving dinner and walk out with a bunch of profitable inventory!
That's because to really succeed at Black Friday sourcing, you need a sourcing strategy.
The most successful Amazon resellers are studying and strategizing for Black Friday weeks in advance.
If you plan ahead, then you can know where to find the hot deals, understand what's already selling well on Amazon, and have a more efficient (and profitable) Black Friday shopping spree!
To help you learn what to focus on, I've compiled my 12 best Black Friday sourcing tips.
12 Tips for Amazon Sellers to Make the Most Out of Black Friday Sourcing
Here at The Selling Family, we understand that Black Friday isn't just a day to run around Walmart clearing the shelves. It's also a part of the Thanksgiving holiday!
The Black Friday experience will look different for every seller and every family. Let these tips guide you whether you'll be first in line at 2am or enjoying a relaxing morning with your family instead.
1. Check Your Current Inventory
When most sellers get their hands on a Black Friday ad, they're looking for future inventory.
But don't forget to scan the ads for your current inventory as well. Watch each retail store's Black Friday ads and see if any of your current inventory is going on sale.
Let's say you have 10 of a product on the way to Amazon (or already there) that you bought at regular retail price. While reading the Black Friday ad, you notice that Walmart is going to be running a 50% off sale on that same product.
Odds are that the product's price is going to go way down. I would price that product to move at the current buy box price or you can hold onto it a little bit longer and wait out the lower priced sellers. If it was us we would match the buy box price and turn the money.
Just make sure that you are not trying to compete with people who purchase at a price 50% less than you paid! That will be a losing game for sure.
2. Know the Store Hours
If you plan on sourcing on Black Friday make sure to know the schedule of the stores in your area. Some of them open Thanksgiving Day at different times.
It's called Black Friday, but the truth is, it's really Thursday when most of us are going out.
Plan your shopping times based on when a store is opening or the best odds for getting your must-buy deals.
Remember that some stores offer special Doorbuster deals for only the first few hours or so. Sometimes a store like Kohl's will swap out what's on sale in the morning versus the afternoon of Black Friday.
Use this information to plan your sourcing route. If one store opens at 3pm on Thanksgiving and another at 7pm, go to the one at 3 first, then head to the one at 7.
3. Plan Ahead for Family Time
I know it can be hard to decide if you should shop on Thanksgiving or not! This is going to be a personal decision for everyone, and we support you whether you choose to go out into the stores or stay home.
Thanksgiving day has the potential to be huge for buying inventory.
So if you are in, plan your family activities for earlier in the day so you have time and energy to go out when the stores open.
Of course, you can always bring the family along with you!
I highly recommend taking someone with you to watch your cart while you run around. It's easier to navigate a store without the cart when it's really busy.
I often have Cliff hold 2 carts while I go down a few aisles and grab things. Then we move!
On that note, I don't recommend taking young kids out with you on Black Friday sourcing trips! If you have a teenager that can help, then certainly bring them along. But Black Friday crowds can be too much for younger kids.
4. Merchant Fulfill Strategically
Black Friday through Cyber Monday will bring some of the highest prices of the season on Amazon.
To take advantage of the decrease in Amazon FBA supply (and increase in demand!), Merchant Fulfill whatever you can. You can even list in stores on your Amazon Seller App!
I would list all of the lightweight items you can as FBM over the weekend. These should be quick flips and a good way to make some money while you wait for UPS and FedEx to open for FBA shipments.
Related Post: 6 Reasons Why You Should Merchant Fulfill on Amazon
5. Don't Forget to Ship!
Whatever you don't sell MF, ship out ASAP. This is not the time to hold on to items as you keep shopping.
Ship > Shop!
If you absolutely must shop all weekend, then this might be the time to hire some help for packing/shipping. That way you could source Friday morning, drop off your items with your prep help, and then hit the road for more shopping.
6. Prepare for Inventory Limits
Some stores will place purchase limits on popular items. This information is available in advance so it shouldn't catch you by surprise.
If there are limits on items you really want, check out, drop your bags in your car, and head right back in.
Also, bring someone with you to do multiple checkouts. By having another actual person with you (this could be your “cart holder” from earlier!), you can double up on the inventory limit quantities in a single trip.
7. Be Nice to Employees!
Speaking of elaborate trips through the checkout line, don't forget to be nice to store employees!
They're likely working a long shift (and the first of many spread out over the long weekend), so try to help them out as much as you can.
Have any discounts or coupons ready to hand over and try to pitch in with help bagging. Don't stand in their line chatting on your cell phone while they ring up your separate transactions!!
8. Don't Forget Online Shopping
Online Arbitrage (OA) can work well as a supplement to in-person shopping or as a less hectic alternative.
Check the ads to see when and if stores do online sales. Many of the same items will go on sale at midnight on Thanksgiving and you may be able to grab those deals online.
To make the most of Black Friday online arbitrage, don't forget to check cashback sites like eBates! They're likely to have a rotating selection of stores offering double (or more) cash back from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday.
Not a cash back pro yet? Check out my review of eBates to learn all about how it works!
9. Be a Sourcing Original
Think of ways that can help you stand out from the masses of other Amazon sellers who are out sourcing on Black Friday.
Here are a few things we've done to shake the competition in the past.
Over the years, we have noticed that there tends to be way more competition on smaller and cheaper products priced under $10. Don't be afraid to look at some higher priced items or even heavier items because they tend to scare other sellers away resulting in less competition.
Another suggestion is to think beyond the Hot Toy Lists and other super popular items.
Sure, there will be amazing deals on bestsellers like TVs, limited edition Barbies, and tech gadgets. But there's no need to limit yourself to those items!
While other sellers are hoarding this year's Hatchimals, you could be scanning the Black Friday ads for deals on Christmas candy and decorations, clothes and pajamas, and housewares.
If you want to take it one step further, you could even hit smaller or local stores for Black Friday in addition to the big box chain stores.
10. Set a Budget (and Expectations)
This tip is courtesy of Stephen Smotherman (from his awesome Black Friday Guide).
He recommends establishing a spending budget before you ever step out the door for Black Friday.
It's tempting to spend all of your money in just 1 or 2 days of Black Friday sourcing, but be sure to take stock of your available cash before doing so!
Also, watch your expectations and FOMO (fear of missing out!) as the weekend moves along.
You may come home from a day of sourcing to find other Amazon sellers chatting on Facebook about spending $10,000 at a single store!
Don't let that send you into a panic that you're not doing enough.
Remember that every seller has different expectations for profit, ROI, and turnover.
Keep your own financial expectations in mind as you shop and remember that the rules of smart sourcing still apply on Black Friday!
11. Advance Research
I know we've already touched a lot on the idea of checking ads and planning ahead.
I can't stress how important it is to do as much of your research in advance as possible!
Here are a few research ideas that you can go ahead and start implementing:
- Track down any advanced or leaked copies of the Black Friday ads for all of the stores you want to hit.
- Pay attention to which products are already doing well on Amazon.
- While you're on Amazon, check the Keepa data to see what the ranking, pricing, and Amazon stock levels have done recently (and in past years) on the products you source.
- Prepare a Buy List or Spreadsheet that you can take with you to the stores.
- If you can get to the stores the day before, they often put out a lot of the special items on big displays. They won't be on sale yet, but you can easily see where things are.
The better you plan your day, the easier it is to get in and out of the stores!
If you do plan on doing a full day of shopping, you should also prepare your sourcing essentials.
- The scanning app you know best (probably not a great time to try a new gadget or software)
- Your Buy List
- Extras like a Target RedCard or your stash of Kohl's Cash/coupon codes
- An extra battery or charger for your smartphone!
- A bottle of water and some snacks 🙂
12. More Planning, Less Scanning
I'm usually a big fan of scanning as much as you can in a store.
Black Friday is a big exception to this rule!
Even though you'll come across unadvertised deals that will pique your interest, it's best to focus on your Buy List.
There's just not enough time to stand around scanning and researching when you could be loading your cart up with pre-researched deals instead.
This is a big reason why it's so important to do your homework ahead of time. This will make you a lot more efficient in the stores!
Get The Most Out Of The Black Friday Ads With Our Black Friday Spreadsheets!
You can probably tell that I place a lot of value on research for Black Friday.
But reading all the Black Friday ads (some of which are more than 80 pages!), hunting down the ASINs on Amazon, and then calculating your potential profit is a lot of work.
If you want to save even more time (and make even more money!) this Black Friday, I'm pleased to share our Black Friday Spreadsheets with you!
Our team has gathered all of the deals in the major Black Friday ads and condensed them into easy to use spreadsheets.
The spreadsheets will tell you everything you need to know to make a great buying decision.
Let us do all of the busy work so that you can focus on finding items that will make you money!
The Reseller's Guide to Black Friday
If you're looking for more in-depth information about your Black Friday sourcing strategy, I can highly recommend The Reseller's Guide to Black Friday by Stephen Smotherman and Kristin Ostrander.
Their guide has information that will help you make the most profit before, during, and after Black Friday. And for a limited time, you'll also get access to their Live Master Class which will be held on 11/13/2018 (and then recorded).
I think that their guide is the perfect supplement to our own Black Friday Spreadsheets, so grab them both while you still can!
I hope these tips will help you plan out a successful Black Friday. I'm confident that you can profit off of Black Friday whether you'll be out in the stores at 6am or just curled up on the couch with your laptop 🙂
Do you have any other tips for sourcing Black Friday that I may have missed? I would love to hear yours as well! Share them in the comments below.
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