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The secrets of buying and selling for profit

Some people use the global marketplace to make thousands of dollars. Discover their moneymaking method and how to make it work for you.

By MSN Money Partner Jul 11, 2014 2:51PM

This post comes from Maryalene LaPonsie at partner site Money Talks News.

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyWith a little shopping savvy, you can turn the global marketplace into your own personal moneymaking machine.

Whether you're looking for some extra pocket change or want to earn enough to replace a full-time job, the income potential is there for the taking. Some people are making thousands of dollars and more buying and selling online, and you can learn how to do the same.

There are two main ways of buying and selling for profit. One involves buying new items cheaply and turning around and selling them elsewhere at a significant markup. The second method is similar. However, it involves used items and requires you to develop a certain level of expertise in a specialty area.

Here are the basics of both methods.

4 steps to sell new items for a profit

The fancy term for this method is retail arbitrage. All that means is scouting retail shops for local deals and turning around and selling the items on the global marketplace for much, much more.

These are the four steps to make retail arbitrage work for you:

  1. Open an Amazon seller account. Start by opening an Amazon seller account. You could sell your finds on a lot of different websites, but Amazon is by far one of the largest and easiest marketplaces to use.
  2. Watch for clearance items and store closeouts. Next, keep your eyes open for clearance sales, business closeouts or other items being sold at a deep discount. You're looking for brand new, undamaged items in their original packaging.
  3. Use an app to find the most profitable items. Once you find some items with good potential, scan the UPC with the Price Check by Amazon app to see what the items are currently selling for on the site. If the markup is good -- at least 50 percent -- you may have a winner.
  4. List items and sell for a profit. After buying your bargains, turn around and list them on Amazon using your seller account. You could hold the items and ship them as they sell, but using the Fulfillment by Amazon service makes selling infinitely easier. You pay a price for the service, but Amazon holds your inventory and ships your items as the sales go through.

Credit: © Chris Hackett/Getty Images
Making money selling online doesn't get much simpler than retail arbitrage. Startup costs are minimal, and if you spend only what you can afford, there isn't much risk either. Plus, using Fulfillment by Amazon means no storage and reduced shipping time and costs on your end.

Amazon maintains its own seller forums, which may be helpful for those new to the site. If you plan to go the Fulfillment by Amazon route, this Yahoo Group comes highly recommended as a way to connect with other sellers and learn from the pros.

6 tips to become a specialty seller

How many times have you been at a garage sale and noticed an expensive item being sold for way less than it's worth? Specialty selling is all about finding those gems and selling them someplace where they’ll bring in their true value.

This second method of selling online involves a little more effort and expertise on your part. Typically, there are no barcodes to scan, and no app to tell you what something's worth. You need to know the market well enough to spot the moneymakers on your own.

Here are six tips to help you become an all-star specialty seller:

  1. Limit your focus. Start by focusing on a few categories of items, such as brand-name baby clothes or collectible Zippo lighters, and become an expert in those areas. Once you feel you have a handle on those initial items, you can branch out into more categories if you want.
  2. Pick lightweight and compact items. Because you'll be shipping items, focus on those that can be easily packed and inexpensively mailed.
  3. Beware items with headache potential. When selecting your area of focus, keep in mind that some categories of products may be more trouble than they're worth. Electronics can make a nice profit, but secondhand items may be defective. Fragile items can get broken in the mail. Designer handbags can be counterfeit. You don't have to rule these categories out completely, but tread carefully.
  4. Know your prices. Before you start shopping, you need to know what the items in your category are worth. EBay will be your go-to place for pricing many items. When you're researching prices there, it’s important to look at the selling price on closed listings rather than the asking price on active listings. Just because some sellers have $50 Buy It Now prices doesn’t mean that's what items are selling for.
  5. Scout out deals locally and online. Garage sales and local thrift stores are going to be your best sources of specialty items being sold for a song. Either people don't know what items are worth or, in the case of garage sales, they simply want the clutter out of their house. However, don't overlook online sources such as Craigslist and local classified ads as well.
  6. Sell on the right venue. Again, eBay tends to be the best choice for many items, but it's not your only option. can be used for books and movies. Amazon can also be a good choice. For vintage items, check out Some categories of items, particularly collectibles and antiques, may have websites and discussion boards dedicated to them and could be a good way to connect with potential buyers.

Specialty selling can be more involved than retail arbitrage. It may be harder to find things to sell, and you'll generally need to store and ship everything yourself. However, if you find the right niche, you may discover that the items are more profitable and there is less competition from other sellers.

Either way, if you love to bargain shop, retail arbitrage and specialty selling give you one more excuse to hit the sales. And really, what could be better than ultimately being paid to shop?

More from Money Talks News

Jul 14, 2014 1:10PM

Why is MSN giving tips on how to make a profit?  I thought profits were bad?


Oh wait, when a company makes a profit, thats bad, but when a personal individual makes a profit thats  ok?


MSN you suck!!

Jul 11, 2014 4:51PM
where does the snowman hide his money? in the snowbank.

why do you call a bankrupt Santa? Saint Nickel-less.

why did the banker break up with his girlfriend? he lost interest.

why did the football coach go to the bank? to get his quarter back.
Jul 21, 2014 1:04AM
MSN just helping The Mugger-in-Chief and Eric 'Homey the Clown' Holder in developing more revenue streams for needs like, wayward waifs on our unsecured southern border. Bottom line, sell on Ebay, barter or set up a table at the flea market and Uncle Sam will soon want his cut. If you deal directly with oversea companies, the Feds expect payment of duties on the imported goods. 
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