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Retail returns auctions are a great opportunity to buy big brand names at bargain prices and resell them for a profit. Here we tell you all you need to know.
4 Mins

How do retail returns auctions work?

Jess Gibson
Jess Gibson

The past year has been…unusual, to say the least. And, funnily enough, we aren’t referring to the explosion of online memes surrounding Matt Hancock’s conduct in the media, or the recent furore about Colin the Caterpillar’s cut-price doppelgängers.

No, whilst both have had their own societal impact, this last year has seen a huge shake up in the way we live and work. Furlough, ‘work from home’ mandates, and widespread uncertainty about the future of many businesses has led to a lot of people deciding to embark on their own quirky and exciting ventures.

When the world has come to a standstill and everyone’s had to hop off the daily merry-go-round, it makes perfect sense to take that cool little side-hustle or niche hobby, and turn it into a money-spinner, right?

Well, this is where retail returns auctions come in handy.

So, what exactly are they?

Retail returns auctions revolve around products that customers have returned, are surplus to requirements or are end-of-line stock.

In a ‘try-before-you-buy’ kind of society (with almost 30% of everything ordered online returned), many retailer’s returns policies have changed to reflect this, with up to half of online retailers offering free shipping for returns, so the amount of these that need dealing with is huge.

Technically, these returns are classed as used – even if they actually haven’t been prior to return. Once the items have gone through this process, they can’t be sold at their original RRP, so many retailers move them on by selling them in bulk according to their individual category – electronic goods, homeware, jewellery – so that they reach a secondary market.

The condition of these items varies and is dependent on what the item is and how it came to need reselling. Often, the items are in mint condition, sometimes there’s damaged packaging or minor superficial issues – such as dents or scratches – or the goods have been ‘tested-not-working’ (which is exactly as it sounds and usually used to describe electronic goods) and can be used for spares and repairs. Some items are irreparable or collected together under the title of ‘untested’.

The goods are sold as pallets of a selection of items. You’ll know what the product is that you’re buying, you just won’t know what the condition is until you open the box, which is pretty exciting when you think about it!

What are the advantages of retail returns auctions?

If you’re thinking of ways you can become your own boss or just make some extra money on the side, retail returns auctions offer great potential for such a venture.

A go-to for sourcing inventory items at astonishingly low prices and tend to feature desirable goods from well-known retailers, meaning that you can guarantee an item is genuine and not counterfeit.

How they could work for you

Making the most of opportunities such as these will give you access to a wealth of hidden treasures that you may not have found elsewhere. By splitting up the palleted goods and reselling individually, you’ve got a way of creating a new income stream and be up and running without any big financial outlay.

Here at William George, we hold many retail returns auctions, including two regular weekly no reserve sales of goods sourced from John Lewis, which features many big brand names, as you’d expect.

How to get started

First of all, register to bid on our site so that you’re ready to go. Once you’ve done this, we advise on setting your budget – what’s the maximum you’re willing to spend?

It’s advisable to have a figure in your mind before you get started. Have a look at what some of the lots are going for to give you an idea of the kind of price you’ll likely to be looking at.

When you have confirmation that your bid was successful, you simply pay for your purchase (credit or debit card for items under £1000, bank transfer for anything higher) and organise delivery or pick-up.

An excellent way of acquiring bulk goods at low prices, retail returns auctions have the added bonus that the seller keeps 100% of the fee, whilst the buyer gets what they want at bargain prices!

So, what are you waiting for?! Have a look and see what we have live now to get you bidding!