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A guide to how to resell retail returns for profit.
4 Mins

How to resell returns for profit

Ben Smith
Ben Smith

Retail returns are unwanted items sent back to a store, either a bricks and mortar shop or online. Many of these that can’t be resold go to third parties such as ourselves, and we hold regular auctions of goods sourced from big names including John Lewis, JD Williams, Homebase and more.

The growing problem of retail returns (which costs UK retailers an estimated £7 billion a year) provides you with an opportunity to make some cash. It could be a little side-earner or it could be the chance to start your own business. But where to begin? Read on…

Sell, sell, sell

So, you’ve got your stock, now what?

First off, go over the manifest and check out the condition of everything. If it’s box-fresh, fantastic! If it’s used but in good working order, clean it up and pop it back in its packaging. If it needs fixing consider how or if it’s worth repairing before selling it on and make a note of the condition. You’ll need this for later.

Next, don’t get emotionally attached. If you want to make a business of it, remember; it’s stock. It’s there to make you money so don’t start taking a liking to that shiny new coffee machine and keep it for yourself. Like a publican drinking his profits, you’re never going to make any cash.

If you’re in it to make money, the chances are you’re going to be buying pallets. You need to keep your business head on and remember not all of these will make you loads of money. We’ve said this before, but the returns are in a variety of conditions. You might get lucky and have a pallet full of perfectly working branded premium small electricals that you can quickly sell on and make a tidy profit, but you don’t know until you receive your pallets. That’s the nature of the game and why a pallet of raw returns is such a bargain. If you ‘ve done your research and bought stock that’s in demand, you’re standing yourself in good stead.

Where to sell? You’re already in the right place!

A picture says a thousand words

Yes, it’s a cliché but it’s true. You can really sell a product with your photographs, and here at William George there’s no limit on the number of pictures you can include with a lot. It balances out the fact that the customer can’t pick up and look at the product before making the purchase.

Job lot or individual items? You as a seller may have multiples of the same item. You might be able to shift them quicker if you sell them in one big go but you’re going to make more money if you sell them individually. If you buy in bulk you expect a discount – and in any case, who wants five irons?

Write a description

You’ve got your photos ready, now talk it up. Write a stellar, enticing description to really draw in the customer, but be honest. Look over the items you’ve bought and make sure any damage or wear and tear is noted. The customer doesn’t want to feel like you’ve duped them.

If writing isn’t your strong point, get a friend or family member to look it over to make sure they understand it and run it through a spell checker. There are plenty available online.

Consider some marketing

To really get the best out of your sales, it’s worth investing a bit of money in some marketing. We’ve got expertise galore here at William George and packages to suit all budgets. Whether it’s a marketing email targeting our discerning customer base, making use of our social media reach or a large banner on our homepage we can help.

At this point, you might also want to consider whether to go for a private auction – where only your products are sold – or join a collective. You can list up to 50 lots per month for free in collectives or, for a small fee, you can have your own auction, complete with a dedicated account manager. Either way, there’s no seller commission so you keep 100% of the hammer price.

Once you’ve got your auction or lots ready just watch the bids roll in. Remember to deal with any queries that come your way quickly to keep potential bidders keen and when the auction closes, you’ll need to sort out delivery - again, remember a happy bidder is much more likely to return again, so concentrate on customer satisfaction.

And that’s about it – it’s a new year, so seize the day and get selling. There’s never been a better time to join the world of retail returns.

Take a look at our current retail returns auctions to get going.