- To be a successful reseller, do your research on the market before purchasing inventory.
- Just because an item's retail value is high doesn't necessarily mean that the resale value is.
- Use multiple online reselling platforms and list at least five items per day.
- Katie Wallington, online reseller and owner of Simply Bliss Boutique, offers advice on how to successfully turn your reselling passion into a full-time business.
Katie Wallington, an online reseller and the owner of Simply Bliss Boutique, always had a passion for business. She knew she would run her own business one day – but this is not where her story starts.
Like so many others, Wallington went to college to get a bachelor's degree in business administration and accounting. She did what she thought she was "supposed to do" and got her first "real job" working as a real estate property bookkeeper. She was excited for her new adventure, but the tone soon shifted as she realized that it was not the right fit for her.
"I was a hard worker and would give everything I had, but I never felt like it was enough," Wallington told Business News Daily. "The stress and toxicity of the workplace environment eventually became too much for me to handle. I felt defeated. I felt that companies cared more about their numbers than their people."
Even though bookkeeping wasn't necessarily her passion, Wallington felt immense pressure to keep an accounting job and make the people around her proud. During this time, she was simultaneously facing even bigger challenges – losing her grandmother to stage 3 lung cancer.
"In the previous months before my grandmother's death, we had watched her sickness get progressively worse and worse, and it created a deep sadness inside of me," Wallington said. "I felt that my life was on a downward spiral to the bottom. I became someone that I no longer recognized. The problem was that I was alive, but not truly living."
This pivotal moment reminded Wallington how precious life is, and she soon realized that she needed to make a change. With encouragement and support from her fiancé, Wallington quit her bookkeeping job and began her entrepreneurial journey of becoming a full-time online reseller.
Starting an online reseller business
As so many others do, Wallington initially started reselling clothes online as a hobby. But after time, this this hobby became her passion. Once she was ready to make a change in her life and realized how talented she was at finding great deals and selling clothes with a high profit margin, she knew that she could make a profitable business out of online resale.
When we spoke with Wallington about her recent success, she identified five steps that she used to start her online resale business:
- Start off by selling your old clothes that no longer fit or don't make you happy.
- Use those sales to invest in your business. For example, buy more inventory or reseller supplies.
- Use your resources wisely, and use your passion to fuel your business.
- Devote a significant amount of your time to researching, learning and growing. There are numerous online resources that can help you learn the trade. You can find them by doing a simple Google or YouTube search.
- Use trial and error to learn what works and what doesn't.
Finding the right inventory
Finding the right inventory and knowing how to list items online is an essential part of becoming a successful online reseller, but it's not always easy. Through the trial and error of purchasing and selling clothing, you can discover what stores, brands and resale values work best for you. You can find inventory through various places, such as local thrift stores, family and friends, online arbitrage, outlet stores, and liquidation companies.
Through testing out different inventory sourcing methods, Wallington found that having inventory delivered directly to her door was the best way for her to expand her business. After months of research, she found a pallet source that provides her with profitable inventory.
Research is also important in choosing what type of inventory to purchase. You may think that trendy top will instantly sell, but there are several variables at play. For example, Wallington suggests looking at market saturation before purchasing new inventory.
"Look to see how saturated the market is with a particular item. If there are 20 other listings of the same exact item, it's probably not worth buying, because the demand is significantly lower. It could potentially sit in your closet for a while."
Although you won't always know what brands will sell well or what prices they will sell for, research and experimentation are the key to success. Wallington suggests branching out, occasionally buying brands you've never heard of before to see how they sell.
"And remember, just because the retail value is 'high' does not necessarily mean that the resale value is," she said. "Checking comps is a good way to determine if an item is worth picking up – in other words, researching what price it sold for in the past."
Challenges of starting and growing a reseller business
Starting an online resale hobby may not be too difficult, but turning that passion project into a successful business is another story. As with any business venture, you are bound to encounter some challenges along the way. For example, Wallington had to overcome criticism, limited inventory sourcing and, of course, the economic concerns of the coronavirus pandemic.
Leaving a successful career in bookkeeping to start her own online resale business was a risky move, and Wallington received judgment and doubt from others in the beginning.
"What I was doing was considered a very questionable life choice, and it came with a lot of criticism," she said. "All I can say is that nobody becomes successful by doing what everybody else does. You'll be faced with plenty of criticisms and judgments from others when you take a path that is different. Never give up in creating the life that you want for yourself."
Additionally, she was making this bold career move during the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused its own set of limitations. During the beginning of the pandemic, her sales drastically decreased, and her normal sourcing spot closed for months, causing a shortage in sourcing options.
"Once places started to open again and the economy seemed to be picking up, I went back to my normal sourcing spot and business started to boom once again for me," Wallington said. "But my sourcing spot was almost two hours away and was becoming an inefficient use of my time."
To increase efficiency and expand her business, Wallington decided she had to make some changes – so she started researching liquidation.
"I decided to purchase my first liquidation pallet because I wanted to expand and grow my business unlike ever before. I was only a part-time reseller, and I knew that I wanted to devote all of my time and energy into growing my business."
Purchasing a pallet of liquidation inventory was a huge financial risk, but it paid off: Wallington is now a full-time reseller and entrepreneur. [Read related article: How to Turn a Passion Project Into a National Business]
Tips for success
Every entrepreneur's journey is unique. For instance, resellers like Wallington must discover what online resale strategies work best for them. Here are Wallington's seven tips for success:
- Be consistent. "Put in the hard work. Devote time and energy into growing your business. Consistency is key."
- Diversification is essential. "Try to list at least five items a day, and list them on different platforms. Certain brands will sell better on certain platforms. I currently use three online platforms, so if one of them is slow, another will pick up the slack."
- Scale your business when possible. "In order to be consistent, you will need to scale your business and have a lot of inventory on hand. How you do that is up to you."
- Trust your instincts. "Trust your gut when making decisions. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. This is how we learn, grow and evolve."
- Differentiate yourself. "Differentiating yourself is key. Do what you feel is right for you. I try not to compare myself with other resellers because I don't feel that it's a valuable use of my time. I think that the reselling industry is growing at such an exponential rate that any reseller can be successful with hard work."
- Don't give up. "I think the most important piece of advice I can give to any aspiring entrepreneur is to not give up on yourself. The people who create successful businesses are the people that always show up for themselves and never quit. Don't forget how capable you are. There is no dream that's too big; it is often our minds that are our own worst enemy."
- Have patience. "Online resale is hard work, and you must have an undeniable passion for it. Like any business, you will spend hours learning, researching and growing before you see progress. Your hard work won't pay off right away, and that's OK. Good things take time. If you truly love what you do, success will follow."