I'm not sure if this is the case for everyone, but I think one of the most overwhelming parts of picking pallets is actually picking the pallets. There are so much unknown, so much risk that is associated with choosing the right one, and when you're dealing with limited financial resources, the stress can be paralyzing.
If you're going to want to pick pallets, it is imperative that you accept the fact that you're going to choose wrongly and get unprofitable pallets. It's a major part of this business. The key, however, is to reduce the risk through knowledge, research, and experience.
I notice that many times the downfall of new liquidators is not that the pallets are not profitable, but it is the unrealistic expectations of the business owner that fails them.
Regardless of where you decide to purchase (online auctions or local liquidators), these are a few key aspects that I look for when deciding to purchase pallets. This is by no means a comprehensive list. It will not guarantee you a great pallet. But, know what to look for can greatly decrease the risk.
Top 10 Things to Look For When Purchasing Liquidation Pallets
This valuable information came from our e-book "The Secret to Flipping Liquidation Pallets with Little to No Investment"
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1. Inventory Seller
Knowing which retailer the inventory is from can tell you a lot about the type of products you can expect. There, you can pick pallets that sell products that sell well in your chosen market.
2. Liquidator Information
What are the processes for sorting pallets for your liquidator? It's also important to know if they resell items on their own. Though it is not always the case, be aware of liquidators that resell their own items. This could mean that they are reselling the high profit items, and not selling them to pallet buyers. I wouldn't write off a liquidator that resells on their own, but knowing how they process their individual items for resell is important information. Learn more here.
3. Shipping/Pick Up/Transport Information
Pallet transport can be costly whether you pick them up yourself or have them shipped to you. Make sure that the price of transport for these pallets is included with the overall cost. If you want to know how much you truly profit off the pallet, overhead must be considered.
Items may "look" good in pictures, but you really don't know what's inside the boxes and packages. If they are advertised as "new" then, the pallets will cost more, but the risk is lower. You can expect customer returns to have a little more damage. Depending on each retailer's return policy, customer returns can look very different from pallet to pallet.
5. Number of Items
This may not seem like a big deal, but pallets with less items per pallet are a bigger risk. The reason for this is that if one item is not sellable, then that one item could be 30% of the entire pallet. You'd better hope that the rest of the pallet is sellable, otherwise that one bad item that took up all that space could be the reason why you don't find yourself in the green. On the opposite hand, bigger items may be worth more. It's up to you to decide which chance you're more willing to take. Sometimes you don't know until you try each!
6. Size of Items
Most pallets of a particular type are all around the same size. Having smaller items means that more items can fit on the pallet. Which means that your ability to offset any unsellable items is higher. But, like mentioned before, bigger items may sell for more, so there's chance and risk in both choices, but it's up to you to decide which risk makes more sense, especially in conjunction with the rest of this list.
7. Visible Damage
Make sure you have realistic expectations of what kinds of damages you can expect from each pallet based on their advertised condition. Knowing what a typical customer returns pallet looks like versus a shelf pull pallet. They're not going to be perfect and beautiful, but take the time to learn exactly how much damage is considered "average", so you're not passing on great pallets or jumping on ones with more damage than typical.
8. Box Conditions
A pallet can tell you a lot by the way it looks. If you are able, look closely at the boxes, how many damages can you see? Does it look like the damages have affected the items? There are some items we've unboxed before with terrible boxes, but the protective packaging left the item in great condition. So yes, the boxes are damaged, but what about the product? What can you see?
9. Price and Additional Fees
Keep in mind the other overhead fees that may be associated with the pallet. Will you be required to pay a processing fee? If you're going to need to pay to ship these items to you, how will you get them off the truck? Do you need a "lift gate fee" or do you have a forklift that can pull the items off the truck for you? All of these fees add up and they're important to calculate because you still want to profit in spite of all the fees that are accrued.
10. Brands and Pre-Comping
Are there any brand names visible on the boxes and packaging? Sometimes you can see the brand name and the item, and you can effectively check and see how that exact item (or similar items) are selling on your chosen platform. But if you can only catch a brand name, you can still check the resellability of that brand. How well do used items in that brand you found stand up to used items of similar brands? How often do used items of that brand sell on your chosen platform?
Check out this free printable checklist that you can easily print and take with you on your next pallet shopping adventure!
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