As per requested by /u/kadegod: original thread

My short bio: I've been in the online retail industry since 2004-2005 where I was working for a bicycle retailer who wanted to sell online to help go through the long winters here in Québec, Canada. We sold mainly on eBay. I worked there until 2010-2011 because I wanted to do my own thing and I needed to finish my studies. In 2012, my ex-employer won eBay Canada's entrepreneur of the year.

In 2011 I started my own online business with a friend and started selling adult toys (very few people know this) because that was the only account we were able to open with a wholesaler. After about a year, we were able to open an account with Globe and Dwindle; which mainly sold us shoes, apparel, skateboards and longboards. Not too long after, my friend had to leave town for studies and I purchased his remaining part of the business.

In 2013, I finished my bachelor's degree and opened a retail store front where I could store stock from distributors. Lots of manufactures require that you have a bricks and mortar store to open an account with them.

So basically I've been selling on eBay since 2004 for my ex-employer and since 2011 more seriously an full time for my own business. I've been selling on since late 2015. 2017 will be my second full year selling on there.

2013 eBay Canada's Young Entrepreneur Award

2016 eBay Canada's Micro-Multinational Award

My Proof: Recent articles:

Questions and answers

How did you come up with a product idea?

Like mentionned, I started selling adult toys at first. I then moved from that to skateboards, longboards, apparel and shoes. At this point, around 75% of my sales are sneakers/shoes.

How much time did it take ?

It took me a good +- 4 years to figure out what was, for my situation, the best items to sell on eBay and Amazon. I'm still learning and I'm always surprised to find new items that sell incredibly well... or incredibly badly!

Where should I search for an idea?

It all depends. Are you looking to do this full time or part time? Do you have lots of time to put into this? Browsing through Amazon and getting yourself some Amazon Pricing plugins on Chrome will help you analyse pricing from products. You'll then be able to figure out if some times can be worth it.

Is there a niche that I could be successful at?

Certainly. People are buying more and more online. But businesses don't seem to follow. Very often I find that the product I have access to isn't even listed on Amazon. It took me a while to figure out the best way to list it and to sync everything with my website and eBay. It always takes a little time for a new product to get some traction, but once it does, and you're the only one selling it, it can be a little gold mine! You simple have to test different things.

Is it at all worth it?

The right question for me would be: was experimenting selling on Amazon worth it even if you were already selling on eBay. My response would be: absolutely! Things work differently on Amazon and eBay. I would confidently say that those two completely different marketplaces nicely complete each other; for a seller like me at least! As someone who sells online for a living, I wouldn't see myself "not selling" on Amazon.

I'll be glad to try and answer any question you might have! Thank you!

Edit1: So many questions, thank you so much for your interest. I'll try to answer everyone :)

Edit2: Here's a picture when I had my two businesses. The hamburger joint only lasted 8 months.

Comments: 122 • Responses: 48  • Date: 

adismail21 karma

So to get this straight, your best advice is to find an underrepresented product on Amazon or ebay and become a steady supplier?

819lavoie19 karma

Yes. But the hard part is probably being able to get a steady supply of whatever item you're trying to sell. I normally suggest people working with whatever they're familiar with. If outdoor sports is your thing for example, you might want to stay in that branch. It makes things much more interesting and easier for you.

I've been able to do it for my niche. But I guess that each niche needs to be approached differently though.

bigmikemofo10 karma

When you apply for things such as a car or home loan, how do you prove your income? Usually people have pay stubs. I've always wondered this about eBay sellers.

819lavoie9 karma

From my experience, it's basically the same problem for any self employed worker. On eBay and Paypal, the money ends up in a bank account so everything is declared.

When purchasing a house, banks will probably ask: How many years have you been in business? Or: What's your net income?

Normally they'll ask you to provide a proof that you paid your government taxes for the last three years. In french in Canada, it's called "Avis de cotisation". They'll then calculate the average from the past three years or so.

For loans or credit lines, I haven't had any problems. From what I understand, you should be able to get around 10% of your total gross sales as a credit line. At least that's what my institution has given me as a magic number. If you sell 100 000$ pear year, then you should have no problem getting a credit line of 10 000$. For me, it was an essential way of growing my business! I think it's 8% annually. When starting, keep your account for "personal use" for as long as you can; if you switch to a business account, everything gets more expensive. But it's very important to separate business from personal finances.

bclay5210 karma

How much do you make each month on average?

819lavoie22 karma

At the point where I'm at right now, I'm averaging around 70,000$ to 80,000$ CAD per month in gross sales. I have 4 part time employees. They don't work much: around 4-5 hours each/week. I start my day at 11AM and finish at 6PM. Though sometimes I work much later when there's lots of work that needs to get done.

Corruption55514 karma

What your net?

Would you recommend doing amazon or eBay more?

Do you offer any proprietary products?

What websites have helped you through the technicals of selling online?

What has been your most profitable product? Why?

Thank you for doing this it's very interesting subject :)

819lavoie14 karma

What your net?

Last year I was able to average around 20% of net profit. This year shouldn't go any lower as my fixed costs didn't change much. It gives you an idea. I won't know exactly the 2016 number until April/May :) Numbers are constantly evolving. Gross sales have grown between 80% to 100% each year since 2011. I can't be happier honestly.

Would you recommend doing amazon or eBay more?

If you're starting, eBay will be much easier and faster. If you think you're not getting enough exposure, why not sell on both. I would recommend mastering eBay first though.

Do you offer any proprietary products?

No, I only sell branded products.

What websites have helped you through the technicals of selling online?

I personally use Wordpress for my own website. Woocommerce is the specific plugin. It has tons of plugins that helps you work with your inventory. Forums help me a lot for technical stuff for my website as I'm not particularly good at that. If you're asking about learning to sell on eBay or Amazon, I really learned by doing. eBay doesn't really have any secrets for me. But Amazon is another story. There's so many ways and different approaches to sell a product. That's why I think it's a way more powerful marketplace than eBay. But then again, it's much more complicated to learn. At least, that's my perspective.

What has been your most profitable product? Why?

For me, it was definitely shoes. Some because they're rare and one pair can sell for a lot; giving incredible profit on a single pair. But also because everyone needs some shoes/sneakers. Big profit can be made by getting a okay margin on each pair, but by selling a huge amount of them. Ideally a nice combination of those two features will give the best profit. Shoes are easy to store/stack/sell/ship.

Thank you for doing this it's very interesting subject :)

You're welcome! Nice to see some people are interested! Hope this helps.

frenchjets1 karma

Holy shit. This is amazing. $80k would take me over 2 years to even make for my job. Fuck.

Gurip8 karma

its gross sales he isnt making 80k a month.

819lavoie3 karma

Exactly. It's not pure profit. But selling online is far more efficient than having a store front. I'm the only owner and I have 4 part time employees doing +- 5 hours per week each.

FoxSquall1 karma

70-80k per month gross. You say 20% is profit, so that would be 14k-16k per month net, or 168-192k profit per year. Is that accurate?

819lavoie4 karma

That would be about right yes.

But I'm not driving a Lamborghini. Far from that. I just bought my first used car last summer. Before I was driving my parent's 2003 Subaru Legacy or 1997 Toyota Tercel.

I invest every dollar of profit back into more inventory. For me, that's the best return on investment. I don't really have a salary; just enough money to cover my basic needs.

If I can do that long enough, in a couple years I'll be able to afford myself a very decent salary while almost not affecting my company's growth.

But honestly, I'm in a great situation. Or as some would say: I'm "blessed" :)

FoxSquall1 karma

Sounds a lot like the station trading I did while playing Eve Online, except there you were profiting on impatience. Buy low from people who want to dump it quick, sell high to those who want to get it right now, get paid for doing the waiting in between. Just need to find the right items and have some capital to invest.

And stop being afraid of screwing it all up like everything else so far. That last part is really hard.

819lavoie2 karma

Haha honestly someone who's able to make a lot of "virtual" or real profit within a game should be able to apply the same basics in the real world. I would even say it's all part of the same experience.

BMWX650i1 karma

And here's me, making 13k a year, yeah you're blessed alright :p

819lavoie1 karma

Money isn't everything though. Having this work schedule is really what it's all bout. I get up at 10am, take my time to go at the store around 11/11:30am. One or two employees drop around 1pm to help doing shipping and stuff. I finish work around 6PM. No traffic - ever.

If I want to travel, I simply advise my employees and one in particular can take the responsibilities for a week or two. I respond to my emails/messages while I'm away and make a phone call once a day.

I was able to travel 3 times from Canada in the past year.

^ This is worth GOLD for me. Hard work does pay off - I don't consider myself as "blessed" if you know what I mean. I took the right opportunities for which I searched for.

oreesama0 karma

that's gross sales, his actual profit is maybe 1/4, more or less

819lavoie1 karma

For 2015, it was around 20% so you're right. This year should be higher because of the same fixed costs than previous years, but much more sells.

_reddit_and_weep8 karma

Where do you buy from?

matt777892 karma


819lavoie1 karma

Almost everything comes from China. So in the end, you may say that I'm buying from China, Vietnam or Taiwan. But not directly.

GollyWow6 karma

How do you combat the people who receive your shipment and then claim it did not arrive or was not the item ordered?? Usually Ebay issues them a refund without question, I've heard.

819lavoie10 karma

eBay: Sellers are safe when a tracking number indicates the item has been delivered. The item must be shipped to the buyer's Paypal address.

Amazon: Sellers are safe when a tracking number indicates the item has been delivered with a signature. If there's no signature and the buyer claims the item hasn't been delivered, you'll most likely have to refund

Both platforms strongly encourage sellers to work with their customers and find a solution. 99% of the time this works perfectly fine.

IntellegentIdiot3 karma

That's great when you use tracking but what if the buyer opts not to? Do you refuse to send without tracking?

819lavoie3 karma

We use a traceable service for 95% of our packages. It's included in the price if I can say. It's just easier for everyone to use a service with a tracking number. Saves everyone time - not money though! haha


So, what's the 101 on where exactly to start, assuming I'm looking to jump in full time and I have under $1,000 for any initial investments? I'm very intrigued

819lavoie10 karma

I had the luxury to start part time. I was staying at my parent's place when I finished my bachelor's degree. I had the time to experience with different products, approaches and selling techniques. I was only selling on eBay at that time. That's what I would suggest starting with as well because it's super easy to start.

If I were you, I would start by using you time to work and stacking more than 1000$. If I had to start all over again, I would find myself a regular steady job at the government and slowly stack my money. My spare time would be used to purchase and list items online. Then you start experimenting with products so you know what's selling and what's not worth spending on.

Slowly you'll have enough items online to "survive" on your own. At this point you'll be more comfortable spending 1000$, 3000$ or 5000$ on an order of products from your supplier. Then you'll have to work full time on this! I'm just gathering this from my personal experience. Hope this helps!

kactus1 karma

I'm intrigued about how you found your suppliers as well! Are they open and receptive to adding new contracts, and what are they looking for when you approach them?

819lavoie1 karma

The easiest way to know that is to ask them yourself. Call them! Make 10, 20, 30 calls per day and ask the companies what they're searching for and how you could open an account with them.

Every company has their own requirements but you'll start seeing patterns from one business to another if you stay in the same market.

Squaresm0ker54 karma

Have you tried dropshipping?

819lavoie10 karma

A lot of people ask me that. And my opinion was quickly made after reading Tony Hsieh's (CEO of Zappos) book "Delivering Happiness". In other words, I stay away from dropshipping. Having everything in stock is way more money, but in the end you have 100% control of what you're selling and how quickly you're going to deliver it to your customer. I'm not saying there's no good business that can be done with dropshipping, but in my particular case, I prefer handeling stocks myself :)

thing_in_a_thing3 karma

How do you feel about the sellers who buy up all the stock of hot items and scalp them for double price?

819lavoie2 karma

You're probably referring to re-sellers? For sneakers for example? I think it's really a small portion of the market that gets badly influenced by that. I mean, it's not a new technique. People have been doing that for ages. It may work at a small scale, but if you're selling hundreds or thousands of different items, you'll probably won't have to worry about artificially spiking the prices of a specific item.

I personally try to find the items that are the most popular that will sell quickly. If I can give a good price and still make good profit and sell them faster, I think that's the best situation for me. People tend to be happier in the end and I make a quick sale/profit. I learned that being too greedy doesn't get you anywhere. Just my two cents!

thing_in_a_thing3 karma

It's a pretty despicable way to make a business, scalping other company's products at a higher price. In the concert and sport ticket business, it's pretty much universally loathed. It's taking another artist's material and profiting off it by gouging their devoted fans.

But doing so with a company's product as opposed to an artist's show is far less prevalent as an ethical dilemma, as there's no artist or art in play; just a faceless company and consumers. However the issue remains the same, as it's still ripping people off purely for personal profit.

Not that I'm opposed to a free market, I'm just opposed to the bottom feeders who use an absence of legislation as a excuse to ignore morality.

819lavoie1 karma

I see your point. I'm with you on this.

forava73 karma

what could ebay and amazon do better in their selling sites, respectively?

819lavoie4 karma

Just on top of my head!

eBay A better way to manage inventory. eBay is an old website and still works like when the majority of it's listings were auctions. It's not the case anymore. The vast majority of listings are "Buy It Now" listings. That being said, when someone uses the "Buy it Now" button, the item is immediately removed from the seller's inventory even though the item isn't paid yet. This is a problem when the buyer doesn't have the intention of paying the item. They have a partial solution for this, but yet again, it has it's flaws and problems. This is a major issue with eBay. Inventory syncing is already a problem on it's own and eBay doesn't make it any easier.

Amazon Searching on Amazon is horrible. They tried so hard to standardize the products and search results that searching is painful. That's from a buyer's perspective.

From a seller's perspective, I think they make the cross boarder selling kind of complicated for no reason. I'm in Canada and I don't even bother trying to sell my products in Canada. Some listings are eligible, some others not - I still didn't get that part.

Also, listing and adding variations (sizes and colors) to an already listed product is SO painful and a long process. Listing products on Amazon, generally speaking, is a pain in the a**.

catfayce1 karma

Do you not use the listing templates CSV files? It's how we do it and it's pretty efficient for variations

819lavoie1 karma

Yes, I did try that once or twice. But that's kind of complicated? and a lot of things to do considering you could simple click on a button to add your variations. I use this technique that I found on YouTube. I actually found how to do it a few months back - after learning how to build a listing from scratch.

In my case and it's probably the same thing for lots of other stores, I have to sync my inventory from my website and eBay. If you could simply add variations and it would create a new ASIN, it would be much easier.

People tend to list items without variations (eg. Asics Men Shoes Red 12 US/48EU/11UK). Then when I want to add variations, I just create a listing without a size 12US variation and add my offer for the size 12US listing. What would you suggest doing in that situation? In the worst case scenario, I could contact Amazon support and ask to merge both listings afterwards...

IamAWorldChampionAMA3 karma

If you're really an Amazon and Ebay seller grossing that much, why aren't you here pitching a book? /s

819lavoie2 karma

Haha I hate those marketing iAMA's. What I find wonderful about my business is: I never have to harass people, Facebook acquaintances, friends or family to purchase my stupid stuff they don't give a crap about.

erican2 karma

How do you manage your shipping?

Canada Post is such a pain/ so expensive. Do you have things shipped from the US?

819lavoie1 karma

I hear you. If you have a commercial account with them, you're maybe using "EST 2.0 shipping software" - which is total crap. Search for other shipping managing software. They will save you years of headaches.

Here's what you're searching for I suggest checking for reviews online and look what's best for you. If you're at one point that you're strugling to handle your shipments and want to keep track of everything, you'll see that it's the best 25$-50$/month you'll ever spend.

I ship everything from Canada - no drop shipping. Except for a few exceptions which are products shipped with FBA "Furfilled by Amazon". But I still have to ship the products from my store to the US warehouses. I sometimes use FedEx for larger/multiple boxes.

NotAnonymousByron2 karma

I dont expect you to reveal your supplier, but any tips on where to start there?

819lavoie4 karma

It was the first major step of starting the business. I started with an Excel sheet. I went through the websites of different brands and wrote down their phone numbers. My goal was to find the phone number of the canadian distributor or the contact info of the sales representative. Then I had a little place where I could write their response with either "YES", "NO" or "MAYBE". Each distributor has a different approach on how it wants to sell it's products.

When I started making the calls, I had already a plan though. Most importantly, I knew how to sell online before trying to open accounts with distributors/wholesellers.

ArticArny2 karma

How much, if any, of your stock do you keep at the Amazon warehouses? Or do you keep your own warehouse and do your own shipping? Why?

819lavoie5 karma

Great question. I started using the "FBA" service last summer. For others who don't know, "FBA" stands for "Fulfilled by Amazon". You basically ship your items to Amazon warehouses and they ship the products to the customers once it's sold.

95% of my stock is at my store's warehouse and we ship everything ourselves. But the "FBA" program has opened a whole new perspective to selling "online" for me. The reason I'm only starting and it's not as obvious is because I'm located in Canada so shipping the right products to the United-States is a problem itself. But I found if you choose your products carefully, it's well worth it in the end. You can guess that the products I send can't be as big as a pair of snowboard boots for example.

ArticArny2 karma

How much extra does it cost you to do fulfillment by Amazon? I know for myself I prefer to order a FBA product over another supplier simply because I feel more secure in knowing it's going to be delivered quickly.

Is there a size restriction for using their warehouses, or is it more because of the extra cost of shipping to the US warehouse plus shipping to the customer?

Also, yay, fellow Canucklehead!

819lavoie2 karma

From what I know, there's not any size restrictions, but if you product doesn't sell after 6 months or more, you'll be charged warehouse fees if I'm not mistaken.

It's really a question of costs of shipping. Packaging is also a big issue for me. Shipping t-shirts, apparel or headwear is much easier and efficient than shipping shoes or bicycle helmets for example.

Cheers! :)

pongsirioput2 karma

How big is your warehouse?

And what was your "warehouse" when you started out?

I was thinking about starting a small warehouse in a spare bedroom or shed. I wouldn't want to start hardcore selling without a good organizational system in place.

819lavoie2 karma

Right now, my store is around 2100 square feet. I also have the basement which is another 2000 square feet. So just over 4000 square feet of usable space in total.

That's exactly what I did when I started. I was storing my items in my parent's basement. I did that for two years. When I finished university, I found a nice commercial space I was able to afford. I had calculated that if my business didn't grow the next year, I would be able to pay my rent with the profit I made from the previous year. The risk was there, but it was quite low from what I had calculated. Good luck with your business plan. Start slowly but do it!

oYUIo2 karma

  1. What are your experiences dealing with customers who try to scam you by claiming your product isn't as listed, damaged, or used? How do sellers protect themselves from people making such claims as eBay will deduct money from you to give them a refund?

  2. How do you find a place to get your merchandise from? As in, how do you find a supplier for your products?

819lavoie2 karma

  1. Scammers are a very very small proportions of our buyers. Normally if someone says the item is damaged or has a defect, we tell them to return the item and that we'll cover the shipping charges. When someone contacts me regarding a problem with an item, they're normally right.

  2. It was the first major step of starting the business. I started with an Excel sheet. I went through the websites of different brands and wrote down their phone numbers. My goal was to find the phone number of the Canadian distributor or the contact info of the sales representative. Then I had a little place where I could write their response with either "YES", "NO" or "MAYBE". Each distributor has a different approach on how it wants to sell it's products. When I started making the calls, I had already a plan though. Most importantly, I knew how to sell online before trying to open accounts with distributors/wholesellers.

saliczar2 karma

I am about to start selling on ebay. I have a decent amount of collectables and other items that I have been unable to unload through craigslist. I already have a verified PayPal account. Any advise or tutorials you'd recommend?

819lavoie1 karma

Sell worldwide. If you're in the United-States, I think you have access to the Global Shipping Program. If you're comfortable shipping worldwide yourself, do it. If you don't want to take the time to verify international shipping prices, simply opt for the Global Shipping Program.

RelaxationNation2 karma

Amazon is debuting in Australia soon and I want to hit the ground running. Do you have any advice for just starting on Amazon, especially when it just opens? I already sell books on Amazon (original books, I own a publishing company) and do very well, but physical products are an entirely new game. I never considered selling on Ebay, but I want to strike while the irons hot with Amazon. Do you suggest I test out some products on Ebay first, or are the markets so different I should just wait for Amazon to open?

Basically, I have one shot at getting in while it opens, what would you do in my shoes?

819lavoie2 karma

Like /u/londons_explorer says, start with eBay first. It's much easier to sell locally and internationally.

eBay and Amazon are two different markets. I would suggest selling on both if you can. Make sure you're able to fulfill orders correctly before trying both platforms though. Feedback and customer service is very important on both platforms.

If Amazon is just starting, you might now get the exposure you're hoping for. I'm in Canada and I don't even sell to Canadians on Amazon. The market is so slow compared to the US. I don't think you'll be missing out on anything if you don't "hop in the Amazon train" on the first months. It's never too late to start.

Good luck with your publishing company and selling online. Looks like a great business plan! I'm sure you'll have lots of fun learning.

pongsirioput2 karma

When decide what products are worthwhile, what's the minimum you expect to profit on each item sold?

819lavoie2 karma

My standards are pretty high because I have the luxury to select high grossing products. It probably won't be like this indefinitely though. A good questions to ask yourself is: "If I sell this item close to my cost, will I undoubtedly be able to sell it quickly?". If my answer to this questions is "maybe", then I don't purchase it.

quicumquae1 karma

Do you have any tips to make product pictures seem more 'professional'?

jordanzzz3 karma

Not OP but look for a light box, on eBay you can find one for $20, essentially lets you have a nice background and control the lighting. The next step is keeping the pictures consistent, it looks off if the pictures location/zoom etc keep moving. Hope this helped.

quicumquae1 karma

Thank you! That was exactly what I wanted.

819lavoie1 karma

Exactly what /u/jordanzzz said. A light box and a white background paper roll. Once it's dirty, simply cut and pull. Something similar to this. Good luck!

ezzyrd1 karma

What's the most rewarding part of your job?

819lavoie2 karma

Must be working for myself. My confidence in myself, especially for business decisions, has grown considerably.

The best part of it is choosing your own hours. The idea of getting stuck in traffic just demoralizes me. I start at 11am and finish around 6pm. Never do I need "Travel time to job" notifications from Google :)

Fiero2themax1 karma

How do you deal with returns? The loss of not only Amazons/eBays fees but the shipping cost? Do you provide free product swaps such as for different sizes? Are you inundated with returned product that has been mistreated and used, torn original packaging that you are forced to keep all while Amazon/eBay laughs, counting their money like Sir Hiss from Disney's Robin Hood?

Sorry, partially honest question.

819lavoie1 karma

Haha I totally understand.

Returns account for about 5% of my sells. Probably 10% of those returns have minor issues. Those can be frustrating and time consuming. But in the end, it's all worth it. I won't stop selling for a problem rate of 0,05%.

Amazon probably account for 80% of my returns.

Nima3211 karma

I've started in selling my self. Are there any niche ideas your willing to share? Or any tips on starting up? Thanks

819lavoie2 karma

Every niche has it's unique story and reasons for working with a seller's particular business plan. I would suggest working with what you know and explore new horizons from there. Take the opportunities you're able to seize. The more things you try, the more chance you have that something will pay off. Just like investing in research and development. This has proven to work in my case - I'm sure lots of big companies would tell you the same. Good luck with your project!

Nima3211 karma

Thanks so much for answering my question! I've recently started buying some small things from Alibaba in bulk and reselling on eBay for a higher price. I'm definitely planning to get a job, as you mentioned, that I'll be able to do alongside with school, as soon as I'm old enough to do so :) Thanks again!

819lavoie2 karma

That's awesome. I kind of explored the possibility of doing that at first when I started. If it works for you, kuddos! Keep doing that, you never know where it'll lead you. Maybe in 5 years you'll be traveling in the Philippines hustling for multi million contracts; who knows! You're definitely in the right way.

SensationalSquid1 karma

I've been selling full time on eBay and Amazon for a few years now with one full time employee. I turn over £10,000 a month. Im really impressed you've managed to grow so quickly, I wish I could work out how to do more. My biggest problem is having more money to invest, banks are not interested in lending to someone growing an eBay/Amazon business. Do you have any advice on obtaining investment?

819lavoie1 karma

I'm re-investing 100% of my profits into buying more inventory. The more I'm able to live without any salary, the more my business will be able to grow. I've been doing that since 2011.

Getting a credit line works well for me. The institution I'm with told me that I'll easily be able to get a credit line equivalent to 10% of my gross sales. Use it!

Also, I developed great relations with my distributors. They tend to let me do huge orders with longer terms. Even if it's not paid immediately, they know I will contact them to send payments. I'm not difficult to get a hold of when it comes to payments.

Kproper1 karma

So you buy products from wholesale retailers and then sell them on Amazon and eBay in smaller increments at a higher price per item?

Also, what sort of average profit do you make on each item sold?

819lavoie2 karma

Wholesale retailers yes. But that doesn't necessarily means that "the more I buy, the better price I have". I have the luxury to do cherry picking in my situation.

Normally I'll make around 30-40% profit margin. But it really depends. Sometimes I'll make more, sometimes I'll loose 5 bucks/order. It depends on the product and if it's been in my warehouse for too long.

paulthefonz1 karma

What was the most expensive item you have sold?

819lavoie1 karma

The highest margin was probably a pair of shoes for around 1000$ Canadian Dollars. Sold to a US buyer. Matter of fact, 80% of my sells are to the US.

I've sold more expensive items, but the margin was never as high as those shoes though. Average sell is around the 100$ CAD mark.

paulthefonz1 karma

Fav hockey team? Careful, there IS a correct answer...

819lavoie1 karma

Haha I'm not a huge professionnal sports fan. Though I respect everything about it. Since I'm in Quebec, I go to Montreal Impact soccer games or Ottawa Senators hockey games when I can. But I have to say that I have a small preference for the Montreal Canadians :)

paulthefonz1 karma

Wrong answer ;) pulls lever

819lavoie1 karma

Haha darn it! I sell Team North America World Cup jerseys if this can help! They're actually quite popular. It's probably a safe bet, independently of where you are , if you want to wear a hockey jersey and not offend anyone lol.

Iamnotthefirst1 karma

What is your rate of returns?

819lavoie1 karma

I calculated around 5%. 80% of those returns are made on Amazon. eBay has a much lower return rate. In both situations, the buyer is responsible to return the item to our store.

fathom171 karma

Have you ever considered making an online store? Like, instead of eBay or Amazon make your own site to sell things

819lavoie1 karma

I do have my website with the same items listed. It's ridiculous how people blindly go on eBay or Amazon. Sometimes I see order from my website where people actually took the time to "Google" the product and found it for less on the website.

What's more incredible is buyers sometimes paying up to 50% more on Amazon for the same item. Crazy how prices can differ from one platform to the other.

fathom171 karma

Right? People seem to use amazon because it's amazon, but other places are so much cheaper.

819lavoie1 karma

I think it's crazy. There's no such thing as "perfect information" online.

thuckagain1 karma

What is your gross margin?

What is the next level for your business in terms of scale?

Whats are the biggest risks involved?

Cool work man, jealous!! ;)

819lavoie1 karma

  • What is your gross margin?

Technically, in the market I'm working in, the gross marging is 40-50%. But it goes down if you need to ship your items.

  • What is the next level for your business in terms of scale?

The current problem is growing my warehouse. Finding more space for my inventory. As of right now, I'm renting the commercial space I'm using. I've been there since 2013 but I'm slowly searching for something to purchase. I may be able to stay at my current location if I purchase the whole block. The owner wants to sell, but in only 4-5 years. I can't wait for him to take a decision though.

  • Whats are the biggest risks involved?

Probably buying large quantities of inventory. But that's why I try to "test" stuff before. If an item sells well, I can purchase more and so on. The more you "bet", the more you can "win". Just like at the casino. But you try to keep the odds on your side.

Thank you, I appreciate the comment :)

AndIHaveMilesToGo1 karma

Hey! I love this stuff. As a college student, do you think there's any way of being able to do this on a smaller scale to make money? Obviously not as much as you are making, but maybe even a thousand or even less a month? That goes a long way as a student trying to make side money. I'd really appreciate any advice.

819lavoie1 karma

For sure! That's how I was able to go by during my studies.

A good friend of mine had some spare time after his office job. He always stopped by my store to say hi. After teaching him a few tips and tricks, he started purchasing from Canadian Governement Surplus. Basically it's items the government are getting rid of. He bids on items and picks them up from a governement warehouse not too far from our city. I quickly Googled "US Governement Surplus" and found that website.

It's just an example. As long as it sells online, why not! Selling on eBay would be your easiest option. Once things get rolling bit, you'll have so much fun doing it. Hope this helps!

AndIHaveMilesToGo1 karma

Sweet! Thanks. What about wholesale stuff? As in, do you think it's possible to take $1,000 or so, buy something in bulk wholesale, and sell it online? Or am I too small scale to be working with that of stuff?

819lavoie1 karma

From my perspective, wholesale doesn't necessarily mean inevitable profit. The distributor requiring a minimum order of 1000 units doesn't necessarily mean he's selling them for less than anyone else.

You could try going in thrift stores. I know some people do it. You can find branded items that still sell for a lot. I would go slowly; especially if you only have 1000$ to use. Buying 1000$ of wholesale shirts or chairs won't get you nowhere if you can't sell them.

Be careful because it's now easier than ever for anyone to purchase in bulk from China. Your niche is as important as the "deal" you'll be search for itself.

eBay is easy as hell and you can do it from home.

  • Start slowly.
  • Go bigger if it works.
  • Repeat.
  • ????
  • Profit

AndIHaveMilesToGo1 karma

Alright, yeah I've flipped a few items before. My only thing with flipping is I feel like I put in hours of work to find items, research if they can turn a profit, buy them, list them, sell them, and ship them, and then when it's all said and done I've only made a $20 profit. Maybe it's just because I'm new and don't know what I'm doing yet very well.

The hard part for me is, as a student who is also in some pretty time consuming extracurricular groups, finding the time to go to thrift stores. I would love for there to be a way to flip products all online. As in, I buy something online, have it shipped to me, and then sell it again online. I know it's pretty hard to do that with individual items, so that's why I was curious about wholesale.

819lavoie1 karma

I totally understand - and you're right, it IS time consuming.

Maybe you can let them know of your business model? Let them know your plan and that you'd like to purchase multiple pieces of apparel. If it works, you'll be back for more. You can ask them for an additional discount. Let's say, 5$ per item. That way you know you'll be able to turn every single piece of apparel into a profit. This will result into purchasing more. It would be more stimulating if you blitz one time a week and list every item on eBay. If you can turn each item into 30$ and you purchase 10 a week, it's not bad. Minus shipping charges and eBay fees, you're making 10$ a piece or 100$/week. It won't go this fast at first, but give it some time. Great example would be this store "Round Two". They purchase used shoes and apparel and re-sell them. Lots of people come in with awesome little treasures found in thrift stores.

Wholesale may work if you find something nice. I wouldn't be able to help you though. Normally it's a more saturated market. Classic niches would be to purchase thousands or USB-C wires at 1$ from China and sell them for 4$ within the United-States and ship them with USPS. You can create different combos (eg. 2 wires, 1x wire and one charging block, 5x wires, 1x wire one charging block and one case, etc.) That should work, but look how many people do it around. You normally have to keep up to date for newer technologies and accessories. Also, be sure your plug is reliable and ships relatively fast. You can also ask for samples and purchase them. You can ask for express shipping so you don't wait a month to get your samples. Ask for better deals and present yourself as a potential wholesale buyer.

Try it!

SkintyMcFlinty1 karma

What's been your biggest product mistake and what did you learn from it?

819lavoie1 karma

Haha great question!

Hmmm. That would probably be purchasing around 500 units of an item and figuring out afterwards it was "Youth/Junior" item. Junior items don't sell nearly as well as regular adult items. It's not a crazy mistake but it's a recent one I have to deal with now. I just have to double check my purchases before going crazy.

The biggest mistake in my short business career was last October when I decided to purchase the Burger joint which is connected to my warehouse. It had been there for over 30 years and I thought I was doing a great move. The employees were already there, the kitchen was already there, the menu was complete and the clientele was full of regulars. A restaurant - nothing could go wrong right? Haha!

I basically ended up loosing around $ 30,000 CAD in 8 months. Around 8000$ was stolen from an employee I had blindly put all confidence in. I had known her as a neighbor because she was working for the last Burger joint place and she seemed nice. She even tried to sue me when I fired her legally - good thing I had kept texts of me proposing her to work for one more week to accommodate her. I found out about the 8000$ after and had video or anything. It was done over a 6-7 month process.

I'm actually happy I tried it. And I can now say that I had my own restaurant. Here's a picture of before/after renovations . It was the nicest hamburger joint around!

Funny picture: The first year I opened my store front/warehouse, I did the mistake of putting nice little shrub trees in front, on the boulevard. They lasted about a week lol. That picture was taken the morning.

Here's what the two businesses looked like a few months before closing down the hamburger joint. Fun times, fun times.

Imboredasfuk1 karma

I'm just curious..What exactly was the bike retailer selling online? I ask because as far as I know, most bike companies don't allow online bike reselling.

819lavoie2 karma

You're absolutely right.

Bicycle distributors have become more strict on their online selling policies. But back in 2004-2005, it was a free for all really. Almost no bicycle shop was selling online so we could basically put anything we wanted on eBay or Pinkbike. We started selling Norco Shore DH frames as well as Manitou Sherman DH forks. We then expanded and sold basically any bicycle part there was; brakes, seatposts, handlebars, forks, frames, cranks, wheelsets, etc. We sold very few complete bikes when I was working there. I know they started doing it while back. But I also know lots of companies will only allow stores to sell bicycles onlime from let's say, 3 seasons ago so noting close to the newer models would end up on eBay or Amazon. But then again, there's always a way of doing it small scale.