Yes, resellers engaging in retail arbitrage showed up at the clearance sales. Arbitrage is a very simple concept: it’s buying something in a retail store and selling it for more money elsewhere. Mobile apps and online venues like Amazon Marketplace have made it much easier, and now there’s a surprising number of people who make their living or a few extra bucks this way. Usually they scoop up items on sale or on clearance, or that are in demand somewhere, but the Walmart closings are a unique opportunity.
They stores where everything was first 50% off, then 75% off. While this means you could finally get a WebTV for fifty bucks, it also means that basic everyday items that people would pick up on Amazon are discounted too.
“Fulfilled by Amazon” means that the company stores items in their warehouses after sellers ship off their items in batches, and pricing apps let sellers caclulate how much an item will sell for and whether they’ll make money after deducting Amazon’s fees.
The Wall Street Journal met one shopper in Michigan who said that he had spent $12,000 buying up clearance merchandise at a closing Walmart. He loaded up on pregnancy tests and condoms. Sure, he bought some electronics too, but the key was to buy things that would sell for a good price, and buy as many of them as possible.
Another seller purchased cameras and electric toothbrushes, planning to sell them for close to retail value when he got 50% off. That’s great news for him, but maybe not for his customers: buying from an Amazon Marketplace seller can void the warranty on items that you buy. Amazon is an authorized seller, but when you shop the Marketplace, Amazon is not officially the seller. Shop with caution.
The Web’s Most Maniacal Bargain Hunters [WSJ]