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Selling Electronics Online with Retail Arbitrage

Dave Consolazio
December 18, 2023
December 18, 2023
Preparing for selling electronics online with products laid out around a laptop

Selling electronics online was a major part of my retail arbitrage strategy when I was a full-time reseller on Amazon from 2015 through 2019. With the exception of a few specific brands (like Beats by Dre), the electronics category is ungated on Amazon, meaning that there is no barrier to entry for selling electronics on Amazon. If you have used or new electronics you want to sell online, you can do so on Amazon from day one.

I think the electronics category is a fun one to source because there is such a wide range of interesting electronics in the world today. From popular products that we all use like phones and computers to niche items like video game systems and projectors, there is always a demand for electronics. In this article, I’ll give you my tips and suggestions for selling electronics online, including where to find them and where to sell them.

Selling New Electronics Online

Phone charger adapter

Selling new electronics online takes a lot of the guesswork out of the process. When a product is brand new in its original packaging, you don’t have to worry about whether or not it works, if it has any missing pieces, or how its condition will affect its sale price. The majority of the electronics I resold were ones that I purchased new.

What Type of New Electronics to Look For

One of the perks of sourcing new electronics for retail arbitrage is that you don’t have to limit your search or be an expert on electronics. With a scanner app like ScoutIQ, you can scan any electronic product with a UPC barcode and immediately learn what that product is selling for on Amazon and what your potential profit on it will be.

Considering the whole process of scanning the barcode and receiving this information takes only a few seconds, I scanned all of the new electronics I came across that were being sold at a discount. I would sometimes come across a brand-new electronic I knew nothing about, like a computer part, that wound up having a large profit margin.

Just make sure to pay attention to the Amazon best seller rank (BSR) when you are sourcing for new electronics to sell online. I would still consider buying products with large profit potential and bad seller rankings like accessories for out-of-date cellphones, but I did so understanding that there was a good chance it might take a while for these electronics to sell. Electronics with high BSRs will be much easier to flip for a quick profit, making them good purchases even when the profit margin isn’t super high.

Where to Find New Electronics to Sell Online

Busy mall full of shoppers

New electronics can be sourced at most big box stores. When you are trying to find products to sell on Amazon, the most important thing to look for is discounted items. These can be found in the clearance sections of popular stores like Target or Walmart, or in the designated electronics sections of discount department stores like ROSS or Marshall's.

Big Box Store Clearance Sales

I spent a lot of time sourcing new electronics to sell online at Target and ROSS. Walmarts usually have a specific aisle or two of the store dedicated to clearance items of all different categories, and you can often find discounted electronics in the mix. (You can also find high-profit items on hidden clearance at Walmart if you know what to look for.) Target has category-specific clearance sections, so you can usually find discounted electronics on an endcap in the electronics section of the store.

Keep in mind that Target's clearance items start at 30% off, then are repriced to 50% off after a week or two, and then make their way down to 70% off. If your local Target has a large quantity of a specific electronic in stock, it may be worth waiting until it gets down to 50% off or 70% off before making your move.

Discount Department Stores

Many of the electronics you'll find at ROSS or Marshall's are off-brand products that don't generate much interest on Amazon. There are exceptions to this, however, as these stores will occasionally get popular brands in stock or electronics featuring popular brands like Disney characters. Kids' headphones with Disney characters or superhero logos on them often sell for $20–$30 on Amazon during the holidays, and I would find them at these stores for around $10.

Online Arbitrage

If you want to scale up your retail arbitrage efforts around electronics, online arbitrage is a great tool to use. Tactical Arbitrage, for example, is tapped in to over 1,000 retail websites worldwide, giving you the ability to scour hundreds of sites for brand-new electronics that you can buy at a discount and resell online.

Where to Sell New Electronics Online

Personally, I think Amazon is far and away the best option for selling new electronics online. The Fulfilled By Amazon (FBA) service makes the logistics of selling electronics so easy as you just have to send in the products that you source to Amazon's warehouse, price them, and let FBA take care of the rest.

You can't beat the traffic and potential customer base on Amazon, and most of the electronics I sold had higher profit margins for me on Amazon than they did on eBay. Online marketplaces like eBay and Walmart may be worth looking into as alternatives for high-priced items just to make sure that you are maximizing your value, but as a general rule I think Amazon works great for flipping new electronics.

Selling Used Electronics Online

Used guitar amplifiers and other electronics on a wall

Selling used electronics online isn't quite as straightforward as selling new electronics. You will need to have more knowledge about the products to make sure all the pieces are there and do a bit more research on how the condition of your item will impact its price. With all that said, there is also potential for huge profits in reselling old electronics, as they can often be purchased at very cheap prices.

It's also important to make sure used electronics work. One of my most expensive Amazon mistakes was purchasing a used Nintendo Wii without testing it first, only to find out that the wires included with it weren't the right ones. And when I connected it with the right ones, the system didn't work. Whenever possible, test used electronics out before you buy them!

What Type of Used Electronics to Look For

An outdated video game console and controller

Most electronics that are only slightly used, including those that still have their original packaging, can be sourced similar to new electronics, obviously with adjusted price expectations given that they are no longer new.

When considering which used electronics to sell that were not like-new or still in their original packaging, I generally had success with the following types of products:

Used Electronics That Are Expensive New

There isn't much of a market for used electronics that can easily be purchased brand new for under $20. But as electronics get more expensive, value shoppers are going to be looking for cheaper options, including used versions of the items they need.

For example, I had a lot of success reselling used calculators. The TI-83 Plus graphing calculator is a must-have for many high-school and college students, and it sells for $70 or more brand new. This makes a used one that still works fine selling in the $30–$50 range an attractive option for many buyers.

Collectible Electronics

A Les Paul wireless guitar for Guitar Hero on PlayStation 3 and a Star Wars R2-D2 shaped telephone are a pair of examples of used electronics that I found on my shopping trails and was able to sell for a nice profit. If an electronic has a design or feature that makes it rare or collectible, chances are there will be interested buyers out there for it, even if it is used.

Outdated Electronics

Palm Pilots, pagers, video game systems and other technologies that have gone by the wayside surprisingly tend to have strong secondary markets. Since these electronics aren't being produced in new condition anymore, people who want them will usually have to buy them used, which makes them good to seek out as a reseller.

Where to Find Used Electronics to Sell Online

Above: The "Computer Parts" category on Craigslist can be a gold mine if you know what to look for.

I found most of the used electronics I sold online at thrift stores, garage sales and websites like Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist. Thrift stores like Goodwill and the Salvation Army were my favorite places to source for used electronics, as they always have a large selection of products and are always restocking throughout the day. You never know what kind of cool gadgets you will come across on any given trip.

Garage sales can be hit or miss. They are a great place to start on a limited budget and there is big profit potential when you find a winner, but the best stuff is often scooped up early by other resellers, so you need to get lucky on your first few stops. The same goes for online marketplaces like Facebook Marketplace, where you can sometimes grab used electronics at a great price, but will have plenty of competition among others sourcing in your area.

Where to Sell Used Electronics Online

Above: Used TI-83s are still selling for decent prices on Amazon.

Amazon is still a great choice for used electronics. I sold most of my used electronics using Amazon FBA and just filled out accurate product conditions and descriptions on my listings. I never ran into any trouble selling used electronics on Amazon.

There were instances, however, where I felt like eBay was a better option, including when I was dealing with collectible electronics (which may be more commonly searched for on eBay) and products that weren't listed on Amazon. It's easier to create a new listing on eBay than Amazon. Just keep in mind that it's still important to take great photos on eBay when optimizing your product listings.

And for very cheap flips, Facebook Marketplace works too. I once purchased an electronic heating pad at a garage sale for $1 and sold it on Facebook Marketplace for $10. This is the type of transaction that wouldn't really make much sense to do on eBay or Amazon as I'd make very little money after fees and shipping costs, but as a person-to-person flip it made sense.

To get extra exposure on both used and new electronics, you could also use a service like ExportYourStore to seamlessly integrate your product line across multiple marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, and Shopify. Just make sure when dealing with used electronics that your product descriptions and condition notes accurately transfer over on each platform.

And that's all there is to it! Sourcing both new and used electronics to sell online can be fun and profitable as either a hobby or a side-hustle, and hopefully these pointers will help you along your path.