Mark Christiansen Switched from Retail Arbitrage to Online Arbitrage [Student Story]

February 13

In the fall of 2020 I had come to a breaking point at my “desirable” corporate 9-5 job. I decided to quit due to stress and the desire to spend more time with my growing family.

The next few months, I spent multiple hours a day listening to podcasts, reading blogs and scrolling through social media to find a career path that would allow me the freedom to work for myself.

After a few months, I stumbled across selling on Amazon and was immediately hooked!

I started selling on Amazon in the summer of 2021. First, I was selling solely by doing Retail Arbitrage (RA).

I would make my rounds at the local TJ Maxx, Ross, and Marshalls selling Nike, Adidas and other big-name brands. I thought that this was the best way to get my business up and running. 

I eventually stumbled into Wal-Mart and Target just in time to sell toys for my first Q4.  

It was an absolute rush heading into the store, going to the toy department, and looking for the 6-10 items I knew would sell before I left the store!

At my RA peak I would go to all the stores above and would go to the next two nearest towns and shop those the same stores there too.

I enjoyed the rush & excitement of finding an amazing clearance deal and I even enjoyed the time in the car as I got to listen to some of my favorite podcasts and would catch up with friends and family in between my drives.  

I was so happy working for myself, but I kept thinking that I didn't want to source like this forever. I also didn’t feel like it was easily scalable since to source more, I had to drive more or higher out help. 

I started dabbling with Tactical Arbitrage (TA) which helped me find various products online that I could purchase from home.

I thought this was amazing!

I could totally get used to this, so I kept at it. But I was having trouble consistently finding products to sell.

Looking back, I simply wasn’t sourcing enough or giving enough attention to TA and not “embracing the suck” as Chris Grant would say.

I went back to what worked for me and continued to take the RA train, even though its shimmer had dimmed a bit.  It wasn’t until this past November that I decided to give Online Arbitrage (OA) a try as the stores were starting to get packed and crowded.

I missed TA and was starting to dabble with Seller Amp and manual source as well.  At this point my sourcing had improved so I started to find more products and I was able to use the Buy Online Pickup in Store (BOPIS) method for those quick turnaround Fulfilled by Merchant (FBM) sales that we all love getting in Q4.

After the craziness of Q4 settled and I got comfortable sourcing from home I had a decision to make; to either go back to RA or keep giving OA a shot.  

I made a pros & cons list (see table) to help figure out which method was best for me.  

Retail Arbitrage Pros

  • Listen to Podcasts while driving
  • No shipping charges
  • Quick turnaround
  • Access to local clearance deals

Retail Arbitrage  Cons

  • Wasted time driving and not sourcing
  • Harder to scale
  • Limited product selection
  • Can’t source any time of day

Then I did a one for online arbitrage.

Online Arbitrage Pros

  • Get to source from home in your pjs
  • Can spend more time with family
  • Can purchase a higher quantity of products
  • Can’t inspect an item before purchase
  • Can source 24/7

Online Arbitrage Cons

  • Longer turnaround time because of shipping
  • Shipping charges
  • Cost of tools i.e. TA, Seller Amp
  • Can’t inspect an item before purchase

It was a time of metamorphosis as I was also looking for a mentor and/or a course to help me build a sturdier foundation (I felt like my Keepa skills and overall Amazon knowledge needed improvement) to help me transition to OA.  

I kept hearing about an OA Challenge that would help you become an OA expert & improve your foundation as well.  

I thought this seemed too good to be true, but I noticed that Chris Grant was running this, and I knew him from the Clear the Shelf Podcast that I started listening to pre Q4 to really immerse myself into the world of selling on Amazon.

I knew that he’d been selling on Amazon for more than 10 years and had a wealth of knowledge and experience to share.  

The challenge itself was 14 days long and included Q&A every night which I thought was amazing!  

I would be given the opportunity to build my knowledge with Keepa, selling in general, and become an OA expert. But the part I really liked was that I could ask any question I could think of for 14 days straight and get them answered by a veteran Amazon seller.  Seemed like the perfect win win win scenario! 

Mark's Amazon Sales

Mark's last year of sales.

I ended up taking the 14-day challenge and I honestly wish I would’ve taken this sooner as I didn’t realize how limited my knowledge was.  It was very eye opening to say the least.  I felt like I knew enough to be dangerous before this course, but I hadn’t even begun to scratch the surface. 

The best part is that you get to keep all the training videos and information even after the 14 days are up!  We met everyday via Facebook live for almost two hours a session, going over a new topic each day and of course being able to ask any questions on or off topic.  

With the switch from RA to OA, and with the strong foundation and skills that I learned with the OA Challenge, I know that this year will be a game changer.  Happy selling!