One of the most important decisions an Amazon seller makes is where to source their goods. Experienced sellers know the gold standard of sourcing is directly from the manufacturer, brand owner, and at the very least, an authorized distributor. Conversely, Amazon frowns upon retail arbitrage, liquidation, other e-commerce platforms like eBay and Alibaba and unverifiable obscure vendors. What category do outlet stores fall into since they are technically manufacturer direct via retail arbitrage?
Let’s explore the good, the bad and the ugly of this type of bargain shopping so you can decide for yourself if sourcing Amazon products from outlet malls is safe.
What ends up at an outlet mall, anyway?
Outlet mall shoppers often go for the bargains. But why can you find premium brands at a discounted price?
- Last season’s styles: retailers keep their shelves current so older designs get boxed up and shipped to the outlet stores once newer merchandise trickles in.
- Overstock: Excess units of a design or size that are unlikely to sell within a specific time frame at the retail store are sent to the outlet store for a quicker turn over.
- Defects: Small quality issues that make the unit unsuitable for sale in a retail store at retail prices are found in outlet stores. Imperfections like color bleeds, small stains, poor seams, and incorrect labels do not pass muster against retail store quality or against Amazon’s new condition guidelines.
- Items specifically made for sale in premium outlet malls: These products may carry the same familiar labels and be produced by the same company as their retail-store counterparts, but the inferior quality accounts for the cheaper price.
Big Problems for Amazon Sellers
Excess inventory and last season’s items are ideal finds if you are going to source from outlet stores. Although, you will quickly find that items in these categories often account for a small portion of inventory. Problems arise when well-meaning sellers buy and list inventory with imperfections and those made especially for outlet stores against the made-for-retail store Amazon listing, often resulting in inauthentic and condition complaints. Unless you are extremely familiar with the brand and its newest styles, it can be hard to know if you’re listing a retail store reject or a different item altogether. Riverbend’s advice is to err on the side of caution and prioritize the health of your seller account over a good deal.