You didn’t find this article by mistake. You have probably been considering buying a liquidation truckload for a while. You have a lot of ambition and determination to succeed and thrive in this industry, but you just need a little guidance and advice. You may already sell individual liquidation pallets or be completely new to the liquidation industry. Either way, you have come to the right place. In the following article, we will discuss the ins and outs of buying a truckload of returns the smart way.

Download our Beginners Guide to Selling Liquidation Merchandise for more helpful tips.

Make Sure You Have the Business Infrastructure for Your Truckloads

Before you go all in on buying your first liquidation truckload, a few things are vital to know and implement. Buying a truckload of liquidation pallets may mean your current business plan/structure may need to be upgraded. Some things to consider before you get started are:

  • More volume means you need more of everything, including staff. Do you have enough staff to help you unload, process, list for sale, promote and sell all the additional liquidation pallets? If not, make sure you have a plan of how you will handle it. It is true that you get better pricing when you buy more volume, but if you have to sit on the liquidation pallets for too long, the additional benefit of buying a full liquidation truckload instead of a few liquidation pallets at a time will erode the longer it takes. Make sure you have a plan to sell through the additional volume quickly.
  • Do you have the physical space? If not, you will have to obtain storage through a storage unit or a warehouse. That can be a substantial financial commitment.
  • Is your facility's location in an area conducive for big trucks? Can the truck pull in, turn around, back up, and park (without blocking a major road ), and pull out without fear of getting stuck or hitting something low hanging?
  • You will only be allotted two hours to unload your truck. It will be vital that you have a forklift and a pallet jack. This is not included with the delivery and you must supply the equipment and labor. Renting a forklift is always a great option until you are able to buy one of your own. Pallet jacks are cheap enough to buy to move pallets around after the truck leaves.
  • It is important to remember that the driver CAN NOT help with unloading the truck. Do you have everything you need? Check out this article on how to receive truckload.
  • If you are brand new to the liquidation business you will need to obtain a Reseller’s License. This permit allows your business to not pay sales tax on purchased liquidation truckloads that are purchased with the intent of reselling to your customers. This is something that you should probably already have, but if not, as your volume increases you 100% need to get it. Learn more about getting a reseller license.

You probably already have some experience with what product type works best for your business if you are looking to increase to full liquidation truckload purchases. Just remember that you need a product type that not only sells, but also sells relatively fast. All liquidation truckloads can be divided into four main categories.

Main Types of Liquidation Truckloads

High Piece Count Truckload of Returns. These are large quantities of small items, generally items that measure less than 12 inches on the longest side. A general average is that high piece count truckloads of returns have anywhere from 6,000-50,000 items. The truckloads can be very expensive due to the high retail value generally contained in them (Ex. $120,000 - $600,000). These liquidation pallets work well for situations where you can move large volumes of product (Ex. pallet sales, bin stores, flea markets, ect). Be careful using these liquidation pallets for online sales. They can certainly work, but they also take A BUNCH of work and you will be left with some items that are simply too cheap to sell online individually. You will need to be creative in figuring out how you will move these left over items after you buy the truckload of returns. Another thing to be cautious of, if trying to sell by the piece, is organized storage. If you list 800 items online, when one of them sells, how do you find it? Without a pre-formulated system, this can be a daunting task.

Medium Truckload of Returns. This truckload of returns will be made up of all items that are a medium size, such as small appliances, power tools, baby strollers, etc. Generally, anything larger than 12 inches on the longest side and shorter than 36 inches. A general average is that medium truckloads of returns have anywhere from 600-3,000 items. You get less quantity than the return truckloads of high piece count. This generally results in the total retail value of the medium returns truckload to be less (Ex. $40,000 - $100,000) and also the cost that you pay when you buy the truckload of returns to be less. Truckloads of returned medium items generally work well for per piece sales on Facebook marketplace, eBay, flea markets, garage sales, ect. They also work really well for pallet sales. You are able to sell through the truckload much faster than if you had a much higher piece count since you have less items to sell. There is less labor involved in the sorting, photographing, describing, listing, shipping, ect.

Bulk Truckload of Returns. You guessed it, these are your large sized items and may be on oversized pallets. Generally, these items will be larger than 36 inches on their longest side. A general average is that bulk truckloads of returns that you buy will have anywhere from 60-400 items. Due to there being less products and less retail value (Ex. $15,000 - $45,000) on the truckload, these loads tend to cost less, but you can sell through a truckload much faster due to the low piece count of the truckload. These loads work best almost exclusively when selling by the piece or an auction. The major concern is space. Bulk items are big and take up a lot of space. There is much less labor involved in selling through a truckload of bulk items, but you must have the space to receive and store the product since it may not be able to be stacked on top of each other.

Mixed Truckload of Returns. Some retailers do not divide the liquidation product in the truckloads of returns that you buy from them. The liquidation product may be a combination of all different sizes and categories. Many times, you will have some common factor to categorize the product in the liquidation truckload.

  • For example, the truckload could be all customer returns or all new, case packed merchandise.
  • The truckload could be all from the same retailer: Target Liquidations, Amazon Liquidations, Walmart Liquidations or any other specific retailer.
  • Lastly, the truckload could be all 1 category of liquidation product such as, clothing, general merchandise, furniture or outdoor living.
  • Some brokers, such as BuyLow Warehouse, are also able to procure loads that are a mixture of both Medium pallets and Bulk pallets as well as a variety of others.

There are many ways that a liquidation truckload can be built and many of these characteristics can be combined in any number of ways. Just make sure to understand what you are getting before you buy a truckload of returns.

When you buy a truckload of returns, there are different conditions of the merchandise you will be receiving. No matter what condition is purchased, everything is generally sold “As Is, Where Is”. Make sure to read the condition descriptions and terms thoroughly for wherever you buy the product, but below are a few examples of the conditions of truckloads of returns.

What Are the Liquidation Condition Descriptions?

New Truckload: Item is new, never used or opened. It is still sealed in the manufacturer’s packaging with no cosmetic defections. It may have been placed for sale on the retailer’s shelves or pulled out of the department store’s distribution center.

Overstock Truckload: New Product that the retailer no longer wishes to store or sell through their normal sales channels and chooses to liquidate to make room for different products. This could be due to space limitations, product end-of- life, seasonality, contractual reasons, packaging changes, or simply not selling fast enough. These items generally have not been placed for sale on the department store’s shelves and may still be in the master packs as received from the factory.

Warehouse Damaged Truckload: Items damaged either from being in the warehouse or from shipping. Often, it may be that the retail packaging has been damaged and the item is not sellable in its current packaging condition. There is a chance that an item could be damaged, but generally, most of the items will be in new condition.

Customer Returns Truckload: Items that have been sold to an end-user and returned. The items could have been returned through a department store storefront, manufacturer, website, and/or distribution center. The packaging may be in various states, including: opened, distressed, and/or missing. There may be units that lack essential components, accessories, and documentation. The inventory condition is always sold AS IS and warranties are not valid.

Salvage Truckload: Items that have been tested and failed a technical functionality or physical condition test. The packaging may be in various states, including: opened, distressed, and/or missing. There may be units that lack essential components, accessories, and documentation. This inventory condition is always sold AS IS and no cosmetic or operational condition is guaranteed.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. Hopefully it does give you an idea of some of the conditions you will likely receive when you buy truckloads. You can download the infographic below to better understand the difference between merchandise conditions.

liquidation merchandise condition descriptions infographic.png

Maximize Your Liquidation Truckload

Before you buy a truckload of returns, you need to decide where you are going to sell the liquidation merchandise. There are many sales avenues that you can go down to help grow this exciting new business. You can sell full liquidation pallets directly out of your warehouse. You can decide to sell in online groups and stores. You can conduct online auctions through Facebook or on your website. As well as taking smaller quantities to large community flea markets, garage sales, local auctions and other events. You can also do a combination of them all!

To fully get all of the benefits that come with selling liquidation truckloads, you will need to find your ideal market. Not having a specific customer base or ideal market in mind, can have you and your inventory stretched way too thin. Sometimes this may take a little trial and error to test different liquidation merchandise types to figure out what your customer base responds to the best.

Find your first liquidation truckload today!

Now You are Ready to Buy a Truckload of Returns!

You have just received your reseller’s license, your forklift has been shined, and you know what kind of liquidation truckload of returns to buy. We know what you are thinking: “What is the next step in the selling of liquidation truckloads?”

Allow us to explain. Hopefully, once we are finished you will find a large semi truck of liquidation merchandise at the end of your journey. First though, you are going to need to decide where to buy your truckload of returns.

  • You rarely will have the option of buying a truckload of returns directly from the retailer or brand owner. Unfortunately, the volume required to purchase truckloads of returns directly from a retailer will not be possible when you are starting out. Very few retailers sell directly to the individual truckload buyers and most of these truckloads of returns are controlled by large contracts.
  • You can go through a professional broker like BuyLow Warehouse. A benefit of using a professional broker is their connections with the suppliers and freight brokers. They have the ability to get otherwise expensive loads and freight at a reasonable price due to their repeat business, volume, and relationships within the industry. While they do have to make money on the sale, it is beneficial to have someone on your team when you are first learning the ropes. It helps to ensure that you work with a legitimate supplier, do not pay too high of a price, do not have to worry about handling the freight, and choose the right product to stand the best chance of success. Once you find a professional broker who you can trust and depend on you will go back to them for more than just the good deals.
  • You can also buy truckloads of returns online. There are liquidation truckload Facebook groups solely dedicated to buying and selling. Depending on the source that you find, this may allow you to buy a truckload of returns at auction or for a flat price. If you buy directly from an online site, instead of using a professional broker with a good reputation, you will not have someone in your corner to help you determine if the seller you are dealing with is legit or not. In that case it is important to make sure that you do your due diligence to vet the people you buy from and avoid risky payment methods. Liquidation scammers work hard to sell you the “perfect truck,” that doesn’t exist. Asking about other peoples’ experiences with the seller will help you determine who can and cannot be trusted.
  • If you decide to buy off of Facebook you will want to post a WTB ad or “Want to Buy.” There are a few key items that need to be included:
  1. The type of truckload of returns you are interested in buying.
  2. The zip code where your facility is located.
  3. Whether you have a commercial or residential address.

Let's Get Your Liquidation Inventory Organized

You have just received your truckload of return, signed your name on the bill of lading (BOL) and are eager to see your liquidation merchandise. You also may be feeling a bit overwhelmed. Don’t worry, the steps needed to go from unload to sold are not as cumbersome as you might think. A little patience and elbow grease will go a long way.

First, you will need to decide your sales channel that you plan to use to sell the liquidation merchandise. There are many sales models, and each has their own unique advantages and dis-advantages. For this article, we will focus on the sales model of selling the items on a per piece basis since that is the most complex and detailed sales model.

For selling on a per piece basis, you will need to get detailed with your liquidation merchandise. It will be extremely helpful to have an updatable product catalog software to keep track of your inventory and that integrates with your chosen sales channels. There are many programs available to help you keep track of everything.

Next, determine what is in immediate sale-able condition. These items can be put on your shelf or posted to your online sales channel right away. Some items may be damaged or have missing parts. Determine which of these can be recycled, donated, or can be used to fix other items.

Once you have everything in manageable groups, it is time to:

  1. Test the merchandise.
  2. Clean the merchandise.
  3. Repackage the merchandise (if needed).
  4. Photograph the merchandise.
  5. List the merchandise for sale.

It is important that everything you present to the public looks as pristine and desirable as possible. Once this is done, you will need to make sure you take pictures of your inventory and have well thought out descriptions. Always take pictures of any blemishes or damages to the products and describe these damages or missing pieces clearly so that the buyer knows exactly what they are receiving. Also, be sure to take pictures on a white background so that the item stands out clearly.

Where Do You Go From Here?

Well, you are still here, and excited about buying liquidation truckloads. Let us give you some resources and tips to help you on this journey as you build and grow your business. There will be people in this industry who are only looking out for themselves. It is important to find people who genuinely care about your success. At BuyLow Warehouse, we believe in offering fair pricing, honest advice, and quality liquidation product. Are you looking for a reliable partner? Check out liquidation truckloads for sale – and get one on the road today.

Remember, you get out of this business what you put into it. It requires hard work, commitment, creativity and an attention to detail. There are a lot of moving pieces in this industry. With the right tools and mindset you can have a well-oiled machine that will grow and advance your liquidation business.

Meet the Author

Matt Leavell is the founder and CEO of BuyLow Warehouse. As a passionate business executive with over 20 years of entrepreneurial experience and more than 13 years of operations management experience, Matt's goal is to empower sellers to start and grow their own liquidation businesses the smart way. Matt uses his expertise in business growth, improving efficiency, and liquidation selling to partner with sellers big and small so they can reach their full potential.

Connect with Matt on LinkedIn.