Shipping Product : Episode 3 of the Hustle Lab

I bought a ton of stuff at auction, but at the end of each auction, the auctioneer sends me a strongly-worded message indicating that my new possessions must be removed from their premises immediately or I will be charged by the day.

Their premises are on the other side of the country, so I have to contract with a shipping provider. This I do (thank you ParcelForce), and the package is picked up and brought to me.

The logistics are intimidating from a distance, but actually this turns out to be one of the less problematic parts of this entire process.

Side Hustle Lab - Transporting Stock for your Side Hustle

What’s Involved?

Obviously the cost of getting stuff from the auction house to your own place of business is not included in the price.

The auction house is happy to pack things into a box and make ready for collection. You can then pick your transportation provider and get them to pick up the box and bring it to you.

This is less expensive than I imagined, with prices ranging from £15 to £22 for boxes weighing between 7kg and 16kg. The process is fairly efficient and takes three days from first order to getting the box delivered.

You have to follow certain instructions fairly carefully, such as the way the pickup is labelled, so that among the dzens of boxes ready for pickup the auctioneer gives the shipping provider the right one. If you can follow simple instructions, you should be fine.

Unless…

Of course there’s always that experience where the box ends up in the wrong depot. Then you watch it go worund the country on the ParcelForce tracking page. In fact, mine just went aorund my neighbourhood in a van for a few days before I finally managed to pick it up.

The lesson here is: package delivery companies aren’t that great. Keep your expectations modest and be prepared to spend some time harrassing the solution you need from unfortunate telephone operators. Keep tracking numbers to hand at all times and just work through any problems as they arise.

Another issue that came up, which I’ll talk about again in a later article, involved shipping to Amazon. UPS picked up the parcel and took it away, but then I saw it had stalled in the delivery system. It was in a UPS depot and “Scheduled for Future Delivery”. I called to find out why it wasn’t moving and was told: “Amazon have requested we hold the parcel here until further notice. You’ll have to call them to get any more information.”

A bit of googling later and I understood that Amazon use this trick when they get a little overwhelmed with stock. The way around it is to not use their preferred distributor, because then they don’t know the parcel is coming until it’s arrived, and they can’t block its delivery in the same way. I called Amazon and they “opened a case” to “look into it”.

What Did I Buy Again?

The first parcel arrived fairly quickly. The second also. The third took much longer due to the problem mentioned above.

Why 3 parcels? Because as I mentioned at the end of the last article on this subject, I needed more stock. Much more. So I re-entered the auction site and worked through two more auctions in different places, buying a ton more stuff. More on that below.

But what was in the parcels?

This is where you start getting into the more disappointing part of this experiment. Things are never as good as they looked on the website.

My 5 pairs of Sony headphones were in pretty good condition, but they’d been removed from their packaging and then replaced with little care or attention to the state of the packaging itself. Some were in pretty good condition, others need to be sold with some disclaimers on the listing.

The Tello drones were in pretty good shape, except for one which had visible scratches on the blades (ex-demonstration model, I assumed) and the one without a package which turned out not to be a Tello drone at all.

The last drone still works but isn’t worth much since it’s a cheap knockoff of a well known brand. I crashed it into the wall of my living room a few times, which was at least slightly satisfying.

I listed a drone on eBay and it sold surprisingly quickly, more on that in the next article. The Sony headphones seem to be less in demand.

Auction Update

Without going into the full detail, here is the summary of my purchases so far.

Bidding Cost : £512
Bidders Premium and Taxes : £225.28
Shipping Costs from Auction : £37.20
Total Delivered Cost for my Stock : £774.48

That’s as much as I’m prepared to spend on this experiment at the moment. From now on I hope to see money beging to trickle back in.

The spreadsheet seems to indicate that I will make approximately £500-£600 profit. I still think there must be a bunch of risks that will eat into my profits, but so far it’s looking pretty good.

Lessons Learned

  • All the shipping stuff is intimidating but not really that hard
  • There will be challenges along the way, but they’re a normal part of doing business and you should just tackle them and get on with it
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