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Product Sourcing 101: Rob Cyr

Sourcing Expert Rob Cyr discusses liquidation

Many in the liquidation industry know, or have heard of, Rob Cyr who has been a liquidation reseller since 2002, but what he’s known for most of all is his consultant work helping other liquidation resellers grow into successful businesses. With his company, New Venture Media, Rob assists buyers with liquidating excess inventory, but he also has a popular Facebook group called Product Sourcing 101 (PS101), which is where we began our partnership.

PS101 brings companies like together with their buyers, allowing for an open dialogue to ensure mutual success. If you’re not already part of Rob’s Facebook group – we highly recommend you do as it’s a great channel for tips and networking!

We recently sat down with Rob and spoke about the industry, his start and his advice for those just starting to those who have been doing this for years! Here's what he had to say:

Q: OUT OF CURIOSITY WHAT DID YOU PRIMARILY FOCUS ON SELLING, AND DO YOU STILL SELL? Our focus was primarily apparel. We also sourced and sold general merchandise, home goods, home & garden, and tools.

Q: DID YOU MAKE A LOT OF MISTAKES STARTING OUT, AND IF SO WHAT WERE THEY (IF YOU DON'T MIND US ASKING)? Absolutely, the biggest mistake I made was to allow my excitement to get a head of me and purchasing before I fully understood this industry. Like I tell everyone I talk to, there is a steep learning curve so to be successful you need knowledge first which is why I wrote the Liquidators Guide.

Q: IN YOUR OWN MISTAKES, AND HEARING FROM OTHER BUYERS ABOUT THEIRS, WHAT IS THE BIGGEST MISTAKE NEARLY ALL LIQUIDATED RESELLERS HAVE MADE? Unrealistic expectations when dealing with customer returns in terms of receiving inconsistent product conditions.

We've heard this many times from our users. Getting familiar with what each condition means is a good starting point.

Q: IS THERE A WAY FOR NEWCOMERS TO AVOID MAKING THESE MISTAKES? Absolutely! In our connected world, today with social media and sites like YouTube, newcomers can research from others who are willing to share and network. Our Facebook group, Product Sourcing 101, is an excellent source for anyone interested in learning about this industry. With over 15,000 members networking and sharing purchase experiences, it’s a great place to connect with others who are buying and reselling this type of inventory. I really wish I had this type of networking opportunity back when I got started 16 years ago. Maybe I wouldn’t have made so many mistakes purchasing pallets and truckloads of department store merchandise.

Q: WE'VE SEEN A LOT OF BUYERS GET DISCOURAGED BECAUSE OF INCORRECT EXPECTATIONS, THE CONDITION MAY BE MISUNDERSTOOD, OPEN TO INTERPRETATION OR JUST OVERLOOKED. HOW DO YOU HELP PEOPLE TO GET BACK ON TRACK? This is what I talk to people about most often and as I mentioned before, when working with customer return merchandise those that are successful understand and accept product conditions will always vary. People return merchandise on-line and in store for a multitude of reasons. Some items may be broken, while some may be returned due to buyers’ remorse, and some may be returned after extensive use.

Q: WHAT'S THE BEST ADVICE YOU CAN GIVE TO SOMEONE NEW IN THIS BUSINESS? Take your time, learn as much as you can about product conditions before making a purchase. When you do decide to purchase go small and test waters with the transaction and your ability to sell the merchandise.

Q: WHAT ABOUT TO SOMEONE WHO'S BEEN IN THIS BUSINESS FOR YEARS, MAKING CONTINUAL PROFIT GAINS EACH YEAR? This is obviously someone who has no issue working with inconsistent product conditions, limited quantities, and perhaps enjoys the “thrill” of the industry like I do. I would tell that person to join our group and join the conversation. They would probably have much to share.

Q: NOW WHAT ABOUT THE LIQUIDATION COMPANIES, SUCH AS LIQUIDATION.COM? WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE US FOR LONG-TERM SUCCESS WITH OUR BUYERS? I would invest in continuous buyer education in the form of timely content, videos, and maintain a presence in social media where so many people are hanging out. An educated buyer is a repeat buyer.

Q: WHERE DO YOU SEE THIS INDUSTRY OVER THE NEXT 5-10 YEARS? I have a couple of thoughts. I see a major increase of online e-commerce returns vs. big box stores as consumer spending online increases year after year. Online retailers make it super easy to send back merchandise which explains why dotcom returns are typically cleaner than items returned to brick and mortar stores. Cleaner returns make the job of salvaging profit much easier for the liquidation buyer. Consumer retail spending increases yearly and so too the rate of retail returns. I think the last figure I heard was $260 billion dollars of consumer merchandise was returned in 2016! As that number grows steadily over the next 5-10 years, so too will the number of wholesale liquidation buyers need to grow. This brings me back to the ever-important fact that buyer education is critical – an educated liquidation buyer will purchase ongoing instead of the “one and done” which is all too common today.

Have questions for Rob, or want to speak with others in this industry for tips and knowledge sharing? Join his Facebook group Product Sourcing 101 (PS101) today!

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