Flipping beauty products to Amazon FBA and eBay ain't easy

by Randy Gingeleski

3 minutes to read

A cautionary tale about $700 in face massagers.

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Not too long ago I was at the liquidation sale of Syracuse’s Lord & Taylor location and came across these face massagers —

Stacks of Foreo Luna 3 massagers in their boxes

They were marked half off from $200 retail. A quick search on Amazon and eBay suggested these might sell easily at $150.

Foreo Luna 3 listings on Amazon

Ehhh what the hell, right? I pay the $40/month for an Amazon Seller account anyway. These seemed easy enough to ship off to their warehouses to do FBA.

Having Prime shipping available and Amazon’s legitimacy sounded like it’d reasonably bring the price point to $170 plus.

So the massage devices come home with me, slightly discounted. For some reason the store applied a discount to some units and not others.

Foreo Luna 3 printed receipts

My Citi DoubleCash card arguably sliced another 2% off everything too.

But alas… I was naive about the world of beauty products on Amazon. The reason for my Seller account there is to hawk biodegradable bags, a much different product category. 🙃

My (first) red flag about these massagers might’ve been the only “other” offer besides AMZN was the manufacturer.

Going into Seller Central to add these devices, the restrictions on beauty goods became apparent. The biggest hurdle is manufacturer permission.

Amazon SellerCentral need-for-approval warning

They also wanted me to take a pesticides e-course which was amusing. 🐌

Amazon SellerCentral pesticides web course

Anyway, no big deal, we’ll try our luck on eBay.

Here too I should’ve taken more than a cursory glance at listings. Especially completed ones.

“Flooding the market” with all 7 massagers at once did not initially strike me as ideal. I put up a listing for 5 days and a break-even starting bid.

Time ticked by — nobody bid the listing until the last 18 hours. Got just a bit nervous. Ultimately sold for $127.50.

Completed eBay listing screenshot

What nailed me on listing #1 is that my “free shipping” was set to UPS Ground. That cost about $20, and with eBay fees, this was an even break.

A busy week or so passed before I got to the 6 remaining units. Interestingly, as seen via the “completed listings” eBay history, the market for these heated up a little.

These 6 sold more efficiently thanks to lessons from unit uno —

  • Used a fixed price of $135.22
  • Dabbled a little bit in eBay advertising
    • Put up to 4% of sale price on the line to get ad exposure
    • You only pay if someone buys through the ad
  • Opted for USPS shipping instead of UPS
    • Cheaper ($10-$15/unit)
    • Quicker (print labels at home and drop package up the street)
    • Support America maybe
  • Specified color options as an attribute
Holding a brown package with USPS label

This entire deal can be summarized in the table below.

Unit number Unit cost Date of purchase Date of sale Sale price Shipping and eBay fees Net profit
1 $101.32 2020-12-26 2020-12-31 $127.50 ~$27.00 ($0.82)
2 $101.32 2020-12-26 2021-01-11 $135.22 ~$20.00 $13.90
3 $101.32 2020-12-26 2021-01-14 $135.22 ~$17.00 $16.90
4 $101.32 2020-12-26 2021-01-15 $135.22 ~$10.00 $23.90
5 $101.32 2020-12-26 2021-01-15 $135.22 ~$10.00 $23.90
6 $101.32 2020-12-26 2021-01-20 $135.22 ~$12.00 $21.90
7 $101.32 2020-12-26 2021-01-21 $135.22 ~$15.00 $18.90

Estimated total profit = $112.58

It wasn’t lucrative, but did drive up my eBay feedback rating. ¯\(ツ)

Live and learn — flipping beauty products to Amazon FBA and eBay ain’t easy.