How to Buy Surplus Inventory

Buying surplus inventory from retailers or businesses is a great way to invest relatively little money and resell those inventory items for a significant profit. The actual process for locating and arranging to buy surplus inventory will depend greatly on governmental regulations that impact how these types of transactions must occur, the nature of the inventory itself and the type of payment plan that the buyer and seller agree upon. When structured to best advantage, it is possible to buy surplus inventory and pay nothing until you have sold enough to settle the debt.


  1. Image titled Buy Surplus Inventory Step 1
    Identify potential markets for the inventory you wish to purchase. By assessing the potential to resell the goods in a short period of time, it is possible to determine if buying the inventory is worth the time and effort involved. Assuming you have access to consumer markets where the goods can be offered with little difficulty, investigating the surplus inventory in greater detail may be worth your while.
  2. Image titled Buy Surplus Inventory Step 2
    Approach the inventory owner. Your goal is to get an idea of not only the current asking price but also a sense of whether or not the owner is willing to negotiate. At this point you also want to determine how long after purchase it would take to secure the inventory and if the purchase price would include covering any shipping or transportation charges associated with moving the goods.
  3. Image titled Buy Surplus Inventory Step 3
    Enter negotiations for the surplus inventory. Open with an offer that is at the low end of what you think the owner would entertain for the goods. Incrementally increase the amount of the offer even as the owner slowly decreases the asking price little by little. This will allow you to secure ownership of the goods for the lowest possible price, maximizing the chances of earning a tidy profit upon resell.
  4. Image titled Buy Surplus Inventory Step 4
    Settle on payment arrangements. Depending on your preferences, this may involve an upfront cash payment to the seller or a series of payments made over a specified period of time. In some cases, payment may be deferred for a period of time, allowing you the chance to broker reselling deals or direct sales to consumers before that payment is due.
  5. Image titled Buy Surplus Inventory Step 5
    Prepare the paperwork. Once a price is reached, assemble all the documents necessary to arrange the sale. Make sure the documentation is in compliance with local and national trade regulations, and that any agreements regarding the expenses related to executing the sale and moving the inventory are expressly covered in the terms and conditions in the sales contract.
  6. Image titled Buy Surplus Inventory Step 6
    Run the paperwork by legal counsel. Attorneys can identify any potential issues that could cause a problem later and make sure the terms of the sale are in compliance with local and national laws.
  7. Image titled Buy Surplus Inventory Step 7
    Arrange to take possession of the surplus inventory. This will involve transporting the goods to a storage facility once the seller releases control of the goods.


  • Many investors will purchase surplus inventory with a deferred payment plan that may include a modest payment up front and the balance due after a period of 90 days or longer. If you can arrange to sell enough of the inventory during that interim period, it may be possible to settle the entire debt without much out of pocket expense. From there, all future sales would represent gross profit after deducting any storage and shipping expenses incurred as part of subsequent sales to your clients.
  • Purchasing surplus inventory does carry some degree of risk, in that if buyers for your acquired inventory cannot be located, you are left with a collection of goods that are more or less worthless to you. When this happens, it may be necessary for you to offer the entire inventory for sale at a price near or below what you paid, as a means of minimizing your loss.

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Categories: Purchasing | Buying Wisely