How to Buy Cheap Wholesale Shoes and Sell Them for a Profit

A pair of shoes is something that a person is always going to buy. Some may buy only a pair, but others collect them. Shoes are a great fashion statement, and there is always a market.

But how do you buy shoes in bulk at a low price so you can sell them online and make a profit? Today, we will help you learn your options for sourcing. We will also give you some ideas about where you can sell your shoes online.

Why should you sell shoes?

Shoes are trendy, and there are even people who made millions of dollars selling shoes online. The key to your success is knowing who to sell your shoes to and understanding the demand of the market. Both men and women buy shoes, but you have to target those who are between 18 to 34 years old.

People at the age of 65 and above do not buy online; they buy their shoes in brick-and-mortar stores because that is what they have been used to.

As a shoe vendor, you also need to understand the seasonality of the designs. During winter, do not expect to sell loafers or flip-flops. People are more likely to buy boots.

During summer, sneakers and flip-flips are the top sellers. If you stock up on inventory of boots during summer, no one is going to buy, and what you have is a load of money sitting on your storage.

The types of shoes that you should sell

There are so many kinds of shoes that you can sell—from toddler shoes to adult shoes—the list is endless. To make a business decision, you have to look at data to help you out.

While you can use Google Trend, the statistics you see on this tool merely reflects search terms, not actual purchases. You can visit websites like Statista to get more details.

Here are some ideas to get you started: 

  • Athletic
  • Boots
  • Sneakers
  • Flats
  • Outdoor shoes
  • Pumps
  • Sandals

Remember, your inventory must match what is trending. It would help if you buy only a few pairs in wholesale prices. Also, if you are just starting out, it makes sense if you first sell shoes whose designs are classic rather than those whose designs will go away in a few months.

Where to find wholesale shoes to sell for a profit

The key to succeeding in selling any kind of apparel is to get them cheap and sell them at a high mark-up. This high mark-up should cover for your business expenses, such as your Shopify or WooCommerce monthly subscription, taxes, or payment to freelancers helping you manage your business.

Buy the shoes from wholesalers

The most common method to sell online shoes is to buy shoes from wholesalers online. There are many wholesalers that you can find from Hong Kong and China, such as HKTDC. Each seller in marketplaces like this has a minimum order requirement.

The best thing to do is to order a pair first so you can check the quality of the shoes. Once you have them, you need to strike a deal with the wholesaler. You need to be able to order several designs. Some wholesalers sell one design by the box—you do not want these wholesalers as you would end up with a huge inventory.

After the purchase, the wholesaler will send the package to you. You need to sort out the shoes and then keep them in your house or warehouse. Shipment of the shoes is not free, plus you have to pay for duties to your country’s Customs department.

Pros:

  • Wholesale prices are the cheapest
  • You keep your inventory
  • You have control over the quality of pairs that you ship to your customers

Cons:

  • You need a space to store the shoes
  • Unsold shoes are financial losses
  • You need to spend on your packaging
  • You need to work extra to ship your items

To succeed with this type of sourcing, you need to start with a small inventory, and then scale your business slowly. Like all businesses, selling shoes has a risk. If the manufacturer or wholesaler has a minimum order requirement, like MOQ, you have to ask if they would ship smaller amounts.

Also, make sure you only use payment systems where a buyer is protected. If not, you may risk getting scammed. If a wholesaler does not accept PayPal or AliExpress, look somewhere else.

Dropshipping

Dropshipping is a business model where you get to sell other people’s products, but you do not have to stock up on inventory. Here, you only order the product from the supplier after a customer already bought an item from your online dropshipping store.

In a nutshell, this is how dropshipping works:

  • You look for a supplier
  • You post the supplier’s item on your online store
  • You price your product with a mark-up
  • A customer orders from you
  • You order from the supplier
  • The supplier ships the item to your customer

In dropshipping, the profit you make is up to you. What you need to account for is the cost of the item from the supplier, plus your shipping costs. It is up to you if you want to shoulder the shipping cost or charge your customers for it.

Pros:

  • You do not have to spend on inventory
  • The only capital you need is the cost of building a store
  • You do not have to ship the item yourself
  • Very low-risk business model
  • You can show as many products as you want since you do not have to buy any of them

Cons:

  • You have no control over the product quality
  • You have to rely on the shipping options of the supplier
  • Low-profit margins if you are competing against other dropshippers

To make dropshipping work, you need a reliable supplier. You can only assess the reliability of a supplier if you order the products yourself. If you do this, you can measure how long the supplier takes to ship an item, and you can see for yourself if the product is of good quality.

Shoes for Liquidation

Depending on where you are, you may chance upon companies that are already shutting down. You can go to shoe stores that are no longer opening for business—ask for the owner and tell them that you want to take a look at their stocks.

The other option is to go online and look for liquidation markets. Examples of these are Liquidiation.com, Quicklotz.com, GBYliquidations.com, and many more.

On these websites, you will find shoes that are sold by the pallet. A pallet is also called a “lot”, or a group. In liquidation sales, you cannot choose the content of the lot or pallet. Usually, a pallet of shoes is about 6 feet high.

Pros:

  • Pallet liquidation sales are really cheap—you can get stocks for a penny for a dollar
  • You can get lucky if you buy a pallet of branded shoes

Cons:

  • You cannot choose the shoe sizes
  • The shoes in one pallet is a combination of good and bad pairs
  • Some shoes are really bad that you cannot sell them
  • You need to buy several lots

Should you go this route, you have to investigate what you are buying and who you are dealing with. If possible, ask the seller to give you an inventory of what you are going to get. It is a wise move to search for feedback because you may be buying rotten pairs that you may not be able to sell.

Ask the liquidation manager if you are getting brand new shoes or stocks that have not been worn. List down the cost of the pallet, the shipping cost, and then assess if you can still make a profit.

Buy wholesale from US suppliers

If you want to sell in the United States, one of the best things you can do is to look for US suppliers. The reason behind this is that US suppliers are more costly than international ones. Labour in the US is not cheap, so the cost of the shoes will not be cheap, either.

With US suppliers, you can buy the shoes in bulk, or you can do dropshipping.

Here are some tools and suppliers where you can buy direct:

  • Spocket – this is a dropship directory. With this tool, you can look for suppliers who are located in the United States. These suppliers ship to the US or worldwide.
  • NY Wholesale – the biggest supplier in New York, it offers a wide variety of shoes from boots to heels. A lot of shoes here are sold for as low as $8 per pair. Apart from supplying shoe stores in the US, NY Wholesale also supplies the rest of the world. All the shoes are sticks in the US, but most of their manufacturers are from China.
  • Sandy’s Wholesale Shoes – this company has been around for 41 years. It is one of the most tenured shoe suppliers in the USA, and they are located in Miami. It is a small company, and it does not ship worldwide.
  • LA Showroom – this wholesaler is located in Los Angeles. It has an online store where you can pick the type of shoes you want; it has a wide variety of shoes, and it offers the best prices in the market.

Pros:

  • All products are from the US
  • Customers find US products more credible
  • Shipping is not costly; pay local shipping rates
  • You can dropship if you use Spocket

Cons:

  • The products cannot compete with China prices
  • If you do wholesale, you have to keep an inventory—more overhead costs

If you only want to buy products from the United States, you have to understand that your profit margin is really going to be low. The good thing is that the wait time is shorter, and you can proudly state on your website that the product is made in the US.

Sell branded shoes

Yes, you can sell branded shoes legally even if you are not a distributor. There are many suppliers who are licensed to distribute branded shoes to smaller businesses.

One supplier you may want to look into is BrandDistribution.com. It sells mostly Italian fashion, but it does have some branded shoes such as Adidas and Nike. Here, you can also find shoes from Lacoste, Guess, and many more.

This wholesale supplier of branded items has been around for more than ten years. It has more than 120 brands, and it ships to over 170 countries.

Pros:

  • You have a niche target market—those who only want to wear branded shoes
  • You are not breaking the law because your supplier is a licensed distributor

Cons:

  • The products are costly so do not expect sales to skyrocket
  • People would expect faster shipping and better customer service because of the item’s cost

One big challenge if you sell branded shoes online is your credibility. Naturally, people would prefer buying branded shoes like Nike from original and licensed distributors, like Walmart or Target. It will take a lot of hard work to convince your site visitors that your branded shoes are not high-quality imitations.

Sell pre-loved shoes

There are those who do not mind wearing second-hand or pre-loved items. If these people are your target market, then you have to look for suppliers who specialize in this type of product.

You can find second-hand shoes from China through Alibaba. Now, do not be surprised with the price—most sellers have a minimum order requirement (MOQ) of 12 tons! Each ton costs roughly $12,000!

The good news is that if you just do your research long enough, you can find sellers here who only require an MOQ of 25 kilograms at about $3 per kilogram. As always, you have to pay for shipping, taxes, plus customs duties.

Pros:

  • You have a bigger target market
  • The cost of each pair is next to nothing
  • High—really high—profit margins

Cons:

  • You have to pay for shipping and taxes
  • You will never know what you’ll get
  • Once an item is sold, it cannot be replenished

Second-hand shoes are best sold on physical where customers can try them. You can sell them online, but you have to make sure the customer understands that this is second-hand shoes, so they do not ask for a refund.

Where to sell shoes online

Now, where can you sell your shoes once you have them? We will show you several options, and then you can choose the best one that fits your situation.

Dropshipping

If you go the dropshipping route, then the best way to sell is through a dropshipping store. You can do this if you build your own website where you can integrate the dropshipping app of your supplier.

The two best options for building a dropshipping store are Shopify and WooCommerce. With Shopify, prepare to pay about $29 per month. This is the cost of running and hosting your website.

WooCommerce is more affordable because it is free. With WooCommerce, you will run your website through WordPress.ORG, which is also free, and then the only thing you have to pay is a web hosting service provider like SiteGround or Bluehost.

Learn more about dropshipping here: Dropshipping For Beginners: The Simple Step By Step Guide To Starting

Build your website

If your sourcing choice is wholesale, one option is to build your own website. You can create your own brand and keep more profit compared since you do not have to pay fees. The only fees you pay are the payment processing fees and the monthly website cost.

Since you already have the inventory in your house, you have more flexibility in building your site.

Here are some examples of web builders you can use:

  • Shopify
  • BigCommerce
  • Wix
  • Weebly
  • WooCommerce
  • Squarespace

Most of these websites have a partnership with payment processors. Choose one that can accept major credit cards. If you want, you can also use the services of payment processors that can give you a physical point-of-sale (POS) system. With a POS, you can take orders physically.

eBay and Amazon

eBay is one of the oldest and biggest online marketplaces. Here, you can sell your products with a reserve price, wait for the auction to complete, or sell the price at a Buy It Now price.

eBay charges listing fees and selling fees. It also offers other services such as putting your listing on the top of the page or highlighting your listings. All these services have a cost.

To give you perspective, eBay charges the following:

  • Insertion fee – free for the first 50 listings and $0.35 of the sale price for any listing on top of the first 50
  • Final Value Fee – this varies, and it depends on the category of your product; it can be free or between 2% and 12% of the final selling price.

Amazon is the other alternative if you do not want to build your own website. On Amazon, you have to apply before you can list your own products.

Here, you have the choice to pay a monthly fee of $39 or pay $0.99 per sale. The $0.99 fee for each sale only applies if you sold less than 40 items per month.

There are two types of plans as a seller on Amazon. The first one is the Individual Plan where you get charged $0.99 per sale, and the other is Professional where you pay a monthly fixed fee of $39 even if you did not make a sale.

The Professional Plan comes with the following benefits:

  • Use Amazon tools like spreadsheets and feeds
  • Have access to a lot of reports
  • Get your products placed on top of the search results
  • Sell in more than 20 categories
  • Customizes your own shipping rates

Should you sell via the Amazon FBA model, you have to pay the storage fee, handling fee, and shopping costs. All these fees are on top of the selling fee.

How to market your shoes

There are many ways to market your shoes once you have already selected your sourcing method and selling platform.

Here are a few that you certainly have to try: 

  • Facebook – Facebook is still the leading social media platform. You can reach a lot of people of different ages here, and all you have to do is to build your own Facebook page. You also have the option to advertise
  • Google Ads – advertise on Google and make your ads appear on search results
  • YouTube Ads – create videos and other helpful content to build your audience. You can also advertise on YouTube.
  • Instagram – this is great if you have amazing products that look great on photos. If you have lifestyle photos of the shoes while they are in use, you can use that to your advantage
  • Pinterest – this is a massive search engine that heavily relies on photos. Use Pinterest to post your shoes and drive traffic to your store.

Summary

Selling shoes online is a fulfilling business if it is your passion. You have to be ready for the most common customer issues such as wrong sizes, incorrect colors, and a whole lot more.

The great thing with shoes is that they do not perish. However, they easily go out of style, so control your inventory or just do dropshipping to be on the safe side.

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