Amazon Return Pallets: Where to Buy & Is It Worth It? 2023 UpdatedMany entrepreneurs have made flipping Amazon return pallets for profit an incredible side hustle. But is it a worthy endeavor for everyone? Here are the details on what they are, where to buy them, and whether it's a good option for you.
Studies show that of the 1.3 trillion dollars spent on online purchases in 2022, about 16.5% of it—or a little over $200 billion—was returned. Clothing is the most commonly cited category of returns in 2023 so far, with electronics coming in second and accessories, jewelry, and watches in third.
Of course, with most online retailers offering generous return policies, especially Amazon, returning merchandise has never been easier. But what happens to all of it? Does it all just get put back on the digital "shelf?"
Nope. And this is where Amazon return pallets come in. Amazon collects all of the returns it receives every day, and rather than inspecting, re-packaging, and re-listing them, they put all of the merchandise into a pallet. Then, much like the hit TV show Storage Wars, this pallet goes up for auction to entrepreneurs, small business side-hustlers, and third-party resellers.
Now, you might be wondering where one goes to buy an Amazon return pallet and if it's worth it. Let's dive into the details.
What's an Amazon Return Pallet?
An Amazon return pallet is a large wooden box that contains returned Amazon items from customers. When third-party sellers receive an order from Amazon, they ship the product to the customer in an Amazon return pallet. If the product is returned by the customer, the seller can then send the product back to Amazon in the return pallet.Once Amazon receives these pallets from third-party sellers, they organize the products into new pallets and then make them available for sale to large liquidation companies or individual customers at discounted prices. For consumers, this could mean getting brand-new Amazon items in bulk or at a fraction of the retail price that can then be kept or resold for profit.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Buying Amazon Return Pallets
The obvious advantage of buying these mystery pallets is the discounted rates at which the pallets are sold in relation to the estimated MSRP of the items inside. However, the quality and condition of the products you receive in an Amazon return pallet will vary.
Some products may be brand new in their original packaging, whereas others may be missing parts or broken. Not to mention, unlike with free sample boxes, the cost of one of these pallets can range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand, plus the cost of shipping. For many, that's a lot of money without the transparency of what you're getting and in what condition.
On the other hand, many have had success buying Amazon return pallets, either for themselves or their own eCommerce business. It really just depends on how much you're willing to spend, how frequently you're willing to order, and the level of risk you're comfortable taking.
Where to Buy One
The most direct place to buy Amazon returns is from the Amazon Bulk Liquidation Store. Here, you can browse the available pallets and the general categories of items that they contain. While you still can't see exactly what's in the box or the condition, the Amazon liquidation store is a great place to check first if you want to buy Amazon returns.
Other third-party resellers will also buy Amazon returns and re-sell them at auction, often at fixed rates. Some of the most common places to find Amazon return pallets outside of Amazon include:
- "Pallet Liquidation" Groups: If you search "Pallet liquidation" in your local Facebook Marketplace group, you'll likely find individuals or companies in your area selling Amazon return pallets.
- Direct Liquidation: Direct Liquidation is a well-known site that features everything-liquidation, including return pallets bought from Amazon and other major retailers, like Target and Walmart.
- Quicklotz: Similar to Direct Liquidation, Quicklotz is another popular liquidation site that specializes in Amazon return pallets. With Quicklotz, you can either buy online or shop in-store if there's a Quicklotz liquidation outlet in your area.
- 888 Lots: 888 Lots is a great liquidation site for those who want to buy Amazon returns by the lot or truckload, and be able to negotiate the price. For those running a larger eCommerce site or store, 888 Lots may be the best place to get the most for the best price.
- Liquidation Map: If you'd prefer to buy pallets directly from an individual e-commerce entrepreneur or local auction, using the Liquidation Map to search these local resellers is a great bet. Simply search under "Pallet Merch" and you'll get a list of national locations to buy Amazon returns. The only downside is that you may have to drive to pick it up, as some of these resellers don't ship.
5 Things to Consider
Whether you want to buy Amazon returns to flip a profit as a side hustle for the first time or you've been doing it for years, there are a few factors that are always good to keep in mind. Doing so ensures you're always getting the best deal on your pallet.
Here are some of the major things to consider before you buy an Amazon return pallet:
1. There's no way of knowing what's in your pallet
Some resellers may be able to provide general manifests or descriptions of products or product categories in a pallet. However, you'll never know exactly what an Amazon return pallet contains or the condition of the items.
2. There's no way of knowing the condition of the items in advance
Just like you don't know what's in a pallet, you also don't know the condition. Some people take care of items before they return them, but many also just don't care, sometimes leading to damaged, stained, or otherwise defective items. On the other hand, some items may still be in brand-new condition and from high-quality brands. Not knowing is just the name of the game.
3. Pallet prices vary significantly
The price of the pallet is determined by the size and the expected MSRP (Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price) of the products inside. Smaller pallets with a lower MSRP may only be $100-$200, while larger boxes with higher-value items can be $1,000 or more. Therefore, knowing what value of items you're hoping for and how much you're willing to spend is a key factor for a successful buy.
4. You can buy as many pallets as you want (and can afford)
If you're operating your own e-commerce site or business (or trying to), there's no limit to the number of Amazon return pallets you can buy. So, for example, if you're trying to populate your store with a nice mix of initial inventory to re-sell, it may be better to plan on buying several pallets at once so the odds of one or several of them meeting your e-commerce needs are higher.
5. You can refurbish items to re-sell on eBay, Amazon, or your own e-commerce site
If the condition of some of the items in your pallet is poor, you can always have them repaired, restored, and refurbished. While doing so won't make the item worth the same had the condition been excellent, it can now at least be resold at a fair value. If you're able to repair an item, this reduces your level of risk and better positions you to re-sell anything on Amazon, eBay, or your own eCommerce site.
Final Thoughts: Is It Worth It?
Now that you know the details, you may be wondering if it's even worth it to buy Amazon returns. For some, particularly those with a side hustle running an eCommerce store, it may be very worth it to supply their inventory with products from Amazon return pallets.
However, for others, particularly individuals just looking to turn a small profit, the items inside the mystery pallets may often be disappointing compared to the personal cost paid.
Ultimately, whether it's worth it to buy Amazon returns is entirely up to you, your business, and your unique situation. One good way to gain more clarity is to start by purchasing the smaller pallets to get a feel for what kind of items you can typically expect. Since clothing, jewelry, and electronics are the most commonly returned items, it's a safe bet that a lot of those smaller pallets will contain items in those categories.
Amazon Return Pallets: FAQWhere can I buy discontinued Amazon items?
You can buy them from the Amazon Bulk Liquidation Store or from any of the other recommended third-party liquidation resellers noted above.
What does Amazon do with returned merchandise?
When Amazon receives customer-returned merchandise, they compile the returns and re-package them into a new pallet. Then, Amazon makes the pallet of mixed returned items available for purchase by individuals and third-party liquidation companies.
Are Amazon liquidation stores worth it?
Whether it's worth it to buy Amazon returns, from any liquidation store, is entirely up to your unique situation.
What does it mean when stores salvage items?
Stores that salvage items, called Salvage Stores, collect and sell products that traditional stores will no longer sell. Often, salvage stores resell food and drink products that can no longer be sold at grocery stores because they have damaged packaging or have exceeded their sell-by date. Many of these products also often come from various retail stores that have liquidated and had remaining inventory not otherwise bought through auction.