Danae Castellaw | 

Amazon Return Pallets Explained — Are They Worth the Investment?

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The words “Amazon return pallet” were always just a distant buzz in my ear, an urban legend perhaps. I’ve heard the term many times, but never really understood exactly what they were. But I’m an avid Amazon shopper, so I started going down a rabbit hole for answers.

TLDR: They’re bulk packages of returned goods. I now know exactly what an Amazon return pallet offers, how to get one, and if these pallets are even worth the effort and money. Because listen, they’re not cheap.

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1. Amazon return pallets are basically mystery bags on steroids.

Warehouse full with boxes

Amazon makes it stinkin’ easy to return stuff. The average return rate for different categories can range widely, with the typical average being between 5% and 15%. However, certain categories such as electronics, clothing, and jewelry may have return rates as high as 40%.

With an average of 1.6 million packages shipped globally each day, that’s a lot of Amazon returns. And most of it can’t be repackaged and resold. So they’ve got to do something with that merchandise.

Enter the Amazon return pallet. Amazon packs the returned goods on pallets and sells those pallets (like a treasure chest of random goods) at a huge discount. And anyone willing to take a risk can purchase them.

RELATED: 5 Scams to Avoid When Shopping Third-Party Sellers on Amazon

 

2. You can expect to find just about anything in an Amazon return pallet.

Box of glasses

Here’s the catch: It’s impossible to guess what’s going to be in one; you just gotta buy one to find out.

Typically, Amazon return pallets contain a wide variety of products across different categories. You can expect items like clothing, electronics, beauty products, games, watches, headphones, devices, video games, accessories, home improvement items, and more.

But items in Amazon return pallets may be in a variety of conditions, and you won’t know what condition they’re in until after you purchase and receive them. Some items may be in brand-new or like-new condition, while others may be damaged, defective, or just plain missing parts. And so, buying Amazon return pallets can be a total gamble. You’ll need to be prepared to sort through all the items and assess their condition.

Here are specific examples of what you can expect from an Amazon return pallet:

I watched a ton of Amazon return pallet unboxing videos on YouTube. But be warned. These are borderline addicting:

  • YouTuber HopeScope bought her pallet for $575, but the supposed value of the items is $9,765 (a 94% savings). She had good luck with clothing items but quickly learned the hard way that just because things are wrapped and sealed, does not mean they’re brand new and operational. Among her haul were a Calvin Klein dress, modern sarees, and Christmas leggings.
  • Married YouTuber couple, Jamie and Sarah, earn a full-time living flipping pallets! In one of their hauls, they received a used, inflatable kiddie pool and a $150 new air purifier.
  • Sometimes you get stuff that’s mostly in working condition. But, it may be 30 packages of tape or a giant pile of caulk guns, as Mia Maples shows. She also received some broken (and unbroken plates) and ceramic baking dishes.

 

3. Amazon return pallets aren’t cheap.

A stack of Amazon shipping boxes on a bed

The cost of Amazon return pallets can vary widely depending on the liquidation website or company. And some of these sites may offer fixed prices, while others use liquidation auctions. Pallet size also matters. Typically, prices per pallet can range from $100 to $5,000, depending on the quality and value of the items. However, some may cost as much as $10,000 – $20,000!

While you don’t know what’s in the pallet, the seller does usually offer an MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price) of what’s included. That way, you get a feel for how much you should bid.

Shipping options and rates will differ among liquidation companies. Shipping depends on the weight, dimensions, and distance between the warehouse and your address. However, some companies may offer a flat rate or even free shipping. It all just depends on the website or company you go through, so be sure to calculate it into what you’re willing to spend.

 

4. You can buy Amazon return pallets from liquidation sites or an online marketplace.

Stack of amazon boxes

It’s important to note when researching that Amazon isn’t the only source of liquidation merchandise. There are many other retailers and wholesalers that sell pallets of customer returns and overstock, so you might see some pop up from Walmart, Overstock.com, or Costco. I see searches for Target return pallets trending often, too. But Amazon is far and away the most popular.

Right now, there are three main ways to purchase an Amazon Return Pallet:

  1. Liquidation Websites. Amazon now sells its pallets to third-party liquidation companies that specialize in selling Amazon return pallets. These websites usually work in an auction style, but some may offer fixed prices. However, it’s important to do your research to find credible companies with good reviews to avoid scams. Here are a few vetted companies to look into:
    • Direct Liquidation: Direct Liquidation is a popular liquidation company that sells Amazon return pallets as well as other types of liquidation merchandise. They have a wide selection of pallets across various categories and offer competitive prices.
    • Via Trading: Via Trading is a California-based liquidation company that sells Amazon return pallets as well as other types of liquidation merchandise. They have a reputation for providing quality products and excellent customer service.
    • Quicklotz: Quicklotz is a liquidation company that specializes in selling Amazon return pallets. They offer a variety of pallets at competitive prices and provide detailed descriptions of the products in each pallet.
  2. Facebook Groups. Some groups are dedicated to selling/purchasing pallets. Just go to Groups on your Facebook page and search “pallet liquidation sales”. What’s great about this is that you can usually filter your search to find companies or people physically near you that sell them (to avoid scams). Also, you can connect with other people who have more experience with pallets. Just make sure you’re reading the comments and other users can vouch for their credibility.
  3. Liquidation Map. This site is a literal U.S. map of vetted liquidation retailers around the country. Go to the website and refine your search by typing “pallet merch”. You’ll then find companies that specifically deal with pallet sales. Take note that these companies usually don’t ship. Many people rent trucks or trailers and physically drive to these locations to pick up pallets. This also helps to avoid scams.

 

 

6. It’s only really worth purchasing an Amazon return pallet if you plan to resell the items.

person with laptop on couch surrounded by amazon boxes

A lot of people use these pallets as an entryway to start an e-commerce business. And you don’t even have to invest a lot to get started. You can test the waters by buying a cheaper pallet and see how it pans out. (If you have the cash, some pallets start at a couple of hundred dollars.) Since the items in the pallet are sold for pennies on the dollar, there’s the potential to earn a significant profit by reselling them individually or in bundles.

Another benefit of buying pallets is that you get a lot of inventory in one place to resell. This saves you a ton of time from driving around to thrift stores, yard sales, or picking up Facebook marketplace items to build it up.

But remember, it’s a total gamble. Many of the items could be damaged. Some of the items will probably be damaged beyond repair, and the repairable ones might take time and expertise to fix or refurbish. So you have to think about the time and investment in one of these before purchasing.

 

7. Are they worth the investment?

A person's hand holding an iPhone displaying the "Return Items You Ordered" page on the Amazon app next to an Amazon Prime box with clothes on top.

The short answer? Sometimes.

I wish the answer was more black and white. But the truth is, buying Amazon return pallets can be worth the investment for some people and a bust for others. It just totally depends on your situation, goals, and how much of a risk you’re willing to take.

Buying Amazon return pallets can be a cost-effective way to acquire inventory for your business. However, it’s important to understand the risks and factor in all the costs. For example, you can’t forget to factor in shipping and handling when calculating potential profits. I would also suggest starting small and buying pallets that cost $500 or less. Then see what you think of the experience before diving into more expensive ones.

Amazon recently started flagging “frequently returned items” on the website. That kind of made customers wary of potentially purchasing low-quality products. It will be interesting to see what sort of an impact it will have on the Amazon return pallets. Will it possibly make the quality of the products on the pallets better and worth more money? Will the return rate plummet and make it harder to buy a pallet? We shall see.

 

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