157: Amazon FBA: Retail Arbitrage on Steroids (Six-Figures in Year One)

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This side hustle success story goes back about 12 months.

In January 2015, Assad Siddiqi applied to be a part of last year’s public coaching experiment, and started out doing some freelance graphic design work (even selling on Fiverr) and professional consulting.

Assad’s a Finance Director by day so he’s got some street cred when it came to offering consulting, and quickly built that business up to around $1000 a month.

In April, I followed up with him to see how the business was going, and he said it was going well, but that he’d also started selling products on Amazon FBA using the clearance arbitrage model Travis shared here.

assad siddiqi

A couple weeks later, he sent me this screenshot from his account:

Inline image 1

And that’s how the rest of 2015 played out between us. Every couple months he’d sent me a new screenshot, each with more outrageous numbers than the last.

Here’s one from July:

assad july screenshot

Here’s one from October:

assad october screenshot

And one from early December:

assad december screenshot

And finally one from early January after the Christmas rush:

assad january screenshot

OK, you’ve got my attention!

Now one important thing to note is that the gross sales figure shown in these reports does NOT equal net profit. Assad estimates overall profit margins to be 25-33% range, which means this was a 6-figure business in just 9 months — obviously not accounting for reinvesting in inventory and growth.

And with each email, I ask if he’s gotten into private labeling, because I’ve never seen these kind of numbers from a straight retail/clearance arbitrage operation. And each time, he’d so no, but that he might go down that road in the future.

So like all of you, the curiosity was killing me and I had to know how he did it and scaled so fast.

Thankfully, Assad agreed to join me on this week’s episode to dive into his Amazon FBA business and give his advice on how others can get started.

amazon fba retail arbitrage

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  • Assad’s first clearance arbitrage score. (5 Barbie closets 75% off at Target.)
  • How much time he invested into the business starting out last spring.
  • His favorite sourcing spots, the best types of products to flip, and his buying criteria.
  • His suggestions on how to scale and remove himself as much as possible from the operations. “If I’m not finding inventory, I’m not making money.”
  • Assad’s tips for “online arbitrage,” buying low at one website and selling high through Amazon. (I like this one since I don’t like going to the store!)
  • The tools, apps, software, and Facebook groups he uses to run the business in his spare time.
  • His recommended path for new Amazon FBA sellers.
  • How he plans to grow the business in 2016.
  • Assad’s #1 tip for Side Hustle Nation.


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amazon fba six figures

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Nick Loper

About the Author

Nick Loper is a side hustle expert who loves helping people earn more money and start businesses they care about. He hosts the award-winning Side Hustle Show, where he's interviewed over 500 successful entrepreneurs, and is the bestselling author of Buy Buttons, The Side Hustle, and $1,000 100 Ways.

His work has been featured in The New York Times, Entrepreneur, Forbes, TIME, Newsweek, Business Insider, MSN, Yahoo Finance, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Financial Times, Bankrate, Hubspot, Ahrefs, Shopify, Investopedia, VICE, Vox, Mashable, ChooseFI, Bigger Pockets, The Penny Hoarder, GoBankingRates, and more.

21 thoughts on “157: Amazon FBA: Retail Arbitrage on Steroids (Six-Figures in Year One)”

  1. That is really big increase in sales for just ten months. I am struggling with sales up to K60$ for two years. Hope this Asad arbitrage tips will help me to raise my sales!

  2. Excellent show, Nick!!

    Been beating my head against the retail wall. Been sourcing all day. Some days you take the elevator, and some days you take the shaft. Today was a total “shaft” day. Baby’s R Us, Harbor Freight, Salvation Army, Pawns… a lot of running around and no product. That’s not a normal (whatever “normal” is in this business) day. Just started online arbitrage today. Gearing-up right now. The plan is to shift to online arbitrage in many cities I have never visited. My virtual assistant will do the online sourcing, place the orders and arrange for payment and pick-up. My driver in Houston, Seattle, Boston… goes to the store, gets the inventory, and during product pick-up I make the payment via credit card online while on the phone to the store, and with the miracle of Skype I can be in Monaco (found a nice apartment there at an affordable price but probably won’t move there. Only used it as an example) and oversee the driver(s) pack and ship all while under my watchful eye on Skype.

    I have connections in the Phillipines and can hire virtual assistants from here, and my contacts there will keep a watchful eye on the V.A. I can be in Hawaii and with Craig’s list hire drivers in any U.S. city.

    That’s the plan anyway. I’m getting tired of spending all day running around sourcing, and when the day is a bust I just revert back to books. They are really too heavy to ship and I don’t like entering one item at a time. Just takes too long. I’m strongly considering “Chris Green; Online Arbitrage”. At $219, the book could save me that much $$ on gas in just 1-2 months.

    That’s the plan anyway. I’m building-up a head of steam but it’s often, “two ahead, and one back”. Will keep you advised as things progress.

    This is one of the hardest things I have ever done. Why?
    *I’m not a spring chicken. Old dogs don’t like new tricks.

    *I spent decades as a well-paid specialist. Learning a
    new skill (and learning to learn to think!) has been a
    tough grind.

    *Thinking, planning and acting as as an entrepreneur
    again (decades later) is hard. It’s like big cats in the
    wild. No problem to hunt and kill dinner, but if that cat
    spent decades in the circus, performing one act over
    and over, being well fed for it, and then released into the
    wild… well, my learning curve for the law of the jungle is

    -“Mad” Max Speedwell

  3. Side Hustle Nation thanks for the chance to share my story. If any of you have questions please post them in comments and I’ll be happy to answer them.


  4. Hi Assad,

    Do you ever run into MAP (minimum advertised pricing) on any products? Are there specific brands or categories that you avoid altogether?

    The visibility that Amazon offers can be a double-edged sword at times. Your products are easy to find for customers, but the brand-protection folks can locate you quickly if you’re selling way below what they would like. I’ve had friends lose their FBA accounts after aggressive brand protection actions.

    Great interview and hope to learn more about your approach to FBA!

  5. Assad
    Great job! I am looking to move into RA after finishing my 1st year in books. I plan to continue books as it should generate about 30-50k profit this year, but am looking to expand. I was recently ungated in clothes, luggage, shoes & watches and will look to get ungated in food & health & beauty. I know I have to put in the time, to get acquainted, but any shortcuts to learning you might suggest?

  6. I want to sell clothing shoes and accessories. I kno you need approval and I’m not an Amazon seller….yet but I’m thinking about it. These said to sell clothes and shoes I need to get invoice from the manufacturer. Is there some way around this and you sell items you bought from a store. Is there some way around this? Help!

    • I’m running into this same problem. Is there any workaround for this. Just getting started and everything I try to sell seems to be restricted and requiring permission and invoices from manufacturer + $1500 fee.

  7. Super inspirational! This is the post that put me over the edge to jump head first into this business. Thanks for that!

    Just wanted to point out that the image under Assad’s picture is missing. Very curious what Assad’s first months were like.

  8. Congratulation Assad! You really did great job. I have not started yet selling on amazon, but it is something I was thinking about to start selling on amazon. One question: Can any body tell me where the money is amazon fba private labeling, arbitrage amazon or fbm?

  9. Hi Nick – Great article which was a pleasure to read as always. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on Amazon to eBay arbitrage? I’ve been working at it for the last 6 months or so with some good success however I’m struggling to scale the business past £100 per week in profit. When I increase the number of items I sell past 2,500 the ebay fees and platform fees seem to erode any additional profit I make. I spent some time writing about it here: https://www.thriftypence.com/retail-arbitrage-a-guide-to-amazon-to-ebay-arbitrage/. Let me know what you think.

  10. I am having a hard time finding out how to know how many products are in an Amazon category. I thought I would go to Assad’s blog, but it no longer exists. I am ready to start shopping and have Profit Bandit ready to go, I just don’t want to spend money on stuff that is not in the top 1%, but there is no way to know that unless I know how many products are in a category.

    Any advice?

    • My general rule is products that have a sales rank of 100,000 or below. 50,000 or below will obviously turn over faster but I use those as general buying guidelines.


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