Best advice anyone could give you is the oldest, if you can't afford to lose it, don't invest it!
No one is going to be able to give you a guaranteed profit, even if you got the best possible deal on your purchase, your have external market forces to compete against
If you or anyone else wants a guaranteed pay cheque at the end of the week, you're going to have to get a job....not go into business!
Having said that, it looks like you are looking towards liquidated stock, and in so your point about buying customer returns is quite relevant.
Customer return means just that, a customer has returned the product. Now customer's return products everyday for a variety of reasons, not all of them mean that the product is bad.
For example:- A customer may return a piece of clothing because it is the wrong size, changed their mind about the colour or it was an unwanted gift and so on, so what you will usually see in a customer return clothing lot is a high percentage of good products.
If you are talking about electronics, the number one reason a customer will return an electrical product is that it does not perform as indicated or expected. Leading to a customer return lot having a higher percentage of damaged products.
That in it's self is not a guarantee, but quite the norm.
People buy and make good money on customer return electrical pallets all the time, however you have to be switched on to get the most out of a lot like this, and I would personally never suggest that an inexperienced buyer deal in such a lot!
Liquidations covers quite a lot of genres, including New Overstocks, products that never made it out the door and still retail ready. always a good place to start for the inexperienced in my opinion.
Are you guaranteed to make profit by buying New Overstocks, of course not, but can be sure of the products you are buying, always allowing yourself about a 5% damage rate just for shipping incidents.
Lot's of inexperienced buyers always ask for a manifest, but a manifested load won't guarantee you of success, it may tell you to the piece what you will get, but it will not always tell you the condition of the items, and often lead inexperienced buyers straight into a false sense of security.
What really concerns me about liquidations is that so mane look at it as a short term venture for profit, and it should never be considered a short term venture.
You have to always remember the market you are dealing with when it comes to buying surplus, and look at it as a long term investment to reap maximum gain.
When dealing in this type of stock there will be low points with some purchases, and you will cash in on others, but you have to ride the train to the end of the line to average your results.
I know jimmy's sample packs created some expectation of the liquidation market being a super cheap and great way to get started, and I hate to pour cold water on that whole idea, but that could be further from the truth.....just my opinion of course.
If you are going to deal in this business you need to school yourself very well, and then have some cash to keep you in the game long term, that's how the successful surplus sellers do it.
Can it be done on a budget, some will be able to do it, no doubting that because grasp knowledge a lot better than others, just a fact. However, wasting your money by buying something for $50.00 from any liquidator on the planet will usually see you return $25.00 in profit or close to it if you are lucky.
You need to a bare minimum of a few hundred, I would suggest around $700, that will buy you a range of pallets and get it shipped. Carton lots will kick you off at around $200 - $300, but of course will only give you a limited range of stock to choose from.
These are bare minimums, if you can't afford that sort of money with some comfort, people should seriously look elsewhere for products, not the liquidation market.