One of the big challenges that smaller online merchants have is tapping into suppliers for super-hot, name-brand, in-demand, in-season inventory.

There’s not a week that goes by that I don’t received emails from people asking how they can get access to supplier names for the latest gadgets, in-season fashions, designer shoes and handbags or the latest and greatest hot toy .

But the issue is not in getting the supplier names.  That’s the easy part!  The issue is that many big name brand suppliers (i.e. Apple, Nike, Microsoft, UGG ) won’t sell directly to you.

Case in point… this week’s launch of the Missoni for Target product line launch. A launch with a shopping frenzy so intense, it brought the website to its knees  (Who says people aren’t shopping?) and set the perfect stage for eBay sellers to make a tidy profit!

As an independent online merchant, there’s no way you can get your hands on these products directly from the supplier.  It’s a Target exclusive. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t sell and profit from this uber-hot product line!  In fact, many online sellers have!

How you ask?

By tracking trends and using arbitrage sourcing.

Tracking Trends and Arbitrage Sourcing

Savvy online sellers who kept tabs on the fashion industry knew that the highly anticipated Missoni for Target line was scheduled to launch on September 13th. This limited edition line, that features the Missoni “zig-zag” design has been well-publicized and will only be available in Target stores and online through October 22, 2011.

By tracking trends,  you’d be able to forecast that this kind of limited edition product line with a high pre-launch demand was likely to sell out.  A key indicator that it’s ripe for some arbitrage sourcing!

And the trend trackers did just that! They made sure they were first in line on Tuesday to arbitrage source this in-demand merchandise.

And it paid off.

  • Missoni candles that sell for $12.99 at Target sold for $99.99 on eBay
  • The Zig-Zag Spinner Upright Luggage Suitcase that retailers for $169 at Target sold for up to $305
  • $44 Missoni sweaters are selling on eBay for $120

An easy $299 profit (less fees) for a simple arbitrage sourcing trip to Target! (or

And the list goes on!

A Missoni Bike just sold for $1500 on Craigslist – 4 times it’s original Target price!

All together, Missoni and Target plan to release 400 items over the next 30 or so days, which are projected to sell out.

But that’s  just one example of the profitable combination of trend tracking and arbitrage sourcing.

You can use this process with any product, in any niche. And you don’t even have to arbitrage source super-hot, name-brand products!

Recently I picked up some discontinued Lego sets that were marked down 70% at Target. Once Lego discontinues a set and supply diminishes, they go up in value.

At 70% off, my cost of goods was much less than anything I could have sourced from Lego (if they would even sell directly to me, which they won’t!)

Now I’ll pack them up, ship them to Amazon FBA and let Amazon do the rest!

This blog post is not about how to capitalize on the Missoni/Target partnership.

The purpose of this post is to show you how the process of tracking trends and arbitrage sourcing works.

… And how profitable it can be.

The key in knowing what to buy is in keeping an eye on the trends. In your niche, product category, product line. Without tracking the trends before-hand, you’ll end up being a “me-too” seller, trying to to sell products off a hotlist.

By tracking the trends in a niche, you know that certain models, styles, products are hot and/or which are in limited supply (or being discontinued).

You stay ahead of the curve.  You’ll know when you see a good deal. And that knowledge is where the money is made.

How about you?  Do you track trends? Have you tried arbitrage sourcing?

Tell me below!