20 Best Buy and Sell Business Ideas in the Philippines


If you want to start a business in the Philippines, what could be more basic and rudimentary than buying and selling? The principle of profiting in a buy-and-sell business remains the same: Buy Low then Sell High.

However, I might be oversimplifying the concept of a buy-and-sell business because there are still underlying questions that need to be answered:

Why Buy and Sell Business?

The Philippines remains a country of active consumers. Since 1999, the Philippines’ retail industry has been growing steadily. In January 2016, the retail industry posted a Year-on-Year growth of 1.2% and it is expected to account for 20% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product or GDP over the next ten years.

Statistics aside, we know how much Filipinos love to shop. It doesn’t matter if the government rejects an increase in the minimum wage rate or if the prices of commodities go up. An increase in the price of petroleum and other factors of production will not deter the Filipino’s penchant for shopping. If there is a will, there is a way!

Where to find Buy and Sell Businesses?

The proof you need is in our malls. There can never be enough of them. It seems that there is a new mall or commercial complex being built every five miles. And they are almost always full.

The Big 3 malls in the Philippines are SM, Robinson’s, and Ayala. There are presently 55 SM malls, 37 Robinson’s malls, and 16 Ayala malls all over the country. Other mall developers include Araneta Malls, Gaisano’s, Greenfield Development, Waltermart, and Star Group of Malls.

If the malls are packed, Filipinos will patronize the flea markets or “tiangges” where you can find cheaper products. A popular by-product of the tiangge culture is the proliferation of the “ukay ukay” stores which sell used clothes and other second-hand items.

How to Start a Buy and Sell Business?

Filipinos can brave the horrendous traffic situation in the country or resort to shopping online.

Statistics on e-commerce retail in the Philippines show strong growth prospects for the industry. Here are a few of the key statistics:

  • E-commerce revenues account for 12% of the Philippines’ GDP.
  • 60% of purchases for the manufacturing sector were done online.
  • 32% of purchases in the retail and wholesale sectors were done online.
  • 24% of purchases for the services sector were done online.
  • From August 2013 to January 2016, e-commerce sales increased by Php8 Billion.

There are many benefits to shopping online versus shopping centers:

  • Convenient
  • Greater probability of finding lower priced items
  • More Variety

With people becoming increasingly dependent on mobile technology, expect the e-commerce industry to grow over the next ten years. Remember, it is estimated that there will be 6.1 Billion smartphones by 2020!

If you want to start a buy-and-sell business in the Philippines, you have the option of starting an e-commerce website or a traditional brick-and-mortar shop.

Recommended article: How to Start a Buy-and-Sell Business in the Philippines

Who are the Buy and Sell Customers?

According to statistics, many online shoppers are quite young. The demographic breakdown in the Philippines is as follows:

18 to 34 years of age = 40%

35 to 45 years of age = 31%

46 to 55 years of age = 9%

On average, an Internet user spends 16.4 hours per week online. Add to that the hundreds and thousands who troop to the commercial malls every day and you get a picture that Filipinos enjoy shopping.

A Success Story of a Buy and Sell Business

Have you heard of Chen Guangbiao? He is a Chinese businessperson who is reportedly worth $740 Million. How did he become so rich? For starters, China is a country of 1.3 Billion which over the last few years has started to emulate Western-style consumerism. Those two conditions to Chen smell like blood to a predator.

In 2013, because of China’s worsening pollution, Chen sought to sell “canned fresh air” to his Chinese countrymen for 5 yuan and which comes in a “variety of flavors”.

According to Chen, the air is put inside the pull-tag can he invented. His staff only needs to swing the cans in the air “three times” to push the air into the can. When the can is filled with air, the built-in chip will close the can automatically.

Chen’s marketing copy reads: “Open the can and three deep breaths will allow you to have a good mood and a clear mind.”

Would you buy and sell canned air?

On the day Chen put his canned air to market, all 100,000 cans sold out! That’s US$80,000 or Php 3.7 Million in one day!

We all know there’s nothing inside those cans. But the moral of the story is you can sell anything that is packaged and promoted well, is affordable, and has a measure of value. Just like the fresh mountain air of China’s mountain province, people will buy anything that addresses a specific need.

So now we arrive at the heart of the matter. What products and services could you buy and sell? Outside Baguio’s pine tree, and fresh mountain air, here are products that you can consider for your buying and selling business.

20 Best Buying and Selling Business Ideas in the Philippines

1. Mobile Phones/ Devices

There was a time that the latest phones were Nokia were all the rage among techies. That time seemed so long ago because today’s smartphones are so much more technologically advanced and have more features.

Unlike the days of Nokia’s dominance where units like the 9210 Communicator and the portable 8210 were reserved for the wealthy, everyone today regardless of status seems to have a smartphone with the latest technology.

The reason is the market is flooded with many brands. You can get smartphones from China that are 1/10 the cost of an iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy. I have seen and tooled around with a few, and they are serviceable.

You can bring in the merchandise from China in bulk, sell them at competitive prices and still make a substantial profit. Your biggest problem is clearing them through customs!

An option would be to hire a Customs Broker. There will be a cost to hiring a Customs Broker, but the margins on your products should be able to accommodate the additional expense.

2. Computers

With the rate at which technology is evolving, many are applying “Okun’s Law” of unemployment to computers. Thus, for every new computer technology that is introduced in the market after one year, computer prices drop by 1 ½ from their original value.

You won’t run out of computer wholesalers who can give you attractively discounted prices on unused, still-in-the-box computers that have been released for a year or so. Many of the newer brands in the market are differentiated only by processing speed and a few features that are usually cosmetic. The difference in processing speed is negligible.

The fact is these computers are very serviceable. You can get a good discount if you buy in volume. Immediate target markets are the call center industry or the Internet shops that have been sprouting up in neighborhoods.

3. Clothes

Clothes will always remain a popular staple in the buy and sell business. Typical of the Asian culture, Filipinos like to look nice, and we know where to get the best deals on our clothes.

Some warehouses offer huge volume discounts on branded apparel. There are some that sell high-end brands for only Php100 to Php200 per shirt, but the minimum purchase to avail of the discount is Php25,000.

These warehouses often advertise on Facebook so keep an eye out for them.

If you have relatives living abroad, you can ask them to bring in a few balikbayan boxes of clothes. Outlet stores in the US sell branded items at highly marked-down prices.

Expensive brands such as “The Gap” and “Banana Republic” can be bought at US$15 or Php690, which is cheaper than the retail stores where these brands sell up to Php6,500 per piece.

4. Real Estate

If you have a large amount of disposable income or if you have stable earnings and a good credit score, you may wish to buy and sell real estate property.

Real estate is an investment that pays out over time. But if you know your real estate market, you could be rich beyond your wildest dreams. This is how Donald Trump’s family and the Ayalas made their huge fortunes.

How fast does real estate move?

In 2010, property on the West side of Alabang, Muntinlupa was selling for Php17,500 per square meter. In 2016, property values shot up to Php50,000 per square meter. If you bought a 400 square meter property for Php7 Million, you could sell it today for Php20 Million!

Some property investors enter into a financing plan with the developer and have the house or condo rented out to pay off the amortization. After 2-3 years they sell the property in the market or to the tenant and make good money.

5. Cars

Just like computers, cars are a depreciating asset. A car can lose up to 50% of its original value after five years. There is a market for sellers of used cars as there is a market for buyers of used cars.

You can find used car sellers online or as referrals from friends. The prices are always negotiable because these lose value over time. The sooner the seller liquidates the asset, the better.

Bring a mechanic with you when checking the condition of the used car. You should expect to spend for repairs but if the chassis is in poor condition, abandon the purchase. The cost of fixing the chassis will not make the resale price attractive.

Cars with good resale value are those that can be used as taxis. These include Kia, Toyota, and Hyundai. You can profit anywhere from Php100k to Php300k per unit when buying and selling cars.

6. Furniture

For those who have experienced moving into a new place, you know how challenging it can be to get good and affordable furniture.

Brand-new furniture is just too expensive. And if you buy the cheap ones, they may not last three months or give you back pain; whichever comes first!

You can buy affordable furniture in an auction. You can also buy used furniture at a garage sale, moving out sale, or the tiangge.

Bring a carpenter or handyman with you when looking for serviceable furniture.

A person I met before who works as a contractor told me that many Filipinos make a trip to China just to buy furniture. The furniture is good quality and very affordable.

How good is the furniture? Try visiting some of these high-end furniture stores advertised in magazines such as “My Home.” Much of their beautiful furniture is made in China!

7. Confectionaries

Who doesn’t love sweets? And there are many talented but undiscovered makers of sweets in the Philippines. Go to any night market or tiangge and you will find some of the most amazing ice cream, chocolates, biscuits, and cookies you will ever taste in your life.

If you have relatives living in the US, you can ask them to bring home a box of famous brands that Filipinos are very familiar with. These brands include “See’s Chocolates”, “Ghirardelli’s Chocolates” and “Fralinger’s Salt Water Taffy”.

A pound of See’s assorted chocolates costs US$20 or Php920. You can price that for Php2,000 and find willing buyers. On one of my visits to the popular Greenbelt Mall in Makati, a small kiosk was selling a small box of chocolates for Php1,500. It was less than a pound and people were still buying.

8. Shoes

From sandals to sneakers, Filipinos are always looking for the best footwear money can buy.

For obvious reasons, you should not buy second-hand footwear. The next options would be to become an authorized distributor or to buy in volume from an importer.

Some of these importers bring in shoes that, for some reason, they were not able to move in their distribution chain. They would sell them in a warehouse and give attractive volume-based discounts. These are not popular branded footwear. Many are brands that are found in China or Hong Kong.

9. Bags

Between the sexes, women are the most active shoppers. And one of the items they love to buy is bags.

Bags to women are like sneakers to men. In the same manner, that women can’t understand why men have so many sneakers, men can’t understand why women have so many bags.

There are many importers and distributors of bags in the Philippines. You can find them online or at trade shows. If you decide to sell bags, you can avail of attractive discounts if you buy in volume.

The great thing about bags is that they are not seasonal. As long as the bag is made of good quality, functional and of course, looks fashionable, then you will always have a ready market of buyers.

10. Jewelry

After bags come jewelry for women. Or is it the other way around? Regardless, women will always be on the lookout for beautiful and well-made jewelry.

There are many manufacturers of good jewelry in the Philippines. A popular destination is Baguio for its silver jewelry. These are relatively inexpensive but very popular among travelers.

A good source of inexpensive but fine-quality jewelry is Hong Kong and of course, China. Some people go to China just to buy jewelry in bulk and bring them back to the Philippines to sell.

11. Publications

Despite the age of e-books, there is still a good market for paper publications. Go to any branch of “Book Sale” and you’ll find several people rummaging for bargains.

“Book Sale” sells second-hand publications from magazines, pocketbooks, coffee table books, comic books, graphic novels, and school books. All of these books are in good condition.

You can buy low-priced second-hand books at garage sales and moving-out sales. You can also have friends and family abroad send you a balikbayan box of publications they can buy from flea markets and bookstores that are closing out inventory.

12. Event Tickets

If there is a concert or performance that is forthcoming in a few months, event organizers may be open to the idea of selling lower-priced tickets at the right volume. This is not always a guarantee because it would depend on who the performers will be.

You could also get in touch with event organizers who are setting up workshops, trade shows, seminars, and conventions that are more difficult to sell. They are more willing to give you a good discount on the tickets as long as you can help sell out the venue.

13. Supplements

Another buy-and-sell item that is fast rising in demand is supplements. People are buying more supplements for weight loss, muscle building, and overall general health.

It used to be that people would go to Greenhills or “Cash and Carry” in Manila to buy the most affordable supplements. But now you can buy them online specifically on e-commerce sites that sell supplements. These businesses offer the convenience of having the products delivered to your doorstep.

If you want to buy and sell supplements, you have to become an authorized distributor. Go online and find a brand you want to distribute. Get in touch with the manufacturer and ask for the list of wholesalers you can contact.

On one of my trips to Cash and Carry, I was informed by the proprietor that most of the imported goods are shipped by relatives from the US. He said he gets 50% to 70% off whenever he buys in volume from a chain of supplement stores.

14. Musical Instruments

Filipinos love to sing and play instruments. But a brand-new guitar or piano can be very expensive.

You can buy second or third-hand instruments at a very low cost. But you have to make sure the cost of repairs will not be too much.

For example, when buying a second-hand electric guitar, changing strings, the fret wires, toggle switches, or the pick-ups will not be that expensive. But if the fretboard is warped, you may need to sand the fretboard or change it entirely. That will be expensive, and the resale price may not be attractive.

Check online sites for the best deals. People are often selling fine-quality instruments such as Fender, Washburn, and Dean for bottom basement prices.

15. Sporting Goods

There will always be a big market for sporting goods items. Filipinos are very active, and they love playing sports, especially basketball. Since the year started, more people are starting to live a healthy lifestyle.

Sporting goods include everything related to fitness such as balls, apparel, gym equipment, rackets, shoes, and training aids. You can source these from manufacturers, authorized distributors, garage sales, and flea markets.

Your market will be wide and vast which includes individual users, small or local gyms, schools, and offices.

16. Indigenous Products

One of the things I love doing is attending trade conventions that feature indigenous products from our different provinces.

Late last year, I attended a trade exhibit for indigenous products from the Cordilleras. I was so impressed with the quality of the items on sale!

I was finally able to buy Civet Coffee, which is coffee made from beans fermented by the excrement of the Civet cat.

My friend from Canada told me that it sells for US$300 per pound in some stores, but I got mine for Php250 per pound! Plus, the coffee has a very smooth taste.

I also sampled some of the best fruit wines, preserves, and peanut butter from Benguet. I can honestly say these are much better than many of the products we find in the commercial supermarket.

Properly promoted and marketed, you can make good money distributing these products in Metro Manila and even in the international market.

17. Websites

Many people are on the lookout for websites with a good following, a high level of activity, and a catchy domain name. I have received several general offers for my websites but I believe despite the eye-popping numbers, my websites are worth more.

But some websites remained dormant. You can purchase them directly from the owner or visit online stores that do sell the websites and the domain.

If you can get a catchy website domain name and a premium extension like a .com, you may fetch a good profit in the market.

18. Motor Bikes

Given our horrendous traffic situation, more and more people are looking for convenient ways to navigate the main thoroughfares. A motorbike is on top of the list, and many affordable brands are coming in from China.

You can always become an authorized distributor of an existing brand in the Philippines, but if you want to improve your margin, you may want to go to China and scour for other makers.

Your next target markets are fast–food restaurants, courier services, and the consumer market who want access to an affordable and high-quality motorbike.

19. Watches

Despite the popularity of smartphones, the watch remains an accessory people cannot do without. Not only is it functional but it can be used as a fashion statement.

There are many types of watches you can sell: sports watches, dress watches, and fitness watches are just a few that are available in the market. You can source suppliers for watches from Hong Kong and China.

The watches are very affordable although, in some instances, the quality leaves much to be desired. Some people go to Hong Kong to check the merchandise and make arrangements with suppliers.

20. Vinyl Records

For some years now, I have noticed the resurgence in the popularity of vinyl records. Because no one makes vinyl anymore, turntables are hard to come by, and the prices of these records can be quite high depending on the artist.

I have seen some imported vinyl records selling for Php1,000 and up to Php5,000 for artists like the Beatles, Elvis Presley, and the Rolling Stones.

You can chance upon garage sales where the homeowners sell these vinyl records for only Php1,000 for a box of 20 records. Many are imported and still in good condition. You can also find sellers on popular online sites.

Related: Top 10 Most Recommended Business Ideas for Beginners

Start your business with these buy-and-sell opportunities.

If you plan to buy products from online sites such as Alibaba, be wary of the seller. Always do your due diligence and check if the seller has been verified. Personally, I would not recommend paying an upfront fee before issuing a Letter of Credit.

I would suggest negotiating for an Escrow payment after which the proceeds would be released upon confirmed receipt of goods and presentation of documents to the bank.

The best option would be to put up your e-commerce website and sell the goods from there. You only need to find authorized distributors of the products you want to sell and then negotiate the pricing, delivery, or shipping instructions.

Either way, a buying and selling business offers great potential for profit in the Philippines.

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