Welcome to Full-Time FBA

arrow-blue-outline-rightWelcome! On this blog, we talk about our journey towards making FBA our full-time job. We give out free tips and tricks to help you make the most of your time, money, and resources. If you want to subscribe, just fill out the form over on the right side of the screen.

Seller Central Cover Mini x3To show you our appreciation, we’d like to give you a free download link to our newest book, Seller Central Tips: Reimbursements, Refunds, and How To Correct Other Possible Amazon Glitches. When you confirm your subscription, the download link will magically show up in your inbox.

By the way, we hate spam as much as you do, so we only send you stuff that will help you make FBA your full-time job! Let us know if you have any questions.

Stephen & Rebecca Smotherman

10 Things You Need to Know For A Profitable Q4

Q4_logo_on blackQ4. For an online seller, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Sales and profits seem to go through the roof as more and more people buy stuff online for the holidays. If you’re just assuming that Q4 is going to be great for you but you’re not doing anything differently, then you might miss out on some amazing opportunities to increase your Q4 profits. The following are 10 things you need to know about Q4.

1. For those of you experiencing your first Q4, you might be worrying that your sales have not yet really increased as much as you thought. This is because while the business world sees Q4 as October to December, Q4 for the Profit-graph-260x259Amazon sales world is actually November to January. Don’t worry… Amazon Q4 really starts to gear up in November and will go absolutely crazy in December.

2. While the bulk of Q4 sales happen in December, many sellers (including myself) have found that January can be almost as profitable as December is. As long as you still have lots of inventory, you will still sell a lot in January. Why? Because people are finally going to Amazon and getting what they actually wanted for Christmas. Not only that, but everyone will be using their Amazon gift cards they received on Christmas day. Be sure your inventory is still well stocked for January, so you don’t miss out on the last month of the Amazon Q4.

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 5.41.50 PM3. What I deem as acceptable sales ranks for inventory purchases changes a lot during Q4. While I might shy away from a toy ranked 200,000  to 300,000 during the summer, I’ll almost always buy that item as Q4 is approaching. Why? During Q4, the sales velocity increases exponentially. So while a toy consistently ranked 250,000 might sell only twice a month… come december of Q4, that same toy might sell once a day.

4. Many Amazon sellers start to freak out a bit when they get an email from Amazon about their “Holiday Selling Guidelines for the Toys & Games category.” For those who don’t know, Amazon decides which sellers are eligible to sell in Toys & Games category during the holiday season. Sellers worry that they might not be approved to sell toys during the holidays and begin to stress out. One thing that Amazon needs to do a better job of is communicating that these guidelines only pertain to Amazon sellers who are selling MERCHANT FULFILLED toys. If you are selling toys via FBA, then you are automatically approved to sell toys during the holiday sales season. Again, these guidelines only apply if you are mailing your inventory directly to the buyer (merchant fulfilled).

ID-10044546-resize-380x3005. If you reprice your inventory on a regular basis (either manually or with an online repricer) then I might suggest stopping, or at least slowing down. Sales start to increase during Q4 so much that an item that sells for $14 today (late October) might potentially sell for $30 two or three weeks from now. Take a moment and research your item on CamelCamelCamel and see if the price of that item tends to go up during Q4. If it does, leave your price alone and make more profits than if you lowered your price. You might even want to raise some of your prices.

6. Many of you wonder if you should try to focus on reselling the toys from each store’s “Holiday Hot Toy” list. My personal plan of attack is to avoid most of these toys. My reasoning is this: If a store tells you what toy will be the “hot” toy this holiday season, then it’s reason enough to assume that the store will be heavily stocked with those particular toys. The toys that you want to find to resell during Q4 are the toys that will be harder to find come December. If you’re interested in learning the toy buying method I use during Q4, then check out Jessica Larrew’s Christmas Hot Toy List Strategy Guide.

images-37. Want to save even more money on the stuff you want to sell in Q4? Buy discounted gift cards. I personally love raise.com and cardpool.com, but there are other sites out there that do the same thing. I’ve bought $100 Walgreens gift cards for $75… that’s $25 in free sourcing money! Find other great gift cards from stores like Target, TJMaxx, Tuesday Morning, Big Lots, Walmart, and more! If a store offers gift cards, then most likely you can get some free money to source with by purchasing discounted gift cards.

8. One of the best ways to use Q4 income is to buy even more inventory to sell. But there are other great profitable ways to use Q4 money. Click here to read a blog post I did last year called, “Seven Ways To Wisely Spend Your Q4 Income.

returns.jpg9. Nobody likes returns, but just remember this: With increased sales come increased returns. There is no avoiding it. There will also be an increase in warehouse and distributor damaged items, as well as warehouse lost items. It’s ok. For most situations, Amazon will refund you for the items they lose or damage. To learn how to make sure Amazon actually reimburses you, be sure you click here and here for our advice.

10. When Q4 hits, some resellers go into overdrive and spend every waking hour sourcing, buying, prepping, and shipping. They sometimes forget about what’s really important: family. Don’t let the dollar signs blind you. Look around and spend quality time with your family. Remember what the Christmas season is truly about and reflect upon God’s great gift to us all. When we remember what’s truly important, it gives us the right perspective. And that’s more important than any Amazon payout could ever be.

I hope these ten tips will help you have a profitable and meaningful Q4. If you’d like to share more tips about this most wonderful time of the year, please feel free to comment below. I’d love to hear how you make the most of Q4.

Married to Reselling: Balancing Family Life with your Online Business

Married To Reselling 3D 2 clearToday, I’m excited to tell you that our new book, Married To Reselling: Balancing Family Life With Your Online Business, is now available! Ever since I joined online reselling groups on Facebook, I kept seeing the same questions pop up: 
  • How can I work at home and still keep family time a priority?
  • How can I convince my spouse that I’m not wasting my time or our money with reselling?
  • My family doesn’t get that selling online is a real job.
  • How can I get my spouse on board with reselling?
  • I’m single and run my online business by myself. How can I find a support system? (Yes, this book is for singles too)
  • My spouse thinks my online business is “nice,” but won’t lend an ounce of help. 
  • How can I balance my business budget with my personal budget
  • How can I get work done with my kids always wanting my attention
IMG_1525

Rebecca & Stephen Smotherman

For those who have a “normal” 9-5 job, the moment we get home in the evening, we can usually disconnect from thinking about work and just enjoy time with our family and friends. But for many resellers, the whole concept of working at home is a new frontier filled with complicated issues. 

To help address these issues, my wife and I set out to write up an article to help resellers and their families find true balance. What started out as a blog post evolved into a book that addresses all these issues. 

Married To Reselling 3D clearWhile most reselling ebooks focus on helping you make more profits, the focus of this book is to prioritize your family. You might become very successful selling online, but you don’t want to neglect your family. We believe you can succeed in relationships and business at the same timeTo read more about Married to Resellingclick here.

BONUS: If you act now, you’ll get a special introductory deal of 33% off regular price!

5 Little-Known Facts About Keywords & Amazon Product Listings That Could Hinder Your Success

keywordsHave you ever created a new product page for an item you want to sell on Amazon? If you have, then you know just how important it is to make sure you have the best title and keywords on the product page. If you currently create product pages, or are interested in doing so sometime soon, then I’m excited to share with you a guest post from my friend, Karon Thackston, who is the author of the very helpful book: “Amazon Advantage: Product Listing Strategies to Boost Your Sales.  In today’s blog post, Karon shares with us 5 little-known facts about keywords and Amazon product listings that could hinder your success.  Tip #3 is one that I had no idea about and I’m so glad that she shared it in this post.

article_separator

Little-Known Facts About Keywords & Amazon Product Listings That Could Hinder Your Success

By Karon Thackston
 

Lately I feel like a broken record. It seems the more people I talk with, the more times I hear, “I didn’t know that” when it comes to keyword-related facts about Amazon product listings. Most people are making this way harder than it has to be. In fact, many are seriously wasting space by not following what Amazon clearly lays out in the Seller Central Help section. Let’s take a few minutes to go over some specifics from Amazon so you can start benefiting from the right way to use keywords.

Not using keywords correctly in your product listing copy and not having them formatted the right way in your keyword fields can cost you both traffic and sales.

1. Amazon (Basically) Counts The Title As A Keyword Field

Many people believe that they must put the keywords in the keyword fields and also in their product name/title. Not true. According to Amazon:

1In essence, Amazon’s internal search engine works by exactly matching individual words (not phrases) that the customer types into the search box with the individual keywords you put into your product title and keyword fields.

2. The Title And The Keyword Fields Hold Equal Weight

I think the belief that the title holds more weight than the keyword fields comes from people who are flooded with information about ranking well on Google. Title tags hold more weight with Google so, therefore, most people assume the same is true about Amazon. Incorrect.

Amazon specifically tells us not to “waste space” by repeating words across certain fields because they are all included when a shopper conducts a search.

23. You Should Not Enter Entire Keyphrases Into The Keyword Fields

Amazon’s search engine works by combining individual words, not by looking to match entire phrases. There is no need to waste valuable keyword space by entering:

USB computer speaker, USB Bluetooth speaker, USB iPhone speaker, etc.

Instead, remove the repeated words and put them into a logical order.

3You end up with a much more compact list of terms that allows more space for relevant search words. Here’s what you end up with after removing the repetitive words:

USB computer speaker Bluetooth iPhone

So, instead of using 63 characters with the original list, now you’ve only used 37, leaving you a lot more room for additional keywords.

4. Amazon Accounts For Stemming, Plurals & Commas

Another common debate is whether you should use commas and plurals in your keyword fields. Seller Central outlines this clearly as well.

Stemming is taking a root word and adding various endings to it. For example:

  • diet
  • diets
  • dieting
  • dietary
  • dietitian
  • etc.

As you see below, Amazon can handle “basic” stemming. I have not found a definition of “basic” but my interpretation is plurals and common other endings such as “ing.” Anything beyond that I would consider adding as another search term.

4No commas are needed in your keyword fields. In fact, as stated in the next screen capture, you don’t need any type of punctuation. Amazon’s system ignores commas … all you need is a space between the terms.

55. You Should Not Add Competitor Brands To Your Keyword Fields

There is a common practice of putting other brands into your keyword fields. The assumption is that this is a good way to get more traffic to your page. Actually, putting irrelevant keywords into your fields (including brand names that aren’t yours) is a good way to have your listing removed. Amazon classifies this as keyword bombing and makes it known that your product listing could be deleted from the category it is in if you’re found guilty of using irrelevant keywords to drive traffic.

6Having the correct keywords in place and having your keyword fields set up the way Amazon suggests will play a big role in boosting the visibility of your products to qualified customers who are ready to purchase. It isn’t hard to do once you understand the way Amazon works best.

article_separator

Thank you, Karon, for this very helpful post that will definitely help people boost their sales when creating product pages on Amazon!

116_1409831933In Karon’s ebook, “Amazon Advantage: Product Listing Strategies to Boost Your Sales,” she goes through the exact step-by-step process she uses when creating product listing copy for clients. After having written Amazon descriptions for years, the Marketing Words team has become experts in what Amazon will and will not allow and how to develop listings that rank well and convert shoppers into buyers.

I have personally read this book and know that it can help you if you currently create new Amazon product pages or would like to sometime soon. I wish I had a book like this when I had first started creating product pages. Now, I’m inspired to go in and update some of my current listings to make them even better. This book helps remove a lot of the guesswork about what you need to be aware of when creating product pages.  Not only will this guide help you make money, it will actually save you money because you won’t be wasting time creating poor product pages.

FREEBIE: You can also download a free cheat sheet from Karon with 5 product listing secrets for Amazon sellers.

Karon will be checking in here periodically, so if you have any questions or comments for her, please make sure to add them below.

Overcoming Your Fears of Selling Internationally via FBA Global Export

mapIn our last blog post, we talked about just how easy it is to get set up to offer your US based FBA inventory to international buyers. FBA Global Export is a free and easy service Amazon provides that allows people to buy your inventory from 65 countries across the globe.

Some people worry about selling internationally because of some bad experiences they’ve had in the past. Maybe you had a package get lost that you sent overseas. Maybe you had an eBay buyer claim that they “never got their item,” the international buyer was refunded, and you ended up losing out on the product, the shipping costs, and the profits. Maybe you’re just nervous because selling international is completely new to you, and there are too many “unknowns” involved.

fear-into-actionI’m here today to help you overcome these fears and help you understand just how amazing selling internationally via FBA is. First, let’s look at all the great things about selling via FBA Global Export:

Benefits to Selling via FBA Export

- Millions of additional potential customers
- Increased sales
- Amazon customer service workers deal with all returns and customer issues
- Increased sales (Yes, I put that in twice because it’s a HUGE benefit)
- Signing up only takes a few minutes (Click here to get started)
- No additional fees for FBA Export

 

Negatives to Selling via FBA Export

- None! Really, I can’t think of one negative thing about selling internationally.

 

Like I stated above, many US based sellers have some fears when it comes to selling internationally. I’ll do my best to help calm your fears and let you know that there is nothing to worry about.

1. Will selling internationally increase buyer fraud? – No matter if you sell your items to US residents or to people from around the world, there will be some people who are out to cheat the system. I’ve actually had more US buyers try to cheat their way into free/reduced priced products than I’ve had international buyers try it.

returns.jpg2. Will I get increased returns? – My percentage of returns has stayed the same. In fact, most people who buy internationally don’t want to go through all the hassle of returning an item to the States. In my opinion, the return rate for my international sales is actually lower.

3. How are international returns handled? Returns are handled just like every other FBA return. Amazon provides the customer service and approves a return, then we wait for the item to actually be returned. If the product is never returned, then we can request that Amazon reimburse us for the non-returned item. Just like always, if the item is deemed defective or damaged, then Amazon pays the return costs, and if the buyer has a different reason, then the buyer pays the return costs. To see my blog post on how to get reimbursed for items that buyers never return, click here.

excellent4. Will it increase negative feedback? – There may be some cultural and language differences between the international buyer and you that could lead to a frustrated buyer, and that could lead to a negative feedback, but it’s extremely rare. In fact, it’s never happened to me since I’ve signed up for Amazon FBA Global Export. Reminder: If you need help removing feedback that you think is wrong or unfair, click here.

5. Are there any additional fees for using FBA Global Export? The buyer pays all the extra fees involved in the international order and is told this before they buy from Amazon. Signing up for FBA Global Export costs you, the seller, nothing more than if the buyer were in the U.S.

To me, signing up for FBA Global Export is a no-brainer. Increased sales means increased profits. To sign up for FBA Global export today, simply click here.

Have any fears about FBA Global Export that I didn’t cover? Please comment below, and I’ll reply with my thoughts.

Sell to the World with FBA Global Export

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 11.07.32 AMHow would you like to have more eyes looking at your products on Amazon? What about increased FBA sales? All of this, and more, is possible thanks to FBA Global Export. When you first sign up to sell on Amazon via FBA, the default mode is for you to sell your inventory only to customers in the United States. Sure, the bulk of the traffic on Amazon.com comes from those in the United States, but there are millions of customers outside of the States who might be interested in buying your product. You want these potential customers to see your products and to have the ease of buying them via FBA.

FBA Export allows FBA sellers in the US to offer a majority of their inventory for sale all around the world. Getting set up with FBA export is easy. Let me walk you through the steps.

FBA-Export1. Sign in to Seller Central here
2. Click on the Inventory drop-down menu and choose Manage FBA Inventory.
3. Click on the International Shipping link found near the top right corner of the page.
4. Click to Enable FBA Global Export.
5. Upload a signature file (more on this below).
6. Read and click that you agree with the Amazon Business Solutions Agreement. 
7. Press submit and you are done! 

 

If you have 90 seconds, here is a video from Amazon on how to set up your account with FBA Global Export.

If you are not currently set up with FBA Global Export, then you’re missing out on more sales and increased profits. Just today, I sold a book to a customer in Great Britain, a toy to Ecuador, and a board game to Australia. These are sales that I would not have had if I were not set up with FBA Global Export.

world-wide-300x275In our next blog post, I’ll talk about all of the benefits of FBA Global Export, but I’ll let you in on my favorite benefit today: Since there are so few FBA sellers set up to sell globally, I actually get the buy box for the international buyers at a higher price than those not offering their products internationally. I have one toy in particular that I have about 30 currently in stock. I have this toy priced about $3 to $4 more than the current lowest FBA offer, but none of the other sellers of this toy are set up with FBA Global Export, so I get all those international sales! The US based sellers are all priced around $9, but I’m getting all the international sales at $13 each. After all is said and done, that’s $120 more that I’ll get for selling the same item.

Note: FBA Export does not list your products on other Amazon marketplaces. Instead, FBA Export allows your products to be shipped directly to international customers who already shop on the US Amazon.com marketplace.

Not only will our next blog post talk about all of the benefits of FBA Global Export, but we’ll also discuss all of the possible fears you may have with selling internationally. Feel free to comment below with your thoughts on selling internationally via FBA. If you express a fear, we’ll be sure to address is in our next blog post.

Top 5 things you NEED to do when you get an ASIN Change Notification

Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 1.13.18 PMEver since I started selling on Amazon, I would randomly get emails notifying me that some ASINs I am selling were recently updated. For my first few months of selling on Amazon, I just ignored these emails and thought I had better things to do. I assumed innocently that these ASIN changes were probably just improvements to the product page, and that I didn’t need to investigate. Boy, was I naive and wrong. I quickly learned that there are many profitable action points that I need to do every time I get one of these emails.

Most of the time when an ASIN is updated, it means that someone is trying to improve the ASIN’s product page listing information. Maybe some good keywords were added, or the item had some additional information added that would help increase sales. I would say that 95% of the time, this is true, but the other 5% of the time, the changes actually hurt the item page and could also hurt you as a seller. Whether the changes come from a malicious and deceitful Amazon seller or just a newbie that doesn’t know any better, these changes must be checked in order to protect you, your seller metrics, and your bottom line. I’ll explain more of this below as I give you the top 5 things I check every time I get an ASIN change notification email from Amazon.

Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 3.43.01 PM1. Product Title – I think I’ve seen it all… I’ve seen product titles that were one word long and some that were paragraphs long. I’ve seen them contain spelling mistakes and written in other languages. I’ve seen product titles that tried to contain HTML and others that were not even talking about the item that was pictured. The product title is one of the most important pieces of information that Amazon uses to help buyers find what they want (especially the first 3 words of the title). So it’s vital that the updated title be accurate, spelled correctly, and contain a few additional keywords.

Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 11.27.30 AM2. Product Description – Unfortunately, some people don’t know what they are talking about and really make a mess of the product descriptions. I’ve had an item in my inventory where someone added to the description that it was a 4-pack, when in reality it was one toy that contained 4 parts to the toy. This is not a 4-pack. A 4-pack is when there are 4 copies of the same item. To make things even worse, sometimes some sellers actually do change a product from being one item to being a multi-pack. This change could really be bad if you start selling an item that is a 1-pack, but then someone else updates it to a 6-pack. You could have a really upset buyer leave nasty feedback for you if they only receive one item when they are expecting a 6-pack.

Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 11.20.52 AMOther sellers sometimes are doing mass updates and accidentally cut and paste info from one item and paste it on the wrong item. I’ve also seen when someone puts an external link in a product description to buy that item on another website. These external links are against Amazon’s rules! Not only that, but they are taking sales away from you.

Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 11.25.17 AMLike I said, some people who are trying to update the product pages are newbies. Most new Amazon sellers are coming over from eBay and assume that if they need to state something specific about their particular item, they need to update the product page, when in reality they just need to make note of what they want shared in their condition notes.

3. Product Type – Most of these updates are in reference to category changes within the Amazon catalog. Again, it’s so important that each item be placed in the correct category. Some Amazon sellers will try to sneak certain items in the wrong category because they are gated in the correct category. For example, someone might not be approved to sell in clothing (a gated category that requires approval to sell), so they try to change the category to toys, books, or another category that they are already approved to sell in.

Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 1.53.28 PMOn the other hand, some people try to game the system by getting products changed to be in gated categories. For example, if one seller is approved to sell in shoes, then maybe they’ll try to get that toy to be moved to the shoe category, so that there will be fewer sellers approved to be the competition for that item. It’s sneaky and wrong, but people do it. Ultimately, you want these items to be in the correct category. When an item is in the right category, then it’s more easily found by buyers who are searching for it.

4. Product Key Words – Some Amazon sellers have thought that adding unrelated key words would boost their product in the search rankings. Unfortunately, this not what you want. You want the item to have the best key words that actually relate to the item. Some people even add lines to the product description that could get that item completely removed from Amazon. I once saw a grocery item that had the keyword “e-cigs” added, and those are not even allowed to be sold on Amazon.

71NGQMCh2QL._SL1500_5. Shipping Weight – Most of the time, the updated shipping weights come from Amazon themselves, but other times they are changed by a seller who sells merchant fulfilled items from home. The higher the shipping weight is, the more money they can make from shipping costs. For example: If Amazon thinks it should cost $6.00 to ship a one pound item, but the item actually only weights 8 ounces, then the merchant fulfilled shipper gets $6.00 to mail something that should only cost them $3.00. How does this effect an FBA seller? If someone is not a Prime buyer and buys your item, then it’s possible that they could be overpaying for shipping and therefore become an unhappy customer who is ready to leave you negative feedback.

Note: To check on your inventory items, simply follow the ASIN link in the ASIN Change Notification email.

It can be somewhat time consuming to check on each of these items one by one to verify that the changes are accurate, but in the end it will be worth it to protect your seller metrics and ultimately your bottom line. I wish Amazon would let us know what the updated information used to be, so we could compare, but as of September 2014, they do not.

If you notice something is incorrect or just flat out wrong, open up a ticket with Amazon Seller Central to notify them of the incorrect information, and let them know what the correct details of that product should be.

Some of you may have turned this notification off in your Seller Central preferences. If you want to protect your inventory and bottom line, I suggest turning the notifications back on.

price-tag-267x300BONUS TIP – When ASINs are updated, it often means that someone new is selling the item and that you now have additional competition. It’s likely that they are updating the ASIN because they have multiple copies of that product in stock. When the ASIN is updated, it’s probably a good idea to go and check your competition and make sure your item is priced competitively. For more on repricing your inventory, click here.

So how about you? What crazy ASIN updates have you seen? Do you have any additional tips on how to make the most of the ASIN Change Notification emails? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Case Study – Electronics Sales Ranks and Competing Against Amazon

In a blog post a few weeks ago, I asked you, according to your own sourcing strategies, if you would buy a particular Electronic item or not. Here’s the item we looked at:

Product: Adonit Jot Pro Fine Point Stylus – Silver
ASIN: B00931DHKM
Clearance price at Target: $3.94
Total available for sale: 20

 Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 4.50.23 PM

 

I asked you to do the research yourself, check out CamelCamelCamel, the product reviews, and anything else you might think would help, and see if this is an item you would like to purchase for resale. Many of you tried this little exercise and 17 of you even commented with what you would do. It was so interesting to read everyone’s opinions of what they would do. Some said they would pass completely, while others said they would buy them all. Each of you had your own fascinating reasons why you decided to pass, buy all, or buy some.

I’ll let you in on what my step-by-step thought process was on this item, and then I’ll tell you what I’d do if I found 20 of these little stylus pens on clearance at Target for $3.94.

profit-bandit1. Scouting App – Scan the item with your preferred scouting app (I use Profit Bandit). Look at the FBA competition and the current rank.

2. Check Amazon – Since most scouting apps return incomplete information, click through to the Amazon sales page to check out the possible competition you may be facing (Profit Bandit provides a quick link to the item’s product page). On Amazon, you can see the full picture.

camelcamelcamel_amazon_price_tracker3. CamelCamelCamel – Research the item’s CamelCamelCamel page. For those of you who don’t know about CCC, it’s a very useful website that attempts to track both prices and sales ranks for millions of items on Amazon. CCC is not perfect, but they usually do a great job of giving us a good picture of how often an item sells and what the lowest sales prices are at any given moment in the past.

4. Look at the Rank – A rank under 1000 is usually amazing, except that many times, when scouting apps return a Consumer Electronic sales rank, it is actually returning a sub-sales rank (click here for more on that). Be sure you know if the rank you are seeing is the rank for the full category or the sub-category.

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 1.51.56 PM5. Check Customer Reviews – To get a better idea about how often an Electronics item sells on Amazon you can always look at the customer reviews. Customers rarely leave a review of an item they bought on Amazon, so when an Electronics item has many reviews, then it means that it’s sold rather often.

6. Check Recent Customer Reviews – Be sure to check how recent the reviews are. Just because a DVD player has 1000 reviews, doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea to buy that DVD player for the purposed of resale. 99% of the reviews could have come before 2007, with only a few reviews here and there since then. You want to find frequent, recent reviews.

7. But What About Bad Reviews? – I never look at how many one star reviews an item gets when making a buying decision. Am I just asking for a refund? Maybe… but from my experience, people are more prone to leave negative reviews than positive ones. Even if I see a lot of negative reviews, I’m not scared.

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 1.59.07 PM8. Compete with Amazon? – This is often a difficult decision. If Amazon is a seller of an item I’m sourcing, then I need to ask myself, “Do I match Amazon’s sales price or price the item lower? If I price to match Amazon’s price, then I’ll have to wait for them to sell out before I get the sales (or maybe they’ll share the buy box with me from time to time). Amazon could have only 5 in stock… or they could have thousands. If I price lower than Amazon, then I’d be getting a lower ROI.

9. Possible Future Competition – When doing retail arbitrage, it’s a good thing to consider that other resellers may be finding the exact same thing you are. Retail chains often clearance out the same items, so it’s possible that if you find 5 of an item, 100 other people also might be finding 5 at their local store, too.

To some, this may seem like an overwhelming process that might not be worth the time. For me, the fact that there are 20 of these stylus pens on clearance at Target make it worth the time. And honestly, once you do this process enough times, it becomes second nature and really only takes a minute or two.

Analysis-Paralysis3Getting as much information as you can on a possible product to resell is a good thing, but don’t let all the information paralyze you. There will rarely be an item you find that will pass 100% of your buying criteria. This process takes time, but the more you do this, the more you will understand what works best for you, and what aspects to give less weight to when it comes to your buying decisions.

Ok, back to the stylus. For some, this is a no-brainer… buy them all! For others, this is a no-brainer… pass! How can that be possible? Well, we all have different criteria for what works best with our business model. Some of us are at a stage in our business where we can handle the risk a little better better than others, while others might not be ready to risk $80.00 on buying all of these styluses. This is why I’m never worried about scouting in the same store as another reseller. What he would pass on might be what I’d buy.

Ok, so I’ll finally get to sharing with you what I’d do with this possible retail flip.

photo1. Scouting App – I scanned the item with Profit Bandit. The item is ranked 31, and the lowest FBA seller is Amazon selling it at $29.96. The app does the math for me, and states that if I match the lowest FBA price, then I’d make a profit of over $18 per item.

2. Check Amazon – I clicked through to the Amazon sales page to check out the possible competition. The lowest FBA price is indeed Amazon at $29.96. I also confirm that there is only one other current FBA seller, selling it at $29.99.

3. CamelCamelCamel – CCC does not have any current sales rank history, and they showed that both Amazon and other 3rd party sellers have priced this item as new somewhere between $20-30 on a consistent basis.Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 12.42.52 PM

4. Look at the Rank – To find out exactly what this “31 sales rank” meant, I went to Amazon.com on my smartphone’s internet browser. From there, I learn that the 31 sales rank is in the subcategory of Electronics -> Accessories & Supplies -> Computer Accessories -> Input Devices -> Graphic Tablet Styluses. That means there are 30 other graphic tablet styluses with a better sales rank. Something to consider.

5. Check Customer Reviews – Currently, this Stylus Pen has 799 reviews. If almost 800 people left a review for this item, then it’s safe to say that it’s at least sold 800 times, and most likely more.

photo-26. Check Recent Customer Reviews – It looks like there were 12 reviews in the last week alone. As I continue to search, I find 11 reviews the week before, and 9 reviews the week before that. This is a HUGE sign that this item sells, and sells very often.

7. But What About Bad Reviews? – There are occasional bad reviews, but plenty of positive reviews. If I sell all 20 of this item, then maybe (maaaaaaaaaybe) one will be returned. I’m ok with that one return while possibly making almost $18 per stylus.

8. Compete with Amazon? – I did a little digging and found out that Amazon has over 999 of these stylus pens on stock. How did I find that out? Click here for a quick tutorial on how to find out how many of an item a seller (even Amazon) has currently in stock.

9. Possible Future Competition – There are 20 of these stylus pens on clearance at Target. The good news is that it might be possible that you could go to more Targets and find even more. The bad news is that if this item is clearanced at every Target, then many other resellers will also find these and join you in selling. More competition and the possibility of that competition lowering prices are something to consider.

So what would I decide to do? Personally, I would take the risk and buy them all.

keep-calm-and-buy-it-now1) The ROI is incredible.
2) There are plenty of very recent reviews to suggest that this item sells often.
3) With the Target Red Card, I can get an additional 5% off and an extended return period of 120 days.
4) With the amount of reviews this item gets, I would not be too concerned with additional competition coming into the picture. If they lower the price where it’s not profitable for me, then I’m ok with waiting to get my price. Often, patience brings profits.
5) Amazon is really my only main concern, but I could still price below Amazon to get sales and hope that Amazon doesn’t lower their price.

So there you have it. Remember, there is no right or wrong answer. I’m not telling all of you who wanted to pass on this item that you are wrong. We all have different business models and risk tolerance for sourcing. Continue to do what works best for you, and occasionally try something different.

 So what would you do? Buy? Pass? Would you match Amazon’s price, or price the stylus lower? How much lower would you price it at? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Share below.

 

How To Find Out How Much Inventory Your Competiton Has in Stock

When you’re out sourcing, one of the things you need to consider is your competition. Say you’re out sourcing at Big Lots and come across an item with a great ROI. You research the item with your favorite scouting app and see that there are other FBA sellers selling this item. Do you join them? Or pass and look for other items with less competition? It’s something to consider when making reselling decisions.

In the past, some scouting apps were able to tell you how many of an item a certain seller had in stock, but Amazon changed the way these scouting apps get their information, and now it’s a complete mystery. Or is it?

know-your-compeitionWhen a scouting app returns the current data for a particular product, it will usually show you current prices, some of your competition, sales rank, and other pieces of information. Wouldn’t you also like to know how many of an item one particular seller has in stock? It could make a big difference in whether or not you decide to buy an item for resale. It could be helpful information to know if a few of the lower priced sellers have 5 to 10 of an item in stock before you decide to add yourself as a seller of that item. Even more critical is knowing how many of an item Amazon has in stock. With Amazon’s buying power, they could easily have hundreds or thousands of an item in stock at any given time. When Amazon has that many in stock, it’s often a good idea to pass on selling that item.

Here are the steps in how I find out how many items someone has in their current FBA inventory:

1. Go to the Amazon sales page for the item in question.

2. Click on the link that shows all of the current product offers (new, used, collectible, etc).

Amazon-Add-to-Cart3. Choose one of the current sellers and add their item to your cart.

4. Click on the “edit your cart” link.

999 in AZ cart5. Click on the quantity and change it to 10+.

6. Type in 999 (the highest number allowed) and click update.

7. If that seller has under 999 items, then it will state, “This seller only has XX of these available.”

There ya go! You now know how many of that item that particular seller has in stock at a FBA warehouse. This method works with 3rd party sellers as well as with Amazon themselves.

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 11.37.39 AM8. I almost forgot! Don’t forget to remove these items from your cart. I once had almost $30,000 in my Amazon shopping cart when using this method. I wouldn’t want anyone to accidentally buy everything in their cart.

This information is not only good for when you are out sourcing, but also when you are pricing your items. If the three lowest priced sellers all have just 1 item in stock, then depending on the rank, you might want to price your item higher then theirs, knowing that they might sell out while your item is headed to a FBA warehouse. On the other hand, if you see that the lowest priced competitor has 100 in stock, you might want to price more competitively to get a quicker sale. It’s all about strategy and what works best for you.

Ok, now it’s time for you to put your new inventory research skills to the test! Here is an item that I want you to research. Take a look at the three lowest priced FBA sellers and let me know in the comments how many they each currently have in stock.

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 3.08.51 PMProduct: Noodlehead Pawparazzi Pets – Toki The Pro Race Car Driver
ASIN: B009UIABAC 

 

Don’t peek below at what others are posting. Do the research yourself. In any case, you never know if someone bought this item on the same day as you are reading this blog post, and the inventory levels have changed.

 

 

 

Cover Reveal For Our New Book

Married to Reselling_cover2S

Rebecca and I are excited to announce our latest book, Married to Reselling: Balancing Family Life With Your Online Business. The book will be ready this fall, but we’re too excited to keep it a secret any longer.

In our new book, we’ll be discussing how our online business (whether full timers or part timers) impacts our family life… and vice versa. When you work at home, learning how to properly balance your family life with your online business is key to success for both.

To get your free PDF download of the first chapter of the new book, just click here.