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

Top Retail Arbitrage Tips for Clearance Sourcing for Amazon FBA

In my last post I covered 5 retail arbitrage (RA) sourcing tips for Amazon FBA success. Today I want to narrow the focus a bit to talk specifically about clearance sourcing at retail stores.

Clearance sourcing is always a lot of fun because you can find items at super low prices that you can potentially sell on Amazon for great ROI – and there’s the bonus of potentially finding multiples. With that kind of profit potential, I’m always on the lookout for great clearance sourcing opportunities.

Here are my best tips for helping you with your clearance sourcing strategies:

1. Know where to look for clearance.

Pretty much every store you can think of to do RA is going to have clearance items; you just need to know where to look for them.

  • Some stores will have a clearance aisle, where the entire aisle is filled with clearance items.
  • Some stores put their clearance items on an end cap at the end of an aisle. The front-facing end caps are pretty noticeable if they have clearance items, but you want to make sure to check out the back-facing end caps as well.
  • Some stores leave the clearance items on the regular shelves, but mark them with special price tags or tags on the shelves.
  • Some stores, like Tuesday Morning, use special color-coded stickers to label their clearance items.
  • In general, stores don’t tend to give their clearance items shelf space in high traffic areas, so you might need to be diligent in searching out the clearance location in some stores.

2. Ask employees about clearance items.

Another strategy I use is to just ask an employee if they have clearance items. Even if you have already found the clearance section and scanned it (I recommend scanning with the Scoutify app from InventoryLab), it doesn’t hurt to ask an employee if they have more clearance somewhere.

Several times I have asked employees where I can find clearance or if they have more clearance items, and they have replied, “We have even more clearance in the back – do you want to check it out?” Yes, please!

One time I asked an employee if they had more clearance, and they told me they have an entire storage container in the parking lot full of clearance items. They were eager to get rid of this container, so they let me go through it and pull out thousands of dollars worth of profits to resell on Amazon. It was a win-win situation – but it never would have happened if I hadn’t asked for more clearance.

3. Look up and down.

This is a good tip whether you are on a clearance aisle or a regular aisle. Always look at the bottom shelves and on the tops of the shelves to make sure you aren’t missing inventory that isn’t in plain sight at eye level. It’s easy to overlook great inventory on those top and bottom shelves – sometimes inventory that is dusty from sitting there for weeks or months without anyone touching it.

If you need help getting stuff off the top shelves, don’t be shy about asking an employee for help. For those bottom shelves, don’t be afraid to get down on the ground to look all the way towards the back, where inventory might have been pushed out of sight and hard to reach. Going this extra step to look for inventory in these locations will help you find great profits that other resellers have passed up.

4. Don’t make assumptions.

Have you ever had these thoughts when you’re out sourcing clearance items? “I’m not going to scan that piece of junk. Who would ever buy that?” Or “The clearance price is still $24? There’s no way I could make money on that.”

I know I’ve been tempted to think that way, but those are assumptions that could cause me to miss out on some great FBA profits. When you have those thoughts, scan anyway. Just because you wouldn’t pay good money for an item doesn’t mean there’s no one who would. And just because an item’s clearance price is still what you might consider high doesn’t mean the percentage off isn’t steep enough to make the ROI on Amazon fantastic. Scan anyway!

5. Check the condition of every item.

Clearance items have a tendency to be older items that have been handled quite a few times, either by potential customers or by employees who have moved them around the store shelves. Other times the reason an item is on clearance is that it was a customer return, and the box is opened or some pieces are missing.

Do not neglect to check that each item you source from clearance is in pristine, gift quality condition – or prepare to sell it in the appropriate used or collectible condition on Amazon if it’s a complete item but not in new condition. Please remember, scratched up and damaged boxes do not qualify as new condition on Amazon. For more information about condition guidelines, you can visit the quick link www.fulltimefba.com/conditions to go directly to the Amazon guidelines.

You especially want to be careful to check condition if you are buying multiples of an item. Sometimes we can get a little over zealous when we find a home run item on the clearance shelf that has several multiples, and we start loading up the cart quickly out of eagerness – only to find out after we get the items home that one or more of them aren’t in new condition like the other items. We can save ourselves the time and effort of having to fix that situation down the road if we just check the condition before we load the cart and pass on any items that we can’t sell in new condition.

6. Check the stock in other stores.

Let me give you an example to illustrate this tip. One time I found a LeapFrog video game clearance priced at $5 at a store where I like to source, and the game was selling consistently on Amazon for $35. Great, add it to the cart.

Later that day I was at another branch of the same store, and I found that same LeapFrog game on the shelf without a clearance sticker on it. It appeared to be selling for regular price at this second store. Just out of curiosity, I took the game to a price checker to see if it had the clearance price also. Sure enough, the store just hadn’t updated their prices on the shelf, but the clearance price was already in the computer system. I was able to buy more of the game at the clearance price, at that store and others throughout the day, even though the casual customer would not have known that the game was on clearance. Score!

If you find an item on clearance at one store but it’s not visibly on clearance elsewhere, always double check the price at a computer, just in case.

7. Watch the prices while you’re checking out.

As we’ve noted in the tips above, stores can sometimes have incorrect information on their price tags or in their computer system. It’s possible for the price sticker or the shelf sticker to say a lower price than the price in the system, so you want to keep an eye on the screen while the cashier is scanning your items.

Don’t be afraid to stop the cashier and question a price if it’s higher than the sticker or the shelf. It may require a manager to override the transaction so you can have the lower price, or it may mean having to put an item back if they won’t honor the price on the sticker or shelf. Either way, you definitely do not want to pay a higher price than you intended, or you will lower your potential ROI and lose out on profits.

Hopefully you have found some useful suggestions in my tips that will help you increase the amount of inventory you can source at great prices on your next RA clearance sourcing trip!

Do you have any tips you would add to my list? I would love to hear what you would suggest in the comments.

If you’re ready to finally get serious about your Amazon FBA business, then I invite you to check out JumpStart Amazon: Build a Successful Amazon FBA Business.

JumpStart Amazon is a combination video course and ebook. The ebook is over 220 pages filled with the content and graphics you need to start a successful Amazon business from scratch. The video course features 5 main sections, 19 content-packed modules, and over 40 videos adding up to over 10 and a half hours of video training. This training is set up to help you build a solid foundation and then know how to find growth and success on top of the basics. This course is packed with more results-focused knowledge than any other ebook out there centered around starting an Amazon business.

Right now, the course is on sale for $50 off the list price, so click this link and find out more about JumpStart Amazon today.

5 Retail Arbitrage Sourcing Tips for Amazon FBA Success

Although my FBA business has transitioned to become more focused on wholesale over the past couple of years, retail arbitrage (RA) is still one of my top methods of sourcing. I’ve shared some of my favorite RA sourcing strategies with you in blog posts in the past:

The 2 Best Retail Arbitrage Sourcing Strategies

How to Find Profitable Inventory for Amazon FBA Sourcing

Our Favorite Amazon FBA Sourcing App

Today I want to give you my top 5 RA tips that don’t really relate to buying, but have everything to do with success.

1. Retail arbitrage is not illegal, so source with confidence.

Sometimes new Amazon sellers can be timid when sourcing in retail stores. They are shy about scanning items in public and worry they could get in trouble for what they’re doing. Now, some stores frown upon resellers, so the store policy might prevent you from scanning freely — but retail arbitrage is not illegal. You are not doing anything against the law by scanning inventory in a retail store, so scan with confidence. Respect the store policy, but don’t be afraid that you’re breaking the law.

2. Just tell the truth if another customer asks you questions.

If customers ask you why you’re scanning items or why you have a cart full of toys, don’t be afraid to briefly and truthfully answer their questions. You don’t have to elaborate if you don’t want to, but you can always give a short statement like, “I have an online store, and I’m buying toys to sell on Amazon.” There is no reason to be deceitful; sometimes people are just curious, not judgmental. A short, truthful answer is much better (and less suspicious!) than acting weird, evading the question, or just running away and hiding.

3. Be open with store employees about what you are doing.

The same thing goes with employees — if a store employee asks what you’re doing, give them a short, honest answer. Again, some stores are not reseller-friendly, so be careful about sourcing in those stores.  Many stores, however, are more than open to the idea of Amazon sellers sourcing their inventory from their shelves. Many times I’ve had a store employee ask what I’m doing, and when I answer that I’m looking for deals to sell on Amazon, I get the answer, “Oh, we have more stuff in the back you can look at.” They actually help me find even better deals!

4. Develop good relationships with store employees and managers.

Along the same lines as the last point…

If you make it a habit to be truthful and friendly with store employees and managers, you will begin to develop relationships with them and have even more opportunities to buy amazing RA deals. I’ve had store managers ask for my contact information so they can let me know when a new round of clearance is coming up. I’ve had opportunities to ask store managers if they can give me an even better discount on already low clearance prices if I buy out all of a certain item. Being friendly and personable can go a long way in this business!

5. Leave the store better than you found it.

Believe it or not, a little kindness can go a long way when you’re sourcing in retail stores. Some stores don’t like resellers because they come in and trash the clearance aisle, and store employees have to clean up after them. Don’t be that way! Always straighten up after yourself, and offer to help organize inventory or clean up an aisle if you see an opportunity. Whether you get anything out of it or not, it’s just the right thing to do to be helpful and not destructive.

Hopefully these tips will help you have a more successful and pleasant experience the next time you are out doing some RA sourcing for your FBA business.

Again, I do want to mention that there are a few stores out there (Target and Kohl’s come to mind) that are not reseller friendly. In these types of stores, you could still discreetly make purchases in small amounts, but you wouldn’t be able to use your tax exempt certificate as a reseller. Personally, I don’t spend a lot of time in stores that aren’t reseller friendly because I’ve found too many other stores in my area that love for me to come and buy up lots of inventory at a time.

What tips would you add to my list above? Have you found some strategies that help you have a great day of RA sourcing, tips that don’t necessarily relate to actual buying decisions but can make all the difference in your long-term success? We would love to hear from you in the comments!

If you’re ready to finally get serious about your Amazon FBA business, then I invite you to check out JumpStart Amazon: Build a Successful Amazon FBA Business.

JumpStart Amazon is a combination video course and ebook. The ebook is over 220 pages filled with the content and graphics you need to start a successful Amazon business from scratch. The video course features 5 main sections, 19 content-packed modules, and over 40 videos adding up to over 10 and a half hours of video training. This training is set up to help you build a solid foundation and then know how to find growth and success on top of the basics. This course is packed with more results-focused knowledge than any other ebook out there centered around starting an Amazon business.

Right now you can save $50 off the cost of the course for a limited time. Use the coupon code SAVE10 to save $50 today! For more information on JumpStart Amazon, click here.

Is Retail Arbitrage (RA) Sourcing Dead?

I’ve been selling on Amazon for several years now, and one lingering question has been circulating FBA seller groups that entire time:

Is retail arbitrage dead?

If you do a Google search for that question, you will find info related to the topic as far back as 2013. I’m writing this post in 2018, so you can see the topic has been discussed for at least half a decade.

And I get it. New sellers are wanting to try out retail arbitrage (or RA) to see if they can make money from the process of buying items for a low price at a retail store to resell them for a profit on Amazon – but they’re concerned about starting an FBA business if RA is dead. No one wants to invest time, money, or effort into a business that is doomed to fail.

Why I Still Do RA

My wife Rebecca and I are currently using several sourcing methods to find inventory for our FBA business. Rebecca does all of our online arbitrage (OA), and I focus on wholesale and RA sourcing. Our percentage of wholesale sourcing has increased each year for a few years now, but I still like to do RA because it continues to be profitable for us.

At this point, I spend one or two full days a month doing RA sourcing throughout Q1, Q2, and Q3, but when Q4 rolls around I dramatically increase my RA sourcing. Q4 (fourth quarter, or October, November, and December) is an amazing time of the year for RA, and I still love going out into stores and finding awesome treasures to resell.

The Myth that RA is Dead – Plus My Reasons Why it is Still Alive

For the rest of this post, I want to talk about the top 4 reasons I hear people say why they think RA is dead, along with the reasons why I disagree. Now, each of the points below is a valid concern, but I hope to bring clarity and truth to why those concerns do not need to stop you from doing RA sourcing.

1. Increased competition

One of the fundamental concerns for FBA sellers is that more and more sellers are joining the platform and making it harder to sell for a profit. Just about every day of the year you see new sellers joining Facebook groups for resellers, and it seems like the FBA platform is oversaturated. It can be easy to get caught up in thinking there’s too much competition in RA to make it worthwhile as a business.

This type of worry over too much competition has been going on the entire time I have been selling on Amazon. In fact, when Chris Green released his pivotal book Retail Arbitrage, many Amazon sellers bemoaned the fact that he let out a big secret and there would be an influx of sellers who would destroy FBA for everyone else.

But guess what…that hasn’t happened! Here we are several years later, and RA is still a viable way to make thousands of dollars of sales each month if you know where and how to source. Yes, it is true that new sellers are joining Amazon every day, but it is also true that most of those sellers won’t stay the course. They find out that it actually takes work to do RA, and they quit. Those new sellers are not truly your competition.

Another reason I don’t worry about an increase in sellers is the corresponding increase in products in the Amazon catalog. For example, in 2013 the Home & Kitchen category had 18 million items; by 2018 it has grown to 86 million items. In 2013 the Toys & Games category had 1.7 million items, but now it is up to more than 6 million items. As you can see, there are more than enough products out there for all of us to sell.

2. “Tanking” prices

It happens to most of us at one time or another. We find a great RA product to sell with an awesome rank and a great ROI (return on investment), but the next thing we know the price has “tanked.”

Now, I happen to disagree with the concept of “tanking” prices. A price doesn’t tank; it just drops as a result of supply and demand. A lot of times sellers will complain about tanking prices in January, after the Q4 selling rush has ended. In December many of the lower priced sellers sell out of their inventory, leaving higher priced items as the only ones in stock. If you price your own RA inventory to match those high prices but don’t sell quickly enough, the lower priced sellers will eventually come back in stock, and it will look like the prices have tanked.

There’s a simple workaround to know if a price is likely to tank in the future: use price and sales rank history to make buying decisions, rather than looking only at current price and sales rank. You can find this data on two free websites (or through my fave RA sourcing app, Scoutify): CamelCamelCamel and Keepa. If you are interested in learning more about how to read Camel and Keepa graphs, check out my tutorials:

How to Read and Understand Keepa Graphs

How to Read and Understand CamelCamelCamel Graphs

3. Amazon seller restrictions

Another common concern among FBA sellers who typically do RA sourcing is the possibility of Amazon restrictions for categories, brands, or even specific ASINs.

I’m going to keep this section of the blog post short because I have already covered the topic more extensively in my video on how to deal with Amazon restrictions. In that video I will walk you through how to eventually get approval in almost any Amazon category, if you’re willing to put in the time to make it happen.

Bottom line: If you are out in the stores doing RA sourcing and find items you are not approved to sell on Amazon, it doesn’t have to be a dead end. You can get approved for gated categories. You can get approved for some restricted brands. You can even get approval for individual restricted ASINs. Sometimes you can get instant approval, even while you’re standing there in the store aisle! Other times it takes some patience, but over time you will be able to sell more and more of the items that may currently be restricted to you as a seller.

4. IP and copyright infringement

Lastly, many sellers are concerned that doing RA sourcing will lead to intellectual property (IP) or copyright infringement notices. These infringement notices may or may not come from the legitimate brand owner, stating that you as a seller are no longer allowed to sell a particular item or brand on Amazon.

If you receive these types of notices, I agree that it is both frightening and frustrating, not to mention that resolving the problem can be a nuisance. The problem is not extremely common, however, and even when it does happen, there are ways to deal with it.

One thing you should understand is that many times these “infringement notices” are sent out by a competitive seller, not by the actual brand owner or representative. It’s sad to say, but there are sellers out there who would stop at almost nothing to harm their competition. But it’s hard to know at first if the IP notice is legit or fake, so you need to handle every notice carefully.

You should always contact Amazon to check with Seller Central to make sure you are not restricted to sell the item or brand in question. If Amazon does not restrict you, you technically can still sell the item. However, you still want to respond to any IP notice by stating that you are willing to work with the brand owner to stop selling the item IF they work with Amazon to go through the proper restriction channels. Another way you can approach the situation is to ask for a wholesale account with the brand owner so that you can become an approved reseller.

I hope I’ve been able to show you through this post that RA is not dead. There are still plenty of great opportunities out there for RA sourcing and plenty of ways to deal with the common problems that arise with RA. Retail arbitrage can be a lucrative way to bring in some great profits through an FBA business, if you are willing to put in the time and effort to learn the right ways to do it.

Now it’s time for us to hear from you! Have you experienced dead ends in trying to build up FBA inventory through RA sourcing? Or do you love RA and can’t imagine why anyone would declare it dead? We would love to hear from you in the comments.

If you’re ready to finally get serious about your Amazon FBA business, then I invite you to check out JumpStart Amazon: Build a Successful Amazon FBA Business.

JumpStart Amazon is a combination video course and ebook. The ebook is over 220 pages filled with the content and graphics you need to start a successful Amazon business from scratch. The video course features 5 main sections, 19 content-packed modules, and over 40 videos adding up to over 10 and a half hours of video training. This training is set up to help you build a solid foundation and then know how to find growth and success on top of the basics. This course is packed with more results-focused knowledge than any other ebook out there centered around starting an Amazon business. For more information on JumpStart Amazon, click here.

How to Win the Amazon Buy Box for Maximum Sales

We left off on the previous blog post with my top 6 points that you need to understand about how the Amazon buy box works. If you haven’t checked out that post, I highly recommend that you read it first before moving forward with how to win the buy box.

As a reminder, Amazon does not reveal their algorithm for how the buy box works, who will be eligible for it, who will win it, and for how long. But if you pay attention to certain factors when listing your inventory for sale on Amazon, you can increase your chances of winning the buy box and getting more sales – which means more profits!

Let’s jump right into my top strategies for winning the Amazon buy box:

1. Be a pro seller on Amazon.

You must be a pro seller on Amazon to win the buy box. This means you must pay the montly $40 fee as a seller, rather than skipping the monthly fee to be an individual seller. Individual sellers are not eligible for the buy box. Now, at this point I typically get beginner sellers who complain to me that “I don’t have enough money as a newbie to pay the monthly fee.” And I get it. But the buy box is where 70-80% of the sales on Amazon happen, so it’s really up to you to decide – is it worth it to you to pay $40 and dramatically increase your sales? If you’re doing FBA as a business instead of a hobby, you really need to be a pro seller, get the buy box, and get those sales.

2. Be priced competitively.

Please note what I’m saying here in strategy #2 – and what I’m not saying. I did not say “be the lowest price.” I said “be priced competitively.” There is a difference. Rather than just setting your price to be the lowest, you need to check the current buy box price and make sure you are priced competitively. Sometimes that means matching the buy box price, and sometimes it means pricing somewhat higher than the current buy box (within 2-5% of the price). There’s not one tried and true formula, so it may take a little fiddling with your pricing to figure it out for each item.

3. Meet performance-based standards, such as feedback scores.

Amazon uses several performance-based criteria to determine who is eligible for the buy box (or eligible for a more significant amount of time). One of the most important factors considered in the buy box algorithm is your seller feedback score. Sellers with a lower percentage of positive feedback will receive a lower percentage of time in the buy box for items with sellers who have a higher positive score. The impact of feedback scores on my eligibility for the buy box is one of the main reasons I use the feedback service Feedback Genius to email my customers as a way of increasing my positive feedback and reducing my negative feedback. I have a full review of Feedback Genius in this blog post.

You also want to make sure you have a low order defect rate as an Amazon seller. Your order defect rate is a metric Amazon calculates based on how often your orders end up marked as defective or damaged.

Another factor related to how often you earn the buy box is your customer service as an Amazon seller. For FBA sellers, Amazon handles the majority of our customer service, but we still need to handle communications with customers correctly and provide good service when issues arise. In particular, if you receive emails from customers, you must make sure you are replying within 24 hours and not constantly marking emails as “no response needed” without first sending some type of reply.

One more potential factor is your time and experience as an Amazon seller. This factor might not be as heavily weighted as others, but it does make an impact. A more experienced seller tends to earn more time in the buy box than a “just launched” seller.

To find out more information about your performance metrics, log in to your account in Seller Central and click on the “Performance” tab to see different areas of your account.

4. Have multiples of an item in stock.

Amazon wants to make it easy for customers who might want to buy more than one of an item. If you have multiples of an item in stock, you are more likely to receive the buy box over a seller who only has one item in stock. For certain items (like shoes or clothing, for instance) it doesn’t matter as much if you only have one item in stock, but for consumable items you might want to try keeping multiple items in stock as a strategy for earning the buy box more often.

5. Sell via Amazon FBA.

Chances are if you’re a regular of this blog, you’re already an FBA (fulfilled by Amazon) seller as opposed to an FBM (fulfilled by merchant) seller. For so many reasons, the FBA program is a more profitable and more efficient way of selling on Amazon than selling via merchant fulfilled. If you weren’t already convinced to commit the majority of your Amazon inventory to the FBA program, hopefully the buy box will convince you – Amazon strongly tends to award the buy box to FBA sellers over FBM sellers, even if the FBM seller has a much lower price. If you’re only selling through FBM, you are losing out on sales that you could easily win if you used the FBA program and earned the buy box more often. The Amazon selling platform is very centered around Prime shoppers, and you want your inventory to be fulfilled by Amazon and available to those Prime shoppers.

Before we finish with this topic, I want to let you know how to find out which of your inventory items are eligible for the buy box. You can follow these steps to see the buy box eligible items when you’re looking through your Amazon inventory:

  1. Log in to Seller Central.
  2. Click on the Inventory tab.
  3. Click Manage Inventory.
  4. Go to Preferences and click to show whether items are buy box eligible.

I really hope the above strategies are helpful for you and your business and that you are able to win the buy box more often and get more sales. If you implement some or all of these strategies, you should be able to increase your time in the buy box and, as a result, increase your sales. If you’ve tried any of these methods and found success, let us hear about it in the comments!

Special Offer From Feedback Genius

FB-GeniusI spoke with Jeff from Seller Labs (creator of Feedback Genius) and he is offering my Full-Time FBA blog readers a special offer of a 60 day free trial (that’s twice as long as their normal 30-day trial period) with the coupon code fulltime. That’s 2 months worth of being able to contact your buyers asking them to leave you 5-star reviews or to contact you if there is a problem. Again, use the code fulltime at checkout to get double the free trial. There is really no reason why you shouldn’t give Feedback Genius a try today. 

6 Things You Need to Know about the Amazon Buy Box

Perhaps the most important goal of any Amazon FBA seller is getting more sales, so today I want to cover a topic directly tied to the majority of sales on Amazon – the Amazon buy box.

If you look on an Amazon product page, the buy box is the little box in the top right corner of the page where you can buy that product. The buy box should say something like “Add to Cart” or “Buy Now,” depending on the settings for your Amazon account.

The buy box is one of the most important topics to learn when you’re selling on Amazon, but it can also be very confusing because Amazon doesn’t always make their guidelines on the buy box clear. Amazon does not reveal their algorithm for which seller receives the buy box, but we as sellers can still deduce certain information about how the buy box works and thus make informed, intelligent decisions on sourcing and pricing inventory to get the buy box.

For the rest of this post, I want to share with you 6 important points that you need to know about the Amazon buy box.

1. 70-80% of Amazon sales come from the buy box.

This is a staggering number. Let it sink in. When a customer lands on a product page and is deciding to buy an item, 70-80% of the time (possibly more, on certain items) the customer buys the product from the seller who has the buy box. Most buyers aren’t looking for the small line lower on the page that says “11 more new and used offers,” and rather than clicking to see more prices and more sellers, they click the yellow box that says “Add to Cart.” If upwards of 80% of sales come from the buy box, you as a seller want your item to get time in the buy box. Which leads me to my next point…

2. The buy box rotates.

Unless someone is the only seller of an item, one seller won’t keep the buy box 100% of the time. Amazon will rotate the buy box throughout the sellers who are eligible for the buy box. That rotation will depend on Amazon’s algorithm, but it generally rotates according to all the sellers who are priced competitively, typically within a percentage of the current buy box price. Which leads me to my next point…

3. Having the lowest price does not guarantee the buy box.

The buy box price is not always the lowest available price on Amazon. Most customers assume the buy box price is the lowest, and most new sellers assume they have to price their items to match the lowest price in order to get the buy box – but that just isn’t true. Sometimes the buy box price will be $1 or $2 higher than the lowest price, and on certain items it can even be up to $5 higher than the lowest price. Many new sellers use a pricing strategy where they price their items a penny or a nickel lower than the lowest price thinking this will guarantee the buy box, when they could be pricing higher than the buy box and achieve the same results because (remember point #2?) the buy box rotates and doesn’t depend on who has the lowest price. Which leads me to my next point…

4. The buy box is geographical.

Sometimes an Amazon buyer sees a certain seller in the buy box based not on the price of their item, but on the location of that seller’s inventory in the FBA warehouse. If the customer is on the west coast and is a Prime member, Amazon will likely show them an offer in the buy box based on the fact that it’s located in a west coast warehouse and should be easier for them to deliver within the 2-day Prime window than an item that’s priced $1 cheaper but is located on the east coast. I could be sitting here in my office in Texas looking at the exact same product page at the exact same time, and I could see a different seller in the buy box than that west coast customer because Amazon wants to ship my purchases from a Texas warehouse.

5. The buy box is for items in new condition only.

If you are selling an item in used or collectible condition, you aren’t going to be eligible to get the Amazon buy box for that item. The exception to this rule is on certain media items, where you can see both a new buy box and a used buy box.

6. Sometimes Amazon as a seller shares the buy box with third party sellers, but usually not.

Most of the time, if Amazon is one of the sellers of an item, they will hog the buy box and not share it with other sellers who are priced competitively. Sometimes they will give the buy box to a seller who is priced significantly lower, but even then it’s no guarantee. In these instances, third party sellers generally have to wait for Amazon to go out of stock before they are able to gain the buy box and get sales of that item.

Amazon hogging the buy box is just one of many reasons why I love to use Keepa to do sourcing research. Keepa is a free program that will show you if Amazon is in stock on an item or if they’ve ever been in stock in the past. When I’m sourcing for inventory, I typically avoid buying items where Amazon is in stock because I know they probably won’t share the buy box with me. I use the Scoutify app to do my retail arbitrage sourcing, and there’s a button on the app that I can click to see the Keepa data on the item I’m researching. Looking at the Keepa data makes my decision making process so much easier because it clearly shows me whether Amazon is likely to be my competition if I sell an item.

If you want more information about how to interpret Keepa data, check out my blog post on How to Read and Understand Keepa Graphs. The post includes a video tutorial about reading Keepa graphs and is a great introduction to the program.

Now, you might be wondering at this point, “So how do I actually win the buy box?” That question is big enough that I’m going to cover it in its own blog post, so stay tuned for the next post later this week.

If you’re looking to learn more about how to make smart sourcing decisions while doing retail arbitrage, be sure to watch my free tutorials on how to understand Keepa, and how to understand CamelCamelCamel or check out my book/video course, The Reseller’s Guide to How to Keepa Camel: Using Amazon Sales History to Make Smart Sourcing Decisions.

Have you made any other observations about how the buy box works that we didn’t cover in this post? We would love to hear from you in the comments!

Save Time and Stay Healthy in Your Full-Time FBA Business

Chances are you are reading the Full-Time FBA blog because you’re interested in the same topic as us: how to turn part-time hours into a full-time income via Amazon FBA. We (Stephen and Rebecca) have spent the past several years fine tuning our FBA business to the point that we truly only spend part-time hours sourcing inventory and running our FBA business, yet it produces a full-time income for our family.

It wasn’t easy getting to where we are, though. We’re spending part-time hours now, but in the early days we worked a lot more hours per day. We still work hard during the hours we work, but we’ve been able to reduce those hours drastically year over year, while still increasing our sales.

When we get in the thick of busy times of the year like Q4, the main business activity we want to focus on is sourcing for inventory and making sure that inventory gets to Amazon as soon as possible. Sometimes, though, normal life responsibilities can get in the way and cause us to miss out on hours and hours of sourcing.

You want to source for more inventory, but you still need to get housework done. You wish you could send more inventory to Amazon, but you need to go grocery shopping and make dinner. The list of things holding you back from focusing on your FBA business could go on and on.

So how do we get more time to source and ship inventory to Amazon? Sometimes you have to get creative with engineering more time in your day. Here are some of the strategies we have implemented around the Smotherman house and have found success with:

1. Outsource Sourcing – A great way to have more time to source is to outsource some of your sourcing. Imagine if you knew of 5-10 items from Walmart that you knew were profitable. See if you can find someone to hire to go to every Walmart in a specific mile radius and buy all of those items for you. Maybe get a prepaid MasterCard for them to use to buy inventory for you. For more training on outsourcing sourcing, I recommend the book, Outsourcing Sourcing. Use the coupon code FBA30 to save 30% off the cost of the book.

2. Outsource your Prepping, Packing, and Shipping – There are dozens of prep services across the US that will do all of the prep, pack, and shipping work for you. They will (for a fee) take off price tags, poly bag, pack up the boxes, and ship your inventory to Amazon for you. If you do RA (retail arbitrage) then you can just drop off your finds with a prep service, and they’ll do the rest. You can also send your OA (online arbitrage), wholesale, and/or private label items to a prep center to do a lot of the manual labor for you, which will free up your time to do more sourcing! To find a prep service near you just google “Amazon prep service” with your hometown or state.

3. Hello Fresh – When we are in the busiest times of the year for our FBA business, one way Rebecca and I try to stay healthy and sane (while still saving time) is by eating right and cooking at home. We’ve started using Hello Fresh to have meals sent to our house, ready to cook, and it’s a huge time and stress saver. It saves the stress of meal planning and of trips to the grocery store, and we’re able to eat some really delicious, fresh meals at home instead of having to rely on take-out. If you want to try out Hello Fresh, be sure and go through this link so you can save $40 off your first box — that’s free food! You can choose from the classic, veggie, or family (kid friendly) plan. Check it out, free food!

4. Hire a Cleaning Service – Which would you rather do – find more inventory to send to Amazon via Online Arbitrage or clean the house? If you’re like me, you’d rather be working on finding profitable inventory instead of cleaning the bathtubs and toilets. As far as earning potential goes, your time is much more profitable if spent working in your business than staying home and cleaning house. There are many services you can find online that will send you a qualified and screened house cleaner to clean house while you’re taking off price stickers, poly bagging, listing, and shipping inventory to send to Amazon.

5. Get Creative – Think of other ways you can free up time to source and ship inventory to Amazon. If you have a lawn to take care of, hire a yard crew to do your regular mowing and trimming. To save time on grocery shopping, see if Amazon Fresh is available in your area, and order online for your groceries to be delivered to your door (new users get $25 off with their first order). There may be other grocery stores near you that will deliver, too. If delivery is not an option, perhaps some grocery stores nearby have shopping services with curbside pick-up. Rebecca loves to order groceries online at our local H-E-B grocery store and just pull up to the curbside pick-up area to have someone else load the car with our groceries. It saves us so much time. (Side note: Curbside grocery orders can also save you money and calories because you aren’t tempted to make impulse buys of foods you don’t really need. This is especially helpful if you typically need to do your shopping with your kids tagging along!)

6. Use TaskRabbit – Websites like TaskRabbit offer ways to connect you with people you can hire to complete one or more tasks for very affordable prices. Do some searches on these sites to see if you can find more ways to hire help to free up more time for you to source inventory and ship to Amazon. Click here to save $20 on your first task on TaskRabbit.

7. Use FiverrIf you have any online or digital work you need completed, then Fiverr is a great place to find someone who will do the work for you for around $5 (hence the name, Fiverr). If you need someone to make your Amazon sales page images with a white background, do some keyword research for you, or so many other possible jobs, then check out Fiverr.

Think outside of the box and find ways to hire or outsource parts of your business and your personal life to others who are more than happy to help you out for a fair fee. This will free you up to spend more time finding more inventory and getting it to Amazon as soon as possible for faster sales and profits.

If you’re in the early stages of your business it might seem like you need to cut corners and pinch pennies when it comes to paying for ways to free up your time, but if you truly want to make a full-time income with only part-time hours via Amazon FBA, you need to find ways to leverage your time to maximize your profits. Trust us when we say we’ve learned it the hard way – trying to do everything in your business all by yourself will lead to stress, burn out, and other unhealthy results.

Now we want to hear from you. What are some steps you can take TODAY to prioritize your health and your family’s health as you work on your FBA business? Is there something you need to let go of in your business to prevent burn out? Is there a time and sanity saving technique that you’ve found helpful as you build your business that we didn’t mention above? We would love to hear from you in the comments!

Working from home sounds easy, but if you’ve done it for any amount of time, you know it can be difficult. In Married to Reselling: Balancing Family Life with Your Online Business, my wife Rebecca and I will walk with you through ways we can all find success in balancing our time with family while working from home. We’ll tackle both the business and personal sides of life as a reseller, and we’ll help you explore a system that works best for you and your family. If you’re looking for ways to balance your family life with your online business and find success with both, then this book is for you.

Top Benefits of Using Ebates in Your Amazon FBA Business

Let’s talk about Ebates. But first I want to give you a hypothetical sourcing scenario. Let’s say you have a BOLO list of great items to buy from Walmart, and all you need to do is get to the store and buy them to send in to FBA. You only have time and money to go to one Walmart today and get this shipment sent in, and there are two Walmarts equal driving distance from your house. Both stores have the exact same items in stock in sufficient quantities for you to buy and make a great FBA shipment. The catch: One Walmart has prices 5-10% cheaper than the other. Which store would you choose? No question, you’d choose to source at the Walmart with the cheaper prices.

Now, we all now this is a hypothetical situation because Walmarts in the same geographic area typically have the same prices, so set that component of this scenario aside. I’m just trying to get you thinking about this concept: if all other factors are the same, every one of us FBA sellers would choose to source items at a lower price. If we didn’t, we would be wasting money and leaving profits on the table.

This exact scenario is the choice you face every time you make an online purchase and don’t use Ebates as you complete your purchase. If you use Ebates, you can be earning a percentage of cash back on every purchase – so essentially, if you don’t use Ebates, you’re paying a higher price for your purchases than you need to.

How Ebates Works

Ebates is a cash back website that allows you to earn a percentage of money back on every online purchase you make when you visit websites through the Ebates link. Online stores pay Ebates a commission for sending customers their way, and Ebates shares that commission with you, the customer.

It’s so simple – you shop at your favorite stores (over 2000 to chose from), you accumulate cash back in your account, and you get paid through a check or PayPal once a quarter. You don’t need to do anything differently with your online purchases other than make sure you’re visiting online stores through the Ebates link. It doesn’t take long for your cash back total to start adding up to a nice Big Fat Check (the name Ebates gives the checks they send out once a quarter). Be sure to read to the end of this post to find out about a welcome gift for new Ebates users.

Benefits of Using Ebates

  • Increase ROI on OA purchases – For us, the number one way we earn cash back from Ebates is through our online arbitrage purchases. We do a significant portion of our FBA sourcing through OA, so we get a large chunk of cash back every quarter on those purchases. Earning cash back is one way to increase your ROI (return on investment) and make more money in your FBA business.
  • Cash back on your business supplies and travel expenses – Even if you don’t do OA as a sourcing strategy, you can still use Ebates to earn cash back on business expenses, such as office supplies and travel expenses. Rebecca uses Ebates to book our hotels and flights on websites like Travelocity and Priceline, and the percentage discount for our travel can add up quickly.
  • Cash back on personal shopping – We also use Ebates for our personal online shopping as well, whether we’re looking for clothes for the kids or gifts for various occasions. This time of year (November, as I write) is when Ebates can be golden – all your holiday gifts and Black Friday purchases can be earning you cash back!
  • Simple process if you use the Chrome extension – The Ebates concept is already pretty easy – just go to the Ebates site, search for the store where you want to shop, then click their link to begin shopping. But the process becomes even easier if you use the Ebates Chrome extension or Safari button. With one click of the extension, you can activate Ebates on your purchase directly from an online store, without having to navigate to the Ebates website first. What could be easier?!
  • Coupon codes when available – Ebates also does the boring work of looking up coupon codes for you. Once you’ve activated the Ebates extension and you’re getting ready to complete your purchase, Ebates will give you a notification if there are coupon codes available for that online store. You can save even more money with Ebates’ help with coupon codes!
  • Double cash back opportunities during special events or holidays – During certain times of the year, stores will offer an even higher percentage off for Ebates customers, as a way to encourage shopping on their site. You should be on the lookout for percentages as high as 15% cash back around Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and other big online shopping days.

There really is no good reason not to sign up with Ebates and start earning cash back now. The cash back process really works and is so simple. Our family loves earning cash back from Ebates and saving it to go towards our family vacation each summer. You can see a video about how we used Ebates to take our kids to their favorite vacation spot in the Davis Mountains last year. This summer we used our Ebates cash to take them on an unforgettable trip to the Grand Canyon.

Are you already using Ebates? If not, you should sign up today! Don’t let any more online shopping get by you without starting to earn cash back. As a welcome to the program, Ebates is offering a $10 gift if you sign up through this link. That’s free money on top of free money, and you can’t beat that.

Are you using Ebates? If so, let us know in the comments below how much you’ve enjoyed your Big Fat Checks!

Top 7 Things NOT to Do During Q4 as an Amazon FBA Seller

We’re starting to get into the thick of the busiest time of the year for an Amazon FBA seller – Q4, or the last quarter of the year. For the rest of the world, Q4 is typically October, November, and December, but for an Amazon FBA seller the busiest months are typically November, December, and January.

Q4 can be a magical time of faster sales and higher profits, but it can also be a time of great confusion and unmet expectations if you’re not careful. Many folks will try to tell you all the things you should be doing as an Amazon seller during Q4, but today I want to talk about the things you DON’T want to do during Q4.

If you do these things, you might end up hurting yourself and your business. If you avoid the things on this list, it should be easier for you to grow your sales, make more money, and be successful in your business and life.

  1. Obsessively check your pending sales
    Sure, it’s fun to check your sales during Q4 and see the pending sales adding up quicker than they do in other times of the year. Our brains are probably getting a dopamine hit of some sort every time we check sales and see new orders in our pending list – but is it a good use of our time? There are many more profitable ways to spend your time during Q4, so try to only check on your sales a reasonable number of times a day, not obsessively every five minutes. (This first item on the list is in honor of my wife, Rebecca. She is the first to admit this is her biggest downfall during Q4. Step away from the Amazon Seller app, Rebecca!)
  1. Implement a brand new strategy
    Learning how to implement a brand new strategy or sell in a new category is always a fun challenge for an Amazon FBA seller, but Q4 is not the time to start experimenting. You have nine months during the first three quarters of the year to play around with new concepts, tools, categories, or brands, but Q4 is when you need to double down on the things you already know well. You have so much more potential to make huge profits if you take what you know and just do more of it during Q4. You don’t want to get stuck trying to figure out something difficult about a new concept and waste time that you could be maximizing your profits by sourcing and sending in to FBA items that are low-hanging fruit for your business.
  1. Stop sending inventory to the FBA warehouse
    Some people get caught up in dates and deadlines too early in the season, and they stop sending inventory by late November or early December. Some sellers might stop sending anything at all to the warehouse, overlooking the fact that sales in January can continue to be fantastic – IF you have inventory in stock. Buyers might want to buy what they really wanted for Christmas (but didn’t receive as a gift), or they might want to use up all the Amazon gift cards they received. Keep sending in inventory, so you’ll have stuff to sell well into January.
  1. Blindly lower your prices
    There comes a point in the Q4 selling season where some sellers might start to panic and wonder if their prices are too high. Blindly lowering prices, however, isn’t the best way to handle that fear of missing out on sales. In many cases, supply will go down on the Amazon website, which means prices will go up – you don’t want to start lowering your prices just as other sellers are selling out and you can get a higher price for your inventory. Always check the stock levels of your competitors and check Keepa and CamelCamelCamel for sales rank and price history in previous Q4s, whenever possible. You can see our tutorial for checking stock levels
    at this link, for Keepa at this link, and for CamelCamelCamel at this link.
  1. Spend time comparing yourself to others
    If you’re in any Facebook groups for Amazon sellers, you’ll probably see folks posting photos of their latest retail arbitrage trips with several carts full of toys to sell, or you might see screen shots of crazy high numbers of daily sales on Amazon. It can be tempting to start comparing yourself to those folks and wondering why you aren’t having as much success as they are. Don’t do that. Just don’t. Comparing your business to someone else’s isn’t a fair comparison, and it isn’t a good use of your time. If you can’t help it, maybe consider stepping away from Facebook for a while. Keep pressing forward on your own goals, and don’t get bogged down in thinking how much greater someone else’s business might be. (On a related note, if you want to join our Full-Time FBA Facebook group,
    here’s the link.)
  1. Chase all the hot toys
    The catalogs and magazines tell you what’s hot, so all you have to do is go out there, chase it down, and resell it, right? But chasing hot toys can quickly become the fast track to frustration with large numbers of competitors and ever lowering prices. Very rarely does a hot toy lead to great profit margins. The stores and manufacturers typically do the research to know what’s going to be hot, and they’re usually well prepared and fully stocked. Instead of buying hot toys, you want to be looking for lesser known items that are selling really well with fewer competitors, or you want to look for accessories for the hot toys – those smaller items that buyers will need to add to their cart to go along with the hot toy, like refills or cases.
  1. Neglect your family and friends
    I would imagine none of us do this last one consciously, but it does end up happening at times if we’re not careful. The Q4 selling season is also the busiest time of the year for holidays involving spending time with family and friends. It could be so easy to get caught up in the idea of all the profits to be made on Amazon during November and December, and we can lose sight of the people in our lives who are the most important. Please don’t let your Amazon FBA business take over every waking moment so that you miss out on making memories with your family and friends. You need to take the time to savor the holidays and focus on the most important relationships in your life. Businesses can be here today and gone tomorrow, but your family and friends are lasting – don’t let this holiday season go by without making sure they know how important they are to you.

I’ve found in my own life and business that when I stay away from these 7 things, I have a healthier work-life balance and more success in the long term at my Amazon FBA business. I hope this Q4 you find tremendous success and amazing profits!

Imagine knowing exactly what to expect in your Amazon FBA business every month of the year. Imagine what it would feel like knowing you were not missing out on any of the opportunities that will come your way this year. Imagine working on your Amazon business knowing exactly what your priorities are, what you need to avoid, and what you need to accomplish during each month to make progress toward making this year your best sales year ever. Find out more about The Reseller’s Guide to a Year in FBA: A Month by Month Guide to a Profitable Amazon Business today. The package includes a 200+ page ebook, monthly video training, and 4 special bonuses.

Now, I’d love to hear from you. Can you relate to any of these non-helpful actions that can take away from having a successful Q4? What other things do you try to avoid this time of year? Comment below with aspects of life and business that you try to stay away from in order to make the most of this amazing Q4 opportunity.

Online Arbitrage Tips for Black Friday

Not everybody wants to go out and bust the doors and brave the crowds on Black Friday or any of the other big shopping days of the season. Actually, you count me in that number – I am not a huge fan of the big Black Friday crowds and just don’t want to have to deal with them. But I also don’t want to miss out on the amazing opportunities to find great items for resale, and I’ve come up with a few ways to take advantage of Black Friday deals without leaving my house.

We all know Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year, and there is great money to be made buying up deals on Black Friday and flipping them on Amazon. What some people forget is that stores also have awesome sales the week before Black Friday and the week after. The stores want to keep the money flowing all throughout this Q4 season, and they are eager to have enticing sales over the course of a few weeks, not just on one particular day. When it comes to online arbitrage (OA), you can find amazing sales at dozens of online stores for weeks around the time of Black Friday – but you want to be sure and maximize your time and efforts at OA sourcing during this time period, as well as maximize your profits.

In the rest of this blog post I want to give you my top three tips for OA on and around Black Friday. Here we go!

1. Stay informed on all the Black Friday deals. 

This first point might seem obvious, but if you miss this one, you are missing out on a ton of potential profits. You have to stay informed about upcoming sales or spur-of-the-moment sales on all your favorite online stores.

I recommend using a dedicated email address to subscribe to the updates from any stores you like to frequent for OA shopping. Big stores, little stores, whoever you might find – if they have an email list, sign up. You want all of these stores to send you notifications of their sales – and you want them to send you coupon codes!

The reason I recommend using a dedicated email address is that signing up for all these store updates becomes annoying very quickly if you have 20 or more store emails landing in your inbox every day. If you use a different email than your normal address, you won’t feel overwhelmed with store spam.

Bonus tip: If you work with a virtual assistant (VA), you can have them check that dedicated email address for you and stay on top of which stores have sales or coupon codes. No need for you to even deal with all the extra email!

2. Increase your ROI by finding more discounts.

One of the best ways to get an edge on your competition is to increase your return on investment (ROI) by buying your product at a lower price. OA sourcing has some great methods built into the process for finding bigger discounts on the products you find to resell on Amazon.

The first way you can increase your ROI is by getting cash back on your online purchases with cash back sites like Ebates and Swagbucks. Both of these cash back sites have a Google Chrome extension and a pop-up at the top of the browser to let you know if an online store offers cash back by going through their link to do your shopping. I highly recommend signing up for both Ebates and Swagbucks and keeping their Chrome extensions active so you never miss out on an opportunity to earn cash back on your OA purchases. Both Ebates and Swagbucks offer increased cash back percentages on and around Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so make sure you do your due diligence and figure out which site offers the best deal before completing your OA purchases.

Another great way to increase discounts and increase your ROI is by searching for coupon codes every time you are ready to check out at an online store. We use the Google Chrome extension Honey to automatically check for coupon codes before completing an online order. You never want to check out at an online store without checking to see if you can save some money up front by using a coupon code on your order.

3. Consider upgrading your shipping.

Typically when I’m making OA purchases, I want to buy the minimum amount to get free shipping. The money saved on free shipping is money that can increase my ROI and help me buy more inventory. But when I’m shopping for Black Friday deals online, the time it takes to get my inventory shipped to me for prep and shipment to Amazon is crucial. Sometimes it can be worth it to pay $5 or $10 for expedited shipping on an OA order on Black Friday so that I can get my inventory in to the FBA warehouse faster. Always check to see if online stores are offering discounts on expedited shipping on Black Friday, and take advantage of those discounts when possible.

If you put these three tips (four if you count the bonus tip!) into practice this Black Friday, you will be well on your way to maximizing your profits and increasing your success in your Black Friday OA sourcing. Now we want to hear from you. Are you shopping online this Black Friday or are you going to brave the stores? Do you have any tips for OA sourcing on Black Friday or Cyber Monday? Please let us hear from you in the comments.

You may already know that Black Friday is an incredible opportunity for resellers to find amazing ROI on fast turning inventory, but many resellers don’t know where to start.

Many resellers end up skipping out on the Black Friday sales simply because they don’t know what to do. Other resellers assume that you have to spend all day fighting the crazy crowds and long lines in order to find the best inventory for selling online.

It doesn’t have to be that way at all.

I’m excited to tell you that my friend Kristin Ostrander and I (Stephen) created a course called The Reseller’s Guide to Black Friday:  The Fool-proof Strategy to Rock Black Friday Sales Every Year. In this combination ebook and live master class, we will walk you through, step-by-step, multiple Black Friday strategies that you can implement in your own Amazon business model.

Here’s the cool thing: Kristin and I have completely different Black Friday strategies, yet we are both able to make a killing off of Black Friday sales. She likes to shop Black Friday sales in the stores, while I usually stay home on Black Friday… How can both of these strategies work? We can’t wait to tell you in the latest edition of The Reseller’s Guide to Black Friday.

The tips from this blog post are just the beginning of what we’ll share with you when it comes to big profits from Black Friday sales without having to brave the crowds!

Note: This book is only available for sale for a limited time. Find out how you can make the most of your Black Friday shopping opportunity.

Review of Tactical Arbitrage and OAXray

It has been a while on the blog since we have taken a dive into strategies for online arbitrage (OA), so I want to spend some time today talking about two products we use for finding profitable inventory from online stores to resell on Amazon: OAXray and Tactical Arbitrage. This article will include reviews of both products and a summary of who should consider each product (and when they should consider it), so it might get a bit more lengthy than our average blog post. But I wanted to put the information up here all in one spot, rather than posting several times on this one topic. Also, both products offer Full-Time FBA readers an extended free trial, so be sure to read thoroughly to make sure you’re getting the correct link for your extended trial period. 

About once a month in our Facebook group someone will ask a variation of these questions: “Has anyone used Tactical Arbitrage or OAXray? Are they worth the price? Which one is better?” My short answer to these questions: I’ve used both; they are both more than worth it; and it depends.

When I started doing OA, I depended on deal lists to streamline my sourcing process and help me to efficiently find great deals worth reselling. Eventually I wanted to buy more than I could find on my daily list subscriptions, so I started using OAXray. About a year or so after that I decided to try out Tactical Arbitrage. Today, Stephen and I maintain subscriptions to both OAXray and Tactical Arbitrage, mostly for the purpose of staying on top of how both products work. (Please do not hear me say that I think all sellers should subscribe to both. We blog about selling on Amazon and sourcing for products – we subscribe to both products so that you don’t have to!)

Since I started out using OAXray first, we’ll discuss it first in this post, and then we’ll dive into Tactical Arbitrage.

OAXray

OAXray is a Google Chrome extension that allows you to go to an online store’s website and scan a page of items to find matches in the Amazon catalog. OAXray has a long list of websites compatible with their software, some with UPC searches and some with title searches. From your Chrome browser, you can navigate to a page within an online store, click the OAXray extension, and scan the page to turn it into a spreadsheet of items with links to the Amazon product page, links to CamelCamelCamel and Keepa data, and columns of info on pricing, sales rank, profit, and ROI, among other things. OAXray also shows you if the item is selling on other websites, where you might get a better buying price. If you want to check out an extended free trial of OAXray, go through the link www.fulltimefba.com/oaxray. Using the OAXray extension saves literally hours each day of matching items from online stores to the Amazon catalog.

Training available? OAXray has an excellent YouTube channel with tutorials to get you started using the Chrome extension, or you can see a list of available videos on their website.

Features and functionality? OAXray lists many uses on their website for how you can use their program for sourcing items for Amazon. In addition to OA sourcing, OAXray allows you to upload a spreadsheet of UPCs and prices to check against the Amazon catalog; Stephen uses this feature on a regular basis in his wholesale sourcing.

Learning curve? Relatively low. The concept can seem intimidating at first, but if you watch the tutorials beforehand you should be scanning pages and finding profitable inventory in no time.

Time required for a scan? OAXray scans pages on online stores one page at a time; the length of time for the scan depends on how many items are on the page. You can set it up to search several pages simultaneously. I tend to use OAXray when I want to scan a smaller amount of items and produce a smaller amount of data in one sitting.

Can you use with a virtual assistant (VA)? Yes; you can save even more time in your OA sourcing by hiring a VA to do your scanning for you.

Who should use this product? I recommend OAXray for Amazon sellers who are new to OA, who want a less steep learning curve for an OA sourcing product, or who want a simple tool for scanning wholesale catalog spreadsheets.

Tactical Arbitrage

Tactical Arbitrage is online software that allows you to scan an entire category of a store’s website to find matches in the Amazon catalog, either by UPC or by product title. Tactical Arbitrage allows you to set up bulk scans of multiple pages and multiple websites to scan at one time, so that you can start a scan and come back to it later after it has finished. The results of a Tactical Arbitrage scan show you links to product pages on the online store’s site and Amazon, links to CamelCamelCamel and Keepa, and columns of info on pricing, sales rank, profit, and ROI, among other things. Tactical Arbitrage has other features and methods for doing reverse scans, Amazon flips, and more. The time you can save using Tactical Arbitrage adds up to hours per day. If you want to check out an extended free trial of Tactical Arbitrage, be sure to use the code FULLTIME10 when signing up at www.fulltimefba.com/TA.

Training available? Tactical Arbitrage has a great YouTube channel with tutorials to get you started using the program.

Features and functionality? Tactical Arbitrage is an (almost overwhelmingly) powerful tool, allowing you to search entire categories on a website in one scan. You can also upload a bulk list of categories from multiple websites to run in one scan, producing hundreds or thousands of potential buys at a time. Tactical Arbitrage also includes tools for wholesale spreadsheets scans, Amazon flips, reverse lookup, and library search for books. I’ll be real honest – I haven’t used half of the features of Tactical Arbitrage, but I still find it worth the price for the features I do use.

Learning curve? Much steeper than OAXray. Tactical Arbitrage is an extremely powerful tool, and it isn’t super intuitive at times to learn it. Watching the YouTube tutorials helped me a great deal; so did just getting in there and playing around with it and fiddling with the filters.

Time required for a scan? Depends on how many items are in the category you are scanning and whether you are scanning a bulk list. Tactical Arbitrage is designed for you to set up a scan, walk away from it, and come back when it’s finished so you can analyze the data. That might be a half hour later or the next morning, depending on how much you included in your scan. I love that I can have the program send me a text when my scan is finished, so I don’t have to continually check the progress.

Can you use with a virtual assistant (VA)? Yes; you can save even more time in your OA sourcing by hiring a VA to do your scanning for you.

Who should use this product? I recommend Tactical Arbitrage as a more advanced tool for OA sourcing. The learning curve is steep, and the results can be overwhelming. I personally would not have wanted to use Tactical Arbitrage when I first got started in OA (in fact, I might have given up on OA if I started out with it), but I love it at this point in my OA journey.

More Points to Note about Both Products

You may have noticed I don’t talk about price on either of these products. My reason is that currently both products are comparably priced, and I want to have this post remain relevant if either product decides to change their price in the future. Be sure to do your due diligence and check out the pricing of both products and the available free trial.

Also, many sellers who are just starting out in OA get frustrated with a seeming lack of results from using a program to scan entire pages of online stores. Many sellers will say, “I scanned thousands of items and didn’t find anything to resell. These programs aren’t worth it.” Almost without fail, these sellers have their filters set to only find items with 100% ROI or higher. OA is different from thrifting and garage saling (and even RA to an extent) in that you need to be looking for items with a lower ROI. If your business isn’t at a point where you have the financial capital to source items with a lower ROI, it probably isn’t the time yet for you to invest in these OA tools.

If you do decide to do a free trial of either OAXray or Tactical Arbitrage, I highly encourage you to make sure you are prepared to spend a significant amount of time during that trial learning the software and scanning websites. You don’t want to sign up right when you are going out of town on vacation or right when you have a busy week of doing some other task. Make sure you can spend several hours going through tutorial videos and practicing what you are learning. If you dedicate the time to learning the software during the trial, you should be able to find enough items to resell that you can pay for at least a month of subscription for the service.

Also, don’t forget that both products offer an extended trial period to Full-Time FBA readers. For an extended trial of OAXray, be sure to go through this link. For an extended trial of Tactical Arbitrage, be sure to use the code FULLTIME10 when you sign up.

We would love to hear any questions you have about these products in the comments. Have you used OAXray or Tactical Arbitrage before? Do you have anything to add related to the features of either product?