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

How to Read & Understand CamelCamelCamel Graphs

CCC TutorialHave you ever looked at a CamelCamelCamel graph and thought, “Are you sure those are prices and sales ranks? It looks more like the results of a lie detector test.”

If so, this blog post should help you get a basic understanding of what is involved in reading a CamelCamelCamel price or sales rank history graph while you’re sourcing for your Amazon FBA business. Toward the end of this blog post I’ll show you a video walking through how to understand these graphs directly on the CamelCamelCamel website.

You know we talk about CCC all the time on this blog, but that’s because we just don’t source without using this valuable website. We believe you shouldn’t make buying decisions for your Amazon FBA inventory based solely on today’s sales rank and pricing alone; you really need to make decisions based on the historical data.

Let’s start with the price history graph because that’s what comes up first when you search for a product on CamelCamelCamel.

Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 3.47.11 PM

On the left of the graph you’ll see the range of prices for which this item has been offered on Amazon. Along the bottom of the graph is a range of dates.

On the right side of the graph is a sliding bar where you can adjust the date range visible on the graph to 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, or all data available.

You can also adjust the type of pricing information shown in the graph by selecting the price for Amazon (green), 3rd Party New (blue), or 3rd Party Used (red).

Next let’s look at a sales rank graph. You can toggle back and forth between sales rank and pricing history on the tabs above the graph.

Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 3.50.21 PM

With sales rank, you will find the dates are still located along the bottom of the graph. Now, however, you will find a range of sales ranks along the left side of the graph, with the higher sales rank at the bottom and lower sales rank at the top. Again, you can adjust the sliding bar on the right to show you different date ranges on the sales rank graph.

One handy use of the CamelCamelCamel sales rank graph is to count the sales for a product during a certain period of time. You can tell if a sale has occurred by finding a sharp rise on the sales rank graph, which indicates a sharp drop in the sales rank. When the sales rank drops, it means a sale has occurred; a lower sales rank means more sales.

You can practice counting sales on a sales rank graph that we’ve included here. As you read across the graph from left to right, any time the line has a sharp uptick, that means at least one sale has occurred. If the line rises even more sharply, there were possibly two or more sales.

Go ahead and look at the graph and count how many sales you see.

Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 3.49.16 PM

How many sales did you get?

We count 36 or 37 sales. There’s no way to know exactly how many sales occurred, but this is our educated guess based on this particular sales rank graph.

If you would like to see a video with a short walk-through of the above information in action on the CamelCamelCamel website (including why we think there were around 36 or 37 sales from the above graph), be sure to check out this CamelCamelCamel Tutorial on our YouTube channel. Also be sure to subscribe to the YouTube channel to get notifications when we post new videos (usually 1 or 2 times a week).

I want to encourage you today if you’re making sourcing decisions without using historical sales rank and pricing data from CamelCamelCamel — there is a better way to buy Amazon FBA inventory! You can make smarter sourcing decisions. Your business will hugely benefit if you take the time to learn how to use CamelCamelCamel.

Book & DesktopThis blog post is just scratching the surface on what I can teach you about CamelCamelCamel. To find out everything there is to know about using  CamelCamelCamel to make smart sourcing decisions, be sure to check out our brand new course, The Reseller’s Guide to How to Keepa Camel: Using Amazon Sales History to Make Smart Sourcing Decisions. This course is a combo ebook and video course where I walk you through everything you need to know to make sense of both CamelCamelCamel and Keepa in ways you’ve never thought of.

How about you? Do you use CamelCamelCamel? What is your favorite thing about Camel? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

The Most Harmful Amazon FBA Sourcing Decision You Could Ever Make

Harmful Sourcing Decision
Did you know that a book on Amazon ranked 10 million yesterday could be ranked 500,000 today?
All it takes is one sale. Just one. One sale of that book on Amazon could change the sales rank drastically overnight.

Would you buy a book ranked 10 million on Amazon to resell? Would you buy a book ranked 500,000 to resell?

I know there are lots of other factors at play in how you might answer that question, but my point in asking it is to get you to look at the sales rank. You view a book ranked 10 million much differently than one ranked 500,000, right?

Yet every day many, many Amazon FBA sellers are making their sourcing decisions based on today’s sales ranks and low prices. They find a book ranked 500,000 and snatch it up, without checking to see that it was ranked 10 million yesterday. Or maybe it’s a toy ranked 100,000 that was ranked 1.5 million yesterday.

There are two main reasons why you shouldn’t base your sourcing decisions on today’s sales rank and pricing data:

  1. Amazon changes their prices often.

LC_OFF_Body_NLPAmazon is known to change their prices across their website 2.5 million times per day. That’s just Amazon’s prices – that doesn’t include 3rd Party seller prices, which are also being changed constantly throughout the day with repricers. Now, Amazon has hundreds of millions of products, and they’re changing those prices 2.5 million times per day, which is mind blowing if you try to think about what that means. The low price on items also change throughout the day when a seller sells out of an item and the low price bumps up to the next seller. If prices are changing constantly on Amazon, why would you make a sourcing decision based solely on this one snapshot in time of the current low price?

  1. Amazon updates sales rank often.

Seinfeld Scene It RankAmazon recalculates their sales ranks every hour. That’s 24 times a day that sales ranks change on Amazon! If I’m looking at an item to resell, it’s too much of a gamble to base my buying decision on what the sales rank looks like on this one hour of this one day. The current sales rank is just a snapshot in time of how this item has recently sold. I need to make my decisions based on broader information than this one snapshot.

Whether you are in a store doing retail arbitrage or you are at your desk doing online arbitrage or looking at a wholesale catalog, you need more information than this one snapshot in time. You need more than just the current low price and the current sales rank in order to decide if you want to buy 1 of an item, 10 of an item, or 100 of an item. Your hard-earned inventory money is at stake here! You want to make your decision based on the best information available.

Making this type of decision on how to spend your sourcing money without using historical data from CamelCamelCamel or Keepa is the most harmful sourcing decision many Amazon FBA sellers are making.

I would be willing to go so far as to say that making sourcing decisions without CCC or Keepa is one of the top reasons Amazon FBA sellers quit their business. They spend all their sourcing money on inventory without looking at the historical data, the prices tank, the inventory never sells, and they throw their hands up in despair and say, “I quit! I tried Amazon, and it just didn’t work for me.” Now, there may be other factors at play, but for many resellers using CCC and Keepa could be a huge game changer in their business. They could find profitable inventory that will sell in a reasonable amount of time and won’t lower quickly in price.

I’m especially disheartened when I hear resellers saying they want to quit Amazon FBA over these types of inventory problems because this problem is so easily fixable. You can learn to read and interpret CamelCamelCamel and Keepa. The graphs can make sense, and you can use them to make smarter sourcing decisions.

CamelCamelCamel & KeepaBoth Camel and Keepa are free, easy-to-access programs that you can use on your computer or your mobile device, either in a web browser or from your 3rd party scouting app like Scoutify, ScanPower, or Profit Bandit (Amazon Seller app does not have links to CCC and Keepa, however). It only takes an extra 20 to 30 seconds (if even that!) to look at the sales rank and sales price history of an item when you’re sourcing. You can take a quick look at how often this item has sold and how it’s been priced in the past, and you can make an educated prediction about how it will behave in the future.

I want to encourage you today if you’re making sourcing decisions without using historical sales rank and pricing data from CamelCamelCamel and Keepa — there is a better way to buy Amazon FBA inventory! You can make smarter sourcing decisions. Your business will hugely benefit if you take the time to learn how to use these powerful free resources.

Book & DesktopTo find out how to use both CamelCamelCamel and Keepa to make smart sourcing decisions, be sure to check out our brand new course, The Reseller’s Guide to How to Keepa Camel: Using Amazon Sales History to Make Smart Sourcing Decisions. This course is a combo ebook and video course where I walk you through everything you need to know to make sense of both Camel and Keepa in ways you’ve never thought of.

How about you? Do you use CamelCamelCamel or Keepa? Do you have a favorite? What are you favorite things about Camel or Keepa? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Find Better, Faster Selling Amazon FBA Inventory

keepacamel-ipad800Has this ever happened to you? You go sourcing for inventory to sell on Amazon and find some good stuff… I mean, the prices are good, the sales rank is good, but once you finally get these items to Amazon, the prices for many have either tanked, or they just never sell. You check in with these items later and see that the sales rank is now horrible, and if you decide to match the lowest price you might actually lose money. What’s going on here?

Today, I’m excited to share with you how I’m able to find inventory that not only sells quickly, but sells at the high prices I expect it to sell for. No matter if it’s retail arbitrage, online arbitrage, or even wholesale, when I’m sourcing for inventory, I’m confident that the prices will hold strong and sell soon.

How do I do it? Here’s a hint… I use the data from two free services: CamelCamelCamel and Keepa. If you’ve heard of these services then you know just how important they can be to making smart sourcing decisions. Most people only know the basics of Keepa and/or Camel, but I think it’s time that everyone knows just how powerful these two free tools can be. If used correctly, they can revolutionize your Amazon business.

Book & DesktopWith this in mind, I’m excited to announce that my brand new course, The Reseller’s Guide to How to Keepa Camel: Using Amazon Sales History to Make Smart Sourcing Decisions is now available!

As a valued blog reader I want to give you a coupon code that will help save you some money. If you enter the code CAMEL10 at checkout, you will save $10 off the cost of the course. Just be aware that the coupon code will expire after May 4th, so use it today.

The course is a 130+ page ebook and 30+ module video course that walks you through both the basics and advanced strategies to use both CamelCamelCamel and Keepa. To find out more about the book and to read the testimonials of those who have already read/watched the course, then click here.

 

 

Inventory Lab Review – Why We Use Inventory Lab For Listing Amazon FBA Inventory

As Amazon FBA resellers, we’re all looking for ways to save time and money in processing our inventory. One of the biggest ways I encourage FBA sellers to save time by spending a little money is to use a third-party listing service, rather than listing your FBA inventory directly through Amazon Seller Central.

The fewer times you can touch a piece of inventory as you process it, the better. By listing through Seller Central…and then printing your labels on a sheet of 30…and then separating the items out into the various fulfillment centers, you are spending a lot of time touching each inventory item over and over and over again. This doesn’t include the time it takes to sort your products after you bring them back from sourcing, removing any stickers, and prepping the products with poly bags or shrink wrap.

The best way to streamline the listing process is to use a third-party listing software so that you can scan the item into the software, print and attach the individual label, and sort the item into the correct fulfillment center’s box – all in one step.

For our Amazon FBA business, we use the Inventory Lab inventory management software. We love how it helps us streamline the process of listing our inventory, along with several other useful functions that we use on a regular basis. It is well worth the monthly fee to pay for this software and save a ton of time, not to mention gain access to useful reports for our business (we’ll get into that a bit more below).

Here are the reasons we find Inventory Lab to be a beneficial program to use in our Amazon FBA business:

  1. Inventory Lab is a feature-rich listing service.

We use a barcode scanner to scan an item into the system, and Inventory Lab pulls up the item with all the information we need to price it. It shows the FBA, Merchant Fulfilled, new, and used prices, as well as whether Amazon is selling the item and who owns the buy box. It gives quick links to CamelCamelCamel and Keepa for the ASIN of the item, so we can check out sales rank and price history as we’re pricing the item.

Inventory Lab List

Inventory Lab also lets us know the item’s current sales rank, category, size tier, and any prep needed, like poly bagging. We can also enter our buy cost and the supplier for each inventory item, so we can later generate reports to help us keep track of things like return on investment or the profitability of certain sources.

As we enter in the items, we always choose “Live” for “Workflow Type.” This way Inventory Lab lets us know which fulfillment center each item is assigned to, so we can sort them into piles or boxes as we go, no need to go back and sort them later — they are already in piles ready to be boxed for shipment.

  1. Inventory Lab is packaged with the Scoutify sourcing app.

Photo Apr 15, 10 23 15 PMWe use the Scoutify app when doing retail arbitrage. We can quickly scan the barcode of an item and have all the information we need at our fingertips to tell us if the item would be a good buy for resale: competitors’ prices, whether Amazon is in stock, potential profit, and links to CamelCamelCamel, just to name a few. You can see our detailed review of Scoutify in this recent blog post. It’s great to be able to pay one package price to get our listing service and our sourcing app together.

  1. Inventory lab has accounting capabilities.

We are still in the process of learning everything that Inventory Lab is capable of doing in the form of bookkeeping, but so far we have found it to be helpful. If you want to make your Amazon FBA business profitable, you have to know your numbers. You can’t just assume because you’re getting disbursements from Amazon that your business is actually making money. You have to know where your money is coming from and where it is going.

Inventory Lab Accounting

You can use Inventory Lab to keep track of your buy prices, sales prices, return on investment, inbound shipping costs, money going out for refunds, money coming in from reimbursements, and more. You can even track your mileage with Inventory Lab! These are the types of numbers you need to know in depth for your business so that you can make better decisions for sourcing, for repricing, and for other services you might need to purchase.

  1. Inventory Lab shows us reports on profitability, profit and loss, and sales tax.

One of the really cool features of Inventory Lab is that you can generate reports about profitability of your inventory. You can see the profitability of an entire category in your inventory, a particular ASIN, or a SKU.

Inventory Lab Analyze

If you entered in a supplier during the listing process, you can generate reports on supplier profitability. You can use the supplier profitability feature several different ways:

  • to keep track of inventory purchased by different sourcers you’ve hired
  • to see if certain stores or wholesale accounts are more profitable than others
  • to analyze how profitable an online arbitrage deal list is for your business over time

You can also generate reports about your profit and loss and your sales tax. Again, the more you know these types of numbers for your business, the more you’re able to make good decisions for your business.

Inventory Lab175_InventoryLab has so many features as a program that we’ve really just scratched the surface in this review. Like I said, we’re still in the process of learning all the ways to maximize this software in our business, and we’re more impressed with its usefulness every day.

If you’re interested in learning more about Inventory Lab, we recommend doing a 30-day free trial. You can play around with the features, send in some shipments, generate some reports, and see how Inventory Lab can work for you.

Do you use Inventory Lab? Is there anything you love about it that we didn’t mention here? Please let us know in the comments!

How to Find and Remove “Dead Inventory”

Dead InventoryWith an Amazon FBA business, nobody likes to waste money on something that isn’t going to eventually make money. But we all do it. We all spend money on inventory that we think will bring back a return on our investment (ROI), only to have it sit in the FBA warehouse without a sale. And it sits. And sits. And sits. Until finally, there’s nothing to do but call it what it is: “dead” inventory.

Right now I’m betting you have some dead inventory that is slowly sucking money from your regular disbursements through monthly storage fees and slowly sucking your time by repeatedly repricing it month after month, to no avail. At some point, you need to pull the plug on that inventory, take it off life support, and move on to better selling products.

A few days ago I posted the following update on the Full-Time FBA Facebook group page:

Facebook Dead Inventory

This post prompted a group member to ask the following question:

Dead Inventory Reply Facebook

What a great question! In the rest of this blog post, I’ll share with you how I determine what inventory I’m declaring dead and how I was able to remove that inventory for free.

conceptualFirst, let’s look at the question of dead inventory versus long tail inventory. In this instance, the definition of “long tail” means an inventory item that has a high enough ROI that you are willing to wait a long period of time before you get the sale on Amazon. This type of inventory can be very profitable if you originally purchase it for a low price (think less than $2 at a garage sale or thrift store) with a high ROI. If you can buy lots and lots of these types of items, you can build a very nice pipeline of inventory that over time will give you good profits.

The problem is when the pipeline gets clogged and you have inventory that doesn’t move. At some point you have to determine if certain items will ever sell, or if they’re only going to sit there on the warehouse shelves, creating digital clutter in your Seller Central inventory. At this point, I would consider it dead inventory.

From time to time I like to go through my inventory and see if I have dead inventory that I need to deal with. I have two methods for searching Seller Central to find potential dead inventory:

1. Search through your oldest inventory items.

Inventory Seller Central 11. Log in to Seller Central.
2. On the top left of the screen, click “Inventory.”
3. On the left sidebar, under “show my inventory,” click on “Active.” This will show you what items are currently in stock (no need to remove something you don’t have in stock anymore).
4. The default setting is to sort your inventory by Merchant SKU, so change that to sort your inventory by date created. This will show you the items that have been in a FBA warehouse the longest.

2. Search through your highest sales rank items.

1. Log in to Seller Central.
2. On the top of the screen, hover over “Reports” and click “Fulfillment.”
3. On the left side of the screen under Inventory, click “show more…”
4. Under Inventory, click “Inventory Health.”
Inventory Health5. Click on the Download tab.
6. Click on “Request Download.”
7. While the report is being generated, the status will read “In Progress.”
8. After the report is completed, click on the Download button.
9. The download will be a TXT file, but you’ll need to open it in a spreadsheet program like Excel.
10. Select the entire spreadsheet and sort it by the sales rank column in decending order.
11. The spreadsheet will now show you the items in your inventory that have the highest sales ranks.

Once I’ve searched and sorted my inventory in one of the above methods, here’s how I make the determination of long tail inventory versus dead inventory:

  • Look at the current low FBA price of the item and look at your price for the item. Are you the low price? Are you way above the low price? If you reprice to become the lowest price, would you be able to make any money camelizer-chrome-screenshots-amazonon the item after fees, or at least break even after fees? You want to decide whether you can drop your price to recoup your capital or whether you would have to drop your price so low you would end up owing Amazon money after the fees.
  • Look at the current sales rank and look at the CamelCamelCamel sales rank history for the item. Do you think the sales rank will get better during a different season of the year? Does CCC show that this item just isn’t selling any more? Or selling any more at this price?

If the sales rank of an item is too high and doesn’t look like it will recover AND the profit of the item is so low that I wouldn’t source that item if I saw it again in the store today, then to me that item is dead inventory. It is a prime candidate to be destroyed or returned to me from the Amazon FBA warehouse.

Think about how long an item has been sitting in an Amazon warehouse and how often you have already repriced this item trying to get the next sale. If you have tried to do everything you can to get this item to sell and it hasn’t sold, then consider whether it’s time to move on from this inventory.

calendarAt this point you might be saying, “Well, how long is too long? Give me a definite number of weeks, months, or years to know how long I should wait before deciding this inventory is dead.”
I wish I could give you a definite number, but that number is different for each seller and for each piece of inventory. Here are a list of factors you should think through to decide for yourself how long to wait for a particular item to sell:

  • Your business model (mostly fast turns? mostly long tail? balanced?)
  • The number of items in your entire inventory
  • The number of this particular item you have available
  • Your available capital
  • Your available time (Do you have more time than money? Do you not mind repricing and waiting?)
  • The number of other sellers

If you think through the above factors and come to the conclusion that the only thing an inventory item is doing for your business is causing you monthly storage fees, if repeatedly lowering the price hasn’t given you the next sale, and if CamelCamelCamel shows that the price and sales rank will probably not recover, then you should decide whether or not it’s time to create a removal order for the item.

EditTo create a removal order, simply go to Manage Inventory, and click on the arrows next to the Edit button for the item you’re wanting to remove. Then you can choose what type of removal order you want to create.

When you create a removal order, Amazon will do one of two things with your selected inventory:

  1. Ship it to the address you choose.
  2. Destroy it.

shutterstock_196805375-620x415You can have Amazon ship an item back to your address, or you can have them ship it to another address of your choosing. I have items shipped back to me that I can then donate to a local charity, sell in a garage sale, use around my own house or business, or give to someone as a present (raise your hand if you’ve done your kids’ birthday shopping in your own inventory!). We’ve also had inventory items shipped directly from the warehouse as gifts for our nieces and nephews in other cities. Here are the Amazon guidelines concerning removal orders.

If you decide to destroy an item, Amazon may incinerate it, donate it, sell it as a lot, or sell it as Amazon Warehouse Deals. I tend to destroy items that I don’t think I could have a use for at my home or business, I don’t wish to donate locally, or I don’t think will sell at a garage sale.

imagesRight now (April 2016) is the perfect time to remove any dead inventory from Amazon FBA warehouses. During the month of April, Amazon is offering free removals, whether you choose to have the items shipped or destroyed. Think about the potential for that: From now until April 30 you can have items destroyed or returned to you absolutely free. It’s time to do a little spring cleaning and get that digital clutter swept out of your FBA inventory! We are definitely taking advantage of this offer and excited about the time and money we’re saving in the future, not to mention the peace of mind that comes from not having to look at those pages and pages of dead inventory in Seller Central.

For more info on the free removal promotion, refer to this link: https://sellercentral.amazon.com/gp/help/202023340

Do you have dead inventory that you need to take care of? Have you come up with a plan to make the most of Amazon’s free removals this April? Let us know what you think about this topic in the comments.

Our Favorite Amazon FBA Sourcing App

Favorit eSourcing App

Like we said in our last blog post, there seems to be a huge debate among Amazon FBA sellers about whether to use the Amazon Seller app for sourcing inventory or whether to pay for a third-party scanning app. Check out the comments on that post to see that some people feel pretty strongly about the Amazon Seller app’s benefits.

maxresdefaultIf you’ve heard us here at Full-Time FBA talk on Periscope or YouTube in the past, you know that we prefer not to use the Amazon Seller app for sourcing. Today we’re going to share with you the reasons why we love using our favorite sourcing app: Scoutify by the makers of Inventory Lab. (Read to the end of this post to see which app is our second favorite.)

Benefits of the Scoutify sourcing app for Amazon FBA:

  • Photo Apr 06, 4 00 52 PMGives an easy-to-read summary of the basic info you need to make your sourcing decisions: name of item, picture, category, size tier, sales rank, number of offers, and pricing for new and used offers by Amazon, FBA, and Merchant Fulfilled sellers.
  • Links to Amazon sales rank and pricing history graphs (CamelCamelCamel and Keepa). I cannot stress enough that one of the biggest factors for us in using a third-party scanning app is the ability to quickly and efficiently access sales rank and pricing history while we’re sourcing. We desire to always make smart sourcing decisions when doing retail arbitrage, and the only way we can avoid buying inventory that is destined to have plummeting prices and skyrocketing sales ranks is to do the research on sites like CamelCamelCamel and Keepa while sourcing. The Amazon Seller app does not provide those quick links, which is a deal breaker for us as a scouting app.
  • Links to pricing info on Amazon and other websites. In addition to a quick link to each item’s product page on Amazon, Scoutify includes quick links to the Amazon Prime offers to compare FBA prices, to BookScouter.com, to eBay, and to Google. It’s super quick and easy to do a little extra research on how an item is priced across multiple e-commerce platforms before making a buying decision.
  • Allows you to see both gross and net profit on items you’re scanning. Scoutify will show you the gross profit of an item based on shipping fees and FBA costs deducted by Amazon. You can then enter more information about your cost of goods and other costs associated with prepping, packing, and sales tax, giving you your net profit. Again, the more information like this you can see up front, the better sourcing decisions you can make while out doing retail arbitrage.
  • Photo Apr 06, 4 10 05 PMAllows you to create a buy list with your buy cost for each item, supplier (if you have more than one person sourcing for your business), and date purchased. You can then use this information in Inventory Lab to keep track of how quickly items sell, how much commission to pay your sourcers, how much wiggle room you have for repricing and still maintaining a sufficient return on investment.
  • Comes priced in a package with Inventory Lab listing software. We’ll talk more in a future blog post about why we use Inventory Lab to list our products for sale on Amazon. We really love the fact that Scoutify and Inventory Lab come together for one package price of $49/month. When you sign up for Inventory Lab you can get your first month free.
  • Available for iPhone and Android. You can download the Scoutify app for free for both iPhone and Android smart phone platforms, but you will need to log in to use it with your Inventory Lab account info.
  • Has bluetooth capabilities if you use your smart phone with a device like a Scanfob. We don’t use this feature, but we know some Amazon sellers swear by using bluetooth scanners.
  • Super fast bar-code scanning. Out of all the sourcing apps I’ve used, Scoutify scans the barcode the fastest. We all know every second counts and this one is a big deal to me.

Profit Bandit AppOur second favorite sourcing app is Profit Bandit.

We love using Profit Bandit for many of the same reasons we love Scoutify:

  • Links to CamelCamelCamel, Keepa, eBay, Google, etc
  • Shows all FBA offers
  • Highlights who has the BuyBox and highlights Amazon’s offer
  • Calculates your profit based on 15 factors
  • Has a buy list feature
  • Has bluetooth capabilities

Profit Bandit is powered by SellerEngine. You can download the Profit Bandit app for free for iPhone or Android, but to use the app for more than 5 or 10 test scans you will need to sign up for a subscription of $10/month. The main reason we switched from using Profit Bandit on a regular basis is the fact that Scoutify and Inventory Lab come together as a package for $49/month. We like the fact that we can get our scanning app and listing software for one package price.

A big part of scaling an Amazon FBA business is the ability to reduce the number of times you touch your inventory and to reduce the amount of time you spend on each item while sourcing. Every second counts when you’re standing in an aisle of a retail store with hundreds of items to scan. We love how quick and easy Scoutify and Profit Bandit are to use for doing solid research before buying inventory.

What is your favorite app to use while you’re sourcing? What makes it your favorite? I’d love to hear what you have to say in the comments below.

The Amazon Seller App – Pros and Cons

Amazon Seller App Pro ConYou don’t have to talk to Amazon FBA sellers for too long before you know their opinion about which sourcing apps they prefer. There seems to be a raging debate about whether the Amazon Seller app is sufficient for sourcing products to resell or whether you should pay for a third party scanning app.

Today we’re going to talk through the reasons we love the Amazon Seller app – as well as the reasons we don’t think you should rely solely on that app to make smart sourcing decisions. In our next blog post, we’ll talk about our favorite third party scanning app, as well as which app runs a close second, so stay tuned.

Best uses for the Amazon Seller app:

screen322x572Check your disbursement amount – Super handy way to quickly check the amount for your next disbursement, so you can make cash flow decisions on the go.

Check your orders – This can be addicting, especially during Q4. Use with caution. Please do not check pending orders while driving.

Reprice inventory – If you check your orders and notice a fast moving item is selling for lower than you would like, you can quickly reprice using the app.

Check status of FBA shipments – Once UPS picks up your shipment, you can then track the shipment in the app. You can see if your boxes are in transit, processing, or have been completed.

Check and return emails to customers – You can keep your response time as low as possible (and keep your account health in good order) by checking and returning customer emails from the app if you’re away from your computer.

Photo Mar 26, 4 20 41 PMCheck for hazmat items – Unlike third party sourcing apps, the Amazon Seller app will let you know if a product is hazmat and ineligible for FBA.

Check for other selling restrictions – Again, only the Amazon Seller app will let you know if an item is restricted to you as a seller (either because you aren’t approved to sell in that category or you aren’t approved by the manufacturer for that item).

What is lacking with the Amazon Seller app:

Photo Mar 26, 5 27 26 PMNo links to CamelCamelCamel or Keepa – It’s impossible to make the smartest sourcing decisions without checking CCC or Keepa for price and sales rank history. Amazon Seller app does not provide a quick link to show you this data.

Only shows you (on the results screen) the lowest new and used price – There  are so many reasons why I want to see as many of the lowest price offers in order to make my best sourcing decision. What if the lowest new price is $10, but the rest of the offers are at least $25? I’d source an item knowing the price will go up to $25 once that one seller sells out of their item priced at $10.

Only calculates the profitability of the lowest priced new and used offer – Again, I want more options. Many times I’ll want to see the profitability of selling my potential inventory item at a different price. Maybe the Amazon seller app is showing you the profitability of the lowest price used item, but that used item is merchant fulfilled. I know that I can sell that item at a higher price selling it via FBA, therefore I want to also see the prices (and calculate the ROI) of as many FBA offers as I can.

Doesn’t calculate all the fees involved – Even if not being able to calculate multiple offers doesn’t bother you, then maybe the fact that Amazon doesn’t include all possible fees in their fee calculation might make a difference to you. At the bottom of the screen Amazon states that “Fees displayed may not include all expenses related to selling on Amazon or FBA.” This is a big deal to me.

unnamedYou might have other reasons you like/dislike using the Amazon Seller app. Please let us know in the comments! We use the Amazon Seller app on a daily basis, but we do not use it for our sourcing app. Be watching for our next post to see which third party scanning apps we use – and why!

7 Tips for Navigating the April Sales Tax Perfect Storm

April Sales TaxToday we have a guest post from our friends at TaxJar. We hope you find the information as helpful as we have.

April is what we here at TaxJar call a “sales tax perfect storm.” Because quarterly and monthly sales tax deadlines converge this month, nearly every online seller will have at least one sales tax filing due in April. And that’s not to mention income tax day on April 15th. Yikes!

Fortunately, sales tax can be simplified and automated until it’s barely a chore at all. Here are my top 7 tips for navigating April’s sales tax perfect storm:

  1. TJ_logo_color_office_pngTake your sales tax discounts – About half of the 45 states (plus D.C.) that have a sales tax offer a very small discount to business owners who file on time. I guess they realize that collecting sales tax on their behalf isn’t easy! Don’t leave money on the table. Be sure to take your discount! (And if you AutoFile with TaxJar, rest assured knowing you always keep your sales tax discount.) Here’s a list of states that offer a sales tax discount.
  2. File your sales tax returns – You can file your sales tax returns the old-fashioned way by finding a sales tax form and mailing it in, or login to your state’s taxing authority website and file online. Or you can even let a service like TaxJar take this administrative hassle completely off your plate and AutoFile for you!
  3. Report how much sales tax you’ve collected (on all your sales channels!) – Now it gets trickier. You need to make sure that you know how much sales tax you’ve collected from customers in each state, on each of your sales channels. You could try to access a report from each channel and then combine it together, or you could use a sales tax automation service like TaxJar. TaxJar integrates with the channels you sell on and creates sales tax reports the way states want to see them. Speaking of the states…
  4. Know your sales tax filing due dates – You can’t file on time if you don’t know when to file. Here’s a list of April 2016 sales tax due dates by state.
  5. Breakdown how much you’ve collected – Wouldn’t it be nice if states just wanted to know one total amount of sales tax you’ve collected from buyers in their borders? Unfortunately, that’s far from the case. The vast majority of states want you to break down how much sales tax you’ve collected by state, county, city and special taxing district, too. You can do this manually (which can take hours upon hours and is rife with mistakes) or let TaxJar do it for you so you can file your returns in minutes!
  6. TaxesRemember to file zero returns – It’s very easy to forget that essentially every state wants you to file a return even if you didn’t collect a penny in sales tax over the taxable period. The states consider this your way of checking in to let them know you’re still in business. Some states will even charge you a penalty (Florida’s is $50!) if you don’t file a zero return.
  7. Give yourself a sales tax checkup – Once you’ve finished filing your April sales tax returns, assess your general sales tax health. Are you collecting sales tax on all of the platforms you sell on? If not, you may owe some sales tax out of pocket. (And no one wants that!) Have you hired someone or started storing inventory in a new state? You may have sales tax nexus in a new state and need to file for a sales tax permit there. Giving yourself a quick sales tax checkup now will ensure sales tax filing is even easier when the next “sales tax perfect storm” rolls around – in July!

If you have more questions about filing sales tax, check out our Sales Tax 101 for Amazon FBA Sellers guide or ask away over in the Sales Tax for eCommerce Sellers Facebook group!

mark_headshot_web_hAuthor Mark Faggiano is the founder and CEO of TaxJar, a service built to make sales tax compliance simple for eCommerce sellers. Click this link to get a 30-day-free trial of TaxJar today and eliminate sales tax compliance headaches from your life!

Responding To The Latest Changes In Amazon Selling

changes-ahead-road-sign

Updated for March 2016. First posted May 2014.

The past few days have seen many Amazon sellers freaking out about the latest Amazon policy update. I’ve even heard of people saying they are going to quit selling on Amazon because of this change. In all honesty, I think that most people are just overreacting and it’s really not as bad as people think.

If you haven’t heard about the latest policy update from Amazon, then I’ll sum it up for you right here. Amazon is starting to restrict some 3rd party sellers from sending inventory of certain ASINs to Amazon FBA warehouses. You may have seen this policy update in action if you’ve listed anything lately and received this message:

You are already at the maximum inventory allowed for this product, due to capacity or other restrictions. This product must be removed from this shipment.

amazonwarehouse-Flickr_Scott_LewisBasically, Amazon thinks that it already has enough of that particular ASIN being stored at its multiple FBA warehouses, and there is no longer a need for more of that ASIN to be sent to Amazon. Amazon doesn’t want to store 500 of the same item when they know it will only sell twice a month. Sure, the new policy has been showing up on some very low ranked ASINs with no FBA competition, but I think that’s just a glitch in their algorithm that they will soon fix.

For some Amazon sellers, this new ASIN restriction is causing severe panic… but it doesn’t have to. This is not the first time Amazon has implemented a new policy that changed how people sell on Amazon, and it won’t be the last. There is no reason to panic over this change.

If you’ve been selling on Amazon for any length of time, maybe you remember some of these changes…

  • Amazon announces a new 6-month long term storage fee that would be in addition to the 12-month storage fee.
  • Amazon requires approval to sell any toy related to Star Wars Episode 7.
  • Amazon closes the categories for Grocery, Beauty, and Health & Personal Care and people who want to sell these items need to be approved.
  • Amazon “froze” everyone’s toys related to the movie Frozen to check on counterfeit claims and then requires anyone who wants to sell Frozen related toys to seek approval.
  • Amazon announces a new 12-month long term storage fee in addition to the monthly storage fees.
  • Amazon begins to split up shipments to different warehouses.

The changes that Amazon makes have the potential to be discouraging to us as Amazon sellers. But we have a choice whether or not we’re going to let these changes get us down.

So what are your options in the face of these changes? You could see all these frustrations as a sign of things to come and you could quit selling on Amazon altogether… You could go to Facebook and complain about these changes (and miss out on time sourcing, packing, shipping, or even miss out on valuable family time)… OR, you could adapt to the changes and make the most of your mental, emotional, and physical energy to push your business to the next level.

change-quoteChange happens. It’s inevitable. Most of the time, we have absolutely no say or influence in the changes that occur. The only thing we have control of is our response to change. Those who are going to succeed in this reselling line of work are those who will adapt to the changes and make the most of every situation.

Amazon stopping you from selling slow moving inventory with the ASIN restrictions? Stop over-worrying about it and focus on finding faster turning items to send in to Amazon. Amazon putting an ASIN restriction on the wrong items? Don’t complain about it on Facebook; instead open up a ticket with Seller Central and politely ask them to look into the ASIN restriction on that item and see if the restriction can be lifted.

Learn. Adjust. Grow. Learn more. Adapt.

These changes will not be the last ones. More changes will come, but the important thing for you to do is to focus on how you will respond to these changes. Those who will win are the ones who will respond with wisdom, patience, and a renewed desire to accomplish their overall goals, no matter what happens.

So what about you? How do you respond to changes in your business? I’d love to hear how you make the most of these changes. 

 

Tool Review: Box Sizer – Create the Perfect-Sized Shipping Box

Box Sizer ToolBesides boxes and 3-inch packing tape, the one tool I simply can’t live without in my Amazon FBA business is a box sizer. I use this tool almost every time I’m packing up an Amazon FBA shipment. Not only does it save me time, but it also saves me money. I’ll break down exactly how in this article.

I don’t know how many times I’ve packed up a box with Amazon FBA inventory only to realize that the box is not completely full. Sometimes all I need to do is add a little dunnage to the box so that none of the items in the box move around during the shipment, but other times, there is so much space left in the box that I end up wishing I had a smaller box. Well, the box sizer tool grants my wish!

The box sizer tool helps transform my big shipping box into a smaller box. It’s an easy-to-use tool that adjusts the size of my box in order to reduce any excess space. Not only can my boxes be modified to the perfect size, but there is also less “air space” that needs to be filled up by excess dunnage. My shipping boxes end up smaller in size, weighing less, and costing less in Amazon or UPS fees.

Before we go on, let me share with you a video of the box sizer tool in action:

By combining the box sizer tool with the Black & Decker electronic scissors, I’m able to easily adjust my shipping boxes to be the perfect size for my Amazon FBA shipments.

515LRZn2AuL._SL1000_Since UPS charges dimensional weight fees (through Amazon) for the boxes I ship to FBA warehouses, then I always want to make sure I’m using the smallest boxes possible. It’s not really realistic to have the perfect box sizes on hand, so I can save the time searching for the perfect box size and just make my own with this easy tool. With the money I saved from no longer sending in only 18x18x16 boxes to Amazon, this tool paid for itself within the first few times I used it.

But the box sizer tool is not just for making boxes smaller… it can also be used to make a box bigger. You might be thinking: “WHAT?!?!? How is that even possible?” Let me show you:

As long as I have a little extra cardboard on hard, I can use this tool to make my shipping boxes larger. This also can be a time saver. Before I had the box sizer, I don’t know how many times I had packed up a box only to wish I had just a little more room to fit more inventory. Now that I know how to use the box sizer tool to make the boxes bigger, there’s no more rushing to the store to try and find a larger box. Now I can just make a bigger box in less than a minute.

31YliKNB3LL._SY355_Again, with the time and money this tool saves me, it is easily one of my top tools that I use in my Amazon FBA business. I really wish I had the box sizer tool and Black & Decker electronic scissors when I first started selling on Amazon.

So how about you? Do you own or use a box sizer tool? Have you found any other ways to use it that could help everyone? Feel free to share below!