Author Archives: Rebecca Smotherman

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?

Why I’m Using Poshmark to Sell My Amazon FBA Returns

Have you used the fashion buying and selling platform called Poshmark? It’s a website and mobile app where users can list their new and used clothing, shoes, accessories, and cosmetics for sale. I recently began using Poshmark as another platform (along with eBay) for selling my Amazon FBA shoe returns and shoes with boxes damaged in online arbitrage (OA) shipments.

Poshmark is super easy to use and geared towards the Instagram crowd, with lots of sharing, following, and liking of sellers and their items. Buyers can scroll through photos of fashion items arranged by brand, style, and people you follow. You can comment on items and @reply to other people’s comments, similar to other social media apps.

I decided to give Poshmark a try, since I have a stack of shoes in my office that I can no longer sell as new on Amazon, either because a customer returned them no longer new or because they arrived in an OA shipment with a damaged box or generic box (I don’t like to send higher end shoes to Amazon without a brand new, pristine box). I spent some time one afternoon setting up my account, snapping photos with my phone, and listing shoes in my new Poshmark closet. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the results and wanted to share about Poshmark with you, in case you have Amazon returns in the apparel category that you want to try listing.

If you’re interested in trying Poshmark, you can sign up with the code UZGDS to get a $5 credit to your account (in case you want to buy something instead of just selling stuff!).

Here are few of the reasons I’ve been enjoying using Poshmark:

  • It is always good to have multiple selling platforms. While Amazon FBA is our number one way to make money selling shoes online, we like to diversify our selling platforms, so that we always have multiple methods of generating income, just in case. We recommend keeping an active eBay account in good standing as a seller, but it’s nice to have another alternative through Poshmark.
  • Poshmark has an extremely simple interface. Confession time: Setting up my Poshmark account was the first time I’ve learned a new selling platform on my own. I married into Stephen’s Amazon and eBay accounts. I was hesitant to set up an account on my own, but Poshmark is very easy to set up and navigate, both as a buyer and a seller. Seriously, I had several pairs of shoes listed in my Poshmark closet in way less than an hour.
  • The expectations for Poshmark photos make it quick and fun to list your items.  The layout of Poshmark is very Instagram-y (I know, that’s not really a word), and I found it a lot easier to make my photos look nice and conform to standards on Poshmark than on Amazon and eBay. No need for white backgrounds or a certain number of pixels. Poshmark asks sellers to use photos of items in attractive settings or styled the way you would wear them. I came up with a quick way to arrange my shoes for photos on our living room mantle with our everyday flowers and artwork in the background. Poshmark gives options for different filters on your cover photo for each item, so you can make an ordinary photo stand out a bit more. Listing shoes on Poshmark feels a lot more like making a social media post than working on Amazon and eBay listings.
  • Poshmark has set prices for shipping, paid by the buyer. Poshmark uses USPS Priority shipping, with a standard $6.49 shipping fee, paid by the buyer. Once you make a sale, Poshmark emails you a PDF of the label to print and attach to your package. I love not having to worry about trying to set up free shipping or any other shipping concerns! Sometimes they offer reduced or free shipping as an incentive to help you get more sales, which is another great feature.
  • Along with the shipping incentives, Poshmark encourages other incentives for buyers. So far I’ve felt that Poshmark does a good job of creating a fun atmosphere that encourages buying. They have theme “parties” every day, where certain styles or brands are promoted. If you have listings in that theme, you can share your items at the party and gain more eyes on your listings. They also encourage sales or percentages off if buyers create their own bundle out of your closet.
  • Poshmark is social, but it requires little effort to interact. One of the features of Poshmark is that you can “follow” other sellers. Unlike most social media platforms, which require lots of effort to build up a following, Poshmark seems to generate lots of followers without much work. I have no idea how, but within the first week I had 300+ followers. I’m making sales and getting likes and shares without much effort. I’m sure I would have more if I followed a bunch of other people so that they would follow me back, but for now I’m satisfied where I am. I think the fact that I have high quality, name brand shoes is what makes me stand out.
  • Poshmark has helped me get ideas for my Amazon FBA inventory. It’s so easy to get sucked into browsing Poshmark, much the same way you can get sucked into scrolling through Instagram and Facebook. I’ve really enjoyed flipping through other people’s closets and seeing which brands and styles are getting tons of likes and shares. It has helped me understand the apparel niche better as I’ve seen buyers interacting over the items they prefer the most.

I sold my first pair of shoes within a week of listing them, and since then I’ve had sales trickle in every 2 or 3 days on Poshmark – right now Poshmark is doing better for us than eBay for selling shoes!

I’m also considering cleaning out some items from the closets around our house and listing them on Poshmark, and I’ve browsed and found a few items for sale that I’m keeping my eye on. If you enjoy shopping for apparel for yourself and your family, you should consider checking out the deals on Poshmark. If you sign up and use the code UZGDS, you will get a $5 credit to get you started in your Poshmark account!

Have you used Poshmark, as either a buyer or a seller? Are there similar platforms you use for your Amazon FBA returns? We would love to hear about it in the comments!

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If you’re ready to step up your game with selling shoes on Amazon, check out our course, The Reseller’s Guide to Selling Shoes: Kick up Your Profits with New Shoes via Amazon FBA. It’s a combination ebook (100+ pages) and video course (over 4.5 hours of no-fluff content) that will help you avoid all the mistakes we made and get your shoe selling off on the right foot.

Selling Shoes through Amazon FBA: Prepping and Processing (Plus Returns)

Knowing which shoes to source isn’t the only new skill to acquire when it comes to adding the shoe category to your Amazon FBA inventory. Prepping your shoes can also present some new opportunities to learn, but the differences from prepping and listing in other categories are easy to learn if you read and follow the Amazon guidelines.

Before I (Rebecca) dive into more details on processing your shoe inventory, I want to make sure you’ve had an opportunity to read the previous posts in our series on Selling Shoes through Amazon FBA:

Why We Added Shoes to Our Sourcing Strategy
Beginner Lessons for Selling Shoes on Amazon
Shoe Buying Decisions
Should You Sell Shoes on Amazon?

Ok, back to prepping shoes…

Inspect Your Shoe Inventory

shoe-box-prep-1Whether you inspect your shoes in the retail store before you make the purchase or after you receive your online order, careful inspection of your shoe inventory is a must. We’ve just about seen it all when we open up shoe boxes to check them out for the first time, and you want to make sure that you are the one to discover any oddities about a pair of shoes, not your customer.

Here are a few things you want to check carefully on every pair of shoes that you send to Amazon FBA:

  • the correct style
  • the correct color
  • the correct size (including width)
  • one right and one left
  • the condition is new

We’ve received shoes in our online orders that were the wrong style, wrong color, wrong size, wrong width, two left shoes, only one shoe, one size printed on a tag and a different size printed on the shoe, shoes that have clearly been worn and returned to the store, and shoes in crushed shoe boxes. You also want to check for any markings in ink on the soles of the shoes or price tags stapled to the soles.

shoe-storeIf you’re sourcing in a retail store, the obvious solution to any of the above problems is to not buy the shoes in the first place. If you are doing online arbitrage and receive shoes with the above problems, you can return the shoes for a refund, or you can sell them on a different platform, like eBay, where you can give details in your product description about the shoe being slightly worn, having a different size listed on the box, etc.

Note: You CANNOT list a pair of shoes in new condition on Amazon and attempt to put any type of description of the shoes in your condition notes. Shoes sold as new on Amazon must EXACTLY match the description on the product page and be in absolutely new condition.

Prepping Shoes

As I said at the beginning of this post, one of the keys to successfully prepping your shoes for the Amazon FBA warehouse is to read the guidelines. Here’s the excerpt from the guidelines about prepping and packaging shoes:

“Footwear, regardless of material, must be packaged with no shoe material exposed, either in shoe boxes or bagged in a polybag with a suffocation warning. Shoe box lids must be secured with a non-adhesive band or removable tape.”

In general, we make sure our shoe inventory is sent to the FBA warehouse in the branded shoe box it came in, and we use stretch wrap to secure the lid. We made a video to show you exactly how we secure the lids with the stretch wrap:

Typically we don’t bag shoes in a polybag, except for flipflops, crocs, slippers, or any other type of shoe that you would buy at a brick-and-mortar store hanging on a rack rather than on a shelf of shoe boxes.

Handling Returns

return-refund-imageAlmost without fail, when an Amazon seller talks about how great the profits are with shoes, the response they get is this: “Yeah, but what about the return rates? Is it even worth it with all the returns?”

I’ll be the first to admit: the psychological hit you take as a seller is harder when you get a return on a $120 pair of running shoes than for the return of a $15 toy. But the financial hit doesn’t have to be that hard.

When a pair of shoes is returned to Amazon, many times the warehouse workers inspect them and see that they haven’t been worn and simply enter them back into your inventory.

open-shoesIf the warehouse worker does mark the shoes as “customer damaged” and the shoes move to your unfulfillable inventory, that doesn’t necessarily mean the shoes are damaged. In these instances, have the shoes returned to you for inspection, and you can decide what to do from there. Sometimes the shoes haven’t been worn and can be sent back to the FBA warehouse in new condition. If the shoes clearly have been worn, you can still sell them on eBay with detailed condition notes.

We have found that the majority of our returned shoes can still be sold on Amazon, with a rare few needing to be sold on eBay. When you start crunching the numbers, the return rate for shoes may appear higher than other categories, but if you’re still able to sell the shoes in the end, the impact on your business isn’t that high.

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Our hope for this series on selling shoes is that we’re able to help you make informed decisions about whether the category is right for you and to help you find success in sourcing and prepping shoes.

If you’re ready to step up your game with selling shoes on Amazon, check out our course, The Reseller’s Guide to Selling Shoes: Kick up Your Profits with New Shoes via Amazon FBA. It’s a combination ebook (100+ pages) and video course (over 4.5 hours of no-fluff content) that will help you avoid all the mistakes we made and get your shoe selling off on the right foot.

Selling Shoes through Amazon FBA: Buying Decisions

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty details of sourcing shoes for FBA, shall we?

As I (Rebecca) mentioned in a previous post of this series, I personally don’t source for shoes using retail arbitrage (RA). I tried it and came up dry. I use 100% online arbitrage (OA) for my shoe sourcing strategy. The gist of this post, however, will cover topics that apply no matter what type of strategy you use for sourcing. I won’t get into details of what types of stores to find shoes in, what brands to look for, what styles to look for, and so on. Instead, I’m going to talk about some fundamental issues related to sourcing shoes that you can apply to your own personal sourcing strategy, whether you prefer RA, OA, wholesale, or something else.

shoe-experimentOur Initial Two-Week Shoe Experiment

After we got approved to sell in the shoe category, we decided to spend a two-week period sourcing shoes through OA, track the resulting sales, calculate our return on investment (ROI) and profits, and then decide from there how we wanted to proceed with adding shoes to our overall FBA strategy.

Every day for two weeks, I diligently looked at the deals on my paid sourcing subscription list, spent my sourcing budget, and waited for the shoes to arrive at our doorstep. The shoes came in, we processed them, and we sent them to FBA and waited for the sales.

clock-147257_1280And waited. And waited. And waited.

I didn’t source any more shoes online for about five or six weeks after that, as I waited to see how our experiment turned out. The sales trickled in soooooooo sloooooooowwwwwwwwwly from those two weeks of sourcing. I was very discouraged that shoes I thought were a low rank at the time I bought them turned out to not sell for weeks and weeks and weeks. I questioned whether I should stop thinking about buying shoes and just stick to toys, books, or another category I already knew well.

Rather than completely giving up, I decided to learn more, ask a ton of questions, reach out to people who have experience in the category, and try again. It was a slow process, but here we are a year later – and shoes are consistently our second highest category in dollar amount of sales.

For the rest of this post, I want to give you several points of consideration for making buying decisions in the shoe category that will hopefully accelerate your learning process.

What I Wish I Had Known About Sourcing Shoes Before I Started

  1. capital-moneyShoes take a LOT of capital to buy.

Unlike categories such as books or toys, with shoes it’s not possible to take a small amount of capital, buy items at a ridiculously low price and high ROI, and turn a fast profit that you can reinvest within a short amount of time. Shoes can give you a great ROI and a fantastic average selling price (ASP), but the buy cost for one pair of shoes typically ranges from $20 upward. It’s not uncommon to spend $50 or more on one pair of shoes.

  1. iguana-1441439_1280Shoes are long tail items.

Not only does it take a large initial investment (relative to other categories) to start buying shoes, it takes a lot of patience. Shoes typically do not sell at the same velocity as toys, books, groceries, and other faster moving categories. Shoes aren’t typically something that you can replenish, either. You generally buy a style of shoe, send it in to FBA, and move on to finding the next pair of shoes.

I sank a bunch of money into shoes in our original two-week experiment and became frustrated and disappointed that I didn’t get my return on that investment as soon as I had hoped. I eventually did sell all the shoes from that two weeks, but it took as long as six months for some of those shoes to sell – and in some cases as long as nine months. Once they did sell, the high ASP was nice to eventually see in our disbursement, but if we had needed that money back any sooner than nine months, we would have been in trouble.

The key with getting a steady stream of high ASP sales from shoes is to give yourself several months to ramp up. It will take several months of sending in a steady stream of shoes, and then you have to wait for those high-priced shoe sales to start trickling in. If you continually source shoes and send them in on a regular basis, after a while you will see the fruits of your labor in the form of higher disbursements and higher ASP. Stephen is always saying that patience brings profits, and that is definitely the case in the shoe category.

One item of note: Because shoes are a long tail item, it is more strategic not to go deep in any one variation, but go wide and buy multiple variations of the same style instead. It’s much easier to sell out quickly of one pair in each of size 6, 7, 8, and 9 than to sell out of four pairs of size 8.

  1. Sales rank for shoes is much different to gauge than in other categories.

screen-shot-2016-10-04-at-5-30-37-pmEach shoe listing on Amazon can potentially have dozens of variations, depending on the number of colors and sizes available. When you look at the sales rank for a pair of shoes you want to source, you aren’t looking at the sales rank for that particular pair of shoes; you’re looking at the sales rank for all of those variations combined. If the Amazon product page says a pair of shoes is ranked #568 in the overall shoe category, you have no way to know which size and which color of those shoes are receiving the sales that give it that low rank.

To further complicate matters, CamelCamelCamel and Keepa do not show sales rank history for shoes. When I’m making sourcing decisions, I don’t even bother looking at Camel for shoes. Keepa, however, does provide crucial information about whether or not Amazon has ever been in stock on any variation of shoes, and it shows price history. I highly recommend becoming fluent in using Keepa for making shoe sourcing decisions (you can get started reading Keepa graphs with this blog post).

So how can we make smart sourcing decisions if we have no way to know the current sales rank or sales rank history for a variation of shoes?

Here are two ways I can limit my risk as far as shoe sales rank is concerned:

* I stick with buying shoes that have a low number of variations. I prefer to buy shoes with only a low number of color options, not 15 or 20 colors. I also prefer to source shoes that don’t have a narrow, regular, and wide variation for each size. Tons of colors and tons of size options means more variations, which means the overall sales rank becomes increasingly meaningless as far as each variation is concerned.

* I stick with buying neutral colors (black, white, gray, brown). The majority of people are going to buy neutral colored shoes, and I prefer to buy inventory that’s more of a sure bet. I don’t buy shoes in a crazy floral print or neon green, no matter how cute they are — unless the only options on a low ranking shoe are bright colors and no neutrals; then I’ll branch out.

  1. Every shoe seller likes to take a different approach.

shoeKeep in mind that I’m trying to give you some general principles for making shoe sourcing decisions. Every seller finds their own groove, and you have to figure out what approach you personally want to take.

Some sellers prefer to stick with common sizes and colors, while some sellers like to provide Amazon customers with the hard-to-find colors and sizes. Some sellers stay away from sourcing half sizes because they find they sell less than whole sizes, but other sellers swear by sourcing half sizes because they’re harder to find and therefore more lucrative.

Personally, I usually stick to sizes 9-12 for men, 6-10 for women (but if 5 or 11 in women’s is currently unavailable on Amazon, I will consider buying it). That’s a wider range than some sellers would recommend; many will only source women’s 7, 8, 9. Also, I tend to buy more half sizes for women, less for men.

  1. screen-shot-2016-10-04-at-7-11-11-pmLook at reviews to see popular color and size.

A work-around for making a shoe sourcing decision without sales rank history is to read the reviews. Within the Amazon reviews for any verified Amazon purchase, you can see what size and color the customer bought. It’s fairly safe to assume that colors with more reviews are receiving more sales. You can also read the reviews and look at the “fit as expected” percentage to see if shoes tend to run small, large, or as expected. You can assume that shoes with a high percentage of “runs small” or “runs large” are likely to have a higher rate of return, which is a risk you might not be willing to take with your sourcing budget.

  1. shoes-high-heelsLook at the average price of shoes across all variations, not just at the price of the variation you’re considering sourcing.

This might be the biggest lesson I wish I had known before I started sourcing shoes. It’s possible that one random person will be willing to pay 3x for a blue leopard print shoe in women’s size 11.5 – but it’s not likely. It’s less risky to source shoes you can price competitively with other variations of the same size or color, rather than keeping your fingers crossed that someone will pay way above the average price listed on Amazon for your particular variation.

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Shoes aren’t for everyone selling on Amazon. The learning curve can be steeper than with other categories, shoes require a lot of capital, and the wait for sales can seem like an eternity. Even if you read every word I say above and every word in every Facebook group about shoes, it still takes trial-and-error to learn the category through your own experience. Everyone will have different results, and everyone will find different areas where they excel and prefer to source. What works for me might not work across the board.

shoesBut if you’re willing to commit the time and money…and some more time…and then a little more time to learning the category, the profits are worth it. We’ve spent the past year ramping up our shoe inventory and now have a continual stream of high-priced sales from shoes on a daily basis.

Have you found success selling shoes through Amazon FBA? Is there anything you would add to my above list of points to consider when sourcing shoes? We would love to hear from you in the comments!

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Our hope for this series on selling shoes is that we’re able to help you make informed decisions about whether the category is right for you and to help you find success in sourcing and prepping shoes.

If you’re ready to step up your game with selling shoes on Amazon, check out our course,The Reseller’s Guide to Selling Shoes: Kick up Your Profits with New Shoes via Amazon FBA. It’s a combination ebook (100+ pages) and video course (over 4.5 hours of no-fluff content) that will help you avoid all the mistakes we made and get your shoe selling off on the right foot.

Selling Shoes through Amazon FBA: Why We Added Shoes to Our Sourcing Strategy

In 2015, Stephen and I (Rebecca) decided to add shoes to our Amazon FBA inventory. Since our very first initial experiment with shoes, we have learned so much about how to source and sell shoes on Amazon. In fact, right now, shoe sales are accounting for about half of our Amazon sales. Since we’re finding such great success with shoes, we thought we’d share with you our experiences over the past 18 months as we’ve ventured into selling shoes through Amazon FBA.

If you’re not familiar with our story as a couple and as business partners, Stephen is the one in our marriage with the business experience, and I am the one who came into this whole FBA thing with a bit of skepticism. Now that we’ve been working on the business together for a few years, we’ve found areas where I gravitate more than Stephen (check out our post about my experience getting into online arbitrage, for example). It’s been a work-in-progress to get to the point we’re at with our current roles in the business, and I’m sure it will continue to evolve – but for now we’ve found a system of sourcing that we love and is profitable for us.

red-shoesOne key component of our current sourcing strategy for Amazon FBA is selling shoes. We added shoes in the fall of 2015, and after a slow start we are pleased with the difference this category has made in our business and are continually looking for ways to expand our shoe inventory.

Here are the main reasons we decided to add shoes to our FBA sourcing strategy:

  1. time-to-diversifyShoes gave us an opportunity to diversify our inventory.

Before fall of 2015, our main categories were toys, toys, toys, books, toys, home and kitchen, toys, and a smattering of sports, grocery, and health and beauty. We wanted to find a category where we could consistently source products and diversify our inventory away from being so toy heavy. Don’t get me wrong – we love selling toys and are always super excited when Q4 rolls around. But we wanted to branch out and try something new, and shoes were very appealing for us as a new category for diversification for reasons I’ll get into below.

  1. price-tag-267x300Shoes have a high average selling price.

A relatively high average selling price (ASP) can be a step towards both saving time and increasing profits. Don’t we all want to make more money and spend less time doing it?

Think about it this way: You can sell one widget for $100 or ten widgets for $10 apiece, and you make the same amount in sales, $100. What about the prep and handling time, though? Those ten widgets require ten times the prep work, ten times the labels, ten times the handling to put into a shipping box. The FBA pick-and-pack fees will apply ten times to the $100 of sales. The one $100 widget, however, requires 1/10th of the prep work and only one pick-and-pack fee.

Shoes are a great way to increase the ASP of your FBA inventory. In 2013 and 2014 we sold a lot of $10 or $15 toys. A lot. In 2016, we’ve sold a much lower number of inventory items, but our ASP has gone up considerably because of the number of shoes we’ve sold. In the past three months, our ASP in the shoe category has been $71, while our overall ASP across all categories is now up to $34.

  1. low-competitionShoes have fewer competitors for sales.

Shoes are a gated category for Amazon sellers, which significantly lowers the number of competitors on any given item. While many low ranking books or toys might typically have 100+ sellers, it’s relatively easy to find low ranking shoes on a regular basis with only a handful of sellers – or even one or none on certain variations.

When we got ungated in shoes, the process still required applying with a flat file and photos, so the number of competitors was even lower than it currently is. Now that automatic approvals are a regular occurrence, the number of sellers in the category has increased somewhat, but not enough for us to be unable to find listings with little or no competition. And even though some shoe sellers bemoan auto-ungating as the end of big profits in shoes, we’ve found that the recent round of brand and ASIN restrictions have further kept the competition at a minimum, and we believe it will continue to do so into the future. (You can watch our YouTube video for more on our optimistic view of the recent brand restrictions.)

  1. OA KeyboardShoes provide an opportunity for me to source solely (that pun is for you, Stephen!) via online arbitrage.

I know a lot of people make big profits on shoes doing retail arbitrage, but not me. I tried it and hated it. Hated it. I mean it, seriously, I did not find even one pair of shoes to resell doing RA. Instead, I signed up for a deal list (Gated List) and OAXray, and I’ve stuck with those for the past year. Over the course of that year, I’ve been able to switch from doing part RA/part OA across several categories to doing only OA, mostly in shoes with a handful of other categories. Before I started buying shoes, I couldn’t find enough inventory to buy online in other categories to spend my entire weekly sourcing budget. I would have to also go out and do RA to find enough inventory that fit my sourcing parameters.

Shoes changed everything for me as far as focusing on OA alone. My mileage records for 2015 and 2016 prove it: I stopped recording mileage for sourcing at exactly the same time I committed to sourcing shoes online. Switching to only OA for shoe sourcing has allowed me to stay home more, put fewer miles on my aging car, and focus on other professional pursuits. Buying shoes through OA truly has allowed our business to make more money and spend less time doing it.

shoes-that-are-healthy-700x700I do have to say, though, I wasn’t so sure at first that we would make shoes a permanent addition to our FBA inventory. After we got ungated in the shoe category, we decided to undertake a two-week experiment of spending the majority of our sourcing budget and time on shoes and then just see what kind of sales we could get before deciding whether or not to continue buying shoes. I’ll talk more in detail in the next post about why making a decision based on this kind of experiment isn’t the best idea when it comes to learning the shoe category, but for now I’ll just say we were less than enthused about the results. We asked a bunch of questions from people who know the ins and outs of the category, and after some soul searching (or sole searching – another pun! OK, I’ll stop) we decided to keep at it.

I’m so glad we did! I was afraid all the hype about shoes was just that…hype. But for us, shoes have lived up to their incredible reputation as an Amazon FBA profit powerhouse.

Shoes aren’t for everyone, and we’ll spend some time over the next couple of posts discussing the ways we’ve run into issues and learned to overcome those obstacles. Our hope is that this post and others to come will give you a way to make an informed decision about whether or not to try out the shoe category.

Do you sell shoes on Amazon? Do you have any reasons to add to our list above? Let us hear from you in the comments! We would also love to hear your questions about selling shoes as we continue to focus on shoe tips and tricks over the next couple of weeks.

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Our hope for this series on selling shoes is that we’re able to help you make informed decisions about whether the category is right for you and to help you find success in sourcing and prepping shoes.

If you’re ready to step up your game with selling shoes on Amazon, check out our course, The Reseller’s Guide to Selling Shoes: Kick up Your Profits with New Shoes via Amazon FBA. It’s a combination ebook (100+ pages) and video course (over 4.5 hours of no-fluff content) that will help you avoid all the mistakes we made and get your shoe selling off on the right foot.

How to Use Inventory Lab to Track Supplier Profitability

Inventory Lab, Track, Supplier, Profitability

Let’s talk profitability, shall we?

You’ve likely heard us mention that we use the Inventory Lab software package to streamline our process of listing inventory on Amazon FBA and for sourcing inventory through the Scoutify app. Today we want to share with you another feature of Inventory Lab that we’ve come to depend on: the ability to track supplier profitability through Inventory Lab reports.

175_InventoryLabSometimes it’s easy as a reseller to get caught up in the rush of sourcing for inventory, sending it in to the FBA warehouse, and seeing the pending sales in Seller Central. Honestly, isn’t the thrill of the hunt and the excitement of the sales one reason we all do this business?

But if we stop and dig a little deeper into those sales, would we still be as excited about the raw numbers? Sales numbers can be deceiving at times, and if we don’t take the time to look at and think about our actual profit, then we don’t really know if our business is as successful as we want it to be.

Inventory Lab allows you to enter the total cost of an item when you list it on Amazon. Inventory Lab then takes that cost, your sales price, and associated fees to calculate profit and return on investment (ROI). You can see the projected profit and ROI for a batch when you’re listing through Inventory Lab, but you can also run reports to show you the actual profit and ROI based on payments from Amazon for your inventory items.

Supplier Profits

The circled area is where you input the data to help Inventory Lab calculate supplier profitability. Some areas of the screen shot have been blurred out for business privacy.

Prices may change from the time you enter a batch to when the item actually sells – it’s fun to think about a batch having 150% ROI when you send it to the warehouse, but it’s more useful to look at the ROI when you are actually paid for the sale of those items. From time to time we need to stop and analyze our numbers and ask ourselves, “Am I making the ROI I want/need on my inventory? How do I need to tweak my business to get the ROI I want?”

You can take the profitability question a step further by entering not just your total cost for each inventory item, but also the supplier. Then the question becomes, “How do I need to tweak my sourcing from each supplier to get the ROI I want?”

We currently use the supplier profitability report in several ways:

  1. To track how much commission on sales we need to pay our helper who sources for us
  2. To track the profitability of our online arbitrage subscription services
  3. To track the profitability of our retail arbitrage sources
  4. To track the profitability of our wholesale sources

Enter Supplier ProfitsIn order to run the supplier profitability report, you will first need to enter a supplier at the time of listing an item. Inventory Lab comes with many retail sources already listed as options for supplier, but you can easily add your own. For instance, we use our helper’s initials as the supplier when we’re listing items she has sourced for us. We use other abbreviations for tracking each of the OA subscription services we use (e.g. Cyber Monkey Deals is CMD, Gated List is GL, OAXray is OAX, etc).

After this info is entered and enough time has passed to have generated some sales, you can run the supplier profitability report by following these steps:

  • Go to the top menu on Inventory Lab.
  • Click on Reports.
  • Choose Supplier Profitability.

(Note: You will see there are several other useful reports you can run to analyze your inventory’s profitability.)

The default selection will be for the last month, but you can click Advanced Search to choose more date range options. You can choose within the last 1, 3, or 6 months or the entire date range since you started tracking. You can also choose a specific date range from a drop down calendar.

Reports menu

Once you’ve pulled up your report, you can sort by supplier, units sold, revenue, % of revenue, profit, ROI %, and on hand (number of units currently on hand in your inventory).

Suppliers all dates

Depending on the circumstances, each of the fields might carry a different weight for you as a seller in your decisions for how to adapt your business to improve those numbers. Some sellers like to have 100% ROI on everything they sell; others have a business model that supports 50% or even 30% ROI. The point of running these reports isn’t to compare your numbers to someone else, but to look at your own results and see if they meet your own business model’s criteria.

Let’s look now at practical ways that we use our supplier profitability report.

  1. To track how much commission on sales we need to pay our helper who sources for us

At the beginning of each month, we run the supplier profitability report and look at the line with our helper as the supplier. We look at the dollar amount for the previous month under the Profit column, and we pay her commission out of that amount.

  1. To track the profitability of our online arbitrage subscription services

We also look once a month at the lines for each of our subscription services as the supplier. First, I look at the profit and make sure it’s more than the amount we’re paying for the subscription. This is an easy way to put solid numbers together to show yourself whether or not it’s worth it to pay for that particular subscription.

roiI also will look at trends as far as profit and ROI go. I don’t rush to cancel a long-standing subscription if I randomly have an off month, but I do look at whether a service seems to be deteriorating for me over time and make my decision whether to keep subscribing or not.

I also don’t rush to cancel a subscription if I think that I’m the problem rather than the service. For example, a while back I saw in my monthly report that my units sold and ROI for OAXray were not what I would prefer. A quick look back over my schedule for the previous weeks reminded me that I hadn’t been spending the same amount of time using OAXray each day as I had in the past. Of course those numbers are going to go down! If I’m not prioritizing my time to use the product as often as I should and actually send in items I sourced with it, the problem is me, not the product. So I made some adjustments to my schedule, made more time each day to use OAXray, and the numbers the following month were back up where I wanted them.

We’ve also started using Inventory Lab to track supplier profitability for retail arbitrage sources as well as our wholesale sources. Are there other ways you use the supplier profitability report in Inventory Lab? We would love to hear your ideas and experiences 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!

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Looking to try out a robust sourcing app that gives you direct links to CamelCamelCamel and Keepa so you can make smart sourcing decisions straight from your phone? Check out the Scoutify app that comes bundled with InventoryLab!

Our 9 Favorite Chrome Extensions for Online Arbitrage

If you’re going to do online arbitrage (OA) in your Amazon FBA business, you want to have the right tools to make the process as efficient as possible. We’ve spent a lot of time discussing subscription lists for OA deals in the past couple of blog posts, and today we want to spend some time sharing with you another tool that’s helped us build up the OA side of our FBA business: extensions for the Google Chrome web browser.

It may be possible to use a web browser other than Chrome to do efficient OA purchasing, but I’m not aware of it. When I first read Chris Green’s comprehensive book Online Arbitrage, I hadn’t even downloaded Chrome on my MacBook yet. I was a Safari girl all the way. But now, I use Chrome on a daily basis for my OA purchases, and I get annoyed if I find myself trying to shop efficiently from Safari. It’s just not as easy to do without my favorite Chrome extensions.

So without further ado, here is my list of my 9 favorite Google Chrome extensions for Online Arbitrage:

keepa-21. Keepa – Amazon Price Tracker

Hands down, my most used Chrome extension. I look at the data from my Keepa extension first thing every time I pull up a potential OA buy. The extension puts price tracking data right on the Amazon product page, below the product title and picture, and lets me see at a glance whether Amazon is in or out of stock on an item, as well as sales rank and price history for Amazon and third party sellers. I seriously get annoyed now when I pull up a product page on another browser and don’t immediately see my Keepa data. I’m completely spoiled by this extension.

camelizer-chrome-screenshots-amazon2. The Camelizer

This one runs a close second place to the Keepa extension. When I’m on an Amazon product page, the Camelizer allows me to quickly pull up an abridged version of that product’s data from CamelCamelCamel. I can see the price history for Amazon and third party sellers at a glance. If I want to see a specific time frame of price history or see the sales rank history, there’s a quick link to go to the product’s full page on CamelCamelCamel. Simply put, I cannot make solid OA buying decisions without looking at the data from CCC first. The Camelizer extension saves me valuable time opening tabs in the browser and copying and pasting the ASIN. Every second and every click counts!

photo.jpg3. Amazon Assistant

Another way to save steps opening tabs is by using the Amazon Assistant. When you’re looking at a product on a retail store’s website, click on the Amazon Assistant extension to bring up potential matches for the product on the Amazon website. Easy peasy. (Notice I said potential matches. As always, do your due diligence to make sure items are a true match.)

ebates-logo-300x1564. Ebates Cash Back

Cash back for online shopping is one of the huge perks of doing OA. The Ebates extension makes it super easy to remember to get cash back on your OA purchases. When I first got started doing OA, I tried to be rebellious and just do it without all the extensions. Why, why, why? I was always forgetting to go through my cash back websites first, and I was leaving money on the table by not getting a percentage back. With the Ebates extension, when I first start my shopping session on a retail store website, I click the button at the top of the browser to activate my Ebates account and get cash back without having to navigate to a separate website first. So helpful for forgetful old me. Sign up through this link to get a $10 bonus for signing up.

Swagbucks-Logo5. SwagButton

This one works the same way as the Ebates extension, but for cash back in the form of Swagbucks. Some retail stores (Walmart and Disney Store, for instance) tend to give a higher percentage back if you go through Swagbucks than if you go through Ebates for your purchase. The percentages can change from day to day, so check the information that pops up at the top of your browser window before you choose which one to activate for your purchase.

honey-find-coupon-codes-with-one-click6. Honey

The Honey extension works by automating the process of applying promotional codes and coupons to your online purchases. You could Google to find those codes and manually input them to see if they’ll apply to your purchase…or you could click the Honey extension before you check out and let Honey do the work for you. I’ve saved tons of money and tons of time by letting Honey search and try codes for me.

PRICEBLINK-LO-FF7. PriceBlink

Whether you’re on an Amazon product page or a retail store website, Priceblink will attempt to find a better price on the item you’re looking at. It’s a good practice to always glance at Priceblink and see if you could be making your OA purchase for less money at another website.

logo-oax8. OAXray

This one is the only paid extension I have in my list, but at this point I couldn’t meet my OA spending goals without it. If you’re just getting started, by all means learn the ropes of OA with the free extensions and build up enough sales to justify paying for a monthly subscription to an extension like OAXray. But once you’re ready to start spending more of your sourcing budget per month on OA, you might find that a scanning extension like OAXray is indispensable. I know it saves me hours of my valuable time clicking and comparing products on Amazon and retail websites.

CyberMonkey-lg9. Scanalyze

Since first writing this post, I’ve started using the Scanalyze extension and find it very helpful. When I am looking at an Amazon product page, Scanalyze adds a box below the product title with the sales rank and sub-sales rank, saving time from scrolling down to the bottom of the page to find this information. Every second of time counts when you’re clicking through dozens of products every day, and I’ve really come to depend on having this information more easily accessible. Additionally, within that same sales rank box I can click “Scanalyze” to go to a separate page where I can see the lowest prices in FBA, new, used, and collectible; the Keepa graph; link to CamelCamelCamel; and (probably my favorite) a clickable FBA calculator to easily refigure my potential ROI based on the various prices listed. Scanalyze comes to you from the folks at Cyber Monkey Deals for $9/month, and it’s well worth it.

So that’s my list. Yours might be different. If it is, let us know. What are your favorite Chrome extensions for OA? Do you use a different browser than Chrome? Let us know in the comments.