Category Archives: Finding Inventory

Top Benefits of Using Ebates in Your Amazon FBA Business

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

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

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

How Ebates Works

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

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

Benefits of Using Ebates

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

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

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

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

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?

The Top 5 Features of the New Scoutify 2 Amazon FBA Sourcing App

In the spring of 2017, I got a message from Kimberly of InventoryLab. She knew I am a huge fan of both InventoryLab and Scoutify (the Amazon sourcing app that comes bundled with InventoryLab). She wanted to know if I wanted to be a beta-tester for the all new Scoutify 2 sourcing app.

Heck yeah!

I’ve been a Scoutify user for three years, and I wondered how the new Scoutify 2 would be any different. I already use the original Scoutify all the time to make my best Amazon FBA sourcing decisions. How could Scoutify 2 be any better?

Then came the day when I finally got the beta-version of Scoutify 2. On the very first day my mind was blown. Soon after I downloaded the app, I was gushing to Rebecca about all the new features and options. Scoutify 2 really is a game changer in so many ways. I can’t wait to tell you more about it.

Since this is an app review, I made a video of me talking about the app and showing you the top 5 new features in the all new Scoutify 2.

Once you start using Scoutify 2, you’ll wonder how you were able to sell on Amazon without it. The original Scoutify was already at the top of my list of favorite sourcing apps, but now Scoutify 2 is in a league of it’s own.

You can download Scoutify 2 for free, but you need a paid subscription to InventoryLab to use it. To get a 30-day free trial to InventoryLab, all you need to do is click here and sign up today. You’ll be able to use Scoutify 2 and make even better and faster sourcing decisions.

If you are already a Scoutify user, please note that Scoutify 2 is an entirely separate app; your current Scoutify app will not update to the newest version. This means you can still use the original Scoutify app to source while at the same time learning all about the new Scoutify 2.

How to download Scoutify 2 today:

  1. Open up the app store on your smartphone
  2. Search for Scoutify
  3. Find the app labeled Scoutify 2
  4. Download and start using today!

Have you tried the new Scoutify 2 sourcing app yet? What do you think? Any ideas on how to make it ever better? I’d love to read your opinions in the comments below.

How to Find Profitable Inventory for Amazon FBA Sourcing

In the course of just one week (or even a day!), it is possible to come across thousands of items you could potentially resell on Amazon. Obviously, not all of those items are going to make the cut and end up in your shopping cart. Some items are a no-brainer purchase. Some are definitely NOT something you should buy for resale. And some items are kind of iffy – should you buy it or not?

How do you know whether to buy an item or just pass and move on to the next item?

For the rest of this article, I want to talk with you about how to find profitable inventory to sell on Amazon – more specifically, I want to show you my thought process when I’m deciding whether or not to buy an item.

First things first: I want to make sure you are using the right tools when you are sourcing. When I am doing retail arbitrage (RA), I always use the Scoutify app on my smart phone to scan inventory and see all the necessary numbers to make a smart sourcing decision:

  • Sales rank
  • Price
  • Fees
  • Profit
  • Number of competitors
  • Historical sales rank and pricing

Some sellers choose to use only the Amazon Seller app for doing RA, but I have found the info it returns to be incomplete. I prefer to have more information at my fingertips when I make a sourcing decision, so I use the Scoutify app that comes bundled with the listing software Inventory Lab.

OK, now that we have that covered, let’s look at my thought process when I’m making a sourcing decision. This process works whether you are doing RA, OA, wholesale purchasing, or any other type of sourcing for Amazon FBA.

I typically ask myself 4 main questions when I’m making a sourcing decision:

  1. What is the ROI? We’re all in this business to make money, so we want to make sure the items we’re sourcing have a good ROI, or return on investment. When you are first starting out at Amazon FBA, I recommend finding items that have a 100% ROI. If you have a higher percentage ROI, you have a lot more wiggle room to make some mistakes and adjust your price if necessary. As you gain more experience and confidence, you can begin sourcing items that have a lower ROI. Some sellers stick with 75% and above, while others stick with 50% or above. If you find an item that will sell very quickly, you can even go as low as 30% ROI. The main point here is to find items that have a good ROI, whatever the parameter is that you’ve set. If you can’t make money on your investment, you want to move on and look for different inventory items.
  1. Am I approved to sell the item? Some categories are gated for certain sellers, and some brands are restricted to sellers. The second thing I look at when I’m making a sourcing decision is whether or not I am approved to sell an item. If I can’t sell it, there’s no point in continuing to consider it. You can see whether or not you are approved to sell an item from within the Amazon Seller app, but Scoutify also has a link to show you whether or not you are restricted for the item.
  1. What is the sales rank? The sales rank of an item is how I can tell whether or not the item will sell quickly on Amazon. Amazon tells us the current sales rank of every item in their catalog, and we can see that information when we scan an item with a sourcing app. You want to make sure, though, that you are considering the average sales rank when you make a sourcing decision, not just the current sales rank. Amazon updates sales rank frequently throughout the day, so you need to know how much that sales rank varies over time. You can look at graphs on CamelCamelCamel and Keepa to figure out the average sales rank in a glance; both Camel and Keepa have quick links through the Scoutify sourcing app. I recommend checking out an Amazon sales rank chart to make sure you know what is a low or high sales rank for the category of the item you are looking at. Our blog offers a monthly updated sales rank chart for subscribers. You can use the chart to see if an item’s average sales rank falls in the top 1%, 3%, 5%, 10%, or higher for its category.If you’re interested in learning more about sales rank, we offer an affordable mini-course called The Reseller’s Guide to Sales Rank: Understanding Amazon Best Sellers Rank for Maximum Profits. I’ve included in the mini-course everything I know about sales rank to help you get started with making smarter sourcing decisions.I make my sourcing decision based on how high or low the sales rank of the item is. If an item has a low average sales rank, it is a faster selling item. If the average sales rank is high, the item will sell more slowly.
  1. What is the competition?Unless no one else is selling a particular item, you are going to have competition if you sell that item. There are two main competitors you need to consider: Amazon and other third-party sellers. When it comes to competing with Amazon, I generally choose not to buy items that Amazon sells. I always look to see if Amazon is in stock on an item or has been in stock recently. If so, I typically pass on that item unless I can price it significantly lower than Amazon. As a general rule, Amazon does not tend to share the buy box, and since the buy box is where over 70% of Amazon sales come from, I don’t want to risk buying inventory where I will never have a chance to get that buy box. To see the history of Amazon being in stock or out of stock on an item, I check the Keepa graph for the item through the Scoutify app. I also like to look at the other third-party sellers who are priced competitively on the item. I’m only interested in those sellers who are priced within 1% or 2% of the buy box price. Anyone priced higher than that isn’t truly going to be my competition.I want to make sure there’s a relatively low number of sellers priced competitively, so that I can be assured of getting time in the buy box. The higher the sales rank, the fewer competitors I want on the item. If the sales rank is lower, I am more willing to tolerate a relatively higher number of competitors – with a low sales rank, the item will be selling fast enough that I can still get time in the buy box and make my sales.

Those are my four main deciding factors when I am making a buying decision for my Amazon FBA business. As with anything, there are some exceptions that come up when I’m looking at this criteria. The more comfortable you are with your experience at making these decisions, the more you will be able to see when there are exceptions to the buying parameters you set up for yourself.

There are other less important factors I sometimes consider, as well, such as number of reviews and whether or not they are positive. I tend to use other factors in my decisions when I’m on the fence about a buy.

Do you use similar buying criteria as the ones I’ve covered above? Is there anything else you absolutely must look at before making a buy for your FBA business? We would love to hear your ideas in the comments!

Beginner Lessons For Selling Shoes on Amazon FBA

When it comes to sourcing and selling shoes on Amazon, some of the hardest lessons are learned during the early stages of adding shoes to your Amazon business model.

Many of you know that Rebecca and I are a team when it comes to our Amazon FBA business. While I mainly focus on retail arbitrage and wholesale sourcing, she is the specialist when it comes to online arbitrage… and specifically sourcing and selling shoes.

Since my last interview video with Rebecca was so well received, I decided to sit down with her and record another Q&A  interview video with her. Rebecca has such a wealth of knowledge about sourcing and selling shoes and you’ll learn a lot in this video.

In the video below, you’ll learn:

  • How our very first experiment with sourcing and selling shoes went (spoiler: it didn’t go so well)
  • What we learned from that experiment
  • How we almost decided to give up selling shoes – and why we’re so glad we didn’t quit.
  • The biggest thing we wish we knew when we started selling shoes
  • The mindset shift you need to be successful with selling shoes
  • The biggest difference between sourcing items like books/toys and sourcing shoes
  • How to overcome not being able to see sales rank history of shoes
  • Which is better? Going wide or going deep when sourcing shoes?
  • How to find confidence in sourcing shoes
  • How customer returns of shoes are not as bad as returns from other categories (despite what other people might say).

Enjoy! Leave us a comment below the video if you have a specific shoe question and we’ll see about addressing that in a future video.

If you like the shirts we’re wearing in the video above, you can get them right here on Amazon.

Want to learn more? Rebecca and I recently hosted a FREE webinar all about how to get started with selling shoes on Amazon and added it to our YouTube channel. Just follow the link above to see the webinar in its entirety.

How to Find Profitable Wholesale Accounts For Amazon FBA

In my previous blog post I gave you my top 9 reasons why you should consider adding wholesale sourcing to your Amazon FBA business. You may have read that post and started thinking, “Great, Stephen, I’m convinced. I definitely want to try out wholesale sourcing, make my business more streamlined, and protect my seller account. Now where do I find profitable wholesale suppliers?

That type of question is where we end up any time we want to make a change in our business. “OK, I see my sticking points, and I’m ready to press on to get beyond them. But how do I take that next step?

With finding wholesale suppliers, your possibilities are really only limited by your creativity. Ultimately, you want to find unique wholesale accounts where you can develop a great business relationship with your supplier and provide an awesome product to Amazon customers.

Let’s discuss the top four ways you can make that connection and find profitable wholesale accounts:

1. Trade Shows

All throughout the year you can find a trade show going on in areas all across the U.S. (Or in other countries! Don’t limit yourself geographically) and in all niches of products. Think trade shows for toys, bridal products, baby items, kitchen gadgets, home and garden, crafts, you name it.

Beyond those niche trade shows, you can also find larger trade shows and markets where you can find products across all categories presented in one show. The biggest trade show out there is called ASD, and it happens in Las Vegas every March and August.

If you live in a big city, chances are there are trade shows and markets happening nearby throughout the year. I recommend doing a Google search for trade shows in your town or somewhere you can travel to, and check out what’s coming up in the months ahead. Most of these types of shows are free to enter, and you can walk around the exhibits, talk with the exhibitors, and see what types of products are available at the different booths.

One thing you should keep in mind is that two different types of exhibitors set up booths at trade shows: manufacturers and distributors. A manufacturer would be a direct connection to the source of the product, without any middle man. If you get a wholesale account with a manufacturer, you will likely need to make purchases in larger amounts, but you will get a better price per unit. With a distributor, you are usually dealing with a middle man. You can make smaller purchases, but you will pay more per unit.

2. Trade Show Websites

Even if you can’t attend a particular trade show, you can benefit from signing up for the show and doing research on the exhibitors. On the trade show website you can get access to the vendor list and their contact info, which you can then use to call or email for more information on the products they offer.

Whether you attend in person or make contact through the trade show website, it’s all about making connections with the vendors, asking good questions, and developing a relationship that could lead to a mutually beneficial arrangement. You will need to have a resale certificate to open a wholesale account once you have made that connection, so be sure you have your certificate on hand before starting the process to open an account.

If you are interested in more details about how to maximize the opportunities on trade show websites, check out the book Trade Show No Show by Jim Peterson and Jim Cockrum.

3. Product Packaging

This may seem overly simplistic, but finding wholesale sources really doesn’t have to be that complicated!

Pretty much every product you can imagine is going to have the manufacturer’s name and contact info printed right on the product’s packaging. If you can only find the name or part of the contact info, use Google to find the rest of the info, and you’re one step closer to making contact and finding out how to open a wholesale account.

If you have an awesome retail find that you would love to sell more of, check out the product packaging for that contact info and see if you could start buying that product at wholesale prices.

One strategy you can use to get an edge on your competition is to think of products that are made locally to your town or area. What is your area known for? Food products can be especially profitable, if there’s a local favorite that can’t be found in other parts of the country. Find these types of products on your local shelves, get the manufacturer’s info off the packaging, and start making contact.

4. Amazon Best Sellers

Again, it doesn’t have to be overly complicated to find great ideas for wholesale sources. You can research the popular items in your favorite category by checking out the Top 100 sellers and looking up their manufacturer’s info online.

To make it even easier, we have created a quick link, fulltimefba.com/bestsellers, to take you right to the Amazon best sellers page, where you can drill down from the main Amazon categories. Once you find a product you are interested in researching, click to go to the product page, and you should see the name of the manufacturer listed below the product title. You can then do a Google search for their contact info and start the process of opening a wholesale account.

Note: I do not recommend opening wholesale accounts with companies when Amazon is selling the product. Even if you think you can get a great wholesale price, Amazon is likely getting an even greater volume discount, and it’s too hard to compete. You should also check out the sales history on CamelCamelCamel and Keepa to see if Amazon is out of stock now, but might have been on the listing in the past. There are plenty of other products out there, so move on to ones where Amazon isn’t currently on the listing or doesn’t seem like they’ll come back in stock in the future.

There you have it, my top 4 ways to find products where you can open a wholesale account. The key to getting those accounts is to just make contact. Get the door open, start a conversation, ask for a catalog, ask what you need to do to apply for an account – it really doesn’t have to be more complicated than that.

Bonus Tip: Once you get a wholesale account, try to ask for an inventory spreadsheet from the company that includes the UPC and price. With this spreadsheet, I save it as a CSV file and upload it to OAXray. Then OAXray crunches all the numbers and finds out which items on the spreadsheet have the best rank and highest ROI. OAXray literally saves hours of time going through a wholesale company’s inventory list. If you want an extended 10-day free trial, then click here and sign up for OAXray today.

Last week, I shared with you a free video that showed you how to find amazing wholesale opportunities with a strategy unlike what anyone else is teaching. Well, today I have another free video about wholesale.

In today’s free wholesale training video, my buddies Dan and Eric will show you:

– How to recognize awesome potential wholesale products
– How to avoid purchasing bad wholesale products and wasting $100’s or even $1000’s
– How one good account could make you $1000 per month (and how to find accounts like that)
– The top 3 factors for great wholesale products to sell on Amazon
– The free tool you can use to make better wholesale decisions
– Why the number of Amazon competitors is a meaningless number (and what number you really should be focusing on instead)
– And so much more!

To access today’s free video right now, all you need to do is click here.

Remember, these free videos are only going to be accessible for a limited time, so you need to click here and watch today.

Do you have other tried-and-true places you like to look for profitable wholesale sources? If you would like to add to my list, we would love to hear from you in the comments!

Monitoring Prices on Your Replenishables – StockUp Review

stock-up-titleOne of the most frustrating aspects of selling on Amazon is when your competition comes in and begins to lower the prices of an item that you were once consistently selling. When an amazing source of profit seems to dry up, we often decide to sell out as fast as we can so we can reinvest that capital into inventory that will bring profits much faster. Usually once the price of a formerly profitable item has “tanked,” we don’t think about that item again.

But what if we’re missing something? What if the price goes back up? How would we even know?

Do we ever actually go back and see if the price has recovered? Usually the answer to that question is “no.”

search-computerFor a long time I searched and searched to see if there was a tool out there that would track the prices of items on Amazon and would automatically notify me when those items reached a certain higher price point, but never found one. I love using Keepa and CamelCamelCamel, but those services only notify you automatically when the prices of items on Amazon fall to a desired price point. I  just couldn’t find an easy way to keep track of prices when they go back up.

Sure, I could probably create a spreadsheet with a list of ASINs I wanted to track, then then copy and paste the ASIN in Amazon to see if the price has recovered. I could try to remember to do that once a week or once a month… but honestly, I don’t have time for that. I needed a tool to do everything for me.

online_toolsSince there was no tool, I decided to reach out to my buddy Christopher Grant who has created some awesome tools like revROI (an easy tool to maximize your cash back on OA purchases) and BrickSeek (if an item is sold out online, this tool will show you where you can buy it locally based on your ZIP Code). I told Christopher about my frustrations and my idea for a new tool and he said he thought he could make it happen. After a few months of working with developers and beta-testing, and the StockUp tool is ready!

StockUp – the only tool that will automatically notify you when the price of an item goes back up to the price you want.

stock-upWith StockUp, all you have to do is go to the Amazon product page for the item you want to track, click on the StockUp extension, put in your name and email address (don’t worry, we aren’t keeping these for later), then choose a price, any price. The StockUp tool will then check Keepa for you once an hour and if the price goes up to the level you choose, then StockUp will send you an email to notify you. There will even be a link you can click on to take you to the Amazon product page so you can double check and make sure the price really has recovered. Then, all you need to do is go and buy it again from your source. So easy! I’ll show you a video in a moment, but here’s what it looks like:

screen-shot-2016-11-10-at-1-49-11-pm

StockUp is a Google Chrome extension that you easily install into your Chrome browser. If you don’t use Chrome, the web browser is a free download and super easy to use. In fact, I formerly used Safari for my online browser, but have since moved to Chrome as it’s so much more user friendly (as well as all the amazing extensions you can install).

To see StockUp in action, check out this video where I walk you through just how easy it is.

Save today with coupon code!

Here’s the deal… right now, StockUp is available at a one time fee for a lifetime of use. Plus, if you use the coupon code SMOTHERMAN then you can save $8 off the price of the extension. Right now, we’re working on adding a texting notification as well, but that’s still in the planning stages… once the texting capabilities are in place, we’ll definitely be raising the prices on the extension. In fact, the StockUp extension might end up going to a monthly fee as we continue to add more features… so now is the best time to get this tool.

Can you imagine how awesome it will be when the price of one your replenishable items comes back up and you can add it back to your inventory again? Talk about easy sourcing!

 

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.

7 Ways to Save Money So You Can Spend More on Inventory

Save Money Spend MoreWho doesn’t love to save a little time and money?

I would prefer to save a lot of time and money, but hey, every little bit counts when we’re trying to make a profit at Amazon FBA. Any time I can save money on shipping supplies or other areas of my business, I can use that saved money to buy more inventory – and buying more inventory is how I would prefer to spend my money in my business!

All of the tips I’m going to share with you in this post should be either free or next to free. I hope you find these tips super practical and easy to implement right away in your Amazon FBA business, no matter what stage of business you’re in.

Before I get into my tips, I want to invite others to add their advice to the comments at the bottom. Let’s make this post our most-commented post ever! We all have knowledge and experience that others can benefit from, so please share your wisdom and be a blessing to others in the Amazon FBA community today.

Also, if you want to see these tips in action, scroll to the bottom of this post to watch a video of Stephen demonstrating them.

Now…here we go…my top Amazon FBA hacks to save money:

brownbox21. Use free boxes from grocery stores for Amazon FBA shipments.

Especially in the early stages of your FBA business, there’s no need to pay for shipping boxes when you can get them free from grocery stores, friends who have recently moved, or other places who are just going to recycle their old boxes. Find out from store employees when they’ll be restocking the shelves, and stores are generally happy for you to come take the empty boxes out of the aisles for them.

2. On a similar note, use the boxes from online arbitrage purchases to send in Amazon FBA shipments.

We do a significant amount of our sourcing through online arbitrage, so we just turn around and send our shipments to Amazon in the online stores’ boxes. Just make sure you remove or cover up any previous barcodes before putting on the Amazon and UPS label.

AirPouch-Open-Box-w-EarthAware-Biodegradable-Pillows3. Use free dunnage for your Amazon FBA shipments.

Dunnage (isn’t that a weird word?!) is the stuff you put in a shipment to pad the items and keep them from touching the sides of your shipping box. Here are a few ideas for things to use for dunnage:

  • air pillows from online arbitrage purchases
  • blank newspaper
  • plastic grocery bags filled with printed newspaper and tied off (do not let newsprint come into contact with your inventory in the shipment)
  • small cardboard boxes

3117TC++78L4. Use lighter fluid to remove residue from price stickers.

I usually recommend using Goo Gone for removing price sticker residue, but if you don’t want to rush out and buy a new bottle of Goo Gone, you can use lighter fluid if you already have it at your house. (If you want to see how I remove price stickers, check out this video.)

board game closet5. Get FREE inventory from around your house.

We all have items sitting around our house that are brand new or barely used – prime candidates for sending to Amazon and turning into profits. Check out your bookshelves, your kitchen cabinets, your game closet, and your kids’ rooms (with their permission), and you might be surprised what you can find that you don’t use and would actually turn a profit on Amazon.

freecycle_logo6. Get FREE inventory from Freecycle.org.

You can join a group for your area of town on the Freecycle Network and keep an eye out for items that people are giving away for free. I’ve been able to source free board games (new and used), boxes of books, and other items. If you claim an item on Freecycle, the person will leave it on the porch or sidewalk for you to drop by and pick up on your own time. It’s way easier to coordinate than Craigslist purchases, but please still use safety practices and don’t make pick-ups alone.

facebook-twitter7. Join Amazon FBA Facebook groups to get tons of free FBA business information.

One of the easiest ways to absorb free information from the FBA community is to join Facebook groups, search and read the archived posts, and ask questions. We have a Full-Time FBA Facebook group that we would love for you to join, and there’s tons of other groups you can search for on Facebook as well.

Those are my top tips for getting FREE items so that you can use the money you save on buying inventory instead. Let me know in the comments if you know of any other awesome ways to save money on supplies for your business.

Here’s the video (Amazon FBA Hacks to Save Time and Money) with these tips in action: