One 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.”
For 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.
Since 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.
With 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:
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!
Most Amazon sellers will agree: It takes a verrrrrry looooooong time to build up your feedback on the Amazon platform.
Most Amazon customers aren’t accustomed to leaving seller feedback for FBA purchases, at least not with the same frequency as eBay customers leave seller feedback. It could take 100 sales via FBA to receive one or two customers leaving feedback on Amazon. At that rate, it seems to take forever to build up a solid feedback score.
That rate also means that just one negative feedback carries a huge punch. The effects of one negative feedback can be devastating to your seller account, if you don’t have enough positive feedback to counterbalance it. No one knows for sure exactly what algorithm Amazon uses to award the buy box, but feedback scores have some component to it. I absolutely must pay careful attention to keeping my feedback score as close to 100% as possible if I want to keep the buy box and get more FBA sales.
This is where the genius of Feedback Genius comes in.Feedback Genius helps me keep my 100% positive feedback score, and it also helps me fight off the occasional negative feedback that I receive as an FBA seller.
1. Feedback Genius automatically sends my customers an email the day their item will be delivered.
The email lets the customer know to be expecting the item, and it gives the customer a link where they can leave positive feedback for you as a seller if everything went well in the transaction. The email also asks the customer to just reply to the email with any issues that need to be resolved before they leave a negative feedback.
Feedback Genius emails allow you to set a positive tone with your customer right off the bat and to be proactive in avoiding negative feedback. With just this one email, I can increase my positive feedback and descrease my negative feedback.
2. If the customer hasn’t left feedback in 4-5 days, Feedback Genius sends a reminder email.
Again, this reminder email gives me another chance to increase my positive feedback from customers and decrease the negative. I’ve seen a huge increase in my feedback score overall since signing up with Feedback Genius, and I’m convinced this increase has had a positive impact on my ability to get the buy box.
3. Feedback Genius sends me a text and email if I receive a feedback score of 3 or below.
This feature is even more of a game changer for me, as far as Feedback Genius is concerned. I wrote a blog post a while back about how one day a text from Feedback Genius at the beginning of lunch helped me act quickly and have a negative feedback completely removed by the time I was paying the check and headed back to work.
Amazon considers 4 and 5 to be a positive feedback score, 3 is neutral, and 1 or 2 are negative. Although a 3 is technically neutral, it will still negatively impact my feedback score. I don’t want to waste any time when it comes to dealing with negative feedback on my FBA account. For me, that text notification from Feedback Genius is a must.
4. Feedback Genius can also be used with product reviews for specific ASINs.
In addition to helping monitor my seller feedback, I’ve also used Feedback Genius to send out emails to request product reviews for specific ASINs. The service also allows me to set up alerts for negative product reviews on specific ASINs. Just as seller feedback is important for helping me get the buy box, the number and quality of product reviews helps an item show up higher in search results and potentially get more sales. For any seller who creates their own listings, whether it’s a one-off product, a bundle, or a private label product line, having a way to monitor or increase product reviews (without breaking the Amazon seller terms of service) is critical to business.
5. Feedback Genius is customizable as to the content and number of emails you wish to send out.
Some sellers want to send lots of emails, some just a few. Some want to just send out the content of the template email, some want to tweak it and personalize it. Feedback Genius lets you take the lead in deciding what you want to say to your customers, when you want to say it, and how often.
Special Offer from Feedback Genius
I spoke with Jeff from Seller Labs (creator of Feedback Genius) and he is offering Full-Time FBA blog readers a special offer of 500 free messages for signing up for Feedback Genius. That’s 500 free messages to your buyers asking for them to leave you 5-star reviews, to contact you if there is a problem, or to leave a product review. That’s a lot of messages, and you get them for free when you sign up for Feedback Genius. You’ll also get a 60 day free trial (that’s twice as long as their normal 30-day trial period). There is really no reason why you shouldn’t give Feedback Genius a try today.
A while back I saw a super scary video. It was truly horrifying. I still have nightmares when I think about it for too long.
I showed a short clip of this video to my wife. She actually screamed at the TV: “Nooooooo!!!!!!!!” She was just as terrified as I was.
In this video people were walking the aisles of a big box retail store, scanning toys with the Amazon app. Not the Amazon Seller app. The Amazon app. The one you use to buy merchandise from Amazon. These people were looking up toys on Amazon, comparing the price on the retail store shelf, and loading up a shopping cart if the price was even the slightest bit higher on Amazon. They intended to buy this shopping cart full of toys and sell them on Amazon.
As if this scenario weren’t gruesome enough, these people were actually encouraging their viewers to go out and do the same thing. They exuberantly proclaimed that anyone can sell on Amazon, see, look, there’s merchandise everywhere that sells higher on Amazon than in stores. You, too, should go out and buy toys by the shopping cart load, and just send them in to Amazon and wait for your paycheck.
At this point you might be ready to ask me a few questions. “How is this scene any different than what you do in your Amazon FBA business every day? Don’t you use retail arbitrage as one of your strategies for finding FBA inventory? Isn’t that what these folks are doing – and showing others how to do?”
The key difference boils down to one simple factor: I never buy an item for resale without knowing the Amazon FBA fees for that item first. If someone were to actually follow the methods these people were using in this Amazon FBA horror movie, they would be hit with fees they hadn’t calculated beforehand and suffer financial loss.
For anyone who wants to make a profit running an FBA business, you have to know your numbers. You have to know all of your expenses, including inbound shipping, taxes where applicable, prep fees, materials, and the cost of any subscriptions or services you buy. You also have to have a good handle on the FBA fees that apply to any items you intend to have Amazon fulfill for you.
If you aren’t aware, the name of this blog is Full-Time FBA. About 99% of our Amazon business is through the FBA (Fulfillment By Amazon) program. We do choose to Merchant Fulfill items on occasion (check out our YouTube video where we discuss those occasions), but overall we prefer to stick with having Amazon fulfill our inventory when a customer buys it (see also our blog post “Overcoming Your Fear of Selling via FBA versus Merchant Fulfilled or eBay”).
There are 4 easy ways you can calculate the potential Amazon FBA fees before you buy an inventory item. We’ve listed below two options for calculating fees on your smart phone and two for calculating fees on a web browser:
Amazon Seller app – FREE
The Amazon Seller app is free and allows you to scan items either by barcode or using Amazon Flow (the camera of your phone recognizes an item’s image and matches it with the product in the Amazon catalog). The Amazon Seller app allows you to see the fees for an item if you sell it Merchant Fulfilled or through FBA. It allows you to adjust your selling price, your inbound shipping cost, and the cost of purchase. It then subtracts the fees and your cost of purchases, giving you your estimated net proceeds. (See this blog post for more pros and cons on the Amazon Seller app.)
Third party scanning app, like Scoutify, Profit Bandit, or ScanPower – PAID
Similar to the Amazon Seller app, third party scanning apps allow you to scan items by barcode or enter a text search for the item. Third party apps also allow you to adjust selling price, inbound shipping, and cost of purchase before you subtract out the FBA fees and see your estimated net proceeds. We personally use Scoutify most often when sourcing, with Profit Bandit being our back-up on occasion. (For more info on third party scanning apps, check out our blog post about why we use Scoutify.)
The FBA Calculator website – FREE
If you are doing product research on a web browser, Amazon Seller Central has an FBA revenue calculator where you can enter the ASIN, UPC, or product name of an item and do the same calculations as above to find out your potential fees and potential profit. We highly recommend creating a bookmark for the revenue calculator so you can easily reference it when making online purchases, determining prices for your inventory during the listing process, or repricing your inventory after it’s at the warehouse. We’ve also created a quick link for the calculator: www.fulltimefba.com/calculator
To see the FBA revenue calculator in action, I’ve created a screen capture video explaining how it works.
Google Chrome extensions, like Scanalyze – PAID
Another easy way to see FBA fees when doing online arbitrage or product research is by using Google Chrome extensions that show the fees right on the Amazon product page. We use Scanalyze (available through the Cyber Monkey Deals website) and love it. You simply click the “Scanalyze” button and the fee calculator pops up at the bottom of your screen.
Hopefully you’re equipped now to calculate your fees and know up front what your profit potential is before you buy inventory to send to Amazon. Please don’t become another victim in a scary movie! You can make good choices. You can build a profitable Amazon FBA business because you know your numbers.
Hindsight is 20/20, and I’m sure all of us can think of ways we would improve our Amazon FBA businesses if we could start over from scratch. I know I can think of plenty of things I wish I had known back in 2011 when I started selling on Amazon!
Since I don’t have a time machine, I can’t revisit 2011 and get that do-over for my business. Instead, today I’m going to share with you the products and services I would invest in from the very beginning if I had to start over from scratch doing Amazon FBA with only $500.
These items are the essentials, folks. The bare minimum for starting Amazon FBA and finding success in a sustainable yet timely fashion. In fact, you’ll see that with my plan below, of the total $500, you’ll actually get to spend $342 for investing in inventory. Not a bad amount to start sourcing with!
Here are the ways I would spend my $500 if I got to start over on my Amazon FBA business today:
1. A Pro Merchant account with Amazon –(around $40/month)
Yes, I know that you can start off with an Individual Merchant account and save the $40 fee per month for the Professional Merchant account. But Individual Merchants pay 99 cents per sale, and a little quick math shows that selling only 40 items per month means you’re paying the same as a Pro Merchant.
There’s a ton of huge benefits, however, to setting up that Pro Merchant account from the very beginning. It gives you accountability, a $40 incentive every month to send in plenty of items to Amazon FBA so that you’re making at least 40 sales per month to make that account worth it from the very beginning. If you can start off giving yourself the goal of at least 40 sales per month, you will gain momentum more quickly than if you allow yourself to be satisfied with only 20 sales. Another benefit is that Pro sellers are able to get the buy box – which is where 70%-80% of all of Amazon sales come from.
2. Inventory Lab for listing and sourcing – FREE for first month ($49/month afterwards)
We use Inventory Lab to process our FBA inventory, list it on Amazon, and keep track of our accounting for that inventory. You can list your inventory directly through Seller Central, but the process is much slower than listing through a 3rd party program like Inventory Lab. Using Inventory Lab allows me to touch each inventory item fewer times during the listing process because I can label it and divide it into shipments at the time of listing, rather than waiting until I’m finished listing everything.
You must be a Pro Merchant to use Inventory Lab, another benefit to going ahead and making the commitment as a Pro Merchant from the very beginning.
If you sign up for Inventory Lab through our link here, you can get a free 30-day trial of their listing software and Scoutify sourcing app. After the first month, Inventory Lab and Scoutify cost $49/month, but they are absolutely worth it to my business.
3. Barcode scanner – $22
A barcode scanner connects to your laptop through USB and saves a ton of time (and errors!) when entering the UPCs from the barcodes on your inventory. Simply place the cursor in the correct field of your listing program, scan the barcode, and presto! No more squinting at tiny numbers and pecking out the UPC on your keyboard.
Every little bit of time counts when you’re working at building an Amazon FBA business, and using a barcode scanner is a simple way to help scale your business more quickly.
4. DYMO LabelWriter 450 – $70 new, $40 used
A DYMO LabelWriter is another essential for scaling your business and saving precious time. When used in conjunction with Inventory Lab or other 3rd party listing programs, the DYMO will allow you to print a label for each individual item as soon as you have it listed. Scan the item, enter your price and other accounting info, and then print the label. If you have the “live” listing flow turned on in Inventory Lab, you will know at this time which fulfillment center the item will be sent to, and you can sort it into boxes immediately. No need to print 30-up labels and sort back through inventory at the end of your listing process.
5. Scotty peelers – $6 for 3-pack
These are an essential tool for scraping the price stickers or other residue off my inventory before I send it to Amazon. The Scotty peelers come in a pack of 3, and we use them for several months before the ends become too dull to work easily.
6. Goo Gone – $4
Another must-have item for cleaning up inventory before sending it to the FBA warehouse. Goo Gone takes off the sticky residue left over from price sticker adhesive. (Note: be careful not to use Goo Gone on certain types of non-glossy cardboard boxes or book covers, as it will soak in to the material and stain it.)
7. 3-inch tape gun – $13
8. 3-inch tape – $13 for 4-pack
I started out using a 2-inch tape gun when I first began selling via Amazon FBA. That 1-inch difference may not seem like a lot, but it’s a huge difference when it comes to the number of times you have to swipe the tape gun across a shipping box in order for the tape to hold the box flaps together. With the 3-inch tape on my 3-inch tape gun, it’s one swipe, and I’m done – saves time and tape.
9. Feedback Genius – FREE for first 2 months ($20/month afterwards)
Getting control of the buy box is a crucial component of getting sales through Amazon FBA. Some aspects of who controls the buy box are a mystery, but having a positive feedback score is known to be one important factor. Having a high number of positive feedbacks and limiting your number of negatives will help you gain the buy box more often. Feedback Genius is a simple way to automate contacting buyers after a sale in order to limit your negatives and increase your positives. Feedback Genius also alerts you when a negative feedback is received so that you can quickly and appropriately handle it.
I wish I had started using Feedback Genius from the very beginning of my Amazon FBA business. If you sign up through our Full-Time FBA link, you can get 2 months of Feedback Genius for free, along with a bonus of 500 free email messages. Two months and 500 messages will go a long way towards boosting your feedback score!
Using Feedback Genius requires a Pro Merchant account, so go back up to #1 in this list and sign up for that account if you haven’t already!
10. UPS self-adhesive labels – FREE from UPS.com
UPS offers a great partnered rate for Amazon FBA sellers on their inbound shipments, and they also provide you with free self-adhesive labels to use for your shipments. If you sign up for a free account with UPS.com, you can order the labels to be sent directly to you.
11. Shipping boxes – FREE from grocery stores, friends, etc
In the early days of just starting an Amazon FBA business, I recommend getting free shipping boxes from friends who have just moved, from grocery stores, or from other locations where people are wanting to recycle their boxes. Just make sure they’re sturdy enough to hold the weight of your shipment, and cover or remove any previous barcodes before adding your Amazon and UPS shipping labels.
12. Scale – $30
If you don’t already have a scale at your house, you will need to buy one in order to weigh your inbound shipments to the Amazon FBA warehouse. You can get a scale on Amazon for about $25-30.
In summary, here’s a list of the items and prices:
A Pro Merchant account with Amazon – $40/month
Inventory Lab for listing and sourcing – FREE for first month ($49/month afterwards)
Barcode scanner – $22
DYMO LabelWriter 450 – $70 new, $40 used
Scotty peelers – $6 for 3-pack
Goo Gone – $4
3-inch tape gun – $13
3-inch tape – $13 for 4-pack
Feedback Genius – FREE for first 2 months ($20/month afterwards)
UPS self-adhesive labels – FREE from UPS.com
Shipping boxes – FREE from grocery stores, friends, etc
Scale – $30
NOTE: Prices of these tools and services will change over time, so be sure you double-check all prices and fees before purchasing. Some prices might go up, while other prices might go down.
If you add up the amount of those items for the first month of starting an Amazon FBA business, the total comes to $198. That leaves us with over $300 to spend on buying inventory. I would recommend looking for low cost (or even free!) inventory with low ranks and high return on investment (ROI), so that you can reinvest your profits and grow your available capital quickly. When I started Amazon FBA, I frequented garage sales and thrift shops while I was learning the ins and outs of how the business works and while my capital was growing. I would follow that same method again today.
If you would like to watch a video where I show the items from the above list, check out this video on our YouTube channel:
Do you have anything you would add to this list? Or do you have questions about any of the items or services I mentioned? We would love to hear from you in the comments!
When I first started selling on Amazon, I stayed away from any item that possibly needed to be poly bagged or shrink-wrapped, simply because I didn’t have an impulse sealer. I now kick myself when I think about how many profitable items I just left on the store shelves because of this.
An impulse sealer is a machine used to seal products, packaging, and other thermoplastic materials using heat. When the right amount of heat is applied, it will seal two layers of plastic together causing the bag to become closed.
The two main ways I use an impulse sealer are to poly bag an item or to shrink-wrap an item. First, I’ll show you the supplies you need, and then toward the end of this post, I’ll show you a video with me demonstrating both poly bagging and shrink-wrapping with the impulse sealer.
Supplies Needed to Poly Bag:
16-inch Impulse Sealer – Impulse sealers come in different sizes from 8 inches up to 20 inches. People always ask me what size impulse sealer they should get. Without any hesitation I tell them the 16-inch model. The first impulse sealer I purchased was a 14-inch model, and there were so many times I wished I had a longer reach for sealing. You might think that the extra 2 inches isn’t that big of a deal, but it really is.
Poly Bags – According to Amazon guidelines, there are many items that need to be poly bagged if you plan on sending them to a FBA warehouse. These bags protect your inventory from the dirt and dust found in a FBA warehouse. Poly bags come in various sizes and thickness. Be sure you know what minimum requirements Amazon has for poly bags. The ones pictured are some of my favorite to order.
Suffocation Warning Labels – Each and every poly bag that you use on a product needs to have a suffocation warning label. Some poly bags come with warnings printed on them, but for the ones that don’t, it’s a good idea to have these stickers handy. If you use a poly bag that doesn’t have a suffocation warning on the bag, then you will be in violation of Amazon guidelines. These labels are easy to use, and they stay on well too.
Supplies Needed to Shrink-Wrap
16-inch Impulse Sealer – Ok, I know I already mentioned this tool in the supplies needed to poly bag, but I wanted you to know that some impulse sealers come with an optional cutter upgrade that you can slide across a seal to create a clean cut. While this upgrade may sound good, it’s totally unnecessary. If you apply enough heat, the impulse sealer will automatically cut the plastic. Just because it’s called an “upgrade” doesn’t mean that it’s necessary.
14-inch Centerfold Shrink Wrap Film– This is the shrink wrap film that I use for almost all other items I need to shrink-wrap. It’s good for shrink-wrapping health & beauty items, books, and almost anything else. It pairs well with my 16-inch impulse sealer.
1500 Watt Heat Gun – I use this heat gun in two ways: 1) To heat up the shrink wrap so that it properly seals around the item I’m wanting to wrap for a very professional sealed look; 2) To heat up price stickers so they can be removed easier. This heat gun has two settings so you can decide how much heat you want to use depending on the project you’re using it for.
Ok, so now that you know the essential supplies that you need, here is a video showing you how to use the impulse sealer:
For more blog posts that show you all of the supplies I use for my shipping and prep stations, be sure you click here and here.
So how about you? Are there any tips or tricks you’d like to share about using an impulse sealer to poly bag or shrink-wrap an inventory item? I’d love to hear what you have to say.
When it comes to retail arbitrage, removing the price tags (or any other stickers) from your products is the most annoying thing you have to do before you can sell them on Amazon. Sure, you could use your fingernail to try and slowly peel the sticker off the box, but that takes a lot of time and sometimes the price sticker still causes a tear in the box.
I’m here to show you there is a better way. In fact, toward the bottom of this blog post will be a video of me showing you exactly how I remove price stickers.
Here’s how it’s done in just a few easy steps:
1. Heat up the price sticker.
Use this heat gun to heat up price stickers so they can be removed easier. When heat is applied to a price sticker or label, the sticky part of the adhesive gets soft and makes it so much easier to remove the price sticker from the item’s packaging. Just be careful. The heat gun can easily burn your skin, so make sure the focus of the heat is only on the price sticker.
This handy little tool is the perfect way to peel off the stickers from the item without damaging the original package or ruining your fingernails. Plus, if you just used the heat gun, the box might still be hot, and these tools are much better to use than your fingernails.
3. Use Goo Gone to remove any excess sticky residue.
If there is any remaining sticky residue on the item’s packaging, then use some Goo Gone Spray Gel. This spray gel is the perfect solution to help get any excess sticky “goo” off your item. Simply spray some Goo Gone onto the sticky residue, and it will wipe off fairly easily. For really stubborn “goo,” use the Scotty Peeler in combination with the Goo Gone to scrape away the excess goo. Note: There are many different products that you can use to remove the sticky adhesive left behind from a sticker. Some other alternatives are Un-Du and even lighter fluid.
4. Use a paper towel to clean up any left over mess.
I use the choose-a-size paper towels because I rarely ever need a full-size paper towel when removing stickers. I always just tear off one small sheet of the choose-a-size paper towels and tear that sheet in half. I use one half to spray the Goo Gone onto the item (see step 3 above), and then the other half I’ll use to clean what’s left of the Goo Gone and residue.
Here’s a video to see these steps in action! After you watch the video, don’t forget to scroll down this post for bonus tips on removing price stickers from inventory items.
Peeling stickers off of plastic – Sometimes the price sticker is stuck on the clear plastic window or blister of an item. When this is the case, it’s important to be very careful with the heat gun. Plastic melts in heat, and you don’t want to ruin your inventory item because you melted the plastic. I’ll usually keep a close eye on the plastic area when I’m using the heat gun, and the moment I see the plastic start to warp, I’ll turn the heat off. After some practice you’ll start knowing the best times to turn the heat gun off before the plastic even begins to melt.
When the sticky just won’t come off – In a perfect world, all of the sticky residue would come off easily, but there are times where it just won’t go away. This is also a concern if the item you’re removing the sticker from could potentially be damaged if there were too much Goo Gone absorbed into the packaging. When this happens, I place a clean label over the sticky part or perhaps a Thank You sticker.
Removing pre-cut price stickers – Have you ever had to remove a price sticker that is impossible to peel off all in one piece? You know, you start to peel the sticker off, but it’s pre-cut so you end up having to peel off multiple pieces? That can waste time and cause frustration, but I’ve found a simple solution. Put a piece of tape over the price sticker. That way, when you peel it off, it will all come off as one piece
Outsource – Peeling of price stickers is a job that almost anyone can do and provides a great opportunity to outsource. I currently have our assistant remove most of the price stickers for our items, but I’ve also had my kids perform this job. If your child is old enough to handle the heat gun, then now is a good time to train them how to use it properly. Perhaps you can even show them the video from above to teach them.
Ok, now you are equipped with the knowledge of the best ways to properly remove a price sticker. Did I miss something? Do you have another way that works best for you? I’d love to hear how you remove stickers in the comment below.
Today’s blog post will be short on written text so that we can point you directly to a screen capture video. I’ve put together a video walking through the process of researching 5 products from the Amazon catalog, using the Camelizer and Keepa Google Chrome Extensions to help make a smarter sourcing decision.
In the video I will show you how both of these handy extensions work for researching the sales rank and price history of items you might be considering for Amazon FBA. I’ll also discuss my thought process on whether or not I think each of these items would be a good buy.
If you’re looking for more info on how to use CamelCamelCamel and Keepa, check out our recent blog posts:
I want to encourage you today if you’re making sourcing decisions without using historical sales rank and pricing data from CamelCamelCamel and Keepa — there is a better way to buy Amazon FBA inventory! You can make smarter sourcing decisions. Your business will hugely benefit if you take the time to learn how to use these powerful free resources.
Hopefully you enjoyed our earlier blog post (with screen capture video) introducing the Amazon price tracker CamelCamelCamel. We use CCC throughout each day as we work on our Amazon FBA business, whether it’s out sourcing retail arbitrage, at home doing online arbitrage or wholesale research, or in repricing our inventory.
Keepa is another great tool that, when used by itself or in harmony with CamelCamelCamel, can provide you with the information you need to make smart sourcing decisions. Toward the end of this blog post I’ll show you a video walking through how to understand these graphs directly on the Keepa website.
Take a look at a Keepa graph for a product on Amazon.
At first this graph can look like nonsense – just a lot of blue and green squigglies with some orange and white shading, and then a few black lines and dots thrown in for good measure. But all of these colors and lines will make sense to us shortly.
If you look to the right of the graph, you’ll see a box with a key to the colors on the graph:
Amazon = orange
Marketplace New = blue
Marketplace Used = black
Sales Rank = green
Below this key, there’s a list of date ranges where you can select the period of time you wish to look at: day, week, month, 3 months, or all the data Keepa has ever tracked on this item.
Along the left side of the graph are dollar amounts, with the lowest amount at the bottom and the highest at the top. Along the bottom of the graph are the dates you have selected for the graph, with the most recent date on the right and the oldest date to the left. Along the right side of the graph are the sales rank numbers, with the lowest at the bottom and the highest at the top.
You can click to remove each of the sets of data in the color-coded key to the right of the graph. If you click Amazon, Marketplace New, Marketplace Used, and Sales Rank, you’re left with a plain white graph with no lines or shading.
If you click to add back the Amazon data, now you will see orange shading that indicates when Amazon has had the item in stock. If the area is orange, Amazon is in stock. Wherever you see white gaps on the graph, Amazon is out of stock. Watch what happens to the graph when you click on the different date ranges to show the bigger picture of how often Amazon is in or out of stock on the item.
If you move your cursor over the orange shading, the graph will have a small box that pops up at the top of the graph to tell you Amazon’s price and a box that pops up at the bottom to tell you the date. As you slide your cursor across the graph, you can see where the price goes down or up over time.
If you click to take all of the pricing data off the graph, you’ll see a green line come up on the graph to show the changes in sales rank over time. This data is presented the opposite of CamelCamelCamel – notice that the higher sales rank number is at the top of the graph, lower number at the bottom. Instead of an uptick in the graph to indicate a sale (like on CCC), the Keepa graph has a dip in the graph to indicate that the sales rank has lowered when a sale occurs. Be sure you make the mental shift on the sales rank graph when you go back and forth between CamelCamelCamel and Keepa.
I want to encourage you today if you’re making sourcing decisions without using historical sales rank and pricing data from Keepa or CamelCamelCamel — there is a better way to buy Amazon FBA inventory! You can make smarter sourcing decisions. Your business will hugely benefit if you take the time to learn how to use both Keepa and CamelCamelCamel.
Has this ever happened to you? You go sourcing for inventory to sell on Amazon and find some good stuff… I mean, the prices are good, the sales rank is good, but once you finally get these items to Amazon, the prices for many have either tanked, or they just never sell. You check in with these items later and see that the sales rank is now horrible, and if you decide to match the lowest price you might actually lose money. What’s going on here?
How do I do it? Here’s a hint… I use the data from two free services: CamelCamelCamel and Keepa. If you’ve heard of these services then you know just how important they can be to making smart sourcing decisions. Most people only know the basics of Keepa and/or Camel, but I think it’s time that everyone knows just how powerful these two free tools can be. If used correctly, they can revolutionize your Amazon business.
The course is a 130+ page ebook and 30+ module video course that walks you through both the basics and advanced strategies to use both CamelCamelCamel and Keepa. To find out more about the book and to read the testimonials of those who have already read/watched the course, then click here.
As Amazon FBA resellers, we’re all looking for ways to save time and money in processing our inventory. One of the biggest ways I encourage FBA sellers to save time by spending a little money is to use a third-party listing service, rather than listing your FBA inventory directly through Amazon Seller Central.
The fewer times you can touch a piece of inventory as you process it, the better. By listing through Seller Central…and then printing your labels on a sheet of 30…and then separating the items out into the various fulfillment centers, you are spending a lot of time touching each inventory item over and over and over again. This doesn’t include the time it takes to sort your products after you bring them back from sourcing, removing any stickers, and prepping the products with poly bags or shrink wrap.
The best way to streamline the listing process is to use a third-party listing software so that you can scan the item into the software, print and attach the individual label, and sort the item into the correct fulfillment center’s box – all in one step.
For our Amazon FBA business, we use the Inventory Lab inventory management software. We love how it helps us streamline the process of listing our inventory, along with several other useful functions that we use on a regular basis. It is well worth the monthly fee to pay for this software and save a ton of time, not to mention gain access to useful reports for our business (we’ll get into that a bit more below).
Here are the reasons we find Inventory Lab to be a beneficial program to use in our Amazon FBA business:
Inventory Lab is a feature-rich listing service.
We use a barcode scanner to scan an item into the system, and Inventory Lab pulls up the item with all the information we need to price it. It shows the FBA, Merchant Fulfilled, new, and used prices, as well as whether Amazon is selling the item and who owns the buy box. It gives quick links to CamelCamelCamel and Keepa for the ASIN of the item, so we can check out sales rank and price history as we’re pricing the item.
Inventory Lab also lets us know the item’s current sales rank, category, size tier, and any prep needed, like poly bagging. We can also enter our buy cost and the supplier for each inventory item, so we can later generate reports to help us keep track of things like return on investment or the profitability of certain sources.
As we enter in the items, we always choose “Live” for “Workflow Type.” This way Inventory Lab lets us know which fulfillment center each item is assigned to, so we can sort them into piles or boxes as we go, no need to go back and sort them later — they are already in piles ready to be boxed for shipment.
Inventory Lab is packaged with the Scoutify sourcing app.
We use the Scoutify app when doing retail arbitrage. We can quickly scan the barcode of an item and have all the information we need at our fingertips to tell us if the item would be a good buy for resale: competitors’ prices, whether Amazon is in stock, potential profit, and links to CamelCamelCamel, just to name a few. You can see our detailed review of Scoutify in this recent blog post. It’s great to be able to pay one package price to get our listing service and our sourcing app together.
Inventory lab has accounting capabilities.
We are still in the process of learning everything that Inventory Lab is capable of doing in the form of bookkeeping, but so far we have found it to be helpful. If you want to make your Amazon FBA business profitable, you have to know your numbers. You can’t just assume because you’re getting disbursements from Amazon that your business is actually making money. You have to know where your money is coming from and where it is going.
You can use Inventory Lab to keep track of your buy prices, sales prices, return on investment, inbound shipping costs, money going out for refunds, money coming in from reimbursements, and more. You can even track your mileage with Inventory Lab! These are the types of numbers you need to know in depth for your business so that you can make better decisions for sourcing, for repricing, and for other services you might need to purchase.
Inventory Lab shows us reports on profitability, profit and loss, and sales tax.
One of the really cool features of Inventory Lab is that you can generate reports about profitability of your inventory. You can see the profitability of an entire category in your inventory, a particular ASIN, or a SKU.
If you entered in a supplier during the listing process, you can generate reports on supplier profitability. You can use the supplier profitability feature several different ways:
to keep track of inventory purchased by different sourcers you’ve hired
to see if certain stores or wholesale accounts are more profitable than others
to analyze how profitable an online arbitrage deal list is for your business over time
You can also generate reports about your profit and loss and your sales tax. Again, the more you know these types of numbers for your business, the more you’re able to make good decisions for your business.
Inventory Lab has so many features as a program that we’ve really just scratched the surface in this review. Like I said, we’re still in the process of learning all the ways to maximize this software in our business, and we’re more impressed with its usefulness every day.
If you’re interested in learning more about Inventory Lab, we recommend doing a 30-day free trial. You can play around with the features, send in some shipments, generate some reports, and see how Inventory Lab can work for you.
Do you use Inventory Lab? Is there anything you love about it that we didn’t mention here? Please let us know in the comments!
At times, I might include affiliate links of items that I endorse. If you click through and decide to purchase the item linked, I will make a small commission on the sale. I promise to never endorse a product only because I have an affiliate link to it. I only want to post links when it is helpful to you and your business. ~Stephen