Category Archives: Resources

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.

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!

 

Feedback Genius Review – Get More Positive (and Eliminate Negative) Feedback

feedback-genuis-reviewMost 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. Fmail-1454731_1280eedback 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.

do-it-now-1432945_12802. 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.

feedback-genius-text3. 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.

To find out more about how to handle removing negative feedback, check out this blog post or this YouTube video.

ratings-1482011_1280-14. 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.

parameters5. 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.

FB-GeniusSpecial 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.

Calculating Amazon FBA Fees – Know Your Numbers and Make Better Buying Decisions

Know Your Numbers - FeesA 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.

2631823For 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:

  1. AZ Seller app screen shotAmazon 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.)

  1. Photo Apr 15, 10 23 15 PMThird 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.)

  1. FBA CalculatorThe 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.

  1. Scanalyze 1Google 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.

Scanalyze 2

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.

If I Had To Start My Amazon FBA Business Over Again With Only $500

Start FBA Over 500Who doesn’t love a do-over?

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:

AM-Pro-Sellers1. 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.

The Pro Merchant account is also necessary for other reasons that we’ll get into below.

175_InventoryLab2. 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.

Inventory Lab comes bundled with the Scoutify sourcing app, which I use for scanning inventory at retail stores, garage sales, and thrift shops. I prefer to use Scoutify rather than the Amazon Seller app mainly because Scoutify gives me direct access to sales rank and price history on CamelCamelCamel and Keepa, which is essential for me to a make a smart sourcing decision.

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.

41MNr5dy0HL3. 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.

41IWrVLa8yL4. 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.

s15. 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.

61h-B0szXtL._SL1280_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.)

81K1bfSxJ5L._SL1500_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.

FB-Genius9. 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!

UPS-Shipping-Labels-110. 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.

brownbox211. 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.

61sL7QYmSwL._SL1500_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:

  1. A Pro Merchant account with Amazon – $40/month
  2. Inventory Lab for listing and sourcing – FREE for first month ($49/month afterwards)
  3. Barcode scanner – $22
  4. DYMO LabelWriter 450 – $70 new, $40 used
  5. Scotty peelers – $6 for 3-pack
  6. Goo Gone – $4
  7. 3-inch tape gun – $13
  8. 3-inch tape – $13 for 4-pack
  9. Feedback Genius – FREE for first 2 months ($20/month afterwards)
  10. UPS self-adhesive labels – FREE from UPS.com
  11. Shipping boxes – FREE from grocery stores, friends, etc
  12. 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!

How To Use An Impulse Sealer to Poly Bag and Shrink-Wrap Your Inventory

Impulse SealerWhen 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 SealerImpulse Sealer Amazon FBA – 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 Bags71oPWM52EDL._SL1211_ – 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 SealerImpulse Sealer Amazon FBA – 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.

41ot2QNlguL._SX425_24-inch Centerfold Shrink Wrap Film – This is the shrink-wrap film that I use for shrink-wrapping larger items like long board games, longer toys, and anything else longer than 14 inches.

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.

41sRYiyp1IL1500 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.

 

The Best (and Easiest) Way to Remove Price Stickers From Your Inventory

Remove Price TagsWhen 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:

1.41sRYiyp1IL 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.

61ZZnk9VoJL._SL1200_2. Use a Scotty Peeler to peel the price sticker off.

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.

61h-B0szXtL._SL1280_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.

91m1ynG3MGL._SX522_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.

BONUS TIPS!

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.

1801321_10202842196109886_2007613444564863176_oRemoving 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.

Using the CamelCamelCamel and Keepa Google Chrome Extensions

hqdefaultToday’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:

The Most Harmful Amazon FBA Sourcing Decision You Could Ever Make
How to Read & Understand CamelCamelCamel Graphs
How to Read & Understand Keepa Graphs

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

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

How about you? Do you use the CamelCamelCamel or Keepa Extension while sourcing? Do you have a favorite? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.