Category Archives: Sales Rank

Top 10 Tips For Finishing Strong in 2016

finishing-strong-2016First off, if you can see this… thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to read today’s blog post. I know Q4 is crazy busy, and I hope my blog posts can help you take action t0 save time and increase your profits.

As we all know, the holiday selling season is in full bloom, and I hope you’ve been able to stock the Amazon warehouses with as much quality inventory as you possibly can. It seems pretty obvious to say, but you can’t sell a lot of items if you don’t have a lot of items in stock. To help you continue to make this month your best selling month ever, here are my top ten tips for finishing strong in 2016:

christmas-lights1. Reprice holiday related items. It’s crunch time. Log into Seller Central and check all of your holiday related items in your inventory. Do a keyword search for words like “holiday” and “Christmas” and make sure that all of your holiday items are competitively priced. While some of these seasonal items actually sell throughout the year, there might still be some in stock that you need to reprice. As always, double check with CamelCamelCamel and Keepa to see what prices and sales you could possibly expect. If you have multiples of higher ranked holiday items, it’s probably a good time to lower your prices to get the sale. You don’t want to hold on to these items another full year… especially with long term stores fees coming up in February.

2. The week before Christmas is a Prime spending frenzy! For items sold through FBA, hold on to your prices that you think will sell for Christmas. It’s not rare to see an item going for $15 on December 14th to be selling for $25 on December 19th. This is especially true for items where you’re the only FBA seller or one of a few FBA sellers. On the other hand, if the competition for sales is fierce, you might want to lower your price just a little to sell out before the newbie Amazon sellers freak out and lower their prices too far.

returns.jpg3. Be prepared for an increase in returns. Naturally, with an increase in sales, there is also an increase in returns. Don’t let this make you anxious or worried. It’s a natural part of selling. As you might already know, Amazon automatically refunds the FBA customer the full purchase price when the buyer requests to return an item. If the buyer fails to return the item to Amazon, then Amazon is supposed to automatically reimburse you for the item after 45 days have passed, but many times Amazon “forgets” and needs to be reminded. For more about how to make sure returned items are actually returned to Amazon, check out this popular blog post.

feedback4. Be prepared for an increase in negative and/or positive feedback. If you’re keeping to best business practices, then you’ll most likely get lots of new positive (4 or 5) feedback, but you’ll also get the occasional negative (1 or 2) or neutral (3) feedback score. If the feedback is actually about the FBA process (“my item came 2 days late”) or a product review (“this coffee maker is hard to use”), then it’s up to you to do whatever you can to get the feedback removed. Your feedback score is a huge aspect of your seller metrics. The better seller metrics you have, the more opportunities you’ll have to earn the buy box for your products. To read more about how I handle feedback issues (and how I keep a 100% feedback score), then check out this blog post.

5. Look at sales ranks differently. As you already know, the sales velocity in December shoots through the roof! This should make you look at sales rank differently than during the rest of the year. Here is an example: A toy with a sales rank of 10,000 in July might sell 25 times a week… while a toy with a rank of 10,000 in December might sell 50 times a day. This is important to know when you are out sourcing for inventory. Know that after Christmas and into January, many of these sales ranks will start to return to their normal patterns (slower sales), and it’s up to you to recalibrate your mind to what you need to expect when you’re out sourcing. Again, look at CamelCamelCamel and Keepa to see what prices and sales velocity to expect in January.

targetstore6. Be careful with sale prices at retail chain stores. Retail stores are realizing that they need to do whatever it takes to sell their stuff as soon as possible. Often, this means some outrageous clearance sales. But be careful, the items you’re finding clearanced at large national chains might be the same items hundreds of other resellers are finding. You don’t want to be slow moving on these sales. If you decide to buy, you need to get those items to Amazon as fast as possible… and I wouldn’t recommend going too deep. It’s possible that Amazon is about to be flooded with these items from other resellers sourcing at the same sales in their town. Buy fast, prep fast, and ship fast so it can sell fast.

7. Profit from selling items Merchant Fulfilled. We all love selling via FBA, but this week still provides a nice money making opportunity if you are willing to do a little more work. Selling via Merchant Fulfilled can still bring about some nice profits this week for items that buyers need to buy today. The best items to sell MF are those that both Amazon and FBA sellers have sold out of, are backordered, ones that are “Currently Unavailable” on their Amazon product page, and ones with a low rank that you don’t want to risk the extra time it takes to travel to a fulfillment center.

amazon_gift_card8. Keep sourcing for post-Christmas buyers. On the days after Christmas and well into January, many people have brand new Amazon gift cards burning a hole in their pockets. They head on over to Amazon and look for items to spend these gift cards on, and you want to be sure you have what they want waiting for them. Not only do gift card buyers show up, but so do the people who didn’t get what they wanted for Christmas. They know what they want, and since they didn’t get it, they decide to give themselves the gift they really want. Again, you want to be sure you have what they want when they go shopping for themselves.

list-of-updated-after-christmas-sales-20099. Buy Christmas-themed items at huge discounts. The week before, and right after Christmas, all of the Christmas related items go on sale at drastically reduced prices. This is a great time for you to stock up for your Amazon inventory. Like I’ve said before, seasonal items sell both in and out of season. I’ve seen Christmas ornaments sell in May, candy canes sell in March, and holiday DVDs sell in August. The stuff sells year round, but especially in July as people have “Christmas in July” parties. So, now might be a good time to buy holiday decor at 75% – 90% off. Again (I might be sounding like a broken record by now), check CamelCamelCamel and Keepa to see what prices and sales velocity to expect throughout the year.

10. Look towards the new year. Why am I talking about the new year in December? I honestly believe that if you wait until the first of January to start thinking about the new year, then you’re already behind in the game and are at a disadvantage. Imagine someone showing up for a marathon without doing any training beforehand. The runner would most likely quit before they even pass the 5 mile marker. Don’t be that guy. When January 1 arrives, we all begin a 365 day marathon, and I want to be sure you are ready for the journey. One great way is to grab my book, The Reseller’s Guide to a Year in FBA: A Month by Month Guide to a Profitable Amazon Business. This resource will help you know exactly what to do and what to avoid for each month of the year.

How about you? What strategies are you implementing to finish strong in 2016? I’d love to hear your ideas, so comment below.

 

Overcoming Your Fear of Buying High Ranked Items

Fear of High Ranked ItemsI’m like any other Amazon FBA seller out there – if I could source and sell only low ranking, fast turning items at 100% ROI (return on investment) or higher, I would choose to do that every day, all day. That’s what we all want to do, right? Maximize our ROI and maximize the speed with which we get that return back in our bank account.

Today I want to share with you 5 times that I don’t shy away from buying high ranked items to resell on Amazon. Through careful research and critical thinking, it is possible to turn high ranked items into big profits on Amazon FBA. In some instances, you don’t have to fear that a high ranked item lacks potential value for resale.

First, let’s talk through a few points related to sales rank so that we can get on the same page for the rest of the conversation:

  • Product DetailsThe sales rank (also known as BSR for “best seller rank”) of a product on Amazon is number that represents a snapshot in time of how recently and how many units an item is selling compared to other products within the same Amazon category.
  • A low sales rank means more sales. A #1 best seller is selling really well.
  • A high sales rank means fewer sales.
  • Low ranking items are more likely to sell faster than high ranking items.
  • Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 11.20.05 AMSales rank is relative to the number of items in a category. A rank of 1 million in books is in the top 2%, which is very different from 1 million in toys, the top 15 or 20%. (Be sure to subscribe for our free sales rank chart in your email inbox every month, so you can keep track of the sales ranks for each Amazon category.)
  • High sales rank might mean fewer sales, but don’t skip over one crucial piece of information in that statement: An item with a high sales rank has had sales. If something sells once, it could potentially sell again.

So back to our topic for today…here are the 5 times you don’t need to be afraid of buying high ranked items to resell on Amazon:

1. When an item’s sales price is artificially high

Many times when an item on Amazon is priced artificially high,the sales rank also becomes very high. By artificially high, I mean those items that you pick them up, you scan them, and your jaw drops at how incredibly high the sales price is. I know, that’s not a very specific definition.

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You can get a clearer definition of an artificially high sales price by looking at the CamelCamelCamel or Keepa data for an item. If the historical data for an item shows that the sales rank is much lower when the item is priced much lower, then you know that the current high price is artificially high. Customers aren’t willing to buy it at the higher price, and it may or may not ever sell again at that high price. If I can source the item at a low buy cost and still make a good ROI by lowering the sales price back into a reasonable range, I am not afraid to buy this type of high ranked item.

2. When an item is out of stock on Amazon

Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 5.43.57 PMAgain, the longer time passes from an item’s last sale on Amazon, the higher the sales rank of that item will go. If an item is out of stock or “currently unavailable” on Amazon, the sales rank will continue to creep upwards until it might eventually go back to N/A or zero sales rank. If I can source an item with a high rank that is currently unavailable on Amazon and the data on CamelCamelCamel shows that it was once selling at a good rank and price, I will buy that item in a heartbeat!

3. When Q4 is approaching

CCC Q4The closer it gets to Q4, the more I’m willing to expand my sales rank parameters when sourcing for Amazon FBA. Sales velocity during Q4 increases to such an extent that higher ranking items will sell at a faster rate than they will during other times of the year. A toy that sells once a month throughout the rest of the year could sell once a day during Q4. Once again you will want to look at CamelCamelCamel for the historical data in Q4 of previous years to see if you can expect the sales rank to pick up at that time of year.

4. When the product page needs improvement and it’s worth my time to improve it

116_1409831933There are some really crummy product pages in the Amazon catalog. Sometimes the reason an item has a high sales rank is because the picture stinks, the title is awful, the product description is nonexistent, or the keywords are pathetic. One or two little improvements can make a huge difference in how quickly a product will sell on Amazon. For an outstanding resource on creating and improving Amazon product pages, check out Amazon Advantage by Karon Thackston.

The key in making a smart sourcing decision in this situation is to decide if it’s worth your time to attempt to make those improvements. Sometimes a product page can be easy to change, and other times it can take a lot of back and forth with Seller Central to make the change. Sometimes you need to submit multiple photos and screen shots in order to get approval for a change. If you find a high ranked item with an outstanding ROI or you find multiples of an item that will bring you a hefty profit, go for it with making those product page improvements! (If it’s a one-off item with low ROI, I would pass.)

5. When I can source the item for free

If I don’t invest any money in an item and I only have one that item to sell, I will only need to pay pennies per month for storage at the Amazon warehouse. I’m willing to wait it out for these type of items to sell if their rank is high.

Note: I do not send in multiples of high ranked items because I want to avoid long term storage fees.

Hopefully these 5 scenarios have given you some ideas of high ranked items you should not be afraid of finding while you’re out sourcing. I want to emphasize that in general I prefer to source low ranking items; the scenarios above are exceptions to my usual sales rank parameters.

Also, many people ask what I consider to be a “good” sales rank for FBA sourcing and, conversely, what would constitute a “high” sales rank. This is a question that each seller needs to decide for themselves based on their experience, their available capital, how quickly they need to make their money back, and several other factors. Some sellers like to stay in the top 1% of sales rank for a category. Others prefer 3% or 5%.

Do you have any other scenarios you would add to our list above? Are there other times that you would buy a high ranked item to resell? Let us know in the comments!

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.

How to Read & Understand CamelCamelCamel Graphs

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

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

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

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

Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 3.47.11 PM

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

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

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

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

Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 3.50.21 PM

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

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

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

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

Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 3.49.16 PM

How many sales did you get?

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

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

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

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

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

10 Things You Need to Know For A Profitable Q4

Q4_logo_on blackQ4. For an online seller, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Sales and profits seem to go through the roof as more and more people buy stuff online for the holidays. If you’re just assuming that Q4 is going to be great for you but you’re not doing anything differently, then you might miss out on some amazing opportunities to increase your Q4 profits. The following are 10 things you need to know about Q4.

1. For those of you experiencing your first Q4, you might be worrying that your sales have not yet really increased as much as you thought. This is because while the business world sees Q4 as October to December, Q4 for the Profit-graph-260x259Amazon sales world is actually November to January. Don’t worry… Amazon Q4 really starts to gear up in November and will go absolutely crazy in December.

2. While the bulk of Q4 sales happen in December, many sellers (including myself) have found that January can be almost as profitable as December is. As long as you still have lots of inventory, you will still sell a lot in January. Why? Because people are finally going to Amazon and getting what they actually wanted for Christmas. Not only that, but everyone will be using their Amazon gift cards they received on Christmas day. Be sure your inventory is still well stocked for January, so you don’t miss out on the last month of the Amazon Q4.

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 5.41.50 PM3. What I deem as acceptable sales ranks for inventory purchases changes a lot during Q4. While I might shy away from a toy ranked 200,000  to 300,000 during the summer, I’ll almost always buy that item as Q4 is approaching. Why? During Q4, the sales velocity increases exponentially. So while a toy consistently ranked 250,000 might sell only twice a month… come December of Q4, that same toy might sell once a day.

4. Many Amazon sellers start to freak out a bit when they get an email from Amazon about their “Holiday Selling Guidelines for the Toys & Games category.” For those who don’t know, Amazon decides which sellers are eligible to sell in Toys & Games category during the holiday season. Sellers worry that they might not be approved to sell toys during the holidays and begin to stress out. One thing that Amazon needs to do a better job of is communicating that these guidelines only pertain to Amazon sellers who are selling MERCHANT FULFILLED toys. If you are selling toys via FBA, then you are automatically approved to sell toys during the holiday sales season. Again, these guidelines only apply if you are mailing your inventory directly to the buyer (merchant fulfilled).

ID-10044546-resize-380x3005. If you reprice your inventory on a regular basis (either manually or with an online repricer) then I might suggest stopping, or at least slowing down. Sales start to increase during Q4 so much that an item that sells for $14 today (early October) might potentially sell for $30 a month from now. Take a moment and research your item on CamelCamelCamel and see if the price of that item tends to go up during Q4. If it does, leave your price alone and make more profits than if you lowered your price. You might even want to raise some of your prices.

6. Many of you wonder if you should try to focus on reselling the toys from each store’s “Holiday Hot Toy” list. My personal plan of attack is to avoid most of these toys. My reasoning is this: If a store tells you what toy will be the “hot” toy this holiday season, then it’s reason enough to assume that the store will be heavily stocked with those particular toys. The toys that you want to find to resell during Q4 are the toys that will be harder to find come December. If you’re interested in learning more about the Q4 strategy that I’m learning and implementing this year, then check out Jim Cockrum’s Proven Q4 Plan.

images-37. Want to save even more money on the stuff you want to sell in Q4? Buy discounted gift cards. I personally love raise.com and cardpool.com, but there are other sites out there that do the same thing. I’ve bought $100 Walgreens gift cards for $75… that’s $25 in free sourcing money! Find other great gift cards from stores like Target, TJMaxx, Tuesday Morning, Big Lots, Walmart, and more! If a store offers gift cards, then most likely you can get some free money to source with by purchasing discounted gift cards.

8. Stock up on supplies! When everyone is in the thick of Q4 madness, you don’t want to suddenly discover that you have run out of 3-inch packing tape, Dymo labels, suffocation warning labels, or any other supply that is necessary to run your business. Stock up today while you have the time.

returns.jpg9. Nobody likes returns, but just remember this: With increased sales come increased returns. There is no avoiding it. There will also be an increase in warehouse and distributor damaged items, as well as warehouse lost items. It’s ok. For most situations, Amazon will reimburse you for the items they lose or damage. Important: Don’t just assume that these reimbursements will be automatic. Make sure that Amazon not only reimburses you for items they lose, but that they also reimburse you for items your customer never actually returns.

10. When Q4 hits, some resellers go into overdrive and spend every waking hour sourcing, buying, prepping, and shipping. They sometimes forget about what’s really important: family. Don’t let the dollar signs blind you. Look around and spend quality time with your family. Remember what the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons are truly about and reflect upon God’s great gift to us all. When we remember what’s truly important, it gives us the right perspective. And that’s more important than any Amazon payout could ever be.

I hope these ten tips will help you have a profitable and meaningful Q4. If you’d like to share more tips about this most wonderful time of the year, please feel free to comment below. I’d love to hear how you make the most of Q4.

How to Find the Number of Items in Each Amazon Category (plus a freebie!)

it_photo_107887One of the most frequent questions I get in my inbox from Amazon sellers like you is this one:

How can I find out how many items are in an Amazon category?

Before I show you my quick and easy process that I use to find out how many items are in a particular Amazon category, I want to talk about why it’s important to know this information.

IMG_2322When you’re out sourcing for profitable products to sell on Amazon, you’re probably looking at two main pieces of information: the item’s ROI and its sales rank. Sure, there are other factors that go into whether or not you decide to buy something to sell on Amazon, but those are usually the main two numbers you consider.

The first number we usually look at is the potential ROI of the product. We want to make sure we are going to make money selling this item on Amazon. Not only do we want to make a profit, but we also want to make sure we have some wiggle room in case the price of the item goes down.

The second number we usually look at is the sales rank. This is the number that gives us a glimpse into the potential speed of the item selling. The lower the sales rank number is, the faster it should sell. There are so many different things to think about when looking at sales rank, but most people agree that an item with a sales rank consistently in the top 5% of its category is a potential fast flip. This is not always the case, but for most items and categories, it is.

So, one really smart sourcing tip is to learn the sales ranks of each category and what sales rank numbers are in the top 5% of said category. How do we do this? With simple math.

Number of items in category x .05 = Top 5% of that category.

Ok, here is the simple way I find out how many products Amazon has in their individual categories:

1. Go to Amazon.com and choose the category you want to know about. 
2. Type the minus or dash symbol immediately followed by a few random letters (yes, really). 
3. Click on “Go” or just do a hard return on your keyboard. 
4. The results will show you how many items are in that category currently. 

Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 10.09.37 AM

Using this method, I’ll show you how I found out how many items are in the Toys and Games category.

1. I went to Amazon and chose the Toys and Games category
2. I typed in “-flksjhdflkjsh” (without quotes) in the search bar.  
3. I clicked on “Go.”
4. The results showed me that there are currently 2,609,918 items in the Toys and Games category. 
 

Keep reading, because I have a free download that will save you tons of time… But first, a few more thoughts about Amazon product pages and sales rank.

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 9.20.56 AM The little trick above will only show you the number of items in a particular category that Amazon currently has in stock. If you wanted to include the out of stock items in this equation, you would simply need to scroll down and check “Include Out of Stock” and you will then get the numbers of every item in the Amazon catalog for that category. I don’t suggest this because some of the items that are “out of stock” have been out of stock for years and don’t need to be included in your overall search. In fact, if you include the out of stock items when looking at the Toys & Games category, the number of items in the catalog jumps from 2.6 million to over 5.1 million.

Amazon both adds and subtracts items to their catalog daily, so it’s probably a good idea to check back from time to time to make sure your numbers are up to date. You don’t need to check back daily, but I would suggest looking at the numbers about once a quarter.

The trick above also works with some of the sub categories. Say you want to find out how many games there are in the toy category. All you’d need to do is the “-jgojfojf” search for Toys, and then click on the sub category of Games on the left side column. By searching today, you would find that there are currently 329,630 games. This might be some good information to know, but if you’re using a scouting app like Profit Bandit, the app usually only returns the sale rank for the main categories.

Different categories have their own personalities. From my experience, in some categories, the top 5% is a good number to aim for, while in other categories, an item near the 5% mark might still take a long time to sell. Other categories I think it’s ok to expand to the top 10%… but you only begin to know this over time as you see what sells quickly and what takes a longer time than expected. And don’t be afraid of long tail items (items that take a long time to sell, but bring back a return well worth the wait).

salesrank-camelchart-locale-usasin-b0011457neforce-1zero-0w-725h-440legend-1ilt-1tp-allfo-0lang-en2014-12-0903_37_29Sales ranks are fluid… they change many times a day. When you see a sales rank, you’re seeing a snapshot of the popularity at that moment. A book might have a sales rank of 4 million one day, and then the day after it sells, the rank could jump all the way to 600,000. That’s a huge leap, but one that happens daily. For more of my tips on sales ranks, be sure to check out these blog posts.

FREEBIE!!

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 11.20.05 AMOk, so now that you know how to find out how many items are in each of Amazon’s product categories, and you know the formula for finding which items are in the top 5%, what if I just gave you a free download that gives you all this info for free? Sound good? I’ll go a step even further… if you click the image to the right, you can have a FREE PDF emailed to you that contains every main Amazon category broken up into the top 10%, 5%, and top 1%. The data on the PDF is updated every 2 months, so it’s the most accurate data around. All you need to do is click the button below and in a few minutes, you’ll get your PDF download for free.

Click To Get Your FREE Amazon Sales Rank PDF

After you grab your free PDF, then it’s your turn… Go to Amazon, pick a random category, and use my little trick above.  I’d love if you’d comment below how many products are currently in that category. Ready? Set… Go!

Case Study – Electronics Sales Ranks and Competing Against Amazon

In a blog post a few weeks ago, I asked you, according to your own sourcing strategies, if you would buy a particular Electronic item or not. Here’s the item we looked at:

Product: Adonit Jot Pro Fine Point Stylus – Silver
ASIN: B00931DHKM
Clearance price at Target: $3.94
Total available for sale: 20

 Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 4.50.23 PM

 

I asked you to do the research yourself, check out CamelCamelCamel, the product reviews, and anything else you might think would help, and see if this is an item you would like to purchase for resale. Many of you tried this little exercise and 17 of you even commented with what you would do. It was so interesting to read everyone’s opinions of what they would do. Some said they would pass completely, while others said they would buy them all. Each of you had your own fascinating reasons why you decided to pass, buy all, or buy some.

I’ll let you in on what my step-by-step thought process was on this item, and then I’ll tell you what I’d do if I found 20 of these little stylus pens on clearance at Target for $3.94.

profit-bandit1. Scouting App – Scan the item with your preferred scouting app (I use Profit Bandit). Look at the FBA competition and the current rank.

2. Check Amazon – Since most scouting apps return incomplete information, click through to the Amazon sales page to check out the possible competition you may be facing (Profit Bandit provides a quick link to the item’s product page). On Amazon, you can see the full picture.

camelcamelcamel_amazon_price_tracker3. CamelCamelCamel – Research the item’s CamelCamelCamel page. For those of you who don’t know about CCC, it’s a very useful website that attempts to track both prices and sales ranks for millions of items on Amazon. CCC is not perfect, but they usually do a great job of giving us a good picture of how often an item sells and what the lowest sales prices are at any given moment in the past.

4. Look at the Rank – A rank under 1000 is usually amazing, except that many times, when scouting apps return a Consumer Electronic sales rank, it is actually returning a sub-sales rank (click here for more on that). Be sure you know if the rank you are seeing is the rank for the full category or the sub-category.

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 1.51.56 PM5. Check Customer Reviews – To get a better idea about how often an Electronics item sells on Amazon you can always look at the customer reviews. Customers rarely leave a review of an item they bought on Amazon, so when an Electronics item has many reviews, then it means that it’s sold rather often.

6. Check Recent Customer Reviews – Be sure to check how recent the reviews are. Just because a DVD player has 1000 reviews, doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea to buy that DVD player for the purposed of resale. 99% of the reviews could have come before 2007, with only a few reviews here and there since then. You want to find frequent, recent reviews.

7. But What About Bad Reviews? – I never look at how many one star reviews an item gets when making a buying decision. Am I just asking for a refund? Maybe… but from my experience, people are more prone to leave negative reviews than positive ones. Even if I see a lot of negative reviews, I’m not scared.

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 1.59.07 PM8. Compete with Amazon? – This is often a difficult decision. If Amazon is a seller of an item I’m sourcing, then I need to ask myself, “Do I match Amazon’s sales price or price the item lower? If I price to match Amazon’s price, then I’ll have to wait for them to sell out before I get the sales (or maybe they’ll share the buy box with me from time to time). Amazon could have only 5 in stock… or they could have thousands. If I price lower than Amazon, then I’d be getting a lower ROI.

9. Possible Future Competition – When doing retail arbitrage, it’s a good thing to consider that other resellers may be finding the exact same thing you are. Retail chains often clearance out the same items, so it’s possible that if you find 5 of an item, 100 other people also might be finding 5 at their local store, too.

To some, this may seem like an overwhelming process that might not be worth the time. For me, the fact that there are 20 of these stylus pens on clearance at Target make it worth the time. And honestly, once you do this process enough times, it becomes second nature and really only takes a minute or two.

Analysis-Paralysis3Getting as much information as you can on a possible product to resell is a good thing, but don’t let all the information paralyze you. There will rarely be an item you find that will pass 100% of your buying criteria. This process takes time, but the more you do this, the more you will understand what works best for you, and what aspects to give less weight to when it comes to your buying decisions.

Ok, back to the stylus. For some, this is a no-brainer… buy them all! For others, this is a no-brainer… pass! How can that be possible? Well, we all have different criteria for what works best with our business model. Some of us are at a stage in our business where we can handle the risk a little better better than others, while others might not be ready to risk $80.00 on buying all of these styluses. This is why I’m never worried about scouting in the same store as another reseller. What he would pass on might be what I’d buy.

Ok, so I’ll finally get to sharing with you what I’d do with this possible retail flip.

photo1. Scouting App – I scanned the item with Profit Bandit. The item is ranked 31, and the lowest FBA seller is Amazon selling it at $29.96. The app does the math for me, and states that if I match the lowest FBA price, then I’d make a profit of over $18 per item.

2. Check Amazon – I clicked through to the Amazon sales page to check out the possible competition. The lowest FBA price is indeed Amazon at $29.96. I also confirm that there is only one other current FBA seller, selling it at $29.99.

3. CamelCamelCamel – CCC does not have any current sales rank history, and they showed that both Amazon and other 3rd party sellers have priced this item as new somewhere between $20-30 on a consistent basis.Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 12.42.52 PM

4. Look at the Rank – To find out exactly what this “31 sales rank” meant, I went to Amazon.com on my smartphone’s internet browser. From there, I learn that the 31 sales rank is in the subcategory of Electronics -> Accessories & Supplies -> Computer Accessories -> Input Devices -> Graphic Tablet Styluses. That means there are 30 other graphic tablet styluses with a better sales rank. Something to consider.

5. Check Customer Reviews – Currently, this Stylus Pen has 799 reviews. If almost 800 people left a review for this item, then it’s safe to say that it’s at least sold 800 times, and most likely more.

photo-26. Check Recent Customer Reviews – It looks like there were 12 reviews in the last week alone. As I continue to search, I find 11 reviews the week before, and 9 reviews the week before that. This is a HUGE sign that this item sells, and sells very often.

7. But What About Bad Reviews? – There are occasional bad reviews, but plenty of positive reviews. If I sell all 20 of this item, then maybe (maaaaaaaaaybe) one will be returned. I’m ok with that one return while possibly making almost $18 per stylus.

8. Compete with Amazon? – I did a little digging and found out that Amazon has over 999 of these stylus pens on stock. How did I find that out? Click here for a quick tutorial on how to find out how many of an item a seller (even Amazon) has currently in stock.

9. Possible Future Competition – There are 20 of these stylus pens on clearance at Target. The good news is that it might be possible that you could go to more Targets and find even more. The bad news is that if this item is clearanced at every Target, then many other resellers will also find these and join you in selling. More competition and the possibility of that competition lowering prices are something to consider.

So what would I decide to do? Personally, I would take the risk and buy them all.

keep-calm-and-buy-it-now1) The ROI is incredible.
2) There are plenty of very recent reviews to suggest that this item sells often.
3) With the Target Red Card, I can get an additional 5% off and an extended return period of 120 days.
4) With the amount of reviews this item gets, I would not be too concerned with additional competition coming into the picture. If they lower the price where it’s not profitable for me, then I’m ok with waiting to get my price. Often, patience brings profits.
5) Amazon is really my only main concern, but I could still price below Amazon to get sales and hope that Amazon doesn’t lower their price.

So there you have it. Remember, there is no right or wrong answer. I’m not telling all of you who wanted to pass on this item that you are wrong. We all have different business models and risk tolerance for sourcing. Continue to do what works best for you, and occasionally try something different.

 So what would you do? Buy? Pass? Would you match Amazon’s price, or price the stylus lower? How much lower would you price it at? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Share below.

 

Decoding the Electronics Amazon Sales Rank Code

photoMost resellers rely on Sales Rank when making purchasing decisions. For reasons known only to Amazon, the category of Electronics (sometimes called Consumer Electronics) often does not provide a category wide sales rank. Many times when scanning an Electronics product, a scouting app (like Profit Bandit or ScanPower) will return a sales rank of N/A (Not Available or Not Applicable). In almost all other categories, a rank of N/A really means that the sales rank is zero. To read more about why an item would have a zero sales rank, click here. Sometimes, however, the scouting app will return a numerical sales rank, but be very careful what you decide to do with that number.

PB Buy AllWhen an Electronics sales rank number is given, it’s almost always the rank of an Electronics subcategory. One time I was out scouting and found multiples of an item that showed a rank of 92 in Electronics. The store clearance priced them at only 50 cents each! With over 27 million items in the Electronics category, 92 looked like an amazing rank. I bought a few of those items and brought them back to the house. I was preparing to send them in to FBA when I noticed that the sales rank was now showing N/A. I looked back on my scouting app and it still was showing a rank of 92. I did some more research and found out that the item I had was not ranked 92 out of the 27,000,000+ items in Electronics, but was ranked 92 out of 120 in the subcategory of Electronics > Accessories & Supplies > Blank Video Media > Minidiscs.

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 4.49.30 PM

I was curious if this item could still possibly sell well on Amazon. I went to check CamelCamelCamel to see what information they could provide about this product. CCC is a website that provides sales rank and pricing history for most Amazon products. Their data is not perfect, but it can give the reseller a good idea how often and for how much an item might sell. When I checked CCC, there was no current sales rank or pricing history, so that was a dead end.

Since CCC lead me nowhere, I decided to look at the reviews on the item’s sales page on Amazon. At first, things looked good. This item had over 100 reviews, mostly 5 star, but then I noticed that the most recent review was from 2009. The review before that was from 2008. The bulk of the reviews came from 2006-2007. Even a well-reviewed product might not still be selling today.

I concluded that this item was not worth sending in to Amazon. I now do this research (checking CCC and product reviews) on almost every electronic item I might purchase to sell. Needless to say, I was glad I only bought a few of these items as they quickly were added to my garage sale pile.

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 4.50.23 PMOk, now it’s your turn to try this out. I’m going to give you an Electronic item, and I want you to do the research yourself. Check out CamelCamelCamel, the product reviews, and anything else you might think would help, and see if this is an item you would like to purchase for resale.

Product: Adonit Jot Pro Fine Point Stylus – Silver
ASIN: B00931DHKM
Clearance price at Target: $3.94
Total available for sale: 20
 

No really, don’t just keep reading. Do the research. I promise… it’ll only take you a few minutes and will help you tremendously in the future when you are sourcing and come across electronic items. Bonus points if you practice doing the research on your smart phone instead of the computer.

In the comments below, let me know if you would buy the item, how many, and why. I can’t wait to read what you have to say. And no cheating! Do your own research before reading what others have to say.

UPDATE: To find out what I would do for this item and what my thought process was when I made my decision, click here.

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Find out more about The Reseller’s Guide to a Year in FBA: A Month by Month Guide to a Profitable Amazon Business today. The package includes a 200-page ebook, monthly live webinars, and 4 special bonuses.

Why I Bought a Toy Ranked 1.2 Million for Resale

When it comes to sales rank, every Amazon seller has their own idea of what a “good” sales rank is. For me, I’ll almost always buy a toy that is consistently ranked under 150,000. I’ll even buy a toy that is ranked much higher, as long as the number of competing sellers is low and the ROI of the toy is high. But a toy ranked over 1 million? What reseller in their right mind would buy a toy ranked over 1 million? Well… me.

Screen Shot 2014-06-21 at 4.38.21 PMDo I buy up all toys ranked over 1 million? No, I don’t. Sales rank is just one part of the decision process I go through to when I’m making my buying decisions. I’ll blog soon about my own personal checklist when it comes to buying decisions. As you spend more time selling on Amazon, you begin to realize that sales rank is just a number that signifies how recently a particular item has sold. A toy with a really low sales rank (1-1000) sells possibly many times per day, whereas a toy with a higher sales rank could possibly only sell once a week, once a month, or even once a year. A low sales rank does not ever guarantee that a particular item will sell. It only states how recently and often an item has sold.

About a month ago, I was walking through a local Goodwill store when I came across an electronic “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” handheld game. It was still brand new in its original packaging. Goodwill was asking $2.00, so I picked it up and scanned it. The information that was returned to me told me that this toy was ranked over 1.2 million, and had no current sellers. I checked camelcamelcamel.com and it did not have any pricing or sales rank history. Many times, I would have put this toy back on the shelves and kept on sourcing, but I just couldn’t let it go.

Screen Shot 2014-06-21 at 4.35.01 PMI knew that “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” was a popular game. I had sold a few of the board game versions in the past with great success. I didn’t know that they made an electronic handheld version. I had also had some success with selling electronic handheld games, but that didn’t mean that this game would be guaranteed to sell fast.

I started to think… Since this game had no current sellers, it’s possible that the rank was so high because it had been so long since it was even available to be sold on Amazon. The longer an item has no sellers, the faster its sales rank will rise, until, at one point, the sales rank might disappear all together.

AppIcon_eBay_Dec_2013I decided to investigate how well this toy was doing on other selling platforms. I opened up the eBay app on my phone and decided to check out the most recent completed auctions. There is a search feature on the eBay app that lets you look at the most recent completed auctions. I was happy to see that the “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” handheld electronic game was selling a few times a month on eBay.

When I saw the success that some eBay sellers were having selling this game, I decided it was worth buying. The completed eBay sales also told me that buyers were spending around $10.00 to $15.00 (shipping included) for this toy. I decided to buy the toy and list it on Amazon for $19.99. This was more than eBay sellers were selling it for, but I had a plan. If it didn’t sell within a few months, I’d start to lower the price a little.

I bought this item from Goodwill for $2.00 on May 25th. Two days later, it was on it’s way to an Amazon FBA warehouse. I’m happy to inform you that yesterday, this toy sold at my $19.99 sales price. Now, I’m wondering if I should have priced it even higher. In any case, I turned a $2.00 investment into a $20 sale. I’ll take that any day, and all it took was one minute researching the eBay app to see how it was selling on that platform.

Screen Shot 2014-06-21 at 4.34.18 PMUpdate: As of yesterday, the sales rank for the “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader” electronic handheld game jumped from 1,267,961 all the way to 96,151.

Note: If you want a FREE PDF download of the latest Amazon Category Sales Rank, all you gotta do is click here.

So what about you? What other things do you think about when you making your buying decisions? Have you ever taken a gamble with an item ranked super high? How did it turn out for you?

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If you’re looking to learn more about how to know exactly how long it might take for an item to sell on Amazon, be sure to watch my free tutorials on how to understand Keepa and how to understand CamelCamelCamel or check out my book/video course, The Reseller’s Guide to How to Keepa Camel: Using Amazon Sales History to Make Smart Sourcing Decisions.

 

 

To Share or Not to Share a BOLO

man-looking-through-binoculars2In our last blog post, we talked about how to capitalize on a BOLO. We shared many ideas of how to make the most out of both your time and your money when it comes to a BOLO.  Note: In today’s blog, we’ll be discussing retail store BOLOs (not garage sale, thrift store, or other types of BOLOs).

As you may know, BOLO stands for “Be On the Look Out” and generally refers to a hard-to-find product that you need to be looking for in order to buy cheap and flip for high profits. It only takes a few months of doing FBA to recognize that you keep finding a specific product that seems to resell fairly fast. Most BOLOs are  hard to find (i.e. limited production or out of print items), but sometimes it’s an item that can be found many places. You’re always on the look out for these items and sometimes hop from store to store looking for them. It could be clearance or regular priced, but you always are looking for them to buy and flip.

Some resellers are totally against sharing BOLOs while others share them often. So what should you do when you find a BOLO? Should you share it or keep the find to yourself? The choice is up to you, but I’d like for you to consider a few things before making your choice.

1. Is it really a BOLO?

Just because you scan an item and all the Amazon sellers are asking big bucks for it, doesn’t make it a BOLO. The rank and the ROI (return on investment) both need to be good. It would help if the product has good reviews and is a brand name. Just because you scan “Miss Suzy Cries A Lot” (a toy with no sales rank) and everyone on Amazon is asking $200 for it, doesn’t make it a BOLO.

2. Is it possible that this item really isn’t that hard to find?

Hard To FindThink of what would happen if you shared a BOLO that could be found at almost every Walmart store. Sure, you keep buying that item for $5 and selling it for $25, but what would happen if 100+ other resellers started doing the same thing? Chances are that, over time, the price would most likely be lowered significantly, and you would not resell your item as fast as you were before. Maybe you have the patience to wait for the prices to rise back to what you’d like to sell it for, but the timing for that possible rise is completely unknown. If the item is not hard to find, then it might be in your own best interest to keep this find to yourself.

3. Are you OK with revealing someone else’s BOLO?

Sure, you may have found a great item from Walgreens to flip. In fact, you drove all over town to visit all 10 Walgreens in your area to buy them out of that particular item. You sent the items in to Amazon, and they sold fast. You keep going to Walgreens to see if they will be restocked, but they never are. You decide to share your BOLO find online so you could help others, but someone else isn’t too happy about it. You see, they too have found that item and have been reselling it on Amazon for months. Their stores keep restocking, so they keep reselling. But now, someone else has shared this item online and what once was a quick source of income for them has now slowed down dramatically.

4. How would you feel if someone broadcasted your personal BOLO?

I’ve had one of my BOLO items broadcasted, and I wasn’t too happy about it. But it also didn’t ruin my day. I know that this is just part of business, and I expect it to happen again sometime.

I’m not telling anyone what decision to make when it comes to sharing BOLOs, but I do think that we all need to think about these things before we post a BOLO publicly.

So, what do you do if someone shares one of your precious BOLOs and you’re not happy about it? How you respond to this happening to you could either make or lose you money in the long run, so it’s very important to think about how to best respond.

1. Respond with respect. Most of the responses I’ve seen online to BOLO broadcasts have been rude and disrespectful. This kind of response does no good for anyone.

2. Respond with a direct message. Consider sending a direct message to the one who posted the BOLO and explain your situation. Perhaps they’d consider removing the post if they understood where you are coming from. I think most people would understand and possibly remove the BOLO broadcast.

3. Decide how you want to react with your current BOLO items on Amazon. If you think that hundreds of your BOLO items are headed to Amazon, do you want to sell out as fast as possible, or will you hold on to the item and wait it out? I teach that patience brings profits, but I also know that some of you work with a business model that focuses on quick flips.

BOLOs are great, but don’t focus your business around them. They are nice every now and then, but eventually others will find out about this item or the store you buy them from will not restock them anymore. A business model focused around BOLOs will not survive in the long run. You need to have a well rounded list of inventory items (long tail, short tail, BOLOs, etc).

What do you think? What experiences do you have with BOLOs? Is there a good time to share a BOLO? What have you learned about BOLOs that you’d like to share with the group? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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