Category Archives: Tips & Tricks

How to Know What to Do Next in Your Amazon FBA Business

what-to-do-nextInformation about selling on Amazon is everywhere… Blogs, Facebook groups, YouTube, eBooks, video courses, and even live conferences. There is such a vast amount of information available, both free and paid, how can you ever filter through all the noise and decide on your best course of action?

I wish I could just tell you exactly what to do next, but that would not be the best advice to give you. Your situation, your finances, your time, your skills, and your passions are all unique to you, and therefor what you need to do next is also unique to you.

While I can’t give you a simple step by step process on exactly what to do next, here are 5 things you need to think about that will help you see your next steps with much more clarity.

manage-time1. TIME – I think the first thing you need to do is to consider how much your time is worth to you… If you have a TON of time available, then it’s not a bad idea to look for as much free information online as you can. If you don’t have a lot of free time, then I recommend purchasing a quality course/book/conference so you can streamline your time and get focused information all in one place.

banner-quality2. QUALITY – Of course, you want to be sure that the info you learn from (either free or paid) is of top quality. The best way to do this is to put what the person teaches to the test. For paid content, see if the author has a lot of free content to consume first… then if you see the quality of the free content, purchase the paid content, since you know it’ll be good. If you have to pay to find out if the information is high quality, then make sure there is a refund policy, and then get your money back if it’s not up to your standards.

trust3. TRUST – You want to be sure you can trust the person teaching you. Again, if you can put any author’s teaching into action and get good results, you can trust their other material is good too. Trust can also come from the teacher showing you their results and proving that what they teach has worked for then. For example, here on this blog it’s our goal to help you turn part time hours into a full time income with Amazon FBA… and that’s exactly what we do. I spend about 20 hours a week on Amazon FBA and our disbursements pay our bills. We are full-time FBA sellers and from that I would think you could trust us.

photo-sep-12-11-27-57-am4. FOCUS – This is the big one… I love the acronym for FOCUS: Follow One Course Until Successful. I even have that phrase on a Post It Note on my desk. It’s so easy to think that some new strategy or book will be the answer… but if we have not followed through on strategy #1, then why would we think strategy #2 or #3 will work better? Here’s a question: Who do you think finds success faster? Person A or Person B? Person A works on learning RA on Monday, learning OA on Tuesday, learning Wholesale on Wednesday, learning Private Label on Thursday, and learning Merch on Friday… or Person B who learns ONE STRATEGY on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Of course the person who FOCUSES will find success faster.

follow-your-passion5. PASSION – Passion is the fuel that pushes you forward and helps you avoid burnout. What strategy do you feel passionate about? Which one gets you most excited? Follow that strategy until successful, and then you can look to add another strategy once your first strategy gets put on autopilot. If you’re passionate about the idea of sourcing from home via online arbitrage, then focus on that… if you love the thrill of a retail arbitrage treasure hunt, then focus on that. If you love making T-shirts, then focus on Merch. Pick something you’re passionate about and see it through.

So if you’re wondering what you need to do next in your Amazon business, you can think about the above points and see which strategy/book/blog/course/etc stands out to you… and then follow it through until successful. If you’ve started a book or course and then are tempted to jump ship to some “shiny” new strategy, just calm yourself down and finish that book or course until you can see results. If you find something that you’re passionate about and see it through until the end, you will thank yourself for the results, and you’ll continue on your road toward success that much faster.

I hope these five tips will help you find direction in what you need to do next in your Amazon FBA business. Now, I’d love to hear from you. What methods or strategies have you found to be helpful when deciding what your next step needs to be with your Amazon FBA business?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

freecycle_logo6. Get FREE inventory from Freecycle.org.

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

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

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

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

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

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 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 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.

Online Arbitrage Strategy: Troubleshooting

Online Arbitrage TroubleshootingBy now you should know how much we love using online arbitrage (OA) as a sourcing strategy for our Amazon FBA business. Today we want to talk with you about the flip side of all the wonderful benefits we’ve seen from using OA in our business.

If we only told you that doing OA can lead to big profits for your business, but we didn’t tell you about the potential drawbacks, we wouldn’t be teaching you thoroughly. We want to keep it real. OA can be awesome, but there are also some headaches associated with it.

We have found that taking a few simple troubleshooting measures can help alleviate some of the difficulties. Rather than just listing out the drawbacks to doing OA, we want to give you strategies for dealing with the problems that can arise from OA.

Damaged-GoodsProblem #1: Receiving damaged goods — It’s super disappointing to receive an OA shipment, open the box, and find that the goods inside have been crushed or damaged during shipping. With buying shoes online, sometimes the shoes may have made it to you just fine, but the shoebox was crushed during shipment.

Solution: First, it’s key to have a good mindset when you receive damaged OA goods. UPS isn’t perfect, nor is the person who packed the shipment perfect. Getting angry at other people isn’t a good use of mental energy. Just know that there will be times that shipments are damaged and you’ll need to return them or get a refund; it’s unavoidable.

As such, you must be responsible to know an online store’s return policy before you place an order with them. Some stores won’t do returns or exchanges on clearance items. Some stores will only do returns or exchanges if you bring the item in to a brick-and-mortar store. Some stores will only do returns or exchanges if you pay for return shipping. For our OA business, we keep a running list of stores we’ve had bad return experiences with, and we avoid shopping with them again.

wrong-sign_463x347Problem #2: Receiving the wrong items — Again, the people packing your shipments aren’t perfect, and sometimes you will receive the wrong items in your OA shipment. You may receive a completely different item (like the time we ordered baseball equipment and received a hockey goal), or you may receive a slightly different item (like the times we’ve received a different edition of a board game than the one we ordered).

Solution: Again, make sure you’re familiar with the store’s return policy and you know how to report the wrong items. Most stores are extremely apologetic and helpful when it comes to replacing or refunding wrong items received. We’ve even had some stores give us gift cards or free shipping and a discount code for future purchases as a way of making up for the trouble.

Before you rush to return or exchange a wrong item received, however, you should consider whether it’s even worth your time to deal with the problem. Can you resell the wrong item you received and at least break even? Would it be easier for you just to sell the wrong item and recoup your capital, rather than messing with a return?

manage-timeProblem #3: Time lag to send inventory to Amazon FBA — The great thing about retail arbitrage is that if you buy inventory today, you could theoretically send it to Amazon today, if you hustle to prep and ship it. With OA, it can take a few days or over a week for your purchases to reach you. By far the top complaint we hear from Amazon sellers who don’t like OA is that by the time their inventory goes live on Amazon.com, there’s more competition and the price has “tanked.”

Solution: We don’t deny this problem of increasing competition and lowering prices on some OA inventory. But the way to overcome this problem is to make a better buying decision in the first place. Before you click “confirm my order,” double-check the CamelCamelCamel price and sales rank history. Check the Keepa graph to see if Amazon is only temporarily out of stock on this item. You can’t always make a perfect decision, but if you’re making informed decisions with the help of price tracking graphs, you can lower your buying risk. Look for items that have a consistent price and sales rank history, not just ones that are temporarily inflated. You cannot make good buying decisions based on only today’s price and sales rank; you have to look at the history.

too-many-choices1Problem #4: I don’t know how to find good OA inventory — The number of BOLO lists and OA services is growing every day. How do I know which ones are the best?

Solution: We’ve covered in a previous blog post some strategies you can use to get free trials or pay for a test month of a service and collect information on whether it will work well with your business. You can search in Facebook groups for Amazon FBA sellers to see if people have posted reviews of services. Sometimes, though, it just takes good old trial-and-error to find out if an OA list or service is a good fit for you. Don’t be afraid to experiment.

bannedProblem #5: I’m afraid an online store might ban me as a reseller — You may hear other Amazon sellers talking about stores blocking their accounts because of their OA purchases, and you don’t want to risk it.

Solution: We’ve been doing OA for about a year now, and we have not once had an order cancelled, much less had our buying account blocked for being a reseller. We think there are two factors contributing to our success thus far: 1) We break up our purchases into smaller chunks. We will buy enough to get free shipping or meet a discount code requirement, but if we want to buy more, we make a separate purchase. If you spend upwards of a thousand dollars at a time, yes, there’s a big red flag for that online store. 2) We have everything shipped to our house, not a prep center. When your billing address and shipping address don’t match, it’s a potential red flag. When several people are making purchases with that same shipping address, that’s another red flag. Lots of people use prep centers for OA, so it’s definitely doable — but do your due diligence to find out best practices before you jump in feet first with this strategy.

We really hope you’ve enjoyed this series of posts on online arbitrage and have found them useful. Let us know in the comments if you have any more questions that we could cover in future posts!

Our 9 Favorite Chrome Extensions for Online Arbitrage

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

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

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

keepa-21. Keepa – Amazon Price Tracker

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

camelizer-chrome-screenshots-amazon2. The Camelizer

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

photo.jpg3. Amazon Assistant

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

ebates-logo-300x1564. Ebates Cash Back

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

Swagbucks-Logo5. SwagButton

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

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

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

PRICEBLINK-LO-FF7. PriceBlink

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

logo-oax8. OAXray

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

CyberMonkey-lg9. Scanalyze

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

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

How to Capitalize on Amazon’s Super Saver Shipping Price Increase

Amazon just changed the price for non-Prime members to qualify for Free Super Saver Shipping, an increase from purchases of $35 to $49 In other words, non-Prime members now have to have at least $49 of Prime eligible items in their shopping cart in order to qualify for free shipping. This can be an order containing a combination of items from every category. Another update is that book buyers can now qualify for Free Super Saver Shipping when they buy at least $25 in books.

This is the first time in over 2 years (and the 2nd time in over a decade) that Amazon has changed the price to qualify for free shipping.

Already, people on FBA forums and Facebook pages are complaining about this change, but I see it as a way for FBA sellers to capitalize on a HUGE opportunity. If you react correctly, then this change by Amazon will actually help your business. Here are some reasons to celebrate this change:

Amazon-Prime-Streaming-Video-Service-Bundles1. With this change, more people will sign up for Amazon Prime. With even more people signed up for Prime, there will be more people to buy your FBA products.

2. Before today, the “magic number” for pricing an item was $35. Since people want some items to be Fulfilled By Amazon and arrive at their door just 2 days later, some people are willing to pay just about anything to get that item fast. Before today, people would buy an item for $35 just to get it in 2 days even though there were Merchant Fulfilled sellers selling the same item for $10. Now that the price is $49, that means more people paying more money for the same items.

It will take some work, but those that react the fastest will win. I recommend doing some price changes quickly. Here is what I plan on doing with my inventory:

Price-Increase1. Change many of my $35 priced items to $49 immediately.

2. See what items I have that are priced between $40 and $48.99 and raise ALL of those prices to $49.

3. Look at the items that are currently between $30 and $39.99 and see if I want to raise those prices to $49. Based on the competition, there might be some items that I would be smart to raise the price on.

4. See if I have any books that are priced between $20 and $24.99 and raise those prices to $25.

Of course there will be some exceptions to the above rules. Exceptions come into play when you look at other current FBA prices, how many items are being sold of that item, how the particular product category works, and more… but most of my prices will be updated with this thought process in mind!

One last tip: Another “magic” price point will be $24.50. If the item you have could possibly be bought in multiple quantities, then this is a great price point for people who want to buy two. Two items at $24.50 total $49 and qualify for Free Super Saver Shipping!

So what do you think about the new $49 price point (and $25 price point for books)? How do you plan to react to these changes? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Want more info on how to make a full-time living doing FBA? Scroll up, look at the right side of your screen, and subscribe.

Why I’m Not Worried About the Post-Christmas Amazon Price Drops

price-drop-alert-resizedA quick question: Did you sell out of your entire inventory before Christmas? Neither did I. During Q4, many Amazon sellers get used to the abundance of  sales that come with the Christmas season. Actually, we get spoiled with so many sales per day that when January arrives, we get scared. All of a sudden the sales seem to stop, and for some sellers panic sets in. Some sellers think that the answer is to lower their prices ASAP in hopes of getting more sales, but is that really the answer?

One of the things I always try to remind people is patience brings profit. It’s true that sales in January are usually not as good as December, but they still can be outstanding. The question I want to ask you is this: What is your business model when it comes to selling on Amazon? If you have a model that is focused on fast turns (items that sell very quickly once they arrive at a FBA warehouse) then you will price items much differently than if you have a business model based on patience.

I sometimes hear about Amazon sellers stating they lost money on an item they purchased in the fall and were hoping to sell during the Christmas selling season. The items didn’t sell out and now the price has tanked. Sometimes the price has fallen so far that the current price on Amazon is lower than the price they paid for it back in the fall. This can be frustrating for any seller. So what is the answer?

If your business model is based on fast turns, then you might want to lower your price (even if you lose most of your money) so that you can get some of that capital back to reinvest in items that you think will bring a better and faster return. On the other hand, if you are patient, you might just see the price you want return to equilibrium and wind up making a profit. Since monthly FBA storage fees are usually around a few pennies per month per item, it would seem to me that patience could possibly pay off in the end.

CCC Q4I’ve seen it happen often: An item is selling for a great price in December, but then falls drastically in January. A few months later, the price begins to rise again, and in December the price is back up where the profit margins are the best. Does this happen 100% of the time? No, but it happens enough that the few cents per month to pay for the item to sit in an Amazon FBA warehouse might be worth the gamble. Look at the image above. Almost all year long, the prices are low, but when Q4 approaches, the prices shoot up.

ROISometimes, it’s better to have $50 five months from now than $5 today. Why? Because I adhere to the balanced business model. I try to stock my inventory with slow dimes, fast nickels, and super slow quarters. What does this mean? It means that my inventory is loaded with items that will sell fast, sell slow, and sell super slow. I’m ok with making a 30-50% ROI (Return On Investment) on the items that sell fast. On items that sell slower, I want to get at least 100% ROI, and for the items that sell super slowly (think long tail items), I want the ROI to be well above 200%. The waiting game isn’t always fun, but in this balanced business model, patience brings profit. 

I don’t want to wait 11 months if the ROI isn’t high enough. It all comes down to opportunity costs. The longer I have to wait to sell an item at a higher price, the higher the potential ROI needs to be.

20465.picIf I hold my higher price, I could sell it later and get more for my item… but if I lower the price and sell sooner, I could reinvest that capital into items that will sell much faster. Each item is different and will require a different pricing strategy. Sometimes it’s good to hold at your higher price, because you’ve seen on CamelCamelCamel that in a few months, that item will probably be selling at the higher price you have it listed at. On the other hand, if you’ve seen the CamelCamelCamel data and it looks like the price will not recover soon enough, then it’s a better idea to lower your price so you can get that capital back to invest in better inventory.

Bonus Tip: If you have multiple quantities of a particular product that hasn’t been selling and suddenly begins to sell, check to see if you need to raise the price. You don’t want to raise it so high that it won’t sell again, but raise it up enough to match everyone else’s price. If the items stop selling, you can always lower the price back to where it was.

So what about you? What works best for your business? Would you rather get your capital back to reinvest, or do you wait for the prices to return to what you’d like them to be?

*This article was originally written in 2014 but has been updated for January 2016

Overcoming Your Fear of Missing Out

FOMO“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness,” – A Tale of Two Cities.

One of the greatest opening lines of any piece of literature still accurately portrays the world that we live in today over 150 years after it was written. Today, with the internet, we have immediate access to almost any piece of information we want to lay our eyes on. While the opportunity is amazing, all the information can become very overwhelming, especially when it comes to learning how to run a successful Amazon FBA business. 

Even though there are so many great pieces of information out there, both free and paid, it could be hard sometimes not to feel like you are missing out on something you need to know. This concept actually has a name. It’s called FOMO (fear of missing out), and it’s a very real mindset.Screen-shot-2011-04-11-at-9.30.52-AM3 

This fear is one that I’ve struggled with personally the past few years. I subscribed to countless email lists on topics ranging from Amazon, FBA, private label products, wholesale information, repricing, retail and online arbitrage, as well as a handful of non-Amazon related newsletters. I was also involved in over 50 different Facebook groups related to selling on Amazon. I felt like if I wasn’t involved in every possible opportunity, then I would miss out on valuable information that would help take my Amazon business to the next level. It turns out, the opposite was true. 

What I didn’t realize was that following so many different opportunities at the same time was actually slowing down the growth in my Amazon business. I was more focused on getting information than implementing information.

So here is the simple trick I used to get over my fear of missing out: FOCUS.

You might have heard me talk about this on Periscope lately, but I’m all about FOCUS. I write the word in all caps because it’s an acronym for what I really want to remember. FOCUS: Follow One Course Until Successful.

414tVZ2FfPL._SX341_BO1,204,203,200_Gary W. Keller and Jay Papasan in their book, The One Thing, introduced me to The Focusing Question. This question has had a tremendous impact on helping me know what I need to focus on right now versus what I can save for later. The focusing questions is this: 

“What’s the ONE thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

Wow… that question revolutionized my life. I use that question when I’m deciding how to spend my time, what new part of my Amazon business I want to learn next, what podcast I’ll listen to, what book I’ll read, what store I’ll source at, what email I’ll read, what Amazon product I’ll purchase, and so on. 

Let’s break this down into the fears associated with FOMO in your Amazon business. 

learnFEAR – I’m afraid that if I don’t learn everything, I won’t be successful. 

TRUTH – If you try to learn everything at once, you’ll never get a strong enough foundation to actually put into action what you have already learned. 

ACTION – Pick one aspect of your Amazon business to learn next, and only read books, listen to podcasts, or watch videos that are on that topic. Learn that topic so well that you could teach a friend how to do it with confidence. And be patient. It takes a while to learn a new skill. Too many people get frustrated because they don’t master something very quickly. It takes time, trial and error, and experience to be able to master a topic. Once you learn that new aspect of your business, move on to the next topic you want to master.

facebook-group-iconFEAR – If I’m not in every Facebook group, I’ll miss out on a valuable piece of information that will help my Amazon business. 

TRUTH – There is not enough time in the day to read all the information in every Amazon FBA Facebook group. In fact, if you try to read it all, you’ll have no time for sourcing or other tasks that actually make you money.

ACTION – Pick only a handful of Amazon Facebook groups (like this one) to participate in. Rather than leaving or deleting the groups you don’t want to participate in, update the notification settings for those groups to OFF. You can still check in from time to time, but you won’t be notified of posts every time you log in. Then, focus on the few Facebook groups you get the most out of, and be a part of that community. The community aspect of Facebook groups is what really makes them work for your business. 

information-overloadFEAR – If I don’t read every Amazon FBA email/update/newsletter I get, I’ll miss out on some great information. 

TRUTH – Emails don’t delete themselves, so if you get an email on a topic you want to focus on later, then save it. 

ACTION – Organize your emails. I set up multiple email folders within my email app to hold important pieces of information until I’m ready to consume them. Now, when I get an email about private label, I put it in the private label folder. When I get an email about wholesale, I put it in the wholesale folder. I still have access to the information, but I don’t consume all of it, all of the time. I can choose to go back and read those emails when the time is right.

Note: I’m not referring here to emails from Amazon. I’m referring to newsletters you have subscribed to. As an Amazon FBA seller, you should always read every email from Amazon related to your seller account immediately.

SOS-buttonThe key to overcoming information overload is to focus. When you are able to focus, you don’t become susceptible to shiny object syndrome. 

Too many of us try to learn multiple aspects of the Amazon business at the same time. Who do you think finds success faster, the person who spends 1 hour a day learning 5 different areas of selling on Amazon, or the person who spends 1 hour a day learning just 1 aspect on how to sell on Amazon? The person who focuses is able to apply what they learn much faster than the person who is trying to learn a little bit of everything. 

images-2Challenge: Choose your “one thing” and then leave it in a comment below. Maybe this will help keep you accountable by posting it here. Then, stick with your “one thing” until you’ve mastered it. I can’t wait to see what your “one thing” is. 

 

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.