Category Archives: Tips & Tricks

Why You Should Consider Raising Your ASP (Average Selling Price)

Did you see that we recently released a PDF of Amazon acronyms you can print out and refer to in your FBA business? If not, you can grab a copy of the acronym list here as a handy reference.

One of the acronyms at the top of that list is ASP: average selling price. Over the next couple of blog posts, we’re going to discuss ASP and how it impacts your business.

Your ASP is the average amount of money you make in sales per item you sell on Amazon. ASP is calculated by dividing the dollar amount of sales by the number of items sold. To find your ASP, follow these steps:

  • Log in to Seller Central.
  • Hover over Reports.
  • Click on Business Reports.
  • Check out your Sales Snapshot – your ASP is the amount listed for “Avg. sales/order item.”

Why is it important for you to know your ASP and why is it important to increase your ASP?

I really believe that an Amazon FBA business needs a higher ASP in order to make it long-term in this business. If selling on Amazon is a business for you and not a hobby, you want to make sure you’re getting paid like a business would pay you. One way to increase your ability to pay yourself out of your business is to increase your ASP.

Sure, there are plenty of people who are able to make good money on Amazon with a lower ASP, for example book sellers or sellers in other categories that depend on high volume at low prices. Depending on your business model, you can really make a lot of money at high volume and low prices. But along with that type of business model also comes more work because you’re having to find and sell more items in order to make that volume. That type of business model also might require more outsourcing if you want to scale even larger, more sourcers to find your inventory, more listers and preppers, etc. I’m not saying this isn’t a viable business model; I’m saying that selling at a low ASP comes with a price.

In my experience, my business has seen more growth when I have focused on finding items to resell at a higher ASP, rather than trying to increase my volume on low ASP items. I’ll share with you a few reasons why I believe this has been the case:

1. You can save a lot of money on FBA fees when you raise your ASP.

Let’s think about an example using two FBA sellers, Bob and Sally. Bob typically sells lower priced items on Amazon. Today so far he has sold 10 items at $10 each, so he’s made $100 in sales. Sally, on the other hand, has sold one item today, but it was priced at $100. Both sellers have the same dollar amount in sales, but their FBA fees are taken out of those sales differently. Sally only has the one sale, so she only has to take care of the referral and FBA pick & pack fees for just the one item ordered. Meanwhile, Bob has to pay the referral and FBA pick & pack fees 10 times for 10 items. All those fees on low priced items add up over time.

In the end, Sally’s $100 of sales allows her to take home about $80 of profit. Bob’s $100 of sales leads to closer to $60 of profit. If you increase your ASP, you reduce your fees and increase your profit.

2. You can save a lot of time, money, and effort on prepping and shipping items when you raise your ASP.

Think about Bob and Sally again. With Sally’s one $100 item, she only had to expend the time, money, and effort to put one FBA label on her item, put one poly bag on her item, and pack that one item in her FBA shipment. But Bob with his $10 items…he (or someone he has hired) has to put on 10 FBA labels, seal 10 poly bags, and pack 10 items for shipment to get that $100 in sales. All of those costs add up over time, and you can save money and increase profits by reducing the amount of prep work required in your business. Increasing your ASP is a great way to reduce your necessary prep work.

3. You can give yourself more wiggle room for price fluctuations when you raise your ASP.

Back to Bob and Sally…

For sellers like Bob who have items priced mostly in the $10-$15 range, if the going price of their items begins to drop, they don’t have much room to lower their price and stay competitive without losing all their profit. If they lower the price even a couple of dollars, it drastically changes their return on investment (ROI). But if Sally’s $100 item lowers in price by $1, $2, or even $5-$10, she still has wiggle room to lower her price and stay competitive, without sacrificing her ROI.

Note: In general I don’t recommend always lowering your price whenever your competition does, which can start a race to the bottom. But in those instances where for some reason you need to keep your price competitive, having that wiggle room to lower your price without sacrificing profit and ROI is a nice feature of increasing your ASP.

4. You can increase your Amazon disbursements if you raise your ASP.

When you have fewer fees removed from your FBA sales and you sell more items with higher ASP, the natural result will be higher disbursements from Amazon. More profits, more money to reinvest in your business, and more money to take out of your business in the form of income for yourself and your family. That’s the progress we personally have seen over the past few years – the number of items we have sold via FBA has decreased each year, but our ASP has increased, and as a result our Amazon disbursements have increased.

Like I said earlier, some business models work very well by selling a high volume of items at a lower ASP. But for the amount of time, effort, and money that I want to invest in my business, I have found that sourcing and selling higher ASP items has given my business tremendous growth. My goal is to continue making a full-time income with only part-time hours through Amazon FBA, and increasing my ASP has been a vital component of achieving that goal each year.

Here’s one strategy I suggest for anyone who might struggle with having enough money in their sourcing budget to make it from one Amazon disbursement to the next: Start setting aside a portion of your budget solely dedicated to higher ASP items. Make sure you are gradually working at finding items that will increase your sales without increasing your work. In my next blog post, I’ll go into more detail about how to raise your ASP and start getting more bang for your buck with your sourcing budget, time, efforts, and energy.

Keep an eye out for that next blog post soon, but in the meantime we would love to hear from you in the comments. Have you had success increasing your ASP over time? Are you actively trying to increase your ASP? Or is your business model built on lower ASP items?

Money Saving Post-Long-Term Storage Fee Strategy

As you’re probably aware, twice a year (February 15th and August 15th) Amazon charges a long term storage fee (LTSF) for all items that have been stored in a FBA warehouse for 6 months or longer. This fee can be very high as it’s currently $11.25 per cubic foot for the 6-month fee and $22.50 per cubic foot for the 12-month fee.

With Amazon charging this big fee twice a year for any item in their warehouse over six months, it’s a good strategy to possibly wait until after long-term storage fees are calculated on February 15 to send in items you think might take longer than six months to sell (or sell out if you have multiples). Here’s my thinking on why:

When Amazon calculates long-term storage fees on February 15 and August 15, they look at all of your inventory and charge you a fee for anything that’s been in an Amazon warehouse over six months. But here’s what many people forget: If you send your inventory to Amazon right after February 15, then when Amazon calculates long-term storage fees on August 15, they will only charge you the fee for any items that were stored in Amazon since before February 15 (the long-term storage fee calculation date). Here’s an example:

Scenario 1 – Sending inventory to Amazon right before February 15:

Send an item to Amazon FBA on February 10. When August 15 comes around, if you have not sold that item, then you’ll be charged a six-month long-term storage fee since you have been storing that item at an Amazon warehouse for over six months (6 months and 5 days to be exact).

 Scenario 2 – Sending inventory to Amazon right after February 15:

Send an item to Amazon FBA on February 17. When August 15 comes around, if you have not sold that item, then you won’t be charged a six-month long-term storage fee since you have been storing that item at an Amazon warehouse for under six months (5 months and 29 days to be exact). You won’t be charged a six-month long-term storage fee until February 15 of the following year.

In summary, the few weeks after Amazon calculates long-term storage fees are the absolute best days to send your potentially slow moving inventory (long-tail items) to Amazon, since you’ll be buying more time to sell your items without incurring long-term storage fees.

Keep this strategy in mind as you source for inventory throughout the year. During the summer, if you come across some items  you think might take longer than six months to sell, or if you find multiple items you think might not sell out in six months, then consider holding on to them and don’t send them to Amazon until after August 15. That way, you’ll be buying even more time before the long-term storage fees are calculated. You could even merchant fulfill these items you are storing at home before you send them in after the long-term storage fees are accessed.

Of course, this strategy is not for everyone. Hopefully, your sourcing skills have gotten so good that most of your inventory sells within the first few months of hitting the FBA warehouses. 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.

Now, I’d love to hear from you. Do you have any strategies that help you gain more time to sell your inventory without long-term storage fees? Do you have some helpful tips on quickly selling your inventory so that long-term storage fees aren’t even an issue?

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.

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.