Category Archives: Tips & Tricks

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

Amazon just quietly changed the price for non-Prime members to qualify for Free Super Saver Shipping, a decrease from purchases of $35 down to $25. In other words, non-Prime members now have to buy only a minimum of $25 worth 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.

This is not the first time Amazon has changed the price to qualify for free super saver shipping. In October of 2013, the price for free super saver shipping increased from $25 to $35 and remained $35 for almost 2 years. In early 2016, the minimum price increased from $35 to $49. In the middle of 2016, Amazon started to feel the impact of Walmart.com’s $25 free shipping threshold and responded by lowering super saver shipping from $49 back to $35. This week, Amazon has again lowered the minimum price back down to $25.

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 be buying items that are Prime-eligible (this means items stored at FBA warehouses). With more people buying Prime-eligible items, there will be more people to buy your FBA products.

2. The more people who decide to use Prime shipping as a non-Prime member means that more people will be testing out Prime shipping benefits. More customers will fall in love with the free Prime 2-day shipping, and that will cause more people to sign up for Amazon Prime. The more Prime buyers, the more customers to buy your inventory.

It will take a little 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. Price many items at $25. Search and see which inventory items I have priced between $22 and $25 to see if I should raise the price to $25. Based on my competition, this might be a great idea. This strategy will cause non-Prime shoppers to get free shipping on your items and they will choose your $25 item instead of a competitor’s item priced at $22 + $5 shipping.

2. Another “magic” price point will be $12.50. 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 $12.50 total $25 and will qualify for Free Super Saver Shipping!

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! For more from Amazon on the Super Saver price change, click here.

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

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Improve the Customer Experience: Think Like an Amazon Customer

One thing Amazon wants to be known for is having the most customer-centric online marketplace in the world. Amazon truly takes “the customer is always right” to the extreme – just look at their super lenient return policy if you need an example. They want happy customers. Customers who will come back again and again. Customers who trust Amazon. Customers who leave raving reviews. Customers who tell all their friends how much they love Amazon.

Amazon wants the customer experience on their website to be the best in the world.

And that’s a phrase you as an Amazon FBA seller should remember and ingrain into your psyche: the customer experience. If you can begin to focus on how you as a seller can contribute to the customer experience on Amazon, you can begin to increase your profits and decrease your returns as an FBA seller.

The easiest way to make this mindset shift is to think like an Amazon customer. Shift away from always thinking like an Amazon seller…shift toward thinking like an Amazon customer.

Shift away from thinking only about your bottom line as a seller…shift toward thinking about how the customer will react when they open your product after their delivery arrives.

One tendency many of us resellers have developed over time is frugality. We are always on the lookout for a good deal, and we’re willing to overlook some minor flaws in order to save a few bucks. When customers go to Amazon, however, to purchase new items, they are looking for good deals but not at the expense of quality. They don’t want to receive an item with dinged up packaging or crushed corners. They want their merchandise to arrive in pristine, gift-quality condition.

As resellers, we absolutely cannot send in inventory to FBA warehouses that will cause customers to lose trust in Amazon or have an unpleasant customer experience. We must look for ways to positively impact the customer experience by providing quality merchandise. And when we give customers a great experience, it can increase our profits by giving us more sales, more product reviews, and more positive feedback.

Here’s how your contribution to the customer experience can increase your profits:

  • Thinking like an Amazon customer opens your eyes to see more items to source. Too often when we’re sourcing we pass up quality inventory because we think, “No one would ever buy that!” But if you’re thinking like an Amazon customer, your mind is open to the possibility that even the oddest item could be something customers are searching for. Scan everything (we use the Scoutify app), and don’t just disqualify items because you personally would never be interested in buying them. Pay attention to sales ranks and sales rank history, and you’ll begin to learn trends in what Amazon customers are buying.
  • Thinking like an Amazon customer helps you find higher ROI items. ROI is return on investment – and in general we as Amazon sellers want to get the biggest ROI possible. As you’re scanning items and keeping an open mind about what customers are looking for, you can start finding items that other sellers would overlook, but that have great ROI potential! Often we make assumptions that items aren’t worth anything, but when we do the work of 1) thinking like a customer on the search for these types of items, 2) scanning anything that fits the description of what an Amazon customer would be looking for, and 3) paying attention to sales rank and how it works in different categories, then we can start finding items that stand out and have higher ROI than if we just follow what every other seller is doing and chase after the latest BOLO.

Now let’s look at the other side of this coin of thinking like an Amazon customer. Here’s how you can begin to decrease your return rate:

  • Think like an Amazon customer while you’re sourcing. When you’re sourcing for inventory, the biggest way you can positively impact your return rate is to stop sourcing borderline items. It may be a hard habit to break, but for the sake of your seller account, I highly recommend you not buy items that are at all questionable as to their condition – and that includes packaging. No more dinged tins, crushed corners, broken plastic, or missing shoebox lids. The reseller thinks, “They’re just going to throw the box away. What difference does it make?” But the customer thinks, “What’s the deal? Why is this packaging all messed up? Is something wrong with the item also? Guess I should return it.” While you’re standing there in the clearance aisle sourcing, stop looking at the dollar signs on your scanning app for a moment and think about how your customer would feel opening an Amazon box and finding this particular item. Would they be pleased with their purchase? Or would they be disappointed because of how it’s presented? There are plenty of high quality inventory finds out there for you to source, so if you think the customer will be disappointed at all with the item in your hand, put that item down and keep moving down the aisle. Your return rate will thank you.
  • Think like an Amazon customer while you’re listing. When you’re listing your items for sale on Amazon, always round down on the condition. You’re not going to be making it out of the store with borderline items anymore, right? But sometimes inventory items make it home with you and you find out too late that there’s a defect in the packaging or something else about the item that makes it not in new condition. In these cases, always round down on the condition. Do not list them as new. List them as like new or very good.

Think like an Amazon customer. If someone buys a book in like new or very good condition, but they open it up and see that it’s way better than they imagined, they’re going to be pleased (and possibly leave you positive seller feedback). On the other hand, if they order a new book but open it up to find it has shelf wear of any kind, that book might be on the fast track to your return pile (and your seller feedback might take a hit). Always round down on the condition, not up.

It’s not worth it to make 5 extra dollars on a sale but risk the return or the impact on your seller account – it’s not even worth it to make $50 extra! Amazon sellers must stop putting their bottom line ahead of the customer experience.

It may seem counterintuitive to think like an Amazon customer, but really, try it! Next time you’re out sourcing or back at the computer listing, start thinking about your products and how a customer would respond to these products if they receive them in an Amazon shipment. It may sound crazy, but thinking this way will begin to increase your profits and decrease your returns.

Have you found some ways to think like an Amazon customer? If so, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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Imagine what it would feel like knowing you were not missing out on any of the opportunities that will come your way this year. 

Imagine working on your Amazon business knowing exactly what your priorities are, what you need to avoid, and what you need to accomplish during each month to make progress toward making this year your best sales year ever.

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

How to Increase Your Amazon FBA ASP (Average Selling Price)

Today’s post is a follow-up to the previous article we posted about why you should consider trying to raise your ASP, or average selling price. If you haven’t read that first article yet, you might want to refer to it before diving into this one.

For a quick review, your ASP is the average amount of money you make in sales per item you sell on Amazon. Raising your ASP has some great benefits to add to your Amazon FBA business.

But HOW do you go about raising your ASP?

It might seem easier said than done, but the reality is you can take a few steps to impact your ASP and give your Amazon FBA profits a boost. Here are our suggestions for increasing your ASP:

1. Set a minimum selling price parameter.

A while back, we made the decision in our Amazon FBA business to stop sourcing items that are selling for under $10-$12 on Amazon. Even if we could make 100% ROI on an item that is selling for $8 or $9, we decided to stop sourcing those items and focus our sourcing on higher priced items. When we eliminated the low-priced items from our sourcing strategy, we had more money to focus on buying higher-priced items – partly because we could add up the saved sourcing money to go towards higher-priced items and partly because we were saving money in fees and prep costs when we raised our ASP and lowered our overall number of units sold.

The $10-$12 range is what we chose for our minimum, but for other people that amount might be different. This type of minimum sales price might affect a lot of booksellers or others who (like us in years past) are dependent on high volumes of low-priced toy sales. Overall, though, we have found that eliminating those super low-priced items from our inventory has been the biggest practical step towards raising our ASP.

2. Consider selling bundles or multi-packs.

Multi-packs are multiples of the same item for sale on Amazon. Bundles are a group of items with a similar use or theme for sale on Amazon.

If you follow the Amazon guidelines, you can create your own bundles for sale and increase your ASP per unit sold over the ASP if you sold all of those individual items from your bundle separately instead. If you’re interested in learning more about selling bundles on Amazon, I recommend The Book of Bundles.

For multi-packs, you can no longer create a multi-pack if it doesn’t already exist on Amazon, but you can list a multi-pack of items if it’s already available in the Amazon catalog. Like bundles, multi-packs offer a great way to raise your ASP per unit sold over the ASP if you sold each of those items from your multi-pack separately instead.

Once again, you also save money in fees if you sell items in a bundle or multi-pack instead of individually. For example, if you sell 5 individual units of a $10 grocery item, you would make $50 in sales, but you would have to pay 5 sets of FBA fees. If you sold it as a multi-pack of 5 for $50, you would still make $50 in sales, but you would only have one round of FBA fees to worry about.

3. Source higher-priced items.

It might seem obvious, but sometimes we need to get back to the basics of the topic we’re trying to learn – if you want to raise your ASP, you need to have higher-priced items in your inventory. You can’t sell high-priced items if you don’t have high-priced items available for Amazon customers to buy.

The easiest way we found for selling higher-priced items in our FBA business was to add shoes to our inventory. Our ASP in the Shoes category is about $70, and our overall ASP across all categories combined has risen to $47 now that shoes are a main staple in our Amazon inventory.

When we talk to other sellers about adding shoes to their Amazon inventory, we often get asked, “Isn’t Shoes a restricted category? Isn’t it hard to get ungated?” And the answer is YES Shoes is a gated category, but NO it’s not hard to get ungated in Shoes right now. If you want more info about how to get ungated in the Shoes category, you can click here to download our free guide for the shoe approval process. If you want to read more on our blog about selling shoes on Amazon, you can click here for the blog series.

Shoes aren’t the only higher-priced items you can source. Other sellers like to sell electronics to raise their ASP. Some sellers go with high-priced toys to raise their ASP. Whichever category you like to focus on, there are ways to start sourcing higher-priced items as a step towards raising your overall ASP.

Those are the top 3 ways that we have impacted our ASP and raised it to a point where we’ve seen an increase in our disbursements and a significant boost in our Amazon FBA business. Do you have any other tips or tricks you would add to this list? Please leave us a comment below!

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 August 15, then when Amazon calculates long-term storage fees on February 15, they will only charge you the fee for any items that were stored in Amazon since before August 15 (the long-term storage fee calculation date). Here’s an example:

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

Send an item to Amazon FBA on August 10. When February 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 August 15:

Send an item to Amazon FBA on August 17. When February 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 August 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.

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How many sales did you get?

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

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

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

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

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

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!