Tag Archives: Sourcing

Review of Tactical Arbitrage and OAXray

It has been a while on the blog since we have taken a dive into strategies for online arbitrage (OA), so I want to spend some time today talking about two products we use for finding profitable inventory from online stores to resell on Amazon: OAXray and Tactical Arbitrage. This article will include reviews of both products and a summary of who should consider each product (and when they should consider it), so it might get a bit more lengthy than our average blog post. But I wanted to put the information up here all in one spot, rather than posting several times on this one topic. Also, both products offer Full-Time FBA readers an extended free trial, so be sure to read thoroughly to make sure you’re getting the correct link for your extended trial period. 

About once a month in our Facebook group someone will ask a variation of these questions: “Has anyone used Tactical Arbitrage or OAXray? Are they worth the price? Which one is better?” My short answer to these questions: I’ve used both; they are both more than worth it; and it depends.

When I started doing OA, I depended on deal lists to streamline my sourcing process and help me to efficiently find great deals worth reselling. Eventually I wanted to buy more than I could find on my daily list subscriptions, so I started using OAXray. About a year or so after that I decided to try out Tactical Arbitrage. Today, Stephen and I maintain subscriptions to both OAXray and Tactical Arbitrage, mostly for the purpose of staying on top of how both products work. (Please do not hear me say that I think all sellers should subscribe to both. We blog about selling on Amazon and sourcing for products – we subscribe to both products so that you don’t have to!)

Since I started out using OAXray first, we’ll discuss it first in this post, and then we’ll dive into Tactical Arbitrage.

OAXray

OAXray is a Google Chrome extension that allows you to go to an online store’s website and scan a page of items to find matches in the Amazon catalog. OAXray has a long list of websites compatible with their software, some with UPC searches and some with title searches. From your Chrome browser, you can navigate to a page within an online store, click the OAXray extension, and scan the page to turn it into a spreadsheet of items with links to the Amazon product page, links to CamelCamelCamel and Keepa data, and columns of info on pricing, sales rank, profit, and ROI, among other things. OAXray also shows you if the item is selling on other websites, where you might get a better buying price. If you want to check out an extended free trial of OAXray, go through the link www.fulltimefba.com/oaxray. Using the OAXray extension saves literally hours each day of matching items from online stores to the Amazon catalog.

Training available? OAXray has an excellent YouTube channel with tutorials to get you started using the Chrome extension, or you can see a list of available videos on their website.

Features and functionality? OAXray lists many uses on their website for how you can use their program for sourcing items for Amazon. In addition to OA sourcing, OAXray allows you to upload a spreadsheet of UPCs and prices to check against the Amazon catalog; Stephen uses this feature on a regular basis in his wholesale sourcing.

Learning curve? Relatively low. The concept can seem intimidating at first, but if you watch the tutorials beforehand you should be scanning pages and finding profitable inventory in no time.

Time required for a scan? OAXray scans pages on online stores one page at a time; the length of time for the scan depends on how many items are on the page. You can set it up to search several pages simultaneously. I tend to use OAXray when I want to scan a smaller amount of items and produce a smaller amount of data in one sitting.

Can you use with a virtual assistant (VA)? Yes; you can save even more time in your OA sourcing by hiring a VA to do your scanning for you.

Who should use this product? I recommend OAXray for Amazon sellers who are new to OA, who want a less steep learning curve for an OA sourcing product, or who want a simple tool for scanning wholesale catalog spreadsheets.

Tactical Arbitrage

Tactical Arbitrage is online software that allows you to scan an entire category of a store’s website to find matches in the Amazon catalog, either by UPC or by product title. Tactical Arbitrage allows you to set up bulk scans of multiple pages and multiple websites to scan at one time, so that you can start a scan and come back to it later after it has finished. The results of a Tactical Arbitrage scan show you links to product pages on the online store’s site and Amazon, links to CamelCamelCamel and Keepa, and columns of info on pricing, sales rank, profit, and ROI, among other things. Tactical Arbitrage has other features and methods for doing reverse scans, Amazon flips, and more. The time you can save using Tactical Arbitrage adds up to hours per day. If you want to check out an extended free trial of Tactical Arbitrage, be sure to use the code FULLTIME10 when signing up at www.fulltimefba.com/TA.

Training available? Tactical Arbitrage has a great YouTube channel with tutorials to get you started using the program.

Features and functionality? Tactical Arbitrage is an (almost overwhelmingly) powerful tool, allowing you to search entire categories on a website in one scan. You can also upload a bulk list of categories from multiple websites to run in one scan, producing hundreds or thousands of potential buys at a time. Tactical Arbitrage also includes tools for wholesale spreadsheets scans, Amazon flips, reverse lookup, and library search for books. I’ll be real honest – I haven’t used half of the features of Tactical Arbitrage, but I still find it worth the price for the features I do use.

Learning curve? Much steeper than OAXray. Tactical Arbitrage is an extremely powerful tool, and it isn’t super intuitive at times to learn it. Watching the YouTube tutorials helped me a great deal; so did just getting in there and playing around with it and fiddling with the filters.

Time required for a scan? Depends on how many items are in the category you are scanning and whether you are scanning a bulk list. Tactical Arbitrage is designed for you to set up a scan, walk away from it, and come back when it’s finished so you can analyze the data. That might be a half hour later or the next morning, depending on how much you included in your scan. I love that I can have the program send me a text when my scan is finished, so I don’t have to continually check the progress.

Can you use with a virtual assistant (VA)? Yes; you can save even more time in your OA sourcing by hiring a VA to do your scanning for you.

Who should use this product? I recommend Tactical Arbitrage as a more advanced tool for OA sourcing. The learning curve is steep, and the results can be overwhelming. I personally would not have wanted to use Tactical Arbitrage when I first got started in OA (in fact, I might have given up on OA if I started out with it), but I love it at this point in my OA journey.

More Points to Note about Both Products

You may have noticed I don’t talk about price on either of these products. My reason is that currently both products are comparably priced, and I want to have this post remain relevant if either product decides to change their price in the future. Be sure to do your due diligence and check out the pricing of both products and the available free trial.

Also, many sellers who are just starting out in OA get frustrated with a seeming lack of results from using a program to scan entire pages of online stores. Many sellers will say, “I scanned thousands of items and didn’t find anything to resell. These programs aren’t worth it.” Almost without fail, these sellers have their filters set to only find items with 100% ROI or higher. OA is different from thrifting and garage saling (and even RA to an extent) in that you need to be looking for items with a lower ROI. If your business isn’t at a point where you have the financial capital to source items with a lower ROI, it probably isn’t the time yet for you to invest in these OA tools.

If you do decide to do a free trial of either OAXray or Tactical Arbitrage, I highly encourage you to make sure you are prepared to spend a significant amount of time during that trial learning the software and scanning websites. You don’t want to sign up right when you are going out of town on vacation or right when you have a busy week of doing some other task. Make sure you can spend several hours going through tutorial videos and practicing what you are learning. If you dedicate the time to learning the software during the trial, you should be able to find enough items to resell that you can pay for at least a month of subscription for the service.

Also, don’t forget that both products offer an extended trial period to Full-Time FBA readers. For an extended trial of OAXray, be sure to go through this link. For an extended trial of Tactical Arbitrage, be sure to use the code FULLTIME10 when you sign up.

We would love to hear any questions you have about these products in the comments. Have you used OAXray or Tactical Arbitrage before? Do you have anything to add related to the features of either product?

The Top 5 Features of the New Scoutify 2 Amazon FBA Sourcing App

In the spring of 2017, I got a message from Kimberly of InventoryLab. She knew I am a huge fan of both InventoryLab and Scoutify (the Amazon sourcing app that comes bundled with InventoryLab). She wanted to know if I wanted to be a beta-tester for the all new Scoutify 2 sourcing app.

Heck yeah!

I’ve been a Scoutify user for three years, and I wondered how the new Scoutify 2 would be any different. I already use the original Scoutify all the time to make my best Amazon FBA sourcing decisions. How could Scoutify 2 be any better?

Then came the day when I finally got the beta-version of Scoutify 2. On the very first day my mind was blown. Soon after I downloaded the app, I was gushing to Rebecca about all the new features and options. Scoutify 2 really is a game changer in so many ways. I can’t wait to tell you more about it.

Since this is an app review, I made a video of me talking about the app and showing you the top 5 new features in the all new Scoutify 2.

Once you start using Scoutify 2, you’ll wonder how you were able to sell on Amazon without it. The original Scoutify was already at the top of my list of favorite sourcing apps, but now Scoutify 2 is in a league of it’s own.

You can download Scoutify 2 for free, but you need a paid subscription to InventoryLab to use it. To get a 30-day free trial to InventoryLab, all you need to do is click here and sign up today. You’ll be able to use Scoutify 2 and make even better and faster souring decisions.

If you are already a Scoutify user, please note that Scoutify 2 is an entirely separate app; your current Scoutify app will not update to the newest version. This means you can still use the original Scoutify app to source while at the same time learning all about the new Scoutify 2.

How to download Scoutify 2 today:

  1. Open up the app store on your smartphone
  2. Search for Scoutify
  3. Find the app labeled Scoutify 2
  4. Download and start using today!

Have you tried the new Scoutify 2 sourcing app yet? What do you think? Any ideas on how to make it ever better? I’d love to read your opinions in the comments below.

How to Find Profitable Inventory for Amazon FBA Sourcing

In the course of just one week (or even a day!), it is possible to come across thousands of items you could potentially resell on Amazon. Obviously, not all of those items are going to make the cut and end up in your shopping cart. Some items are a no-brainer purchase. Some are definitely NOT something you should buy for resale. And some items are kind of iffy – should you buy it or not?

How do you know whether to buy an item or just pass and move on to the next item?

For the rest of this article, I want to talk with you about how to find profitable inventory to sell on Amazon – more specifically, I want to show you my thought process when I’m deciding whether or not to buy an item.

First things first: I want to make sure you are using the right tools when you are sourcing. When I am doing retail arbitrage (RA), I always use the Scoutify app on my smart phone to scan inventory and see all the necessary numbers to make a smart sourcing decision:

  • Sales rank
  • Price
  • Fees
  • Profit
  • Number of competitors
  • Historical sales rank and pricing

Some sellers choose to use only the Amazon Seller app for doing RA, but I have found the info it returns to be incomplete. I prefer to have more information at my fingertips when I make a sourcing decision, so I use the Scoutify app that comes bundled with the listing software Inventory Lab.

OK, now that we have that covered, let’s look at my thought process when I’m making a sourcing decision. This process works whether you are doing RA, OA, wholesale purchasing, or any other type of sourcing for Amazon FBA.

I typically ask myself 4 main questions when I’m making a sourcing decision:

  1. What is the ROI? We’re all in this business to make money, so we want to make sure the items we’re sourcing have a good ROI, or return on investment. When you are first starting out at Amazon FBA, I recommend finding items that have a 100% ROI. If you have a higher percentage ROI, you have a lot more wiggle room to make some mistakes and adjust your price if necessary. As you gain more experience and confidence, you can begin sourcing items that have a lower ROI. Some sellers stick with 75% and above, while others stick with 50% or above. If you find an item that will sell very quickly, you can even go as low as 30% ROI. The main point here is to find items that have a good ROI, whatever the parameter is that you’ve set. If you can’t make money on your investment, you want to move on and look for different inventory items.
  1. Am I approved to sell the item? Some categories are gated for certain sellers, and some brands are restricted to sellers. The second thing I look at when I’m making a sourcing decision is whether or not I am approved to sell an item. If I can’t sell it, there’s no point in continuing to consider it. You can see whether or not you are approved to sell an item from within the Amazon Seller app, but Scoutify also has a link to show you whether or not you are restricted for the item.
  1. What is the sales rank? The sales rank of an item is how I can tell whether or not the item will sell quickly on Amazon. Amazon tells us the current sales rank of every item in their catalog, and we can see that information when we scan an item with a sourcing app. You want to make sure, though, that you are considering the average sales rank when you make a sourcing decision, not just the current sales rank. Amazon updates sales rank frequently throughout the day, so you need to know how much that sales rank varies over time. You can look at graphs on CamelCamelCamel and Keepa to figure out the average sales rank in a glance; both Camel and Keepa have quick links through the Scoutify sourcing app. I recommend checking out an Amazon sales rank chart to make sure you know what is a low or high sales rank for the category of the item you are looking at. Our blog offers a monthly updated sales rank chart for subscribers. You can use the chart to see if an item’s average sales rank falls in the top 1%, 3%, 5%, 10%, or higher for its category.If you’re interested in learning more about sales rank, we offer an affordable mini-course called The Reseller’s Guide to Sales Rank: Understanding Amazon Best Sellers Rank for Maximum Profits. I’ve included in the mini-course everything I know about sales rank to help you get started with making smarter sourcing decisions.I make my sourcing decision based on how high or low the sales rank of the item is. If an item has a low average sales rank, it is a faster selling item. If the average sales rank is high, the item will sell more slowly.
  1. What is the competition?Unless no one else is selling a particular item, you are going to have competition if you sell that item. There are two main competitors you need to consider: Amazon and other third-party sellers. When it comes to competing with Amazon, I generally choose not to buy items that Amazon sells. I always look to see if Amazon is in stock on an item or has been in stock recently. If so, I typically pass on that item unless I can price it significantly lower than Amazon. As a general rule, Amazon does not tend to share the buy box, and since the buy box is where over 70% of Amazon sales come from, I don’t want to risk buying inventory where I will never have a chance to get that buy box. To see the history of Amazon being in stock or out of stock on an item, I check the Keepa graph for the item through the Scoutify app. I also like to look at the other third-party sellers who are priced competitively on the item. I’m only interested in those sellers who are priced within 1% or 2% of the buy box price. Anyone priced higher than that isn’t truly going to be my competition.I want to make sure there’s a relatively low number of sellers priced competitively, so that I can be assured of getting time in the buy box. The higher the sales rank, the fewer competitors I want on the item. If the sales rank is lower, I am more willing to tolerate a relatively higher number of competitors – with a low sales rank, the item will be selling fast enough that I can still get time in the buy box and make my sales.

Those are my four main deciding factors when I am making a buying decision for my Amazon FBA business. As with anything, there are some exceptions that come up when I’m looking at this criteria. The more comfortable you are with your experience at making these decisions, the more you will be able to see when there are exceptions to the buying parameters you set up for yourself.

There are other less important factors I sometimes consider, as well, such as number of reviews and whether or not they are positive. I tend to use other factors in my decisions when I’m on the fence about a buy.

Do you use similar buying criteria as the ones I’ve covered above? Is there anything else you absolutely must look at before making a buy for your FBA business? We would love to hear your ideas in the comments!

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!

Beginner Lessons For Selling Shoes on Amazon FBA

When it comes to sourcing and selling shoes on Amazon, some of the hardest lessons are learned during the early stages of adding shoes to your Amazon business model.

Many of you know that Rebecca and I are a team when it comes to our Amazon FBA business. While I mainly focus on retail arbitrage and wholesale sourcing, she is the specialist when it comes to online arbitrage… and specifically sourcing and selling shoes.

Since my last interview video with Rebecca was so well received, I decided to sit down with her and record another Q&A  interview video with her. Rebecca has such a wealth of knowledge about sourcing and selling shoes and you’ll learn a lot in this video.

In the video below, you’ll learn:

  • How our very first experiment with sourcing and selling shoes went (spoiler: it didn’t go so well)
  • What we learned from that experiment
  • How we almost decided to give up selling shoes – and why we’re so glad we didn’t quit.
  • The biggest thing we wish we knew when we started selling shoes
  • The mindset shift you need to be successful with selling shoes
  • The biggest difference between sourcing items like books/toys and sourcing shoes
  • How to overcome not being able to see sales rank history of shoes
  • Which is better? Going wide or going deep when sourcing shoes?
  • How to find confidence in sourcing shoes
  • How customer returns of shoes are not as bad as returns from other categories (despite what other people might say).

Enjoy! Leave us a comment below the video if you have a specific shoe question and we’ll see about addressing that in a future video.

If you like the shirts we’re wearing in the video above, you can get them right here on Amazon.

Want to learn more? Rebecca and I recently hosted a FREE webinar all about how to get started with selling shoes on Amazon and added it to our YouTube channel. Just follow the link above to see the webinar in its entirety.

Selling Shoes on Amazon FBA – Should You Do It?

Many of you know that Rebecca and I are a team when it comes to our Amazon FBA business. While I mainly focus on retail arbitrage and wholesale sourcing, she is the specialist when it comes to online arbitrage… and specifically sourcing and selling shoes on Amazon.

Since Rebecca has such a wealth of knowledge about sourcing and selling shoes, I decided to sit down with her and record a Q&A interview video focused on the biggest lessons we learned when we first started selling shoes on Amazon.

In the video below, you’ll learn:

  • Why we added shoes to our Amazon business model
  • How adding shoes impacted our Amazon FBA business
  • How shoes helped our ASP increase substantially
  • What the competition is like in the Shoes category
  • Why brand restrictions in shoes don’t have to be a problem for FBA sellers
  • How selling shoes has changed our lives
  • Why we choose to source shoes via OA instead of RA
  • How sales ranks of shoes are different than most other categories
  • … and more!

Enjoy! Leave us a comment below the video if you have a specific shoe question and we’ll see about addressing that in a future blog post or video.

Want to learn more? Rebecca and I recently hosted a FREE webinar all about how to get started with selling shoes on Amazon and added it to our YouTube channel. Just follow the link above to see the webinar in its entirety.

The Biggest Mistakes I Made With My First Wholesale Order

About 12 months ago, my very first wholesale order was delivered to my house… Of course, I had to take a picture. We worked as fast as we could to prep and send this huge wholesale order to Amazon. As soon as our wholesale shipment arrived at Amazon, we started to see some sales… but then things started to go terribly wrong. Sales started to slow and prices began to tank.

To make a long story short, I ended up actually losing money on my first wholesale order. Sure, I was able to get almost all of the capital back, but overall it was a massive failure.

If you know me, then you know that I’m a “glass half full” kind of guy, and I was able to turn this epic failure into a learning experience. Since mistakes were made, I thought I’d share with you the 6 biggest mistakes I made in my first wholesale order (and the last mistake was the biggest) so that you can set yourself up for successful future wholesale orders.

1. Ordered too many items

When ordering products from wholesalers, the items you buy usually come in cases, so buying only one of an item is usually not a possibility. I knew I was going to need to buy multiples, but I must have had my head in the clouds because I bought way too many items.  I honestly should have known better.

Any time you try something new, it’s usually best not to jump headfirst into the deep end… but instead to wade in slowly until you get used to the water. In my first wholesale order, I went way too deep and ended up with plenty of inventory that took forever to sell. Some of them I may even be paying long-term storage fees for soon.

2. Spent too much money

I mean, waaaaaaaaaay too much money. When you’re dealing with a wholesale supplier, they’ll usually have what is called a Minimum Opening Order amount. Different wholesalers will have different minimum amounts that they’ll need for your first order. They have these so the wholesale supplier knows that the buyer is a serious buyer and will be worth the time and energy to work with.

For my first wholesale purchase, the Minimum Opening Order was around $350, but I think I got caught up in the excitement and totally blew past that minimum. I ended up tying up a lot of my sourcing capital that could have gone to my retail or online arbitrage sourcing.

When you make your first wholesale order, be sure to not go too far above the minimum. Not only do you not want to use too much of your sourcing capital on a method you’re not yet confident in, but you’ll also want to make sure the items you order meet your expectations. Once you find success in your opening wholesale order, then you can go back and get more.

3. Ordered time-sensitive goods

I ordered items that were focused around a specific season, and for the wholesale order to be successful, I needed these items to sell quickly. It turned out they didn’t all sell in time and when the season passed, I had to drastically lower my prices in order to get the sales and to avoid any additional monthly or upcoming long-term storage fees.

It’s probably best to order items that should sell well all year long when it comes to your first wholesale order. I ended up putting all of my eggs into one basket hoping that all these items would sell by the end of that season, and I ended up paying for it.

4. Didn’t Negotiate

I’ve negotiated deals to get a better price most of my life. I can do it at garage sales, thrift stores, and at retail stores with store managers. Most of the time I’ll say, “If I buy all these items, will you give me a discount since I’m buying so many?” Most of the time I can get a small percentage off of the overall total. That one question has saved me thousands of dollars… but for some reason, I just never thought about it with this order.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand trying to negotiate a better deal on the first order isn’t always the best way to introduce yourself to a supplier, but remember mistake number 1 and 2 from above? I ordered way too many items and spent way too much money. If I was ordering the minimum, I would not have asked for a discount, but since my first order was a great deal higher, I think I could have negotiated a better deal.

5. Made faulty assumptions

I made two very incorrect assumptions that cost me both time and money. My first assumption was assuming that my shipping was going to be free. I guess with all of my online purchases in the past, I assumed an order this big would qualify me for free shipping. I had no basis for this assumption, and when I saw the final shipping costs, it ended up eating into the profits I had calculated.

I also assumed that the items I was buying would not come poly-bagged. My first wholesale order had many items that were going to need poly-bagging in order to send to Amazon. I ordered a ton of poly-bags and suffocation warning labels so that when the items arrived, I could bag them up and ship them to Amazon quickly. As it turned out, the items were sent already poly-bagged and had a printed suffocation warning label on them. So now, I have what seems to be a lifetime supply of poly-bags in my office.

When you are making your first order, don’t be afraid (or too proud) to ask your supplier questions. Even if you think the questions are elementary, go ahead and ask so you are able to make knowledgable decisions.

6. Didn’t realize difference between a manufacturer and a distributor

This ended up being my biggest mistake. If I could have known this and applied that knowledge to my wholesale sourcing strategy, then most of the other mistakes from above could have been avoided.

When you purchase from a manufacturer, you’re buying directly from the maker of the product. You’ll be able to buy your inventory with the highest possible discounts. You might have to go a little deeper when buying from a manufacturer, but knowing you’re getting the best deals usually outweighs how deep you might have to go.

On the other hand, when you purchase form a wholesale distributor, you’re working with a middle-man who needs to take his cut of the profits. The distributor buys directly from the manufacturer and then marks up the inventory so that he can make a profit. Then the distributor offers up these wholesale items to us with smaller minimum orders than the manufacturer requires.

As you may have guessed by now, my first wholesale order was purchased from a distributor. When I got my huge wholesale order processed and sent to Amazon, I immediately began to see some sales come in, but after a short time the competition started to come in (who probably got their inventory from the manufacturer at better prices) and the prices tanked quickly.

In the end, I was able to recoup almost all of my capital back from that first wholesale order. I know some people will think that it was a waste of time and money, but I don’t see it that way at all. While the order ended up not meeting my expectations, it did provide many valuable lessons. I have taken these lessons and applied them to future orders and have seen great success.

Aside from my first wholesale order, I simply love sourcing and creating wholesale orders.
I’ve found some great companies to work with and have reordered many items over and over again. I’m most thankful to my wholesale mentors Dan and Eric from The Wholesale Formula. After taking three different courses on selling wholesale items on Amazon and not finding the success I was looking for, finally the teachings from The Wholesale Formula just plain worked!

Right now, the the free video series from The Wholesale Formula is about to close dowb, but you still have some time to sign up and watch the free training videos.

Do you have any worries about making a wholesale order mistake? Have you ever placed a wholesale order before? Did you make any mistakes? What did you learn from your mistakes? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

How to Find Profitable Wholesale Accounts For Amazon FBA

In my previous blog post I gave you my top 9 reasons why you should consider adding wholesale sourcing to your Amazon FBA business. You may have read that post and started thinking, “Great, Stephen, I’m convinced. I definitely want to try out wholesale sourcing, make my business more streamlined, and protect my seller account. Now where do I find profitable wholesale suppliers?

That type of question is where we end up any time we want to make a change in our business. “OK, I see my sticking points, and I’m ready to press on to get beyond them. But how do I take that next step?

With finding wholesale suppliers, your possibilities are really only limited by your creativity. Ultimately, you want to find unique wholesale accounts where you can develop a great business relationship with your supplier and provide an awesome product to Amazon customers.

Let’s discuss the top four ways you can make that connection and find profitable wholesale accounts:

1. Trade Shows

All throughout the year you can find a trade show going on in areas all across the U.S. (Or in other countries! Don’t limit yourself geographically) and in all niches of products. Think trade shows for toys, bridal products, baby items, kitchen gadgets, home and garden, crafts, you name it.

Beyond those niche trade shows, you can also find larger trade shows and markets where you can find products across all categories presented in one show. The biggest trade show out there is called ASD, and it happens in Las Vegas every March and August.

If you live in a big city, chances are there are trade shows and markets happening nearby throughout the year. I recommend doing a Google search for trade shows in your town or somewhere you can travel to, and check out what’s coming up in the months ahead. Most of these types of shows are free to enter, and you can walk around the exhibits, talk with the exhibitors, and see what types of products are available at the different booths.

One thing you should keep in mind is that two different types of exhibitors set up booths at trade shows: manufacturers and distributors. A manufacturer would be a direct connection to the source of the product, without any middle man. If you get a wholesale account with a manufacturer, you will likely need to make purchases in larger amounts, but you will get a better price per unit. With a distributor, you are usually dealing with a middle man. You can make smaller purchases, but you will pay more per unit.

2. Trade Show Websites

Even if you can’t attend a particular trade show, you can benefit from signing up for the show and doing research on the exhibitors. On the trade show website you can get access to the vendor list and their contact info, which you can then use to call or email for more information on the products they offer.

Whether you attend in person or make contact through the trade show website, it’s all about making connections with the vendors, asking good questions, and developing a relationship that could lead to a mutually beneficial arrangement. You will need to have a resale certificate to open a wholesale account once you have made that connection, so be sure you have your certificate on hand before starting the process to open an account.

If you are interested in more details about how to maximize the opportunities on trade show websites, check out the book Trade Show No Show by Jim Peterson and Jim Cockrum.

3. Product Packaging

This may seem overly simplistic, but finding wholesale sources really doesn’t have to be that complicated!

Pretty much every product you can imagine is going to have the manufacturer’s name and contact info printed right on the product’s packaging. If you can only find the name or part of the contact info, use Google to find the rest of the info, and you’re one step closer to making contact and finding out how to open a wholesale account.

If you have an awesome retail find that you would love to sell more of, check out the product packaging for that contact info and see if you could start buying that product at wholesale prices.

One strategy you can use to get an edge on your competition is to think of products that are made locally to your town or area. What is your area known for? Food products can be especially profitable, if there’s a local favorite that can’t be found in other parts of the country. Find these types of products on your local shelves, get the manufacturer’s info off the packaging, and start making contact.

4. Amazon Best Sellers

Again, it doesn’t have to be overly complicated to find great ideas for wholesale sources. You can research the popular items in your favorite category by checking out the Top 100 sellers and looking up their manufacturer’s info online.

To make it even easier, we have created a quick link, fulltimefba.com/bestsellers, to take you right to the Amazon best sellers page, where you can drill down from the main Amazon categories. Once you find a product you are interested in researching, click to go to the product page, and you should see the name of the manufacturer listed below the product title. You can then do a Google search for their contact info and start the process of opening a wholesale account.

Note: I do not recommend opening wholesale accounts with companies when Amazon is selling the product. Even if you think you can get a great wholesale price, Amazon is likely getting an even greater volume discount, and it’s too hard to compete. You should also check out the sales history on CamelCamelCamel and Keepa to see if Amazon is out of stock now, but might have been on the listing in the past. There are plenty of other products out there, so move on to ones where Amazon isn’t currently on the listing or doesn’t seem like they’ll come back in stock in the future.

There you have it, my top 4 ways to find products where you can open a wholesale account. The key to getting those accounts is to just make contact. Get the door open, start a conversation, ask for a catalog, ask what you need to do to apply for an account – it really doesn’t have to be more complicated than that.

Bonus Tip: Once you get a wholesale account, try to ask for an inventory spreadsheet from the company that includes the UPC and price. With this spreadsheet, I save it as a CSV file and upload it to OAXray. Then OAXray crunches all the numbers and finds out which items on the spreadsheet have the best rank and highest ROI. OAXray literally saves hours of time going through a wholesale company’s inventory list. If you want an extended 10-day free trial, then click here and sign up for OAXray today.

Last week, I shared with you a free video that showed you how to find amazing wholesale opportunities with a strategy unlike what anyone else is teaching. Well, today I have another free video about wholesale.

In today’s free wholesale training video, my buddies Dan and Eric will show you:

– How to recognize awesome potential wholesale products
– How to avoid purchasing bad wholesale products and wasting $100’s or even $1000’s
– How one good account could make you $1000 per month (and how to find accounts like that)
– The top 3 factors for great wholesale products to sell on Amazon
– The free tool you can use to make better wholesale decisions
– Why the number of Amazon competitors is a meaningless number (and what number you really should be focusing on instead)
– And so much more!

To access today’s free video right now, all you need to do is click here.

Remember, these free videos are only going to be accessible for a limited time, so you need to click here and watch today.

Do you have other tried-and-true places you like to look for profitable wholesale sources? If you would like to add to my list, we would love to hear from you in the comments!

9 Reasons Why You Should Add Wholesale to Your Amazon FBA Business

The more you talk with Amazon FBA sellers from all walks of life, the more you understand why each seller prefers the sourcing model used in their business.

Some folks love the thrill of the hunt, and they thrive on getting out there and scanning to their heart’s content at garage sales and thrift stores. Other sellers enjoy working retail arbitrage into their daily routine, or they love the huge profits that come from RA during the Q4 selling season. Some sellers live in a remote area or their time is limited, so they choose to do online arbitrage (OA) or wholesale. Still others like all aspects of product development and marketing, so they dive into private labeling.

Today I want to focus on one method of sourcing for Amazon FBA: sourcing from wholesale suppliers. We’re going to have a couple more posts after this one, so stick with me to learn more about where to find wholesale sources and other wholesale time hacks. But for today, let’s discuss the top 9 reasons why you should consider adding wholesale sourcing to your Amazon FBA business.

1. Profit potential

We’re all in this business to make profits, right? Well, selling items sourced via wholesale has huge profit potentials. You can find items with great return on investment (ROI) for resale on Amazon because you buy them at a low wholesale price, compared to what other sellers are getting by buying from retail sources.

2. Go both wide and deep on inventory

Buying via a wholesale account gives you the opportunity to search their catalog for several different profitable items in one product line, and you can then buy larger quantities of those items than you would be able to if sourcing via RA or OA. Once you’ve done your research on the sales history data on CamelCamelCamel and Keepa, as well as researching how much your competition has in stock (we use the How Many? extension for doing this research), you can make an informed decision and buy as many of an item as you feel comfortable buying, rather than being limited to what’s on the shelf at the retail store.

But you don’t have to worry about making a huge wholesale order of only one item to meet a company’s minimum purchase requirement. You can order a few of several different items, test them out, assess the results of your sales, and make a decision about reordering and possibly going deeper.

3. Opportunity for consistent replens

“Replen” is short for replenishable. A replenishable item is one that is profitable to buy over and over again because you can sell through the item at a decent rate. Replens can be a lovely cash cow for your business, since all you have to do is order, send to FBA, sell, order, send to FBA, sell, and repeat, repeat, repeat. Finding a replen today saves you time tomorrow by not having to repeat your sourcing research once the item sells out. You’ve already done the research – now all you need to do is reorder and send that item in again. It’s a much more time-efficient process than the one-offs that come with RA, OA, garage saling, and thrifting.

4. Potential for less competition

If an item isn’t available from retail sources at a low enough price to resell on Amazon BUT you can find it at a wholesale source, you will have lower competition. If you’re sourcing items that anyone can find at a retail store and resell for profit, it’s often only a matter of time until a ton of sellers jump on that listing. Sourcing via wholesale opens the door of opportunity to find unique items that RA and OA sellers can’t source at your buy cost.

5. Predictable cash flow

Once you have found several replens through wholesale sourcing, you can get to a place in your business where you have more predictable cash flow. Often with RA, OA, and thrifting, you will see ebbs and flows with your sales throughout the year, depending on what’s going on in your part of the country or in the stores where you like to source. Wholesale sourcing can provide more stability when it comes to ordering products to sell consistently throughout the year.

6. Saves time

Like I said above, finding a wholesale replen saves you a ton of time when it comes to not having to constantly be out sourcing for more one-off items to resell. It could take you all day to drive around town and spend $800 on RA finds, or you could spend a couple of hours doing wholesale research and find a great replen, place an $800 order, and then just reorder when you’ve sold out.

Another way wholesale saves time is when it comes to prepping your inventory. Wholesale items won’t have stickers to remove, and they often (though not always) come already poly bagged. You also can save time in listing the items. Instead of having to list and price 20 one-offs from RA clearance, you could list and price one item with 20 multiples from a wholesale source.

7. Easier to scale the business

As your FBA business grows, you will need to find ways to scale the business. Scaling your business means being able to increase your output. There are only so many garage sales in your town every week, so unless you hire folks in other towns to source for you, you can’t scale an FBA business based on garage saling. Same with retail arbitrage – you only have so many hours in the day to drive to retail stores, so you will need to hire someone else to source if you want to scale your RA business. But with wholesale, it is much easier to keep your business simple, source large amounts of inventory, and process it without needing to hire help. In fact, if you use a prep and pack center to process your inventory, you can grow your Amazon FBA business even more through wholesale.

8. Protects your seller account

Many Amazon FBA sellers experience great anxiety over the thought of being suspended because of claims by customers, especially claims of inauthentic products. As of this writing, Amazon is accepting retail receipts as proof of your source for inventory, but it’s often more difficult to prove your case with Amazon using retail receipts than using wholesale invoices – not to mention, at any point Amazon could stop accepting retail receipts altogether. Adding wholesale sources to your Amazon inventory gives you a level of protection for your seller account.

9. Become a brand approved seller

Brand restrictions on Amazon can be tricky when you’re looking for good retail sources for inventory. There’s nothing worse than finding an awesome item for resale, only to discover you are restricted from selling that brand. But with wholesale sources, you have the potential to work with Amazon and the manufacturer to become a brand approved seller. It requires some time and effort to get approval, but if you’re successful, you have the potential to make even more profits with even lower competition.

Now you have plenty of good reasons why you should consider adding wholesale to your Amazon FBA business. Stay tuned because in our next blog post, we’ll share with you how to find profitable wholesale accounts.

For the longest time I had wanted to add wholesale to my Amazon business. I have actually gone through 3 different wholesale courses to teach me how to do it. Each time I went through a new wholesale course, I would try what was taught, and I kept coming up empty. It was extremely frustrating… then I scheduled a phone call with Dan, one of the guys behind The Wholesale Formula. That conversation opened up my eyes to things about wholesale I’ve never thought about before. I took his advice and began to find multiple wholesale accounts.

Would you have wanted to listen in on that conversation? Unfortunately, we didn’t record the call, but Dan and his business partner Eric recently recorded an entire video series that focuses exactly on adding wholesale to your Amazon FBA business. The best part? It’s free! So many people think that you have to have thousands of dollars or special connections to start selling wholesale items on Amazon, but that’s just not true.

In this free video series my wholesale mentors, Dan and Eric, will teach you exactly how to find profitable items to buy via wholesale so you can experience growth in your Amazon business.

Now here’s the deal. These free videos are only going to be accessible for a limited time, so you need to click here and watch today.

Have you considered adding wholesale to your Amazon business? Have you been successful? If you have not tried it yet, what’s stopping you? What’s getting in the way of you sourcing directly from wholesale suppliers? Let me know in the comments so I can best help you in our current wholesale blog series.

Selling Shoes through Amazon FBA: Buying Decisions

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty details of sourcing shoes for FBA, shall we?

As I (Rebecca) mentioned in a previous post of this series, I personally don’t source for shoes using retail arbitrage (RA). I tried it and came up dry. I use 100% online arbitrage (OA) for my shoe sourcing strategy. The gist of this post, however, will cover topics that apply no matter what type of strategy you use for sourcing. I won’t get into details of what types of stores to find shoes in, what brands to look for, what styles to look for, and so on. Instead, I’m going to talk about some fundamental issues related to sourcing shoes that you can apply to your own personal sourcing strategy, whether you prefer RA, OA, wholesale, or something else.

shoe-experimentOur Initial Two-Week Shoe Experiment

After we got approved to sell in the shoe category, we decided to spend a two-week period sourcing shoes through OA, track the resulting sales, calculate our return on investment (ROI) and profits, and then decide from there how we wanted to proceed with adding shoes to our overall FBA strategy.

Every day for two weeks, I diligently looked at the deals on my paid sourcing subscription list, spent my sourcing budget, and waited for the shoes to arrive at our doorstep. The shoes came in, we processed them, and we sent them to FBA and waited for the sales.

clock-147257_1280And waited. And waited. And waited.

I didn’t source any more shoes online for about five or six weeks after that, as I waited to see how our experiment turned out. The sales trickled in soooooooo sloooooooowwwwwwwwwly from those two weeks of sourcing. I was very discouraged that shoes I thought were a low rank at the time I bought them turned out to not sell for weeks and weeks and weeks. I questioned whether I should stop thinking about buying shoes and just stick to toys, books, or another category I already knew well.

Rather than completely giving up, I decided to learn more, ask a ton of questions, reach out to people who have experience in the category, and try again. It was a slow process, but here we are a year later – and shoes are consistently our second highest category in dollar amount of sales.

For the rest of this post, I want to give you several points of consideration for making buying decisions in the shoe category that will hopefully accelerate your learning process.

What I Wish I Had Known About Sourcing Shoes Before I Started

  1. capital-moneyShoes take a LOT of capital to buy.

Unlike categories such as books or toys, with shoes it’s not possible to take a small amount of capital, buy items at a ridiculously low price and high ROI, and turn a fast profit that you can reinvest within a short amount of time. Shoes can give you a great ROI and a fantastic average selling price (ASP), but the buy cost for one pair of shoes typically ranges from $20 upward. It’s not uncommon to spend $50 or more on one pair of shoes.

  1. iguana-1441439_1280Shoes are long tail items.

Not only does it take a large initial investment (relative to other categories) to start buying shoes, it takes a lot of patience. Shoes typically do not sell at the same velocity as toys, books, groceries, and other faster moving categories. Shoes aren’t typically something that you can replenish, either. You generally buy a style of shoe, send it in to FBA, and move on to finding the next pair of shoes.

I sank a bunch of money into shoes in our original two-week experiment and became frustrated and disappointed that I didn’t get my return on that investment as soon as I had hoped. I eventually did sell all the shoes from that two weeks, but it took as long as six months for some of those shoes to sell – and in some cases as long as nine months. Once they did sell, the high ASP was nice to eventually see in our disbursement, but if we had needed that money back any sooner than nine months, we would have been in trouble.

The key with getting a steady stream of high ASP sales from shoes is to give yourself several months to ramp up. It will take several months of sending in a steady stream of shoes, and then you have to wait for those high-priced shoe sales to start trickling in. If you continually source shoes and send them in on a regular basis, after a while you will see the fruits of your labor in the form of higher disbursements and higher ASP. Stephen is always saying that patience brings profits, and that is definitely the case in the shoe category.

One item of note: Because shoes are a long tail item, it is more strategic not to go deep in any one variation, but go wide and buy multiple variations of the same style instead. It’s much easier to sell out quickly of one pair in each of size 6, 7, 8, and 9 than to sell out of four pairs of size 8.

  1. Sales rank for shoes is much different to gauge than in other categories.

screen-shot-2016-10-04-at-5-30-37-pmEach shoe listing on Amazon can potentially have dozens of variations, depending on the number of colors and sizes available. When you look at the sales rank for a pair of shoes you want to source, you aren’t looking at the sales rank for that particular pair of shoes; you’re looking at the sales rank for all of those variations combined. If the Amazon product page says a pair of shoes is ranked #568 in the overall shoe category, you have no way to know which size and which color of those shoes are receiving the sales that give it that low rank.

To further complicate matters, CamelCamelCamel and Keepa do not show sales rank history for shoes. When I’m making sourcing decisions, I don’t even bother looking at Camel for shoes. Keepa, however, does provide crucial information about whether or not Amazon has ever been in stock on any variation of shoes, and it shows price history. I highly recommend becoming fluent in using Keepa for making shoe sourcing decisions (you can get started reading Keepa graphs with this blog post).

So how can we make smart sourcing decisions if we have no way to know the current sales rank or sales rank history for a variation of shoes?

Here are two ways I can limit my risk as far as shoe sales rank is concerned:

* I stick with buying shoes that have a low number of variations. I prefer to buy shoes with only a low number of color options, not 15 or 20 colors. I also prefer to source shoes that don’t have a narrow, regular, and wide variation for each size. Tons of colors and tons of size options means more variations, which means the overall sales rank becomes increasingly meaningless as far as each variation is concerned.

* I stick with buying neutral colors (black, white, gray, brown). The majority of people are going to buy neutral colored shoes, and I prefer to buy inventory that’s more of a sure bet. I don’t buy shoes in a crazy floral print or neon green, no matter how cute they are — unless the only options on a low ranking shoe are bright colors and no neutrals; then I’ll branch out.

  1. Every shoe seller likes to take a different approach.

shoeKeep in mind that I’m trying to give you some general principles for making shoe sourcing decisions. Every seller finds their own groove, and you have to figure out what approach you personally want to take.

Some sellers prefer to stick with common sizes and colors, while some sellers like to provide Amazon customers with the hard-to-find colors and sizes. Some sellers stay away from sourcing half sizes because they find they sell less than whole sizes, but other sellers swear by sourcing half sizes because they’re harder to find and therefore more lucrative.

Personally, I usually stick to sizes 9-12 for men, 6-10 for women (but if 5 or 11 in women’s is currently unavailable on Amazon, I will consider buying it). That’s a wider range than some sellers would recommend; many will only source women’s 7, 8, 9. Also, I tend to buy more half sizes for women, less for men.

  1. screen-shot-2016-10-04-at-7-11-11-pmLook at reviews to see popular color and size.

A work-around for making a shoe sourcing decision without sales rank history is to read the reviews. Within the Amazon reviews for any verified Amazon purchase, you can see what size and color the customer bought. It’s fairly safe to assume that colors with more reviews are receiving more sales. You can also read the reviews and look at the “fit as expected” percentage to see if shoes tend to run small, large, or as expected. You can assume that shoes with a high percentage of “runs small” or “runs large” are likely to have a higher rate of return, which is a risk you might not be willing to take with your sourcing budget.

  1. shoes-high-heelsLook at the average price of shoes across all variations, not just at the price of the variation you’re considering sourcing.

This might be the biggest lesson I wish I had known before I started sourcing shoes. It’s possible that one random person will be willing to pay 3x for a blue leopard print shoe in women’s size 11.5 – but it’s not likely. It’s less risky to source shoes you can price competitively with other variations of the same size or color, rather than keeping your fingers crossed that someone will pay way above the average price listed on Amazon for your particular variation.

article_separator

Shoes aren’t for everyone selling on Amazon. The learning curve can be steeper than with other categories, shoes require a lot of capital, and the wait for sales can seem like an eternity. Even if you read every word I say above and every word in every Facebook group about shoes, it still takes trial-and-error to learn the category through your own experience. Everyone will have different results, and everyone will find different areas where they excel and prefer to source. What works for me might not work across the board.

shoesBut if you’re willing to commit the time and money…and some more time…and then a little more time to learning the category, the profits are worth it. We’ve spent the past year ramping up our shoe inventory and now have a continual stream of high-priced sales from shoes on a daily basis.

Have you found success selling shoes through Amazon FBA? Is there anything you would add to my above list of points to consider when sourcing shoes? We would love to hear from you in the comments!

********************

Our hope for this series on selling shoes is that we’re able to help you make informed decisions about whether the category is right for you and to help you find success in sourcing and prepping shoes.

If you’re ready to step up your game with selling shoes on Amazon, check out our course,The Reseller’s Guide to Selling Shoes: Kick up Your Profits with New Shoes via Amazon FBA. It’s a combination ebook (100+ pages) and video course (over 4.5 hours of no-fluff content) that will help you avoid all the mistakes we made and get your shoe selling off on the right foot.