Most Amazon resellers use sales rank as a major factor in deciding whether or not to buy an item to resell. But what happens if the sales rank for an item is zero or “N/A” (Not Available)? Are there any other ways to decide if this item is worth reselling on Amazon?
For most items, a sales rank of zero simply means that the item has never sold, or has not sold in a long, long, long time. This will apply to most of the items that have no sales rank, but there are some exceptions.
Some categories don’t offer up sales ranks. Electronics is an example. Amazon does not provide the sales rank in relation with the whole category — they only offer up sales rank in subcategories under Electronics. (We’ll do another blog post sometime soon on how to decode the Electronic sales ranks.)
Sometimes Amazon decides that sales rank in certain categories should disappear for a few hours or a few days. One time, all sales ranks for books disappeared. To be honest, I panicked a little. I’m not sure if it was an error on Amazon’s part or if they were doing something with the algorithm, but for a few hours, it was gone. I was relieved to see sales rank for books return, but wondered what life as an Amazon reseller would be like without relying on sales rank.
Some items have a sales rank of zero, yet I sell many of them a month. Why is Amazon not giving sales rank for that item? Who knows.
So, if you come across an item with no sales rank, how can you tell if it’s never sold, not sold in a long time, or is actually a great selling item? Here are a few ideas:
1. See if that item has another product page.
If you come across an item with a zero (or N/A) sales rank, search Amazon to see if the item is being sold on another product page. Many times the exact same item will have multiple product pages. As I write this blog, the board game “Seinfeld Scene It – Deluxe Edition” has SIX product pages. Those pages are offering the exact same game at prices that range from $14.69 to $324.99. As you might assume, the page that is offering this game at the cheapest price has the best sales rank, while the page offering the game for $324.99 has a ZERO sales rank. Even though Amazon is trying to combine all of the products with multiple pages, they’re still a long way off from completing that task.
2. Check out product reviews.
If an item sells often, then it most likely will have plenty of current 5-star Amazon product reviews. Be sure you check to see if the reviews are current. Just because an item has 500+ 5-star reviews from 2007 doesn’t mean that it will sell now.
3. Make an educated guess based on your experience.
If you’ve been selling on Amazon for a while, then you’ve started to get a feel for what a good reselling item looks like. You know what you’ve sold before and what might sell in the future. You know what brand names are stable and provide consistent sales. You know what knock-off brands are not good for sales. If sales rank was pulled, or you are out without your scouting tools, you can use your experience to make an educated guess on the buy. If you get home and are wrong, you could always return the item.
One thing I hear often (when listening to FBA podcasts or reading FBA blogs) is that sales rank is never promised by Amazon. It could be pulled at any time if Amazon decides. There may come a day when we don’t have sales rank data to depend on to make product purchases. If this happens, you now have some tools to help you make decisions in your buying.
So what about you? What do you do when you see a sales rank of zero? What are the methods you use to decide if a product is a quality resell item? I’d love to hear your thoughts!