In this episode, Chris Grant talks about his journey from being a salesman in the insurance business to becoming his own boss by making a full-time income selling on Amazon. Chris shares his story about when he knew he had to make the jump to full-time FBA, while his family was worried about him making this move, and how he made the transition a very successful one. He talks about how he was able to find tons of inventory (even sharing the store names) to sell on Amazon and what he thinks was the biggest difference maker in successfully doing retail arbitrage (RA).
Chris then talks about how he transitioned to adding online arbitrage (OA) and the specific lessons he had to learn to make the best use of his time and money doing OA. He shares how to know which stores online are profitable and what OA tool is the best to use in finding profitable inventory faster than before. On top of the knowledge you’ll learn from Chris in this episode, you’ll also get a free download of one of Chris’ most popular OA chrome extensions that helps you save more money buying inventory.
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Links and resources mentioned in this episode:
- Raise – Discounted gift cards
- Cardpool – Discounted gift cards
- Rakuten (formerly Ebates) – Cash back website
- Dosh – Cash back app
- Tactical Arbitrage OA sourcing tool (use code FULLTIME10 for an extended 10-day trial of TA)
- Tactical Arbitrage Academy (use code FULLTIMEFBA50 to save $50 off the TAA course)
- Keepa – Sales rank history and pricing history tracker
- Clear The Shelf blog
- Clear The Shelf YouTube page
- Chris’ book recommendation #1: Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike
- Chris’ book recommendation #2: The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results
- Listen to the above audiobooks and more on Audible
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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 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.
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Announcer: Welcome to the Full-Time FBA Show. In each episode, it’s our goal to help you turn part-time hours into a full-time income, selling almost anything on Amazon. And now your host of the show, Stephen and Rebecca Smotherman.
Rebecca: Hello everyone and welcome again to this episode of the Full-Time FBA Show. This is episode six and today we have for you a really great interview with Chris Grant. Stephen got to talk with him and had a really great conversation and actually, this conversation went a little bit longer than our typical podcast episode is going to go. So be prepared that this one is going to last a little bit longer but when we were listening back through it, we tried to edit it down to take out some things to make it shorter and we just couldn’t figure out what to edit because it’s all that good. And really, after you listen to it, you’ll see, it can be broken up into three distinct parts of the conversation. The first one is about Chris’s origin story and how he got started and a lot of that has to do with retail arbitrage and so that’s really interesting to hear about his experience with RA.
Rebecca: And then the second part which is really the meat of the interview and what we most wanted to talk to Chris about is online arbitrage. And so that’s the bulk of the interview is a discussion about OA. And so the third part of the interview covers Chris’s journey to full-time FBA. He started out doing FBA part-time on the weekends while he was working another job and you can hear how he made that transition so that it is his full-time job and he makes a full-time income from it. Really hope you enjoy this episode and let’s get right into it.
Stephen: All right, I have on the line with me today, Chris Grant, from Clear The Shelf and I’m excited to talk with him about his journey with Amazon FBA through retail arbitrage, online arbitrage, all sorts of stuff, even before RA and in between and how he’s been able to make a full-time income with Amazon with the things that he’s gone through, struggled with, overcome. And I’m looking forward to talking with him about that. Chris, how are you doing today?
Chris: I’m doing awesome. I really appreciate you having me on.
Stephen: Yeah, we’re happy that you’re here and excited what you have to share today. Now when it comes to selling on Amazon, take me back even before then. So before you were selling on Amazon, what were you up to? What was life like? And tell me what was going on in your life before Amazon came into play.
Chris: Absolutely. So I’ve always had something, some sort of hustle whether it was mowing lawns or pushing snow in the wintertime. And when I turned 18, I decided to forgo college and I went directly into insurance sales and I’ve been self employed since I was 18 years old. After 10 or 12 years, well it was 12 years, of the insurance business and all the changes that went on and things like that, I decided it was time to make a change. So for a couple of a years before I stopped selling insurance, I was looking for ways to create an income and I knew that I really probably wanted to do it online. I thought about opening a Subway and I had friends who owned gas stations and none of it appealed to me. But it did appeal to me to be able to do business with the world on the Internet.
Chris: So I learned about and I knew this is a dirty word in our community but I learned about drop shipping on eBay. I never drop shipped on Amazon and I did that for probably six months and got that to maybe 50 or $60,000 a month in gross revenue. And if you drop ship, that’s really only 4 or $5,000 in profits and this was before drop shipping was all automated and things. And then, I happened to listen to a couple of podcasts and I learned about Amazon and the FBA program and not having to hold onto inventory which is really what kept me from becoming a big eBay seller. I didn’t want to have my house full of inventory.
Chris: And so, I started with books and magazines. It’s a little embarrassing to admit what the first thing I sold on Amazon was but it was actually a vintage Gentleman’s magazine.
Stephen: Oh boy. Did you say that was the first thing on Amazon or eBay?
Chris: That was the first thing I ever sold on Amazon.
Chris: I merchant fulfilled. I happened to buy a box of these from the 60s at a garage sale for just a really low price and I put them up on Amazon and after a couple of weeks, five or six sold and I was sold on the Amazon opportunity. And then, I started thrifting and once I hit some home runs with that, I started turning toward retail arbitrage and hitting the big box stores and the discount stores in my area and even doing miniature roadtrips to different cities in my, well, I was living in Ohio at the time, to be able to get as much product as I needed.
Stephen: So what was it that first drew you to retail arbitrage?
Chris: So as a salesperson, when you get someone to sign on the dotted line, you get a sales high. And I guess maybe I was looking for something to replicate that and being able to go into a store where everyone is spending money on things that they’re just going to eat, wear, or throw away, I was able to go in and find gold sitting on shelves and I got that same rush from finding the items sitting there and knowing that I could make a profit on them, buying something for [inaudible 00:06:17]. Now this was a while ago so we could go in and we could buy something on clearance for 5 or $10 and you could probably sell it for 75 or $80 pretty easily. And hitting those home runs really kept me going when the pickings were slim.
Stephen: So when you said you took some mini roadtrips and stuff, tell me a little bit more about that.
Chris: So when I lived in Ohio, we had a store that I absolutely loved called Meijer. It’s still there. It’s still a great store. Started in Michigan by a guy named Fred Meijer and is now a regional chain. And some people are probably going to hate me for saying this on a podcast but the place was and is an absolute goldmine. I really think that I could probably make a full-time income from that store and maybe one other. I happened to be pretty good at Walgreens and between those two stores, I think I could just make a living.
Chris: And so what I would do is I would get up on a Saturday and a Sunday morning around 5 A.M. and I would drive from Columbus to Dayton, to Cincinnati and back, and sometimes even up to Cleveland if there was something hot that I knew I needed to get a lot of or their clearance, regionally, tended to be fairly similar so I knew if I struck gold on one item, I could probably find it in a lot of other stores and I would just go for 18 hours on the weekends before I stopped working my regular job. And I would just fill my car as much as I could.
Stephen: Yeah, I can relate to that and love that thrill of the hunt and even going on roadtrips to go to the sweet spots where you know you’re going to find good stuff. I live in Texas. We don’t have that store here but I’ve heard a lot of people talk about it and I’m okay if they would branch out to north Texas.
Chris: Absolutely. You guys have H-E-B though.
Stephen: Oh, we do and we absolutely love it. It’s my wife’s actual favorite place to go and it’s pretty awesome. So when it comes to retail arbitrage, what do you think it was that helped you become successful with retail arbitrage?
Chris: I’m a bit analytical. I try not to let it stop me in most cases but I was checking Keepa before it was popular, I guess, out in the store. And a lot of people, back then, were just using the, they might be using ScanPower or they were just using the Amazon Seller app but I would log into Keepa on my mobile phone and wait and look at the Keepa graphs and check as much as I could and then decide how deep I want to go. And then the other thing is that because I come from a sales background, I think I realized how important relationships are so building out relationships with managers and store employees at places like Meijer and Walgreens really helped me keep things moving, even when I was short on time.
Stephen: So what kind of opportunities opened up for you because of the relationships you were building?
Chris: Some of the best opportunities were, I was able to dig through and scan all of the clearance at about four different Walgreen stores before it went out on the shelves. I’d come in with a couple dozen donuts and they’d take me to the backroom. I’d get to go through everything including the unmarked clearance. They’d have a scan gun there so I could see what their prices are in the computer and then I’d just get to load up carts and leave whatever I didn’t want to take with me.
Stephen: That’s sweet. You didn’t even have to take the stickers off because there were no stickers so that saves a lot of time.
Chris: Nope. Yeah. It was awesome. And then at Meijer, I was able to usually get a little bit of an extra discount if I were taking enough of their clearance off the shelves. And then I would also get phone calls. Meijer had a thing where they would do an extra 50% off different departments clearances. So as soon as electronics had 50% off their clearance prices, I would get a call from one of the managers to say, hey, we got 50% off clearance on electronics and he’d say, it’s at this many stores so it’s time to come on in. And I’d come in and just start clearing shelves because things were just so cheap. And then, we did have one Meijer that started liquidating and I was able to get in a little bit early when they started liquidating their store to close up and move to another location. And that kind of stuff still happens. That’s not just back in the day stuff. Those relationship opportunities are still out there.
Stephen: That’s pretty cool and before we start talking about online arbitrage because that’s where I want to go next, I had two more questions for you about retail arbitrage. First off, you’re talking about developing relationships. How do you cultivate those relationships in the first place? I assume it’s not just bringing donuts and then you get backdoor access to the backrooms. How does that come about?
Chris: So typically, I’m not someone who’s not shy about scanning. I will scan products at 7/11. I’ll scan products at fast food restaurants and I never hide it. So a lot of the times, people would come up and ask me, hey, what are you doing? Are you checking out prices for a competitor? Because when I worked at a grocery store, that was pretty common practice. We’d have competitors come in and scan prices and write them down to stay competitive. And so they’d ask me and I’d explained, I said, listen, I take items from here and I arbitrage them on a larger marketplace and if it makes a profit and it sells, then I typically buy it. And most people were okay with that. I had one or two people who balked a little bit but that turned into if you guys need any help moving things or if things are collecting dust on your shelf, I might be able to get them to move on my shelves and I’d be happy to help you guys with that to make sure you guys make bonuses and don’t have dead inventory.
Chris: And most managers were just fine with that. They want to move stuff. They want to get product out because shelf space is expensive. Now, we don’t think about it like that as resellers or as consumers but as a manager, clearance stuff is taking up a lot of space that could otherwise be used for more profitable products. And so, most people were open to it and or happy with the amount of stuff that I was taking off their hands and were willing to have a relationship with me about that.
Stephen: That’s awesome. And what you’re saying is if you present things as a win win situation instead of just, hey, can I buy this stuff at a discount but you’re saying, I’ll be able to clear this shelf and get you some of your shelf space back and I’ll be able to help you get rid of items so you don’t have to inventory it at the end of the year and all sorts of different ways that you’re helping them. Instead of just focusing on yourself, you’re able to open that door for more opportunities.
Chris: That’s exactly it. You really do have to make it about them. It has to be how it’s going to help them, not how it’s going to help your pocketbook even though in the right situation, everybody’s back should get scratched.
Stephen: Right. Yep. That’s pretty cool. So at this point, you’re doing some thrifting, you’re doing retail arbitrage and you’re ramping up your sales and stuff, is this the point where you started to realize that, hey, I might be able to make a full-time income with this?
Chris: Yeah, it really was. This was right before we had a son. We were trying to figure out what we wanted to do. I didn’t necessarily want to be, I was working 60 hours a week doing sales and I didn’t necessarily want to miss 60 hours a week worth of my son growing up and we were just trying to figure out what the next step was and after putting in a couple of 12 or 18 hour days on the weekends and seeing what it could do, we figured out that if we could actually do that regularly and not just on Saturday and Sunday, it’s something that could really pay all the bills and I wouldn’t necessarily have to be out of the house all the time working at an office job.
Stephen: That’s pretty awesome. I want to come back later and ask you a few things about your transition to full-time but before I do that, let’s talk about online arbitrage because you did RA for a while. What caused you to first think about doing online arbitrage?
Chris: It was the fact that while I enjoyed, even now, I do still enjoy going out and doing RA, I knew that to be able to scale efficiently, I was going to need to take out the bottleneck which was myself and my time. And being able to go from retail arbitrage to being able to buy online, I knew that I’d be able to buy more and maybe not necessarily buy deeper but buy wider and be able to grow my inventory and my sales, hopefully, faster.
Stephen: Yeah because with retail arbitrage, you’re limited to the number of stores you can get to in a day. But with online arbitrage, the world is open to you.
Chris: Exactly. In Ohio, I didn’t have an Academy or an REI or anything like that. And being able to buy from the online and flipping it on Amazon was just a huge opportunity.
Stephen: So how was that transition? Is it something that you continue to do both of or did you start doing a little more online than retail? What was that transition like?
Chris: Well, I had to learn a way. So I would do it in my spare time, in my evenings, and I was just figuring things out and this was still really before OA tools were something that what everyone was using so I was copying and pasting and going down rabbit trails and things like that all manually. And then of course, six months later, I learn about a software that will do this kind of thing for you and then it just exploded. But yeah, once software hit, it really became something that was, I just had to do it. It was much more efficient. My time was spent better on finding products than going and scanning and coming up with nothing which happens. And if I came up with nothing online, well, it’s not a big deal. Software was doing the heavy lifting for me and I could just go onto the next sore.
Stephen: So when I heard you a second ago talking about when you first started online arbitrage, you took things slowly and I think that’s a really good tip for a lot of people to hear because some people want to hit the ground running but you have to remember back to your days of starting with retail arbitrage, you had to start slowly there too. You had to learn new things, learn new skills, make a lot of mistakes, learn from those mistakes, you might buy the wrong thing and the same thing goes with online arbitrage. There’s going to be mistakes that you make but just because you make mistakes doesn’t mean online arbitrage doesn’t work. It means that there’s things that you can learn and new strategies that you can implement. So what were the main skills that you felt like you needed to learn when it comes to successfully doing online arbitrage?
Chris: So one of the things that I was pretty good at with retail arbitrage was I was good at buying gift cards upfront. And so I knew that part and I knew that, that would transition over into OA easily but back then, there wasn’t really a ton of cashback opportunity in the retail arbitrage game. Ebates was doing in store cashback and there wasn’t things like Dosh and all these other apps to scan your receipts in. Learning more ways to cushion my return were things that I really tried to focus on. And that included cashback, maximizing cashback from different sites and then when I did retail arbitrage, I was specifically a Raise guy just to use Raise. So learning about other discount gift card places helped quite a bit as well to be able to cushion the return with OA.
Chris: And then, a lot of people don’t think about it but when I talked to someone who wants to get into retail arbitrage and I’ll have a conversation where they say, I’m kind of down and out. I went out and I did scanning and I didn’t find anything so I’m just not sure this works. I’m not sure it’s for me. I always say, well, how many items did you scan? Or how long did you scan? And they’ll say, well, I probably scanned 75 or 100 items or I went out for eight hours. And I’d be like, you really need to scan like 1,000 items before you say you’re going to throw in the towel. And the same thing goes with OA. And now a lot of times today, you’re going to be using software so you’re not going to physically know how many items you’ve scanned but you can’t just run one or two searches in a software and say, oh, I didn’t find anything. This just isn’t going to work. I really think that people need to be patient, learn the ins and outs of what makes a good product to sell on Amazon, and then maybe pay a little Amazon tuition and try those things out and really take it step by step instead of just trying to jump in the deep end before you know how to swim.
Stephen: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense and yeah, scan as much as you can and then the cool thing about those is when you do find the profitable ones, then not only can you a little bit deeper than sometimes before but a lot of times, you might be able to go back again to find those same items to replenish once you sell out and it makes those 1000 scans worth a whole lot more than scanning a 1000 items in a clearance aisle.
Chris: Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. Nowadays, if you can stay away from the clearance aisle, it’s all the better. I still like to buy clearance just because a lot of times, the margins are still pretty nice. I would much rather just go down the regular aisles and buy full price and sell for more and be able to do over and over and over again.
Stephen: Yeah, the clearance stuff, it’s the low hanging fruit. It’s the easy stuff and while the ROI potential is a lot higher, there’s also the thought that, hey, these items might be in a clearance aisle in every store nationwide and so, the market might be flooded soon for this item so I either need to get in quickly and get out or decide to pay some storage fees until Q4 comes when I can try and sell out.
Stephen: But when it comes to online arbitrage, we talked about before, there are so many stores that you can decide to source at. How do you know which ones are the right ones to look at to find inventory that’s profitable?
Chris: I’ll be honest and what I tell people is, I’ll take a list of stores and you just throw a dart at them. Most places have something that will be profitable for you to sell. Now, I do have a couple of stores that I prefer to source at a lot but you find those over time. For example, if someone’s new to say Tactical Arbitrage and they come to me with some questions, they’ll say, where do I start? What store do I start with? I never heard of some of these. And I will literally tell people, why don’t you start from the Zs and work your way backwards.
Stephen: Is that just because you assume most people are starting in the As?
Chris: Most likely or they’re hitting the big box stores that they know. They know Walmart. They know Target. They know Kohl’s. But they may have never heard of Zappos.com and while Zappos does sell on Amazon, there are times when you can find items from Zappos that sell really well on Amazon at a profit. So I typically tell people to start backwards and just work their way up and once you start getting the rhythm of sites, you’re going to find places that are your honey holes. And the other thing that you can do is if you stay abreast of when sales are, you can go in and hit these targeted short term sales to be able to find profitable items that’s a little bit easier than if you’re just going after the Walmarts and the Kohl’s and the Targets.
Stephen: Right. Earlier in this interview, you talked a little bit about, you started using sourcing software and just a second ago, you brought up Tactical Arbitrage. I’m assuming that’s the sourcing software you’re talking about that you’re able to learn to find where to find inventory that’s profitable.
Chris: Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. It’s the only thing I use.
Stephen: Right and we use it too. And so, why don’t you give our listeners a little introduction to what Tactical Arbitrage and how you’ve been able to use it.
Chris: Sure. So Tactical Arbitrage is, in my opinion, the best sourcing software out there. There’s well over 500 sites that you can source from in the U.S. and then of course, there’s another 6 or 700 outside the U.S. if you’re selling in other marketplaces. You have the ability to add your own sites via Xpaths so if you happen to have a honey hole that’s not supported, you could actually have it so that Tactical Arbitrage can scan it for you. I was lucky I got into Tactical Arbitrage when it was fairly new and I was able to learn it really well and I’ve been able to keep up with it over time. And the thing that Alex has done with Tactical Arbitrage, being able to find products not only by UPC but also by matching images from Amazon to source sites and being able to figure out quantity matches in a lot of cases, at least when the Amazon catalog is up to date properly then, and to be able to match titles and things like that, it’s an absolute game changing tool if you’re used to copying and pasting from a source site to Google or a source site to Amazon.
Stephen: Yeah, because it eliminates that and just saves so much time and really money because time is money so if you’re saying time, you’re saving money, to help you find profitable inventory.
Chris: Absolutely. And the fact is, you can run 10 scans, well, seven scans in tandem depending on what kind of account you have. I can be sourcing every single toy catalog on 500 different sites all at one time. And in Q4, that’s just super powerful. You could just crush Q4 with toys and being able to do that, just over and over and over everyday. But outside of that, outside of Q4, you can go looking for the items that are dull and boring and just make profits every single day. Some of the stuff that we sell that sells the best is the most boring consumable products that you could ever think of but we get to reorder it when the stock is getting low and send it right back in and it just keeps selling profitably for us. One of the ways that we do that on a regular basis is we actually go out and we use Keepa and we find ASNs that are within our limits of sales rank and things like that. And then we reverse search them and with Tactical Arbitrage, you can actually put in the ASNs from Amazon and then Tactical Arbitrage will go out and find those at source sites for you. So if you want, you don’t even have to pick a store. TA will actually pick the stores for you if you’re doing it right.
Stephen: That’s pretty cool and I know you mentioned Alex a second ago. Alex Moss is the guy who created Tactical Arbitrage and one of the negatives that I hear people talking about Tactical Arbitrage is that there could be a steep learning curve and in fact, some people might be listening to you explaining what’s possible and they might be like, dude, you totally lost me. But I love the idea of using a software to help me find more profitable inventory and so, I know that you’ve taken an opportunity to help people with Tactical Arbitrage and learning things and what is possible and taking even some of the basic stuff, explaining it really well, and then even doing a lot of advanced training, too, with your Tactical Arbitrage Academy. Tell me a little bit about that.
Chris: Sure. So Tactical Arbitrage Academy is something that we came up with to take people by the hand and walk them through from start to finish of how to use Tactical Arbitrage. Because there is a learning curve. We can’t say there isn’t. There’s a lot of buttons to push. There’s a lot of switches to toggle. And when you first look at it, it can be overwhelming a bit. One of the things that I did in my insurance days is I really tried to take complex concepts and break them down into everyday language. And I believe that’s what made me successful in the insurance business and I believe that, that ability has carried over to things like Tactical Arbitrage and Tactical Arbitrage Academy is I’m pretty good with these high level concepts but I’m really good at distilling them down so that I can understand them.
Chris: And then once I understand them at my own level, I’m pretty good at giving that information to other people and hopefully, giving them a headstart to be able to shorten that learning curve and get to their first dollar with Tactical Arbitrage. And that’s really what Tactical Arbitrage Academy was built for, is to cut down that learning curve and get them on the road and overcome their fear of such a large dashboard and their analysis paralysis of trying to figure out, well, should I have this toggle turned on or should I press this button before I get started? Because in a lot of cases, you’ll actually see someone who comes in to start Tactical Arbitrage and ends up leaving and they actually haven’t even run a scan. And I think a lot of that just has to do with the fact that they aren’t sure. They don’t want to break anything. And the great thing about TA is you can’t break anything. So if you do something wrong, you just delete it and start over. And you learn along the way. So, that’s kind of the-
Stephen: Yeah, I can definitely relate to that feeling of overwhelm. We’ve used Tactical Arbitrage for multiple years now and we used it without any type of special training for about a year and then my wife and I went through your Tactical Arbitrage Academy and we’re like, whoa, I didn’t know this was even possible and so, we were able to even kick up our sourcing even more thanks to that and so it really helped overcome that overwhelm when we were able to break things down into bite sized pieces and just focus on different purposes at a time with what we were wanting to do and started to achieve our goals with the sourcing that we were wanting to do with Tactical Arbitrage.
Chris: Yeah, that’s exactly the entire goal of Tactical Arbitrage Academy and fortunately, for such a small niche, we’ve had a lot of people come through and I would say that 99% of them have been happy and say that it’s really helped them. And that’s been the goal the entire time. And Stephen, if you want, I would be happy to offer a coupon code for your listeners to Tactical Arbitrage Academy.
Stephen: That would be sweet.
Chris: Okay, well, we’ll do coupon code FULLTIMEFBA, all capital, all one word and that’ll get $50 off Tactical Arbitrage Academy.
Stephen: Thank you very much. I really appreciate that.
Stephen: So when we’re talking about online arbitrage and stuff, you were talking about taking advantage of gift cards and things like that and cashback sites and things like that. I also know that you streamlined and made it easier for people to do that as well. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
Chris: Absolutely. So when I really started to get into OA and it became the backbone of the business, you had to go keep track of all these different gift card sites and you had to go keep track of all these cashback sites and there’re sites out there that aggregate all of the data for you. But the thing is, is I’ve already got eight tabs open doing online arbitrage and then I’ve got another two tabs open with my e-mail and with Facebook, keeping up with the breaking news in Facebook groups. And then I’ve got some more tabs open to keep track of the gift cards and the cashback. I wanted to figure out a way to be able to make it easier and I came up with revROI which basically goes out and grabs all the data on discount gift cards, all of the data on cashback sites and let’s you know who has the highest discounts and cashback on whatever site that you might be on. So if you’re sourcing Kohl’s, for example, and you click on the revROI extension, you’re going to see that Raise. Actually, I’ll pull it up right now and I’ll tell you exactly who has the best gift card on Kohl’s.
Chris: So the best cashback on Kohl’s right now is Ebates at 3% and TopCashback and Giving Assistant are all matching them. And then with the discount gift cards, you can get 8% off at Cardpool and 6.2% off at Raise. And I’m able to see that just in one box right on the sourcing site rather than having to go to these other different sites. And then, we decided to add in credit card points for, because we know that the Amazon community likes, there are a lot of us who like to travel hack and do things like that so we added in credit card points and travel miles so that people could decide maybe what credit card they want to use at particular stores and things like that.
Stephen: That’s a sweet setup and saves tons of time because there’s so many cashback sites, there’s so many gift card sites that allow you to buy discounted gift cards and you could spend hours going through all of them but this just does it with a click of a button and it’s super fast and we really appreciate you putting that together for us. And Chris and I talked a little bit earlier and I pulled his arm back and broke him until he finally gave us a coupon code for revROI but it’s like the best coupon code ever so tell me a little bit about that.
Chris: Yeah, absolutely. Anybody who listens can get revROI for free and normally, it’s only $4.95 a month because I do have server fees and things like that but if you use code FULLTIMEFBA, again, all one word, all capital letters, you’ll be able to get that for free for life. And of course, I’ll give you a link and everything to make it nice and easy for your listeners to get to but you guys can go and have that and hopefully it will save you a few bucks.
Stephen: Yeah, thank you so much for that from the goodness of your heart and I’m really thankful for that and everyone listening to this podcast, any of the resources or links or coupon codes or all of that, it’s going to be on our show notes page if you go to fulltimefba.com/6since this is our sixth episode. Fulltimefba.com/6, you’ll be able to get all of those links and resources and be reminded of all the things that we talked about today. So one of the final things I wanted to talk about is your transition into full-time. You’re doing thrifting and retail arbitrage. You do the online arbitrage. What was it like when you finally realized I’m going to go full-time with this? What was going on and why did you decide to do that?
Chris: Absolutely. So my son was still pretty young when I decided to go full-time. I think he was just turning six months or maybe a year. But on December 31st, I decided that was going to be my last day and of course, I let my boss who was also my grandfather, I let him know well in advance and come December 31st, I told everybody goodbye and January 1st, we just took the plunge. Now, it was a little scary because I’ll be completely honest with you. At the time, the Amazon business was not going to support us but I knew that if I did not jump, then I would be five or seven or ten years down the road doing the same thing and it was now or never.
Chris: So I was fortunate enough because I was in a commissioned job, I did have some residuals in my contract. I had about six months worth of residual commission so I knew that I had a little bit of a safety net. I talked to my wife. I let her know what I wanted to do. She backed me 100%. January 1st, we just changed and we decided that I was going to work from home. I was going to do RA. I was going to do OA. And this was going to be our bread and butter from now on. So it was scary because I was worried I wouldn’t be able to make it for quite some time but once I got into a groove and things started humming along, I knew that by the time the six months were up, we’d have enough to pay the bills and not go hungry and keep a roof over our head.
Chris: Now, I would not suggest that for anybody. One, I am a bit of a risk taker. I will jump out of an airplane and figure out how to build the parachute on the way down. And that’s not for everybody. So I would never tell someone to do that. But it worked for us and I’m glad we took that jump because I would probably still be selling insurance to this day if we didn’t do it.
Stephen: So you’re talking about having some residual incomes still coming in. And so that helps feed the beast, get more inventory into Amazon and help support you a little bit. And so for people who are listening and thinking about making that jump to full-time, if you don’t have that option to have residual income continuing to come in a little bit, being able to start building a savings account. Call it your Full-time FBA Jump savings account and start saving up some money so that you can make that transition because I know there are some people who, they’ll make the jump once they’re making a full-time with Amazon. But other people say, well, I’m only spending this minimal amount of numbers on my Amazon business and I’m making this much. If I do full-time hours with Amazon, I could make this much. And so it gives them a little bit more comfort to make that jump.
Stephen: So when you told your family, you told your parents, your grandfather, anyone else, your friends that you were going to start selling on Amazon full-time, what was the reaction like? I heard you a second ago say your wife was 100% supportive so that’s really awesome. Anyone making that jump and you’re married, you want to make sure that you have the support of your spouse. That’s the override vote right there. No matter what you want, if you’re not both on the same page, don’t do it. But make sure you’re on the same page. But how did the rest of your family and friends react to you making this jump?
Chris: Absolutely. And I want to double down on that point because you make a really good point. I am really fortunate. My wife will believe in my insane ideas and thinks that I can do anything and backed me up on that and if it weren’t for her, we wouldn’t be able to do what we’re doing today. Now the rest of my family, they were not so supportive. My dad is a company man. He’s worked for UPS in my entire life. And most of my family, some of them work for the government. Some of them are in the military. And a lot of them rely on a job and that’s what they need to have. They need to have a job. And I’ve never been that way. I worked in a grocery store a little bit as a teenager but other than that, even as a kid and things like that, as a young adult, I always was self employed whether it was landscaping or lawn mowing or pushing snow or anything like that, selling insurance. I was always self employed and made my own hours and just earned my own keep.
Chris: So I knew that I didn’t want to go get a corporate job which is what everybody thought that I should do. Why don’t you transition inside the insurance company? Get a health insurance and get a 401k but I knew that, that just was not for me. And so even though they weren’t really on board, after about a year or two, they started coming around. And then people started saying, well, how do you do what you’re doing? And things like that. So it’s an interesting thing, what happens once you’re able to really make it work for you and your family. Friends and family members from the outside will piqued their interest.
Stephen: Yeah. I feel like that that’s a story that a lot of full-time Amazon sellers talk about, that a lot of times, people, they’re kind of worried at first that we’re making a bad decision or whatever. And then they realize after a while, oh, it’s actually working. Can you tell me how to do it?
Stephen: Yep. So what does it feel like to be your own boss? To be full-time, to be in charge of your own hours. What does that feel like?
Chris: I want to say that it’s the most liberating thing in the world but in reality, it’s not. You still need to have hours. You need to have a schedule or you’ll find yourself binging Netflix all day. I happen to be a person who I will very easily go from, I’ll be a workaholic to be quite honest. I will work 16 or 18 hours a day and go to bed and get up and come right back to it. So being your own boss, you need to, one, make sure that you do work. And two, you need to make sure that you take time out to recuperate and make sure that you’re not neglecting the people that you quit the corporate world for, right? I want to be there for my son. I want to be there for my wife. I try not to go on too many business trips, to conferences, and things like that. And I make sure that I can make it to my son’s field days and practices and whatever he might want to do. And it would be easy to say, oh, not today, I can’t do that. I’ve got work to do. Because I got a 50 foot commute.
Chris: So that’s something that can be difficult to overcome but it’s important to do.
Stephen: Absolutely. And I hear you saying, you need to make sure that you have the discipline to make sure that work gets done and that you need to have the right kind of boundaries so that everything is able to be taken care of well and of course, be sure to enjoy it too. The reason why you made this change is to spend more time with your family and to have that freedom and that freedom is awesome. Before we get to the lightning round questions, the final three questions, how can our listeners find out more about you?
Chris: Of course. I have a blog at cleartheshelf.comand I don’t blog as much. I’m not as prolific as you are. But I do blog there. I’m on YouTube as Christopher Grant. Basically, if you search any Tactical Arbitrage videos or things like that, I usually come up. And then I’m in all of the Facebook groups and I’m around. I try to answer questions. I try to be helpful and make sure that people are getting the answers that they need so that they can make this business for themselves as well.
Stephen: I know you’re in our group, the Fulltime FBA Facebook group and you really help people out a lot from time to time and I appreciate you doing that because you could just stick to your own world, so to speak, when it comes to the online communities that we’re creating but you’re out there helping a lot of people and a lot of places so I appreciate that.
Chris: Absolutely. Absolutely. I enjoy it. I like helping people. It’s more rewarding than going and buying something for five bucks and selling it for 100.
Stephen: Yep. Absolutely. I feel you there. All right. Lightning round questions. Quick answers, you can explain a little bit but the last three questions I ask everybody that I interview, number one, what is your favorite thing to do when you’re not working on your Amazon business?
Chris: So I’m a bit of an introvert and my favorite thing to do for myself is reading. It is 100% nonfiction, typically business or marketing books and that’s my favorite thing to do. As a family, we now live outside of Orlando. As a family, we really enjoy hitting the theme parks, Universal and Disney and SeaWorld are things that we do, really regularly, now that we live down here.
Stephen: That’s awesome. My family wants to go to Universal Studios some time soon and so hopefully, we can do that soon. All right. You said you love reading. This is my second lightning round question, what non-Amazon book are you reading or have read lately that’s impacted your business?
Chris: Actually, there are a couple. The first is Shoe Dog by Phil Knight. It is a memoir of sorts about Phil and how he became Nike and how he built Nike. And there’s a lot of things that we don’t realize. We see Nike as, oh, they’ve been around for 40, 50 years and they’ve just always been there. But they really had to climb their way to the top and I would say, even at times, claw their way to the top in there in the 80s with Adidas and other brands and the Japanese trying to take them out of business and Phil Knight always just persevered and even when he thought he was going to lose it all, he kept going. And it’s really powerful book.
Chris: Another one would be The ONE Thing by Gary Keller. I have shiny object syndrome and when I see a squirrel, I start looking at other things. So The ONE Thing by Gary Keller talks about focusing on the one thing in the day, the week, the month, and the year that will move your business forward. And so I always try to get at least one thing done everyday that takes my business forward from where I want it to be to where I want it to go. And then, I try to do one thing a month and really focusing on one thing at a time. You end up having a domino effect which catapults your business much more than it would if you were just trying to put out all the fires all the time.
Stephen: Yeah, absolutely. I read The ONE Thing and it totally rocked my world and helps me out on a daily basis and so I totally recommend that book as well. Shoe Dog, I have not read but thanks to you, I will add it to my reading list and we’ll get to that some time soon.
Chris: Absolutely. Shoe Dog is a great book to listen to on Audible because Phil Knight reads it so you can kind of hear the emotions at times. And it really makes the story hit home.
Stephen: That’s a good tip. I will definitely do that. So last question, what are you most excited about when it comes to the future of Amazon?
Chris: Oh, that is a great question. I don’t think a lot of sellers will admit this but I think that e-commerce is … I don’t know if we’ve gone from middle schooler to teenager yet but I think we’re kind of transitioning there maybe. And so, I really do think that e-commerce has a long way to go.
Stephen: I agree.
Chris: If we look at the grocery category, for example, groceries really just eked over the 20% of groceries being purchased online. I think it was 23% the last time I checked or something like that. In a market that big, there’s still a long way to go and Walmart and Kroger and all these other stores that we’re used to buying our groceries from are trying to fight for that e-commerce dollar but I think over time, as we become busier and we get more and more comfortable with having our food delivered to us, I think it’s going to go more the way of Amazon and things like that. So I still think that there’s a ton of opportunity out there. If we look at Keepa, for example, Keepa tracks how many products are being sold in each category as well as they can.
Chris: And just in the top half of percent, there’s like 40 million products on Amazon that are just in the top half percent of their categories. There’s no way that Amazon can stock all of those and there’s no way that all of the products are on Amazon, all of the brands are on Amazon. So I know that there’s still a lot more growth that’s going to happen and I really do believe that Amazon’s probably going to be at the forefront of it for a long time. So I think as Amazon sellers and as people who understand e-commerce, there’s a lot of opportunity for us, not only us to leverage Amazon, but to leverage our knowledge to help brands, to even have our own e-commerce stores off of Amazon and be able to grow our own customer base. I think there’s a lot of opportunities left. Lot of meat on the bone if you will.
Stephen: Yeah. I totally agree with that and that puts us in a really good spot, those who have been selling on Amazon and also, for those of you if you have still not started selling on Amazon yet, learn what you can right now, start sending in inventory, start the ball rolling so that you can be in before it gets really crowded. Because I hear people complaining all the time that Amazon sellers, it’s too crowded but I totally disagree. I also think that the selling on Amazon life cycle that yeah, we are still really young and there is a long time ahead of us and the potential for that is huge and for those that get in on this ground floor right now can take the most advantage of that.
Chris: Absolutely. You bring up the life cycle of an Amazon seller. There’s only like 10% of sellers that start every year that actually sell something based on studies. So it’s really not overcrowded and I don’t think it’s going to become overcrowded for a long time.
Stephen: Yep. I agree. Well Chris, thank you so much for hanging out with me. Thanks for sharing your wisdom and your knowledge with everybody and thanks for sharing your coupon codes and your free giveaway and man, you’ve just really helped us out a lot today.
Chris: Yeah, absolutely. I’m happy to be here. I really appreciate you having me on and I know this podcast is going to be awesome. I think you’re going to get a ton of people listening.
Stephen: Well, I appreciate that. Find out more about Chris. Go to cleartheshelf.com. Dude, I love the name of that website, Clear The Shelf.
Chris: Thank you.
Stephen: And find out more about him and follow him wherever you can find him where he continues to drop knowledge bombs everywhere. But thanks again for hanging out with me today. I look forward to talking with you again some time in the future.
Chris: All right. Thank you.
Rebecca: So that wraps up our interview episode with Chris Grant. That was a really great conversation and I know I learned a lot from it.
Stephen: Yeah and you know what? During the interview, he talked a lot about different resources and we talked about some different links and stuff and so, if you’re curious to learn more information about any of the things that we talked about, we have it all listed at this web address. fulltimefba.com/6, the number 6. And all this information, the free download that Chris offers, the coupon codes that he offers, all the resources that we talked about, you can find that. fulltimefba.com/6.
Rebecca: And if you found this episode of the podcast helpful, we would love it if you would subscribe, if you would leave a review, leave us a rating, wherever you listen to your podcast. That would be really helpful and we would really appreciate it.
Stephen: And on our next episode, we’re going to be talking about the power of your mindset and how you think can either be a deal breaker and possibly ruin your Amazon business or it could be a deal maker and really take your Amazon business to the next level. We can’t wait to tell you more about how you think and how it impacts your Amazon business. So we’ll see you next time on the Full-Time FBA Show.
Rebecca: Bye, you all.
Announcer: That’s all for this episode of the Full-Time FBA Show. So head over to fulltimefba.com/podcastwhere you’ll find the show notes and links from this episode. While you’re there, subscribe to our newsletter where you’ll get several free downloads of our popular and helpful Amazon FBA resources including a free e-book. Now, take action on what you’ve learned today so you can find success at turning part-time hours into a full-time income with Amazon FBA.
Whaoooh! Episode #6 is Fantastic and lots of nuggets from Chris. Your new Podcast is awesome and thanks immensely for starting it and the content is excellent as always, having been following your newsletter for years. I will now go back and catch up with the rest of the Podcasts. God bless you for all you do.
Panda R Polk says
What profit margins can I expect with OA and could you do this exclusively? (eliminate RA)
Stephen Smotherman says
You can find profit margins anywhere from 20% to over 500%…. they’re all out there. The lowest we are comfortable with is around 25%… but we find 200% too! Also, yes! There are many who only do OA and make a full-time income (with part-time hours).