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, “N/A” (Not Available), or Rank Unavailable? 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 sometimes exceptions.
Some categories don’t offer up sales ranks for all items. Electronics is an example. Amazon sometimes does and sometimes does not provide the sales rank in relation with the whole category — they sometimes only offer up sales rank in subcategories under Electronics. Other categories also act like that from time to time.
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 FIVE different 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 recent 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 2016 doesn’t mean that it will sell now.
This is what I love about the RevSeller Chrome extension. There is a quick link right at the top of the RevSeller box (at the top of the Amazon product page) where you can see the most recent reviews. If you want to sign up for RevSeller, use the code FULLTIME and you’ll save $20 off the cost of your first year.
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 sourcing without your scouting tools, you can use your experience to make an educated guess on the buy.
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!
Sales rank is easily the most misunderstood aspect of selling on Amazon. What is a good sales rank? What do I do with sales rank for sub-categories? Why does sales rank seem to change so often?
Why does sales rank have to be so confusing so much of the time?
I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be that way! You can finally get the clarity you need on the issue of understanding Amazon sales rank numbers. We at Full-Time FBA have launched a mini-course called The Reseller’s Guide to Sales Rank: Understanding Amazon Best Sellers Rank for Maximum Profits. The mini-course is a combination ebook (30+ pages) and video course (almost 2 hours).
Check out The Reseller’s Guide to Sales Rank mini-course to see how you can master the concept of best sellers rank and be on your way toward smarter sourcing decisions for your Amazon FBA business!
*This blog post was updated for 2020
Georgene Harkness says
Well, if I am in the store, I do pretty much what you do. But if I am at home, doing online scouting, one tool that can be valuable is the customer response on the originating store site. For example: I found a set of dolls for sale on a website that looked promising and the price differences were right. No rank, no reviews on Amazon. BUT I looked at the site that was selling these dolls, and saw that there was only one review and it was one star. The buyer talked about the poor quality, the fact that they were falling apart, and more. THAT gave me the clue I needed to pass these items up.
That’s another great idea Georgene! Thank you for sharing!
Steve/Rebecca, thanks for all the great information.
Regarding N/A sales rank, One strategy is to look to see if the product is being sold by Amazon. If an N/A sales rank item has good margin item and I see that Amazon is selling then I usually buy it. In most cases, if Amazon is selling an item it’s usually a fast moving item.
That’s usually a good way of thinking, although I did see Amazon in on a TOY listing that was ranked well over 900,000. See, even Amazon sometimes picks a dud to sell, just like us. LOL. But overall, a good way of thinking!
Hey. So what would happen if you do have an Amazon sales rank, but when you check on the reports, it says the book didn’t sell?
Stephen Smotherman says
A sales rank means that in the past it has sold. It’s possible that Keepa or CamelCamelCamel did not start tracking the sales rank until after the sale occurred. They don’t collect data on all items, just most of them.
Thank you for the info, great to know.
Very helpful to know
Nick Mavridis says
Awesome write-up Stephen! People often forget the value there is in looking at reviews.
Strange thing that happened to me this year…
Every listing I was selling on including my own bundle listings had ranks, and good ones too.
All of a sudden back in February 2022, 80% of every listing I sell on has lost their BSR. Nothing at all, no 0, not even a million, just blank. I sell these items multiple time a week but the velocity has slowed down immensely. I don’t think it’s coming out of the pandemic because most of my items are niche grocery items and bundles.
Seller support has mentioned the browse node in some cases and in others have told me no listing exists. huh? I’m looking at my listing. lol
Stephen Smotherman says
I’ve seen the random “disappearing” sales ranks too. It even disappears on Keepa graphs. One day it’s there and selling well, and the next day it’s not here anymore. From what I can tell, the sales rank disappearing has zero impact on sales, so if there is a loss of sales it’s for another reason. You can still use a Keepa graph to see what the sale were in the past and what to expect in the future (Here’s how to use a Keepa graph: https://www.fulltimefba.com/readkeepa). Finally, just as randomly the sales rank disappears, it will also reappear just as randomly. There is no rhyme or reason that anyone can figure out, but it does happen.