When it comes to sales rank, every Amazon seller has their own idea of what a “good” sales rank is. For me, I’ll almost always buy a toy that is consistently ranked under 150,000. I’ll even buy a toy that is ranked much higher, as long as the number of competing sellers is low and the ROI of the toy is high. But a toy ranked over 1 million? What reseller in their right mind would buy a toy ranked over 1 million? Well… me.
Do I buy up all toys ranked over 1 million? No, I don’t. Sales rank is just one part of the decision process I go through to when I’m making my buying decisions. In fact, here is the full checklist I consider when it comes to buying decisions.
As you spend more time selling on Amazon, you begin to realize that sales rank is just a number that signifies how recently a particular item has sold. A toy with a really low sales rank (1-1000) sells possibly many times per day, whereas a toy with a higher sales rank could possibly only sell once a week, once a month, or even once a year. A low sales rank does not ever guarantee that a particular item will sell. It only states how recently and often an item has sold.
A few years ago, I came across an electronic “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” handheld game. It was still brand new in its original packaging and the store was asking $4.99, so I picked it up and scanned it. The information that was returned to me told me that this toy was ranked over 1.2 million, and had no current sellers. I checked Keepa and it did not have any recent pricing history. Many times, I would have put this toy back on the shelves and kept on sourcing, but I just couldn’t let it go.
I knew that “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” was a popular game. I had sold a few of the board game versions in the past with great success. I didn’t know that they made an electronic handheld version. I had also had some success with selling electronic handheld games, but that didn’t mean that this game would be guaranteed to sell fast.
I started to think… Since this game had no current sellers, it’s possible that the rank was so high because it had been so long since it was even available to be sold on Amazon. The longer an item has no sellers, the faster its sales rank will rise, until, at one point, the sales rank might disappear all together.
I decided to investigate further on Keepa by adjusting the date range. In my Scoutify sourcing app, I clicked on the Keepa quick link (here’s how to add that to your Scoutify app) and looked at the lifetime sales rank and pricing history.
When taking a deeper look at Keepa, I saw that the item had some sales when it was in stock, and I even was able to see the lowest price of those sales thanks to Keepa. With this data, I felt confident that the item, if in stock, would sell soon so I purchased the 1.2 million ranked toy to sell on Amazon.
Since the item was out of stock, I could pick my own price. I priced a little higher at first with a plan to lower the price if the item did not sell within a month.
I bought this item from Goodwill for $5.00 and two days later, it was on its way to an Amazon FBA warehouse. I’m happy to inform you that only a few weeks after the toy went live on Amazon, the toy sold at my $39.99 sales price. Now, I’m wondering if I should have priced it even higher. In any case, I turned a $5.00 investment into a $40 sale. I’ll take that any day, and all it took was one minute researching the Keepa app to see the pricing and sales rank history for that toy.
If you need a free intro to Keepa video showing you how to read and understand a Keepa graph, then check out this helpful video.
Note: If you want a FREE PDF download of the latest Amazon Category Sales Rank, all you gotta do is click here.
So what about you? What other things do you think about when you making your buying decisions? Have you ever taken a gamble with an item ranked super high? How did it turn out for you?
*This post was updated for 2021
The Reseller’s Guide to Sales Rank
Sales rank is easily the most misunderstood aspect of selling on Amazon. What is a good sales rank? What does a sales rank of zero mean? What do I do with sales rank for sub-categories?
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!
gene bregman says
Good suggestion. I never really thought of referring to eBay when I run into these common indecisions. Fortunately, my Asellertool app, FBA Scan (which is oddly overlooked by most sellers in our FBA Facebook groups), has a great new update with a convenient eBay link. Thanks again for the tip.
You’re welcome, Gene! I have not looked into Asellertool or their app. I plan on checking them out sometime soon. Thanks for the suggestion.
John William Johnson says
Thank you for your post and telling us your process.
i can’t imagine you ended up with much more than $10 after all of amazon’s fees. For me ROI is nice but if the actual dollar amount is that low, i better be buying a lot of them, otherwise it’s too much work.
i have at least one category where the price point is high enough that only a few sell a month. So a lot of times, some of them go to N/A ( no sales rank). The thing about doing this over time is that hopefully you begin to recognize these items and have access to getting them more than once. That’s the sweet spot. Being able to replenish.
And as you mentioned, one sale can take an item from no sales rank to under 100,000.
John, I love the fast selling, easily replenish able items too. They’re my great and butter, but for me, it’s also good to have a well rounded inventory with some long tail items that will sell every now and then. With Amazon’s inventory storage fees so low, it’s worth it to me to buy some of the longer tail, and even lower ROI items that sell every so often. Once you get a lot of items that sell every now and then, it starts to look like they’re selling all the time, since there are so many.
Brian Freifelder says
Great post Stephen, I’ve been noticing the same thing recently. Some items are just priced to high on Amazon which is what’s causing the surge in rank. In the past I’ve passed on items with 500,000+ rank because I didn’t want to wait for the sale. In some case the items were $50+ items that could be bought for $5-$10. Now that I’m using eBays sold listings info I’m seeing that $5-$10 purchase can be flipped a lot of times for $20-$40 on eBay or for even more on Amazon.
Yes, Brian, good points! I often look at the CCC price history and I notice that a many items have such high ranks, only because the sellers have the price way too high. I look back at the prices when the item was actually selling, and price it competitively around that price point. Oh, and I love finding items on eBay to flip on Amazon. That’s a lot of fun!
I love long tail products as much as I love the “fast flips.” My business model is focused around having a good balance of both (and everything in between). Great link, too, Jordan. Thanks for sharing.
Sher Bailey says
I’m a huge fan of Goodwill and mercy… the profit margins are just ridiculous when I find something. I’m more than happy to take the minimal risk of purchasing something for a buck or two and let it sit as long as it needs to knowing eventually I’ll make many times my investment.
Another awesome post!
I love thrift store ROIs!
Ree Klein says
Hi Stephen, that was a great overview of how the sales ranks work…I’ve often been mystified about how some of my products can swing so much within just a few days…now it makes sense!
I’m with @John William Johnson, though, it seems like so much work of one item added to your inventory. I guess I’m a lazy sourcer! I am working on abandoning retail sourcing and moving into selling my own products. I am testing my first product and so far, it’s selling better than anything I’ve sourced elsewhere. Still not raking in the profits, but hopefully that will come!
For me, at first… it seemed like a lot of work for one item… but now, I’m so used to it, and it’s a vital part of making smart sourcing decisions. I always hear people say, “You make your money when you buy.” and this method helps me make more money. Really, it only adds a few seconds once you get used to it, and the amount of money you make (or avoid losing) on making smarter sourcing decisions is well worth those precious seconds.
I realized this is an older post, but for those getting started with FBA, they will surely run across this blog for helpful info as I did and find this post. It is because of this post that I scanned an ‘Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader’ DVD game; granted, it helped that the game was new/sealed and only $0.99, but posts like this and videos of people’s good finds at thrift stores help me keep a closer eye out. I saw this on the top shelf in a GW in passing and just zeroed in on it remembering this post. I love posts like these! [Made $7.50 off that 99c investment; not bad of an ROI! ;)]
That’s great, Jennifer! Glad this post was helpful. 🙂
Bee Brown says
Great practical info. It’s great to here everyone’s buying styles. This is something I will add to mine. Thx Stephen!
I see that you love buying items on eBay to sell on Amazon, but isn’t that risky in the event that Amazon requests receipts? Since eBay and/or eBay sellers are not usually authorized distributors, as a department store would be.
I recently stopped buying on eBay to resell on Amazon for that reason; am I wrong to be worried?
I’m not worried because I’m not going deep on these items. I’d only be worried if I had many in stock and amazon asked for receipts in order to keep selling them.
I have noticed you don’t monetize your site, don’t waste your traffic, you can earn extra
cash every month. You can use the best adsense alternative
for any type of website (they approve all websites), for more details simply search in gooogle: boorfe’s tips
monetize your website
Nick Mavridis says
In my area, Goodwill has these huge distribution centers where you buy by the pound. The ROI’s on some of the find is amazing. The best thing is the board games are usually stacked near the books and no one ever checks on them (who reads books right). It is low risk when you buy 50 board games at $1.00 a pound I don’t mind taking a gamble with those kinds of odds.