Here at The Full-Time FBA Show, we get lots of questions from the Full-Time FBA community. What we have found is that often those questions are based on misunderstandings. In today’s episode, we’ll address the three most common wrong questions that Amazon sellers ask, explain why they are wrong, and tell you what questions you should be asking instead.
We’ll also provide you with some helpful resources and even a few money-saving discount codes to help you get your business going in the right direction. To find out if you’re asking the wrong questions on important topics such as sales ranks, brand and category approvals, and inventory volumes to make a full-time income selling on Amazon, tune in today!
Listen on the podcast player below.
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Key points from Episode 87:
- The first wrong question Amazon sellers ask: “What is a good sales rank?”
- Why you should be asking about the sales rank of an item over a long period of time.
- Why you need to factor in the category when considering sales rank.
- The Full-Time FBA monthly updated sales rank chart, and how it can help.
- The second wrong question: “How do I get approved to sell in ‘fill-in-the-blank’ brand?”
- What to consider before trying to get approved to sell certain brands on Amazon.
- Why getting approved to sell in certain categories or subcategories may be more beneficial than getting approved to sell certain brands.
- Two ways to get approved to sell in certain categories: the free way or the paid way.
- A resource and discount code to help you get category approval.
- The last wrong question: “How much inventory do I need to have in stock in order to make a full-time income?”
- More helpful questions to ask around the type and quality of your inventory and the speed at which it sells.
- And more!
Links and resources mentioned in this episode:
- Free Monthly Updated Sales Rank Chart
- The Reseller’s Guide to Sales Rank mini-course
- The Reseller’s Guide to Keepa course
- Keepa – Amazon price and sales rank history tracker
- Amazon Ungating Training (use the code FT20 to save 20%)
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Have you heard about Keepa? It’s a tool (with both a free and a paid plan) that can dramatically lower the risk of sourcing inventory items that end up tanking in price. I’m sure you know how it feels to buy an item expecting it to sell for a high price only to see the price tank soon after you send it to Amazon. With using Keepa the right way, you can protect yourself from that happening!
Basically, Keepa tracks the vital data on almost every item on Amazon. It can quickly show me the sales rank history, pricing history, buy box price history, used item history, Amazon in stock history, competitors’ stock levels, and so much more. With Keepa, I can easily look at the data from the past and better know what to expect in the future when it comes to price and sales velocity.
To find out everything there is to know about using Keepa to make smart sourcing decisions, be sure to check out our course, The Reseller’s Guide to Keepa: Using Amazon Sales History to Make Smart Sourcing Decisions.
With this course, you’ll make more confident sourcing decisions, better pricing decisions, and you’ll grow your Amazon business to the next level by selling your inventory faster and at higher prices!
Episode 87 Transcript:
[0:00:01.8] 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. Now, your hosts of the show, Stephen and Rebecca Smotherman.
[0:00:21.4] STEPHEN: Welcome to episode number 87 of The Full-Time FBA Show. Today with me, talking as always is my wife, Rebecca. What is up, Rebecca?
[0:00:29.5] REBECCA: The podcast is up.
[0:00:31.5] STEPHEN: That’s right. If you are listening to this on the day the podcast drops, on June seventh, this is our two-year “Poddiversary” and we are excited to join it with you. Is poddiversary even a word?
[0:00:40.9] REBECCA: Sure. I mean, we have a bloggiversary that we’ve been celebrating every year, now let’s have a poddiversary.
[0:00:47.3] STEPHEN: I like that.
[0:00:47.6] REBECCA: I don’t know how to spell it but…
[0:00:49.7] STEPHEN: I think there’s two D’s.
[0:00:51.4] REBECCA: I don’t know, that sounds weird, but anyway, there may or may not be an official spelling of Poddiversary, we will do a – read some research on that and may or may not get back to you.
[0:01:01.8] STEPHEN: Yes, a poddiversary in June, a bloggiversary in July, that’s a lot of fun. Anyway, today on the Full-Time FBA Show, we’re going to be talking about the three wrong questions Amazon sellers ask and you might be asking these questions too and I want to tell you why they’re wrong and what the questions are you should be asking. I get a lot of emails from everyone who is in the part of the Full-Time FBA community and there’s just some questions that need a little bit of help so we’ll do that on today’s episode of the Full-Time FBA Show.
[0:01:34.2] REBECCA: As you said at the beginning of the show Stephen, we sometimes get questions from other Amazon sellers who are looking for help or looking for just some enlightenment on different topics and there are times when we get questions and we think, “Huh, actually, I think that’s the wrong question.”
It’s hard because you want to answer, we want to be helpful and answer people’s questions but sometimes it’s more helpful to say, “You know what? You’re kind of coming at this from the wrong angle. Maybe you should ask the question this way instead, so that you can get going in the right direction.”
We’re going to go through some of those questions that are – they’re not bad questions but they’re just not quite the right questions that you should be asking in order to get your business going in the right direction. The first one we’re going to look at today, Amazon sellers sometimes will ask us, what’s a good sales rank in fill-in-the-blank category or what’s a good sales rank for a great item to sell?
That is not the right question to be asking, what is a good sales rank. Why would you say that’s the wrong question and what question should people be asking instead?
[0:02:43.1] STEPHEN: When it comes to sales rank, yeah, people want to know what a good sales rank is because when they are sourcing inventory, they can see their profits and they know that the sales rank helps them to know if an item sells quickly.
A lot of times, people just want to know the sales rank number and they’re just going to buy things that fall underneath that sales rank number but yeah, it gets really confusing for two main reasons. The first one is that sales rank change, they change 24 times a day Amazon updates the sales rank of items on Amazon so the sales rank that you’re looking or that you are sourcing app or program is bringing back to you at that moment is a sales rank that is going to change within the hour.
It changes 24 times a day, sales ranks are changing so you don’t want to just look at the sales rank number at one point in time. Instead, what you want to be asking is what is the average sales rank of a particular item, what’s the average sales rank over a long period of time whether it’s 90 days or six months, that’s why we like to use a Keepa graph to take a look at the long-term trajectory or pattern of sales ranks and kind of find out what the average sales rank is, that helps us.
Another reason why just asking a blanket statement, “What is a good sales rank?” is not a good question to ask is because, like Rebecca said before, there’s different categories and so different sales ranks in different categories, even if you’re looking at the average sales ranks, they’re going to act a little bit differently. Like a book with an average sales rank of 700,000, that’s in the top one percent, that’s a huge seller, fast seller, top one percent in the book category but if you’re looking at a toy that has an average sales rank of 700,000, that’s going to be just in the top 10 percent and most Amazon sellers like to focus at least under the top five percent seller, those are faster sellers. Top three percent, top one percent, those are the faster sellers and so, a toy ranked just in the top 10 percent is going to be something that sells very slowly, but it’s the same sales rank number.
The better question is, “What’s the average sales rank in its particular category?” To help you with that, we have a sales rank chart which is a free resource where you can go to fulltimefba.com/salesrank and you can get a monthly updated sales rank chart that breaks down the percentages of the sales ranks in all of the main Amazon categories and again, you can take the average sales rank that you see and compare it to the rest of the category and it gives you a better idea of how fast or slow a particular product is selling.
[0:05:02.7] REBECCA: All right, another question sellers like to ask us that we get regularly in our group or in emails is, “How do I get approved to sell in fill-in-the-blank brand?” Why is that the wrong question to be asking about, “How do I get approved to sell this brand? I really like this brand, other people sell this brand. I know where to buy this brand.” Why would you not want to ask that question?
[0:05:28.3] STEPHEN: Well, it’s a good question to ask in certain situations like if you have a large amount of inventory in that particular brand to source but most of the people who are asking, “How can I get approved to sell this one brand?” is because they find one or two items.
Actually, getting approved to sell a brand on Amazon can take a long time, a big time investment in researching and a big time investment and even money investment and going through the proper channels to get ungated in that particular brand.
It’s not the right question because usually, people are wanting to invest a lot of time and energy into something that is only going to pay off with a couple of products. Again, if you have a huge resource of products that you’re looking at then that might be something worth looking into. If you just have one or two items then that might be not the best use of your time.
[0:06:18.7] REBECCA: Yeah, I think sometimes this comes down to comparing yourself to other people and a lot of times, people are asking this question not necessarily even because they have found a great source or a great price to buy a particular brand at but because they hear other people talking about it. They hear other people saying like, “I sell Nike’s so I sell so many Nike shoes.” Well, then how do I get ungated in Nike? Or, “I sell this other thing and I make so much money off of this one brand.” “Well, I need to sell that brand but I’m gated in it so how do I get ungated in that brand?” and really, what it comes down to is thinking that because somebody else is doing it, I should be doing it too.
[0:06:58.7] STEPHEN: Yeah, there’s a lot of “Grass is greener on the other side” mentality here where you see someone else having success, or the opposite, or the fact that just because you’re not allowed to do something make you want to do it even more, and you assume that that’s the answer to whatever issues you have with your current sourcing.
[0:07:15.6] REBECCA: Right, it’s like forbidden love. “I have to have it, I love this person so much” but it’s mostly because I can’t have them, not because it’s actually what I need to be – I’m mixing my metaphors here, because it is what I need to be doing not the person.
[0:07:28.4] STEPHEN: Right.
[0:07:29.2] REBECCA: Anyway, okay back on track. If saying, “How do I get approved for this brand?” is not the best question to be asking, then what should we be asking when we’re in a situation like that? What’s a better question to ask?
[0:07:41.4] STEPHEN: There is actually two better questions that kind of fit along with that topic. First one is, “How can I find more inventory of what I’m already approved to sell?” and of course, the answer to that is to not waste your time and energy trying to get approval of the restricted brand but instead use that same time and energy sourcing items and just continuing to press on and look for the items that you are already approved to sell.
There is a lot of items out there that you are approved to sell that are profitable, you just have to take the time to look for them and you know, it’s more fun to kind of think about it, “If I get ungated, then I can be approved to sell this brand and I can sell more of the items” and you just kind of really hype that up but instead, if you just put your nose through the grindstone and do the hard work and do what you need to do, you can start finding more inventory that you can sell.
The second question that’s better is, “How can I be approved to sell in fill-in-the-blank category or subcategory?” That will open up the doors a whole lot more than just a specific brand and so there’s two different ways that you can find out how you can get approved to sell in a particular category or subcategory that you’re not approved in currently. The first one is the free-way. It’s the time that not like a highway freeway but it’s a way that’s free. You just take the time to work on your Amazon business and get some good seller metrics and the better seller metrics you have, there are more categories than subcategories that will open up for you and –
[0:09:01.9] REBECCA: Overtime.
[0:09:02.8] STEPHEN: Overtime, right and so, if you are a beginner seller, usually the sixth month mark is a time when a lot of categories or subcategories will begin to auto-update for you and auto-approve you to sell, but then again, some of them take a year, some of them take a year and a half. You know that patience is required and that’s why it’s free. It’s just you doing the hard work and proving that overtime you are dependable and trustworthy and that these brands are categories will be good with you selling in that particular category or subcategory.
The second is a paid way, where you can pay for a category approval type of course that walks you through how you can get ungated in the toy subcategory, or the topicals category, or there’s other categories out there. We have a resource that we recommend, Jessica Larrew put together a category approval course, you can go to fulltimefba.com/categoryapproval. You can use the coupon code “ft20” to get 20 percent off of that course but if you want to do it the free-way, I recommend that doing that and it will be awesome but if you do wanted to fast-forward that a little bit, you can do the category approval course.
[0:10:03.0] REBECCA: Okay, so the last question that we’re going to discuss today that we hear from Amazon sellers all the time is, “How much inventory do I need to have in stock in order to make a full-time income?” We are Full-Time FBA and so we are focused on helping people to make a full-time income with part-time hours through Amazon FBA and so people will ask us, “Well, how much inventory do I need if I’m going to be doing that?” Is that a good question to be asking? Is that the right question to be asking?
[0:10:30.7] STEPHEN: Yeah, there is definitely a better question to ask and this one, this question, I know why they’re asking this. They want like a benchmark or a goal to be like, “Okay, if I find this much inventory and have it in Amazon, then I’m more or likely have a full-time income because of this amount of inventory” but it’s more than that. I mean, we’ve been selling on Amazon and been making a full-time income off of Amazon for many years and we’ve had an inventory of 3,000 skews where we’re making a full-time income and we’ve had an inventory of 200 skews where we’re making a full-time income. It doesn’t really matter how many skews or how many inventory items you have in stock, there is a better question that you can ask.
[0:11:11.5] REBECCA: And what is that?
[0:11:13.0] STEPHEN: The better question is, “What types of inventory do I need to have in stock? What’s the quality of my inventory? How fast am I selling my inventory?” When you are selling quality inventory and not just quality as in like what people think about it but you have inventory that sells quickly, you have inventory that has a high turnover, you have inventory that customers buy all the time that you continually replenish.
If you are able to buy that inventory and sell it on Amazon and, maybe when you are purchasing your inventory, you have like a 30 or 45-days’ supply and that inventory starts to sell out and you restock it on a continuous basis, if you are able to do that again and again, then you know, and avoiding excess inventory, that’s the kind of inventory that you get to have in stock to make a full-time income.
[0:11:58.1] REBECCA: Yeah and I would just add to that too as far as what types of inventory do you need in stock and what quality is that inventory does it need to be, I would say how are you sourcing it? What source are you using? How easy it for you to restock that inventory? Is it something that you can do yourself or do you need help? Do you need to outsource it? Is it difficult to find? Does it take a lot of time to go get it? Those types of questions to kind of play into that as well.
[0:12:27.9] STEPHEN: Yeah, definitely. I mean if you are having to put a lot of work and effort into something that gives you just a small amount of inventory then that’s probably not the best use of your time but you will definitely want to hone your sourcing skills and see the results that you get from the skills that you have.
[0:12:42.7] REBECCA: Okay, so I think that about wraps it up. I think we’ve covered some of the questions that we get most frequently that are just coming at the topic from the wrong angle. People are sometimes asking the wrong questions and hopefully, we’ve given you a way to see how to ask better questions when you’re looking at ways to improve your FBA business.
[0:13:05.4] REBECCA: Okay, thank you for joining us for this week’s episode of The Full-Time FBA Show. We’re always glad you’re here with us and we just want to remind you as always that we will have any links that were mentioned in this episode as well as the transcript written version of this episode in the shownotes. You can find that at fulltimefba.com/87, that’s the number 87 because this is episode number 87 of The Full-Time FBA Show.
[0:13:29.6] STEPHEN: Next week on the show, we’re going to talk about how replens can boost your sales and profits in your Amazon FBA business, so we’re going to talk all about replenishables, the items you can go out and restock on a consistent basis and we’ll have some fun talking about that next week on the show. Happy poddiversary everybody.
[0:13:47.1] ANNOUNCER: That is all for this episode of The Full-Time FBA Show. So head over to fulltimefba.com/podcast, where you will find the shownotes 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. Now, take action on what you have learned today so you can find success at turning part-time hours into a full-time income with Amazon FBA.