Category Archives: Tips

Translating Amazon sales rank into useful information – for any category!

When you are sourcing products to sell online, it is important to know if the product you are going to sell is a faster or slower moving product. We are going to be using a site called BrowseNodes to find out the percentage of sales rank in ANY category. We are going to use the numbers that are available from BrowseNodes to do some simple calculations, to give us an idea of how well a product will sell.

First, a little background explanation.

Sales rank on Amazon is a classified algorithm that basically shows the amount of time since a product last sold. When a product sells, the sales rank jumps. Then it slowly lowers over time, and as other items sell. The smaller the number, the better the sales rank. The better the sales rank of an item, generally, means the more units sell per day.

Nodes are Amazon’s way of categorizing items in their catalog. Think of these as sub-categories of similar products.
The basic process is like this.

Find sales rank of item you want to research. You can find this number either from Amazon.com (on the product page) or from your favorite scanning app (we recommend Scanpower)

Look up category on BrowseNodes. (Or compare against the spreadsheet you have already updated)

Look at Details to get total number of active offers in that category.

Do the math, or plug the numbers into a spreadsheet. (To get yours free, sign up for our mailing list here).

What we are looking for is products that sell quickly, in order to recover our investment as soon as possible. Sales rank by itself is not a good reason to buy a product, but is an important piece of information that can help to make better decisions. The lower the number, the more likely it is to sell quickly.

Basically, we are going to choose our category, and then look at the number of ACTIVE offers that Amazon has in that category. This will give us a rough guide of the top 1%, 5% etc. in each category.

For example, lets look at an Lego Minecraft Nether Fortress Kit. ASIN B00WHY9I1O

sales rank post 1

You can see on the bottom of the listing page that this product is ranked #1,061 in Toys and Games.

sales rank post 3

From the www.browsenodes.com home page, you can see the node for Toys and Games.

sales rank post 4

The link that says “Detailed Information about Browse Node 165793011 “ is the one that has the information that we want. When we click that one, it takes us to the details summary for the Toys and Games Node.

sales rank post 5

The number that we want is the one that is listed under “Search Index Product Count”. In this case, the total number of ACTIVE items is 4,913,032.

sales rank post 6

To find out how our sales rank compares, simply divide the sales rank of our product by the total number of active offers.

In this case, our product has a sales rank of 1,061 of a total of 4,913,032 total listings available.
This gives us a sales rank percentage of about .02%. This means that the item we are looking at is on the top .02% of all of the items in the Toys and Games categories that Amazon has to offer. That is a very good rank!

You can also use this information if you have the rank for a specific product. For example, you have scanned a toy using your favorite scanning app, and gotten a sales rank of 150,000. Simply divide 150,000 by the total number of active listings 4,913,032 and you will know where the toy you are looking at is ranked compared to other items in this category.

Ex: 150,000 / 4,931,032 = top 3% of all Toys.

This information is useful to determine if you have a toy that people want to buy, or one that is going to sit on the shelf in the warehouse for a long period of time.

There is also some other interesting information available on this page. There are four bullet points here that are also worth researching if you are going to be selling or specializing in this category. Top Selling Products, New Releases, Most Wished for Products, and Most Gifted Products.

Browsing these lists will give you a very good idea of what customers are looking for when they are searching this category of product.

Keep in mind that the same percentage means different things in different categories. A top 1% Toy for example, will probably sell more units per day than a top 1% Home and Garden.

I encourage you to search around on this site, and learn more about the niche that you intend to compete in. If you are not specializing in a niche, then use these numbers to get a little bit better of an idea about which products sell quickly.

For the categories that you are going to be sourcing in often, I recommend updating the numbers about once a month. I have uploaded a free spreadsheet that you can use. To get access to the spreadsheet, simply sign up for our free newsletter here.

More useful sales rank resources:
Camelcamelcamel.com – shows sales rank and price history for items on Amazon
GDFR.com – an interactive calculator that will show the top percentages in categories, or tell you what percentage your item is

My UPC is on Amazon, but my product is not!

My UPC is in Amazon, but my product isn’t!
My item is not in Amazon’s catalog, but the UPC is already being used!
I want to sell a puzzle, and there are 15 other puzzles with the same UPC!

These are all part of the same problem, today I will tell you how to fix it.

I have run into a problem a few times, where the item that I want to sell has many variations listed on Amazon. It just does not have the variation that I want. The problem is I am confronted with two options, to select a product that Amazon has in its catalog, or to create a new product. The product I want does not have a listing. When I create a new listing, and I enter the UPC, it tells me the listing already exists, so I can’t make a new one! How do I get around this? The answer is to put all the information into an existing ASIN, and then have customer support split the pages up appropriately.

Most often this is with puzzles, although I have run into the same problem with printer ink, some types of books, some dead tech, or collectibles as well. I have noticed this problem when there are a lot of variations, like on Furbies. Here is how to fix that problem.

The first thing to realize is that this is going to take a day or two. The basic process is as follows:

1) Input all of the information for your product on a listing for a different product. (Make sure to include pictures and a great description!)

Screenshot 2015-08-26 20.54.39

2) Contact customer support, and let them know that the information you entered was for a different product, and provide proof that your item is different that the one on the listing.

3) Wait for the response from customer service to fix the listings for you.

Screenshot 2015-08-26 20.54.18
I have come across this problem several times, and it always made me worry. Here are the things I worried about, and here is why you shouldn’t worry at all.

Worry 1: If I put in information on a product that doesn’t match, I will mess up the original listing.
If you have been selling for a while, you have received emails notifying you that an ASIN has changed some information. This is because when another seller wants to modify a listing, a notice goes out to people listing against that ASIN. this gives sellers a chance to fix or dispute the information. When you make the changes you are attempting to make, you are not going to impact the original listing.

Worry 2: The two products information is going to get jumbled up, and both listings will be junk.
For the same reasons as worry number one, this is not going to happen. Just trust in the system and it will work out fine.

Worry 3: When I create the listing, it won’t allow me to put in the pictures, because it is against a current ASIN.
You are correct, Amazon will not allow you to upload pictures over an existing ASIN. However, in the “My Offers” section, you can upload your personal pictures. These are the pictures that Amazon will use when creating your new product page.

Worry 4: What if someone buys it from me before my new product hits the warehouse?
What I did here was create the item as a Merchant Fulfilled (MF) item. This allowed me to put in my pictures, and enter all of my listing details while I was still working on that product. In this case, I priced the puzzle at 99.99, well above value. This ensures that I will have time to change it to FBA and send it to the warehouse after Amazon fixes the listing page.

After all of your information is added and updated, including the age, manufacturer, an awesome description, etc., Amazon will say “Congratulations your item is for sale”. It will be under the item listing that you already chose, NOT the actual item listing you want to sell. Copy down the ASIN, and open a support ticket with Amazon.

Here is the format that I used to successfully complete this process. Remember to send them pictures of the product with the UPC visible.

Customer Support,
I am trying to make a new listing for a puzzle that has multiple variations under the same UPC.
ASIN: B0026RI9O4
UPC: 0021081033428
I put in all the details under : Ceaco Crowd Pleasers – Crazy Harbor
It should be listed as Caeco Crowd Pleasers – The Antique Show
Pictures proving UPC are uploaded to the listing.
Please create new detail page, thank you.

ASIN or SKU (optional): B0026RI9O4
Approximately one day later, I received this response.
Dear Seller,

Thank you for contacting us.

As per your request, I have worked to create new ASIN for SKU:FH-84ZH-119F which earlier was associated with ASIN:B0026RI9O4. I am glad to inform you that new ASIN for this SKU is B013TY0GMU. Your listing is live on Amazon.

Details:

SKU: FH-84ZH-119F

Old ASIN: B0026RI9O4
New AISN: B013TY0GMU

You can check the same from the below link:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B013TY0GMU/?seller=ARF1P6LGMATY1

Please find the screenshots of the same attached to this email. Kindly note that images of the same will reflect in 24 hours.

This is the same process that you would use if the item that you are using has a UPC, but that UPC is listed under a totally different product on Amazon. Add all your information, open a support ticket (with proof), and let Amazon fix their catalog for you. That is all there is to it! As always, feel free to leave comments below, or email us at Amusingtreasures@gmail.com if you need help.

Some quick tips when listing Collectible Games on Amazon

I wanted to just write some quick tips that came to mind while listing collectible games on Amazon. (We are working on some right now.)
1) Make sure that you are reading the product description carefully. Some games have multiple years under the same UPC. Check the cover art, the year written on the box, the year on the instructions, or any other distinguishing dates and marks.
2) Check the other offers that are available for your buyers. Here is a screenshot of a game that we are working on right now.
Screenshot 2015-08-01 14.17.46
If you read the actual offers, you will see that many of the games are not complete. This is a violation of Amazon’s listing policies, and it is very common. Instead of worrying about them breaking the rules though, let’s focus on what it means for us. It means that the first complete set, with a complete box, is listed at $76.00.
This is one of the reasons a lot of repricing software does not reprice against collectibles
3)Replacement parts. If your game is close to complete, then you can usually find the replacement parts on Ebay for cheap, then list the complete game.
Screenshot 2015-08-01 14.36.25
Another idea is to part out your board game and sell the individual pieces. In this case, you can almost make as much from parting out the game as you can from selling it on Amazon. It would just take a little longer, with more steps. Either way, there is value in looking at the game and the pieces.
You can also hold onto the games until you find another one, and put them together.
Good luck, and happy hunting!

Fixing Stranded Inventory from Scanpower

I was searching through my inventory the other day and realized that I had 81 stranded items, totaling several hundred dollars worth of merchandise. These are the steps that I took to get them unstranded, so that they did not have to be shipped back, saving me some money.
Step 1 – Resend the feeds on ScanPower.
Look at your archived shipments, and click the Fix Listing button. Many times that will fix the problem immediately. Unfortunately, this was not one of those times.

Step 2 – Click the “Incomplete” button next to the listing on Amazon.
Screenshot 2015-07-25 23.57.22

Step 3 – Copy the picture from the Amazon listing page by opening the listing
Screenshot 2015-07-25 23.57.49
and then clicking “see this image” underneath the photo on the page.
Screenshot 2015-07-25 23.58.00
Right click the picture, use “Save image as”.
Screenshot 2015-07-25 23.58.12

Step 4 – Upload the newly copied image into the Main Image. Update your price. Click Save.
Screenshot 2015-07-25 23.58.35

Screenshot 2015-07-25 23.58.41

Screenshot 2015-07-25 23.59.14

Step 5 – Be patient! Changes can take up to 15 minutes.
The error seems to be triggered if the item has a picture on the listing, but does not have one as the “Main Image” in the listing details.
If you have any questions, you can contact me at amusingtreasures@gmail.com.
Good Luck!

T-shirt experiment Part 3

T-shirt experiment, part 3

OK, so the sourcing on Fiverr is amusing if nothing else. I put exactly what I require. This is what I tell them I need.

File must be a .pdf, single layered with outlined fonts, and have a transparent background 300 DPI, CMYK color pallette 12″ W x 16″ H.

I have gotten a few mockups. Quick break for some terms.
Mockup is the picture of the art on the T-shirt. You can’t send that in to the shirt company, because you will get a picture of a shirt on a
shirt.

The template is given by the company. It contains a .pdf with instructions. That is where you get the numbers that I put above.

When you are getting the work done, you need the template and the mockup, and most people want to charge double for this.
A lot of the workers of Fiverr do not speak English very well. This has led to me getting a picture of Einstein, instead of a zombie Einstein. The same artist took the Uncle Sam “I Want You” poster, put makeup over the face and a scholar cap and tried to give that to me as an old-fashioned zombie. I have opened a store at Storenvy, as they have an app that works with the Printaura company to automate the product creation and the orders so that they go straight to Printaura. You have to have enough money in your account to fund any incoming orders, which I found out when I ordered one of my T-shirts so that I could check out the quality and make sure the graphics are right. Lastly, opening a store with Storenvy means you have to sign up with Stripe, a payment service.
I have been checking out software to do some of the editing myself, so that I only need to order one picture from the workers. Then I can create the mockups, as there are a lot of them available. As always when I need software, I went to techsupportalert.com. I have been using them for as long as I can remember. They offer free write-ups and comparisons on all of the freeware that is available.
Based on their recommendation, I am now using Inkscape, a free program for photo editing and vector drawing. I have figured out how to do the layers, the sizing, and the 300 DPI. I believe I have the transparent background thing worked out, but I am still trying to figure out how to test it. I have almost no graphic design background, so this is relatively unfamiliar.
I have placed two products in the store, hired someone off of Fiverr to come up with logos, and ordered my first t-shirt myself. Follow my site at amusingtreasures.com to find out more and see some of the first designs. Has anyone else tried their hand at a T-shirt business? Anyone know some good tips for putting in a transparent background in Inkscape?

T-shirt business experiment Part 1

Trying an experiment with designing and marketing T-shirts using hired talent on Fiverr. Thought I would post the results in case anyone else thought of doing the same thing.

I have the steps broken down like this:

Get T-shirt designs made
Find online store that does drop-shipping with reasonable prices.
Run targeted ads on Facebook.
Fulfill orders.
Profit.
Start online store, become ungated in clothing on Amazon?

First ad on Fiverr was to post a gig wanted. This is the ad that I went with.

T-shirt designers! At least 5 T-shirts, Includes Graphics and text, right to republish/resell, editable file delivered, eye-catching, bold T-shirts. Ready for printing. Can you deliver?
received 34 responses in 3 days
follow-up email

Hi!
I received your reply to my offered gig. The first T-shirt I would like is a picture of an elephant with a bite or two missing out of it. A zombie in the foreground / off to the side. The logo “One bite at a time” clearly visible, but may be artistic text (could look faded, torn, etc as long as it is visible and easy to read). I would like the original files with transparent background ready for immediate upload to T-shirt printing store, and all digital and reproduction rights. If any of this does not work for you, please tell me immediately. This will be the first of at least 5 T-shirts if I like your designs. I look forward to working with you.
-David

That is where the experiment is right now. That email was sent to 5 people so far. I have eliminated all of the responses that were misspelled, not complete, or whose art I thought was not great. If you would like to see the rest of this experiment, make sure to follow me at facebook.com/amusingtreasures. If you have any advice, leave it in the comments below!

One Page Workflow – CD’s

I have been thinking a lot about processes and streamlining. Having an established process helps you to eliminate sticking points, and allows you to train your replacement. It also eliminates the number of decisions you have to make each day, which allows you to focus on better and bigger decisions. In part inspired by the Four Hour Workweek, and in part by the E-Myth Revisited, here is my one page CD workflow for resellers.

Before you start:
-Determine your low price threshold. 19.99 is a good one for most prices at most sources. You may elect to use a formula (3x price + 2$ as an example), but I find just setting a floor to be an easier strategy.
-Determine your level of comfort for sales rank. Higher sales rank = sells less often.
-Print the condition guidelines for CD’s, keep them near your desk.
-Look up professional CD refinishers on Ebay. You can get good prices when you do them in bulk. This also allows you to add the words “Professionally refinished” to your description, and guarantees that the CD is functional. (For more information about faulty CD’s, check out the article on pin-hole faults due to age.)
-Have some new empty CD cases standing by. This is optional, as you can sell CD’s with cracked cases. Buying them in bulk saves you money and increases the quality of your product.
-Decide on your pricing strategy. If you use a repricer, set the levels now. If you prefer to manually price them, jot down your way of thinking when you set the price. This allows you to standardize your pricing, and not make individual decisions for every CD.

Now it is time to find some money!!

1) Go to your source – for CD’s, I find thrift stores, Goodwills, Salvation Army’s, and estate sales to be the most profitable. You should track your mileage, costs, and profitability of each source. There are multiple programs that help with this. You can also just keep a spreadsheet.
2) Scan them for potential profitability – I use Scanpower right now, but any scanning program would work.
All ones with a purchase price of $19.99 (or your floor) or more, with whatever sales rank you are comfortable with, go in the cart.
3) Visually inspect, if any scratches whatsoever, place them in groups of 100 and get them professionally refinished. You can find someone through Ebay for about $1.00 – $1.50 per CD.
4) Rematch CD’s with cases and list. You can use whatever scanning or listing program you prefer.
5) Attach labels. (Optional, you can use Amazon’s labeling service for a small fee.)
6) Send in boxes to Amazon.
7) Profit.

Now obviously, each one of these steps can be broken down into much smaller chunks. If while reading the steps, there is something you are not familiar with, now is the best time to ask questions. If there is something you are not familiar with, such as sales rank or refinishing, then it is time to do a little research. If you have specific questions, you can contact us at amusingtreasures@gmail.com.

Once your processes are smooth, you can outsource, eliminate, or delegate these tasks to someone else. Remember, it is the processes that make your work easy or hard. Take the time to establish good habits and groundwork, and it will pay large rewards in the future.

Too much inventory sitting in your house?

I have been spending time lately thinking about blocks. Not the ones that we sell sometimes on our site, but the ones that stand in our way. I have been noticing that a lot of inventory was building up inside our house. When I took a minute to think about it, I realized there were various blocks in the way from turning the money we spent on inventory, into money back in our pocket.

There were several stacks of inventory in the house. Some were new items to add to Amazon’s catalog. Some were items that needed to go on Ebay, as they are a better fit for that marketplace. Some were items that needed research to determine just where they had to go to refill our pockets (to buy more inventory). Some need minor troubleshooting or resurfacing. The thing that they had in common was they were not easily listed in Scanpower, so they get set aside. Every item that you set aside, is extra time and money that you are wasting in your business. It takes time to pick an item up and move it around. It takes time to count the pieces and often it gets forgotten to be written down, resulting in having to look them up again. It also takes time to look up the item on Ebay, determine it is worth keeping, and read about the item. If you don’t list it immediately, you will end up doing it again. All of the rework that you do is money directly out of your pocket.

The blocks in this situation for us were mostly pictures. My partner and I disagree on how pictures are to be taken, and how to best fit it into our workflow. When we worked out that problem, more items started disappearing from the house. They are going to the warehouse, or to the customers. That means less money tied up in inventory, and more time available to work on our business. When you notice an area that is getting backlogged, try plotting out your workflow.

For example, for me New Listings (in Amazon) were becoming backlogged. Here is the process that I decided to use.

When listing products in Scanpower, usually if something needed a new listing, I would set it aside. This was resulting in a lot of items getting set to the side.

My new method is to go ahead and create the listing, and then set it aside. There is a box when creating a new item that allows you to enter offer details later. Checking this box allows us to enter our condition notes and price using our preferred method (Scanpower).

Cut and paste the ASIN and the item name into a memo to myself (I prefer using Evernote). The item then gets set aside in a stack for pictures to be taken of later. Now instead of the inventory going into limbo, the research that I have already done is not going to waste. It takes approximately 15 minutes to show up on Amazon when you create a new listing. We are not worried about the delay time, as we don’t need Amazon’s listings until tomorrow.

We like to make small listings and ship them out that day. Any items that needed a new listing will not go in today’s shipment. The next time we do a new shipment, these items have been added to Amazon’s catalog. I cut and paste the ASIN into Scanpower in the beginning of my new shipment. It will ask for the dimensions, and I measure it with the measuring tape staged next to the computer. When the item goes from Pending to Ready, it gets added to the new shipment. Add the pictures that have been taken in the meantime (saved to computer automatically using Eye-fi), and voila! The item is being sent to Amazon’s warehouse in 2 days instead of sitting on a shelf for months.

This method might not work for you, but the important thing to take from this article is that your inventory is the lifeblood of your business. If you find a bottleneck, whether that is research, pictures, listings, or anything else, take active steps to identify and remove your blocks. Your bottom line will thank you. If you need help with a specific block, try out the friendly forums or drop me an email.

Yard Saling Tips – At The Sale

While you are driving around yard saling, make sure that you write down your initial and final mileage!

One of the most important things that i have learned is that a lot of opportunities present themselves at yard sales if you just talk to the people running it. Talking to them allows you to build rapport, and gather valuable information. If someone is moving soon, there is a lot more room for negotiations than if they have a yard sale every weekend as a means of making a little extra money. Great example, we got to a yard sale a little early one time. The woman was setting up, and as we talked to her she stated about 5 times that she didn’t want to go through the work of setting everything up. After the 5th time I (finally) got the hint, and made her an extrememly low offer for the whole garage. She accepted, locked the door, and we were off to the next yard sale. While you are talking to them, make some small statements that they can agree with. The gnats are really biting, the weather is great today, etc. Having them agree with you now makes it really easy for them to agree with you later!

People often ask us what we buy at yard sales. The easy answer is almost anything, if the price is right. What people really want to know is where we find our profit. The key for us is in bundling, and analyzing on site.

We normally skip dishes, Christmas decorations (except Hallmark ornaments), clothing (don’t know enough about it, yet), and loose toys. Our best deals have been on media, followed by kitchen items and electronics. Anything in a box with a barcode obviously gets a scan. While we are talking about scanning, another question that comes up often is what to do if people ask you what you are doing. Opinions differ, but I always tell them the truth. There are a few reasons I do this. One, I just like to be honest with people. I like what I do, I think it is interesting, and I find that a lot of other people like learning about the technology. They can use the same items to get better deals when shopping, so I am offering them valuable information. Second, when they know that I resale items, it gives me more room to bargain. They know that if I can’t make a profit on the item, then they are stuck putting it back in their garage! Knowing that you are reselling the items also gives you room to negotiate on missing boxes, roduct condition, etc. When they know you are willing to purchase a large number of items, they want you shopping with them.

If there are several books or DVD’s that we want, we will often make a lowball offer for the entire lot. What kind of offer? We like to get books for around .25 to .50 a piece, and DVD’s for under a dollar. One tip I learned from a very good presentation on real estate investing is that you should almost feel embarassed when you mention your first offer. Remember, the worst that happens is that they say no. Most likely, even if they say no, you can get the savings later on a different item because they feel guilty for “being ornery” earlier. Don’t be afraid to get extra inventory, we will talk later about how to maximize the profit on it. Say that there is a box of DVD’s, a few boardgames, and a few toys you want. Offer a bundle price for the DVD’s, then set them aside. Same for the boardgames (always price older boardgames, you will be surprised at the margins if you are willing to count pieces). Once all the different bundles are placed together, try rounding the total down again. If they can’t do that, mention that you are buying a lot of their items, and ask if they can throw in something else for free. If they say no to any of your offers, just leave your name and number with them. Make sure to browse a little more. You wuold be amazed how many times people say no, then call you back right as you start to walk away. They see the money walking away, and they know that they may end up stuck with the item. They are having garage sales to get rid of the items. Help them out.

One final tip on negotiating. Some people become overly attached to a certain item, and lose objectivity. You can tell when this has happened because they say something like, “Oh, I can’t do that, I got it at….” or “Well, I paid… so I really can’t take less than….” . The easiest way to still get the item that you want is to agree with them, offer to pay the price that they want. Then look for other things that you would like. They will often be even more willing to lower the price on other items. I know it doesn’t necessarily make sense, but it is true. Quick example, there was a pair of roller skates that we wanted. She was unwilling to come down 5$, and said she “MUST” get the asking price. On the way out of the sale, she threw a bicycle that she had priced at 10$ in the bed of the truck, without us even asking! Remember, all money is not even if people are attached to something. Find out the things they want to get rid of, and help them do so.

Stay out late. In our area, late is 1pm or later. When people are faced with the task of putting everything back in their garage, and they already have a pocket full of money, they are done with the whole idea. Often heavy items like books or furniture are given away on late afternoons, especially on Sundays. If you are willing to accept some less than excellent items, you can still get some really good ones.

While you are buying, track your inventory. The method that works best for us is itemizing items in a receipt book. we list “box of DVD’s – 5$”, not every single DVD. Experiment for yourself. The only important thing is that it is easy for you, and becomes part of your process.

Stay tuned for Part 3, where we talk about how to get rid of the great (and not so great) items that we found while out treasure hunting!