Category Archives: Sourcing

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

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.

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!

Yard Saling Tips – Before you get in the car.

It is Friday night. If you are like us, you are looking forward to a weekend of people basically giving you money, in the form of getting excellent deals at local yard sales. Here are a few quick tips that will help you to get the most bang for the buck, keep your paperwork in order, and find the best deals ever.

Preparing to go out.
The first thing to do is plug in any and all devices that you need to assist you while you are out sourcing your products. Plug in your cellphone, tablets, barcode scanner (link), GPS (if you are not using your cellphone or tablet), and anything else that you might need. You should have a backpack in your car with the following items, that is on standby for storage auctions or yard sales.

Backpack – Sunscreen, bugspray, Notepad (in case your batteries die), 2-3 padlocks with keys, and some water.

The tool that I like to use is “Yard Sale Treasure Map” (YSTM). This is an excellent application for Android (link) (and iphone?) that imports all of the yard sales listed in your local Craigslist area and puts them into Google Maps. It includes functions that allow you to add your own sales, and even optimize your route so that you hit the most sales. This tip alone means that you will hit the most yardsales that you could possibly find.

I recommend that you use your local Facebook groups to find more sales and add them to your map. Search Feedback for your area (using both city and county names). Add the words resale, thrift, yard, deals, etc. Find some groups with active participants and add those addresses to YSTM. This will help you find even more sales that are not listed on Craigslist. When the addresses are all entered, click Optimize.

You now have a list of great yard sales, that you can search by keyword, and the proper tools to analyze the deals that are available. Look for future articles on methods to get the best bargains while you are out shopping.

How to make money when you buy inventory

When you are running your business, your goal should be to maximize profit whenever you can do so without sacrificing the quality of the experience for the consumer. Here are a few quick tips to get some extra profit while you are buying your products to sell.

1) Use a rewards credit card. If you are buying and selling items frequently, that is a lot of traffic on your account. Translate that traffic to a 1-5% bonus by using a rewards credit card for every transaction. Not only do you get bonus cash for using the card, having a designated account for all of your business expenses makes it much easier to track come tax time. You can also go through the preferred shopping networks on several cards, and save an even higher percentage.

2) Member cards. Most retail stores have some kind of membership program. Signing up for these programs can give you special access to sales, discounts on merchandise, and exclusive coupons. I recommend setting up a separate email account for these types of offers exclusively, then searching that inbox just prior to a trip to the store.

3) If you frequently shop at the same stores, consider looking into PlasticJungle.com. Plastic Jungle buys and sells used gift cards, often at a discount. For example, when I floored my entire house, I bought over 5,000 in gift cards from there for Lowes. At a savings of 5-7%, that saved me about $300. If you already know that you will be spending money at a specific location, take a few minutes to see if they have cards that can benefit you.

4) If online shopping is your go-to method, then always make sure to check out retailmenot.com. Although their interface has changed lately and in my opinion not for the better, they still remain an awesome place to check for discount codes for most online retailers. A few other sites to check would be slickdeals.net and fatwallet.com.

5) Keep an eye on your local newspaper. Many manufacturer’s still have sales fliers, discounts, and coupons that you can stack to receive significant savings. Especially useful are the offers for XX% off entire store! Unless specified on the coupon, these are good for clearance items also.

6) If you are doing garage sales and estate sales, always bundle your purchases for a better price. Emphasizing the amount of work they would have to do to handle the inventory at the end of the sale is a good way to buy the lot of it at a discount. I bought an entire garage worth of items for $50 because the seller told me she didn’t want to deal with the clutter. The first item we found was a complete set of 9 seasons of Star Trek, which we sold for 75. Every other item in the garage was pure profit.

Remember, that selling is a percentage game. If you can add 1% profit here, a 2% discount there, and then get rewards on top of that, you can significantly improve your bottom line.

List of products to avoid

While it is important to focus on products to sell on Amazon, it is also important to pay attention to which products you should not sell. These products are ones which the manufacturers will give you a difficult time if you are trying to sell on Amazon.

Gillette
P90X
Dunkin Donuts Coffee
Dr Dre headphones
Rosetta Stone software
Warner Brothers movies

From the conditions guidelines, you also need to avoid the following items:

Promotional CD’s
Drafts and proofs for books
Any item that is or is suspected to be counterfeit or fake

I will add to this list as I receive additional information.

Fatwallet.com – free notifications when there is money to be made

How would you like it if someone told you when to pay attention to an item that could make you money? Thanks to a recent article from Chris Green, author of Arbitrage, I have found a way to get an alert when there is an opportunity to make some money. Simply sign up at FatWallet.com, and set up keyword alerts for the categories that you are most comfortable selling in. Then, when there is a new item that fits that description, you can receive an alert letting you know that there is a new deal for you to evaluate.

To evaluate the deal, Chris recommended using Webscout, one of the products in his ScanPower bundle. He also recommended using the Amazon Browser Bar, which is a free add-on that allows you to look up products from Amazon without leaving the page. With a notification of a deal, combined with the ability to instantly evaluate the deal for profitability, it is as if someone is sending you an alarm that says “Hey! Wake up and make some money now!”.

Anytime that you buy things online, you should always stop at retailmenot.com before you click checkout. It is a site that collects all of the online codes and discounts that are available.

A similar site to FatWallet is Slickdeals. The basics are the same, look at the deals to see if there is a difference in price that you can use to your advantage. Remember that altogether, you normally want products that have at least a 3x markup in price. For example, if the item that you are looking for is available for 25$, you want to be able to sell it for at least 75$. You may take a smaller margin on items that sell quickly, but remember to take into account that if the item is available cheaply, the price may be on the decline. Happy Hunting!

To learn more about Webscout, or any of the other FBAPower products that Chris Green offers, check out his site.