Category Archives: Research

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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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 2

T-shirt idea, part 2

So I have learned a lot about the designing part so far. I did some research, and decided to go with printaura.com for the fulfillment. I have not used them yet (disclaimer), but they appear to have all of the functions that I need, and quite a few that I would not have thought of. They can remove and replace tags. They pack the boxes with your logos, and can put on hang tags or go tagless. All of these options cost extra of course. I am choosing to go with them due to the no minimum order, and the fairly clear instructions on their website about what they can and cannot do.

As far as getting the actual designs done on Fiverr, I am learning a lot there also. A lot of the artists will send you a general picture for 5$. However, if you want more characters, more detail, color vs. black and white, different file formats, etc, they can add up pretty quickly. Out of the 34 responses, I contacted 5. Out of the 5, I have received completed work from one that I kind of like. One wanted to charge me 60$ per design, breaking it down into each individual step. One said he can do 5 shirts for 65$, and I am still talking to him.

The T-shirt company wants a .pdf, .jpg, or .png, with specific dimensions and setup. I downloaded their template, and am giving it to the artists from now on. I am also searching Fiverr for someone familiar with this company to see if I can convert graphics to this format instead of only being able to hire artists that no how to use this format.

I had a phrase from all the business books stuck in my head, of eating an elephant one bite at a time. I was also musing on the saying that if you have to eat a frog, eat it first thing in the morning. That led me to the idea for the theme of my site. I have not done any research yet (not really sure how) but I like it. I know that is the least important part, but I will cross that bridge when I get there. The idea is famous self-help or development / business quotes by zombies. I will either call it Zombies with Brains, or maybe Rotten Philosophy. I haven’t really decided yet. What do you think? My first design is for a zombie eating an elephant, and it says “One Bite at a Time”. I have also searched for quotes that I could convert over to having a zombie or eating theme to them.

Once I get 5 T-shirt designs I like, I will start a store. More information on picking a storefront on Part 3. If you would like to read the rest of this story and see how it goes, check it out at Facebook.com/amusingtreasures. Any comments, suggestions, or lessons learned, leave it in the comments below so that everyone can benefit. See you next time.

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!

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 – 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.

Interested? Dive in!

A lot of times, it seems that people get excited about a new project or new business and it never seems to get off the ground. One of the most important things to do is to take action whenever something excites you. It is easy to get drowned in the details, and try to learn every little thing about a new interest before deciding to take action. This is usually a mistake. Once you have enough information to make a decision, then you should make a decision within 10 seconds. There are very few decisions that exist that once you make them, you can never go back. Actually, going back should hardly ever be the goal. If the risk is something that you can accept, meaning that it won’t kill you or hurt you badly, then you should try it. Especially if the decision you are making leads to you learning something new, or potentially having largely positive effects on your life. In the case of learning how to sell things on Amazon (or anywhere else), if it interests you at all then you should jump in and try it. The reasons are pretty simple.

You can join with zero money down. This is a large reason why you should not hold back. There are very few business opportunities where everything you need to get started is available to you free. The only catch to this is you must be at least moderately organized. As long as you set yourself some reminders, there is no reason not to try this program.

The negative outcomes are limited. In this case, the worst case scenario is that you will waste some of your time. While I realize that time is one of our most precious resources, time spent learning something new is never wasted.

Here is a very quick, very simple process that will allow you to dip your toes in the water, without setting yourself up for the possibility of getting soaked.

Step 1 – Identify something to sell. For now, stay away from clothing or jewelry. If it is very close to Christmas, you should also stay away from toys. The first free method is to sell something you already own. You can look around the house for some CD’s, books, or DVD’s that you no longer want. Old video games and video game systems are excellent for this. A second method is to download the Amazon application for your smartphone. This free application will give you a method of doing on the spot research, so that you know the resale value of the items that you pick up before you buy them. All you have to do is use the barcode scanner to enter the UPC, or type in the items name. The application will show you what the current used prices are on Amazon. You want to buy items that sell for at least 3x the amount it costs you to buy it. Assume 1/3 of the price goes to Amazon, 1/3 to you, and 1/3 to cover the price that you paid.

There are two methods for buying items with no risk.

The first method is to buy something that you would not mind owning. Whether it is a gift for someone that you know, or an item that you would like, if it does not sell then you don’t mind. This method works best if you are shopping at a Goodwill or Thrift store. These stores are great because they often have new items in the box, at very low prices. This gives you a larger margin, or profit on the item.

The second method is to buy something from a retail store, such as TJ Maxx, Target, Walmart, etc. Simply hold on to the item until the end of the return period. If the item does not sell, then cancel your listing online and return it to the store for a full refund. Hold on to your receipt!

Step 2 – Sign up for a seller account on Amazon. Amazon offers a free 30 day trial. A very important thing not to overlook is to set yourself a reminder. Write it on a calendar, or set yourself an appointment. Set the date for 25 days from now, so that you cancel the program in plenty of time if it does not work for you.

Step 3 – List your item for sale. This is very easy to do. Find the listing that you want to sell. Click the button that says “Sell one like this”. This will take you to a page where you describe the condition of your item. Make sure you read the guidelines for your items condition. You will then select whether the item is New, Used-Good, Used-Acceptable, etc. Write a short paragraph that describes your item. This should be something friendly. Emphasize the positive aspects, but make sure to include the negatives. Honesty is the most important attribute here. Price your item near the low end of the range of prices that is being offered. Make sure you are pricing your items against items that are the same quality. For example, price your New items at about the same price as the lowest New item available. Your Used-Good should be priced against other Used-Good items. Just starting out, your feedback will be zero. Don’t worry about it. Your honesty in the description and care you put into describing your item will make your listing more appealing. Caring goes a long way.

Step 4 – Keep an eye on your email. When your item gets ordered, package it and ship it quickly. Make sure that it is wrapped well, and include a polite thank you note. Most companies don’t go out of their way to make sure that their customers are happy and feel appreciated. Make sure that you do, and you will stand out of the crowd.

Step 5 – Repeat this process as many times as you would like within the first 25 days. Ensure that when you have a question, you look up the answer or ask for help. Amazon customer service for their sellers is excellent, they want you to succeed.

Step 6 – When your 25 days is up, you have to make a decision. Next month it will cost you about forty dollars a month to stay. If you think that you can make more than that, (and you should be able to), then you can continue with selling. If not, cancel your seller account, return the items to the store if you need to, and try to find something that you find more interesting. At least at that point, you would know that you had tried.

I hope you enjoy the experiment. If you need help, or want to share your success story, send me an email at AmusingTreasures@gmail.com.

Dive in!