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

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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

Buy a Bundle, Game for Free!

So you love to play video games. You also love to make money (that is why you are here!) You want to get paid to do it. It is easier than you think, with some simple steps and a little patience. It breaks down into a few simple steps.
-Find a bundle deal on Craigslist or your local Facebook group. A bundle deal is video games with the console and some accessories.
-Sell off all of the items in the bundle you are not trying to add to your collection.
-Enjoy your cost free gaming!
First, look at the local Craigslist ads or Facebook groups. You are looking for the words “Lot”, “Bundle”, or “Games”. If you are looking for a specific title, you can search for that title instead. Determine whether you can make money on this bundle at that price while keeping the games that you want. Video games are fast sellers, especially newer titles and consoles (defined as XBOX 360 or PS3 or newer). You are going to use the lowest price on Amazon as your calculation point. Assume that you are going to lose about 1/3 of the cost to fees. All you need to do is to break even, but of course the more money you can make the more money you can put directly into your pocket!
You do a simple comparison. Use the lowest price of everything you can sell, and multiply by 2/3’s. If that value is higher than the price you can negotiate on the bundle, then go ahead and buy. Things to keep in mind:
When you sell the console, you should include one controller, the charger, and the cables to hook it to the TV.
The games might be scratched, so inspect them carefully before you buy. Light surface scratches are ok, but anything more than that you will need to pay to get them professionally refinished. That will run between 1-3 dollars per disc.
Once you find a bundle, you should contact the seller. One thing I’ve learned over time was that your first offer should make you feel slightly embarrassed. I usually offer somewhere between 50-60% of the asking price. Make sure to mention that you can bring cash and pay them today. Don’t be surprised if they say no at first, just be polite and ask them to keep you in mind. Often they will contact you back within a day or two. If you don’t hear from them, email them back a little later and ask if they still have it available. Between no shows and people not needing or wanting everything that is in the bundle, they will often still have the bundle available. Don’t worry about missing out on a particular deal, there are new ones every day.
When you go to pick up the bundle, make sure you inspect the items carefully. Do not feel pressured to buy if the items are not pristine. Have them turn it on for you, if you are comfortable going to their homes. Remember, you are not obligated to buy anything.
What you are going to do is keep the pieces you want, and sell off all the pieces you don’t at enough of a price difference to pay for the entire bundle. Every part of a video game system is usually easy to sell, especially the newer models. Xbox 360 or PS3 or newer.
My favorite way to sell them is on Amazon. You can sign up for an account to sell on Amazon in about 5-10 minutes. You do not need a pro-seller account, which makes listing your items free. The difference between a pro-seller account and a free account is an additional one dollar fee per item. If you are selling more than 40 items per month, then you should sign up for a pro-seller account, as you will break even.
Keep in mind that almost everything gaming related can sell, and you do not have to settle for the lowest price. The chargers, the controllers, the cameras, the headphones, and the games can all be sold separately.
You want your money back quickly, so the simplest way is to just match the lowest prices on Amazon. List them on Amazon, and write a good description. Read the condition guidelines, and make sure you are following them. Make sure you are on the right listing, especially on consoles. There are different versions of most gaming platforms, and a few minutes of research will show you which is which. This may sound intimidating, but it is really very simple.
Read the descriptions of the people you are competing against. Especially at the lowest price, people often do not take the time to write a good description of the condition. Use their laziness against them. Use a better description, and you can demand higher prices!
There are different versions of most gaming platforms, and a few minutes of research will show you which is which. This may sound intimidating, but it is really very simple.
When the customer orders your items, you will get an email. Package the item the way you would like to receive it, safe and pretty. Once the orders are in (remember that you will lose about 1/3 of the cost in fees), you will get paid every two weeks from Amazon. Sit back and enjoy all of your free games!
This is a very simple way to expand your gaming collection exponentially in a very short period of time. Have fun, and Happy Gaming!
-David Manning @ AmusingTreasures.com

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 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.

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!