Category Archives: Useful Sites

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?

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.

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.

Saving money on shipping – one of our biggest expenses

One of the biggest expenses that we have in our business is shipping. Between the boxes, the packing material, and the postage, a lot of our profits were leaving before we even saw them. I have learned a lot of ways to make things cheaper since we started buying bubbles and boxes at Walmart and shipping at the desk at the Post Office.

The first thing that I usually like to tell people about when I learn that they sell things from their home is Stamps.com. I was very frustrated getting started in this business because I was spending a fortune on shipping. I tried comparing UPS to USPS, but it seemed like the Post Office was cheaper. While I was researching ways to save money on shipping, I found Stamps.com. I was immediately impressed. The thing that I enjoy the most is the free delivery confirmation. Each time I sell something on Amazon or Ebay, I had to pay for delivery confirmation. At $0.85 a piece, it was cutting into our profits quite a bit. We sell on average right now between 5-15 orders per day. That was $4.25 to $12.75 pr day in delivery confirmation fees alone. When we learned that Stamps.com was $15.99 a month, we knew that the cost was more than paid for by the delivery confirmation fees alone!

They also give you a discount on the price that you pay from shipping at the front counter at the Post Office. I have not run specific numbers to share, but I do know that the rate is significantly cheaper.

When I signed up, they gave me the option of a free 5lb shipping scale, or I could pay 25$ for a scale that could weigh up to 25lbs. I chose the larger scale, as I ship out Xbox 360’s and PS3 consoles. I recommend that if you are sourcing things at thrift stores and yard sales like we do, that you go for the larger scale. They have a four week free trial, and give you 5$ to start in free postage. You also get vouchers for $20 in free postage for use after your trial period ends.

The scale was very easy to setup, installed the software and plugged in the USB. We started by printing 4 labels to a page, and taping them onto our packages. It is a convenient way to start. Once we had gotten a little money back from starting out, we invested in a DYMO Label Writer 450 Twin Turbo label printer, 71 Labels Per Minute, Black/Silver (1752266)
printer. With their 3-part labels, it makes it very fast and convenient to print the labels with the tracking information at home.

The software allows you to do a lot of things that reduce the amount of time that we spend packing and shipping. You can buy your insurance, change your delivery options, and customize your return address. One of the best things about it is that you can perform batch imports. What that means is that you can link your Amazon and Ebay accounts directly to Stamps.com, and they will import all of your orders at once. You pack the item, place it on the scale, and click the weigh button. Then it calculates the amount of shipping that is required, allows you to choose the shipping option that is best for you, and even allows you to hide the amount of shipping that you paid! Once all of the items are weighed, click print and all the labels come out at once. Then you can print a single form, called a batch form. The Post Office scans this form, counts your packages to make sure that they are all there, and you are done!

I know this sounds a little like a commercial, but this service has saved us hundreds of dollars this year alone. There are a few things that could use some improvement.

Sometimes the batch form does not print. Not sure why, but that means that you need to have every item scanned individually at the post office. Not a huge deal, but kind of annoying.

Some addresses won’t play nice with the software. Again, it doesn’t happen very often, but when it does it can be frustrating.

Overall, I think that using this service is one of the smartest things that we have done so far as far as saving us money on our costs. I encourage everyone that is doing this business to at least use the trial period. If you ship more than 18 orders a month, you will break even on the confirmation costs alone. The discount on the postage is pure profit! Not to mention the time that you save. In my opinion, scaling is very important. Scaling is the ability to handle an increase in orders. The more orders you can handle quickly and efficiently, the more time you spend managing your business instead of it managing you. Hope you enjoyed the tips. Let me know what you think of this article or anything else you would like to know about. Mail us!

Instructions are helpful

Today as I was browsing the competitions pricing on some of my higher value items, I realized that they were offering a service that was quick, easy, and added value to the customer. Naturally, those are all things that I would like to offer as well! I found a site, called safemanuals.com where you can download manuals for a wide variety of items. For example, I downloaded a very nice pdf file of the instructions for our Kota the Dinosaur. Since I only learned that you can press down on his butt to make stomping sounds yesterday after watching a video on him, I figured that the instructions would be very helpful for someone else. I added the printed and emailed version to our listing. Any time that you can add extra value for the customer, for little or no time or cost, it becomes a win-win situation. Thank you guys at safemanuals.com. You can also use the free tech manuals that they provide in order to troubleshoot a product, or learn more about it.  Information is power, and they are offering it for free.