Time for Part 3 in the ever-growing Beginner Breakdown series. If you missed them, catch Part 1 and Part 2. I wanted to answer the question about what ranks I look for in each category, but it is not as simple a question as imagined. Next week I might devote an entire post to that very question. This week should be jammed-packed as is! Let’s get started.
What different tools do you use when researching deals?
I use a lot of tools, websites, and facebook groups to find deals. There’s no magic bullet that gives you everything you could ever need, but when taken together, they are very helpful. I should start by saying that Chrome is close to essential for online arbitrage. The reason is that Chrome allows for extensions, which are little software programs that enhance the usability/functionality of the browser. Sometimes, both the extension and the website will be valuable, so I’ll try to distinguish between the two.
Keepa Extension — This is an absolutely essential free tool. It overlays a chart on every Amazon product page that shows the history of the price, the rank, whether Amazon was in stock, etc.
Keepa Website — This website specializes in Amazon price drops. Set filters for the rank of the items you’d like to see, the category, the percentage price drop, the dollar price drop, etc., and see a collection of items that meet those criteria. An excellent resource for Amazon to Amazon flips (If you don’t understand how Az2Az flips work, check out my article).
CamelCamelCamel Extension — Another price chart that is useful for seeing the historical rank of an item, as well as pricing data when Keepa isn’t working (which happens far more than we’d like!). Also allows you to set alerts (see question 3).
Price Blink — Searches other sites for cheaper prices. Searches the internet for coupon codes.
InvisibleHand — Similar to Price Blink
Ebates — Online rebates for many of the stores I source at.
Fatwallet — Sometimes better than ebates, sometimes worse.
OAXray — This one costs money, but I use it every single day and I can’t imagine going back to pre-OAX days!
Jordan Malik Search Completed Listings on Ebay — quick search for product titles to see completed listings on ebay. Can be helpful when trying to figure out the true value of an item.
Price Zombie — A site to find Amazon Price drops.
Jungle Deals — A blog for price drops and price mistakes.
Shhh Our Little Secret — Another blog for low Amazon prices
Slick Deals — There are some deals that are slick.
Fat Wallet — Deals that will keep the BMI of your wallet high.
Paribus — Refunds you money when price drops after you buy an item.
Woot — Daily deal site
Heavenly Steals — Price drops, price errors, and coupons.
Retail Me Not — Coupon codes
I’m sure there are more, but hopefully this is enough to get you started!
what are alerts and how do you use them?
Alerts are the online equivalent of a store manager giving you a call and letting you know when the product you wanted is back in stock and at the price you wanted. It’s possible to be a good at sourcing online without settling alerts, but it’s impossible to maximize your profits without doing so. Ever hear about a really good deal but get there too late? Set an alert. See that Amazon is insanely cheap when they’re in stock, but they’re OOS most of the time? Set an alert. Find a product that could have some potential, but the margins are too thin? Set an alert.
I used to always go to CamelCamelCamel and set an alert there, but now I use the Keepa extension to set most of my alerts. When you’re on the Amazon product page, all you have to do is click on the part of the chart that says Track This Product, select the price you’d like to be notified at, and then select how you’d like them to notify you (email, twitter, facebook). Bam. Next time Amazon is in stock at that price, you’ll know about it. The same idea works with CamelCamelCamel. Now, those two are for Amazon price alerts.
When you are at WalMart or Target and they are out of stock of a profitable item, you should set an alert here as well. Most sites will allow you to be notified via email when they are back in stock. There are also more streamlined solutions (like NowInStock) if you want an all-in-one solution.
There’s no way I have enough time or brain power to check back on every product I’ve ever been interested in just to see if it happens to be in stock and at a price I’m willing to pay. By setting alerts, I don’t have to do anything. I get a text message or email or tweet and I can immediately go check.
FBA Customer Returns — What happens?
The bane of every Amazon seller’s existence! You get email notifications when you have refunds, but that isn’t a good solution to track your returns. Since Amazon refunds the customer’s money before the inventory ends up back to you, you need to make sure that you aren’t getting short-changed. You can HOPE that Amazon will take care of this for you, but they will never care about your business as much as you do. If you’d like to stay on the ball, here are the steps:
- Find out which products you’ve paid out refunds on. Seller Central > Reports > Payments > Transaction View > Past Number of Days (select a time period) > Filter By Refund. Now you’ll have a list of all of the refunds that have been issued from your account in the given time period (Don’t you hate the sight of all of that red?). In most, but not all, cases, the Customer is supposed to Return the item to you (A common exception, for example, is many grocery items). So, next, we need to make sure that the item actually was returned to you!
- Head over to Reports > Fulfillment > Returns and set a similar time frame as the previous report. You’ll see a list of items that were actually returned to an Amazon Warehouse, the reason the customer selected for the return, and what Amazon did with the returned item (whether it is added back to inventory, reimbursed, etc. If the item has been returned to your inventory, then you’re set (You can verify that it actually made it to inventory by running the Inventory Adjustments report. While in this report, you may as well check on any items Amazon has lost or damaged and make sure you’ve been paid your reimbursement).
- If the item isn’t in the return report, we want to check the Reimbursement Report (find it right above returns). Sometimes Amazon will have reimbursed you for the inventory. Assuming they’ve actually reimbursed you the correct amount, if you find your item here, then you’re set.
- If it has NOT been returned, NOT been reimbursed, and Amazon has NOT recharged the customer (Report number 1 would have $0.00 if they were charged a second time, which essentially voids the return you paid out) and it has been over 45 days, then something has fallen through the cracks and you need to contact Amazon.
So far, we’ve assumed that if the customer actually returns the item then we can just sell it again. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Sometimes they open the package. Sometimes they outright scam you. Sometimes the item is in perfect condition but the Amazon employee make a mistake. For any number of reasons, this inventory might not be in a condition to be sold. This will now show up in the Inventory > Manage Inventory > Remove Unfulfillable Inventory as a defective item. You will need to remove this item from Amazon. You have two options. You can pay $.15 for the item to end up in Amazon Warehouse Deals or the trash can or you can pay $.50 for the item to be returned to you. I almost always choose the latter. Many times, the item is just fine and you can resell. If not, you can donate it, give it to your kids, etc.
Believe it or not, there’s actually a lot more that could be discussed on this topic. Amazon knows no limit when it comes to ways that they can mess up returns and reimbursements. You have to constantly stay on them. Just because they say you’ll automatically be paid, do not trust them. Just because they say the item was returned to inventory, don’t trust them. I could go on. However, these steps provide the bare basics to give you an idea of how you can keep track that you aren’t being hosed on returns.