RA SOURCING SMARTER, NOT HARDER

Editor’s Note: Today’s guest post is from Noura Anwar.  If that name isn’t familiar for you — spend more time in the Facebook group because she’s there frequently and almost always has useful tidbits to contribute.  We got tired of all of those useful tidbits being hidden in comments of FB posts, so we asked her to come share some of her routine with us.  Hope you all find benefit! 

 

RA SOURCING SMARTER, NOT HARDER

 

Have you ever spent hours at a store, scanning products and finding great deals only to feel overwhelmed when you start prepping because none of it’s organized, you don’t remember how much ‘that one thing’ cost and can’t find the receipt it’s on to check?  Then frustration really sets in when you scan it into Inventory Lab and it looks different than what it did on the app and it’s now, somehow, ranked 500K in ‘Everything Else’ and no profit is to be made.  Wait.  What the?!  

 

When I first started RA that happened to me all the time.  I had to figure out a more efficient way to source and list so I created an RA Spreadsheet and Checklist that I keep in my car for unplanned sourcing trips.  It’s also accessible via Google Sheets, allowing me to use a tablet (or other mobile smart device) for easy data entry right in the store.  While it might seem like a lot of details and steps to go through, the benefit of implementing this RA Spreadsheet into my sourcing routine is in the time saved organizing, listing and uploading box content for each FBA shipment.  This initial RA sheet is easily used to gather data for other useful spreadsheets such as replens, bolos, product categories, specific stores and whatever else you might find beneficial.


checklist
CHECKLIST

 

As soon as I scan an item that looks promising and profitable, before clearing the shelf and asking employees to scour the back in search of more, I check a few things:

  • See if the product is restricted or hazmat.  I use the Amazon Seller App or Profit Bandit App and have the “Eligibility (including Hazmat)” and “Restricted Items Alert” features enabled.
  • Search Keepa and CCC for sales rank and price history to make sure product is viable.
  • Search product on Amazon.com for any listings that didn’t show up in the app.  On occasion, better ranking, more profitable listings or multipacks don’t show up in the app by scanning alone.  If a better listing is found, I check features and details to get the ASIN or copy from the URL then search in PB or AZ app for quick margin/ROI and fee calculation.  Sometimes I find an item that’s ranked 18k selling at $19.99 but after doing a search on Amazon, I find the same product, ranked under 1k and selling for $4.99, being a sign that this probably is one I should pass on.  However, I could still consider buying and selling high when the competition goes out of stock, (another good reason to always check Keepa and CCC for history charts).
  • Check the number of sellers on listing to gauge competition and average selling price.
  • Check in-stock quantity of low-ball sellers.  This is helpful when I find for example, a product ranked 15k with 6 sellers priced at $34.99 and one priced at $22.99 but the one priced at $22.99 only has 8 in stock.  If the history looks good I might still want to consider buying and listing that product at the $34.99 price point.  
  • Check customer star reviews for any issues that might generate more unsatisfied customers, poor feedback or costly returns.  For example, if several customers complain about the quality, durability, price etc., no matter how profitable it looks in the app, it might be good to move on and avoid the risk altogether.
  • Check for expiration dates.
  • Check store apps and scan product for deals, offers and coupons.  


spreadsheets
SPREADSHEET

 

After checking through those things, if the product still looks like a good buy, then either on the tablet or on the paper spreadsheet, fill in each field for that product (example below) then organize in cart with like products.  

R/A Source and List Sheet
DateStoreRankProduct DescriptionPrice Per UnitQuantityASINNotes / Multipack ASINTotal Buy CostExpiration Date
2/14Target22KProGel Footpad$3.498B00ABC123Blue$22.97N/A
2/14Meijer18KProGel Footpad$3.696B00ABC321Pink$22.14N/A
2/15Kmart31KBubbles w/ wand$2.8911B00XYZ123B00XYZ223 (2pack)$31.76N/A
2/15Lowes9KEnergy Bar, Vanilla$.8940B00XYZ321B00XYZ323 (6pack)$35.604/3/17
Total65$112.47

 

Using a tablet to input the information for each product makes listing items much easier.  Making sure to get the ASIN insures the correct product gets listed at home.  Also, entering the quantities and buy costs for each product allows totals to be quickly estimated and/or verified on large purchases.  This is done by utilizing the sum function (∑) in the total buy cost and quantity column then subtracting discounts or coupons and adding tax if applicable.  If you don’t already own a tablet or just didn’t have yours with you, keeping the RA Sourcing Sheets handy in your car is still easier, for when you go to list your products, you reference the one sheet instead of several confusing receipts.

 

CHECKOUT

 

When you’re done shopping, prior to going to checkout, stop by the lawn and garden section and find a comfy patio chair.  Take a seat and do a quick search for additional savings in the form of manufacturer coupons, store coupons and percent or dollar off coupons.  Don’t forget to check smartphone apps like ‘Retail Me Not’ or ‘The Krazy Coupon Lady’ for even more savings.  Organize any store loyalty/member cards, physical coupons and gift cards you’ll be using along with payment method and tax exempt/reseller certs to make sure you don’t forget anything during checkout.  Once in the checkout, be nice!  They’ll remember you next time 😉  Greet the cashier and ASK if there is any additional way to save in the store today and let them know of any preferences you might have like waiting to scan until you’re done loading on the belt, or stopping at a certain dollar amount in order to use percent or dollar off coupons.  After checkout, find a little counter top near customer service or a free table in the cafe area and immediately snap a photo of the sales receipt and log into smartphone receipt app.    

 

Systematizing and organizing your RA routine can be daunting at times because there’s so much to do and keep track of.  There’s no perfect way and over time every system needs tweaking and updating.  This may not be the easiest, fastest or most high-tech way of sourcing or listing but it’s what’s working for me and hopefully it will benefit you in some way too.

 

Thanks for reading!  Happy Sourcing!

Noura Anwar

 

QUICK TIPS

  • Keep sheets in the car for unplanned sourcing trips
  • Use a stylus pen instead of finger for speed and accuracy.
  • Organize like products barcode up for easy scanning at checkout and at home.
  • Photograph receipts immediately after checkout for safekeeping and easy referencing.

 

RA CHECKLIST

 

  • See if the product is restricted or hazmat.
  • Search Keepa and CCC for sales rank and price history to make sure product is viable.
  • Search product on Amazon.com for any listings that didn’t show up in the app.  
  • Check the number of sellers on listing to gauge competition and average selling price.
  • Check in-stock quantity of low-ball sellers.   
  • Check customer star reviews for any issues.
  • Check for expiration dates.
  • Check store apps and scan product for deals, offers and coupons.

 

RA SPREADSHEET  (CLICK HERE for GoogleDocs version of spreadsheet. To download a copy for yourself click File > Download and save as your preferred file type.)

 

R/A Source and List Sheet
DateStore/SupplierRank (at time of purchase)Product DescriptionPrice Per UnitQuantityASIN / ISBNNotes / Multipack ASINTotal Buy CostExpiration Date

 

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