Editors note: This is our first blog post as part of our editorial board program. Lynn is one of our board members and blew my mind with this post.
I attended the CES III conference last year and was amazed at how many people said they were using online sourcing lists at one time but no longer do because they get too saturated. So even though the lists are limited, whether is it 25 people or 250 people, there was just not enough ROI or profit to support all of the sellers once the item was listed on Amazon. In other words, it became a race to the bottom.
Now, I know not all lists are like this and there are some great ones like Chris Wilkey’s but if you are taking a break from sourcing lists or don’t have the money to spend on them or other paid OA tools (some are free too), here’s a couple of OA hacks which won’t cost you a cent.
The first is a simple method anyone can use regardless of your experience with Online Arbitrage. The second is an advanced method where you need to have an excellent grasp of online arbitrage, be comfortable using spreadsheets, have the time to invest, and it really helps if you have a technical background.
Free OA Hack #1: Great for Beginners!
Sometimes I think people have forgotten about Google Shopping. It really would be the perfect deal finding site if Amazon participated but more than 300,000 ecommerce sites are included. Some of these 300,000 sites might be individual stores on Ebay, Bonanza, etc. but there are still thousands of brick and mortar and online one ecommerce retailers with product information.
Let’s take an example. I’ve been wearing Hoka Running shoes every since I tore my ACL playing basketball. My physical therapist recommended these shoes and they are expensive at full retail. So, let’s simply enter Hoka in Google Shopping Search. What I see are 42 shoes from merchants paying to advertise on Google shopping.
As a buyer of Hoka running shoes, I know they can be expensive but immediately I see a few pairs of shoes < $100. I would like to take a look at more shoes in this price range so I’m going to change my price filter accordingly.
I’ve selected the first product which are trail running shoes. What I see below is a good sign since there is a large range of prices from $64.83 to $130.
Next, I’m going to use a Chrome extension called Context Search and highlight the name of the product and choose Amazon to see the price on Amazon.
As it turns out this shoe warrants more investigation as it has a good rank and the price range on Amazon may yield a profit. The Chrome extension I am using to see this information is AMZ Seller Browser. You can even hover over BSR History and Price History to see the Camel Camel Camel graphs if available. I click on the shoe and then copy the asin – B00LGXS5Z2. I want to quickly see the prices for each size so I switch over to the mobile version of Amazon, http://www.amazon.com/mobile and enter the ASIN I had copied.
The mobile version lets me quickly see the prices and out of stock sizes.
I now go back to Google Shopping and click on all sizes to see how they compare to Amazon. I know the Size 11 is out of stock on Amazon and selling for a good price on REI. A size 11 women’s shoe will not be the fastest mover on Amazon but I do find a size 9 for the same price and this is a size I would quickly purchase as a flip.
Now I can go into the FBA calculator and see what the potential profit is based on a buy price of $65 and selling on Amazon for $115. The fees are $22 so the ROI is 43% and profit is 24%.
But wait, I can do better than this! I check EvReward.com and find Mr. Rebates is offering 3% cash back on REI purchases. I then check Raise.com and see there is a gift card available for 6% off. This means I now have 59% ROI and 30% profit and net $35 for spending a couple of minutes on Google Shopping search. Plus, I still get my American Airline models because I am purchasing on a credit card!
Remember to go back to http://amazon.com/fullsite if you want to switch back to the non-mobile version of Amazon.
Chrome Extensions – Context Search, AMZ Seller Browser
Websites – Google Search, Amazon, Amazon Mobile, FBA Calculator, Evrewards, Mr. Rebates, Raise
Free OA Hack #2: Web Scrapers for advanced OA
Oaxray and Jungle Scout are great paid tools which scrape Amazon and other sites. While I haven’t found a free tool which has all of the features of either of these products, there are some free web scrapers which offer some benefit.
The free Web Scraper Chrome extension is good for scraping retailer web sites where the UPC is present on the product page. As an example, I built a script for Toys R Us which can easily capture the UPC code, product name, and price on Toys R Us product pages.
The problem is this scraper only takes you so far because you need to then input the UPC’s into Amazon to compare to gather Amazon pricing, rank, etc. You can use a service like Scan Power evaluate to then analyze the UPC’s but there is a cost for the service.
The other option is to use another free web scraper Chrome extension called Imacros. I wrote a script to use the UPC codes from Toys R Us as input and then Imacros would extract comparative information from Amazon.
The Chrome extension Web Scraper can also be useful if you want to find some Amazon to Amazon flips. It is an excellent tool for extracting the product name, buy box price and other seller prices from a product page for 60 products on pages this this.
However, the tool doesn’t want to go to the products on Page 2 even though the scraper has this capability. In other words, it doesn’t work perfectly with Amazon but if you want to manually feed in urls, you can automatically scrape 60 products at a time. This can be useful, if you are looking for Amazon flips while in the 70% off section of Amazon.
Another interesting Chrome extension which is a web scraper is Data Miner. With it, you can scrape up to 500 pages per month for free.
Once you install Data Miner, you can go to an Amazon page and click on the Data Miner icon. It will show you Community Recipes which you can use without writing your own script. I haven’t found the perfect OA Community recipe but it’s worth trying out a few like Amazon Product Search List, Amazon Pricing, and Amazon Hidden ASIN.
Make sure you are on a page with multiple products. Then select Amazon Product Search List and a window will pop up and automatically extract the product name and price. Once the window has popped up, you can click on other recipes to see which ones work for the page with multiple products. You can then go to a product detail page and do the same thing. Try out Amazon Pricing to extract the product name and price and also Amazon Hidden ASIN if you are on a page with variations.
If you decide to use any of the web scrapers, make sure to turn off your other other Chrome extensions. They can make the page load times slow which then makes scraping slow also.
Chrome Extensions – Web Scraper, Imacros, Data Miner