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Bells-a-Poppin’! New Features from ScanPower

Bells-a-Poppin’! New Features from ScanPower


illustration-flasher-bells-whistlesWhen ScanPower came out in 2010, it was like a thunderbolt from the heavens it was so transformative. It turned hundreds of online book sellers into Amazon FBA sellers in multiple categories and made it much easier for a small fry to run a big online business. Since that time there have been so many changes and upgrades, ScanPower is light years beyond its beginnings. It was aimed at people like me who couldn’t afford the big customized solutions. It gave us a huge competitive advantage over other sellers because we could see FBA offers separate from the MF offers and have the fees calculated for us. We take stuff like that for granted today because ScanPower led the way.

In today’s blog post I review some of the coolest and most interesting bells and whistles (in my humble opinion) of ScanPower for FBA sellers. If you are a ScanPower customer, make sure you are getting the most out of your subscription! Many long-time customers don’t realize the new features hiding beneath the tabs they see every day.

If you are not a ScanPower customer, be aware of what’s out there and make sure you are making your business as efficient as possible. Check and see if your current vendor (whether it is Amazon or InventoryLab or someone else) has these desirable features as well. Also, these programs are all available as individual products as well as bundles from ScanPower. If you use InventoryLab for listing and reporting, for example, but want Webscout for online arbitrage, you can do that. There’s no obligation to buy the whole package.

Some businesses find that other providers a better fit for their businesses. ScanPower focuses on Amazon FBA. If your business is multi-platform or a combo of online/bricks and mortar, and/or a heavy mix of MF and some FBA, you may need a different solution for your listing and inventory management, but may still find ScanPower Mobile helpful when you are out scouting or Evaluate for online research of wholesale opportunities, or Webscout for tracking product historical data, for example.

In building your business, you need to find the tools that work best for you. Even though this post is about ScanPower and I’m sharing what I’ve learned, I don’t care what you use. I’m not paid if you use ScanPower, there are no ScanPower affiliate links in this post. This is my opinion as someone who has used the product pretty much since it was invented. You need tools that fit your business and how you like to work.

Take a moment to think about how you run your business – could it be easier, faster, more efficient? Where do you like to spend your time? If you are like me, you DON’T like to spend your time processing and managing inventory. Hours of research with your eyeballs glued to a screen can also be a drag. To demonstrate what’s popping at ScanPower, I’m going to follow the life cycle of inventory found through retail or online arbitrage, and talk about what is possible:

Mobile Scouting

For retail arbitrage, ScanPower is the best tool out there bar none. I’ve used all the others including Amazon’s Seller App and Consumer App. When I teach live RA classes, my students use a wide range of products from free to expensive and many of them switch after the class to ScanPower. This is not because I push it, but because they see it in action. It makes scouting MUCH faster. I can scan and make a decision on an item in a couple of seconds and then move on. The interface makes it easy for me to see the “no.”

When I see a “maybe,” the easy “Hotlist” links to super historical tools CamelCamelCamel and Keepa mean I can dive down and research the item’s rank, selling price over time and how often Amazon runs out quickly before buying. I can also check eBay’s completed auctions and google if I need more input.

In addition, I can quickly click a hyperlink to view ALL the FBA offers, not just the most competitive ones. I can see the product on Amazon’s site if I want to read the description (very helpful for food where the fact that it is a multipack often is hidden in the description). Like other scanning tools, I can put in the cost, my desired selling price and see the exact profit I’ll make after Amazon’s fees. There’s a lot I can do from the scanning screen on my phone. I only dive down, however, when it looks like a good deal. The rest of the time I’m flying through the shelves getting past the “no’s” to the good stuff.

People often tell me they can’t find inventory in stores. When I ask them how many items they are scanning per hour and/or check their scanning receipthistory, I see what is going on immediately. I can scan several hundred items in a 2-3 hour session. Many of my students are lucky if they make it through 50. Why is that? Because the tool they are using requires that they key in the price for every item they scan in order to figure out the profit! They are conducting in-depth research on everything. No wonder they don’t find much in the stores!

Because ScanPower shows me the profit for all the available FBA offers (and then New MF and then Used MF if there are no FBA offers), I can quickly see the potential and decide if I want to conduct more research or move on. The net for all the offers – whether FBA or MF – is with all the FBA fees removed which means that any offer that looks interesting I can look at the net and it is FBA.  I don’t have to figure out the difference between FBA and MF.

Conversely, if you sell a lot of MF merchandise, ScanPower Mobile won’t be useful to you.  You will want to look at ASellerTool’s FBA Scan or other products on the market that give you MF as well as FBA numbers. If I want to type in my cost and my desired selling price I can, but I rarely do – at least not when I’m sorting between no and maybe.

Once I decide to buy an item, I click on the “Buy” button, put in my cost and the number of units I’m buying. When I get home, this data is already available to my listing program. I only need to add notes and print labels. This integration between the scouting program and the listing program is a key reason why I choose ScanPower. I only have to type in the data once – when I’m buying and actually remember the details. No more hunting for prices down a long, long, receipt.

As you can see in the picture below, I can even customize the kind of data I want to collect and set up my own fields.  Several of the capabilities of ScanPower Webscout are incorporated into ScanPower List like Tracking (see more on this later).

I also like the interface on ScanPower better. I use a competing product, FBA Scan, for book sales. I can download the book database to my phone and my look ups are much faster than the live look up from ScanPower (even with 4G). It works in library basements with poor cell reception. It also gives me an audio tone when I scan a book that meets my criteria which means I can scan with a quick glance and only stop when I want to investigate further. Even though I could use it for retail arbitrage, however, I don’t. It is an ugly interface, hard to get what I need at a glance and requires programming for each category. That’s my opinion. I also can’t set up tracking on the fly or integrate with Webscout (see below).

scanpower mobile image

  1. The basic information you need for every product you scan:  Is Amazon selling it? What’s the rank? Department?
  2. If you look at the box in the middle, you will see where you can key in costs and your price to get an accurate net payout.  I only use that feature when I’m pretty sure I want to buy.  I normally can make my decision on the fly simply looking at the Net Payout below.  Even if I think I can sell my product for higher, this gives me a good idea of what to expect.  All I need is to be able to make a No decision. If it is a “Maybe” then I’ll use other tools on this screen.
  3. See the “Buy,” “Hotlist” and “Track” buttons? Buy allows you to key in the quantity and cost for each item and to have that information waiting for you on ScanPower List when you get back to the office.
  4. Hotlist is where you will find direct links (with the ASINs already filled in) to CamelCamelCamel, Keepa, eBay complete, etc.
  5. Track allows you to add that product to your tracking list on the fly.

Online Scouting

For online arbitrage, ScanPower Webscout is a robust program designed specifically to help sellers find deals online the way Chris Green teaches in his course Online Arbitrage (click to read my review). I admit I don’t use it to its full capacity myself (yet). When I find an item online of interest whether from a retailer or a wholesaler, I can cut and paste in the UPC code (if available) or type in the name of the product. Webscout brings up all my options and keeps them ready for me so I can easily go back and forth to decide which is the best offer. With grocery, for example, there can sometimes be 10 listings for the same product just in different weights, packages, bundles and groups. Being able to see all of them at once and go back and forth without re-doing the search each time is especially helpful when looking at grocery or health and beauty items which are often sold in multi-packs. I use this basic functionality when I’m reviewing offers from my wholesalers, for example.

Jack__s_Lament_by_xpedr0If you are like me, you probably see great deals all the time online except the price is too high for you to make a profit – right? “If only it were $10 cheaper!” I lament. With Webscout alerts, I can find that cheaper deal with very little effort on my part. In fact, Webscout eliminates the need for me to use any other alert system out there and it brings all my alerts together for me in one place.

Webscout’s alerts are targeted exclusively for sellers (as compared to consumers), are real-time (no delay) and actionable right from the screen and/or email. When you get the alert, you get the link to the source (Walmart, Amazon, etc.), margin, profit, ROI, the Webscout link (no need to re-type the ASIN into Webscout) and more. This seller-specific data lets me see at a glance whether or not I’m interested in the new price or not.

If I decide to buy, Webscout and ScanPower List are integrated so I can print labels and process my inventory quickly without re-keying. Because some online arbitrage deals are sent to an inventory processor instead of sent to me, the ability to create shipments and PDF the labels to the processor by email is a real boon. I’ve done this a few times and it was easy and efficient.

Other alerts you can set up include when a product is in and out of stock. For example, some popular products sell out frequently. If you’ve found a great price on a toy at Walmart.com, for example, but it sold out before you could buy, set up an alert so the minute it is back in stock you can acquire your units and then re-sell them on Amazon.com.

Have a great product in your inventory you love to sell again but can’t find it anywhere? You can have Webscout track some or all of your current hot sellers and help you find new sources for that inventory.

In addition to alerts, Webscout lets you access tracking information and create charts.  You set up your profile first and then when you add a product to the tracking feature either in Webscout or ScanPower Mobile, it tracks the data for you over time. You can access tracking data on this product by pasting in the ASIN or by simply clicking on the Tracking tab and looking through all the products you are tracking.

With Keepa, CamelCamelCamel and Webscout, you can quickly see how often Amazon sells out of a product, the actual price of the product over time, how low Amazon will go on a sale, what other third-party sellers get for that product when Amazon is out of stock and much more. You can be confident in your buying decisions because the wealth of data you have for each product. You can compare prices of different online retailers and Amazon over time and see things like “wow, Best Buy consistently sells this for $12.99 when it is in stock, but Amazon’s prices have climbed steadily to $49.99!”

This “set it and forget it” automation feature takes a lot of the headache out of online arbitrage.

Webscout main screen

ScanPower has a 1-hour video you’ll want to check out because it is a good primer on how to scout online by Chris Green, not just on how Webscout works. It shows him using Webscout to find deals live and on the fly – nothing pre-planned. I found it moved fast for me and I needed to see parts of it more than once to understand everything. It is a bit dazzling and overwhelming at first to see all the capabilities of Webscout (Ahhhh!! Data everywhere!!!!) but worth the overload. My virtual assistant uses Webscout to help me source and she “got it” right away (young whippersnapper). If you’ve not read Online Arbitrage yet, you might find the video and the program overwhelming at first.

Just a quick overview of the picture above:

  1. That Search Results tab is what you click to see ALL the offers that ScanPower found for your search.
  2. See those offer prices? BB means “Buy Box”
  3. The Payout automatically includes Amazon’s fees. You’ll need to figure out your shipping to Amazon, packing and other expenses.
  4. Add your cost for the item and the aforementioned packing and shipping costs and put them in the “cost” box. All the net payouts will change to reflect your actual out-of-pocket costs.
  5. Want to see tracking data for this particular product? Click the tracking tab near the arrow.
  6. This view is the Product Search page. The Tracking page is where you would see all the products you are tracking.
  7. If you want to compare your results to eBay completed sales, pull up CamelCamelCamel or Keepa, you can do it from this screen with these tiny icon buttons.
  8. Another cool feature about Webscout is that you can search by key word, ASIN, UPC, ISBN to find what you want.  Selling a particular candy? Just type in the name and EVERY offer will come up in every variation of size, multipack, bundle, you name it. Then you can easily see which sizes/offers are the most popular and, sometimes, identify a missing offer that would probably sell well.

Evaluate

This is a popular stand-alone service for sellers who source from wholesalers and online sites.   You can either pay per-use or a monthly fee. What ScanPower Evaluate does is let you take a huge spreadsheet of UPC codes that you might get from your wholesaler, a liquidator, dealer or some other quantity source, upload it to ScanPower Evaluate and a short time later get a fully populated spreadsheet that shows you exactly which items match your “buy”criteria. You feed in the name, UPC code/ISBN/ASIN, the out-of-pocket cost (usually provided by your supplier) and Evaluate gives you the rest – rank, net payout, etc., fast! You can dictate some customized fields if you want. You’ll be able to very quickly see which items are worth buying and which ones aren’t.

Small lists of 50 UPC codes or less are free. This is a great way to test the service out. Bigger lists are very reasonable. If you have 15,000-50,000 items to evaluate, for example, that is only $25. What a deal! For sellers who regularly upload a lot of big lists, there is also an unlimited monthly plan.

After you decide which items you want to sell, you can easily create your listings in ScanPower List.

Evaluate is easy to use.  ScanPower has instructions on the Evaluate page (scroll down to the bottom) and a helpful video. Once you have all the data, you can sort your spreadsheet by any column you like. I normally like to look at rank first and then ROI.  The promising offers I examine more closely. Sometimes there is a lowballer on a product and I want to check his supply (I make a pretend purchase from him).  I can also use Keepa or CamelCamelCamel to see if that low price is the norm or an exception.

Some of my colleagues prefer to look at return/ROI first because they are thinking that if they advertise they may be able to increase sales and get the rank down that way.  There is no right or wrong way to look at the data as long as you consider everything before you actually buy.  That’s the great thing about ScanPower Evaluate, you have the data to work with…and really fast.

Listing

Once you’ve bought your inventory, it is time to list it on Amazon.com. When ScanPower first came out, the process through Amazon was excruciating and time consuming. It was OK if you only wanted to sell a few products, horrible if you wanted to sell thousands of MSKUs as I do. Amazon is better and easier to use now, but still not as efficient or robust as ScanPower. For some businesses which sell around or under 100 MSKUs, it may make more sense to stick to Amazon. For everyone else, ScanPower List is faster than Amazon.

I like ScanPower List because it integrates with my other ScanPower programs, but is also great by itself. I sell a lot of pre-1972 books and often have to do my research again online when I get home because I was either using FBA Scout which doesn’t integrate with ScanPower, and/or because I originally had to use the Amazon seller app (and its “Flow” capability) to look up the book since it had no ISBN#. ScanPower List gives me the exact same data and capabilities of ScanPower Mobile and easily creates the listing for me.

Because I sell a lot of books and other-condition items (Used, Collectible, Open-Box, Refurbished, etc.), I have a collection of notes for each category of goods. For collectible games, for example, I may have notes that say things like “Box has worn corners and creases on the cover.” For a collectible book I may have a note that says “Dust jacket is missing.” You get the idea. ScanPower lets me keep my notes and swap out depending on what I’m listing. It is very fast and easy to quickly grab the right note and add it to my item. For something unusual, I can quickly write up a custom note as well. With ScanPower, I can create a custom listing as fast as those guys who all use the same stupid listing (may have this, may have that, could be a library book…hope you don’t care what the book is really like, blah, blah…) which sets my offer apart.

SP List.jpg

Critically important for me is that when I’m listing, I’m capturing vital data at the same time. I type in where I got the product (great for replenishing and data analysis later), what I paid, what I’m selling it for, and the high/low price that Amazon now demands. If it is a grocery or health/beauty item, I not only capture the expiration date, I can set up an auto-reminder well in advance of the expiration date.

Because Amazon wants merchandise pulled 50 days before expiration, I set all my auto-reminders 80 days in advance. This gives me 30 days to drop prices and sell any lingering inventory. I used to create and maintain spreadsheets for this – now I don’t have to. Also, if you sell the same product but with different expiration dates, you can add a new alert every time you send in your inventory. I have some candy I sell year-round but the expiration dates vary depending on when I bought it from the wholesaler. Every time I’m listing a batch with a new expiration date, I can put in the new reminder. This is really an awesome feature. Since Amazon has a “first in, first out” policy this means my old inventory is used up before my new stuff which is what I want.

All this data is instantly available to my other ScanPower tools – Reports and the Repricer.

Another time-saver is sticky notes and sticky conditions. These two features mean if I have a bunch of inventory that is the same note “Book is sealed in plastic to protect it from dust in the warehouse” or condition “Used-Very Good, Used Very Good, Used Very Good…” ScanPower will simply keep putting that information in the listing until I tell it to stop. It is 100% customizable. You will find these features under “Settings” + “List.”

There are other helpful features like whenever I list something, all the labels print at once for that item AND the warehouse is printed on the label for easier packing later. If I have 30 dog collars going to four warehouses, the labels all print at once for quick stickering and I can instantly see “4 to ABE, 3 to PHX…” It is nice. Back in the old days, kids, I used to make a lot more mistakes sending in inventory. You don’t know how easy you have it! (Imagine me shaking my cane at you here).

Except during Q4 when things really heat up, my preference is to send out one large shipment a week. It is cheaper per pound and easier on my packer. Having clearly marked labels is VERY helpful when it comes time to box, weigh and ship. I use a Dymo printer that allows me to label items as I go which is more efficient than trying to match labels to merchandise later.  We also sort as we go. It is not uncommon for a week’s worth of merchandise to go to four or five warehouses – a real nightmare if it wasn’t organized.

Once my shipments are ready in ScanPower, they are closed out and sent to Amazon’s Shipping Queue for final preparation. At the time I send my shipment over to Amazon, ScanPower tells me exactly how much that order is going to net me (assuming I sell at my desired prices) and the average rank which gives me that warm glow inside from a job well done.

rank price payout

Repricing

Of course, you don’t always get what you want in the world of online selling and sometimes price adjustments are required. ScanPower Repricer is a fairly intuitive and easy-to-use repricer that lets you reprice in several ways. First of all, it is rules based. You will be setting up your criteria for your main categories. You will probably reprice your books differently than your food, for example. The first thing you do is set up your main categories and rules.

ScanPower makes it easy to select customized rules for your inventory. All the options are drag and drop. You can set percentages, dollar amounts, by ranks – just about anything you can think of. Have some sellers you hate? You can exclude them from the repricing. They won’t feel the snub, but you’ll know.  OK, just kidding on that.  This is a great feature for eliminating persistent lowballers with whom you don’t want to reprice against. If there is anything confusing or bewildering about the Repricer it is the fact that there are so many options. You will need to experiment a bit until you are happy with your results. This is easiest to do with a manual reprice.

Once your rules are ready to be tested, you can pull up your active inventory based on that category (Toys, Books, Grocery, etc.) and apply the rules. ScanPower Reprice will pull up all your items and reprice them according to your rules on the screen in front of you. You can scan down the pages, see the changes, approve them and have them sent to Amazon for immediate changes. If you scan down the page and everything looks great, you click the “send” button and every price change on that page is sent to Amazon immediately. Then you click to the next page. It can be very fast.

SP repricer

If you see any prices that look off – too much of a drop, a big price increase that doesn’t make sense, etc., you can pull it up and look at it closely with the same tools you have in List including CamelCamelCamel, Keepa and the rest. You have all the data you already had about the product in ScanPower List including what you paid for the item which helps me a LOT when I’m repricing. For the items that look “off,” you can reprice them yourself and then click a button to have that price instantly updated on Amazon.com.

I have my settings in such a way that certain outliers will go to “audit.” This means that if I choose to reprice regularly without looking at the offers, my audits won’t be repriced. They will be waiting for me to look at them manually (usually in the page-by-page view) and reprice.

Sometimes ScanPower gets fooled by a seller who has a really high price for an item, for example. They’re not really offering it for that price, it is just that their repricer hasn’t kicked in yet or they had a big typo. You can see that easily when you look at the current data on the product. I prefer to do my repricing for used items this way when I have the time because I can have more oversight and catch when the robots get it wrong.

For other times when I don’t have the time and when I feel OK overall with my rules, I can order Repricer to reprice all the inventory in that category and send it to Amazon. This takes a very short amount of time. Some sellers I know do this every day. For these kinds of repricing activities, I will exclude my high priced items and focus on my more commodity items. Most of my books, for example, sell from $7-$12. I’m OK with the robots and rules handling the repricing for me for these books. My rules put questionable changes into “audit.”

The books and other collectible items that sell for higher I want to review before I upload the prices to Amazon. They may be long-tail sales, for example, where I want to keep the price high and where I know it may take months to a year to sell. I also don’t want my price on a textbook to drop, necessarily, because one low-ball jerk joined the party.  (I might even go buy his book and re-sell it)

When I’m repricing a whole category and not doing it page-by-page, ScanPower creates a spreadsheet for me and then I upload that spreadsheet to Amazon when I’m ready.  ScanPower Repricer allows for all kinds of great sorting opportunities both on the screen and in the spreadsheet.  I can sort, for example, by how long something has been up at the warehouse. I may choose to be more aggressive with my older merchandise.  I can sort by the expensive inventory and simply exclude it from the upload.  I can sort by number of units I have in the warehouse.  That lets me decide if I want to be more aggressive with merchandise that has a lot of units I’m trying to unload. For all my single items, I’m usually more willing to wait if the payout is high.

There are other cool features about Repricer that make it very robust like being able to exclude sellers with poor feedback ratings or newbies or thathead scratch low-ball seller you hate that shows up everywhere but only has 1 or two units. Other rules-based repricers on the marketplace offer many of the same features. What makes ScanPower Repricer special is that it: 1) is free with List – a huge savings over stand-alone solutions – and 2) is fully integrated with your Mobile and List programs which means once you enter your units and cost and price in Mobile, you never have to do it again. No re-entry of data.  Just like the other ScanPower products, it is all about the data. You will get a lot of data from ScanPower to help you make good decisions.

Some of you are scratching your heads remembering my blog about Feedvisor as my preferred repricer. It absolutely is my favorite. However, it only reprices New items where a seller can get the Buy Box. This means I have to use a rules-based repricer for my books, used and collectible items. For them I have ScanPower. The day Feedvisor offers to reprice my used items….I will be so happy.

Reports

Amazon offers the most amazing inventory and order reports you’ve ever seen. As a partner, Amazon is amazing in terms of the data it gives sellers about their inventory. I love their reports. However, what is missing is MY data. Amazon doesn’t keep track of how much I paid for an item, where I bought it, when it is going to expire, etc. That’s where ScanPower Reports comes in. It bridges the gap between Amazon and me.

Just like List and the Repricer, ScanPower Reports integrates fully with Amazon and can pull data from my account. By marrying that data with my information that I’ve keyed into ScanPower, Reports can give me a comprehensive look at my inventory and profitability by product, category and overall.

ScanPower Reports lets me see which are my most profitable products, whether or not I’m actually making a profit – both by product and overall – and a wealth of historical data. I can see how products have performed over time for me, which ones give me the best margins, which ones are selling faster and a whole lot more. The more data I contribute in terms of expenses, shipping costs, overhead, etc., the better picture I get from ScanPower Reports as to whether or not I’m actually making money in my business.

This is a fairly new program for ScanPower and much appreciated. It takes a little bit of work to get things set up. You need to input certain expenses yourself from accounting program to get a clear picture of actual profit. Once you are set up, you can see the data in a nice graphical format.

current inventory report

This is just one of the reports.  Like rank, this one is a snapshot in time.  It shows where I am today in terms of categories, the value of my inventory, the average age of my inventory, etc.  Because I’m familiar with my past numbers, I can see where I’m making progress and which categories are growing/shrinking over time. Books looks small in this chart but they make up the bulk of my inventory SKU-wise. [Disclaimer: this picture in no way implies what is “right,” “normal,” or “typical” for an Amazon FBA seller. Don’t waste time comparing your charts to mine.  What’s important is that you see what kind of data Reports gives you.]

Besides profits, ScanPower Reports show me which of my categories are the most profitable and which ones have the most sales (not always the same thing). In this Q1 report I can see at a glance, for example, that grocery was my biggest category Q1 2015 and exceeds sales in any other category even though I have thousands of books for sale (my #2).  Time to get more aggressive about my book repricing!

Q1 categories

Because I went back and entered the source for all my inventory from the past six months (It is part of my MSKU as well so it was easy to do), I can also see which stores/wholesalers yield the most inventory for me.

I can also gain insight into which categories cost me the most in terms of expenses. Food, for example, is very profitable for me with high turnover. It is also costly in terms of packaging. There are polybags, extra labels, bubble wrap and other expenses that I don’t necessarily have for pets. That gives me a picture and helps me decide, “is food still worth it?” (yes!)

When you first start with Reports, you will need to import data from Amazon and from whatever spreadsheets and accounting system you are using now. It takes a bit of set up. To its credit, ScanPower has created some very nice wizards and quick processes to help speed it along. I probably spent about two hours getting set up the first time and now I don’t have to do anything. I didn’t need to spend all that time, but I wanted to go back and add historical data.

ScanPower Reports does NOT replace a bookkeeping program like Quickbooks or Outright.com. Your CPA needs you to keep your books (sorry, Charlie), BUT it gives you in-depth insight into your inventory. The intelligence you gain lets you decide where you should spend your time and your inventory dollars. You can better detect which activities are least productive and spend time and money investing in your winners.

When people say things like “Do I HAVE to use ScanPower?” or “Can’t I just do it through Amazon?” they are worried about the cost of the product. They are still not sure about their own success selling on Amazon and don’t want to lose a bunch of money on an activity where they are afraid they will fail. I get that and I tell them, “no you don’t – but some day you will want to.”

That’s the bottom line. As a successful seller – which you will be one day if you are not already, right? – you need an efficient and integrated system. You need as much information as possible to make smart decisions and you need to get a clear picture of your business from a SELLER point of view rather than the IRS’ (for example).

online arbitrageIf I had to describe ScanPower in two words, they would be “data driven.” That’s what the company is all about – giving you the best possible data to make informed business decisions. CEO Chris Green is a mentor of mine (full disclosure). He is always thinking about five steps ahead to the next great thing. Talking with him is drinking out of an idea firehose – fast, furious and futuristic. His Online Arbitrage book is an example of his intuitive brilliance about arbitrage and being on the cutting edge of selling on Amazon.com. Just about the time everyone starts to catch on to OA, he’ll be doing something else.

For that and many other reasons, I’m a huge fan of ScanPower. It has been a bumpy ride sometimes, but I have confidence that whatever the next big thing is – ScanPower will be leading the charge rather than following the pack. If I have a complaint about ScanPower it is that they are not always clear communicators of just how cool their stuff is and what you can do with it. There are some dots that don’t get connected right away. Videos and tutorials tend to move quickly and sometimes assume things that are not clear to the viewer. The Webscout and Reports launches were examples of this. Great products but there was a big learning curve.

If you had not read Chris’s OA book, for example, then a lot of Webscout’s features and capabilities were overwhelming or confusing (even if you had, frankly, it takes a while for some ideas to really sink in). My advice to you is to call on their tech support until your questions are answered. The current ScanPower customer support team is very helpful and responsive. They are also quick learners and good listeners. Once they get a question or feedback a few times, they start to make changes, create new processes and post helpful Q&As and videos.

If you are a relative newbie to all these concepts and processes, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Don’t ever feel like you are the only one who doesn’t get it. Ask questions, get help. Join the ScanPower FB group and learn about FBA. Why? Because it is worth it. When I started, (only 5 years ago!) just the idea that I could sell anything outside of books was revolutionary. Chris Green and ScanPower helped me to become an Amazon seller and not just an online book seller. I was on the front edge of scanning with a smartphone and Bluetooth scanner thanks to Chris. When ScanPower introduced me to CamelCamelCamel and Keepa, I just about passed out from the staggering ramifications. I bought Online Arbitrage when it first came out last year because I knew it was going to change things for me and the industry.

Chris told me years ago, “you should write a book helping people get started selling on Amazon.com” and he was right. He told me, “your blog posts are too long,” and he was wrong. That’s life my friends.

Now there are all kinds of great ways to make money on Amazon. Private Label, bundling, wholesaling, ungated categories, going overseas…it is so dazzling and exciting that it is sometimes hard to focus. I’m a kid in a candy shop that wants to eat it all. And in all of this, I see Chris Green at the front of the pack disrupting things and coming up with seemingly impossible ideas and making them work. I’ve studied other products out there and many of them are very good. My appreciation of ScanPower doesn’t mean I can’t see how smart his competitors are and how well they serve their customers. InventoryLab had great reports long before ScanPower and, in fact, forced ScanPower to re-think their product offerings. But I couldn’t tell you the names of their CEOs. I couldn’t tell you what they have contributed to the industry and I couldn’t tell you with certainty that whatever the next big thing is they will be there making it happen.

I’m a fan, but not a blind follower. If I wasn’t making more money because of ScanPower, I would be using something else. If you are using something else and are happy, don’t switch. It is hard to learn new tools all the time! Join one of the active FBA seller groups on Facebook. Learn where the next big thing is coming from when it comes down the pike. Make sure you are ready for the future. Position yourself with all the industry leaders.

A friend once said to me, “all I do is try to put myself in the right environment for success. My first $20 million had a lot to do with being in the right place at the right time rather than any special skill set on my part. Luck is a huge part of success and I’d rather be lucky than smart.” And then he wanted to write a book about the “fun element” in life and work.  Unlike some of my other wealthy friends who were trying to teach me financial concepts I had trouble grasping (leveraged buy outs, etc.), I took two valuable things away from this conversation:

1) It was OK to let him keep paying for lunch and

2) Success is a LOT about positioning yourself.

He was worth about $50 million at his death and most of his wealth came not from buying/selling businesses and commercial buildings per se, but from putting himself in place for possible success. He operated as part of a two-person team and was a humble man despite his wealth. At one point a year or so before the big $20 million deal that changed his life, he and his family were living out of a van because of mistakes he had made and he never forgot that. He was intensely loyal to people he considered his true friends. He never felt he was particularly rich or successful compared to his super-wealthy friends, but he really understood the numbers and how to create value in a business. His employees liked him even in the toughest, crappiest business he ran and sold (a collections agency). He was also probably one of the biggest Simpson’s fans ever and explained a lot of seriously funny things to me. I miss him and I am grateful to him.

I mention this because my friend is right. Being in the right place at the right time is crucial. YOU are already ahead of a lot of people because you are part of one of the most exciting and growing opportunities on earth – selling on Amazon. Now you have to decide where you want to be and how you want to get there. Wholesale? Private Label? Online arbitrage? Retail arbitrage? International? There are many lucrative paths. When you can afford them, you’ll want the best tools possible to maximize your very limited time. Be sure to continue to evaluate your tools and your strategies as you grow.

Free month of ScanPower!

I normally offer a free month of ScanPower List & Mobile as one of the bonuses for buying my e-book ($59.95 value) from me. For the next week or so (through May 29), any new ScanPower customer who signs up through this link will get a free month of ScanPower List and ScanPower Mobile to try it out. This is only for NEW ScanPower customers and only until May 29, 2015.

For my international readers, ScanPower has a UK version as well. Follow the link and directions above, BUT when it comes time to register, go HERE.  My code will work for you to get a free month.

Anyone reading this after the expiration date can either buy the Kindle version of my book Make Thousands on Amazon in 10 Hours a Week! and get a free month, or go to http://www.scanpower.com/store/ to get whatever deal they are currently offering – usually free two weeks, but it changes sometimes.

Please note, this is a special deal I’ve worked out with ScanPower for my customers. It is not an affiliate relationship. I get paid nothing.

greetings-kentuckyButter my butt and call me a biscuit – I’m coming to Kentucky!

I’m going to be in Lexington, Kentucky in early June soaking up some culture (with aforementioned biscuit) and have arranged to teach a live, hands-on retail arbitrage class on Thursday evening, June 11th. I haven’t picked an exact location yet because I’m hoping to get some insight from the locals. Maybe Kmart? I haven’t seen one in years. Anyway, if you are within a few hours drive of Lexington, come join me. I love to meet my readers in person! Sign up now, my classes are small and sometimes I have to turn people away.

Catch me talking about account suspensions on ScannerMonkey!scannermonkey

Thursday night, May 21, 2015, I will be talking with the fun folks at ScannerMonkey about a serious topic – Amazon suspensions and how to keep from getting suspended in the first place. I suspect there will be a lot of questions from the chat room. I normally charge $250 an hour for my time so here’s your chance to ask me questions for free. Join us! https://zoom.us/j/324131802 Use zoom.us and meeting id: 324131802 OR CALL in at: 415-762-9988.


2 Comments
  • Upstater
    Posted at 00:48h, 31 May Reply

    hi Cynthia,
    Would you please elaborate about this aspect your post mentions?
    “if you sell a lot of MF merchandise, ScanPower Mobile won’t be useful to you. You will want to look at ASellerTool’s FBA Scan or other products on the market that give you MF as well as FBA numbers.”

    From looking at the company websites of both ScanPower Mobile and AST’s FBA Scan, it looks to me that both tools’ screens display several “used” prices separate from FBA. Those would be MF (merchant fulfilled) for both tools, correct, since otherwise the prices would be in FBA columns? So, I’m unclear in what way(s) ScanPower Mobile is less useful for MF product scouting as you mentioned?

    I’m just starting out and plan to do some of each for FBA and MF, but might focus more so on FBA at first. Either way, however, I want to better understand issues involved with both selling methods and I appreciate your insights from having used these tools for your actual work rather than me just comparing screens so far.

    What am I not understanding which leads me to not see why FBA Scan is more useful for MF items than ScanPower Mobile? (that’s aside from FBA Scan’s local database which seems to me equally relevant for scouting both FBA and MF items?)
    Thanks!

    • Cynthia Stine
      Posted at 20:50h, 31 May Reply

      ScanPower gives you the net offer for ALL prices on the screen as if you were sending in the item FBA. It calculates all of Amazon’s FBA fees and subtracts them for you from the gross. It does NOT show you what the MF fees would be. The net is ALWAYS the FBA fee (even on the MF offer). This is what I mean by ScanPower being aimed at FBA sellers. An MF seller can use ScanPower, of course, but they will have to calculate their own net and their own fees, etc. The net will NEVER be correct for them.

      Used, New, FBA, it doesn’t matter. The net fee that ScanPower shows you is with FBA fees removed.

      I hope that clarifies it for you!

      With FBA Scan you have the SAME issue (it is called “FBA Scan” for a reason) EXCEPT, that you can set rules for yourself and use those rules to point out acceptable deals for you. In this way FBA Scan may be more useful to an MF seller. Even though the net will still be FBA, if you figure out your acceptable parameters in advance (using the Amazon fee MF fee calculator online from Amazon), you can program your FBA Scan to notify you when a product meets your parameters even though you won’t be able to see the MF net on your screen.

      For MF sellers, in fact, the Amazon Seller App may be your best bet for calculating your net after Amazon’s MF fees.

      Cheers,
      Cynthia

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