Amazon Account Reinstatement and Suspension Prevention

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August 19, 2016

Amazon Seller News You Can Use – Is Arbitrage Changing?

Retail-ArbitrageThere’s a lot going on with Amazon right now. Amazon is getting closer and closer to shutting down retail arbitrage and online arbitrage on the platform. The customer dissatisfaction metrics are due to go live at long last in October. A new paid Seller Support program promises better support for those willing to pay. Sellers have discovered new tricks to manipulate seller reviews…and Amazon is catching them.

We are opening new markets in China and the UK to help sellers learn and implement best practices in their businesses including a conference on August 29 (ShenZhen, China) and on October 26 (London). We hope to meet our international clients!

Lesley will be speaking at SCOE. Cynthia will be speaking at ShenZhen (Seller Summit at the Sheraton) and Hong Kong, CES IV, the Feedvisor Conference in LA on September 12 and at the Retail Global event the next week in Las Vegas – please join us for dinner or drinks!

The End of Retail and Online Arbitrage?

Four reliable sources informed us that Seller Performance will no longer be accepting receipts as proof for anything. This has already happened in the groups that ungate categories and it has been slowly happening in practice at Seller Performance as they refuse more and more receipts from retailers (online and brick & mortar), even places like Disney.com or Coach or Nike outlet stores.

While we have seen this coming for a while, what surprised us was that the rumored planned date for implementation is “sometime in October.” If true, that’s awful news as it would be happening right before the holiday sales season. What’s yet to be seen is how Amazon plans to enforce this new policy. It could be disastrous as many sellers have already sent inventory to FBA for Q4 that they purchased from retail stores. This gives sellers very little time to shift gears to wholesale or private label.

Officially, Amazon stated that there are no “immediate term plans” to change how they accept receipts.  This is the difference between a casual conversation and what a public company will say out loud before they are ready.  My hope is this also means that we are looking at Q1 next year rather than Q4.  Regardless, it is my opinion, based on observation and working with the seller performance team that this change IS coming.

Why is Amazon moving in this direction? To protect the customer experience. Basically, they don’t consider items bought retail and resold to be ryan grant RA picNEW. They see them as used. They recognize that a disproportionate percentage of buyer complaints come from RA and OA because the products are imperfect, worn, dirty, dusty, missing pieces and returns. Many sellers do not protect their goods well enough to survive the rigors of travel from the seller to the buyer, which ultimately result in bad customer experiences.

By shutting down arbitrage, they will also have fewer complaints from rights holders and big brands. Goods will likely be in better condition as many will be shipped in pallets.

Regardless of WHEN it happens, here’s the implications for sellers as we see them today:

  • More buyers will go to eBay as they realize it is the only platform for USED, COLLECTIBLE, discontinued and hard-to-find/exclusive NEW goods normally only found in retail stores.
  • Long-tail sales items will disappear from the platform.
  • Sellers will be taking a high risk if they sell USED media on the platform. Used items will decline.
  • It will be harder for sellers to start an Amazon business because more capital will be required.
  • It will be even easier for evil sellers to take RA/OA sellers down. We expect there will be a lot of bad behavior for a while.
  • Brand restrictions will increase and become even more common. Sellers will need to be pre-approved for many, many brands and prove they are buying from authentic sources as a matter of course.
  • OA/RA sourcing and scanning tools won’t be needed. This will be a financial blow to the industry.

Our Recommendations:

This is based on what we know today. Things may change. It is possible that Amazon won’t actually start suspending on this new rule until next year (that would be so nice). In the past, they warn in Q4 and suspend in January. Let’s hope that is true.

  • Make sure all your inventory is perfect, pristine and packaged properly for rugged travel.
  • As long as you never get inauthentic or counterfeit claims, you should be OK.
  • If you get an inauthentic claim and it is your first claim, Amazon will likely forgive you even though they won’t accept your receipts. If you get a claim, you will need to remove your other RA/OA inventory at that time.
  • If you’ve gotten three or more inauthentic/counterfeit claims in the past year, you will want to consider moving your inventory through another channel like eBay once the changes take place. You may not have any chances left. You can still use Amazon to fulfill your off-platform sales.
  • Sell off your RA/OA inventory as quickly as possible or move it to another platform.
  • private-label-big-300x261Find new sources from wholesalers/distributors or directly from the manufacturer. Make sure all invoices are detailed and your sources are legit.
  • Understand that USED books, CDs, DVDs, etc. are susceptible to inauthentic claims same as NEW items. Most USED sellers don’t have good receipts let alone invoices.

What about the first sale doctrine?

The first sale doctrine says that you are allowed to resell items you bought in stores and other places and that brand owners can’t stop you from doing this since you paid retail when you bought the item. If you buy Coach bags from the outlet store and resell them, that’s arbitrage and is perfectly legal.

Just because it is legal, doesn’t mean Amazon has to allow you to do it on their platform. All it means is that the rights holders can’t stop you from re-selling goods you bought from these sources.  Coach can’t forbid you from reselling a Coach bag you bought at their store.

Amazon has the right to not accept receipts as proof of authentic. After all, they have no way of knowing for sure where the other stores got their merchandise.

What about you? Do you see other implications? Have questions? My mind is still processing all this. Ask your questions below and I’ll try to answer them.

Colleagues who attended the Women’s Conference in Seattle this week indicated that Amazon still seemed supportive of the RA/OA model.  I imagine this is true. What we’ve learned in our work with Amazon is that Seller Performance is different from the rest of the company.  It is quite possible for one group to not know what is happening with another.

Paid Seller Support Program

At the women’s conference this week, Amazon rolled out some interesting ideas. One of them was a paid Seller Support Plus program that will allow you to escalate your issues for $400 a month. Here’s what they said:

Seller Support Plus (SS+): A value-added service that gives you access to an experienced single point of contact (Seller Success Manager) to simplify your selling experience and allow you to focus on your business.

For a monthly subscription fee of $400, you will be able to escalate important issues to your Seller Success Manager for advanced troubleshooting and time-critical resolutions. By understanding you and your unique business, the Seller Success Manager will seek to remove persistent technical barriers and offer coaching opportunities during the course of your escalations. For more information, please send any questions to Seller-Support-Plus-Inquiries@amazon.com.

I was able to find out more today and basically, this is still Seller Support which means they can’t help you with Seller Performance issues like suspensions, listings take downs, policy violations, etc.  They will forward your email to seller performance and act as a “liaison.”  I have not seen that be particularly helpful in the past.  It is possible that these guys have a special queue with seller performance, but I wouldn’t bet my account on it.  They will help you get ungated and get a faster response from Seller Support.

In addition to the subscription service, they are offering basic training for new sellers for $100 to help them understand FBA, creating listings and stuff like that.  They have three different training modules (each $100). In listening to the description (we talked with one of their coaches), it is VERY basic. I think this will be helpful for new sellers but not anyone who has been selling for a few months unless you have a gap in your business like creating new listings.

Dissatisfaction Metrics To Go Live

Since last year Amazon has been tormenting sellers with the metrics of customer dissatisfaction rate and return dissatisfaction rate. At first they were going to go “live” in January, then February and then May and now…October. We’ll see if they really mean it. I’m glad they waited because a lot of my clients were failing the two metrics for lack of enough responses to make a statistically valid ratio of negatives to positives.

Assuming this intel is correct, what does it mean to you? If you are a MF seller it means that you need to really be on top of these metrics. If your metrics are poor now, think about how you can bring them up by October. In other words, how can you get happy, happy customer responses?

We’ve been helping some of our MF clients to create customer service templates that encourage buyers to leave positive responses or at least not to leave negative ones if they are unhappy.  You can contact us at customerservice@onlinesalesstepbystep.com to learn more. It is part of our Get Clean Stay Clean services.

Product Review Manipulation Still Rising

We continue to see sellers suspended for using product review companies that violate Amazon policy – even when the reviews are off the Amazonamazonreviews platform. Amazon is very serious about cracking down on paid reviews of any kind, fake reviews, overly enthusiastic reviews, those that are written before the buyer gets the product and reviews that don’t use the disclaimer. As an example of what Amazon is suspending for, in the past few weeks we’ve seen sellers who hired writers to create hundreds of fake Amazon buyer accounts and write fake reviews.

This kind of behavior led directly to Amazon’s new rules about reviewers in that they CANNOT leave a review unless they have bought at least one full-price product on the platform for more than $5.00. One client had literally thousands of reviews from people who opened an account JUST to leave a hyped-up review for their product.

While those examples may seem obvious, sellers need to know that ANYTHING that smacks of gaming the system is suspect. AMZ Tracker has been directly named in numerous suspensions but that hasn’t changed their business practices. This is a letter they sent their sellers recently. See if you can spot the problems:

Hey,

I know that all the analytics in the world won’t help if you don’t have any sales or reviews for your product. That’s why we set out to create the ultimate review network for you. We knew that AMZ Tracker wasn’t enough. We knew we had to help our users kick start their sales and reviews, so they could start climbing the ranks and begin making money with their products on Amazon.

We’ve created an ethical review network for paid subscribers called Amazon Review Trader where you can offer heavily discounted and free products in exchange for reviews.

This is the perfect way to get reviews when you’re just starting out. We literally have thousands of potential reviewers just waiting to review your product. These reviewers have the freedom to leave any type of review they want, but 99% of them will always leave 4 and 5 star reviews.

We monitor our reviewers’ profiles, and boot them out if they leave too many negative reviews. We only want reviewers who are eager and upbeat about trying new products.

If you don’t have at least 15 reviews (or more for more competitive niches) with an average of a 4 star rating or higher, you could be suffering as a result.

Check out Amazon Review Trader now in your AMZ Tracker paid account, so those analytics start showing GROWTH in sales!

To your Amazon success,

AMZ Tracker Team

Our postal address: 20th Floor, Central Tower,, 28 Queen’s Road, Central, Hong Kong

Several things to note: 1) they seem to be moving away from AMZ Tracker to a new service that seems to be the same; 2) they kick out reviewers who leave negative reviews; and 3) they guarantee 4- and 5-star reviews. All of these are against Amazon’s terms of service. I have no doubt we’ll be seeing suspensions shortly from this new entity. Because they are located in Hong Kong, it is hard for Amazon to go after THEM, but they are certainly able to go after the sellers who use them. Beware.  Amazon has recently started suing sellers as well as service providers.

What everyone needs to understand about product reviews is that Amazon can see EVERYTHING. The data they have is breathtaking. It is pointless to lie or try to fool them about your reviews. When they ask for your non-compliant reviews, they already know the answer – they just want to see if you will be honest about it.

There are other reviewer groups that have the same rules as AMZ Tracker and we’ve had clients suspended for using private Facebook groups to giveaway product. While the client’s post may have been compliant, the instructions to the reviewers in the group by the administrator was not.

Be very careful who you work with. Don’t take anyone’s word for it that they are compliant. Instead, compare their programs and reviewer messages to Amazon’s terms of service. Ask questions. Find out what they are telling their reviewers. Be suspicious of anyone who offers you “guaranteed page one” and other rosy promises. To get you there probably involves gaming the system or manipulation of the platform as Amazon calls it.

People ask us constantly who we recommend.  There is enough gray language in Amazon’s TOS about reviews that I can’t declare that any company is 100% compliant and so I don’t name names or make guarantees.  However, there are plenty of companies who are clearly NOT compliant.  We see their customers suspended over and over again.

If you plan to use a service, be sure you see everything that they say to their reviewers and that their process meets Amazon TOS for giveaways and discounted products. Remember that paid blogs are not acceptable to Amazon and they are tracking them.  Next, if reviewers are coerced or “encouraged” to contact the seller first before leaving a negative review, get away from that service as fast as you can.

In case you missed them, here’s links to my previous blog posts on product review services. The second one has a comparison chart:  Safe Product Review Program and More About Product Review Programs.

New Product Review Audit Service for PL Sellers

Because we’ve had so many suspended sellers for product reviews, we’ve created a proprietary software solution and approach to help identify which reviews are non-compliant in our clients’ accounts. This is especially helpful for our clients who are suspended because we can give Amazon a detailed list of non-compliant reviews and tell them WHY they are non-compliant. It goes a long way to getting our clients reinstated.

For clients who are not suspended but are concerned that their reviewers may not be following policy, we have an on-going audit service where we check their reviews each week for compliance. It is part of our Get Clean Stay Clean services.

If you are interested, send an email to: productreview@onlinesalesstepbystep.com. We don’t have official sign up forms yet but will get back to you. Pricing is based on the number of orders you’ve had over the past 3 months.

International Events in China and UK

Shenzhen Special Economic Zone, China

Cynthia will be in China at the end of August speaking at a huge Amazon seller summit on Monday, August 29 at the Futian Sheraton in ShenZhen and at a special Amazon sellers’ meet-up in Hong Kong on August 31.

Register to attend this free conference now – seats are filling up. An all-star lineup of speakers includes WorldFirst, Wal-Mart, Jet.com, SlickDeals, Anker, SellerLabs, Marketplace Ignition, MerchantWords and much more!: Cross Border Trade eCommerce Seller Summit

Sign up for the meet-up here: Hong Kong Private Label Sourcing and Amazon FBA Sellinglux_660x280_london_HousesofParliament

Lesley and Cynthia are co-hosting an Amazon seller conference in London on Oct. 26 with SellerLabs and MerchantWords. The conference will cover two tracks for both newer sellers and high volume sellers. Topics will cover compliance issues, avoiding suspension, private label, product giveaways/reviews done right and more. Early bird special is running now! Click here to sign up for the UK Seller Conference.

Let’s Meet!

In addition to these awesome conferences, you will find us traveling the US over the next two months:

  • SCOE Banner 2 (002)Seattle – SCOE. Lesley is speaking on the latest suspensions from Amazon. Use code CYNTHIA for $175 off! Join Lesley for dinner at the exciting Crow restaurant downtown. RSVP required.
  • Nashville – CES IV. Cynthia is talking about risk management in your Amazon business. Join her and Lesley both for dinner at Flyte restaurant downtown on the strip! RSVP here. Space limited to 20.
  • Los Angeles – Feedvisor conference. Cynthia is talking about the latest challenges facing high-volume sellers with Amazon suspensions. Sign up here for a $75 discount! (First 20 signups only. Expires 8/28/16) Use CODE LAVFC75.
  • Las Vegas – Retail Global conference. Sign up for $100 discount with code: STINE100. We will be co-hosting a meet and greet happy hour and dinner Thursday night Sept. 22 with the ScannerMonkey group. Register here – it’s free!

retail global

May 20, 2015

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.

October 6, 2014

Tired of Shopping? Take a Seat!

Online Arbitrage coverWe’ve all heard about them, those guys who sell on Amazon but who don’t shop. How do they do it? Either they are buying wholesale or they practice online arbitrage. Online arbitrage is a great option not only for people who hate to shop or who live far away from stores, but for anyone as a part of their overall business.

Chris Green – the FBA seller and CEO of ScanPower who brought you Arbitrage: The Authoritative Guide on How it Works, Why it Works and How it Can Work For You – leads the way again with his newest tome (epic? Iliad?) Online Arbitrage: Sourcing Secrets for Buying Products Online to Resell for Big Profits. It weighs in at around three pounds and it is hefty in more than one way. I’ve been trying to read it in bed at night. It digs into my chest. If you buy the book, be sure to buy the softcover version from Amazon.com. You will get the Kindle version for free which will make it a lot easier to read.

At its simplest, the concept of online arbitrage is buying inventory from online retailers to resell on Amazon.com (or eBay or any platform of your choice). You find a good deal online and flip it on another platform – or sometimes the same platform. It is different from wholesaling because you are buying from a retailer rather than a wholesaler. You can buy as few as one item if you want unlike wholesaling which usually has a minimum purchase. Also, many online retailers like Target, Walmart, ToysRUs, etc. have retail stores where you can source the deal you find online. So why is Online Arbitrage more than 400 pages if it is so simple? The details! This book is chock full of strategies and precise tactics.

Chris doesn’t hold back. He shares his tools right down to his recommended browser (Chrome), websites and much more. Most importantly, he shares how he thinks. With many, many real-world examples he takes you through his thought process of how he found the deal, how he analyzed the data and then how he sold the item. His data is fresh – many of his deals are from earlier this summer.

Let’s face it, when a $200+ book comes out, the question everyone asks themselves is…”Is this the silver bullet that will magic beanstransform my business? The magic beans that will lift me to FBA nirvana?” Well, no, maybe, could be, yes! The thing about this business is that you have to work it consistently and in a disciplined way. Despite the book title, Chris Green is the first one to tell you in his book that there are no “secrets” to making money on Amazon, only strategies diligently applied.

That being said, we all know that the really successful sellers are obviously doing something different from us or we would be as big-time as they are. At CES II in September, for example, I learned from sellers who have outsourced their businesses, who shop together in large buying groups, who create unique products to sell on Amazon, and many other strategies that have helped them scale up.

Like many of you, when I plunked down my money to buy the book during the conference, I wondered if it would be really worth it, especially to someone like me who has been selling for a while. I understand online arbitrage and have done a little bit of it myself on Black Friday, etc.

I wasn’t doing it like Chris Green, that’s for sure! I learned a lot. Several times I found myself saying “holy sh%^#!” because I had either never thought of it that way or I had not realized exactly what I could do with all of the available data out there.

For example, I’ve sold on the Amazon platform for over four years and I never understood why some offers were suppressed (i.e., no buy box – you have to click thru to see the offers). I never really thought about it. More shame me!

I learned in the book that a suppressed buy box means that the offers are all higher than MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price). It also means that Amazon is not selling that item at the moment (if ever) and that there is an opportunity for me if I can find that item at retail price to flip it on Amazon. If the item isn’t selling online, Chris can often find out where it is selling in his area stores and go out to buy it. In addition, he often finds deals where Amazon has an artificially lowered price that he can flip quickly to make money at normal prices.

Combine that knowledge with how he finds fast moving items and I could immediately see the huge potential to make money and frankly, what an unfair advantage Chris has when he looks for inventory. His analytical mind makes it easy for him. The rest of us may need to practice a bit before it seems natural to us – but he shows exactly how he finds his deals in the book and with the 35+ private videos that are part of the book. You can scan the QR code to see them, type in the link or press on it if you are reading the book in your Kindle (or the free Kindle reader).

Chris calls the book a course more than a book. I think of it as spending several hours inside the mind of a master seller. Reading it reminded me of the hours he spent with me early on answering my questions and helping me understand not only the mechanics of retail arbitrage but the strategies and big picture. I used to leave his office or hang up from a call with my hair on fire – so excited I wanted to run outside immediately and get to work.

485px-jumpingrabbitAs far as I can tell, there is nothing held back. He may or may not be sharing every single one of his online sources, but by sharing the strategy of “Rabbit Trails,” he teaches you how to find your own deals in the exact same way. Several times in the book he shows how he started in one place and ended up finding a deal somewhere else because of his strategies and approach.

He covered a lot of sites and tools that I’d never heard of before which made the book valuable to me. It helped cut time off my learning curve and I love automating tedious things like research.

In the chapter on “Scaling” he covers the pros and cons of scaling along with resources he uses to outsource part of his business.

The strategy “Learn a Line” teaches you how to quickly become fluent in any line or any product and to find out which products in a line are going to be popular, hot and/or hard to find. This isn’t just about toys. It applies to any consumer line of products. Knowledge is power in our business and this chapter answers the question “what’s going to be hot for Christmas?” once and for all.

He is highly analytical in his approach so there is a lot of math, charts and graphs involved – brace yourself. If you think of numbers as dollars…it is way more fun than school. He also has a lot of full-color pictures – big screenshots with arrows (I wonder where he got that idea?).

Considering that everything is on the internet and this is online arbitrage you may be wondering, “couldn’t I just find all this stuff myself online if I did some research? The answer is absolutely! IF you happen to already think like Chris Green. That’s why I said the book is like looking inside his mind. Throughout the book in his comments to the reader you get insight into how he thinks about his FBA business and basically why he is successful. Buy the book for the strategy not the tools. They will come and go, but the strategies are what will make you money.

I had a lot of “holy sh$#^$!” moments and my hair is aflame again with the possibilities.girl's hair on fire

There are some cons in that some of the resources and websites will no doubt become obsolete over time – one chapter was devoted to a site that is already gone. The book is heavy and so physically large that it is hard to read. Again, I suggest you read it on your Kindle. He warns you in advance that there are typos. It is expensive and we FBA sellers are by inclination cheap (me included!).

While online arbitrage offers a lot of benefits in terms of working from home, and lots of free shipping supplies, it also involves a lot of sit-on-your-butt research and math. Also, part of his success strategy is to be the guy that buys up all the stock so he can control the price. That won’t work for smaller sellers. This is not to say that there aren’t smaller deals for folks with more modest inventory budgets, but understand that volume is power just like knowledge is power.

The table of contents is more than 30 pages into the book and I found it hard to navigate the book. This is partially because he ran out of pages (CreateSpace has a limit) and had to eliminate every single white page that might have made it easier to navigate (by putting chapters on the right-hand side of the book and other publishing tricks). For the same reason the text font is small even though the pictures are nice and big. Again, buy the Amazon 2-for-1 deal, but read it on the Kindle or your eyes will start to cross and you’ll get frustrated when you want to go back to something later. It is not a bifocal-friendly book. I had to resort to sticky notes and make tabs for myself.

These are minor issues, though. To my mind, this is a transformational book. It has the potential to completely change how you think about your business. Some of the ideas seem so obvious once he explains them but the fact is they weren’t intuitive to me and I didn’t think of them until he explained them so I’m grateful he wrote the book.

Online Arbitrage is more than worth the price I paid and highly applicable to what I am doing now. Put aside a few of your Q4 dollars and buy this book as a present for yourself. You’ll be glad you did. And if you aren’t? Amazon has this lovely extended holiday return policy. I’m sure you’ve heard about it!

Still not sure? Either download a sample to your Kindle or click here to have the first few chapters emailed to you for free.

Have you read the book yet? Please share your comments below! Happy scouting!

Please note that if you click on the links above, they will take you to Amazon.com or ScanPower. I am an Amazon affiliate and will make a small commission if you decide to buy the book. You can, of course, go to Amazon.com without an affiliate link to buy the book. The free Kindle with the purchase of the softcover book is Amazon’s special, not mine. The free chapters from ScanPower are not an affiliate link and you can go there directly from Scanpower.com.