As those of you who’ve read my book know, I started my business very simply and added things over time as I made money. Things like the Bluetooth scanner, for example. I recommend the slow and steady approach for most people because it lets you decide if this business is for you without a huge up-front investment. If the business is paying for itself, then you are doing it right.
When I started in 2010, there were fewer tools and many of them were aimed strictly at booksellers, not retail arbitrage. I’ve been accused of being a “shill” for Scan Power, but they don’t pay me – they don’t even have an affiliate program any more. My enthusiasm is based on being a customer and using the product. My book is about what I use because that’s what I know best. It doesn’t mean there aren’t other options out there.
Because I’ve been asked about the other options by my customers, I thought I’d list the ones I know about here. I pulled information together for you from the websites and some from my personal experience. For those who want to explore, I’m hoping this blog will be useful in your search. I’m happy with Scan Power but I realize it isn’t for everyone. I have one friend who uses Amazon to list all his merchandise and he doesn’t want to learn anything new. He’s happy with his current level of business and that’s what matters.
FBA Step-by-Step is about helping people succeed as Amazon FBA sellers, period. I don’t care what you use; I want you to be successful and to make money. I would really appreciate feedback on other tools from those who use them. My goal is to update my book this year and add more background on different tools out there for those who want to explore their options. Your recommendations would be very helpful to me and future Amazon FBA sellers.
All tools are listed in alphabetical order. Most offer a free trial so you can experiment and find the tool that works best for you.
Listing tools help automate and speed up the process of getting inventory up to Amazon. They make it easier to price, condition, add notes to and label your inventory. Amazon lets you list directly through Seller Central. However, it is time consuming. If you are sending in more than 50-60 items a month, you are going to want a listing tool.
ASellerTool – AST has its genesis as a scanning tool for booksellers and it shows. The screen shots of its listing tool are confusing…and I’m an experienced seller. If you use their scanning tool ($30 a month), then the listing tool is free which saves you about $20 a month over the competition. Be aware that the listing tool is fairly new which in my mind means “more likely to have bugs.” I don’t know this for a fact and I hope that AST users will write me about their experience. They offer a free 7-day trial.
Listtee – This is also a relatively new program. It is recommended by established sellers like J.B. Malik who is also an affiliate. It sells for $39.95 per month and focuses on its ease of use. The screenshots look clear and simple. The company offers a free two-week Pro trial which is normally $59.95 a month. The Pro version also includes the scouting tool (see below for more on this). It also has a UK version.
Neatoscan – Its Inventory Manager is designed for sellers who sell on multiple platforms. The listing tool is only a fraction of what it does. You can sell on eBay, Amazon (as a merchant) and Half. It delists as an item sells so you don’t have double sales. It also does FBA, of course. For the other platforms, it takes care of postage, listing slips, everything. If you are a heavy eBay seller and are looking to Amazon’s FBA program as an add-on, this program may be a better choice for you. Neatoscan offers a free 2-week trial. They charge 1%-3% for each sale for their tool. They are more a partner with you in your business than a vendor and are designed for big sellers. It is a comprehensive inventory management system.
Scan Power – This is what I personally use. I’m a data geek and appreciate the detailed data I receive on other FBA sellers like how many units they have at the warehouse, and the fact that SP is constantly adding features and enhancements. For example, you can now add the price you paid for the item, your personal pricing “floor” and “ceiling” such that when you reprice later, you don’t have to pull out your receipts to remember. At my peak usage, I’m listing over 1000 items a month with Scan Power and it is efficient and easy to use. I have special notes for different categories of items and for my conditions and Scan Power makes it fast and easy to select a condition and the right notes for each item.
Once I got the hang of creating batches and my own MSKUs, the program has been a breeze.
Customers of my eBook get a free month of Scan Power (assuming they are new customers). Even if you don’t buy my book, you can get a free two-week trial . The subscription is $39.95 per month. The company also offers aUK version.
SellerEngine Plus – This is more than a listing tool, it is an inventory management system that resides on your computer rather than in the cloud. There was surprisingly little information on the website about it, but I found some videos on YouTube that were helpful in giving me insight into the program. Basically, this is for the big boys. Most FBA sellers won’t need something like this until they are much, much bigger. It is a complicated program although it seems quite robust and feature-rich. It seems that the repricer is built in which was surprising to me since they also offer a separate repricing tool (see below) which is really expensive. The program is $49.95 per month after theone month free trial.
Scouting tools let you make smart decisions about potential inventory on the go. Some sit on your phone, others use a PDA. Unless you buy your inventory in bulk and process it at home, you are going to want a scouting tool. Some integrate with a listing tool to make processing after scouting quick and easy.
ASellerTool – AST is a PDA-based system which means data is downloaded on to the Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) before you go scouting. I started with AST and I can attest that it takes a long time to download. You need to do it the night before you want to scout. It costs from $329 to $529 to buy the required hardware. The first month subscription is free and then $30 a month afterwards. As mentioned before, the listing tool is bundled in with scouting tool. The biggest advantage to this approach is that scanning books is really fast since you don’t have to wait for the data to download across the cell network. AST also lets you set criteria and be notified when a book meets your criteria with a noise so you don’t even have to look at your PDA until you hear the noise. I particularly used to like the “Booyah!” sound. Many AST sellers wear headphones so as not to disturb other scanners.
The biggest disadvantage is the program is limited by its SD card. It can’t download the entire Amazon book catalog nor is the data fresh. By the time you go to the book sale or whatever, it can be 12 to 24 hours old which can make a big difference. Plus, you can only scan books, not toys, etc. Originally it did not show FBA sellers, either. That’s why I jumped ship to Scan Power’s Scout tool – I wanted real-time data from the entire catalog and I wanted to see what my fellow FBA’ers were doing.
To address this problem, AST later added FBAScan for the Android and iPhone which is very similar (eerily similar) to Scan Power Scout. Here’s the rub – you STILL have to buy the PDA scouting tool! In other words, it is bundled in, not a stand-alone product. If you are primarily a book seller, this may not be a problem for you. You may like having both for $30 a month plus the listing tool. You can read more about it HERE. As far as I could tell FBAScan is not integrated with the listing tool. It is just a scout.
Book Scouter – This is not actually a scouting tool. It is a free marketplace search that runs on www.bookscouter.com. You put your ISBN# into the search bar and it returns with a huge list of book marketplaces and the very best price that they will buy back your book from you. This is a handy tool for students with text books to sell, but not for FBA sellers like us.
Listtee – Listtee has a new product called Scout Rabbit that integrates with Listtee’s listing program. You get it with the Pro account which is $59.95. As near as I can tell you cannot buy just the Rabbit. It runs on iPhone and Android smartphones. In looking at the screen shots, it shows the lowest price for each category of seller (merchant-new, merchant-used, Amazon, FBA) and the total number of offers, but does not show the net of these prices. Nor does it show other prices. Scan Power and ASellerTool, for example, will show you the bottom 5 prices plus the total number of offers in each category. This is important because sometimes there is one low-ball seller at $3.50 and the rest are selling at a reasonable price. If you don’t know that the other offers are at $9.99, you’ll miss out on that opportunity.
You can scan in several ways including using a Bluetooth scanner, the camera on your smartphone and by typing the name of the product into the box. You put in “Simpsons calendar” for example and all the options pop up and you pick the one at which you are looking. Rabbit might let you speak in ISBN#’s. I couldn’t tell from the screenshot. You can download it from the iTunes and Google apps stores.
Neatoscan – Neatoscan is also a PDA-based program with the same pros and cons as AST. It will let you scan all categories but you need to download to the PDA first. So if you’re scanning books and see a video and haven’t downloaded the video database, you’re out of luck. There is no smartphone option. Also, the interface is ugly and does not provide “net” prices after Amazon fees are taken out, nor does it tell you how many units your competition has. I think their Inventory Manager is pretty slick but I don’t like the scouting tool. My personal opinion. You can see for yourself HERE. It comes bundled with the listing tool (minimum monthly price is $50). The cost of the PDA and scanner are extra starting around $498 and going up to over $1,000.
Profit Bandit – This smartphone program charges a one-time fee of $14.99 – no monthly subscription costs. It is made by the company that makes SellerEngine and Sellery. It gives you the opportunity to record and track more information at point of sale than any other scouting tool I saw. You can key in where you bought the item, the cost of the item, quantity, sell price and condition. This data probably interfaces with SellerEngine which makes for a tight operation. In addition, it also calculates your profit for you on the spot. So if you price something at $13.99, it tells you right there what your net is after Amazon’s fees and your out-of-pocket costs including purchase price, FBA storage fees, FBA inbound shipping costs….this is very slick. Scan Power offers net after Amazon fees, but not your personal net based on your actual costs. This link takes you to the user guide for Android phones, just scroll to the bottom of the page for the link. This link takes you to the user guide for iPhones. It will download as a PDF. Both have a lot of screen shots. I saw where it creates a spreadsheet for you, but did not see where the data from Profit Bandit was integrated with SellerEngine Plus or any other program.
I am puzzled by the low price because I can’t see how they are going to make enough money selling it to continue to keep it upgraded. My guess is they consider it a gateway drug to their more expensive SellerEngine Plus and Sellery products.
Scan Power – I use Scan Power Scout because I am a data geek as I said before. The more information, the better. SP works on Android and iPhones. The subscription is $39.95 for a stand-alone version or an additional $20 for a bundle with the listing tool ($59.95 for both). Just like the listing tool, I can see the other FBA sellers, the number of units they are selling and the net after Amazon fees are taken out. In addition, there is a “Buy” button so I can create a shopping list as I go and retrieve it online when I’m listing at home. All I have to do after that is change the prices and conditions (everything is automatically uploaded as “new”) and print my label. It provides live, real-time data from Amazon and I can access the entire catalog.
The ability to upload to the listing tool makes my processing time even faster. Like Listtee and AST’s smartphone tool, I can use a Bluetooth scanner, the camera on my phone or type in the ISBN# or UPC codes. SP also lets you speak the numbers in. I imagine Listtee and AST do that also, I just couldn’t tell from the websites/screenshots. Like the Rabbit, you can also type in the name of your product and it will bring up your options. This is particularly helpful for pre-1972 books that don’t have ISBN#s.
Another helpful feature is you can use SP on multiple devices simultaneously for $20 extra per month per user. My son has an iPhone (I have an Android) and he helps me scan sometimes. All his “buys” go directly to my account.
Scout Pal – This company just offers scouting tools. They have a PDA-based scanner and a phone-based (includes Blackberry, Windows phones as well as iPhone & Android) option. They claim any phone with internet access can run ScoutPal Live. ScoutPal Live can also report marketplace prices from Abe Books. They offer a free one-week trial and the subscription is $9.95 a month afterwards. The biggest downside of their product is that it does not show FBA offers, they are just mixed in. There is no net and the maximum number of prices they’ll show you are three. It also has an ugly interface and is complicated to interpret. See for yourself.
There are two downsides to a smartphone-based scouting tool: 1) sometimes cell service may be bad in the building you are in and it slows you down and 2) it is noticeably slower than a PDA program which just zips along. To me it is worth the trade-off. For people in remote areas or who are focused on a particular market like books, a PDA solution may be better. I deliberately choose AT&T because in my area of Texas, their coverage is hands-down the best (plus I get 4G a lot of places). I’ve been able to scan where others couldn’t. If you go the smartphone route, be sure your provider has strong coverage in your area.
No matter how well you price your items the first time, some of them will need to be repriced later as other sellers offer your product or Amazon changes its prices. Amazon.com is a very dynamic marketplace that requires pricing updates. Repricing tools automate the process using criteria that you select and make it possible to reprice thousands of items in a short amount of time. The secret to a good repricer is 1) data and 2) criteria. You need really good pricing data like other FBA sellers, net prices, etc., just like with a scout or listing tool. In addition, you need to have enough criteria options that your repricer will give you the same or very close to results that you would get repricing manually.
Scan Power and NeatoScan offer a repricing tool bundled with their listing tool so be sure to evaluate the repricer at the same time as the listing tool. Take a small part of your inventory and see what different results you get with different repricers and which one seems to work best for you.
NeatoScan – The repricing is built into the Inventory Manager and I found very little data about it on the website.
RepriceIt – This is a stand-alone repricing package. I used it before Scan Power came out with their repricer. At the time I was dissatisfied because it was not FBA compatible which made a lot of their suggested prices wrong. They have since changed their program to support FBA sellers. One of the features they offer is the ability to schedule your repricing in a “set it and forget it” way. You can reprice multiple times a day if you wish and you can choose what items get repriced. You can exclude particular sellers to reprice against and also items that you don’t want repriced. In addition, they will submit your inventory upload file for you. Most other repricers make you do it yourself which is several more steps. RepriceIt offers a 30-day free trial. Pricing is based on the number of items you have in inventory. 500 or less = $9.95 and it goes up from there. If I were using RepriceIt today, I’d be paying $24.95 a month, for example. You can reprice up to 100,000 items. Wow! I want to have this problem one day.
Scan Power – One of the things I like about Scan Power’s repricing software is I can use it manually and automatically. I can go through item by item and reprice what I want to and it instantly is updated on Amazon.com’s site, or I can reprice everything all at once. Overall, I prefer the manual repricing because I can pull up all that great Scan Power data to make my decision. Scan Power is optimized for FBA sellers and was designed from the ground up as an FBA seller program unlike other repricers. I still find that I get some weird repricings from Scan Power when I do it automatically and I have to spend some time looking at the outliers (prices that changed too much or that went up instead of down – not that it is always wrong, but I usually need to check). My perception from using RepriceIt and now Scan Power is that no repricer is 100% right. It does save me a lot of time which is the point. Usually I’ll reprice category by category so I can use different rules for each one. If you are using the free trial for Scan Power List, you will get the Repricer as well.
Sellery – I’ve not used this standalone tool. It is designed for larger sellers. For example, you can reprice your inventory in Japan, the US, UK, Germany, Canada, Spain, France and Italy simultaneously. If you have a brick and mortar store, it integrates with your inventory there to keep stock up to date. Slick stuff like that. It’s impressive. It allows you to reprice up to 10,000 items per hour. One of the nice features is it allows you to calculate and set a minimum price figuring in your cost of goods sold (COGS), Amazon fees and shipping. This way you don’t accidentally sell for less than your total costs (unless you really want to). Also, even if your competitors drop below your minimum, you won’t. They charge 1% of your monthly sales with a minimum of $100 and no higher than $2,000 per month. Go to Sellery for a free 2-week trial. SellerEngine Plus has some repricing built into it and it was not clear to me if Sellery is more advanced or what. SearchEngine Plus is $49.95 a month and Sellery is a minimum of $100 a month so there must be more to it, but it wasn’t clear on the website.
While I have not tried every tool out there, I know people who probably have – the generous 2700+ folks on Bob Willey’s FBA Forum and 525+ members of Kat Simpson’s Facebook group “That Kat.” If you are curious about a particular tool, post your question and I’m confident someone will have the insider’s scoop for you. There are sellers of all sizes, shapes and stripes sharing on these sites. The common element is we sell using Amazon’s FBA, but many also sell on other platforms and use other tools.
Have I overlooked one of your favorite tools? Please share! I’ll be happy to talk about it in an upcoming blog.