Tips For Making Money Selling Online

Stephen Smotherman’s How To Keepa Camel Book & Video Course Review

Move Over Chris Green

I was a beta tester for Stephen Smotherman’s new ebook/video course on CamelCamelCamel and Keepa Charts.

I am going to be blunt. This is the most important training I have seen come out since Chris Green’s Online Arbitrage.

How To Keepa Camel

It Was Like Crack

I choose to watch the videos instead of reading the ebook. Video fits my learning style the best and I just think you pick up way more by video than reading especially since you are looking at CCC and Keepa charts.

There are 34 videos for a total 3 ½ hours of video. ( I didn’t watch the last one because it was just an advertisement for his other products)

I basically watched them one after another. I watched about 20 before bed one night and got up to watch the rest the next morning.

Why?

Well I was learning so much.

I value my time and if it was just the same things I already knew, I would have turned it off.

I am not exactly a rookie, so I was actually surprised at what I was learning. Some of it was stuff I just hadn’t taken the time to think through and other things were concepts that I just didn’t know.       (Yeah I am man enough to admit that I don’t know it all.)

Stephen has been selling way longer than me. I am sure he has forgotten more than I know.

I am good with that.

(BTW, I am actually jealous. I wish I had thought of making this training, but since I didn’t know a lot of it, I couldn’t have)

It Is All In The Charts

So you think you know how to read CCC or Keepa charts?

Think again.

I thought I knew how to read them too.

So let’s talk about something besides Amazon.

Ever try stock trading?’

I have.

I sucked at it.

But…I am pretty anal about stuff. When I am interested in something, I AM INTERESTED IN SOMETHING. I read everything I can about it.

One of the things I learned was that people chart prices and they make buying decisions based on the charts. The charts showed a lot more than what the untrained eye would see.

One of the coolest was Candlestick charting. People can tell you exactly what happened, what people are going to do next and how they make all their decisions from what they see on the charts.

I knew about the charts and knew how to read them but I still thought that my decisions (ok freaking guesses) would do better.

Boy was I wrong. ( I don’t trade stock anymore)

If I had to do it over again, I would stick to using the charts. They worked but it took work to read them. It took time to read them and after making a bad buy, it is not the best time to do the research.

Fast forward to now and me selling on Amazon.

I am pretty good at sourcing but honestly, I have had times where some things have bit me in the ass.

I thought it was a great buy at the store and by the time I went to list it, I was like, WTF was I thinking?

Why does this happen?

Well I honestly never look at the charts when I am in the stores sourcing.

I have looked at them when I use to do a lot of OA (I don’t really do that anymore) but now I realize that when I was looking at the charts, I really wasn’t getting all the info I needed.

Check the course now

My Buying Mistake

I will admit that I almost never look at the charts while out sourcing and here is an example of a very recent mistake I made.

I bought a LOT of these while sourcing at a flea market for $2.50 each.

I went to list them (about a month later after taking this training) and they are selling for $4.97. WTF?

shampoo1

I hadn’t went through the training yet when I bought these but I was listing them post going through the training, so I pulled up the charts on my laptop.

If you look at the chart, I literally scanned and bought these when Amazon had just ran out of stock.

shampoo2

If you look at the chart more, you see that Amazon has only ran out of stock once in the last year (at the exact time I bought them ) and they are back in stock.

Stephen Smotherman's How To Keepa Camel Book & Video Course Review

Basically it was terrible timing for me and if I had taken an extra minute to pull up the Keepa chart, I would have known not to buy them.

Anyone need shampoo?

What To Expect From This Training

If I had to sum it up, he teaches you what a full time, seasoned reseller knows. He teaches you how to think and make better sourcing decisions.

Stephen does show the basics but actually spends very little time on that. You don’t really need to spend a ton of time learning how to install Keepa or CCC extensions.

He mostly shows you charts of products. He goes through the charts and explains what is going on and shows you how you would make the decision to buy or not buy.

What Stood Out

Obviously I can just telling you everything that is in the training. Stephen worked hard to put it all together and should be compensated for all the time he put into it and the value he is bringing.

With that said, I will share a few things that really stood out to me.

Stephen actually did research on products and sales rank before CCC and Keepa were a thing.

He recorded the sales rank of products on a daily basis. He did this manually everyday.

From this, he was able to learn how the sales ranks changes due to sales.

You can do this yourself. While it would be a pain in the butt, I think you could learn a ton from this.

Look for a toy on Amazon and start recording the sales rank each day. Just make an Excel sheet like he did.

Now you have an advantage over him. You can actually compare Excel sheet to the CCC or Keepa chart. This should really help get the concept into you head, but it will require some effort.

Average Sales rank

When the sales rank is bouncing around all over the place, how do you decide if it is a buy or not?

Stephen shows how to come up with an average sales rank and how to use a sales rank chart to make your buying decisions.

What? What is this magic he is teaching?

Basically this technique can help you make a better buying decision when you might have just been confused. You may have scanned when the sales rank was great and cleared a shelf off when you shouldn’t have or you may have scanned when the sales rank was terrible and passed on buying. Both would be bad. But after you learn how to do this technique, you could make a better decision.

Learning To Project Sales ( Seasonal) Based On The Charts

When you are preparing to sell in say Q4 or a certain season, you need to know what kind of sales you can expect to decide how much product you should buy. This also holds true if you are buying clearance out of season.

When products are out of season, the sales ranks are going to be bad and the prices are going to be bad. That is pretty common knowledge (I hope you understand that).

So this is a problem.

Just how good is it likely to sell? And for how much?

Or maybe you just pass because “My buying rules say I never buy over 100k sales rank” .

Worse, you know that products out of season have bad sales ranks so you go ahead and buy it, but if you looked on the chart,you would find that even in season, it has a bad sales rank.

The simple answer is to check the charts to see if you can gather more information to help you make a better buying decision.

Advanced Techniques

Toward the end of the training, Stephen moves into more advanced stuff.

Honestly there are a lot of lessons on how to think like an experienced, full-time FBA seller.
Besides learning how to read charts and get a lot more information out of them than you did before, Stephen takes it a step farther. You will honestly feel kind of like an amauteru after you see how he thinks.

I almost feel like it is 2 different courses in one.

My Hack

I did see one area that Stephen left out. He assumed that experienced sellers are buying this. He assumes that they are using paid tools like Inventory Lab or paid scanning apps like Profit Bandit.

Not everyone is using or paying for those tools, so I thought “How would I do this if I didn’t have that tool?”

I found a very simple hack for doing something that has caused/would cause me not to do this while sourcing. (easily accessing the Keepa or CCC charts)

If it isn’t easy, you are not going to do it, so I made a video of how to set it up. (on an iPhone, but the concept is the same for Android)

 

Conclusion

I could go on and on and show more examples of what he has in his course, but that just wouldn’t be right.

I can say that I am not pushing his course to just make an affiliate sale. I honestly found a lot of value in it that I will be applying to my sourcing.

Will others see it that way?

I honestly don’t know.

It was something that I found value in and I understood it. Maybe others aren’t at the same place as me. Maybe others are more advanced than me.

With all of that said, I am an affiliate for this course. (I am an affiliate for all of Stephen’s products because they are all high quality)

If you have found value in my review, please go through my link ( it doesn’t cost you any extra)

http://www.fulltimefba.com/members/aff/go/jwilkey/?i=4

 

 

 

 

Textbook Arbitrage With Zero Risk ( Almost Zero)

Textbook Arbitrage With A Twist

Amazon has a book buy back / trade in program. Many times on book listings you will see an offer “Sell yours for a gift card”.  This post will tell you how to make money from this.

Textbook Arbitrage

http://www.amazon.com/Sell-Books/b?node=2205237011

How Does The Buy Back Work

Amazon will give you a gift card for books in “good” condition and they give you a label for free inbound shipping.

When you click the button to trade yours in, it is going to ask you to verify the ISBN number. They are wanting the exact match to the book.

After you verify the book, and accept the offer, they give you a certain number of days to return the book.

I have seen 14 days as a common number of days, but at other times it has been less ( between late Dec. and early Jan) . I am not sure if it is variable based on the time of year or the book.

The price you are offered is guaranteed as long as you get the book in in time and it meets the minimum condition standards.

Also you are NOT obligated to send it in. You could just let the offer “die” or cancel it. ( this is important, as you will see later)

Arbitrage Opportunities

There are actually Merchant Fulfilled  3rd party sellers ( MF) that are selling textbooks for less than the trade in value.

This creates an arbitrage opportunity.

You can buy the textbook from a 3rd party MF seller and send to Amazon and get a gift card worth more than you paid for the book.

This is constantly changing. New offers pop up on book listings, sellers change their prices and Amazon raises or lowers the trade in value.
Other words, this is a HUGH opportunity.

ROI

The ROI most likely is going to be lower than you would expect than selling on Amazon FBA but you have to look at the risk.

In most cases, there is almost zero risk.

You know what you are buying a book for and you have the price you will get for it locked up say for 2 weeks. If everything goes as planned, you know what your profit is ( you don’t have to worry about a race to the bottom)

What Could Go Wrong

There are 3 things that generally could go wrong.

The book you buy could turn out to be in worse condition or the wrong ISBN. In that case, you would have to go through the hassle of returning it to the MF seller.

Second, you might not get the book in time. In that case, you could just start a new trade in and let the other one “die”. The price being offered may be lower, but in some cases, it might actually be higher ( and in that case even if you can get the book in in time, you would take the higher price and let the lower price “die” or cancel it.)

Thirdly, Amazon grades the book worst and doesn’t accept it. ( or it is missing something) In this case, you could return it to the MF seller ( a little harder since it has been a couple of weeks).

Hopefully you would catch this before sending it in. There are actually other book buyback programs, so you could send it to one of them or you could just send it into FBA and sell it.

With all that said, the actual risk of any of those happening is on the low side.

Finding Books For Textbook Arbitrage

In the past, I have manually searched for books. This works, but it is slow.

My son, who loves to do textbook arbitrage, came up with a Chrome extension to make the process easier.

https://jvz4.com/c/332845/303337

Here is a video on how the extension works

Get the Chrome extension I used in the video here: https://jvz4.com/c/332845/303337

As you can see, you still have to do research, but the extension makes it a lot easier.

Other Sites For Textbook Buyback

Amazon isn’t the only game in town. There are other textbook buyback sites and sometimes they pay more than Amazon will for a textbook.

Here is one that searches several sites at once

http://www.bookfinder.com/buyback/

Conclusion

In many cases, you might decide that selling a textbook via FBA may make you way more money and choose to do that. In other cases, you might want to grab the guaranteed profit that the textbook buyback program offers.

This is good way to profit on textbooks when it is not “textbook season”. ( textbook season is the start of every college semester when textbooks sell at their highest prices).

You are faced with the choice of a quick return or a buy and hold scenario if you get textbooks out of season.

Get the Chrome extension I used in the video here: https://jvz4.com/c/332845/303337

How to Use Textbook Arbitrage To Finance Q4 Arbitrage

This post is not for fast turn people. If you are one, stop reading now.

Ok, if you are still reading, then I will assume that you understand how real businesses are ran and see a bigger picture than the quick nickel that so many gurus are preaching. With that said, I will show you a plan that can give up 2x, 3x, 4x, 10x that amount of capital to use during Q4.

One of the things it will require is that you do have capital that you can’t put to work during the next 3-4 months. Some will argue that they can turn the capital several times in the next few months and get the same result. Well yes that is totally true….. BUT that requires work and risk and I am lazy. I want to make as much money with as little work as possible. I don’t mind waiting a few months on 200%-500% returns.

Basic Book Arbitrage

I am focusing on textbook arbitrage. That is a special form of book arbitrage. Basically there are a few times each year when you can sell textbooks a crazy high profits. Basically the start of each semester and a few weeks after. Students need books fast for a number of reasons and the Prime prices can be 2, 3, 10 times higher than the Merchant Fulfilled (MF). This happens at a predictable pattern every year.

Also the same textbooks prices and sales ranks totally tank during the rest of the year ( there are random sales, but we are talking in general)

These times ( the rest of the year) is the best time to acquire stock. Even better is the fact that there is a flood of used books hitting the market at the end of the semesters, with summer being the best because most students aren’t in school during the summer sessions.

Starting around the first of May until about the middle of August is the best time to load up on textbooks. Buy them a deep discounts and then sell them at a premium in late August/early September, then start to buy your Q4 products.

Choosing What Textbooks To Buy

There are a few things to look for with textbooks.

First, you have to be able to read the charts and have faith that they will repeat.

Second you have to understand that Prime textbooks sell for a look more than MF textbooks because students need the textbooks fast.

Third, that you can buy penny books and sell them for $30-$50 when they are in demand ( even when there are penny books listed against yours)

Fourth, you can buy books from college students that need quick cash. ( I have a Gumroad course on how to do this, so I won’t be giving away my tricks on this.

How To Flip College Textbooks VIA Facebook and Craigslist With Little To No Competition

Doing AZ to AZ Textbook Flips

I want to show an example of a flip I did in Dec/Jan.

I purchased 12 of these textbooks that were fulfilled via FBA for an average price of $6.67. I ordered over the $35 free shipping price point on my buying account ( free shipping is higher now). I basically bought all the FBA copies under $25. There were several $.01 offers on the listing but I wasn’t worried about them. They weren’t going to be my competition when the students started buying books at the start of the Spring semester.

salesrank

http://www.amazon.com/dp/1602298815

I received the books, slapped my tag on them and sent them right back into AZ.

The students got back to campus and started order their books. I sold all my copies for just a little over $10 profit on my $6.67 investment.

booksale

profit

That is a pretty good return on an AZ to AZ flip ( my other textbook deal from students were at much higher returns)

The whole business model to see what the charts say the textbooks will sell for during the peak sales times and then buy them from other sellers that don’t understand the power of Prime.

Penny Books

If you can find textbook listings that have no or very high priced Prime sellers on them with penny book sellers, you can start to buy up the stock from the penny sellers ( it will be $4 a book from them at the $.01 price)

If you see that you can sell the textbook for $20+, you just need to order the penny book from the MF seller and send it to AZ FBA.

Gift Card Exchange

Here is another way to put money to work with basically no risk.  Amazon has a textbook buyback program ( just Google it) and you can basically trade in your textbooks for a gift card.

It is probably easier to understand if you just watch the video because I actually show examples of how to do it. There is also a Chrome Extension that helps you do it.

https://jvz4.com/c/332845/303337

Summary

Instead of trying to flip inventory over and over all summer at 20%-50% returns, you could source textbooks at deep discounts all summer long ( and don’t forget about the peak time to buy from students starting in the first May) and then cash out when the students go back to school in the fall.

Take those profits ( and the free time you had all summer to do research) and invest the profits in Q4 products.

Trust me, the money ( profits) still spend the same, no matter how hard or how little of work you do to make it.

Using Contextual Search For Online Sourcing For FBA

Contextual search for online arbitrage is one of my favorite techniques to use. It is so simple but so powerful that many people overlook it

What Is Contextual Search?

Generally contextual search is just highlighting and either copying and pasting into a search engine like Google or highlighting and using a Chrome extension to do the copy/paste.

Here is a more detailed explanation : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contextual_searching

Here is a quick video on how it works

How Online Sourcing Extensions Work

If you do a lot of online sourcing, you most likely are using Chrome and have several extensions installed to help you find sources for products.

I don’t claim to know how the extensions actually work but in general they are grabbing info off the pages you look at and do a sort of contextual search hoping to find a match and get you click on it and set their affiliate link ( yeah that is the only reason they build the extensions, they are trying to make a commission on your purchases )

Most of the times that works pretty good but they aren’t human and can’t make decisions to on stuff that doesn’t match up perfectly.

That is where search engines come in.

Search Engines

Google, Bing, Yahoo and a host of other smaller search engines have bots ( spiders) that crawl web pages and try to figure out what is on the page and classify it ( think SEO, search terms , meta data, etc)

When a user types in something to the search bar, it tries to match up the most relevant pages to the search. Each search engine does it different and returns different results. That is why going with the same search engine all the time might not help you find deals others are finding.

Sometimes it takes a human eye to see that a page may actually be a possible source. You may have to go several pages down in search results to find the sources that other aren’t finding ( that is where the gold is)

Context Menu Search

Context Menu Search is the normal Chrome extension that people are using. It can be customized to the search engines you choose.

Get it here https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/context-menu-search/ocpcmghnefmdhljkoiapafejjohldoga?hl=en

I have used this on for a long time and it is free. Works pretty good but you do need to take time to set it up for your own preferences .

I have recently changed over to a new paid extension called OAhighlight.

It does basically the same thing but is somewhat more convenient ( as you will see in some of the following videos)

It is also customizable but it does come with a lot of search engines already installed.

Here are a few videos that show how I use contextual search for online sourcing

Here is something to look at if you are a book seller. I use these 2 on Firefox and haven’t taken the time to figure out the search to add to the OAhighlight extension yet

Bargain Book Mole

http://www.bargainbookmole.com/

Book Burro

I don’t know if you can find the right search links or not ( and I can’t even find the Book Burro webpage) but someone more tech savy than me may be able to. ( If not, at least you know that you can use them in Foxfire and that is another sourcing trick)

Conclusion

Everyone nowadays thinks that they need software like OAXray to source online. The truth is that everyone is doing that and the deals are getting harder and harder to find ( some people are still doing really good at it) but contextual search is an old technique that you should look to use to find hidden gems. It isn’t a fast technique, that is why I recommend using the new extension that does save a little time but you can still do it for free if you take the time to set up the free extension.

Why Multi Packs Make You More Money On Amazon FBA

First let’s define what a multi pack. Say you have a widget. You put 3 widgets into a poly bag. Now you have a multi pack. It is more than 1 of the same product.

Now if you say you put a widget and a rock in a poly bag, that is not a multi pack. It is a bundle. When you have 2 or more different products that are sold together, it is a bundle and many people get this confused.

Quick fact: You are not suppose to make new multi packs on the Grocery category per Amazon policy. People still do but it is suppose to be only used when the manufacture does it. The old listings seem to be grandfathered in and people still sell on them even though they are not from the manufacture

So now that we are on the same page about what multi packs are, now we can look at why they are more profitable.

Amazon Fees Are The Enemy

Every item sold incurs fees from Amazon. You can roughly figure that everything sold FBA incurs about a $4 fee ( slightly less)

This is why many sellers do not sell anything under $10.

Now a multi pack is considered a single item when it comes to fees.

Quick fact: The multi pack are usually listed under new UPC codes and this why they don’t show up when you scan the items in the store ( some are listed under the same UPC and will show up. It is hit or miss)

So take the example that you have 10 widgets.

You can sell the individually and incur $40 in fees ( again, rough estimate) or sell a single 10 pack and incur $4 in fees ( actually it would be more due to the higher selling price) . Which sounds better?

Advantages of Multipacks

Lower Amazon fees

Fewer sellers

Better value for customer

Disadvantages of Multi packs

Usually higher sales ranks

More work to package

Case Example Of A Mulit Pack

Here was a product that I sold. I got 3 of them at a flea market for $3 each.

asdf

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00FQR7V2C

I had the choice to sell it as 3 singles or 1- 3 pack.

If we look at the return for the single, after fees, I would get $5.80 back, which is a $2.80 profit and 93% ROI. Not too shabby for a product at a sales rank of 7k in beauty.

Amazon Multi Packs

http://www.amazon.com/Burts-Bees-Volumizing-Shampoo-Pomegranate/dp/B006XMHPF2

Now if I sent in the 3 pack, after fees I would get back $21.06 ( if I sold at $29.99, which would be a better value for the customer) . This gives me $12.06 profit and an ROI of 134%, which is 40% more ROI on the same investment. Now we have to note that the sales rank is worse , 135k ( but there is no FBA sellers at this writing)

FBA Multipacks

Now the Fast Turners want nothing to do with this. They will sell theirs the first day it hit the warehouse and wait 2 weeks to get paid.

My 3 pack will also sell ( FBA Toolkit says 1 sells per day at this rank) So I too will get paid 2 weeks later but have 40% more profit in my pocket.

The thing that people focus on is the sale rank. I will admit that I love me a good sales rank but my goal is to make the most money I can, not to have the best sale rank of any FBA seller ever.

So I understand that people have been brain washed into the Fast Turn business model and I know how on paper it works out so good. ( Yeah I remember all the people that were going to retire multi millionaires because of their 401ks. The math proved it. Yet I have never seen it work out for anyone I have known)

So onward. Lets say that you have 180 units of these and you need to be sold out in 30 days.

Simple math for selling the singles. At this sales rank, you are going to blow through them really quickly ( at least that is what you think), FBA Toolkit says 4 of these sell a day ( I am making assumptions that you get all the sales, which doesn’t happen, but let’s go with it)

Well guess what, it is going to take you 45 days. WTF? But you are a Fast Turn God!

Ok, if we send in all as 3 packs, then that is 60 days worth. Still not working out.

Now lets say we sent 90 in as singles and 30 -3packs. It will take 23 days to sell out the singles and 30 days to sell out the 3 packs. Hey, we just made it in the 30 days like we had to.

Didn’t think of that? Huh? Listing your products two different ways. It isn’t an all or nothing thing, but most people look at 7k vs 137k and think it is a no brainer and take the 7k listing every time.

What about the money. Show me the money!

The profit on the 180 singles is $504 at the 93% ROI, but the profit for the mixture of both listings is $613.80 at 114% ROI.  That that is an increase of 21% ROI on just mixing them up.

So I made the assumption that you would sell what the FBA Toolkit predicts ( which won’t happen). Well it is actually more likely on the 3 pack due to the number of sellers vs the sellers on the single listing.

So let’s go the other direction. What if I messed up and this doesn’t sell. Which one do I have the most room to drop prices to at least get back my investment?

Well this one is simple. The 3 pack. ( just look at the profit / ROI)

What about if I have to place a removal order or have product removed? Well the 3 pack will save me money over the singles.

The Take Away

So what is the action steps to take? Well it depends.

You should look at your options. Don’t just jump on the best sales rank as your default. Remember that you are going to have to pay about $4 for everything you sell which will lower you profit,

Next check to see if there is a multi pack listing already there. Not all multi packs listings are worth getting on. Some items people don’t want to buy in bulk.

If there is the no multi pack listing, consider making one. Sometimes you are jumping on the parent listing, sometimes you have to make it. Remember that you are usually selling the unit cheaper in the mulit pack and this makes it easy to use the Amazon ads for product promotion. People look at the single and your ads pops up and it is cheaper per unit.

One last thing to think about. If the product is discontinued and people can’t find it and want to stock up, the multi pack may actually be more attractive to them over the single.

Your objective is to make as much money as you can on Amazon FBA, not source and send in as much as possible and this is a perfect example of how knowing the numbers can help you make more money.