Tips For Making Money Selling Online

Benefits Of Using 3rd Party Shipping Sites Like Pirateship For Online Sellers

In this post,  I hope to pull back the curtain and reveal why you need to be using a 3rd party shipping service for all your online selling. I haven’t been doing this until very recently and to be honest, it was a lack of knowledge and not seeing the hidden big picture. 

After I explain the concept, I will then show an example of how I am using it myself.

I will be the first to admit that I have left a lot of money on the table in my years of online selling and I know many sellers that use 3rd party shipping websites but I never connected the dots ( and nobody went of their way to explain it to me) 

There are several services you can use to ship your online sales with besides the built in shipping of say Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Mercari, etc. If you have ever had to ship something you have sold from say eBay for example on USPS, you know it is a pain to do all the copying and pasting of the address and then going back and putting in the required tracking code.  Most of these sites do it automatically for you. 

I  personally have been using Pirateship for eBay and Etsy orders and but I haven’t taken the time to set up Shipstation for Amazon yet ( it would cover eBay and Etsy too).

To be honest, the reason I have been using Pirateship for eBay and Esty is that they offer cubic shipping for USPS Priority. ( Amazon already offers that in their shipping console) and that saves you tons in shipping cost. 

Cubic shipping can be a massive savings for you. If you go through the Pirateship training, they show you have to maximize your savings. 

So that is a big benefit, that is not really the real reason you should be using Pirateship ( or any other service like Shipstation)  

It is about cashflow! 

So let’s say you make a sale on Ebay and you go through their shipping. 

First the money from the sale is already in your Paypal account ( this is a big advantage over sites like Amazon and Etsy) but when you buy the shipping, that cost is withdrawn from your Paypal. 

So you have less capital to work with. 

Say the sale was $100 and you spent $20 on shipping.  You now have only $80 at your disposal to reinvest into inventory. 

Now if you use the 3rd party shipping service, the cost of shipping will be charged to your credit card and you can use the money for free for the 30 day billing cycle. ( This is a very important concept to pick up)  

So for example, I know an Amazon seller that does most MF ( Merchant Fulfilled ) and during Q4 , ships upwards to 500 packages a day via a 3rd party shipping website. 

Now with Amazon the effect of using free money is sort of the same except with 2 week payouts, the numbers can get very large if you realize the scale of say 500 packages a day.  

If you ship through Amazon, they will take that out of your payment. 

Now if you use the 3rd party shipping, it is all being charged to a credit card and depending on the billing cycle, you can use the credit cards money for free for at least 2 weeks ( which could be huge during Q4) and maybe longer ( or bite the bullet and make a minimum credit card payment for a month or 2 and have a lot more capital to work with during that time) 

Well that is all fine and dandy, but I just sell FBA you say. 

Well the guy I am referring to sells Prime, Seller Fulfilled Prime that is and if you understand how all this works, cash flow is very important when you can source and have your products up and available “prime” in the same day. 

So none this honestly applies to me. I do utilize the cubic shipping of Pirateship but I don’t really need to worry about the cash flow.  I never seem to get maxed out and run out of funds, but this next part is why I need to use the 3rd party shipping websites. 

That same seller I am referring to, seems to disappear each year after Q4 and travels a lot. I see him making almost weekly weekend trips all around the US on top of other bigger trips.

This is the thing that took awhile to click in for me. How was he doing all that traveling? 

Well the quick answer is credit card points. 

He uses a Southwest rewards card for all his 3rd party shipping. 

So some quick math. 1 Southwest point is worth about $.015, which doesn’t sound like much but let’s say he pays $10 shipping on each package and is shipping 500 packages a day. 

That works out to $75 a day worth of free flight money. ( you could also do the same thing with a cash back credit card) 

So this is what I wanted to do and didn’t know how to do it.

So here is the real world example of how I am using the credit credit reward from all my shipping expenses

I did sit through a credit card reward session at a FBA seller conference and was totally lost on all this stuff ( I think it was for advance people, not newbies) 

Finally my son explained the whole Southwest companion pass thing to me ( this is what you want) 

So you get a companion pass which basically allows someone to fly free with you ( it is actually like $11 round trip in fees but basically free).

To get this companion pass, you need to earn 125,000 points in a year. This is what got me confused. I was thinking that meant I had to spend $125,000 on the credit card and that is some serious spending on a credit card for most people. 

So this is not how it works. 

If you sign up for a personal credit card with Southwest, after you spend $1k ( in 3 months), you get 40,000 points ( plus the 1000 points for the $1k of spending) Now I got a bonus of 50k points for $2k of spending  for signing up via an inflight offer. 

These point will go to your Rapid Rewards account. 

Next you open a Southwest business card. This gives you a 70k point bonus after spending $5k.  ( so 75k points after your spend) 

These both go on the same Rapid Reward account.

With the bonus offers, it really doesn’t take much spending at all to reach the companion pass level since 110k or 120k is from the bonuses.  There are a few tricks to make it even better. If you start this in January and say you reach the 125K level in July, you get the rest of that year and the whole following year for the companion pass.

So this is how the Amazon seller I know  travels all over the place ( for free at that) . He charges all his shipping to his credit card which gives him points and he has the companion pass for his wife, so they fly free. 

As you can see, I have been missing out on getting all this free travel ( and paying full price for the airfare I have been using) simply because I hadn’t signed up for this program ( I had the shipping spend but it wasn’t counting for anything) 

There are multiple other ways to benefit from the spend you have for shipping with the various credit card offers but you will not receive any of that if you just use the shipping service provided but the e commerce sites you sell on.  

 

How Tactical Arbitrage Killed OAXray And Zen Arbitrage ( And Why You Need Tactical Arbitrage To Do Online Arbitrage)

Online arbitrage has evolved at a rapid pace over the last few years. If you are trying to do OA with manual techniques that worked a few years ago, you will not see much success. Basically, you need to be using software to do the searching for you or you need to focus on other forms of sourcing.

Flashback

Probably the best collective work on doing manual OA was the book, “Online Arbitrage” by Chris Green. This was groundbreaking when it came out in Fall, 2014.

Most of the techniques used involved Chrome extensions. These extensions would basically look at sites that they were affiliates of (that is how they made their money) and tell you if you could get the product cheaper (or in stock) somewhere else.

Most people probably still have these installed and do this technique to some extent (I have all mine turned off).

This worked great at first when there weren’t as many people doing OA, but the problem was that the extensions only had the incentive to show you results from sites that they could insert an affiliate link into, but as people started using cashback sites, many extensions had their affiliate link canceled and the cashback site made the commission.

This alone, with the fact that some extensions have websites (and there were some stand alone “deal” sitez) had their Amazon affiliate accounts shut down (AZ did play favorites on this), many extensions and sites had no incentive to keep handing out free information.

Software For OA

During this time, there were computer savvy FBA sellers that started developing their own software for scraping websites and using the data to find deals.

There is no way to know how many people were doing this and how many still are, but they weren’t going to tell or share what they were doing.

Then along came OAXray.

Now I do not profess to know the whole or real story behind OAXray, but I believe it was used for deal finding for a private group before it was released to the public (that is just heresay and I may be wrong).

The reason OAXray worked so well was that it wasn’t based on only searching websites that paid an affiliate commission. Their business model was to charge for the software and profit that way.

They weren’t worried about if you hit a cashback site. In fact they want to and they allow you to figure discounts within the software to help you turn unprofitable products into profitable products.

The decision that you had to make was if it cost $XX per month, will it make me more than $XX. If so, it was a good investment.

People sourcing via OAXray started eating the manual OA sourcer’s lunches. Life was good if you paid for a subscription and actually used the software. It made you money!

As a side note, around this time, a bookseller named Peter Valley came out with a software called Zen Arbitrage.

It turned the book sourcing world upside down because it was used to do AZ to AZ flips. Buying MF seller books and sending them back into AZ and selling FBA, which makes you big money.

This software had something going on for it that was better than OAXray (more about this later) that actually is OAXrays achilles tendon.

There Goes The Neighborhood

So life is great if you are the only software in town. You don’t exactly have to keep delevoping the software. You have happy customers that really don’t have much more of a choice (and you are making them money).

Then this Aussie named Alex Moss shows up. He has a software called Tactical Arbitrage that he was using for personal sourcing and it has more sites (lots more sites) that what OAXray had.

But it is sort of a screwed up software. You needed to have an Amazon affiliate account (lost mine long time ago) to get some keys to access data.

Getting and setting up an Amazon affiliate account was not as easy as paying a monthly fee and does require one to be a little computer savvy.

This pretty much kept away a lot of users. (The computer geeks jumped on this super fast).

So OAXray was still king of the hill. The software from that Aussie was too hard for common people to use, so life was still good.

Here is the problem. Alex is real good at accepting feedback and making changes. He was embraced by the computer geeks using his software. They were more than willing to help him and he had one goal: To have the best sourcing software out there.

The one day, Tactical Arbitrage no longer need you to have an Amazon affiliate.

Shit just got real!

Now I can’t say that I know when, where, or exactly if, but OAXray sort of saw the writing on the wall. They were making a lot of changes and adding a lot of features to OAXray. (side note, I have met these guys and Alex and they are all great guys)

But here is the problem and the Achilles heel of OAXray. It is a Chrome extension. This limits some of what can be done with the software as compared to Tactical Arbitrage with is server based (I don’t claim be a programmer).

Like I say, I am not a programmer. Alex may or may not have realized this when he thought up Tactical Arbitrage. But the OAXray guys already have a customer base that likes user friendly software. Changing things up may not be an option for them.

So Alex is constantly making changes to Tactical Arbitrage. It is sort of the culture there. Whereas many of the users of OAXray don’t want to keep having to learn how to use the software. (many probably don’t even use many of the newer features that the OAXray guys have come up with)

So while OAXray is a great product, they are sort of trapped by their user base and the user base is basically all fighting to use the same sourcing sites.

Now the Tactical Arbitrage user base is not afraid of new stuff and wants to keep adding more and more sites and features to the software. The results are that they are making lots of money off using the software. (that is a basic principle, the cost of using the software should be less that than the money it makes you)

Then there is the fact that OAXray needs you to sort of be present to run it.

Alex wanted you to be able to let the computer run while you were doing other things and spit out the results. Tactical Arbitrage #1 feature is the ability to use bulk lists. Instead of clicking tab after tab, you just upload CVS files to TA and let it run. Then you come back later and check out the results.

Time out

What about that Peter guy?

Well Tactical Arbitrage has a feature that allows you to basically scan books like Zen Arbitrage does.

WTF?

Yeah, you get to have a software that scans similar to OAXray and also Zen Arbitrage for the same price as one of those softwares.

Now I am not a rocket scientist but that is a way better deal.

Summing It Up

In a nutshell, the fact that Tactical Arbitrage is server based allowing it to handle more complex tasks than what an extension can and the ability to upload bulk list that don’t require you to have to click webpage after webpage is why TA is the better choice over OAXray.

With Zen Arbitrage, it is simply the fact that you can do more than search just search books for the same price.

So that is basically how Tactical Arbitrage knocked off all the competition.

Using Tactical Arbitrage

So besides the fact that I am tired of typing, I think a picture is worth a 1000 words and I am going to just title a feature/technique/how to and have videos that talk about it.

Some are mine, some belong to other people.

Here is the deal. People are lazy. You probably won’t watch these videos.

They teach you how to make money, but who will spend 10 minutes watching these?

Well the people that are successful at FBA will. Which are you?

First here is a list of sites TA covers

https://tacticalarbitrage.com/sites/

Ok, let’s get TA set up.

No video here but a PDF on how to do it

https://tacticalarbitrage.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Setting-up-Tactical-Arbitrage-New.pdf

Here is the dashboard and TA looks on the inside

Here is a basic search Part 1.

Part 2

So now I will show you some of the ways I use TA.

Ok, I like to sell books and here is how you do book scans. (who need Zen Arbitrage anyway?)

But you can source other places for books.

I know, books bore you. Well I like video games too.

You don’t have a video game list? Well here is how to make some mad money doing the onesy, twosey video game flips from eBay.

Oh, you thought that TA was just for OA. No, you can do RA with it. (now you are seeing what the full time FBAers are doing)

So you found some products on clearance or the source has dried up? Yeah TA has a way to find more.

Ok, here is one that I haven’t figured out yet, (or got the settings right) but it has so much potential that it is crazy.

There is a whole lot more you can do with TA but I have probably lost 99% of the people by now. If you are still here, you can get a free trial of Tactical Arbitrage here.

Click here for a free trial

Tell them Jason sent you.

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.