How To Source RA For Amazon FBA With Little Or No Cell Signal

When you can’t get a signal, you can’t source.

We all have been there before ( some of us more than others) when for whatever reason why, we can’t get a cell signal to run our Amazon sourcing scanning app. This is very frustrating and in this post, I want to show some ways to work around this.

Sourcing FBA RA Fringe Areas

I live in a rural area and a lot of times the cell towers aren’t exactly close to having strong signal. If you go inside some of the steel sided stores around here ( basically pole barns) , there is no signal at all.

This happens at most of the farm stores, Dollar Generals, etc.

There is also a city I go to that has both an Ollies and Rosas that is in an area that has zero cell service for my carrier. I know there is some good stuff to source out of both of these stores but have never been able to source there.

Sourcing Workarounds

There first and easiest fix is to use a different sourcing app, so let’s look at how the apps work.

The Amazon seller app is what I use normally. It requires more cell data because it is a live search. Other scanning apps like Scoutify, Scanpower, Profit Bandit, etc, don’t get to access the same data in the Amazon API. They have to use “old” data and that is why you will see a price difference if compared to the Amazon seller app.

My go to is the Scoutify app. It uses less cell data so it will work better with a weaker/slower signal. ( the bar code reader also works faster too than the Amazon app for less battery drain) .

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like using Scoutify if I don’t have to. I like the Amazon seller app showing me if it is restricted or not and in general, I find it harder to interpret the data on Scoutify compared to the Amazon seller app, but it is way better than nothing.

The second workaround that I personally don’t use but know several other FBA sellers that do this is to have a second cell phone with a different carrier.

In my case, I am on Verizon but I know another local seller that is on ATT or T Moble and can scan at the Ollies that I can’t get signal from Verizon at.

“I am not going to pay for a second phone” is what some are saying right now. Really? It is a business expense and you can take it off your taxes and secondly, what if you go into that “unscannable “ store and make $2k? That would make it worth it.

The third work around is to hook up to the internet via Infinity. I personally don’t have this service, but one of my sons had access and was able to scan in places that I couldn’t because I didn’t have an cell service.

Many stores have a public wifi signal and you should check to see if you can hook up.  If it is a locked wifi, you might be able to talk an employee or manger into letting you have the password.

The fourth workaround is the many times there is actually an area that does get some signal somewhere in the store.

If you are pretty good at “knowing what is probably worth something”, you can toss stuff in your cart and then head to the signal area to scan.

This is hit or miss but does work. Usually this is upfront near a window or on a side.

Not exactly fun but it will work in a pinch.

Fifth workaround is to carry in the Amazon product database.

Huh?

I do a lot of book sourcing and use a Dell PDA that I have the whole book catalog downloaded on it to scan books faster.

I use a service called Scoutpal ( there are others) that cost me $9.99 a month. Not only does it have the whole book category in the database ( that is what is was primarily set up for in the beginning) it also includes most of the other categories as a freebie.

I can literally scan anyplace without any signal at all.

Now it has drawbacks.

First, you have to update the database which is updated on the website twice a week. So the data is no where current in most cases.

Second, while is says there is the whole database, somethings just aren’t there and you can’t do any source to title search. Basically if someone changed the UPC code, you won’t see the product show up.

Finally, the data is extremely basic. It is just going to get you in the ballpark of basic prices. Many times you have to make some assumptions about MF verses FBA.

Sixth, if it is a chain store like Big Lots, you could source one that has signal and then go to the one that doesn’t and pick up the same products. This means you will probably miss stuff that the non signal store might only have but it is a somewhat workable plan.

You could take this a step farther and buy a sourcing list. Say I could buy a list for the Ollies I can’t get signal in. I would basically just look for the stuff on the list and source that way.

Finally the last case ( and most sucky way to have to do this) would be to snap pictures of products that you thought would be worth money and go back home ( or where you have signal) and look up the products on Amazon. Obviously the more experience with sourcing you are, the better chance you could pick winners.

Summary

While lack of signal when sourcing sucks, it is not the end of the world. Most of the things I listed here, most seller won’t do. This is good for you if you will take the extra steps that others won’t and should help you find profitable produces that other can’t.

FBA Wholesale, Cheap Beer and How Brick & Mortar Sellers Ruined Amazon

With RA and OA getting hard, massive Amazon restrictions, counterfeit claims galore and no invoices to save you, many Amazon FBA sellers are trying to move to sourcing wholesale ASAP.

I personally thought it would be a piece of cake to switch over but then I learned that the brick and mortar sellers that are now flocking to Amazon have a different way of doing stuff and I want to cover what I have been learning in this post.

I have seen Amazon FBA get crowded.  Really crowded in the last year or so. It is very obvious in the price action of products. The “rush to the bottom”  is extremely fast due to more people trying to supply products to Amazon.

This was/is to be expected. It is basic economics.

While I understand it, I don’t have to like it.

I like me some high ROIs and have pretty much lived and died by the 3 x 1 rule  ( sell at 3 times the buy price and that usual makes 100% profit. Buy at $10, sell at $30.  AZ takes $10 and I make $10 profit) when sourcing. I have found that it is very hard to do that anymore.

I always joke around that RA is dead ( or OA is dead) but it will never die because people will always be able to find arbitrage opportunities. With all the software that is constantly scanning websites, people will find that RA gives the best chance of finding arbitrage opportunities.

Basically you never know what someone’s local store will price clearance products at or what discontinued item you will find locally, so RA will never die.

The problem is that while you can still find stuff like this, you may not be able to sell on Amazon because so much stuff is becoming restricted. ( hint, hint: list that stuff on eBay. Despite what many Amazon sellers think, eBay profit spend just as good as Amazon profits. Actually I am doing this a lot more when I find good deals and am restricted from selling or the packaging is not in “new” shape)

The second problem is that there has been a rash of counterfeit claims and Amazon suspensions.

Some may be natural ( honestly I don’t even know how people make the claims. I have never seen that check box on my options when I have returned stuff to Amazon) but it seems that brand owners are filing claims and other Amazon sellers are doing this to get rid of competition ( while some say that it isn’t happening, trust me, it is)

The problem is that Amazon wants sellers to be sourcing from legit sources. While sometimes a Walmart receipt will work to save a seller, Amazon really wants invoices. They are moving to a total invoice system and nobody knows when the Walmart receipts will no longer work.  

So RA is sort of a Russian Roulette type of thing. You may never have an issue but then again, you could be put out of business in an instance.  This is why many Amazon sellers are looking at wholesale ( or private label).

Enter The Traditional Brick & Mortar  ( and cheap beer)

The word is out that Amazon is a good place to sell products on. Tons and tons of retail stores ( brick and mortars) have opened up Amazon seller accounts. They want a piece of the action.  They know people are buying online and they need to make more sales to add to their bottom lines.

Big deal. So what?

Well they play by a different set of rules than I ( or you ) do.

Hold on, here come that cheap beer reference.

The cheapest beer that a college student can buy is Keystone ( think canned piss) . You know beer is cheap when it comes in a 30 pack.

Well in the retail world ( the brick and mortar) there is a term called ‘keystone pricing”.

Simply stated, keystoning is selling at double the wholesale price.

So they buy at $5 wholesale and sell at $10 retail.

Keystoning is what retailers strive to achieve. ( and most fail at it).

If they keystone, that are making a great profit after overhead.

This works great for selling locally in a store. It is actually my 3 x 1 rule that I like to follow. They are getting close to 100% profit this way.

Like I say, they rarely do this good on all products.

Ok, but where is this going?

Well this is the issue.  They generally don’t change how they do business regardless if it is local or online.

So this is the issue. They aren’t playing by my rule of making as much money as possible on every Amazon sell. They list products, keystone the wholesale price and that is what they sell the product for on Amazon.  

They are happy campers. They also don’t understand Amazon and the fees.

So as long as I have sold on Amazon, I have used the amount of $4 as the minimum fees that Amazon charges on every product that I sell.  With the recent changes in Amazon fees,  it would probably be safer to use $5 as the figure. As I say, there is a $4 nut to bust on every product.

For example, I find something on clearance at Walmart for $1,  I probably need to sell it for at least $5 on Amazon to just break even ( more like $6 now).  This is probably something that most sellers know ( if not, now you know why you are losing money)

So let’s run an example.

Joe Blow Brick & Mortar decides to open an Amazon seller account.  They are selling XYZ widget in their local store. They are paying $5 for these wholesale. So they decide to send some into Amazon.

If they follow their normal way of doing business, they will keystone these widgets.

They will price them at $10 ( double the $5 wholesale price)

Now they don’t understand that there is a $4 (or probably $5) nut to bust with the Amazon seller fees.

So if you are following along at home, $10-$5, is $5.  Then you take out $4 or $5 for the Amazon selling fees which leaves either $1 profit ( not counting the inbound shipping fees that need to come off this) or $0.

Joe Blow Brick & Mortar is selling these left and right and pretty happy because they are keystoning them and think this Amazon thing is the best thing since sliced bread.

They aren’t making anything off of these!  If they were doing this locally, they would be killing it.

You or I am on this listing and we are just shaking our head and trying to figure out how to get rid of our stock because they keep sending in stock and we can’t get ours sold at a profit.

So what use is this information?

Well it is about ASP ( average selling price). FBA sellers love to get a high ASP. The higher the selling price, the lower % the Amazon fees are compared to the selling price.

So say the wholesale price is $20.  Joe Blow Brick & Mortar will price at $40. Now the Amazon fees might be $10, so the profit is $10 ( $40-$20-$10= $10)

Now there is a chance to profit on this product if you are selling against Joe Blow Brick & Mortar.

Here is the issue.  Most FBA sellers hate to invest a lot per unit.  I am not a fan of paying $20+ per unit because of Amazon’s return policy.

If I pay $20 per unit and make $10 profit and get a return, I have to sell 2 units to cover it. Actually the $20 isn’t my issue, the low ROI is. The lower the ROI, the more units I have to sell to cover the loss of a return.  

If you make 20% ROI, you have to sell 5 units to cover 1 return. This is no big deal on some products that rarely have returns but some categories have lots of returns.

So now we know how Joe Blow Brick & Mortar is going to price against us. How do we deal with it?

Before we look at that, let’s look at the other big facts.

It is hard to get wholesale accounts if you are an Amazon seller compared to a brick and mortar.

Joe Blow Brick & Mortar can pretty much open a wholesale account at will.  You and I will have problems getting approved.

So I find these widgets at Walmart. They are on clearance. I list them and can make a good profit below Joe Blow Brick & Mortar price because I got them even cheaper than wholesale.

Now Joe Blow Brick & Mortar is used to MAP ( minimum advertised pricing).  They get pissed that I am selling these for less than MAP and they contact the wholesaler or Amazon.

Now I am not an authorized seller of this and get knocked off the listing or a counterfeit claim against my account. Now my account is in limbo and I am hoping my Walmart receipt will get my account out of hot water.

Now if I have a wholesale account for these widgets, I have to play by the wholesale rules ( like MAP). Depending on the wholesale price, map might not even be profitable after fees and Joe Blow Brick & Mortar might not price over that.

Then here is the biggy. Joe Blow Brick & Mortar probably has a relationship with the wholesaler and probably orders more than just this widget. They may be able to get way better pricing than me and if they get it cheaper, they can keystone cheaper (if there is no MAP) and I can’t ever get close to making money on these widgets.

Dealing With Joe Blow Brick & Mortar

First, I want to avoid Joe Blow Brick & Mortar at all possible.  There are ways to detect these type of sellers.

Sometimes they have a sellers name that screams brick and mortar.

Some only sell MF ( merchant fulfilled). Normally we like to get on listings with no FBA sellers until they contact the wholesaler or AZ and get us shut down.

Sellers with massive feedback is a sign of sellers that operate on low margins and while they may not be brick and mortars, they get better wholesale pricing and will under price you 99% of the time. It is also very hard to get the buy box from these sellers even if you price the same.

Second, you need to focus on ASP. Source products that have a higher cost per unit. That gives you more wiggle room and also eliminates most normal 3rd party sellers.  You can still profit is a seller that keystones jumps in the listing.

Third, think about doing something different like bundling  or multipacking your wholesale products.  Most of the time Joe Blow Brick & Mortar won’t mess with you.  They are too busy and probably only scan the UPC code and will never see your listings.

Summary

More and more traditional brick and mortar seller are bring their wholesale to Amazon at the same time many of us RA/OA sellers are trying to get into wholesale to save our business.  They are literally killing  the Amazon as we have known in the past and Amazon wants this. 

Realize that Joe Blow Brick & Mortar plays by a different set of rules and has easier access to products. They can sell safer on Amazon because they are doing what Amazon wants. We are not doing what Amazon wants.

Use your knowledge of how Amazon works, which Joe Blow Brick & Mortar probably has no clue on, to help keep him from ruining your listings.
Finally, it you will have the most success bringing products to Amazon with no other sellers on your listings.  I you do chose to get on a listing with other sellers of wholesale products, you should only get on listings with 1 maybe 2 other sellers ( seller without massive feedback numbers).  If you get on a listing  with 25 other sellers, you general will be toast.

Many people are doing well with wholesale but the high ROI that many of us are used to is not usually possible with wholesale and most of the reason is due to new sellers coming to the platform that play by different rules and has different goals than most old school RA scanners.

Using And Making Money With Tactical Arbitrage Library Search Bulk Lists

In less than 1 year, Tactical Arbitrage has become THE software to do online arbitrage

Tactical Arbitrage ( TA) has more features than most people are actually using and the cool thing is that you can use multiple features at once.

Example: You can run a product search and run a library search at the same time.

This is huge!

In this blog post, I want to focus on the library search feature.

Why?

Well first of all most people aren’t using this feature.

Second, books are one of the last products that still have massive ROI’s

Third, you can use MF ( merchant fulfilled seller) to do the sourcing for you. Basically MF to FBA flips. There are 1000’s of MF sellers that don’t understand or care that FBA books sell for a lot more than MF books. They are constantly sourcing and adding books to the catalog. You just have to be lucky to be scanning the book listings as they pop up ( this is the magic part. Nobody can constantly see all the changes as books pop up. So there is a luck part to this but you can’t get lucky unless you are constantly scanning and that is what this post is going to be about)

And finally, with all the recent restrictions and intellectual property / counterfeit claims, books are by far one of the safest products to sell ( *** used books that is. I would suggest never listing a books as NEW even with the new policy of Amazon sharing the NEW buy box)

Add all that up, I personally love to sell books and THE tool to use is TA for finding books to flip. While you can try to do this manually, you may randomly get lucky but you will find that you can’t compete with the software and you are basically wasting your time/will get a low return for the time invested in searching.

While my examples for this post will be just for flipping from Amazon MF sellers to FBA, there are currently 9 sites that are built into the library search.

**** Before we start. If you don’t have Tactical Arbitrage, click here to get a free trial

( note it does shutdown sometimes to new sign ups and may not be accepting new member right now)

The Basic Plan

In the simple nut shell, you can and should be letting the library search run constantly in the background. Go ahead and use the other searches on TA for more specific sourcing, but let the library search run through your bulk lists ( oh what was that?)

Bulk lists are the magic sauce that make this work. Bulks list sound complicated but they are actually very easy to put together yourself. They are simple Excel files that require 4 columns and you save them as CSV files.

They only actual info you need to search for is the first column, which is basically an Amazon link to a category or as I do it, an Amazon search.

You want to niche this down to the smallest level of search possible because you are limited on how many pages you can search on each search of on the bulk list, ( in the video I had it searching 300 pages which I believe currently you can only do 100 pages.  I set the default to 100 on each search even if it has only 5 pages. It doesn’t mess TA up)  but more specifically Amazon’s search is screwy and doesn’t always show everything. You have better chance of Amazon showing more if the search has fewer possible results. There is no way to prove this, but it doesn’t hurt to make the bulk list this way.

For example instead of trying to do the whole “Math” category you would copy the link for the Algebra category, then the Geometry category , etc.

You may find that only certain niches are good to scan and this would be the way to scan instead of the massive main category.

Be careful to not make the bulk list too big. It will only run for about 48 hours before it times out.

In theory you could have a 200 row list and it times out on row 100 and if you keep starting it over, you would never get to rows 101 to 200. You can choose to start on any row, which in this case, you could start up on row 101.

If I am in the Mathematics category of books, the AZ link for it is

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=sr_nr_n_3?fst=p90x%3A1%2Cas%3Aoff&rh=n%3A283155%2Cn%3A13884%2Ck%3Amath&keywords=math&ie=UTF8&qid=1489274975&rnid=1000

But the problem is that there are 300,000 books in this search. Way too big.

A sub category is “Study and Teaching”, which has 6000 results, which is more manageable.

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=sr_nr_n_0?fst=p90x%3A1%2Cas%3Aoff&rh=n%3A283155%2Cn%3A75%2Cn%3A13884%2Cn%3A13985%2Ck%3Amath&keywords=math&ie=UTF8&qid=1489274988&rnid=1000

I would then click back on the browser and click on the next sub category, “History” and grab that link

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=sr_nr_n_1?fst=p90x%3A1%2Cas%3Aoff&rh=n%3A283155%2Cn%3A75%2Cn%3A13884%2Cn%3A13942%2Ck%3Amath&keywords=math&ie=UTF8&qid=1489274988&rnid=1000

And so on and so on. ( BTW, this is the same way you build a bulk list for other products)

While this works, it doesn’t work great. The issue is that Amazon doesn’t show you everything. It is more hit or miss. This is what most people are doing.

I have made my own lists ( I actually sell these lists on Gumroad) that I break it down differently.

You will have much better luck if you can do a search that is more specific.

Say there is a publisher called XYZ Books. If you type XYZ Books into AZ search, you can copy that link and have a much better chance of AZ showing you probably all the result for XYZ Books.

Now if you could come up with a list of 100’s of say textbook publishers, you will do much better than just choosing a bulk textbook search.

This is how I made my lists.

****  Here are my lists

Textbook https://gum.co/lsQn

Scholarly books https://gum.co/SJhRG

The massive combo of the 2 lists https://gum.co/hCGcV

The other issue people have is that they don’t exactly know which kinds of books sell at best and are searching the wrong kinds of books.

I personally subscribe to the teachings of the book guru , Peter Valley. I apply the same principles that I use sourcing locally for books on my TA searches.

Actually I have list I use that is for Scholarly books ( basically non textbook, textbooks.) I would rather source these kinds of books over textbooks ( but I still love to source textbooks) because most people overlook these books and totally focus on textbooks.

This is the magic of bulk lists. You can customize it for yourself and there may not be anyone else that has what you are using.

You can have multiple bulk lists to choose from and add or subtract to them.

For example, I love to source textbooks and scholarly books, but it would be worthless for me to try to source them in late August .

At that time, I would be off running a different bulk list that didn’t focus on textbooks.

Things to Consider

Keep the search running. You never know what will be listed and when. Remember that you don’t have to buy every deal but it is nice to have options.

Some deals will be gone before you get a chance to buy them. There are lots of people running Tactical Arbitrage library searches and who know how many other softwares are running searches ( like Zen Arbitrage) .

Some of the finds on the library search are just wrong. Someone will have a book listed at $600 FBA and there is a $4 MF offer. TA can’t tell that that is a bad results because of some crazy FBA seller. Basically you will have a lot of false positives so to speak.

A few buys of the results of the library search can actually cover the cost of TA ( it isn’t exactly a cheap software). You should be using every available search to help cover the cost.

While you don’t have to be a bookseller to get lucky finding some books, you will have better luck if you understand how flipping from MF to FBA works and how money is made on people paying a premium for FBA books.

It also is helpful if you understand what kind of books are valuable. Yes textbooks are good but everyone knows that. You will make more on other kinds of books that other people over look.

Make sure you change your starting points on the bulk lists if they are too big and time out before you can run the whole thing.

Don’t source textbooks during textbook season. You need to source prior to textbook season and after textbook season which is prior to the next textbook season.

Be cautious of some MF sellers. Read descriptions and look at feedback.

I would suggest never selling a books as new. That is actually the only real dangerous area of selling books.

Finally if you aren’t a subscriber of Tactical Arbitrage, sign up for the free trial and make yourself some bulk lists to test out what you can find.