Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Amazon Pricing - How to Swim With Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive Part 2

Welcome to part 2 of this series. This post will give you some ideas on pricing an item, both Merchant Filled and FBA for which there are no other offers. This is my strategy, ask other sellers you will get other answers. These are just some guidelines I give my clients.

If the item is being sold merchant filled, and there are no FBA sellers and Amazon does not have it, add the price of the item, the shipping cost, and $2. This is a starting point. If the item sells quickly, you can raise your price. If this is a repeatable item that you can source more of, you can continue to raise your price to find the threshold of what a customer will pay. If the amount is near $25, I always try the $25 price to make the item available to Super Saver Shipper customers. Even if the merchant filled + shipping + $2 price is around $20, I will try $25 to see what happens. You can always reduce the price later if the item isn't moving.

If the item is listed on Amazon, but shows the red message, "Currently unavailable, sign up to be notified when this item becomes available," this is a good sign!

This means that the item has sold on Amazon but is now out of stock. These items are usually hard to find, perhaps discontinued, and buyers really have signed up to be notified when the item is available (when you list it MF or it hits the FBA center), and you can set the price. In this case, you want to go to Google and search for the product to see what it sells for on other sites. (You may find some more to buy this way, too!) Or, view eBay completed listings to check for recent sales. Look closely at the Google results. You may find posts on message boards where people are discussing the product, how it is hard to find, and what they will pay. For example, on the product above, Tone's Steak Dust, I found this article posted recently:

The article does not mention how much the item cost on Amazon, but you certainly get the idea that consumers in search of this item are being directed to Amazon to find it. Rule of thumb is to price your item 3 times your cost, but in this situation with an unavailable item, you will want to go much higher. If the item doesn't sell within a reasonable amount of time (I allow 2 months), you can lower the price. If the item sells quickly, you can raise the price to find the threshold of what the customer will pay.

It is very important here to take your own preferences, opinions, buying habits, and budget out of the equation when pricing for Amazon. You must never think, "Nobody would pay that." How do you know what everybody would do? Just because YOU wouldn't pay that price, does not mean NOBODY will. Give it a chance, you will be surprised or even shocked at what consumers will pay for their favorite product. Cost is relative. Do people like Donald Trump, Bil Gates, Oprah, or Ted Turner really care what they pay for consumer products? You may not be one of them, but the world is full of rich people who don't know or care what they spend to buy their favorite products. Do you really see Martha Stewart, Julia Roberts, or Paula Deen walking around Walmart finding the best buy on everything they need?

We are often referred to as "price gougers" because are able to sell our products far above the MSRP. However, an item is worth what someone will pay for it. Unless the item is a life-saving medicine, medical device, or needed for human survival, I don't have regrets for selling items at what the market will bear. That is what this business is all about.

Stay tuned for the next installment about why I think sales rank really isn't all that important anymore.

Part 1 of this series

Join my Online Seller's Facebook Group

Monday, March 26, 2012

eBay Seller Success Story - Megaman

I recently received this eBay seller success story that I would like to share with you:

I have a full-time job and do some picking at garage sales and thrift stores in my free time, mostly as a hobby. Using advice from Suzanne the eBay Selling Coach, I've been able to spot lots of great bargains and maximize my listings. I usually just make a few bucks here and there reselling books, toys, electronics, and art supplies, but I recently stumbled into a big score.

At a local Bay Area, California thrift store I was able to purchase a group of Nintendo GameBoy game cartridges with their original boxes and manuals. I got 6 games for $18 (averaging $3 each). With a little research, I realized that one of them was quite rare and had the potential to auction for $40 or $50 dollars. Boy, was I pleasantly thrilled when the bidding just kept going up beyond my expectations. In the final seconds of the 7-day auction, the bidding topped out a just over $280! Even if I take a total loss on the other games I originally purchased in the group, I made over $260 profit (not including shipping costs and eBay/Paypal fees). Definitely a record for me.

I'm learning that there are a lot of rare video game cartridges and systems out there that collectors will pay top dollar for, particularly if they have their original packaging. Many game companies also made demo and sample games that were never released to the public and can sell for thousands of dollars. Even more common games from older systems can fetch a nice profit when bought in bulk and sold individually.

Keep up the good work,

Peter Guest
The Part Time Picker

Do you have a great sale or an interesting eBay item to share? Send your find to for consideration.

Related posts:

eBay Business Strategies – 9 Tips for eBay Success

What to Sell on eBay – Burt’s Bees Brand

What Should I Sell on Amazon, and Where Do I Find It?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Organizing eBay and Amazon Inventory

Some basic tips for organizing your purchases, receipts, and tracking inventory. This is how I handle inventory, receipts, and record keeping from the time I walk in the door from shopping to when the item sells.

Resources mentioned in the video:

eBay and Amazon Tracking Spreadsheet

Learn to Sell on Amazon (Fulfillment Program)

eBay Seller Success Story - Talbot's Skirt

I have been selling on eBay for several years and started with clothing in the spring of 2011. I was very apprehensive at first, but now have gone crazy with selling clothing. Of course, it was due to some wonderful coaching from Melanie Woods at the Treasure Hunters Cove.

She is always very willing and helpful in advising how to price clothing items for sell on Ebay. I purchased this Talbot's skirt at the local Goodwill for $3.79. It was brand new and the tags were still attached. Sold for $59.99. (Below is a screenshot of the completed listing.)

PS: Thank you for all you do in advising and sharing. I enjoy reading your articles on Ebay and Amazon.

Genia Geddings
Two Ladies and a Dog

Do you have a great sale or an interesting eBay item to share? Send your find to for consideration.

Related posts:

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Amazon Pricing - How to Swim With Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive

I'll be writing a series of posts on this topic, since it is a widely discussed subject on message boards, online selling groups, and from my clients and readers. Here is the first installment.

If you are an eBay seller new to Amazon, or thinking about selling on Amazon, the most crucial point to learn is how to price items for Amazon. eBay and Amazon are very different in this respect. The bottom line is this:


Newer Amazon sellers are often frustrated with competitors who undercut prices. You are wasting your time if you are going to let the competition frustrate you this way. Competition is a part of life, get used to it. You absolutely cannot control what other sellers do, you can only control what you do. Energy spent worrying about this is wasted energy - you are much better off spending your time and energy finding items to sell or working on your online business, rather than worrying about what other sellers are doing. Worry is nothing but wasted time and energy.Lately, I see so many people geting frustrated over this issue - it is like watching a dog chase its tail - spinning at breakneck speed and wasting valuable time and energy on a problem, not a solution.

I receive many emails each week with questions related to understanding why another seller would drop his prices below a certain point, or at all. Perhaps a product has been selling well for you, and a competitor comes in with a significantly lower price, and you simply cannot understand why that seller would do such a thing! Why would someone charge $10 less for an item when yours has been selling consistently at the higher price? The answer: You are never going to know - don't drive yourself crazy obsessing about it. Rather than spending time trying to figure out why, or becoming angry or upset, accept that competition is part of this business and you have to learn to deal with it. Part 2 of this series will focus on creating strategies where competition is minimal or doesn't exist at all.

Here are a few scenarios that I have personally seen with clients or readers that contribute to the highly frustrating "undercutting game" on both Amazon and eBay.

1. Ignorance. Another seller has no way of knowing that your widget has been selling at $39.95. They may think, "Oh, that is ridiculous, no one is going to pay that." Because Amazon does not provide data on historical sales, they can't see that you have indeed been selling the widget for $39.95 on a regular basis. You can't win here. There is no way to show the competitor that the widget will sell at $39.95. They can't get out of their own head and believe that you would be selling the widget at your price! You certainly can't contact him and tell him - that would violate collusion (price fixing) laws. You just have to wait for him to run out of stock so that you will get the sales occasionally, or eventually stop selling the item and move on.

2. The competitor's desired margin. Perhaps your competitor is happy making a $5 profit on an item, yet your price reflects an $8 profit. Even if you both bought the item at the same price, and the competitor is happy with a smaller margin, you can't win this one.

3. Competitor does not understand the Buy Box. This is a concept foreign to eBay sellers and buyers. Learn more about the Buy Box here - and if you are selling on Amazon, "learn it, know it, live it!"

4. Competitor does not understand the Amazon Prime Customer or Super Saver Shipper customers. Learn more about Prime Customers here. The best way to understand the Prime Customer is to become one. Walk a mile in your customers' shoes to understand their world. This strategy often backfires when a competitor prices at $24.50, $24.99 - when you can price at $25 and get the Super Saver Shipper sale.

5. Product may be approaching its expiration date and competitor is trying to liquidate. I've been in this situation myself. I may have bought too many of an item when it was very profitable to sell, the market became flooded with too many sellers offering that product, prices dropped, my product did not sell at the same velocity as it did at the original higher price, the expiration date approached, I had to cut my price to liquidate and sell out before the product expired and was no longer sellable. Be careful with quantities of products with expiration dates! Slow and steady wins the race.

6. Competitor's purchase price of inventory. I hear this one almost daily, "How can my competitor be making a profit at this price when I know this item only costs $X?" Never, never, assume anything about the competition. Once you get into this business, you will be shocked to know how much you really don't know. How do you know your competitor is not a wholesaler getting his products at 1/3 of YOUR cost? Many large companies and businesses use Amazon and eBay for customer harvesting - they sell products at break even or a loss to get the customer so that they can then direct the customer to their website for future purchases. (Ever bought anything off Amazon that comes in a package with a website address on it?) You cannot assume your competitors are even on eBay or Amazon to make a profit. They may be there for other reasons. I have coached these types of clients. They are more than happy to sell a product at a $10 loss to gain a customer who will spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars with them over the life of their relationship. Never, never assume your competitors (or customers) are like you. Your competitors may be looking at the power of eBay and Amazon to connect them with future customers, not at the profit on each individual sale. Another issue here is the flood of extreme couponers who have discovered that they can sell part of their stockpiles online. These folks have basements, garages, or maybe storage units full of products that they may have received free so they don't really care about margins - they just need cash. Extreme couponers also have the knowledge, experience, networks, and skills to get huge amounts of products for free and they are applying this knowledge to sourcing for products to sell online. Your competitors may be in this game for reasons very different from yours.

7. (The most dangerous situation of all!) Competitor does not keep records and does not even know if he is making a profit. I have coached so many people who don't do this - and when I make them sit down and look at the numbers, record their inventory purchases, sales, fees, and expenses, they are shocked that they are working for less than minimum wage. They feel like because they are busy and receiving deposits (from AZ or from eBay to PayPal), or that they have big payouts hitting their accounts, that they are making money. When we start breaking down what they are actually doing, they can then see they are like a mouse on a wheel - working so hard every day and not really getting anywhere. These folks would never consider working for minimum wage - yet that's exactly what they are doing as their own boss! You are competing against these people - sellers who don't know or care if they are making a profit. This situation makes it extremely difficult to succeed in this business if online selling is your sole source of income. (If you are not keeping accurate records, now is the time to start. Check out this easy eBay and Amazon tracking spreadsheet here. )

8. Your guess is as good as mine! I'm saying this tongue in cheek here because human behavior is a mystery - you will never know all the reasons why a person behaves in a certain way. I've talked to all kinds of people about issues affecting their online business and you would be amazed at what drives a seller to lower her prices. Just keep in mind that you can't control what others do, only what you do. The next part of this series will focus on selling strategies for stepping away from the "herd mentality" of online selling - how to find success working outside of the box and being unique.

(If you found this article helpful, feel free to post the link on your discussion groups, forums, Facebook, Twitter. Knowledge is power!)


Learn to Sell on Amazon

Make Money Selling Toys on Amazon

Selling Groceries on Amazon

Friday, March 16, 2012

eBay Offers Discount on Final Value Fee

If you are a top-rated seller, eBay is offering discounts on the Final Value Fee for items sold during a limited time. To qualify, the item must be listed between now and May 31, 2012. The return policy must be 14-days or more with a money back option and the processing time must be one day. If your listings qualify, you could receive 5% of the final value fee.

This discount will be applied in addition to any top-seller discounts you may already receive. The offer applies to fixed price and auction style listings and covers listings on the US site, the Canadian site, and eBay Motors. To get all of the details of this promotion, click here.

Related posts:

Free Promotion for your eBay Products

Why All eBay Sellers Should Have a Fair Return Policy

Taking Your Business Into 2012

Friday, March 9, 2012

Warning for Sellers Buying Lego Sets for Resale

A member of my Facebook group recently posted this story:

I went to Wal-Mart this morning to get a birthday present for my son and on my way out stopped to check the clearance aisle. I was looking through the toys when a woman walked up and started opening a box of the Lego 2011 advent calendar and removed the minifigs and put them in her box. At first I thought the box in her cart must have been missing the minifigs until I saw her do it to another box. I couldn't believe it! I was so stunned I just stood there looking at her; she just looked at me and walked away. I brought the open boxes to an employee and told them what happened and they said they weren't surprised. She said a man had just opened up a razor box and took out the refills right in front of her. (Reprinted with permission from original poster.)

Always carefully inspect these types of items even when purchasing them brand new at retail stores. You never know when this situation may have occurred, and if you are not paying attention and verifying the contents of a box, you may end up receiving negative feedback from a customer on eBay or Amazon.

You can read the entire thread here.

Related Posts:

Make Money Selling Used Lego Minifigs on eBay

Legos and Minifigs are Hot Sellers

Amazon FBA Scouting Tips - Things I've Learned Along the Way

Thursday, March 8, 2012

How to Use Pinterest to Market Your Business

By now, I am sure you have heard about the news social media tool known as Pinterest. Pinterest is a way to bookmark (or pin) various items you like around the net. The pins are arranged in what is called a pinboard which is basically a webpage that shows the images of the items you like. It is something like a virtual vision board. Once pinned, your Facebook friends and people you may not even know will be able to view your pinboards and see what it is you like.

Did you know you can use this new tool to promote your business? CopyBlogger recently posted many ways to use Pinterest to market your business. Here are a few ways that will help you get the word out about your eBay or Amazon business:

• Add your business URL to your profile when you create your Pinterest account.

• Feature your business name on your profile. You may even want to use your business name as your username.

• Pin lots of stuff. Do this a few at a time on a regular basis instead of pinning lots of items at one time.

• Use lots of images on your blog so you have items to pin to link to your posts.

• Pin other Pinterest users by using “@username” (example: @ebaycoach) in your descriptions.

• Like other people’s pins.

• Create seasonal boards that relate to your business or brand.

• Add the “Follow Me On Pinterest” button to your website.

These are just a few of the ideas Copyblogger has shared. To view the entire article, click here.

You can find me on Pinterest here! I'd love to see what you have been up to.

Related posts:

Free Marketing: 101 Low and No Cost Ways to Grow Your Business

Free Promotion of Your eBay Products

eBay Marketing Strategy - Multiple Listings for the Same Item

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Ink Your Way to Cash Rewards

Are you looking for additional ways to fund your scouting trips or to buy inventory? Here is a way to add a funds to your budget and help the environment at the same time. You can print your way to cash rewards.

No, this does not mean you print your own money. This means recycling your printer ink cartridges at a local office supply store. The major chain office supply stores have well established programs that will pay you for turning your printer cartridge once the ink is gone.

The programs at Office Depot and Staples will pay $2.00 in rewards for each cartridge turned in. Both chains have a limit of 10 cartridges per calendar month per customer. Those rewards can be used to purchase other supplies from your local store or online. The OfficeMax program offers $3.00 in rewards for each cartridge received. You may turn in and receive rewards on up to 20 cartridges per calendar month per customer. This allows you to earn up to $60.00 in rewards per month to spend with OfficeMax in a store or online.

For more information about each program, click below:

  • Office Depot
  • OfficeMax
  • Staples

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