Many people are surprised that I don’t have a scanner app for my Amazon FBA business. (If you are new to Amazon FBA, a scanner app allows you to scan products in the store to see if you can make a profit on them). I actually did have one, I bought Profit Bandit when it was $14.99 but then sometime over the summer I lost access to it when I upgraded my phone. I might get it again, but to be quite honest, I never used it much and it didn’t give me all the pieces I need to make a decision anyways. That said, there is the odd time that it would be handy to have.
I just prefer to do my product sourcing a little different. Some would say that my way takes longer and maybe it does. But I really hate going up and down aisles scanning items! To each their own! The point is that there is more than one way to do Amazon FBA sourcing!
Update January 2015: Ok I have my Profit Bandit app back again. Can’t believe how cheap I can be! It’s a lousy $10 bucks a month. I make more than that on 1 sale. Silly me, it is handy for those times I come across something unexpectedly! Anyways, back to my original post!
There are two things that I do different that I feel have helped me. The first is that I have a niche and the second is that I love to reverse engineer a category of items. This article is about choosing a niche.
One of the things that has really helped me in my Amazon FBA selling business is the training that I have received as an affiliate marketer in Pajama Affiliates. Being an affiliate marketer has taught me the value of a niche and how to do keyword research. A niche is basically something that people are searching for on the internet and they use keywords to find them. The job of an affiliate marketer is to be the one who can provide value to the person searching. We have all searched on the internet. For example, your niece loves the movie ‘Frozen’ and her birthday is coming up. You need a gift and you go to Google and type in “Disney frozen gifts for girls’. When I did that I got all the major retailers with Amazon at the top. I also got a couple ‘Mom’ blogs who are clearly trained in Keyword Research for them to land on page 1 with the big boys! (That is the power of a keyword research tool, as explained in this article).
How does this translate to Amazon FBA sales? Well, think about walking into a department store to find products to sell on Amazon. Where do you start? Do you start with Kitchen, Bath, Health, Toys, Pets or what?
Let’s say you choose toys (which I recommend as a great way to get started). To me, even that is too broad. When I got started I made the decision to specialize in a certain toy line and that was a good decision but more on that later. Let’s say you pick Disney Frozen as your niche. Your first job is familiarize yourself with everything in that product line. What is available, who sells it and at what price, how do they rank on Amazon? I made myself a spreadsheet where I listed all the items, the prices at each retailer, the Amazon ranks, the Amazon price and the estimated FBA fees and a column for estimated profits. Then I filled in the blanks. Right away I could see which items were worth my time and which were not. (I keep them all on there anyways because things change!)
Doing this allowed me to go online to a retailer and order items even at full retail price that I knew I was going to hit my target ROI of 100%. Also, because I signed up for all the retailer’s mailing lists I am alerted to their flyers and sales. Some of them even have software sophisticated enough to pick up on my niche now and send me emails targeted to what I have been viewing! When these items go on sale my ROI is even better and I can immediately order them. I can now also get alerts from Craigslist when something in my niche is being offered. I have scored some great New in Box deals from craigslist so don’t overlook this as a source of items for your Amazon FBA business! The same goes for eBay!
Here are some tips for picking and monitoring a niche:
- Try looking at all the things you have knowledge of such as your own occupation, hobbies and interests. Is there a product that you have special knowledge of?
- Look around your home. What items do you buy over and over again? Research them on Amazon and see what you find. Follow the rabbit trails on the product page that tells you ’People who bought this item also bought’ …
- Learn how to use Google Trends and Google Alerts to keep yourself up to date on your area(s) of interest
- If you are selling in toys, ask some kids! They always know the latest and greatest!
I took my 3 year old granddaughter to the toy store and watched what she gravitated to. She has picked some of my good selling items (of course I had to share my booty with her!). I also have 2 grandsons who keep me informed of what toys are the favorites. Some of those also turned out to be great finds. Retailers like Walmart send me emails letting me know that items I have looked at are now in stock or on sale and a few clicks later I have good inventory coming my way.
If I was doing this for the entire market of toys I would go insane. But I have a focus on a couple of narrow toy niches and I know everything there is to know about those particular product lines. I can react quickly when I see a deal.
I hope this has helped you a little. My next article will narrow down how I have uncovered other deals by picking a category and working backwards from that.
Read my other article about Amazon FBA sourcing without a scanning app.
Read my article about crunching the numbers for FBA so you make a profit.
The Amazon FBA program is a fantastic business opportunity and a great part time or full time business for the right person. It is not ‘Easy Money’ or a Get Rich Quick opportunity. It is a legitimate online retail business, subject to the real laws, rules and regulations of wherever you happen to live and the rather complicated and lengthy Amazon Terms of Agreement.
Do not start your Amazon business without first reading the Amazon TOS and without some basic knowledge of what it means to have a business and understand that with any business you must pay attention to basic business practises. And yes, this means things like taxes and insurance.