We recently asked our Scanner Monkey tribe to share their favorite Retail Arbitrage (RA) tips and strategies, and boy did they deliver! We received over 50 comments from newbies and veterans alike with actionable advice that runs the gamut from planning the day, to sourcing product, to developing relationships with store personnel.
Understand that if you want to learn a new category, or a new store, it’s going to take some time. It’s an investment, and it’s worth it. I see so many new sellers quit because they spend hours in a store and only find one item. Whenever you are looking at a new store or category (or just new to the biz) your time sourcing should be counted as learning. Any money you make is bonus. Probably for the first 5-10 hours this is reasonable. – Jennifer U.
Balance learning with action. I see a lot of people not utilizing the availability of learning tools, and losing lots of money because they are doing what they know and not learning how to do better. But I also see a lot of people who are constantly just trying to learn something new. Learn RA, try it for a month, get frustrated. Learn Wholesale, try it for a month, get frustrated. Class after class after class, spending tons of money but never spending the actual time in the field to really hone any one skill. Don’t do either of those things. – Jennifer U.
Have a plan. Don’t drive around willy nilly scanning random things here and there. Pick a store, pick a section and scan it from top to bottom before giving up. You’re going to struggle to find great product if you cherry pick what you think will sell. – Amy F.
Before doing anything figure out your business plan. By that I mean figure out the numbers that you need to make enough money to accomplish your mission. For example, if you are in the building stage and have small amount of capital, maximize that capital on high velocity, high ROI products, and once you are out of capital use the resources you have left which is usually time to elevate your skill set so you can further maximize your capital once it begins to really flow. When I ran out of capital I still scanned entire stores with no intention of buying (hated finding gem) because I couldn’t, but that led to me developing crazy recall and that coupled with learning the retail cycles is one of the biggest factors for my success. – Derrick F.
Buy things you don’t use personally. I’m a dude, and I’m an awesome buyer of purses, makeup, women’s shoes, high end health and beauty, etc etc. If you buy things you use, your personal passions will override market data. If you buy things you don’t use you enter the Zen space of only focusing on barcodes. – Andrew A.
(1) Get yourself a KDC scanner. Not only will it speed up your business. It stores your Barcodes from the day. Which you can go back to the computer and upload into Scanner Monkeys Scansheet software. Then when you are planning to go out and if you have already scan an entire isle (which i have the entire Target grocery departments UPC) you can just pick up what is selling great at that time. (2) Scan everything in the Beginning. Then when you are up and running you will know what is selling and what is not. Plus you will be able to know as soon as something new is on the market. (3) Get into a mastermind group with people that in different parts of the country then you are in and have the same drive as you.. I am apart of RA mastermind group and we share stuff at the stores that I would over look all the time. Team work can payoff. – Dean J.
Since focusing my business on RA primarily in 2015 I’ve formed a team that has their own stores to hit so they don’t cross paths. Over the last year each shopper would spend $1-$2k per day. We recently started experimenting with 2-3 man teams. Rather than 1 person going out and spending $1-$2k we have 2-3 people cover the store which enables us to cover multiple stores in a day and spend $4k+ rather than $1k-$2k. The additional cost of the 1-2 employees is $100-$200/day. The extra $2k per day in spending should net us an extra $1k+ per day in profit. Would you trade $100-$200 in someone else’s time for an extra $1k per day? – Brian F.
If you find a great sidewalk sale, semi-annual clearance event, etc, open up your calendar, fast forward 6 or 12 months, add an appointment to that future date to call that store & check back to see if they have that same sale going on again. – Elizabeth T.
Subscribe to a sourcing list, esp. in the beginning. You may not find the the actual items on the list but you’ll get a through schooling in what brands are worth checking. You’ll also learn to scout items out of your comfort zone. – Guusje M.
Be flexible and versatile, I have gone from primarily Health and Beauty to grocery then toys and now shoes and clothing. Open your horizons. Once you find a niche become an expert then look for new things. When sourcing, look for what you know first, then scan new things to add to your knowledge base. Build relationships. Find experts and buy them lunch and listen to their wisdom. Doing that I went from zero to 1/4 million in shoe sales in 14 months. And lastly, don’t give up, this is a marathon not a sprint.- John G.
Stock up on discounted gift cards from the stores you shop often to increase your margins. Also, use credit cards to rack up miles and cash back on your inventory buys. Always pay the cards off in full and never pay interest. – Alexander A.
Remember to track your mileage deductions. I like MileIQ because it uses your phone’s movement to automatically start/stop trips. At the end of the day you just go through each trip and swipe right for business, left for personal. – Dang L.
When you are planning a long RA day, pack a cooler of healthy food. Eat healthy and you will have more energy. – Karin B.
Stretch! Literally and figuratively. RA can wear on the body, and getting stuck in a product rut can wear on your business. Go down that aisle you always avoid, go to that store you always drive past. – Scott M.
OUTSOURCE!!! Find something good at a store? Hire someone to hit all of the stores in your area and grab those items for you. You can also hire someone hourly to scan everything in the [enter favorite product category] aisles. – Stephen S.
In the beginning go to smaller stores, and gravitate to CLEARANCE aisles. Larger stores like Walmart & Target, you can spend days and not find a lot of inventory and get frustrated. Get the “Finding Discount Stores” app on iTunes (not available on Android unfortunately). Only 99cents and a great app to find stores around you, especially useful when you are traveling or in another town. – Bob W.
Make sure you stay aware of current business news! With a lot of companies struggling with pending bankruptcies/store closings, this can lead to massive buying opportunities. Sport Chalet (West Coast only) and Sports Authority in the last few months have led to massive hauls for us with pennies on the dollar. Befriend the Purchasing Manager of the liquidation company, and store managers and get their contact info. – Lou B.
Look for store exclusives (ie Target exclusive, TRU exclusive). They generally are in more limited supply, and can command a higher price point. Also, look for regional & local brands in your stores – aka Regional Arbitrage. Once someone becomes “hooked” on a particular brand of coffee (or whatever) that they can only get in a certain part of the country, once they move elsewhere they will pay a premium for that “taste of home”. – Jay Bayne
Have a plan. Remember that you’ll be coming back to this store again. Be intentional about relationships and building them because the good ones TAKE TIME. Take a notebook and write down the manager’s name. You may think you’ll remember, but after 15 different Toys R Us stores, you’re bound to forget. See a stack of potentially awesome items in the overhead? Make a note to call the store in two weeks to see if the price has dropped and they still have them. – Chris Green [A special thanks to Chris for allowing us to use the front cover shot of his Retail Arbitrage book in this post 🙂 ].
When scanning shoes and sneakers scan all sizes available. Often times some sizes are not in the catalog but others are so you may miss an opportunity if you only scan a few sizes. – Marc P.
When sourcing shoes be sure the box has the matching size as the label and they’re the same. I’ve found a size 9 and the other shoe was a size 10 in the same box. – Molly G.
RA is its own animal. It’s not just reading charts and assessing risk. There is an element of the unknown with RA. What is at one store may not be at another. What one manager might allow, another will not. Etc. Planning is crucial. It just is. One must understand certain questions might come up and have responses for said questions. “What are you going to do with all this stuff?” “How much do you sell this for?” “What are you doing with that thing (scanner)?” You need to think things thru so you know how to respond intelligently and politely. You also must keep in mind that your actions, as an Amazon seller, DO impact ALL future interactions you will have with the store and others will have with the store. Tread nicely! – Robin J.
If you’re ever in a store, especially a Walmart, and you’re getting terrible or no cell service use their wifi. This happened to me on my recent drive back from Los Angeles. I was in a remote WM that had some decent clearance, but no service. Then I remembered about their wifi. At first I thought it wasn’t going to work, but I waited and a login page come up. I just clicked to accept the terms and was good to go. Found a cart full of profitable items that I would have missed otherwise. Not sure what other stores have free wifi, but worth checking out if necessary. – Jeff H.
When developing relationships in your stores…don’t stop with the managers. If you frequently shop in the same stores try and checkout using the same cashier (but only if they are nice). IF you are friendly and courteous, those cashiers will go to bat for you if you need to divide up your order into multiple transactions (to avoid the limit __ buys), or they may even have some “secret coupons” behind the counter. – Jay B.
You NEED a quick, easy way to take notes so you don’t forget. Reprice that. Update that listing. Make this item I am buying a 2 pack. etc. I use Evernote, but find what works for you. – Scott M.
Do you have some Retail Arbitrage tips & strategies you would like to share? We would love it if you posted them in the comments below!
I finished reading John Groleau’s book, Adventures in Arbitrage, last night (2/26) around midnight and he mentioned your web site and Scanner Monkey’s support system in one of his last chapters so I decided to check it out before going to bed. Quite frankly I had figured it probably will not be a big deal and would only take a few minutes of my time to say “yeah, I know all of this already”. WRONG……3 hours later (yes 3 am PST) I had signed up as a new member and I was still exploring the wealth of information present on your website.
Now we fast forward to this afternoon. I was passing by a very old CVS store I decided to give it a try and go sourcing using the BOLOG information available for CVS stores on your web site. I pulled up the list on my phone and studied it before going in (I must add that I was very skeptical and not really believing that this will work). The first item that was listed under CVS was Ty Beanie Boos Blossom Multi Colored Lamb 6″ Plush so I headed for the toy section and sure enough there was a ton of Ty Beanie Babies on the shelf (and they were even on sale for $4.99 from original price of $6.99!). I started scanning them all and in less than 30 minutes I had found 38 Beanie Babies that were selling any where from $25 to $69 each!!! Wow, unbelievable…..this one trip to CVS had already paid off 10 times more than my subscription cost to ScannerMonkey!
But wait there is more…after doing my happy dance and declaring my eternal devotion to the Scanner Monkey.com, since I still had some time I hesitantly decided to browse and scan some of the very old and dusty toys on the shelves near by. You can imagine my surprise and delight when the old Barbie dolls that were being sold at CVS for $18 to $22 turned out to be hard to find and collectible toys that were being sold on Amazon for $145 to $179!! Bought them all off course and even found some other items like Leap Frog pads/books at very discounted prices.
A long story short I think this one trip alone will net me close to $1800 in profits (for one hour of work) and all thanks to your website and its great members willing to share and educate other online sellers – I am forever grateful (to you and to John G. who guided me to your site!). The most interesting part is that I have been passing by this CVS for awhile now but would have never considered sourcing at this location (specially for toys!) if it was not for the information available on the ScannerMonkey.com!!! SO thank you Jay and the wonderful ScannerMonkey.com community!
Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher, is quoted as saying “change is the only constant in life.” As each chapter of the Jet acquisition reveals itself many will wonder if the combination is the Amazon Killer. Is this THE change and should they jump on board, hold steady or jump ship. Will JetMart (sorry, someone has to coin the phrase) be to Amazon, what Amazon was to EBay?
Amazon is the hands down leader with lots of cash, loyal investors and total dominance. It will take a lot to catch up to Amazon. However, while I believe Jet had legs to become a serious player it now has potentially so much more than it did before; buying power, huge distribution, its own fulfillment centers, ship to store pickup, local delivery – all on a huge scale. And Jet brings knowledge to the table that will make it possible to utilize the assets Walmart brings in an ecommerce, fleet of foot manner, which they are not doing now. We had anticipated Jet would be 15-20% of our total sales, I now think it will become much more than that. JetMart is definitely now a contender.
What will Amazon do? Will our ability to use Multi Channel Fulfillment (MCF) to send our FBA housed inventory to other marketplace customers go away? Will they eschew MCF in favor of further strengthening their FBA hand, or will they slow fulfill MCF to make it a bad customer service option, before eliminating it altogether? Will they waive Prime member fees in response to Jet’s lack of fees? While many say Amazon ignores competitive threats and stays true to its strategy, I find it hard to believe it will continue to enable a JetMart competitor.
So what should third party sellers do? What is your strategy? I don’t want to pretend to tell you what to do but I will tell you what we are doing. Our strategy is to continue our diversifying our marketplaces, sources and services to not keep all our eggs in one basket. We will be on multiple platforms such as Jet and eBay, with multiple sourcing platforms and multiple revenue models. Our goal is to be well positioned for change and able to respond to unforeseen market events. Here are some of our plans:
Continue to sell on multiple marketplaces: Amazon, Jet, Walmart and nominally on Ebay. Explore others as they become viable.
Diversify our business to include management of other accounts in addition to our own so we are selling from a strong marketing perspective and not just selling product
Broaden applicability of our CoMerchant software to enable economies of scale across platforms including synchronized pricing
Investigate third party fulfillment in addition to FBA that will meet JetMart requirements
Double down on strong selling products by differentiating through style or packaging
Engage in Facebook groups and other discussions to keep adjusting strategy nuance and approach
In conclusion, I have learned to stay on my toes and keep adapting. As a small business owner I am uniquely able to respond quickly to market changes and developments. I will continue to do this so that my business remains healthy and successful over the long term.
This post is written by Barbara Boschen, a multi-channel online seller, private labeler, and software developer. In addition to being an active member of Scanner Monkey and an Amazon seller, she has become an expert on Jet.com as she developed software to integrate with their difficult seller interface and to auto ship Amazon FBA housed inventory to fulfill Jet orders. CoMerchant is a new product but already show both a track record of success in and of itself, and quantifies how sellers are making profits selling on Jet even at a higher price than on Amazon. Scanner Monkey members receive a 15% discount on CoMerchant fees.
This week, Scanner Monkey member, Pam D, amazed us all when she shared that she had totaled her car and had gone sourcing on her BIKE!
She then amazed us all by posting a picture of her sourcing trip. After expressing our happiness that she was safe and sound and our condolences about her car we were amazed by her incredible commitment and dedication to her business and improving her life.
She simply replied,
I asked Pam a few questions about her background and business situation.
She has been selling on Amazon for 2 years after selling on eBay. She sources mostly via retail arbitrage with some online arbitrage as well. She sells “very part time” as she is “lucky enough to have a full time job that I love, designing lights for concerts, dance, theater, and corporate events”. She sells about $3K – $5k per month. She does it for the “fun and the thrills” and she loves the “side benefits” such as no longer having any debt. She has also saved for retirement, and she is buying a new (used) car to replace her totaled one, which she is able to pay cash for. She plans to do some remodeling on her house in the next year which she also will pay cash for. Her side hustle is both joyful and profitable.
She loves being a part of the Scanner Monkey tribe! “I love the camaraderie within the tribe! It seems like there’s less negativity within the group, and more people willing to help if someone needs some answers.
She also hangs out with her poodles, Bocelli and Willoughby and loves to camp and fish. Her favorite food is frozen blueberries with milk and coconut syrup.
We are so proud to have her as one of our Scanner Monkeys! Thanks Pam!
If you’d like to join Scanner Monkey, the most positive and helpful organization for Amazon sellers around, please click here.
We are diving deep into RETAIL ARBITRAGE with our 3 PART SERIES this month on #SMTV.
1. RA: The Relationship Way With Robin Jacoby (Register)
2. RA: The Safe Way With Cynthia Stine (Register)
3. RA: The Strategic Way With John Groleau (Register)
As we move into Q4, we want to give you as much info as we can to help you RA: THE PROFITABLE WAY!!!
LIVE shows are FREE, replays are for Scanner Monkey members only.
I’m back home from the ScanPower Conference and reflecting fondly on the last 3 days of networking, presentations, and after hours fun with both the monkeys and the non-monkeys in attendance. This was a POWERFUL and INSPIRING conference with so many amazing sellers from very diverse backgrounds! I was blown away by not only the content of the presentations, but also the spirit of sharing and camaraderie that was pervasive throughout the entire event.
I’m often asked if it’s worth it to invest in the price of admission, flights, & hotel stays to attend a conference like this. My answer is always an emphatic “YES YES YES!”
Yes, the presentations are valuable and inspiring…but that is just the tip of the iceberg! It’s sooooo much more than that.
So, for anyone that has not attended a conference I thought I would share with you WHY you should INVEST in your business and in yourself by attending a sellers conference:
1) The networking – I know…I know….we constantly talk about networking and developing mastermind groups in Scanner Monkey, but there really is no substitute for face to face networking with other sellers, speakers, and peers. It’s really like TURBO networking where you can learn more about each other and your respective businesses in a 10 minute conversation than 10 days of exchanging PMs. And there are MULTIPLE opportunities to engage in this type of networking: in the halls during presentations, during lunch or dinners, or (my favorite) over a couple of drinks.
You will find that many times after these networking sessions you will have a new accountability partner, or someone you can call if you need help with a challenge you are experiencing in your business, or even create a new mastermind group. What’s even better are the strong friendships that form from being around so many people with the same desires and dreams that you have. Personally, I have made just as many lifelong friendships with people at just a couple of conferences than I have in 20 years in the wine industry. If you get out of your shell and make an effort to meet other sellers and see if you can help them, it will come back to you 100 fold!
2) The helpful tips – Yes, people share tips in a lot of Facebook groups, but when you are in a smaller group in person and people have paid good money to be there the providers of that information have to up their game and give EXCEPTIONAL value. Plus, there is just something about connecting in person that opens up the dialogue to a whole different level. I can’t tell you how many times I heard at the last conference “With just ONE tip from that presentation (or conversation) I will make an additional $_____ per month! That one tip just paid for my price of admission.”
3) It shows others that you are serious about your business if you are willing to plunk down a few hundred dollars to attend a conference or any seller event…and that carries over into the digital world.
4) You can build a solid foundation of resources. The presenters and vendors in attendance are there primarily to help you build your business, but they would also like you to use their services as well. You should strongly consider using the vendors that take the time out of their busy schedules to educate you on the issues that impact your businesses. This last conference featured speakers talking about wide array of subjects including: utilizing Fiverr, suspension prevention, creating relationships with store managers & wholesalers, keeping your account healthy, and product photography (and those are just a few). These should be your GO TO people when you need help in that area of your business.
5) It’s downright fun! You love what you do, right? You have fun making big $ on the most powerful selling platform on the planet, right? Well, guess what…it’s even MORE FUN to be surrounded by people that feel the same way! It’s part of what makes Scanner Monkey such an awesome group – being surrounded by like minded and positive thinking sellers. It can be very emotional at times when you see the relationships that form from being around others that have same struggles, desires, and dreams that you do. I even saw a few people at the SP conference in tears (I won’t name any names…but they know who I am talking about ). Throw in a Scanner Monkey Happy Hour or karaoke and it gets even BETTER!
These are just a few reasons you should consider investing your time and money in a seller conference…but there are even more! For those that have attended conferences before please feel free to add how you benefited from conferences in the comments below.
I’m confident that the monkeys that were in attendance at the SP Conference would agree with me that it is money well spent! Right?
Hiya…hallo…ciao…and kon’nichiwa. These are all ways to say “hello” in other countries and they are EASY to learn. On the other hand, learning the ins and outs of selling on other Amazon marketplaces outside the U.S. is NOT EASY. It requires a LOT more time, effort, and resources IF you don’t have the right guide to walk you through all the confusing and complicated processes involved..
Well, it turns out that we have the PERFECT guide to help you. His name is Steve Sawyer and he is a successful international and US seller, an experienced educator, and an active helper and member in the Scanner Monkey community since we were founded. He even runs our Scanner Monkey International Facebook community. Steve sold over $600K last year overseas and is committed to helping other sellers grow on these exciting platforms.
Steve created a comprehensive course (over 24 modules!) called, International Arbitrage, that will walk you through how AND what to sell on the Amazon international marketplaces. This course is price is so amazingly low for the value received that we cannot offer a discount. However, students who register for the class will ALSO receive a FREE LIFETIME membership to the Scanner Monkey, a $499 value! All for the course price of $1497! REGISTER HERE(This offer is available to current members and non members)
This is a different approach to how we normally offer products or services in Scanner Monkey. Usually, we only allow a vendor to promote a reputable product or service in the group IF they can provide a discount for our members. This time we are partnering with Steve and his team because of him being such an integral part of the Scanner Monkey team and the unique value of what he is offering in both his course, and the staffing and resources available to course members.
Watch our interview with Steve about the course and selling internationally in general.
Ultimately we wanted to find a way that would be a win for everyone involved but primarily for our members, and this is what we worked out.
With your course registration you will not have to make any payments to be member of our group forever, your LIFETIME membership is paid for with the course. ($499 value)
You have the full support of the growing Scanner Monkey International Facebook community which shares our values of helping each other succeed.
Steve has been selling internationally for several years and his business is growing exponentially. After being asked repeatedly to help others learn what he did, he invested heavily in both course and staffing infrastructure to create the ultimate course, where participants are helped with EVERY aspect of the this process to keep it simple and as clear as possible.
The price of this course will only go up as new countries and resources are added. You getting in at the beginning means you will have access to each new resource as it is developed.
So that’s enough about WHY we structured this incredible offer this way. Now you can see WHAT is offered in the International Arbitrage course so you can see what a great value it is at only $1497.
Video and Powerpoint course curriculum with over 25 key areas of instruction
Access to live and recorded webinars
Full support from our staff accountant for questions and paperwork assistance
Membership in an exclusive 4 month Mastermind facebook group made up of actual course participants
100%, 30 day money back guarantee
Additionally if you sign up by JULY 31st you will ALSO receive:
Lifetime membership in the Internal Arbitrage Private Facebook Group (course normally comes with 4 months then it’s $49/month).
A full package of the EasyPackBox system to jumpstart your shipping process ($99 value)
Registration for this course will SHUT DOWN for 2016 on August 31st so that we can all focus on profiting fully from the fourth quarter!
What You Will Learn International Arbitrage teaches you everything you need to know to make big profits in the European market, including:
SHIPPING Registering and opening your shipping account, harmonizing product codes, import duties, fulfillment, and so much more.
GOVERNMENT VAT and EORI applications, VAT invoices and returns, distance selling, intrastate returns and zero-rated VAT products.
BANKING Bank setup and documents, what accounts you need, US bank requirements.
AMAZON Account set-up and the verification process, how to calculate your profit, Amazon US to UK flips, the European marketplace, category approval, seller central UK, listing products, and pulling over the .com., insurance and more.
July 7th, (Thursday) – 9pm Eastern (8/7/6 C/M/P)REGISTER Live show is FREE. Replays are for members.
We have 3 amazing guests who are all going to share how they travel and live their dreams while running their Amazon businesses remotely. Jennifer Underwood is working on her charitable cause, helping to end homelessness. Jeff Howard is studying in LA for the summer. Scott Menke travels for fun and profit!. Join us for this travel-rific show! REGISTER
In the next few days and weeks we will hear a lot of the “sky is falling” from many that do not have a horse in this race. They will be quick to point out all the negatives and possible worst case scenarios that reinforces their fearful decision not to trade overseas.
The truth is those who have only one option are the greatest risk takers of all. Staying only in the US Amazon market creates an ever-closing cycle of competitive demise that forces you to take less margin for more work. Change or movement is the only way to survive even in this safe marketplace. Information will be the true weapon in this battle. International Amazon marketplaces have fewer sellers with less experience. Accessing a synergistic hub such as Scanner Monkey, will allow us to harness US experience and drive it into the European Market.
As a seller in the UK and European Amazon marketplaces, we love the fact that many will hold off becoming competitors because of the “concern” and perceived high hurdles. We will continue to leverage our strengths and have increases in sales and margins across multiple platforms. If one market closes, we move to another. Currency inverts, we ship the other direction.
Light, nimble traders with low asset investments will reap sizable rewards as they always do in these marketplaces. FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) is the perfect leverage point with minimal overhead costs except a little paperwork and inventory exposure of 30-60 days.
What are we going to do?
Rather than give advice, I am going to talk about our strategy.
Our goal is to maximize our footprint and options with as little investment as possible while maintaining solid margins. Our goal is to be ahead of the mob as this drama unfolds.
Register for the VAT and establish accounts with prep and pack companies in Germany. Using our International Arbitrage Course staff accountant, the cost will be a little time and gives us the ability to ship into Germany and use FBA to sell products in under 4-5 days.
Research registration for the VAT and set up accounts with prep and pack companies in each of the other three Amazon marketplace countries outside of the UK and Germany (France, Spain and Italy).
Register for the VAT in Ireland since they are the likely candidate for the “NEW” UK for Amazon to hit the EU. With Amazon’s commitment to MCI and Pan EU, this is a likely place for the EU growth to happen. Cost is only the time to register and file 0 returns.
Continue to increase products in both the UK and EU marketplaces.
Monitor margins through re-pricers and continue to sell daily in to the European markets.
Be part of a mastermind group of like minded EU Amazon FBA sellers to pool information and solutions. Like any journey into the wilderness, there is strength in a small dedicated group.
Work on creating a footprint in other developing Amazon marketplaces such as Japan.
Change is inevitable. Those with timely information and the courage to act will be the ones to.
Contact Steve via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or learn more about his course, International Arbitrage.
Keep up to date about Amazon UK, Europe and more in our FREE Facebook group, Scanner Monkey UK.
FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION…a request from a service provider
I consider myself very lucky to be associated with E-commerce leaders such as Chris Green, Duane Malek, Cordelia Blake, John Groleau, Andy Slamans, Sam Cohen, Jason T Smith, John Lawson, Cynthia Stine, Nate McAlister…and so many more.
I am sure that most of you would agree that these reputable FBA community leaders are extremely generous with their time and efforts. They go above and beyond when providing value and make the FBA world a better place for all sellers. Many of them spend a great deal of time researching ways to help you run your business more efficiently and add dollars to your bottom line. In return they receive a fair amount of revenue for their products and services, AND sometimes they get kudos from satisfied customers.
However, one of the most disappointing things I have seen is when someone leaves really bad feedback OR even accuses the service provider of being unethical in a public forum without giving them the opportunity to rectify the situation privately. I’m not trying to stifle freedom of speech here, but I would like to offer alternatives to address any issues that you, as a customer, may have with a product or service.
When contemplating criticism of someone’s product or service in a public forum, I would politely request that you consider doing the following instead…or at least beforehand:
1) Reach out to the service provider and give them the opportunity to address your grievances and see if they have any solutions for you. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Chances are that they may not even be aware of an issue with a product or service. Even with thorough beta testing there can still be kinks that need to be worked out after a product is released.
2) Adjust your expectations to mirror the real world. Example: if you’ve purchased an online sourcing or BOLO list from a reputable provider you still shouldn’t expect that EVERY single item will be a grand slam. I don’t care how good the list is (and I’m including my CyberMonkeyDeals.com list too), that is rarely the case. The best career batting average in baseball is .366…and that is equivalent to approximately 1 base hit per 3 times at bat. Secondly, don’t base your expectations on only one or two days of use. Give the product / service /extension some time to show favorable results before writing it off as an inferior product. I always tell new subscribers to evaluate Scanner Monkey for 30 days before deciding whether or not it is not for them….and that is with a 60 day money back guarantee (we’ll get to that in #10).
3) Think about what you want to accomplish when providing feedback. Is it a major bug in the software that needs to be fixed, OR is the product not as advertised? Clearly explain the situation with the provider along with how you expect them to address it. A simple “your product stinks” will not help them help you.
4) If the product doesn’t live up to your expectations, is there additional training available to help you get better results? Sometimes it’s a simple matter of watching a few YouTube tutorials to help you get the most out of a product. Most of the time the providers will include demo videos on their website or on YouTube to help you get the most out of their software.
5) Consider the track record and reputation of the provider. Do they have a history of providing valuable resources and tools? If so, chances are they will continue to do so moving forward. I can’t imagine an E-commerce leader jeopardizing their reputation in order to make $__ /unit on an extension that doesn’t work well as well as advertised.
6) CONSTRUCTIVE feedback can be very helpful when offered in the spirit of assisting the provider on making improvements to the product. Personally, we have made several improvements to Scanner Monkey and Cyber Monkey Deals based upon constructive feedback offered to us privately or in a survey. A good way to offer constructive feedback would be to use terms like: “I really liked ____, but to improve you might ____”. Or, “have you considered ______?”. If you don’t make it personal…then the service provider shouldn’t take it personally and will be more receptive to spending time making adjustments to enhance the product.
7) How will your criticism make YOU look in a public forum? If you are just “flaming” someone or their service it may come across as sour grapes. It might even look like you have a personal vendetta against that provider. Plus, if you do this repeatedly in multiple forums, you may find that people will not take your feedback seriously, and you may be labeled as a chronic complainer. If you feel compelled to discuss issues you have with a product, then see #6 for ways to provide CONSTRUCTIVE feedback.
8) Make sure you are reaching out to the RIGHT person when registering a complaint about a product. If it’s a widely distributed product or app that hundreds of users have access to, then their customer service department is a good place to start. IF they cannot resolve your issues then take your issue to the top brass. If it’s an extension or service that is relatively small scale and is being marketed by the individual then reach out directly to them to see if they can assist you with your issue.
9) Some people have told me “Jay, I lodge my complaints in a public forum because that is the best way to get the attention of the service provider”. It may be quicker, but it is NOT the best way to get the provider to work with you on resolving your issues with the product or service. Customer service should always be the goal of the provider, but it can be difficult to provide good customer service if the customer turns it into an adversarial situation (and the provider should not do this either). Complaining about someone’s product in a public forum should be a last resort AFTER you have filed a formal complaint via PM, email, or even a phone call.
10) Lastly, if you’ve done your due diligence and still feel like you have not gotten your money’s worth, then you should definitely ASK FOR A REFUND. All reputable product and service providers should offer a money back guarantee AND they should stand behind it…no questions asked.
I would like to ask one more favor. If you LIKE a service or product please leave a testimonial, even if it is in the form of a private message to the service provider. Why? A) Because it lets the product creator know that they are on the right track and the time and effort that went into the product was worth it. B) When you leave good feedback you are making it easier for others to make the decision on whether or not to purchase the product.
Service providers are fully aware that they can’t possibly please EVERYONE, and they have systems and guarantees in place to address those individuals that are unsatisfied with their products. However, it’s a two-way street, and it’s appreciated when the customer gives them the opportunity to make things right instead of posting their grievances in a public forum. Think about it….whenever you got a bad grade on a test in school, did you want the teacher announcing it to the rest of the class?
On behalf of FBA service providers everywhere, we thank you for considering these options to arrive at a mutually beneficial solution for everyone involved.
Xander Putris of www.AmzSessions.com, joins us. He is extremely passionate about helping sellers and brands bring their visions to fruition and coaches his clients on how to paint the picture for their customers by leveraging page content, Amazon tools, and outside digital marketing strategies to promote revenue growth.
Don’t send FB ads directly to Amazon!! Although Amazon loves receiving traffic from outside sources, a surge of traffic to your listings from outside platforms such as Facebook, Pinterest or Google, it may not be the best thing for your listing.
Traffic that is brought into Amazon, in most cases won’t have the same conversion as someone who is browsing on Amazon looking for a product like yours.
Driving in this extra traffic will generate more sessions but those extra sessions can bring down your conversion rate as well, if in fact your product isn’t now converting at the same level as an organic search by an Amazon customer.
A simple trick is to drive your Facebook, Pinterest or Google ad traffic to a simple one page website, also known as a landing page, where you inform your customer of your product. Use this page as an opportunity to really paint the picture as to why they MUST have it AND make sure to always drop in an irresistible offer that they just can’t pass up. We typically offer a limited time percentage off coupon code that they can use on Amazon right away.
Now, when the customer clicks the ad to cart or buy now button on your website, it will redirect them to your Amazon listing and they can follow through with their purchase. This creates fewer sessions but allows for better conversions, which can in turn boost your Best Seller Rank (BSR) and make you more money.
Xander is extremely passionate about helping sellers and brands bring their visions to fruition. He truly believes that the more love you put into something, the more successful it is. He coaches his clients on how to paint the picture for their customers by leveraging page content, Amazon tools, and outside digital marketing strategies to promote revenue growth. AMZsessions is a boutique agency focusing on Amazon brand management and consulting. With the unique ability to blend Amazon knowledge and digital marketing expertise they provide their clients with strategies to reach new levels of success. Their client list includes individual sellers and small companies to multi-million dollar brands.
On April 27th Scanner Monkey celebrated PAY IT FORWARD DAY (PIF Day) with the help of over 60 volunteers from our tribe that gave generously of their time to help other FBA sellers. These volunteers offered up advice and coaching via phone calls or online sessions over the 2 weeks following PIF Day!
We started PIF Day with the group in April 2015 and had such an overwhelming response that we decided to make this a tradition with the Scanner Monkey group EVERY year! It just makes sense. After all, we ARE about helping each other as much as we can…right?
Since paying it forward is already a big tenet of the Scanner Monkey Way, we decided to amp it up a notch in 2016 and make it really special over the course of those 2 weeks by asking that EVERYONE in the tribe find a way to pay it forward…and of course that includes me and Cordelia.
We started by recruiting volunteers to offer up coaching & advice to THREE people that request it…and this was done through phone calls, Skype, or some other webcast session. Then we asked the recipients of that coaching and advice to PAY IT FORWARD and offer up a service or advice to THREE other members. They could offer up advice or a service on anything they wanted – OA, RA, Private Label, Wholesale, bundles, shoe sourcing, book keeping, hiring VAs, renting warehouse space, designing coloring books, buying heat guns…..ANYTHING!
IF they didn’t have anything that they were comfortable offering up to other members, then we asked them to donate to charity…which could be done in 1 of 2 ways. They could buy one of our Scanner Monkey “Pay it Forward” t-shirts on Amazon and we donate ALL of the profits to The American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund [update: the SM PIF shirts being sold by Anton are copycats and we are in the process of getting them removed]. OR, they could donate directly to The American Red Cross through our fundraiser page.
So was PIF as successful this year in Scanner Monkey as last year?
Our members seem to think so!
Here are some of the highlights:
“I just want to say THANK YOU so much for organizing such a wonderful and valuable event! Being on the newer side to FBA this a huge help to my business. Scanner Monkey is the best!” – Josh Fedele
“Thank you to the whole Scanner Monkey group for being so awesome! I have always tried to live by the the PIF concept and it warms my heart that there are so many in this group stepping up to help others.” – Laure Zayas
“Had a great conversation with Joy Espiritu Packard. Such great info and encouragement. Thanks so much!!!” – Stefanie Vaughan Gerstle
Many of our coaches (me and Cordelia included) commented that they not only helped 3 people, but bumped up the # of sessions to 5 or 6 people!
Dean Jayroe offered up KDC200i bluetooth scanners at a deep discount of $50 shipped for Scanner Monkey members.
Kelly Lengacher offered 3 one-year subscriptions to the RevSeller Chrome Extension for free.
If you go to my original post about PIF you can see several more connections made and testimonials shared about this awesome event with the tribe: https://www.facebook.com/groups/scannermonkey/permalink/580470672131118/
We raised $605 for the America Red Cross Disaster Relief Foundation through sales of our Scanner Monkey PIF Day T-shirts AND private donations!
I am always impressed by the number of Scanner Monkeys that are willing to take the time to help others with their FBA businesses….not just on PIF day, but every day of the year. No doubt about it Pay It Forward is a special day, but the Scanner Monkey group is a special group that treats EVERY day like PIF day!
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