PART 1 – PRODUCT RESEARCH
Amazon FBA or “Private Labeling” seems to be on everyone’s mind lately, and it’s great! So many people have shown interest and have pulled me aside to ask for some much needed help or advice. And if done right, this business model can lead to a very reliable revenue stream for your portfolio. I have been doing this for over 2 years now and it’s crazy to think that equates to being a veteran in this industry. I have learned so many things along the way, both good and bad, and I now want to help bring my experiences and failures to others looking into doing this. The following is going to be my attempt to give anyone considering this (or have already started) a solid and completely transparent guide on how to be successful, including everything I have learned and keep you away from making my mistakes. I hope this will act as both a free and valuable resource to use when helping build your Amazon business and ultimately becoming location independent. One last piece of advice, just like everything, “you will only get out what you are willing to put in.” This is NOT a “get rich quick” scheme or an easy business by any means, it takes time and effort and will most likely require some up front capital. But if you can add this to your portfolio of revenue streams in order to help “diversify your risk” when working abroad and set yourself up for location independent success, this is a wonderful way to start.
* MY PERSONAL DISCLAIMER*
One very important thing I want everyone to know before reading further. Throughout my writing, I will be occasionally recommending products and services that I have both used and feel confident enough to recommend in the hopes of making your Amazon business become successful. Make no doubt, these are “affiliate links” which means that if you click my link and purchase that particular product or service, I will make a small commission from that company. BUT, because you bought it from my site and not directly from that company, now 50% of every dollar made will go directly to the St. Jude Children’s Hospital which helps in defeating childhood cancer. You will not pay any more money for purchasing from my site than you would if you purchased directly from the company. It’s just a nice bonus knowing now that you are also helping a great cause. Thanks for your consideration when making this decision, it really means a lot to me.
Now let’s get started!
STEP ONE: RESEARCHING FOR YOUR PRODUCT
I can not stress this enough, this is by far the most important part of the entire process, finding the right product. If you do not put the necessary time and energy into this process from the start, you will pay the price, I guarantee. A couple things to help get your mind in the right place:
This business model is SIMPLE, so don’t overcomplicate it: You are trying to find a product that is ALREADY currently selling and PROVEN to sell on the Amazon USA Marketplace. You are NOT creating a new product from scratch here. Your #1 goal is to “out market” the current competition that is also selling a similar product. Which means, if you do your research correctly from the start, you will identify a product that already sells with very little competition, which will in turn give you the huge edge in your organic listings (more on this later)
The other lesson that I have learned is to find something that flies “below the radar”. Basically, something that is not as popular, not as “sexy”, and might just be flat out boring to you. BUT IT STILL SELLS! This business model is not about trying to sell something that you are necessarily passionate about or want for yourself (although that is great if you find one) It’s the actual business model itself you should be putting your passion behind. Follow these two rules and you will be ahead of most people starting out with this business. Have fun with this entire process, it can be very rewarding if done correctly.
STEP TWO: WHAT TO LOOK FOR
I would recommend starting out with any products you have already thought of, and determine if they hit the basic guidelines first. The best way to do this is by creating a product research spreadsheet you can have for future reference. Start listing all of your product ideas that you currently have and room for other product ideas you will be adding later. You will also want to add additional columns for each of the following metrics below to help better analyze the best product you will ultimately go with.
Please Note, If you are working from somewhere outside the USA, you will need to use a solid VPN SERVICE (this is the one that I always use) to make Amazon think you are searching from within the US, or the results will not be accurate. These services are also great for getting on sites that block you when outside the USA like HBO and Netflix as well as offer an increase in protection while on a public wifi networks. Here is what you will want to look for when researching for your potential product, (add these metrics to another column on your spreadsheet for future tracking):
BSR Rank – This stands for Best Sellers Rank, and this is how Amazon measures how well a product is currently selling. The lower the rank, the higher the number of sales each day/month. For example, if your search results show your particular product has a BSR rank of #1280, that means in that particular category, it is the #1280 most selling product in that entire Amazon category.
Number of Reviews & Overall Review Score – This shows how many reviews this product currently has as well as the average score they have received from all reviews combined. Most people that have been selling on Amazon for awhile typically say the magic number for reviews is around 12 to 15. Basically, that means any amount less will result in someone most likely not even giving your product a look, as it has not earned enough justification from other customers yet. Once you pass that 12 to 15 review number, you should start to see a huge boost in page views and sales. One other thing to keep in mind here that I feel is very important that others overlook. You need to take advantage of ALL the reviews that other customers have already left with your competitors. This is easily the best way to determine what people really like and don’t like about the product you are about to start selling. Really do take the time to research this. Once you start searching for your manufactures (more on this later) you will know what characteristics you need to make sure your product now includes and which ones you need to fix or keep from having issues with. It really is the ultimate free product research tool you can use, please don’t underestimate this.
Price and Size – I would recommend that you try to keep your first product in the $19 to $79 range. That way, you will be able to have some room for good profit margins and not have to spend too much up front capital to cover your costs for your first order. As far as size/weight, make sure it complies with the Amazon guidelines and does not get classified as an “oversized” item, which will cost you even more in storage fees. Make sure and research Fulfillment Fees for FBA orders in Amazon for specific costs and size guidelines for your product.
*Also really take note of the overall look and feel of the top 5 to 8 organic listings (not sponsored listings) including their sales copy, bullet points, description and title, and most importantly their images. If all of these are not optimized and don’t look polished, that will be something else you can take full advantage of when dealing with out marketing your competition.
This would be a good time to mention the two research tools that I have been using and highly recommend, they are both the industry standards that just about everyone seems to use. They are JUNGLE SCOUT and SCOPE. Both these tools offer ways to help you easily find products that meet specific criteria that you can manually configure with their many filter options. For example, you can search for products that are only between a certain weight and price, number of reviews, low or high BSR, specific category, etc… These products also allow you to easily compile on just one viewable page (through a Google Chrome Extension) the necessary information you need to make an informed decision on whether it’s a product worth looking further into. Although these tools are not required, they really can make your life much easier saving you time when doing a lot of research for your product. And finally, they will help you find out the keywords that your competitors are currently ranking for, which will in turn help you build an even more optimized product page right from the start. Both of these products offer a mix of both, but I have found Jungle Scout is best for the actual product research and Scope is best for the keyword research. I believe both offer free trial periods and money back guarantees if you are not happy with your purchase for some reason.
NOW, the process I use to determine if a product is worth considering:
You will need sign up for an Amazon Professional Sellers account first, which I believe is around $39 per month and gives you all the access you need for selling on Amazon. For research purposes, log in to your personal Amazon account (make sure your VPN SERVICE is enabled if you are not in the US) and type in the keywords or phrase into the Amazon Search Bar (make sure ALL categories is selected to the left) that you feel best represents the product you want to research. Look at each of the top 5 to 8 products that are ranking at the top of the page “organically” (make sure they are not the sponsored ads, which are clearly marked). This is where the Jungle Scout Chrome Extension can really come in handy for time saving, but I will still explain how if you chose not to go that route. You now want to find the BSR and Product Reviews and Score by clicking on EACH of the top 5 to 8 product pages and scroll down each of the PRODUCT INFORMATION sections and then look under the ADDITIONAL INFORMATION where you will see them both listed there. Now it does depend on the category and product, but my basic rules are if the top 5 organic results ALL have a BSR rank under #20,000 or less and no more than one of them has over 200 reviews, I will consider it a good option and add the specifics to my spreadsheet to reference later. You will also want to verify that people are actively searching for the product as well. If no one is searching for it to begin with, then you need to search for another product since that violates one of our basic rules. Again you can use programs like SCOPE or another less expensive option to look at is MERCHANTWORDS. Both of these tools will tell you how many people are searching for your product (using keywords) on Amazon per month. I typically stay away from any product that is not getting at least 10,000 searches per month in the Amazon Marketplace, but please make sure and determine if your potential product is generating enough sales interest or just move on.
That information both confirms that this product is in fact selling well currently on Amazon and that due to the low amount of reviews, there is not too much competition at the moment. I like to try and identify about 7 or 8 products that fit all of this criteria FIRST before making any final decisions. That way I can really try and tighten up my research and results and make a very informed decision on the final product I want to go with. Once I do, it’s on to Part 2 of my process which will help you track down the best manufacturers and suppliers of the product you have chosen, whether it’s in China, India, or even somewhere in the USA.
One last thing I want to mention when researching and ultimately choosing your products. Always try and buy the higher end, or premium products out on the market. You do NOT want to get into the business of offering cheap products that will ultimately break and then play damage control with your customers. The idea here is that yes, you might not sell as many products as you would if you bought the cheaper one. However, you will still sell plenty, and the ones that you do sell you can sell for a premium price and make up the difference that way. It’s really quality over quantity here. The customers that actively seek out products that cost more because they tend to be better quality and last longer are the customers you want to deal with anyway, so it’s a win win.
I really hope this post has been helpful and informative. My hope was to provide as much information as I could to help you feel comfortable starting your Amazon FBA business minus the hassles and costs. Feel free to reach out to me directly if you have any specific questions on product research or if you want me to help validate a particular product, and I will do my very best to get back to you as quickly as possible. Remember, half the battle is just TAKING ACTION and doing it. Just jump right in, it will be worth it.