If you’ve followed our blog for any length of time you know the majority of discussion has been around retail arbitrage and honing our skills getting in and out of stores efficiently. I’d be lying if I told you the notion of online arbitrage and removing the barriers of travel and inventory limitations wasn’t extremely appealing to me and I’m sure it is to you as well. Up until recently there had never been a comprehensive guide to strategies and techniques to maximize online buying and selling but that has clearly changed with the release of Online Arbitrage by Chris Green.
Online Arbitrage Author Background
If you don’t know the name Chris Green by now then you haven’t been in the FBA world for long. Chris is on virtually every platform and outlet where FBA discussions are occurring. It will only take a few clicks to see his videos, find him on Facebook or get to him directly at his website Scanpower.com. Chris had previously written Retail Arbitrage focusing on that aspect and now turns his expertise to the online realm. I won’t go into any more depth on Mr. Green himself other than his ability to be everywhere seemingly all at once is quite impressive.
Quick Book Overview
Online Arbitrage is not your average informational book by any stretch and is what I would call an extremely interactive read that requires your focus to gain the full scope. The book is 440 pages long with 38 chapters but interestingly includes 36 QR codes throughout the various chapters, each linking to a separate Youtube video. The videos vary in length from a few minutes to over 15 minutes and go over specific strategies or tools that allows the reader to better understand the concepts Chris is discussing. Because of this interactive nature of the read, it would behoove you to have your smartphone or tablet right there to best soak in the knowledge being taught.
Interesting Factoid: As of March 20th when I completed the book (and watched all of the videos), many of the videos had less than 300 total views. Less than 300! Why am I fascinated by this? A few reasons. First off, these videos are absolutely filled with instantly actionable content and strategies that any FBA seller should understand and be utilizing. Second, way more than 300 books have been purchased and for some reason many just chose to not view the videos. That’s your lazy seller competition right there who decided to lay down $200 but didn’t take time to truly soak in the concepts from the book and watch the videos. As a greedy FBAer, I hope this number stays low but for the purposes of Mr. Green I would wish more people to take in the videos and understand what compelling info he provides.
The Pre-Nitty Gritty
My goal of writing this book review is to give an honest detail of what I took from reading it myself as a relatively new FBA seller myself (6 months). I realize 99% of Scanontheside readers are doing FBA or ready to start soon and the thought of dropping ~$200 on a single book may seem fairly steep for their experience level selling online. Here are a few general thoughts before I get into the nuts and bolts of the book details:
- I would classify this book as a moderately advanced read meaning I would urge you to have some FBA selling experience before making the purchase. Having 6+ months under our belts gave me the basic understanding of sourcing, pricing, inventory management and wise selling strategies that I feel were necessary to follow along with Chris when he is demonstrating strategies in both book and video form. I feel it may be a bit too much to comprehend for newer FBA sellers and thus the $200+ price tag fits the tag of being being a more advanced read. If I asked Mr. Green I’m sure he would concur that this book is not for those new to the game but would be something of great interest once you get your feet wet in the FBA realm.
- [sociallocker]The book is titled Online Arbitrage for good reason. ALL of the concepts are based on using your computer, mobile devices and internet access. Notice I said computer AND mobile device. This is very important to understand. The book’s concepts rely almost exclusively on setting up your browser(s) to assist in finding and evaluating online deals and to act on these deals immediately whether you’re at home or on the road. For this reason, I would deem it almost necessary to have a fast, reliable computer to work with and to have a newer smartphone with reliable LTE access. If you don’t you’ll be wasting a ton of time and causing a lot of unnecessary of stress waiting for your device to respond to your inquiries.
- You need to be ready to spend $$ be ready to spend it potentially at a moment’s notice. You will need to have all of your online buyer accounts on the major sites such as Walmart.com and Target.com discussed in the book setup on both mobile and desktop because when you get the ‘go’ sign to buy something it might need to be executed immediately in order to cash in. You will basically be ‘on call’ for deal alerts that are set up using strategies in the book and videos. First in gets the win.
- Using Gmail to one’s advantage is also a big part of this book. If you’re not a Gmailer (as I am currently not) it is highly suggested that you familiarize yourself with Gmail and at least understand the basic workings of their email system. Because of Gmail’s easily searchable data features it is often used to store information and search it later for reselling purposes.
- Amazon to Amazon flips are a big thing. HUGE thing. Understanding why and how this occurs is why you buy this book. Tracking Amazon’s pricing moves and capitalizing on their ways and means is why in my mind this book is without question worth the price tag of the book. Figuring out how to piece together data located online for FREE using strategies in the book makes me giddy with anticipation.
The REAL Nitty Gritty
Time for some real dirt. My debate here is on how much real dirt I can rightfully give out within the review seeing most book reviews work on generalities. I’m going to try to give some specific examples and with permission from Chris Green detail a technique or two without giving away the full blown strategies drawn out in the book. In prep for this review I took pages and pages of notes both for myself to utilize but also to discuss here. There is so much in depth analysis in the book that hopefully I can convey that to you in an understandable format.
By in large the foundation of Chris Green’s techniques for Online Arbitrage is based on using extensions with the Google Chrome browser. By this I mean there are specific browser extensions on Chrome that FBA sellers can use to their advantage to not only analyze pricing and inventory details but also create automated alters along the way to trigger buying green lights based on historical data. For example, using the Chrome Extension ‘Invisible Hand’ automatically shows you the price of an item you are viewing online on various other online outlets for easy comparison purposes. The book goes over close to 15 extensions you can use in various ways to automate and refine your deal-finding skills.
Some of the Chrome extensions become integrated within Amazon itself giving you data right there on the product page to fully analyze each buying opportunity. Again, remember the idea of Amazon to Amazon flips mentioned before. Without going into too much specific detail I do want to go over what I deem to be Chris Green’s favorite extension and that is the ‘Keepa’ extension.
Get used to hearing about Keepa in Online Arbitrage as it will be one you will learn how to use in great depth. Keepa is one of the Amazon-integrated extensions mentioned before that provides the user with valuable price data on all items sold on Amazon. Once you learn how to use Keepa properly with the help of Mr. Green’s knowledge you will be able to not only analyze potential reselling opportunities but also get alerted to deals automatically in the future based on your own preferences. Keepa gives you the ability to find artificially low prices of items on Amazon and cash in on those deals by setting proper alters to potential deals. The setting of these alters is where the money is made and Chris goes into great depth on how to set these up properly to avoid too much clutter.
Other extensions described in great depth include the always famous CamelCamelCamel and another called The Tracktor. These extensions can be found free on Chrome but to harness the true power for your FBA business Chris chronicles each one for FBA purposes.
Specific Keepa Tidbit: Online Arbitrage shows you a specific strategy to capitalize on the mistakes of others by combining the Keepa alert system and Twitter. With this strategy you get to see what other online sellers are tracking without them even realizing you’re doing so and you get these delivered to you automatically to your phone. How easy does that sound?
Social Media Hacks
To get the most out of Online Arbitrage you must be an active Facebook user and a potentially active Twitter user. Chris goes in depth on how to properly configure your Facebook account to not only receive proper notifications but also to filter out those notifications and sort and filter through a days worth of Facebook posts within a group. I know from personal experience its impossible to keep up with the stream of posts on Facebook groups so having a way to batch all of the posts together is just awesome. Specific Facebook groups are discussed at length and it is expected that you utilize the knowledge of these group members to your advantage in terms of being alerted to new deals online.
Ever get frustrated at not being able to match an item listed on Amazon with that in an image you found online? Online Arbitrage discusses a few strategies to overcome this by using screenshots uploaded to Google Images as well as the new app called Amazon Flow. Are you frustrated with the lack of search capabilities on Instagram? Again, using alternative Instagram apps and websites discussed in the book will provide you valuable trend data you can use to your advantage when seeking out the hot items that might be high ranking on Amazon as well. Using Twitter to one’s advantage is one of my favorite finds in the book and I’ve been getting potential resale opportunities sent to my phone directly by setting up specific feeds.
Twitter Account Trick
I know I’ve gotten frustrated with having to have a different email account for each Twitter handle but lo and behold there is a trick detailed in the book that allows you to use a single email account to create an unlimited number of Twitter accounts. Why hadn’t I ever heard of this before!? Of course I’ll leave the specifics for Chris Green to detail in the book.
There is a huge emphasis in the book on following not only what is selling but also what the people buying those items are also buying. In addition, focusing on what other products your competition is selling could potentially give you valuable insight into what else might be a sellable product. Maybe you don’t want to be looking at the same items that everyone else is within Amazon’s ‘Movers and Shakers’ or ‘New Releases’ areas and would rather skip to page 10 of those listings instead of page 1 to lessen the potential competition. There’s no obvious method to do this quickly however the book details how to do so easily and believe me its super helpful.
Wouldn’t it be great to be able to locate out of stock items on Amazon easily via search? Well, its not. Knowing what Amazon (and other sellers) can’t get a hold of is of great interest to me as it should be to you as well for obvious reasons. The book shows you how to do this with a few clicks.
Others Are Watching
This area of the book that goes over strategies and thought processes in terms of how to approach finding items in efficient ways is where I learned the most. A lot of times newer FBA sellers think they need to find that item that no one else is selling and corner the market. Good luck with that strategy unless you are able to successfully private label items which is a whole other ballgame. Did you know Amazon allows anyone to track what you’re looking at and buying? If you’re a somewhat active seller on Amazon you can bet someone is looking at what you’re buying and/or selling because they want to sell what you’re selling too. Don’t lose track of this notion when you’re exploring Amazon. Follow the leaders and branch off from them to find other products they might not be selling but still might be highly ranked for you to capitalize on.
Doing The Research
The book delves into the use of outside websites to do some research and product alerts to assist with your purchasing decisions and to basically be ahead of the crowd. Some quick examples of this are to make note of the products on the in-store endcaps and research them frequently. Does Amazon ever go out of stock on those items and are they extremely well ranked? You might have a find on your hands. Chris also talks about the notion of zigging when others are zagging. A good example is to look for a ‘girl toy in a boy toy line’. Are there female characters in a male dominated popular cartoon or vice versa? How about product variations such as pink-only building blocks vs. multicolored in a popular toy line? The pink blocks example is something I have done in the past with great success, selling them at 2x the price of the standard blocks solely because they were pink. Find more of these opportunities and track them for buying purposes.
Get on email lists and get alerts for popular websites and dealers. Take notice as to which items or product lines appear often on these lists as there’s a good chance they are well ranked on Amazon as well. Set up a specific email address for these emails so your personal one doesn’t get jammed up.
Where to start here? I mean there are hundreds of deal sites that you are probably already using for product alerts more so as a buyer for personal use. Sites like FatWallet and Slickdeals are massive in scope and provide great info but can be somewhat daunting to truly sort through and find potential resale deals. Online Arbitrage goes into depth on how to properly set up your accounts on sites like these to make your legwork much less stressful. There are 4 or 5 other specific deal sites that Chris discusses that I will leave for the book but just know that he uses specific examples for each to maximize your ability to find products for FBA purposes. Setting up very specialized alters is where Chris’s expertise comes into play here on the sites and something I took advantage of greatly.
Cash Back and Discounted Gift Cards
Everyone has heard of Ebates.com for cash back on online purchases and it works great. Did you know there are 4 or 5 other similar sites that handle other online ecommerce sites that might not be on Ebates. FatWallet itself has a cash back program but there are others that can offer cash back of 10%+ or more which adds up quickly.
Buying discounted gift cards in both physical and online versions is now easy to do with the sites Chris details in the book. The aforementioned Keepa has a method to do so but there are a few other major players in this realm that sell major brand gift cards in varying amounts that will save you significant money in the long run. I have used some of these discounted gift cards firsthand for Marshalls, Kohls and TJMaxx and all worked flawlessly and have save me around 15% on each in addition to other coupon codes and deals. I knew nothing about these gift card sites until reading Chris’s book.
If This Then That (IFTT) & Recipes
Remember how I mentioned you can create a daily digest of a Facebook Group’s posts? Well, that’s not something Facebook itself offers to you. This book introduced the program entitled ‘If This Then That’ or IFTT which allows processes like the daily digest to be created. IFTT is a powerful tool that can be used integrating such platforms as Facebook, Craigslist, Ebay, Dropbox, Evernote, RSS feeds and Gmail to perform integrated actions between them. As an example in the book Chris talks about automatically putting uploaded Facebook photos into Dropbox by creating a ‘recipe’ on IFTT. Chris discusses using the IFTT platform in various ways to automate things related to FBA and receiving alerts in an edited manner. IFTT is something I will be digging into deeply when I get the chance as I know it will be a game-changing tool both in FBA and my personal life as well.
Can you tell that this book is pretty deep? Its not a quick read by any means nor should it be. In my mind I categorize it as almost being college textbook worthy but this version has vivid images and graphs throughout to help guide the reader through the details. I would say to get the most out of the book you certainly should take notes like I did along the way and return to those notes frequently when beginning your online buying experience.
There are many more concepts and applications detailed in the book that I simply had to leave out here or else this review would have started to grow chapters. Concepts such as using Craigslist and Ebay for sourcing along with hiring VAs (Virtual Assistants) and using RSS feeds to help with tasks are things that would require their own separate posts. Its a lot of information packed into 440 pages.
I can’t stress enough how much of an advantage you will have over other sellers simply by watching the QR code-linked videos he provides. With some having less than 300 total views you’re basically getting private lessons on these advanced strategies and techniques.
One thing I do want to mention is that a lot of the examples Chris gives throughout the book are toys and kids related products. He acknowledges this openly at the start of the book and does not shy away from this idea which was something I began questioning as I made my way through it. However, there’s a big caveat that needs to be spelled out. You would think that a lot of the deals that he describes and tracks in the book would be found closer to Q4 or times where toy buying explodes. This is not the case at all and in fact, when I went back and looked at a lot of the graphs (ie. Keepa) in the book the buying opportunities were available in July, May, April and months where you would think otherwise.
Why would a highly ranked Disney Cars toy price drop sharply on Amazon in July? There are many potential explanations such as price matching but my response and I’m sure Chris’s would be ‘Who cares’ followed by ‘What are you waiting for….go buy that toy right now’! Mr. Green does document many other non-toy items and chronicles one of his highest grossing purchases ever which was in the Tools & Home Improvement category. Everything is fair game on Amazon as long as it sells.
I cannot recommend this
bible book strongly enough. You will need to dedicate yourself to it for a few weeks in order to get fully comfortable with it unless you already have some online arbitrage experience. At first glance it can be a daunting book to truly comprehend and process as I first told my wife when I got to about page 100 but I carried on and simply took my time in order to grasp each concept. Again, this book is not for newbie FBA sellers in my humble opinion.
I cannot wait to unleash these strategies myself for this coming 4th quarter and beyond and will surely be detailing my experiences with his techniques as I move forward.
Thank you Mr. Green for the book and all of its infinite wisdom.[/sociallocker]
NOTE: I believe Chris is still offering a free 30 minute one on one session to anyone purchasing his full color book version but please check with him directly on Facebook just to be sure.
Want more book details? Here’s the Amazon Sales Page (affiliate link) for Online Arbitrage by Chris Green:
Online Arbitrage: Sourcing Secrets for Buying Products Online to Resell for BIG PROFITS