Posts tagged reselling

ExigoSource Review

ExigoSource is a subscription service that does research for Amazon resellers. Basically they hunt for arbitrage opportunities between Amazon and other online vendors, upon which you could capitalize.

Not sure how well-known it is - I heard about it somewhere on Quora.

Here's a review after a few days of use.

Signup and pricing

Pricing is $99/month for members. The website claims to have just a limited number of memberships, and will have you sign a form to join a waiting list.

In about 12 hours from when I got onto the waiting list, I was offered membership.

So this might just be a marketing gimmick, or there's a very high turnover rate.

Layout of the service

There's one area with a few guides, which aren't anything really special. They suggest you buy a label printer, etc.

The main draw of the website is the dashboard. It's clean and gets right to the point with the information you need.

The header of the dashboard (really it's a spreadsheet) describes all the metrics - entry data, product image, link to the product on Amazon, category, retail price (what you can buy it for someplace on sale), Amazon's lowest "Fulfilled by Amazon" price, Amazon sales rank, ROI as a percent, estimated monthly sales, net profit, weight and dimensions, then links to the item's price history on Amazon.

As you'll see as I walk through an example case, though, the metrics aren't entirely forthcoming...

Example

Here's a reselling opportunity from 9/17/2016 that was presented on ExigoSource. I'm going to blur the specifics so as not to compromise the privacy of the site.

exigosource-case-1_01

Now, ignore the ROI and net profit seen in the screenshot because those are simply taking the lowest price on Amazon and subtracting the current retail price at Walmart.

Price at Walmart = $7.39 per unit

Lowest price on Amazon = $9.96 per unit

Let's look into that Amazon price. The first thing you'll notice is that Amazon isn't directly selling this toy at all. Anyone that wants to purchase (sales rank was in the 10,000s so people were buying) has to do so through independent Amazon sellers.

exigosource-case-1_02b

Diving into that $9.96 figure, we'll see that the vendor with that price is not using Fulfilled by Amazon and is therefore charging shipping. So, with FBA, what we could reasonably charge people is $15.74 like everyone else is.

exigosource-case-1_03

Reasonable price on Amazon = $15.74

Now we'll analyze the $7.39 we were quoted on Walmart. Say we plan to buy 50 units.

The total cost, since shipping is free, ends up as $399.06 with taxes included. However, maybe $399.06 in dollars at Walmart isn't necessarily $399.06 in cash.

What do I mean? We could buy a gift card for Walmart at less than face value. I used Gift Card Granny, which searches many gift card resale sites, to figure out we can save 3.14%.

exigosource-case-1_04

Saving 3.14% on $399.06 means our total for 50 units is now $386.53.

Real price at Walmart = $7.73 per unit

Now, we can't ship directly from Walmart to Amazon. In order to use Fulfilled by Amazon there's some minor prep work that Walmart warehouse employees won't do for us, like barcode-labeling the boxes.

This creates a variable in the sales equation that's difficult to gauge - how much prepping and shipping from us to Amazon will cost. For simplicity's sake I'll give a flat rate of $50.00 (or $1.00 per unit).

Real price to us = $8.73 per unit

Throwing some figures into Amazon's FBA calculator...

exigosource-case-1_05

After Amazon costs we're left with $9.31 a unit, and we know each unit costs us $8.73, so that's a lousy $30 profit for all this work. We also put over $400 at risk to make it happen.

What kinds of goods are researched?

From what I saw over a ~3 day span, kids' toys and baby products. If you're on some kind of list for doing weird things with kids and/or babies, you probably don't want to be taking these shipments at your house.

When I'd go to crunch the numbers, everything seemed to turn out like the case above with low profit per piece. You'd need to buy hundreds of these items to make anything lucrative.

Bottom line

ExigoSource offers a 3-day refund from the time you sign up. As you can tell from my writing above, I wasn't really enthusiastic and ended up getting the refund.

I will say their customer service is fantastic. Turnaround was very quick, no hassle.

ExigoSource overall is an interesting concept because I think their research is done by proprietary scraping software. If you saw my Scrabble Boggle bot, you know I'm into writing software to make money. Something along these lines may be a future project.

Tips for Doing Business on Craigslist

Conducting business through Craigslist used to be a pleasure.

Back in the six months after I got my driver's license (2011-2012), I was selling event tickets in considerable volume. Stubhub hadn't gotten too popular yet. Craigslist was my biggest lead generator.

Most weeks I'd do about a dozen deals from there and nobody ever flaked.

(Image credit - Prepper Chimp, edited)
(Image credit - Prepper Chimp, edited)

Now things are different. Whether I used the Syracuse or New York sites, items or real estate, things have shifted from decent volume / decent quality to high volume / low quality.

Example

For perspective, I've been trying to find a new tenant for my current apartment. The landlord and I made a deal where I can get out of my lease 3 months early (moving out at the end of April instead of July) if I can find someone decent to come in.

No problem, right? For New York real estate this place isn't a bad deal, well-located near St. John's, not in the hood or anything.

For this past Saturday and Sunday I scheduled a total of 31 appointments (half hour blocks between 9 and 5).

Here's how they turned out:

  • 13 were just no-shows (41.935%)
  • 4 cancelled (12.903%)
  • 3 showed up between 5 and 15 minutes late (9.677%)
  • 2 showed up 15 to 25 minutes late (6.452%)
  • 3 showed up between 5 and 15 minutes early (9.677%)
  • 6 out of 31 (19.355%) showed up on time (+/- 5 minutes)

If you aggregate no-shows and cancellations, that's nearly a 55% flake rate.

(Image credit - Wizard of Oz)
(Image credit - The Wizard of Oz, edited)

This was the fourth weekend I did showings. Perhaps I shouldn't have been showing so far away from May, as people aren't that serious, but it gave me a chance to experiment.

Here are some tips on (efficiently) doing business with Craigslist.

Minimizing flakes

In my opinion, it starts with the title of your ad.

Lovely Apt. w/ Office - Avail. 5/1 - Right by St. John's (Fresh Meadows)

While the word "lovely" sounds British, I hoped it would weed out meth heads.

By putting "Right by St. John's", with Fresh Meadows after that, so people have a pretty good idea of where it is.

If there's a major point you need to get across, write it all over and consider putting it in the title.

Originally I got a lot of questions about earliest move-in date, as I'd only specified it once.

I re-wrote it three times:

move_in
Yes that's my current bedroom.

No more questions about that.

In addition to taking advantage of Craigslist's built-in tags to get your points across (in the above image, they're in the upper right-hand corner), spacing out your ad makes it easier to read.

ad_whitespace

At the end, I gave explicit instructions for contacting me:

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 10.31.28 AM

If the person actually contacted me with their name and what they do, I found there was a high probability of them keeping their appointment.

I placed priority on getting back to those people. If there were still time slots to fill, I attempted to do so with the "Hey this is Larry can I see your apartment" responders.

To use some Internet marketing jargon, the ad should be a filter / funnel of qualified leads to you. So then we get into actually communicating -

Communicating high value (text)

Perhaps unsurprisingly, texting to minimize flakes for Craigslist is similar to minimizing flakes for online dating.

Your time is valuable. This Internet stranger should be honored to deal with you.

Focus on logistics, keep language succinct, and using all lowercase seems to help.

No "Hey! Thanks for getting back to me!" or "Have a nice day! :-)" or any of that. You should probably never those anyway, but especially not for business.

succinct_texting

Communicating high value (email)

For email, you can be a little more formal.

Also, and this goes for whenever I'm writing email, I try to space things out so they're easy to read.

I'd say they could see my place Saturday or Sunday...

initial_email
Giving the address, because presumably if they Google Maps it and dislike the area for whatever reason, our interaction ends there.

... usually they'd reply with availability (or say both)...

Sunday I'm available in the morning.

... then I'd look at Google Calendar and tell them a time.

From Friday morning when I drafted this post.
From Friday morning when I drafted.

Whether you're listing a product (where you have a singular meeting time) or real estate (where you could have 8 hours of a day when you're showing), try to control the scheduling interaction.

Don't ask "Okay how about Sunday at 12:30?", say "Let's do Sunday at 12:30. See you then."

That's finality, that's you taking control.

Most people will come back with "Alright see you then" or "Great", it's confirmed and you're good.

If they don't respond at all in confirmation, they're likely not showing up.

Communicating high value (phone)

I don't use the phone much for Craigslist.

I already get a lot of random calls trying to place me into Rails jobs or graduate programs. I can do without more.

In the listing, specify "text or email" as preferred communication. It makes keeping track of everyone easier.

preferred_communication

Plus cutting down on actual phone calls saves time. But what happens if someone still does it?

I screen to voicemail. If they sound like a good lead, I'll still follow up.

Heavy accent I can't understand? Delete.

Work part-time at Burger King and probably can't afford the rent? Delete.

Come across like a serial killer? Delete.

A final point - every person I scheduled over the phone (3 out of 31) was a no-show.

Handling "Craigslist friends"

Sometimes, with really high volume stuff like apartment listings in New York, you'll still get a weirdo who will text you like you're his friend.

This one guy kept texting me days before the appointment we scheduled, asking me all sorts of dumb questions, is it okay to bring his mom along, where am I moving to, etc.

Being totally abrasive and ignoring them could jeopardize your appointment.

Give one word answers, and if they give you an out (i.e. a response that doesn't require an answer) don't respond.

Your time is more valuable than being super friendly with a lonely Craigslist stranger.

(Image credit - FJ)
(Image credit - Funny Junk)

Handling creeps

About as often, you'll just get a plain creepy person.

This one guy texted me around 9:30 one night:

hello randy

He tried calling at 11, then again at 2.

It should go without saying - ignore these. Don't be so desperate for leads that you follow up.

Closing

I used my apartment as an example here but have had similar experiences listing other things.

There was a time when it was really easy to deal on Craigslist. That time has passed - whether because attention spans and reliability are decreasing as a whole or because there are just more people using the site, I don't know.

Poor results are likely if you just wing it.

These tips might help you in selling a product or housing. If you're on there searching for a transexual lover, this post may not have been helpful.