5 Experts Share Retail Arbitrage Tips for Amazon FBA

Amazon FBA Expert Round-up Thumbnail

Note* – I have written a Review for Amazon FBA here if you want to find out if this business is right for you.

Today, I brought you folks 5 special guests! They are very knowledgeable about the Amazon FBA business. I have invited them to answer 5 questions that new Amazon FBA sellers would like to know. Here we go!

Daniel Johannes


Daniel is the owner of aLittleSliceofPie.com. He shares his tips and monthly income reports to keep himself accountable and also show you the average person can do this as well. 

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1) What are some tips you can provide for new Amazon FBA sellers?

Start slow.  Don’t try to be an Amazon mega store – find a few great products first.  Also, don’t invest any money you’re not willing to lose.

2) Where are some good places for retail arbitrage?

Here is a not-so-secret secret.  Everybody goes to Walmart and Target.  I do too and have found some great stuff, but my very best stuff (high profit low competition) has come from places that nobody has heard of.

The mom and pop store down the street- the little toy isle in the corner grocery story or unlikely places like bookstores (looking for non-book items) or home improvement stores (A local one by me has toys, DVDs, books, groceries and other general merchandise.  Who knew?)

3) What are some useful tools for beginner Amazon FBA sellers?

My must have tools (which are all free) are:

a) Amazon Seller App(iOS/Android)

b) Camelcamelcamel.com

c) Ebay completed listings (for research for items that are not yet on Amazon)

d) Amazon FBA calculator (to calculate your profits)

4) What are some things that new sellers should be aware about?

The biggest thing is that Amazon basically has a “sandbox” for new sellers. You don’t want to sell too much too fast and you want to work extra hard at getting positive feedback.  Amazon watches you very closely in the early days.

Also, if you’ve sold online before, but you’re new to Amazon, be aware that Amazon prime customers will pay more for something than nearly any other seller platform you can find.  Take advantage of this!  The downside is that customer expectations are WAY up, so be sure to take care of them well!

5) What are some mistakes you made in your Amazon FBA business that you could share?

a) Buying inventory without proper research (again, don’t invest anything you aren’t willing to lose, but be aware that the more research you do, the less chance of losing!)

b) Become aware of Amazon’s policies.  I’ve violated policies more than once completely unintentionally (for instance, by making my title too long)

Note: For those interested in Drop Shipping and buying from Wholesale companies to resell items, here are a few options:

These companies make it easier for you to contact local whole salers to potentially buy goods from and resell at Amazon.

Tracy Smith

Tracy Smith

Tracy is the owner of entrepreneurgirl.net. She shares her Amazon FBA and Ebay adventures primarily on her YouTube channel which you can check it out here. They are very helpful and I have found some goodies just watching her videos. She also has a nice Facebook group for new or veteran sellers to ask questions. 

1) What are some tips you can provide for new Amazon FBA sellers?

Three tips I would give to a new FBA seller is to

a) LET. GO. OF. THE. FEAR. The Amazon police are not going to come to your door and arrest you for a terrible box / shipment. If you don’t “go for it” at some point, you’ll always just be in the “dreaming” stage.

b) Amazon FBA really, really, really isn’t as hard as you think it is… I promise.

c) Get ungated in the restricted categories. It will increase your inventory and your monthly income… and no, you don’t need to take a course or pay someone to do this for you. Watch videos and give it a try… and then another… until, you are successful.

2) Where are some good places for retail arbitrage?

My top five personal favorite places to retail arbitrage are Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, Big Lots, and thrift stores like Goodwill. Garage sales and auctions (check out auctionzip.com) have the highest profit margin for me when I am sourcing, but I can buy mulitples of the same item when shopping chain stores … which saves time.

3) What are some useful tools for beginner Amazon FBA sellers?

Useful tools for beginning to sell on Amazon FBA, would be a

I use the Profit Bandit scanning app and the Dymo and Brother laser printers. I have videos on my channel exploring all of the above mentioned items.

4) What are some things that new sellers should be aware about?

New sellers should be mindful of all the Amazon rules and procedures. This link is a good place to start for policies: http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=hp_rel_topic?ie=UTF8&nodeId=201100940

I printed all pertinent information and then created a three ring binder for easy access. This binder sits on my desk for easy reference.

Also, I would be aware that Amazon is a stricter environment than etsy or ebay or some of the others. A negative feedback or low star rating, can destroy your start-up. Do your very best right from the beginning and treat your account like the business it is.

The third thing I would suggest is to get a handle on business basics right from the beginning. How will you manage your bookkeeping, inventory, sales and income tax? Its okay to get your feet wet and make sure this is something you want to do… but, once you decide this business is for you, go ahead and put your business systems in place. You don’t want to struggle to initiate involved systems once you are already neck deep.

5) What are some mistakes you made in your Amazon FBA business that you could share?

The thing you need to know about making mistakes, is that everyone makes them. An Amazon business is not going to be the exception. You will make errors; I will make errors… even Amazon will make errors. The trick is to expect it, deal with it as calmly as you can when it does happen, and move on (no sense beating yourself up).

I have had small mistakes like having to re-label every item because I did it wrong the first time… to messing up my bank account information and not getting paid. I try not to repeat the same mistake twice and to give myself permission to fail on the small things as long as I make progress on the large things.

Skip Mcgrath

Skip Mcgrath

Skip is the owner of SkipMcgrath.com, a resource site for Amazon FBA. Anytime I need some information regarding Amazon FBA, I head over to his site! He is a master of automation and making things much more time efficient.

3) What are some useful tools for beginner Amazon FBA sellers?

I am a big believer in automation.  There are two kinds of tasks all online sellers face – High Value and Low Value.   High Value tasks include things like researching good keywords and sourcing new products.  Low value tasks are things like shipping, posting feedback managing your inventory.

Any time you can pay someone, or use an automated system, to perform the low value task you should do it.  I know some of the systems and programs out there can be expensive at first glance, but allowing you more time to do things important to growing your business and improving your profits will eventually put more money in your pocket over time.

Here are a few of the programs I use to run my business.  There are many more out there but I just wanted to share the ones I use.

JoeLister.com  – I sell on eBay as well as Amazon. Joelister allows me to quickly create eBay listings from my amazon listings and when the item sells, Joelister automatically creates the eBay fulfillment order and when it ships Joelister automatically sends the tracking info to eBay.

Vendio.com – Vendio is an Amazon and eBay listing system and a place to host all my images.  But the main reason I use it is for inventory control.  It tracks my inventory between eBay and Amazon and I can quickly spot if I am getting low on stock and reorder before I run out.

Feedback Genius – Only about 2% of Amazon sellers leave feedback from transactions.  With Feedback Genius each buyer gets an automated email from me thanking them for the order.  If they had a good experience there is a link to click to leave me feedback.  If they didn’t I ask them to reply (or call me) and give me a chance to fix the problem.  Before I started using this service I was averaging about 45 feedbacks per year. Now I am over 900 per year.

They also have a new service where you can send out an email to request product reviews.  I have just started using this and so far the results are small –but still significant.

Quickbooks – A lot of folks use InventoryLab.com to both control their inventory and get their sales data for tax purposes, but I find the data to be too minimal.  I have been using Quickbooks for years to run my numbers and do my taxes.  It is a huge time saver.

Credit Cards – I have been in business long enough and have good credit so most of my wholesale suppliers will offer me net 30 days credit terms.  Even when they do I use a dedicated business credit card to pay for all my merchandise.  That way I only have one account payable to deal with each month and good record-keeping to boot.  And best of all I earn a ton of travel points I can use to attend trade shows and go on vacation.  Since I am currently purchasing over $400,000 per year that is a lot of points.

Barcodestalk.com – I have bought my UPC codes from this company for the past 3 years.  In all honesty they are not the cheapest – although they do offer competitive rates.  But I have never had a bad code and their service and support is excellent.  Amazon now requires a UPC code for all new products and eBay is about to start doing that soon.

Merchant Words – I create a lot of new product listings mostly through bundling and some private labeling.  Merchant Words is a service that finds the most used keywords Amazon users are typing into the search engine for each product.

So that’s it.  When it comes to spending money on any service the most important thing to do is to calculate the ROI but when you do that remember that “time” not just money is one of the things to consider.



Diana is the owner of SecondHalfDreams.com, where she documents her journey to creating a lucrative second income from Amazon FBA.  She offers helpful tips for beginners and I learned about printing labels from her.

4) What are some things that new sellers should be aware about?

I don’t want to scare or overwhelm new sellers by mentioning this, but they need to be aware that Amazon FBA is an actual business. This means that at some point they’ll need to form a business structure, open a business checking account, collect sales tax and do bookkeeping. I understand this is unfamiliar territory for many people and my advice to them is to seek help from a CPA or a tax professional.

5) What are some mistakes you made in your Amazon FBA business that you could share?

On my very first shopping trip, I found a never opened Lord of the Rings Risk game. My mistake was removing the manufactures shrink wrap and opening the box so that I could verify that the game was new. Doing so downgraded the condition and lowered the selling price. I still made a $47.00 profit on it but it would have been much more if I trusted my instincts that the game was never opened.

Katharyne Shelton


Katharyne has a helpful Facebook group for sellers wanting to share their experience on Amazon FBA. You can also find a wealth of information regarding tips on retail arbitrage. I first learned the concept of bundling items on Amazon FBA for more profits from her. You can also visit her site at Katharyne.com.

1) What are some tips you can provide for new Amazon FBA sellers?

Here’s my advice for new sellers.

Don’t get bogged down in red tape, but do read the rules!  If you’re confused, join a friendly selling group and ask lots of questions.  Selling on Amazon can be SUPER profitable, fun and straightforward but there are a few quirks if you jump in without doing your homework.  Customer service is key.  Look after your customer no matter what. Amazon customers buy because they know they’re getting top notch, hassle free service. 

Value your feedback and your account health.   And stay away from high risk brands that are frequently counterfeit.  No P90x, Coach Bags or Beats by Dre.  Start with everyday brands.

2) Where are some good places for retail arbitrage?

Stay off the beaten track.  If a new product appears on the shelves in Walmart, you can guarantee there will be 10 FBA sellers tanking the price in two weeks time.  Source at foreign markets, specialist stores or hit the more unusual chain stores. IKEA is a hidden gem.

Better yet – bundle!  Retail arbitrage has become highly competitive and many savvy sellers are sourcing direct from manufacturers and undercutting everyone. If you bundle creatively, other sellers will have a hard time copying you and buyers will be happy to pay a premium for the convenience and curation of your bundle!

3) What are some useful tools for beginner Amazon FBA sellers?

CamelCamelCamel.  Sales rank is close to meaningless on its own.  A product with a 10k sales rank may sell hundreds in one category and one or two in another.  10k may sell dozens a day at Christmas and one or two in June.  No tool is 100% accurate but CamelCamelCamel can give you a good approximation of sales over a long period.

4) What are some things that new sellers should be aware about?

The market keeps changing.  There will always be sellers with better software and deeper pockets than you.  If that product is on every shelf in Walmart, leave it alone.  Stay creative, ingenious and flexible.  Look for the products other sellers haven’t noticed.  Identify target markets and niches that are poorly supplied.  Look for suppliers no-one else has considered.

5) What are some mistakes you made in your Amazon FBA business that you could share?

Following on from four, I always have a sense that no matter how fast I’m moving, it’s not fast enough.  There are so many opportunities out there.  Things are changing rapidly and there is massive scope to private label your own products, identify opportunities and grow a real brand.   Categories are easier to sell in.  The doors are wide open.

Two years ago, it felt like I was trapped in retail arbitrage, reliant on whatever Big Lots had on their shelves.  Now I realise that any product I dream of selling or any opportunity I happen to spot – I have the power to create it, put it on Amazon’s shelves and get it selling.  This year, I private labeled coffee for just a few hundred dollars and wished I’d got started so much sooner!


I want to thank Daniel, Tracy, Skip,Diana and Katharyne for taking their valuable time to offer tips for new Amazon FBA sellers. That concludes the Amazon FBA expert round-up.

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