So you’re in the middle of a store and you’ve just scanned an item. The profit is good, but the rank is in a category you’re not entirely comfortable with yet. What do you do? Many beginners will use JungleScout estimator, a tool that allows you to select a category and give an estimated sales rank and it will calculate how many sales that product has per month. How does this work? Well, in the military, we would have called this level of technology “PFM”. There seems to be a lot of “PFM” going around when it comes to selling on Amazon, but that’s another story…
While JungleScount estimator is easy to use and will give a decent idea of how often the item sells, it doesn’t give you the whole story. In some cases, after analyzing other tools, it seems to be flat out wrong. Those other tools are what we will be talking about today. To really understand what is going on with a product, you will need to take advantage of Keepa and/or CamelCamelCamel (CCC for short).
Both of these sites provide charts that allow you to see at a glance what the history of the product has been. The problem is that while tons of information is available in these charts, they can get rather complicated. All of these jagged lines, colors, and shading crammed into such a small little square can be intimidating to the uninitiated. Hopefully, by the end of this tutorial, you’ll be able to read these charts like an old pro.
Keepa Chart Basics
First, let’s look at the separate parts that go into making a Keepa chart.
Looking at the above chart, you’ll notice that most of the chart is shaded in with a peach/pink color. This indicates that Amazon is selling this item. The orange line at the top of this shaded area indicates Amazon’s price. In this example, Amazon has not changed their price or gone out of stock. You know that because they entire chart is shaded in and the orange line at the top is at the same level all the way across.
The blue line is “Marketplace New”. This indicates the lowest third party seller. This line can be misleading for the FBA seller because it only shows the lowest price available. In most cases, that will be a merchant fulfilled seller. As if that wasn’t enough to throw you off, it also doesn’t include shipping. So don’t freak out when you see that a particular product is selling for $3 like this one was on April 6/7. Most likely that price is MF and has shipping tacked on to it. This is not your competition.
The black line is “Marketplace Used.” Just like it sounds, it shows the lowest price in used. The same issues with MF and shipping apply as above, with the additional problem that it doesn’t indicate condition. This line is the most useless data point on a Keepa chart. You may want to click the legend to the right where it says “Marketplace Used” and turn off this indication just to clean up the graph for other data points. I won’t be going into this line if further detail.
The green line is possibly the most important piece of data on the chart. This is the sales rank over time. The best sellers rank, or BSR, compares how an item is selling to other items in the same category.
Analyzing the Data
Let’s look more at what the orange Amazon line can tell you. In the chart above, you can see gaps in the shading. This tells you that Amazon goes in and out of stock. On some charts, it will be obvious that Amazon goes out of stock frequently. This could be an opportunity for you. Of course, you realize that gets Amazon out of your way in competition for sales, but there’s another big factor.On charts where this happens frequently, check the third party prices during that time.
On charts where this happens frequently, check the third party prices during that time. Chances are, they go up. In the majority of the cases where Amazon goes out of stock, the price can be raised above the point it was selling when Amazon was on the listing. In fact, if you look at the third party sellers when Amazon is in stock and they are quite a bit higher than Amazon, this indicates confidence on their part that Amazon will again run out of stock. They are patiently waiting.
The orange line indicating price isn’t as useful as you may think. You may see it jump around all over the pace for no apparent reason. You may see it look like a staircase steadily going either up or down, then suddenly jump a ridiculous amount in the other direction.
There will be the occasion where these movements make sense, such as when a new third party seller comes on to a listing and naively thinks they can simply lower their price to beat Amazon. In these cases, you’ll see Amazon’s price slowly drop, following the third party seller down. At some point, you will see Amazon’s price go back up. This is when one of two things happened. Either the third party sold their item, or gave up trying to beat Amazon and raised their price back up. Sadly, if it is the case that the item sold, the seller may see this as an effective technique and will repeat it again. If you find yourself in this position, don’t try to beat them. Match them and wait your turn at the buy box.
Most of the time though, the movement of Amazon’s price point will seem completely random, as in the example above. That’s because it is. Amazon has algorithms that are steadily working behind the scenes analyzing sales and traffic. These price changes could be due to this, or they could simply be testing the market at a certain price point.
Third Party Seller Line
As discussed before, this line is not completely reliable. Since it usually gives you merchant fulfilled listings and doesn’t include shipping in the price point, it rarely gives you insight on your competition. In some cases, though, it can tell you that the price hikes up when Amazon goes out of stock. This is very important information that could play into your buying decision.
While we can gather some valuable information from the rest of the chart, there is little doubt that “thin green line” is the most relevant to what we do. Let’s delve into this line, what it can tell us, and what it doesn’t tell us.
The BSR number itself doesn’t really give you a very good idea of how the item really sells. This is because it is only really an indication of recent sales. What this means is that even a particularly slow selling item may currently have a decent-looking BSR if someone just bought six of them yesterday. But if you look at the Keepa chart, the trending line may let you know differently.
First, let’s see what exactly we are looking for on the BSR line.
This chart comes from an item that is currently ranked about 125k in Toys and Games. As you see in the lower right corner, I have zoomed in to a week time period to get a better look at what is going on. You can see that the sales rank rises up slowly, then drops sharply several times. The times it is going up are times that the listing is sitting with no sales. When you see a drastic drop, that means there was a sale.
This particular chart illustrates three things. First, notice that there are three drops within this week. This gives you a good idea of sales volume, although you may want to zoom out to a longer time period to get a better idea of what it does over the long term. Simply zoom out to the time period you want to check and count the drops in the hills.
Secondly, there seems to be a relationship to price and sales on this listing. It looks like Amazon keeps trying to get this item to sell at $60, but the sales usually happen at around $55.
Finally, I wanted to use this illustration to show you what I mean about the fact that BSR is simply a moment in time. If you would have scanned this item in a store around April 9th, you may have been shown a sales rank of around 40k. This is because it had just recently sold. If you scanned it now, it would tell you a BSR of around 125k. Your purchasing decision is drastically different at a rank of 40k versus a rank of 125k, isn’t it? Same item, same week, drastically different BSR numbers.
In the above example, you can see some rather lazy peaks and valleys in the sales rank number until Amazon comes back into stock, then the sales really take off. This is a pretty good indication that when Amazon is out of stock, the seller that has the buy box is MF. This could be an opportunity for you as an FBA seller if there is data that would lead you to believe Amazon will go out of stock again in the near future. You may be able to list a product on such a listing as an FBA seller and really rack up some sales the next time Amazon runs out of stock.
With some items, it is useful to know data throughout the year. The above example is from a Christmas wreath. As you can see, this item has spent most of the past year at around $200 and a BSR of 250k. Around the middle of November, Amazon comes in on the listing at a more reasonable $29.99. At that point, the BSR drops all the way down to the 250 range.
While this is an extreme example, it does illustrate what happens to a seasonal item throughout the year. Keep this in mind When scanning Christmas decorations in summer or BBQ grills in winter. All the history you need to make an informed decision is available right here.
Camel Camel Camel
I’ve been spending a lot of time talking about Keepa charts. This is simply my personal preference because I see them as easier to pull more information out of, but Camel Camel Camel can be a useful tool as well. The two companies track differently and you will see an occasional difference in depth of information between the two.
The above chart is the same item as the last example we discussed. It is set at a one-month range, as seen on the right. CCC doesn’t offer a one-week range. The first thing you may notice is that it is upside down compared to Keepa. The higher number sales rank is at the bottom while the lower number sales rank is at the top. This means that sales rank line will steadily drop down while no sales are happening, then jump up when the item sells, the exact opposite of what Keepa does. This may take a little getting used to when switching between the two charts.
This chart does give you some extra data that a Keepa chart doesn’t give. If you notice out to the right side of the chart, and down at the bottom, it tells you what the best sales rank and the worst has been during the selected time period. This information can be much more useful than the simple moment-in-time number that your scanning app provides.
The biggest drawback that I see with CCC can be seen at the top of the chart. The price history and sales rank are on different charts available by switching between tabs. This can make it difficult to see correlations between price and sales.
Now that you understand how to tell if an item is a good seller, it’s time to talk about some good places to find Amazon inventory.
If you have any further questions about how these charts work, feel free to ask them in the comments section below. You may also come and join us in our Facebook group where you’ll find many helpful Amazon sellers willing to help answer any question you may have. Hope to see you there!