This week we have David Penley who is the creator and moderator of the popular Facebook group called “Shoe Sourcing Online”. A group focused on sourcing and selling shoes on Amazon. David also runs a daily shoe list service where subscribers get a list of profitable shoes that can be sourced online and sold on Amazon for a profit. David has been selling on Amazon for several years and has made shoe selling an integral part of his business with shoe sales encompassing over 50% of his overall sales on Amazon. Along with selling shoes, David has also been helping sellers get approved in some of Amazons gated categories for the last year with Affordable Approvals ungating service.
What’s a good sales rank in shoes?
This is by far THE most asked question in our Facebook group and by anyone who is interested in selling shoes on Amazon. It sounds like a simple question that should have a simple answer. Unfortunately, there really is no simple, one answer that can be safely applied. Most sellers are used to categories such as Toys and Kitchen, where almost all of the listings are for a single product with no choices of colors or sizes. A quick look at the sales rank number and the category will tell most experienced sellers whether it’s a fast seller or long term hold. Why doesn’t this also work in shoes? One word: Variations.
Time for a little math
The single most important thing about selling shoes is understanding how variations effect sales rank. The number of variations is, for me, the “make or break” factor when making a buying decision. To see why, let’s take a look at some numbers. Take for example a shoe listing with the following stats:
- Sales rank in Shoes: 5,082
- 300+ reviews
- ROI of 90% (based on our buy cost)
- Low number of sellers
These stats look like a no-brainer in just about any category but what if I told you that you could be sitting on these for several months or longer. Let’s look a little deeper and go to the product page for more specific information:
28 color variations
Each color has 12 sizes available
The listing has duplicate color variations with slightly different color names (all have sizes available)
Multiplied out, this listing has a total of 336 variations all sharing the single sales rank
If this went from an excited “clear the shelf!” to a hesitant “I’m not so sure…” reaction than you’re starting to understand! Let’s make another example and flip things around a little.
Sales rank in Shoes: 119,548
ROI of 70%
At first glance, it might be a “Meh” and pass up. But if you go to the product page and look closer:
Only a single color (no selection for color variations)
Only 2 sizes showing available
Multiplied out, this listing has a total of 2 variations sharing the sales rank.
One seller is MF (No FBA offers)
Several of the reviews are within the last 3 months
Now this is the kind of item that gets me excited but how many sellers would have just passed it up? I sell these types often and they often sell in less than 30 days.
As you can see, variations can really change the outlook of a product. To be fair, I might still buy a few of the ones in the first example but I know from experience that I might be holding on to them a while. So if my buy cost is low, I might buy a couple of some of the basic colors (White and Black for example). But if my sourcing funds were limited, I would pass up on the first and buy as many of the second that I can afford. You will basically own that listing, especially if you can find sizes and colors of that shoe that are not currently in stock.
Based on the sales rank, how many of this item sell per day, week or month?
This is another common question and really has the same answer as above. It really depends on many factors which include the number of variations along with the size and color you have. There really is no way to know what size or color will happen to sell on any given day. Generally, I see most of my purchases sell within 90 days and I am very happy with that. I don’t discriminate when it comes to size and color, nor do I try and figure out which one is more popular than another. The best thing to do is mix up your purchases and spread them out over as many variations as you can. I have learned not to buy more than 3-4 of a single ASIN (size/color). If I find a good deal on a shoe and they have 5 sizes available, I will buy 3 of each size regardless of what those sizes are. Some people say to try and buy the “popular sizes” but for me, all sizes sell equally well. Generally speaking, shoes have a higher outlay of cash then other categories so you want to be sure you’re not tying up that money for several months or longer. The key to selling shoes consistently is to have a diverse inventory spread out among many ASINS. There are so many great deals out there in shoes that it is easy to find a wide range of inventory. Doing this, you will build up an inventory of shoes and will start seeing shoe sales on a daily basis.
I want to start sourcing shoes, can’t you just give me a sales rank number to stay under?
OK, so you’re excited about shoes and want to start sourcing right away and all this talk about variations and rank is making your head spin! If you want to be safe and just start dipping your toes in the waters you can follow some simple rules. Of course, you may miss some great opportunities but you are less likely to buy duds and lose your shirt.
- Stay under 30K sales rank
- Only buy if there are less than 5 color variations
- Pass if there are zero reviews
- Pass if there are more than 2 FBA sellers at your expected sell price
Keep in mind, you will be passing up some great buys but it may be safer in the beginning. Start with these guidelines and see how things sell for you. Adjust them up as you get more comfortable with looking at and sourcing shoes. Shoes do tend to have a greater cost of goods but the average ROI and less competition make it a very rewarding category.
I want to start sourcing, where should I look?
For me, sourcing online has been the best opportunity out there. There are so many websites that offer deals every day on shoes it’s ridiculous! For example, our shoe find service has a growing list of online retailers that currently has over 80 websites to source from so the opportunities are endless. If you have the time, you can source all of these yourself every day and find deals. Of course, always keep an eye on the shoe lots here at 888 Lots. I recently had the opportunity to purchase a lot of shoes from them and can honestly say I could not have been more impressed. The quality was better than most orders I get from regular online retailers. Every shoe was exactly what I had expected, brand new in the box. The best thing is, I have already sold most of the shoes from that lot and realized a very nice profit. You can also find deals occasionally at retail stores but that’s a very small part of my sourcing.
David can be reached via email at email@example.com, or via Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/david.penley.10, you can also join our free Shoe Sourcing Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1027819450571247/,
You can also contact him through his website at http://www.affordableapprovals.com/home/list-sourcing-for-shoes/
Disclaimer: The information and views presented in this blog post are the opinions of the guest author, and not necessarily those of 888 Lots.