EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 313 - June 17, 2012 - ISSN 1528-6703     2 of 6

Repricing Tools Help Small Merchants Win Amazon Buy Box

By Julia Wilkinson

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Those who sell on Amazon.com and some other sites know it can be a constant dance to make sure your products are at the right price point and have a chance of winning the Buy Box. No sooner do you list a book or other item at the lowest price in its condition range, when someone else comes along and undercuts you by a penny.

In order to keep their inventory attractively priced and moving, sellers need to stay on top of their competitors' prices, which are also constantly changing. This means you need to frequently re-price your products, either manually or using a repricing tool.

There are repricing tools that are standalone products, and increasingly, many companies are adding repricing components to their existing tools. EcommerceBytes looks at some of the main repricing tools Amazon sellers use and finds out what they think of them.

Manual Repricing
Some sellers simply reprice manually using Amazon's free seller central inventory tool. These are often those sellers who do not have so much inventory as to make this task overwhelming.

And some are just fine with that. As one Amazon seller says, "I reprice manually. The new additions to the inventory page (low price plus shipping, buy box price) make it easy."

Amazon seller "John" says that whether or not you want to use a repricer depends how many items you have listed. "If you've got a few dozen it is not really a help to use a repricer. If you have a few thousand there is simply no way you can do it manually," he says.

RepriceIt
One of the oldest repricing tools is RePriceIt. The company's website says, "We discovered that most of our prices on Amazon became stale in less than 24 hours, some in less than an hour. It wasn't long before we realized that automated repricing was the only way to effectively compete and increase our revenues." They said when they were unable find a suitable tool, "we built our own repricing application from the ground up."

Above: a look at part of the RePriceIt dashboard from the RePriceIt.com website.

"I use repriceit.com; they've pretty much been around the longest," says a seller named Jake. He says he's used them for at least two years now, and that he thinks they're the most reliable. (He stressed that he is unaffiliated with the company and receives "no compensation for mentioning them").

John says, "Repriceit.com works great; you can either create rules on an item-by-item basis or just have blanket rules covering everything except for items you do not want it to reprice; you can even tell it to ignore certain sellers that are gold-medal winners in the race to the bottom."

John also likes that it "gives you the option to only compete against other FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) sellers."

"I ended up with RepriceIt because it was really the only thing I could find for a small seller that was reasonably priced and at least kept me in the game," said Thom Downing, "tchdwn" on Amazon, who sells about 100 items per month. He says his only complaint is, "I've never really been able to master using it; what I think people do is they take different groups of inventory and they associate different levels of risk...how much what percentage an item can drop; what's your low cap, what's your high cap...whereas I have all of my inventory set up with one set of rules."

Monsoon Commerce
If you're a larger business with a lot of inventory, you may need a more comprehensive solution to manage your inventory and other online selling tasks. Monsoon Commerce, which works mainly with medium-sized businesses in the range of about $250,000 a year through $50 million, offers repricing tools as part of their various seller products.

"Our patented pricing technology automatically and continuously prices and re-prices marketplace listings throughout the day based on rules that sellers define," said Clark Hale, Monsoon Commerce VP of Strategic Relationships.

"These rules can be configured not only by strategy (match lowest price, beat lowest price, etc.) but also by type of competitor (FBA Sellers, Low Feedback, Featured Merchants, etc.) and these rules can also be applied differently based on a multitude of inventory categories and classifications," he added.

Monsoon's pricing tools are available for several different marketplaces and global regions, including Amazon.com, eBay, and Amazon UK. "The pricing rules also allow sellers to create a "price floor" to ensure cost of goods are covered and margins maintained," said Hale.

The pricing engine is a standard feature in Monsoon's Connect, Edge and Pro products. "Our customers have found that it gives them a competitive advantage over other sellers' listings on the marketplaces, regardless of the size of their business. It's an essential feature for any marketplace seller that wants to maximize sales and profit," said Hale.

Monsoon charges a one-time implementation fee, and then pricing is based on a Cost per Action with starting prices listed on each of the products on their website - for example, here is the Pro pricing plan.

NeatoScan and The Art of Books
After trying many repricers, a seller named Laura said she finally migrated to Neato. She said it has an "expensive setup, but the repricer has so much more flexibility than AoB (ArtofBooks), RePriceIt, etc." She says "We have about 5000 SKUs."

One seller posting on an Amazon-related forum prefers the Art of Books: "For everything it does for the price, I don't think it can be beat. I tried FillZ before AOB and hated it, plus their minimum fee is $50 per month," they said.

Repricing Console and Seller Engine
One tool called Repricing Console is currently available for free and works as a Google Chrome browser extension. "It enhances the browser and adds the ability to reprice your Amazon.com inventory straight from your computer bypassing a third party," writes its developer on an Amazon selling community forum.

You can see a demo of it on the Google Chrome Store. The tool is only free for now while it's in beta, however, eventually the software will cost $100.

An Amazon seller who says they've looked into a lot of different repricers prefers a tool by Seller Engine. "I've spent a lot of time researching repricers and in the end nothing beats Seller Engine. Seller Engine will do everything you listed and is one of the only repricers with a floor and ceiling (most just have a floor). They also have a great logging tool so you can see exactly why your item was repriced to its new dollar amount," they said.

According to the description on its website, among the services SellerEngine provides are the following: "re-prices your items based on rival seller activity and customizable pricing rules you create. SellerEngine Plus also lets you apply different sets of rules for different types of items and create alerts to warn you if you have priced your items too high or too low."

When No Repricer Is Good Enough
But some sellers, regardless of their size and volume, prefer to do their own repricing. One seller named Jim wrote on an online selling forum, "I've tried a few repricers over the years, and did not find one that made me comfortable." (He said if he did use one it would be Soloist/AOB because it's free - since he already uses AOB, and "the script allows greater control.").

Some sellers feel one of the problems is that the difference between book condition and their prices - even those with the same stated condition such as "Very Good" (VG) - can be too great to rely on an automatic tool. Jim said he periodically review his prices manually, looking at the listings on Amazon. "For some books, I'll also look at what's offered on other sites. Too many exceptions and variations to account for. A book rated as "Very Good" (VG) might be anything from a library discard missing the dust jacket (misgraded) to almost like new with no markings."

He says some of his VG books "are better than others. I price competitively relative to copies in the same or better condition with descriptions from reputable sellers. I worked a bit on a script for the Soloist repricer in AOB, but by the time I ignored thriftbooks and their affiliates, BWB, International/ProQuo, all the known dropshippers, and sellers with less than some number of feedbacks, there was very often not enough data left to work with."

Other sellers can't find a tool that meets their needs, or that they think is worth the price. Another Amazon seller named Bob said, "I simply haven't been able to make any repricing tool do everything I want it to, so I'm still doing manual repricing."

He said, "I've tried the FBARepricer from the FBAPower folks. I also used to use the repricer in the Art of Books, when I was strictly media. The existing tools try to be a "one-size fits all," but they don't work for my current business model. I deal with a lot of OOS (Out of Stock) products, where I may only be up against a couple of other sellers, if any at all."

But he says he also has some emerging products, where he needs to do aggressive repricing, or else "I'll be buried on the 3rd page at the end of a week."

He says what would work best for him is a variety of repricing methodologies, that he could assign per SKU, rather than using a single method for his entire inventory. "An example might be: SR (Sales Rank) < 1000, match the lowest seller price, and reprice hourly, with a floor price of $x.xx to not go below." He says that is one simple example and would be used for "certain hot items that I want in and out of very quickly, because I know prices will tank as other sellers start pushing them."

Although this article focuses mainly on repricing tools for small sellers on Amazon.com, with many comments coming from people who sell books and other media items, repricing isn't just for books - in fact, there are many sophisticated tools for large merchants to help them continually reprice commodity inventory.

EcommerceBytes has written about Profitero, Teikametrics and Mercent, for example, and there are other such programs out there. So whatever you're selling and whatever your size, keep in mind you benefit of having a repricing strategy of your own.

But whichever method you go with, you should make sure you understand exactly how the repricer works. As one seller cautions, "You need to be really careful with repricers, because they will do exactly what you tell them to do."

And one seller sums it up with this sardonic comment: "I'm pretty sure there is a ring in the Inferno just for repricers."

Comment on the AuctionBytes Blog.

Some Repricing Services and Tools

Amazon Seller Central (Manual): Free.

The Art of Books Commission fee schedule starting at 1.25% for $0-$10,000 sales.

Amanpro Free 21-day trial.

AppEagle Free 30-day trial; plans start at Basic: $24/mo. for 1000 listings.

ChannelMAX.Net Price ranges from $9.99 for 500 SKUs to $44.99 for 10,000 SKUs.

eComEngine Contact for a quote.

Feedvisor Price: 1% of sales, but only for items being repriced.

FBAPower FBA Repricer FBAPower Pack (includes FBAScout and FBAPower) for $59.95/month.

FillZ Free 30-day trial; two pricing plans based on either revenue or inventory; starting at $50 for under $3000 revenue, or $1 per 1,000 listings.

Monsoon Commerce One-time implementation fee, then pricing is based on cost per action.

Neatoscan Free 14-Day trial; packages vary, some come with scanner.

Profitero Contact for a quote. The company told me, "It depends on the number of product and number of competitors; it ranges from $1,000 to $5,000 per month."

Repriceit.com Free 30-day trial; plans start at $9.95/mo. (for inventory of Basic 1 - 500 items, and go up from there based on no. of items in inventory).

RepricerExpress Free 15-day trial; plan start at Basic: $45/mo. for 2,500 SKUs.

Repricing Console Free while in Beta; eventually $100.

Seller Engine Free 30-day trial; flat monthly rate of $49.95.

Teikametrics Contact for a quote, 14-day trial available. The company told me, "Our repricing tools start at around $300 a month, but we have been focusing on high volume merchants who require customization and deeper analysis."

Upstream Commerce Basic plans start at up to 1500 tracked products; contact for a quote.

WisePricer Free 90-day trial, supports repricing in eBay, Amazon and most popular shopping carts; flat monthly fee of $49.


About the author:

Julia Wilkinson is the author of "The eBay Price Guide" (No Starch Press, 2006) and "eBay Top 100 Simplified Tips & Tricks" (Wiley, 2004-6). Her free "Yard Salers" newsletter is at available at YardSalers.net where you will also find her latest ebook, Flip It Again.


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