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The Amazon Files, hosted by Kristin Ostrander, Amazon business strategist and one of the founders of Mommy Income, hits the airwaves every Tuesday with the real truth about selling on Amazon. This show isn’t about sugar-coated reality. It’s real truth - the good, the bad and the ugly - shared with practical action steps and strategies to help both new and experienced sellers tackle the world’s largest retail sales platform.

Mar 14, 2022

I know that a lot of you out there are still doing retail arbitrage (even though I’d love for you to get into wholesale bundling, which is more sustainable, less risky, and will put more money in your pocket!), so on today’s episode, I’m talking about some of the common mistakes people make in retail arbitrage and how to avoid them. First up, mistake number one is that a lot of people focus way too much on the Amazon Best Sellers Rank (BSR), using it as their only point of data for making buying decisions when they should also be looking at things like the length of product history and the price history. Mistake number two, meanwhile, is an overreliance on Be On the Lookout (BOLO) lists. People waste a lot of time, money, and energy searching for these items without ever finding them, just because they don’t want to do the work. BOLO lists are fine as a jumping-off point, but you’re better off putting in the effort and creating your own process and system that works for you. And mistake number three is buying top-branded, highly ‘counterfeitable’ items, which can get you into trouble if you’re asked for proof of authenticity and can’t provide it.

Mistakes four and five kind of go together: being overly picky and not having a plan. Instead of ping-ponging around a store and cherry-picking items, go with a plan of choosing a specific section and scanning everything there. That way, you’re learning about your market, and by being systematic and organized, you’ll become more efficient and more skilled at knowing the products that’ll sell well. Next, mistake number six is not looking for replenishable items and avoiding seasonal items. Some of these come with added responsibility, especially consumables, but they’re also low-hanging fruit and can be real moneymakers, so think about bringing them to the table when you have the opportunity. And finally, mistake number seven is actually the number one mistake to avoid: not diversifying your business models. By which I mean, if you’re doing retail arbitrage, try diversifying into a little bit of wholesale or private label or something else and give yourself the chance to grow and adapt and get to the next level.

You can chat more with the Amazon Files and Mommy Income community by joining our Facebook group with today’s codeword RAMISTAKES, where you can learn more about bundling, ask questions, and participate in the conversation with other sellers. And if you’re ready to take your business to a whole new level, visit to schedule your one-on-one coaching call today.

This week on the Amazon Files:

  • Retail arbitrage vs. wholesale bundles
  • Common retail arbitrage mistakes
  • Mistake #1: focusing too much on the sales rank
  • Mistake #2: relying on BOLO lists
  • Mistake #3: buying top-branded, highly ‘counterfeitable’ items
  • Mistake #4: being overly picky
  • Mistake #5: not having a plan when you do arbitrage
  • Mistake #6: not looking for replenishable items
  • Mistake #7: not diversifying your business models

You are smart, you are intelligent, you’ve come this far already, you know how to find products. So go do the work and stop trying to have shortcuts all the time. Sometimes there is no shortcut, you just do the work.”

- Kristin Ostrander


I am not a hater of retail arbitrage or online arbitrage. As a matter of fact, it’s a really great place to get started and kind of get your feet wet without spending a lot of money on Amazon. But all work-from-home business models come with their share of pitfalls. And, as an Amazon business, this is no different.”

Reality is, I don’t really want you doing retail arbitrage. I would love you to do something that’s more sustainable, less risky, and puts more money in your pocket for a lot less work.”

I don’t just preach about retail arbitrage being kind of a second-hand type of way for no reason. It’s because I really want you guys to not only build and grow a legitimate business, but then when you’re done with it, or you’re sick of it, or you’re just tired, or some life happens, and you decide to go in a different direction, you have something to sell.”

I know some of you are still doing retail arbitrage, and you’re not into wholesale bundling yet, and that’s okay because you got to just bloom where you’re planted, and that’s where you’re planted right now.”

I know that time is money, and people want to do things fast, fast, fast. But you know what happens when you do things fast? Mistakes. Retail arbitrage mistakes. Mistakes happen when you’re doing it too fast.”

If you’re just going in trying to find all the diamonds in the rough, mining takes a long time. But if you already know how to find them based on scanning and putting stuff in your cart, based on your guidelines and data points, then you don’t need a BOLO list.”

If you do not know how to identify a counterfeit purse even if you’re buying it from TJ Maxx, leave it behind. It’s not worth your account.”

Avoid those really high, expensive brands because otherwise the burden of proof is going to be impossible, and you’re going to get strikes on your account, and you don’t want that.”

Keep your notes. What did you find? What didn’t you find? What were you looking for? Be deliberate and focused. That’s really what you need to do. You have to have a plan.”

Make sure before you start throwing in the excuses, that you had a system, a process, and a plan. And even if you came out empty-handed, then at least you knew you did your best.”

Don’t make that mistake, don’t be that guy or girl that walks in and doesn’t have a plan and sort of just randomly, you know, it’s like shooting a basketball blindfolded. It’s like, you might have the skills to throw a great free throw. But if you’re not standing at the line with your eyes open, you’re just aiming at the wind.”

A lot of times, people will steer away from seasonal. They’re like, I just want evergreen items, I don’t want to worry about seasonal, but there’s big money in seasonal stuff.”

Most of you guys could probably have, you could have wholesale catalogs in your hands by the end of today. It’s not complicated to start wholesale. If you have a reseller certificate, you could literally get wholesale catalogs by the end of today.”

I’m always telling you guys about 80/20. Meaning, do what is working really well for you eighty percent of the time, and you have to incorporate ‘new’ into twenty percent of the time. So if you’re spending ten hours a week on your Amazon business, spend eight of those hours on your retail arbitrage and two hours of that on something new and different.”

What got you here won’t get you to the next step. You’re going to have to learn and change and grow and adapt in order to get to that next level. The next-level stuff starts now.”

I’ve come from there to where I’m at now, and I’m just trying to bring you guys along with me because I’ve been there and done that and know that retail arbitrage is great for a time. But it’s time to grow up. And to get into regular wholesale at least, and then start bundling because that’s where really the money is.”

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Grow Your Amazon Business!

Thanks for tuning into this week’s episode of The Amazon Files, the show to help Amazon sellers along their business journey one step at a time with Amazon expert and your host, Kristin Ostrander. If you enjoyed this episode, head over to Apple Podcasts, subscribe to the show, and leave us your honest review. Don’t forget to share your favorite episodes with your friends on social media! Use the codeword RAMISTAKES to join us on Facebook. Each week, Kristin hosts a live discussion on how to grow your Amazon business. Don’t forget to check out our website and subscribe to our mailing list for even more resources.