Helping You with Your Amazon FBA Business

Shoe Progress Report: Sales, Profits and More!

Recent retail arbitrage shoe purchases.Hi everyone!  In this post, I’m going to talk more about my progress with selling shoes on Amazon!  I still love that category and plan on making shoes a big part of my business this year.

If you haven’t seen my first shoe post, then please read Increase Your Profits & Save Time by Selling Shoes before reading this post!

Since doing that post, I’ve had several questions about my general progress, the sourcing list that I joined and my return rate.  I’ll go over all of that plus more…

How Many Shoes Sold and Returned?

In just over two months, I sold 41 shoes and had 2 returns.  This gives me a return rate of 4.88%.  Though my return rate is low, it’s still early.  Many of the shoes that I sold are still inside the customer’s 30-day return window.

What Are Your Sales, Profit and ROI Numbers?

Here’s a quick spreadsheet of my December 2015 (partial month), January 2016 and February 2016 (partial month) numbers:

Snapshot of Amazon FBA shoe sales

As you can see, the number of shoes that I’m selling is increasing each month.  I believe this is due to just having more shoe inventory in stock.

However, my ROI% number has gone down in February.  I believe this is partially due to my “buy cost” increasing with some of my online arbitrage orders when I end up paying sales tax and/or shipping.  In comparison, with retail arbitrage, I have never paid a penny in sales tax or shipping on any of my shoe purchases.

Plus, I had one bad sale that I barely made any money on.  I paid too much for the shoe, the selling price dropped on Amazon and to be honest, I was happy to just make my money back.  But, it dropped my overall February ROI% down.

Bad Shoe Purchase

When I started shoes (all RA), I focused mainly on athletic shoes and my Nike and Reeboks sell pretty fast. With online arbitrage, I’ve been purchasing a wider variety of shoe styles.

Also, as for sizes, all of my size 12 to 14 in men’s shoes sell out pretty quickly.

Online Sourcing Lists

David Penley’s List
I joined David Penley’s shoe sourcing list for one month.  I did his Gold Plan which gives subscribers a sourcing list 5 days a week.  I was very impressed with the number & quality of finds received each day and with the variety of stores sourced.

I ended up buying 35 shoes from the list.  Some shoes were the actual shoe shown on the sourcing list and some were shoes that I found on my own, using the list as a starting point.

I did cancel the list after one month, but that had nothing to do with the quality of the list.  Because of my schedule, I wasn’t always home when it was sent out and by the time I did look at the list later on, many of the shoes were already sold out.

Quincy Lin’s List
Two weeks ago, I joined one of Quincy Lin’s shoe sourcing lists.  I joined the 2-day list option in which I receive a list on Tuesday and Thursdays.  This works better with my schedule and I know to be home on Tuesday and Thursday mornings so I can get to the list right away.

Like David’s list, I’m very impressed with the quality of Quincy’s list.  I do like that he adds a small picture of the shoe’s Keepa graph to his spreadsheet.  It’s nice so you can quickly see how often Amazon is in stock without having to switch to another screen.

Towards the end of my 30-day subscription period, I’ll decide if I’ll continue with the list or not.

Concerns with Online Ordering

Bad Packaging:
My first online order that I received was a disappointment because the shoe box was in very poor condition.  I posted a picture of it on Facebook and here’s a picture of it again:

Shoes Bad Packaging

I returned that pair of shoes and fortunately, most of my shoe boxes received since then have been in great condition.

Cancellation of Orders
Several times a week, I see posts from other Shoe Sellers that their online order was cancelled.  Apparently, many online retailers are not reseller friendly and will cancel your order or even ban you from ordering from them again for the following reasons:

  1. The shoe store recognized the shipping address as a Prep Center address.
  2. There were too many shoes purchased in a single order.
  3. There were multiples of the same shoe in a single order.

At this time, I have never had a shoe order cancelled.  I’m trying to lay low and fly under the radar by purchasing just enough shoes to qualify for free shipping (if offered) and by ordering different shoe styles.

However, I am planning on testing out my first Prep company soon and I’m hoping that none of my orders get cancelled.

Keeping Your Shoe Buy Costs Low

Shoes are an expensive category compared to the categories that many FBA Sellers start out with: books, toys and household items.

To lower my shoe costs, I look for shoes that are on sale or on clearance.  Then I see if I can lower the price further by using store reward points and coupons.  Here are two examples of retail arbitrage purchases using those methods:

1.  DSW Shoes is a great store to buy shoes from.  I’m a member of their store rewards program and recently went shopping there with a $10.00 rewards certificate.  Combining that with their 70% off clearance deal, I paid $31.96 for two pairs of ECCO shoes or $15.98 each:

DSW Shoes Example

2.  At Famous Footwear, I combined a store sale, a $10.00 Rewards coupon and a 15% off cell phone coupon (from the Famous Footwear app) to get a great price on two pairs of Vans.  I paid $37.48 for both pairs or $18.74 each:

Famous Footwear Example

Of course, you don’t have to shop in-person to take advantage of deals.  I recently bought 5 pairs of shoes online from Sierra Trading Post.  On that day, their current promotion was 25% off any order of $200.00 or more.  So, I found my shoes and went to cash out and then eek, saw that there were shipping fees of $15.95.

Since I remembered that I previously signed up for their email list, I went to my Gmail account and found a coupon code for 25% off any order (no minimum purchase) and FREE shipping!

Of course, I used Ebates and earned $4.25 from that purchase that I’ll receive in my next Big Fat Check.


My last Ebates Big Fat Check!

Also, with all of my purchases, I use a credit card that gives me 1.5% cash back.

As you can see, there are many ways to save money on your shoes.  Another option is purchasing discounted gift cards.  I haven’t done this yet but will look into it.

How Are You Prepping Your Shoes?

I’m a poly bagger at heart so it’s very hard for me to not poly bag my shoe boxes.  So, I’ve been poly bagging most of them and using stretch wrap on the shoe boxes that don’t fit inside a poly bag very well.  I also purchased large rubber bands and I’m using them for my first time today with my current batch of shoes.

Rubber Bands

The above stretch wrap is a 5″ roll.  But the next time I buy stretch wrap, I’m going to buy this 2″ roll which was recommended by another Shoe Seller:
Also, here is the Amazon link to the rubber bands that I purchased: Pale Crepe Gold Rubber Bands.  These were also recommend by another Shoe Seller.

By the way, I read that David Penley uses stretch wrap on his boxes and I talked to a prep company and they use rubber bands.

Also, I bought tissue paper from Michaels and place the tissue paper inside of the shoe boxes that do not come with any.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the type of tissue paper that I bought on either the Michaels or Amazon website, but it’s a 125-sheet package by Celebrate It™™.

Next Step – Get the Volume Up!

I’m happy with my initial results but I do want to make more money!

As with any FBA category, it’s about selling enough volume.  My shoe inventory is pretty low as I have about 80 pairs left to sell.  About 40 of those shoes aren’t even at Amazon yet.

My goal is to get my inventory up to 400 shoes and to get there, I figure I need to ship in 30 pairs of shoes a week.  This is a big jump from my normal 10 to 12 pairs a week that I’ve been shipping in.

I’ll give you an update at a later time, but now I’m interested in learning about your progress into the shoe category.  Please tell me how you’re doing either in the comment section below or on my Facebook page!

Learn to Sell Shoes!

3/3/17 Update: Learn more about selling shoes with Stephen Smotherman’s new course,  The Reseller’s Guide to Selling Shoes!

{ 30 comments… add one }
  • Teena Murray February 23, 2016, 6:26 pm

    Great post. I learn so much from you! I didn’t even know about the two inch shrink wrap. I want to get some of that! If you want to post an affiliate link to it, I’ll happily get it from your link, as I wouldn’t even know about it otherwise!

    • Diana February 23, 2016, 7:42 pm

      Hi Teena,

      I do post my Amazon affiliate links so when you click on the stretch wrap and purchase it, I’ll get credit for it. Thank you for using them!

      I haven’t tried the 2″ wrap yet but it was recommended by another shoe seller from my Q4 Coaching Group. I’m going to buy some as soon as I run out of my 5″ roll.

      If you try the 2″ wrap before me, let me know how you like it!

  • Lene Ring February 23, 2016, 6:46 pm

    Great post. Got a lot of good information from you. I am also selling shoes in AZ and I really like it.

    • Diana February 23, 2016, 7:44 pm

      Hi Lene,
      That’s great that you’re selling shoes too and that you like it!

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!


  • Michele B February 23, 2016, 6:52 pm

    Hi Diana. I also started selling shoes a couple of months ago. My results have been mixed but I am learning a lot. Thanks for the tip on the 2″ stretch wrap…I had given up looking for that!

    I enjoy reading your blog. You always have lots of good info.


    • Diana February 23, 2016, 7:45 pm

      Hi Michelle,

      I haven’t tried the 2″ stretch wrap yet but it was recommended by another shoe seller from my Q4 Coaching group. It looks like it’ll be easier to handle.

      I’m still learning a lot too and about the shoe category. Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving a comment!


  • Ree Klein February 23, 2016, 7:42 pm

    Hi Diana ~
    I’m so glad the shoes are working out so nicely for you. February hasn’t been so good for my product, I think due to some changes Amazon implemented on the 2nd to their advertising system. I understand they are looking into reversing that change or fixing it somehow. Anyway, sales are sales and I should be happy with the $997 so far. I haven’t had to ship any new stock in since I have a surplus.

    Can’t wait to meet you in person this weekend at the ASD Trade Show!


    • Diana February 23, 2016, 7:51 pm

      Hi Ree,
      I hope that Amazon’s advertising works better for you when they fix it. But there’s nothing wrong with $997!

      I can’t believe the trade show is just a few days from now and I’m excited to meet you too!


  • raj February 23, 2016, 10:25 pm

    Hi Diana,

    I am so happy that your sales went up and you are doing fantastic in this category. I just want to say it is all thanks to you that I got approved and decided to dig into this category.

    I just bought 130 pairs of shoes in past 3 days. So far I recived 20 pairs. I am waiting for other pairs to come.

    I was wondering if you could provide information regarding what is the shoe sale rank you look for when you buy your shoes. And maybe some good places to buy discounted shoes.

    Thank you.

    • Diana February 23, 2016, 10:39 pm

      Hi Raj,
      Wow, you are really hustling with all of those shoe purchases!

      When I started, I made it simple and kept my ranking at below 10,000. But now, I do go higher if there are fewer shoe variations (sizes and colors). I don’t track which ranks sell the best because the rank can vary very quickly and the same shoe variations share the same ranking too. But, typically, I’m below 50,000 and in a few cases, I went to the low 100,000’s.

      I buy shoes everywhere. Locally, I shop at Fred Meyer, DSW Shoes, Famous Footwear, Kmart (for children’s shoes), the Outlet Stores and even Sportman’s Warehouse. I found a very profitable shoe there in the clearance section.

      For online arbitrage shoe store ideas, I would go to Ebates and see what shoe retailers are listed there. Every online retailer that I purchased shoes from (except for 6pm) are on the Ebates site. Then from there, look for the sale/clearance page. Then sign up for the mailing lists, points programs and look for coupon codes to reduce your buy cost.

      Good luck on your shoes and keep me posted on how your sales go once you get going.


  • Devon February 24, 2016, 5:31 pm

    Hi Diana,

    Thanks for the post. I’ve followed your blog for a little while but haven’t commented. I just started FBA in January and jumped in with shoes. So far I’ve been finding things on my own through OA but I purchased one of the a-la-carte lists from Quincy Lin to check it out. Have you found your shoe purchases from lists selling pretty quickly? While both Quincy and David’s lists seem pretty limited in circulation I worry about all that cash being tied up for too long with multiple sellers on the same listing. I’m just wondering what your experience has been on the shoes you’ve purchased from lists so far.
    Thanks for the great content!

    • Diana February 24, 2016, 7:29 pm

      Hi Devon,
      Good question and I’m impressed that you jumped in with shoes! When I started selling on Amazon, shoes was an “advanced” category and maybe because back then, it was very hard to get approved in shoes.

      In general, I have noticed that my RA purchases sell more quickly than my OA purchases. However, with the OA orders, I haven’t tracked it so specifically if the shoe that sold was on the list or just from the same store as other shoes on the list. Sometimes I find my own shoes once I get to a specific store from the list.

      I know that with RA, I focus mainly on athletic shoes with low ranks. With OA, I buy different variety of styles and have gone with higher rankings. So, maybe the shoe style and higher rankings are contributing to the slower sales.

      The competition is a concern, but I haven’t seen any instances yet where it went from 0,1 or 2 Sellers to all of a sudden 50 Sellers on the same listing. Now, that has happened with the non-shoe lists that I joined in the past and that’s why I stopped doing the lists for general household items.

      With the lists, it’s all about tracking and figuring out if you found enough shoes to pay for the list cost plus more on top of that. Is the list saving you time in sourcing on your own? I’ll be analyzing those questions a little later but before my 30-days are over with Quincy’s list.

      I wish I had a better answer, but like I said, I really haven’t tracked it as well as I should have.


      • Devon February 24, 2016, 8:38 pm

        That’s helpful to hear. I thought about giving a list a try because I’m having a hard time thinking beyond what I would normally wear, which is also athletic shoes. Since I’m only selling shoes with FBA it should be pretty easy for me to track what were my finds, and what came from lists… As you mentioned time is also a factor. I spent many many hours sourcing my first 13 pairs of shoes with my initial $600 investment. Though they sold in two weeks with an average of 120% ROI it’s definitely not sustainable for me to do that much digging every week – nor do I want to!

        I’m looking forward to your next post and your thoughts on the lists. Thanks!

  • Valerie February 25, 2016, 5:09 pm

    Hi Diana!
    Glad to hear your shoes update- it does seem to be working out well for you. Similar to the above poster, I tried Quincy’s al a care list last week. I did get a few off the list, and like you mentioned, I strayed off and found a few of my own from that list.
    If nothing else, the list got me thinking outside the box a bit more. And I’m also liking your suggestion as using the rebate sites as a starting point, and I’ve already sourced a few additional using that method. I’ve been reigning in the RA because I’m getting more comfortable with the OA, but maybe I’m a month or so I will re examine these ROIs to see what’s doing better.
    Also, I know your a big ebates fan (me too), but when it comes to athletic shoes, I would definitely check out Active Junky – they were 3 or 4% higher for one of my OA purchases. Thanks for the update! Look forward to more.

    • Diana February 25, 2016, 8:40 pm

      Hey Valerie,
      Sounds like you’re doing well with shoes too and I’m glad that you’re finding more shoes with OA. I seem to do better with RA and just enjoy doing RA more than OA. But I know to get to the volume I want, I need to continue with OA. There’s only so many stores nearby to go to.

      Also, thank you so much for the Active Junkie tip – I went over there and saw that Sierra Trading Post is 8% cash back. That’s much higher than Ebates! I’m going to sign up with them today.


  • john March 15, 2016, 2:48 am

    Diana, what resources would you recommend for learning the ins and outs of selling shoes?

    • Diana March 15, 2016, 3:49 am

      Hi John,
      So far, the best place I know is David Penly’s Facebook group and the post that he wrote on the 888 Lots Blog.

      If you haven’t read his post or joined his FB Group, I would start there. Also there are YouTube videos and a book you can buy at I bought the book and it’s good, but I didn’t find a lot of info that I didn’t already know about.

      Another option is to contact Quincy Lin at GatedList as he offers private coaching. I haven’t done any private coaching with him, but have chatted with him a few times on Facebook. He’s very nice and he knows shoes!

      I really wish that I had a great “shoe-learning” manual to recommend, but I don’t…I looked and there’s not too much out there.


      • John May 21, 2016, 3:17 am

        Diana, I started using Quincy Lin’s find list. I like that there are so many info on it. It’s a good learning tool. However, one big concern for me is that majority of the finds have amazon on the listing. Does AZ ever share the buy box with you? How do you compete with AZ? Also usually how deep do you buy from each ASIN?

        • Diana May 21, 2016, 1:36 pm

          Hi John,
          I typically do not buy shoes that Amazon also sells. There are a lot of shoes out there that Amazon isn’t on the listing, so I just get those instead. As a side note, I’m no longer using Quincy or David’s lists. They were good to learn about the stores they source at and what criteria they’re looking for. I just don’t purchase many shoes online anymore because I have a lot of good local shoe stores nearby.

          I go very wide and not deep. If I find a good shoe, I’ll check the other sizes to see which ones are the most profitable and I might by 2 or 3 of the same shoe but in different sizes. With RA, you can check the other sizes easily using Scoutify. With online arbitrage, RevSeller is a great tool to quickly check all of the variations and see how many other sellers there are. It’s also a great way to find the out-of-stock sizes.

          A few times though, I did buy two of the same shoe/size. With those, I’ll send one in and then send the 2nd one in a future shipment. At least in my experience, if I have multiples of the same shoe in the same shipping plan, Amazon will ship the 2nd shoe in a single-shipment to a separate warehouse where all of the other shoes go to another warehouse.


  • Andrew March 23, 2016, 8:22 pm

    When scanning shoes in store, what app are you using? The amazon seller app never shows me the sales rank of the shoe.


    • Diana March 23, 2016, 8:45 pm

      Hi Andrew,
      I use Scoutify which comes with InventoryLab. Besides seeing the rank, you can easily go to a screen which shows you price and # shoes in stock for each shoe size.


  • Brandon McKinney September 21, 2016, 12:23 am

    I know I’m late to the show with this question, but how are you selling Nike products? My understanding is that even if you are ungated in shoes, you still can’t sell Nike without additional approval and a fee, something like $1,500. Am I missing something?

    • Diana September 21, 2016, 2:13 am

      Hi Brandon,
      I just checked and I’m still able to sell Nike and Adidas. I saw a post that some sellers are grandfathered in and still allowed to sell the newly-restricted brands if they sold them before.


  • Jason October 31, 2016, 11:05 pm

    Thanks for all the tips. I took some time off from FBA to focus on others things and starting to get revved back up. Do you still utilize a prep center for shoes I thought I recalled reading a blog post about it. Also how our your shoes sales as a percentage of your overall sales 50% of sales 10% of sales etc. thanks

    • Diana November 4, 2016, 2:09 am

      Hi Jason, sorry for taking so long to reply back to you. Sometimes I miss my comments. 🙁

      Shoes were making up 70% of my sales for the year, but they have dropped down to about 60%. That’s because I’ve been buying more books, home goods and now toys. I’m still buying shoes but after the holidays I’m going to refocus on shoes more and continue on with books.

      I was using a prep center for shoes (FBA Prep and Ship). Right now though I’m prepping them on my own and using the prep center for the books. It’s nothing against the prep center, but I just feel more comfortable seeing the shoes on my own and making sure they match up correctly to the right product listing. It’s really hard to give up control but it’s something I need to do. I’m moving back into more Amazon to Amazon flips with shoes and I will probably start using the prep center again because when you buy from Amazon to resell, you don’t have to really worry about matching up to the wrong listing.

      I hope you had a nice break from Amazon and I understand the need to focus on other things.



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About Diana

I am working towards creating a full-time income by selling on Amazon. It's a lot of work but very fun! If you're interested in selling on Amazon, be sure to follow my blog as I'll be providing you with lots of tips!

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