Keeping tabs on the movements of products on the Amazon marketplace is critical for sellers of all sizes, especially when there’s competition afoot. Sales rank, pricing, and buy box ownership and all critical data points that can make or break an inventory purchase or liquidation move.
Amazon doesn’t make it easy to track this data but 3rd party tools try to fill in the gap. Keepa is one of those tools and is by far the most detailed and powerful. I wanted to take some time and break down how to use Keepa and go over the benefits it can provide. If you’re not a fan of lengthy courses, this is for you (under 15 minutes!).
Some of the screenshots and descriptions of features and data views in this article are only available to paid Keepa users. These screenshots and data points are for editorial purposes only and may not display up-to-date information about any of the example products displayed. Do not use the data you see here to make any sort of business decision.
What is Keepa?
A Web-based and browser extension, Keepa is an Amazon price tracking tool, keeping tabs on hundreds of millions of products on all the major Amazon marketplaces. With Keepa installed, you have the power to track price movements of products, watch for sales rank trends–and have an understanding of how quickly a product actually sells, and even be used to save money through downward price alerts.
Keepa operates and tracks Amazon listings in these marketplaces (and about how many listings it’s following in each):
- 🇺🇸 United States (408 million)
- 🇬🇧 United Kingdom (amazon.co.uk,126 million)
- 🇩🇪 Germany (amazon.de, 122 million)
- 🇫🇷 France (amazon.fr, 93 million)
- 🇯🇵 Japan (amazon.co.jp, 95 million)
- 🇨🇦 Canada (amazon.ca, 60 million)
- 🇮🇹 Italy (amazon.it, 78 million)
- 🇪🇸 Spain (amazon.es, 66 million)
- 🇮🇳 India (amazon.in, 40 million)
- 🇲🇽 Mexico (amazon.com.mx, 15 million)
- 🇧🇷 Brazil (amazon.com.br, 746 thousand)
- 🇦🇺 Australia (amazon.com.au, 4 million)
Total: over 1.11 billion
How Keepa Works
Keepa comes in two forms: the Web site (keepa.com), and browser extensions. Let’s take a look at each.
The Web Site
Keepa.com is the powerhouse of the two. You’ll find all of its features here, though depending on your needs, they may not be of additional value to you. I like using the Web Site for programmatic analysis using their API ($). If you have lists of ASINs you need to track, this is the spot to do it.
If you’re looking for a good deal, too, the Keepa Deals page has a massive list of interesting finds. I won’t go into too much detail here about Deals because it generally doesn’t pertain to Amazon sellers. If you’re looking for something to potentially flip elsewhere, this could be a useful tool. With that said, this feature’s presence alone really demonstrates Keepa’s historical price and rank tracking. The amount of data they collect is insane.
In the Browser
Using Keepa in the browser is where it really shines. All the same high-powered, high-detail graphing and data is at your fingertips in most of the major browsers. The Keepa browser extension is available for Firefox, Chrome, Opera, and Edge. As a Safari fan, I’m a bit disappointed it’s not available there, but I also understand. Safari extension building isn’t trivial and is generally harder to support.
Free Keepa vs. Paid Keepa
If you were in and around the Amazon selling space before roughly April 2019, you’ll remember that all the best parts of Keepa were entirely free. The only thing you had to pay for was access to the data at a programmatic level.
Keeping all this data relevant and sourcing new listings isn’t easy, nor is it cheap. Keepa started charging for a critical component of their service, historical sales rank. I’ll cover this a bit later, but needless to say, sellers were up in arms about having to start forking over a small amount of money each month.
It’s always hard for some to have to start paying for something they’re so accustomed to getting for free, especially in the Amazon selling space where margins are everything and slippery slopes leading into overpriced and overvalued tools abound. For Keepa, tracking one of Keepa’s most powerful data points went from $0 to $17/month.
For those that understood what it means to provide a service like this, it was a no-brainer. For new sellers, or those running on a shoestring budget, €15 was a big deal.
The rest of what most sellers use Keepa for remained free, but without the sales rank data points, its usefulness dropped significantly. Luckily for Keepa, there wasn’t a good alternative on the market. (CamelCamelCamel suffered a massive data loss and the features that made it useful for Amazon sellers were to never return.)
Keepa’s Paid Features in Detail
For those shelling out the €15/month (US$16.43 as of this writing), here’s what Keepa offers:
- Product Finder: up to 10,000 ASINs per search
- Product Viewer: up to 10,000 ASINs per view
- Best Seller: up to 5,000 ASINs per list
- Top Seller: up to 100,000 ASINs per list
- Storefront: up to 5,000 ASINs per list
- Offer list: up to the Top 60 offers
- Unrestricted exporting of variation lists per ASIN
- Data points within Sales Charts:
- Sales Rank
- Buy Box
- Offer counts
- Rating and Review counts
- eBay New and Used
That last bullet (in bold) is where Keepa really shines for Amazon sellers and made the paid option a must-have. We’ll be assuming you’re paying for Keepa. If not, you’re really not seeing its full potential.
Should You Use the Browser Extension or Web Site?
This is a question I’ve received a few times, so I wanted to make sure I included it here. When doing product research, I most often use Keepa in the browser. I find that for day-to-day tasks, this is entirely enough and is likely where you’ll spend most of your Keepa time, too.
On occasion, I head to the Web site, but this is generally reserved for more high-volume analysis or data collection. Your needs will vary, so don’t let me make this decision for you. Spend some time in both places and find what works best for your needs and workflow.
Keepa in the browser has a slight edge in that the graph is automatically populated on a listing page, whereas using the Web site requires fetching the ASIN and plugging it in. Those extra steps may be a deal-breaker for some.
In the end, the same data is available in both locations. It all comes down to where Keepa can slot into your workflow and how you prefer to consume it.
How to Read Keepa Charts
Knowing how to take a Keepa chart and determine if it’s a move you should make takes practice, not because it’s hard, but because being able to see patterns as you look at each new chart for each different product you’re sourcing or researching means minutes of staring turn into seconds of quick mental analysis and decision making.
Let’s take this example chart for a product I won’t reveal and see what we can determine from it:
The Components of a Keepa Chart That Matter Most to Amazon Sellers
When looking at a Keepa chart, there are specific data points to consider first:
Sales Rank (green line)
Knowing how well a product is selling–and the trends therein–is critical. Without this data, if you’re not already a seller of the product, you’ll have no idea if it’s a good buy or if you’ll end up with massive amounts of excess inventory you can’t move.
The sales rank, also known and commonly referred to as BSR, describes how popular an item is within its category. In general, the more popular an item is, meaning the more units it sells per month compared to others in its category, the higher it’ll rank. On a Keepa chart, we can see the fluctuation in the up- and down movements of the line. The chart’s representation of the sales rank scale is relative.
This ranking (with 1 being the absolute best, and highest-volume-selling item in its category) describes it’s position as a “best selling” item. As items are sold on Amazon in any particular category, listings will always shuffle around and jockey for position. An item with a BSR of 3,938 for example, would be considered the 3,938th best selling item in that category.
The sales ran/BSR element of a Keepa chart describes the upward and downward trends of the sales rank for a given ASIN.
Depending on the window of time displayed, the scale could have a range from one to 10,000 or one to 1,000,000. With the latter, small movements are harder to detect, so I opted for an item that has a scale on the smaller side so we can see rank changes more clearly.
Amazon is unsurprisingly mum on how exactly a product is ranked, but we can make a couple of assumptions:
- There is a window of time in which a product’s sales are considered for the calculation of N best-selling. We just don’t know how long that window is.
- The number of units sold directly affects (positively) the sales rank of an item in that category, pushing it higher up the list and others down.
- The sales rank for a category is likely logarithmic in the number of units required to acquire a specific position.
With these three elements in mind, let’s take a look at how to interpret movements in sales rank.
Below is an example of a sales rank chart. The scale isn’t important in this case, nor is the timeline or what the product actually is.
I’ve made two sets of marks on this chart as green 🟢 and blue 🔵 dots. The green dots on the chart represent downward rank movements or significant drops in the BSR. In other words, at these points in time, the BSR made big swings (ex: from 28,000 to 19,000). Looking back at the two knowns about an ASIN’s sales rank, we can look at this chart and see there were very clear sales events at those points in time.
What we can’t determine from these drops is how many units. Again, since the math is a closely guarded secret, the best we can assume is that the larger the drop, the more units were potentially sold at that time.
What about the blue dots? Great question. I marked these spots specifically with the blue dots to describe not just sales events, but potentially prolonged sales events. At these points in time, we can see the BSR for this ASIN didn’t climb back up as we expect it would, given every other ASIN in the category is also in constant flux because of product sales.
As a product’s BSR climbs toward the top of the best-seller list, the behavior of the sales rank graph takes on an even more interesting behavior. This is where point number three comes in.
The most popular items in a category have a high tendency to stay the most popular. Because of the constant sales volume, an ASIN with a high sales rank position of 500 for example, may move in smaller, more persistent waves.
Here’s an example:
The scale on this sales rank chart is much smaller, in the double-digits (think a scale of 30, three-zero). Since this is such a popular item, we can’t rely simply on drops in the chart to determine how many sales this item sees.
Because the BSR is so close to the top, merely existing that high on the scale implies a significant sales volume, even if chart movements are insignificant. A change from sales rank 19 to 18 could mean a swing of hundreds of units sold per day, but 19,000 to 18,999 may be just 2 per day.
To really hit this home, let’s take it to the extreme and look at a sales rank chart in the millions.
This is a sample of a sales rank chart for an item that, on the worst end, ranked over 5,000,000 in its category, and when a sale took place, rocketed up to the 380,000 level. Because this item sold so infrequently, any sales event has a massive effect on its sales rank.
Amazon’s position. (orange, shaded)
Knowing if Amazon is on the listing and their price can be a red flag for some sellers. Seeing right away if Amazon may be a competitor (they’re a vicious one) can make a decision for a seller without doing any research. If that orange shading appears, it’s a 👎🏻. Some sellers don’t mind this, and can even take the Amazon price data as a sign of potential room for competition.
The Buy Box (magenta diamond)
Each of these marks indicates a spot where Keepa noticed a change in the buy box. Hovering your mouse over these points reveals what Keepa saw at that point in time. A consistent buy box level indicates strong price support. If you’re seeing gradual and steady decreases over time that do not recover, there could be a penny war taking place.
A penny war, or “race to the bottom” is a scenario where multiple sellers have set their repricers to undercut the current buy box price by $0.01. As each seller’s repricer adjusts to take the buy box position, other sellers’ repricers adjust accordingly, dropping the price by a penny. This often results in a steady decline in price, margins, profits, and makes for a toxic and hostile selling environment. A good repricer configuration will return to a higher level. A better repricer configuration will follow that trend, allowing for maximum competition potential without deflating the price and value of an item. Further Reading: When is it time to invest in a repricer?
New, 3rd Party FBA (orange triangle)
In a lot of scenarios, you’ll find this symbol match with the buy box in position on the chart. This indicates that an FBA offer is priced competitively enough to warrant the granting of the buy box to that seller’s listing. In some cases, you might see an FBA offer positioned well above the buy box position. This means that offer is out of the money, and not competitively priced (to Amazon’s liking).
New, 3rd Party FBM (blue square)
This is one that doesn’t see as much love but could be helpful for those doing Amazon-Amazon flips. Sometimes we see FBM sellers offering up products well below the FBA/Buy Box price, leaving money on the table and an opportunity for profits. Booksellers would do well to pay attention to this one if they’re doing any kind of flipping like this.
Cross-Referencing Charts with the Advanced Data Table
We’ve talked about the components of a Keepa chart, but haven’t yet addressed the Data table that accompanies a chart.
The Data table includes all the relevant information about an ASIN including its listing details, category, brand details, dimensions, UPC, and more.
In addition, we can get even more helpful sales-related data, including average and peak sales ranks, and offers.
Using these values, we can make even more informed decisions about how a listing is performing. The average sales ranks will speak volumes about long-term viability.
For example, having an average sales rank for each of the averages that are consistent implies this ASIN sells well all year round and has moderately high sales volume. While these averages aren’t bulletproof representations of sure-fire hits, it’s a massive start.
Let’s consider some other scenarios:
- A low BSR 30-day average and a high 180-day average may imply the ASIN didn’t historically sell well for a variety of reasons like no reasonable offers (or no offers at all) until recently, historical buy box suppression that was just released, PPC, or any combination of these.
- A current BSR that’s low but averages are high (and climb steadily as the average range grows) may be an item that doesn’t sell but a few units over a significant period of time and one of those sales just happened.
- The 30-day average is high but the 180-day is low may imply there are no longer any viable offers on this listing. There might be an opportunity to get in on this listing and be granted exposure with the buy box because yours is the only offer the Amazon algorithms consider reasonable.
Keepa is one of the most powerful and versatile tools in an Amazon seller’s arsenal. I would go so far as to say it’s required. Being able to track the BSR and overall sales profile of a product on the Amazon marketplace can make or break a seller and give sellers that look to take advantage of this data a significant competitive edge. The last thing any seller needs is to end up with stale inventory or a pile of products they don’t know what to do with.
Sign up for Keepa here. Price starts at €15 ($16.45) per month.Last Updated: June, 27th, 2021 at 05:16 am UTC