Know Your Tool: Item Cost, Category, and Rank

by Colleen Quattlebaum

When you use MarketScout, you are wielding a powerful tool in your quest to succeed in selling on the Amazon marketplace.

But, as other noteworthy spies would attest, the tools you use are only useful if you know how to use them.

New users might be overwhelmed by all the data available. Those who have used MarketScout for a while might not be aware of some of the lesser-known tricks inside the product.

We've come up with this handy tutorial to help you figure out what each column means and how you can use them to make the best purchase. We'll start with Item Cost, Category, and Rank.

Item Cost

When you first upload your data into MarketScout, you have the opportunity to include the item cost. This would be the price you would pay for a particular item from a vendor.

Why do you need to input this information? Simply put, this is going to be the fastest way to decide if an item is worth buying or not. MarketScout will use the numbers that you enter to calculate the potential profits and margins of the product.

Running MarketScout without entering the Item Cost would be like a spy waving around a gun that isn't loaded. Still potentially effective, but not nearly as much as it could be. Remember also that different vendors may have varying prices for similar items, so it's important to keep your orders straight.


This is the category that Amazon, Inc. ("Amazon") has determined is correct for any given ASIN. New sellers may not know how to categorize certain items, and there are always those pesky items that don't fit neatly into one category. (Is a WiFi detector shirt clothing or electronics?)

Amazon has approximately 40 categories of items. However, nearly half of them require specific approval. If you see a great deal on your report, but it's in a category you aren't approved for yet, hold on. You may be stuck with the item, if you can't get on the approved sellers list.

Some examples of open categories are Amazon Device Accessories, Camera and Photo, and Health and Personal Care. However, you will need approval for Beauty items, B2B Business Products, and Clothing.

Some sellers prefer to stick to a certain category - either because they know the domain well, or because it is a niche category they are approved for. In this case, it is helpful to filter your report based on those categories.


The rank of an item tells you how well that ASIN sells in its category. A rank of 1 means it is the top seller. The lower the number, the higher the sales velocity.

But remember that rankings are relative to the category. An item that ranks 100,000 for toys may still sell pretty well. However, ranking 100,000 on Fine Art may mean it could take a long time before you see anything move.

If you choose items with a good ranking (a lower number), these ASINs usually attract a good crowd of sellers. That means that even though you will probably make more sales, your profits might be much lower. Conversely items with a very high number for their rank will typically have slower sales, but potentially better margins.

Keep Learning the Tools of Your Trade

That's the start of our series on the data you can get from MarketScout. In future articles, we'll look at how MarketScout grabs data live from the Amazon marketplace to help you make the best possible decision.

If you haven't tried MarketScout yet, you can do it now for free for up to 100 ASINs. Just sign up and test it out!

Originally published on July 21, 2017, updated May 1, 2019

This post is accurate as of the date of publication. Some features and information may have changed due to product updates or Amazon policy changes.