Welcome to Full-Time FBA

arrow-blue-outline-rightWelcome! On this blog, we talk about our journey towards making FBA our full-time job. We give out free tips and tricks to help you make the most of your time, money, and resources. If you want to subscribe, just fill out the form over on the right side of the screen.

Seller Central Cover Mini x3To show you our appreciation, we’d like to give you a free download link to our newest book, Seller Central Tips: Reimbursements, Refunds, and How To Correct Other Possible Amazon Glitches. When you confirm your subscription, the download link will magically show up in your inbox.

By the way, we hate spam as much as you do, so we only send you stuff that will help you make FBA your full-time job! Let us know if you have any questions.

Stephen & Rebecca Smotherman

Top 10 Tips For Finishing Strong in 2014

First off, if you can see this… thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to read today’s blog post. I know Q4 is crazy busy and I hope my blog posts can help you take action that helps save time and increase your profits.

Q4 GrowthAs we all know, Christmas is a week away and I hope you’ve been able to stock the Amazon warehouses with as much inventory as you possibly can. It seems pretty obvious to say, but you can’t sell a lot of items if you don’t have a lot of items in stock. To help you continue to make this month your best selling month ever, here are my top ten tips for finishing strong in 2014:

1. Reprice holiday related items. It’s crunch time. Log into Seller Central and check all of your holiday related items in your inventory. Do a keyword search for words like “holiday” and “christmas” and make sure that all of your holiday items are competitively priced. While some of these seasonal items actually sell throughout the year, there might still be some in stock that you need to reprice. As always, double check with CamelCamelCamel to see what you could possibly expect. If you have multiples of higher ranked holiday items, it’s probably a good time to lower your prices to get the sale. You don’t want to hold on to these items another full year… especially with possible long term stores fees coming up in February for items we have multiples of.

2. The week before Christmas is a Prime spending frenzy! For items sold through FBA, hold on to your prices that you think will sell for Christmas. It’s not rare to see an item going for $15 on December 14th to be selling for $25 on December 19th. This is especially true for items where you’re the only FBA seller or one of a few FBA sellers.

returns.jpg3. Be prepared for an increase in returns. Naturally, with an increase in sales, there is also an increase in returns. Don’t let this make you anxious or worried. It’s a natural part of selling. As you might already know, Amazon automatically refunds the buyer the full purchase price when the buyer requests to return an item. If the buyer fails to return the item to Amazon, then Amazon is supposed to automatically reimburse you for the item after 45 days have passed, but many times Amazon “forgets” and needs to be reminded. For more about how to make sure returned items are actually returned to Amazon, check out this popular blog post.

feedback4. Be prepared for an increase in negative feedback. If you’re keeping to best business practices, then you’ll most likely get lots of new positive (4 or 5) feedback, but you’ll also get the occasional negative (1 or 2) or neutral (3) feedback score. If the feedback is actually about the FBA process (“my item came 2 days late”) or a product review (“this coffee maker is hard to use”), then it’s up to you to do whatever you can to get the feedback removed. Your feedback score is a huge aspect of your seller metrics. The better seller metrics you have, the more opportunities you’ll have to earn the buy box for your products. To read more about how I handle feedback issues (and how I currently keep a 100% feedback score), then check out this blog post.

5. Look at sales ranks differently. As you already know, the sales velocity in December shoots through the roof! This should make you look at sales rank differently than during the rest of the year. Here is an example: A toy with a sales rank of 10,000 in July might sell 15 times a week… while a toy with a rank of 10,000 in December might sell 15 times a day. This is important to know when you are out sourcing for inventory. Know that after Christmas and into January, many of these sales ranks will start to return to their normal patterns (slower sales), and it’s up to you to recalibrate your mind to what you need to expect when you’re out sourcing.

targetstore6. Be careful with sale prices at retail chain stores. Retail stores are realizing that they need to do whatever it takes to sell their stuff as soon as possible. Often, this means some outrageous clearance sales. But be careful, the items you’re finding clearanced at large national chains might be the same items hundreds of other resellers are finding. You don’t want to be slow on these sales. If you decide to buy, you need to get those items to Amazon as fast as possible… and I wouldn’t recommend going too deep. It’s possible that Amazon is about to be flooded with these items. Buy fast, prep fast, and ship fast so it can sell fast.

7. Profit from selling items Merchant Fulfilled. We all love selling via FBA, but this week still provides a nice money making opportunity if you are willing to do a little more work. Selling via Merchant Fulfilled can still bring about some nice profits this week for items that buyers need to buy today. The best items to sell MF are those that both Amazon and FBA sellers have sold out of, ones that are “Currently Unavailable” on their Amazon product page, and ones with a low rank that you don’t want to risk the extra time it takes to travel to a fulfillment center. If you’re not well versed in selling via MF, and you would like a very affordable and helpful training, then I suggest you click here.

amazon_gift_card8. Keep sourcing for post-Christmas buyers. On the days after Christmas and well into January, many people have brand new Amazon gift cards burning a hole in their pockets. They head on over to Amazon and look for items to spend these gift cards on, and you want to be sure you have what they want waiting for them. Not only do gift card buyers show up, but so do the people who didn’t get what they wanted for Christmas. They know what they want, and since they didn’t get it, they decide to give themselves the gift they really want. Again, you want to be sure you have what they want when they go shopping for themselves.

list-of-updated-after-christmas-sales-20099. Buy Christmas themed items at huge discounts. After Christmas, all of the Christmas related items go on sale at drastically reduced prices. This is a great time for you to stock up for your Amazon inventory. Like I’ve said before, seasonal items sell both in and out of season. I’ve seen Christmas ornaments sell in May, candy canes sell in March, and holiday DVDs sell in August. The stuff sells year round, but especially in July as people have “Christmas in July” parties. So, now might be a good time to buy holiday decor at 75% – 90% off.

201510. Look towards the new year. Why am I talking about the new year in December? I honestly believe that if you wait until January 1st to start thinking about the new year, then you’re already behind in the game and are at a disadvantage. Imagine someone showing up for marathon without doing any training beforehand. The runner would most likely quit before they even pass the 5 mile marker. Don’t be that guy. When January 1st arrives, we all begin a 365 day marathon, and I want to be sure you are ready for the journey. To read my thoughts about committing to the goal of a full-time income with FBA, click here. You can also get a free video training on how to create your best year ever right here, and a free ebook on goal setting here.

How about you? What strategies are you implementing to finish strong in 2014? I’d love to hear your ideas, so comment below.

 

How to Find the Number of Items in Each Amazon Category (plus a freebie!)

it_photo_107887Today I’m starting a new series called FBA Q&A. Every week, I get a handful of questions from readers like you asking me some pretty good questions. Instead of only replying to the reader who asked the question, I thought I’d post some of these Q&As here on the blog, so that you can benefit from it as well. I’ll do my best to answer each question, and you can add your own thoughts and opinions to the conversation with your comments. If you happen to have a specific question for me, feel free to email me at stephen@fulltimefba.com. Who knows? Maybe one of your questions will be featured in an upcoming blog post.

Ok, on to the first Q. René writes:

“Hi Stephen, 
I follow your blog and learn a lot every day. I have a question: How to find out how many items are in an Amazon category? Thanks for all the guidance. 
René”
 

Before I show you my quick and easy process that I use to find out how many items are in a particular Amazon category, I want to talk about why it’s important to know this information.

IMG_2322When you’re out sourcing for profitable products to sell on Amazon, you’re probably looking at two main pieces of information: the item’s ROI and its sales rank. Sure, there are other factors that go into whether or not you decide to buy something to sell on Amazon, but those are usually the main two numbers you consider.

The first number we usually look at is the potential ROI of the product. We want to make sure we are going to make money selling this item on Amazon. Not only do we want to make a profit, but we also want to make sure we have some wiggle room in case the price of the item goes down.

The second number we usually look at is the sales rank. This is the number that gives us a glimpse into the potential speed of the item selling. The lower the sales rank number is, the faster it should sell. There are so many different things to think about when looking at sales rank, but most people agree that an item with a sales rank consistently in the top 5% of its category is a potential fast flip. This is not always the case, but for most items and categories, it is.

So, one really smart sourcing tip is to learn the sales ranks of each category and what sales rank numbers are in the top 5% of said category. How do we do this? With simple math.

Number of items in category x .05 = Top 5% of that category.

Ok, here is the simple way I find out how many products Amazon has in their individual categories:

1. Go to Amazon.com and choose the category you want to know about. 
2. Type the minus or dash symbol immediately followed by a few random letters (yes, really). 
3. Click on “Go” or just do a hard return on your keyboard. 
4. The results will show you how many items are in that category currently. 

Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 10.09.37 AM

Using this method, I’ll show you how I found out how many items are in the Toys and Games category.

1. I went to Amazon and chose the Toys and Games category
2. I typed in “-flksjhdflkjsh” (without quotes) in the search bar.  
3. I clicked on “Go.”
4. The results showed me that there are currently 2,609,918 items in the Toys and Games category. 
 

Keep reading, because I have a free download that will save you tons of time… But first, a few more thoughts about Amazon product pages and sales rank.

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 9.20.56 AM- The little trick above will only show you the number of items in a particular category that Amazon currently has in stock. If you wanted to include the out of stock items in this equation, you would simply need to scroll down and check “Include Out of Stock” and you will then get the numbers of every item in the Amazon catalog for that category. I don’t suggest this because some of the items that are “out of stock” have been out of stock for years and don’t need to be included in your overall search. In fact, if you include the out of stock items when looking at the Toys & Games category, the number of items in the catalog jumps from 2.6 million to over 5.1 million.

- Amazon both adds and subtracts items to their catalog daily, so it’s probably a good idea to check back from time to time to make sure your numbers are up to date. You don’t need to check back daily, but I would suggest looking at the numbers about once a quarter.

- The trick above also works with some of the sub categories. Say you want to find out how many games there are in the toy category. All you’d need to do is the “-jgojfojf” search for Toys, and then click on the sub category of Games on the left side column. By searching today, you would find that there are currently 329,630 games. This might be some good information to know, but if you’re using a scouting app like Profit Bandit, the app usually only returns the sale rank for the main categories.

- Different categories have their own personalities. From my experience, in some categories, the top 5% is a good number to aim for, while in other categories, an item near the 5% mark might still take a long time to sell. Other categories I think it’s ok to expand to the top 10%… but you only begin to know this over time as you see what sells quickly and what takes a longer time than expected. And don’t be afraid of long tail items (items that take a long time to sell, but bring back a return well worth the wait).

salesrank-camelchart-locale-usasin-b0011457neforce-1zero-0w-725h-440legend-1ilt-1tp-allfo-0lang-en2014-12-0903_37_29- Sales ranks are fluid… they change many times a day. When you see a sales rank, you’re seeing a snapshot of the popularity at that moment. A book might have a sales rank of 4 million one day, and then the day after it sells, the rank could jump all the way to 600,000. That’s a huge leap, but one that happens daily. For more of my tips on sales ranks, be sure to check out these blog posts.

FREEBIE!!

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 11.20.05 AMOk, so now that you know how to find out how many items are in each of Amazon’s product categories, and you know the formula for finding which items are in the top 5%, what if I just gave you a free download that gives you all this info for free? Sound good? I’ll go a step even further… if you click the image to the right, you can have a FREE PDF emailed to you that contains every main Amazon category broken up into the top 10%, 5%, and top 1%. The data on the PDF is updated to today’s numbers, so it’s the most accurate data around. All you need to do is click the button below and in a few minutes, you’ll get your PDF download for free.

Click To Get Your FREE Amazon Sales Rank PDF

After you grab your free PDF, then it’s your turn… Go to Amazon, pick a random category, and use my little trick above.  I’d love if you’d comment below how many products are currently in that category. Ready? Set… Go!

My Top 7 Holiday Season Pricing & Sourcing Strategies for FBA Sellers

Cut-Lead-Costs-in-Half-and-Increase-Sales-Revenue-by-105-PercentQ4. It’s one of the best letter/number combinations for an FBA seller. Q4 stands for the Fourth Quarter of sales for the year. In the business world, Q4 indicates the months of October, November, and December, but for the Amazon world, our biggest sales come in November, December, and January.

Traditionally, when it comes to sales, Q4 brings a huge increase. It’s not a stretch to say that a person selling on Amazon could potentially triple or quadruple their payouts in Q4.  I’ve been selling full-time on Amazon for over 3 years, and I can testify to this. In fact, I have been awarded by Amazon as a Top Holiday Seller. This meant that my sales ranked in the top 25% of all Amazon sellers and my customer satisfaction ratings were excellent (A+) during that period.

Here are some thoughts I have as we are currently in Q4. These are suggestions that helped me get awarded Top Holiday Seller. As always, there are exceptions to every suggestion, but overall, these are the strategies I put in place as we get closer and closer to Christmastime.

1. Don’t lower your prices to match the lowest price. Like many resellers, I reprice from time to time. With the number of sales on Amazon dramatically increasing in Q4, I know that the lower priced competition will eventually sell out and my higher priced item will be there for the willing buyer. In Q4 of 2012, Amazon sold over 1 billion items (yes, that’s billion with a B). That equates to 126 items sold per second, 7548 items sold per minute, 452,899 items sold an hour, and almost 11 million items sold per day. This is the best time to wait and get the price you want. The only exception to this guideline is if your inventory happens to have a higher sales rank (say, above 300,000 for Toys & Games) AND you have a lot of competition that is priced much lower than you. In this case, I might price match the lowest priced competitor, especially if they have a lot in stock (see this blog post to learn how to see how many of an item your competitors have in stock).

Price-Increase2. Raise prices on some items. Using the same thought process from above, I’ll raise my prices on some items that have really good and sustainable sales ranks. Also, when I’m first listing a product during Q4, I’ll price some of my items much higher than usual since I know the lower priced competition will sell out soon. Just yesterday, my wife (and business partner) spent some time raising the prices of many items that ended up selling later that day. Click here to read how to reprice your inventory.

3. Keep an eye on your most recent shipment of inventory. When I’m looking at my pending sales, I’m not just looking to see all of the awesome items I’ll be getting paid for, but I’m also looking for sales of items that I just sent in to FBA. If something sells the day it hits the warehouse, then I might need to look at my price and make sure I’m priced competitively. Many times during Q4, you might price an item on Monday when you ship it to Amazon, but when it gets checked in on Friday, there have been so many sales that the prices are now higher. If you get immediate sales, then check your prices… If you see that you are priced too low, raise your prices!

4. Keep an eye on multiple sales of the same item. Again, when looking at your pending orders, if you notice that all of a sudden you have many sales of the same item, you might need to check the prices on those items too. It’s the same thought process from the tip above… If you are getting multiple sales of the same item, then you might be priced too low. Check your competition and then reprice if necessary.

keep-calm-and-buy-more-inventory5. BUY! BUY! BUY! It’s simple math: You will only sell a lot of items if you have a lot of items to sell. During Q4, I’m out buying a lot more often than I usually do. It’s a fun cycle: I send more items to FBA, more items sell, and I get paid more… I take that money and send even more items to FBA, more items sell, and I get paid more.

6. Expand your sales rank limits. When sourcing, it’s always a good idea to look at sales rank history when you’re making your buying decisions. When Q4 comes, I always buy items with a higher sales rank than I usually do. If my sales rank limit for the Toys & Games category was 150,000, then I may raise that limit to 250,000 in preparation for Q4. Many items completely sell out on Amazon during Q4, so buyers start looking for other items that might not be as popular. Each category will be treated differently, but I always raise my sales rank limits for Q4.

7. Send it to Amazon ASAP! If you have product sitting around your house that you haven’t sent to Amazon yet, send it in now! What are you waiting for? Check everywhere for products that you might have forgotten about. Look in your closets, your garage, in boxes, under your work table, etc. Products sitting around your house are not ever going to sell via FBA.

amazon_gift_cardBONUS TIP – January is one of the best times to sell on Amazon. People are returning the Christmas gifts they don’t want and will use that money to spend on what they really wanted. People also have Amazon gift cards that are burning a hole in their pockets. Because of these factors, sales in January are amazing. I’ve heard some sellers say that their January sales eclipsed their December sales, though I have not experienced this yet. So continue to send inventory in to Amazon!

How about you? What Q4 tips would you like to offer the group here? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this very exciting time of the year.

My Top Eight Ways to Wisely Use Your Q4 Income

As I’ve stated before, the fourth quarter selling season on Amazon almost always brings your highest income possibilities of the year. Most Amazon sellers find that their sales sometimes multiply ten-fold from what they’re used to during the other three quarters. How you handle your increased profits can possibly help propel you into even more profits in the year to come. Here are some ideas:

41goi0EX1bL

When buying a shrink-wrap machine, I recommend the 16 inch impulse sealer.

1.  Invest in time saving equipment – What are you doing now that can be done much faster with the help of some new equipment? Now is the time to research quality tools that can lessen your work load. Two years ago I purchased a 16 inch shrink-wrap machine and heat gun. Last year I purchased a box re-sizer and a newer laptop. Think about what tools can help you speed up your current work process. Could you be in the market for a Bar Code Scanner or Scan-Fob? Maybe you’d like to get a Dymo label printer. There are so many tools out there that help save time and money.

2. Invest in time saving programs – Maybe you’ve been listing your items directly on Amazon and are ready to save some time by signing up for ScanPower, Inventory Lab, Listee, or other listing tools. These programs help save a lot of time and help with many other areas of your business too (like repricing, financials, etc).

IMG_84833. Purchase more inventory – In the weeks leading up to Christmas, many stores start to put toys and other gift items on sale at really great prices. If you wait a little longer, right after Christmas, many stores start mega clearance sales. You’ll find sales in brick-and-mortar stores as well as online. If you don’t want to get out and source inventory in the cold weather, you can find many great sales at stores online. In store and online, there will probably be more items you can buy for resale than you have money for. Amazon sales in January are still really good as people have Christmas gift cards burning a hole in their pockets, so it’s wise to keep stocking up your inventory into the new year.

4. Purchase supplies in bulk – What items do you buy all year long? Packing tape, shipping boxes, labels, and printer ink are just a few of the items that I buy all year long. It would be wise to buy these items in bulk now (at much better prices per item) instead of spending more money to buy them later in smaller quantities.

debt-picture5. Pay off debt – As Dave Ramsey says, “Debt is not a wealth building tool.” If you have any debt, the wisest thing you can do is to pay it off as fast as you can. Imagine giving yourself a raise by doing the same amount of work you do now! When you are no longer paying debt interest fees, that’s money that you can use for your business. If you are in debt, I highly recommend Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. For more information on getting out of debt, check out his book, The Total Money Makeover and his program, Financial Peace University.

6. Treat yourself – Sometimes we can be so focused on work that we forget ourselves. Getting too wrapped up in work can lead to burnout. If you can, give yourself a Christmas bonus and treat yourself to something fun.

7. Invest in Your Mind – Is there an Amazon FBA related book, course, or program that you have been interested in buying? This might be the best time to buy FBA training materials so that you can learn how to improve your current Amazon business. Right now, there are a lot of really great sales going on where you can get many of these products at significant discounts. Here are some resources that I highly recommend looking into today:

ABC Affiliate Logo 250x250Jessica Larrew is having a 50% off sale right now on all of her books and courses, including the very popular Amazon Boot Camp (an amazing course for those new to Amazon). Just use the promo code BF2014SS to get your discount. Click here to see everything that’s on sale.

8. Give generously – If you have yet to discover the joy of giving, I challenge you to try it this holiday season. There are so many worthy causes and organizations that need your financial help. Remember to find out if the money you are giving is tax deductible or not. If it is, be sure to keep receipts for your tax records.

Q4 GrowthSo what about you? How do you best use your Q4 income to help you and your business succeed? I’d love to hear your ideas, so leave a comment below.

Tips for FBA Sourcing in November

rbk-kids-halloween-costumes-super-mario-lgnWow! It’s almost half way through the month of November. Hopefully you stocked up on some Halloween clearance items last week. Halloween candy (especially candy corn) still sells well throughout the year. And certain children’s costumes are big sellers year round. Many kids love getting a costume of their favorite TV, movie, or video game character as a Christmas or birthday gift during the year… so if you happen to come across any Halloween costumes still on clearance, scan and buy those things up. If a store still has costumes on clearance, it’ll probably be up to 90% off by now. What awesome ROI! Note: If you are not approved to sell in clothing, then be sure that the costume is in the toy category. From my experience, about 75% of the costumes I’ve looked at are in the toy category, while the other 25% are in clothing.

It’s Q4… and while most resellers are focusing on toys, toys, and more toys, I want to help broaden your thinking on other ways to make this Q4 profitable. Yes, toys are awesome to sell during Q4, but if you only look at toys, you are leaving a lot of other money making opportunities on the table. Let’s talk about this in a bit more detail.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

November is here, and so is the cold. In many places across the US, arctic fronts are hitting soon (or have already been) and this signals a huge increase in winter related products. If you see anything on clearance that is winter related, scan it as soon as possible. This especially includes themed winter merchandise such as blankets with children’s characters on them (Doc McStuffins Fleese Throw), Snuggies (with the local college logo all over it), and anything else winter related with a TV, movie, music, or sports theme.

doc-mcstuffin-fleece-blanketThe best thing about winter related items is that they will still sell year-round, even during the hot summer months. It’s still cold somewhere in the world, and customers want to get their winter related items from Amazon. You want them to buy from you! I’ve sold Thomas the Train fleece throws and Hello Kitty Snuggies both in November and in July. So while the next 3 months are going to be the best time to sell winter themed items, you don’t have to worry if they don’t sell now… because it’s likely to sell (if priced competitively) sometime later.

Of course, there are a million other winter related items that sell well while it’s freezing outside other than blankets, fleeces, and Snuggies. Put on your thinking cap and come up with other cold related items that people buy between November and February. Just brainstorming I can think of winter boots, vaporizers, ice scrappers, wool socks, lotions and skin moisturizers for dry skin, ice fishing supplies, car covers, snow blowers, ice skates, hot chocolate mixes, hand warmers, fireplace tools, bags of rock salt, cough and cold medicines, and space heaters… and that’s just off the top of my head. Keep your eyes open for these items (some regular price, but especially clearance priced) because they may sell very quickly.

Summer in November? 

It might seem obvious to sell winter related items during the winter, but did you know that summer items sell well this time of year too? In fact, it’s more likely that you’ll find summer items that are clearanced up to 75% or even 90% off retail prices. Even though it may be winter weather where you are, there are many places where it’s still warm. I’ll never forget when I was in middle school and went swimming on Christmas day in Houston, Texas. Sure, it was a rare winter season where the temps never got close to being cold, but I know there are plenty of states in the US (think of Florida, Arizona, and Hawaii too) that stay warmer than the rest of the US… and they still might be buying summer items right now. And if you’re set up with FBA Global Export (you are by now, aren’t you?) then people all over the globe can buy your summer related items while it’s summer weather for them.

black_thinking_capAgain, put on your FBA thinking cap and think of all the spring and summer items that sell well. These include inflatable pool toys, sandals, grilling tools, grilling seasonings, swimsuits, air conditioners, box fans, camping gear, water balloon and squirt gun toys, sprinklers, plant seeds, lawn tools, lawn ornaments, car wax, beach towels, baseball gear, sunglasses, wedding related items (most weddings are in the summer), swimming pool supplies, and coolers are just a few ideas to get you thinking of summer items.

Sure, not all of your summer merchandise will sell during the winter months, but just think how awesome it is, that for only a few pennies a month, Amazon will store these items for you until they eventually sell. Come spring or summertime, these items will be back to flying off the shelves, and the ROI you get will make your wallet very happy.

Black Friday

Black-Friday-LineAnother big event in the life of a reseller in the month of November is Black Friday. I personally don’t shop on Black Friday anymore. It’s just too crazy of a time fighting the crowds and the lines in order to get only a few really good deals. I’d much rather stay home and spend the time with my family eating Thanksgiving leftovers.

Just because I don’t like to go out and shop on Back Friday, doesn’t mean that I don’t take advantage of the Black Friday advertisements and sales. Did you know that many of the Black Friday deals are honored online? That’s right, you can order from home many of the same deals that others are camping out overnight to get. Another way to take advantage of Black Friday deals is that Amazon often price-matches Black Friday ads. Do your due diligence to find out which ads they are matching, but for many items, it’s well worth the time to get Amazon to price match. That way, you could buy from the retailer (who will often limit your purchase to a small quantity) AND you could buy from Amazon (who will also limit your purchasing numbers). This way, you could get double what you would normally get if you only shopped from the retail store’s website.

Profit-graph-260x259I really love sourcing in November. Amazon’s Q4 sales have really started to increase, and there is more money to source with than usual. The more money you can source with in November, the faster you can get inventory into Amazon to flip… which leads to even bigger payouts, and more capital to source with in the next disbursement… and then the cycle starts over and over again!

So how about you? What tips do you have to share about sourcing in November? Do you have a plan of attack for Black Friday? I’d love to hear how you plan on making November the most profitable it can be. Comment below with your awesome ideas.

10 Things You Need to Know For A Profitable Q4

Q4_logo_on blackQ4. For an online seller, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Sales and profits seem to go through the roof as more and more people buy stuff online for the holidays. If you’re just assuming that Q4 is going to be great for you but you’re not doing anything differently, then you might miss out on some amazing opportunities to increase your Q4 profits. The following are 10 things you need to know about Q4.

1. For those of you experiencing your first Q4, you might be worrying that your sales have not yet really increased as much as you thought. This is because while the business world sees Q4 as October to December, Q4 for the Profit-graph-260x259Amazon sales world is actually November to January. Don’t worry… Amazon Q4 really starts to gear up in November and will go absolutely crazy in December.

2. While the bulk of Q4 sales happen in December, many sellers (including myself) have found that January can be almost as profitable as December is. As long as you still have lots of inventory, you will still sell a lot in January. Why? Because people are finally going to Amazon and getting what they actually wanted for Christmas. Not only that, but everyone will be using their Amazon gift cards they received on Christmas day. Be sure your inventory is still well stocked for January, so you don’t miss out on the last month of the Amazon Q4.

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 5.41.50 PM3. What I deem as acceptable sales ranks for inventory purchases changes a lot during Q4. While I might shy away from a toy ranked 200,000  to 300,000 during the summer, I’ll almost always buy that item as Q4 is approaching. Why? During Q4, the sales velocity increases exponentially. So while a toy consistently ranked 250,000 might sell only twice a month… come december of Q4, that same toy might sell once a day.

4. Many Amazon sellers start to freak out a bit when they get an email from Amazon about their “Holiday Selling Guidelines for the Toys & Games category.” For those who don’t know, Amazon decides which sellers are eligible to sell in Toys & Games category during the holiday season. Sellers worry that they might not be approved to sell toys during the holidays and begin to stress out. One thing that Amazon needs to do a better job of is communicating that these guidelines only pertain to Amazon sellers who are selling MERCHANT FULFILLED toys. If you are selling toys via FBA, then you are automatically approved to sell toys during the holiday sales season. Again, these guidelines only apply if you are mailing your inventory directly to the buyer (merchant fulfilled).

ID-10044546-resize-380x3005. If you reprice your inventory on a regular basis (either manually or with an online repricer) then I might suggest stopping, or at least slowing down. Sales start to increase during Q4 so much that an item that sells for $14 today (late October) might potentially sell for $30 two or three weeks from now. Take a moment and research your item on CamelCamelCamel and see if the price of that item tends to go up during Q4. If it does, leave your price alone and make more profits than if you lowered your price. You might even want to raise some of your prices.

6. Many of you wonder if you should try to focus on reselling the toys from each store’s “Holiday Hot Toy” list. My personal plan of attack is to avoid most of these toys. My reasoning is this: If a store tells you what toy will be the “hot” toy this holiday season, then it’s reason enough to assume that the store will be heavily stocked with those particular toys. The toys that you want to find to resell during Q4 are the toys that will be harder to find come December. If you’re interested in learning the toy buying method I use during Q4, then check out Jessica Larrew’s Christmas Hot Toy List Strategy Guide.

images-37. Want to save even more money on the stuff you want to sell in Q4? Buy discounted gift cards. I personally love raise.com and cardpool.com, but there are other sites out there that do the same thing. I’ve bought $100 Walgreens gift cards for $75… that’s $25 in free sourcing money! Find other great gift cards from stores like Target, TJMaxx, Tuesday Morning, Big Lots, Walmart, and more! If a store offers gift cards, then most likely you can get some free money to source with by purchasing discounted gift cards.

8. One of the best ways to use Q4 income is to buy even more inventory to sell. But there are other great profitable ways to use Q4 money. Click here to read a blog post I did last year called, “Seven Ways To Wisely Spend Your Q4 Income.

returns.jpg9. Nobody likes returns, but just remember this: With increased sales come increased returns. There is no avoiding it. There will also be an increase in warehouse and distributor damaged items, as well as warehouse lost items. It’s ok. For most situations, Amazon will refund you for the items they lose or damage. To learn how to make sure Amazon actually reimburses you, be sure you click here and here for our advice.

10. When Q4 hits, some resellers go into overdrive and spend every waking hour sourcing, buying, prepping, and shipping. They sometimes forget about what’s really important: family. Don’t let the dollar signs blind you. Look around and spend quality time with your family. Remember what the Christmas season is truly about and reflect upon God’s great gift to us all. When we remember what’s truly important, it gives us the right perspective. And that’s more important than any Amazon payout could ever be.

I hope these ten tips will help you have a profitable and meaningful Q4. If you’d like to share more tips about this most wonderful time of the year, please feel free to comment below. I’d love to hear how you make the most of Q4.

Married to Reselling: Balancing Family Life with your Online Business

Married To Reselling 3D 2 clearToday, I’m excited to tell you that our new book, Married To Reselling: Balancing Family Life With Your Online Business, is now available! Ever since I joined online reselling groups on Facebook, I kept seeing the same questions pop up: 
  • How can I work at home and still keep family time a priority?
  • How can I convince my spouse that I’m not wasting my time or our money with reselling?
  • My family doesn’t get that selling online is a real job.
  • How can I get my spouse on board with reselling?
  • I’m single and run my online business by myself. How can I find a support system? (Yes, this book is for singles too)
  • My spouse thinks my online business is “nice,” but won’t lend an ounce of help. 
  • How can I balance my business budget with my personal budget
  • How can I get work done with my kids always wanting my attention
IMG_1525

Rebecca & Stephen Smotherman

For those who have a “normal” 9-5 job, the moment we get home in the evening, we can usually disconnect from thinking about work and just enjoy time with our family and friends. But for many resellers, the whole concept of working at home is a new frontier filled with complicated issues. 

To help address these issues, my wife and I set out to write up an article to help resellers and their families find true balance. What started out as a blog post evolved into a book that addresses all these issues. 

Married To Reselling 3D clearWhile most reselling ebooks focus on helping you make more profits, the focus of this book is to prioritize your family. You might become very successful selling online, but you don’t want to neglect your family. We believe you can succeed in relationships and business at the same timeTo read more about Married to Resellingclick here.

BONUS: If you act now, you’ll get a special introductory deal of 33% off regular price!

5 Little-Known Facts About Keywords & Amazon Product Listings That Could Hinder Your Success

keywordsHave you ever created a new product page for an item you want to sell on Amazon? If you have, then you know just how important it is to make sure you have the best title and keywords on the product page. If you currently create product pages, or are interested in doing so sometime soon, then I’m excited to share with you a guest post from my friend, Karon Thackston, who is the author of the very helpful book: “Amazon Advantage: Product Listing Strategies to Boost Your Sales.  In today’s blog post, Karon shares with us 5 little-known facts about keywords and Amazon product listings that could hinder your success.  Tip #3 is one that I had no idea about and I’m so glad that she shared it in this post.

article_separator

Little-Known Facts About Keywords & Amazon Product Listings That Could Hinder Your Success

By Karon Thackston
 

Lately I feel like a broken record. It seems the more people I talk with, the more times I hear, “I didn’t know that” when it comes to keyword-related facts about Amazon product listings. Most people are making this way harder than it has to be. In fact, many are seriously wasting space by not following what Amazon clearly lays out in the Seller Central Help section. Let’s take a few minutes to go over some specifics from Amazon so you can start benefiting from the right way to use keywords.

Not using keywords correctly in your product listing copy and not having them formatted the right way in your keyword fields can cost you both traffic and sales.

1. Amazon (Basically) Counts The Title As A Keyword Field

Many people believe that they must put the keywords in the keyword fields and also in their product name/title. Not true. According to Amazon:

1In essence, Amazon’s internal search engine works by exactly matching individual words (not phrases) that the customer types into the search box with the individual keywords you put into your product title and keyword fields.

2. The Title And The Keyword Fields Hold Equal Weight

I think the belief that the title holds more weight than the keyword fields comes from people who are flooded with information about ranking well on Google. Title tags hold more weight with Google so, therefore, most people assume the same is true about Amazon. Incorrect.

Amazon specifically tells us not to “waste space” by repeating words across certain fields because they are all included when a shopper conducts a search.

23. You Should Not Enter Entire Keyphrases Into The Keyword Fields

Amazon’s search engine works by combining individual words, not by looking to match entire phrases. There is no need to waste valuable keyword space by entering:

USB computer speaker, USB Bluetooth speaker, USB iPhone speaker, etc.

Instead, remove the repeated words and put them into a logical order.

3You end up with a much more compact list of terms that allows more space for relevant search words. Here’s what you end up with after removing the repetitive words:

USB computer speaker Bluetooth iPhone

So, instead of using 63 characters with the original list, now you’ve only used 37, leaving you a lot more room for additional keywords.

4. Amazon Accounts For Stemming, Plurals & Commas

Another common debate is whether you should use commas and plurals in your keyword fields. Seller Central outlines this clearly as well.

Stemming is taking a root word and adding various endings to it. For example:

  • diet
  • diets
  • dieting
  • dietary
  • dietitian
  • etc.

As you see below, Amazon can handle “basic” stemming. I have not found a definition of “basic” but my interpretation is plurals and common other endings such as “ing.” Anything beyond that I would consider adding as another search term.

4No commas are needed in your keyword fields. In fact, as stated in the next screen capture, you don’t need any type of punctuation. Amazon’s system ignores commas … all you need is a space between the terms.

55. You Should Not Add Competitor Brands To Your Keyword Fields

There is a common practice of putting other brands into your keyword fields. The assumption is that this is a good way to get more traffic to your page. Actually, putting irrelevant keywords into your fields (including brand names that aren’t yours) is a good way to have your listing removed. Amazon classifies this as keyword bombing and makes it known that your product listing could be deleted from the category it is in if you’re found guilty of using irrelevant keywords to drive traffic.

6Having the correct keywords in place and having your keyword fields set up the way Amazon suggests will play a big role in boosting the visibility of your products to qualified customers who are ready to purchase. It isn’t hard to do once you understand the way Amazon works best.

article_separator

Thank you, Karon, for this very helpful post that will definitely help people boost their sales when creating product pages on Amazon!

116_1409831933In Karon’s ebook, “Amazon Advantage: Product Listing Strategies to Boost Your Sales,” she goes through the exact step-by-step process she uses when creating product listing copy for clients. After having written Amazon descriptions for years, the Marketing Words team has become experts in what Amazon will and will not allow and how to develop listings that rank well and convert shoppers into buyers.

I have personally read this book and know that it can help you if you currently create new Amazon product pages or would like to sometime soon. I wish I had a book like this when I had first started creating product pages. Now, I’m inspired to go in and update some of my current listings to make them even better. This book helps remove a lot of the guesswork about what you need to be aware of when creating product pages.  Not only will this guide help you make money, it will actually save you money because you won’t be wasting time creating poor product pages.

FREEBIE: You can also download a free cheat sheet from Karon with 5 product listing secrets for Amazon sellers.

Karon will be checking in here periodically, so if you have any questions or comments for her, please make sure to add them below.

Overcoming Your Fears of Selling Internationally via FBA Global Export

mapIn our last blog post, we talked about just how easy it is to get set up to offer your US based FBA inventory to international buyers. FBA Global Export is a free and easy service Amazon provides that allows people to buy your inventory from 65 countries across the globe.

Some people worry about selling internationally because of some bad experiences they’ve had in the past. Maybe you had a package get lost that you sent overseas. Maybe you had an eBay buyer claim that they “never got their item,” the international buyer was refunded, and you ended up losing out on the product, the shipping costs, and the profits. Maybe you’re just nervous because selling international is completely new to you, and there are too many “unknowns” involved.

fear-into-actionI’m here today to help you overcome these fears and help you understand just how amazing selling internationally via FBA is. First, let’s look at all the great things about selling via FBA Global Export:

Benefits to Selling via FBA Export

- Millions of additional potential customers
- Increased sales
- Amazon customer service workers deal with all returns and customer issues
- Increased sales (Yes, I put that in twice because it’s a HUGE benefit)
- Signing up only takes a few minutes (Click here to get started)
- No additional fees for FBA Export

 

Negatives to Selling via FBA Export

- None! Really, I can’t think of one negative thing about selling internationally.

 

Like I stated above, many US based sellers have some fears when it comes to selling internationally. I’ll do my best to help calm your fears and let you know that there is nothing to worry about.

1. Will selling internationally increase buyer fraud? – No matter if you sell your items to US residents or to people from around the world, there will be some people who are out to cheat the system. I’ve actually had more US buyers try to cheat their way into free/reduced priced products than I’ve had international buyers try it.

returns.jpg2. Will I get increased returns? – My percentage of returns has stayed the same. In fact, most people who buy internationally don’t want to go through all the hassle of returning an item to the States. In my opinion, the return rate for my international sales is actually lower.

3. How are international returns handled? Returns are handled just like every other FBA return. Amazon provides the customer service and approves a return, then we wait for the item to actually be returned. If the product is never returned, then we can request that Amazon reimburse us for the non-returned item. Just like always, if the item is deemed defective or damaged, then Amazon pays the return costs, and if the buyer has a different reason, then the buyer pays the return costs. To see my blog post on how to get reimbursed for items that buyers never return, click here.

excellent4. Will it increase negative feedback? – There may be some cultural and language differences between the international buyer and you that could lead to a frustrated buyer, and that could lead to a negative feedback, but it’s extremely rare. In fact, it’s never happened to me since I’ve signed up for Amazon FBA Global Export. Reminder: If you need help removing feedback that you think is wrong or unfair, click here.

5. Are there any additional fees for using FBA Global Export? The buyer pays all the extra fees involved in the international order and is told this before they buy from Amazon. Signing up for FBA Global Export costs you, the seller, nothing more than if the buyer were in the U.S.

To me, signing up for FBA Global Export is a no-brainer. Increased sales means increased profits. To sign up for FBA Global export today, simply click here.

Have any fears about FBA Global Export that I didn’t cover? Please comment below, and I’ll reply with my thoughts.