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

8 Tips for Making The Most of Amazon Prime Day

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Happy Amazon Prime Day! Sorry I didn’t get you a card to celebrate, but maybe this email will do. There are many awesome opportunities you can take advantage of today, and I want to make sure you make the most of every opportunity.

Arbitrage_Cover_for_Kindle

First, I want to be sure you get this free ebook that’s available today. It’s, hands down, the best book on understanding how selling on Amazon works and how to make the most of selling via FBA. The book is Arbitrage by Chris Green. Many people (including me) say that this book is what helped get them started with successfully selling with Amazon FBA.

Secondly, here are some timely tips on how to make the most of Amazon Prime Day:

1. Remember that it’s against Amazon’s rules to buy items using Prime that you intend to resell on Amazon. This is a rule that many new Amazon sellers don’t know, but could get you in a lot of trouble if broken.

EBay_logo.svg2. Even though you can’t use Prime to buy inventory for Amazon, you can still use it to buy inventory to sell on other platforms like eBay, craigslist, or anywhere else you can make a profit.

3. Search the Prime deals for items you can use in your business, like shipping supplies, office supplies, a new processing laptop, or anything else you can deduct as a business expense.

4. Other stores have responded to Amazon’s plan for Prime Day with special sales of their own. Be sure you look at other online stores to see if they have special deals going on today. I know Walmart is having a big sale and other sites are doing so, too.

LC_OFF_Body_NLP5. If you have some time, today is a good day to reprice some of your inventory. With more people shopping on Amazon today, there is a greater chance for you to get increased sales. Be sure you competitively reprice your items to maximize your profits. Here is a post on how to manually reprice your inventory and another post with some smart repricing strategies to bring in quick sales.

6. Not only should you reprice your inventory to get more sales, you might need to reprice the inventory you have that will be charged a Long Term Storage Fee (LTSF). Remember, in exactly one month, Amazon will be charging you a LTSF. If you need some help with this, here is how to find out what items (and exactly how much) you’ll be charged come August 15th, and seven tips on how to avoid the Long Term Storage Fees.

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The above text was in the June FBA newsletter. You can click on the text above to enlarge it.

7. In Amazon’s June newsletter (you read these, right?), they first hinted about a huge sales day coming up in July as they celebrate 20 years. They suggested that people increase their inventory levels to make the most of this event. Most people ignored this message, but those who took Amazon’s advice are now reaping the benefits of more sales. So, this tip is more for how you handle things in the future… Read each of Amazon’s newsletters and respond promptly! Those who do will find more success.

5488. Set a reminder on your calendar for July 15th, 2016 and be sure you are ready for Prime Day next year. It’s not for sure if this will become an annual event, but if it does, you want to be sure and be prepared.

If you have any more suggestions about how to make the most of Amazon Prime Day, then leave a comment below. I’d love to hear what you have to say.

How to Find Out Exactly Which Items Will Be Charged Long Term Storage Fees

LTSFIf you’ve been selling on Amazon at least 6 months, then it’s possible you have recently received a FBA Aged Inventory Notification email from Amazon. This notification from Amazon is to warn you about upcoming Long Term Storage Fees (LTSF). To read more about what the LTSF are, why Amazon charges them twice a year, and some timely tips on how to avoid these fees, then click here

Most Amazon sellers would be wise to find out which items in their inventory will be charged the LTSF and how much they’ll be charged. Unfortunately, Amazon does not give you this information directly, but there is a way to find out using one of Amazon’s reports found in Seller Central. 

Here is exactly how you can find out which items in your inventory are going to be charged a LTSF on August 15th (and how much you’ll be charged per item):

1. Log in to Seller Central.

2. Hover over Reports and click on Fulfillment.

3. On the left side of the screen, under the Inventory heading, click on Show More.

4. Click on Inventory Health.

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 1.56.16 PM5. Click on the Download tab.

6. Click on the Request Download button. 

7. After about 60 seconds (or possibly longer) the report will be generated, and you’ll be able to download it.

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This is the text file version of the report. I copy this data and paste it into a spreadsheet so it’s much easier to understand.

8. After the report downloads, open up the file in a spreadsheet. My download automatically opens up a Text file, so I just copy and paste it into Excel. Based on your computer’s available programs, you should be able to open up the file (or at least copy/paste the text) in your computer’s spreadsheet program. 

9. The text in the file contains many columns of information that you really don’t need in order to assess your long term storage fees. You can keep the ones you want, but I delete all of the columns in the file except the following:

sku
asin
product-name
qty-to-be-charged-ltsf-12-mo
projected-ltsf-12-mo
qty-to-be-charged-ltsf-6-mo
projected-ltsf-6-mo

10. To make the chart easier to read, I change the names of the last 4 columns to:

12mo
12mo$
6mo
6mo$

11. To make the data easier to read, I also do the following (this is just a personal preference, so you may want to skip this step):

Change the document page setup to landscape.
Center align the last 4 columns.
Change the size of the last 4 columns to be smaller.
Change the size of the product name column to be bigger.

12. Select all of the text (CTL-A for PCs or Command-A for Macs)

Now, its’ time to sort. In Excel, you can sort by clicking on Data from the top menu bar, and then select Sort

13. Sort the 12 mo column and choose descending

14. Sort the 6 mo column and choose descending

15. When I’m done, my spreadsheet looks more like this:

The image is blurry on purpose. It’s so you have an idea what the spreadsheet looks like after the changes above.

Now, your spreadsheet will show you on the first pages which items will be charged a LTSF, how many will be charged, and how much the charge will be. My next step is to print out the document, but I only print out the pages that contain the information about LTSF. If I printed the whole document, then I’d waste a lot of paper as most of my inventory is not affected by the LTSF. 

Now, it’s important to know how to read and understand the data in the spreadsheet. Under the 12mo and 6mo columns, you’ll see how many items will be charged in the upcoming LTSF on August 15th. In the 12mo$ and 6mo$ columns, you’ll see the total amount that will be charged if that item is not sold or removed from your inventory. 

For example, your chart might read something like this for an item:

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 1.39.18 PMThe above example shows that the My First Pad item will not be charged a 12 month LTSF, but will be charged a 6 month LTSF of $8.32. Since you have 7 of these items that will be charged a LTSF, you can do the math and see that it will be a charge of about $1.19 per My First Pad. (Remember: one unit of each SKU is exempt from LTSF, so you actually have 8 of this item in stock, not 7.)

The next step is to decide what you want to do with the inventory that is affected by LTSF. In a previous blog post, I’ve discussed all the ways you can avoid Long Term Storage Fees, but for the rest of this post, I’ll only discuss the most popular method of avoiding the fee: lowering your price to get the next sale. 

LC_OFF_Body_NLPLowering the price might indeed get you the next sale, but there are more important aspects to consider. Remember, in our example above, you’ll be charged $1.19 for each item for the LTSF, so if you lower the price by over $1.19, just be sure you don’t think you’ll ever sell the item for the price you want over the next 6 months. If you do some CamelCamelCamel (CCC) research and see that you’ll probably get your original price come Q4, then maybe pay the fee, and then wait for the sale to come during Q4. On the other hand, if you don’t think you can sell this item for the price you want, then it might be a good idea to lower the price and avoid this fee. 

Again, with our example, say you have the item priced at $19.95, but the current low FBA price is $11.95. If you  lower your price by $8.00 to $11.95 to share the Buy Box, you might indeed get the next sale… but lowering 7 items by $8 each, you’ll be losing out on $56.00 in order to avoid a $8.32 fee. Is this worth it? Well, we’ll need to check CamelCamelCamel to see if we think the price will go back up during Q4. If CCC shows that the price will probably go back up in Q4, then maybe it’s a good idea to pay the $8.32 fee in order to make the profits come Q4. On the other hand, if CCC shows that the price will probably never again go up, then maybe it’ll be a good idea to lower your price in order to sell out before August 15th. As always, different items will require different actions, so do your research and make the best decision for your inventory.

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Note: Amazon does not want to be your long term storage solution.

You might be thinking that this requires a lot of work and thought, but the LTSF is something to take seriously, as it’s currently $11.25 per cubit foot for items stored over 6 months, and $22.50 per cubic foot for items stored over 12 months. Currently, my LTSF would be over $100, but I’ve been keeping track of my potential LTSF for over a month now. If I didn’t use these tactics to avoid long term store fees, then the fee would be even higher.

So how about you? What are some of your strategies for dealing with these Long Term Store Fees? I’d love to read them in the comments below. 

The Perfect Starter Kit for the Online Arbitrage Beginner

My name is Rebecca, I’m a recovering online arbitrage skeptic.

OA KeyboardLast year when Stephen and I started hearing a lot of buzz about people switching to doing more online arbitrage (OA), less retail arbitrage (RA), we had so much going on with our business that we just tucked away the idea of OA in the back of our minds.

Fast forward a few months, and Chris Green released his latest book, Online Arbitrage, amid much fanfare in the reseller community. Again, Stephen and I questioned, is OA really all that great? Do we really need to try it out? I took one look at the book’s price tag (whoa, that thing’s pricey!), another look at the calendar (it was a few weeks from Q4, do we really want to invest in learning a new skill?), and I convinced Stephen not to buy the book right away.

Fast forward another several months (I promise this story is going somewhere). The adrenaline of Q4 subsided, and we were deciding where to focus in the new year. We love setting goals and learning new skills, and we tossed around the idea (again!) of becoming serious about OA. The idea of sourcing from home was definitely appealing, but I was still struggling to overcome my biggest hangup computer-frustrationwith the concept of OA: hours and hours of clicking on websites, with one or two purchases? No, thanks. Spending the time and effort to find and train a virtual assistant? Huh-uh, don’t want to do that either. We weren’t wanting to dedicate a massive portion of our sourcing capital towards OA, just enough to experiment — it didn’t seem like there was an easy way to get our feet wet without investing a lot of time and money.

Until we heard about Cyber Monkey Deals (CMD). Stephen has been a member of the ScannerMonkey Facebook group from its beginning, and when we saw the posts about the new deal site, we were intrigued. So, we took the plunge and got a subscription, as well as a copy of Chris Green’s Online Arbitrage at long last.

OA Starter KitRemember how I said I’m a recovering OA skeptic? Seriously, I’ve been the one all along who has told Stephen I didn’t want to do OA, I didn’t want to spend money on a pricey book, I wasn’t interested in getting another monthly subscription, blah blah blah blah.

But now that we’ve been doing CMD for a few months and I’ve finished reading Online Arbitrage, I’m hooked. I’m the one who looks through our CMD list of deals each day, I’m the one responsible for making our OA purchases, and I’m the one quoting sections of the OA book to Stephen. I can’t say enough about how this combo of resources — Cyber Monkey Deals combined with my Kindle copy of Online Arbitrage — has given us a boost in the direction of doing solid OA sourcing.

First, let me give you a few reasons why I’m glad I finally got around to reading Online Arbitrage:

OAcover800– Online Arbitrage spells out exactly how to set up your browser to maximize your time doing OA sourcing. Seriously…exactly. Which browser works best, which extensions to use, what order to look at things each day. Time is precious, and if you follow his instructions and just practice on a regular basis, you will pick up speed and keep from wasting hours on needless tasks.

– If you aren’t well versed in how to read graphs for sales rank and price, he’s got a lot of great tips for making sense of those numbers. This is crucial not just in doing OA, but in any type of sourcing for FBA. The skills I’ve honed while practicing what I’ve learned in OA have carried over while I’m doing retail arbitrage, and I’m able to make sourcing decisions more quickly and confidently when I’m out scanning in stores. To me, that was a huge boost.

– If you get the Kindle version of OA, you’re getting a multimedia OA course, not just a book. Some days you feel like reading, some days you feel like watching and listening — the Kindle version has both (you’ll want to read/watch on a Kindle tablet or on a Kindle app on your phone, tablet, or computer). The paperback version is great, too, but you’ll have to use the links to watch the extras on a device.

– Like other books I’ve read by Chris Green, Online Arbitrage has more than just skills outlined in it. You also get a look into the mindset of a business expert — and when you spend time getting to know how someone else thinks, you learn more than just skills. You learn the root of what makes people successful at their work, which is priceless. It’s not just knowledge; it’s wisdom.

CyberMonkey-lgNow, with that knowledge base, Cyber Monkey Deals has become one of my favorite ways to source each day. Because we weren’t wanting to invest a ton of money or time in OA to begin with, I’ve found that the deals on CMD are just perfect for us, for the following reasons:

– Ten deals a day is a good amount for me to look through. Getting a virtual assistant to send me a whole spreadsheet of deals would be overwhelming. We only want to spend a few hundred dollars a month on OA right now, so I don’t need to get bogged down in dozens of potential deals a day.

– The parameters of what constitutes a good deal on CMD work well for us and are constantly being fine-tuned by the admin. We’re on our fourth or fifth month of our subscription, and we’ve seen improvement over time in how many deals are worth a second look. Now, ten deals a day doesn’t mean that we’ll get ten deals that we buy each day. Some days we may get five deals worth taking action on, and other days none. But it evens out over the course of a week or so, and we’ve had a constant flow of inventory showing up on our doorstep since getting our CMD subscription.

– Again, using the CCC and Keepa graphs linked to each CMD deal I’ve been able to get faster and more confident at making good buying decisions, which has greatly impacted my sourcing in all areas of our business.

– Over time CMD has helped me fine-tune the types of items I’m looking for and the categories I want to sell in, whether I’m doing OA or RA. Consistency of practice is key in improving any skills, and that includes scanning and sourcing. I’ve been working with Stephen at our FBA business for a couple of years now, but I have a lot of other work responsibilities and endless work around the house — never have I sourced as much and as regularly as I have since getting our CMD subscription. Now I look at items and practice making buying decisions EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Without leaving the house!

IMG_2976I could gush on and on about how exciting the past few months have been for me as an online reseller learning the world of OA. Stephen is, by background and gifting, the serious business person in our relationship — I’m the one who has come into doing business more reluctantly and timidly, having to take steps out of my comfort zone all along the way. Reading Online Arbitrage and looking through Cyber Monkey Deals each day for the past few months have given me the perfect Online Arbitrage Starter Kit. Both resources have helped me grow into a new role as the one responsible for our business’s OA branch. Who knows where things will go from here, but it’s been an exciting start for me!

Note: Chris Green’s book, Online Arbitrage is available in full color, black and white, and even a 3 chapter preview mini-book. It’s also recently been updated with all new information for July 2015.

What’s been your experience with online arbitrage? If you haven’t tried it yet, what’s holding you back? If you have experience with OA, what’s been your favorite thing about it? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Now Available: The Reseller’s Guide to A Year in FBA

YFBA facebook Image RightI’m really excited to let you know that The Reseller’s Guide to A Year in FBA: A Month by Month Guide to a Profitable Amazon Business is finally available for purchase. I poured almost a year of my life into researching, recording, compiling, and organizing this book so that I would always be ahead in my Amazon FBA business. Now you can be ahead of the game, too.
 
With the tools, strategies, and resources found inside this book, I was finally able to achieve six figures in sales on Amazon. It’s amazing what being properly prepared will do to your Amazon business.
  
The Reseller’s Guide to a Year in FBA is over 160 pages filled with content that will help you take your Amazon FBA business to the next level. Not only do you get the book, but you also get access to three valuable bonuses.
 
To find out more about the bonus materials, see a video preview, read reviews from Amazon experts, and scroll through the table of contents, then check out The Reseller’s Guide to A Year in FBA today.
 
Book Cover 3D Transparent 2 copy2Want more? Ok, here are more hints as to what the book will offer:
  • What items are the best to buy in each month for resale
  • What important Amazon deadlines are coming up
  • The best times to reprice your inventory
  • How to avoid the summer sales slow down
  • How to prepare and profit from major (and minor) holidays
  • How to have the best Q4 with the “Q4 snowball method”
  • How and when to run your Amazon business reports for tax purposes
  • and so much more!

With The Reseller’s Guide to a Year in FBA, you won’t be left behind on taking advantage of each opportunity you have with FBA.

FBA Sourcing + Road Trip = Free Vacation!

It’s summer, and the perfect time to plan a sourcing road trip! Combining a road trip with FBA sourcing is a great idea that combines the fun of a vacation with sourcing in new and exciting places. Imagine driving to a location far from home and stopping at rural Walmarts along the way to find clearance items you can’t find anywhere else. Imagine the possibility of finding new “honey holes” for FBA inventory. Think about how much fun it could be to source at your favorite stores in a new town and find even more of the items you’ve already sourced in your own hometown. The possibilities are endless.

In 2014, Rebecca and I planned a three-day sourcing road trip to Kansas City, Missouri. We live in Fort Worth, Texas, and both thought it’d be fun to take our sourcing on the road. We booked two nights at a hotel in Kansas City and left Fort Worth on a Friday morning.

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I’m not saying we’re a good luck charm, but the Royals did go to the World Series the year we went to see them play.

When we got to Kansas City, we checked into our hotel and headed for Kauffman Stadium to see the Royals in action, just a few months before they made it to the World Series. Rebecca and I are both fans of baseball, and it’s been my dream to visit every Major League Baseball ballpark. What better way to liven up our sourcing trip than to work in two baseball games on the road?

Friday night we watched the Royals beat the Angels thanks to an Omar Infante grand slam.

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It’s so much fun filling up multiple carts!

On Saturday morning, we got up early and began to source. Before our trip, I made a map that included many of our favorite sourcing stores. We sourced all morning and found some really great inventory items. Come lunchtime, we headed back to Kauffman Stadium for another baseball game. This time, Rebecca and I went to the stadium early and toured the Royals Hall of Fame and walked all the way around the stadium. It was a lot of fun for both of us. The game began, but the clouds started rolling in. Before the sky fell, Rebecca and I decided it was time to go. Sure enough, the rain came hard, and the game was delayed.

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Rebecca asked, “Are we going to have enough room in the back for our luggage?” Maybe next time we’ll rent a trailer.

While the game was under a rain delay, there was no time to waste for Rebecca and me. We went back to sourcing and continued to find some amazing deals at stores all over Kansas City. We filled up our van and headed back to the hotel for the night. Bright and early Sunday morning, we packed up all of our things and made the drive back home to Texas.

That road trip to Kansas City was awesome. It was a lot of fun sourcing in a new city and watching the Royals play at Kauffman Stadium. It didn’t hurt that the Royals were also giving away free hats at one game and free bobbleheads at the second game. I sold those freebies on eBay and it helped pay for the game tickets and stadium parking. Not a bad deal.

If you’re looking for a fun way to get some vacation time in while still working some on your FBA business, a sourcing road trip might just work out for you. As long as sourcing (or other work-related activities) are your primary objective, then you would be able to write off the mileage and expenses. I know from experience that it is possible to make a trip like this profitable, even after all of the travel expenses.

Yes, we actually peeled stickers in the hotel room!

Yes, we actually peeled stickers in the hotel room! Click on the image above to get your own Scotty Peelers. They’re awesome!

Rebecca and I have gone on many sourcing road trips and have really found it to be both refreshing and a fun challenge for our business. One night, after coming back to the hotel room after a huge rural Walmart haul, we were so excited about all the inventory items we found that we actually took off all of the price stickers in the comfort of our hotel room. That’s right. We actually brought all of the items into our hotel room. You should have seen the faces of other guests as we loaded up the bellhop luggage cart with bags and bags of Walmart items.

Maybe a sourcing road trip is just the thing to help give you and your FBA business the kick it needs to get out of your comfort zone and source new places – or your normal places in new cities. Take a look at a map and see what surrounds you. See if there are any non-work-related activities you can combine with your sourcing trip. Maybe combine a sourcing trip with white water rafting… or a sourcing trip with camping at a beautiful state park. Maybe you could source on your way to and from a national landmark you want to visit…or to and from a city or state on your bucket list. The possibilities are endless.

ontheroadThere are a few really great resources that can help you make even more out of your sourcing trips. The books Amazon Autopilot: On the Road and Traveltage: Use Your Smartphone & FBA to Make Money, Travel, & Create The Life You Want are both good resources that walk you through everything you need to know (and more) about combining travel with working a successful 81+-bbgb+VLFBA business. When you go on a sourcing road trip, you really need to know all the ins and outs on how to make the most of your time, energy, money, and resources. Both Amazon Autopilot: On the Road and Traveltage help you gain the knowledge you need to make each and every one of your sourcing road trips a big success.

Now, I’d love to hear from you! Have you been on a sourcing road trip? Where did you go and what did you do? Have any tips to add for a successful sourcing road trip? Comment below and share your story.

A Year in FBA Book Preview

Book Cover 3D Transparent 2Rebecca and I are excited to announce our latest book, The Reseller’s Guide to a Year in FBA: A Month by Month Guide to a Profitable Amazon Business.  

We’ve been working on this book for almost a year and on Monday, June 29th, you’ll have the opportunity to get it. 

In our new book, we will break down exactly what to expect for each month of your FBA business.

Here is a sneak peek at what’s inside the book. Simply scroll inside the box below to read through the Table of Contents:

The Reseller’s Guide to a Year in FBA
Table of Contents

Introduction

  • Wait! Don’t Skip The Introduction!
  • How to Read This Book
  • Repetition
  • Free Updates
  • Recommended Resources
  • A Little About Me
  • Basic Understanding
  • Disclaimers
  • Links
  • Let’s Get Started

Chapter 1: January

  • Happy New Year!
  • Know Your Numbers
  • Q4 Detox
  • Handling Returns
  • January Sourcing Detox
  • Thrift Stores in January
  • Post-Christmas Amazon Price Drops
  • January Sourcing Ideas
  • Popular Items Sold in January
  • Textbooks
  • Long Term Storage Fees
  • Valentine’s Day is Coming
  • Amazon’s Holiday Return Policy
  • Taxes
  • Conclusion
  • Important Dates

Chapter 2: February

  • Welcome to February!
  • Long Term Storage Fees
  • Opportunity Costs
  • February 13th
  • Slower Sales & Lower Sales
  • Valentine’s Day
  • After Valentine’s Day Sales
  • March/April Dates to Prepare For
  • Weather-Related Sourcing Ideas
  • Feed the Beast
  • Iced in? Get creative!
  • Conclusion
  • Important Dates

Chapter 3: March

  • Welcome to March!
  • Garage Sales
  • Hit or Miss
  • ASD in Las Vegas
  • Buying Complete Booths
  • The ASD Experience
  • Overwhelmed by ASD?
  • Can’t Make The Trade Show?
  • April Dates to Prepare For
  • Bundling Basics
  • Important Bundling Rules
  • Higher Bundle Profits
  • Marching Towards Profits
  • Important Dates

Chapter 4: April

  • Welcome to April!
  • Meltable Grocery Items
  • Meltable Mishaps
  • Spring Cleaning
  • Automated Spring Cleaning (Removals)
  • Profitable April Sourcing
  • Garage Sale Tip of the Month
  • Taxes
  • May Dates To Prepare For
  • CES Conference
  • Conclusion
  • Important Dates

Chapter 5: May

  • Welcome to May!
  • What to do on May 1
  • Free Money
  • June Dates to Prepare For
  • Preparing for Summer with Kids at Home
  • How To Gain Millions More Customers
  • Cleaning up Your FBA Inventory with a Garage Sale
  • Conclusion
  • Important Dates

Chapter 6: June

  • Welcome to June!
  • Avoiding The Summer Slowdown
  • Bundle Up To Avoid The Summer Slowdown
  • Family Time
  • July Dates to Prepare For
  • Winter Sourcing
  • Sourcing Road Trip
  • Going on Vacation
  • Conclusion
  • Important Dates

Chapter 7: July

  • Welcome to July!
  • Items to Source in July
  • Post July 4th Sales
  • Massive Target Toy Clearance Sale
  • August Dates to Prepare For
  • Long Term Storage Fees
  • Selling Seasonal Items on Amazon
  • Conclusion
  • Important Dates

Chapter 8: August

  • Welcome to August!
  • End of Summer Sales
  • ASD Trade Show
  • Back to School
  • Back to School for You!
  • While the Kids are Off to School
  • Long Term Storage Fee Reminder
  • Opportunity Costs
  • August 13
  • August 16
  • September Dates to Prepare For
  • Feedback Preparations for Q4
  • Conclusion
  • Important Dates

Chapter 9: September

  • Welcome to September!
  • Preparing for Q$
  • The Q4 Snowball
  • Repricing
  • October Dates to Prepare For
  • Bundling Basics
  • Important Bundling Rules
  • Conclusion
  • Important Dates

Chapter 10: October

  • Welcome to October!
  • Meltables
  • Q4 Preparation
  • Stretching Your Sourcing Money
  • Supplies
  • Toys! Toys! Toys!
  • Hot Toy Lists
  • Raise Your Prices
  • The Christmas Arch
  • Holiday Selling Guidelines for Toys & Games
  • Merchant Fulfill?
  • Halloween Costumes
  • Halloween Candy
  • When to Slash Prices
  • After Halloween
  • Feedback Management
  • Important Dates

Chapter 11: November

  • Welcome to November!
  • Thankful
  • Dollar General Toy Sale
  • Post Halloween
  • More than Just Toys
  • Baby, It’s Cold Outside
  • Summer in November?
  • Correct Q4 Expectations
  • Hot Toys
  • Black Friday Preparation
  • Black Friday Shopping Day
  • Hiring Help for Black Friday
  • Bonus Black Friday Tips
  • Better Prices Before AND After Black Friday?
  • Go At Your Own Pace
  • After Thanksgiving
  • Cyber Monday
  • Quick Q4 Tips for November
  • Final Thoughts about November
  • Important Dates

Chapter 12: December

  • Welcome to December!
  • Holding Your Price vs. The Race to the Bottom
  • Let’s make some money!
  • Pre-Christmas Sales
  • Shipping to Amazon FBA in Time for Christmas
  • Sales
  • The Week Before Christmas
  • After Christmas
  • What To Do With All That Q4 Money
  • Running Year-End Reports For Tax Purposes
  • Looking Towards the New Year
  • Important Dates

 

What are others starting to say about The Reseller’s Guide to a Year in FBA?

10421469_417704858386654_7706192864140451556_n“Stephen Smotherman has done it again! His Year in FBA book is jam packed with tons of FBA money making and time saving tips for every month of the year! Not only does he walk the seller through all of the relevant events, sales, and holidays for each month, but also provides dozens of resources in each chapter to maximize your sourcing dollars. I highly recommend reading it from cover to cover and then revisiting each month’s chapter to be fully prepared for what lies ahead on the calendar. This comprehensive guide will come in handy no matter how you source your inventory – thrift stores, clearance sales, garage sales, online arbitrage..and even trade shows!” Jay Bayne from scannermonkey.com

1931089_35012509586_1348_n“I found this book to be very interesting and a great read for any reseller. The book is laid out month-by-month to give you an idea of how to organize your business for the year. Each seller will have their own variations, but the book is fantastic for ideas and structure to help a beginner get started, or for a veteran to critique their own existing business. It’s a refreshing view and will get you to stop, think, and review how you are doing things. When you read this book, you’ll think to yourself, “Why didn’t I think of that?” Bob Willey of sellercoaching.com

1725161_10152664061520189_2154552718918813370_n“Wow! Where was this book when I started Amazon FBA? This book reads like a monthly encyclopedia of what to expect in a year selling Amazon FBA. Stephen does an excellent job of summarizing each month of selling and breaking it down into easy to read and understand segments. Each month provides helpful tips, important dates and recommendations based upon the author’s own personal selling experience. A Year in FBA provides an honest depiction of selling Amazon FBA, and the content covered in this book would be perfect for a new seller or as reference guide for a seasoned seller. This is a must read for every Amazon seller!” Amanda Moak of The Brick Shoppe

10176072_10154098924105651_5920972786082785737_n“A man that can write a full chapter about February gets much respect from me. Seriously though, I really enjoyed this innovative book idea. Full of great and timely tips. Specifically I found the bundle discussions great and the tip to not judge a yardsale from the curb. This is a great book if you want to even out your sales and not have a feast in December and famine in June. By using the tips you can be sure to have steadier sales all year long.” Brian Vienneau

retail-coupons

Scroll up and subscribe to our newsletter to be notified when the book is available for sale AND get a $10 off coupon code.

If you want a $10 off coupon for The Reseller’s Guide to a Year in FBA, then be sure you scroll up and subscribe to the Full-Time FBA email list. When the book is released, all of my subscribers will get a coupon for $10 off the list price. 

 

Book Cover 3D TransparentWant more? Ok, here are more hints as to what the book will offer:

  • What items are the best to buy in each month for resale
  • What important Amazon deadlines are coming up
  • The best times to reprice your inventory
  • How to avoid the summer sales slow down
  • How to prepare and profit from major (and minor) holidays
  • How to have the best Q4 with the “Q4 snowball method”
  • How and when to run your Amazon business reports for tax purposes
  • and so much more!

With The Reseller’s Guide to a Year in FBA, you won’t be left behind on taking advantage of each opportunity you have with FBA. 

We’re still putting the final touches on the book, but it’s currently over 160 pages of profitable information that will help you be prepared for every Amazon money-making possibility. 

Since we’re still adding a few more sections to the book right now, I’d love to have your help in making sure this book is the most well-rounded year in FBA guide possible. What do you hope this book will cover? What questions do you have about a year-round profitable Amazon business? Are some months harder for you than others? Let us know your questions and problems in the comments below, and we’ll do our best to make sure the book addresses your issues. 

Summer is Coming – Is Your FBA Business Ready?

diary-entry-9-vacationWe’re all about being prepared here at Full-Time FBA, so we’re starting to look ahead to the month of June and a huge change that happens in our business every year: the end of the school year. 

The reason the end of school signals a huge change for our business is that it is a huge change for our household.  And as we all know, when you run a business out of your house, changes in the household can dramatically affect your business. With four boys ages 8 to 14 in our house, summertime is kids’ time — but it DOES NOT have to be crazy, chaotic, I-just-want-this-season-to-end time!

SCHOOLS OUT KIDSFor other parents of children who are on the traditional school schedule, you know exactly what we mean. The month of May is usually your last full month (for a while) to be able to work on your FBA business while your kids are off at school. Come June, you’ll need to find a new FBA work schedule that works best for you and your kids. Maybe you can hire a sitter to come play with them a few hours a day so you can get some work done, or maybe you can implement some of your older kids into some of your daily FBA tasks.

No matter what you decide to do, making sure you have a plan in place before school lets out will help set you up to succeed a lot more than just winging it on the first day of summer.

If you need ideas for how to involve your kids in your FBA business, here are just a few:

Younger Kids

Electronic-Toddler-Toys* Let them turn on electronic toys to make sure they still work, and when done, make sure they are turned off (so the toy doesn’t accidentally get activated during shipping).

* Have them hand you items on the bottom of a retail shelf (so you don’t have to bend down over and over again).

* Send them to a nearby price scanner to make sure something is ringing up right or to check a price when there isn’t one.

* Have them transfer items from the shopping cart to the cashier conveyor belt.

* Teach them to sort like items together before you list or inventory them.

Older Kids

* Have them put FBA stickers over UPC bar codes.

* Have them put suffocation-warning stickers on poly-bags.

DSC04621* Teach them to cut and organize coupons for your grocery, health, and beauty items.

* Send them to get shipping supplies (boxes, bubble envelopes, packing tape, etc) from the garage or closet when it’s time to pack and ship.

* If you find a great item in one store, have them be on the look out for the same item in the next store that you go to. It’s amazing what they’ll find from their shorter point of view!

* Send them to find a cashier if you need a price check.

* Let them test used video games to make sure disks or cartridges are working properly. This is the Smotherman kids’ favorite task!

Teenagers

By the time your kids get to be teenagers, you potentially have excellent employees living right under your roof. You could teach them to do any number of tasks, including the following:

* Removing price stickers.

teen box* Packing shipments.

* Taking product photos.

* Editing product photos.

* Researching products for item descriptions and key words.

* Shrink wrapping or poly-bagging.

* Unloading the car after a big haul.

* Counting to make sure collectible board games have all the pieces.

* Building a Lego set or putting together a puzzle to make sure all the pieces are present.

Teaching Kids About MoneyNot only does involving your kids in your FBA business keep them occupied and allow you time to work, it’s also an excellent opportunity for you to impart entrepreneurial vision to your children, show them a solid work ethic, and teach them how to manage the money they earn (you are paying your kids when they work for you, right?).

In our book, Married to Reselling: Balancing Family Life with Your Online Business, Stephen and I talk about the countless ways we include the kids in our FBA business. From the kids helping you here and there to you actually training and hiring them for certain activities, you don’t always have to be away from your kids while you are getting your FBA work completed.

Now it’s your turn to share a little. Do you have kids at home while you do your FBA business? Do you homeschool? Are you stressing over the end of the school year? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

The 3 Most Common (And Wasteful!) Mistakes Sellers Make With Their Amazon Listings

This blog article comes from my friend Karon Thackston. You might remember her from this popular guest blog post last year about keywords in listings. Karon is back again with even more helpful insights into creating quality Amazon listings that bring in more customers and more sales. 

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The 3 Most Common (And Wasteful!) Mistakes Sellers Make With Their Amazon Listings

You only have to write so many product listings before you start to see a pattern. That’s how it has been at Marketing Words over the last few years. I thought it would be helpful to outline some of the most common mistakes we’ve seen when it comes to writing your listing and using keywords.

Mistake #1: Not Using Keywords Correctly

Amazon isn’t like Google. With Google, there is a certain amount of repetition of keywords and phrases. On Amazon, however, you do not need to repeat keywords throughout your listing. Because they don’t understand this, many sellers are ruining the way their copy sounds as they try to rank higher on Amazon. Use the keyword once and Amazon’s got it.

That includes your Search Terms fields. If the keyword is in the title, brand, manufacturer and UPC, you do not need to include it in your search terms. It is a waste of space that could be used for additional, traffic-driving keywords.

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Last, we see countless folks inserting keyPHRASES into the search terms fields instead of keyWORDS. Amazon doesn’t work with phrases. They use literal keywords. Putting something like:

natural dog treats
100% wholesome dog treats
beef dog treats
dog treats made in the usa
nutritious dog treats

… leaves lots of wasted room that could accommodate other keywords. Because we don’t need to repeat keywords and we do need to use individual keywords (not whole phrases), this should be reworked to this:

natural dog treats 100% wholesome beef made in the usa nutritious

That’s 50 characters in the first field and 14 in the second. With five fields at 50 characters each (a total of 250 characters) that leaves you with 186 characters. If we remove any keywords that are included in our product name (aka, title) we’ll have even more room. Here comes more traffic!

Mistake #2: Not Differentiating Your Products From The Competition

Think about your own shopping experience on Amazon. You show up on the site to search for olive oil and vinegar sets. I just did a search for that term and here’s what came up…

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When I was scrolling down the page, it didn’t take me long to figure out that they all appear pretty much the same. What if they gave some additional information or used words that were more enticing?

Here are some examples of how just a minor tweak can make a big difference. As a shopper, I would be more likely to click these search results:

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The simple words “ribbed,” “Italian collection” and “lead free” made my eyes perk up. I wanted to know more.

Mistake #3: Not Answering The Question “So What?”

With so many duplicate products on Amazon (especially when dealing with private labeling), you simply must fall back on a long-standing rule of copywriting: Answer the question “So what?”

When customers scroll down a page of search results looking at your title, or they click to your product page to learn more, you have to set yourself apart from all the other options. Maybe this means having more positive reviews. Perhaps it is the lowest (or highest) price. But, more often than not, that task depends on the bullets and product description.

Here are 30 ways to differentiate your products from the pack so you stand out and get more sales.

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By correcting these 3 common mistakes, you eliminate the wasted space in your search term fields, bullets, and product description while setting yourself apart from the competition. And that always leads to more sales!

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116_1409831933Want more in-depth help with developing product listings that drive traffic and get more sales? Karon’s ebook Amazon Advantage: Product Listing Strategies to Boost Your Sales walks you through her best-kept secrets of creating product copy that earns you more money. Get your copy today!

 

 

An Insider’s Look at the Full-Time FBA Processing Desk

Desk TitleIt’s critical, when working from home, to make sure your work environment is set up in such a way that you can best use your time and energy. In my last blog post, I showed you exactly how my shipping and work station was set up and all the tools that I use to process my inventory before I send it all off to Amazon. Today, I’m pulling back the curtain a little bit further as I let you take a peek into my Full-Time FBA desk.

Here is a diagram of my desk that I use almost daily. Below is a description of each and every item I use and why. 

Desk Diagram

If you’re interested in learning more or want to add any of these tools to your own FBA work station, click on the name or picture of the tool below. 


41MNr5dy0HLA. USB Barcode Scanner –  Who wants to enter every single UPC number each time you process inventory to Amazon? Not me, that’s for sure. This barcode scanner saves tons of time and frustration. Just point the scanner at the barcode, pull the trigger, and “BAM!” The barcode number is now magically entered in your computer. The adjustable hands-free stand is a really nice option too. 

91zhsBYJxGL._SL1500_B. MacBook Pro – I absolutely love my MacBook Pro. It’s the perfect computer for an optimized FBA work desk. I have owned this MacBook for almost 3 years and have only had to restart it about twice a year. It’s the most dependable laptop in existence, and I can’t imagine using anything else. 

PIXMA_MG3250_FRT_Default_tcm14-945029C. Canon Pixma InkJet Printer – This is the printer I use to print my shipping labels, and any other standard printing needs. This is not the printer I use to print my FBA labels. Amazon’s guidelines state that FBA labels must be printed by a thermal or laser printer only (see the Dymo LaberWriter 450 thermal printer below). 

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 11.20.05 AMD. Amazon Sales Rank % Chart – Throughout the year, I update this PDF document to show you the latest sales rank numbers for all of the major Amazon categories. The chart shows the top 1%, 5%, and 10% in almost 30 different categories. The PDF is FREE to all of my subscribers. To grab this PDF, simply click here and subscribe. 

41ooe8-PAJLE. Self Adhesive Shipping Labels – These are the labels I use when shipping boxes to FBA warehouses. They stick to the boxes well and are very dependable. You can also get free shipping labels directly from UPS by clicking here and signing up for a UPS account. 

81z-MzfxG-L._SL1500_F. Magic Eraser – I love my Magic Erasers. They help me clean up items I plan on selling on Amazon. I use them when I’m cleaning up a book cover or if there is any residue on the box of an item I want to sell. It helps get out most pen and marker stains. It’s abrasive enough to get the dirt or grime off of an item, but not so abrasive as to damage the item itself. 

mlb-tapered-metal-waste-basket-d-20130812161358607~7243521wG. Houston Astros Trash Can – Ok, so this isn’t vital to my FBA business, but I’m a big Astros fan and it adds some fun to my office space. Think of things that can add some fun to your office space. Don’t let work get too boring. 

business-textbooksH. Book, Books and Books – I love to read, and I keep some of my favorites right at my desk. I keep books close so I can take a break from working while continuing to improve myself and my business. To see the 14 books that most improved my Amazon FBA business, click here

738225_photoI. Scanner Monkey – This little guy is the mascot of the Scanner Monkey Facebook group. Scanner Monkey is a close knit community of online sellers who help each other each and every day. With a Scanner Monkey membership, you get access to tons of BOLOs, exclusive discounts, video teaching sessions, and tons of profit and strategy ideas. I’ve been a member since it started, and it’s easily one of my favorite Facebook groups. 

71Eh+14PBWL._SL1500_J. Dual Computer Monitors – I simply love having two computer monitors. I can’t ever imagine going back to using just one. I love being able to work on my FBA shipment on my laptop, while watching a training video on the other monitor. No longer do I need to switch back and forth between windows, when all I need to do is scroll over to the other monitor. It’s made life much simpler. And in case you’re curious, I use this to connect my dual monitor to my laptop.

7198lLjvmsL._SL1200_K. Awards & Accomplishments – It’s a good idea to post near your desk things that remind you of accomplishments and wins you have experienced. Hang your diplomas on the wall, frame the first dollar bill you made, or maybe display the Amazon order of the item you made the most ROI on. For me, I decided to frame the certificate Amazon awarded me for being a Top Holiday Seller (that means that my sales ranked in the top 25% of all Amazon sellers, while additionally keeping an A+ customer satisfaction rate). Find something that you are proud of and display it. When you’re feeling discouraged, seeing these reminders might help. 

66463_10201911046874888_1974517186_nL. Inspiration – Everybody needs some inspiration now and then, and some of the things that inspire me the most are my family and my faith. I love to display pictures of my family, as well as scripture verses on the wall in my office.  They help remind me that there is so much more to life than work. 

DoTerra BLiss and DiffuserM. Essential Oil Diffuser – One of the ways that I say focused while working is to diffuse doTERRA essential oils in my office. My favorite oils to diffuse are Citrus Bliss and InTune. If you’re interested in getting some essential oils for your home or office, check out my wife’s doTERRA page here

41IWrVLa8yLN. Dymo LaberWriter 450 Printer – This little printer is a huge time saver when it comes to processing my FBA inventory. I used to print 30 FBA labels on one sheet via my regular printer and then try to match up the right labels to the right items. Now, I can print the labels one at a time with my Dymo printer and place the label directly on the item as I’m listing it on Amazon at my computer. It’s a thermal printer, so there is never any need for ink. Just be sure you have the right labels to use for FBA. 

Scanner Pro AppO. Scanner Pro – Here is where I keep all of my retail arbitrage receipts. I use this scanning app to keep a digital version of my receipts on file. The NeatReceipts scanner is probably much better, but the Scanner Pro app is a more affordable way to scan your reciepts. This is especially helpful when I paid for items with cash, or when I pay using a different account other than my business card. 

31Pz8s6Fw3LP. Clear Round Stickers – I have these for a variety of uses. The number one reason is to replace older clear round stickers on new items. Many items that are still in brand new condition might have the original clear stickers coming off (or have come off completely). I use these stickers to replace the ones that are no longer working well. 

NOT PICTURED

81R8SLFKf1L._SL1500_Q. Dymo Labels – These are the perfect size to use for your FBA labels. They cover up the original barcode well and come off easily in case the customer wants to take off the label. Each box comes with 700 labels. I also use these labels to print out my own “This is a Set. Do Not Separate” and “Do Not Open. Ready To Ship” stickers. 

613uKT2qhvL._SL1000_R. Dymo Printer Cleaning Cards – These cards help you keep your Dymo printer in tip-top shape. These cards safely remove contamination from print heads and improve print quality. The best thing they do is extend the life of any Dymo LabelWriter printer. 

41K1Oo-hSNLS. “Thank You” Stickers – If you have an item that has a small tear, mark, or even residue that you just can’t get off, then placing one of these stickers over the blemish might just save the day. Plus, it’s a nice way to show your customer that you’re thankful for their purchase. I don’t recommend using these stickers on all items that have a blemish. Use your best judgement. 

91CdT0sRKwL._SL1500_T. Hologram Stickers – I use these stickers the same way I use the “Thank You” stickers, but for smaller blemishes. I also use them for items that a “Thank You” sticker would just not work for. 

51hEMvaoe7LU. Resealable DVD Bags – Whenever I sell a used DVD or video game, I always put it in one of these bags. The DVD or video game usually snap closed, but even the smallest bump can cause these cases to open and the disc to come out. You do not want someone to buy a used DVD or video game and only get an empty case. Not only do these bags keep the discs safely stored in the case, but they also keep the DVD case clean. 

81mkVS3VWGL._SL1500_V. Label Sheets – These are the labels I used before I got my Dymo LabelWriter 450 printer. I still use these labels in many different ways. I use them to cover up bar codes on items that I’ll be poly bagging, as well as for expiration date labels. I also have these on hand just in case the Dymo printer malfunctions and I still need to print labels that day. This “back-up” plan has only been implemented a few times since 2011, but has come in handy when needed.

I’m sure there are even more items that I use at my Full-Time FBA desk, but these are the main ones. Each of the above help me be more efficient and make better use of my time and money.

I’d love to hear from you. What tools listed are your favorites? What would you not do business without? Did I miss something? I’d love to hear what you use in your own processing desk. Comment below and let me know. 

The Optimized Full-Time FBA Work & Shipping Station

Work Station TitleDo you need a warehouse in order to do the kind of volume it takes to make a full-time income from FBA? I’ve seen a few threads on social media and have had a few people ask me that exact question… and my answer to all of them is this: No, you do not need to rent or buy warehouse space in order to do the kind of volume needed to make a full-time income selling via Amazon FBA. 

Today, I want to give you a peek inside my optimized full-time FBA work and shipping station. Is this work station in a warehouse? No, it’s in the corner of my office on an old dining room table. Here is a diagram of the work station we currently use. Below is a description of each and every item we use and why.

Shipping Station Diagram

If you’re interested in learning more or want to add any these tools to your own FBA work station, click on the name or picture of the tool below. 

31X1IJMOzsLA. Cardboard Box Sizer and Reducer –  This tool helps you reduce your shipping boxes to the exact size that you need. Cutting your boxes down to size helps save you money in multiple ways: 1) Smaller boxes mean less shipping costs; 2) Smaller boxes mean you need less dunnage to fill boxes; 3) Less dunnage means that the box will weigh less, which saves you money over time. The tool is easy to handle, and I use it almost daily. For a quick video of the box sizer tool in action, click here

81K1bfSxJ5L._SL1500_B. 3-Inch Tape Gun – This was seriously a game changer when it came to optimizing my packing and shipping experience. For years, I’d only used a 2-inch tape gun, but one day I realized I was using about three strips of tape when securing the bottom and top of the box. I was using too much tape and wasting time as well. Now, I just use one strip of 3-inch tape to secure the base of the box and one strip of 3-inch tape to close the top of the box. It saves me both time and money. Find some 3-inch tape here

81bRMAxBB0L._SL1500_C. 2-Inch Tape Gun – While the 3-inch tape gun is perfect for securing shipping boxes, the 2-inch gun is better suited for smaller taping jobs. I use my 2-inch tape gun in multiple ways: 1) Secure bubble wrap when protecting a breakable item; 2) Tape over FNSKU labels that I worry might fall off of an item I’ve bubble wrapped; 3) Close up small holes in poly bags; 4) Secure smaller cardboard boxes that I use for bundles, and so much more. You can find 2-inch tape here

61h-B0szXtL._SL1280_D. Goo Gone Spray Gel  – Don’t you hate it when there is a price sticker on an item that just won’t come off cleanly? Goo Gone is the perfect solution to help get the sticky “goo” off your item. Simply spray some Goo Gone onto the sticky residue, and it will wipe off fairly easily. For really stubborn “goo,” use the Scotty Peeler in combination with the Goo-Gone to scrape away the excess goo. Note: There are many different products that you can use to remove the sticky adhesive left behind from a sticker. Some other alternatives are Un-Du and even lighter fluid

61ZZnk9VoJL._SL1200_E. Scotty Peelers – One of the most annoying parts of retail arbitrage is taking off the price stickers of your latest inventory purchase. These tools are the perfect way to peel off the stickers from the item without damaging the original package. If any of the sticky residue remains on the item, simply use the Goo Gone and scrape off the goo with the Scotty Peeler. 

71AgdoNhdML._SL1500_F. Scissors and Paper Towels – When you are cleaning sticker residue off of your inventory, you’ll need to use paper towels to help wipe up the mess. The scissors are used for multiple purposes, such as cutting poly bags, opening up boxes, cutting labels, and more. 

91hEUJSiPzL._SL1500_G. Excess Poly Bag & Trash Receptical – Ok, so this isn’t some fancy trash can, but a re-purposed empty pretzel tub, but it really works well. Most normal trash cans are the same size from top to bottom, but this tub is more rounded at the top and bottom. This makes it much easier to put the excess poly bag waste and any other trash inside the tub without it expanding and coming out of the trash can. It might seem silly, but it really works out well for us (see the “after” picture at the bottom of the blog to see how well it works). Oh, and the pretzels are pretty darn good too. 

81y7wQ-S5pL._SL1500_H. Suffocation Warning Labels – Each and every poly bag that you use on a product needs to have a suffocation warning label. Some poly bags come with warnings printed on them, but for the ones that don’t, it’s a good idea to have these stickers handy. If you use a poly bag and do not make sure there is a suffocation warning on the bag, then you will be in violation of Amazon guidelines. These labels are easy to use and stay on well too. 

31yMUxZj7lLI. Stacking Letter Trays – These trays are where I store such supplies as my suffocation warning labels, expiration date labels, clear tape, pens, and more. 

J. Inspiration – Everybody needs some inspiration now and then, and one of the things that inspires me the most are my kids, nieces, and nephews. I love to hang their art up in my office to be reminded that there is so much more to life than work. It motivates me to use my work time more efficiently so that I can spend more time with them.  

71oPWM52EDL._SL1211_K. Poly Bags – According to Amazon guidelines, there are many items that need to be poly bagged if you plan on sending them to a FBA warehouse. These bags protect your inventory from the dirt and dust found in a FBA warehouse. Poly bags come in various sizes and thickness. Be sure you know what minimum requirements Amazon has for poly bags. The ones pictured are some of my favorite to order. 

41ot2QNlguL._SX425_L. 24-inch Centerfold Shrink Wrap Film – This is the shrink wrap film that I use for shrink-wrapping larger items like long board games, longer toys, and anything else longer than 14 inches. 

M. 14-inch Centerfold Shrink Wrap Film – This is the shrink film that I use for almost all other items I need to shrink wrap. It pairs well with my 16-inch impulse sealer (see below). 

71-uX1kHXoL._SL1500_N. Bubble Wrap – If you are selling anything made of glass or any other fragile item, you’ll want to protect it with quality bubble wrap. This bubble wrap is perforated every 12 inches so you can easily tear off only the amount of bubble wrap you need. 

61Wzt26rXXL._SL1000_O. 16-inch Impulse Sealer – People always ask me what size impulse sealer  they should get. Without any hesitation I tell them the 16-inch model. The first impulse sealer I purchased was a 14-inch model, and there were so many times I wished I had a longer reach for sealing. You might think that the extra 2 inches isn’t that big of a deal, but it really is. 

31YliKNB3LLP. Black & Decker Power Scissors – Ok, so many of you would probably be happy with an average utility knife, but these scissors are simply amazing. They make sizing down a box or creating a custom-sized box very easy. I use these almost every day that I’m packing and shipping. It saves tons of time and energy, and I simply won’t do without it. If the cost of a new one scares you, get a used one. That’s what I did and it has worked great for me. 

Not Pictured: 

41sRYiyp1ILQ. 1500 Watt Heat Gun – I use this heat gun in two ways: 1) To heat up the shrink-wrap so that it properly seals around the item I’m wanting to wrap for a very professional sealed look; 2) To heat up price stickers so they can be removed easier. When you apply heat to a price sticker or label, and use a Scotty peeler, the label comes off very easily. 

61sL7QYmSwL._SL1500_R. Shipping Scale – This scale looks small (because it is – 8″ x 8″) but it will weigh boxes up to 100lbs with accuracy. The weight is shown on an LCD display that is connected to the scale with an extendable cord. This means you can put a big, heavy box on the scale, but still see how much it weighs on the separate display. When shipping your items, you want to be sure your scale is accurate. An inaccurate scale could 715XNDGKPVL._SL1500_cost you hundreds of dollars a year. 

S. Hand Truck (Dolly) – When it’s time to take all of the boxes to UPS, I load them all up on this very sturdy hand truck and roll them out the front door. I can easily get three 18x18x16 boxes stacked on this dolly for easy transport. 

61Fm47z2QuS._SL1000_U. Measuring Tape – When you create your own box sizes, you really need to know the exact dimensions to tell Amazon so you can be charged the right amount for shipping. There are many other ways to use this in your FBA business, like if you are creating a new product page and need the exact dimensions of the product. 

91KNJpBoehL._SL1500_V. Dunnage (Void Fill) – Not every box will be filled to the top with items, so you need to be sure that there are void fillers placed in the box. My favorite dunnage are air pillows. When Amazon sends me a large box and includes air pillows inside, I always save them to use in my own shipments to FBA. When I run out of air pillows, I usually use newspaper that is tied up in a plastic grocery bag. It is against Amazon guidelines to use newspaper as void fill because they don’t want the newsprint to get on the items, but it is ok if you bag the newspaper and use that instead. Of course, air is lighter than paper and is my preferred method. Maybe one day I’ll splurge for an air pillow machine

Other than shipping boxes, which I usually get at Lowes or Home Depot, that is everything I use when I’m prepping, packing, boxing, and shipping. These are the tools I use almost every day in order to run my full-time FBA business. 

This is what my work & shipping station looks like at the end of the day. Click on the image for a close up.

This is what my work & shipping station looks like at the end of the day. Click on the image for a close up.

TIP: Bookmark this page so when you are ready to add something new to your work station, you have a handy list of what you want to add.

Whenever my wife and I come in from a huge retail arbitrage haul (sometimes hundreds of items in one day) we bring the items into the house, remove the price stickers (usually in front of the TV or while listening to an audiobook), poly bag any item that needs it, and then place all the items on the floor near the desk to be inventoried and processed on the laptop. Once the items have been processed, we raise the drop leaf on the table so there’s space to box up everything. Add the shipping labels, and we’re ready to send our inventory off to Amazon. No warehouse required. 

Now I want to hear from you. What tools are your favorite? How do you make the most of the space at your house for doing your FBA business? I’d love to see what you use, so comment below!