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

Overcoming Your Fear of Missing Out

FOMO“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness,” – A Tale of Two Cities.

One of the greatest opening lines of any piece of literature still accurately portrays the world that we live in today over 150 years after it was written. Today, with the internet, we have immediate access to almost any piece of information we want to lay our eyes on. While the opportunity is amazing, all the information can become very overwhelming, especially when it comes to learning how to run a successful Amazon FBA business. 

Even though there are so many great pieces of information out there, both free and paid, it could be hard sometimes not to feel like you are missing out on something you need to know. This concept actually has a name. It’s called FOMO (fear of missing out), and it’s a very real mindset.Screen-shot-2011-04-11-at-9.30.52-AM3 

This fear is one that I’ve struggled with personally the past few years. I subscribed to countless email lists on topics ranging from Amazon, FBA, private label products, wholesale information, repricing, retail and online arbitrage, as well as a handful of non-Amazon related newsletters. I was also involved in over 50 different Facebook groups related to selling on Amazon. I felt like if I wasn’t involved in every possible opportunity, then I would miss out on valuable information that would help take my Amazon business to the next level. It turns out, the opposite was true. 

What I didn’t realize was that following so many different opportunities at the same time was actually slowing down the growth in my Amazon business. I was more focused on getting information than implementing information.

So here is the simple trick I used to get over my fear of missing out: FOCUS.

You might have heard me talk about this on Periscope lately, but I’m all about FOCUS. I write the word in all caps because it’s an acronym for what I really want to remember. FOCUS: Follow One Course Until Successful.

414tVZ2FfPL._SX341_BO1,204,203,200_Gary W. Keller and Jay Papasan in their book, The One Thing, introduced me to The Focusing Question. This question has had a tremendous impact on helping me know what I need to focus on right now versus what I can save for later. The focusing questions is this: 

“What’s the ONE thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

Wow… that question revolutionized my life. I use that question when I’m deciding how to spend my time, what new part of my Amazon business I want to learn next, what podcast I’ll listen to, what book I’ll read, what store I’ll source at, what email I’ll read, what Amazon product I’ll purchase, and so on. 

Let’s break this down into the fears associated with FOMO in your Amazon business. 

learnFEAR – I’m afraid that if I don’t learn everything, I won’t be successful. 

TRUTH – If you try to learn everything at once, you’ll never get a strong enough foundation to actually put into action what you have already learned. 

ACTION – Pick one aspect of your Amazon business to learn next, and only read books, listen to podcasts, or watch videos that are on that topic. Learn that topic so well that you could teach a friend how to do it with confidence. And be patient. It takes a while to learn a new skill. Too many people get frustrated because they don’t master something very quickly. It takes time, trial and error, and experience to be able to master a topic. Once you learn that new aspect of your business, move on to the next topic you want to master.

facebook-group-iconFEAR – If I’m not in every Facebook group, I’ll miss out on a valuable piece of information that will help my Amazon business. 

TRUTH – There is not enough time in the day to read all the information in every Amazon FBA Facebook group. In fact, if you try to read it all, you’ll have no time for sourcing or other tasks that actually make you money.

ACTION – Pick only a handful of Amazon Facebook groups (like this one) to participate in. Rather than leaving or deleting the groups you don’t want to participate in, update the notification settings for those groups to OFF. You can still check in from time to time, but you won’t be notified of posts every time you log in. Then, focus on the few Facebook groups you get the most out of, and be a part of that community. The community aspect of Facebook groups is what really makes them work for your business. 

information-overloadFEAR – If I don’t read every Amazon FBA email/update/newsletter I get, I’ll miss out on some great information. 

TRUTH – Emails don’t delete themselves, so if you get an email on a topic you want to focus on later, then save it. 

ACTION – Organize your emails. I set up multiple email folders within my email app to hold important pieces of information until I’m ready to consume them. Now, when I get an email about private label, I put it in the private label folder. When I get an email about wholesale, I put it in the wholesale folder. I still have access to the information, but I don’t consume all of it, all of the time. I can choose to go back and read those emails when the time is right.

Note: I’m not referring here to emails from Amazon. I’m referring to newsletters you have subscribed to. As an Amazon FBA seller, you should always read every email from Amazon related to your seller account immediately.

SOS-buttonThe key to overcoming information overload is to focus. When you are able to focus, you don’t become susceptible to shiny object syndrome. 

Too many of us try to learn multiple aspects of the Amazon business at the same time. Who do you think finds success faster, the person who spends 1 hour a day learning 5 different areas of selling on Amazon, or the person who spends 1 hour a day learning just 1 aspect on how to sell on Amazon? The person who focuses is able to apply what they learn much faster than the person who is trying to learn a little bit of everything. 

images-2Challenge: Choose your “one thing” and then leave it in a comment below. Maybe this will help keep you accountable by posting it here. Then, stick with your “one thing” until you’ve mastered it. I can’t wait to see what your “one thing” is. 


Overcoming Your Fear of Creating Listings

Adding A ProductFor many online resellers, one reason we transition out of selling on eBay to selling on Amazon FBA (Fulfilled by Amazon) is so we don’t have to constantly be creating listings. The number of items in the Amazon catalog runs in the millions, so it’s possible to spend your entire FBA career not creating a single listing but still raking in the profits.

But what do you do if you find a great deal on an awesome product that sells on other platforms for a pretty penny…and it’s not available on Amazon? You’ve searched by the UPC, you’ve searched by the product title, and you’ve even searched Amazon’s out of stock items. Nothing. You have a way to buy multiples of this item and make great profits, if only it had a product page on Amazon.

What’s stopping you from creating that listing yourself? I know for me personally, I was afraid to create listings for a variety of reasons, but those fears have all slipped off to the wayside now that I’ve had a little practice. Generally, when we’re doing retail arbitrage we still prefer to find products that already have product pages, just to save ourselves the time and effort. But in some cases it is totally worth it to put our fears aside and just make that product page ourselves!

Here are my top three fears when it comes to creating product listings on Amazon:

manage-timeFear #1 – I’m afraid it will take too much time. 

Truth – It definitely takes more time to create a quality listing than it does to just scan in an item that already has its own page in the Amazon catalog. The picture requirements are stricter than with eBay, so you’ll likely need to do a little photo editing (or hire someone to do it for you), rather than just plunking the item down on the kitchen table, snapping a photo, and calling it done. BUT if you have an item that’s going to bring a high ROI (return on investment) and you have multiples of it, the time spent on creating a solid listing for the Amazon catalog can be very profitable.

You might want to ask yourself a few questions before you consider purchasing items that will need you to create a listing:

  • How much profit will I make from selling one of these items?
  • How many of these items can I buy to resell now?
  • Will I be able to buy more items to resell in the future?
  • Will other people be able to buy this item and join my listing, or will I likely be able to keep this listing to myself?

If you can’t answer these questions in a way that justifies the time and effort involved in creating a listing on Amazon, perhaps you should consider selling the item on eBay or Craigslist or at a garage sale instead.

right-way-wrong-wayFear #2 – I’m afraid I’ll create the listing the wrong way. 

Truth – We all have to learn somewhere and try something for the first time. Sometimes that involves making mistakes, but if other people can create successful listings, chances are so can you! If you do a little research up front, you can avoid making some of the more obvious errors, and you can be off to a great start creating listings that could bring in big profits.

Amazon does have rules regarding adding products to their catalog, and if you’re going to create a listing, you should read those rules before getting started. It’s pretty easy to tell when a seller from eBay has created an Amazon listing — their photos will not conform to the pure white background requirements, or they’ll be too small; their titles will be in all caps; they will include condition notes in their product descriptions. None of these things are acceptable with Amazon, and all of these things are easy to read in their guidelines. Seriously, read the rules. That’s the best place to start with learning how to create a listing.

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 6.38.13 AMA side fear related to creating listings is a fear of the dreaded flat file. When you’re first getting started learning to create listings, though, there’s no reason to use a flat file. The “Add a Product” feature in Seller Central is easy to follow step by step. Just log in to your seller account, and under “Inventory” click on “Add a Product.” From there you can follow each step to add the product’s title, description, images, etc. If you enter any information incorrectly, the system will give you a handy little red notification, which can be quite helpful in figuring out how to enter the correct information.

customers_wantedFear #3 – I’m afraid I won’t get any sales on my new listing, and my time will have been wasted. 

Truth – If you have an awesome product to sell and you create an awesome listing, you’re bound to get sales. Sometimes you might need to promote your product with ads, but often you don’t even need to go that far before your product gains momentum and the sales start coming in. We have never promoted any of our created listings, and in some cases we’ve seen sales start coming in within a matter of a day or two once the products go live.

The key to creating a successful listing? Keywords. Keywords are key.

We’ve had a couple of great guest posts by Karon Thackston in the past, and we still stand by everything she has to say:

I have pored over Karon’s book Amazon Advantage: Product Listing Strategies to Boost Your Sales, and I just can’t recommend it enough if you’re wanting to create a listing. We have used her advice to boost current listings, and we’ve used it to create a listing for a replenishable item that has no FBA competition, gives us 100% ROI, and sells about once a day. If only we could find more items just like this one!

Now, this blog post is about addressing our fear of creating listings, but I would be remiss if we didn’t discuss the times when it’s best to reconsider creating a listing:

  • If you can only buy one of an item, the ROI is low, or the dollar amount of the sales price is low
  • If it’s a collectible item better suited for eBay
  • If it’s a generic product (i.e. not a popular brand name; not an item you are selling as your own private label product)
  • If the item already has a product page, but you want to create a duplicate listing with a different UPC. This is against Amazon rules. Don’t do it.

So, are you ready to try creating your own listing? Or have you already tried it and have some insight to share? We’d love to hear from you about your experience with creating listings on Amazon.

Overcoming Your Fear of Selling Oversize or Add-on Items

Raise your hand if this has happened to you before (don’t worry, none of us can see you sitting there at your computer).

You’re out doing some sourcing, and you scan an item with your Amazon Seller app. The rank is good, and the return on investment (ROI) is decent. You buy the item (or even multiples of the item), bring home your find, and start to list and pack your next shipment. But when you list the item, it’s assigned to a separate fulfillment center from the rest of your shipment. You double check, and sure enough — that great item turns out to be oversized. There goes your ROI, you think to yourself. All the profits will be eaten up in shipping and fees.

Or this…

add-on-1-haznYou find a smaller sized item that you can buy for next to nothing. You’ve got access to a large number of these items, so it would be possible to make profits off this item over and over again. There’s just one liiiiiittle problem, when you look a bit closer at the Amazon product page:  The lowest offer is for $9.49, and the item is an add-on (meaning it cannot be purchased separately, but must be included in a total order of $25 or more shipped from Amazon). Will the item really sell? Is it worth it to invest in a product that is an Amazon add-on item?

Today’s installment of our blog series “Overcoming Your Amazon FBA Fears” will cover these two situations and their implications: selling oversize and add-on items. If handled incorrectly, these big or small items can cause problems for your shipments or lower your ROI. But if given the correct forethought, these types of items can mean big profits for your FBA business.

Let’s dive right in and address these fears!

1197095556709556181Leomarc_caution_overload.svg.hiFear of Selling Oversize Items: I’m afraid that selling oversize items will eat into my profits — the FBA fees are too high, and the shipping costs can be outrageous.

Truth: There are huge profits to be made in selling oversize items! If you’re doing the right research and handling your shipments correctly, you can minimize your fees and shipping costs and make a ton of money back on your investment. Even better, because a lot of inexperienced sellers have this same fear, your competition will be reduced, and you’ll get more sales for taking the time to learn how to best handle oversize items.

We love to sell oversize items. This year alone we’ve sold dozens of a particular oversize item that we purchased for $3-$7 a piece, and we’re selling it for $40-$50. We end up averaging $20-$28 of profit per item — and who doesn’t like that kind of ROI?

mmIcDKXuAPVMZ4_wCJEaEnQWe’ve also sold two of an item that measures 21″L x 44″W x 28″H. It required some extra work and about an hour of time apiece to make boxes big enough to ship them to Amazon, but we sold them quickly and made $450 profit from the two of them. That is $450 in our pockets after we took out our cost for buying the items, the Amazon fees, and the cost of shipping them to FBA. You tell me — is $450 profit worth that two hours of time? For us, the answer was yes.

So how do you make sure you’re getting big profits out of these big oversize items? The key is making sure you’re being strategic at two points in your process: when you’re scanning and when you’re putting your shipment together.

Profit Bandit AppFor scanning, you must make sure you’re not depending on the Amazon Seller app for finding oversize items. The free Amazon Seller app does not tell you if an item is oversize; nor can you tell from just looking at the product page. But if you’re using a third party scanning app like Profit Bandit, Scoutify, or ScanPower, you will see a note stating the item is oversize and you will see the extra FBA fees included in the profit calculations. Just like with any other item in these apps, you can see right away if you will be able to get a good ROI. No need to fear!

When you’re putting your shipment together, the best way to reduce your shipping costs is to ship multiple oversize items at one time. Shipping one oversize item individually can be a big drain on your profits because that item will be sent to a separate fulfillment center. Shipping several oversize items together gives you a better overall shipping rate and spreads the cost across several items. If we’re putting together a shipment that only has one oversize item, we leave that item off the shipment and hold it until we’ve got a few more to send in. Since we love sourcing oversize products, it usually doesn’t take us very long to find more oversize items to add to the next shipment.

Fear of Selling Add-on Items: I’m afraid add-on items won’t sell. I’m afraid they won’t bring me enough profits to make it worth the investment.

add-on-itemTruth: Honestly, we agree that the profits don’t make it worth the investment to sell add-ons. We don’t intentionally buy items to sell as add-ons, but only sell items this way when another seller drops the price below $10 and we have no choice in it becoming an add-on. In this situation, we just make the best of things and do what we can to sell our items.

There is a way, however, to make big money off small items: sell them as multi-packs or as bundles. We found a grocery item at a liquidation store that was small, light weight, and inexpensive — all the criteria of add-on items. We created a 12-pack of it and sold dozens (this was before Amazon decided that only the manufacturer is allowed to create multi-packs). Since creating a multi-pack listing is no longer an option, you can instead search on Amazon for one that has already been created. Take a few extra seconds to enter the text title of your item into the search field instead of scanning the bar code UPC — you may find that a profitable multi-pack already exists, just under a different UPC. Be sure to include out of stock items in your search so as not to miss those.

If a multi-pack is not an option, then creating bundles might be your answer. Creating bundles takes a little more time and some creativity, but the payoff can be huge. If you’re hesitant about creating a listing for a bundle, be sure to check the blog for an upcoming post on Overcoming Your Fear of Creating Listings.

Today we want to challenge you to do some sourcing outside your normal comfort zone. If you’re sourcing today, try to look at the bigger items or smaller items that you normally skip. See if you can find a profitable multi-pack or an oversize item with oversized ROI. Let us know in the comments what you find!

Overcoming Your Fear of Negotiating a Better Deal

Fear of Negotiating
Have you ever found yourself frustrated after you go into a store, find a lot of items with great sales ranks, only to find the clearance or sale prices are just not low enough to make it worth reselling? Or maybe you’ve been at a garage sale, and the seller has their items priced way too high. If only you could get an additional 50% off… things would be much better. You might already know that asking for an additional percentage off could dramatically increase your return on investment (ROI) on the items you want to buy, but the fear of negotiating is holding you (and your business) back.

Both store managers and those who run garage sales have one goal in mind. They want to sell stuff. Now, the methods they use for achieving that goal differ in some aspects, but overall, they want to sell items without thinking they are losing money. For the rest of this post, I’ll be referring to the person you are negotiating with as the manager.

Before we focus on teaching you some negotiating skills, let’s first talk through the most common fears that are stopping you from negotiating a deal, the most likely worst case scenario, and the truth that will help you overcome your fears.

maxresdefaultFEAR: I’m afraid they will say no.
WORST CASE SCENARIO: They might say no and I will feel rejected.
TRUTH: They are not rejecting you; they are rejecting your offer. I’ve had many store managers tell me that they wish they could sell me more of their clearance items, but simply can’t because their store is out of mark-down money (money that each store gets to use in lowering prices of items they need to sell faster). It’s nothing personal; it’s just how things work sometimes.

What_to_doFEAR: I’m afraid they will ask me questions I’m not ready to answer.
WORST CASE SCENARIO: They might ask you why you want to buy so much or another question related to why you are wanting the deal.
TRUTH: These questions can easily be answered by telling the truth. If you don’t know the answer, just tell them you don’t know. If they ask why you want to buy, just tell them you have an online store and want more inventory. Or just tell them you are an Amazon reseller. Most managers are just asking out of curiosity, not as a factor for giving you the discount.

FEAR: I’m afraid the manager will give me a counter-offer.
WORST CASE SCENARIO: You might offer 50% off, and the manager counters with 20% off.
TRUTH: The best response to this counter-offer is to tell the manager that you would be able to accept his/her offer, but would not be able to buy as many of the items at that percentage off. If the manager doesn’t budge, then you’ll need to research if that deal is still good. I know it will take some time, but you would have to tell the manager that you would need to think about it and get back to him. Then you would need to go through and see what items are worth reselling at the new percentage off.

yes_logoFEAR: I’m afraid the manager will actually say yes.
WORST CASE SCENARIO: Um… The manager says yes.
TRUTH: Be sure you are ready to follow through with the purchase. One time I offered to the manager that I would take every single Lego on the clearance aisle if he gave me 50% off the clearance price. At that time I saw about 40 Lego boxes, but as I continued down the aisle I found an additional 50 Lego boxes. I started to fear that we might not have the capital or even space in the car to follow through with this deal. It was a lesson learned that we need to completely think through how we would pay for and process all of the items in the deal if it becomes a successful negotiation.

Ok, now that we’ve addressed these fears, let me give you some good negotiating skills that will help you get to a “yes” much faster than if you didn’t use them.

  1. Be friendly and approachable – The manager is more likely to give a good deal to someone they like. When you first approach a store manager, introduce yourself and give them a firm handshake and a smile.
  2. winwinPresent your offer as how it will benefit them – It’s always good to try and present the deal as a win-win situation. Let them know how you’d love to help clear off the shelf, or that you will help get these slow moving items out of the store. Find a way to make this a win for them.
  3. Ask the manager what discount % they would be comfortable with – One time I was going to ask for 50% off, but when I asked the manager what she could do, she offered me 75% off. Deal!
  4. If you get a no, don’t stop there – Keep talking to the manager and ask questions. Many times, “no” is not the end of the story. Sometimes I’ll find out that next month might be a better time to ask. Other times I find out that I’m talking to the assistant manager, when I really need to be talking to the main manager.
  5. If you get a no, thank them for their time and remain friendly – You’ll never know when they’ll be able to help you out sometime in the future. At one store, I got a “no” 4 times before I finally got a “yes.”
  6. If you get a yes, thank them and be a good customer – Follow through and buy all of the items you said you would. I’ve had managers tell me before that some people offer to clear the shelf, but end up leaving half of the items. Don’t be like that. If you do buy up a lot, help clean up the rest of the shelf so that the manager sees how awesome you are.
  7. No matter what, always leave your contact information – Over the years, I’ve developed relationships with managers who actually call or text me when they have deals I might be interested in. If you follow the above advice, then they will remember you, and sometimes reach out to you with a great deal!

images-2Remember, you’ll probably hear no more than yes, but the time that you spend negotiating toward a yes with a store manager will make all of the times you get a no worth it. The more you ask for a deal, the more often you’ll get a deal… and it helps ease the fears and anxiety you may face when talking with a manager.

Have you ever asked a manager or garage sale seller for a deal? How did it go? Did you have to overcome any fears not listed above? What negotiating skills did you use to work out a good deal? I’d love hear from you in the comments below.

Overcoming Your Fear of Branching out into New Categories

Fear of New CategoriesMany of us got our start on Amazon selling books or toys. For most of us, at some point after we get our feet wet selling via FBA, the idea comes into our minds to expand beyond those entry-level categories. We hear over and over about the new hot Amazon category of the month that’s guaranteed to cause your profits to explode, and we start to wonder…should I try selling in that category? Will it be worth my time? Are the profits in that category really all that great? Is there inventory available for me to purchase? Will I be able to find good deals for resale?

Those are all valid questions and ones we’ve considered at great length for our own FBA business. Some of those questions lead into another fear we’ll be mentioning in a later post in this series, FOMO, or the fear of missing out. Not every shiny new category that’s currently all the rage is worth pursuing with everything you’ve got, but there are definitely great benefits to branching out to try new categories:

  1. eggs-in-one-basketIt’s a good idea not to keep all your eggs in one basket/category. Diversifying your inventory can mean adding greater seasonal profits to your business as well as a nice stream of slow-but-steady profits throughout the year, depending on the category.
  2. You never know until you try something whether or not you will succeed at it. If you’re only selling toys but decide to test out a few kitchen items, you may discover a profitable niche that you absolutely love.
  3. Items for resale are available everywhere, everywhere, and if you pass something by because it’s in an unfamiliar category, well, you’re passing up money. You’re in this business to make money, aren’t you?

So what is it that’s holding you back from branching out into new categories?  You know the old adage about how the best way to conquer your fears is to confront them? That’s so very true for me (Rebecca) with these fears about new categories. I look back now and realize how big my fear seemed at the time (big enough to keep us from moving forward in that aspect of our business), but how manageable it all seems now, from the other side of it.

I want to share with you three fears that I personally have dealt with over the past couple of years, along with the corresponding truths that are so evident to me now.

Fear of the Grocery and Beauty Categories I’m afraid of products with expiration dates. I don’t want to get in trouble for selling an expired product to someone.

17r2xyp8wr6v2jpgTruth – Amazon won’t let you sell someone an expired product, so this fear of mine was completely groundless. When items with an expiration date are checked into the FBA warehouses, the workers note the expiration date (which we have clearly labeled on the product during prep), so that the item can be automatically pulled from active inventory and disposed of by Amazon 50 days before expiration (see Amazon guidelines here).

Now, what I learned later is that I should be more concerned about keeping track of my upcoming expiration dates either so that I make sure my inventory sells before the time frame when Amazon disposes of it, or so that I can create a removal order before Amazon disposes of it. This initially required my setting up a spreadsheet to keep track of expiration dates; we are now monitoring these dates with reminders in our listing program. Expiration dates are completely manageable, and if I had let this fear continue to paralyze me, we would have missed out on a lot of profits over the past couple of years.

Fear of the Clothing and Shoes Categories – I’m afraid of making a bad buying decision with all the variations available. Size, color, so many unknowns. The price and sales rank history on camelcamelcamel.com just isn’t there like it is in other categories, and my scanning apps aren’t working the same way with these items. I’m afraid this is too much for me to learn.

Truth – There’s no way around it, categories with variations are just downright intimidating. But just as with anything else in this business, making good buying decisions on items with variations is a skill that can be learned.

One way to acquire this skill is through education. Read everything you can about selling in these categories. There are ebooks, courses, and guides available for purchase on this topic, but there are also plenty of free resources out there.

Search Feature FacebookA great method for educating yourself is through Facebook groups. Now, I don’t mean go out and join a bunch of groups and post, “Hi, I want to know about selling shoes, please tell me everything there is to know” until someone answers your question. A better, more efficient approach would be to use the search feature within Facebook groups. Type in search terms like shoes, shoe sizes, shoe ranks, etc, and read all the older posts related to the topic you want to learn. You would be amazed at how many people have already asked the very question you want to ask, and you’re likely to learn a ton of great info by reading through the comments.

The other main way to learn how to make good buying decisions with clothing and shoes, I’m sorry to say, is by trial and error. Good old experimentation. We all want to learn without having to pay any type of cost, but sometimes the best way to learn is by making mistakes. Sometimes you really can’t know what your buying parameters should be for a new category until you just test the waters by making some purchases and seeing how they do when you send them in to the FBA warehouse.

Fear of Gated Categories – Getting ungated is hard. Flat files. Ewww.

automaticGatesTruth – Getting ungated is easier now than ever. Especially during periods of automatic approvals (is that still going on?). But even if you are required to submit photos, flat files, or invoices for category approval, there are ways to make the process simpler.

We were grandfathered into the grocery and beauty categories, but we did have to apply for clothing and shoes. For the shoe category, we used the category assistance service offered by The Selling Family. They helped us with every step of the process, responded quickly to emails when Amazon asked us for corrections, and provided all the files we needed to submit. With their service we were ungated in shoes within 48 hours.

For the clothing category, we chose a different route. This time we used the instructional videos from a “do it yourself” category approval course (which is still in beta testing) to go through the ungating process on our own. The videos were very thorough, covering every aspect of filling in the flat files and editing our photos. Again, we were ungated in the clothing category within 48 hours of starting the process with this course. [We’ll update this blog post once this “do it yourself” category approval course is officially released.]

Screen shot 2012-05-19 at 4.57.04 PMIf you’re literate in Excel and really good at following instructions, you could do it the old-fashioned way and complete the process on your own without any assistance. It will take you more time this way, so really the decision comes down to whether you want to spend the time to do it yourself or spend the money to have someone help you.

So there you have it. Our three biggest fears about branching out into new Amazon categories. Shining a light on those fears shows them to be needless — they are surmountable with a little thought and effort.

We’d love to hear from you about your greatest success stories in overcoming your fears of new categories — or the biggest fear you’re facing now that you want some encouragement for. Let us hear from you in the comments!

Overcoming Your Fear of “Tanking” Prices

It seems to happen far too frequently. You buy an item (or multiples of an item), price it just right, send it to Amazon… and your competition starts to lower their prices. What once was selling for $29.99 is now selling for $15.99 only a week or so later. What happened? Why would someone want to sell it for $15.99 when it was selling just as fast at $29.99? It can be maddening if you let it consume you. With experiences like this, it’s easy to see why so many people have the fear of their competition tanking the prices of their inventory. 

Just like other articles on our series on Overcoming Your Amazon FBA Fears, this one will be aimed at replacing your fears with truth so you can not only move past your fears, but move forward in your Amazon FBA business. In our previous blog posts about overcoming fears, we replaced each individual fear with a specific truth, but in today’s post, one simple truth will replace all of your fears concerning your competitors tanking the prices.  

falling-pricesFEAR #1 – I’m afraid if I buy an expensive item to sell, the price will tank. 

FEAR #2 – I’m afraid if I go too deep with inventory, prices will tank and I’ll be stuck with a lot of “dead” inventory. 

FEAR #3 – I’m afraid to buy almost anything now. The price of every item seems to tank one it’s finally at Amazon. 

THE TRUTHPrices are always going to be fluid, but making better sourcing decisions will lower the chance that your competition will lower their prices, and could increase your chances that the prices will go up. 

Supply-demand-equilibrium.svgYes, it’s true that some of your competitors will change their prices on the same items you are selling. Sometime the prices will go up, and sometimes they will go down. It’s a natural process of supply and demand. When demand for an item outweighs the supply, then prices usually go up. The opposite of this is true as well. Think about how this applies to your sourcing strategies. 

It really surprises me how often I hear other online sellers say something like, “I bought this item for $10, and at the time it was selling for $30… now, it’s selling for only $15. Looks like I need to lower my price to try and break even.” Here are a few of my thoughts about this mindset:

  1. If prices have gone down, then it’s most likely that the supply is now outweighing the demand.
  2. It’s very likely that if you exercise some patience, prices will recover. 
  3. If you lower your price to get the sale today, then you’re just adding to the problem.

BlogGraphic_ArrowsI’m not suggesting that you should never lower your price in order to sell your inventory. There are times when this is necessary (when the cost of long term storage fees are too much, or when CamelCamelCamel shows that the price history of the item is usually lower than when you first sourced it, etc.), but many online sellers might be surprised just how fast the price of an item can recover, and maybe even be higher than when they first sourced it. 

Chris Green says in Online Arbitrage, “More competition? Prices never ‘tank.’ Prices normalize as supply moves to meet demand. I have never seen an item tank and never recover. The market bears what it will bear. Sales rank can never tank unless demand is non-existent, and in that case, items won’t sell at any price (high or low).” I completely agree. 

toy-clearance1So, as long as sales rank remains consistent, it’s feasible to conclude that the prices will recover. Think about it this way. You go to Target and notice that there is a huge clearance sale on toys. You fill up a cart full of toys at 30%, 50%, and even 75% off. You’re elated because you know that you’ll at least double, triple, or maybe even quadruple your investment.

The only problem with this situation is that hundreds of other online sellers across the nation are also sourcing at the big Target clearance event. After the Target sale is over, you begin to realize that most of what you sent in from Target to Amazon is no longer selling. Why is that? Because Amazon was flooded with an increase of supply while the demand has remained the same. With more supply than demand, other online sellers begin to panic and assume they need to be the lowest price in order to get the sale (read The Buy Box Bible sometime and learn why the lowest price doesn’t automatically give you the Buy Box). With dozens and dozens of sellers seeking the next sale by lowering their prices by a penny or, worse, a few dollars, it’s easy to see how the prices fall quickly.

everything-will-be-ok-in-the-end-if-it-s-not-ok-it-s-not-the-end-368781-475-559_largeBUT, this is not the end of the story. As other Amazon sellers sell out, those who are patient eventually get the sale at the price they want. It’s only the end of the story if you decide to lower the price and break even or take a loss. Show some patience and the prices, most likely, will recover. 

As with all situations, there are exceptions to what I suggest. Sometimes your business is in a place where you need the capital back as soon as possible in order to take advantage of better selling inventory, and therefore lowering your price to get the next sale might be what you need to do, but complaining about others lowering their prices is not a profitable use of time. 

How to avoid buying items with tanking prices:

While it’s impossible to only source items that are “tank proof,” you can make better decisions to insure that you won’t be faced with an onslaught of tanking prices. The short answer to how to avoid buying items with tanking prices is this: Make smarter sourcing decisions. Here’s how: 

  1. Tank and RecoverWhen you are out sourcing for inventory, don’t just look at the current price, but look at the price history. You can do this by using CamelCamelCamel on your desktop or smartphone. If you see that in the past the item has had a constantly good price, then it’s likely that the price, if temporarily lowered, will recover sometime soon. 
  2. When you are sourcing for inventory at a big sale at a major retail store, understand that probably hundreds of other online sellers are doing the same thing. The best plan is to source quickly and send your items in as soon as possible. That way you’ll get some sales before the prices begin to fall. Then, just be aware that prices will fall, most likely temporarily, but will return to market value once the supply falls. The return of the price will happen even faster the closer you are to Q4.
  3. Unless you are willing to wait it out, don’t go too deep on an item at one of the major retail store clearance sales. You might sell one or two before the prices fall, but you don’t want to be stuck with too many while you’re waiting for prices to recover. The prices might recover in time for you to sell out and avoid any long term storage fees, but you don’t want to risk it by buying too deep.
  4. Create your own bundles. When you create a quality bundle, you can usually avoid competition all together. It’s harder, but not impossible, for other Amazon sellers to find each of the items in your bundle, so you’ll have much less competition and better control over the selling price. 

patience-god-give-meOverall, the key is smarter sourcing, and being a patient seller. Don’t be a self-fulfilling prophesy by complaining about prices tanking, and then responding by lowering your own prices by a large amount. Again, there are exceptions to everything I suggest, but overall this balanced approach to selling both fast nickels and slow dimes provides you with a well-balanced inventory that should consistently give you sales throughout the year. If you’re interested in learning how to source smarter, then check out my coaching page for information about personalized one-on-one coaching. 

How do you best handle prices when they begin to fall? What do you do to avoid sourcing items where the price seems to fall soon after? I’d love to hear your ideas and strategies.


Overcoming Your Fear of Paying for Services for Your FBA Business

fear-300x260We’re continuing our series on Overcoming Your Amazon FBA Fears today by looking at another set of fears that we want to replace with truths to help us take our FBA businesses to the next level. Today’s fear has been a big one for me (Rebecca) and Stephen to deal with over the past couple of years, but thankfully we’re working our way out of it.

Many Amazon sellers, including us, didn’t start out with a limitless bank account full of money that we can invest in our business. If you’re like us, maybe you started off finding inventory you could buy at garage sales or thrift stores for a dollar or two that you could sell for great ROI, and you work hard to keep your overhead costs low so that you can use all your profits to reinvest in inventory and hopefully pay a few household bills.

No MoneyThat’s pretty much the situation Stephen started off in. Not a lot of wiggle room or excess cash lying around to use for “extras” in the business. Extras like services that would speed up some of our processes, but would also eat away all our profit. Services like deal lists, feedback removal, prep services, repricers, listing programs, scanning apps, and category approval services.

My goal for today’s post is to convince you that some of the services you might view as extras really shouldn’t be considered extra. Maybe they should be considered essential, if you want to see your business grow.

My goal for today’s post is NOT to sell you particular services. I want to sell you an idea. I want you to take the time to consider whether your business is missing out because you’re struggling to justify paying for services. Please notice that we are not including any affiliate links to particular services in this blog post. We aren’t trying to sell services through this post. We’re trying to help you deal with a very real hang-up that could be slowing down your FBA business.

So, here are 3 fears about paying for services for your FBA business, along with the ways you can overcome these fears:

FEAR #1 – I’m afraid of letting somebody besides me run my Amazon business.

Amazon SuperheroTRUTH – Yes, you are the best person to run your business. It’s yours. And you really should have hands-on experience at running every aspect of it before you hand any part of it over to someone else. But time is money, and after a certain point any business cannot grow unless you multiply yourself, either through outsourcing or through automation. If you continue to spend all your time doing things that anyone can do, then you quickly run out of time to do the things only you can do.

ACTION – As a first step towards automating your business, try outsourcing a task that you really don’t enjoy or that you don’t do particularly well. It’s easier to assign someone else our dreaded tasks than the tasks we don’t mind, even if they’re draining our time.

FEAR #2 – I’m afraid I can’t afford to pay for a service; my business is still too small.

540_293_resize_20130501_7ea4cf0099273a9573e2987cce989e84_pngTRUTH – I hear you on this one. I really do. This has been a huge stopping point for me and Stephen. But the truth is that this logic only works up to a certain level of doing business. You have to look at whether you have more time to spend or more money to spend. Once you have more money than time, then your business just will not grow beyond a certain threshold without spending some money to get your time back. Trust us on this one. We’ve learned it the hard way. There are areas where we wish we had spent the money for services a little earlier, rather than running ourselves ragged trying to get more work in each day.

ACTION – Think about the added cost of a service in terms of cost per item of inventory, and work that extra cost into your cost of goods when you’re making buying decisions. For example, if it costs $1 per item to send your inventory to a prep service, start adding that $1 into your calculations for how much ROI you need before you’ll buy an item to resell. Soon that extra $1 will seem like nothing, but you will have gained a priceless amount of time back that you’re no longer spending on prepping inventory. This concept works with other services too, but it may require doing some math and creative thinking on your part to come up with an approximate cost per item.

FEAR #3 – There are too many services (and types of services) available. I can’t figure out which ones are the most beneficial for me to add at this point.

too-many-choices1TRUTH –
Though it can be overwhelming to think through whether it’s actually worth it to add a service, it can’t hurt you to spend a few minutes coming up with a few pros and cons for a few services. No one says you have to add all the services in all the world all at one time to make your business grow. Just one new service could be all it takes to make a vast difference in your business.

ACTION – Choose one service to try out for a period of time, whether it’s a deal list or feedback removal or a repricer. Most services offer a 7-day free trial, or even a 30-day trial in some cases — or at the very least, they should offer some type of money-back satisfaction guarantee. If they don’t make it clear on their website what their money-back policy is, shoot them an email to ask about it before you sign up. While you’re at it, ask any other questions you might have before you get started. You’ll get a good indication of their customer service and whether or not this is a company you want to work with.

ContentImageHandler.ashxIn the previous post on Overcoming the Fear of Selling Used Items, Stephen gave you some homework to look around your house for a used item to sell. Today’s homework is to take one of the action points above and put it into practice: 1) Identify a task you don’t enjoy or don’t do well that would be something you could outsource or automate through a service; 2) Do some calculations on what adding a service to your business would add to your cost per item when you buy inventory; OR 3) Take the leap and do a trial period for a service you’re curious about. Better yet, do all three action points and see what a difference it could make in your business!

Please let us know in the comments which action point you’re doing for your homework. Or let us know if you have a success story for your business that came from paying for a new service. We love to hear from you!

Overcoming Your Fear of Selling Used Items on Amazon

iStock_000020159229sign(web)I’ve heard it many times before, both online and in person:

“Selling new items on Amazon is easier.”
“Selling new items on Amazon is much safer than selling used items.”
“Does Amazon even allow me to sell used items?” 
“Selling used items on Amazon is a pain. It’s not worth my time.” 
“Isn’t it easier to get suspended on Amazon for selling used items?

It surprises me just how many people are afraid to sell used items on Amazon. It’s money that people are leaving on the table. Now, I admit that the majority of what I sell on Amazon is in new condition, but we make good money from items that are no longer in new condition. Used items remain a staple of my online selling strategy. There is so much money that can be made selling used items, but as with anything profitable, you want to be sure you are doing it the right way. 

fear-300x260Today, my goal is to erase your fears of selling used items. I want to replace those fears with truth, equip you with the knowledge you need to move forward, and challenge you to apply what you’ve learned. Soon enough, you’ll have the confidence you need to sell used items on Amazon without worry — and increase your bottom line as well. 

Important note: Amazon’s guidelines state that used items must be in working order and include all their parts. Unlike eBay where you can tell the buyer in your description if a piece is missing, you should never list a used item on Amazon and note a missing piece in the condition notes.

Here are my responses to several of the myths of selling used items on Amazon:

MYTH – Selling used items on Amazon is not worth my time. New items are just easier.
TRUTH – While processing new items to sell might not take up that much time, it doesn’t mean that selling used items is a waste of time. Determining if it’s a waste of time all depends on which used items you’re selling. If it’s a collectible (used) board game, then the ROI of the board game needs to be high enough in order for you to take the time to BoardGameBook Minimake sure all of the pieces are present. If I bought a used board game for $2 and can sell it as collectible for $40, then it makes sense to me to spend a few minutes double checking that all the pieces are there. Used books only require an extra few seconds of your time as all you need to do is flip through the book and note if there are any highlights, notes, folded pages, etc., in the condition notes. I’ve purchased boxes of used books for a few dollars per box and ended up making hundreds of dollars from that same box. Used items, as long as they are complete and in working condition, can be a valuable addition to your sourcing strategy. 

MYTH – Amazon won’t let me sell used items.
TRUTH – In almost every category, Amazon will allow you to sell used items. Be sure to check the Amazon Seller Guidelines, but there are only a few categories where you are not allowed to sell used items. The main categories that used items are never allowed is Baby, Shoes, Clothing, and Grocery (used groceries? gross!). Used items are also not allowed in Toys & Games, but they do allow “used” items to be sold as “collectible.” Amazon sees collectible toys as toys that are no longer able to be bought at most retail locations… and are therefore, collectible. Again, as long as the item is complete and in working condition, you can sell it in almost any category as used.  

MYTH – Other than books, people don’t like to buy used items.
TRUTH – People buy used items all the time. I’ve sold many toys and games in collectible condition that were obviously opened and used before. Some people want to buy a used item because it will cost them less. When it comes to toys, some parents know their kid will probably destroy the toy in no time, and they would rather pay less to get them the toy they will not open-lego-moulding-box-kittake good care of. Others know that buying something as “used, like new” is basically getting a new item in an open box. If the item is hard to find, the rank good, and the profit potential great, then selling a used item on Amazon is something you should consider. We have sold used Lego sets for hundreds of dollars a set. When the sets are retired by Lego, they become hard to find, and collectors are willing to pay $300 for a complete used set rather than pay $600 for a new one. (Bonus BOLO: look for complete used Harry Potter Lego sets, and you can make a ton of money. Find an incomplete set? You can often sell the individual minifigs for a tidy profit as well.)

MYTH – Selling new items on Amazon is just safer than selling used. If I sell used items, that will probably increase my chances of getting my seller account suspended.
TRUTH – As long as your used items are complete and in working condition, then you will likely not be increasing your chances of Suspension Prevention 1getting your Amazon seller account suspended. Cynthia Stine, author of Suspension Prevention: Get Reinstated and Protect Your Amazon Seller Account, says that one of the main reasons Amazon sellers get suspended is that they try to sell used items as new. She says that from the hundreds of people she has helped reinstate their seller account privileges, none of them were because of an item listed as used. Selling used items, unless they are broken or incomplete, will not increase your chances of getting your seller account suspended. 

The bottom line is this: If you’re avoiding used items, then you’re leaving a lot of money on the table. 

Your Homework – Look around your house for items that are used, complete, and still have the original box. Think used board games, used kitchen appliances, used DVDs, used video games, etc. Scan these items and see at what price other Amazon sellers are selling that item in used condition. If you no longer want these items, then do an experiment and send a few to Amazon. Be sure that the item is complete (including instructions, if applicable), and be sure that you list the condition as detailed as you can in the item description. 

Now, I’d love to hear from you. Do you sell used items? If not, what’s stopping you? What used items do you try to stay away from? Do you have any “home run” stories you’d like to share about selling a used item? I’d love to hear from you, so comment below. 

Overcoming Your Amazon FBA Fears

Overcoming FearsFear. It’s not always a bad thing. In fact, it’s a vital, God-given response to both physical or emotional danger. If we didn’t feel fear, we wouldn’t be able properly protect ourselves from legitimate threats. But sometimes we can get to a point in our lives where we fear situations that are far from life or death. These kinds of fears have the potential of lowering our profit potential, limiting growth, and holding us back – many times for no good reason. 

Most online resellers, including Rebecca and I, face fears, almost daily, about selling on Amazon. Overall, my wife and I have been able to conquer our fears and move forward in our online business, but it’s something that we have to be intentional about. Overcoming fears doesn’t “just happen.” It requires a plan… and that’s what we hope to provide for you. 

Today, Rebecca and I are starting a brand new blog series called, “Overcoming Your Amazon FBA Fears.” It’s our goal to address the main fears that face online resellers on a daily basis. Since the root of fear is the unknown, we’ll do our best to replace these fears with truth and action. We’ll challenge you to step outside of your comfort zone and face your fears head on, but with the tools and confidence you need to wisely overcome them. 

Right now, there are many different fears facing online resellers. From small fears like selling used or oversized items on Amazon, to big fears like getting your Amazon sales account suspended, these fears can stop you from reaching your fullest potential. In fact, I’m a little bit hesitant to label some fears as small or large because I understand that everyone is different, and what might be a small fear to me might be a big fear to you. But, no matter what the fear is, there are ways to overcome them and set yourself up for success

During this series, we’ll cover as many fears as we can using the following outline on how to overcome those specific fears:

learn1. Replace Fear With Truth – Most of our fears come from our perception, and many times our perception is not grounded in truth. People can confuse feelings with facts and end up making poor decisions based on their fears that are rooted in things that are simply not true. Having the right knowledge helps erase our fears. But I also understand that sometimes fears are signals of things we need to be careful with. Just because you want to overcome your fear of selling used items on Amazon doesn’t mean that you need to blindly send in all your used items without making sure you’re doing it the right way. But once you replace your fears with truth, then you can start to send in used items to Amazon the right way, and make more profits than if you only sold new items. 

403a88a5d63b40347827bce7e74afd122. Take Action – Knowing the truth of a situation is not enough to overcome your fears. You need to take action. You need to set some goals and devise a plan. Dave Ramsey often says, “A goal without a plan is just a dream.” When you arm yourself with truth, your next step is to put your knowledge into action. If your fear is going too deep on a product and you’ve armed yourself with as much knowledge as you can to make a good decision, then it’s time to choose how many of an item you want to buy… and follow through and buy it! Most people let fear stop them because the desired outcome is not guaranteed. In all honesty, none of us can predict the future with 100% certainty. But what we can do is learn as much as we can, take action, and see what happens.

3. Assess the Outcome – Ask as many questions as you can to dissect the situation and see where things went right or wrong. If your experiment was magnifying-glassa failure, it’s ok. There are lessons to be learned and ways to make better decisions next time. In fact, failure is one of the absolute best teachers! I remember when I first started sourcing grocery items. It was a new category for me and everyone online had different opinions on what the best sales rank parameters were for sourcing. I could have let fear stop me, but I didn’t. I learned all I could and then went shopping. I made some mistakes, but I learned a lot. Now, I’m much more confident in what I source for in grocery. Remember, there is almost always room for improvement, so find the things that need to be improved upon and make better decisions next time. 

grow-your-business-using-lead-nurturing4. Grow – Again, just assessing the outcomes of your actions are meaningless if you don’t grow as a business-person (and as a human). Take what you have learned, tweak things as needed, and do even better next time. If your fear is asking a store manager for a big discount on a lot of toys you want to buy from his store, then after your first time, assess how things went, talk with someone you respect and get their opinions, and try again next time to see how things go the second time around. Even if you got a store manager to give you an additional 25% off items already clearance-priced, how could you grow and improve on even that? Keep at it and continue to improve. 

Fear can be tricky. It can disguise itself as being rational, but many times it’s not. Fear is like a con-artist. It makes you feel like it’s real, but it’s only real when you give in to it. In this blog series, I’ll help you replace your fears with truth, equip you to take action, suggest questions to assess the outcome, and help you find growth in both yourself and your online business. Remember, as on online seller, you are the boss, so don’t let fear become the boss of you. You can take the steps above so as not to waste any of your precious time being fearful. You are capable of doing amazing things. 

In this series, we’ll tackle some of the biggest fears facing online resellers today. Here are just a few of the fears we’ll be talking about in this new blog series:

Fear of having your Amazon seller account suspended
Fear of negotiating with a store manager
Fear of selling used items
Fear of selling groceries (and dealing with expiration dates)
Fear of other sellers tanking the price of an item you’re selling
Fear of going too deep on a product
and many more. 

fear-300x260The above list is just the beginning. In fact, if you don’t see the fear you want addressed in this series, be sure to comment below about a fear you are struggling most with right now. If you don’t feel comfortable commenting, you can also email me at stephen@fulltimefba.com and let me know what your fears are in a more private setting. But I want to hear from you. I don’t want this series to be a list of fears that I think you have… but what I know you are experiencing and need help with. Together, we can overcome our fears and find success. 

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 (early October) might potentially sell for $30 a month 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 more about the Q4 strategy that I’m learning and implementing this year, then check out Jim Cockrum’s Proven Q4 Plan.

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. Stock up on supplies! When everyone is in the thick of Q4 madness, you don’t want to suddenly discover that you have run out of 3-inch packing tape, Dymo labels, suffocation warning labels, or any other supply that is necessary to run your business. Stock up today while you have the time.

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 reimburse you for the items they lose or damage. Important: Don’t just assume that these reimbursements will be automatic. Make sure that Amazon not only reimburses you for items they lose, but that they also reimburse you for items your customer never actually returns.

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 Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons are 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.