Most Amazon sellers will agree: It takes a verrrrrry looooooong time to build up your feedback on the Amazon platform.
Most Amazon customers aren’t accustomed to leaving seller feedback for FBA purchases, at least not with the same frequency as eBay customers leave seller feedback. It could take 100 sales via FBA to receive one or two customers leaving feedback on Amazon. At that rate, it seems to take forever to build up a solid feedback score.
That rate also means that just one negative feedback carries a huge punch. The effects of one negative feedback can be devastating to your seller account, if you don’t have enough positive feedback to counterbalance it. No one knows for sure exactly what algorithm Amazon uses to award the buy box, but feedback scores have some component to it. I absolutely must pay careful attention to keeping my feedback score as close to 100% as possible if I want to keep the buy box and get more FBA sales.
This is where the genius of Feedback Genius comes in.Feedback Genius helps me keep my 100% positive feedback score, and it also helps me fight off the occasional negative feedback that I receive as an FBA seller.
1. Feedback Genius automatically sends my customers an email the day their item will be delivered.
The email lets the customer know to be expecting the item, and it gives the customer a link where they can leave positive feedback for you as a seller if everything went well in the transaction. The email also asks the customer to just reply to the email with any issues that need to be resolved before they leave a negative feedback.
Feedback Genius emails allow you to set a positive tone with your customer right off the bat and to be proactive in avoiding negative feedback. With just this one email, I can increase my positive feedback and descrease my negative feedback.
2. If the customer hasn’t left feedback in 4-5 days, Feedback Genius sends a reminder email.
Again, this reminder email gives me another chance to increase my positive feedback from customers and decrease the negative. I’ve seen a huge increase in my feedback score overall since signing up with Feedback Genius, and I’m convinced this increase has had a positive impact on my ability to get the buy box.
3. Feedback Genius sends me a text and email if I receive a feedback score of 3 or below.
This feature is even more of a game changer for me, as far as Feedback Genius is concerned. I wrote a blog post a while back about how one day a text from Feedback Genius at the beginning of lunch helped me act quickly and have a negative feedback completely removed by the time I was paying the check and headed back to work.
Amazon considers 4 and 5 to be a positive feedback score, 3 is neutral, and 1 or 2 are negative. Although a 3 is technically neutral, it will still negatively impact my feedback score. I don’t want to waste any time when it comes to dealing with negative feedback on my FBA account. For me, that text notification from Feedback Genius is a must.
4. Feedback Genius can also be used with product reviews for specific ASINs.
In addition to helping monitor my seller feedback, I’ve also used Feedback Genius to send out emails to request product reviews for specific ASINs. The service also allows me to set up alerts for negative product reviews on specific ASINs. Just as seller feedback is important for helping me get the buy box, the number and quality of product reviews helps an item show up higher in search results and potentially get more sales. For any seller who creates their own listings, whether it’s a one-off product, a bundle, or a private label product line, having a way to monitor or increase product reviews (without breaking the Amazon seller terms of service) is critical to business.
5. Feedback Genius is customizable as to the content and number of emails you wish to send out.
Some sellers want to send lots of emails, some just a few. Some want to just send out the content of the template email, some want to tweak it and personalize it. Feedback Genius lets you take the lead in deciding what you want to say to your customers, when you want to say it, and how often.
Special Offer from Feedback Genius
I spoke with Jeff from Seller Labs (creator of Feedback Genius) and he is offering Full-Time FBA blog readers a special offer of 500 free messages for signing up for Feedback Genius. That’s 500 free messages to your buyers asking for them to leave you 5-star reviews, to contact you if there is a problem, or to leave a product review. That’s a lot of messages, and you get them for free when you sign up for Feedback Genius. You’ll also get a 60 day free trial (that’s twice as long as their normal 30-day trial period). There is really no reason why you shouldn’t give Feedback Genius a try today.
If you’ve been reading your seller emails from Amazon, you know that starting November 1, 2016, FBA sellers will be required to provide box level details of the contents of their shipments to FBA warehouses. Failing to provide those details will incur a fee for your shipments of 15 cents per item. Additionally, Amazon has stated that shipments without box contents provided might experience a slower check-in time than shipments providing the box level details.
The thought of adding an extra step to the FBA shipment process isn’t super appealing to most Amazon sellers – the fewer the steps the better, right? But I (Stephen) have added box level details to my shipments for the past month now, and I can tell you it’s not as bad as you might have heard.
Really, it’s in your best interest to start NOW learning how to add the details and practicing with shipments of various sizes. In the long run, spending 5-10 extra minutes per shipment to add the box level details will definitely save you money and potentially save you time: definitely the money from the fees for not providing the details and potentially the time of your shipment being delayed during check-in because you didn’t provide the details.
There are five ways you can handle adding the box level details to your shipment:
Only ship one box at a time – no need to provide extra details.
Ship multiple boxes, but only one SKU per box – no need to provide extra details.
Ship 25 SKUs or less in multiple boxes, and you can provide details through the web-based form on Seller Central.
Ship more than 25 SKUs in multiple boxes, and you can provide details through an Excel spreadsheet uploaded to Seller Central.
Use a third-party listing software to provide details.
I’m not exaggerating when I say providing box contents will add only 5-10 minutes to packing your shipment. It really isn’t a long, time-consuming process. So far, I’ve been listing my shipments in Inventory Lab and then finishing out the shipment process (including providing box level details) in Seller Central. In the very near future I will try out Inventory Lab’s new box level detail process and report back on my thoughts on it.
As you can see in the video, the steps for filling out the forms are rather straightforward. To assist in the process of knowing which items I’ve packed in which boxes, I always print out my form so that I can check off the items on paper as I’m packing; then I transfer my check marks to the online form or Excel sheet once the boxes are packed.
If you decide that providing the box content details is too annoying or time-consuming, you do have the option to skip this step in the process, but you will incur a fee of 15 cents per item in that shipment. This may seem like a small fee, butbe careful because those charges can add up quickly. Let me show you how.
I recently had a 92-item shipment of more than 25 SKUs, so the fees to skip the box level details for that shipment would be $13.80. I timed myself as I provided the box contents for the shipment through Excel, and it only added 6 minutes to my processing time. If you do the math, $13.80 in fees versus 6 minutes of my time means that I would have been paying Amazon $138/hour to allow me to skip that step. It’s worth it to me to just spend the extra 6 minutes and keep that $13.80 in fees to spend on more inventory to sell on Amazon.
As with so many other changes that happen over time in selling on Amazon, there will be a day in the not-so-distant future where adding box content details is ingrained in our minds as just one more step in the process, not as a new time-sucking step. Ultimately, providing box level details should theoretically help us as sellers have an easier time reconciling issues with lost inventory from shipments during the check-in process, which makes the entire process worth it, in my mind.
To read for yourself the Amazon guidelines about providing box level details, click here.
Have you been using the web form or Excel sheet to provide box level details on your Amazon FBA shipments? Do you have any advice to add on this topic? Please let us hear from you in the comments!
I would prefer to save a lot of time and money, but hey, every little bit counts when we’re trying to make a profit at Amazon FBA. Any time I can save money on shipping supplies or other areas of my business, I can use that saved money to buy more inventory – and buying more inventory is how I would prefer to spend my money in my business!
All of the tips I’m going to share with you in this post should be either free or next to free. I hope you find these tips super practical and easy to implement right away in your Amazon FBA business, no matter what stage of business you’re in.
Before I get into my tips, I want to invite others to add their advice to the comments at the bottom. Let’s make this post our most-commented post ever! We all have knowledge and experience that others can benefit from, so please share your wisdom and be a blessing to others in the Amazon FBA community today.
Also, if you want to see these tips in action, scroll to the bottom of this post to watch a video of Stephen demonstrating them.
Now…here we go…my top Amazon FBA hacks to save money:
1. Use free boxes from grocery stores for Amazon FBA shipments.
Especially in the early stages of your FBA business, there’s no need to pay for shipping boxes when you can get them free from grocery stores, friends who have recently moved, or other places who are just going to recycle their old boxes. Find out from store employees when they’ll be restocking the shelves, and stores are generally happy for you to come take the empty boxes out of the aisles for them.
2. On a similar note, use the boxes from online arbitrage purchases to send in Amazon FBA shipments.
We do a significant amount of our sourcing through online arbitrage, so we just turn around and send our shipments to Amazon in the online stores’ boxes. Just make sure you remove or cover up any previous barcodes before putting on the Amazon and UPS label.
3. Use free dunnage for your Amazon FBA shipments.
Dunnage (isn’t that a weird word?!) is the stuff you put in a shipment to pad the items and keep them from touching the sides of your shipping box. Here are a few ideas for things to use for dunnage:
air pillows from online arbitrage purchases
plastic grocery bags filled with printed newspaper and tied off (do not let newsprint come into contact with your inventory in the shipment)
small cardboard boxes
4. Use lighter fluid to remove residue from price stickers.
I usually recommend using Goo Gone for removing price sticker residue, but if you don’t want to rush out and buy a new bottle of Goo Gone, you can use lighter fluid if you already have it at your house. (If you want to see how I remove price stickers, check out this video.)
5. Get FREE inventory from around your house.
We all have items sitting around our house that are brand new or barely used – prime candidates for sending to Amazon and turning into profits. Check out your bookshelves, your kitchen cabinets, your game closet, and your kids’ rooms (with their permission), and you might be surprised what you can find that you don’t use and would actually turn a profit on Amazon.
You can join a group for your area of town on the Freecycle Network and keep an eye out for items that people are giving away for free. I’ve been able to source free board games (new and used), boxes of books, and other items. If you claim an item on Freecycle, the person will leave it on the porch or sidewalk for you to drop by and pick up on your own time. It’s way easier to coordinate than Craigslist purchases, but please still use safety practices and don’t make pick-ups alone.
7. Join Amazon FBA Facebook groups to get tons of free FBA business information.
One of the easiest ways to absorb free information from the FBA community is to join Facebook groups, search and read the archived posts, and ask questions. We have a Full-Time FBA Facebook group that we would love for you to join, and there’s tons of other groups you can search for on Facebook as well.
Those are my top tips for getting FREE items so that you can use the money you save on buying inventory instead. Let me know in the comments if you know of any other awesome ways to save money on supplies for your business.
Hindsight is 20/20, and I’m sure all of us can think of ways we would improve our Amazon FBA businesses if we could start over from scratch. I know I can think of plenty of things I wish I had known back in 2011 when I started selling on Amazon!
Since I don’t have a time machine, I can’t revisit 2011 and get that do-over for my business. Instead, today I’m going to share with you the products and services I would invest in from the very beginning if I had to start over from scratch doing Amazon FBA with only $500.
These items are the essentials, folks. The bare minimum for starting Amazon FBA and finding success in a sustainable yet timely fashion. In fact, you’ll see that with my plan below, of the total $500, you’ll actually get to spend $342 for investing in inventory. Not a bad amount to start sourcing with!
Here are the ways I would spend my $500 if I got to start over on my Amazon FBA business today:
1. A Pro Merchant account with Amazon –FREE for first month ($40/month afterwards)
Yes, I know that you can start off with an Individual Merchant account and save the $40 fee per month for the Professional Merchant account. But Individual Merchants pay 99 cents per sale, and a little quick math shows that selling only 40 items per month means you’re paying the same as a Pro Merchant.
There’s one huge benefit, however, to setting up that Pro Merchant account from the very beginning. It gives you accountability, a $40 incentive every month to send in plenty of items to Amazon FBA so that you’re making at least 40 sales per month to make that account worth it from the very beginning. If you can start off giving yourself the goal of at least 40 sales per month, you will gain momentum more quickly than if you allow yourself to be satisfied with only 20 sales.
2. Inventory Lab for listing and sourcing – FREE for first month ($49/month afterwards)
We use Inventory Lab to process our FBA inventory, list it on Amazon, and keep track of our accounting for that inventory. You can list your inventory directly through Seller Central, but the process is much slower than listing through a 3rd party program like Inventory Lab. Using Inventory Lab allows me to touch each inventory item fewer times during the listing process because I can label it and divide it into shipments at the time of listing, rather than waiting until I’m finished listing everything.
You must be a Pro Merchant to sign up for Inventory Lab, another benefit to going ahead and making the commitment as a Pro Merchant from the very beginning.
If you sign up for Inventory Lab through our link here, you can get a free 30-day trial of their listing software and Scoutify sourcing app. After the first month, Inventory Lab and Scoutify cost $49/month, but they are absolutely worth it to my business.
3. Barcode scanner – $22
A barcode scanner connects to your laptop through USB and saves a ton of time (and errors!) when entering the UPCs from the barcodes on your inventory. Simply place the cursor in the correct field of your listing program, scan the barcode, and presto! No more squinting at tiny numbers and pecking out the UPC on your keyboard.
Every little bit of time counts when you’re working at building an Amazon FBA business, and using a barcode scanner is a simple way to help scale your business more quickly.
4. DYMO LabelWriter 450 – $70 new, $40 used
A DYMO LabelWriter is another essential for scaling your business and saving precious time. When used in conjunction with Inventory Lab or other 3rd party listing programs, the DYMO will allow you to print a label for each individual item as soon as you have it listed. Scan the item, enter your price and other accounting info, and then print the label. If you have the “live” listing flow turned on in Inventory Lab, you will know at this time which fulfillment center the item will be sent to, and you can sort it into boxes immediately. No need to print 30-up labels and sort back through inventory at the end of your listing process.
5. Scotty peelers – $6 for 3-pack
These are an essential tool for scraping the price stickers or other residue off my inventory before I send it to Amazon. The Scotty peelers come in a pack of 3, and we use them for several months before the ends become too dull to work easily.
6. Goo Gone – $4
Another must-have item for cleaning up inventory before sending it to the FBA warehouse. Goo Gone takes off the sticky residue left over from price sticker adhesive. (Note: be careful not to use Goo Gone on certain types of non-glossy cardboard boxes or book covers, as it will soak in to the material and stain it.)
7. 3-inch tape gun – $13
8. 3-inch tape – $13 for 4-pack
I started out using a 2-inch tape gun when I first began selling via Amazon FBA. That 1-inch difference may not seem like a lot, but it’s a huge difference when it comes to the number of times you have to swipe the tape gun across a shipping box in order for the tape to hold the box flaps together. With the 3-inch tape on my 3-inch tape gun, it’s one swipe, and I’m done – saves time and tape.
9. Feedback Genius – FREE for first 2 months ($20/month afterwards)
Getting control of the buy box is a crucial component of getting sales through Amazon FBA. Some aspects of who controls the buy box are a mystery, but having a positive feedback score is known to be one important factor. Having a high number of positive feedbacks and limiting your number of negatives will help you gain the buy box more often. Feedback Genius is a simple way to automate contacting buyers after a sale in order to limit your negatives and increase your positives. Feedback Genius also alerts you when a negative feedback is received so that you can quickly and appropriately handle it.
I wish I had started using Feedback Genius from the very beginning of my Amazon FBA business. If you sign up through our Full-Time FBA link, you can get 2 months of Feedback Genius for free, along with a bonus of 500 free email messages. Two months and 500 messages will go a long way towards boosting your feedback score!
Using Feedback Genius requires a Pro Merchant account, so go back up to #1 in this list and sign up for that account if you haven’t already!
10. UPS self-adhesive labels – FREE from UPS.com
UPS offers a great partnered rate for Amazon FBA sellers on their inbound shipments, and they also provide you with free self-adhesive labels to use for your shipments. If you sign up for a free account with UPS.com, you can order the labels to be sent directly to you.
11. Shipping boxes – FREE from grocery stores, friends, etc
In the early days of just starting an Amazon FBA business, I recommend getting free shipping boxes from friends who have just moved, from grocery stores, or from other locations where people are wanting to recycle their boxes. Just make sure they’re sturdy enough to hold the weight of your shipment, and cover or remove any previous barcodes before adding your Amazon and UPS shipping labels.
12. Scale – $30
If you don’t already have a scale at your house, you will need to buy one in order to weigh your inbound shipments to the Amazon FBA warehouse. You can get a scale on Amazon for about $25-30.
In summary, here’s a list of the items and prices:
A Pro Merchant account with Amazon –FREE for first month ($40/month afterwards)
Inventory Lab for listing and sourcing – FREE for first month ($49/month afterwards)
Barcode scanner – $22
DYMO LabelWriter 450 – $70 new, $40 used
Scotty peelers – $6 for 3-pack
Goo Gone – $4
3-inch tape gun – $13
3-inch tape – $13 for 4-pack
Feedback Genius – FREE for first 2 months ($20/month afterwards)
UPS self-adhesive labels – FREE from UPS.com
Shipping boxes – FREE from grocery stores, friends, etc
Scale – $30
NOTE: Prices of these tools and services will change over time, so be sure you double-check all prices and fees before purchasing. Some prices might go up, while other prices might go down.
If you add up the amount of those items for the first month of starting an Amazon FBA business, the total comes to $158. That leaves us with $342 to spend on buying inventory. I would recommend looking for low cost (or even free!) inventory with low ranks and high return on investment (ROI), so that you can reinvest your profits and grow your available capital quickly. When I started Amazon FBA, I frequented garage sales and thrift shops while I was learning the ins and outs of how the business works and while my capital was growing. I would follow that same method again today.
If you would like to watch a video where I show the items from the above list, check out this video on our YouTube channel:
Do you have anything you would add to this list? Or do you have questions about any of the items or services I mentioned? We would love to hear from you in the comments!
Are you dragging your feet in starting your Amazon FBA business? This post is for you.
Have you already started your Amazon FBA business, but you’re tempted to quit? This post is also for you.
Many contingencies and what-ifs might be plaguing your mind right now when it comes to thinking about building a successful Amazon business, but we want to help fill your mind with TRUTH, not fear – and we want to help you stay the course in building your business, even when the times get tough.
It’s easy when you first hear about the opportunity of earning money through selling via Amazon FBA to get excited and want to learn more. We can start making plans to start a business. We can start talking about what it would be like to have a business. We can start thinking about how we would use all that money we’ll make from our business. But what we really need to do is start the business!
Today we’re going to discuss 4 fears of getting started in Amazon FBA and how you can conquer those fears with the truth. If you’ve already started FBA, going back over these 4 truths will help you refresh your memory about how to keep up your progress in selling online.
FEAR #1: I don’t know enough to start my own Amazon FBA business.
TRUTH #1: You can always learn! And there are plenty of places to learn – some places for a fee and some really great places to even learn for free. Don’t let your lack of knowledge become an excuse for inactivity.
The best place to get a basic understanding of what you need to know for starting an Amazon FBA business is right there within the Amazon guidelines. Every seller must be responsible to read and apply the guidelines for him or herself.
If you’re wanting to learn the big picture about how to sell on Amazon FBA, we encourage you to read Chris Green’s book Arbitrage. For less than $10 you can get your hands on a brand-new copy of this wealth of information.
For a step-by-step video course on how to sell on Amazon FBA, we recommend Amazon Boot Camp by The Selling Family.
If you’re looking for information on taxes as related to selling on Amazon, check out the awesome services of TaxJar.
And as always, you can get tons of information for free here at the Full-Time FBA blog (subscribe to the newsletter for some free PDFs!) and on our YouTube channel. We also have a Facebook group where you can search the archived posts or ask questions.
FEAR #2: I don’t have any inventory to start an Amazon FBA business.
TRUTH #2: There are great places to find inventory all around you – you just need to start scanning barcodes! (We like to use Scoutify for our scanning app because it comes packaged with Inventory Lab for listing and accounting.)
Our favorite places to look for low-cost FBA inventory are
That last one is our favorite place to find inventory when we don’t know where else to look. Look on your bookshelves for books you haven’t gotten around to reading in years. Look through your kitchen cabinets for a gadget you got last year for Christmas but never even opened. Look for old board games that have no missing pieces, but you just never play them any more. All of these items could be potential profits on Amazon FBA.
FEAR #3: I don’t have enough money to start an Amazon FBA business.
TRUTH #3: Yes, it does take some capital to get started with a business.But unlike many businesses that require a great deal of investment up front, you can get started with Amazon FBA with a relatively small amount of capital. In fact, we have a YouTube video that shows how you could potentially start FBA with as little as $500 (and $300+ of that money would go towards inventory!).
If you’re looking for items around your house, at garage sales, or in thrift stores, you can buy inventory for less than a dollar and potentially sell it for $10, $20, $30 or more. The potential return on investment (ROI) for these types of items gives you a lot of momentum when you’re just getting started.
If you are truly strapped for cash and want to start FBA, we recommend saving up a few hundred dollars first. Some people work a part-time job for a few months in order to save up some capital, and others have a garage sale of things around the house to make some money to invest in FBA.
We do not recommend using credit cards or taking out loans to start FBA. There is too much risk involved in learning the business to run up debt in the process. Instead, focus on finding low-cost, high-ROI items and start your business slowly. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you learn and how quickly you can turn your profits into a snowball of disbursements from Amazon!
FEAR #4: I’m just not sure I can do this. Do I have what it takes to run my own business?
TRUTH #4: Maybe you’ve tried out other ventures in the past that haven’t turned out so well, and you’re afraid to experience the same kind of results. The fear of failure is holding you back. This fear is valid and real. But it can be overcome!
You have to disconnect the event of failing from you as a person. You may have failed in the past, but you are not a failure. My dad likes to emphasize this truth to me in a quote from Zig Ziglar: Failure is an event, not a person.
For all of us, there will be times that we fail. No exceptions. This applies to everyone. But you can’t take your failures personally. If you do, that’s where your business will start to break down (or never get off the ground!).
Instead, we learn from our failures. We leverage our mistakes into educational experiences that can’t be gained for any amount of tuition at a business school.
When we’re starting out at any new venture, we’re like a new baby learning to walk. The baby may fall down a few times (OK, a lot of times), but never does that baby decide, “You know what, this walking thing is too hard. I just can’t get it. I think I’ll crawl the rest of my life.” No, the baby gets up, tries again, and eventually starts walking. Then running. Then skipping. The same can be true for any of us in our Amazon FBA business.
Do you have any other fears that are holding you back from starting Amazon FBA? Do you ever face the temptation to quit your FBA business? Let’s talk in the comments!
The “Overcoming Your Amazon FBA Fears” Series is back on the blog!
You may remember that last fall we did a 10-part series on our Amazon fears and how we can combat the myths and fears with the TRUTH. If you haven’t read those posts, you might want to take this opportunity to check them out.
We’re picking back up for a second run of posts this summer, and we’re excited to share with you more insights into how you can overcome the fears that may be holding you back in pursuing your Amazon FBA business. We’re also going to have a post covering Amazon FBA issues that you legitimately should be concerned about and some risks that we think just aren’t worth taking. Keep an eye out for these posts in the weeks ahead. And if you have some fears that you would like to see addressed, please leave them here in the comments on the blog, and we’ll do our best to incorporate them into our upcoming posts.
Today we’re going to cover the topic of being afraid of selling via FBA as opposed to selling Merchant Fulfilled on Amazon or eBay. For many of you who have been selling via FBA for a while now, this might not seem like a big deal. But for others, the transition to FBA comes with some trepidation.
As always, let’s look at the potential fears associated with selling via FBA, and then let’s address those fears with the TRUTH so that we can overcome them and be successful in our businesses.
FEAR #1 – I’m afraid the FBA fees will be too high and will eat into my profits.
TRUTH – Amazon does take higher fees from your payout as an FBA seller. Those fees, however, are covering services provided by Amazon that ultimately save time and money for us as sellers and allow us to grow and scale our business beyond what we could do as Merchant Fulfilled or eBay sellers. The fees cover the picking, packing, and shipping of individual orders, as well as postage and storage.
But think for a minute about what you as an individual seller are saving by paying those FBA fees. You are saving the time it would take to fulfill each individual order as it comes in. You are saving the space it would take to store all of that inventory – either space in your own home or space in a separate warehouse that you would then need to pay for. You are saving the time, effort, and money of having to catalog your inventory. The trade-off of paying FBA fees for these savings is more than worth it, in my opinion. So is the ability to park my car in my garage because I don’t have it cram-packed with inventory.
FEAR #2 – I don’t trust the warehouse workers to do a good job. I’m afraid they will damage or lose my items.
TRUTH – Amazon warehouses do handle millions of items per day, and workers do inevitably damage or lose items from FBA sellers. The good news for us, though, is that Amazon takes full responsibility for those losses, and they reimburse sellers for items that are lost or damaged in their warehouse or by distributors, minus the applicable FBA fees. If your inventory item is damaged or lost, it’s essentially the same thing as getting a sale of that item. You will receive a reimbursement similar to what you would have made from selling it. Nothing to be afraid of here! We even have a series of blog posts on Seller Central tips for making sure that you’re receiving all the reimbursements that Amazon owes you as a seller.
FEAR #3 – I’m afraid Amazon won’t keep my inventory separate from other sellers’ inventory. I don’t want to have the wrong item sent to my customers.
TRUTH – It is extremely rare for this type of mistake to happen, provided you have your FBA account set for stickered inventory. If you have it set for stickerless or comingled inventory, yes, you are likely to have someone else’s inventory sent to a customer when you get a sale. We do not recommend this practice because it puts your seller account at risk if there is a complaint about the items from your orders. If you keep your account set to label your own inventory with your own SKU, the chances of this type of mix-up are low.
FEAR #4 – I’m afraid Amazon will make shipping mistakes and I will get in trouble.
TRUTH – The beauty of selling via Amazon FBA is that Amazon handles all of the shipping for you, including any customer service issues that arise from possible shipping mistakes. If the wrong item is shipped from an FBA warehouse, the item is damaged because it isn’t packed well enough, the item arrives late, or any other number of issues, Amazon takes responsibility. Even if the customer leaves negative feedback for you as a seller, Amazon will strike through the feedback, and it won’t affect your feedback score.
FEAR #5 – I like including personal notes to my customers. I’m afraid I will lose that personal connection with FBA.
TRUTH – This fear is one that you have to make a decision about if you’re wanting to switch to FBA from Merchant Fulfilled or eBay. If you want to scale your business through FBA, you won’t be able to hand-write notes to each customer. You also won’t be able to include any type of extra materials with more information about other products or services you offer. It is, in fact, against the Amazon guidelines to include any type of materials with your products that would direct customers away from the Amazon buying platform. Again, giving up this ability is more than worth it to us as FBA sellers, considering the money and time we gain by not fulfilling orders ourselves.
FEAR #6 – I’m afraid that the prices of my items will be too low by the time they arrive at the Amazon warehouse.
TRUTH – When you sell items via Merchant Fulfilled on Amazon or via eBay, you can get a sale as soon as your listing is live. With FBA, you have to wait until the inventory arrives at the warehouse before its is live on Amazon and customers can buy it. Depending on which warehouse you ship to and what time of year it is, this process can take anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks. And yes, a lot can happen to change the prices on your items in two weeks.
We are firm believers, however, that patience brings profit, and if you make smart sourcing decisions in the first place, your inventory will be less susceptible to huge drops in prices. If you’re using CamelCamelCamel and Keepa price history to make your purchasing decisions, you will know whether or not to expect price drops and whether or not that price should come back up at some point in the future.
We hope this post has been helpful in overcoming any lingering fears you have about selling via Amazon FBA instead of Merchant Fulfilled or eBay. We feel that any negatives from selling via FBA are far outweighed by the positives:
More sales because of Prime 2-day shipping for Prime members
More time in the Buy Box for FBA sellers
Save time and money because Amazon does all your shipping
Save time and money because Amazon handles your customer service
Save space and money because Amazon stores your inventory
Do you have any other fears about selling via Amazon FBA? Leave us a comment!
When I first started selling on Amazon, I stayed away from any item that possibly needed to be poly bagged or shrink-wrapped, simply because I didn’t have an impulse sealer. I now kick myself when I think about how many profitable items I just left on the store shelves because of this.
An impulse sealer is a machine used to seal products, packaging, and other thermoplastic materials using heat. When the right amount of heat is applied, it will seal two layers of plastic together causing the bag to become closed.
The two main ways I use an impulse sealer are to poly bag an item or to shrink-wrap an item. First, I’ll show you the supplies you need, and then toward the end of this post, I’ll show you a video with me demonstrating both poly bagging and shrink-wrapping with the impulse sealer.
Supplies Needed to Poly Bag:
16-inch Impulse Sealer – Impulse sealers come in different sizes from 8 inches up to 20 inches. 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.
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.
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 that doesn’t have a suffocation warning on the bag, then you will be in violation of Amazon guidelines. These labels are easy to use, and they stay on well too.
Supplies Needed to Shrink-Wrap
16-inch Impulse Sealer – Ok, I know I already mentioned this tool in the supplies needed to poly bag, but I wanted you to know that some impulse sealers come with an optional cutter upgrade that you can slide across a seal to create a clean cut. While this upgrade may sound good, it’s totally unnecessary. If you apply enough heat, the impulse sealer will automatically cut the plastic. Just because it’s called an “upgrade” doesn’t mean that it’s necessary.
14-inch Centerfold Shrink Wrap Film– This is the shrink wrap film that I use for almost all other items I need to shrink-wrap. It’s good for shrink-wrapping health & beauty items, books, and almost anything else. It pairs well with my 16-inch impulse sealer.
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. This heat gun has two settings so you can decide how much heat you want to use depending on the project you’re using it for.
Ok, so now that you know the essential supplies that you need, here is a video showing you how to use the impulse sealer:
For more blog posts that show you all of the supplies I use for my shipping and prep stations, be sure you click here and here.
So how about you? Are there any tips or tricks you’d like to share about using an impulse sealer to poly bag or shrink-wrap an inventory item? I’d love to hear what you have to say.
When it comes to retail arbitrage, removing the price tags (or any other stickers) from your products is the most annoying thing you have to do before you can sell them on Amazon. Sure, you could use your fingernail to try and slowly peel the sticker off the box, but that takes a lot of time and sometimes the price sticker still causes a tear in the box.
I’m here to show you there is a better way. In fact, toward the bottom of this blog post will be a video of me showing you exactly how I remove price stickers.
Here’s how it’s done in just a few easy steps:
1. Heat up the price sticker.
Use this heat gun to heat up price stickers so they can be removed easier. When heat is applied to a price sticker or label, the sticky part of the adhesive gets soft and makes it so much easier to remove the price sticker from the item’s packaging. Just be careful. The heat gun can easily burn your skin, so make sure the focus of the heat is only on the price sticker.
This handy little tool is the perfect way to peel off the stickers from the item without damaging the original package or ruining your fingernails. Plus, if you just used the heat gun, the box might still be hot, and these tools are much better to use than your fingernails.
3. Use Goo Gone to remove any excess sticky residue.
If there is any remaining sticky residue on the item’s packaging, then use some Goo Gone Spray Gel. This spray gel is the perfect solution to help get any excess 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.
4. Use a paper towel to clean up any left over mess.
I use the choose-a-size paper towels because I rarely ever need a full-size paper towel when removing stickers. I always just tear off one small sheet of the choose-a-size paper towels and tear that sheet in half. I use one half to spray the Goo Gone onto the item (see step 3 above), and then the other half I’ll use to clean what’s left of the Goo Gone and residue.
Here’s a video to see these steps in action! After you watch the video, don’t forget to scroll down this post for bonus tips on removing price stickers from inventory items.
Peeling stickers off of plastic – Sometimes the price sticker is stuck on the clear plastic window or blister of an item. When this is the case, it’s important to be very careful with the heat gun. Plastic melts in heat, and you don’t want to ruin your inventory item because you melted the plastic. I’ll usually keep a close eye on the plastic area when I’m using the heat gun, and the moment I see the plastic start to warp, I’ll turn the heat off. After some practice you’ll start knowing the best times to turn the heat gun off before the plastic even begins to melt.
When the sticky just won’t come off – In a perfect world, all of the sticky residue would come off easily, but there are times where it just won’t go away. This is also a concern if the item you’re removing the sticker from could potentially be damaged if there were too much Goo Gone absorbed into the packaging. When this happens, I place a clean label over the sticky part or perhaps a Thank You sticker.
Removing pre-cut price stickers – Have you ever had to remove a price sticker that is impossible to peel off all in one piece? You know, you start to peel the sticker off, but it’s pre-cut so you end up having to peel off multiple pieces? That can waste time and cause frustration, but I’ve found a simple solution. Put a piece of tape over the price sticker. That way, when you peel it off, it will all come off as one piece
Outsource – Peeling of price stickers is a job that almost anyone can do and provides a great opportunity to outsource. I currently have our assistant remove most of the price stickers for our items, but I’ve also had my kids perform this job. If your child is old enough to handle the heat gun, then now is a good time to train them how to use it properly. Perhaps you can even show them the video from above to teach them.
Ok, now you are equipped with the knowledge of the best ways to properly remove a price sticker. Did I miss something? Do you have another way that works best for you? I’d love to hear how you remove stickers in the comment below.
As Amazon FBA resellers, we’re all looking for ways to save time and money in processing our inventory. One of the biggest ways I encourage FBA sellers to save time by spending a little money is to use a third-party listing service, rather than listing your FBA inventory directly through Amazon Seller Central.
The fewer times you can touch a piece of inventory as you process it, the better. By listing through Seller Central…and then printing your labels on a sheet of 30…and then separating the items out into the various fulfillment centers, you are spending a lot of time touching each inventory item over and over and over again. This doesn’t include the time it takes to sort your products after you bring them back from sourcing, removing any stickers, and prepping the products with poly bags or shrink wrap.
The best way to streamline the listing process is to use a third-party listing software so that you can scan the item into the software, print and attach the individual label, and sort the item into the correct fulfillment center’s box – all in one step.
For our Amazon FBA business, we use the Inventory Lab inventory management software. We love how it helps us streamline the process of listing our inventory, along with several other useful functions that we use on a regular basis. It is well worth the monthly fee to pay for this software and save a ton of time, not to mention gain access to useful reports for our business (we’ll get into that a bit more below).
Here are the reasons we find Inventory Lab to be a beneficial program to use in our Amazon FBA business:
Inventory Lab is a feature-rich listing service.
We use a barcode scanner to scan an item into the system, and Inventory Lab pulls up the item with all the information we need to price it. It shows the FBA, Merchant Fulfilled, new, and used prices, as well as whether Amazon is selling the item and who owns the buy box. It gives quick links to CamelCamelCamel and Keepa for the ASIN of the item, so we can check out sales rank and price history as we’re pricing the item.
Inventory Lab also lets us know the item’s current sales rank, category, size tier, and any prep needed, like poly bagging. We can also enter our buy cost and the supplier for each inventory item, so we can later generate reports to help us keep track of things like return on investment or the profitability of certain sources.
As we enter in the items, we always choose “Live” for “Workflow Type.” This way Inventory Lab lets us know which fulfillment center each item is assigned to, so we can sort them into piles or boxes as we go, no need to go back and sort them later — they are already in piles ready to be boxed for shipment.
Inventory Lab is packaged with the Scoutify sourcing app.
We use the Scoutify app when doing retail arbitrage. We can quickly scan the barcode of an item and have all the information we need at our fingertips to tell us if the item would be a good buy for resale: competitors’ prices, whether Amazon is in stock, potential profit, and links to CamelCamelCamel, just to name a few. You can see our detailed review of Scoutify in this recent blog post. It’s great to be able to pay one package price to get our listing service and our sourcing app together.
Inventory lab has accounting capabilities.
We are still in the process of learning everything that Inventory Lab is capable of doing in the form of bookkeeping, but so far we have found it to be helpful. If you want to make your Amazon FBA business profitable, you have to know your numbers. You can’t just assume because you’re getting disbursements from Amazon that your business is actually making money. You have to know where your money is coming from and where it is going.
You can use Inventory Lab to keep track of your buy prices, sales prices, return on investment, inbound shipping costs, money going out for refunds, money coming in from reimbursements, and more. You can even track your mileage with Inventory Lab! These are the types of numbers you need to know in depth for your business so that you can make better decisions for sourcing, for repricing, and for other services you might need to purchase.
Inventory Lab shows us reports on profitability, profit and loss, and sales tax.
One of the really cool features of Inventory Lab is that you can generate reports about profitability of your inventory. You can see the profitability of an entire category in your inventory, a particular ASIN, or a SKU.
If you entered in a supplier during the listing process, you can generate reports on supplier profitability. You can use the supplier profitability feature several different ways:
to keep track of inventory purchased by different sourcers you’ve hired
to see if certain stores or wholesale accounts are more profitable than others
to analyze how profitable an online arbitrage deal list is for your business over time
You can also generate reports about your profit and loss and your sales tax. Again, the more you know these types of numbers for your business, the more you’re able to make good decisions for your business.
Inventory Lab has so many features as a program that we’ve really just scratched the surface in this review. Like I said, we’re still in the process of learning all the ways to maximize this software in our business, and we’re more impressed with its usefulness every day.
If you’re interested in learning more about Inventory Lab, we recommend doing a 30-day free trial. You can play around with the features, send in some shipments, generate some reports, and see how Inventory Lab can work for you.
Do you use Inventory Lab? Is there anything you love about it that we didn’t mention here? Please let us know in the comments!
Fear. 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:
1. 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.
2. 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 a 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.
4. 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.
The 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
At times, I might include affiliate links of items that I endorse. If you click through and decide to purchase the item linked, I will make a small commission on the sale. I promise to never endorse a product only because I have an affiliate link to it. I only want to post links when it is helpful to you and your business. ~Stephen