Category Archives: Business

Save Time and Stay Healthy in Your Full-Time FBA Business

Chances are you are reading the Full-Time FBA blog because you’re interested in the same topic as us: how to turn part-time hours into a full-time income via Amazon FBA. We (Stephen and Rebecca) have spent the past several years fine tuning our FBA business to the point that we truly only spend part-time hours sourcing inventory and running our FBA business, yet it produces a full-time income for our family.

It wasn’t easy getting to where we are, though. We’re spending part-time hours now, but in the early days we worked a lot more hours per day. We still work hard during the hours we work, but we’ve been able to reduce those hours drastically year over year, while still increasing our sales.

When we get in the thick of busy times of the year like Q4, the main business activity we want to focus on is sourcing for inventory and making sure that inventory gets to Amazon as soon as possible. Sometimes, though, normal life responsibilities can get in the way and cause us to miss out on hours and hours of sourcing.

You want to source for more inventory, but you still need to get housework done. You wish you could send more inventory to Amazon, but you need to go grocery shopping and make dinner. The list of things holding you back from focusing on your FBA business could go on and on.

So how do we get more time to source and ship inventory to Amazon? Sometimes you have to get creative with engineering more time in your day. Here are some of the strategies we have implemented around the Smotherman house and have found success with:

1. Outsource Sourcing – A great way to have more time to source is to outsource some of your sourcing. Imagine if you knew of 5-10 items from Walmart that you knew were profitable. See if you can find someone to hire to go to every Walmart in a specific mile radius and buy all of those items for you. Maybe get a prepaid MasterCard for them to use to buy inventory for you. For more training on outsourcing sourcing, I recommend the book, Outsourcing Sourcing. Use the coupon code FBA30 to save 30% off the cost of the book.

2. Outsource your Prepping, Packing, and Shipping – There are dozens of prep services across the US that will do all of the prep, pack, and shipping work for you. They will (for a fee) take off price tags, poly bag, pack up the boxes, and ship your inventory to Amazon for you. If you do RA (retail arbitrage) then you can just drop off your finds with a prep service, and they’ll do the rest. You can also send your OA (online arbitrage), wholesale, and/or private label items to a prep center to do a lot of the manual labor for you, which will free up your time to do more sourcing! To find a prep service near you just google “Amazon prep service” with your hometown or state.

3. Hello Fresh – When we are in the busiest times of the year for our FBA business, one way Rebecca and I try to stay healthy and sane (while still saving time) is by eating right and cooking at home. We’ve started using Hello Fresh to have meals sent to our house, ready to cook, and it’s a huge time and stress saver. It saves the stress of meal planning and of trips to the grocery store, and we’re able to eat some really delicious, fresh meals at home instead of having to rely on take-out. If you want to try out Hello Fresh, be sure and go through this link so you can save $40 off your first box — that’s free food! You can choose from the classic, veggie, or family (kid friendly) plan. Check it out, free food!

4. Hire a Cleaning Service – Which would you rather do – find more inventory to send to Amazon via Online Arbitrage or clean the house? If you’re like me, you’d rather be working on finding profitable inventory instead of cleaning the bathtubs and toilets. As far as earning potential goes, your time is much more profitable if spent working in your business than staying home and cleaning house. There are many services you can find online that will send you a qualified and screened house cleaner to clean house while you’re taking off price stickers, poly bagging, listing, and shipping inventory to send to Amazon.

5. Get Creative – Think of other ways you can free up time to source and ship inventory to Amazon. If you have a lawn to take care of, hire a yard crew to do your regular mowing and trimming. To save time on grocery shopping, see if Amazon Fresh is available in your area, and order online for your groceries to be delivered to your door (new users get $25 off with their first order). There may be other grocery stores near you that will deliver, too. If delivery is not an option, perhaps some grocery stores nearby have shopping services with curbside pick-up. Rebecca loves to order groceries online at our local H-E-B grocery store and just pull up to the curbside pick-up area to have someone else load the car with our groceries. It saves us so much time. (Side note: Curbside grocery orders can also save you money and calories because you aren’t tempted to make impulse buys of foods you don’t really need. This is especially helpful if you typically need to do your shopping with your kids tagging along!)

6. Use TaskRabbit – Websites like TaskRabbit offer ways to connect you with people you can hire to complete one or more tasks for very affordable prices. Do some searches on these sites to see if you can find more ways to hire help to free up more time for you to source inventory and ship to Amazon. Click here to save $20 on your first task on TaskRabbit.

7. Use FiverrIf you have any online or digital work you need completed, then Fiverr is a great place to find someone who will do the work for you for around $5 (hence the name, Fiverr). If you need someone to make your Amazon sales page images with a white background, do some keyword research for you, or so many other possible jobs, then check out Fiverr.

Think outside of the box and find ways to hire or outsource parts of your business and your personal life to others who are more than happy to help you out for a fair fee. This will free you up to spend more time finding more inventory and getting it to Amazon as soon as possible for faster sales and profits.

If you’re in the early stages of your business it might seem like you need to cut corners and pinch pennies when it comes to paying for ways to free up your time, but if you truly want to make a full-time income with only part-time hours via Amazon FBA, you need to find ways to leverage your time to maximize your profits. Trust us when we say we’ve learned it the hard way – trying to do everything in your business all by yourself will lead to stress, burn out, and other unhealthy results.

Now we want to hear from you. What are some steps you can take TODAY to prioritize your health and your family’s health as you work on your FBA business? Is there something you need to let go of in your business to prevent burn out? Is there a time and sanity saving technique that you’ve found helpful as you build your business that we didn’t mention above? We would love to hear from you in the comments!

Working from home sounds easy, but if you’ve done it for any amount of time, you know it can be difficult. In Married to Reselling: Balancing Family Life with Your Online Business, my wife Rebecca and I will walk with you through ways we can all find success in balancing our time with family while working from home. We’ll tackle both the business and personal sides of life as a reseller, and we’ll help you explore a system that works best for you and your family. If you’re looking for ways to balance your family life with your online business and find success with both, then this book is for you.

Seller Central Tip #6 – The Magic Words for Communicating with Seller Central

Nothing is more frustrating than trying to get your point across to a Seller Central representative and feeling like you are continually being misunderstood.

In previous blog posts, we have covered ways to handle different glitches within the Amazon inventory system – some of which require opening a case and sending a written message to ask for an investigation, a reimbursement, or some other type of assistance.

To open a case, you will need to log in to your Amazon seller account, and click on “Help” in the top right corner of the screen. A box will pop up where you can click “Contact Us” at the bottom.

Next, you will see the question “What service can we help you with?” You’ll want to click “Selling on Amazon,” which will bring up a list of options for the type of issue you are having.

You can browse through the list of issues to find the one that best fits the problem you need assistance with.

When you’re communicating with a Seller Central representative through the “Contact Us” button, there are a few things you will want to keep in mind:

1. Be prepared with the correct info.

You will need to provide the basic information about the specific issue you are having problems with, so it helps to have that information handy before you open your case. If it’s a shipment problem, be sure you know the shipment number. If it’s a problem with a particular product, be sure you know the ASIN or UPC. Any other details you can provide, including screen shots, would be helpful to the representative who assists you.

2. Always start with e-mail.

You will be given the option to have the representative respond to you via e-mail or phone. We recommend always sending an e-mail detailing your issue and requesting an e-mail response. It’s good to have a paper trail proving what happened in the course of your case. You may not need that paper trail in the future, but it’s good to have it just in case. Also, sometimes the representative will call you even if you request an e-mail. Other times they call to tell you they’ve e-mailed you (a bit of overkill, don’t you think?). It’s a good idea to save the Seller Central number in your phone’s contacts so you’ll know Amazon is on the line the next time they call.

3. Be polite.

Your mom was right: Politeness goes a long way in this world. So be polite! Even if you’re answering your third or fourth response in your case, stay polite with the Seller Central representatives. Always thank them for their time and always use the magic word “please.”

4. Use the “magic words.”

Besides the word “please,” Seller Central representatives also respond well when you use a few other magic words. Amazon corporate training emphasizes core concepts that you, too, can emphasize in order to help the Seller Central representative understand your request better:

  • “The customer experience” – You’re likely aware that Amazon desires to be the most customer-centric store on the planet. They want customers to have an amazing experience shopping on their website, in order to keep them as loyal buyers in the future. Seller Central representatives are trained to prioritize the customer experience over other concerns, including your own requests as a third-party seller. If you can find a way to tell the representative how your problem is affecting the customer experience, you are much more likely to get a positive response. Here’s an example of writing the same request two different ways, one using the magic words:

Not so effective: Please help me change the title of this product so that I can get more sales. The current title is wrong, and I can’t get my product on the first search page.

More effective: The current title of this product is affecting the customer experience because customers cannot easily find it in a search using the correct title. Please change the title of the product to improve the customer experience.

  • “Take ownership” – Amazon trains their representatives to take ownership of problems and work to find the best solution. If you are having problems with getting the run-around on your case and the representative isn’t being helpful, you can gently remind them to take ownership of this issue.

Example: Thank you for continuing to assist me. We have already been working on this problem for over a week now, and we still haven’t solved the problem. Please take ownership of this issue and help me investigate the best solution.

4. Be persistent.

Sometimes you won’t get a good answer on your first (or maybe even second) try at communicating with Seller Central. If you know the answer you receive on the first response is not correct, be persistent (but always politely persistent!) and reopen the case. This might be a good time to use the “take ownership” phrase – or you can try another magic word: escalate.

Example: Thank you for continuing to assist me on this issue. The reimbursement amount I received is unfair. Please refer to the numbers I have provided you below. If you aren’t able to help me get the correct reimbursement, please escalate this case to your supervisor. I appreciate your help!

Hopefully you are able to use the tips in this blog post to learn some ways to more clearly communicate with Seller Central representatives. As Amazon sellers, we always want to keep in mind that there’s a human at the other end of our e-mails to Amazon. Communication can be difficult in any situation, but there are ways to make improvements on our end when it comes to opening cases in Seller Central.

Now, I’d love to hear from you! What “magic” words or strategies have you used in order to effectively communicate with a Seller Central representative? Share your tips in the comments below.

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Imagine knowing exactly what to expect in your Amazon FBA business every month of the year. Imagine what it would feel like knowing you were not missing out on any of the opportunities that will come your way this year. Imagine working on your Amazon business knowing exactly what your priorities are, what you need to avoid, and what you need to accomplish during each month to make progress toward making this year your best sales year ever. Find out more about The Reseller’s Guide to a Year in FBA: A Month by Month Guide to a Profitable Amazon Business today. The package includes a 200-page ebook, monthly live webinars throughout 2017, and 4 special bonuses.

How to Increase Your Amazon FBA ASP (Average Selling Price)

Today’s post is a follow-up to the previous article we posted about why you should consider trying to raise your ASP, or average selling price. If you haven’t read that first article yet, you might want to refer to it before diving into this one.

For a quick review, your ASP is the average amount of money you make in sales per item you sell on Amazon. Raising your ASP has some great benefits to add to your Amazon FBA business.

But HOW do you go about raising your ASP?

It might seem easier said than done, but the reality is you can take a few steps to impact your ASP and give your Amazon FBA profits a boost. Here are our suggestions for increasing your ASP:

1. Set a minimum selling price parameter.

A while back, we made the decision in our Amazon FBA business to stop sourcing items that are selling for under $10-$12 on Amazon. Even if we could make 100% ROI on an item that is selling for $8 or $9, we decided to stop sourcing those items and focus our sourcing on higher priced items. When we eliminated the low-priced items from our sourcing strategy, we had more money to focus on buying higher-priced items – partly because we could add up the saved sourcing money to go towards higher-priced items and partly because we were saving money in fees and prep costs when we raised our ASP and lowered our overall number of units sold.

The $10-$12 range is what we chose for our minimum, but for other people that amount might be different. This type of minimum sales price might affect a lot of booksellers or others who (like us in years past) are dependent on high volumes of low-priced toy sales. Overall, though, we have found that eliminating those super low-priced items from our inventory has been the biggest practical step towards raising our ASP.

2. Consider selling bundles or multi-packs.

Multi-packs are multiples of the same item for sale on Amazon. Bundles are a group of items with a similar use or theme for sale on Amazon.

If you follow the Amazon guidelines, you can create your own bundles for sale and increase your ASP per unit sold over the ASP if you sold all of those individual items from your bundle separately instead. If you’re interested in learning more about selling bundles on Amazon, I recommend The Book of Bundles.

For multi-packs, you can no longer create a multi-pack if it doesn’t already exist on Amazon, but you can list a multi-pack of items if it’s already available in the Amazon catalog. Like bundles, multi-packs offer a great way to raise your ASP per unit sold over the ASP if you sold each of those items from your multi-pack separately instead.

Once again, you also save money in fees if you sell items in a bundle or multi-pack instead of individually. For example, if you sell 5 individual units of a $10 grocery item, you would make $50 in sales, but you would have to pay 5 sets of FBA fees. If you sold it as a multi-pack of 5 for $50, you would still make $50 in sales, but you would only have one round of FBA fees to worry about.

3. Source higher-priced items.

It might seem obvious, but sometimes we need to get back to the basics of the topic we’re trying to learn – if you want to raise your ASP, you need to have higher-priced items in your inventory. You can’t sell high-priced items if you don’t have high-priced items available for Amazon customers to buy.

The easiest way we found for selling higher-priced items in our FBA business was to add shoes to our inventory. Our ASP in the Shoes category is about $70, and our overall ASP across all categories combined has risen to $47 now that shoes are a main staple in our Amazon inventory.

When we talk to other sellers about adding shoes to their Amazon inventory, we often get asked, “Isn’t Shoes a restricted category? Isn’t it hard to get ungated?” And the answer is YES Shoes is a gated category, but NO it’s not hard to get ungated in Shoes right now. If you want more info about how to get ungated in the Shoes category, you can click here to download our free guide for the shoe approval process. If you want to read more on our blog about selling shoes on Amazon, you can click here for the blog series.

Shoes aren’t the only higher-priced items you can source. Other sellers like to sell electronics to raise their ASP. Some sellers go with high-priced toys to raise their ASP. Whichever category you like to focus on, there are ways to start sourcing higher-priced items as a step towards raising your overall ASP.

Those are the top 3 ways that we have impacted our ASP and raised it to a point where we’ve seen an increase in our disbursements and a significant boost in our Amazon FBA business. Do you have any other tips or tricks you would add to this list? Please leave us a comment below!

Why You Should Consider Raising Your ASP (Average Selling Price)

Did you see that we recently released a PDF of Amazon acronyms you can print out and refer to in your FBA business? If not, you can grab a copy of the acronym list here as a handy reference.

One of the acronyms at the top of that list is ASP: average selling price. Over the next couple of blog posts, we’re going to discuss ASP and how it impacts your business.

Your ASP is the average amount of money you make in sales per item you sell on Amazon. ASP is calculated by dividing the dollar amount of sales by the number of items sold. To find your ASP, follow these steps:

  • Log in to Seller Central.
  • Hover over Reports.
  • Click on Business Reports.
  • Check out your Sales Snapshot – your ASP is the amount listed for “Avg. sales/order item.”

Why is it important for you to know your ASP and why is it important to increase your ASP?

I really believe that an Amazon FBA business needs a higher ASP in order to make it long-term in this business. If selling on Amazon is a business for you and not a hobby, you want to make sure you’re getting paid like a business would pay you. One way to increase your ability to pay yourself out of your business is to increase your ASP.

Sure, there are plenty of people who are able to make good money on Amazon with a lower ASP, for example book sellers or sellers in other categories that depend on high volume at low prices. Depending on your business model, you can really make a lot of money at high volume and low prices. But along with that type of business model also comes more work because you’re having to find and sell more items in order to make that volume. That type of business model also might require more outsourcing if you want to scale even larger, more sourcers to find your inventory, more listers and preppers, etc. I’m not saying this isn’t a viable business model; I’m saying that selling at a low ASP comes with a price.

In my experience, my business has seen more growth when I have focused on finding items to resell at a higher ASP, rather than trying to increase my volume on low ASP items. I’ll share with you a few reasons why I believe this has been the case:

1. You can save a lot of money on FBA fees when you raise your ASP.

Let’s think about an example using two FBA sellers, Bob and Sally. Bob typically sells lower priced items on Amazon. Today so far he has sold 10 items at $10 each, so he’s made $100 in sales. Sally, on the other hand, has sold one item today, but it was priced at $100. Both sellers have the same dollar amount in sales, but their FBA fees are taken out of those sales differently. Sally only has the one sale, so she only has to take care of the referral and FBA pick & pack fees for just the one item ordered. Meanwhile, Bob has to pay the referral and FBA pick & pack fees 10 times for 10 items. All those fees on low priced items add up over time.

In the end, Sally’s $100 of sales allows her to take home about $80 of profit. Bob’s $100 of sales leads to closer to $60 of profit. If you increase your ASP, you reduce your fees and increase your profit.

2. You can save a lot of time, money, and effort on prepping and shipping items when you raise your ASP.

Think about Bob and Sally again. With Sally’s one $100 item, she only had to expend the time, money, and effort to put one FBA label on her item, put one poly bag on her item, and pack that one item in her FBA shipment. But Bob with his $10 items…he (or someone he has hired) has to put on 10 FBA labels, seal 10 poly bags, and pack 10 items for shipment to get that $100 in sales. All of those costs add up over time, and you can save money and increase profits by reducing the amount of prep work required in your business. Increasing your ASP is a great way to reduce your necessary prep work.

3. You can give yourself more wiggle room for price fluctuations when you raise your ASP.

Back to Bob and Sally…

For sellers like Bob who have items priced mostly in the $10-$15 range, if the going price of their items begins to drop, they don’t have much room to lower their price and stay competitive without losing all their profit. If they lower the price even a couple of dollars, it drastically changes their return on investment (ROI). But if Sally’s $100 item lowers in price by $1, $2, or even $5-$10, she still has wiggle room to lower her price and stay competitive, without sacrificing her ROI.

Note: In general I don’t recommend always lowering your price whenever your competition does, which can start a race to the bottom. But in those instances where for some reason you need to keep your price competitive, having that wiggle room to lower your price without sacrificing profit and ROI is a nice feature of increasing your ASP.

4. You can increase your Amazon disbursements if you raise your ASP.

When you have fewer fees removed from your FBA sales and you sell more items with higher ASP, the natural result will be higher disbursements from Amazon. More profits, more money to reinvest in your business, and more money to take out of your business in the form of income for yourself and your family. That’s the progress we personally have seen over the past few years – the number of items we have sold via FBA has decreased each year, but our ASP has increased, and as a result our Amazon disbursements have increased.

Like I said earlier, some business models work very well by selling a high volume of items at a lower ASP. But for the amount of time, effort, and money that I want to invest in my business, I have found that sourcing and selling higher ASP items has given my business tremendous growth. My goal is to continue making a full-time income with only part-time hours through Amazon FBA, and increasing my ASP has been a vital component of achieving that goal each year.

Here’s one strategy I suggest for anyone who might struggle with having enough money in their sourcing budget to make it from one Amazon disbursement to the next: Start setting aside a portion of your budget solely dedicated to higher ASP items. Make sure you are gradually working at finding items that will increase your sales without increasing your work. In my next blog post, I’ll go into more detail about how to raise your ASP and start getting more bang for your buck with your sourcing budget, time, efforts, and energy.

Keep an eye out for that next blog post soon, but in the meantime we would love to hear from you in the comments. Have you had success increasing your ASP over time? Are you actively trying to increase your ASP? Or is your business model built on lower ASP items?

Easy Way to Track your Mileage for Retail Arbitrage Trips

Am I the only reseller out there who has ever done a great day of retail arbitrage and forgotten to write down my mileage?

I am? Really? Hmmm. I thought surely I wasn’t the only one who’s done this before.

OK, thanks for finally admitting it. You’re just like me…you don’t always remember to track the tiny details of your Amazon FBA business without a little assistance.

Tracking your business mileage may seem like an inconsequential part of your Amazon business, but in reality those miles can really add up over the course of a year. You don’t want to miss out on a single mile if at all possible! Your CPA or tax preparer is going to want to see those miles at the end of the year, and you need a way to smoothly record all of your business trips.

What qualifies as a business trip for an Amazon FBA seller? Any trip in your vehicle where you are adding miles for a 100% business purpose, including but not limited to:

  • Driving from store to store for retail arbitrage
  • Driving to the UPS store, FedEx, post office, or wherever you need to drop off packages for shipment
  • Driving to Staples or wherever to pick up office supplies
  • Driving to The Home Depot, Lowe’s, or wherever to pick up shipping boxes
  • Driving anywhere to do errands or tasks related to your Amazon business

Over time you can save a lot of money in your business by writing off the mileage on your tax return that comes from these business trips. Always speak with a CPA or tax professional to make sure that the types of trips you are recording qualify to be written off.

In the past I’ve used a number of different solutions for recording my mileage, some of which worked better than others. I started off by carrying a little notebook and pen in my car to write my details down for start mileage, end mileage, destination, and purpose of the trip – but who knows how many times I forgot to write it down over the course of the year! I even left a sticky note on my dashboard for years with the word “MILEAGE” in all caps, in an attempt to remind myself to record my trips. If I didn’t manage to remember, I would have to go to Google Maps and try to recreate my trip and estimate my mileage.

Then I progressed to using a couple of different smart phone apps to help me record mileage, and they were just OK. They were more convenient than trying to jot things down in a notebook, but they still didn’t help me solve my main problem: remembering to record my miles!

Finally I found the MileIQ app, and I landed on an automatic solution that saves me time in recording my mileage and (more importantly!) saves me from having to remember to record it.

The way the MileIQ app works is by running in the background as you drive to different destinations throughout the course of your everyday life. The app tracks each trip you make in a vehicle, logs it, and learns how to categorize it.

The app knows when you start and stop a trip, and all you have to do is review your trips at the end of the day and tell the app whether it was a business or personal trip – all with one swipe classification. Swipe one direction for personal, the other direction for business. After a while, the app will start to learn which destinations you usually classify as business, and it will automatically classify those trips for you.

Now, I’m sure you’re wondering, just like I did at first, what happens if you’re riding in someone else’s car? Does MileIQ know the difference? No, it doesn’t know the difference and will still track the mileage even if you’re not in your own vehicle, but you can easily cancel those trips during your review of your mileage. You can also choose to turn off tracking if you want to… just remember to turn it back on when you’re back in your own vehicle.

Another handy feature of MileIQ is that at the end of each month you receive an email from them with your stats for the month. At the end of the year you can quickly download a report with your mileage numbers for the year, and all you need to do is pass this report along to your CPA and presto – you’ve efficiently tracked your business mileage without having to remind yourself to log any numbers!

I’ve been using the app for almost a year now, and the app hasn’t been a battery hog for my iPhone. It’s always running in the background, but it doesn’t affect my phone’s usage in any way.

If you go through this link, MileIQ offers a free trial of 40 drives per month and a 20% discount off an annual subscription if you decide to upgrade. The subscription comes out to a few dollars a month, but it could add up to hundreds of dollars saved by logging miles you would otherwise forget.

The MileIQ app has been extremely helpful for my business, and I hope you find it helpful too!

Any other MileIQ users out there? Share with us in the comments if you love the app as much as we do.

9 Reasons Why You Should Add Wholesale to Your Amazon FBA Business

The more you talk with Amazon FBA sellers from all walks of life, the more you understand why each seller prefers the sourcing model used in their business.

Some folks love the thrill of the hunt, and they thrive on getting out there and scanning to their heart’s content at garage sales and thrift stores. Other sellers enjoy working retail arbitrage into their daily routine, or they love the huge profits that come from RA during the Q4 selling season. Some sellers live in a remote area or their time is limited, so they choose to do online arbitrage (OA) or wholesale. Still others like all aspects of product development and marketing, so they dive into private labeling.

Today I want to focus on one method of sourcing for Amazon FBA: sourcing from wholesale suppliers. We’re going to have a couple more posts after this one, so stick with me to learn more about where to find wholesale sources and other wholesale time hacks. But for today, let’s discuss the top 9 reasons why you should consider adding wholesale sourcing to your Amazon FBA business.

1. Profit potential

We’re all in this business to make profits, right? Well, selling items sourced via wholesale has huge profit potentials. You can find items with great return on investment (ROI) for resale on Amazon because you buy them at a low wholesale price, compared to what other sellers are getting by buying from retail sources.

2. Go both wide and deep on inventory

Buying via a wholesale account gives you the opportunity to search their catalog for several different profitable items in one product line, and you can then buy larger quantities of those items than you would be able to if sourcing via RA or OA. Once you’ve done your research on the sales history data on CamelCamelCamel and Keepa, as well as researching how much your competition has in stock (we use the How Many? extension for doing this research), you can make an informed decision and buy as many of an item as you feel comfortable buying, rather than being limited to what’s on the shelf at the retail store.

But you don’t have to worry about making a huge wholesale order of only one item to meet a company’s minimum purchase requirement. You can order a few of several different items, test them out, assess the results of your sales, and make a decision about reordering and possibly going deeper.

3. Opportunity for consistent replens

“Replen” is short for replenishable. A replenishable item is one that is profitable to buy over and over again because you can sell through the item at a decent rate. Replens can be a lovely cash cow for your business, since all you have to do is order, send to FBA, sell, order, send to FBA, sell, and repeat, repeat, repeat. Finding a replen today saves you time tomorrow by not having to repeat your sourcing research once the item sells out. You’ve already done the research – now all you need to do is reorder and send that item in again. It’s a much more time-efficient process than the one-offs that come with RA, OA, garage saling, and thrifting.

4. Potential for less competition

If an item isn’t available from retail sources at a low enough price to resell on Amazon BUT you can find it at a wholesale source, you will have lower competition. If you’re sourcing items that anyone can find at a retail store and resell for profit, it’s often only a matter of time until a ton of sellers jump on that listing. Sourcing via wholesale opens the door of opportunity to find unique items that RA and OA sellers can’t source at your buy cost.

5. Predictable cash flow

Once you have found several replens through wholesale sourcing, you can get to a place in your business where you have more predictable cash flow. Often with RA, OA, and thrifting, you will see ebbs and flows with your sales throughout the year, depending on what’s going on in your part of the country or in the stores where you like to source. Wholesale sourcing can provide more stability when it comes to ordering products to sell consistently throughout the year.

6. Saves time

Like I said above, finding a wholesale replen saves you a ton of time when it comes to not having to constantly be out sourcing for more one-off items to resell. It could take you all day to drive around town and spend $800 on RA finds, or you could spend a couple of hours doing wholesale research and find a great replen, place an $800 order, and then just reorder when you’ve sold out.

Another way wholesale saves time is when it comes to prepping your inventory. Wholesale items won’t have stickers to remove, and they often (though not always) come already poly bagged. You also can save time in listing the items. Instead of having to list and price 20 one-offs from RA clearance, you could list and price one item with 20 multiples from a wholesale source.

7. Easier to scale the business

As your FBA business grows, you will need to find ways to scale the business. Scaling your business means being able to increase your output. There are only so many garage sales in your town every week, so unless you hire folks in other towns to source for you, you can’t scale an FBA business based on garage saling. Same with retail arbitrage – you only have so many hours in the day to drive to retail stores, so you will need to hire someone else to source if you want to scale your RA business. But with wholesale, it is much easier to keep your business simple, source large amounts of inventory, and process it without needing to hire help. In fact, if you use a prep and pack center to process your inventory, you can grow your Amazon FBA business even more through wholesale.

8. Protects your seller account

Many Amazon FBA sellers experience great anxiety over the thought of being suspended because of claims by customers, especially claims of inauthentic products. As of this writing, Amazon is accepting retail receipts as proof of your source for inventory, but it’s often more difficult to prove your case with Amazon using retail receipts than using wholesale invoices – not to mention, at any point Amazon could stop accepting retail receipts altogether. Adding wholesale sources to your Amazon inventory gives you a level of protection for your seller account.

9. Become a brand approved seller

Brand restrictions on Amazon can be tricky when you’re looking for good retail sources for inventory. There’s nothing worse than finding an awesome item for resale, only to discover you are restricted from selling that brand. But with wholesale sources, you have the potential to work with Amazon and the manufacturer to become a brand approved seller. It requires some time and effort to get approval, but if you’re successful, you have the potential to make even more profits with even lower competition.

Now you have plenty of good reasons why you should consider adding wholesale to your Amazon FBA business. Stay tuned because in our next blog post, we’ll share with you how to find profitable wholesale accounts.

For the longest time I had wanted to add wholesale to my Amazon business. I have actually gone through 3 different wholesale courses to teach me how to do it. Each time I went through a new wholesale course, I would try what was taught, and I kept coming up empty. It was extremely frustrating… then I scheduled a phone call with Dan, one of the guys behind The Wholesale Formula. That conversation opened up my eyes to things about wholesale I’ve never thought about before. I took his advice and began to find multiple wholesale accounts.

Would you have wanted to listen in on that conversation? Unfortunately, we didn’t record the call, but Dan and his business partner Eric recently recorded an entire video series that focuses exactly on adding wholesale to your Amazon FBA business. The best part? It’s free! So many people think that you have to have thousands of dollars or special connections to start selling wholesale items on Amazon, but that’s just not true.

In this free video series my wholesale mentors, Dan and Eric, will teach you exactly how to find profitable items to buy via wholesale so you can experience growth in your Amazon business.

Now here’s the deal. These free videos are only going to be accessible for a limited time, so you need to click here and watch today.

Have you considered adding wholesale to your Amazon business? Have you been successful? If you have not tried it yet, what’s stopping you? What’s getting in the way of you sourcing directly from wholesale suppliers? Let me know in the comments so I can best help you in our current wholesale blog series.

4 Tips for Handling Amazon FBA Taxes

Before you hit the snooze button and move on to a more exciting post, let me acknowledge up front that taxes aren’t the most glamorous topic out there. Unless you’re a CPA or tax professional. In which case I don’t mean any offense by saying that taxes are boring.

Is anyone still with me at this point in this blog post? I hope so – because the topic of taxes, while potentially a snoozer, is of great importance to the success of your Amazon FBA business. If handled incorrectly, your business taxes could negatively impact your success at FBA – but taxes don’t have to be something that holds you back from making progress as an Amazon seller.

We at Full-Time FBA are not tax professionals or CPAs, and we do not intend to give advice for preparing your taxes in this blog post. We also do not give advice in our Facebook group, so if you ask tax questions there we will give you the same disclaimer and point you towards the services of someone qualified to give that type of advice.

Which leads us nicely to our first tip out of four for handling taxes for your Amazon FBA business…

1. Find a good CPA. 

Our biggest piece of advice for you when it comes to handling your taxes is to find a good CPA who can take care of all the nitty gritty details for you. We are greatly indebted to our own CPA for her help throughout the year and at tax time in keeping our business running smoothly and above board with our taxes. A good CPA will know all the ins and outs of the rules related to business taxes (both federal and state, depending on where you live), and a good CPA is worth every penny you pay for their services.

When I say you need to find a “good CPA” I mean a couple of things by it. First, you don’t want to just pick the first person who pops up in a Google search for CPAs in your area. You need to find someone who has the heart of a teacher, who is willing to help you understand the tax rules and how to be compliant. It might take time to find this person and to ask questions to make sure you’re a good fit with each other.

Note: Please do not go to a bunch of different CPAs and ask questions under the pretense of “seeing if you’re a good fit.” For a service professional, nothing is worse than being taken advantage of by someone looking for free advice. Be respectful of your potential CPA’s time and pay them well.

The second thing you need to look for in a CPA is someone who understands taxes as related to ecommerce, Amazon FBA, self-employment, an LLC, or whatever particular situation your business is in. Be sure to ask questions up front to make sure the person you hire has the relevant experience to best assist you in preparing your taxes.

2. Keep good records throughout the year.

Keeping good records is crucial to preparing your taxes and protecting yourself in case of audit. Your records should include (but aren’t limited to) receipts for inventory, receipts for supplies, receipts for any other business expenses, records of your disbursements or other income, any business-related fees, any payments for business-related services, etc.

We use Inventory Lab to track inventory-related financial information, and we have our CPA do our bookkeeping every month throughout the year. We have a simple system for filing our receipts by month, and we use Evernote and email folders to track online receipts.

Whether you already have a good system in place for keeping good records or not, nothing is stopping you from keeping your records organized from this point forward. You can’t change the past, but you can make a difference in the future. Don’t get overwhelmed with your receipts, take it one step at a time, and make the most of the year ahead by knowing your numbers, organizing your receipts, and paying attention to business reports in Seller Central, Inventory Lab, or whatever program you are using.

3. Run the right reports for your CPA.

In order to prepare your taxes, your CPA (or whoever is preparing your taxes) will need to know the money you have coming in, the money you have going out, the amount of inventory you have in stock that hasn’t been sold, etc. Talk with this individual to be sure exactly what they need.

As a good starting point you can check out this blog post with instructions for how to run the most useful year end reports within Seller Central. We like to run reports for our CPA on our year end inventory, our monthly inventory history, and our received inventory.

Note: It’s best to run your year end inventory report as close to December 31 or January 1 as possible, to give your CPA the most accurate picture of the inventory you had in FBA warehouses at year’s end.

4. When it comes to sales tax, look into services like TaxJar to automate the process for you.

We like to point our readers to the TaxJar website when it comes to handling sales tax. TaxJar has a wealth of free information and links on their website to point you in the right direction for knowing the sales tax regulations in each state. When you’re ready to automate the process of dealing with sales tax, TaxJar can help you get set up.

Dealing with taxes definitely isn’t the most fun part of running your own business – we would all rather be out sourcing and finding treasure and making big profits than talking about taxes, right? But getting your business set up to handle taxes correctly is an important component of business success. You really want to do things the right way as quickly as you can, so that you won’t have to pay penalties or fines later. You can take a few simple steps today to set yourself up for the year ahead and make the most of your Amazon FBA opportunities.

Make 2017 your Best Amazon Sales Year Ever! 

Imagine knowing exactly what to expect in your Amazon FBA business every month of the year.

Imagine what it would feel like knowing you were not missing out on any of the opportunities that will come your way in 2017.

Imagine working on your Amazon business knowing exactly what your priorities are, what you need to avoid, and what you need to accomplish during each month to make progress toward making 2017 your best sales year ever.

Find out more about The Reseller’s Guide to a Year in FBA: A Month by Month Guide to a Profitable Amazon Business today. The package includes a 200-page ebook, monthly live webinars, and 4 special bonuses.

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What are you doing today to prepare for the year ahead? How are you taking steps to handle your taxes the right way? We would love to hear from you in the comments!

Feedback Genius Review – Get More Positive (and Eliminate Negative) Feedback

feedback-genuis-reviewMost 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. Fmail-1454731_1280eedback 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.

do-it-now-1432945_12802. 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.

feedback-genius-text3. 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.

To find out more about how to handle removing negative feedback, check out this blog post or this YouTube video.

ratings-1482011_1280-14. 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.

parameters5. 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.

FB-GeniusSpecial 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.

How to Know What to Do Next in Your Amazon FBA Business

what-to-do-nextInformation about selling on Amazon is everywhere… Blogs, Facebook groups, YouTube, eBooks, video courses, and even live conferences. There is such a vast amount of information available, both free and paid, how can you ever filter through all the noise and decide on your best course of action?

I wish I could just tell you exactly what to do next, but that would not be the best advice to give you. Your situation, your finances, your time, your skills, and your passions are all unique to you, and therefor what you need to do next is also unique to you.

While I can’t give you a simple step by step process on exactly what to do next, here are 5 things you need to think about that will help you see your next steps with much more clarity.

manage-time1. TIME – I think the first thing you need to do is to consider how much your time is worth to you… If you have a TON of time available, then it’s not a bad idea to look for as much free information online as you can. If you don’t have a lot of free time, then I recommend purchasing a quality course/book/conference so you can streamline your time and get focused information all in one place.

banner-quality2. QUALITY – Of course, you want to be sure that the info you learn from (either free or paid) is of top quality. The best way to do this is to put what the person teaches to the test. For paid content, see if the author has a lot of free content to consume first… then if you see the quality of the free content, purchase the paid content, since you know it’ll be good. If you have to pay to find out if the information is high quality, then make sure there is a refund policy, and then get your money back if it’s not up to your standards.

trust3. TRUST – You want to be sure you can trust the person teaching you. Again, if you can put any author’s teaching into action and get good results, you can trust their other material is good too. Trust can also come from the teacher showing you their results and proving that what they teach has worked for then. For example, here on this blog it’s our goal to help you turn part time hours into a full time income with Amazon FBA… and that’s exactly what we do. I spend about 20 hours a week on Amazon FBA and our disbursements pay our bills. We are full-time FBA sellers and from that I would think you could trust us.

photo-sep-12-11-27-57-am4. FOCUS – This is the big one… I love the acronym for FOCUS: Follow One Course Until Successful. I even have that phrase on a Post It Note on my desk. It’s so easy to think that some new strategy or book will be the answer… but if we have not followed through on strategy #1, then why would we think strategy #2 or #3 will work better? Here’s a question: Who do you think finds success faster? Person A or Person B? Person A works on learning RA on Monday, learning OA on Tuesday, learning Wholesale on Wednesday, learning Private Label on Thursday, and learning Merch on Friday… or Person B who learns ONE STRATEGY on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Of course the person who FOCUSES will find success faster.

follow-your-passion5. PASSION – Passion is the fuel that pushes you forward and helps you avoid burnout. What strategy do you feel passionate about? Which one gets you most excited? Follow that strategy until successful, and then you can look to add another strategy once your first strategy gets put on autopilot. If you’re passionate about the idea of sourcing from home via online arbitrage, then focus on that… if you love the thrill of a retail arbitrage treasure hunt, then focus on that. If you love making T-shirts, then focus on Merch. Pick something you’re passionate about and see it through.

So if you’re wondering what you need to do next in your Amazon business, you can think about the above points and see which strategy/book/blog/course/etc stands out to you… and then follow it through until successful. If you’ve started a book or course and then are tempted to jump ship to some “shiny” new strategy, just calm yourself down and finish that book or course until you can see results. If you find something that you’re passionate about and see it through until the end, you will thank yourself for the results, and you’ll continue on your road toward success that much faster.

I hope these five tips will help you find direction in what you need to do next in your Amazon FBA business. Now, I’d love to hear from you. What methods or strategies have you found to be helpful when deciding what your next step needs to be with your Amazon FBA business?

Calculating Amazon FBA Fees – Know Your Numbers and Make Better Buying Decisions

Know Your Numbers - FeesA while back I saw a super scary video. It was truly horrifying. I still have nightmares when I think about it for too long.

I showed a short clip of this video to my wife. She actually screamed at the TV: “Nooooooo!!!!!!!!” She was just as terrified as I was.

In this video people were walking the aisles of a big box retail store, scanning toys with the Amazon app. Not the Amazon Seller app. The Amazon app. The one you use to buy merchandise from Amazon. These people were looking up toys on Amazon, comparing the price on the retail store shelf, and loading up a shopping cart if the price was even the slightest bit higher on Amazon. They intended to buy this shopping cart full of toys and sell them on Amazon.

As if this scenario weren’t gruesome enough, these people were actually encouraging their viewers to go out and do the same thing. They exuberantly proclaimed that anyone can sell on Amazon, see, look, there’s merchandise everywhere that sells higher on Amazon than in stores. You, too, should go out and buy toys by the shopping cart load, and just send them in to Amazon and wait for your paycheck.

At this point you might be ready to ask me a few questions. “How is this scene any different than what you do in your Amazon FBA business every day? Don’t you use retail arbitrage as one of your strategies for finding FBA inventory? Isn’t that what these folks are doing – and showing others how to do?”

The key difference boils down to one simple factor: I never buy an item for resale without knowing the Amazon FBA fees for that item first. If someone were to actually follow the methods these people were using in this Amazon FBA horror movie, they would be hit with fees they hadn’t calculated beforehand and suffer financial loss.

2631823For anyone who wants to make a profit running an FBA business, you have to know your numbers. You have to know all of your expenses, including inbound shipping, taxes where applicable, prep fees, materials, and the cost of any subscriptions or services you buy. You also have to have a good handle on the FBA fees that apply to any items you intend to have Amazon fulfill for you.

If you aren’t aware, the name of this blog is Full-Time FBA. About 99% of our Amazon business is through the FBA (Fulfillment By Amazon) program. We do choose to Merchant Fulfill items on occasion (check out our YouTube video where we discuss those occasions), but overall we prefer to stick with having Amazon fulfill our inventory when a customer buys it (see also our blog post “Overcoming Your Fear of Selling via FBA versus Merchant Fulfilled or eBay”).

There are 4 easy ways you can calculate the potential Amazon FBA fees before you buy an inventory item. We’ve listed below two options for calculating fees on your smart phone and two for calculating fees on a web browser:

  1. AZ Seller app screen shotAmazon Seller app – FREE

The Amazon Seller app is free and allows you to scan items either by barcode or using Amazon Flow (the camera of your phone recognizes an item’s image and matches it with the product in the Amazon catalog). The Amazon Seller app allows you to see the fees for an item if you sell it Merchant Fulfilled or through FBA. It allows you to adjust your selling price, your inbound shipping cost, and the cost of purchase. It then subtracts the fees and your cost of purchases, giving you your estimated net proceeds. (See this blog post for more pros and cons on the Amazon Seller app.)

  1. Photo Apr 15, 10 23 15 PMThird party scanning app, like Scoutify, Profit Bandit, or ScanPower – PAID

Similar to the Amazon Seller app, third party scanning apps allow you to scan items by barcode or enter a text search for the item. Third party apps also allow you to adjust selling price, inbound shipping, and cost of purchase before you subtract out the FBA fees and see your estimated net proceeds. We personally use Scoutify most often when sourcing, with Profit Bandit being our back-up on occasion. (For more info on third party scanning apps, check out our blog post about why we use Scoutify.)

  1. FBA CalculatorThe FBA Calculator website – FREE

If you are doing product research on a web browser, Amazon Seller Central has an FBA revenue calculator where you can enter the ASIN, UPC, or product name of an item and do the same calculations as above to find out your potential fees and potential profit. We highly recommend creating a bookmark for the revenue calculator so you can easily reference it when making online purchases, determining prices for your inventory during the listing process, or repricing your inventory after it’s at the warehouse. We’ve also created a quick link for the calculator: www.fulltimefba.com/calculator

To see the FBA revenue calculator in action, I’ve created a screen capture video explaining how it works.

  1. Scanalyze 1Google Chrome extensions, like Scanalyze  – PAID

Another easy way to see FBA fees when doing online arbitrage or product research is by using Google Chrome extensions that show the fees right on the Amazon product page. We use Scanalyze (available through the Cyber Monkey Deals website) and love it. You simply click the “Scanalyze” button and the fee calculator pops up at the bottom of your screen.

Scanalyze 2

Hopefully you’re equipped now to calculate your fees and know up front what your profit potential is before you buy inventory to send to Amazon. Please don’t become another victim in a scary movie! You can make good choices. You can build a profitable Amazon FBA business because you know your numbers.