Category Archives: Getting Started

7 Ways to Save Money So You Can Spend More on Inventory

Save Money Spend MoreWho doesn’t love to save a little time and money?

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:

brownbox21. 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.

AirPouch-Open-Box-w-EarthAware-Biodegradable-Pillows3. 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
  • blank newspaper
  • 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

3117TC++78L4. 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.)

board game closet5. 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.

freecycle_logo6. Get FREE inventory from Freecycle.org.

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.

facebook-twitter7. 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.

Here’s the video (Amazon FBA Hacks to Save Time and Money) with these tips in action:

If I Had To Start My Amazon FBA Business Over Again With Only $500

Start FBA Over 500Who doesn’t love a do-over?

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:

AM-Pro-Sellers1. 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.

The Pro Merchant account is also necessary for other reasons that we’ll get into below.

175_InventoryLab2. 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.

Inventory Lab comes bundled with the Scoutify sourcing app, which I use for scanning inventory at retail stores, garage sales, and thrift shops. I prefer to use Scoutify rather than the Amazon Seller app mainly because Scoutify gives me direct access to sales rank and price history on CamelCamelCamel and Keepa, which is essential for me to a make a smart sourcing decision.

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.

41MNr5dy0HL3. 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.

41IWrVLa8yL4. 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.

s15. 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.

61h-B0szXtL._SL1280_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.)

81K1bfSxJ5L._SL1500_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.

FB-Genius9. 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!

UPS-Shipping-Labels-110. 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.

brownbox211. 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.

61sL7QYmSwL._SL1500_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:

  1. A Pro Merchant account with Amazon –FREE for first month ($40/month afterwards)
  2. Inventory Lab for listing and sourcing – FREE for first month ($49/month afterwards)
  3. Barcode scanner – $22
  4. DYMO LabelWriter 450 – $70 new, $40 used
  5. Scotty peelers – $6 for 3-pack
  6. Goo Gone – $4
  7. 3-inch tape gun – $13
  8. 3-inch tape – $13 for 4-pack
  9. Feedback Genius – FREE for first 2 months ($20/month afterwards)
  10. UPS self-adhesive labels – FREE from UPS.com
  11. Shipping boxes – FREE from grocery stores, friends, etc
  12. 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!

Overcoming Your Fear of Starting Your Amazon FBA Business

Starting Amazon FBA

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.

26409-Brian-Tracy-Quote-To-earn-more-you-must-learn-moreFEAR #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.

garage-sale-sign-with-shoppersFEAR #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.

3-Strategies-To-Buy-Property-With-No-Money-Down-1014x487FEAR #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!

self-employedFEAR #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!

Overcoming Your Fear of Selling via FBA versus Merchant Fulfilled or eBay

Fear of FBAThe “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.

imagesToday 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.

Amazon-seller-costsFEAR #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.

Amazon.com-worker-David-B-001FEAR #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.

ifOUVAvNfA60FEAR #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.

For more info on why we choose to label our Amazon FBA inventory, check out our YouTube video called Comingling Amazon FBA Inventory – Why I don’t do stickerless inventory at Amazon.

el7ccoFEAR #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.

For more info on how to deal with negative feedback from FBA shipping errors, check out this blog post or this YouTube video from our YouTube channel.

162471-425x282-Hand-written-thank-you-note-2FEAR #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.

falling-pricesFEAR #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.

For more info on how to handle your fear of prices tanking, check out our blog post on the topic, as well as our YouTube video. For more info on how to make smart sourcing decisions using Amazon sales rank and price history, check out our video course and ebook, The Reseller’s Guide to How to Keepa Camel.

negative-to-positive1We 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!

The Best (and Easiest) Way to Remove Price Stickers From Your Inventory

Remove Price TagsWhen 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:

1.41sRYiyp1IL 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.

61ZZnk9VoJL._SL1200_2. Use a Scotty Peeler to peel the price sticker off.

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.

61h-B0szXtL._SL1280_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.

91m1ynG3MGL._SX522_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.

BONUS TIPS!

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.

1801321_10202842196109886_2007613444564863176_oRemoving 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.

Inventory Lab Review – Why We Use Inventory Lab For Listing Amazon FBA Inventory

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:

  1. 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 List

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.

  1. Inventory Lab is packaged with the Scoutify sourcing app.

Photo Apr 15, 10 23 15 PMWe 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.

  1. 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.

Inventory Lab Accounting

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.

  1. 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.

Inventory Lab Analyze

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 Lab175_InventoryLab 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!

Overcoming Your Amazon FBA Fears

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Desk Diagram

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NOT PICTURED

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Optimized Full-Time FBA Work & Shipping Station

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

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

Shipping Station Diagram

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not Pictured: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How To Budget for a Profitable FBA Business – Part 2 of 2

In our last blog post, I wrote about why budgets are so important to the success of both your business and personal finances. If you haven’t read that blog post yet, be sure you check it out here.

How-to-BudgetIn today’s blog post, I want to move from the “why” to the “how” and show you exactly how my wife and I handle both our personal and business finances. I hope this will give you an idea about how you (and potentially your spouse, if that applies to you) can come up with a budget that will help you eliminate wasteful spending and increase business profits and personal savings.

How My Wife And I Budget

I’d like to show you a glimpse of what our own budgeting looks like each month, just to give you an idea of how the process works for us. What works well for us might not be exactly what works for you, but seeing an example will at least give you a starting point and some ideas for what you can try in your own household or business if you need help developing a structure for monthly budgeting.

a70e4f68ec0ecaac7f8ad9bc1de82b32According to John C. Maxwell, a budget is telling your money where to go, instead of wondering where it went. If you spend all your money on paper first, you will be much more likely to make good choices throughout the month and not end up with a week left to go in April and no idea how to make it to May’s paycheck, not to mention you’ll be able to set and meet short-term and long-term goals with greater ease.

For us, spending our money on paper means both myself and Rebecca sitting down together towards the end of each month and having a business meeting. Don’t be alarmed by the title “business meeting.” We don’t follow Robert’s Rules of Order or anything like that. We just sit down with our account information, a few lists of numbers, a calculator, and a calendar, and we talk things through for the upcoming month. Simple as that.

budget1When we first started budgeting together, these meetings took longer than they do now. The first business meeting, in particular, lasted quite a bit longer as we were setting up the foundation for what our monthly and yearly expenses would look like. After a couple of years at this now, we are down to only a few minutes for the monthly meeting because we’ve both done the prep work ahead of time, and there’s just not as much to discuss as there once was.

So, what exactly do we include in our monthly budget? I’ll outline a few steps that we’ve taken in the initial phase of setting it up and in the ongoing process of budgeting each month. The example given below describes how we allocate money for both our personal and our business expenses, which we differentiate into two separate checking accounts. If you’re reselling as a hobby and don’t keep separate business and personal accounts, this plan still works – you just won’t need to do the division in step 8 below.

Picture3-300x2201. We list our regular monthly household expenses.

We wrote out on a notepad everything we spend on a monthly basis, including housing, utilities, phones, gas, groceries, insurance, restaurants, haircuts, and what not. Some of these may fluctuate throughout the year (e.g., electricity is higher during the very hot or very cold months, and we don’t always get hair cuts every single month), so we came up with an average or looked at how much we spent during particular months of the year based on previous years.

For some budget categories, like groceries or eating out, it was hard to know at first how much we spend on a monthly basis because we weren’t really tracking each individual household expense, so it took some educated guessing. It’s not imperative to come up with exact amounts on the first month of your budget, but at least get some ballpark-range numbers down on paper so you have a place to start. If you have credit card, loan, or car payments, you’ll also want to list these here, as well as any regular payments you make towards savings goals.

2. We listed our annual fees and the month they are due.

In this list we included annual insurance premiums, subscriptions (magazines, Amazon Prime, web hosting, etc), vehicle registrations and inspections, gym memberships, wholesale club fees, and things of this nature.

3. We listed all the occasions when we regularly give gifts throughout the year.

We included birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and any time when we know that we need extra money for gifts each year.

enhanced-buzz-19197-1386641047-24. We set up a binder so that we’ll have easy access to these lists and any printed out reports we need to save.

Can you tell we like to watch Parks and Recreation? We, like Leslie Knope, enjoy organizing info in binders. You don’t have to get a binder. You can also just keep all your papers in a desk drawer or on the floor in the corner of your office. It’s up to you.

5. After we knew our monthly and annual expenses, we wrote out a tentative budget.

We wrote up how much we planned to spend in a month on each of the categories we had listed in our expenses. Where possible, we wrote out the exact amount we knew would be on a bill. In other cases, we set an estimated number based on what we’d been spending in previous months. The key is to choose amounts that you’re comfortable with, but http://www.dreamstime.com/-image23222022give yourself flexibility in the first months of following the budget — we all tend to underestimate how much we spend on groceries, and you may find that you’ve set your amount too low. That’s perfectly fine — just adjust the amount each month until you find a number you’re comfortable with.

6. We add our regular expenses to our special expenses for the month to come up with our total projected monthly expenses.

At the monthly budget meeting, we look at our regular expenses for the month (both the monthly expenses and any annual expenses that are due), along with anything special going on that month that will require extra funds. Special expenses might include birthday parties, an oil change for the car, a new outfit for an upcoming event, a graduation gift, a donation for a special cause, savings for a trip a couple of months away, or Christmas savings. We take the dollar amount needed for regular expenses, add it to the dollar amount needed for special expenses, and get our total projected expenses. It’s as simple as that: now we have our budget for the month.

The next steps will allow us to figure up how much money we have to source with after we’ve paid our bills.

41-Budgetting-Irregular-Income7. We add up our projected income.

If you get regular paychecks, this is a pretty easy step. For Rebecca and I, the bulk of our income is determined by our sales every two weeks on Amazon, which we can’t know ahead of time, and we may or may not know in advance how much income we’ll be getting from freelance projects or royalties – but we try to make our best estimate. Whatever situation you may be in with regular or irregular income, do the best you can to get an estimate of your projected income.

8. We allocate our business and household expenses into our paychecks and disbursements as we receive them.

BudgetThis part will be different for everyone, depending on whether you have income that comes in once a month, bi-weekly, or at irregular times. In our case, we get two bi-weekly disbursements per month from Amazon for our FBA sales, and these amounts cover all of our regular household bills (we use our freelance income and other sales money for other purposes throughout each month, and we consider it separately when it comes to the household budget). So, we take the dollar amount of our expected expenses, and we divide it by two, for the two disbursements. Click on the image above to see an idea of how this works out.

Then, when I get the amount for the first bi-weekly disbursement for the month, I take that amount and subtract both the upcoming business expenses for the month and the upcoming household expenses for the month. The number I’m left with is how much money we have to source with for the next two weeks. When the second disbursement comes around, I subtract out the second half of our monthly expenses, and we’re left with what we can use for sourcing for the next two weeks.

Sometimes we’re flexible with the divisions, putting more or less towards personal or business during each two week period, depending on the circumstances that month. But we always make sure we cover family expenses out of our FBA disbursements and supplementary income first, and then we use the remaining money for sourcing. Our business has grown and grown over the past three years in such a way that this system works really well for us. If we didn’t have a family budget, though, it would be easy to fritter away the money from the business on calculator_budgetexpenses around the house that just aren’t necessary, and then we wouldn’t have the money for sourcing that we need to keep the business running.

When coming up with your business expenses, it’s important to follow the same steps as above. List your regular monthly business expenses (Amazon fees, listing subscription fees, shipping supplies, office supplies, etc). List your annual expenses (your yearly membership to a sourcing website, etc). Come up with a tentative budget and do your best to stick to it. Creating a business budget is not much different than creating a personal one. The key is just sticking to it.

I’m not saying you need to do everything exactly the way we’ve done it and outlined above. I’m just saying you should make a plan, talk with your spouse, follow through with it, and see where it takes your family and your business.

Do you have any budgeting tips to help minimize losses and maximize profits? Be sure to comment below.