Category Archives: Holiday

Top 10 Tips For Finishing Strong in 2017

First off, if you can see this… thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to read today’s blog post. I know Q4 is crazy busy, and I hope my blog posts can help you take action t0 save time and increase your profits.

As we all know, the holiday selling season is in full bloom, and I hope you’ve been able to stock the Amazon warehouses with as much quality inventory as you possibly can. It seems pretty obvious to say, but you can’t sell a lot of items if you don’t have a lot of items in stock. To help you continue to make this month your best selling month ever, here are my top ten tips for finishing strong in 2017:

christmas-lights1. Reprice holiday related items. It’s crunch time. Log into Seller Central and check all of your holiday related items in your inventory. Do a keyword search for words like “holiday” and “Christmas” and make sure that all of your holiday items are competitively priced. While some of these seasonal items actually sell throughout the year, there might still be some in stock that you need to reprice. As always, double check with CamelCamelCamel and Keepa to see what prices and sales you could possibly expect. If you have multiples of higher ranked holiday items, it’s probably a good time to lower your prices to get the sale. You don’t want to hold on to these items another full year… especially with long term stores fees coming up in February.

2. The week before Christmas is a Prime spending frenzy! For items sold through FBA, hold on to your prices that you think will sell for Christmas. It’s not rare to see an item going for $15 on December 14th to be selling for $25 on December 19th. This is especially true for items where you’re the only FBA seller or one of a few FBA sellers. On the other hand, if the competition for sales is fierce, you might want to lower your price just a little to sell out before the newbie Amazon sellers freak out and lower their prices too far.

returns.jpg3. Be prepared for an increase in returns. Naturally, with an increase in sales, there is also an increase in returns. Don’t let this make you anxious or worried. It’s a natural part of selling. As you might already know, Amazon automatically refunds the FBA customer the full purchase price when the buyer requests to return an item. If the buyer fails to return the item to Amazon, then Amazon is supposed to automatically reimburse you for the item after 45 days have passed, but many times Amazon “forgets” and needs to be reminded. For more about how to make sure returned items are actually returned to Amazon, check out this popular blog post.

feedback4. Be prepared for an increase in negative and/or positive feedback. If you’re keeping to best business practices, then you’ll most likely get lots of new positive (4 or 5) feedback, but you’ll also get the occasional negative (1 or 2) or neutral (3) feedback score. If the feedback is actually about the FBA process (“my item came 2 days late”) or a product review (“this coffee maker is hard to use”), then it’s up to you to do whatever you can to get the feedback removed. Your feedback score is a huge aspect of your seller metrics. The better seller metrics you have, the more opportunities you’ll have to earn the buy box for your products. To read more about how I handle feedback issues (and how I keep a 100% feedback score), then check out this blog post.

5. Look at sales ranks differently. As you already know, the sales velocity in December shoots through the roof! This should make you look at sales rank differently than during the rest of the year. Here is an example: A toy with a sales rank of 10,000 in July might sell 25 times a week… while a toy with a rank of 10,000 in December might sell 50 times a day. This is important to know when you are out sourcing for inventory. Know that after Christmas and into January, many of these sales ranks will start to return to their normal patterns (slower sales), and it’s up to you to recalibrate your mind to what you need to expect when you’re out sourcing. Again, look at CamelCamelCamel and Keepa to see what prices and sales velocity to expect in January.

targetstore6. Be careful with sale prices at retail chain stores. Retail stores are realizing that they need to do whatever it takes to sell their stuff as soon as possible. Often, this means some outrageous clearance sales. But be careful, the items you’re finding clearanced at large national chains might be the same items hundreds of other resellers are finding. You don’t want to be slow moving on these sales. If you decide to buy, you need to get those items to Amazon as fast as possible… and I wouldn’t recommend going too deep. It’s possible that Amazon is about to be flooded with these items from other resellers sourcing at the same sales in their town. Buy fast, prep fast, and ship fast so it can sell fast.

7. Profit from selling items Merchant Fulfilled. We all love selling via FBA, but this week still provides a nice money making opportunity if you are willing to do a little more work. Selling via Merchant Fulfilled can still bring about some nice profits this week for items that buyers need to buy today. The best items to sell MF are those that both Amazon and FBA sellers have sold out of, are backordered, ones that are “Currently Unavailable” on their Amazon product page, and ones with a low rank that you don’t want to risk the extra time it takes to travel to a fulfillment center.

amazon_gift_card8. Keep sourcing for post-Christmas buyers. On the days after Christmas and well into January, many people have brand new Amazon gift cards burning a hole in their pockets. They head on over to Amazon and look for items to spend these gift cards on, and you want to be sure you have what they want waiting for them. Not only do gift card buyers show up, but so do the people who didn’t get what they wanted for Christmas. They know what they want, and since they didn’t get it, they decide to give themselves the gift they really want. Again, you want to be sure you have what they want when they go shopping for themselves.

list-of-updated-after-christmas-sales-20099. Buy Christmas-themed items at huge discounts. The week before, and right after Christmas, all of the Christmas related items go on sale at drastically reduced prices. This is a great time for you to stock up for your Amazon inventory. Like I’ve said before, seasonal items sell both in and out of season. I’ve seen Christmas ornaments sell in May, candy canes sell in March, and holiday DVDs sell in August. The stuff sells year round, but especially in July as people have “Christmas in July” parties. So, now might be a good time to buy holiday decor at 75% – 90% off. Again (I might be sounding like a broken record by now), check CamelCamelCamel and Keepa to see what prices and sales velocity to expect throughout the year.

10. Look towards the new year. Why am I talking about the new year in December? I honestly believe that if you wait until the first of January to start thinking about the new year, then you’re already behind in the game and are at a disadvantage. Imagine someone showing up for a marathon without doing any training beforehand. The runner would most likely quit before they even pass the 5 mile marker. Don’t be that guy. When January 1 arrives, we all begin a 365 day marathon, and I want to be sure you are ready for the journey. One great way is to grab my book, The Reseller’s Guide to a Year in FBA: A Month by Month Guide to a Profitable Amazon Business. This resource will help you know exactly what to do and what to avoid for each month of the year.

How about you? What strategies are you implementing to finish strong in 2017? I’d love to hear your ideas, so comment below.

 

Why I’m Not Worried About the Post-Christmas Amazon Price Drops

price-drop-alert-resizedA quick question: Did you sell out of your entire inventory before Christmas? Neither did I. During Q4, many Amazon sellers get used to the abundance of  sales that come with the Christmas season. Actually, we get spoiled with so many sales per day that when January arrives, we get scared. All of a sudden the sales seem to stop, and for some sellers panic sets in. Some sellers think that the answer is to lower their prices ASAP in hopes of getting more sales, but is that really the answer?

One of the things I always try to remind people is patience brings profit. It’s true that sales in January are usually not as good as December, but they still can be outstanding. The question I want to ask you is this: What is your business model when it comes to selling on Amazon? If you have a model that is focused on fast turns (items that sell very quickly once they arrive at a FBA warehouse) then you will price items much differently than if you have a business model based on patience.

I sometimes hear about Amazon sellers stating they lost money on an item they purchased in the fall and were hoping to sell during the Christmas selling season. The items didn’t sell out and now the price has tanked. Sometimes the price has fallen so far that the current price on Amazon is lower than the price they paid for it back in the fall. This can be frustrating for any seller. So what is the answer?

If your business model is based on fast turns, then you might want to lower your price (even if you lose most of your money) so that you can get some of that capital back to reinvest in items that you think will bring a better and faster return. On the other hand, if you are patient, you might just see the price you want return to equilibrium and wind up making a profit. Since monthly FBA storage fees are usually around a few pennies per month per item, it would seem to me that patience could possibly pay off in the end.

CCC Q4I’ve seen it happen often: An item is selling for a great price in December, but then falls drastically in January. A few months later, the price begins to rise again, and in December the price is back up where the profit margins are the best. Does this happen 100% of the time? No, but it happens enough that the few cents per month to pay for the item to sit in an Amazon FBA warehouse might be worth the gamble. Look at the image above. Almost all year long, the prices are low, but when Q4 approaches, the prices shoot up.

ROISometimes, it’s better to have $50 five months from now than $5 today. Why? Because I adhere to the balanced business model. I try to stock my inventory with slow dimes, fast nickels, and super slow quarters. What does this mean? It means that my inventory is loaded with items that will sell fast, sell slow, and sell super slow. I’m ok with making a 30-50% ROI (Return On Investment) on the items that sell fast. On items that sell slower, I want to get at least 100% ROI, and for the items that sell super slowly (think long tail items), I want the ROI to be well above 200%. The waiting game isn’t always fun, but in this balanced business model, patience brings profit. 

I don’t want to wait 11 months if the ROI isn’t high enough. It all comes down to opportunity costs. The longer I have to wait to sell an item at a higher price, the higher the potential ROI needs to be.

20465.picIf I hold my higher price, I could sell it later and get more for my item… but if I lower the price and sell sooner, I could reinvest that capital into items that will sell much faster. Each item is different and will require a different pricing strategy. Sometimes it’s good to hold at your higher price, because you’ve seen on CamelCamelCamel that in a few months, that item will probably be selling at the higher price you have it listed at. On the other hand, if you’ve seen the CamelCamelCamel data and it looks like the price will not recover soon enough, then it’s a better idea to lower your price so you can get that capital back to invest in better inventory.

Bonus Tip: If you have multiple quantities of a particular product that hasn’t been selling and suddenly begins to sell, check to see if you need to raise the price. You don’t want to raise it so high that it won’t sell again, but raise it up enough to match everyone else’s price. If the items stop selling, you can always lower the price back to where it was.

So what about you? What works best for your business? Would you rather get your capital back to reinvest, or do you wait for the prices to return to what you’d like them to be?

*This article was originally written in 2014 but has been updated for January 2016

The Top 9 Ways to Use Your Q4 Income Wisely

q4-income2As I’ve stated before, the fourth quarter selling season on Amazon almost always brings your highest income possibilities of the year. Many Amazon sellers find that their sales sometimes multiply ten-fold from what they’re used to during the other three quarters. How you handle your increased profits can possibly help propel you into even more profits in the year to come.

In the rest of this blog post, I’m going to share some of my top ideas on how to wisely use your Q4 income. Please don’t assume I’m telling you to use your money on all of the following ideas; rather read them through and pick a few that most resonate with you and where your business is currently. Here are some ideas:

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When buying a shrink-wrap machine, I recommend the 16 inch impulse sealer.

1.  Invest in time saving equipment – What are you doing now that can be done much faster with the help of some new equipment? Now is the time to research quality tools that can lessen your work load. A few years ago I purchased a 16 inch shrink-wrap machine and heat gun. Two years ago I purchased a box re-sizer and a newer laptop. Think about what tools can help you speed up your current work process. Could you be in the market for a Bar Code Scanner or Scan-Fob? Maybe you’d like to get a Dymo label printer. There are so many tools out there that help save time and money.

2. Invest in time saving programs – Maybe you’ve been listing your items directly on Amazon and are ready to save some time by signing up for Inventory Lab or other listing tools. Or maybe you want to cut your online arbitrage sourcing time dramatically with a tool like OAXray. These programs can help save a lot of time in many other areas of your business too (like repricing, financials, etc).

IMG_84833. Purchase more inventory – In the weeks leading up to Christmas, many stores start to put toys and other gift items on sale at really great prices. If you wait a little longer, right after Christmas, many stores start mega clearance sales. You’ll find sales in brick-and-mortar stores as well as online. If you don’t want to get out and source inventory in the cold weather, you can find many great sales at stores online. In store and online, there will probably be more items you can buy for resale than you have money for. Amazon sales in January are still really good as people have Christmas gift cards burning a hole in their pockets, so it’s wise to keep stocking up your inventory into the new year.

4. Purchase supplies in bulk – What items do you buy for your business all year long? 3-inch Packing tape, shipping boxes, Dymo labels, and printer ink are just a few of the items that I buy all year long. It would be wise to buy these items in bulk now (at much better prices per item) instead of spending more money to buy them later in smaller quantities. Click on the following links to see more about the supplies I use in my processing desk and shipping station.

debt-picture5. Pay off debt – As Dave Ramsey says, “Debt is not a wealth building tool.” If you have any debt, the wisest thing you can do is to pay it off as fast as you can. Imagine giving yourself a raise by doing the same amount of work you do now! When you are no longer paying debt interest fees, that’s money that you can use for your business. If you are in debt, I highly recommend Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. For more information on getting out of debt, check out his book The Total Money Makeover.

6. Treat yourself – Sometimes we can be so focused on work that we forget ourselves. Getting too wrapped up in work can lead to burnout. If you can, give yourself a Christmas bonus and treat yourself to something fun.

All Devices7. Invest in Your Mind – Is there an Amazon FBA related book, course, or program that you have been interested in buying? This might be the best time to buy FBA training materials so that you can learn how to improve your current Amazon business. You are the number one asset to your business. Invest in yourself. The more you can learn, the more you can earn!

5-years-to-your-best-year-ever-logo8. Invest in your future – What if  you could make 2017 your best year ever? You don’t have to spend another year frustrated that you haven’t achieved all you know you’re capable of. Instead, you can enter the new year with the clarity you need to reach your full potential and make this your best year ever. All you need is a plan. Find out how by checking out 5 Days to Your Best Year Ever.

9. Give generously – If you have yet to discover the joy of giving, I challenge you to try it this holiday season. There are so many worthy causes and organizations that need your financial help. Remember to find out if the money you are giving is tax deductible or not. If it is, be sure to keep receipts for your tax records.

Q4 GrowthSo what about you? How do you best use your Q4 income to help you and your business succeed? I’d love to hear your ideas, so leave a comment below.

10 Things You Need to Know For A Profitable Q4

Q4_logo_on blackQ4. For an online seller, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Sales and profits seem to go through the roof as more and more people buy stuff online for the holidays. If you’re just assuming that Q4 is going to be great for you but you’re not doing anything differently, then you might miss out on some amazing opportunities to increase your Q4 profits. The following are 10 things you need to know about Q4.

1. For those of you experiencing your first Q4, you might be worrying that your sales have not yet really increased as much as you thought. This is because while the business world sees Q4 as October to December, Q4 for the Profit-graph-260x259Amazon sales world is actually November to January. Don’t worry… Amazon Q4 really starts to gear up in November and will go absolutely crazy in December.

2. While the bulk of Q4 sales happen in December, many sellers (including myself) have found that January can be almost as profitable as December is. As long as you still have lots of inventory, you will still sell a lot in January. Why? Because people are finally going to Amazon and getting what they actually wanted for Christmas. Not only that, but everyone will be using their Amazon gift cards they received on Christmas day. Be sure your inventory is still well stocked for January, so you don’t miss out on the last month of the Amazon Q4.

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 5.41.50 PM3. What I deem as acceptable sales ranks for inventory purchases changes a lot during Q4. While I might shy away from a toy ranked 200,000  to 300,000 during the summer, I’ll almost always buy that item as Q4 is approaching. Why? During Q4, the sales velocity increases exponentially. So while a toy consistently ranked 250,000 might sell only twice a month… come December of Q4, that same toy might sell once a day.

4. Many Amazon sellers start to freak out a bit when they get an email from Amazon about their “Holiday Selling Guidelines for the Toys & Games category.” For those who don’t know, Amazon decides which sellers are eligible to sell in Toys & Games category during the holiday season. Sellers worry that they might not be approved to sell toys during the holidays and begin to stress out. One thing that Amazon needs to do a better job of is communicating that these guidelines only pertain to Amazon sellers who are selling MERCHANT FULFILLED toys. If you are selling toys via FBA, then you are automatically approved to sell toys during the holiday sales season. Again, these guidelines only apply if you are mailing your inventory directly to the buyer (merchant fulfilled).

ID-10044546-resize-380x3005. If you reprice your inventory on a regular basis (either manually or with an online repricer) then I might suggest stopping, or at least slowing down. Sales start to increase during Q4 so much that an item that sells for $14 today (early October) might potentially sell for $30 a month from now. Take a moment and research your item on CamelCamelCamel and see if the price of that item tends to go up during Q4. If it does, leave your price alone and make more profits than if you lowered your price. You might even want to raise some of your prices.

6. Many of you wonder if you should try to focus on reselling the toys from each store’s “Holiday Hot Toy” list. My personal plan of attack is to avoid most of these toys. My reasoning is this: If a store tells you what toy will be the “hot” toy this holiday season, then it’s reason enough to assume that the store will be heavily stocked with those particular toys. The toys that you want to find to resell during Q4 are the toys that will be harder to find come December. If you’re interested in learning more about the Q4 strategy that I’m learning and implementing this year, then check out Jim Cockrum’s Proven Q4 Plan.

images-37. Want to save even more money on the stuff you want to sell in Q4? Buy discounted gift cards. I personally love raise.com and cardpool.com, but there are other sites out there that do the same thing. I’ve bought $100 Walgreens gift cards for $75… that’s $25 in free sourcing money! Find other great gift cards from stores like Target, TJMaxx, Tuesday Morning, Big Lots, Walmart, and more! If a store offers gift cards, then most likely you can get some free money to source with by purchasing discounted gift cards.

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

returns.jpg9. Nobody likes returns, but just remember this: With increased sales come increased returns. There is no avoiding it. There will also be an increase in warehouse and distributor damaged items, as well as warehouse lost items. It’s ok. For most situations, Amazon will reimburse you for the items they lose or damage. Important: Don’t just assume that these reimbursements will be automatic. Make sure that Amazon not only reimburses you for items they lose, but that they also reimburse you for items your customer never actually returns.

10. When Q4 hits, some resellers go into overdrive and spend every waking hour sourcing, buying, prepping, and shipping. They sometimes forget about what’s really important: family. Don’t let the dollar signs blind you. Look around and spend quality time with your family. Remember what the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons are truly about and reflect upon God’s great gift to us all. When we remember what’s truly important, it gives us the right perspective. And that’s more important than any Amazon payout could ever be.

I hope these ten tips will help you have a profitable and meaningful Q4. If you’d like to share more tips about this most wonderful time of the year, please feel free to comment below. I’d love to hear how you make the most of Q4.

The Q$ Snowball – How to Make this the Best Q4 Ever!

The Q4 SnowballThe title of this blog post was going to be “The Q4 Snowball,” but I accidentally kept the shift key down while I pressed the 4 key, and it came up as “Q$”… and I think Q Money is a great synonym for Q4. Just like retail stores look forward to Black Friday and all the sales they will get after that day, Amazon resellers look forward to Q4 and all the sales we will get during that time. 

Q4 is short for Quarter Four, or Fourth Quarter, and it is the most amazing time of year to be an Amazon seller. 

The best method for preparing for Q4 is to have as many items in stock at Amazon as you possibly can. The more you have in stock, the more you can sell. I’ve heard of some Amazon sellers selling out of their most profitable stuff somewhere in the middle of December. You do not want this to happen to you. Since Christmas decorations are already being displayed in retail stores, people are already starting to think about buying their gifts for the upcoming holiday season. And as an Amazon seller, you’ve got to start thinking about the holiday season now without letting another day go by. The earlier you can start figuring out your Q4 strategy, the better equipped you’ll be when it hits. 

Q4 in the business world is understood as the final three months of the year (October, November, and December). Since Q4 begins next month, I want you to know the method I (and many other successful online resellers) use to maximize my profits during the last three months of the year. It’s called the Q4 Snowball. 

The Q4 Snowball 

snowball-750x356Right now, your job is to feed the beast as fast as humanly possible. It’s your number one goal to have as many items at Amazon as soon as possible so you can get the Q4 sales. Once the sales come in, it’s wise to reinvest as much as you can back into more inventory and create what I call a Q4 Snowball. You see, when you have a lot of items at FBA, you’ll see a big increase in sales and, obviously, in your disbursement. As your disbursement increases, you have more capital to source with. The sooner you buy and send in more inventory, the sooner you get even more sales and an even bigger disbursement. The system continues to repeat itself and culminates during the final weeks of December when the Q4 snowball has become gigantic! 

Speed and hustle are key. The faster you can source, and the faster you can send your inventory to Amazon, the faster your Q4 snowball will grow. Think about how a snowball gains momentum rolling down a snowy mountain. If there is not more snow on the mountainside to pick up, then the snowball will die out… but if you keep adding more and more items to your inventory, the Q4 snowball will grow and grow!

On the other hand, if you take your time with sourcing more inventory, and you are slow to get it all in to Amazon warehouses, then your Q4 snowball will not be as big as if you had hustled.

If you have a “normal” 9-to-5 job, then I understand how this might be harder for you, but it’s not an excuse to not do your absolute best. Maybe consider taking a few vacation or sick days in November or December to source, prep, and ship inventory to Amazon. Now, I don’t mean fake a sickness, but if you have paid sick days, and your job is ok with you taking them off, then take advantage of that as the year draws to a close. Again, these “off” days should only be used when you are closer to the end of Q4, when time is ticking away. I’m just telling you right now so you have time to think about how to best use your time.

My #1 Selling Q4 Product

I think I’ve told you before, but 5 of my top 10 selling items during Q4 of last year were board games. During Q1, Q2, and Q3, I’ll make hundreds per week selling board games, but come Q4, those sales often quadruple! Board games that I buy for $5 are selling for $30, and board games that I buy for $20 are selling for $70 to $100! I do this over and over again… and use the Q4 snowball method. The money I make from selling the $100 board game, I’ll use to buy more $20 board games to sell for $100. Can you see how awesome this can be?

My number one selling book, The Reseller’s Guide to Board Games, has just been updated with 2 new chapters, more tips and tricks, and new bonuses! In the book, I share with you everything I know about how to find, prep, and sell board games for really good money. Click on the image to the right to find out more about how easy it is to make hundreds each week selling board games. 

Now, I’d love to hear from you. What other tips and tricks do you employ in your business in order to make the most profits during Q4? Do you already have a plan in place? What does it look like? Comment below and let me know. 

My Top 7 Holiday Season Pricing & Sourcing Strategies for FBA Sellers

top-pricing-sourcing-decisions-holidayQ4. It’s one of the best letter/number combinations for an FBA seller. Q4 stands for the Fourth Quarter of sales for the year. In the business world, Q4 indicates the months of October, November, and December, but for the Amazon world, our biggest sales come in November, December, and January.

Traditionally, when it comes to sales, Q4 brings a huge increase. It’s not a stretch to say that a person selling on Amazon could potentially triple or quadruple their payouts in Q4.  I’ve experienced Q4 five times as an Amazon seller, and I can testify to this. In fact in 2012, I was awarded by Amazon as a Top Holiday Seller. This meant that my sales ranked in the top 25% of all Amazon sellers and my customer satisfaction ratings were excellent (A+) during that period. (Note: 2012 was the last time Amazon handed out this distinction).

Here are some thoughts I have as we are currently in Q4. These are suggestions that helped me get awarded Top Holiday Seller in 2012, and have caused me to increase my profits in every following Q4 since then. As always, there are exceptions to every suggestion, but overall, these are the strategies I put in place as we get closer and closer to Christmastime.

1. Don’t lower all your prices to match the lowest price.

e-commerce-402822_1280Like many resellers, I reprice from time to time. With the number of sales on Amazon dramatically increasing in Q4, I know that the lower priced competition will eventually sell out and my higher priced item will be there for the willing buyer. During Q4 of 2015, Fulfillment by Amazon shipped over 1 billion items (yes, that’s billion with a B). That equates to 126 items sold per second, 7548 items sold per minute, 452,899 items sold an hour, and almost 11 million items sold per day via FBA. This is the absolutely best time to wait and get the price you want. The only exception to this guideline is if your inventory happens to have a higher sales rank (say, above 300,000 for Toys & Games) AND you have a lot of competition that is priced much lower than you. In this case, I might price match the lowest priced competitor, especially if they have a lot in stock.

2. Raise prices on some items.

Price-IncreaseUsing the same thought process from above, I’ll raise my prices on some items that have really good and sustainable sales ranks. Also, when I’m first listing a product during Q4, I’ll price some of my items much higher than usual since I know the lower priced competition will sell out soon. It sometimes surprises me, but when I take some time to raise the prices of some of my inventory, many of those items end up selling later that day. Click here to read how to reprice your inventory.

3. Keep an eye on your most recent shipment of inventory.

Profit-graph-260x259When I’m looking at my pending sales, I’m not just looking to see all of the awesome items I’ll be getting paid for, but I’m also looking for new sales of items that I just sent in to FBA. If something sells the day it hits the warehouse, then I might need to look at my price and make sure I’m priced competitively. Many times during Q4, you might price an item on Monday when you ship it to Amazon, but when it gets checked in on Friday, there have been so many sales that the prices are now higher. If you get immediate sales, then check your prices… If you see that you are priced too low, raise your prices!

4. Keep an eye on multiple sales of the same item.

Again, when looking at your pending orders, if you notice that all of a sudden you have many sales of the same item, you might need to check the prices on those items too. It’s the same thought process from the tip above… If you are getting multiple sales of the same item, then you might be priced too low. Check your competition and then reprice if necessary.

5. BUY! BUY! BUY!

keep-calm-and-buy-more-inventoryIt’s simple math: You will only sell a lot of items if you have a lot of items to sell. During Q4, I’m out buying a lot more often than I usually do. It’s a fun cycle: I send more items to FBA, more items sell, and I get paid more… I take that money and send even more items to FBA, more items sell, and I get paid more. It’s a Q4 snowball effect that causes massive increases to my Amazon payment disbursements.

6. Expand your sales rank limits. 

Amazon Sales Rank ChartWhen sourcing, it’s always a good idea to look at sales rank history when you’re making your buying decisions. When Q4 comes, I always buy items with a higher sales rank than I usually do. If my sales rank limit for the Toys & Games category was 150,000, then I may raise that limit to 250,000 in preparation for Q4. Many items completely sell out on Amazon during Q4, so buyers start looking for other items that might not be as popular. Each category will be treated differently, but I always raise my sales rank limits for Q4. Be sure to click here to download your free sales rank chart.

7. Send inventory to Amazon ASAP!

brownbox2If you have product sitting around your house that you haven’t sent to Amazon yet, send it in now! What are you waiting for? Check everywhere for products that you might have forgotten about. Look in your closets, your garage, in boxes, under your work table, etc. Products sitting around your house are not ever going to sell via FBA. Some people worry about Q4 storage fees, but honestly if you expect an item to sell during November or December, send it in today!

amazon_gift_cardBONUS TIP – January is one of the best times to sell on Amazon. People are returning the Christmas gifts they don’t want and will use that money to spend on what they really wanted. People also have Amazon gift cards that are burning a hole in their pockets. Because of these factors, sales in January are amazing. I’ve heard some sellers say that their January sales are almost as good as their December sales, though I have not experienced this yet. So continue to send inventory in to Amazon!

How about you? What Q4 tips would you like to offer the group here? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this very exciting time of the year.

Top 4 Tips for Amazon FBA Sourcing in November

november-sourcing-tipsWow! I can’t believe it’s already November. While the weather may be getting cooler, the opportunities to make big profits via Amazon FBA are getting hotter and hotter. You probably have noticed a slight increase in sales in October, and this month the numbers of sales will continue to rise. This is an exciting time.

To help you make the most of every opportunity for the rest of Q4, I’ve put together a list of my best tips for FBA sourcing in November. While most resellers are focusing on toys, toys, and more toys, I want to help broaden your thinking on other ways to make this Q4 profitable. In fact, only one of the four tips below mentions toys . That’s because I think that toys is the most obvious thing people are sourcing, and I wanted to give you other ideas of profitable items to source that others might be ignoring. Yes, toys are awesome to sell during Q4, but if you only look at toys, you are leaving a lot of other money making opportunities on the table

1. Halloween clearance. 

rbk-kids-halloween-costumes-super-mario-lgnHalloween clearance sales provide a great opportunity for profitable items. Halloween candy (especially candy corn) still sells well throughout the year. And certain children’s costumes are big sellers year round. Many kids love getting a costume of their favorite TV, movie, or video game character as a Christmas or birthday gift during the year… so if you happen to come across any Halloween costumes still on clearance, scan and buy those things up. If a store still has costumes on clearance, it’ll probably be up to 90% off by now. What awesome ROI! Note: If you are not approved to sell in clothing, then be sure that the costume is in the toy category. From my experience, about 75% of the costumes I’ve looked at are in the toy category, while the other 25% are in clothing.

2. Winter related items

doc-mcstuffin-fleece-blanketNovember is here, and so is the cold. In many places across the US, arctic fronts are hitting soon (or have already been) and this signals a huge increase in winter related products. If you see anything on clearance that is winter related, scan it as soon as possible. This especially includes themed winter merchandise such as blankets with children’s characters on them (Doc McStuffins Fleese Throw), Snuggies (with the local college logo all over it), and anything else winter related with a TV, movie, music, or sports theme.

The best thing about winter related items is that they will often still sell year-round. Even during the hot summer months in the US, it’s still cold somewhere in the world, and customers want to get their winter related items from Amazon. You want them to buy from you! I’ve sold Thomas the Train fleece throws and Hello Kitty Snuggies both in November and in July. So while the next 3 months are going to be the best time to sell winter themed items, you don’t have to worry if they don’t sell now… because it’s likely to sell (if priced competitively) sometime later.

ice-scrapperOf course, there are a million other winter related items that sell well while it’s freezing outside other than blankets, fleeces, and Snuggies. Put on your thinking cap and come up with other cold related items that people buy between November and February. Just brainstorming I can think of winter boots, vaporizers, ice scrappers, wool socks, lotions and skin moisturizers for dry skin, ice fishing supplies, car covers, snow blowers, ice skates, hot chocolate mixes, hand warmers, fireplace tools, bags of rock salt, cough and cold medicines, and space heaters… and that’s just off the top of my head. Keep your eyes open for these items (some regular price, but especially clearance priced) because they may sell very quickly.

3. Summer related items 

It might seem obvious to sell winter related items during the winter, but did you know that summer items sell well this time of year too? In fact, it’s more likely that you’ll find summer items that are clearanced up to 75% or even 90% off retail prices.

Even though it may be winter weather where you are, there are many places where it’s still warm. I’ll never forget when I was in middle school and went swimming on Christmas day in Houston, Texas. Sure, it was a rare winter season where the temps never got close to being cold, but I know there are plenty of states in the US (think of Florida, Arizona, and Hawaii too) that stay warmer than the rest of the US… and they still might be buying summer items right now. Also, some families take winter vacations to warm weather destinations, and need to buy summer related items. You want them to buy from you! And if you’re set up with FBA Global Export (you are by now, aren’t you?) then people all over the globe can buy your summer related items while it’s summer weather for them.

black_thinking_capAgain, put on your FBA thinking cap and think of all the spring and summer items that sell well. These include inflatable pool toys, sandals, grilling tools, grilling seasonings, swimsuits, air conditioners, box fans, camping gear, water balloon and squirt gun toys, sprinklers, plant seeds, lawn tools, lawn ornaments, car wax, beach towels, baseball gear, sunglasses, wedding related items (most weddings are in the summer), swimming pool supplies, and coolers are just a few ideas to get you thinking of summer items.

Sure, not all of your summer merchandise will sell during the winter months, but just think how awesome it is, that for only a few pennies a month, Amazon will store these items for you until they eventually sell. Come spring or summertime, these items will be back to flying off the shelves, and the ROI you get will make your wallet very happy. And if you’re worried about long term storage fees, since you’re sending summer related items in after August 15th, you won’t be charged any long term storage fees until August 15th of next year. You’ll have almost all of summer to sell these items.

Note: Don’t just assume all summer related items will sell during the winter. Do your due diligence and check the data from CamelCamelCamel and/or Keepa to see if you can expect sales.

4. Black Friday

Black-Friday-LineAnother big event in the life of a reseller in the month of November is Black Friday. This year, Black Friday falls on November 25th, but that doesn’t mean that all the best deals happen on that specific day. Retail and online stores still want to bring in customers and make profits on the days both before and after Black Friday. In fact, some pre and post Black Friday deals are the best deals all year.

Did you know that many of the Black Friday deals are honored online? That’s right, you can order from home many of the same deals that others are camping out overnight to get. Another way to take advantage of Black Friday deals is that Amazon often price-matches Black Friday ads. Do your due diligence to find out which ads they are matching, but for many items, it’s well worth the time to get Amazon to price match. That way, you could buy from the retailer (who will often limit your purchase to a small quantity) AND you could buy from Amazon (who will also limit your purchasing numbers). This way, you could get double what you would normally get if you only shopped from the retail store’s website.

book-and-masterclass-black-friday-2If you want to be properly prepared for Black Friday, check out The Reseller’s Guide to Black Friday: The Fool-proof Strategy to Rock Black Friday Sales Every Year. In this combination ebook and master class, Kristin Ostrander (the Queen of Black Friday) and I walk you through everything you need to know to make big profits before, during, and after Black Friday. The ebook will walk you through multiple Black Friday strategies so you can pick the one that best fits your situation and skills. The live online master class will be an opportunity for Kristin and I to show you how we make our best Black Friday sourcing decisions using actual Black Friday ads. There will also be a time of Q&A during the master class where you can ask both Kristin and I any Black Friday related questions. With a 30 day money back guarantee, you have nothing to lose. Learn more about The Reseller’s Guide to Black Friday.

Profit-graph-260x259I really love sourcing in November. Amazon’s Q4 sales have started to increase, and there is more money to source with than usual. The more money you can source with in November, the faster you can get inventory into Amazon to flip… which leads to even bigger payouts, and more capital to source with in the next disbursement… and then the cycle starts over and over again!

So how about you? What tips do you have to share about sourcing in November? Do you have a plan of attack for Black Friday? I’d love to hear how you plan on making November the most profitable it can be. Comment below with your awesome ideas.

5 FBA Strategies For After Christmas Success

The holiday selling season and Q4 are the most lucrative times for a FBA seller. It seems like almost everything sells, and sells fast! Once Christmastime has passed, many FBA resellers make some huge mistakes that could cost them hundreds in potential profits. Having a wise post-Christmas business strategy is the best thing to start the new year off right.

Here are some things to think about once you’re done unwrapping your last present:

1. Don’t automatically lower your prices – Just because Christmas is over doesn’t mean that big time sales are over too. Don’t forget that people now have Amazon gift cards burning a hole in their pockets. Not only that, but buyers are now ready to buy the gifts they actually want. People will still be buying like crazy in January, and if you lower your prices, you’ll only lower your profits. Some FBA sellers have Januarys almost as good as Decembers simply because they follow this one piece of advice.

thrift-store2. Go thrifting – If thrifting is in your business model, then after Christmas is “the most wonderful time of the year.” Many people decide that the week after Christmas is the time they want to clean out their homes of excess stuff. That paired with New Year’s resolutions to “get organized” bring massive amounts of donations to thrift stores. If you usually hit thrift stores once a week, then I’d highly suggest going a lot more often. Some people even donate unwanted Christmas gifts that are still brand new.

list-of-updated-after-christmas-sales-20093. Check out after-Christmas clearance sales – With end-of-the-year inventories looming, many stores are desperate to move excess products. This provides a great opportunity for FBA sellers. Check both online and brick-and-mortar stores to see what’s on sale. This is also a good time to look at Christmas-themed products that are clearance priced at up to 90% off. It doesn’t seem to make sense, but Christmas-themed items sell pretty well year round. I’ve sold ornaments in April, a Grinch inflatable lawn decoration in May, Christmas CDs in June, and holiday movies in July! Be sure to check CamelCamelCamel or Keepa to see if you can expect these holiday themed items to sell sometime in the next 6 months.

4. Look back over the past year – Look back at your sales and financial numbers. What worked for you? What lessons did you learn? Look back at your FBA business goals and see how you did. This is also a great time to make new FBA goals for the coming year.

Q4 Growth5. Put your profits back into your business – As stated in an earlier blog post, using your Q4 profits wisely can really help your FBA business. Maybe you are ready to get a shrink wrap machine, a Scanfob, or new laptop. Maybe you’re ready to sign up for a year’s membership to a listing program. The possibilities are endless. To hear some more ideas on how to use your Q4 profits wisely, click here.

As with most tips, there are some exceptions. If you highly invested in certain toys that you hoped would flip quickly for the holidays and you would rather get your investment back than wait for the items to sell at the price you want, then you may want to lower your price. Many FBA businesses are modeled on the “fast flip” method and would rather get their money back and invest it in other products.

So what about you? What strategies are you implementing as we approach the new year? I’d love to hear your ideas, so comment below!

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The Business Strategy that Nobody is Talking About

Today's blog is written by my wife, Rebecca.
Today’s blog is written by my wife and business partner, Rebecca.

Recently Stephen posted a blog entry about making the most of your opportunities during Q4 as an FBA seller, and he’s also written posts about capitalizing on and sharing BOLOs. The amount of work to be done as an Amazon FBA seller is unending, and at times the potential for profit is limited only by the amount of work we’re able to put into the business and the number of hours in each day. Today I (Rebecca) would like to throw out a topic that on the surface appears to be the opposite of what Stephen has been talking about the past few weeks. Yes, you have a lot of work to do this Q4, but I think you need to take a break. You need some rest.

Stephen and I are self-employed, so we are our own bosses and set our own schedule. FBA is our full-time job. Some of you are in the same position, and others of you are doing FBA on the side while working another full-time job. When the potential for profit at FBA is so great, we all can struggle at times with a tendency to keep at it way past the point when our minds and bodies need some down time. We just cannot stop working.

Over time, all those hours of sneaking off to the spare-bedroom-turned-into-office for “just a few minutes of checking in on things” takes its toll. Or all those times when we say, “I’ll just check one more store and see what they’ve got on clearance now.” We get weary. We lose sleep. We lose time with our loved ones. We catch colds more easily. We just need to rest.

In my previous career, I worked overseas with a nonprofit for 10 years, where I got lots of practice for later becoming self-employed. Our organization didn’t have set office hours, and each of us on the team designed our own projects and set our own pace for completing them. My office was in my apartment, and I got used to the kind of life where you have the freedom to work the hours that best fit your personality, as long as you got the job done. One of my most important take-aways from my years at that job was our team’s philosophy on rest. My supervisor was adamant that each person on the team take regular breaks. Not just regular coffee breaks or lunch breaks each day but true, sustained breaks from work. The kind where you shut your mind down and get away from the pressures of the tasks at hand.

Rest-stopStephen and I have adopted that same schedule of rest throughout the year:

Every week, we rest for one full day. We usually rest on Sunday, so we can go to church, but for others it might need to be a different day.

Once a month, we take a full two-day break, equivalent to a weekend. Again, it might not be possible to take this two-day break on a Saturday/Sunday — hey, it’s hard to miss out on those Saturday morning garage sales! — but we take two consecutive days where we don’t do anything work related. For the record, I’m not saying that we work six days a week all but one week of the month. A lot of times we’ll work Friday and Saturday mornings, but not those afternoons, so it evens out to five days of work, stretched across six days. But once a month, it’s good to take a solid two days of not touching work at all.

Once a quarter, we take a longer weekend off. Sometimes we’ll take a three-day camping trip with the kids, or other times it might end up being a four-day staycation where we just bum around the house and catch up on reading magazines. Again, by “weekend” I don’t necessarily mean that we stop work on Friday and Saturday, the big garage sale days. This long “weekend” might mean not working Sunday through Wednesday of one week.

At least once a year (or more if possible), we take a longer vacation. One week, two weeks, whatever works best depending on the circumstances that particular year.

TAOLife-Snoopy-Live-for-todayStephen and I truly believe that regular rest is the key to longevity in life and in business. Rest will keep us from getting sick, from burning out, and from sacrificing our family and relationships for the sake of profit. Yes, we need to work hard to support our family and to be able to give to others, but none of it is worth it if we work ourselves into the ground and lose what is most important in life. In the long run, rest is of vital importance.

We’d love to hear from you on this subject. Do you get enough rest each week and throughout the year? How do you weave vacations and leisure time into your schedule?

Lowering Prices vs. Pulling Items From Amazon Inventory

0809_LowPriceArrowSometimes it’s inevitable. You’re not going to get the price you want for an item you’re selling. This happens all the time online and in retail stores. Even brick and mortar stores understand it’s a good idea to lower their prices in order to move inventory. Most retail stores lower their prices because they just don’t have shelf space for the few items they have left. Other stores lower their prices because of a change in seasons. As a reseller, we love it when they lower the prices and move these items to a clearance section. In fact, we usually capitalize on these clearance items. But the issue of lowering prices is a whole different story with Amazon resellers.

There are many different reasons someone might want to lower their price on Amazon. Some sellers are just not patient enough to wait for their item to sell at their price. They don’t know that some products sell hundreds a day and that they may have the sale sooner than they think. Other sellers have a business model that is mainly focused on the super fast sale. They want to get the sale as fast as possible and turn that profit back into more inventory. Some people think that if an item sits in the warehouse too long, then it’s wasting capital they can use to get better selling inventory. This type of business model is more focused on the fast nickel instead of the slow dime. If an item hasn’t sold fast enough, then they lower their prices in order to get the fast sale.

I think a better business model includes products that are both fast nickel as well as slow dime. A healthy FBA inventory will have both products that sell quickly and products that sell slowly.

I almost never lower price… especially with Christmas coming up. For most items (there are exceptions) I may lower my price if the product has been sitting in my inventory for over a year. A whole year’s cycle is a good snapshot to see if an item will sell. If it doesn’t sell in a year, then I may lower the price, but if the rank is good, then I probably won’t lower it to match the lowest current price. If the rank is poor, then I’ll lower the price somewhat. If the rank is really bad, then I will most likely lower my price to match the current low price (FBA or not).

I am usually a patient person. And being patient has, more often than not, paid off in my pocketbook. I look at the pricing trends on CamelCamelCamel and make educated pricing decisions. I know some items will sell for $20 in the summer, but will sell for $80 over the Christmas holidays. I can wait a few months for that kind of ROI (return on investment), especially when monthly storage fees are usually only a few pennies per item.

price-cutAnother time I’ll lower my price is for the items that are subject to a long term storage fee. On February 15th and August 15th of every year, FBA conducts an inventory cleanup. On these dates, any inventory units that have been in a FBA warehouse for over 365 days will be assessed a fee of $22.50 per cubic foot. This is a HUGE fee and is to be avoided at all costs. Around two months before the long term storage fees hit, I’ll search my inventory and find the items that might be charged with this fee. Most of the time, I’ll lower my prices to match the lowest price in the hopes that they will sell before the fee hits. Amazon is even kind enough to send you a few warning emails that this fee is approaching, along with a link where you can see what items you are selling apply for the fee.

There are currently only two times I pull certain inventory that has not sold. The first reason is if the sales rank is too high paired with the profit margin being too low. If I have a book with a sales rank of 7 million that I’ll only make a few bucks on, then I’ll have it sent back to me. The second reason I have items sent back is if they qualify for the long term storage fees (and don’t sell after I lower my prices, as stated above). Most likely, I’ll add these returned items to a box I keep at home for stuff I want to sell next time I have a garage sale.

So what about you? When do you like to lower your prices? What are your reasons? We’d all love to hear what you have to add to the conversation.