Category Archives: How To

JoeLister Review: How to Increase your Customers with Multi-Channel Fulfillment

We’re all looking to increase the amount of customers looking at our online inventory and boost our e-commerce sales, right? The more people who see your inventory, the more people will buy it!

One way to get more customers buying your inventory is to list that inventory on multiple sales channels. You can also use multi-channel fulfillment, where your inventory is listed on multiple channels but fulfilled from one channel. For example, you can list your inventory on both Amazon and eBay, but have the Amazon FBA warehouse fulfill your orders, regardless of whether the sale comes from Amazon’s website or eBay’s.

JoeLister is a third-party program that allows you to list your Amazon FBA inventory on eBay in just a few clicks per item. I’ve been using JoeLister for a few months now, and I’ve enjoyed the boost in sales I’ve received from having extra eyes viewing my inventory.

Since I’ve had a while now to get some experience with JoeLister, I want to share with you the reasons I like the program and a couple of my frustrations as well.

Let’s start off with the positives:

  1. Automated listing on eBay – Who doesn’t love automating your online business?! I love that with just a few clicks per item, I can create listings on eBay from my Amazon FBA inventory. Part of the reason I hadn’t tried multi-channel fulfillment before now is that I don’t love creating each individual eBay listing. But JoeLister makes the process of creating the listing super easy by importing titles, descriptions, and pictures from Amazon into the eBay listing.
  1. Smart pricing feature – JoeLister is able to make calculations based on both the Amazon fees and the eBay fees, and it gives you suggestions for your eBay price accordingly. It’s important that you know your numbers when you are setting your prices, and JoeLister makes it simple for you to make comparisons with your Amazon price and with other recent eBay listings of similar items. You can easily set your eBay price with your payout for that sale in mind. Note: Amazon terms of service require you to price your multi-channel fulfillment inventory at or above your Amazon price when you’re pricing on other platforms. You should not set your eBay price lower than the Amazon price when listing through JoeLister.
  1. Automatic fulfillment of orders – This is where JoeLister becomes even more exciting, in my opinion. When you list an item through JoeLister and an eBay customer purchases it, the fulfillment process for that order is completely automatic. JoeLister communicates between eBay and Amazon to set up the fulfillment order, have the item shipped from the Amazon warehouse to your eBay customer, and provide the tracking information. You just sit back and watch!
  1. Syncs with Amazon and eBay – Another cool feature of JoeLister is that it synchs your inventory amounts between Amazon and eBay. So let’s say you have your Amazon inventory listed on eBay through JoeLister, and you make a sale of one unit of that item through Amazon – JoeLister automatically syncs and adjusts the quantity available on eBay for that listing. It works the same way going the other direction – if you make a sale on eBay, JoeLister syncs to adjust the quantity available in your Amazon FBA inventory. You are never in danger of selling an item on one platform when it’s not truly available because you already sold it on another platform.

Frustrations with JoeLister:

Our business model includes a lot of shoes, and we’ve noticed a slight problem when we are automatically creating listings on eBay from our shoe inventory. When JoeLister imports the title of the product, it often takes the title directly from the parent ASIN of the shoe. That parent ASIN title doesn’t include any info about the size or color variation that I’m actually wanting to sell on eBay. When this happens, I have to then manually add the size and color for my variation to the title as I’m creating the listing. Kind of a pain, but not a big enough problem to be a deal breaker for me and JoeLister.

In general, I recommend double-checking all your titles when you are importing your listings from Amazon into eBay anyway. Amazon and eBay titles are two different beasts, and you want to make sure your eBay listings through JoeLister are optimized for eBay customers who are searching for the types of items you are selling.

Overall, we have enjoyed having JoeLister as an addition to our e-commerce business. We definitely saw the most benefit from using the service during the Q4 months, but we have continued to see enough sales in the early months of this year to justify using JoeLister.

The pricing options for the service range from 100 listings to an unlimited number of listings, and we have tinkered with different amounts during Q4 and afterwards. Everyone has a different strategy for how they want to use the service, so I recommend just trying it out for a while and seeing how it might best benefit your own particular business. You don’t have to import all of your Amazon SKUs to eBay with JoeLister, so you can play around with different combinations and see what types of listings work best for you with multi-channel fulfillment.

If you’re interested in trying out JoeLister, you can get a two-week free trial through this link. You can check out their website for more information on the types of plans they offer and for videos about how to use the program. If you do the two-week free trial of JoeLister, hopefully you will make enough in eBay sales during that two weeks to be able to pay for a subscription moving forward!

Have you tried JoeLister before? Have you tried multi-channel fulfillment of your Amazon inventory? We would love to hear your thoughts and questions on the topic in the comments!

How to Find Profitable Inventory for Amazon FBA Sourcing

In the course of just one week (or even a day!), it is possible to come across thousands of items you could potentially resell on Amazon. Obviously, not all of those items are going to make the cut and end up in your shopping cart. Some items are a no-brainer purchase. Some are definitely NOT something you should buy for resale. And some items are kind of iffy – should you buy it or not?

How do you know whether to buy an item or just pass and move on to the next item?

For the rest of this article, I want to talk with you about how to find profitable inventory to sell on Amazon – more specifically, I want to show you my thought process when I’m deciding whether or not to buy an item.

First things first: I want to make sure you are using the right tools when you are sourcing. When I am doing retail arbitrage (RA), I always use the Scoutify app on my smart phone to scan inventory and see all the necessary numbers to make a smart sourcing decision:

  • Sales rank
  • Price
  • Fees
  • Profit
  • Number of competitors
  • Historical sales rank and pricing

Some sellers choose to use only the Amazon Seller app for doing RA, but I have found the info it returns to be incomplete. I prefer to have more information at my fingertips when I make a sourcing decision, so I use the Scoutify app that comes bundled with the listing software Inventory Lab.

OK, now that we have that covered, let’s look at my thought process when I’m making a sourcing decision. This process works whether you are doing RA, OA, wholesale purchasing, or any other type of sourcing for Amazon FBA.

I typically ask myself 4 main questions when I’m making a sourcing decision:

  1. What is the ROI? We’re all in this business to make money, so we want to make sure the items we’re sourcing have a good ROI, or return on investment. When you are first starting out at Amazon FBA, I recommend finding items that have a 100% ROI. If you have a higher percentage ROI, you have a lot more wiggle room to make some mistakes and adjust your price if necessary. As you gain more experience and confidence, you can begin sourcing items that have a lower ROI. Some sellers stick with 75% and above, while others stick with 50% or above. If you find an item that will sell very quickly, you can even go as low as 30% ROI. The main point here is to find items that have a good ROI, whatever the parameter is that you’ve set. If you can’t make money on your investment, you want to move on and look for different inventory items.
  1. Am I approved to sell the item? Some categories are gated for certain sellers, and some brands are restricted to sellers. The second thing I look at when I’m making a sourcing decision is whether or not I am approved to sell an item. If I can’t sell it, there’s no point in continuing to consider it. You can see whether or not you are approved to sell an item from within the Amazon Seller app, but Scoutify also has a link to show you whether or not you are restricted for the item.
  1. What is the sales rank? The sales rank of an item is how I can tell whether or not the item will sell quickly on Amazon. Amazon tells us the current sales rank of every item in their catalog, and we can see that information when we scan an item with a sourcing app. You want to make sure, though, that you are considering the average sales rank when you make a sourcing decision, not just the current sales rank. Amazon updates sales rank frequently throughout the day, so you need to know how much that sales rank varies over time. You can look at graphs on CamelCamelCamel and Keepa to figure out the average sales rank in a glance; both Camel and Keepa have quick links through the Scoutify sourcing app. I recommend checking out an Amazon sales rank chart to make sure you know what is a low or high sales rank for the category of the item you are looking at. Our blog offers a monthly updated sales rank chart for subscribers. You can use the chart to see if an item’s average sales rank falls in the top 1%, 3%, 5%, 10%, or higher for its category.If you’re interested in learning more about sales rank, we offer an affordable mini-course called The Reseller’s Guide to Sales Rank: Understanding Amazon Best Sellers Rank for Maximum Profits. I’ve included in the mini-course everything I know about sales rank to help you get started with making smarter sourcing decisions.I make my sourcing decision based on how high or low the sales rank of the item is. If an item has a low average sales rank, it is a faster selling item. If the average sales rank is high, the item will sell more slowly.
  1. What is the competition?Unless no one else is selling a particular item, you are going to have competition if you sell that item. There are two main competitors you need to consider: Amazon and other third-party sellers. When it comes to competing with Amazon, I generally choose not to buy items that Amazon sells. I always look to see if Amazon is in stock on an item or has been in stock recently. If so, I typically pass on that item unless I can price it significantly lower than Amazon. As a general rule, Amazon does not tend to share the buy box, and since the buy box is where over 70% of Amazon sales come from, I don’t want to risk buying inventory where I will never have a chance to get that buy box. To see the history of Amazon being in stock or out of stock on an item, I check the Keepa graph for the item through the Scoutify app. I also like to look at the other third-party sellers who are priced competitively on the item. I’m only interested in those sellers who are priced within 1% or 2% of the buy box price. Anyone priced higher than that isn’t truly going to be my competition.I want to make sure there’s a relatively low number of sellers priced competitively, so that I can be assured of getting time in the buy box. The higher the sales rank, the fewer competitors I want on the item. If the sales rank is lower, I am more willing to tolerate a relatively higher number of competitors – with a low sales rank, the item will be selling fast enough that I can still get time in the buy box and make my sales.

Those are my four main deciding factors when I am making a buying decision for my Amazon FBA business. As with anything, there are some exceptions that come up when I’m looking at this criteria. The more comfortable you are with your experience at making these decisions, the more you will be able to see when there are exceptions to the buying parameters you set up for yourself.

There are other less important factors I sometimes consider, as well, such as number of reviews and whether or not they are positive. I tend to use other factors in my decisions when I’m on the fence about a buy.

Do you use similar buying criteria as the ones I’ve covered above? Is there anything else you absolutely must look at before making a buy for your FBA business? We would love to hear your ideas in the comments!

How to Capitalize on Amazon’s Super Saver Shipping Price Change

Amazon just quietly changed the price for non-Prime members to qualify for Free Super Saver Shipping, a decrease from purchases of $35 down to $25. In other words, non-Prime members now have to buy only a minimum of $25 worth of Prime-eligible items in their shopping cart in order to qualify for free shipping. This can be an order containing a combination of items from every category.

This is not the first time Amazon has changed the price to qualify for free super saver shipping. In October of 2013, the price for free super saver shipping increased from $25 to $35 and remained $35 for almost 2 years. In early 2016, the minimum price increased from $35 to $49. In the middle of 2016, Amazon started to feel the impact of Walmart.com’s $25 free shipping threshold and responded by lowering super saver shipping from $49 back to $35. This week, Amazon has again lowered the minimum price back down to $25.

If you react correctly, then this change by Amazon will actually help your business. Here are some reasons to celebrate this change:

Amazon-Prime-Streaming-Video-Service-Bundles1. With this change, more people will be buying items that are Prime-eligible (this means items stored at FBA warehouses). With more people buying Prime-eligible items, there will be more people to buy your FBA products.

2. The more people who decide to use Prime shipping as a non-Prime member means that more people will be testing out Prime shipping benefits. More customers will fall in love with the free Prime 2-day shipping, and that will cause more people to sign up for Amazon Prime. The more Prime buyers, the more customers to buy your inventory.

It will take a little work, but those that react the fastest will win. I recommend doing some price changes quickly. Here is what I plan on doing with my inventory:

Price-Increase1. Price many items at $25. Search and see which inventory items I have priced between $22 and $25 to see if I should raise the price to $25. Based on my competition, this might be a great idea. This strategy will cause non-Prime shoppers to get free shipping on your items and they will choose your $25 item instead of a competitor’s item priced at $22 + $5 shipping.

2. Another “magic” price point will be $12.50. If the item you have could possibly be bought in multiple quantities, then this is a great price point for people who want to buy two. Two items at $12.50 total $25 and will qualify for Free Super Saver Shipping!

Of course there will be some exceptions to the above rules. Exceptions come into play when you look at other current FBA prices, how many items are being sold of that item, how the particular product category works, and more… but most of my prices will be updated with this thought process in mind! For more from Amazon on the Super Saver price change, click here.

So what do you think about the new $25 price point? How do you plan to react to these changes? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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Using Feedback Genius To Generate Positive Product Reviews

Last time on the blog, I interviewed Karon Thackston about her new book, Review Advantage (she said her coupon code review10 is still live). In that interview Karon shared so many great tips and tricks (as well as what not to do) in order to get more product reviews for the items you’re selling on Amazon.

Now we know that getting multiple great product reviews is important to increase sales, but too many times the process of asking for those reviews can be time-intensive. Some sellers seem to think it takes so much time that they don’t even ask for reviews at all. If only there were a program that would automatically ask customers for product reviews for us! Spoiler alert: there is!

I wouldn’t recommend trying to generate product reviews for every single item you’re selling on Amazon. If you’re selling one-offs or items with lots of sellers on the listing, you can’t spend the time and effort to generate reviews for those items. It’s just not worth it.

But some types of items you might be selling on Amazon could really benefit from a few (or many!) more product reviews. Here are the types of items we think are worth spending time and effort generating product reviews for:

  • High number of multiples/replenishables – For me it would take at least 10 or 20 units of a very profitable item in stock before I would want to take the time and effort to increase product reviews.
  • Items that I can order wholesale – If I can easily restock an item from a wholesale source, it’s worth it to me to help that product get more reviews.
  • Items where I create a new listing – It seems kind of obvious, but I would definitely take the time and effort to try to generate reviews for new listings that I have created within the Amazon catalog. This would also include bundles or private label items.

As we discussed in our previous blog post with Karon Thackston, there is a right and a wrong way to go about generating product reviews. Again, I highly suggest you check out that blog post for Karon’s great insight on this topic.
Once you’ve decided you have a product worth your time and effort in trying to generate new reviews AND you’ve studied up on how to compose the right type of email asking for reviews, I suggest looking into automating the process.

One method I’ve used to generate product reviews on listings I’ve created is the service Feedback Genius. Now, in the past I’ve done blog posts about how I’ve used Feedback Genius to keep my seller feedback at 100% – but Feedback Genius is also a great way to send out compliant emails to generate product reviews without going against the Amazon terms of services.

The way Feedback Genius works is you set up the service to send out automated emails to customers who buy your items on Amazon. If you’re trying to increase your seller feedback, you set up an email with links for leaving seller feedback to go out to anyone who buys from you on Amazon. But you can also set up the service to send out an email when you sell a particular ASIN, and that email will include links for leaving a product review. Pretty cool, huh? One automated system for emails, two different types of results.

For example, we had a source for the 4th edition of a book that was selling really well for us. After several months of selling on the well-established product page for that book, the 5th edition of the book was released. We decided to go to the effort of creating the product page for the 5th edition, knowing how well we had done on the previous edition – the new edition should do equally well, right?

Well, after a couple of weeks, we started to see sales trickle in, but we weren’t getting any reviews on the book on the new product page. We also noticed that even if we typed “5th edition” into the Amazon search bar, the 4th edition was still coming up at the top of the search for that book – possibly because the 4th edition had way more product reviews than the newer one.

We decided to set up Feedback Genius to generate product reviews for the 5th edition of the book, and sure enough, within a short time we started seeing lots of 5-star reviews coming in. The 5th edition also moved up to the top spot in Amazon searches for that book. Success!

We knew going into the venture that the book has a history of being well-received, and we knew it would be worth the time, effort, and money to send out the emails to generate product reviews. We had a source to keep replenishing our stock of the book, and we enjoyed the increase in sales once it had more reviews and landed in the top spot of searches.

If you have a product that fits the criteria we listed above and you think it could benefit from some extra product reviews, check out Feedback Genius for generating reviews. Signing up through our Full-Time FBA link will get you a free 60-day trial with 500 free emails. That’s a lot of free emails!

So if you combine the lessons you learn from Karon Thackston’s wisdom on how to get more product reviews with the automated services of Feedback Genius, you should start seeing more reviews on your products…which should lead to more sales!

Now, we’d love to heard from you! Which items in your inventory could use more product reviews? Have you tried to seek reviews from your customer’s yet? What strategies have you used (that are within Amazon’s guidelines)? Let us know in the comments below.

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

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

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

But HOW do you go about raising your ASP?

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

1. Set a minimum selling price parameter.

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

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

2. Consider selling bundles or multi-packs.

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

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

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

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

3. Source higher-priced items.

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

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

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

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

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

Top 10 Tips For Finishing Strong in 2016

finishing-strong-2016First 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 2016:

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 2016? I’d love to hear your ideas, so comment below.

 

Monitoring Prices on Your Replenishables – StockUp Review

stock-up-titleOne of the most frustrating aspects of selling on Amazon is when your competition comes in and begins to lower the prices of an item that you were once consistently selling. When an amazing source of profit seems to dry up, we often decide to sell out as fast as we can so we can reinvest that capital into inventory that will bring profits much faster. Usually once the price of a formerly profitable item has “tanked,” we don’t think about that item again.

But what if we’re missing something? What if the price goes back up? How would we even know?

Do we ever actually go back and see if the price has recovered? Usually the answer to that question is “no.”

search-computerFor a long time I searched and searched to see if there was a tool out there that would track the prices of items on Amazon and would automatically notify me when those items reached a certain higher price point, but never found one. I love using Keepa and CamelCamelCamel, but those services only notify you automatically when the prices of items on Amazon fall to a desired price point. I  just couldn’t find an easy way to keep track of prices when they go back up.

Sure, I could probably create a spreadsheet with a list of ASINs I wanted to track, then then copy and paste the ASIN in Amazon to see if the price has recovered. I could try to remember to do that once a week or once a month… but honestly, I don’t have time for that. I needed a tool to do everything for me.

online_toolsSince there was no tool, I decided to reach out to my buddy Christopher Grant who has created some awesome tools like revROI (an easy tool to maximize your cash back on OA purchases) and BrickSeek (if an item is sold out online, this tool will show you where you can buy it locally based on your ZIP Code). I told Christopher about my frustrations and my idea for a new tool and he said he thought he could make it happen. After a few months of working with developers and beta-testing, and the StockUp tool is ready!

StockUp – the only tool that will automatically notify you when the price of an item goes back up to the price you want.

stock-upWith StockUp, all you have to do is go to the Amazon product page for the item you want to track, click on the StockUp extension, put in your name and email address (don’t worry, we aren’t keeping these for later), then choose a price, any price. The StockUp tool will then check Keepa for you once an hour and if the price goes up to the level you choose, then StockUp will send you an email to notify you. There will even be a link you can click on to take you to the Amazon product page so you can double check and make sure the price really has recovered. Then, all you need to do is go and buy it again from your source. So easy! I’ll show you a video in a moment, but here’s what it looks like:

screen-shot-2016-11-10-at-1-49-11-pm

StockUp is a Google Chrome extension that you easily install into your Chrome browser. If you don’t use Chrome, the web browser is a free download and super easy to use. In fact, I formerly used Safari for my online browser, but have since moved to Chrome as it’s so much more user friendly (as well as all the amazing extensions you can install).

To see StockUp in action, check out this video where I walk you through just how easy it is.

Save today with coupon code!

Here’s the deal… right now, StockUp is available at a one time fee for a lifetime of use. Plus, if you use the coupon code SMOTHERMAN then you can save $8 off the price of the extension. Right now, we’re working on adding a texting notification as well, but that’s still in the planning stages… once the texting capabilities are in place, we’ll definitely be raising the prices on the extension. In fact, the StockUp extension might end up going to a monthly fee as we continue to add more features… so now is the best time to get this tool.

Can you imagine how awesome it will be when the price of one your replenishable items comes back up and you can add it back to your inventory again? Talk about easy sourcing!

 

How to Provide Box Level Details on Amazon FBA Shipments

box-content-info-blogIf you’ve been reading your seller emails from Amazon, you know that starting November 1, 2016, FBA sellers will be required to provide box level details of the contents of their shipments to FBA warehouses. Failing to provide those details will incur a fee for your shipments of 15 cents per item. Additionally, Amazon has stated that shipments without box contents provided might experience a slower check-in time than shipments providing the box level details.

The thought of adding an extra step to the FBA shipment process isn’t super appealing to most Amazon sellers – the fewer the steps the better, right? But I (Stephen) have added box level details to my shipments for the past month now, and I can tell you it’s not as bad as you might have heard.

sC_b001h9nxvg-boxpileReally, it’s in your best interest to start NOW learning how to add the details and practicing with shipments of various sizes. In the long run, spending 5-10 extra minutes per shipment to add the box level details will definitely save you money and potentially save you time: definitely the money from the fees for not providing the details and potentially the time of your shipment being delayed during check-in because you didn’t provide the details.

There are five ways you can handle adding the box level details to your shipment:

  1. Only ship one box at a time – no need to provide extra details.
  2. Ship multiple boxes, but only one SKU per box – no need to provide extra details.
  3. Ship 25 SKUs or less in multiple boxes, and you can provide details through the web-based form on Seller Central.
  4. Ship more than 25 SKUs in multiple boxes, and you can provide details through an Excel spreadsheet uploaded to Seller Central.
  5. Use a third-party listing software to provide details.

I’m not exaggerating when I say providing box contents will add only 5-10 minutes to packing your shipment. It really isn’t a long, time-consuming process. So far, I’ve been listing my shipments in Inventory Lab and then finishing out the shipment process (including providing box level details) in Seller Central. In the very near future I will try out Inventory Lab’s new box level detail process and report back on my thoughts on it.

For a tutorial of how to use the #3 and #4 methods above, I’ve made the following screen capture video walking you through the process.

As you can see in the video, the steps for filling out the forms are rather straightforward. To assist in the process of knowing which items I’ve packed in which boxes, I always print out my form so that I can check off the items on paper as I’m packing; then I transfer my check marks to the online form or Excel sheet once the boxes are packed.

money-fees-add-up-fastIf you decide that providing the box content details is too annoying or time-consuming, you do have the option to skip this step in the process, but you will incur a fee of 15 cents per item in that shipment. This may seem like a small fee, but be careful because those charges can add up quickly. Let me show you how.

I recently had a 92-item shipment of more than 25 SKUs, so the fees to skip the box level details for that shipment would be $13.80. I timed myself as I provided the box contents for the shipment through Excel, and it only added 6 minutes to my processing time. If you do the math, $13.80 in fees versus 6 minutes of my time means that I would have been paying Amazon $138/hour to allow me to skip that step. It’s worth it to me to just spend the extra 6 minutes and keep that $13.80 in fees to spend on more inventory to sell on Amazon.

As with so many other changes that happen over time in selling on Amazon, there will be a day in the not-so-distant future where adding box content details is ingrained in our minds as just one more step in the process, not as a new time-sucking step. Ultimately, providing box level details should theoretically help us as sellers have an easier time reconciling issues with lost inventory from shipments during the check-in process, which makes the entire process worth it, in my mind.

To read for yourself the Amazon guidelines about providing box level details, click here.

Have you been using the web form or Excel sheet to provide box level details on your Amazon FBA shipments? Do you have any advice to add on this topic? Please let us hear from you in the comments!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Handle Unfair Amazon Reimbursements

Unfair ReimbursementsWhen Amazon loses or damages one of your inventory items, it is their policy to either 1) find a replacement for your lost/damaged inventory, or 2) reimburse you the replacement value of your lost inventory (less any applicable FBA and selling on Amazon fees, of course).

This is how most people imagine this reimbursement policy being lived out in real life:

670px-Put-a-Rubik's-Cube-Back-Together-Step-1“You find a great item to resell, price it competitively at $24.99, and send it to an Amazon FBA warehouse. Amazon accidentally drops and breaks your item, so they now owe you a reimbursement. Amazon takes your $24.99 selling price, takes out the fees as if you had sold the item, and then reimburses you $18.42.”

Unfortunately, this is not how many Amazon reimbursements work out. Did you know that when Amazon reimburses you for lost or damaged items, they have specific rules they are supposed to follow when coming up with the amount they are to reimburse you? It might surprise you to know that Amazon sometimes (not all the time) fails to follow their own reimbursement rules.

Here are the set of factors Amazon is supposed to consider when calculating the reimbursement amount:

  1. Your sales history – Is this an item you sell often, and what is the price you usually sell it for?
  2. The current average FBA selling price – What is the average of the most recent (no number is given) sales prices for that item.
  3. Other factors (Amazon doesn’t explain what these “other” factors are).
  4. Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 3.54.14 PMIf Amazon doesn’t have enough information to establish a reasonable value for an item, then the replacement value is determined based on a default replacement value from the table pictured to the right.

Here’s the deal… I have never ever seen a reimbursement that has followed the above table, so in my experience, Amazon comes up with their own reimbursement amounts based on something other than this table, something a bit more subjective.

In reality, this is how Amazon’s reimbursement policy is lived out more times than not:

728px-Disassemble-a-Rubik's-Cube-Step-3“You find a great item to resell, price it competitively at $24.99, and send it to an Amazon FBA warehouse. Amazon accidentally drops and breaks your item, so they now owe you a reimbursement. Amazon takes your $24.99 selling price, and somehow decides to reimburse you only $10.54.”

Did you notice that? If Amazon took your FBA selling price, and took out the correct fees, then they should have reimbursed you $18.42, not $10.54. What’s going on? The truth is, I’m not sure what’s going on, but I do know what to do to get the reimbursement you think you deserve.

How to know if you received a fair reimbursement:

  1. When you get a reimbursement, do some quick research.
    1. Research Part 1:
      1. Take the ASIN and put it in the Amazon.com search bar and find the product page.
      2. Click on the link to view the current FBA offers.
      3. Take 3-5 of the current lowest FBA sales prices and find an average. This number will be your current FBA average selling price.
    2. Research Part 2:
      1. Take the ASIN and put it in the FBA revenue calculator.
      2. Input the current FBA average selling price (that you calculated above) on the Item Price line under the Amazon Fulfillment column.
      3. Click the yellow Calculate button.
      4. Write down two numbers: the Cost (Amazon fees) and the Margin Impact (your profits after fees)
    3. Research Part 3:
      1. Repeat Research Part 2, but instead of the current FBA average selling price, use your original selling price you had priced for that item.
  2. Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 8.13.40 PMCompare your Margin Impact number of the current FBA average selling price (found in Research Part 1) with your reimbursement amount. Also, compare your Margin Impact with your original selling price with the actual reimbursement amount.
  3. Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 3.10.48 PMIf the difference is big, then it’s time to open up a ticket with Amazon and request an additional reimbursement (more on that in a minute).
  4. If the difference is small, then just let it go and move on with your business. Opening up a ticket with Amazon and dealing with getting a higher reimbursement amount can take some time. So, for most cases, it’s not worth your time to fight a reimbursement that is only a few dollars difference. Value your time and only fight a low reimbursement when you think it’s worth the time to dispute it.

How to get the reimbursement you deserve:

  1. Open up a ticket with Amazon. If you’re not familiar with the process, here is a quick video from our YouTube channel on how to open up a ticket with Amazon.
  2. Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 8.17.09 PMWhen contacting Amazon, choose the option to open a ticket about Fulfillment By Amazon, and then click FBA Issue. Yes, it’s redundant, but it’s how Amazon has things set up right now.
  3. Click on the Something Else button.
  4. Choose your method of communication. Personally, I like to use email because there is a written record of the communication, and I can communicate without being interrupted.
  5. Enter the ASIN in question for the reimbursement in the proper field.
  6. In the “Please Describe your Issue” field, write this:
    “I received a reimbursement for ASIN __________, but it was not a fair reimbursement amount. I was reimbursed $$10.54, when I should have been reimbursed $18.42. I have calculated the correct reimbursement number using my sales history (My average selling price is $24.99) as well as the current FBA sales prices (the current FBA average selling price is $24.76). Here is the math:
    $24.99 (my sales price) – $6.57 (applicable fees) = $18.42 (correct reimbursement amount.
    Would you please approve an additional reimbursement of $7.88 ($18.42 – $10.54 = $7.88)? I would really appreciate it. Thank you for your time.”
  7. Click Send and a new case will be opened.

Keep Calm Do the mathWhen you go to the trouble to show the Amazon representative that you’ve done the math and spell it out for them, they are much more likely to approve your additional reimbursement request than if you only complained about your reimbursement amount. You’ve basically done all the work for them and they don’t have much to argue with.

When you open up a new case for an additional reimbursement, someone who works for Amazon will review your case and will reply. When you get a reply, one of three things will happen:

  1. You will get the reimbursement that you deserve. (YAY!)
  2. You will be requested to provide more information such as a receipt or invoice of that item.
  3. You will get a form letter from an Amazon employee that probably didn’t read your entire message and is just responding with a “copy and paste” reply that basically states back Amazon’s current reimbursement policies. They will then close the case.

If Amazon asks for more information (like a receipt):

ReceiptsI don’t know why Amazon asks for a receipt or invoice in order to get a proper reimbursement of a lost or damaged item. It might be in case you never really sent Amazon the item, and Amazon says they lost it, but in reality you never sent it, so Amazon wants proof you actually purchased it to sell on Amazon. No matter the case, I have never sent Amazon a receipt in reply to this response. Here is how I reply:

“I’m not sure why you are asking for a receipt or invoice in order to determine the proper reimbursement amount for this item. The reimbursement amount is supposed to be calculated by looking at my sales history, as well as the current FBA selling prices.”

I would then copy and paste the math I provided earlier so that all the information is in one place for the Amazon rep to make a decision.

If your request for an additional reimbursement was declined and the case was closed:

escalate-300x2911If you didn’t get the additional reimbursement you expected, the next step is to re-open the case. When you re-open the case, be sure to ask that the case be “escalated” and for that Amazon rep to hand the case off to one of their supervisors. Be sure you use the word “escalate” because the Amazon employees know and understand that word and that you mean business. You can re-open the case and communicate something like this:

“Thank you for your response, but it did not solve the issue. I would like to escalate this case to your supervisor. Please have your supervisor read through our previous communications and reply to me at their earliest convenience. Thanks and have a great day.”

Usually when you escalate a case, your request will be forwarded to the Amazon rep’s supervisor who will more than likely approve your request.

Stickerline-elsa-let-it-goIf, after all this, Amazon still doesn’t reimburse you any more, then it’s time to let it go and move on with your business, but the majority of the time you will end up with an additional reimbursement.

For more information about Amazon’s FBA Lost and Damaged Inventory Reimbursement Policy, just click here.

Want more? Two fantastic resources to make sure you’re getting all the reimbursements you deserve are The Amazon Refund Guide (a do-it-yourself book for all things reimbursements) and AMZSuite (a really affordable service that does most of your reimbursement work for you). We have personally used both of these resources and found great success at getting reimbursements!

So how about you? This is how I handle unfair reimbursements, but do you have any more ideas on how to get the reimbursement amount you deserve? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.