Category Archives: Ideas

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?

8 Tips for Making The Most of Amazon Prime Day

In 2015, Amazon decided to celebrate its 20th birthday with a huge day of sales called Prime Day. Amazon promised its Prime customers would see even more deals on Prime Day than on Black Friday. The sale ended up living up to the hype as Amazon reported selling 398 items per second (source) that day.

This year, on July 12th, Prime Day is back. Amazon is promising even more sales than the year before. In fact, they are going to start with early exclusive Prime deals starting July 5th and every day afterward leading up to the big day. With these pre-Prime Day deals, I think Amazon is basically “priming” their customers to buy even more on Prime Day (see what I did there?).

Here are some timely tips on how to make the most of Amazon Prime Day:

1. You might be tempted to buy some of the Prime Day deals to flip right back on Amazon. Don’t forget that it’s against Amazon’s rules to buy items using Prime shipping that you intend to resell on Amazon. This is a rule that many new Amazon sellers don’t know, but could get you in a lot of trouble if broken.

EBay_logo.svg2. Even though you can’t use Prime to buy inventory for Amazon, you can still use it to buy inventory to sell on other platforms like eBay, craigslist, or anywhere else you can make a profit.

3. Search the Prime deals for items you can use in your business, like shipping supplies, office supplies, a new processing laptop, or anything else you can deduct as a business expense.

4. Last year, other stores responded to Amazon’s plan for Prime Day with special sales of their own. Be sure you look at other online stores to see if they have special deals going on that day. I know Walmart had a big sale last year in response to Prime Day. I’m sure they (and other stores) will be doing so this year, too.

LC_OFF_Body_NLP5. In preparation, right now is a good time to reprice some of your inventory. With more people shopping on Amazon on Prime Day (as well as the days leading up to it), there is a greater chance for you to get increased sales. Be sure you competitively reprice your items to maximize your profits. Here is a post on how to manually reprice your inventory and another post with some smart repricing strategies to bring in quick sales.

6. Not only should you reprice your inventory to get more sales, you might want to reprice the inventory you have that will be charged a Long Term Storage Fee (LTSF). Remember, in one month Amazon will be charging you a LTSF. If you need some help with this, here is how to find out what items (and exactly how much) you’ll be charged come August 15th, and seven tips on how to avoid the Long Term Storage Fees.

July-127. Set a reminder on your calendar for July of 2017 and be sure you are ready for Prime Day next year. Even though this is the second consecutive year Amazon has planned a Prime Day, it’s still not for sure if this will become an annual event — but if it does, you want to be sure and be prepared.

8. Have realistic expectations for Prime Day sales. An increase of sales is expected, but overall it will most likely be a nice bump in sales. While some people might have a day filled with tons of amazing sales, that probably won’t be the norm. Don’t get caught up with checking your sales every 10 minutes to see if you have any new sales. And don’t fall into the trap of comparing your sales with others who are posting online. Remember, comparison is the thief of joy. Just enjoy the nice bump in sales and then get back on track with your overall goals for your Amazon business.

If you have any more suggestions about how to make the most of Amazon Prime Day, then leave a comment below. I’d love to hear what you have to say.

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.

How To Find Which Items are Out of Stock on Amazon

It really happens. Amazon, from time to time, goes completely out of stock on items that sell often. Not only does Amazon go out of stock, but sometimes the 3rd party sellers also go out of stock. When nobody is in stock for a product, Amazon usually hides that product page from customer search results. Amazon is all about providing the best customer experience, so they don’t want customers to find product pages of items that are sold out (sold out product = unhappy customer).

But what if you, as a seller, need to find an item on Amazon, but it’s hidden because no one is currently selling it? Also, what if you wanted to find out which items are sold out on Amazon so you can go source those items yourself and meet the demand (for a pretty penny, of course)? How do you find the items on Amazon that are out of stock?

Here’s how to do it:

  1. On Amazon.com, enter in the search bar the item you are looking for (Note: this works on a desktop, laptop, tablet, or the full Amazon site on your smart phone’s browser app).
  2. Scroll through the first few pages of results to see if you can find your item.
  3. If you can’t find it, scroll up to the top of the page and pick a category to narrow your search results. Pick the most likely category.
  4. After you pick a category, a new search button will appear on the left column. Near the bottom of the “Show Results For” section, you can click the button for “Include Out of Stock.”
  5. Now you can scroll though the results again and see the items that are both in and out of stock. The out of stock items will not have a price listed with the image. You might find what you are looking for.

91cjwABNIVL._SL1500_Let’s run this tutorial through with a real life example. Imagine you are out at a thrift store and find a brand new Masters of the Universe Castle Grayskull. You scan the barcode on your smart phone, but get no results. You try a keyword search on the Amazon app, but you still get nothing. Here’s what to do next:

  1. Open the browser app on your smart phone and go to Amazon.com. If it shows you a mobile version of Amazon, be sure to click on “Full site.” In the Amazon search bar, type: “Castle Grayskull” 
  2. Scroll through the first few pages of results to see if you can find your item.
  3. If you can’t find it, scroll up to the top of the page and pick a category to narrow your search results. For this item, the category will be Toys & Games. 
  4. Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 9.20.56 AMAfter you pick a category, a new search button will appear on the left
    column. Near the bottom of the “Show Results For” section, you can click the button for “Include Out of Stock.”
  5. Now you can scroll though the results again and see the items that are both in and out of stock. Remember, the out of stock items will not have a price listed with the image. 
  6. This is what your search results look like at the bottom of the first page:

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You found it! Now you can do some CamelCamelCamel research and see if this item is something worth selling.

Here’s a tip: If an item has been out of stock for a long time, then obviously the rank of that item will be very high (or zero), but don’t let that stop you from considering selling it. It may have sold well in the past, and if it’s a toy, it might sell come Q4. Remember this blog post on why I bought a toy ranked over 1 million? That toy sold very quickly. Rank is not always an indicator of sales velocity.

Another tip on discovering if an item will sell quickly is to look at the Amazon product reviews. If people have posted multiple recent reviews, then it should sell fairly quickly. 

IEBay_logo.svgf CamelCamelCamel does not contain enough data for you to make an informed buying or pricing decision and you still need help getting more information, then another tip is to look on eBay. You can use the Advanced Search link on eBay to see what buyers are paying for that item. Basically, do as much research as you can to make a smart sourcing decision. 

If you do all this searching and don’t see the item you are looking for, then you could potentially have a very high priced item on your hands. You can either create an Amazon product page for that board game or consider selling it on eBay. If you want to create a product page on Amazon, then here are a few resources that can 116_1409831933help you create and optimize it for quick sales:

  1. The Beginners Guide to Creating Professional Amazon Listings
  2. Amazon Advantage: How to Create Product Listings That Sell

BONUS TIP – If you found an item so rare that both Amazon and eBay are not
selling it, then here is a tip that might make you a lot of profit. If you are patient and don’t need to make a quick return on this item, then I would price it at least
four times what I assume I’d actually be able to sell it for. Since you are
the only person offering this item, you could possibly command a huge price. If, after a month or so, you don’t get a sale, then I’d start to lower the price by about $25 a month until it amazon12-1finally sells. Remember, if you only have one left of an item in stock, Amazon puts that information on the sales page, so it’s very likely that someone will want to pay a high price for this very rare item.

Now it’s your turn. See if you can find this exact Lion Pillow Pet on Amazon following my instructions above. Let me know in the comments if you were able to find it. 

Note: This toy is currently ranked 162,000 in Toys & Games so it might not be sold out for long! 

FBA Sourcing + Road Trip = Free Vacation!

It’s summer, and the perfect time to plan a sourcing road trip! Combining a road trip with FBA sourcing is a great idea that combines the fun of a vacation with sourcing in new and exciting places. Imagine driving to a location far from home and stopping at rural Walmarts along the way to find clearance items you can’t find anywhere else. Imagine the possibility of finding new “honey holes” for FBA inventory. Think about how much fun it could be to source at your favorite stores in a new town and find even more of the items you’ve already sourced in your own hometown. The possibilities are endless.

In 2014, Rebecca and I planned a three-day sourcing road trip to Kansas City, Missouri. We live in Fort Worth, Texas, and both thought it’d be fun to take our sourcing on the road. We booked two nights at a hotel in Kansas City and left Fort Worth on a Friday morning.

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I’m not saying we’re a good luck charm, but the Royals did go to the World Series the year we went to see them play.

When we got to Kansas City, we checked into our hotel and headed for Kauffman Stadium to see the Royals in action, just a few months before they made it to the World Series. Rebecca and I are both fans of baseball, and it’s been my dream to visit every Major League Baseball ballpark. What better way to liven up our sourcing trip than to work in two baseball games on the road?

Friday night we watched the Royals beat the Angels thanks to an Omar Infante grand slam.

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It’s so much fun filling up multiple carts!

On Saturday morning, we got up early and began to source. Before our trip, I made a map that included many of our favorite sourcing stores. We sourced all morning and found some really great inventory items. Come lunchtime, we headed back to Kauffman Stadium for another baseball game. This time, Rebecca and I went to the stadium early and toured the Royals Hall of Fame and walked all the way around the stadium. It was a lot of fun for both of us. The game began, but the clouds started rolling in. Before the sky fell, Rebecca and I decided it was time to go. Sure enough, the rain came hard, and the game was delayed.

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Rebecca asked, “Are we going to have enough room in the back for our luggage?” Maybe next time we’ll rent a trailer.

While the game was under a rain delay, there was no time to waste for Rebecca and me. We went back to sourcing and continued to find some amazing deals at stores all over Kansas City. We filled up our van and headed back to the hotel for the night. Bright and early Sunday morning, we packed up all of our things and made the drive back home to Texas.

That road trip to Kansas City was awesome. It was a lot of fun sourcing in a new city and watching the Royals play at Kauffman Stadium. It didn’t hurt that the Royals were also giving away free hats at one game and free bobbleheads at the second game. I sold those freebies on eBay and it helped pay for the game tickets and stadium parking. Not a bad deal.

If you’re looking for a fun way to get some vacation time in while still working some on your FBA business, a sourcing road trip might just work out for you. As long as sourcing (or other work-related activities) are your primary objective, then you would be able to write off the mileage and expenses. I know from experience that it is possible to make a trip like this profitable, even after all of the travel expenses.

Yes, we actually peeled stickers in the hotel room!

Yes, we actually peeled stickers in the hotel room! Click on the image above to get your own Scotty Peelers. They’re awesome!

Rebecca and I have gone on many sourcing road trips and have really found it to be both refreshing and a fun challenge for our business. One night, after coming back to the hotel room after a huge rural Walmart haul, we were so excited about all the inventory items we found that we actually took off all of the price stickers in the comfort of our hotel room. That’s right. We actually brought all of the items into our hotel room. You should have seen the faces of other guests as we loaded up the bellhop luggage cart with bags and bags of Walmart items.

Maybe a sourcing road trip is just the thing to help give you and your FBA business the kick it needs to get out of your comfort zone and source new places – or your normal places in new cities. Take a look at a map and see what surrounds you. See if there are any non-work-related activities you can combine with your sourcing trip. Maybe combine a sourcing trip with white water rafting… or a sourcing trip with camping at a beautiful state park. Maybe you could source on your way to and from a national landmark you want to visit…or to and from a city or state on your bucket list. The possibilities are endless.

ontheroadThere are a few really great resources that can help you make even more out of your sourcing trips. The books Amazon Autopilot: On the Road and Traveltage: Use Your Smartphone & FBA to Make Money, Travel, & Create The Life You Want are both good resources that walk you through everything you need to know (and more) about combining travel with working a successful 81+-bbgb+VLFBA business. When you go on a sourcing road trip, you really need to know all the ins and outs on how to make the most of your time, energy, money, and resources. Both Amazon Autopilot: On the Road and Traveltage help you gain the knowledge you need to make each and every one of your sourcing road trips a big success.

Now, I’d love to hear from you! Have you been on a sourcing road trip? Where did you go and what did you do? Have any tips to add for a successful sourcing road trip? Comment below and share your story.

The 3 Most Common (And Wasteful!) Mistakes Sellers Make With Their Amazon Listings

This blog article comes from my friend Karon Thackston. You might remember her from this popular guest blog post last year about keywords in listings. Karon is back again with even more helpful insights into creating quality Amazon listings that bring in more customers and more sales. 

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The 3 Most Common (And Wasteful!) Mistakes Sellers Make With Their Amazon Listings

You only have to write so many product listings before you start to see a pattern. That’s how it has been at Marketing Words over the last few years. I thought it would be helpful to outline some of the most common mistakes we’ve seen when it comes to writing your listing and using keywords.

Mistake #1: Not Using Keywords Correctly

Amazon isn’t like Google. With Google, there is a certain amount of repetition of keywords and phrases. On Amazon, however, you do not need to repeat keywords throughout your listing. Because they don’t understand this, many sellers are ruining the way their copy sounds as they try to rank higher on Amazon. Use the keyword once and Amazon’s got it.

That includes your Search Terms fields. If the keyword is in the title, brand, manufacturer and UPC, you do not need to include it in your search terms. It is a waste of space that could be used for additional, traffic-driving keywords.

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Last, we see countless folks inserting keyPHRASES into the search terms fields instead of keyWORDS. Amazon doesn’t work with phrases. They use literal keywords. Putting something like:

natural dog treats
100% wholesome dog treats
beef dog treats
dog treats made in the usa
nutritious dog treats

… leaves lots of wasted room that could accommodate other keywords. Because we don’t need to repeat keywords and we do need to use individual keywords (not whole phrases), this should be reworked to this:

natural dog treats 100% wholesome beef made in the usa nutritious

That’s 50 characters in the first field and 14 in the second. With five fields at 50 characters each (a total of 250 characters) that leaves you with 186 characters. If we remove any keywords that are included in our product name (aka, title) we’ll have even more room. Here comes more traffic!

Mistake #2: Not Differentiating Your Products From The Competition

Think about your own shopping experience on Amazon. You show up on the site to search for olive oil and vinegar sets. I just did a search for that term and here’s what came up…

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When I was scrolling down the page, it didn’t take me long to figure out that they all appear pretty much the same. What if they gave some additional information or used words that were more enticing?

Here are some examples of how just a minor tweak can make a big difference. As a shopper, I would be more likely to click these search results:

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The simple words “ribbed,” “Italian collection” and “lead free” made my eyes perk up. I wanted to know more.

Mistake #3: Not Answering The Question “So What?”

With so many duplicate products on Amazon (especially when dealing with private labeling), you simply must fall back on a long-standing rule of copywriting: Answer the question “So what?”

When customers scroll down a page of search results looking at your title, or they click to your product page to learn more, you have to set yourself apart from all the other options. Maybe this means having more positive reviews. Perhaps it is the lowest (or highest) price. But, more often than not, that task depends on the bullets and product description.

Here are 30 ways to differentiate your products from the pack so you stand out and get more sales.

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By correcting these 3 common mistakes, you eliminate the wasted space in your search term fields, bullets, and product description while setting yourself apart from the competition. And that always leads to more sales!

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116_1409831933Want more in-depth help with developing product listings that drive traffic and get more sales? Karon’s ebook Amazon Advantage: Product Listing Strategies to Boost Your Sales walks you through her best-kept secrets of creating product copy that earns you more money. Get your copy today!

 

 

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

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

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

Desk Diagram

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NOT PICTURED

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The 14 Books That Improved My Amazon FBA Business The Most

Books shelfAs someone who runs an online business, it’s vital to keep yourself ahead of the game. When it comes to success, the right book at the right moment can be a game-changer and give you a crucial advantage over your competition.

I really enjoy reading. In fact, while I was in college and seminary, I worked part-time at a local bookstore. I think most of my pay check ended up going right back to the bookstore as I was buying books all the time. 

Today, I want to share with you the 14 books that have helped me build a full-time FBA business. The books are broken up into 5 categories. To make things easy, I’ve included a link to the Amazon product page so you can choose your favorite book format (Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, or Audiobook). Once you’re on Amazon, you can easily get the books or add them to your wish list. These 14 books have personally made a huge difference for me. In fact, they’re some of the best books I’ve ever read.

PRODUCTIVITY

10667053-largeThe Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
We all have both good and bad habits, but how did they get there? And are there ways to purposefully create good habits that will help us improve both our personal and business lives? The answer to the second question is a resounding, “YES!” The book outlines how we can equip ourselves to succeed by breaking down our bad habits and setting ourselves up with good habits. This book was an interesting and easy read. 

31suEkKx6uL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The One Thing by Gary Keller
If you chase two rabbits, you won’t catch either one of them. This book will help you cut through the clutter, achieve better results in less time, build momentum toward your goals, overcome that overwhelming feeling, dial down stress, revive your energy, stay on track, and master what matters most to you. This book will help you find your “one thing” that will take your Amazon FBA business to the next level. 

61uDqg7PdoLEat That Frog by Brian Tracy
This book outlines 21 ways to stop procrastinating and get more done in less time. Mark Twain said, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” This book has helped me recognize what the “frogs” are in my Amazon FBA business and how to stop procrastinating and get the most important things done quickly and done well. 

TRANSITION FROM JOB TO WORKING AT HOME

Four-Hour-Work-Week-Expanded-and-Updated1The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris
While you probably won’t be working only 4 hours a week after you finish this book, you will have your eyes opened to the possibilities of how you can escape your 9-5 job, work more from home, and free up a lot of your time to pursue things you are most passionate about. If you are serious about making the transition from a job to becoming your own boss, this book is the best place to start. 

48 Days T41NdaeDvA0L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_o The Work You Love by Dan Miller
I first read this book in 2011 when I was both broke and unemployed. I had been trying for over a year to get a job and was failing miserably. This book lead me in the direction of finding work that I truly loved. After reading this book, I turned my hobby of selling online (via eBay) into a full-time job selling online (via Amazon FBA). Just over 6 months after reading this book, I was selling on Amazon FBA and making a full-time income. 

41nu9G4BrXL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Quitter by Jon Acuff
This book will help you close the gap between your day job and your dream job. Quitter is a very easy read and often hilarious. If you’ve ever sat in a cubicle and thought, “I don’t want to do this job for the rest of my life,” then this book is for you. Many people want to leave their 9-5 job and become their own boss, but it can be very, very risky. This book helps you minimize the risks involved and find success in transitioning from a job to working from home. 

 AMAZON FBA RELATED

Arbitrage_Cover_for_KindleArbitrage by Chris Green
If you are a beginner when it comes to selling on Amazon, then this is the absolute best book for you to form the right foundation to build a solid FBA business. When anyone asks me where they need to start when learning selling on Amazon, I recommend this book. Chris Green is an excellent communicator and teacher. If you are looking to succeed with FBA, you can’t go wrong starting with this book.

OAcover800

Online Arbitrage by Chris Green
This is more than just a book; it’s a complete course. I see this book more like a textbook filled with everything you need to know in order to find profitable inventory from the comfort of your home. This book is the only book in this list that I have not completed reading yet (it’s 480 pages), but even the parts that I have read have revolutionized my FBA business — not to mention, my wife Rebecca is constantly quoting ideas from this book to me as we discuss our business. The book is well worth the price tag attached to it. If price is an issue, there is a black & white edition that is less expensive.  

grocery-goldmine-284x300Grocery Goldmine by Jessica Larrew & Beth Maus
This book opened up my eyes to a whole new world of inventory possibilities. The book really answered every one of my questions and addressed all of my fears about selling groceries on Amazon. The book even comes with a 60-day risk free guarantee, so there is nothing to lose by getting this book. If you want to read more of my thoughts on this book, I did an entire blog post about adding grocery items to my Amazon business model. Read more here.

BBB-facebook1The Buy Box Bible by Feedvisor (FREE!)
Understanding how the buy box works is the key to selling successfully on Amazon. The Buy Box Bible is the most comprehensive guide to understanding exactly how the buy box works. You’ll learn all the variables that determine the buy box winner, how to work the buy box to maximize sales (and profits), and the differences between the regular buy box and the mobile buy box. The book is 100% free and easy to read. Reading this book was a game-changer for me. 

FINANCES

41R1wODM-RL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Introduction To Sales Tax for Amazon FBA Sellers by Kat Simpson & Michael Rice
The topic of sales tax on Amazon doesn’t have to be the most confusing part of selling online. With this book, you will gain a better understanding of today’s sales tax laws. Understanding how sales tax impacts you and your Amazon customers not only helps you stay out of trouble with the tax man, but it can also boost your bottom line. You don’t need to ignore tax issues just because they seem complicated. It’s in your best interest to read, understand, and follow all the sales tax rules. 

Total-MoneyThe Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
Are you hoping your Amazon FBA business will help you get out of debt and build wealth? This is the proven step-by-step plan that my wife and I have been following for years. If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. Don’t manage your finances aimlessly. This book has helped give my wife and I the financial peace that we need for today and in the days ahead, and it can help you too. 

 INSPIRATION

51cEt5M95bL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Start With Why by Simon Sinek
If you are wanting to avoid burnout, or you sense burnout approaching your Amazon FBA business, then this is a great book to keep the fire burning strong. We often lose our passion when we lose our why. The why is what motivates us towards accomplishing big goals. What is your why? Family? Financial security? Meeting goals? Building a successful business from the ground up? Whatever you want to accomplish in life, finding your why is the best place to start. 

OB-XP895_davida_JV_20130527233557David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell
Do you ever feel like the underdog who is facing an impossible-to-beat giant? If you can relate, then this book is for you. David and Goliath will change how you think about your current obstacles and disadvantages in your life and in your business.  You’ll start to see things from a new perspective and learn how to find success despite enduring what most people see as setbacks. When you are tempted to give up, this book will inspire you to keep pressing on. (This book also gets Rebecca’s vote for one of her favorites.)

SQuotation-Brian-Tracy-success-inspirational-business-Meetville-Quotes-248218ome of the above books are like roadmaps, while others are like toolkits, but they are all books that have improved how I run my FBA business. They have all had a direct impact on the success I’ve experienced so far.   

Everyone knows that knowledge is power, and one of the best ways to gain more knowledge is to read books. Picture, for a moment, where you would like your Amazon FBA business to be in 5 years. What does it look like? Charlie Jones, author of Books Are Tremendous, says “Five years from now, you will be the same person you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” I could not agree more. 

What books have been an inspiration to you and your online business? Comment below and let me know what books have had the biggest impact for you. I’d love to add some more books to my Goodreads “to read” list.  Goodreads is a free website that connects people who enjoy books. Speaking of Goodreads, if you want to connect with me there, click here

Spring Cleaning for a Profitable FBA Business

spring cleaning

It’s Spring! This is the perfect time of year to do a little Spring cleaning of your inventory.

Let me ask you a question. How often do you look at your inventory at Amazon? For most sellers, we don’t take a look all that often. Sure, we might look at our inventory levels, but how often do we really look at each item in our inventory? Here are a few “Spring Cleaning” ideas:

1. Reprice your really old items to sell as soon as possible. 
2. Remove or destroy older items that will never sell.
3. Remove or destroy older items that are no longer profitable. 
4. Delete your old inactive inventory items. 

Inventory Seller Central 1Before I break all these down and explain why I make these suggestions, let me tell you how I’m able to sort my inventory and see what items I’ve had at a FBA warehouse the longest. Log in to Seller Central and click on the Inventory tab. The default settings will show you the newest items that you’re selling via FBA. To sort from the oldest to newest, just click on the little triangle under the “Date Opened” text. This will show you the items you’ve been selling the longest. When you are making your “Spring Cleaning” decisions, be sure to ignore any items that you constantly replenish. 

Ok, now that you know how to sort your inventory to see what items you’ve been selling on Amazon the longest, let’s break down why you should clean up your inactive inventory. 

1. Reprice your really old items to sell as soon as possible. 

price-tag-267x300Many Amazon sellers look at the price of their items only one time: when they originally price them. As we all know, our items are never perfectly priced. Competition comes in from other sellers who seem to always lower the price. Not only that, but new products are added to the Amazon catalog every day, and so not only do you have competition with other sellers, but your inventory item has competition from other like items. 

It’s always a good idea to take a look at the items that have been in your inventory the longest, and then price these items to sell quickly. Maybe that Atkins cookbook was priced perfectly at $14.99 back in January of 2014, but today it looks like it’s selling for about $5.99. It looks like it’s time to reprice it at around $5.99. You’ve had that item in stock long enough, and based on CamelCamelCamel data, it doesn’t look like you’ll get your $14.99 price again. Reprice that book, get some capital back, and reinvest it in items that will bring back a good ROI much faster.  

For more reading on repricing, check out my blog posts on how to manually reprice and my top 6 repricing strategies

Spring Cleaning Just Ahead Green Road Sign and Clouds2. Remove or destroy older items that will never sell.

Go back again and take a look at your oldest inventory items. Unfortunately, some of these items might never ever sell. I say “might” because you never know, but there are a few things you can look at to see that the probability of certain items selling again is less than .01%. Here are items to potentially remove from your inventory:

A. Items that no longer have a sales rank. 

That cassette tape of ZZTop’s Greatest Hits might have had a sales rank in 2014 when you first bought it, but now it no longer registers a rank. If Amazon doesn’t even give it a sales rank, then it has not sold in a long, long, LONG time*. 

Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 9.22.55 AM copyB. Items that have a ridiculously high sales rank

There comes a point where it’s time to stop waiting for an item to sell. You’ve had the buy box for months and the item never sells. Maybe it’s an office product that was ranked 9,000 when you bought it at Goodwill, but now it’s ranked 1 million. Yes, there are over 5 million items in the whole Office Products category, but that’s still an incredibly high rank. Unless I’m the only seller for this item and there are no other product pages for this item, then I’m going to have it removed. Always check CamelCamelCamel for sales rank history, but sometimes it’s just best to let go of the items with crazy high sales ranks. 

*A note about sales rank: Amazon does not assign a sales rank to some electronic items, even though they might be selling often. No one is really sure why this is, but it happens. The best way to see if an electronic item has sold lately is to check the product reviews. If it’s still getting recent reviews, then it’s probably still selling. To read more of my thoughts on sales ranks in the Electronics category, click here

3. Remove or destroy older items that are no longer profitable. 

Maybe when you purchased that hardback novel, it was selling for $11.99 on Amazon. But now the best prices from both FBA and MF (merchant fulfilled) are all at $3.99. Even if you sell the book at $3.99, you still won’t make a profit. You might even lose money if you sell it… so what do you do? Wait for the hundreds of other sellers to sell out at $3.99 and hope the price returns to $11.99? No. It’s time to let it go, create a removal order, and move on. 

Note: Amazon is currently offering free removal orders until April 30 2016, so now is the absolute best time to create a removal order to either destroy or return an item from your inventory.

00_lead_image_delete_key4. Delete your old inactive inventory items. 

Go through your inactive inventory and delete anything that’s over 6 months to a year old. These are items you once had in stock, but have not had in stock for a very, very long time. The only reason you would need to keep these items is if you plan on getting them back in stock. 

The best reason to delete old inactive inventory items is to protect yourself as a seller. At random times, Amazon will declare a particular item or brand as restricted. There are too many reasons to list why Amazon would suddenly restrict an item that it once sold hundreds of, but they do this often with specific items and brands. If Amazon sees too many of these listings in your active or even your inactive inventory, they could potentially shut down your Amazon seller account. I’ve heard on several occasions of Amazon sellers who had their account shut down because they had 4-5 items in their inactive inventory that were now restricted. It took the sellers months (not to mention a lot of pain and agony) to get their accounts reinstated. While this is an extreme situation that would only happen to a small amount of people, it’s still not worth risking your Amazon account. 

Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 1.13.18 PMDeleting your inactive inventory also means you will get fewer “ASIN Change Notification” emails from Amazon. You might remember from this blog post that in order to protect your business, it’s very important to take the right actions each time you get an ASIN Change Notification email from Amazon. What you don’t want to do is waste time dealing with ASIN notifications about items you no longer have in stock and don’t plan on selling again. Even if your inventory item is listed as “inactive,” you will still get an ASIN Change Notification from Amazon. Deleting the old inventory items that have been inactive for quite some time will reduce the amount of ASIN Change Notifications and will free you up to spend your time in more profitable ways. 

I hope these Spring Cleaning ideas help you clean up your inventory so that you can spend more time and money on items that are profitable! Any other Spring Cleaning ideas? If so, feel free to share them in the comment section below. 

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.