Category Archives: Mindset

Top 7 Things NOT to Do During Q4 as an Amazon FBA Seller

We’re starting to get into the thick of the busiest time of the year for an Amazon FBA seller – Q4, or the last quarter of the year. For the rest of the world, Q4 is typically October, November, and December, but for an Amazon FBA seller the busiest months are typically November, December, and January.

Q4 can be a magical time of faster sales and higher profits, but it can also be a time of great confusion and unmet expectations if you’re not careful. Many folks will try to tell you all the things you should be doing as an Amazon seller during Q4, but today I want to talk about the things you DON’T want to do during Q4.

If you do these things, you might end up hurting yourself and your business. If you avoid the things on this list, it should be easier for you to grow your sales, make more money, and be successful in your business and life.

  1. Obsessively check your pending sales
    Sure, it’s fun to check your sales during Q4 and see the pending sales adding up quicker than they do in other times of the year. Our brains are probably getting a dopamine hit of some sort every time we check sales and see new orders in our pending list – but is it a good use of our time? There are many more profitable ways to spend your time during Q4, so try to only check on your sales a reasonable number of times a day, not obsessively every five minutes. (This first item on the list is in honor of my wife, Rebecca. She is the first to admit this is her biggest downfall during Q4. Step away from the Amazon Seller app, Rebecca!)
  1. Implement a brand new strategy
    Learning how to implement a brand new strategy or sell in a new category is always a fun challenge for an Amazon FBA seller, but Q4 is not the time to start experimenting. You have nine months during the first three quarters of the year to play around with new concepts, tools, categories, or brands, but Q4 is when you need to double down on the things you already know well. You have so much more potential to make huge profits if you take what you know and just do more of it during Q4. You don’t want to get stuck trying to figure out something difficult about a new concept and waste time that you could be maximizing your profits by sourcing and sending in to FBA items that are low-hanging fruit for your business.
  1. Stop sending inventory to the FBA warehouse
    Some people get caught up in dates and deadlines too early in the season, and they stop sending inventory by late November or early December. Some sellers might stop sending anything at all to the warehouse, overlooking the fact that sales in January can continue to be fantastic – IF you have inventory in stock. Buyers might want to buy what they really wanted for Christmas (but didn’t receive as a gift), or they might want to use up all the Amazon gift cards they received. Keep sending in inventory, so you’ll have stuff to sell well into January.
  1. Blindly lower your prices
    There comes a point in the Q4 selling season where some sellers might start to panic and wonder if their prices are too high. Blindly lowering prices, however, isn’t the best way to handle that fear of missing out on sales. In many cases, supply will go down on the Amazon website, which means prices will go up – you don’t want to start lowering your prices just as other sellers are selling out and you can get a higher price for your inventory. Always check the stock levels of your competitors and check Keepa and CamelCamelCamel for sales rank and price history in previous Q4s, whenever possible. You can see our tutorial for checking stock levels
    at this link, for Keepa at this link, and for CamelCamelCamel at this link.
  1. Spend time comparing yourself to others
    If you’re in any Facebook groups for Amazon sellers, you’ll probably see folks posting photos of their latest retail arbitrage trips with several carts full of toys to sell, or you might see screen shots of crazy high numbers of daily sales on Amazon. It can be tempting to start comparing yourself to those folks and wondering why you aren’t having as much success as they are. Don’t do that. Just don’t. Comparing your business to someone else’s isn’t a fair comparison, and it isn’t a good use of your time. If you can’t help it, maybe consider stepping away from Facebook for a while. Keep pressing forward on your own goals, and don’t get bogged down in thinking how much greater someone else’s business might be. (On a related note, if you want to join our Full-Time FBA Facebook group,
    here’s the link.)
  1. Chase all the hot toys
    The catalogs and magazines tell you what’s hot, so all you have to do is go out there, chase it down, and resell it, right? But chasing hot toys can quickly become the fast track to frustration with large numbers of competitors and ever lowering prices. Very rarely does a hot toy lead to great profit margins. The stores and manufacturers typically do the research to know what’s going to be hot, and they’re usually well prepared and fully stocked. Instead of buying hot toys, you want to be looking for lesser known items that are selling really well with fewer competitors, or you want to look for accessories for the hot toys – those smaller items that buyers will need to add to their cart to go along with the hot toy, like refills or cases.
  1. Neglect your family and friends
    I would imagine none of us do this last one consciously, but it does end up happening at times if we’re not careful. The Q4 selling season is also the busiest time of the year for holidays involving spending time with family and friends. It could be so easy to get caught up in the idea of all the profits to be made on Amazon during November and December, and we can lose sight of the people in our lives who are the most important. Please don’t let your Amazon FBA business take over every waking moment so that you miss out on making memories with your family and friends. You need to take the time to savor the holidays and focus on the most important relationships in your life. Businesses can be here today and gone tomorrow, but your family and friends are lasting – don’t let this holiday season go by without making sure they know how important they are to you.

I’ve found in my own life and business that when I stay away from these 7 things, I have a healthier work-life balance and more success in the long term at my Amazon FBA business. I hope this Q4 you find tremendous success and amazing profits!

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

Now, I’d love to hear from you. Can you relate to any of these non-helpful actions that can take away from having a successful Q4? What other things do you try to avoid this time of year? Comment below with aspects of life and business that you try to stay away from in order to make the most of this amazing Q4 opportunity.

Is There Still Room for New Amazon FBA Sellers?

One question I am consistently asked since launching fulltimefba.com back in 2013 is this… Is there still room for new Amazon FBA sellers?

Most people ask this question out of two fears they are experiencing:

  1. The fear of not finding enough profitable inventory to sell on Amazon.
  2. The fear of too many competitors who will tank prices so I’m never able to get a sale.

I totally get it. When you’re new at selling on Amazon (or even still in your first year), you experience the pains of being a newbie.

You might laugh at me, but I thought some similar thoughts back in 2011 when I first started selling on Amazon. I thought, “Will I be able to find enough inventory to sell, or will I waste my time sourcing for inventory that just isn’t there anymore? Will I actually be able to sell the inventory I buy, or will my competitors tank the price and steal my sales?

And that was back in 2011…

If you think you’re too late for the Amazon FBA Profit Party, then I’ve got some great news for you:

I totally believe that the profit potential of Amazon FBA is still in its infancy. That’s right… still at the beginning. If you get started now, then you’re still joining in on the ground floor of what’s possible with Amazon and FBA.

You might be wondering how I’m thinking this when the Amazon FBA program started over 11 years ago. That’s like ancient, right? Well, to help you see things in the right light, you need to have the correct perspective. In the rest of this blog post I’ll share with you the reasons I think there is plenty of room for new Amazon FBA sellers:

1. Amazon is taking over the world – and needs your help!

Over and over again, it seems as if Amazon consistently does something that changes everything. From launching an online bookstore in 1994, to moving beyond books in 1998, to making free 2-day delivery everyone’s expectation starting in 2005, to opening FBA warehouses to 3rd party sellers in 2006, and so much more (CreateSpace on-demand book printing, Kindle tablets and ebooks, Amazon Fresh, Amazon Echo, Merch on-demand T-shirt printing, and so much more.).

Over and over again, Amazon continues to revolutionize online shopping and the expectations we have a shoppers. The more Amazon expands, the more Amazon will need you and I to sell on the Amazon platform.

2. Buyers are only just now starting to buy more items online.

You might buy many items on Amazon throughout the year, but you’re not the average person. It would shock you how many people in the US still think that Amazon.com is just an online bookstore. I still come across many people who have no idea that Amazon sells clothes, shoes, or groceries. Here are some eye-opening stats for you:

Right now, 62% of Americans buy on Amazon at least once a month, with the amount of time between purchases decreasing every day. As we look toward the future, 67% of Millennials and 56% of Gen Xers prefer online shopping over in-store shopping; this leaves so much room for growth as more people start to buy on Amazon more often. Overall, Americans only spend about 36% of their monthly shopping budget online, and every year that number keeps getting bigger and bigger. Because more and more people are shopping online every day, Amazon is depending on 3rd party sellers (that’s you and me) to find the inventory to stock the FBA warehouses.

3. Without 3rd party sellers, Amazon would lose over 50% of their sales.

A huge benefit that only 3rd party sellers can bring to Amazon is the incredible amount of product selection and increase in customer choice. Third party sellers can find inventory to sell that Amazon can’t. This, combined with the fact that only 16% of manufacturers in the world sell their items directly on Amazon, means that 84% of manufacturers still don’t sell on Amazon – leaving a huge hole on Amazon that you and I can fill with inventory. In other words, our inventory sourcing efforts are vital to the continuation of Amazon’s success. In fact, if Amazon stopped 3rd party sellers from selling on Amazon, they would lose over half of their annual sales (which would equate to billions of dollars lost for Amazon).

4. Only recently did Amazon finally surpass Google as the starting point for online shoppers.

Before 2017, online shoppers would start on Google (or other search engines) in order to search for the items they wanted to buy online. Google could send these online shoppers almost anywhere… to Amazon, a specific brand’s website, eBay, a specific retail store, or to an unlimited number of possible store websites. Only just recently, starting in 2017, do a majority of online shoppers (over 50%) now start their online shopping experience on Amazon. This is huge for the future of Amazon and how much Amazon needs new sellers to find inventory to sell on Amazon.

5. Many Amazon sellers have no idea what they are doing, which can be to your benefit!

I can’t tell you how many times I see a listing on Amazon where there are 100 sellers, but only a few are actually competing for the sale. These other sellers are throwing their money away on storage fees for inventory they are not selling. If you take the right steps in your Amazon business, then you can set yourself up for long-term success. For info about how to start a successful Amazon FBA business from the beginning, then check out JumpStart Amazon.

Showrooming -the practice of visiting a store in order to examine a product before buying it online at a lower price.

6. Mobile sales are only now starting to generate momentum.

It’s amazing to see the growth of sales that are generating directly from their smartphones. The term showrooming (see image caption) wasn’t even a thing a few years ago, and now it’s a normal occurrence. In fact, over 50% of online shoppers use their smartphone to buy online… and over 60% use their tablets. These numbers are only going to increase the more people start to learn about shopping online via their smartphone and tablets.

Source: Business Insider (source link below)

7. Amazon keeps attracting more and more customers every day.

Here are just a few things Amazon does that almost every savvy online shopper has now come to expect: Amazon Prime free 2-day shipping, easy reordering, easy returns, and easy refunds. Why does Amazon do this? So that more and more people will come to Amazon to shop… and it’s working! I know my online shopping expectations have been influenced by Amazon. It’s annoying to me when I order something online elsewhere and it doesn’t arrive in 2 days. And that consistency by Amazon keeps me (and millions of others) coming back for more.

I’m not exaggerating when I say millions, because Amazon has over 300 million accounts. Back in 2015, 50 million people had a Prime account. In 2017, that number has grown to almost 70 million Prime members. Again, these numbers are growing every year. With more buyers, Amazon needs more sellers to stock the Amazon shelves with inventory.

Seriously, I could go on forever with even more reasons (see the source links at the end of this post for even more stats), but I hope by now you get my point. The growth of Amazon and their need for you to fill up their FBA warehouses with inventory is still at the very early stages.

If you start your Amazon FBA business now, I guarantee that in a few years, you’ll be so glad you started “way back in 2017.” There will seriously never be a better time to start.

If you’re ready to start your Amazon FBA business with a plan that will lead you toward long-term success, then I invite you to check out the JumpStart Amazon course.

In JumpStart Amazon, you will know exactly, step-by-step, how to build up a successful Amazon FBA business from scratch. From setting up your seller account to finding profitable inventory to knowing how to best use your profits, I’ll show you the proven strategies for how to start your Amazon FBA business off on the right foot.

After you experience JumpStart Amazon, you’ll be able to:

  • Understand multiple proven strategies to find profitable inventory that sells quickly on Amazon
  • Know the right steps that will help make your first Amazon paycheck a big one
  • Easily decipher the most misunderstood aspect of selling on Amazon
  • Recognize the right inventory items to sell and which ones you should avoid
  • Handle brand and category restrictions with ease so that you can sell even more products
  • Know the biggest problem with sourcing inventory (and how to overcome it)
  • Know the strategies to have your products sell more often than your competition.
  • and so much more!

So, now I’d love to hear from you. Are you excited about the huge growth potential of selling on Amazon? What fears do you still have about selling on Amazon? How have you tried to overcome these fears? What excites you most about selling on Amazon? Answer below in the comments.

Source Links: Invespcro, Bigcommerce, SellerLabs, BusinessInsider, SeekingAlpha.

Improve the Customer Experience: Think Like an Amazon Customer

One thing Amazon wants to be known for is having the most customer-centric online marketplace in the world. Amazon truly takes “the customer is always right” to the extreme – just look at their super lenient return policy if you need an example. They want happy customers. Customers who will come back again and again. Customers who trust Amazon. Customers who leave raving reviews. Customers who tell all their friends how much they love Amazon.

Amazon wants the customer experience on their website to be the best in the world.

And that’s a phrase you as an Amazon FBA seller should remember and ingrain into your psyche: the customer experience. If you can begin to focus on how you as a seller can contribute to the customer experience on Amazon, you can begin to increase your profits and decrease your returns as an FBA seller.

The easiest way to make this mindset shift is to think like an Amazon customer. Shift away from always thinking like an Amazon seller…shift toward thinking like an Amazon customer.

Shift away from thinking only about your bottom line as a seller…shift toward thinking about how the customer will react when they open your product after their delivery arrives.

One tendency many of us resellers have developed over time is frugality. We are always on the lookout for a good deal, and we’re willing to overlook some minor flaws in order to save a few bucks. When customers go to Amazon, however, to purchase new items, they are looking for good deals but not at the expense of quality. They don’t want to receive an item with dinged up packaging or crushed corners. They want their merchandise to arrive in pristine, gift-quality condition.

As resellers, we absolutely cannot send in inventory to FBA warehouses that will cause customers to lose trust in Amazon or have an unpleasant customer experience. We must look for ways to positively impact the customer experience by providing quality merchandise. And when we give customers a great experience, it can increase our profits by giving us more sales, more product reviews, and more positive feedback.

Here’s how your contribution to the customer experience can increase your profits:

  • Thinking like an Amazon customer opens your eyes to see more items to source. Too often when we’re sourcing we pass up quality inventory because we think, “No one would ever buy that!” But if you’re thinking like an Amazon customer, your mind is open to the possibility that even the oddest item could be something customers are searching for. Scan everything (we use the Scoutify app), and don’t just disqualify items because you personally would never be interested in buying them. Pay attention to sales ranks and sales rank history, and you’ll begin to learn trends in what Amazon customers are buying.
  • Thinking like an Amazon customer helps you find higher ROI items. ROI is return on investment – and in general we as Amazon sellers want to get the biggest ROI possible. As you’re scanning items and keeping an open mind about what customers are looking for, you can start finding items that other sellers would overlook, but that have great ROI potential! Often we make assumptions that items aren’t worth anything, but when we do the work of 1) thinking like a customer on the search for these types of items, 2) scanning anything that fits the description of what an Amazon customer would be looking for, and 3) paying attention to sales rank and how it works in different categories, then we can start finding items that stand out and have higher ROI than if we just follow what every other seller is doing and chase after the latest BOLO.

Now let’s look at the other side of this coin of thinking like an Amazon customer. Here’s how you can begin to decrease your return rate:

  • Think like an Amazon customer while you’re sourcing. When you’re sourcing for inventory, the biggest way you can positively impact your return rate is to stop sourcing borderline items. It may be a hard habit to break, but for the sake of your seller account, I highly recommend you not buy items that are at all questionable as to their condition – and that includes packaging. No more dinged tins, crushed corners, broken plastic, or missing shoebox lids. The reseller thinks, “They’re just going to throw the box away. What difference does it make?” But the customer thinks, “What’s the deal? Why is this packaging all messed up? Is something wrong with the item also? Guess I should return it.” While you’re standing there in the clearance aisle sourcing, stop looking at the dollar signs on your scanning app for a moment and think about how your customer would feel opening an Amazon box and finding this particular item. Would they be pleased with their purchase? Or would they be disappointed because of how it’s presented? There are plenty of high quality inventory finds out there for you to source, so if you think the customer will be disappointed at all with the item in your hand, put that item down and keep moving down the aisle. Your return rate will thank you.
  • Think like an Amazon customer while you’re listing. When you’re listing your items for sale on Amazon, always round down on the condition. You’re not going to be making it out of the store with borderline items anymore, right? But sometimes inventory items make it home with you and you find out too late that there’s a defect in the packaging or something else about the item that makes it not in new condition. In these cases, always round down on the condition. Do not list them as new. List them as like new or very good.

Think like an Amazon customer. If someone buys a book in like new or very good condition, but they open it up and see that it’s way better than they imagined, they’re going to be pleased (and possibly leave you positive seller feedback). On the other hand, if they order a new book but open it up to find it has shelf wear of any kind, that book might be on the fast track to your return pile (and your seller feedback might take a hit). Always round down on the condition, not up.

It’s not worth it to make 5 extra dollars on a sale but risk the return or the impact on your seller account – it’s not even worth it to make $50 extra! Amazon sellers must stop putting their bottom line ahead of the customer experience.

It may seem counterintuitive to think like an Amazon customer, but really, try it! Next time you’re out sourcing or back at the computer listing, start thinking about your products and how a customer would respond to these products if they receive them in an Amazon shipment. It may sound crazy, but thinking this way will begin to increase your profits and decrease your returns.

Have you found some ways to think like an Amazon customer? If so, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

***********************

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

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

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

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

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?

Overcoming Your Fear of Leaving with an Empty Shopping Cart

Empty Shopping CartWe’re well into our second round of blog posts in our series on Overcoming Your Amazon FBA Fears. If you want to catch up on the previous posts, click here to read through them.

Today we’re going to discuss a fear that can strike deep in the heart of anyone who spends time doing retail arbitrage (RA). Sometimes the fear can strike as soon as we walk through the doors of a retail store. Sometimes it takes a few minutes into scanning the clearance aisle before we feel it creeping in. Other times it can mess with our heads after an hour or more spent scanning items, and it can cause us to throw our sourcing parameters out the window and start making ridiculous choices.

It’s the fear of leaving a store with an empty shopping cart.

No one who does RA likes to spend 30 minutes, an hour, two hours in a store scanning items and come up empty. We can feel like the time has been wasted or that we are inadequate as resellers. It’s easy to start thinking that the problem must be with me, that I am not good enough to find something to resell in this store.

While it’s true that the more you scan the more you can find and the longer you’ve been in the business the more quickly you’ll be able to load up a cart, we all need to remember that there are days when the stars just don’t align and we can’t find anything worth buying in a store. Sometimes you hit home runs. Sometimes you strike out. It’s all part of the game.

Everyone has a different business model when it comes to Amazon FBA. When you head into a retail store (or garage sale, thrift store, online store, wholesale marketplace, etc), you should know your business’s unique buying parameters: the categories you’re interested in, your maximum buy price, your minimum sell price, your expected return on investment (ROI), and your maximum sales rank percentage per category. In certain categories you will have other criteria as well, including number of sellers, number of reviews, or number of variations.

You should set up these parameters well before you head into a store so that you can make the best decisions possible for your business and so that you are equipped to handle just such a situation as the empty cart scenario.

Here are 3 truths to remember when you are tempted to buy something, ANYTHING, rather than leave a store with an empty cart:

burning_money11. You don’t want to waste your money.

If you spend your capital on items outside your sourcing parameters, you are using up capital you might need later that day or that week. You don’t want to buy items outside your parameters and then not be able to buy that amazing home run at the next store because you ran out of money.

shutterstock_373325772. You don’t want to waste your time.

It may seem like you’re wasting your time by scanning for an hour and then just leaving the store empty handed, but that’s the short sighted way of looking at this situation. Think about how much more time you will waste by not just walking away. You will waste the time spent arguing with yourself that it’s OK to forget your sourcing parameters. You will waste the time standing in line to check out with your less-than-stellar purchases.

And then for weeks and months you could potentially be wasting time dealing with dead inventory at the FBA warehouse. I’ve found that often times the items I had to convince myself to buy in order not to feel like a failure at RA are the exact items I regret buying 8 months later when no amount of repricing will get those suckers to sell. Then I have to spend more time and mental energy deciding whether to remove the items or destroy them to avoid long term storage fees. Why didn’t I just walk away in the first place?!

IMG_15713. You don’t want to fall into the comparison trap.

If you spend any amount of time in Facebook groups for Amazon sellers (and I recommend you do join some groups for the camaraderie and education; ours is found here), you will see that some sellers like to post pictures of their latest RA haul: a receipt stretched out for yards, multiple shopping carts attached in a train, the back of a van packed to the ceiling with shopping bags. These photos can be inspirational, but they can also come back to haunt us when we we are standing in the store aisle with an empty cart.

comparison-is-the-thief-of-Please, please do not compare yourself to any other FBAer when you are sourcing. You don’t know what their parameters are, you don’t know how far in debt they may be in order to make those purchases, you don’t know if that inventory is going to sit languishing on a warehouse shelf never selling or selling at a loss. Please do not spend one moment comparing yourself to anyone else. Do not be discouraged by walking out of a store with an empty cart. It does not mean you weren’t successful at sourcing. It means you were wise in your choices.

I hope these truths have helped you understand how you can fight the fear of the empty cart. It’s my desire for you to have a successful Amazon FBA business and be prepared with the knowledge you need in various sourcing situations. Next time you’re in a store and can’t find anything to buy, no matter what you scan, know that you need to stick with the sourcing parameters you set up ahead of time. It’s OK to walk away. It’s OK to leave an empty cart. Move on. You have better buys around the corner.

 

Responding To The Latest Changes In Amazon Selling

changes-ahead-road-sign

Updated for March 2016. First posted May 2014.

The past few days have seen many Amazon sellers freaking out about the latest Amazon policy update. I’ve even heard of people saying they are going to quit selling on Amazon because of this change. In all honesty, I think that most people are just overreacting and it’s really not as bad as people think.

If you haven’t heard about the latest policy update from Amazon, then I’ll sum it up for you right here. Amazon is starting to restrict some 3rd party sellers from sending inventory of certain ASINs to Amazon FBA warehouses. You may have seen this policy update in action if you’ve listed anything lately and received this message:

You are already at the maximum inventory allowed for this product, due to capacity or other restrictions. This product must be removed from this shipment.

amazonwarehouse-Flickr_Scott_LewisBasically, Amazon thinks that it already has enough of that particular ASIN being stored at its multiple FBA warehouses, and there is no longer a need for more of that ASIN to be sent to Amazon. Amazon doesn’t want to store 500 of the same item when they know it will only sell twice a month. Sure, the new policy has been showing up on some very low ranked ASINs with no FBA competition, but I think that’s just a glitch in their algorithm that they will soon fix.

For some Amazon sellers, this new ASIN restriction is causing severe panic… but it doesn’t have to. This is not the first time Amazon has implemented a new policy that changed how people sell on Amazon, and it won’t be the last. There is no reason to panic over this change.

If you’ve been selling on Amazon for any length of time, maybe you remember some of these changes…

  • Amazon announces a new 6-month long term storage fee that would be in addition to the 12-month storage fee.
  • Amazon requires approval to sell any toy related to Star Wars Episode 7.
  • Amazon closes the categories for Grocery, Beauty, and Health & Personal Care and people who want to sell these items need to be approved.
  • Amazon “froze” everyone’s toys related to the movie Frozen to check on counterfeit claims and then requires anyone who wants to sell Frozen related toys to seek approval.
  • Amazon announces a new 12-month long term storage fee in addition to the monthly storage fees.
  • Amazon begins to split up shipments to different warehouses.

The changes that Amazon makes have the potential to be discouraging to us as Amazon sellers. But we have a choice whether or not we’re going to let these changes get us down.

So what are your options in the face of these changes? You could see all these frustrations as a sign of things to come and you could quit selling on Amazon altogether… You could go to Facebook and complain about these changes (and miss out on time sourcing, packing, shipping, or even miss out on valuable family time)… OR, you could adapt to the changes and make the most of your mental, emotional, and physical energy to push your business to the next level.

change-quoteChange happens. It’s inevitable. Most of the time, we have absolutely no say or influence in the changes that occur. The only thing we have control of is our response to change. Those who are going to succeed in this reselling line of work are those who will adapt to the changes and make the most of every situation.

Amazon stopping you from selling slow moving inventory with the ASIN restrictions? Stop over-worrying about it and focus on finding faster turning items to send in to Amazon. Amazon putting an ASIN restriction on the wrong items? Don’t complain about it on Facebook; instead open up a ticket with Seller Central and politely ask them to look into the ASIN restriction on that item and see if the restriction can be lifted.

Learn. Adjust. Grow. Learn more. Adapt.

These changes will not be the last ones. More changes will come, but the important thing for you to do is to focus on how you will respond to these changes. Those who will win are the ones who will respond with wisdom, patience, and a renewed desire to accomplish their overall goals, no matter what happens.

So what about you? How do you respond to changes in your business? I’d love to hear how you make the most of these changes. 

 

The Biggest Amazon FBA Sourcing Mistake You Can Make

Sourcing MistakeAs Amazon FBA sellers, we have all made this sourcing mistake at one point or another. Especially as we’re just getting started in the business, without much experience to give us confidence.

Typically, we start out selling items that are familiar to us. Many sellers come to Amazon as book lovers, looking to get profits for the extra books around the house. Others get their start in FBA when they have growing kids with an abundance of toys around the house and a familiarity with the popular characters for certain age groups.

We start off selling what we know. And what we know is the perfect place to start.

But the biggest mistake I can make the further I go in my FBA business is this: to source as if the Amazon customer thinks just like me. 

Here are a few examples of thoughts we can entertain that will shut us down as we’re sourcing:

  • “Why would anyone ever buy this item?”
  • “Why would anyone ever pay this price for this item?”
  • “There is no way this item would ever sell on Amazon.”
  • “Why would someone buy this on Amazon would they could just go down the street to get it at the grocery store?”

Your sourcing progress will come to a halt if you continue to source as if the Amazon customer thinks just like you.

You have to change your perspective, think like an Amazon customer. Now, Amazon has millions of customers, so you can’t think like every single one of them. But you can get out of your own brain and do a few things to start thinking less like an Amazon seller and more like an Amazon customer.

9abc344489ef43c0203642845017a0701. Expand your categories.

If you have been selling for a while (by “a while” I mean a few months) and feel like you’ve got a good foundation in toys or books, try branching out into some new categories. People come to Amazon to buy just about anything, so as you’re out in the retail world, thrift stores, or garage sales, expand your thinking to include different types of items as potential inventory.

There’s no need to get hung up trying to get ungated in a bunch of new categories before you start expanding your inventory. Arts and crafts, home and kitchen, sports and outdoors are all categories that don’t require Amazon approval for new sellers, and you can find inventory for these categories in a ton of places.

We hear sellers say all the time, “I went to [fill in the blank with store name] and looked at the clearance, and there was nothing there for me to buy.” Granted, sometimes this may actually be the case, but often the problem isn’t that there is nothing to buy — the problem may very well be that the seller is overlooking items that don’t fit in the categories he or she normally sells.

Selling items in the categories we are unfamiliar with can be uncomfortable for some people, but don’t let the fear of branching out to new categories hold you back. Get out of your regular pattern, out of the regular aisle where you shop, and scan something completely new and different.

Carl-Richards-false-assumption-sketch2. Don’t make assumptions.

Last spring we found a $3 item on clearance. It’s oversized. It’s basically a piece of molded plastic with a sticker on it. No moving parts. No fancy decorations. It’s just the kind of thing you would naturally skip over as you’re scanning. But we scanned it just in case and found that it had a low rank in the toys category. Not only that, but it was selling for over $40 at the time. Buy for $3, sell for $40 — that’s awesome ROI! Over the next several months we bought dozens of this item in various colors for $3 to $7, and we sold them all for $40 to $60 each.

We’re certain that one reason we’ve sold this item so well for so long is that most other resellers skip over it thinking, “It’s just a piece of plastic. No one’s going to pay $50 for that thing.” But customers know that the item is hard to find in stores and Amazon is the easiest place to get it. It’s worth it to those customers to pay that amount for it.

barcode-scan-icon3. Scan everything.

If you have time, scan everything. Just do it. Scan to see what’s in the Amazon catalog, what prices things are selling at, what items have a low rank. If you don’t have time to do that, maybe you have the money to hire someone to do it for you, to just scan an entire aisle in a store and see what’s out there.

Scanning everything in a “regular price” retail store aisle is a great way to find inventory that has less competition (because most sellers are focusing on the clearance aisle) and is possibly replenishable (where you can continue to go back to that store over and over again as that store restocks its inventory). Yes, scanning everything takes time and requires patience, but the rewards can be massive… especially if you find something great at one retail store, and your town has many other locations of that same store where you can go across town and stock up even more.

2017 Hot Toy BOLO

4. Don’t only focus on hot items.

Star Wars, Nintendo, and Hatchimals are not the only toys out there. People are making big profits on items that are off the beaten path. Don’t get stuck always chasing the next big trend, looking for the toys that everyone else says are the hot items of the day. These popular items may go up in price quickly, but unless you’re the first one in as a seller and can sell out quickly, you’re likely to be stuck with inventory that has a growing number of competitors and a sharply dropping price.

Not every Amazon customer is looking for the most popular toy out there. You can be the seller who brings unique, hard-to-find, quality inventory to the Amazon market, and customers will flock to you.

CCC Q45. Check the Keepa and/or CamelCamelCamel data.

When you’re out scanning all these new items in new categories that you’re not used to, be sure to check the price history and sales rank history on CamelCamelCamel or Keepa. You may look at the Amazon product page for an item and doubt that a customer will pay that amount of money. But the history on CamelCamelCamel doesn’t lie. If the lowest price for an item is steadily high and the sales rank stays consistent (or has consistent peaks), then that item really does sell for that price. Even if you doubt it. Even if you personally wouldn’t buy it. Even if you personally wouldn’t pay that much for it. Learn more about Keepa and Camel here.

Do your best to get out of your own brain when you’re making sourcing decisions. Do your best to think like Amazon customers. If you do, you’ll increase your inventory level, lower your competition, and make strides in growing your FBA business.

Do you struggle with your mindset when it comes to sourcing inventory? Do you have any strategies you would add to this list? We would love to hear from you in the comments below!


JumpStart Amazon is our intensive course focused on teaching you, step-by-step, how to build up a successful Amazon FBA business from scratch. From setting up your seller account to finding profitable inventory to knowing how to best use your profits, I’ll show you the proven strategies for how to start your Amazon FBA business so that it’s set up for long-term success. JumpStart Amazon is both an ebook (200+ pages) and video course (10+ hours) focusing on everything you need to start a successful Amazon FBA business.

5 Simple Strategies to Take the Next Step with Your 2016 Amazon FBA Goals

Are you like me when it comes to starting the new year off?

I love new beginnings, love fresh starts, love setting goals and starting over new. Every year we have the opportunity to make it our best year yet.

smart-person-2Hopefully by this time you’ve made some SMARTER goals for your business and for yourself personally. We hope you take this opportunity to dream big, have fun, and set some tremendous goals. If you haven’t seen our post about setting goals for the year, we encourage you to check it out and see how you can set SMARTER goals for yourself and your business in 2016:

  • S – Specific – The better you know your objective, the easier it will be to attain it.
  • M – Measurable – Can the results be measured and compared to the goal?
  • A – Actionable – Can you take action steps to meet this goal?
  • R – Realistic – Are you both willing AND able to meet your goal?
  • T – Time bound – When do you want to accomplish this goal?
  • E – Exciting – Do the goals get you excited about your future?
  • R – Relevant – Do these goals match up with the season of life you are in?

Now that you’ve set your 2016 goals (seriously, stop right now and set some goals if you haven’t already), we’re going to take those goals to the next level. Here are 5 simple strategies for taking your goals to the next level for your Amazon FBA business this year:

1. Write down your goals.

penpad2Often we find ourselves thinking about or talking to other people about our goals, without actually putting pen to paper and writing down a record of our goals. For some reason, however, the physical action of moving a goal from our brain and our mouth down to a piece of paper has an effect on whether we achieve the goal. There’s just something in the process of writing it down that causes people to achieve their goals more often.

2. Break down your goals into smaller goals.

kenya_2808How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Break down your huge goals into bite-sized pieces so you can keep your forward momentum.

For example, if your goal is to double your sales by the end of the year, then figure out the halfway point and make that a smaller goal for your business. If you made $50k in sales last year and want to double it this year to $100k, go into your account in Seller Central and figure out which day in the previous year you hit $25k in sales. Set a smaller goal for yourself to hit $50k by that date this year.

Another example: You can set smaller goals for your Amazon FBA education. If you set the goal to finish the Proven Wholesale Course by February, you could set smaller goals that will help you complete the course on time. Look at the modules, see how many there are, then figure out when you should finish each of the modules in order to reach your February goal.

3. Put your goals on your calendar.

If-it-doesn-t-get-scheduled-It-will-never-get-doneOnce you know what your bite-sized goals are, write your deadlines on your calendar or put them in your calendar app. Having the deadlines on your calendar means you will see them regularly and will keep your goals fresh in your mind.

Even more important than putting those deadlines on the calendar, though, is scheduling time to work on your goals. Make an appointment with yourself to work on achieving your goals. You make time for the things in life that are a priority. If your goals are a priority, you will set aside time where no one can interrupt you as you make progress on your goals. You’re much more likely to actually do something if it’s scheduled in your calendar.

4. Find accountability for working on your goals.

AccountabilityWe all need someone to walk with us in life as we make progress towards our goals. I’m not talking about just posting your goals on Facebook for all your “friends” to see. That’s not true accountability. No one is going to come back in a month and check on that post and see how you’re doing.

Find a specific person who has experience in the area of your goal who you can talk to regularly and who will call you out when needed — someone who will ask you honestly about your progress. You don’t have to tell one person all your goals — that could get overwhelming for your accountability partner. But maybe you could tell your spouse one goal, tell a friend in the Amazon business another one, tell your sister another one. And with all of these people, make sure you’re giving, not just taking in the relationship. Accountability works best when it’s mutual, not a one-way street.

5. Review your goals regularly.

shutterstock_117743374-review-600pxStephen and I set ten really big goals for 2016, three personal goals and seven business goals. We will review these goals throughout the year, the same way we did last year. Towards the end of each month we have a budget meeting to go over our family finances, and we also review our goals at the same time. We remind ourselves of our motivations for reaching those goals, look at our progress, decide if they’re still relevant (in 2015, we completely deleted one goal by August because it no longer applied to our life situation; for another 2015 goal, we reached it in July instead of December!), and figure out the next step to take to keep moving forward.

For some people, a weekly review is good, for others quarterly, but for us a monthly review works best. Again, it’s crucial to put this review time on the calendar, or it’s too easy to forget to do it. We challenge you today to put a reminder on your phone or in your calendar for a monthly review of your goals for the next 12 months.

403a88a5d63b40347827bce7e74afd12If you follow the steps above, you’re much more likely to accomplish your goals in the time you set for yourself than if you just hope and wish that you’ll achieve them. Dreams are good, but we don’t want you to just live your life on dreams. We want you to develop plans that will help your dreams become reality. Some of you have some amazing long-term goals for your FBA business (like paying off your mortgage or other debt, being able to stay home with your kids, finding freedom from your corporate job). Working towards your 2016 goals will also help you achieve your long-term goals and achieve them faster.

Please leave a comment below and let us know how you’ll use these 5 strategies for making progress on your 2016 goals. What is your next action step? Did you put a reminder on your phone for your regular goal review? Did you schedule a time to work on your goals this week? Let us know!

 

The #1 Way to Ruin Your Q4 Sales on Amazon

ruin-q4-salesWe see them during all the pivotal dates this time of year. We saw them on Black Friday, we saw them on Cyber Monday, and we’ll see them again over the next couple of weeks. Posts on Facebook groups that include screenshots of huge sales numbers or pictures of 10 shopping carts loaded with toys from a retail arbitrage haul.

We can be inspired by these posts and feel excited for what is to come in our businesses — or we can have another response and ruin our Q4 sales.

We can start comparing ourselves to other sellers.

IMG_1571Comparing yourself with other sellers can be the fastest way to ruin your Q4 sales. Falling victim to the comparison trap might not cause you to lose sales today or tomorrow, but it will definitely have an impact on your psyche and your business over the long run.

When we compare ourselves to other people and start feeling negative emotions, that negativity can snowball. Pretty soon we’ll find that our entire mindset has shifted. We could become so dejected over not feeling good enough as a seller that we are tempted to quit. Or even worse, we could start making bad buying decisions for our business.

It’s crucial throughout the year but especially in Q4 to keep in mind what you don’t know when you see posts on Facebook about amazing sales or massive RA hauls:

  • recruiting-software-comparisonWe don’t know how much profit other sellers are making.

    If someone says “I made 6 figures in sales!” we can’t assume anything from that number. After that seller takes out the cost of inventory, supplies, or other fees, they might only be taking home in their pocket $15,000 of that $100k. And we don’t know how much time they spent to buy and prep their inventory. For all we know they really are only making minimum wage for their time.
  • We don’t know how other sellers are paying for their inventory.

    We don’t know if they run a cash-only business or if they go into debt to make huge purchases.  We never know if someone is making horrible decisions, taking out ginormous loans, and maxing out multiple credit cards to finance their Q4 inventory. This kind of behavior is very dangerous. At any moment Amazon could shut someone’s account down for something they did or did not do, and that seller would be stuck with the debt without getting a disbursement from Amazon. They could be making bad buying decisions thinking they have to blow a ton of money on inventory before December 10 in order to maximize Q4 — but what if their inventory doesn’t sell as expected? Or maybe they pay for everything with cash, make a ton of sales, and buy a new car in January. It could be either scenario when you see those posts online. The point is we just don’t know.

I’m not trying to suggest that everyone who makes these types of posts on Facebook is giving an inaccurate portrayal. On the contrary, many sellers make these posts in order to inspire others or as a way of celebrating within a community, neither of which is a bad thing. What I want us all to think about is how am I personally receiving this post? If I’m receiving it in a negative manner and comparing myself to others, then I have a problem.

When we get caught up in comparing ourselves with other sellers, we can have two types of negative results:

  • comparison-is-the-thief-of-We can begin to feel discouraged.

    If I’m comparing my Chapter 2 to someone else’s Chapter 12, I fail to take into account all the years of experiences (some successful, some otherwise) the other seller has had. When we compare ourselves this way, we can completely lose the steam in our engines and lose the motivation to excel as a seller. Worst case scenario, we could decide to quit.
  • We could look at other people’s sales and start getting puffed up.

    If I’m comparing my Chapter 12 to someone else’s Chapter 2, I can get arrogant, be filled with pride, and make reckless decisions. “Pride comes before the fall,” says the wisdom of Proverbs. Again, the comparisons have the potential to lead to incorrect thinking.

So then, what should we be comparing?

We should be comparing our outcomes with our goals

Q4 is an excellent time for us to begin looking back to see if we met our goals — for Q4 and for the year. I really hope you’re setting goals every year, if not every quarter. Goal setting is the best way for me to challenge myself in my business. Rather than comparing my sales to someone else’s, I want to look at my own goals and see how I fared this year. Did I meet my goals? If not, what can I do to tweak those goals for next year? What am I planning to do to make next year’s sales even better?

Don’t get weighed down by looking at other people’s sales numbers. Don’t fall victim to the trap of comparison. Focus on where you are personally and how you can meet your own goals.

article_separator

It’s not too early to start thinking about 2018! In fact, if you wait until January to start planning for 2018 then you’re setting yourself up to be left behind. I don’t want you to miss out on any opportunity for 2018, which is why I wrote The Reseller’s Guide to a Year in FBA: A Month by Month Plan For a Profitable Amazon Business.

Right now is the best time to make 2018 your Best Amazon sales year ever! 

Imagine knowing exactly what to expect in your Amazon FBA business every month of the year. Imagine what it would feel like knowing you were not missing out on any of the opportunities that will come your way in 2018. Imagine working on your Amazon business knowing exactly what your priorities are, what you need to avoid, and what you need to accomplish during each month to make progress toward making 2018 your best sales year ever.

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

article_separator

How are your sales going this Q4? I don’t want to know specific numbers — remember, we don’t need to compare those to anyone else’s. But did you meet your goals? Did you exceed them? Do you see now that you need to tweak something for next year? Let us know in the comments! We’d love to know how your Q4 is going, in general terms rather than specific numbers.