Category Archives: Seller Central Tips

How to Find Out Exactly Which Items Will Be Charged Long Term Storage Fees

LTSFUPDATE: Amazon has recently updated their Inventory Age report, and this post is now outdated. What I teach below still works, but there is now a much easier way to find what you’re looking for. 

Click here see my latest training report on how to find out exactly which items will be charged a Long Term Storage Fee

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If you’ve been selling on Amazon at least 6 months, then it’s possible you have recently received a FBA Aged Inventory Notification email from Amazon. This notification from Amazon is to warn you about upcoming Long Term Storage Fees (LTSF). To read more about what the LTSF are, why Amazon charges them twice a year, and some timely tips on how to avoid these fees, then click here

Most Amazon sellers would be wise to find out which items in their inventory will be charged the LTSF and how much they’ll be charged. Unfortunately, Amazon does not give you this information directly, but there is a way to find out using one of Amazon’s reports found in Seller Central. 

Here is exactly how you can find out which items in your inventory are going to be charged a LTSF on August 15th (and how much you’ll be charged per item):

1. Log in to Seller Central.

2. Hover over Reports and click on Fulfillment.

3. On the left side of the screen, under the Inventory heading, click on Show More.

4. Click on Inventory Health.

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 1.56.16 PM5. Click on the Download tab.

6. Click on the Request Download button. 

7. After about 60 seconds (or possibly longer) the report will be generated, and you’ll be able to download it.

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 12.22.10 PM

This is the text file version of the report. I copy this data and paste it into a spreadsheet so it’s much easier to understand.

8. After the report downloads, open up the file in a spreadsheet. My download automatically opens up a Text file, so I just copy and paste it into Excel. Based on your computer’s available programs, you should be able to open up the file (or at least copy/paste the text) in your computer’s spreadsheet program. 

9. The text in the file contains many columns of information that you really don’t need in order to assess your long term storage fees. You can keep the ones you want, but I delete all of the columns in the file except the following:

sku
asin
product-name
qty-to-be-charged-ltsf-12-mo
projected-ltsf-12-mo
qty-to-be-charged-ltsf-6-mo
projected-ltsf-6-mo

10. To make the chart easier to read, I change the names of the last 4 columns to:

12mo
12mo$
6mo
6mo$

11. To make the data easier to read, I also do the following (this is just a personal preference, so you may want to skip this step):

Change the document page setup to landscape.
Center align the last 4 columns.
Change the size of the last 4 columns to be smaller.
Change the size of the product name column to be bigger.

12. Select all of the text (CTL-A for PCs or Command-A for Macs)

Now, its’ time to sort. In Excel, you can sort by clicking on Data from the top menu bar, and then select Sort

13. Sort the 12 mo column and choose descending

14. Sort the 6 mo column and choose descending

15. When I’m done, my spreadsheet looks more like this:

The image is blurry on purpose. It’s so you have an idea what the spreadsheet looks like after the changes above.

Now, your spreadsheet will show you on the first pages which items will be charged a LTSF, how many will be charged, and how much the charge will be. My next step is to print out the document, but I only print out the pages that contain the information about LTSF. If I printed the whole document, then I’d waste a lot of paper as most of my inventory is not affected by the LTSF. 

Now, it’s important to know how to read and understand the data in the spreadsheet. Under the 12mo and 6mo columns, you’ll see how many items will be charged in the upcoming LTSF on August 15th. In the 12mo$ and 6mo$ columns, you’ll see the total amount that will be charged if that item is not sold or removed from your inventory. 

For example, your chart might read something like this for an item:

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 1.39.18 PMThe above example shows that the My First Pad item will not be charged a 12 month LTSF, but will be charged a 6 month LTSF of $8.32. Since you have 7 of these items that will be charged a LTSF, you can do the math and see that it will be a charge of about $1.19 per My First Pad. (Remember: one unit of each SKU is exempt from LTSF, so you actually have 8 of this item in stock, not 7.)

The next step is to decide what you want to do with the inventory that is affected by LTSF. In a previous blog post, I’ve discussed all the ways you can avoid Long Term Storage Fees, but for the rest of this post, I’ll only discuss the most popular method of avoiding the fee: lowering your price to get the next sale. 

LC_OFF_Body_NLPLowering the price might indeed get you the next sale, but there are more important aspects to consider. Remember, in our example above, you’ll be charged $1.19 for each item for the LTSF, so if you lower the price by over $1.19, just be sure you don’t think you’ll ever sell the item for the price you want over the next 6 months. If you do some CamelCamelCamel (CCC) research and see that you’ll probably get your original price come Q4, then maybe pay the fee, and then wait for the sale to come during Q4. On the other hand, if you don’t think you can sell this item for the price you want, then it might be a good idea to lower the price and avoid this fee. 

Again, with our example, say you have the item priced at $19.95, but the current low FBA price is $11.95. If you  lower your price by $8.00 to $11.95 to share the Buy Box, you might indeed get the next sale… but lowering 7 items by $8 each, you’ll be losing out on $56.00 in order to avoid a $8.32 fee. Is this worth it? Well, we’ll need to check CamelCamelCamel to see if we think the price will go back up during Q4. If CCC shows that the price will probably go back up in Q4, then maybe it’s a good idea to pay the $8.32 fee in order to make the profits come Q4. On the other hand, if CCC shows that the price will probably never again go up, then maybe it’ll be a good idea to lower your price in order to sell out before August 15th. As always, different items will require different actions, so do your research and make the best decision for your inventory.

amazon-warehouse-5

Note: Amazon does not want to be your long term storage solution.

You might be thinking that this requires a lot of work and thought, but the LTSF is something to take seriously, as it’s currently $11.25 per cubit foot for items stored over 6 months, and $22.50 per cubic foot for items stored over 12 months. Currently, my LTSF would be over $100, but I’ve been keeping track of my potential LTSF for over a month now. If I didn’t use these tactics to avoid long term store fees, then the fee would be even higher.

So how about you? What are some of your strategies for dealing with these Long Term Store Fees? I’d love to read them in the comments below. 

How to Run “End of the Year” Inventory & Sales Reports for Tax Purposes

year-end-reportsI admit the topic of “end of year reports” is not all that exciting, but it’s very necessary… in fact, if you don’t do this right it could have some negative impacts on your business.

No matter if you sell on Amazon as a serious income stream or as an occasional hobby, you’re still required to report your income to the IRS. It’s important to know that there are several reports you should be sure to send to your CPA (or whoever is doing your taxes).

Before we go any further I want you to know that I am not a tax specialist or giving you any tax advice. I highly recommend hiring a CPA who is knowledgable of online sales and all the tax implications. Today, I’m only showing you how to get the reports that you need to add to all of your other 2016 tax documents.

dec-31-calendarOk, there is one report that you MUST run on December 31st (or at the very latest, early in the morning on January 1st). This report will let you know how much inventory you have still stored at Amazon at the end of the year. The reason you need to run this report on December 31st is because, as far as I know, Amazon does not currently have an easy-to-use report that tells you what inventory you had in their FBA warehouses on specific dates in the past. The only way to get an accurate printout of the inventory you are rolling over into 2016 is to run this report on December 31st or early on January 1st.

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 12.09.38 PMTo pull this report, follow these simple steps:

  1. Log in to Seller Central.
  2. Hover your pointer over “Reports,” and then select “Fulfillment.”
  3. Under Inventory, click on “Amazon Fulfilled Inventory” on the left side of your screen. you might have to click “Show more” to find it.
  4. Click on the “Request Download” button.
  5. The report status column will state that this report is “In Progress” until it’s completed.
  6. Once the report is completed (usually a minute later), a “Download” button will appear. Press it.
  7. Your report is now downloaded to your computer as a .txt file. Open up the file.
  8. Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 11.11.07 AMThe text is hard to read, so select all the text (Control A for PC users or Command A for Mac users).
  9. Open up an Excel type spreadsheet and paste the text you just copied. The data will now be more organized.
  10. Save the file with a name like “2016 Amazon Year End Inventory.”

Note: Do not print this document out. If I would have printed my document out, it would have used 784 pages. That’s because the document also contains all of the items in your inventory that are sold out and are at zero quantity. If you rarely (or never) delete any of your MSKUs that you no longer use (because you’re sold out and don’t plan on selling again), then you may have a file even longer than mine. So don’t print the file, but do save it and email it to your CPA (or whoever is doing your taxes).

Other reports on the same Reports/Fulfillment page that your CPA would probably like to see are the following:

 – Monthly Inventory History – Found under Reports, then Fulfillment, then Show More, then Monthly Inventory History. Click on the Download tab and run this report for the full year (choose “last 12 months” for the report time period) and it will show you a monthly breakdown of what you sold each month.

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 12.08.03 PM– Received Inventory – Found under Reports, then Fulfillment, then Show More, then Received Inventory. Click on the Download tab and run this report choosing “last 12 months” as your time period. This shows what inventory items Amazon received from you this year.

Note: As with the “Year End Inventory” report, be sure to move the report over to a spreadsheet program (like Excel or Google Sheets) so that it’s easier for you or your CPA to read.

When you run these reports, don’t forget to choose “last 365 days” or “last 12 months”  for your report dates. You want the reports for the whole year, not just the current month.

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 11.04.28 AMYour CPA would also like to see a report of your sales, fees, and income from Amazon. The way to find and run this report is a little different than above, so here is how you do it:

  1. Log in to Seller Central.
  2. Hover your mouse over “Reports,” and then select “Payment.”
  3. Click on the “Date Range Reports” tab.
  4. Click on the “Generate Report” button.
  5. Select Report Type: Summary
  6. Select Date Range: Custom
  7. Enter in the date range you want. For tax purposes enter “01/01/2016 – 12/31/2016”
  8. Click “Generate” to get the report started.
  9. Once the report is ready, it will be available to download.

Note: If you are running this report before December 31st, then the report will not be ready to download until January 2nd. Set a reminder somewhere to come back and download the report on January 2nd. If you are running this report after January 2nd, then it should be ready to download in a few minutes.

Get all of these reports to your CPA ASAP. You really don’t want to be late on getting the tax process started. Again, if you don’t have a CPA, I highly recommend getting one as soon as possible. It’s costly, but you want to be sure your numbers are right, and you want a professional to do the work that would eat up way too much of your time if you did it yourself.

Of course, these aren’t the only numbers you’ll need to give to your CPA. They will also need to know your cost of goods (you logged your receipts, right?) and any other business-related expenses that will deduct from your sales numbers.

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Make 2017 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 2017.

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 2017 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.

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If you liked this post and found it helpful, scroll back up to the top and subscribe to the blog. I’ll update you about once a week with helpful tips on how you can make a full-time income with FBA.

Ok, 2016 is almost over. What other things are you doing during the last week of the year in order to prepare for 2017? I’d love to hear what you’re up to this week!

Seller Central Tip #5 – Fixing Stranded Inventory

Today we’re discussing our final Seller Central Tip in this series: Tip #5 – Fixing Stranded Inventory.

For a recap of our Seller Central Tips, here are the previous posts:

Tip #1 How to Check if “Returned” Items are Actually Returned to FBA
Tip #2 How to Get Reimbursed for Unfulfillable Inventory
Tip #3 How to Handle FBA Inbound Shipment Problems
Tip #4 How to Check for Reimbursable Lost Items
 

Fixing Stradned Inventory“Stranded inventory” refers to your items at a FBA warehouse that do not have an active offer on the Amazon website. Every few days, we check our inventory to see if any items have popped up in our stranded inventory list, and we take action according to the options provided in the drop-down menu beside each item.

Fix Stranded SidebarTo get started, log into Seller Central, and under the “Inventory” tab click “Manage Inventory.” In the left sidebar, click “Fix Stranded Inventory.” This brings up a list of all your items currently at a FBA warehouse that do not have active offers on Amazon.com. When we first began cleaning up the problems with our inventory on Seller Central several months ago, I (Rebecca) brought up this list and discovered we had six pages (six pages!!) of stranded inventory, requiring several hours of work to sort through the mess and take the appropriate actions. Now, I look at the stranded inventory every few days and never find more than a couple of items at a time that need to be addressed — often, these are items that I’ve already dealt with when checking for unfulfillable inventory, so I don’t need to do anything more with them.

In the “Status” column, you’ll see a few different reasons why your inventory might be “stranded.” The statuses we’ve encountered are Inactive, Incomplete, and Out of Stock. There might be others that we’re unaware of, but these are the ones we’ve personally had to deal with. If you have experience with other statuses, please leave a comment below, and tell us how you dealt with it. Now let’s look at each of these statuses and their implications.

Inactive

Stranded InventoryOne possibility for an inactive status is that an item has been returned by a customer and is unfulfillable, either because the customer damaged it (likely, he or she opened the package) or the customer said it was defective. If you’ve been checking your unfulfillable items as we learned about in Seller Central Tip #2, you will have already created a removal order for these items, and there’s no reason to take further action here. If you haven’t already created the removal order, there’s the option to do so in your stranded inventory list by clicking the drop-down menu under the “Actions” column.

Sometimes, however, there’s a problem in the Amazon system that causes an item to be listed as inactive for no reason that we’ve been able to figure out. In these cases, when we know that the item isn’t unfulfillable, we chose “Relist” from the “Actions” column and fill in the appropriate information in the “Offer” tab of the Amazon product page.

4On occasion we’ve discovered that “Relist” is not an option for certain items, particularly DVDs, automotive items, and health and beauty products. Movies and TV shows by certain studios (Warner Bros. and BBC, to name a couple) have become restricted items in an effort to control authenticity of DVDs for sale on Amazon. Also, anything that may be considered hazmat is restricted. Sometimes these restrictions come into place after you’ve sent an item to a FBA warehouse. In the case of movies, you can create a removal order and try to sell the item on eBay or at your next garage sale. For hazmat issues, sadly we’ve found that Amazon won’t allow us to create the removal order and have the items shipped back to us, for safety reasons. The only option is to cut your losses and have the item destroyed by Amazon.

Out of Stock or Incomplete

Out-of-stock3When I first encountered those six long pages of our stranded inventory, many of our items had the “out of stock” status because of a glitch occuring during the initial process of scanning and entering them in the Amazon system. Somehow, even though we were scanning them into the system as Fulfilled By Amazon and sending them to warehouses across the U.S., the glitch caused them to be recognized as Merchant Fulfilled and listed them as stranded inventory. To fix the problem, I clicked on each “out of stock” item’s “Action” drop-down menu and chose “Change to Fulfilled by Amazon.” Almost immediately these items became available for purchase. Since our initial inventory clean-up, we haven’t encountered this problem again, but if we ever do in the future, we’ll know how to handle it.

These are just a few of the issues we’ve encountered with stranded inventory. Sometimes the fault is ours, sometimes it’s a glitch in the system, sometimes it’s unexplainable. Regardless, you’ll want to check your stranded inventory and see if there are items that you can have relisted and available for purchase — inactive listings do not bring any profit!

Have you encountered these or other problems in your stranded inventory list? We would love to hear from you in the comments below.

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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.

My Top 6 Manual Repricing Strategies (#3 Increases My Payout Big Time!)

price-tag-267x300No matter if you have one hundred, one thousand, or even ten thousand items in your Amazon inventory, having your items priced competitively is one of the best ways to increase profits. No matter how long your inventory has been sitting in an Amazon warehouse, it’s very likely that new competition has come into the picture. Once you learn how to reprice your inventory, then it’s time to put that knowledge to work for you. Today I want to teach you my 6 most profitable strategies for repricing inventory.

1. Reprice “old” inventory – The items that have been sitting in a FBA warehouse the longest are most likely the items not priced competitively. I started selling on Amazon in 2011, and thankfully, all of the inventory I sent in in 2011 has sold. One reason is because I regularly reprice the items that have been in my inventory the longest. To sort your inventory to show you what’s been there the longest, simply click on the “Date Opened” column. To sort from oldest to newest, just click on the little triangle under the “Date Opened” text. This will show you the items that have been there the longest (The only instance where this is not the case is for the items in your inventory that you consistently replenish). Look through your oldest inventory and price competitively.

2. Reprice “high quantity” inventory – This one always gives me a big boost in my number of sales and helps me avoid potential long term storage fees. Sort your inventory by clicking on the “available” column. Click on the little triangle under the word “available” to sort that column from most to least. Currently, the item I have the most inventory for has 47 items and a great rank. I’m only a few dollars above the lowest FBA price, so if I competitively reprice that item, then I’ll see an immediate boost in sales. Remember, twice a year (February 15 and August 15) FBA charges a long term storage fee for items that have been at their fulfillment centers for 365 days or longer. This long term storage fee is $22.50 per cubic foot, so it’s a fee you definitely want to avoid at all costs. To provide flexibility, one unit of each applicable product ASIN is exempt from this fee. This means that you need to monitor the items at a FBA warehouse that you have multiple quantities of and make sure they are sold before the long term storage fees kick in.

3. Reprice “high priced” inventory – This one is my favorite, because it usually brings me high dollar profits fast! Sort your inventory by price by clicking on the “Your Price” column. Again, click on the little triangle to sort your price from highest to lowest. Most of the time, my price is still very close to the current low FBA price, but other times, my price is way above the current low FBA price. I do the necessary research and price competitively. Almost as soon as I reprice my high priced items, I get sales. Of course, not all of my high-priced inventory sells out, but the increase in sales of high priced items definitely increases my net payout for that payment cycle.

0074677526400_500X5004. Reprice “newest” inventory – If you have items that sell immediately after they arrive at a FBA warehouse, you may want to make sure that your price is optimized for maximum profit. Just last month I sent in five Elsa dolls to FBA. In the first few hours after arriving I had already sold two at $49.99. I quickly went in and saw that not only was I selling at the lowest FBA price, but the next highest price was $64.99. I immediately raised my price to $64.99 and by the end of the day, I sold out. If I had not been aware of my sales, or if I did not reprice these items fast enough, then I would have missed out on more profit.

5. Reprice “expiring” items – If you sell grocery items or other items that come with an expiration date, then it’s a good idea to reprice any inventory that might be getting close to Amazon’s cut off dates for expiration. Remember, Amazon’s expiration date guidelines state that any items within 50 days of expiring will be removed for disposal by Amazon. If you have any items nearing the 50 day mark, it would be wise to reprice your item to sell ASAP.

41Cq9F-SqgL._SY300_6. Reprice “seasonal” inventory – This is a strategy that I employ the least, but if your business model is more focused on fast nickels (AKA fast turns), then this strategy will bring back some capital for you to invest in other more fast-turning items. There is no way to sort seasonal inventory by columns, so you’ll need to do key word searches on your inventory page. Keywords like Christmas, Easter, Summer, etc will help you find most of your seasonal items. You also might want to scroll through your active inventory to see if you find any other seasonal items that these key words overlook. My business model is more of a well-balanced model as I want to include both fast nickels and slow dimes. I’m ok with waiting a few months for price and demand to rise up to where my current prices are for Summer items. But if you’d rather have that capital back ASAP to invest elsewhere, then this strategy will work great for you.

I’ll do a blog post soon about how I price my inventory, but here is a sneak peek. It’s a combination of many different factors: the price I paid for the item, prices of FBA competition, current sales rank, sales rank history, and pricing history. I even listen to what my intuition tells me when I price my items. After doing this for so long, I’ve started to get a feeling of how to best price my items. My main goal is to price items competitively. Sometimes I want to be the lowest FBA price and sometimes I want to match the lowest FBA price. Other times I price my items above the current low price, because I think I can get more for my items eventually. It’s a detailed process, and I’ll gladly share with you more about my pricing strategies in a later blog.

As always, there will be exceptions to these repricing strategies, but overall, they should help you sell more items and get more capital back into your pocket than if you had left the prices alone.

So what about you? What pricing strategies do you like best? Any strategies you use that I don’t? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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To find out everything there is to know about using CamelCamelCamel and Keepa to make smart sourcing decisions, be sure to check out our course, The Reseller’s Guide to How to Keepa Camel: Using Amazon Sales History to Make Smart Sourcing Decisions. This course is a combo ebook and video course where I walk you through everything you need to know to make sense of both CamelCamelCamel and Keepa in ways you’ve never thought of.

How To Manually Reprice Your Inventory

ID-10044546-resize-380x300You found some great products, bought them, priced them, labeled them, and sent them off to Amazon. Now what do you do? Of course you go out and look for even more inventory, but how often do you think about the prices of your inventory that’s sitting in a FBA warehouse? Prices in brick-and-mortar stores change all the time, and this is equally true with Amazon. As time goes by, your inventory will both gain and lose competition. Other FBA sellers will possibly undercut your sale price, while other sellers might sell out of an item. Just because you priced your item competitively three months ago doesn’t mean that it’s still priced to compete right now.

Smart FBA sellers take the time to evaluate the prices on their items to make sure they are priced to sell quickly and maximize profits. Repricing your inventory on a somewhat regular basis in order to keep prices competitive is a wise business decision. As you think about pricing strategies, you’ll soon learn that repricing doesn’t always mean lowering your price, but can often mean raising your price. We’ll talk more about repricing strategies later this week.

Repricing1

Now, let’s go over how to reprice your items manually. Click on the image to the right to see a visual representation of each step.

1. Log in to Seller Central

2. On the top left of the screen, click “Inventory.”

3. On the left sidebar, under “show my inventory,” click on “Active.” This will show you what items are currently in stock (no need to reprice something you don’t have in stock anymore).

4. The default setting is to sort your inventory by Merchant SKU, but you can change that to however you want to sort your inventory (by product name, date created, quality available, your price, and fulfilled by).

5. In this list, Amazon provides you with the current low price + shipping for each item, but be very careful with this information. Sometimes Amazon will give you the lowest used price even if you are selling a new item. It’s always best to open up the individual item’s product page to see for yourself what the current buy box price is, as well as what the competition is selling that item for, and then decide for yourself how you want to price your item. A quick click on the ASIN/ISBN link will open up the Amazon product page where you can get all the info you need to reprice wisely. Note: If you see a little check mark in the “Low Price” column, that means that you have the current lowest price.

6. If you’re looking to reprice a specific item, you can search for that item in the search bar located near the top left of the screen. You can search by product name, SKU, ASIN, or ISBN.

7. Under the “Your Price” column, you’ll see a box where you can update the price of the item. Simply type in the new price you want. The price box will turn into a yellow shaded box. This indicates that you have updated the price, but have not submitted it to Amazon yet.

8. Submit your new prices to Amazon. You can either do a hard return in the price text box, or you can wait until you are done updating prices on select items on the page, and then click the “Save” button on the top of the screen. Once submitted, it takes only a few minutes for Amazon to update the prices for your items.

Copy-of-salesThere you have it. You are now equipped with the skills to reprice your Amazon inventory. Keeping your prices current and competitive is a key component to a successful and profitable Amazon business. In our next blog post, I’ll share with you my 6 most profitable repricing strategies.

Comment below if you have any questions about repricing. I’d love to help you in any way that I can.

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To find out everything there is to know about using CamelCamelCamel and Keepa to make smart sourcing decisions, be sure to check out our course, The Reseller’s Guide to How to Keepa Camel: Using Amazon Sales History to Make Smart Sourcing Decisions. This course is a combo ebook and video course where I walk you through everything you need to know to make sense of both CamelCamelCamel and Keepa in ways you’ve never thought of.

Seller Central Tip #4 – How to Check for Reimbursable Lost Items

Recently we’ve been running a blog series called Seller Central Tips, including posts on the following topics:

Today we’ll look at Tip #4: How to Check for Reimbursable Lost Items

FBA Amazon How to Get Reimbursed for Lost ItemsAs we discussed in Tip #2, Amazon warehouses handle millions of items a day, and it’s understandable that a small percentage of items would become damaged in the shipping and handling process. Such damage is inevitable, and Amazon is usually very reasonable about reimbursing FBA sellers for this damage — IF you look for the flags in your inventory and request the reimbursement.
The same goes for items that are lost at FBA warehouses. We’ve made it part of our regular routine to check our Seller Central Shipping Queue for shipments with item number discrepancies, and we think you should too! To do this routine check, follow the steps below:
1) Log in to your Seller Central account. Under the “Inventory” tab, click on “Manage FBA Shipments” to pull up your Shipping Queue.
2) Filter your list of shipments by clicking the radio button “At the fulfillment center.” This will pull up your list of shipments that have a status of Receiving, Delivered, or Checked-In.
3) Look for shipments that are marked as “Receiving” but have a delivery date more than three days earlier than the current date. Any shipment still marked as “Receiving” but with an older date might contain a lost item. The FBA warehouse does not mark a shipment as “Closed” until every item in the shipment has been scanned and accounted for. If the time frame hasn’t TimeFrameHasntPassedpassed, the shipment will contain a message stating you can’t reconcile discrepancies yet.

4) For any shipments older than three days past delivery with a “Receiving” status, click the shipment name to bring up the shipment info, then click “Reconcile” to see what problems might have occurred during the process of AtTheFulfillmentCenterscanning in your items at the warehouse. You will see either a positive number or a negative number in the “Discrepancy” column, depending on whether the warehouse workers found extra items or whether they couldn’t find an item. Either way, at this point you’ll need to click the drop down menu under the “Action Required” column.

5) If there is a positive discrepancy, you need to choose whether you accidentally shipped an extra item or whether this is an unexpected discrepancy and request the warehouse to research it. For a negative discrepancy, under the “Action Required” column you can choose “Units MissingPleaseResearchnot shipped” (if you forgot to include the item in your shipment) or “Missing – Please Research.” When we’ve asked Amazon to research missing items from shipments in the past, we’ve received one of two responses: either they research the case, find the item in the warehouse, and return it to our inventory — or they research the case, can’t find the item, and reimburse us for the loss. For either of these possibilities, you want to stay current in checking your shipping queue for these discrepancies. The sooner the warehouse resolves the discrepancy, the sooner you can be reimbursed or have the item back in your inventory and available for purchase.
You would be surprised what types of items can be lost in an Amazon warehouse and need to be researched. Most typically we have lost smaller items likes books or tiny toy packets, but recently we lost three oversize toys from the same shipment. I requested the warehouse research these lost items, and within one day Amazon notified us that we would be receiving a reimbursement.
Have you had any experience reconciling discrepancies in your FBA shipments? We hope this Seller Central Tip allows you to find missing items from your shipments or receive reimbursements where they are due.

 

Seller Central Tip #3 – How to Handle FBA Inbound Shipment Problems

Does this look familiar?

Hello (AMAZON USER NAME),
      We discovered a problem while we were receiving your inbound shipment (SHIPMENT ID). We are taking the necessary steps to remedy the situation and receive your inventory.
      Please note that select problems may result in an unplanned service fee.
The problem was discovered for the shipment named “(SHIPMENT NAME)” on February 14th, 2014.

Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 4.26.48 PMFor some reason, many FBA sellers have been getting an influx of emails from Seller Central concerning “problems” that a FBA warehouse worker has found with our inbound shipments. In my 3+ years of selling on Amazon, I have never had this many emails notifying me of errors I have made. To make things more frustrating, 99% of the “problem” notifications are completely inaccurate.

Here are the “problems” that I’ve been flagged on (so far):

  • I’ve been told that I didn’t polybag an item that needed polybagging (Except that I did).
  • I was told that one of my labels was not readable. (Ok, I’ll accept that one. Maybe I smudged it by accident).
  • I was told that a shrink-wrapped item required taping (It’s shrink-wrapped, it doesn’t need tape).
  • I’ve been told that a toy needed to be polybagged (It was in a box that had no holes. No bag needed).
  • I was told a boxed set of drinking glasses needed bubble-wrapping (Except that I did bubble wrap them).
  • I was told that a board game required a suffocation warning label (Is the box going to suffocate someone?)
  • I’ve been told that a plastic bottle required bubble wrapping (This is getting ridiculous).

ResolveWhen these alerts first started showing up in my inbox, I just rolled my eyes, clicked the “resolve” button, and moved on with life. WARNING: DO NOT CLICK THE “RESOLVE” BUTTON unless the inbound shipping problem notification is accurate. If you indeed made a mistake, then you need to own it, learn from it, and move on. But if you are positive that you did nothing wrong, then I strongly advise you to open up a case with Seller Central and inform them of their mistake. If you take responsibility for an error that you did not make, it will hurt your bottom line (you’ll be charged fees for Amazon “fixing” those problems), and possibly it will hurt your seller metrics.

bubblewrapIf you don’t fight these false accusations, then you are only admitting to Amazon that you don’t care to follow their rules. If, in the eyes of Amazon, you continue to make shipping mistakes, then they will stop allowing you to send in certain items, and they could eventually close your FBA selling account. Again, do not click the “resolve” button unless you have, indeed, committed the offense they are notifying you of.

This is what I do to fix these problems:

1. Log-in to Seller Central and click on the Help link.

2. Click on Contact Seller Support.

3. Under “What is the problem?” I click Fulfillment by Amazon.

4. Next, I click “Other Fulfillment by Amazon issues.”

5. I use the subject line “FBA Inbound Shipment Problem.”

6. I fill in the necessary information (Shipment ID, ASINs, etc)

7. Then, I address the false accusation. Example: “I was told that this item required polybagging, but it was already polybagged when the item arrived at Amazon,” or “I was told this item required polybagging, but it does not require polybagging per Amazon rules.” I also like to include a statement saying, “Please research and remove this flag” — just so the Help desk is clear that my purpose in writing them is to have the flag removed!

8. Submit your request.

A few seconds after you submit your request, you’ll get an email from Amazon about your new case. Within about 6-12 hours you will get a response from Amazon. 99% of the time I get a response like this:

Greetings from Amazon Seller Support, 
     We have received confirmation from our fulfillment center and removed the inbound problem defect rate for your Shipment: (SHIPMENT NAME).    Thank you for selling with Amazon,
(SUPPORT STAFF NAME)
 

Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 3.46.31 PMAnd sometimes they really go at great lengths to apologize, as the image to the right shows.

While 99% of the time, Amazon removes the flag and corrects its mistake, the other 1% of the time I’ll get a response stating that the original accusation was indeed true and that I am still going to be penalized for my error. When this happens, I always reply, state that my question was not properly answered, and request they investigate again. 100% of the time they follow up agreeing that I was indeed correct and that they are removing the flag, along with any fees associated with the issue.

The important thing here is to protect your metrics. If you make a mistake, accept responsibility, learn from it, and move on. But if Amazon incorrectly accuses you of making a mistake, stand up for yourself, and politely correct Amazon.

Have you had these “problem” emails showing up in your inbox lately? How have you best responded? I’d love to hear what you have tried to correct these issues.

Seller Central Tip #2 – How to Get Reimbursed for Unfulfillable Inventory

This post comes from Stephen’s wife, Rebecca, who helps him make full-time selling on FBA a reality.

Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 3.27.16 PMThe further you get into selling through FBA, the more you’ll see that Amazon’s inventory system doesn’t always, um, work just like expected. When I started working with Stephen on his FBA business, I would look at our inventory from time to time and wonder why there were items flagged as inactive, incomplete, or unfulfillable — and why Amazon didn’t do something to fix those inventory items. When those items are flagged, they’re not available for purchase, and that’s just not good for business!

So, I started learning the process of doing a few simple tasks to correct these flags, get reimbursement for damaged or lost items, or have items returned to us, whichever the case may be. I came to realize that these problems with inventory items are our responsibility to remedy, not Amazon’s responsibility. I became determined to get our inventory list under control and in order — and stop losing money on items that are just sitting there in a warehouse but unavailable to purchase.

Over time, we settled into a routine where I regularly check for certain flags or errors in the system. When I first got started, it took me a few hours over the course of a few days to wade through the mess that our inventory had become. For so long we had been operating under a habit of buy, buy, buy, pack, pack, pack, ship, ship, ship, and then go buy, buy, buy again. We weren’t making time to keep up with the endless paperwork (or screenwork, as the case may be) that comes with maintaining a large inventory. As a result, let’s just say we had a mess on our hands, and it took some serious effort on our part to get it straightened out with Amazon. The result of those hours was many items reimbursed by Amazon and many items relisted and finally sold, so it was totally worth it. But I don’t recommend waiting as long as we did to start working on these issues!

Now I spend a few minutes every two or three days checking for common flags or errors in Amazon’s system, and I’m able to keep on top of our inventory discrepancies without getting overwhelmed. I’ll share several of these inventory issues with you in upcoming blog posts, but today I’ll tell you about the first thing I do when I log into Seller Central to check on our inventory: I check for any items that have been damaged by the warehouse or distributor and can be reimbursed to our account.

Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 1.35.28 PM

When you log into Seller Central, under the Inventory tab, click on Manage FBA Inventory. This pulls up your entire FBA inventory list. Towards the right of your list, there’s a column heading called Unfulfillable — click on this heading to sort your items so that the unfulfillable items come to the top.

If you have any unfulfillable items, there will be a red number in the Unfulfillable column indicating how many of that inventory item are actually unfulfillable. Click on that red number to bring up a box showing why that item is being listed as unfulfillable. There are several options available to the warehouse workers when they mark your inventory as unfulfillable. I will list these options below, along with the actions you can take to remedy the problems.

Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 3.11.56 PM1) Customer Damaged — This flag is used when a customer returns an item, and the item has either been merely opened or actually damaged. Either way, you’ll want to follow the steps on the pop-up box to create a removal order, have the item returned to you, and decide from there what to do with the item. If it’s an item that’s only been opened and isn’t damaged, you can either relist it as Used – Like New, or you can put it in the garage sale box in your attic to be sold at a later date.

2) Defective — This flag is used when the customer returns an item and says it is defective. Again, you’ll want to create a removal order to have the item returned to you. The item may be truly defective, or the customer may have told Amazon it was defective in order to get free shipping on their return, when in fact they just changed their mind or didn’t like it. There’s no way to know until you have the item returned to you.

Amazon.com-worker-David-B-0013) Warehouse Damaged — This flag is used when an item has been damaged at the FBA warehouse. You could choose to have the item returned to you and decide if it’s worth trying to sell by another method — or you could request a reimbursement from Amazon. 100% of the time, we choose this second option for warehouse damaged unfulfillable items. It’s just not worth the time, money, or effort to have the item returned. To request the reimbursement, on the Help page of Seller Central click on Contact Seller Support. Under the Inventory tab on the left side of the page, click on Other Inventory Issues to open a case letting Amazon know you’re requesting a reimbursement for the item in question.

4) Distributor Damaged — Similar to Warehouse Damaged, this flag is used when an item is damaged en route to the warehouse. Sometimes UPS is to blame for this damage. If so, follow the same steps in (3) above to request reimbursement from Amazon. Other times, distributor damaged items are your fault, and of course, you don’t get reimbursed for items you did not properly protect during packing and shipping.

5) Expired — If you have any grocery, health, or beauty items with expiration dates, the item will be listed as unfulfillable once the expiration is less than 50 days away. You will need to create a removal order to have the item returned to you. We’ve learned the hard way that it helps to keep a spreadsheet of expiration dates for these items and set up reminders to lower your prices so items sell quicker when they get close to Amazon’s expiration cut-off.

It takes a matter of seconds to check on these unfulfillable items every two or three days. Now that I’ve made it part of my work routine, we’ve received reimbursements much quicker and kept our inventory list clean of items that are damaged or expired. I hope you’re able to use this info to work on your own inventory list and get some reimbursements! Look for more inventory clean-up tips in the future.

Update: I also want to add, any reimbursements you get from Amazon for warehouse or distributor damaged items will be minus the FBA fees for that item.

For more Seller Central Tips, just click here!

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

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.

Seller Central Tip #1 – How to Check if “Returned” Items are Actually Returned to FBA

Amazon FBA Returns

It happens probably more often than you know. A customer requests a refund from Amazon but never actually returns the refunded item. Amazon is supposed to automatically reimburse you once 45 days has past, but sometimes Amazon “forgets.” Of course, Amazon doesn’t really forget, but for some reason, these reimbursements are not done 100% of the time. When this happens, it’s up to you to contact Amazon and remind them that they owe you a reimbursement.

When Amazon refunds your customer, Seller Support will send you an email with the subject line “Refund initiated for order.” I always move these emails to a dedicated folder in my email system. Amazon allows the customer 45 days to return the item to Amazon, so it’s a good idea to set up a reminder on your smartphone to check on this item in 45 days.

Ok, so saving these Return Notification emails from Amazon is a good idea, but what happens if you didn’t save that email? Well, you’re in luck because there is another way to see what items have been returned (and why).

1. Login to Seller Central and click on REPORTS at the top of the screen. 
2. Click on the FULFILLMENT link under REPORTS. 
3. Click on RETURNS from the left side column. 

Or you can do this to generate a Returns Report:

1. Login to Seller Central and hover the cursor over REPORTS at the top of the screen. 
2. Click on the PAYMENTS link under REPORTS. 
3. From there filter view by Refund, select the time frame, and click Update. 

Now that we know what items have been refunded to your customers, we need to find out if the item has indeed been returned. Here is how to do that (skip to step 7 if you have the Merchant SKU or ASIN from the above mentioned Returns Report):

1. Look at your Refund Notification email from Amazon and copy the order number. 
2. Login to Seller Central and hover the cursor over ORDERS at the top of the screen. 
3. Click on MANAGE ORDERS. 
4. Click on ADVANCED SEARCH
5. Paste the order number in the search bar and click SEARCH at the bottom of the page. 
6. On the next page, you’ll be able to see exactly which item was returned. From this page copy the item’s Merchant SKU or ASIN. 
7. Now, on the top of the Seller Central page, hover over INVENTORY and click on MANAGE FBA INVENTORY. 
8. Paste the Merchant SKU or AISN in the search bar and click Search. 
9. If you don’t see the item you’re looking for, click the radio button that states “Include Archived Items.”
10. From there you should see if your item is in your inventory (either as fulfillable or unfulfillable). 

Just because the item is not currently in your inventory doesn’t mean that it was never returned to an Amazon FBA warehouse. It could have been returned to your inventory and then sold soon after. So what do you do if you don’t know? Currently, Amazon does not notify you when (or even if) your item has been returned to an FBA warehouse. This last step is up to you.

11. Contact Seller Support and open up a case. 

seller-supportSimply ask them to look into this for you. After I enter in the specific item information, I usually say something like this: “The buyer of this item was given a refund, but failed to return the item to an FBA warehouse. It’s been over 45 days since the refund was given. Please reimburse me the original sales price. Thank you.” Most of the time I’ll get a quick response from Amazon stating that a reimbursement will be issued soon. Some of the time I’ll get a response from Amazon stating something like “this item was returned to Amazon on 5/12/13 and was added to your inventory.” When I see this notification, but my current inventory shows zero, then I know that the item was indeed returned, and then was sold soon after. I can even search all my orders to confirm that it was sold.

How do you handle returns? Any other tips you’d like to share with other FBA sellers?

For more Seller Central Tips, just click here.

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

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 webinars, and 4 special bonuses.