Category Archives: Uncategorized

Top 5 Features of Inventory Lab

Anybody who follows my blog on a regular basis knows how much I love Inventory Lab for processing, listing, and tracking my Amazon FBA inventory. I also love using the Scoutify app for sourcing inventory through retail arbitrage. Well, a while back I did a webinar with my friends over at Inventory Lab, and during that webinar I listed out my top 5 favorite features of Inventory Lab.

That may sound like an easy task, but for me it was sooooo hard to narrow it down to just 5 features! It was even harder to rate them in order because I love these features so much. But if you’ve been on the fence about whether or not to try out Inventory Lab, I wanted to share with you these 5 features so you can see just why I find this software to be extremely useful in streamlining my listing process for FBA shipments.

So here they are, my top 5 favorite features of Inventory Lab:

1. Being able to print out my product labels as I list.

Right as I list an item in my FBA inventory using Inventory Lab, the label is printed on my DYMO label printer, and I’m able to attach it to my inventory item immediately. I don’t have to mess with 30-up pages of labels and sort through a stack of inventory to get my items labeled at the end of the listing process. It’s so much easier with Inventory Lab – I just list, print, and label the item.

2. Uploading inventory from Scoutify to Inventory Lab using the Buy List.

This is one of the newer features of Inventory Lab, and honestly I would hate to go back to listing my retail arbitrage (RA) inventory without this feature. With the Buy List feature on Scoutify, I scan inventory while doing RA, click the Buy List button, click the price I’m paying for it, enter my location and the date one time at the beginning of the trip, and I’m good to go with saving my inventory to my account as I source. I can go out for several hours of RA sourcing, compile all my purchases for the day, and then when I’m finished sourcing I just email the spreadsheet to myself so I can upload it to Inventory Lab on my laptop. It’s a super quick way to list all the inventory I’ve purchased in a day.

3. Having so many options for reports so I can know my business numbers.

Sellers who know their numbers in their business are much more likely to find success at Amazon FBA. Those sellers who don’t keep track of their business numbers are more likely to quit their business and move on to something else they find to be easier. Inventory Lab makes knowing your numbers easy-peasy with reports such as sales, reimbursements, refunds, profit and loss, and more.


4. Seeing the profitability of my suppliers and categories.

Inventory Lab makes it very simple to see which of my suppliers and which Amazon categories are bringing me the most revenue and the highest amount of profits. I love being able to fine tune my FBA sourcing to make the most profits from the best suppliers and categories in my repertoire. In fact, we get so much benefit from this feature that we did a blog post showing you just how to look at these reports yourself for your own business.

5. Seeing prep information for my items as I’m listing in Inventory Lab.

Sometimes it’s obvious what type of prep an item will need, while other times I am not so sure. As I’m processing in Inventory Lab, I can see right there on that product’s listing whether it needs poly bagging, bubble wrapping, etc. I’m glad to know that I can avoid those dreaded emails from Amazon saying, “You were supposed to poly bag this item, and we had to bag it for you. We have charged you the appropriate prep fee for this service.” With this Inventory Lab feature, I can avoid annoying and excessive prep fees from Amazon, as well as the worry that my seller performance will be dinged because I didn’t prep my items correctly.

So those are my top five favorite features. I have about ten more features I love, but those are the ones I simply can’t live without. If you want to try out Inventory Lab (which comes bundled with the Scoutify sourcing app) and get your first month free, simply click here to sign up. Once you start using Inventory Lab, you’ll wonder how you ever did Amazon FBA without it.

Now, I’d love to hear from you. Are you an Inventory Lab user? If so, then what features do you like the best? Not using Inventory Lab yet? Then, what questions do you have about this program? I’d love to see your comments below.

Amazon’s Latest Long Term Storage Fee Policy Update

long-term-storageOn August 15 and February 15 of each year, Amazon charges long term storage fees for items at their FBA warehouses. If items have been at the warehouse for longer than 6 months as of the fee date, those items are charged $11.25 per cubic foot; items at the warehouse longer than 12 months are charged $22.50 per cubic foot.

In the past, Amazon has granted an exemption from the long term storage fee for one unit per ASIN. Basically, the long term storage fee only applied to items with multiple units at the warehouses. If your item was a one-off, there was no long term storage fee.

exemptionsMoving forward, Amazon will now be charging long term storage fees for all items at FBA warehouses longer than 6 months as of the fee date, regardless of whether you only have one unit of that ASIN. No more exemptions for one-off items. 

If you know me at all, you know that my approach to this change is not to panic. Getting freaked out over these types of changes really doesn’t help your business’ bottom line. Instead, here are a few points for you to consider about the changes in long term storage fees:

5 Points to Consider about Changes in Long Term Storage Fees:

  1. amazon-warehouseUnderstand that Amazon does not want to be your long term storage solution.

The above statement is nothing new. Amazon has been trying to tell sellers for the past few years that FBA warehouses cannot be their long term storage solution. When I first started selling on Amazon, there were no long term storage fees. More and more sellers began using the Amazon platform, and the warehouses started filling up. So Amazon instituted 12 month long term storage fees. The warehouses continued to fill up. So Amazon instituted 6 month long term storage fees. The warehouses are still filling up. So Amazon put in place steeper monthly storage fees during Q4, and now they’re removing the exemption for one unit per ASIN for long term fees.

Surely we should be getting the picture. Amazon wants us to send inventory to FBA warehouses that will sell relatively fast. Amazon doesn’t want to be a long term storage facility. To find out exactly what your long term storage fees will be, click here.

  1. keep-calm-change-can-be-goodThis change is an opportunity to improve your business model.

As with anything in life, mindset goes a long way towards determining our outcomes. Do you have a growth mindset or a fixed mindset about these policy changes? Do you see the fee changes as a huge blow to your business? Then it will be a huge blow to your business. Do you see the fee changes as a chance to tighten up your inventory and streamline your processes? Then your business will improve as a result.

If you sell a lot of books or shoes, these changes might impact you more because of the long-tail nature of selling in those categories. How can you approach these changes as an opportunity to adjust your business model and continue to achieve success in selling on Amazon? Look for the opportunities to grow and adapt, rather than feeling doomed because things will be different moving forward.

  1. 6-months-long-tail The term “long-tail” is being redefined.

Whether we like it or not, 6 months just became the new long-tail. In the past, long-tail might be as long as 2 or 3 years. But unless you can find items with such a massively high return on investment (ROI) that you can absorb the monthly storage fees and long term storage fees on one-off items, long-tail might need to be no more than 6 months moving forward.

Do we like these changes? Not really. Will it shut down our business? No, because we have a balanced inventory model that depends on fast nickels, slow dimes, and really slow quarters. Fast nickels make a lower ROI, but they do it relatively quickly. Slow dimes take a bit longer to sell, but we get higher ROI. Really slow quarters have fantastic ROI, but who knows how long it will take to sell. Moving forward, we have to make sourcing decisions based on whether or not storage fees will eat into the ROI too much on our slow quarters. For some sellers, this isn’t a huge deal; for others, you might want to redefine your parameters for what types of long-tail items you are willing to source.

  1. price-tag-267x300Now is the time to be more proactive about repricing.

Whether you choose to manually reprice as we do (see how we do it in this blog post) or subscribe to a repricer, now is the time to make sure your inventory is priced competitively.

Please do not hear me say, “Drop your prices! Sell it all NOW!” What I’m saying is that if you’ve been accustomed in the past to setting your prices when you send in inventory and then never looking at the prices again, you’re going to need to adapt and begin checking your prices on at least a semi-regular basis to make sure they’re still competitive. Be proactive in repricing throughout the year so that you don’t have to be reactive in repricing every August 14 or February 14 to avoid long term storage fees.

  1. sourcing-buy-yes-noConsider tightening your sourcing parameters for the future.

Moving forward you might need to change how you decide whether or not to buy an inventory item. You might need to look for items with a lower sales rank or with fewer competitors, in order to get a faster sales velocity. I highly recommend learning how to read CamelCamelCamel and Keepa graphs so you can make smarter sourcing decisions (click here for a Camel tutorial and here for a Keepa tutorial).

positivesUltimately, these changes to long term storage fees can have minimal negative effects and actually have positive effects on your Amazon FBA business if you handle them correctly. A few positives I see potentially happening as a result of these changes:

* We can improve our skills as sourcers.

By tightening our sourcing parameters and looking for faster moving inventory, we will expand our abilities as sourcers. It may seem slow going at first, but over time we will be able to find better inventory much faster.

Cut-Lead-Costs-in-Half-and-Increase-Sales-Revenue-by-105-Percent* These changes will likely weed out our competition.

New fees are a hurdle that many sellers won’t want to jump over. Many sellers are likely to give up when the going gets tough and move on to another venture. That’s less competition for us…so stick with it and don’t be one of the ones to move on!

* Finding faster turning inventory will improve your bottom line.

If you improve your sourcing skills and find better inventory, you will get more sales and make more profits. You will have higher disbursements that you can then reinvest more quickly into more inventory…again and again. Thank you, Amazon, for helping us get more sales in the long run!

If you want more from me on this topic, be sure to watch the video below. This blog post is full of the highlights, but in this video, I add even more thoughts, tips, and strategies to handle this recent change.

So how are you going to handle these changes? Are you going to have a growth mindset and leverage these fee changes into an opportunity to improve your business?

Tool Review: Box Sizer – Create the Perfect-Sized Shipping Box

Box Sizer ToolBesides boxes and 3-inch packing tape, the one tool I simply can’t live without in my Amazon FBA business is a box sizer. I use this tool almost every time I’m packing up an Amazon FBA shipment. Not only does it save me time, but it also saves me money. I’ll break down exactly how in this article.

I don’t know how many times I’ve packed up a box with Amazon FBA inventory only to realize that the box is not completely full. Sometimes all I need to do is add a little dunnage to the box so that none of the items in the box move around during the shipment, but other times, there is so much space left in the box that I end up wishing I had a smaller box. Well, the box sizer tool grants my wish!

The box sizer tool helps transform my big shipping box into a smaller box. It’s an easy-to-use tool that adjusts the size of my box in order to reduce any excess space. Not only can my boxes be modified to the perfect size, but there is also less “air space” that needs to be filled up by excess dunnage. My shipping boxes end up smaller in size, weighing less, and costing less in Amazon or UPS fees.

Before we go on, let me share with you a video of the box sizer tool in action:

By combining the box sizer tool with the Black & Decker electronic scissors, I’m able to easily adjust my shipping boxes to be the perfect size for my Amazon FBA shipments.

515LRZn2AuL._SL1000_Since UPS charges dimensional weight fees (through Amazon) for the boxes I ship to FBA warehouses, then I always want to make sure I’m using the smallest boxes possible. It’s not really realistic to have the perfect box sizes on hand, so I can save the time searching for the perfect box size and just make my own with this easy tool. With the money I saved from no longer sending in only 18x18x16 boxes to Amazon, this tool paid for itself within the first few times I used it.

But the box sizer tool is not just for making boxes smaller… it can also be used to make a box bigger. You might be thinking: “WHAT?!?!? How is that even possible?” Let me show you:

As long as I have a little extra cardboard on hard, I can use this tool to make my shipping boxes larger. This also can be a time saver. Before I had the box sizer, I don’t know how many times I had packed up a box only to wish I had just a little more room to fit more inventory. Now that I know how to use the box sizer tool to make the boxes bigger, there’s no more rushing to the store to try and find a larger box. Now I can just make a bigger box in less than a minute.

31YliKNB3LL._SY355_Again, with the time and money this tool saves me, it is easily one of my top tools that I use in my Amazon FBA business. I really wish I had the box sizer tool and Black & Decker electronic scissors when I first started selling on Amazon.

So how about you? Do you own or use a box sizer tool? Have you found any other ways to use it that could help everyone? Feel free to share below!

Cover Reveal for Our Latest Book

How To Keepa Camel Cover_Screen 72dpiWe are so excited to announce our latest book, The Reseller’s Guide to How to Keepa Camel: Using Amazon Sales History to Make Smart Sourcing Decisions. The book will be ready in April, but we’re too excited to keep it a secret any longer.

How to Keepa Camel will come in book format (134 pages) and will also come with an in-depth video companion course (34 modules) so you can get the same information via text or video. We’ll walk you through how to understand the basics of Keepa and CamelCamelCamel and how the data they provide can help you find better inventory and earn higher disbursements every month. This course won’t just stop with the basics, as we’ll also teach you some amazing advanced strategies to use Keepa and CamelCamelCamel to make more sales and find inventory that won’t always “tank” in price.

Boy Captives Sale RankSo many people have told me that when they look at a CamelCamelCamel or Keepa graph, it just looks like some geometry mumbo jumbo… others have told me that it looks like a lie-detector test. If this is you, and you’re looking for a course to train you on the basics and the advanced strategies for Keepa and CamelCamelCamel, then this course is for you.

If you’re subscribed to this blog, you’ll get a special coupon code that will save you $10 off the cost of the course. We’ll share more about this book in the weeks ahead. If you’re not subscribed to the blog… then what are you waiting for? Scroll up and enter your name and email in the form at the top right of this screen.

We have so much to share with you about Keepa and CamelCamelCamel, and can’t wait to share it… but before we do, I’d love to know what kind of questions you have about Keepa or CamelCamelCamel. Feel free to ask them in the comments below. This way, the How to Keepa Camel course will be even better, thanks to you!

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

LTSFIf you’ve been selling on Amazon at least 6 months, then it’s possible you will receive a FBA Aged Inventory Notification email from Amazon (if you have not, you may soon). 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. The good news is that Amazon has recently created a FBA Inventory Age report within Seller Central so you can access this information directly. 

To find out how you can access your FBA Inventory Age report in Seller Central, all you need to do is watch the video below, or scroll down and read the rest of this blog post. 

Note: In the video below, I mention that Amazon will allow you one exemption to the LTSF on each item in your inventory, but as of September of 2016, the single ASIN exemption is no longer being allowed. Currently, all of your items being stored in Amazon warehouses for over 6 months will be charged a LTSF, so it’s important to know which items will be charged the fee.

Don’t want to watch the video? Well, below is a text version of what I talk about in the video above. Note, there is more information in the video above, but the text below will still tell you the basics of what you need to know.

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

1. Log in to Seller Central.

2. Hover over Inventory and click on Manage Inventory.

3. Click on Inventory Dashboard.

4. Scroll down until you see the FBA Inventory Age box. Then, click View Details.

Now, you are able to see the magical report that automatically shows you what items are going to be charged a long-term storage fee. At the top of the list is the item that will be charged the highest long-term storage fee, and then the following lines show you the rest in descending order. 

With each line item, Amazon gives you a lot of valuable information. It gives you how long your item has been stored at an Amazon warehouse, the estimated long-term storage fee (if you don’t sell or remove those items), as well as the number of units you have sold in the last 90 days. Amazon shows you your current price and then tells you if that price is the current low price. If not, Amazon gives you the option to lower or match the current low price. Amazon also gives you the option to advertise the item, edit the listing, improve the keywords, or create a removal order (to either dispose or send back to your place of business).

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. Let’s say you’ll be charged $1.19 for an item for the LTSF. 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 later in the year, then maybe pay the fee, and then wait for the sale to come. 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 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 later in the year.

If CCC shows that the price will probably go back up later, then maybe it’s a good idea to pay the $8.32 fee in order to make the profits at a later date. 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 February 15th. As always, different items will require different actions, so do your research and make the best decision for your inventory.

amazon-warehouse-5

Remember: 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. If I didn’t do anything different, my LTSF would be over $500 this go-round, 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. 

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If you’re looking to learn more about how to know exactly how long it might take for an item to sell on Amazon, be sure to watch my free tutorials on how to understand Keepa and how to understand CamelCamelCamel or check out my book/video course, The Reseller’s Guide to How to Keepa Camel: Using Amazon Sales History to Make Smart Sourcing Decisions.

More Ways to Get “Free” Money to Use For FBA Sourcing

happy-woman-with-raining-moneyIf you resell products online, then you always want to buy your inventory at the lowest price possible. Not only that, but you also want to be able to buy as much inventory as you can at the lowest price possible. During my many years as a reseller, I’ve come up with many ways to buy inventory at significant discounts, and sometimes, even for free.

I’ve blogged about the topic of free money before, and today I’m ready to share with you even more ways to get free money that you can use to source for more inventory at the best prices possible.

1. RecycleBank

recyclebankWhen you sign up with RecycleBank, you’ll start to accumulate points for recycling in your neighborhood. You can also earn points by going through short little lessons on recycling. When you earn RecycleBank points, you can redeem them for up to $165 per year in special gift cards & coupons for retail stores. Not only do you get the sense of helping out the environment, but you get “free money” to source with as well. To turn your recycling into free money, just click here.

2. RetailMeNot

retailmenot_logo_lgIf you don’t have the RetailMeNot website bookmarked or the RetailMeNot app downloaded to your smartphone, you are missing a huge opportunity to save big on both online and in-store purchases. I’ve saved hundreds using RetailMeNot, and you can too. On RetailMeNot, users post the newest coupon codes, and other users vote on if the codes worked for them or not. This way, you can find the most reliable coupon codes for the stores you’re shopping at.

3. Swagbucks

Swagbucks-LogoOne of the easiest ways to earn free gift cards is to sign up for Swagbucks. You can get a few points here and there by clicking on ads, but the real money is found in shopping through the Swagbucks site. You can sometimes earn up to eight Swagbucks per dollar spent while you are sourcing at select online retail stores. Once you have enough Swagbucks, you can then redeem them for gift cards for dozens of retail stores. I usually earn at least $20 in gift cards each month. That’s up to $240 in gift cards every year to use for sourcing. I use both the website and mobile app to earn all my Swagbucks.

4. FreeCycle

freecycle_logoOk, so this is not free money, but free inventory is just as good, right? On FreeCycle, you join a group based on the area in which you live. Once you’re in the group, you’ll have people posting things they want to give away for free. If you are the first to respond, you’ll get free items that might end up being profitable inventory! You can also post “want” ads on FreeCycle for items you are looking for. I’ve had some success with this site in finding both new and collectible board games to sell online.

5. Store Debit Cards

target-red-cardI’m not a fan of credit cards, so I usually don’t advise people to “earn points” by using credit, but when a store offers up a debit card to save money, then I’m good with that. Stores like Target and Nordstrom offers up debit cards that help you save 5% off, as well as free shipping. When you use these cards online, and combine that with using eBates, then your savings can really add up.

When you take the time to combine all of the methods above, you will start to see a substantial difference in your business finances. Over time, the “free” money adds up and gives you more funds to help grow your business.

Now, I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below and share with everyone your favorite way to get “free” money!

One last tip: Bookmark this page so that you can have a handy reference of all of the websites that will help you get more “free” money.

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Working from home sounds easy, but if you’ve done it for any amount of time, you know it can be difficult. In Married to Reselling, my wife Rebecca and I will walk with you through ways we can all find success in balancing our time with family while working from home.  We’ll tackle both the business and personal sides of life as a reseller, and we’ll help you explore a system that works best for you and your family. If you’re looking for ways to balance your family life with your online business and find success with both, then this book is for you.

Garage Sale Tip #4 – Take The Experts With You (I’ll show you how!)

Everyone loves a home run. No, I’m not talking about when the ball goes over the outfield fence and the batter can trot around the bases… I’m talking about the reseller’s home run! When you buy something for super cheap, and then flip it for huge profits. I love finding a book for a quarter, and then selling it for $50 just a few weeks later. I’ll never forget the rush of buying 5 brand new vintage video games for $25 each, and then selling them for $350 each! Home runs can be the fuel that keeps a reseller in the game.

Home-Run-GuideScratchyI want to let you in on a tool that I use to help me find home runs. It’s called The Home Run Guide and it’s absolutely the best book for finding those hidden (and not so hidden) home runs. This book is a collection of articles written by many different reselling experts. I have referenced the Home Run Guide countless times when I’ve been at garage sales, thrift stores, and estate sales. I have the mobile version on my Kindle AND iBooks app (just in case one of those apps crashes) so I can easily bring up the information I need to make sure what I have in front of me is indeed a home run.

The Home Run Guide is broken up into Volume One, Two, and Three. All three volumes are excellent, and I highly recommend them. Volume One is 490 pages full of useful information to help you find home runs. That’s not a typo… 490 pages. Volume Two is equally impressive at 369 pages. The newest addition, Volume Three is loaded with amazing home runs, as well as a “Success Knowledge” section. This section will help you with ‘Setting up your Sales Tax on Amazon,’ ‘Attending Trade Shows,’ ‘Organizing your Online Business,’ and more. It’s truly an amazing guide. 

The authors who write each section of The Home Run Guide go into great detail so that you can get the most information and make the best buying decisions. They include pictures, as well as what to definitely buy and what to never buy.

In The Home Run Guide, you’ll learn so many new things to be on the lookout for. It’s great for both eBay and Amazon resellers alike. Here is just a small sample of what is in The Home Run Guide:

Details About What to Buy – Books, Children’s Books, Toys, Plush, Kitchen Items, Home Items, Puzzles, Board Games, Electronic Toys, Craft Supplies, Toy Trains, Harley Davidson Memorabilia, Coke Memorabilia, Collectibles, Jewelry, and tons more.

Tips and Tricks – Negotiation Skills, Clearance Sale Tips, Garage and Estate Sales Tricks, Rummage Sales, Thrift Stores, a guide to shopping at Target, an intro to Sales and Use Tax, Organization tips, Trade Shows, IFTTT (If This Then That) Video Training, and so much more.

v3You can buy each volume individually, or you can buy them all together and get a discounted rate.

If you purchase this guide through my link, I will get an affiliate commission, which helps pay to keep this blog up and running. However, I want to assure you that I only promote products that I use myself and completely believe in. This guide will pay for itself over and over again. Click on this link to see more details about The Home Run Guide.

 

The Full-Time FBA Quiz – Are You Ready?

keep-calm-and-be-your-own-boss-7Has it been your dream to work from home and be your own boss? In today’s world, being your own boss is becoming more and more realistic every day. But do you have the characteristics needed to become a successful work-at-home entrepreneur? I know that not everyone who reads this blog has the goal of making FBA their full-time job. Many of you subscribed to the blog to take advantage of all the free tips and how to articles that we post weekly. But if your goal is to make FBA your full-time job, then take this little quiz and see how you stack up. These questions will help you determine whether or not you are ready to take the plunge. Count each “yes” and then see how you stack up. Let’s get started.

1. Do you like work that offers challenge, change, variety, and even some elements of risk?
2. Are you willing to invest your own money in your Amazon business venture?
3. Are you comfortable with NOT receiving a predictable paycheck?
4. Are you willing to spend as much time and effort as it takes to make your business successful?
5. Do you actually enjoy the day-to-day details of running your Amazon business?
6. Are you flexible enough to deal with the ever changing market of supply and demand?
7. Do you enjoy learning more and more about being a successful Amazon seller?
8. Are you able to bounce back and learn from failures or temporary setbacks?
9. Are you optimistic, passionate, and persistent about your work?
10. Are you confident that you are capable of being a successful as an Amazon seller?

Count up the number of times you said Yes above and see how you stack up below:

boss-300x3008 to 10 – Full Steam Ahead – If you answered Yes to 8 to 10 of the above questions, then you most likely have what it takes to start moving towards making FBA your full-time job. You are someone willing and able to take calculated risks based on both your experience and solid information. You’re probably even energized by selling on Amazon because it offers you opportunities to master challenges and grow. You’re an independent thinker, but willing to listen to the wisdom and advice of others. I’m not telling you to quit your day job just yet, but you seem to have the main ingredients for a successful transition into full-time FBA.

5 to 7 – Move Forward Slowly – If you answered Yes to 5 to 7 of the above questions, then you have some of the key characteristics, but you need to move ahead slowly. Take a moment to write down your strengths and weaknesses (both personally and in business) and determine what you need to develop before you start making the transition towards selling on Amazon as your full-time job. Capitalize on your strengths, and seek to improve upon your weaknesses. Read as much as you can about selling on Amazon, working at home, and what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. There are so many affordable ebooks you can find to help improve upon your weaknesses (some are even free!).

bigstock-obstacle-ahead-caution-for-dan-415158880 to 4 – Prepare For a Hard Journey – If you answered Yes to 4 or fewer of the above questions, then you have a hard road ahead of you. I’m not at all telling you to ditch the goal of working for yourself completely. If you still cringe at the idea of being an employee for someone else, do not fear, there is still hope. The road will be harder, but it’s still possible to overcome the obstacles ahead and become a successful work-at-home entrepreneur. If you are determined to make this work, then take that passion and move forward very, very slowly. Read as much as you can on all areas of your business. Take online courses like The Proven Amazon Course and Amazon Boot Camp. These courses help walk you through step by step what you need to do to succeed in selling on Amazon.

No matter how you scored on this quiz, I truly believe that you can be successful with selling on Amazon via FBA. Whether you end up working FBA as a full-time job or you use FBA as a side business or hobby, you can count on this blog to bring you informative and relevant articles that will help take your business to the next level.

For those of you who have set the goal of making FBA your full time job, here are a few final thoughts about starting the journey towards being your own boss and working from home via FBA:

businessplan1. You don’t have to start immediately. Please don’t quit your day job today and jump into Amazon. It takes time to plan, and once you start selling on Amazon, it takes time to build up your income so that you can support yourself and your family. Selling on Amazon FBA is still a relatively new thing, so there is still time to learn as much as you can about what it takes to build a solid, successful, and profitable business. Make a plan, set goals, and take things one step at a time.

2. Success with being a work-at-home entrepreneur is so much easier when you believe in yourself. Being surrounded by family and friends that believe in you is also very helpful. It’s so much easier to believe in yourself when you focus on your skills, interests, and expertise. If there are parts of this business model where you lack confidence, be a reader and learn all you can to boost your skills to the next level.

WV-District-Logo-w-Facebook-Twitter3. You don’t need to go at this alone. Joining FBA-related groups online will surround you with like-minded individuals who are willing to help you along the way. Some examples of quality FBA Facebook groups include ScanPower, Amazon FBA Newbies, Fast Turn Radio, and of course, the Full-Time FBA facebook group! If you prefer email focus groups, I highly recommend Bob Wiley’s FBA Forum.

So how did you score? If you’d like, comment below and share with us how you did. Number 3 (not receiving a regular paycheck) was the biggest hurdle I had to overcome, but over time, I was able to make it work for me. Do you have an obstacle you want to share? Feel free to share in the comments.

 

Our Liquidation Store Experiment

Today’s post is written by Rebecca, my wife and partner in doing FBA as a full-time job.

We’ve come down from the high of Q4 sales through FBA, and we’ve maximized sourcing at after-Christmas clearance sales in local retail stores. In years past, our focus at this time of year would shift back to mainly sourcing for FBA product at local thrift stores and garage sales. This year, however, we decided to use some of our capital leftover from Q4 sales to try a new location for sourcing: liquidation stores. Today’s post is a write-up of our first venture into sourcing at a liquidation store and a summary of the things we learned from that first trip.

mrsjess01-187x300Before we made this first trip, both Stephen and I read the ebook Liquidation Gold: A guide for Amazon sellers by Jessica Larrew. If you have liquidation stores in your area and want to learn about their potential for sourcing product for FBA, I highly recommend this book, for reasons I’ll mention below.

We used the methods Jessica discusses to find the liquidation stores within a 1-hour radius of our home, and we decided to try out the closest one first. Liquidation Gold did a great job of helping us know what to expect when we got to the store and how to tackle looking for potential items to resell in this large warehouse-type store. Let’s just say, the merchandise and aisles were pretty chaotic. At this particular store, there is barely enough room for one shopping cart to go down an aisle, much less for two to meet each other head-on. We had to do a lot of maneuvering with the cart, say a lot of “excuse me”s to fellow shoppers, and get down and dirty on the floor to dig through bins of items on the bottom shelves. The lighting is pretty awful, and the signage is all scrawled on scrap paper with a permanent marker. It was nothing like sourcing at a Target or JCPenney or somewhere that they try to make your shopping experience more aesthetically pleasing so you’ll stick around and buy more.

DSCN2295-800x600 But we didn’t let the ambience fool us! We were giddy with excitement as we started down the first couple of aisles. Grocery items and Health & Beauty items are new categories for us — in the past we’ve tended more towards Books or Toys & Games. We were pumped at the idea of finding items we could sell in multi-packs for big profits, but we were hesitant to start dealing with items that have expiration dates. The topic of expiration dates is an important one that Jessica discusses in several chapters of her book, and we felt a lot more confidence going into the store armed with that information.

Overall, we had a great first sourcing trip (I’ll share the numbers below). We found items to sell as individuals, items for multi-packs, items we wanted to test and come back to purchase more at a later date (but not too much later or they’ll be gone!), and items we knew already that we wanted to buy everything on the shelf. After scanning everything on the first two aisles in a fifteen aisle store, we were ready to call it a day and head home with a cart full of groceries to process and resell. There was no way we could scan the entire store on that first trip!

Looking ahead, there are several lessons we learned from that first trip that we’ve since applied in our subsequent trips over the past couple of weeks:

1) From now on we will allow more time for an initial trip to a new liquidation store. Maybe it’s just us, maybe we’re still working on a steep learning curve for a new sourcing category, but it took a lot longer to scan items and make decisions than when we source for books or toys. Part of the issue is that we need to do more research on CamelCamelCamel and the Amazon website to ensure we’re making good decisions about buying for multi-packs versus individual items. We’ll get faster at this as we go, but for now it’s taking us a bit longer than we first expected.

img_11412) We learned the hard way to make better notes as we shopped. There were a few items that we wanted to test before we purchased large numbers, and we mistakenly assumed that we could keep everything straight in our minds after we got home and started processing for shipment. Wrong. After a couple of days and the sales started coming in, we were asking each other, “Now, which ones did they have more of?” about the flavors of a particular beverage mix we had purchased two different varieties of. One flavor had started selling, but one hadn’t yet — would have been nice if we knew whether or not the liquidation store had more of the popular one on their shelves without having to driving all the way back and check! Also, we want to make better notes about prices of individual units and the numbers needed to make multi-packs, so that we don’t have to keep looking that information up on Amazon or a scouting app when we’re trying to decide if we want to go back and buy more.

3) We will continue to do tests of certain items, as Jessica describes in her book, but we will also try to be bolder in our buying in the future. It’s such a risk to take one of an item to do a test, but not know whether there will still be more on the shelf if the product sells quickly on Amazon. We’re still working out our tolerance for risk in these new categories.

4) We’ll look up more often. When we find a great item and grab all they have on the shelves, we also now know to look up on the top shelf for possible overstock quantities. We don’t want to leave any money on the table… or the shelves.

Liquidation-Sale5) We will eat a bigger lunch whenever we plan to source at grocery stores in the afternoon. Seriously, I almost needed a separate cart for all the stuff I wanted to take home for our family to eat! This particular liquidation store specializes in gourmet foods, and the prices were low, low, low. I’m having to learn a new level of restraint in personal purchases while shopping for groceries to resell.

OUR FIRST LIQUIDATION EXPERIMENT:
$148.75   Total purchased at Liquidation Store (1/29/14)
$46.22     Shipping costs to FBA Warehouse (1/30/14)
$194.97Total invested in our Liquidation Experiment

As of 2/24/14 our sales (after Amazon fees) were $389.87. This brings the amount of profit from our experiment to $194.90 The good news is that in less than a month, we have doubled our initial investment. The even better news is that we have not sold out of all of the items we first bought. There is still at least $50 more in profits just waiting to be sold. If things go as expected, our liquidation experiment will have quickly turned $200 into $450. Thank you, Jessica Larrew, for providing such a great resourse in Liquidation Gold.

So what about you? Do you have any experience with liquidation stores? What tips would you like to share? We’d love to hear your experiences.

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.