Spring Cleaning for a Profitable FBA Business

spring cleaning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A. Items that no longer have a sales rank. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

00_lead_image_delete_key4. Delete your old inactive inventory items. 

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

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

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

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

17 responses to “Spring Cleaning for a Profitable FBA Business

  1. Thanks for the reminders. I decided to clear out 3300 old listings today. One thing I noticed was how many “reserved” items there were, and they were not current orders. My best guess is that they are items being shipped from warehouse to warehouse by Amazon to anticipate purchases.

    Anyway, just a heads up that after deleting a few of those listings, I realized my mistake, and then started sorting by :inactive” and also sorting by “reserved”, then I would scroll through all 250 items on the page to make sure “available”, “Inbound”, and “reserved” all were “0”, THEN I will delete the page. I may have stranded 6 or items. oops.

  2. Thais is just what I needed. My little bit of stuff was a jangled up mess. Now it’s clear, and I have entered and am sending today a box of books to FBA.
    Thanks.

  3. When we delete old inactive inventory, should we just do it from the Inactive Inventory view? Do we also need to archive old out of stock inventory in Manage FBA Inventory view?

    Thanks!

  4. I am having a hard time understanding out to archive/delete old inventory items with any efficiency. I have a lot of one-off books and music. In “Manage Inventory”, if its Inactive, zeros in all columns (Available, Inbound, Unfulfillable, and Reserved), and isn’t in my pile waiting for me to make a shipment — then is the item safe to delete from inventory?

  5. Can you delete your archived listings or do they just stay there forever? Thanks!

  6. Hello,
    I usually sell one offs, like video games, that I usually create a new listing for each time I sell because condition is always varying. Should I just delete the listings that have been inactive for more than a year? Can I still sell these items if I come across them again?

    • Yes, even if you delete the listings for items you are no longer selling, you can still sell them again if you happen to come across them while sourcing. Deleting/archiving the listings is just telling Amazon that you no longer intend to carry them in stock… but if you change you mind in the future, that’s ok too.

    • Jerry, there is no reason to create a new listing each time because condition varies. Use an existing listing and change the condition within the listing.

  7. Thanks for the tips!! I sell many one off items too and my inactive listings are a mess!!! This is motivation to get it all cleaned up and simplified for ease of future maintenance.

  8. Terry Wallace

    Thanks for the reminder Stephen! I need to delete those old inactive listings, but my problem is, when I sort to find my oldest listings, a few of these have sold in the past month (just got a repricer going, so some pretty old stuff is selling). I’m afraid if I just select the older inactive listings and delete, I may have a return get stranded. But there’s no other way to go about it, is there?

    • Not that I know of… I would think, though, that it would be petty rare for this to be a regular occurrence. Most of the time, the oldest stock will be items you sold a long time ago, and not recently. If you do have an item get returned that you sold recently, then you just create a removal order to send it back to you, then send it back to Amazon. It should only set you back about $1 to do that.

  9. Thanks so much for the reminder, Stephen — You are greatly appreciated for sharing these tips — Your posts are always timely and creative, yet down-to-earth. So happy I found you.

  10. Hi Stephen, Thanks for all these great Spring cleaning tips. Was just thinking about getting out my Amazon broom, then I got your e-mail. I’m really feeling motivated now :o)

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