Tag Archives: Busy

Top 10 Tips For Finishing Strong in 2016

finishing-strong-2016First off, if you can see this… thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to read today’s blog post. I know Q4 is crazy busy, and I hope my blog posts can help you take action t0 save time and increase your profits.

As we all know, the holiday selling season is in full bloom, and I hope you’ve been able to stock the Amazon warehouses with as much quality inventory as you possibly can. It seems pretty obvious to say, but you can’t sell a lot of items if you don’t have a lot of items in stock. To help you continue to make this month your best selling month ever, here are my top ten tips for finishing strong in 2016:

christmas-lights1. Reprice holiday related items. It’s crunch time. Log into Seller Central and check all of your holiday related items in your inventory. Do a keyword search for words like “holiday” and “Christmas” and make sure that all of your holiday items are competitively priced. While some of these seasonal items actually sell throughout the year, there might still be some in stock that you need to reprice. As always, double check with CamelCamelCamel and Keepa to see what prices and sales you could possibly expect. If you have multiples of higher ranked holiday items, it’s probably a good time to lower your prices to get the sale. You don’t want to hold on to these items another full year… especially with long term stores fees coming up in February.

2. The week before Christmas is a Prime spending frenzy! For items sold through FBA, hold on to your prices that you think will sell for Christmas. It’s not rare to see an item going for $15 on December 14th to be selling for $25 on December 19th. This is especially true for items where you’re the only FBA seller or one of a few FBA sellers. On the other hand, if the competition for sales is fierce, you might want to lower your price just a little to sell out before the newbie Amazon sellers freak out and lower their prices too far.

returns.jpg3. Be prepared for an increase in returns. Naturally, with an increase in sales, there is also an increase in returns. Don’t let this make you anxious or worried. It’s a natural part of selling. As you might already know, Amazon automatically refunds the FBA customer the full purchase price when the buyer requests to return an item. If the buyer fails to return the item to Amazon, then Amazon is supposed to automatically reimburse you for the item after 45 days have passed, but many times Amazon “forgets” and needs to be reminded. For more about how to make sure returned items are actually returned to Amazon, check out this popular blog post.

feedback4. Be prepared for an increase in negative and/or positive feedback. If you’re keeping to best business practices, then you’ll most likely get lots of new positive (4 or 5) feedback, but you’ll also get the occasional negative (1 or 2) or neutral (3) feedback score. If the feedback is actually about the FBA process (“my item came 2 days late”) or a product review (“this coffee maker is hard to use”), then it’s up to you to do whatever you can to get the feedback removed. Your feedback score is a huge aspect of your seller metrics. The better seller metrics you have, the more opportunities you’ll have to earn the buy box for your products. To read more about how I handle feedback issues (and how I keep a 100% feedback score), then check out this blog post.

5. Look at sales ranks differently. As you already know, the sales velocity in December shoots through the roof! This should make you look at sales rank differently than during the rest of the year. Here is an example: A toy with a sales rank of 10,000 in July might sell 25 times a week… while a toy with a rank of 10,000 in December might sell 50 times a day. This is important to know when you are out sourcing for inventory. Know that after Christmas and into January, many of these sales ranks will start to return to their normal patterns (slower sales), and it’s up to you to recalibrate your mind to what you need to expect when you’re out sourcing. Again, look at CamelCamelCamel and Keepa to see what prices and sales velocity to expect in January.

targetstore6. Be careful with sale prices at retail chain stores. Retail stores are realizing that they need to do whatever it takes to sell their stuff as soon as possible. Often, this means some outrageous clearance sales. But be careful, the items you’re finding clearanced at large national chains might be the same items hundreds of other resellers are finding. You don’t want to be slow moving on these sales. If you decide to buy, you need to get those items to Amazon as fast as possible… and I wouldn’t recommend going too deep. It’s possible that Amazon is about to be flooded with these items from other resellers sourcing at the same sales in their town. Buy fast, prep fast, and ship fast so it can sell fast.

7. Profit from selling items Merchant Fulfilled. We all love selling via FBA, but this week still provides a nice money making opportunity if you are willing to do a little more work. Selling via Merchant Fulfilled can still bring about some nice profits this week for items that buyers need to buy today. The best items to sell MF are those that both Amazon and FBA sellers have sold out of, are backordered, ones that are “Currently Unavailable” on their Amazon product page, and ones with a low rank that you don’t want to risk the extra time it takes to travel to a fulfillment center.

amazon_gift_card8. Keep sourcing for post-Christmas buyers. On the days after Christmas and well into January, many people have brand new Amazon gift cards burning a hole in their pockets. They head on over to Amazon and look for items to spend these gift cards on, and you want to be sure you have what they want waiting for them. Not only do gift card buyers show up, but so do the people who didn’t get what they wanted for Christmas. They know what they want, and since they didn’t get it, they decide to give themselves the gift they really want. Again, you want to be sure you have what they want when they go shopping for themselves.

list-of-updated-after-christmas-sales-20099. Buy Christmas-themed items at huge discounts. The week before, and right after Christmas, all of the Christmas related items go on sale at drastically reduced prices. This is a great time for you to stock up for your Amazon inventory. Like I’ve said before, seasonal items sell both in and out of season. I’ve seen Christmas ornaments sell in May, candy canes sell in March, and holiday DVDs sell in August. The stuff sells year round, but especially in July as people have “Christmas in July” parties. So, now might be a good time to buy holiday decor at 75% – 90% off. Again (I might be sounding like a broken record by now), check CamelCamelCamel and Keepa to see what prices and sales velocity to expect throughout the year.

10. Look towards the new year. Why am I talking about the new year in December? I honestly believe that if you wait until the first of January to start thinking about the new year, then you’re already behind in the game and are at a disadvantage. Imagine someone showing up for a marathon without doing any training beforehand. The runner would most likely quit before they even pass the 5 mile marker. Don’t be that guy. When January 1 arrives, we all begin a 365 day marathon, and I want to be sure you are ready for the journey. One great way is to grab my book, The Reseller’s Guide to a Year in FBA: A Month by Month Guide to a Profitable Amazon Business. This resource will help you know exactly what to do and what to avoid for each month of the year.

How about you? What strategies are you implementing to finish strong in 2016? I’d love to hear your ideas, so comment below.

 

Married to Reselling: Balancing Family Life with your Online Business

Married To Reselling 3D 2 clearToday, I’m excited to tell you that our new book, Married To Reselling: Balancing Family Life With Your Online Business, is now available! Ever since I joined online reselling groups on Facebook, I kept seeing the same questions pop up: 
  • How can I work at home and still keep family time a priority?
  • How can I convince my spouse that I’m not wasting my time or our money with reselling?
  • My family doesn’t get that selling online is a real job.
  • How can I get my spouse on board with reselling?
  • I’m single and run my online business by myself. How can I find a support system? (Yes, this book is for singles too)
  • My spouse thinks my online business is “nice,” but won’t lend an ounce of help. 
  • How can I balance my business budget with my personal budget
  • How can I get work done with my kids always wanting my attention
IMG_1525

Rebecca & Stephen Smotherman

For those who have a “normal” 9-5 job, the moment we get home in the evening, we can usually disconnect from thinking about work and just enjoy time with our family and friends. But for many resellers, the whole concept of working at home is a new frontier filled with complicated issues. 

To help address these issues, my wife and I set out to write up an article to help resellers and their families find true balance. What started out as a blog post evolved into a book that addresses all these issues. 

Married To Reselling 3D clearWhile most reselling ebooks focus on helping you make more profits, the focus of this book is to prioritize your family. You might become very successful selling online, but you don’t want to neglect your family. We believe you can succeed in relationships and business at the same timeTo read more about Married to Resellingclick here.

BONUS: If you act now, you’ll get a special introductory deal of 33% off regular price!

The Business Strategy that Nobody is Talking About

Today's blog is written by my wife, Rebecca.
Today’s blog is written by my wife and business partner, Rebecca.

Recently Stephen posted a blog entry about making the most of your opportunities during Q4 as an FBA seller, and he’s also written posts about capitalizing on and sharing BOLOs. The amount of work to be done as an Amazon FBA seller is unending, and at times the potential for profit is limited only by the amount of work we’re able to put into the business and the number of hours in each day. Today I (Rebecca) would like to throw out a topic that on the surface appears to be the opposite of what Stephen has been talking about the past few weeks. Yes, you have a lot of work to do this Q4, but I think you need to take a break. You need some rest.

Stephen and I are self-employed, so we are our own bosses and set our own schedule. FBA is our full-time job. Some of you are in the same position, and others of you are doing FBA on the side while working another full-time job. When the potential for profit at FBA is so great, we all can struggle at times with a tendency to keep at it way past the point when our minds and bodies need some down time. We just cannot stop working.

Over time, all those hours of sneaking off to the spare-bedroom-turned-into-office for “just a few minutes of checking in on things” takes its toll. Or all those times when we say, “I’ll just check one more store and see what they’ve got on clearance now.” We get weary. We lose sleep. We lose time with our loved ones. We catch colds more easily. We just need to rest.

In my previous career, I worked overseas with a nonprofit for 10 years, where I got lots of practice for later becoming self-employed. Our organization didn’t have set office hours, and each of us on the team designed our own projects and set our own pace for completing them. My office was in my apartment, and I got used to the kind of life where you have the freedom to work the hours that best fit your personality, as long as you got the job done. One of my most important take-aways from my years at that job was our team’s philosophy on rest. My supervisor was adamant that each person on the team take regular breaks. Not just regular coffee breaks or lunch breaks each day but true, sustained breaks from work. The kind where you shut your mind down and get away from the pressures of the tasks at hand.

Rest-stopStephen and I have adopted that same schedule of rest throughout the year:

Every week, we rest for one full day. We usually rest on Sunday, so we can go to church, but for others it might need to be a different day.

Once a month, we take a full two-day break, equivalent to a weekend. Again, it might not be possible to take this two-day break on a Saturday/Sunday — hey, it’s hard to miss out on those Saturday morning garage sales! — but we take two consecutive days where we don’t do anything work related. For the record, I’m not saying that we work six days a week all but one week of the month. A lot of times we’ll work Friday and Saturday mornings, but not those afternoons, so it evens out to five days of work, stretched across six days. But once a month, it’s good to take a solid two days of not touching work at all.

Once a quarter, we take a longer weekend off. Sometimes we’ll take a three-day camping trip with the kids, or other times it might end up being a four-day staycation where we just bum around the house and catch up on reading magazines. Again, by “weekend” I don’t necessarily mean that we stop work on Friday and Saturday, the big garage sale days. This long “weekend” might mean not working Sunday through Wednesday of one week.

At least once a year (or more if possible), we take a longer vacation. One week, two weeks, whatever works best depending on the circumstances that particular year.

TAOLife-Snoopy-Live-for-todayStephen and I truly believe that regular rest is the key to longevity in life and in business. Rest will keep us from getting sick, from burning out, and from sacrificing our family and relationships for the sake of profit. Yes, we need to work hard to support our family and to be able to give to others, but none of it is worth it if we work ourselves into the ground and lose what is most important in life. In the long run, rest is of vital importance.

We’d love to hear from you on this subject. Do you get enough rest each week and throughout the year? How do you weave vacations and leisure time into your schedule?

How to Fit FBA Sourcing into Your Busy Schedule

Today’s post comes from my wife, Rebecca, who will write on this blog from time to time. Her post is full of great tips for all of us busy entrepreneurs.

Photo by user CELALTEBER from sxc.hu

Sourcing while busy? It’s possible! Photo by CELALTEBER from sxc.hu

Part of the way we’re able to make full-time FBA a possibility for our family is by strategically planning our time each week. One way I contribute to our FBA business is by sourcing once every few days. With four boys in our family, I have to a lot to keep up with around the house — and as a freelance writer, I have writing projects that require my attention also. But Stephen and I have figured out some ways to get me out of the house and sourcing on a regular basis by combining my business shopping with other errands or social activities.

I’ll share with you a few ways I work sourcing into my schedule, and then I’d like to challenge you to come up with one new way you can source this week. Try the new addition to your schedule for a month or two and see if it adds new products to your inventory on a regular basis.

1. I combine sourcing with my regular household shopping.

Across the street from the grocery store where I shop for our family is a Target. When I do my weekly grocery shopping, I try to give myself an extra half hour or so in my schedule to run into Target and scan their clearance shelves. Sometimes I find stuff to buy for FBA, sometimes I don’t — but the Target is right on my regular route anyway, so it doesn’t hurt to stop and look. A couple of weeks ago, I took about 30 minutes to scan clearance items, filled half a cart, and spent $50 on items that will sell for $150 on FBA, for a profit of $100. Not bad for a half hour of work on my way to buy our groceries!

2. I combine sourcing with my regular social outings.

Every Thursday I meet a friend to discuss books over a cup of coffee. Her house is in a different part of town from where I live, so it gives me the opportunity to visit thrift stores I don’t always pass on a daily basis. Depending on how much time I have, I plan to visit 1 – 3 thrift shops in that part of town after our coffee date. Again, I just make it a point to work that extra sourcing time into my schedule that day.

3. I combine sourcing with fun activities with my husband.

Stephen and I like to go out for different types of international cuisine, but there aren’t a lot of options close to where we live. Every 4 – 6 weeks, we schedule a day to drive to a nearby town, eat a new type of cuisine for lunch, and visit thrift shops near the restaurant. We plan our route ahead of time so that we can make the most of the day — usually we’re able to source at 5 – 8 thrift shops before or after our lunch date.

At other times we’ve sourced on the way to visit out-of-town relatives or while driving an hour away to pick up someone at the airport. Take a look at your regular activities and do a search for thrift shops or retail stores with clearance sections in the nearby area. Then take a look at the irregular activities that pop up on your calendar but take you to a different part of town or even the state — do searches for thrift shops in those areas to maximize the benefit of the time you’re spending on the road. If you’re already having to make a two hour round trip, why not leave a couple of hours early to get some sourcing done in a fresh area while you’re at it? You’re likely to find items that will at least pay for the gas for your trip, or even a great deal higher profit.

Today's blog is written by my wife, Rebecca.

Today’s blog was written by my wife, Rebecca. www.rebeccadiann.com

We’d love for you to leave us a comment. Are there ways you work sourcing into your non-business-related activities each week or month? What new ways are you planning to add sourcing to your schedule in the coming weeks?