Tag Archives: How To

How to Find Profitable Inventory for Amazon FBA Sourcing

In the course of just one week (or even a day!), it is possible to come across thousands of items you could potentially resell on Amazon. Obviously, not all of those items are going to make the cut and end up in your shopping cart. Some items are a no-brainer purchase. Some are definitely NOT something you should buy for resale. And some items are kind of iffy – should you buy it or not?

How do you know whether to buy an item or just pass and move on to the next item?

For the rest of this article, I want to talk with you about how to find profitable inventory to sell on Amazon – more specifically, I want to show you my thought process when I’m deciding whether or not to buy an item.

First things first: I want to make sure you are using the right tools when you are sourcing. When I am doing retail arbitrage (RA), I always use the Scoutify app on my smart phone to scan inventory and see all the necessary numbers to make a smart sourcing decision:

  • Sales rank
  • Price
  • Fees
  • Profit
  • Number of competitors
  • Historical sales rank and pricing

Some sellers choose to use only the Amazon Seller app for doing RA, but I have found the info it returns to be incomplete. I prefer to have more information at my fingertips when I make a sourcing decision, so I use the Scoutify app that comes bundled with the listing software Inventory Lab.

OK, now that we have that covered, let’s look at my thought process when I’m making a sourcing decision. This process works whether you are doing RA, OA, wholesale purchasing, or any other type of sourcing for Amazon FBA.

I typically ask myself 4 main questions when I’m making a sourcing decision:

  1. What is the ROI? We’re all in this business to make money, so we want to make sure the items we’re sourcing have a good ROI, or return on investment. When you are first starting out at Amazon FBA, I recommend finding items that have a 100% ROI. If you have a higher percentage ROI, you have a lot more wiggle room to make some mistakes and adjust your price if necessary. As you gain more experience and confidence, you can begin sourcing items that have a lower ROI. Some sellers stick with 75% and above, while others stick with 50% or above. If you find an item that will sell very quickly, you can even go as low as 30% ROI. The main point here is to find items that have a good ROI, whatever the parameter is that you’ve set. If you can’t make money on your investment, you want to move on and look for different inventory items.
  1. Am I approved to sell the item? Some categories are gated for certain sellers, and some brands are restricted to sellers. The second thing I look at when I’m making a sourcing decision is whether or not I am approved to sell an item. If I can’t sell it, there’s no point in continuing to consider it. You can see whether or not you are approved to sell an item from within the Amazon Seller app, but Scoutify also has a link to show you whether or not you are restricted for the item.
  1. What is the sales rank? The sales rank of an item is how I can tell whether or not the item will sell quickly on Amazon. Amazon tells us the current sales rank of every item in their catalog, and we can see that information when we scan an item with a sourcing app. You want to make sure, though, that you are considering the average sales rank when you make a sourcing decision, not just the current sales rank. Amazon updates sales rank frequently throughout the day, so you need to know how much that sales rank varies over time. You can look at graphs on CamelCamelCamel and Keepa to figure out the average sales rank in a glance; both Camel and Keepa have quick links through the Scoutify sourcing app. I recommend checking out an Amazon sales rank chart to make sure you know what is a low or high sales rank for the category of the item you are looking at. Our blog offers a monthly updated sales rank chart for subscribers. You can use the chart to see if an item’s average sales rank falls in the top 1%, 3%, 5%, 10%, or higher for its category.If you’re interested in learning more about sales rank, we offer an affordable mini-course called The Reseller’s Guide to Sales Rank: Understanding Amazon Best Sellers Rank for Maximum Profits. I’ve included in the mini-course everything I know about sales rank to help you get started with making smarter sourcing decisions.I make my sourcing decision based on how high or low the sales rank of the item is. If an item has a low average sales rank, it is a faster selling item. If the average sales rank is high, the item will sell more slowly.
  1. What is the competition?Unless no one else is selling a particular item, you are going to have competition if you sell that item. There are two main competitors you need to consider: Amazon and other third-party sellers. When it comes to competing with Amazon, I generally choose not to buy items that Amazon sells. I always look to see if Amazon is in stock on an item or has been in stock recently. If so, I typically pass on that item unless I can price it significantly lower than Amazon. As a general rule, Amazon does not tend to share the buy box, and since the buy box is where over 70% of Amazon sales come from, I don’t want to risk buying inventory where I will never have a chance to get that buy box. To see the history of Amazon being in stock or out of stock on an item, I check the Keepa graph for the item through the Scoutify app. I also like to look at the other third-party sellers who are priced competitively on the item. I’m only interested in those sellers who are priced within 1% or 2% of the buy box price. Anyone priced higher than that isn’t truly going to be my competition.I want to make sure there’s a relatively low number of sellers priced competitively, so that I can be assured of getting time in the buy box. The higher the sales rank, the fewer competitors I want on the item. If the sales rank is lower, I am more willing to tolerate a relatively higher number of competitors – with a low sales rank, the item will be selling fast enough that I can still get time in the buy box and make my sales.

Those are my four main deciding factors when I am making a buying decision for my Amazon FBA business. As with anything, there are some exceptions that come up when I’m looking at this criteria. The more comfortable you are with your experience at making these decisions, the more you will be able to see when there are exceptions to the buying parameters you set up for yourself.

There are other less important factors I sometimes consider, as well, such as number of reviews and whether or not they are positive. I tend to use other factors in my decisions when I’m on the fence about a buy.

Do you use similar buying criteria as the ones I’ve covered above? Is there anything else you absolutely must look at before making a buy for your FBA business? We would love to hear your ideas in the comments!

How to Capitalize on Amazon’s Super Saver Shipping Price Change

Amazon just quietly changed the price for non-Prime members to qualify for Free Super Saver Shipping, a decrease from purchases of $35 down to $25. In other words, non-Prime members now have to buy only a minimum of $25 worth of Prime-eligible items in their shopping cart in order to qualify for free shipping. This can be an order containing a combination of items from every category.

This is not the first time Amazon has changed the price to qualify for free super saver shipping. In October of 2013, the price for free super saver shipping increased from $25 to $35 and remained $35 for almost 2 years. In early 2016, the minimum price increased from $35 to $49. In the middle of 2016, Amazon started to feel the impact of Walmart.com’s $25 free shipping threshold and responded by lowering super saver shipping from $49 back to $35. This week, Amazon has again lowered the minimum price back down to $25.

If you react correctly, then this change by Amazon will actually help your business. Here are some reasons to celebrate this change:

Amazon-Prime-Streaming-Video-Service-Bundles1. With this change, more people will be buying items that are Prime-eligible (this means items stored at FBA warehouses). With more people buying Prime-eligible items, there will be more people to buy your FBA products.

2. The more people who decide to use Prime shipping as a non-Prime member means that more people will be testing out Prime shipping benefits. More customers will fall in love with the free Prime 2-day shipping, and that will cause more people to sign up for Amazon Prime. The more Prime buyers, the more customers to buy your inventory.

It will take a little work, but those that react the fastest will win. I recommend doing some price changes quickly. Here is what I plan on doing with my inventory:

Price-Increase1. Price many items at $25. Search and see which inventory items I have priced between $22 and $25 to see if I should raise the price to $25. Based on my competition, this might be a great idea. This strategy will cause non-Prime shoppers to get free shipping on your items and they will choose your $25 item instead of a competitor’s item priced at $22 + $5 shipping.

2. Another “magic” price point will be $12.50. If the item you have could possibly be bought in multiple quantities, then this is a great price point for people who want to buy two. Two items at $12.50 total $25 and will qualify for Free Super Saver Shipping!

Of course there will be some exceptions to the above rules. Exceptions come into play when you look at other current FBA prices, how many items are being sold of that item, how the particular product category works, and more… but most of my prices will be updated with this thought process in mind! For more from Amazon on the Super Saver price change, click here.

So what do you think about the new $25 price point? How do you plan to react to these changes? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Want more info on how to make a full-time living doing FBA? Scroll up, look at the right side of your screen, and subscribe.

Using Feedback Genius To Generate Positive Product Reviews

Last time on the blog, I interviewed Karon Thackston about her new book, Review Advantage (she said her coupon code review10 is still live). In that interview Karon shared so many great tips and tricks (as well as what not to do) in order to get more product reviews for the items you’re selling on Amazon.

Now we know that getting multiple great product reviews is important to increase sales, but too many times the process of asking for those reviews can be time-intensive. Some sellers seem to think it takes so much time that they don’t even ask for reviews at all. If only there were a program that would automatically ask customers for product reviews for us! Spoiler alert: there is!

I wouldn’t recommend trying to generate product reviews for every single item you’re selling on Amazon. If you’re selling one-offs or items with lots of sellers on the listing, you can’t spend the time and effort to generate reviews for those items. It’s just not worth it.

But some types of items you might be selling on Amazon could really benefit from a few (or many!) more product reviews. Here are the types of items we think are worth spending time and effort generating product reviews for:

  • High number of multiples/replenishables – For me it would take at least 10 or 20 units of a very profitable item in stock before I would want to take the time and effort to increase product reviews.
  • Items that I can order wholesale – If I can easily restock an item from a wholesale source, it’s worth it to me to help that product get more reviews.
  • Items where I create a new listing – It seems kind of obvious, but I would definitely take the time and effort to try to generate reviews for new listings that I have created within the Amazon catalog. This would also include bundles or private label items.

As we discussed in our previous blog post with Karon Thackston, there is a right and a wrong way to go about generating product reviews. Again, I highly suggest you check out that blog post for Karon’s great insight on this topic.
Once you’ve decided you have a product worth your time and effort in trying to generate new reviews AND you’ve studied up on how to compose the right type of email asking for reviews, I suggest looking into automating the process.

One method I’ve used to generate product reviews on listings I’ve created is the service Feedback Genius. Now, in the past I’ve done blog posts about how I’ve used Feedback Genius to keep my seller feedback at 100% – but Feedback Genius is also a great way to send out compliant emails to generate product reviews without going against the Amazon terms of services.

The way Feedback Genius works is you set up the service to send out automated emails to customers who buy your items on Amazon. If you’re trying to increase your seller feedback, you set up an email with links for leaving seller feedback to go out to anyone who buys from you on Amazon. But you can also set up the service to send out an email when you sell a particular ASIN, and that email will include links for leaving a product review. Pretty cool, huh? One automated system for emails, two different types of results.

For example, we had a source for the 4th edition of a book that was selling really well for us. After several months of selling on the well-established product page for that book, the 5th edition of the book was released. We decided to go to the effort of creating the product page for the 5th edition, knowing how well we had done on the previous edition – the new edition should do equally well, right?

Well, after a couple of weeks, we started to see sales trickle in, but we weren’t getting any reviews on the book on the new product page. We also noticed that even if we typed “5th edition” into the Amazon search bar, the 4th edition was still coming up at the top of the search for that book – possibly because the 4th edition had way more product reviews than the newer one.

We decided to set up Feedback Genius to generate product reviews for the 5th edition of the book, and sure enough, within a short time we started seeing lots of 5-star reviews coming in. The 5th edition also moved up to the top spot in Amazon searches for that book. Success!

We knew going into the venture that the book has a history of being well-received, and we knew it would be worth the time, effort, and money to send out the emails to generate product reviews. We had a source to keep replenishing our stock of the book, and we enjoyed the increase in sales once it had more reviews and landed in the top spot of searches.

If you have a product that fits the criteria we listed above and you think it could benefit from some extra product reviews, check out Feedback Genius for generating reviews. Signing up through our Full-Time FBA link will get you a free 60-day trial with 500 free emails. That’s a lot of free emails!

So if you combine the lessons you learn from Karon Thackston’s wisdom on how to get more product reviews with the automated services of Feedback Genius, you should start seeing more reviews on your products…which should lead to more sales!

Now, we’d love to heard from you! Which items in your inventory could use more product reviews? Have you tried to seek reviews from your customer’s yet? What strategies have you used (that are within Amazon’s guidelines)? Let us know in the comments below.

How to Increase Your Amazon FBA ASP (Average Selling Price)

Today’s post is a follow-up to the previous article we posted about why you should consider trying to raise your ASP, or average selling price. If you haven’t read that first article yet, you might want to refer to it before diving into this one.

For a quick review, your ASP is the average amount of money you make in sales per item you sell on Amazon. Raising your ASP has some great benefits to add to your Amazon FBA business.

But HOW do you go about raising your ASP?

It might seem easier said than done, but the reality is you can take a few steps to impact your ASP and give your Amazon FBA profits a boost. Here are our suggestions for increasing your ASP:

1. Set a minimum selling price parameter.

A while back, we made the decision in our Amazon FBA business to stop sourcing items that are selling for under $10-$12 on Amazon. Even if we could make 100% ROI on an item that is selling for $8 or $9, we decided to stop sourcing those items and focus our sourcing on higher priced items. When we eliminated the low-priced items from our sourcing strategy, we had more money to focus on buying higher-priced items – partly because we could add up the saved sourcing money to go towards higher-priced items and partly because we were saving money in fees and prep costs when we raised our ASP and lowered our overall number of units sold.

The $10-$12 range is what we chose for our minimum, but for other people that amount might be different. This type of minimum sales price might affect a lot of booksellers or others who (like us in years past) are dependent on high volumes of low-priced toy sales. Overall, though, we have found that eliminating those super low-priced items from our inventory has been the biggest practical step towards raising our ASP.

2. Consider selling bundles or multi-packs.

Multi-packs are multiples of the same item for sale on Amazon. Bundles are a group of items with a similar use or theme for sale on Amazon.

If you follow the Amazon guidelines, you can create your own bundles for sale and increase your ASP per unit sold over the ASP if you sold all of those individual items from your bundle separately instead. If you’re interested in learning more about selling bundles on Amazon, I recommend The Book of Bundles.

For multi-packs, you can no longer create a multi-pack if it doesn’t already exist on Amazon, but you can list a multi-pack of items if it’s already available in the Amazon catalog. Like bundles, multi-packs offer a great way to raise your ASP per unit sold over the ASP if you sold each of those items from your multi-pack separately instead.

Once again, you also save money in fees if you sell items in a bundle or multi-pack instead of individually. For example, if you sell 5 individual units of a $10 grocery item, you would make $50 in sales, but you would have to pay 5 sets of FBA fees. If you sold it as a multi-pack of 5 for $50, you would still make $50 in sales, but you would only have one round of FBA fees to worry about.

3. Source higher-priced items.

It might seem obvious, but sometimes we need to get back to the basics of the topic we’re trying to learn – if you want to raise your ASP, you need to have higher-priced items in your inventory. You can’t sell high-priced items if you don’t have high-priced items available for Amazon customers to buy.

The easiest way we found for selling higher-priced items in our FBA business was to add shoes to our inventory. Our ASP in the Shoes category is about $70, and our overall ASP across all categories combined has risen to $47 now that shoes are a main staple in our Amazon inventory.

When we talk to other sellers about adding shoes to their Amazon inventory, we often get asked, “Isn’t Shoes a restricted category? Isn’t it hard to get ungated?” And the answer is YES Shoes is a gated category, but NO it’s not hard to get ungated in Shoes right now. If you want more info about how to get ungated in the Shoes category, you can click here to download our free guide for the shoe approval process. If you want to read more on our blog about selling shoes on Amazon, you can click here for the blog series.

Shoes aren’t the only higher-priced items you can source. Other sellers like to sell electronics to raise their ASP. Some sellers go with high-priced toys to raise their ASP. Whichever category you like to focus on, there are ways to start sourcing higher-priced items as a step towards raising your overall ASP.

Those are the top 3 ways that we have impacted our ASP and raised it to a point where we’ve seen an increase in our disbursements and a significant boost in our Amazon FBA business. Do you have any other tips or tricks you would add to this list? Please leave us a comment below!

Money Saving Post-Long-Term Storage Fee Strategy

As you’re probably aware, twice a year (February 15th and August 15th) Amazon charges a long term storage fee (LTSF) for all items that have been stored in a FBA warehouse for 6 months or longer. This fee can be very high as it’s currently $11.25 per cubic foot for the 6-month fee and $22.50 per cubic foot for the 12-month fee.

With Amazon charging this big fee twice a year for any item in their warehouse over six months, it’s a good strategy to possibly wait until after long-term storage fees are calculated on February 15 to send in items you think might take longer than six months to sell (or sell out if you have multiples). Here’s my thinking on why:

When Amazon calculates long-term storage fees on February 15 and August 15, they look at all of your inventory and charge you a fee for anything that’s been in an Amazon warehouse over six months. But here’s what many people forget: If you send your inventory to Amazon right after February 15, then when Amazon calculates long-term storage fees on August 15, they will only charge you the fee for any items that were stored in Amazon since before February 15 (the long-term storage fee calculation date). Here’s an example:

Scenario 1 – Sending inventory to Amazon right before February 15:

Send an item to Amazon FBA on February 10. When August 15 comes around, if you have not sold that item, then you’ll be charged a six-month long-term storage fee since you have been storing that item at an Amazon warehouse for over six months (6 months and 5 days to be exact).

 Scenario 2 – Sending inventory to Amazon right after February 15:

Send an item to Amazon FBA on February 17. When August 15 comes around, if you have not sold that item, then you won’t be charged a six-month long-term storage fee since you have been storing that item at an Amazon warehouse for under six months (5 months and 29 days to be exact). You won’t be charged a six-month long-term storage fee until February 15 of the following year.

In summary, the few weeks after Amazon calculates long-term storage fees are the absolute best days to send your potentially slow moving inventory (long-tail items) to Amazon, since you’ll be buying more time to sell your items without incurring long-term storage fees.

Keep this strategy in mind as you source for inventory throughout the year. During the summer, if you come across some items  you think might take longer than six months to sell, or if you find multiple items you think might not sell out in six months, then consider holding on to them and don’t send them to Amazon until after August 15. That way, you’ll be buying even more time before the long-term storage fees are calculated. You could even merchant fulfill these items you are storing at home before you send them in after the long-term storage fees are accessed.

Of course, this strategy is not for everyone. Hopefully, your sourcing skills have gotten so good that most of your inventory sells within the first few months of hitting the FBA warehouses. 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.

Now, I’d love to hear from you. Do you have any strategies that help you gain more time to sell your inventory without long-term storage fees? Do you have some helpful tips on quickly selling your inventory so that long-term storage fees aren’t even an issue?

How to Find Profitable Wholesale Accounts For Amazon FBA

In my previous blog post I gave you my top 9 reasons why you should consider adding wholesale sourcing to your Amazon FBA business. You may have read that post and started thinking, “Great, Stephen, I’m convinced. I definitely want to try out wholesale sourcing, make my business more streamlined, and protect my seller account. Now where do I find profitable wholesale suppliers?

That type of question is where we end up any time we want to make a change in our business. “OK, I see my sticking points, and I’m ready to press on to get beyond them. But how do I take that next step?

With finding wholesale suppliers, your possibilities are really only limited by your creativity. Ultimately, you want to find unique wholesale accounts where you can develop a great business relationship with your supplier and provide an awesome product to Amazon customers.

Let’s discuss the top four ways you can make that connection and find profitable wholesale accounts:

1. Trade Shows

All throughout the year you can find a trade show going on in areas all across the U.S. (Or in other countries! Don’t limit yourself geographically) and in all niches of products. Think trade shows for toys, bridal products, baby items, kitchen gadgets, home and garden, crafts, you name it.

Beyond those niche trade shows, you can also find larger trade shows and markets where you can find products across all categories presented in one show. The biggest trade show out there is called ASD, and it happens in Las Vegas every March and August.

If you live in a big city, chances are there are trade shows and markets happening nearby throughout the year. I recommend doing a Google search for trade shows in your town or somewhere you can travel to, and check out what’s coming up in the months ahead. Most of these types of shows are free to enter, and you can walk around the exhibits, talk with the exhibitors, and see what types of products are available at the different booths.

One thing you should keep in mind is that two different types of exhibitors set up booths at trade shows: manufacturers and distributors. A manufacturer would be a direct connection to the source of the product, without any middle man. If you get a wholesale account with a manufacturer, you will likely need to make purchases in larger amounts, but you will get a better price per unit. With a distributor, you are usually dealing with a middle man. You can make smaller purchases, but you will pay more per unit.

2. Trade Show Websites

Even if you can’t attend a particular trade show, you can benefit from signing up for the show and doing research on the exhibitors. On the trade show website you can get access to the vendor list and their contact info, which you can then use to call or email for more information on the products they offer.

Whether you attend in person or make contact through the trade show website, it’s all about making connections with the vendors, asking good questions, and developing a relationship that could lead to a mutually beneficial arrangement. You will need to have a resale certificate to open a wholesale account once you have made that connection, so be sure you have your certificate on hand before starting the process to open an account.

If you are interested in more details about how to maximize the opportunities on trade show websites, check out the book Trade Show No Show by Jim Peterson and Jim Cockrum.

3. Product Packaging

This may seem overly simplistic, but finding wholesale sources really doesn’t have to be that complicated!

Pretty much every product you can imagine is going to have the manufacturer’s name and contact info printed right on the product’s packaging. If you can only find the name or part of the contact info, use Google to find the rest of the info, and you’re one step closer to making contact and finding out how to open a wholesale account.

If you have an awesome retail find that you would love to sell more of, check out the product packaging for that contact info and see if you could start buying that product at wholesale prices.

One strategy you can use to get an edge on your competition is to think of products that are made locally to your town or area. What is your area known for? Food products can be especially profitable, if there’s a local favorite that can’t be found in other parts of the country. Find these types of products on your local shelves, get the manufacturer’s info off the packaging, and start making contact.

4. Amazon Best Sellers

Again, it doesn’t have to be overly complicated to find great ideas for wholesale sources. You can research the popular items in your favorite category by checking out the Top 100 sellers and looking up their manufacturer’s info online.

To make it even easier, we have created a quick link, fulltimefba.com/bestsellers, to take you right to the Amazon best sellers page, where you can drill down from the main Amazon categories. Once you find a product you are interested in researching, click to go to the product page, and you should see the name of the manufacturer listed below the product title. You can then do a Google search for their contact info and start the process of opening a wholesale account.

Note: I do not recommend opening wholesale accounts with companies when Amazon is selling the product. Even if you think you can get a great wholesale price, Amazon is likely getting an even greater volume discount, and it’s too hard to compete. You should also check out the sales history on CamelCamelCamel and Keepa to see if Amazon is out of stock now, but might have been on the listing in the past. There are plenty of other products out there, so move on to ones where Amazon isn’t currently on the listing or doesn’t seem like they’ll come back in stock in the future.

There you have it, my top 4 ways to find products where you can open a wholesale account. The key to getting those accounts is to just make contact. Get the door open, start a conversation, ask for a catalog, ask what you need to do to apply for an account – it really doesn’t have to be more complicated than that.

Last week, I shared with you a free video that showed you how to find amazing wholesale opportunities with a strategy unlike what anyone else is teaching. Well, today I have another free video about wholesale.

In today’s free wholesale training video, my buddies Dan and Eric will show you:

– How to recognize awesome potential wholesale products
– How to avoid purchasing bad wholesale products and wasting $100’s or even $1000’s
– How one good account could make you $1000 per month (and how to find accounts like that)
– The top 3 factors for great wholesale products to sell on Amazon
– The free tool you can use to make better wholesale decisions
– Why the number of Amazon competitors is a meaningless number (and what number you really should be focusing on instead)
– And so much more!

To access today’s free video right now, all you need to do is click here.

Remember, these free videos are only going to be accessible for a limited time, so you need to click here and watch today.

Do you have other tried-and-true places you like to look for profitable wholesale sources? If you would like to add to my list, we would love to hear from you in the comments!

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.

 

Monitoring Prices on Your Replenishables – StockUp Review

stock-up-titleOne of the most frustrating aspects of selling on Amazon is when your competition comes in and begins to lower the prices of an item that you were once consistently selling. When an amazing source of profit seems to dry up, we often decide to sell out as fast as we can so we can reinvest that capital into inventory that will bring profits much faster. Usually once the price of a formerly profitable item has “tanked,” we don’t think about that item again.

But what if we’re missing something? What if the price goes back up? How would we even know?

Do we ever actually go back and see if the price has recovered? Usually the answer to that question is “no.”

search-computerFor a long time I searched and searched to see if there was a tool out there that would track the prices of items on Amazon and would automatically notify me when those items reached a certain higher price point, but never found one. I love using Keepa and CamelCamelCamel, but those services only notify you automatically when the prices of items on Amazon fall to a desired price point. I  just couldn’t find an easy way to keep track of prices when they go back up.

Sure, I could probably create a spreadsheet with a list of ASINs I wanted to track, then then copy and paste the ASIN in Amazon to see if the price has recovered. I could try to remember to do that once a week or once a month… but honestly, I don’t have time for that. I needed a tool to do everything for me.

online_toolsSince there was no tool, I decided to reach out to my buddy Christopher Grant who has created some awesome tools like revROI (an easy tool to maximize your cash back on OA purchases) and BrickSeek (if an item is sold out online, this tool will show you where you can buy it locally based on your ZIP Code). I told Christopher about my frustrations and my idea for a new tool and he said he thought he could make it happen. After a few months of working with developers and beta-testing, and the StockUp tool is ready!

StockUp – the only tool that will automatically notify you when the price of an item goes back up to the price you want.

stock-upWith StockUp, all you have to do is go to the Amazon product page for the item you want to track, click on the StockUp extension, put in your name and email address (don’t worry, we aren’t keeping these for later), then choose a price, any price. The StockUp tool will then check Keepa for you once an hour and if the price goes up to the level you choose, then StockUp will send you an email to notify you. There will even be a link you can click on to take you to the Amazon product page so you can double check and make sure the price really has recovered. Then, all you need to do is go and buy it again from your source. So easy! I’ll show you a video in a moment, but here’s what it looks like:

screen-shot-2016-11-10-at-1-49-11-pm

StockUp is a Google Chrome extension that you easily install into your Chrome browser. If you don’t use Chrome, the web browser is a free download and super easy to use. In fact, I formerly used Safari for my online browser, but have since moved to Chrome as it’s so much more user friendly (as well as all the amazing extensions you can install).

To see StockUp in action, check out this video where I walk you through just how easy it is.

Save today with coupon code!

Here’s the deal… right now, StockUp is available at a one time fee for a lifetime of use. Plus, if you use the coupon code SMOTHERMAN then you can save $8 off the price of the extension. Right now, we’re working on adding a texting notification as well, but that’s still in the planning stages… once the texting capabilities are in place, we’ll definitely be raising the prices on the extension. In fact, the StockUp extension might end up going to a monthly fee as we continue to add more features… so now is the best time to get this tool.

Can you imagine how awesome it will be when the price of one your replenishable items comes back up and you can add it back to your inventory again? Talk about easy sourcing!

 

Feedback Genius Review – Get More Positive (and Eliminate Negative) Feedback

feedback-genuis-reviewMost Amazon sellers will agree: It takes a verrrrrry looooooong time to build up your feedback on the Amazon platform.

Most Amazon customers aren’t accustomed to leaving seller feedback for FBA purchases, at least not with the same frequency as eBay customers leave seller feedback. It could take 100 sales via FBA to receive one or two customers leaving feedback on Amazon. At that rate, it seems to take forever to build up a solid feedback score.

That rate also means that just one negative feedback carries a huge punch. The effects of one negative feedback can be devastating to your seller account, if you don’t have enough positive feedback to counterbalance it. No one knows for sure exactly what algorithm Amazon uses to award the buy box, but feedback scores have some component to it. I absolutely must pay careful attention to keeping my feedback score as close to 100% as possible if I want to keep the buy box and get more FBA sales.

This is where the genius of Feedback Genius comes in. Feedback Genius helps me keep my 100% positive feedback score, and it also helps me fight off the occasional negative feedback that I receive as an FBA seller.

1. Fmail-1454731_1280eedback Genius automatically sends my customers an email the day their item will be delivered.

The email lets the customer know to be expecting the item, and it gives the customer a link where they can leave positive feedback for you as a seller if everything went well in the transaction. The email also asks the customer to just reply to the email with any issues that need to be resolved before they leave a negative feedback.

Feedback Genius emails allow you to set a positive tone with your customer right off the bat and to be proactive in avoiding negative feedback. With just this one email, I can increase my positive feedback and descrease my negative feedback.

do-it-now-1432945_12802. If the customer hasn’t left feedback in 4-5 days, Feedback Genius sends a reminder email.

Again, this reminder email gives me another chance to increase my positive feedback from customers and decrease the negative. I’ve seen a huge increase in my feedback score overall since signing up with Feedback Genius, and I’m convinced this increase has had a positive impact on my ability to get the buy box.

feedback-genius-text3. Feedback Genius sends me a text and email if I receive a feedback score of 3 or below.

This feature is even more of a game changer for me, as far as Feedback Genius is concerned. I wrote a blog post a while back about how one day a text from Feedback Genius at the beginning of lunch helped me act quickly and have a negative feedback completely removed by the time I was paying the check and headed back to work.

Amazon considers 4 and 5 to be a positive feedback score, 3 is neutral, and 1 or 2 are negative. Although a 3 is technically neutral, it will still negatively impact my feedback score. I don’t want to waste any time when it comes to dealing with negative feedback on my FBA account. For me, that text notification from Feedback Genius is a must.

To find out more about how to handle removing negative feedback, check out this blog post or this YouTube video.

ratings-1482011_1280-14. Feedback Genius can also be used with product reviews for specific ASINs.

In addition to helping monitor my seller feedback, I’ve also used Feedback Genius to send out emails to request product reviews for specific ASINs. The service also allows me to set up alerts for negative product reviews on specific ASINs. Just as seller feedback is important for helping me get the buy box, the number and quality of product reviews helps an item show up higher in search results and potentially get more sales. For any seller who creates their own listings, whether it’s a one-off product, a bundle, or a private label product line, having a way to monitor or increase product reviews (without breaking the Amazon seller terms of service) is critical to business.

parameters5. Feedback Genius is customizable as to the content and number of emails you wish to send out.

Some sellers want to send lots of emails, some just a few. Some want to just send out the content of the template email, some want to tweak it and personalize it. Feedback Genius lets you take the lead in deciding what you want to say to your customers, when you want to say it, and how often.

FB-GeniusSpecial Offer from Feedback Genius

I spoke with Jeff from Seller Labs (creator of Feedback Genius) and he is offering Full-Time FBA blog readers a special offer of 500 free messages for signing up for Feedback Genius. That’s 500 free messages to your buyers asking for them to leave you 5-star reviews, to contact you if there is a problem, or to leave a product review. That’s a lot of messages, and you get them for free when you sign up for Feedback Genius. You’ll also get a 60 day free trial (that’s twice as long as their normal 30-day trial period). There is really no reason why you shouldn’t give Feedback Genius a try today.

How to Provide Box Level Details on Amazon FBA Shipments

box-content-info-blogIf you’ve been reading your seller emails from Amazon, you know that starting November 1, 2016, FBA sellers will be required to provide box level details of the contents of their shipments to FBA warehouses. Failing to provide those details will incur a fee for your shipments of 15 cents per item. Additionally, Amazon has stated that shipments without box contents provided might experience a slower check-in time than shipments providing the box level details.

The thought of adding an extra step to the FBA shipment process isn’t super appealing to most Amazon sellers – the fewer the steps the better, right? But I (Stephen) have added box level details to my shipments for the past month now, and I can tell you it’s not as bad as you might have heard.

sC_b001h9nxvg-boxpileReally, it’s in your best interest to start NOW learning how to add the details and practicing with shipments of various sizes. In the long run, spending 5-10 extra minutes per shipment to add the box level details will definitely save you money and potentially save you time: definitely the money from the fees for not providing the details and potentially the time of your shipment being delayed during check-in because you didn’t provide the details.

There are five ways you can handle adding the box level details to your shipment:

  1. Only ship one box at a time – no need to provide extra details.
  2. Ship multiple boxes, but only one SKU per box – no need to provide extra details.
  3. Ship 25 SKUs or less in multiple boxes, and you can provide details through the web-based form on Seller Central.
  4. Ship more than 25 SKUs in multiple boxes, and you can provide details through an Excel spreadsheet uploaded to Seller Central.
  5. Use a third-party listing software to provide details.

I’m not exaggerating when I say providing box contents will add only 5-10 minutes to packing your shipment. It really isn’t a long, time-consuming process. So far, I’ve been listing my shipments in Inventory Lab and then finishing out the shipment process (including providing box level details) in Seller Central. In the very near future I will try out Inventory Lab’s new box level detail process and report back on my thoughts on it.

For a tutorial of how to use the #3 and #4 methods above, I’ve made the following screen capture video walking you through the process.

As you can see in the video, the steps for filling out the forms are rather straightforward. To assist in the process of knowing which items I’ve packed in which boxes, I always print out my form so that I can check off the items on paper as I’m packing; then I transfer my check marks to the online form or Excel sheet once the boxes are packed.

money-fees-add-up-fastIf you decide that providing the box content details is too annoying or time-consuming, you do have the option to skip this step in the process, but you will incur a fee of 15 cents per item in that shipment. This may seem like a small fee, but be careful because those charges can add up quickly. Let me show you how.

I recently had a 92-item shipment of more than 25 SKUs, so the fees to skip the box level details for that shipment would be $13.80. I timed myself as I provided the box contents for the shipment through Excel, and it only added 6 minutes to my processing time. If you do the math, $13.80 in fees versus 6 minutes of my time means that I would have been paying Amazon $138/hour to allow me to skip that step. It’s worth it to me to just spend the extra 6 minutes and keep that $13.80 in fees to spend on more inventory to sell on Amazon.

As with so many other changes that happen over time in selling on Amazon, there will be a day in the not-so-distant future where adding box content details is ingrained in our minds as just one more step in the process, not as a new time-sucking step. Ultimately, providing box level details should theoretically help us as sellers have an easier time reconciling issues with lost inventory from shipments during the check-in process, which makes the entire process worth it, in my mind.

To read for yourself the Amazon guidelines about providing box level details, click here.

Have you been using the web form or Excel sheet to provide box level details on your Amazon FBA shipments? Do you have any advice to add on this topic? Please let us hear from you in the comments!