Tag Archives: Sales

The #1 Way to Ruin Your Q4 Sales on Amazon

ruin-q4-salesWe see them during all the pivotal dates this time of year. We saw them on Black Friday, we saw them on Cyber Monday, and we’ll see them again over the next couple of weeks. Posts on Facebook groups that include screenshots of huge sales numbers or pictures of 10 shopping carts loaded with toys from a retail arbitrage haul.

We can be inspired by these posts and feel excited for what is to come in our businesses — or we can have another response and ruin our Q4 sales.

We can start comparing ourselves to other sellers.

IMG_1571Comparing yourself with other sellers can be the fastest way to ruin your Q4 sales. Falling victim to the comparison trap might not cause you to lose sales today or tomorrow, but it will definitely have an impact on your psyche and your business over the long run.

When we compare ourselves to other people and start feeling negative emotions, that negativity can snowball. Pretty soon we’ll find that our entire mindset has shifted. We could become so dejected over not feeling good enough as a seller that we are tempted to quit. Or even worse, we could start making bad buying decisions for our business.

It’s crucial throughout the year but especially in Q4 to keep in mind what you don’t know when you see posts on Facebook about amazing sales or massive RA hauls:

  • recruiting-software-comparisonWe don’t know how much profit other sellers are making. If someone says “I made 6 figures in sales!” we can’t assume anything from that number. After that seller takes out the cost of inventory, supplies, or other fees, they might only be taking home in their pocket $15,000 of that $100k. And we don’t know how much time they spent to buy and prep their inventory. For all we know they really are only making minimum wage for their time.
  • We don’t know how other sellers are paying for their inventory. We don’t know if they run a cash-only business or if they go into debt to make huge purchases.  We never know if someone is making horrible decisions, taking out ginormous loans, and maxing out multiple credit cards to finance their Q4 inventory. This kind of behavior is very dangerous. At any moment Amazon could shut someone’s account down for something they did or did not do, and that seller would be stuck with the debt without getting a disbursement from Amazon. They could be making bad buying decisions thinking they have to blow a ton of money on inventory before December 10 in order to maximize Q4 — but what if their inventory doesn’t sell as expected? Or maybe they pay for everything with cash, make a ton of sales, and buy a new car in January. It could be either scenario when you see those posts online. The point is we just don’t know.

I’m not trying to suggest that everyone who makes these types of posts on Facebook is giving an inaccurate portrayal. On the contrary, many sellers make these posts in order to inspire others or as a way of celebrating within a community, neither of which is a bad thing. What I want us all to think about is how am I personally receiving this post? If I’m receiving it in a negative manner and comparing myself to others, then I have a problem.

When we get caught up in comparing ourselves with other sellers, we can have two types of negative results:

  • comparison-is-the-thief-of-We can begin to feel discouraged. If I’m comparing my Chapter 2 to someone else’s Chapter 12, I fail to take into account all the years of experiences (some successful, some otherwise) the other seller has had. When we compare ourselves this way, we can completely lose the steam in our engines and lose the motivation to excel as a seller. Worst case scenario, we could decide to quit.
  • We could look at other people’s sales and start getting puffed up. If I’m comparing my Chapter 12 to someone else’s Chapter 2, I can get arrogant, be filled with pride, and make reckless decisions. “Pride comes before the fall,” says the wisdom of Proverbs. Again, the comparisons have the potential to lead to incorrect thinking.

So then, what should we be comparing?

We should be comparing our outcomes with our goals

Q4 is an excellent time for us to begin looking back to see if we met our goals — for Q4 and for the year. I really hope you’re setting goals every year, if not every quarter. Goal setting is the best way for me to challenge myself in my business. Rather than comparing my sales to someone else’s, I want to look at my own goals and see how I fared this year. Did I meet my goals? If not, what can I do to tweak those goals for next year? What am I planning to do to make next year’s sales even better?

Don’t get weighed down by looking at other people’s sales numbers. Don’t fall victim to the trap of comparison. Focus on where you are personally and how you can meet your own goals.

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How are your sales going this Q4? I don’t want to know specific numbers — remember, we don’t need to compare those to anyone else’s. But did you meet your goals? Did you exceed them? Do you see now that you need to tweak something for next year? Let us know in the comments! We’d love to know how your Q4 is going, in general terms rather than specific numbers.

My Top 7 Holiday Season Pricing & Sourcing Strategies for FBA Sellers

top-pricing-sourcing-decisions-holidayQ4. It’s one of the best letter/number combinations for an FBA seller. Q4 stands for the Fourth Quarter of sales for the year. In the business world, Q4 indicates the months of October, November, and December, but for the Amazon world, our biggest sales come in November, December, and January.

Traditionally, when it comes to sales, Q4 brings a huge increase. It’s not a stretch to say that a person selling on Amazon could potentially triple or quadruple their payouts in Q4.  I’ve experienced Q4 five times as an Amazon seller, and I can testify to this. In fact in 2012, I was awarded by Amazon as a Top Holiday Seller. This meant that my sales ranked in the top 25% of all Amazon sellers and my customer satisfaction ratings were excellent (A+) during that period. (Note: 2012 was the last time Amazon handed out this distinction).

Here are some thoughts I have as we are currently in Q4. These are suggestions that helped me get awarded Top Holiday Seller in 2012, and have caused me to increase my profits in every following Q4 since then. As always, there are exceptions to every suggestion, but overall, these are the strategies I put in place as we get closer and closer to Christmastime.

1. Don’t lower all your prices to match the lowest price.

e-commerce-402822_1280Like many resellers, I reprice from time to time. With the number of sales on Amazon dramatically increasing in Q4, I know that the lower priced competition will eventually sell out and my higher priced item will be there for the willing buyer. During Q4 of 2015, Fulfillment by Amazon shipped over 1 billion items (yes, that’s billion with a B). That equates to 126 items sold per second, 7548 items sold per minute, 452,899 items sold an hour, and almost 11 million items sold per day via FBA. This is the absolutely best time to wait and get the price you want. The only exception to this guideline is if your inventory happens to have a higher sales rank (say, above 300,000 for Toys & Games) AND you have a lot of competition that is priced much lower than you. In this case, I might price match the lowest priced competitor, especially if they have a lot in stock.

2. Raise prices on some items.

Price-IncreaseUsing the same thought process from above, I’ll raise my prices on some items that have really good and sustainable sales ranks. Also, when I’m first listing a product during Q4, I’ll price some of my items much higher than usual since I know the lower priced competition will sell out soon. It sometimes surprises me, but when I take some time to raise the prices of some of my inventory, many of those items end up selling later that day. Click here to read how to reprice your inventory.

3. Keep an eye on your most recent shipment of inventory.

Profit-graph-260x259When I’m looking at my pending sales, I’m not just looking to see all of the awesome items I’ll be getting paid for, but I’m also looking for new sales of items that I just sent in to FBA. If something sells the day it hits the warehouse, then I might need to look at my price and make sure I’m priced competitively. Many times during Q4, you might price an item on Monday when you ship it to Amazon, but when it gets checked in on Friday, there have been so many sales that the prices are now higher. If you get immediate sales, then check your prices… If you see that you are priced too low, raise your prices!

4. Keep an eye on multiple sales of the same item.

Again, when looking at your pending orders, if you notice that all of a sudden you have many sales of the same item, you might need to check the prices on those items too. It’s the same thought process from the tip above… If you are getting multiple sales of the same item, then you might be priced too low. Check your competition and then reprice if necessary.

5. BUY! BUY! BUY!

keep-calm-and-buy-more-inventoryIt’s simple math: You will only sell a lot of items if you have a lot of items to sell. During Q4, I’m out buying a lot more often than I usually do. It’s a fun cycle: I send more items to FBA, more items sell, and I get paid more… I take that money and send even more items to FBA, more items sell, and I get paid more. It’s a Q4 snowball effect that causes massive increases to my Amazon payment disbursements.

6. Expand your sales rank limits. 

Amazon Sales Rank ChartWhen sourcing, it’s always a good idea to look at sales rank history when you’re making your buying decisions. When Q4 comes, I always buy items with a higher sales rank than I usually do. If my sales rank limit for the Toys & Games category was 150,000, then I may raise that limit to 250,000 in preparation for Q4. Many items completely sell out on Amazon during Q4, so buyers start looking for other items that might not be as popular. Each category will be treated differently, but I always raise my sales rank limits for Q4. Be sure to click here to download your free sales rank chart.

7. Send inventory to Amazon ASAP!

brownbox2If you have product sitting around your house that you haven’t sent to Amazon yet, send it in now! What are you waiting for? Check everywhere for products that you might have forgotten about. Look in your closets, your garage, in boxes, under your work table, etc. Products sitting around your house are not ever going to sell via FBA. Some people worry about Q4 storage fees, but honestly if you expect an item to sell during November or December, send it in today!

amazon_gift_cardBONUS TIP – January is one of the best times to sell on Amazon. People are returning the Christmas gifts they don’t want and will use that money to spend on what they really wanted. People also have Amazon gift cards that are burning a hole in their pockets. Because of these factors, sales in January are amazing. I’ve heard some sellers say that their January sales are almost as good as their December sales, though I have not experienced this yet. So continue to send inventory in to Amazon!

How about you? What Q4 tips would you like to offer the group here? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this very exciting time of the year.

Sell to the World with FBA Global Export

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 11.07.32 AMHow would you like to have more eyes looking at your products on Amazon? What about increased FBA sales? All of this, and more, is possible thanks to FBA Global Export. When you first sign up to sell on Amazon via FBA, the default mode is for you to sell your inventory only to customers in the United States. Sure, the bulk of the traffic on Amazon.com comes from those in the United States, but there are millions of customers outside of the States who might be interested in buying your product. You want these potential customers to see your products and to have the ease of buying them via FBA.

FBA Export allows FBA sellers in the US to offer a majority of their inventory for sale all around the world. Getting set up with FBA export is easy. Let me walk you through the steps.

FBA-Export1. Sign in to Seller Central here
2. Click on the Inventory drop-down menu and choose Manage FBA Inventory.
3. Click on the International Shipping link found near the top right corner of the page.
4. Click to Enable FBA Global Export.
5. Upload a signature file (more on this below).
6. Read and click that you agree with the Amazon Business Solutions Agreement. 
7. Press submit and you are done! 

 

If you have 90 seconds, here is a video from Amazon on how to set up your account with FBA Global Export.

If you are not currently set up with FBA Global Export, then you’re missing out on more sales and increased profits. Just today, I sold a book to a customer in Great Britain, a toy to Ecuador, and a board game to Australia. These are sales that I would not have had if I were not set up with FBA Global Export.

world-wide-300x275In our next blog post, I’ll talk about all of the benefits of FBA Global Export, but I’ll let you in on my favorite benefit today: Since there are so few FBA sellers set up to sell globally, I actually get the buy box for the international buyers at a higher price than those not offering their products internationally. I have one toy in particular that I have about 30 currently in stock. I have this toy priced about $3 to $4 more than the current lowest FBA offer, but none of the other sellers of this toy are set up with FBA Global Export, so I get all those international sales! The US based sellers are all priced around $9, but I’m getting all the international sales at $13 each. After all is said and done, that’s $120 more that I’ll get for selling the same item.

Note: FBA Export does not list your products on other Amazon marketplaces. Instead, FBA Export allows your products to be shipped directly to international customers who already shop on the US Amazon.com marketplace. You also need to have a Pro Seller account to qualify for Global Export.

Not only will our next blog post talk about all of the benefits of FBA Global Export, but we’ll also discuss all of the possible fears you may have with selling internationally. Feel free to comment below with your thoughts on selling internationally via FBA. If you express a fear, we’ll be sure to address is in our next blog post.

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Patience vs. The Race To The Bottom

Price-Vice-Grip

Photo by s5761 from sxc.hu

The life of a reseller has its highs and lows, just like any other business experience. We know the thrill when we find multiple items at an insanely low price that we can sell for a high ROI (Return on Investment). We get all excited about finding 20 items for $2 that should sell for about $30 each. But then it happens… We send the items to Amazon and a few weeks later, the prices have dropped. Now, that same item is selling for $9.99?!?! What happened?

The race to the bottom. It’s one of the things that Amazon sellers fear the most. I first heard about this phenomenon from Chris Green, but many resellers talk about it. The race to the bottom is defined as the lowering of prices of products, sometimes very quickly, to a point where it no longer becomes profitable to sell.

There are many different reasons why the price of the product lowers so quickly. The main reason is that some resellers think they have to have the absolute lowest price in order to get the next sale. Most new Amazon resellers fall into this mindset. They see that the current low price of an item is $29.99, and so they think they need to price it at $29.98 in order to get the next sale. Then the next person drops it another penny, and on and on. If you’re an Amazon selling veteran, then you know that this can be foolish thinking.

The lowest price doesn’t guarantee you the next sale at all.  Buyer psychology is complicated, and there are a multitude of reasons why a buyer would choose a price other than the lowest. Maybe another seller has better feedback, maybe another seller has more feedback, maybe another seller has a more relatable storefront name, maybe another seller is closer to them (and therefore can get the item to them faster), and maybe another seller has the buy box and the buyer never even sees that there are lower prices available. Those  possibilities are just the tip of the iceberg of why a buyer might choose a price other than the lowest.

I understand that many resellers like to sell their items as fast as possible. It’s good to have items in your inventory that sell quickly, but to totally focus on getting the next sale is not as profitable in the long run as being patient. A healthy inventory consists of both items that sell quickly and those that sell slowly. On most items, I don’t mind waiting for those sellers involved in the race to the bottom to sell out. Yes, they might get a sale a little faster than me, but I will make more money. I don’t mind paying a few pennies of storage a month to get the price I want for that item.

Here is an example: Pictured below is a screenshot from the listing tool I use, FBA Power (Now called ScanPower). I took this screenshot on 1/17/12 as I was preparing to send 6 of these toys (Wow Wee Paper Jamz Drum Series II – Style 4) to FBA.

Screen shot 2012-01-17

You can easily see how each of these resellers were trying to race to the bottom in an attempt to get the next sale. According to CamelCamelCamel, the price of the toy got all the way down to $4.99 just 7 months later. 6304_PJ_Drum_front_2010Now, most resellers would freak out and drop their price too, thinking that they need to get rid of this toy as soon as possible… But often patience brings profits. I priced the 6 toys I was sending to FBA at $29.99 and they all sold that November and December. I was fine with paying a few pennies a month for storage and waiting for the higher prices to return. (The current low FBA price of that toy is $41.29, even higher than when mine sold.) Does this happen all of the time? No… but it does happen most of the time.

This scenario happens over and over again with products I sell. Sometimes the higher price returns much faster than the scenario above. For example, I bought about fifteen Discovery Kids Ice Cream Makers two months ago. I bought them for about $5 and knew143131291_400x400 I could sell them for $19.99. Just after the ice cream makers made it to FBA, the price dropped down to about $10 and continued to lower to under $4. I did not panic and decided to wait. Sure enough, this week, they started to sell at $19.99 (and that’s not even the lowest price, currently). I’ve sold two this week and expect the others to sell soon.

If you notice that the price of an item you sell is lowered dramatically, don’t worry. Be patient and wait it out. The lower prices will sell out and you can wait for your item to sell at the price you want. I know that being patient is hard, but if you think about it, you’re actually getting paid to be patient. Yes, sometimes the prices don’t come back up the way you would like, but more often than not, they do. The only time I ever lower my price drastically is if I have multiple items that would be subject to a long term storage fee. Other than that, I usually sit on my price and wait for my buyer to come.

What about you? When do you decide to lower prices? Have you ever been caught up in the race to the bottom? I have in the past, but have learned the lessons that patience teaches me. What do you think about when you see other people selling at a lower price than you? Let us know what works best for you.

Selling Seasonal Items on FBA

Valentine's Day Barbie

Valentine’s Day Barbie

It’s August, and you just found some Valentine’s Day themed toys at a garage sale that should bring a nice profit come February. Do you wait until January to send them in to FBA? At another garage sale, you find a profitable Halloween themed children’s movie. Do you send it in now or wait until October? Don’t you need to worry about FBA storage fees if you send these items in “too early”?

The bottom line is this: products that are stored in your home are not making you any money. Get these items to an FBA warehouse as soon as possible! Don’t make the assumption that these items will not sell until their season. The truth is seasonal items sell year round.

Some FBA sellers see multiple sales of Christmas items in the summer because of “Christmas in July” parties. Just because it’s 100 degrees where you are doesn’t mean that someone else in the world isn’t looking for a snowblower. And even though you’d never buy a Thomas the Train Inflatable Lawn Decoration in May, someone else probably will.

Do you want proof? Below are examples of items I have sold very recently.

The 365 Kittens-A-Year 2013 Wall Calendar
Bought at a thrift store on February 26 and sold on August 7 (with only 4 1/2 months of 2013 left).
 
Victoria’s Secret Limited Edition Valentine’s Day Glam Wristlet
Bought at a thrift store on February 27 and sold on May 3.
 
Nickelodeon Jimmy Neutron Holiday Christmas Ornament
Bought at a garage sale on May 10 and sold on August 9.
 
Barney’s Halloween Party (VHS Tape)
Bought at a garage sale on May 22 and sold on June 10.

Christmas Sales before Christmas 2012

 

I could easily keep going with examples of items that are sold outside of their season. In fact, I’ve captured a few screen shots of my sales reports of selling only Christmas themed items. The first image shows Christmas items sold in 2012 that were sold well before “Christmas time.”  The image below shows many of the Christmas themed items I have sold in 2013. I’m not showing you the report of Christmas items sold in December because that page would go on and on. As you can see, I sell Christmas items almost every month!

Christmas Sales since January 2013

Christmas Sales since January 2013

The only drawback to sending items to FBA as soon as possible are the storage fees. Yes, you might have to pay for 6 months of storage fees if your Super Mario Ornament doesn’t sell until December, but it’s just pennies a month per item. If one or two cents per month are cutting into your profit margins, then you really need to find items with a higher return on investment.

So if you’re wondering if you should send something in to Amazon now or sit on it until the “proper” season comes, then I hope by now you are convinced to send it in. Remember: products that are sitting at home are not making you any money!

Now, I’d love to hear from you.  What items have you sold that were “out of season” that surprised you? Be sure to leave a comment with your story.

NEXT blog post in the Selling Seasonal Series: FBA Pricing Tips on “Out of Season” Products.