Today on the show, we give you an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at The Full-Time FBA Amazon business journey: How we got started doing FBA, how we’ve progressed to working part-time hours with a full-time income, and the key decisions, tools, and systems that have had the biggest impact on getting our business where it is today.
We start from the very beginning before we were even married! From browsing thrift stores and garage sales to hunting clearance items, to mastering retail arbitrage, online arbitrage, and outsourcing, to selling via wholesale, automatic-repricing, and much more – get ready to go down the many paths that have guided our business toward success.
We’re all different, and so our journeys will be different too. This is just our story and since many of you out there have asked us to tell it, here it is! The high notes, the low notes, the things that have made the biggest impact on the business and could help yours to expand and improve too.
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Key points from episode 27:
- Why thrift stores and garage sales were a great way to start sourcing items to sell on Amazon.
- How we progressed from finding great ROI one-off items at garage sales and thrift stores to a more retail arbitrage-centric Amazon business.
- The best tools to help streamline your business to make things quicker and more efficient.
- Discover what simple tool transformed everything in Stephen and Rebecca’s business.
- How mastering online arbitrage helped Rebecca’s source from home.
- Discover what Stephen & Rebecca both call a “total game-changer.”
- Rebecca’s favorite category to source via online arbitrage.
- Selling via wholesale and what strategy works best for Stephen.
- The one tool that Stephen & Rebecca both agree they should have used much earlier.
- Why Stephen does not sell via private label.
- And much more!
Links and resources mentioned in this episode:
- Garage Sale / Thrift Store Webinar
- How to Read & Understand a Keepa Graph
- Online Arbitrage by Chris Green
- The Beginner’s Guide to Wholesale
- Why Use a Prep Center
- How to Choose a Prep Center
- BQool Automatic Repricer
- BQool Review (with a special free bonus!)
- InventoryLab Review
- Special Bonus for Trying InventoryLab with a 1-Month Free Trial
- Amazon Acronym Guide
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You see, successfully running an Amazon FBA business doesn’t just happen on accident. In fact, there are six proven steps to finally making a full-time income with only part-time hours via Amazon FBA. If you’re tired of not seeing the growth you expect in your Amazon business, then I highly recommend our book/video course, Next Level Amazon.
In Next Level Amazon, I outline everything you need to know in order to work less, but make more take-home pay. It’s a strategy that has helped so many people go from working 60-hour weeks just to make ends meet… to truly only working 20 or so hours each week, while still bringing home a full-time paycheck. Find out more here.
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Episode 27 Transcript:
[0:00:01.8] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to The Full-Time FBA Show. In each episode, it’s our goal to help you turn part time hours into a full-time income, selling almost anything on Amazon. Now, your hosts of the show, Stephen and Rebecca Smotherman.
[0:00:21.3] STEPHEN: Hello there and welcome to The Full-Time FBA Show, we’re so glad you’re here with us. We are getting into episode 27 today, it is going to be a look behind the scenes of The Full-Time FBA Amazon business. How we got started doing FBA and how we progressed from part-time to full-time and how we’ve developed our income to be full-time. With me here to talk about that is my husband and cohost, Stephen Smotherman. How are you doing Stephen?
[0:00:48.3] REBECCA: I’m doing good, you know, a lot of people ask me still to this day, “Do you still sell on Amazon or do you just have the blog and sell courses and things like that?” Yeah, we still sell on Amazon, we’ve been selling it on Amazon since 2011, and this has been something that we’ve been doing that has helped us to doing part-time hours into full-time income so we’re going to give you a sneak peek today at what that journey has looked like.
[0:01:13.4] STEPHEN: I would say too, we don’t just still sell on Amazon, we still make our full-time income from selling on Amazon.
[0:01:18.8] REBECCA: Yes, absolutely.
[0:01:19.6] STEPHEN: It’s not just some side thing for us that we just kind of keep our toe in the water. We still sell and we both still sell and we both still source on a regular basis, constantly.
[0:01:28.6] REBECCA: Yes.
[0:01:29.4] STEPHEN: We’re always looking for inventory. On that note, we’ll have a sneak peek today into how we set the business up and how we’re still doing it today. Okay, as we get started today, we’re going to be going through a progression of steps that we took to be where we are in our business today, it’s going to start from the very beginning, before we were even married because Stephen started selling before we’d even met, much less got married.
We’ll go through that progression and I just kind of want to add a caveat as we go that this isn’t necessarily a blueprint for here’s how we think you should do your business, but this is what we did and people want to know, people are interested to know, and that’s why we’re doing this. We hope that it’s helpful for you, we hope that it’s interesting to you but please, by all means, do not think we’re saying you need to go in this order, these steps, and accomplish it this way, that’s not what we’re trying to do.
[0:02:24.4] REBECCA: Yeah, everybody else has their own journey, you have your own journey, you have your own starting point, you have your own resources that you’re learning along the way and what you can use to start out and continue to grow. We’re all different but this is just our story and a lot of people have asked us to tell it, so that’s what we’re going to do today.
[0:02:41.2] STEPHEN: You also have your own destination, not everybody wants to be where we are, not everybody wants to be full-time, not everybody wants to sell the types of things we’re selling. But, we can all learn from each other and so that’s what we’re going to do today is share with you how we moved from part-time to full-time and now earn our full-time income through part-time hours on FBA.
[0:03:02.1] REBECCA: Yup, back in 2011, I was in a point in my life, I was a single dad and I was raising four boys, trying to find a way to also keep them home while I did work because I was also unemployed. I was trying to find a way to make money and I’d always done eBay for a long time, so I tried to find a way to make a full-time income on eBay and man, that was just way too much work and too much time involved.
Then I discovered Amazon FBA and I started to see Amazon can store my inventory and ship it out for me, that would be awesome. I first started off sourcing with garage sales and thrift stores. Still to this day, it’s still a fun way to find inventory but just going to garage sales and thrift stores to be able to find stuff really cheap, to be able to sell at a really nice ROI. But I started seeing, well, I can only buy one of each item and I have to do a lot of work just to find one of an item but garage sales and thrift stores were really great thing to start off. In fact, if you’re interested in learning about how to use garage sales and thrift stores to get your capital going and to get your Amazon business going.
Check out our free webinar, fulltimefba.com/garagesaleprofits and I’ll walk you through that.
[0:04:15.1] REBECCA: Right, I would say you were pretty well established in this first step, I would say. When we met, you were already earning your full-time income through Amazon, but you were not working part-time hours, you were working full-time hours, all the time. Going to garage sales, going through thrift stores, prepping your inventory, always looking for more items to buy and always working really hard to get your shipments out. That’s where I entered in the point you were at whenever I met you.
[0:04:44.7] STEPHEN: Yeah, I was spending garage sales, sourcing on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I wouldn’t work on Sunday and then Monday I would be prepping my inventory and then Tuesday sending it off to Amazon, so that I can start the week over again, sourcing garage sales again Thursday, Friday, and Saturday and then thrift stores along the way during that time too.
[0:05:03.0] REBECCA: After a while of doing that, like you said, when you’re sourcing predominantly at garage sales and thrift stores, you find really great ROI, you can spend 25 cents on a book and sell it for $50 for instance. Make just a really great profit on it but then you have to go out and find another book, or whatever item it is that you’re finding. So, what was the next step that led you beyond finding all of these really great ROI one-off items?
[0:05:31.4] STEPHEN: The next thing that I started to do more of and to add into more of my sourcing schedule was sourcing clearance places and retail stores, whether it’s a clearance isle, a clearance end cap, trying to find the heavily discounted items at my local retail stores. I would drive around to Walmart, Walgreens, Target, every place looking for clearance-priced stuff that I could buy low and sell high on Amazon.
Sometimes in that situation, I was able to find multiples, now, not a lot of multiples but sometimes I found some and I helped grow Amazon business inventory and my profits, being able to do that while still kind of doing garage sales and thrift stores over the weekends.
[0:06:14.2] REBECCA: That would include stores too like TJ Max or Tuesday Morning, that are what would you call it? Like a second chance stores? Isn’t that the definition where it’s items that have been for sale in a retail store of a different chain but then those stores have clearance them to a store like TJ Max or Tuesday morning and others like that. It’s clearance and then it’s clearance even more when they go on clearance at those stores.
[0:06:40.6] STEPHEN: Yes, I know there would be times while you and I were dating, I’d send you pictures of my mountain of plastic bags with a bunch of stuff in those plastic bags that I told you, “This is what I’m going to be doing tonight, watching a movie and taking the stickers off so wish me luck.”
[0:06:56.3] REBECCA: Right, when Tuesday Morning would have their – they would change with the colored stickers, the percentage clearance of those colored stickers, you would go out and buy a new bunch of inventory from Tuesday Morning. That was when I was still living out of state at that point. When you say you would send me a picture, it’s because I lived in Washington for part of the time we were already dating.
[0:07:17.5] STEPHEN: Yes.
[0:07:18.5] REBECCA: Okay, the kind of the early stages of sourcing, give us a look into kind of the tools that you were using at that point in time early on to kind of streamline your business and help you to, I guess, make things go quicker and more efficiently.
[0:07:35.0] STEPHEN: Yeah, I started to realize that listing through Amazon via Seller Central just took a lot of time and I learned about a tool called Inventory Lab that not only would help streamline the listing process on Amazon but it would also track my numbers, it would track my buy cost, it would track all of my Amazon fees and it would be able to – I could run reports to see which categories were most profitable which suppliers, stores were most profitable.
So that I can make better decisions in my Amazon FBA business and then come tax time, I could even run reports to be able to make more sense of things at the end of the year. I started using Inventory Lab and it really helped me to see a lot of holes that were in my business, where money was leaking out of, so that I could plug up those holes and be able to use that money to buy more inventory instead of losing it from maybe some mistakes that I was making.
[0:08:27.1] REBECCA: Would you say that you were using – because I wasn’t there, were you using this third party scanning and sourcing and listing app from the very beginning or did you start off scanning and listing through Amazon?
[0:08:42.8] STEPHEN: From the very beginning, I was focused mostly on listing through Seller Central and using the Amazon customer app because at that time, the seller app wasn’t even out yet from Amazon and was doing my best to make the sourcing decisions. But once I learned about Inventory Lab, and once I could afford the monthly fee, I worked that in and made it a priority to make that a tool that I would be using because – I mean, it more than paid for itself with that time that it saved me and the decisions that I’m able to make, thanks to the reports that they run.
[0:09:13.3] REBECCA: Okay, then talk to us, this is the next one is a big one and it came after we were married, I remember – I would say, about a year after I joined the business, Stephen had a revelation about how we were sourcing and we had gone through a lot of frustration with some of the times that we purchased, especially from certain stores in their clearance time period right after Q4.
Talk to us about Keepa and how that changed everything in our business around the time, what would you say like 2014?
[0:09:47.1] STEPHEN: Yeah, I would say around then is when I really started to take Keepa seriously because I heard about it, but I was like, “Eh, what? I’ve been doing okay without it.” But when I started to kind of look into what Keepa had to offer, and if you’ve never heard of Keepa, it’s a program online that you can look at on your desktop, you can look at with your smart phone, that tracks the price changes and sales rank changes of almost every single item on Amazon.
I started realizing, yeah, I would go out and do some clearance sourcing, maybe after clearance sourcing, buy tons of inventory and then I started to see all the prices tank and I was like, “Man, this is actually selling on Amazon for cheaper than I purchased it for, what is the deal?” I realized, okay, the reason why the prices tanked is because the market was flooded with these items because these toys, these other items, were clearance priced everywhere in the United States, so everyone was sending them in.
[0:10:43.4] REBECCA: The price was high, it was artificially high, because of the Q4 selling season.
[0:10:48.2] STEPHEN: Exactly, the prices were up there because people were trying to get it to, you know, their kids in time for Christmas and so prices were artificially high, sales rank were artificially low because of the time and I was making bad decisions.
But when I discovered that Keepa can track the price history, the sales rank history and that I can look into the past to better predict the future, then I could make a lot better sourcing decisions and it just revolutionized our Amazon FBA business. We stopped buying inventory that tanked in price and times that we did purchase, actually started to sell faster than any of our inventory before.
We just had better, faster, selling inventory, thanks to Keepa and if you’re curious about what Keepa is and to want to see a little quick walkthrough video on how to use it, if you go to fulltimefba.com/readkeepa, I’ll introduce you to the Keepa graph and how you can read that information for yourself.
[0:11:42.9] REBECCA: I guess just for the sake of clarity, I want to say that we started off with CamelCamelCamel, we didn’t just jump right in to Keepa because I think when we first started using sales rank and price history, CamelCamelCamel was the more predominant tool that people were using and Keepa was pretty new at the time. But Keepa had some features, once we got started using it, Keepa had some features that were more robust, and kind of gave more information than Camel, right?
[0:12:09.4] STEPHEN: Right, as time went on, CamelCamelCamel started to remove different features of its program that benefited Amazon sellers, I mean, CamelCamelCamel really was a program that was more focused on the Amazon customer to find a good deal but Keepa is a program focused on the Amazon seller to know how to best price and source through inventory for faster sales.
Rebecca said a moment ago that by this time, she and I were married and she started to work in our Amazon business and, you know, I’d take it to garage sales and she’d be like, “This is not for me,” but she started to discover that there was something within Amazon FBA sourcing that did interest her and that’s when we added online arbitrage, Rebecca, can you tell us a little bit about that?
[0:12:55.5] REBECCA: Right, I don’t really enjoy garage sales, I liked thrift stores better than garage sales, I was okay with retail arbitrage, it was a little bit less draining on me emotionally and mentally, so I would do more retail sourcing. But really, I am more of a home body and I just don’t like going out every day and running around that to me is just not – I don’t get energized by being out around other people the same way Stephen does. He loves getting out and sourcing in stores but I prefer to be at home and on my computer.
I started learning about the concept of online arbitrage, this was around the time that Chris Green’s book came out, kind of spelling out how exactly to do online arbitrage really for the first time among the FBA community. So, we studied that concept through that book and we started getting an idea of how can we incorporate this into our business? I was really the one between the two of us that was more interested in doing that and learning it and implementing it on a daily basis.
I started out looking for items through deal lists because I really just wanted to find a way that I could kind of shorten the curve between searching for items and having somebody just say, “Okay, here’s where you get started, here’s a few items that we have found now you do what you will.” I really got started using Deal List at the time we were using Cyber Monkey Deals I think pretty regularly, and that’s not even a thing anymore.
[0:14:31.2] STEPHEN: Right.
[0:14:32.0] REBECCA: It’s so funny to look at like all of the ways, not just the progression of our business but how many things come and go in the FBA world, how many services and products that we’ve used in the past that are just not even a thing anymore. Anyway, we were using that deal list that came out every day and I started figuring out how to follow rabbit trails and kind of developed my own system for finding things beyond just that list that I was getting every day and kind of moved from there.
It was, I would say, game changer for me, it was the first time that I really felt like I was clicking with FBA in a way that I wasn’t just helping Stephen at what he was doing but that, I was really developing a part of our business, completely on my own that he wasn’t doing. It was a big deal to be able to have control of that aspect of our business to feel like I really truly belonged in the business.
I wasn’t just kind of filling some helper need but then I really was a part of the business and a leader in the business and so that was exciting for me personally. Along that same time, I first started out with online arbitrage doing toys and some health and beauty items, a few grocery items here and there, but that’s really hard for – I found that grocery was hard with online arbitrage because you just couldn’t check the expiration dates until it arrived at your place.
But then, eventually, while we were doing that, we also looked into getting into shoes and clothing because at the time, that was a gated category. So, it was less competition and a little bit of entry barrier for sellers to get into those categories. If you’ve listened to us for any amount of time, you know that now, today, I am predominantly a shoe seller.
It was around that time in 2016, I would say, that I got started looking into adding shoes as my main way that I sourced. My main product that I was buying and all of that for me has always been through online arbitrage. I started out with shoes, thinking that maybe, you know, Stephen and I could go source together in some retail stores, he could source his categories, I could source shoes, I think we did that maybe once.
[0:16:48.4] STEPHEN: Once, yeah, just once.
[0:16:49.5] REBECCA: Because it was just miserable to me. I couldn’t find anything. I don’t know, I’ve seen other people talk about how great they could do with sourcing shoes at RA, it was a flop and granted, one time is not probably long enough to say that it can’t be done, I can’t do it, but for me it was enough. I felt like I tried, I’m done but online arbitrage and shoes just really clicked for me and so I was able to make that into what I spend my – the amount of time I spend every week on FBA, I spend it on online arbitrage in the shoes category.
[0:17:20.3] STEPHEN: And we have a lot more about on our arbitrage to share with you. Coming up soon, I actually have Rebecca as a full guest on the Full-Time FBA Show and I will interview her specifically all about online arbitrage, so be looking for that in the future.
[0:17:33.6] REBECCA: A full guest, I won’t be a co-host, I’ll be a full guest, not a half-guest.
[0:17:35.8] STEPHEN: Yes, right. I have never been a guest on our show.
[0:17:39.5] REBECCA: That’s true, how are we going to figure out how to get you on as a full guest?
[0:17:42.6] STEPHEN: We’ll figure it out.
[0:17:44.9] REBECCA: Okay, so going from there what stage are we at here as far as the progression of our business?
[0:17:51.2] STEPHEN: So, this time I am doing mostly retail clearance sourcing and every once in a while garage sales, and you are doing online arbitrage and we start to realize how much time we spending prepping these items to send to Amazon ourselves. We have heard the benefits of outsourcing, so, we actually hired a friend of ours from our church to come into our house, someone that we knew and trusted, to be able to kind of prep our inventory for us.
So, that this person would come in and bubble wrap things. They’d take price stickers off, they’d get things ready to send to Amazon, and then help us with that process and it just took a huge load off of our business. We were really scared going into this because it’s like again, someone else is going to be doing something and they don’t do it as well as I did, but guess what? Everything turned up fine and it opened us up and freed us up to do more in our Amazon business.
[0:18:41.0] REBECCA: It turned out more than fine, it was actually life changing, I think. That was a turning point for us. It was a time I think that we took that first big step into outsourcing. Would you say that was the first big step into outsourcing for us?
[0:18:54.8] STEPHEN: Absolutely, yes.
[0:18:55.8] REBECCA: And once we took that step, I think it was after that like “Okay, game on. What else can we outsource?”
[0:19:03.1] STEPHEN: Exactly, yes. Thank you to Tracy who helped prep our stuff for us and did so much more. I am really thankful for you. Yeah, it just opened up the doors for outsourcing other things and it really helped us grow our Amazon business.
[0:19:14.5] REBECCA: Okay, and around that time, what was the next stage would you say of our sourcing journey?
[0:19:21.4] STEPHEN: So again, I am doing retail arbitrage with the clearance aisles, but then I started seeing like there started to get a lull when it comes to clearance aisles. There weren’t as much items there, but I still have the time to source. So, I actually started going up and down and scanning every item in the retail full priced section. I would just pick a category, start going up and down the aisle, I picked toys and started going up and down scanning everything until I started to fund things.
And then thanks to there being multiple of the same stores in my area, I now had a list of things to go and find at other stores. If I could find them at one store, I can go and find them in another. I started to realize just how often I can find full priced items at retail stores that were still selling for two to three to four times on Amazon.
[0:20:10.3] REBECCA: So, at this point you are doing all RA, some clearance, some full priced, kind of a combo of the two of those. You’re developing your own Bolo list that you personally – it is not for anybody else. We never had a Bolo list that we offer for sale, but you are developing your own Bolo list that you would take from store to store in our area. Then I was doing online arbitrage with predominantly shoes by this point. So, what was the next step? What was the next phase?
[0:20:40.2] STEPHEN: The next phase was when I realized, okay when I am buying all of these full priced retail stuff, I could buy more of those items. I didn’t have to just buy a few. I could totally clear the shelf and I started thinking, “What are other ways that I could buy large amounts of inventory at good prices that I can sell on Amazon?” That is when I discovered selling via wholesale and I started going through and reading different wholesale books and different wholesale courses and none of them clicked.
But I finally went through a course from The Wholesale Formula and I started to realize what I was missing and what I was doing wrong and started selling wholesale items on Amazon. I was able to find accounts, get accounts, get lists, and be able to look through that list of inventory from these wholesalers and buy at wholesale prices to sell on Amazon. This really was huge because for the first time I was able to – when I started to sell out, I’d just go back to my wholesaler and buy some more.
So, it was a lot of upfront work to develop those relationships and get those accounts but once I got them, I could continue to reorder every month and be able to continue to see the sales come in for those items. If you are interested learning more about how we kind of got started with wholesale and what we are doing today, you can go to fulltimefba.com/wholesaleguide. It is a Kindle book that you can download. I think it is 99 cents right now. You can get it and go through the steps on how we got started with wholesale and what we are doing today to continue to reorder every single month our wholesale items.
[0:22:10.2] REBECCA: And around the time that we got started with wholesale sourcing, that was the same time that we took the next step in outsourcing. We were talking smaller steps in outsourcing different tasks along the way but at this point transitioned from having a person come into our house and help us into our own working location at prepping and shipping our inventory, to sending our inventory directly to a prep center and that was another game changer for us.
[0:22:40.4] STEPHEN: It was huge. We have worked with a few different prep centers. I would be able to drop my retail arbitrage stuff off at a local prep center. Rebecca would have her online arbitrage and I’d have my wholesale stuff sent to another prep center and we were able to process our inventory and get it done and into Amazon, sometimes much faster than if we did it ourselves, and the fact that it has freed up our time. In fact, for a short –
[0:23:03.8] REBECCA: And not just our time, also our house.
[0:23:05.8] STEPHEN: Yes, that’s true. We did not have all of this inventory coming and going in our house. I wasn’t having to clear out space in the garage for a pallet to come in from a wholesale order to be able to process and send out to Amazon. Now the prep center could receive that pallet and there was a time of I don’t know, about three or four weeks, when one of the prep centers we used was not working anymore and we had to go back and do it ourselves and it was horrible.
[0:23:30.7] REBECCA: We were such wimps at that point. We were like, “No, why did we ever do this? What are we doing?”
[0:23:35.8] STEPHEN: Never again will we prep our own stuff. We felt so spoiled, but that is what a prep center does. It frees you up. You can focus on better uses of your time and frees up your house. I think it improves your marriage because –
[0:23:47.5] REBECCA: Seriously, it does.
[0:23:49.1] STEPHEN: That whole big stack of stuff in the garage that your spouse might be ready for you to get out of here is not even there. It’s being taken care of for you. But if you are curious, I actually have an interview on the podcast with an owner of a prep center. If you go to fulltimefba.com/11 you will hear my interview with a prep center owner and how that works and if you are curious about a few blog posts, if you just type in the word “prep center” in the search bar at fulltimefba.com, you can find a couple of our blog posts on how to pick a good prep center and what to ask them when you are signing up for their services.
[0:24:19.9] REBECCA: Okay, and then the final step we have here, I wouldn’t say this is the final step, like we have arrived or anything like that, this isn’t the end of our journey. We are still progressing on but the last thing that we wanted to talk about today is when we added a re-pricer to our FBA business.
[0:24:35.8] STEPHEN: Yeah for the longest time, I would teach people you just need to manually re-price and then just be patient with some of your higher priced items, those prices should recover and sometimes they did. But I started to realize with some of the Amazon rule changes, when it comes to monthly storage fees, Q4 storage fees, long term storage fees that are rolling, and even the introduction of the inventory performance index score.
Amazon wants you to have a high turnover when it comes to your inventory. They want the items to not sit in an Amazon warehouse too long. They want them to sell very quickly and one of the best ways to sell your items fast is to always make sure that you have your items priced competitively and manually re-pricing once a week, even if you are doing it once a day, it is not the best use of your time. So, we started to use an automatic re-pricer called BQool and we will have the links to it in the show notes.
But we started using that, it updates our prices to be competitive every 15 minutes. It doesn’t just lower the price, it raises the price in the right situations, and we have seen our sales increase and our profits go up because of using this. We waited way too long to use a re-pricer and I am so glad that we finally came around to start using it.
[0:25:51.1] REBECCA: Yeah, I was going to say as I am looking at this list that we have here, this the one thing that probably if we could go back and do it over again, I would move this one up a lot sooner than when we did it. So, for sure, don’t wait until the number – it is number 10 on our list. Don’t wait for the number 10 spot on your list to start getting an automatic re-pricer. But having said that, I would also say even though we would do it differently, everything happened okay for us.
We did just fine with manual re-pricing, with that system that we used for the longest time. We did just fine and so if there is something that you look back on and you think, “Oh I wish I would have done this differently,” just know that it will all work out. You just keep going forward with what you’ve got. Don’t spend too much time regretting things that you wish you would have done differently. Just take what you’ve got and move forward with that.
[0:26:44.6] STEPHEN: Yeah and a lot of you might be asking, “Okay, so what was the point? Which is the step along the way when you are finally turning those part-time hours into a full-time income?” I would say probably when we started finally using Inventory Lab and Keepa and using a prep center, making sure that we are using those tools and outsourcing is when we were finally just getting that full-time income from those part-time hours.
[0:27:09.4] REBECCA: Well, we were making a full-time all along, but we were not doing it with part-time hours. So, ever since I have been part of this business since we got married, you already were making a full-time income. We were paying all of our bills through our FBA business but there was a point in the first few years of our marriage, and working on the business together, where it just kind of the speed in which we were able to get things done just amped up. To the point where we were able to make that income but have a lot of extra time leftover.
[0:27:40.4] STEPHEN: Yeah.
[0:27:41.1] REBECCA: So, one thing I want to point out because a lot of people come to our blog, our website, or Facebook group, whatever, who are looking to get into private label and so we don’t have that in this whole list of things that we have done. What is that all about? Why no private label in our progression on Amazon?
[0:27:58.0] STEPHEN: Yeah, we do get a lot of people that come to our podcast and our blog looking for private label help. There is plenty of other great places to find private label help. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people out there that conflate and confuse FBA with private label. FBA means Fulfilled by Amazon and is the process that we use to outsource our shipping and all of that storage and taking care of yourselves that way.
Private label is finding a product and either putting your own label on it. Or creating a product that is a variation of another product and putting your own label on it and selling that on Amazon, and that is why it is called private label. We don’t focus on that and the main reason why we do not teach private label or focus on that in our Amazon business is because we like to sell stuff on Amazon that have a proven track record. We want to be able to look into the past. We look at Keepa graphs, see the sales rank, history, the pricing history, and we find a winner.
So, we sell those items that are proven winners, proven sellers. We do not want to bring a brand-new thing to the market most of the time and try to compete with all of the other items that are similar, that we are bringing to the market. So, you know one of the main examples private label people teach is like using a spatula and coming up with your own type of spatula and putting your own label on the spatula.
Well, I don’t want to compete with ever other spatula on Amazon and I know I am simplifying this. If you are a private label seller you are probably mad at home describing things. I am sorry, I don’t private label. I just like to focus on things with winning sales records and focus on selling those items and just finding them as cheap as possible, as affordable as possible, to sell them for as high as possible.
[0:29:36.7] REBECCA: And it is a different skillset. We have talked about it amongst like between Stephen and I about like, should we try to do private label? People seem to make a lot of money off of it but then there are also people who lose a lot of money on it. So, what the way that we’ve come down on it is we know how to resell items really well. We know how to do arbitrage, we know how to get wholesale accounts.
So, if we ever come across a product that we really like and it is not available on Amazon, and we can private label that product. We would do it on a heartbeat, but we are not seeking to go out and find a product purely because that is the sourcing method we want to use. Other people do it, so we want to do it too. We are doing what works for us and if there is ever an opportunity to do private label, we would take that, but it is not our priority.
[0:30:24.9] STEPHEN: Right, yeah. The whole strategy of private label I think is a legitimate strategy. It is just not something that we choose to do.
[0:30:30.6] REBECCA: Okay. So, I think that covers everything that from 2011 until now. That is quite almost a decade right there of progress that we have made.
[0:30:39.5] STEPHEN: Yeah, we have hit the high notes, the things that have made the biggest impact on our Amazon FBA business that has helped us make a full-time income and part of that journey was only putting part-time hours into it.
[0:30:50.7] REBECCA: Right, and again just a reminder that was a process that got us here. It was a journey. We did not start out only spending part-time hours and suddenly earning a full-time income. We started out doing it full-time and, again, if we have done some things differently early on, if we had a different situation, if we’d had more starting capital, we didn’t have a lot of starting capital. We had to slowly ramp up our profits so that we could be able to reinvest more and still be able to pay all of our bills but have more sourcing capital.
Things can go at a different rate or in a different order depending on where you are starting out and so don’t try to look at this situation and say, “Oh my goodness it is going to take me from 2011 to 2020, that is nine years to get to where they are,” no. Actually, some people are way beyond where we are in a shorter amount of time. So, we are not saying this to give you any type of framework to compare yourself to. We are just saying it because people are interested to know this is how we did it and you can do it as well or better than us.
[0:31:52.8] STEPHEN: Yes, and if you are curious for any of the links or products that we talked about in this episode, you can go to fulltimefba.com/27 for the show notes of this episode, which will include the transcript and any other things that we’ve talked about in this episode, fulltimefba.com/27.
[END OF DISCUSSION]
[0:32:14.5] REBECCA: All right, so we look forward to seeing you back here next week on the Full-Time FBA Show. We are going to be talking about six risky Amazon strategies and why we don’t teach them. Again, we have talked about this so many times in the past. We just don’t teach risky strategies. We are pretty risk averse in our own FBA business and we also teach others to make sure that you are mitigating any risk.
There is enough risk in business without taking some crazy steps that other people might recommend but that we think are going to lead you to disaster rather than success. So, be back next week with that one, six risky Amazon strategies and why we don’t teach them.
[0:32:50.4] STEPHEN: And a little podcast perk for you, if you want a free download of a bunch of Amazon FBA acronyms, there are a lot of different acronyms that we use as Amazon FBA sellers. I mean a lot of people know RA and OA but what is LTSF or LTH or WM or Wags or other different things. We have a little download that you can get that for free at fulltimefba.com/acronym and you can download the top acronyms that we use as Amazon FBA sellers.
[0:33:20.2] REBECCA: All right, well we’ll see you back here next week on The Full-Time FBA Show.
[0:33:23.7] STEPHEN: Have a great day.
[0:33:27.5] ANNOUNCER: That is all for this episode of The Full-Time FBA Show. So, head over to fulltimefba.com/podcast, where you will find the show notes and links from this episode. While you’re there, subscribe to our newsletter where you’ll get several free downloads of our popular and helpful Amazon FBA resources. Now, take action on what you have learned today, so you can find success at turning part-time hours into a full-time income with Amazon FBA.
© 2020 The Full-Time FBA Podcast
Tom Jonathan says
Hi Stephen, It was really a great podcast and you have shared valuable information. What do you think of how amazon overcome this COVID-19 situation.
Stephen Smotherman says
A few of my recent thoughts on the COVID-19 situation:
Nancy Smith says
I really loved this episode. I am following a similar path. But I was wondering if you could give an about sales volume on each stage. I tend to leap off the cliff before I am ready, then I am hanging by a branch as I try not to crash to the rocks below.