With all that’s going on in the world right now during the spread of Coronavirus and the resulting COVID-19, we at Full-Time FBA want to take a moment to check in with our readers and let you know how we are handling this worldwide emergency as it relates to our Amazon FBA business.
Usually we focus our blog content on ways you can improve your FBA business and increase your profits, but right now we want to expand our focus to cover the broader impact your actions can have on both your business and the world in general. Not everything in life is about making money, especially during a time of unprecedented public health emergency unlike anything seen in our lifetime – but at the same time, we need to keep our FBA businesses going and feed our families and pay our bills. So how should we respond?
Here are 7 ways we are responding to the Coronavirus pandemic in our Amazon FBA business:
- We are stopping all retail arbitrage for the time being. Scientists, doctors, and public health experts are saying that one of the most important ways we can prevent further spread of the disease (along with washing our hands well and frequently) is to practice social distancing. Even if you don’t currently have any of the symptoms of COVID-19, you could be unwittingly spreading the virus to the people around you. The only way to stop the spread is to drastically limit your contact with other people. For this reason, we personally will not be doing retail arbitrage until experts say it is safe to resume normal social activities. We are limiting our shopping in brick-and-mortar retail stores to only what is necessary for our family’s daily life. This decision comes at a cost for us because it means Stephen has to cancel the two RA days he had planned for the rest of March, and we don’t know when in April or May it will be safe to resume. But the cost of us sitting out on RA for now is nothing compared to the cost of lives that will be affected if we as a community do not take the experts seriously and JUST STAY HOME whenever possible.
- Since we’re not able to keep to our normal RA schedule for the time being, we are going to focus on other streams of income or other methods of sourcing. Stephen is going to focus all of his sourcing attention on wholesale, and I will continue my usual online arbitrage schedule. We’re also going to work on all those tasks that build up around the office that we tend not to prioritize, but they could be a way to find some extra income to make up for the lack of income from RA. For instance, I will go through our stack of shoe returns and OA damaged shipments to take pictures and list shoes for sale on Poshmark. Another idea is to use some of this time to go through your FBA inventory and request reimbursements or work on inventory tasks that will improve your IPI.
- We’re asking that everyone in our Facebook group be mindful of not spreading misinformation about COVID-19, in particular misinformation about how the pandemic will affect Amazon as a company or FBA selling. If you don’t know the source of some tidbit of info you’ve read, please don’t share it. Spreading rumors is not at all helpful in the best of times, but we are dealing with a situation where calmness needs to prevail. (Side note: We can control the type of information that’s posted in our group, but we also recommend you use this practice on your own personal social media posts outside our group. Please stop sharing unverified information from questionable or unidentifiable sources.)
- We all need to adjust our expectations for how things will work in the world for the time being. This includes how things will work in the Amazon FBA world. We are going through a time period unlike anything any of us have ever seen. How will this affect our FBA sales? No one knows. How will this affect the FBA warehouses? No one knows. How will this affect when our shipments are checked in? No one knows. We need to expect the unexpected and show a lot of grace and kindness to everyone we interact with in the FBA world, including the folks we communicate with at Seller Support.
- Everyone who uses a repricer should check that they aren’t accidentally letting their inventory be repriced upward into ranges that would qualify as price gouging. If you sell any items that could be considered medical supplies, cleaning supplies, disinfectant, anything that is necessary for the public to use in dealing with the pandemic, absolutely do not consider raising your prices excessively to make money off of other people’s suffering. Don’t be a jerk on purpose, and don’t be a jerk unintentionally by letting your Amazon repricer go wild right now. Price gouging is both unethical and illegal, and you could lose your Amazon account and be prosecuted for using such practices in times of emergency.
- Now is a great time to focus on learning and self-improvement. Maybe you’re stuck at home from your regular 9-to-5 job, or maybe you’ve got a lot of extra time on your hands because all of your social activities are canceled. Rather than binging Netflix for hours on end, take the time to work through any courses you have purchased for growing your Amazon business, or read any business books you’ve had on your to-read list for a while now. You can see some of our favorite business books that we featured in the Amazon Reseller Book Club, and you can download the Libby app to check out materials from your public library (Libby requires a library card to register and check out materials.). Watch a few episodes of your favorite shows, but make the most of this time and invest in yourself as a person and as a business owner.
- Most importantly, take care of yourself and take care of the people around you. Be sure you’re taking all the precautions recommended by the CDC and other experts to avoid contamination and spreading the disease. Be sure you’re getting enough sleep and exercise on a daily basis. Since Stephen and I can’t go to the gym every day like we usually do, we are getting outside in the fresh air to walk or run on neighborhood paths. We all have to do what we can to protect our physical and emotional health right now.
We sincerely hope that all of our readers are doing well in this time of crisis and are able to take measures to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their community. We are grateful for all of you and wish you health and success.
I think it’s a mistake not to send in food items at this time. Amazon is lacking them, and people who shop on Amazon badly need them in some parts of the Country. Also, the economist Milton Friedman, a nobel prize winning laureate, said that “gougers” should be given medals (for increasing supply of badly needed items in times of need). One item is not different from another in time of need, and we should be sending in items that people who can’t leave home, can order online.
By your husband not doing RA, he is also hurting local retailers. While I do agree with social distancing, retailers are business that need this cash flow as well and they will by hurt by your decisions. No worries though, if he does RA in walmart, I assure you they don’t need help. Where we live, many of the shelves are bare in the food aisles, and they are only stocking the end caps.
I hear your sentiments but Thomas Friedman is an economist and I doubt he’s ever had to actually live a day where he had to ration his food.
As for RA, that’s a stickier issue. Yes people need online retailers like amazon to fill the need for home delivery but local residents need that food also. Besides the looks you’re going to get when you stroll up to the register with 25 jars of peanut butter and 30 jars of jelly right now it ‘feels’ wrong to take from a store with limited resources to send into amazon.
It’s a difficult time for everyone. We will all get through this but it will take some adjusting.
Rebecca Smotherman says
Price gouging is illegal. Period. It is not a public service.
My husband is not hurting local retailers. Nor is anyone else who makes the decision to stay home as advised by the CDC. Coronavirus, not shoppers, is hurting retailers. Please do not accuse a living, breathing, human being of hurting a company.
By staying home we are protecting our community, our elderly, the immunocompromised. We are protecting our son who is a type 1 diabetic and faces complications from any virus, including this one.
As I stated above, this is an unprecedented time. People will make decisions that I don’t agree with. But our official stance at Full-Time FBA is that we are encouraging people to follow the CDC guidelines and stay home. Take it or leave it, but don’t try to accuse us of doing harm by telling people to follow public health experts.
100% right, Rebecca. You guys are true leaders, the epitome of what a business should be. It’s a tough time for all….. let’s all support each other, and protect each other, and this will pass in time.
Margie M says
THANK YOU for this awesome, positive and informative article. Super helpful, as always. You guys ROCK!!
Sarah D says
Bless you Rebecca and Stephen-I totally agree with you! Focus!!
Online, Wholesale, Office Organization, Self-Improvement, turn it into opportunities! Great post. 🙂 Sound advice…THANK YOU for your thoughts, as always…
Great post. Great advice. Thank you.
We are all on edge. When we have to go out as needed, please remember that kindness is contagious too!
Rebecca Smotherman says
Yes, absolutely! Smiles, kindness, compassion are all contagious!
Great stuff! I have a course I bought about a month ago I’ve been meaning to get to, and my home office sure could use a cleanup!
Mary Ann Nikel says
Thank you for writing this article. It helps that you have addressed what every seller like myself have been wondering. We are living in uncertain times. We must realize the most important issue rightnow is health and saftey for all. Let us live with grateful and hopeful hearts inspite of this situation.
Just heard today that Amazon is suspending all “non-essential” shipments into FBA so they can focus on getting “essential” products out faster. Not exactly sure what this all means, but it sounds like many FBA sellers may not be able to list many products and therefore not be able to send in FBA shipments to Amazon in certain categories until April 6th. They are saying that you can still list and ship FBM if you want, however, FBA is going to be curtailed.
This is really going to hurt a lot of sellers in the meantime.
Bill York says
What good is it to be sourcing from my wholesalers or using online arbitrage if Amazon won’t let me ship it to them?
Rebecca Smotherman says
Good question. First, this post was written/posted yesterday, before Amazon announced this morning that they’re not receiving “non-essential” shipments until April 5. So please exercise some grace towards us in that respect.
Second, some sellers might choose to continue sourcing and sell through Fulfilled by Merchant on Amazon. Or they might source items to hold and send in to FBA after April 5. We’re all figuring this out as we go along.
In reference to price gouging for essential items, how do you recommend that we report that seller to Amazon? At the time of this writing, just a couple hours ago, I have seen two different sellers list a 20 pack bottled water item for more than $20 each, while Target has the identical product in their weekly ad for 2/$9. I want to report the sellers to Amazon, but also don’t want any backlash on my own seller account.
In times and situations like these, what do you recommend as my best course of action? Thank you for everything y’all do!!
Rebecca Smotherman says
There might be a more direct way or “official” way to do it, but this is the only way I’m aware of. If anyone else knows how to do this, please chime in.
In Seller Central, go to the Help page. At the bottom where it says “Need more help?” click on “Get Support.” Then you can choose Selling on Amazon > Other Issues > Report listing abuse. It will give you a contact page where you can fill in fields for the ASIN and seller name, and be sure to describe the issue as you are reporting a product where you suspect price gouging. You could even give specific info on the suspected high price vs the typical retail price.
I’ve used this process in the past to report sellers who are blatantly violating TOS. The response time by Amazon may vary, especially given the current circumstances.