Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Long and Short Of It, Part III

A seed planted today is a harvest for tomorrow.

This is Part III of a three part series. Today we will explore buying deep versus buying wide.

Deep - In the world of selling on Amazon, going deep means buying more than 10-12 of one product. A seller might buy 100 widgets if they create the listing, test it out, and discover that it's a winner. The deeper you go the more risk you take.

Unless the product is an original creation of yours, then it's inevitable that someone will come along and discover your listing. If your listing skyrockets to the top of Amazon's list, then there is a strong chance that Amazon will come in on the listing as well. If you play the wholesale game, and manage an exclusive contract, then you have a higher chance of keeping the listing to yourself. The risk of going deep is lessened when you can control the listing. You need to keep all of this in mind when you decide how many of one widget you should buy.

If you come across a hot seller with a low rank and fairly small number of sellers, but there are not many on the shelf, then you might want to make a route to other stores where you can pick up more widgets. If you live in the city, then this is a fairly simple strategy. There are 9 Walmart stores within a 12 mile radius from my home. I could go further out and reach many, many more. If I were on a mission, and I had the time and sourcing money, then I could determine a route and hit several in a few hours. The goal would be go in and get out.

The deepest I've gone on any one item is 20. My cost is super low, and my ROI is very, very good. The rank is low enough to keep these products turning a few a week. I would not go deep on a widget with a cost of more than a few dollars unless I have the sourcing funds to take that kind of a risk. It's all about risk factor. Only you can determine what you can and can't do. If you're new to the game, I would recommend not buying more than 10 on anything until you get a handle on sourcing, ranking, pricing, and selling.

If you find an item that is easy to replenish -test it out first! Buy 3 to 6 and send them in. See how fast they sell. Sometimes ranking can be deceiving. If you happen to scan after an update when a sale just happened, then the rank might be lower than normal. Test, test, test!

Wide - To go wide means to buy lots of different products in lots of different categories (all of the categories open to you). I suggest focusing and learning one category at a time. Once you get the pulse of a category, then try out another. I started with toys, then moved to office products, then onto groceries, home & kitchen, sporting goods, and patio & lawn. I'm venturing into baby products now. I've explored the first three categories in depth. Specializing is for doctors. Sellers need to keep expanding inventory possibilities.

Going deep means that you'll have a variety of inventory. When one category stalls out, then another category will keep the cash flowing. Start with the categories you know best as a buyer. Spend time in different stores scanning the category to see which stores offer the most opportunity.

Recap on The Long and Short Of It

Low & High - Take the average FBA price, or the merchant fulfilled price + shipping, and price at market value. Try to hold your price. If there is competition, then look to price somewhere within the ten lowest prices in order to get your turn at the buy box. Avoid setting off a price war which will cause a downward spiral, and cut the price for all sellers.

Long & Short - Balance is key. Build a foundation of long tail items that will add icing to your cake, but focus most of your energy on products that will turn over within a month. Look for a rank below 10K, little or no competition, and a price that gives you a high ROI.

Deep & Wide - Keep in mind that going deep means taking a higher risk. Do what you're comfortable doing, but avoid going too deep in the early stages of your FBA journey. Learn the ropes first, so the mistakes won't be so expensive. Study one category at a time, but continue to expand your knowledge and scanning in a variety of categories. The wider you go the better your chances of making consistent sales as the seasons and buying patterns change.

In the end, you're the only one who can determine your business model. I prefer balancing low & high, long & short, and deep & wide. I want to spread my oars in as many boats as possible, and not depend on one boat to keep me afloat. Try things out. Watch. Pay attention. Notice. And take notes. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Long and Short Of It, Part II

Stop wishing. Start doing.

This is Part II of a three part series. Today we are going to explore long tail and short & fast turn products. 

Long - A long tail item is a product with a high return on investment (ROI), but may take awhile for a buyer to come along. Examples of long tail items are collectible board games and books.

So you're out and about and scanning your heart out when you come across gold. Your cost is itty bitty, and the sell cost is crazy. There's not even a bunch of sellers, but the ranking is kind of high. Not millions, but within the 10-20% range. You know that if you purchase this item it will probably sit for a time. A few months or more. Is it worth it? Only you can answer that question, but when a long tail sale comes through it's like icing on the cake. I like to keep a nice balance of long tail products in the warehouse.

Short & Fast - A short and fast item is a product with a short shelf life. It will turn within a month, if not a week or even a day or two!

In retail stores the goal is to turn product over within a month. If product is just sitting on the shelf, you are losing money in overhead. Turn. Churn. Burn.

As online third-party Amazon sellers, we have a little breathing room. Our shelf costs are nominal, and we don't pay for overhead (fees) until our item sells. So we can afford to wait a bit. But if we want to keep our cash flow flowing, then we need to focus our energies on finding products that sell, and sell fast!

Look for products with a super low rank. It depends on the category, but anything under 10K is a great find. Next, you want to make sure the product doesn't have pages and pages of sellers. If there are tons of sellers, then you will need to price your item as close to the buy box that you can without losing out on your return.

I picked up Disney's Frozen Valentine's Cards in January. The buy box price was ridiculously high (I would never spend upwards to $20 for Valentine's Cards), but my buy cost was only $3. I decided to go for it. As Valentine's Day approached, I realized that a lot of other sellers found this product, but the rank was 2K, so they were selling fast. I decided to price my cards to fall into line with the top 20 sellers (lowest 20 prices). I watched closely and tweaked my price a little more. My strategy paid off. I sold all of my boxes in one day for $14.95 each. I knew that my cards wouldn't make it to the buy box with the $20 price that I first saw -at least not in time for Valentine's delivery. It was still a nice profit, and a fun experiment to watch. I learned a lot about the buy box and how it worked by paying very close attention for several days.

Short items might have a tighter margin, but I still try to double my money. I shoot for a minimum of a $5 profit, but I have listed items where the profit is only $3-4, and my cost was a dollar or less. I love it when I come across a fast turn product where I can make $10 or more in profit! It takes a lot of patience and a lot of scanning and research to find items with a super low rank, few or no FBA sellers, a tidy profit, and a low cost, but when you do, you will see your payouts build fast. I also look for short & fast items that I can replenish again and again. Don't limit yourself to one category either. There are lots of opportunities if you take the time to dig.

I started my journey building up long tail items. Now I'm focusing my energy on short & fast replenishables. It's nice when a long tail product sales. It's the gravy on top of the meat. Yum!

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Long and Short Of It, Part I

Make a plan and work the plan, but stay flexible enough to change the plan at a moment's notice.

Different FBA sellers have different business models. Some price low and some price high. Some buy for long tail, and some buy for fast turn. Some go deep and some go wide. There are many variables to these decisions, including product category, buy cost, ranking, ability to replenish, sourcing funds available, and risk factor.

This post will be a three part series: Low & High, Long & Short, and Deep & Wide. 

Let's explore each of these ideas and consider the pros and cons. In this post, we will look at Low & High.

Price Low - There are sellers who fight for the low price, who are determined to dominate the buy box, and who start the race to the bottom on every product they touch. I'm totally convinced that many sellers who live in the low price model are losing money. The lowest I go on a price is $7.99, and this is for small, lightweight items that I sourced for a dollar or less. I only make a whopping $3 on this price point, but the investment is low, and the turn rate is reasonable.

Sometimes sellers need to move the product out and free up the investment dollars. Other times sellers have upcoming long term storage fees to avoid, or their product is closing in on expiration dates. If a product has been in your inventory for over three months, and you don't consider it a long tail item (something with a high ROI that is worth the wait), then you might bottom out the price as low as you can go to recoup your investment. But don't forget to calculate the fees! FBA fees can eat your lunch if you don't bother to figure them into your calculations.

I would caution against choosing to undercut the lowest price just to get the buy box. I have a product priced at $18.99. It was selling consistently at that price. Someone came in and undercut my price to $16.99. My cost is low enough that I could have engaged in a price war, but I decided to hold and let the seller sell out. Eventually they were gone and I had the buy box again at the higher price. That seller lost two dollars. We could have shared the buy box, and both of us would have been winners.

Price High - Personally, I try to price what the market can bear. I consider the rank, current prices (by both merchant fulfilled and FBA sellers), and my cost and fees. I always look to double my cost in profit at a minimum, but I've learned that I need some wiggle room as well in case other sellers come in and cause the price to drop. I've also studied the buy box, and I've noticed that it rotates every hour. The lowest 3 to 7 sellers tend to get their turn. I'm willing to wait it out for products that I believe can sell for a higher amount, but I try to price somewhere with the lowest ten sellers.

Sometimes sellers put an outrageous price tag on a item. There are reasons for this. Some reprice when their items reach the warehouse. Others discover a problem after they've shipped the item to Amazon, so they price it high to keep buyers from actually buying it. You have to watch out for this when you're scanning. If a price is off the charts, then make sure you look deeper before making a buying decision.

Keep in mind that as an FBA seller, you have access to Prime customers, as well as customers who fill their cart with purchases over $35 in order to receive free shipping. FBA sellers can generally sell their items at a premium price because Prime buyers want what they want and they want it now! As a Prime buyer, I can testify that I've paid a little more (over a merchant fulfilled offer + shipping) in order to use my Prime account to get the item in two days. Another thing to remember - if you have an item priced at $30-34.99, then you're missing out on a lot of Amazon customers. Bump your price to $35, so that buyers can take advantage of free shipping!

Everyone has their own formula for pricing, and many people tweak their prices on a daily basis. You can do this manually or use a repricing service. It's all a great experiment that requires flexible thinking.

In Part II, we will explore Long & Short.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Boxes and Tape and Dunnage! Oh my!

Choose to follow your heart. Choose to use your brain. Choose to do something different. Choose courage.

When I first started my FBA business, I had leftover boxes and air pillows from my Christmas shopping. As a Prime customer on Amazon, I racked up on free 2-day shipping and saved the packing materials for my new venture. Amazon has rules about packing boxes. If you don't follow the rules, then you risk damage to your items. If Amazon deems it's due to your poor packing, then they won't reimburse you. If you do a good job packing, and an item gets damaged by UPS (notorious for throwing boxes), then you can open a case and generally expect reimbursement for the item.

I'm out of Christmas boxes, so now I have to purchase boxes. Some people scavenger for free boxes by collecting them at their workplace, or asking store managers for boxes. It's worth a try if you don't have money to spend on boxes! I buy my boxes primarily at Walmart and Home Depot. 
I use the following sizes from Walmart: 
12 x 12 x 12
14 x 14 x 14
16 x 16 x 16
18 x 18 x 18
I use the 14 inch box the most. The Walmart boxes are great for lighter weighted items. For heavier items, I buy the small and medium boxes from Home Depot. I try to stick with the smaller boxes so that I can lift them without help and get them to the UPS office. As you can see in the above picture, I get creative when my husband or son are not available. (FYI- You canNOT use liquor boxes. UPS / Postal rule.)

When it comes to tape, I'm a bit partial to Scotch packing tape. I've tried two other brands that simply didn't do. I guess I'm a little slow because I've thrown away more of the red plastic tape dispensers than I can count. I didn't notice until recently that I could replace the roll of tape! I saved two, and now buy tape in packs which saves me money. The Scotch dispenser has a the best little lip to catch the tape to keep it from falling back onto the roll (which is a pain to peel off). I suppose you could go pro and get one of those fancy smancy tape dispensers like they have at the UPS office, but I like that this one is easy to handle.

And then there is dunnage! I hope you've read the rules, but just in case you missed it -do NOT use packing peanuts in your box! You will cause yourself a problem if you do.

So what should you use for packing materials?

Some items require polybags. I use the self-seal bags with the suffocation warning labels printed on the bag. You can buy them cheaper through Uline and Bubblefast, but if you don't want to buy a 1000 bags, then you can buy them 100 at a time on Amazon. Trust me -you will go through them faster than you could ever imagine. The sizes I use the most are 8 x 10 and 9 x 12. The sizes you use will depend on your inventory. If you have an item like a toy that is partially in packaging and partially out of packaging, then you will need to either polybag it or shrinkwrap it. We will save shrinkwrapping for another blog post. If you don't have the ability to shrinkwrap, but want to shrinkwrap something, then take your product to Office Depot. They will shrinkwrap it for 0.75 cents.

Some items (anything breakable for certain) require bubblewrap. It's a good idea to keep a roll around the house. If Amazon says to bubblewrap something, then bubblewrap it even if it seems like a silly idea based on the packaging. You will get dinged!

Pack your boxes as tight as you can to avoid shifting contents. The official rule is two inches of space on all sides (just sayin'). If you have space, you can use air pillows (collect and save from your own deliveries and hit up family and friends to do the same); newsprint (you can buy packages of it at Walmart or endrolls from your local newspaper); small, blown up balloons, and my new favorite -plastic sacks within plastic sacks! You will collect a LOT of plastic shopping bags when you're out sourcing. Don't throw them away. You can stuff bags inside of bags, tie the bag tight, and stuff it into the box. They are puffy, but flexible enough to fit into small places, and they work great! It's recycling at its best.

Another packing tip: Always keep space between your products and the top of the box, but most especially in the center where the warehouse workers will cut the box open. You don't want them to accidentally slice your product! Place newsprint, air bubbles or bubblewrap on top of your products before you close the box.

If your box or product is distributor damaged: Always, always, always open a case with Amazon and request reimbursement. If all else fails (they say no), then you can do a removal order for 0.50 cents per item. They will send the products back to you. You can inspect them, possibly resell as used or on ebay, use them yourself, or donate them. Don't place a removal order until you've heard back about reimbursement. Don't assume that they won't reimburse you either.

Please leave comments with your own packaging tips. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Labels, Labels, Labels

There is a difference between reacting and responding. Reacting is emotional. Responding is thoughtful.

Are you confused about labels? Here is the breakdown:

FBA Labels - When you prepare your products for shipment, you need to print off labels and attach them to your items. Each label is specific for the for product, but also acts as an identifier for your account.

You can choose to turn on the commingle option in your settings. The advantage is that you don't have to label your products. The disadvantage is that your products will get mixed with other like products. Personally, I don't recommend this option. If there is a problem with a product, you have no way of knowing if Amazon actually pulled your item or another seller's item. It would really stink if someone's defective product turned out to be your return, or the cause of your bad feedback. I suggest disabling the commingle option.

You can choose to pay Amazon to label your products. If your shipping lots and lots and lots, then you might consider the fee worth your time, but if you're just shipping a few boxes per week, I highly suggest that you label your own products. There's comfort in having some control.

The rules: You must cover all barcodes on a product. You must use removable labels.

Here is the lowdown: You can use Avery 30 Up removable labels (or similar brand), or if you have the luxury of purchasing a Dymo Turbo Printer, then you can use removable labels and print one at a time. You might have to use extra blank labels to cover larger or additional barcodes. The advantage of 30 Up labels is that you can print all of your labels at once. If you happen to have 30 count of the same item, 30 Up labels will work best for an efficient workflow. If you have 30 different items, then you might want to invest in a Dymo Turbo Printer. I am currently using Avery 30 Up labels while saving my change for a Dymo. The advantage of the Dymo is that you can print one label at a time. Each label has the product name, but if you have similar products, it's easy to get your labels mixed up which can cause you a problem. It slows down the workflow since you have to carefully search for the correct label.

Expiration Date Labels - If you sell an item that expires or has a "Best By" date (like groceries or cosmetics), then you're required to add a removable expiration date label. Your label must say, "Expires by" or "Best by" followed by the date. The date must be in the following format: 04/26/2014. You can print the label out individually with the expiration date, or you can use a set of labels that say "Expires By _/_/_" and fill in the blanks with a black Sharpie. If you have a case pack, you must make your font 36 point. If you're putting a label on a polybag or over shrinkwrap, you can cover it with clear packing tape to make sure that it doesn't fall off.

Suffocation Warning Labels - Amazon states that you must have a suffocation warning label if you are using a polybag that has an opening of 5 inches or more. Some people add a warning label to any plastic wrap (shrinkwrap included) that could get caught in a child's throat or cover their airways.

This is a set. Do not separate. - If you have a multipack, then you need this label to make sure Amazon warehouse workers don't accidentally open your product and separate the contents. This is an insurance label.

Multiple items inside. Please scan separately. - This is not a required label, but it's helpful if you have a lot of small items that you want to place in a large ziploc bag, a box, or envelope to go inside your shipping box. You might want to do this to avoid the small items from getting tossed around, lost in the dunnage, or missed by the warehouse workers.

Ready to Ship Labels - Let's say you're packing a product in a box or bag, and you don't want Amazon to open it. It's ready to ship. Add a "Ready to Ship" label so that the warehouse workers will understand your intentions.

UPC codes - You only need a UPC code if you're creating a NEW listing. You can buy UPC codes on ebay from Leading Edge Codes (no affiliation). This is where I've bought mine. So far, so good. You don't need a label -just the UPC number to input into the form when you create your listing. Another blog post on another day!

Now that you have the skinny on labels, please note that you can download free 30 Up templates for labels from the files found in The FBA Flip Side Facebook group. Join today! (hint, hint)

Friday, April 25, 2014

Tools of the Trade - Get Yourself a Scale for Your FBA Business

If the wind will not soar, take up the oars.
-Latin Proverb

If you haven't started your FBA journey, then you might not realize the importance of getting a good scale. You see, once you fill your shipping boxes, you have to weigh and measure your boxes, the enter the weight and dimensions into Amazon Seller Central. You have to do this before you can print the shipping label.

Guessing is not going to cut it. The weight you enter effects how much you pay in shipping your products to Amazon. The good news is that Amazon's partnered shipping rates with UPS are super low. There is no way that little 'ol me or little 'ol you could get the rates that Amazon gets for us. Amazon takes the shipping amount out of your payout, or whatever credit card (debit/bank) you enter as your back up payment (they will only take it out of your account if you don't have enough in sales to cover it). This happened to me when I sent in my first box. I was charged $11. Since then, my Amazon account balance has always covered my shipping charges. I like that I can drop off my boxes at UPS and go.

Back to the scale.

When I first began this adventure, I didn't have a scale. When I came to the part where I had to input the weight of my box, I had to stop what I was doing, load the box in the car, drive to the UPS office, get the box weighed, drive back home, enter the weight, print out my shipping label and attach it, then drive back to the UPS office to drop off the box.

Two times of that and I was done! I ordered my scale on Amazon using my Prime account. This is the one that I bought:

The current price on Amazon (as of this writing) for this scale is $26.99. Prime shipping is available. This has been an excellent scale. I love the fact that the display unit is remote. It makes it so much easier to see when you put a big, bulky box on the scale. This scale has 110-lb. capacity. Your Amazon shipping box weight limit is 50 lbs. (or else you will have to pay additional fees). Did I mention that I love this scale? It works great!
                                                                                 BUY ON AMAZON

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday - Marching to Your Own Drummer

Follow the same road as everyone else, and find what everyone else finds. Follow a different road, and find what everyone else wishes they could find.
-Lisa says

When I was in high school, my senior English teacher once stopped the class and asked me, "Do you always go left when everyone else goes right?"

I felt the sting of that reprimand for many years to come. It took a long time for me to realize that marching to your own drummer is gift, not a curse. I am left-handed after all, and everyone knows that left-handers are the only ones in their right minds! (My sincere apologies to my right-handed readers).

Walking into Walmart, whipping out your cell phone, and scanning to find a product that will sell for a profit on Amazon is not exactly the straight road to success. It's a crazy, curvy, roller coaster road! When I tell friends or family what I do, I think they have a little trouble wrapping their mind around it. Even my husband shakes his head every time I box up grocery items to send to Amazon.

The real head shaker came for me when I sold a $3.99 toy for $39.99. That's when I knew that I'd stumbled upon the new gold rush, except in this case there really is gold in them there hills! This business is too good to be true (which is what my husband said today since he's still suspended in disbelief), but it IS good and it IS true. And that's the crazy part!

Everyone else can keep to their straight path. They can go right. I'm going left. I choose the road less traveled by. I choose to march to my own drummer. I choose the crazy, curvy, FBA roller coaster ride. It's already made a difference.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Amazon's Mobile App

Whether you think you can, or you think you can't, you're right.
-Henry Ford

If you own an iPhone, then download the new Amazon Seller app. Please come back and leave your review in the comments for those of us living and waiting for the release of the android version.

If you're starting this business on a shoestring, then you want to put every penny into inventory. Take a look at how you can use Amazon's Mobile app for customers as a sourcing tool. When I started, I already had this app on my phone, but I didn't pay it much attention except for a couple of times when I wanted to order something. One day I noticed the little barcode scanner and the rest was history! 

Here is how the Amazon Mobile app works:
This is the Amazon Mobile app. Do you see the barcode scanner on the right side of the search bar? Click to scan a product! 

If you click the search icon on the left of the search bar, you will get this page. The Amazon Mobile app gives you three ways to search: type it in, scan it, snap a picture of it. How cool is that?

P.S. If a different product comes up, you can click a button that let's Amazon know that it's a mismatch. If this happens, I use the other two options to search.

I scanned a can of Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup that was in my pantry. The price that you see is the BUY BOX. If it says, "Free Shipping" for orders over $35, then you know that it's a Prime product (ships and arrives to Prime customers in 2 days). Notice that you can see who has the buy box and how many that seller has left in stock. Scroll down on your phone (and on this blog page for the next picture).

When you scroll down on the listing page you can see more information. Click on the New & Used tab to see how many sellers, prices, and whether they are selling FBA or MF (merchant fulfilled - you mail it to the customer).

Click on the Features & details page and you will see...

the beauty of this app! Ranking!

P.S. 184385 is a stinky ranking for groceries. Don't run out and buy six cans of chicken noodle soup!

If you click on New & Used, then this is what you will see. You might be wondering which sellers are FBA and which ones are MF. FBA offers will say, "Eligible for Free Shipping". MF offers will show the shipping cost.

You're probably wondering how to calculate fees. Plug the product into the FBA calculator (I saved it as bookmark on my phone). Put in your sell price. In the Inbound Shipping box, put your cost + $1, then hit calculate. This will give you a good idea of your profit and ROI. 

Are you excited about Amazon's FREE Mobile app yet? The best part is that Amazon's information will be correct (at least compared to third party apps).

I hope our iPhone users will chime in with comments about the new Amazon Seller app. I can't wait until it's released for android phones!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Amazon's Sandbox

I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.
-Stephen Covey

If you want to play in Amazon's sandbox, then you must play by Amazon's rule.

This isn't ebay, baby!

There are those who follow the rules to the letter. There are those who bend the rules. And there are those who break the rules. Rule breakers eventually get caught.

You might get a warning. You might get a suspension. You might lose your account.

Don't risk it. This isn't a game of ask for forgiveness later. It's a business. Don't cut off the hand that feeds you.

Here is a little list of no-no's that keep popping up on Amazon:

Don't do this: Upload a crummy picture with a background. Amazon customers don't want to see their product on your bed or living room floor. Save the colors and borders for ebay. No watermarking pictures either. It's not YOUR listing. It's AMAZON's listing. 
Do this: Upload high quality pictures with pure white backgrounds.

Don't do this: Put your personal or business information in the Key Features (bullet points) or Description. Amazon listings are generic for the product. Any seller who has the exact same product should be able to list against it, so if you create a listing, keep your personal policies to yourself. 
Do this: Write professional, product specific, detailed Key Features and Descriptions for newly created listings.

Don't do this: Try to sell something as NEW when it's clearly NOT new. You can't list something as new and write a condition note that the shrinkwrap is missing (or whatever), but hey, it hasn't been used. You're tough out of luck. This will lead to poor feedback, returns, and A-Z claims. Don't go there.
Do this: The shrinkwrap is missing? The box has been damaged? But it's never been used or opened? List it as Used -Very Good. Like New means gift giving condition.

Don't do this: List against a listing where there is a difference of any kind between your product and the product picture or description. Your product must match the listing exactly as it is written.
Do this: If you absolutely can't find your exact product, go to ebay, buy UPC codes, and create a new listing. It's a little extra step, but it's worth it if the ROI is good.

Don't do this: Send a note, email the customer, or add a note in the product that links to your website (or away from Amazon). This will get you banned!
Do this: Let Amazon handle your customer service. That's what your paying those fees for.

If you make an honest mistake, apologize, learn from the experience, and move on. If you think you're above and beyond the rules, then expect to eventually pay the piper. Karma, baby!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Join The FBA Flip Side Facebook Group

Support yourself by supporting others.

Are you flipping product for profit through Amazon's FBA program? Are you looking for a select, small support group that is totally focused on sourcing through retail arbitrage and selling through FBA? 

Join The FBA Flip Side Facebook group! We are closed group, so you don't have to worry about all of your friends getting into your "business". 

There are a few rules:
1. No BOLO's (be on the lookout). Why? If you give away your actual product, then others will jump on it, and suddenly you will find yourself with a ton of competition. We can talk shopping strategies, stores, FBA how-to, etc., but let's keep our product finds to ourselves like a sweet secret.

2. No foul language. Let's keep the conversations mature and respectful. No reason to rant with offending words. That doesn't mean that we might not whine or rant on occasion. Sometimes we need to blow some steam and vent. It helps to shout it out to those of us who get it.

3. You may post whatever is helpful to the group as long as it doesn't cause a problem for yourself or others. There will be times we will disagree, and that's okay, as long as we disagree respectfully. We can debate, but why shout, or insist that you're right, and everyone else is wrong? Listen to all sides, and if you still disagree, then fine. Agree to disagree, but be nice about it.

4. NO SPAM! Thank you for getting it.

The purpose of this group is to support each other in this amazing, crazy business! There is plenty of room for everyone. If this sounds like the group for you, then come on over.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The First FBA Box

Extraordinary living requires the willingness to take risks.

Fill up a box. Just one box. Send it in and see what happens.

This is all I really wanted to do. Just fill up a box, send it in, and see what happens.

The first sale occurred within 24 hours of the first box arriving in the fulfillment center. I was hooked.

Starting simple helps. You need to get the hang of this business -everything from opening an account to packing a box to dealing with insurance and taxes. When I first started, I searched for fairly small, light weight products in complete packaging (nothing I needed to polybag or shrinkwrap) in open categories. I filled up one 12 x 12 x 12 box with 15 items. Simple. Small. Start.

If you're going to send in just a few small items, then I suggest that you go into your settings and turn on inventory placement. You will be charged 0.30 cents per item, but you will be allowed to place them in one box and send them to one fulfillment center.

Save your 0.30 cents in a jar! Amazon will charge you in about a month and a half, and believe me, it adds up fast. One of payouts was obliterated by inventory placement charges. That's okay. I knew it was coming. Starting out focusing on one box at a time helped me to get a workflow down, figure out how to list items, and keep it simple in the beginning. By the time the first inventory placement charges happened, I was ready to take a leap of faith. I turned off this service and now I'm filling up several boxes a week and sending them to at least three different fulfillment centers. Keep in mind that using inventory placement can slow down sales. You're products might still be moved by Amazon to other fulfillment centers. They are going to place your products where they want them.

If you are at the beginning of your journey, please read through Amazon's FBA Handbook and Seller Central. Take notes! Familiarize yourself with the open and gated categories. Learn the rules.

But whatever you do, please don't let the vastness of information intimidate you. Fill up a box. Just one box. Send it in and see what happens.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Welcome to The FBA Flip Side!

The best way to predict the future is to create it.

In January 2014, I began a new journey.

I completely, totally flipped.

Flipped product for a profit, that is.

I've tried many ventures online with the intent to create a profit. Some made a little. Some made a lot. Some did not. A number of years ago, I tried selling books on Amazon as a third-party seller. I had no idea what I was doing. I listed a ton of books that I had in my house, sold some, but discovered that I didn't have time to stop my life, pack a book, and ship it to the customer. Eventually I removed my listings and stopped.

I heard of FBA when it first launched. Fulfillment by Amazon. It sounded like a wonderful thing. Send your product to Amazon, and let them fulfill your orders and handle customer service. No more stopping my life to pack and ship, or deal with customers. Yes! 

If only I had looked into it further. If only I had paid attention rather than assume. I assumed I needed wholesale accounts or a brick and mortar store. I had no idea that I could sell more than just books through Amazon's FBA program.

Fast forward.

Sometime around November of 2013, I caught a snatch of something somewhere online regarding selling on Amazon's FBA program. The snatch referred to sourcing for product in local retail stores. Say what? It sounded crazy. It is crazy!

Google is your friend. A little search turned up a goldmine of information. I spent a month reading, listening, and watching. I downloaded a few apps and started scanning products every time I was in a store. At first, I couldn't figure out how anyone was making money buying retail products in a local store and flipping them on Amazon for a profit. Then one day, I found a potential winner. I decided to fill up one box. Just one. See how it goes. 

I initially invested $200 in product. I earned my investment back in a few weeks. I've reinvested my profits in more inventory. I'm now making three times my initial investment. I'm just now beginning month four. Wow! 

In a short amount of time, I've learned a great deal about selling through FBA. I'm getting ready to kick this business up a few notches! Follow me on my journey. I will back up to the beginning and post the things I've learned along the way, as well as post things to come. This is a grand adventure and I'm glad to have you come along!