Wednesday, December 31, 2014

How to Keep Your New Year's Resolutions

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2015. 
What are your Amazon FBA New Year Resolutions?

I'd like to thank Gregory Caremans for allowing me to post his article on the blog. I found it interesting, inspiring, and motivational. Think about how you can apply this thinking to your Amazon FBA business. At the end of the article, Gregory has graciously offered a coupon for my readers to his Udemy course. Read the article. Take the course. Make your resolutions. Move your business forward.

How to Keep your New Year’s Resolutions by Gregory Caremans
I’m pretty sure you’ve done it too, at one moment or another. Somewhere between the bubbles of Champagne slowly rising to the surface of your crystal glass. You assembled your courage and made a solemn vow to improve your life by changing that one thing standing between you and your future improved self. Then, three months later, you slowly realized how you failed miserably yet again to keep your promises. Your feelings of guilt started dancing a paso doble with your discouragement, as deep down inside you actually felt relieved that you didn’t have to fake it anymore and could drop the effort to make that change.
Sounds familiar? Good! that makes you a normal human being with some real life experience. Exactly the kind of person I was trying to reach with this post.
So why is it so hard to keep our New Year’s resolutions? Or any promise of change made to ourselves for that matter?
This actually has everything to do with how our brain is wired, and how it makes new connections. You see, the information in our brain follows a certain path. The thing is, the more we use a certain path, the stronger it becomes. It grows into some kind of super highway. Not only does the information travels easier and faster, but it becomes drawn to the most travelled road. If you wish to take the other path, you need to consciously override this autopilot, which demands quite some cognitive effort actually. This is what happens when we try to put in place new habits. Slowly, over time, as the old highway isn’t used that much anymore, it will downgrade to a smaller road, or even a small path. This means that as long as the old road is bigger than the new one, our first reaction will be to take the old one, making a mental effort to override that decision, and then take the new one.
so why don’t we just make that effort consistently until the balance has shifted? The tricky part has to do with the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivations. When we make a change based on intrinsic motivations, which vary for each of us based on our personality, it will be as simple as that: just consistently override the autopilot until a new habit is formed. the intrinsic joy of performing the new habit gives enough satisfaction and joy to stick to it.
The thing with New Year’s resolutions, is that they usually are not linked to intrinsic motivators. worse, we often consciously link them to extrinsic motivators. We reward ourselves for the effort done. As good advice as that may sound, this is part of the problem, and here is why:
extrinsic motivators are by definition not sustainable and result driven. When you link your new behavior to a non-sustainable source of motivation, the motivation will have to be repeated over and over again, based on results. If, for whatever reason, you don’t achieve results, there is no motivator, the behavior will not get reinforced, which leads to massive quitting of the new behavior. Hence the failure of New Year’s resolutions.
I know by now, you don’t like anymore what you’re reading. If we can’t even reward ourselves for an effort done, because it ends up being counterproductive, isn’t that kind of sad? Only pain and no gain?
Don’t worry. The solution is actually much more fun than the extrinsic motivational one. Instead of linking the results of the behavior to an external motivator, what we really should be doing is linking the actual behavior (and not only the result) to an intrinsic motivator.
Let me give you an example. Let’s take hypothetical Suzanne who wants to loose weight. She goes to the Gym (which she hates) and everytime she looses one pound, she rewards herself by going shopping (the external motivator). If she doesn’t loose weight, there is no reward, and dropping out is lurking around the corner. So instead of linking the result (losing weight), she should link the activity (exercising) to something she loves.
How? Well that depends on the personality of hypothetical Suzanne. If she’s a social person, she could go to the gym with friends. If she likes music, she could exercise whilst listening to her favorite band. If she’s a competitive person, she could throw down challenges for herself. You get the idea.
This way, the activity itself becomes rewarding, and not only the result. Even if one week she doesn’t loose weight because of X or Y reason, she’s not punishing herself twice as with the extrinsic approach (no result and no reward). Linking your behavior to your intrinsic motivation makes it enjoyable and thus sustainable.
Happy 2015 everybody, make it a formidable year with lots of intrinsic motivation and joy!
Grab Gregory's Udemy course: Master Your Brain for only $29 (savings of 70%). 
Disclaimer: This is not an affiliate link. I have not taken the course (although I have signed up for it).

Monday, December 15, 2014

Repricing Worksheet for December 15th to 18th

It's all about the buy box.

I've seen a number of graphs that indicate that December 15-18 traditionally brings the most sales to Amazon FBA sellers. In the spirit of selling through as much as possible during this peak time, I waited to reprice all low ranking products. The goal is to get the buy box at the most optimal time in order to increase the chance of taking a higher profit margin while selling thru.

I created a table to monitor selected items in my inventory over the next four days, so that I can reprice when the time is right. It's all a guessing game really, but armed with data the probability of making a sale at the price you want increases.

This is my table. You can either make one yourself, or get a pdf copy out of the files on The FBA Flip Side Facebook group.

Item / ASIN - In this column I wrote (in pencil) the item / ASIN, plus I wrote down my COGS, then I calculated the lowest I could go on the item and still make a dollar or two in profit and wrote it in red. I did this to save me time running it through the FBA calculator each time I look.

# in stock - the quantity that I have in stock
Rank - I am taking the temperature of my inventory each morning and evening, so I wrote the morning number at the top of the box in order to make room to write the evening number. I want to be able to reevaluate as I go.

# in line - I clicked on the Prime box, then counted how many sellers were in line ahead of me. I'm watching to see if I move up in line or not. This is significant because it's my best guess as to how long it will take for me to get within range of the buy box without cutting my price again.

Buy Box Price - I'm writing the current buy box price down, so that I can see how it changes each time I run through it again. My Price - I might adjust my price as I go, so I want to keep track of the changes.

# Seller / Quantity - Once I get within range of the buy box, I need to see how many of the item that each seller has in stock in order to estimate how soon I will get my turn and possibly sell out.

I designed this worksheet to help me get through the 4 days of the Prime buyer's holiday shopping explosion by maximizing my sales and moving my inventory out. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Stages of Life as an Amazon FBA Third-Party Seller

When you stop learning you're dead.

Stage 1: Absorb and Process
You've decided to sell on Amazon, so now you have to learn how it all works and process the information. This stage can take 2-3 months to get a handle on things. Be patient. Read, listen, watch, learn and grow.

Stage 2: The Learning Curve
You're jumping in by scanning, listing, prepping, packing, and selling. You're making some money (or a lot of money), but you have a gazillion questions, and you're making mistakes left and right. Depending on how fast of a learner you are this stage can last 3 to 6 months (or longer).

Stage 3: The Testing Stage
You have a handle on the basics now, so you're testing theories from buying to pricing. You're trying out new categories, discovering new products, and finding little niches that makes it all worthwhile. This stage can last forever (because you can move into the next stages, yet still be in the testing stage).

Stage 4: The Lightbulb Stage
You're figuring things out, experiencing multiple a-ha moments, and reworking your plan. You get it now, but you also know that the game is ever changing and you should always strive to learn new things. This stage kicks in at different points for different people, but continues forever as long as you continue to learn and grown.

Stage 5: The Scale Up Stage
You might start this stage very early on, but the learning curve could be bigger if you scale up right out of the box. Most people take a hard look at their business, pay close attention to the date, then begin to formulate a plan to take their business to the next level. This is a forever repeatable stage.