Why I’m Changing My FBA Strategy

This was my first FULL year of selling. I started selling FBA in March of 2013, you can see my original post of How We Made $1800 in Our First Month with FBA.

In 2013, I could say I spent nearly every Saturday sourcing, sending in products and working my fingers to the bone. In 2014, I decided to take the part-time approach. Work 10-15 hours a month and just call it good. I liked this approach, it netted me just under $2k a month if I divided my net profit evenly over 12 months. For some of us, who wouldn’t take $2k extra for 10-15 hours of work?

I’m going to be honest, I’m ready to try more. Most of 2014 I spent training a VA, doing online and retail arbitrage. I decided the only way to scale up using this model was to spend full-time hours doing it, or hire others to do the work for me. Both options are not something I’m highly interested in. Personally, I’m not a fan of shopping. (Crazy I know.) Unless its turning me a profit, I prefer not to enter a store at all. I am doing all of my Christmas shopping on Amazon (yep, you heard correctly).

If I could buy fresh groceries on Amazon, in my area, I would do that too. So going full time retail would drive me crazy. I’m only not interested in hiring others because I don’t want to manage a team while I am working full time at another job. You might ask me, “Valerie, why not quit and go for it?” Because I feel that scaling the business via retail arbitrage will not be the way to go in 2015.

Competition is thick and we are all sourcing the same stores.
In 2015, I plan on continuing to retail arbitrage 10-15 hours a month until my plans come to fruition. My focus on change will be entering the Private Label space. I have no desire to continue to fight for the buy box for retail finds. I am ready to own my retail cyber space and have outstanding months with almost passive income.

Why am I calling it passive income? Because as with all great passive income strategies, once you put in the hard work – research, marketing, product development, sourcing etc.. this product is yours. It’s set. It’s ready for launch. It’s closer to the “set it and forget it” strategy. Once you nail down the aforementioned items, you just reorder and replenish. You are in charge of your own destiny. My goal will be to work from anywhere, hire a company to send my products to Amazon and it’s almost “hands off”.

I’m all for the concept of owning my space, becoming a wholesaler for other arbitrage buyers and just collect the checks. Why not? Don’t even get me started on my own excitement that Amazon could buy out my position selling my own product and I just sit and fill their order.
I’m ready to hit it big in 2015. These $60k years have been great practice. Now I’m ready to go hard. Will you be joining me?

Case Study: Rank Changes Update 2

Its been two weeks since we updated you guys on where things are going. If you’ve missed the point of all of this you can view the original post here.

We have kept an eye on things as they progressed and happy to see that we are sold out of most products here. The items that are leaving me perplexed are the baby item towards the bottom of the list 67197 ranking. I’m going to go check pricing, otherwise I can’t figure out what I’m missing.

The kitchen item at 28831 rank had Amazon come in on the item, we went very deep on the item and haven’t moved any of them. I’ll be pricing low on that item so I can get my money back and move on. The other items, perhaps were sold, and Norris (my VA) just missed them. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen them on the order list so the ranking update will be inaccurate for this.

At this point, you can see that rank if under a certain point, move pretty quickly. After all they are in the top 10% of their respective categories, if not better. People are constantly asking “how many will I sell” or “is 123 a good rank?”.

The answer for the most part is algorithms can try and predict but are never 100%. The product I mentioned earlier, no one could have told me that Amazon was going to move in on the item. We can all say a certain rank is great, but this too will come with experience.

Have any questions for me? Comment below. Otherwise, I’ll update again on rank changes when the NA rank items sell.

Rank Changes Week 2

Case Study: Rank Changes Update 1

Well, here are week 1 update on our case study about rank changes and sales. If you missed what this is all about you can find the first blog post here. The box we are tracking arrived on Monday and instantly saw sales. The coincidental thing is that as soon as a box arrives, it seems we move other inventory.

You can see the first update below, and remember, we are only tracking the first time the item sells.
Rank Changes Week 1

Considering that we buy multiples of each item, (we test at 3-5 deep based on price and rank), I expect to flip the rest of the items that have already sold by end of the week. This means, I’m going to go out and buy whatever the store has in stock. The items selling are commonly toys, so the shelves should be pretty slim to begin with.

What am I basing all of this on you ask? Experience. Knowing what my budget can handle, and how much I’m willing to gamble on an item. If I am buying 3 of an item to test it, and its probably going to sell within the week, I need to stock up for at least two weeks on the next inventory. If it proves to do well, I’ll again double my inventory count to ensure I can have adequate stock while I test other items. Its an interesting game trying to learn what to keep in stock. Its fascinating really. And during the holidays, its all about staying organized and remembering what you need to replenish.

How do you keep track of replenishables? Where is your comfort zone with testing an item?

Case Study: Rank Changes

I’m starting an impromptu case study to see how much a rank will change when an item sales, and in fact how quickly my item will sell based on rank.

I’ve included the category, rank the date it was shipped and it will be updated weekly to include when it was received, the rank as it changed and date it sold. I’m only studying items that I have never sold before and the items going to my closest warehouse. I only studying items available to everyone (no one-offs, and available at your typical big box stores). Excluding one NA rank item for a bundle I created myself. Due to the fact these are not one offs and still items in circulation today, I am not including ASINs. Sorry! Can’t have it all my friends. :)

So, stay tuned and check on this post as the weeks go by. I’ll only update the first time it sells.

Photo 1: Beginning of Case Study 1

Rank Changes

Do you keep track of ranks? How do you know how much to stock? What rank is the maximum you will source to?

How to Create a Listing

Well, I’ve been under the weather for a week and I promised my FB readers I’d create a tutorial on how to create a listing for your products. Luckily my Amazon business doesn’t stop when I do, so that machine is still working even when I can’t seem to get out of bed.

I had grand plans of making a video tutorial, but I don’t know if I could make it 10 minutes without sneezing, so I decided a few images and I’ll show you the bare minimum you need to create a listing of your own.

Before you get started you will need

  • UPC from the product or your own (Ebay sells them)
  • Details about the product (again your own info, or a website that is reliable)
  • Image with white background (taken by yourself, or again, a website of the product) 

    Ready? Let’s do this!

    1. Under inventory go to add a product. Complete a search to ensure your product is not in the catalog already.

     

     

    Add a Product

  • 2. Once you’re sure its not in the catalog, you’ll need to create it yourself and find the appropriate category.
    Find Product Amazon

    3. The asterisks are the absolute minimum you must complete, but I do all of the ones I circled in the image. I can’t help myself, but you don’t have to do it!
    Fill out Details

    4. On to the next page, again, the circled items are what I fill out at the minimum. (90% of the time, I just fill out the 3 and move on.)
    list4-737x1024

    5. The images one, you don’t want to get hung up on. Click browse, upload your image in the pop up and move on. Half the time, I can’t get this to work. Don’t stress. You can go into your inventory AFTER you’re done, and upload again. Like I said, don’t fret. You’ll really add it later if it doesn’t work. I haven’t figured out the magic behind this one.
    list5

    6. It’s all important here, so take your time and fill this out. If you have another website that’s prompting you with info, use their information. No need to reinvent the wheel here.

    list6

    7. Silly me, I’ve never actually investigated the “platinum” option. If someone else knows, please enlighten the rest of us. Again, keywords are important, use every last bit of space here. Get creative.

    8. Remember, the red is the bare minimum you have to fill out. I fill out more, based on what I know.
    Screen-Shot-2014-09-26-at-6.20.34-PM-683x1024

    9. Guess what? That’s it! Once you complete it, wait about 10 minutes and then search for your item in your inventory. Click on the link to see how it reads on the live site. If the image isn’t there, go into your inventory actions and add the image again. Like I said in step 5, don’t fret. You’ll be able to add it in this part.:)

    10. Rinse and Repeat my friends! Oh, and if you have any tips on how you make this listing process easier, please help!

Earning Cash Back Online

Have you started sourcing online yet? With the weather getting colder here, and us considering a big move in our future – I’m trying to focus harder on sourcing online only.

I’ve been using Ebates a lot to earn cash back on my purchases, and wonder how I hadn’t used it any sooner. I shop online for my house as much as I can, and with sourcing online that means I earn back even more (and faster). I’ve missed out on this site for a long time and it has most of the stores I shop at.

The concept of Ebates is really simple. Visit their website Ebates.com and sign up for an account. Find your website you’d like to shop on, and click their link. It’s that simple. Your cash back comes to your account in 2-3 days and you’ll rack it up faster than you can imagine. I haven’t been stopped from double-dipping and using my Visa card that offers 1.5% cash back too, so its a win-win.

So if you are sourcing online, are curious about how to do online arbitrage make sure that Ebates.com (affiliate link) is one site you sign up for before getting started.

Learn the Basics to Sourcing Online

Hey All!

Want to learn to source online for FBA? I’ve put together an eBook that teaches you the basics of sourcing online. I literally go through the steps of how I source, the browser I use and my process. Once you learn this step, I teach you how to speed up the process with free tools.

This 16-page eBook has zero fluff so you learn it, and apply it in the same day. We will discuss using Amazon and ebay to find products too. Get tips on signing up for programs to save you money, all with helpful links.

Learn more at learntosource.com

Appeagle Repricer Review

You know, for a year, I avoided repricers. I told myself I can do it all on my own. I said things like “I don’t need to waste my money,” “Spending $5, $25, or $50 to reprice my products is not worth it.” Guys, I take it all back. Learning FBA was created so you could learn from our mistakes. Avoid the pitfalls, scams, bad ideas, and poor sourcing ideas. Let us be the guinea pigs while you profit from our mistakes. So what did I learn from Appeagle and repricing software then? I.was.wrong.

1. A repricer is a necessary evil.

I’m the first one to tell you, don’t buy products you do not need. Don’t subscribe to services that are fluff, and don’t pay for things you can do yourselves. Repricing is not one of them. You might think you can reprice your 100 items each day, but you truly can’t. You need to consider the concept that your competition, well they subscribe to a repricer. And every product you sell, well, they are going to beat you at the Buy Box game. You can’t be everywhere at once. Let the software work for you. You have better things to do.

2. Software is both meticulous but worth it.

Appeagle has some fun settings on their repricing software. You can set a minimum, maximum, or just your magic number. Okay, I’m calling it a magic number, but its just a fixed price that won’t fluctuate. How does this minimum, maximum thing work? If Widget A is currently selling for $29. You know after fees that you must make $8 to break even, you can set your minimum for the bare minimum you want to accept, and yes, the maximum to keep a reality check on products.

Don’t worry, the repricer won’t automatically drop you down to $8. It will only go 1 penny below your closest competition. Bad news? If Widget A’s competition has a repricer with a minimum price too- you might go back and forth until you both reach the minimum prices.

Why a maximum you ask? Well, some people like to throw numbers from nowhere into the sales price field. Like one bottle of shampoo could be priced $999. Well, if you’re the only other competition, and the bottle should sell for $19, guess what will happen? Yes you will be $998.99. I don’t configure the maximum price for all of my products, but for ones I’m only competing with one or two others for, I’ll add a maximum for good measure.

Isn’t setting these prices up a paint? Yes, having to set a minimum price on every product is kinda of a pain in the butt. But,However, complete it once, and never again! Well, unless you change services. I had quite an a large number of active SKUs so this took me several sit downs. I would just knock out a page or two each day for a week and I was done.

3. Repricing software updates while you sleep. And well, if you don’t have a repricer… you can’t. Because you are sleeping.

I think that would be the best tagline ever. “Repricers work while you sleep. You can’t, because you are sleeping.” Okay, it needs some work. However, repricing software love to work. Well, they would if they had feelings. What I love is my repricing software works for me every hour like clockwork. I imagine as the holidays come upon us, this will become handier. I can’t wait to see this go full speed soon.

4. The verdict is, I like Appeagle.

Does that mean I don’t like other software? No. I couldn’t tell you if I hate or love other repricers. I’ve never used any other service. But, for now, paying $25 a month is worth it to me. If the price went up, yea, I’d probably shop around. But $25 is a fair price to me for the service it provides. Guys, I told you, it works while I’m sleeping. :)If that’s not enough, I averaged about 12 hours of work in the last two months. Do you really think I want to spend my free time repricing? No chance.

5. One last point: Appeagle was easy.

The design is clean. Set up is simple. It took me no more than 3 minutes to sign up, and start repricing. I can’t do anything in 3 minutes. I enjoyed the fact credit card info wasn’t taken during my trial. That actually was a big selling point. I hate sneaky billing methods. I knew instantly how to change prices, manually price set, and could scroll and sort quickly.

All-in-all, my thought is get a repricer. Don’t wait. Don’t believe me? Review step one.

July Income Report

Well LF readers, July was a doozy of a month for the home office of Learning FBA. Keeping with last month’s concept, I’m keeping a close eye on the time tab in our bookkeeping system to ensure time is tracked accurately. The good news is, we’re generating a part-time income on way lighter than part-time hours.

The good news, as I continue to say, the proof is in the pudding. If you produce the work, you’ll get the sales. And, in the same spirit, if you don’t put the work – your sales plummet. Go July! July was our lowest month in a long time. Sales dropped, and when shipments go in- the sales definitely influx. I continued with Appeagle for a second “trial” run signing up for another month; but that’s another day, another post.

Let’s talk the numbers:

Description
Amount
Notes
Gross Sales 4032.57 4754 June
Total Fees/Expenses (1707.46) 1500 June
Cost of Goods (1556.00) 1480 June OUCH
Supplies (172.63) Tax Jar, Arizona sourcing, labels, more misc supplies. Should be minimal in August
Net Profit 596.48 $1047 June
Hours Worked 11.50 $51.86 // $47.63 Per Hour JUNE

Looking at the bigger picture, eh, I’m not worried. With the fact the work totaled to less than 12 hours – I could have worked one full day and called it a month. Can you earn a part-time income with FBA? Definitely. Is August going to be better? I’ll tell you that we should easily beat July that’s for sure. On the clock, I’m already at 8 hours, and I have a shipment worth of product waiting to go out right now.

How did your July go? Are you sending in Q4 product?

Aged Inventory, Oh My!

I received an aged-inventory email earlier this week. A friendly reminder came to my email today. Here’s a copy. As you can see, I have a lovely 53 units that are too old and not moving that Amazon is going to charge me a fun sum of $25 for the space they are taking in their warehouse. So what do I do now?
Screen-Shot-2014-07-24-at-9.48.32-AM-268x300Since this is my first time receiving this letter, I’ve gotta make some movement before I get this fee- and hey, I probably should move that inventory already.

Here’s the steps I took. First, logging into my Seller Central account I went in and looked at the “Recommended Removal” report they mentioned in the email. (Find it under Reports in SC).

There are several columns, and they break it down to 365+ days the product was in there, along with who is coming up to their 1 year old birthday along with unsellable product.

Today, I’m only looking at the 1 year old products.

Opening up another tab, I am pulling up my Appeagle account as I’m still testing out their services. Now, keep up because I’m going to open a THIRD tab for “Manage Inventory”.

So this means I have three fun tabs open today:

1. Recommended Removal Report

2. Appeagle for repricing

3. Manage Inventory tab

Obviously you will skip tab 2 if you’re not subscribed. Right now, I’m still testing their service to decide if I will be recommending them or not – so use with caution.

Okay, now, I’m just going to go in order and look at the 1 year old products and set my minimum price to sell the product.I am going to use tab 3 to tell me the expected fees and look at my own seller SKU to see how much I paid for the product and see where my break even and losing money point it.  If I am too close to that “losing money” point – I’m likely to have the item returned or destroyed. You’ll need to assess this based on your own criteria. Some people can sell these products on eBay and use multichannel fulfillment, others will donate the product to their charity stores and likely write off the donation (having it returned to them at about 50 cents a piece), and others just say toss it (which is about 15 cents per product if I recall properly).

I’m going to just power through and calculate fees and see where my break even point is and assess what to do with all of the products. Some may just need a nudge with a lower bottom dollar and get the product out. Others may just be worthless and better off donated or destroyed. This is something that you’ll need to decide.

Of course, don’t be hasty. If you have some awesome products sitting in the warehouse, perhaps you’re willing to pay a fee. If its a $250 book, I’m going to either pay the fee, list elsewhere or have it returned.

So what are your plans for your aged inventory? Do you sell on eBay? I’d love to hear what you have planned for your aged products.