Monday, April 24, 2017

Turn On Two Step Verification for Your Amazon Account

Lately, there have been a rash of hackings on Amazon accounts.  Once the hackers are in, they will change your bank account and siphon the money into their account.  In addition, many times they will start selling items that are bogus, make some quick money, siphon that, and then cause many problems to your account.   It becomes hard to get your money back and get your account reinstated.

Often, these are on dormant account.  An account will have it's last review in 2014 and then 5 bad reviews now saying never received item or item is fake.  That being said, it can happen to an active account too.

Last week I received this message from Amazon.


Hello,

At Amazon we take your security and privacy very seriously. As part of our routine monitoring, we discovered a list of email addresses and passwords posted online. While the list was not Amazon-related, we know that many customers reuse their passwords on multiple websites. Since we believe your email addresses and passwords were on the list, we have assigned a temporary password to your Amazon.com account out of an abundance of caution.

You will need to reset your password when you return to the Amazon.com site. To reset your password, click "Your Account" at the top of any page on Amazon.com. On the Sign In page, click the "Forgot your password?" link to reach the Amazon.com Password Assistance page. After you enter your email or mobile phone number, you will receive an email containing a personalized link. Click the link from the email and follow the directions provided.

Your new password will be effective immediately. We recommend that you choose a password that you have never used with any website.

You can also enable Amazon's Two-Step Verification, a feature that adds an extra layer of security to your account. In addition to entering your password, Two-Step Verification requires you to enter a unique security code during sign in. To learn more about Two-Step Verification, go to Amazon.com Help, go to Managing Your Account, and click More in Managing Your Account, and then click More under Account Settings.

Sincerely,

Amazon.com

This e-mail was sent from an address that cannot accept incoming e-mail. To contact us, please visit the Help section of our website.



The solution is simple.  Turn on Two-Step notification.  I had resisted doing it but this email was enough for me.  All you need to do is go to Settings>Log in Settings from with in your account and you will find the instructions there

Once two step notification is on, you will need to receive a text message with a code in order to log in to your account.

You can set it so that on computers you recognize you don't need to keep doing that but it should keep hackers much further away from your account.


As always, stay safe out there!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

FBA Temperature Sensitive Deadline Coming Up In May

Amazon warehouses can get up to 100 degrees in the summer so Amazon places restrictions on what can be sent to their warehouses from May 1st until September 30th.


If you have a lot temperature sensitive items at fulfillment centers now is the time to sell or place removal orders if you aren't able to sell by the end of the month.

You can't sell FBA from May through September but you can sell FBM and without the competition of FBA sellers, FBM can be extra lucrative during these months as long as you take shipping costs into account.

Doing well on Amazon is often about finding inefficiencies in the marketplace and exploiting them.  Sure this is more annoying and more work than FBA but use it to your advantage and you can sell a lot of chocolate. just make sure it doesn't melt on the way....

Friday, March 31, 2017

Where Have I Been?

It's been about 4 weeks since I posted anything.  That's a really long time for me. I went almost 90 weeks straight with at least a Turnover Tuesdays post.  What happened?



I don't want this blog to be a job. 


I have been blogging for a long time, since the end of 2011.  Until recently I enjoyed blogging a lot.  It was a great outlet for me.  Instead of boring all the people around me I could bore everyone in cyberspace and no one had to offend me when they stopped reading. Win, win.

That changed with my Turnover Tuesdays series at some point.  I had to put out a post on Tuesday and I wanted it to be a more substantive post.  Many times I would only think of topic on Tuesday afternoon or Tuesday night and frantically put something (mildly) entertaining and substantive out there.   I also pretty much stopped posting any other idea because I thought I was wasting a Turnover Tuesdays opportunity.

I was starting to dread Tuesday and they don't pay me enough to be dreading my hobby so one Tuesday night I was about to write a post and then a business meeting happened suddenly and I didn't have time to put anything out there.


I feel liberated


I thought I would be disappointed to lose my streak but I didn't. I felt great about it.  It was such a load off my back.  It started to hit me that I stopped loving blogging and that was the biggest disappointment for me.


I'm a lot more busy than I used to be

As my Amazon business grows (and other parts of life grow too), I've had less time for non essential activities.  I would much rather have my blog fall by the wayside than my family.


I don't plan on stopping, at least not yet, but it has been great to take some time off.  Going forward, I hope to post randomly on stuff I enjoy.  Hopefully you enjoy it too.  Time to get back to basics!








Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Turnover Tuesdays - Walmart and eBay Are Not Going As Smoothly as I Would LIke

For those who are not familiar, I started a series a while back called Turnover Tuesdays. Every Tuesday I like to highlight one item that I have resold. This will include profitable and non profitable sales. I hope that there is always something to learn.

The previous posts in the series can be found at the bottom of this post.




Walmart Was Going Great


If you've been playing along at home, I was hoping to use eBay and Walmart (mostly Walmart) to increase my sales and at a minimum mitigate the increased rent that I've begun to pay to allow for more merchant fulfillment and decreased Amazon storage fees.  Walmart does not allow for multi channel fulfillment from Amazon so you must fulfill outside of your Amazon inventory.  That requires space and a team to fulfill orders (or more time from you).

For a while, I was very excited about Walmart.  For the first couple of months I was getting a lot of orders on Walmart's platform.  Not all were very profitable, in fact some were actually losses but at least I was selling old inventory that was much less profitable on Amazon at that point (I wish I had been willing to lower some of them more as the price on some have continued to tank).

I was also selling some items that had great profits.

I was sure that the future was bright.


eBay Never Really Did Great

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Turnover Tuesdays - Why I Sell on Amazon

For those who are not familiar, I started a series a while back called Turnover Tuesdays. Every Tuesday I like to highlight one item that I have resold. This will include profitable and non profitable sales. I hope that there is always something to learn.

The previous posts in the series can be found at the bottom of this post.





Let's Reflect Together

Every once in a while you need to take a step back and reflect on why you started the path you chose and whether it is still meeting your needs.  I find it both interesting to write about, important to keep you motivated or pivot and hopefully others will share their stories in the comments too.



Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Turnover Tuesdays - Manage Inventory vs. Manage FBA Inventory

For those who are not familiar, I started a series a while back called Turnover Tuesdays. Every Tuesday I like to highlight one item that I have resold. This will include profitable and non profitable sales. I hope that there is always something to learn.

The previous posts in the series can be found at the bottom of this post.





Deciding Which Inventory Management Page to Use

There are two pages to choose from within Seller Central on how to manage your inventory.  One is Manage Inventory and the other is Manage FBA Inventory.  They both have pros and cons. Amazon is also rolling out a new beta Manage FBA Inventory with some "enhancements".   I'll also throw in one tip at the end to improve your Manage Inventory screen.  I've used Manage FBA Inventory since I've started but I'm now questioning that.

There are some things you can only see in one or the other so it's a bit of a mixed bag but it's good to know what each has so you can decide which one to use primarily and whether you need to go back and forth.




Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Turnover Tuesdays - Business Expenses

For those who are not familiar, I started a series a while back called Turnover Tuesdays. Every Tuesday I like to highlight one item that I have resold. This will include profitable and non profitable sales. I hope that there is always something to learn.

The previous posts in the series can be found at the bottom of this post.





Disclaimers

Now that it is 2017, it's time to talk about taxes a bit.  I'm not a tax expert and I'm certainly not an accountant.  My goal is not to create a comprehensive list of business expenses you may have.  Hopefully I can mention some things that others hadn't thought of, maybe others can come up with ones I didn't think of.


Please talk to your accountant before you decide to take any deductions.  I have an accountant and I've asked about all of these but not every accountant is as aggressive about deductions as other accountants.  

Hopefully this is the beginning of a conversation that is beneficial to everyone.


Thursday, February 2, 2017

I'm Using More Bank Points Than Airline Miles These Days

A few weeks ago I saw this tweet by Robert Dwyer about how bank points were more important for him to collect than airlines miles in 2017 for everything except international premium cabins and it got me thinking about my own usage for flights recently.


I've Been Travelling More than Usual


I've kind of always been the person in the points/miles blogging (when I used to do that kind of stuff) who didn't travel much which was a little bit of an anomaly.  I didn't have much use for manufactured spending for the miles so I usually did it for the cash.  I don't do that anymore since I make more cash selling on Amazon than I would manufactured spending.  There are some low hanging fruit I make exception for but I'm mostly out.

In a one year span I have flown internationally twice (one with my whole family, one just with my wife) and I have another one planned in that same 12 month time period.  I also have a domestic flight planned in March.  I know Trevor is hyperventilating thinking of how few times that is but that's a lot for me.

All of these flights were entirely paid for in miles/points (besides mandatory fees) so I do earn enough miles for my needs.  The vast majority of the miles I earn and use are via sign up bonuses since I don't have to forgo cash to earn them.  I also will earn an equivalent amount of miles as cash.  For example if I can earn 3x Thank You Points via ATT, I'll take that over 2% or ever 2.625% cashback since I won't redeem my miles for less than $0.01 each.  Makes things more simple.



I Paid For All My Trips with Bank Points, Not Miles (or At Least I Should Have)




With each reservation I would have needed to use the fewest miles had I used bank points.  When I say bank points I mean Ultimate Rewards, Membership Rewards and Thank You Points.  They have always been great because they could be converted into so many different types of miles (and sometimes allow you to pool miles from different sources like with Singapore Airlines), but for this post I mean using these points directly to book tickets instead of transferring.  For most this is old news but it's the trend that I'm using for travel redemption so I thought others might be interested as well.


With the American Express Business Platinum, they have a promotion where they will redeposit 50% of the miles used to purchase a ticket for any business and first class redemption or for economy.  The difference is that for economy it only works on one airline, the one that you choose for the $200 airline incidental.  You can only change that once a year in January so it isn't the most useful promotion but I was able to book 3 tickets with it this year on 2 airlines (I just changed it).  Normally you can book travel directly through American Express Membership Rewards for a value of 1 point per penny.  With this promotion, any miles you use will be doubled in value.


With the Chase Sapphire Reserve, any Ultimate Rewards points you have can be booked for a cash ticket at a value of 1 UR to $.015.  While the value is slightly less than American Express, it is far more useful for those who fly economy since you aren't restricted to one airline.


With the Citibank Prestige, you can use Thank You Points on American Airlines flights at a value of $.016 per mile.  This is only on AA and the value is even less than American Express however you don't need as many miles to book.  On American Express you need to have the equivalent of $0.01 per mile available to book and then they give you half the points back.  Here, you don't need to have as many miles available in order to book.  This benefit is going away in June though.





Bank Points are Better than Airline Points!


Not only is the value per point that you use often better with bank points as opposed to miles (on economy) but they are even more valuable than that for a couple of reasons.  

1) There are no blackouts.  You are buying revenue tickets so they let you book anything.  

2) You earn miles/status for the trip.  When you book with frequent flyer miles you don't earn miles or status.  For these trips you do.

3) The fees are built in.  Sometimes you see a great mileage redemption but there are a lot of mandatory fees (and not mandatory fees - I'm giving you the stinkeye fuel surcharges!) that are added.  You can't use miles for those, only cash and if they are significant they can seriously dilute the value of your miles.  Those fees are already built into the cash price and you can pay the entire ticket price with bank points.

4) No Federal Excise tax.  I don't know if all the banks pass this fee onto you but American Express charges you a Federal Excise Tax when transferring miles to domestic carriers.  If you aren't transferring, you don't have to pay this fee.



Just as an example, I booked this flight recently.  I moved over 70,000 American Express Membership Rewards points over to Delta for a $900 ticket.  I also had to pay $144 in fees.  

Had I paid for it directly with American Express MRs, I would have only paid 45,000 miles after the promotion with no $144 in fees.  That's a no brainer.  I would have saved 25,000 miles and $144.  That's quite a savings for one trip.  That's per person.    




These Credit Cards Come With a Price


Yeah, they do.  A whopping $450 each in annual fees so in order for these cards to make sense you have to start finding value in the card benefits for everything to start paying for itself.


Each one comes with an air travel credit.  $200 for AmEx, $250 for Citi and $300 for Chase.  Chase seems to be the easiest to use.  If you are getting $300 off the price of the annual fee, you only need to find another $150 of value before you bank the extra points (pun intended).

If you would pay for lounges, great.  I wouldn't so I get no value there (maybe $1 for the soda). If you would pay $100 for Global Entry, great, that's another $100 you saved.  I wouldn't so I see $0 in value on those.  I don't even take advantage of it when it's free!


There are lots of other extras they throw in there.  Recently, I used a free access to GoGo Hotspot from American Express Platinum. Again, that's not something I would have paid for so I'm not discounting the price of the annual fee for that.  It's nice to have but $450 in my pocket is nicer.

It's a personal decision what you would have paid for and what you wouldn't and no one can make that decision for you.



Personally, I don't have a Prestige or a Sapphire Reserve but that's only because of 5/24, otherwise I would have gotten a Sapphire Reserve for the sign up bonus.  The only reason I have the American Express is for the sign up bonus and I'm going to need to decide whether it is worthwhile to keep it once the annual fees come due in about 6 months.


If I had my druthers, I would probably get the Chase Sapphire Reserve and keep it.  With the $300 credit and the ability to get 1.5 cents on a redemption, I can see how the value can easily get past $450, even for me.  The AmEx on the other hand, I'm not sure.  If I see a lot of travel in my future, maybe, otherwise probably not. 


Have you been using more bank points instead of airlines miles too?