Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Turnover Tuesdays - Check Your Refunds To See If You Had Inventory Reimbursements

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.

Inventory Tracking

Without a doubt, the toughest part of selling on Amazon is keeping track of inventory.  As you build your inventory it becomes almost impossible to track everything without either great software or spreadsheets.  I've yet to find the great software but those who are coming to the Tagging Miles Reselling DO may find out about a company I use for inventory tracking (not from me) which I'll reveal publicly after the DO.

Unless your spreadsheets are great, you won't even realize that you are missing so many items.  Believe you me, the number of items that get lost, damaged and/or poof into the Amazon ether without reimbursement is frankly astounding.    The more I find out, the more I realize how easy it is to be selling very profitably and yet you have no idea that you could missing hundreds, thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars of inventory that you didn't even know about.  It sounds impossible to be missing in so much stuff but you can get caught up in buying and sending in more and more items that you aren't paying enough attention to what's already there.  If you send in 57 of one item and you sold 53 of them and four are lost, without a spreadsheet there is no way you'd catch that, especially if it takes a few months to sell.  Even with a spreadsheet you may not catch that as you get larger and larger.

Remember, this is your money and your inventory, if you aren't doing what's necessary to protect it properly you may think you are profitable but you may actually not be.  It's really annoying to pay attention to it but if you aren't paying attention you'll be losing money you don't even know about.  So either pay attention or pay someone else to pay attention. If you think it's not worth it, just try it.  Where do you think all those inventory reimbursements are coming from?  Your stuff.  You will be astounded at what you find once you start looking.  I know I was.  More on that in a couple weeks.

Checking your Inventory Reimbursements

So that was a really long introduction to my real topic.  Let's show one example of a very recent reimbursement I got because it leads into my actual topic.

I sent in 34 Apple Watch 38mm Antique Whites.  Amazon did not dispute this.  Amazon lost 6 of them and doesn't dispute this.  They subsequently found 5 of them.  However, they didn't find all 6.  The last one was lost in January.  9 months ago.  Let's repeat that, 9 months ago.

You can see that as of the 8/24/2016 the had only found 5 of them.  Here are the lost items.  Somehow they "forgot" to reimburse the 6th lost one.  9 months later and I hadn't noticed that I was missing 1 of 34 watches, at least I was paying someone else to pay attention. 

A case was opened in late August and Amazon agreed that I was missing one.  So on August 27th I received a reimbursement of the Apple Watch in the form of a new Apple Watch.  An inventory reimbursement instead of a cash reimbursement.

That's fine as long as it sells and it did the same day.  Most likely it sold quickly because I didn't change my price since I didn't realize I would be getting an inventory reimbursement.

Either way, very quickly I received a refund on the item.

It's annoying but I'm used to it for Apple Watches so I didn't think much of it.

Either way, I was checking my reviews and I saw this;

Hmm, Susan W. saying there was no watch in the box.  I remember her, she bought the one Amazon gave to me!

So Amazon reimbursed me with an Apple Watch that didn't have an Apple Watch.  I wish I can say this was the only time.  I've had numerous reviews removed that said the same thing. I even had communications with buyers who were angry at me for Apple Watches that didn't have watches in them.  Unless Best Buy and Target were selling Apple Watches without the Watches in them, it was my Amazon inventory reimbursements that were to blame.  I've talked to other sellers who report the same thing about Apple Watches specifically, it's kind of crazy.

I've also received numerous returns on Apple watches without the watches in them.  I used to blame the sellers for stealing the watch and returning the rest.  In hindsight, it may not have been the buyers (it may have been the buyers) taking it out.  Customers may have returned the watches because they got it without the watch to being with

So, here is a lesson to me.  If you receive a return, check your inventory reports.  It may not be your fault.  The problem is when you have multiple of any particular item, how do you know which one was sold to the customer, the one you sent in or the one Amazon put in your inventory?  It might be impossible to figure out or you might have to check your inventory reports to find out where your inventory is on the day of the sale and trace it back to where it came from.  When you can trace a return to an inventory reimbursement it may be much easier to receive a cash or inventory reimbursement for the return compared to just a "Defective" item.

It is onerous but it might save you a bunch of money if you are able to track everything down.  I've become a much better detective since I've been selling on Amazon for reasons I'm not happy about but it comes with the territory.  Hopefully, at some point I farm out enough activities to others that I lose some of these skills but please never let yourself get to the point that you have blind faith in Amazon.  That leads to you being a happy go lucky person paying too much in taxes and not making as much money as you think.

Week 64 - The Buy Box
Week 65 - Amazon Restrictions and the Future of Selling on Amazon