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?


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Turnover Tuesdays - All My Returns Will Now Going to be Inspected By Me, Not 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.



Update: It seems that this option allows Amazon to repackage any item that has damaged packaging and sell as new.  However, if an associate deems something sellable as is, there is no way to stop them from automatically putting it back into your inventory other than a removal order.  


It is Your Choice to Have Amazon Inspect Items or Do it Yourself

Amazon gives you the option of inspecting returns for you.  This is a service that they provide for free which is nice.  If they deem the returned unit to be sellable as new, they will put the item back into your inventory and sell it for you without you touching it again.

The other option is that Amazon will not inspect it for you.  You have to create a removal order, inspect it yourself and send it back in.

Having Amazon inspect it is nice.  It saves you time and money.  You don't have to pay $.50 to have the unit removed to you and the shipping back to an Amazon warehouse.  Until yesterday, this was the option I chose.



Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Turnover Tuesdays - January is Part of Q4

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.




I am currently outside the US on vacation so this will be an abbreviated Turnover Tuesdays.




January is Not Fun

I don't like January.  Last year, January was by far my worst month of the year for profits.  In terms of gross sales, it was actually right in the middle.  I had 6 months with higher sales and 5 months with lower sales so it wasn't the lack of sales that caused it.  

Last year it was the returns.  I had almost 2x more returns last year in January than any other month.  The only month that has ever come close to January of 2016 was December of 2015.

My profit for January was 2.77% of my profit for the whole year.  That's not good.  If every month was like that I would probably quit.  Compare that to 30.9% for the month of December.  Obviously, December is more fun than January.  



Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Turnover Tuesdays - When You Are that Shady Seller

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.






The last couple of weeks was a very, very tough week with ups and downs.



The Ups


One of the distributors that I work with through a friend (BN) found a great deal on a certain item.  The rank was amazing and competition was scarce.  We had a decent track record with them so It was about 50% ROI.  Everything was great.  The one catch was that item in China.  The distributor took care of the logistics of bringing it over but it was a 2-3 month lag time.  Anything can happen in 2-3 months including plenty of competition and price erosion but I was excited.


After a couple months, they finally arrived. I sent them in and magic started happening.  There were 2 other sellers including BN at $25 with me but I still selling 20-30 every day.  I've never sold anything like it when it wasn't Q4.  I was making about $6 on each one so that is amazing.  After about a week, we were already ruing the fact that we were almost out.




Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Turnover Tuesdays - I've Violated All My "Rules"

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.


Selling on Amazon has been a wild ride for me.  It's turned from a hobby/manufactured spend tool into a real business in a short amount of time (I made my first sale in April 2015).  I know it's a bit cliche to say it but the only thing that has remained constant has been the change and evolution of just about everything.  From the type of deals I look for, the strategies I employ and Amazon's ever changing fee structure, I'm constantly changing my business model.




I've Broken A Lot of My Rules


Rule #1 - Go for the Miles

If you looked at my inventory after about 6 months of selling you wouldn't recognize it now.  It was full of electronics and high priced electronics mostly.  It would be normal for me to have 20-40 iPads after a sale at Best Buy or Staples.  At first I was buying when I was going to basically break even after portals, gift cards etc.  That didn't last long.  Then I wanted at least 5% ROI, then 10%.  Now, it's been a long, long time since I bought an iPad.  The profit just isn't possible for it to be worth my time.

Mostly that is a change of reselling being a source of miles (and cashback) to a source of income.

I still think that if done properly, reselling can be a great way to earn a ton of miles from credit card points, portals, portal bonuses and the like.  If you are interested in that, iPads are probably still the way to go.  They are expensive, sell well, return rates are more limited than some other electronics and are sold by the right stores.  You have to be careful to buy the right products (not Apple Watches!) at the right prices or returns will make your miles very expensive.  That being said, it is very possible to earn a profit (albeit small) while earning miles.  If I had unlimited time I would still do iPads in addition but I don't so I won't.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Turnover Tuesdays - 2017 Goals

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.


2017 Goals

All the cool bloggers were putting in their 2017 predictions.  I have no clue how other companies are going to react in 2017 other than Amazon likely increasing storage fees again, doing something more to combat counterfeits (it's a big problem - just look at all the one star reviews on Speak Out game of Chinese fakes).  I do, however, have some idea on what I would like to do in 2017 so here it goes.


More Distributors/Wholesalers/Manufacturers

Sunday, January 1, 2017

End of the Year Inventory Lab Checklist

I use Inventory Lab for my bookkeeping on Amazon.  I've been using it to keep track of eBay and Walmart sales and fees as well but it is really meant for Amazon since it automatically grabs all your sales, commissions and all your fees.  Inventory Lab saves me hours of time.  I literally wouldn't be able to do my business without some sort of service and Inventory Lab works for me.  It's not perfect as I will show but it is essential for me.


More information about Inventory Lab



Inventory Lab provides a taxes checklist of what you need to do before you can properly use their service for tax purposes.  They are all correct but I will add one more as well.

1) Make sure your buy cost is entered for every sale.  If you don't enter a cost for a $100 sale with $20 fees, it will look like a $80 profit when you paid $70 for the item.  You don't want to pay taxes on phantom profit.

You can easily find which sales have no buy cost associated with them by going to Accounting>FBA Sales.  In "Advanced" change buy cost from "All" to "Has No Buy Cost".  Also change the time frame from "within the last month" to "within the last year" or "all" if you want to go back further than that or if you don't do it now.


2) You can run a report that will tell you your unsold inventory valuation at the end of the year.  You don't need to do that now if you have Inventory Lab but you will need to change the date to 12/31/2016 if you don't do it today so just pay attention to that.

You can find the report under Reports>Inventory Valuation.  You can change the date to whenever you would like.


3) One thing that's a bit annoying about Inventory Lab is that they automatically default your returns either to defective or sellable.  They don't mark your returns in the correct disposition which they should be able to do automatically.

If you sell an item for $100 that costs $70 and then it is returned in sellable condition and you sell it again, if you have Inventory Lab default your returns to defective when you sell it again they will assume COGS are $70 again.  That's not true, your COGS are $0 for the second sale since you already accounted for the COGS in the first sale and return.  Your profit will seem artificially low.

If you set your default to sellable Inventory Lab will offset your sale of that item and assume COGS of $0.  If the item was defective and you had to send it back home, you never should have received that compensating credit so your profit will seem artificially high.

Bottom line is that you need to change your returns to the correct disposition.

I personally choose the default to be defective since I find most of my returns are in defective dispositions and that means when I change it I will have more profit than before.  That's always a nice change. I don't like seeing my actual profit go down later.  I know it's all psychological but that's how it affects me.


4)  Double check your reimbursements.   This is not in their checklist.  I have been looking through my reimbursements and they are way off in multiple areas.

If I receive an additional reimbursement after an appeal sometimes they will assume that it is connected to a new unit.  For example, if I received a $20 reimbursement for a $10 item, Inventory Lab will show me a $20 reimbursement with $10 COGS and $10 profit.  That's true so that's good. If I appeal the reimbursement and get another $5 for that same reimbursment sometimes it will show a $5 reimbursement with a new COGS of $10 which is a loss of $5 separate from the first reimbursement.  That's not true and not good at all. I received an extra $5 for that original $10 so it is a $15 profit on one unit not $15 with COGS of $20 over 2 units.

In addition, sometimes there will be no buy cost associated with a reimbursement such as a warehouse damaged when there should be.  I have one item where it looks like I got a $285 profit but it was really actually a $15 loss.  That's a major difference.

Again, it might make you feel better about your numbers but you don't want to pay taxes on profit you never made. That's just dumb.