- DO YOUR RESEARCH BEFORE YOU GO. I researched vendors and products for the week prior to ASD and was completely prepared when I hit the floor.
- SCHEDULE SOME BROWSE TIME. Since I had prepared, I was able to enjoy browsing some booths & vendors by day 3 without missing out on the booths I HAD to visit.
- JUST SAY NO TO CATALOGS! I prefer a backpack to a rolling bag and by day 3 I had bruises on my shoulders from the weight of the bag!
- GRAB ESSENTIAL CATALOGS. There were 2 vendors that were not on my original search list so I did grab those two catalogs, researched at night on wifi at my hotel and placed an order the next day with the most profitable items.
- LEARN SOMETHING NEW ON PURPOSE. I was able to schedule just one seminar so I made it count by seeing Katharyne Shelton. She was such a wealth of knowledge, it was time very well-spent.
- WORK THE SHOW LIKE A BOSS. Save the meandering, window shopping for another time. The purpose of attending is to make money. I saw things I could have purchased as gifts for family or things I thought were cute, but I made myself research everything before buying. This saved me tons of money for sure.
- TAKE A SMALL RISK. I made a purchase at one booth that was probably profitable but WAY outside my comfort zone. It was a $200 wholesale purchase which was within my budget and if it does well, I will have a new category to continue to pursue.
- KNOW YOUR BUDGET. While this may seem obvious, it is still vital! Don’t go overboard. No deal is really THAT good and the vendors/wholesalers will always take your money.
- BE YOURSELF. (unless you’re a jerk… just kidding) It is much easier to have a genuine conversation with a business owner when you walk up with a smile and a “good morning” rather than being nervous with some sort of “pitch.”
- HAVE FUN. A nice dinner, a little gambling, goofing off and time to unwind are essential so that you don’t burn out by the end of the week.
Walmart.com can be a lucrative source of inventory either for simple resale or for making bundles. Many online sellers buy from there and resell on Amazon or other marketplaces. If you are buying for resale, you can avoid paying sales tax both online and in store.
If you buy from Walmart.com for the purposes of reselling their inventory on another website such as Amazon, you can apply for TAX EXEMPT status to avoid paying sales tax.
- Make sure you have a SALES TAX / RESALE CERTIFICATE from your own state
- Set up a business buying account for Walmart.com
- Follow these instructions on WALMART’s WEBSITE on how and then fill out the application
- Once you are approved you should be able to make business purchases and no tax will be applied
In order to make IN STORE tax exempt purchases, go to customer service with your SALES TAX / RESALE CERTIFICATE and apply. They will give you a card (or multiples) that you can then give to any cashier at any point and you will receive the exemption.
Milas is a relatively new Amazon seller, he’s only been on since the summer of 2016. He was focusing on arbitrage but is switching after his first suspension and reinstatement. He sells on Amazon full time as well as owning a small chain of restaurants in Atlanta, Davinci’s.
“My goal, because of my passion is to own a film studio and everything I have done, the restaurants, now retail, is to finance my celluloid dreams, lol. But for retail, in particular, is to establish different brands to build a sustainable retail company. I am returning to China to finally get into PL, I feel that RA has really been paid training to learn about retail.”
“Currently I am grossing $10K+ per month.”
Milas loves movies, playing basketball, movies, video production, and movies!
What Does He Love About Scanner Monkey?
- Tape Machines – WORTH IT! We are warehouse geeks at heart. Full post
- We celebrated our THIRD ANNIVERSARY by giving away over $7000 worth of prizes to members!
- There were some tough changes to the FBA landscape but our members looked on the positive side.
- At least 15 of our members sold 1 Million in product for the first time in 2016! CONGRATS!
- We saw many full timers thrive.
- Our members diversified in so many ways this year. Whether it was new marketplaces (Jet, Walmart and more), new countries (UK and beyond), or new ways of sourcing (wholesale, private label and manufacturing)
- We were inspired to learn how our members got their start. Here.
- We also had members who had a tough year who reached out to each other and are continuing to build, re-build and grow. Here.
- Q4 on Ebay with Jason T Smith and Nadene Shearstone of the Thrifting Board
- Senior Marketing Manager of Amazon Business, Colin Puckett joined us to fill us in on this new billion dollar program for sellers.
- Cynthia Stine discusses the safety of Arbitrage as a business model
- Building A Sellable Amazon Business (THIS WEEK-1/10. REGISTER)
- Daneen England, Seller Success Story! Rising Like A Phoenix and THRIVING in 2016 After Their Warehouse BURNED DOWN (1/19)
- Listing Writing Strategy Session with Karon Thrackston (1/26)
- Etsy Basics (2/2)
- SELLER SUCCESS STORIES – This series of posts gives you a peek into the lives of many sellers who succeed in different ways. Whether it be part time or full time, they are growing and thriving.
- Q1 – A Most Wonderful Time Of Year
- Arbitrage, Is it Viable?
- Selling On Swap.com
- White Label
- Top 25 RA Tips & Strategies
Joy sells online on eBay and Amazon. She has been at it part time for 5 years and went full time in 2016. She does a bit of consulting but mostly earns her living from her online sales business.
“For the last 6 years I was responsible for running someone else’s company. While it was a job I loved, I realized all that energy could be spent growing my own business and affording me more freedom over my life and my schedule. If I am going to be married to my work I want it to be my own business not someone else’s.
I started out selling primarily Health and Beauty items, mostly limited edition and discontinued makeup. My eBay business originally was comprised entirely of Retail Arbitrage. Now I also do vintage and thrifted items on eBay in addition to RA. I sell in a variety of categories on Amazon…toys, clothes, grocery, health and beauty, video games and more! I am 99% RA, 1% OA and am in the very early stages of finding a manufacturer for my first PL product.”
“Since I went full time growth has been amazing, and revenue for the year between Amazon and eBay will be in the 6 figures.”
“I have a daughter who is 23 and in college studying business management, and a son who is 22 and works full time as a material handler. I am a coffee junkie and am an admin in the Facebook group, The Thrifting Board, which focuses on helping sellers who sell vintage and thrifted goods on eBay with a little Amazon mixed in. I’ve been blessed by a lot of sellers who’ve helped me along the way so I love to pay it forward helping in that group. Vintage Levi’s are kind of my area of expertise.”
What Does She Love About Scanner Monkey?
“I adore how welcoming and friendly the group is. And so knowledgeable! I love how active and positive Jay and Cordelia are in the group.”
Many people in the retail or e-commerce world will tell you that Q4 is the best time of year. There can be a big bump in sales, however, Q1 can also be a lucrative time.
My first Q1 was kind of a disaster or as some would say, “a learning experience.” After beginning selling on Amazon in Sept of 2013, I had focused entirely on sourcing product to sell in December. I sold ornaments, toys, gingerbread houses, games, and more toys. Did I mention toys? I bought at Toys R Us, Walgreens and more and easily made 100% ROI on most of my purchases. I was able to make the down payment on a new car for my husband for his Christmas present. Not just a new car for us but a real new car. Life was good. Then came January. I knew there would be a “dip” in my sales but I actually experienced more of an icy cold plunge. My first January payout from Amazon was around $100. I worked hard in 2014 to learn like crazy so that this type of sales dip would not happen in 2015. Here is a summary of my own experiences as well as some of the collective knowledge I’ve gained from the amazing community of sellers I’m in.
- New Years brings fitness resolutions to Q1. People buy sports equipment, clothing, socks shoes, and more. Start stocking those items as early as possible as stores start bringing in spring clothing soon and people still want their winter fitness wear.
- There are some major shopping holidays in Q1. A few of the items you can sell are party supplies, specialty grocery items (look for holiday limited edition flavors), decorations, wreaths (yes, lots of people put up Valentine’s wreaths), holiday themed clothing, temporary tattoos, makeup, decorative lights (make sure to check if they are ok to sell on Amazon), yard decorations, garden flags, table cloths, kids art projects, and plush.
- Chinese/Lunar New Year – Jan 28th
- Super Bowl Sunday – Feb 5th
- Valentine’s Day – Feb 14th
- Mardi Gras – Feb 28th
- St. Patrick’s Day – Mar 17th
- Easter – April 16th (Technically this is Q2 but start stocking up in Q1)
- Linens are big in February. Lots of big stores do their annual “white sale” or bedding sales this month. People have fixing up their homes on the mind.
- Trade show and conferences resume in Q1. Check your local urban conference centers for “off the beaten path” trade shows that are within a drive of your home and start there. Connect with wholesalers, white labelers and other professionals that can help you grow your business. Traveling to larger shows such as ASD in Vegas can be good too. Just make sure that you have a clear strategy when attending a show that will help you earn more.
- Expand your current relationships. Take the time in Q1 to personally call all of your wholesale accounts and connect. See what their thoughts are, how they are doing and if you can help them in any way. If their products provide you with a good chunk of income, an in person visit might be just the thing to cement your relationship and build confidence. Check to see if they will produce exclusives just for you to increase their bottom line and yours.
- Use your knowledge to create your own products. Whether you create your own information, print on demand merchandise, white label from another manufacturer, or private label your own brand, learn more and grow your selection of unique products.
- Analyze your data from 2016. See what products were the most profitable. Sometimes our perception of our most profitable areas and the actual data do not agree. Look at profit in terms of percent, dollars and time spent.
I hope these tips will help you smoothly continue to grow in the beginning of 2017. My Q1s have grown to be much more profitable than that first $100 one in 2014. I look forward to 2017 and what it will bring.
What are your Q1 tips and fears? Please comment!
Recently we polled our members to see how they are sourcing products for their Amazon and online ecommerce businesses. This was the result.
Although this is a small sample of our total membership, I was surprised by the results. A majority of people are still sourcing via arbitrage, whether it be online or in store. This is definitely a somewhat risky but profitable model in the short term.
This leads me to wonder, what is the future of arbitrage? Is it a sustainable business model? I will say yes with some major reservations.
- This model will become harder and harder to do on Amazon.com as the rules are tightened, brands are restricted and inauthentic claims are harder and harder to fight.
- Those who have been doing it successfully for at least a year are at a bigger advantage because they have achieved some mastery and cash flow.
- While Amazon.com may be more challenging, those who can adapt to international marketplaces such as Amazon in Europe and Linio in Latin America will thrive. (Linio will be adding major shipping functionality from the US in 2017 which will make it a much better fit for arbitrage than it is now.) Many people in other countries are desperate for our brand name goods and the seller marketplace and warehouses are not nearly as congested as the US ones are. Developing countries in particular will be great for arbitrage such as Latin America (Linio.com), India (Amazon.com), and even China.
- Sellers who learn international marketplaces besides Amazon will be at a huge advantage. For example, if selling in the UK, what other marketplaces besides Amazon make sense for selling?
- Sellers who can sell in multiple marketplaces will be safer. For example, selling on Ebay, Jet, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and even local will be able to fully capitalize on their deal sourcing capabilities.
Arbitrage is still a viable business model for many but keep a lean inventory to make sure that pivots are not too costly. The days of just send it into Amazon and move on are over. Accounts must be much more closely monitored, records kept better and growth strategies must be employed.
I would love to hear YOUR arbitrage experiences and opinions. Please comment below.
We secure exclusive discounts for our members without any affiliate links. As you dive deeper into this business you will realize that there are many products, books, services, conferences, and courses out there. They are great for speeding up the learning curve and saving you TIME.
Many of our members tell us that discounts alone help pay for their membership.
Cyber Monkey Deals
- Automated Online Sourcing from over 40 stores – including Walmart, Toys R Us, Disney Store, Walgreens, Think Geek, Target, Kohls, Mattel, Boscov’s, Hot Topic, Rite Aid….and many more!
- 10% OFF First Year Subscription – Plans range from $20 – $45 per month.
- Inventory & Order Management Software is now available at 20% OFF the monthly starter, standard, OR pro subscriptions.
- Trackintory is the ONLY software that keeps track of your profits, cost of goods, and ROI without leaving Seller Central and Amazon. You can see it in action by viewing their brief video demos.
- The price for AMZSuite is normally $79 per month but for us it’s $49 per month! That’s more than 35% OFF!.
- This repricer can help you to stay ahead of competition and win more Buy Boxes. Offer good for new users only, promotional code must be used at sign up.
- Receive 20% off your first year.
- Chrome Extension to streamline your product research on Amazon. Extract rank, sales volume, estimated revenue, found out where product is being sold on other sites, source product and more without ever exiting your browser.
- 30% OFF!
- This repricer is 50% off the first month’s payment, an additional 10% off the first year’s bill, and 50% off monthly plan for BigData.
- Sell your FBA merchandise on Jet.com. Promo is for 15% off.
- Ryan Grant created a chrome extension to help FBA sellers print shipping labels to a 4×6 printer with one click. Normally costs $30 a year but Scanner Monkey’s get a discount of 33%.
- A tool to manage customer communications and encourage feedback. Members receive an extra 1000 FREE emails.
How Many? Chrome Extension
- This is a great OA tool that shows how many items other sellers have in stock on an Amazon listing WITHOUT having to use the 999 cart trick!
- Receive $2.50 off per month for an entire year (originally $8.95/month….now only $6.45/month)!
- Automates the process of cross listing your FBA inventory on eBay. Monkeys get 10 FREE listings FOREVER (standard is 2.)
- This PL search tool is $20 OFF!
- Use this spy tool to see what keywords people are using and are in the listing for any ASIN. You can research your competition with a reverse lookup and use those key words in your own listings and PPC campaigns. Get 25% MORE credits when you buy credits
Ki Oui Apps
- Ki Magic: Use this self learning algorithmic repricer OR use rules to control repricing. Free unlimited trial for up to 50 SKUs AND receive 20% OFF THE FIRST YEAR.
- Ki MCF (Amazon to eBay lister) : List your Amazon SKUs on eBay, order fulfillment is automated using MCF (multi channel fulfillment). Free unlimited listings. Pay only if you sell! 20% OFF THE FIRST YEAR.
- See what Amazon users are searching for. Amazing keyword data for product research and creating listings. 70% OFF! Only $9/month.
- Turns search pages into scouting reports! – It’s like having x ray vision for online arbitrage! 10% Off!
- Scan and download buy lists with this app. 3 months for the price of 1!
- Use this to get a list of refunds that are owed you so that you can open cases and be fully in compliance with Amazon’s TOS. Normally $99 a year, promo for $10 off.
- 60 day free trial (instead of the standard 30)
- An extra 30 days free will be added to your account. For NEW users only.
- RevSeller is a chrome extension that helps speed up product research. It is an On-page Estimator and Variation Viewer. This is a great tool for sourcing Shoes & Clothing. Normally the cost is $99/year. Scanner Monkey Members get it for $79/year – 20% off! Everyone gets a free 30 day trial – no credit card required.
- Sign up for a Free 30-day Trial of any Shoeboxed plan and receive an additional 25% off your first 6 months!
- Get an extra 10% with annual subscription. New customers only.
Top 5000 Software
- Dean Jayroe and his team have developed an amazing program that helps you find the most popular selling products by sales rank on Amazon, including the ones that Amazon doesn’t usually show you!
- This TOP 5,000 SOFTWARE is available now and NORMALLY costs $25/month or $275/yr. Monkeys receive a 20% DISCOUNT to our tribe that reduces the cost to $20/month and $225.50/yr (one month free)
Bubblefast Shipping Supplies
- 15% discount on ALL shipping supplies (except clearance).
- SCANFOB® IS A REGISTERED TRADEMARK OF SERIALIO LTD. ScanFob 2006 Wireless Laser Barcode Scanner. Scanfob®3002i discount of $30 lowering the price from $479 to $449. KDC200 and KDC200i are discounted by $15 each. Scanfob® 2006 Scanner w/ Cover and Retracting Gear Reel discounted $20
- 15% off purchases for Scanner Monkeys
Books, Courses, Shows, & Services
Unstoppable Amazon Academy
- An ongoing video course offered by Robyn Johnson with over 50 modules and new updates added regularly that cover beginning and intermediate topics from Retail Arbitrage, to Wholesale, to Hiring a Virtual Assistant to Goal Setting to Outsourcing.
- $15 OFF per month or $100 OFF per year
Amazon FBA Launch Pad by Amy Feierman
- Amy shows you step by step how to get your FBA biz started.
- She also talks about how it’s different from Ebay so it’s good for those switching over. 20% off
Amazon Advantage: Product listing strategies to boost your sales by Karon Thackston
- A wonderful and methodical book on creating compliant and effective Amazon listings. 40% Off!
The Complete Guide to Reimbursement by Ryan Grant
- Get 50% off. Learn how to get back money that Amazon owes you with this great guide!
How to Keepa Camel?
- Stephen Smotherman’s book and video course today and is giving our tribe an exclusive $30 OFF (drops price from $87 to $57). This comprehensive training shows you not only how to fully utilize these tools to help you make better buying decisions, but also gives excellent real world examples on different products.
Katharyne Shelton’s Blue Sky Create
- Create is a megacourse that teaches how to create your own products via white label, private label, as well as bundling, coloring books and merch. Katharyne demonstrates how to use the tool Blue Sky Suite to get ideas on what and how to sell. Her previous courses, the Bundling Masterclass, Adult Coloring Books and Facebook Masterclass are all included in the new course. Course is $197, $50 discount.
Pinterest for Ecommerce by Lisa Suttora
- Learn how to harness the marketing power of this incredibly effective social media site.
- Regularly $197, we receive 20% off
Time Tempest with Aryeh
- Learn strategies to grow your business faster than most people and have more time to spend doing the things you love. 50% Off.
My Fulfillment Team with John Bullard
- NO MINIMUM requirement for Scanner Monkeys and the cost will be $.60 per unit (this rate normally applies to 100+ pieces).
- This fee includes: receiving, unboxing, inspecting, inventorying, and labeling your merchandise. There are additional fees for boxing, bundling, and extra labeling.
Marshall’s, Burlington, Ross, & Tj Maxx RA Groups with Brian Freifelder & Elizabeth Thompson
- Two Amazing RA Sourcing groups with Expert analysis and leads from Brian & Elizabeth and contributors Kim and Perry. There will be a minimum of 100 items shared per month per group. Since Aug 2015, they have posted over 4,600 leads in their groups for these stores. The number of members per group will be capped at 100. They are the only deal group that limits how many people from each region will be allowed to join to prevent market saturation! Normally, the cost is $100/month per group or $180 per month for both groups. However, the rate for Scanner Monkey members is $90 per group or $162 for both groups!
- Fee reduction of 7%. Normally, they retain 25%, but for Scanner Monkeys they will reduce their fee to 18% of total reimbursements!
- 30-day free trial (rather than their standard 14-day trial) to FeedbackFive and RestockPro, as well as 150 free credits for eComSpy.
- This is an EVERGREEN deal that includes personal, one-on-one training for each of you – from set-up to ongoing support on each of your accounts.
- “Lightning fast wholesale lists analysis (w built-in Amazon Storefront Spying and Brand analysis).
- “It’s AMAZING!” 40% discount available for first month FREE DEMO TODAY”
We are always looking for new discounts. If we see the tribe buzzing about this awesome new service, book, or course, we will try to secure a discount. We love helping our monkeys and in doing so, we also help the creators of these products by bringing them new awesome customers!
Get access to these discounts plus much more!
Join Scanner Monkey RIGHT NOW <—- Click
It was 3 years ago in October that I opened the doors to Scanner Monkey with an invitation to a select few Facebook buddies to join my quirky little group where we could “swap funny stories about sourcing and maybe share a few BOLOs”.
What started with 3 members and a banner that read “Scanner Monkeys of the World Unite” has since grown into an extraordinary community of positive minded and generous online sellers with the unifying purpose of helping each other succeed – while having fun and making new friends in the process. [If you want more history on the group and how we have evolved you can read about it in our book The Scanner Monkey Way.]
I’ve always been a pretty nostalgic guy and I enjoy looking back at the humble beginnings of ANY great success story to see how things have evolved. After reviewing the Scanner Monkey Facebook group posts and the ScannerMonkey.com website, I was astonished to see how much we have grown in a short 3 years! Here are some interesting stats of what our tribe has collectively accomplished since 2013:
- We’ve recorded 139 SMTV webcasts – each week featuring a successful seller or industry expert with actionable strategies.
- Recruited 90 coaches, educators, and vendors to help our tribe with various facets of their businesses.
- Secured 44 EXCLUSIVE discounts on FBA related software, services, apps, conferences, and books.
- Connected with over 400 members at 11 conferences & meetups.
- Coordinated 2 “Pay It Forward” Days – with over $10,000 worth of prizes going to our members.
- We’ve had more fun than a barrel of monkeys by hosting 4 karaoke parties and one cruise with 54 attendees!
Most importantly, we now have 1,300 supportive members in our tribe! Our members, that range from part-time newbies to multi-million dollar mega-sellers, have always been THE most important asset of Scanner Monkey! I can confidently say that NO OTHER group is as supportive or positive-minded as the Scanner Monkey group. Yes, I might be a little biased, but I see examples of it every single day in our group. For that I feel extremely blessed to be a part of such a supportive community that truly understands the value of sharing with others so that we can grow together.
So how did we celebrate 3 years of supporting, connecting, learning and growing together? By giving away a gaggle of prizes donated by our awesome members! Here is just a sample of the great prizes we awarded to our members that entered our daily contests last week AND live on our special 3rd Anniversary SMTV show:
- 1 month subscription to CyberMonkeyDeals.com
- 1 month subscription to Quincy Lin’s GatedList.com shoe sourcing list (Saturday edition)
- 1 bundle coaching session with Irma Dehoyos-Rojas
- 1 on 1 coaching call with Bob Willey
- 1 month subscription to John Groleau’s Dinosourcing Predators Group (Retail Arbitrage)
- 1 month subscription to the Becki Cornwell’s Threads & Treads Sourcing Group (shoes & clothing flips)
- 1 month subscription to either the TJ Maxx / Marshalls sourcing group or the Ross / Burlington Coat Factory sourcing group thanks to Brian Freifelder & Elizabeth Thompson
- Robyn Johnson’s Q4 Boot Camp
- Self seal poly bag combo pack from Mark Levine at Bubble Fast.
- 100 items of inventory prepped and shipped by Texas Prep, Pack, and Ship.
In order to win these prizes we asked our members to enter contests where they shared advice. Examples included their “Best #TuesdayTip” or “Tips to share with NEW Scanner Monkey members”. This way EVERYONE wins – either a prize OR great advice from other members. Between the FB contests and the live contest on our SMTV show we had over 100 entries, with 22 winners claiming over $4,300 worth of prizes! The winners included: Kim Coghlan, Sherry Morton, Dan Engler, Anita Hampl, Bond Chris Bond, Elizabeth Thompson, Ann Whitford Poppe, and many more!
Happy Anniversary Scanner Monkeys! I look forward to the NEXT 3 YEARS with my Scanner Monkey family!
In a recent email to sellers, Amazon further refines the ecommerce role that they want to play in the marketplace.
“In the past, one unit of each ASIN in storage has been exempt from the twice-annual Long-Term Storage Fee. Effective with the February 15, 2017, Long-Term Storage Fee assessment, this exemption will end. A Long-Term Storage Fee will be assessed on all inventory that has been in a U.S. fulfillment center for six months or more. There are no additional changes to the Long-Term Storage Fee at this time, other than there will no longer be a single-unit exemption effective February 15, 2017.
You can, however, remove these units for free: Starting today, September 19, 2016, we will reimburse you for the return fee or disposal fee for one unit of every ASIN for which you file a removal order. This promotion applies to inventory in U.S. or Canada fulfillment centers and expires end of day October 14, 2016, after which time normal removal-order fees will apply.”
Amazon, as the “everything store” had an emphasis on the availability of, well, everything. In order to do this, they were willing to house and store a large variety of items provided by third party sellers so that a customer could look on Amazon for that obscure textbook, rare bra size or discontinued toy and have it shipped for free as part of their Prime subscriptions. With Amazon’s business growing exponentially, and warehouses filling as fast as they are built, this strategy is changing.
Amazon sellers have been adjusting to their further restrictions on warehouse storage for a while now. Amazon wants our inventory levels to be low enough so that we do not carry more than a 6 months supply of any product unless we are willing to pay a high storage fee. Until last week, sellers could keep 1 of any item in stock with no long term storage fees which allowed for the stocking of rare books and other hard to find items, this is no longer the case.
Now, the fee structure and communication that sellers are receiving is letting us know that Amazon wants to be the place for popular items. They want items that will sell in the next few months and that’s about it. It’s a mass business that is far more profitable and predictable overall for them but less welcoming to the treasure hunter or picker. These sellers stock items that may sell for hundreds of dollars but appeal to a very specific buyer who may not even look for this item for 8 or 15 months from when it is sent in. Source the rare book, prep it and send it in to Amazon and then as Ron Popeil said, “Set it and forget it”.
This business model is not one that is helping with Amazon’s new plans so they are discontinuing it. As a way to help sellers transition, at least, we can have these items returned to us for free until Oct. 14th 2016. This is actually very helpful. For those who stock thousands of books, having them returned for a fee of $.50 each or disposed of for $.15 each can really add up. It also means that the prime fulfilled rare book may be coming to an end.
Impact On The Individual Book And Other Long Term Item Seller
This cost of storage is now an issue so each item will have to be carefully evaluated to see if it is worth storing and selling via FBA (fulfilled by Amazon). The business model will have to be adjusted significantly and those with greater expertise will continue to succeed, perhaps even to a greater extent. When any business become harder, it means that those who are willing to do extra work can be rise to the top.
New Business Opportunities Arise
In online used clothing sales, there has been a rise of more customer focused niche sites such as Swap.com (see our blog post about that here) as well as Instragram and Facebook selling. The used clothing item, which had formerly been the domain of eBay, thrift stores and garage sales is now upscaling and diversifying as more and more customers look online and want a used product shopping experience that is seamless and enjoyable. There used to be a wide range of online book stores and used books sites that were gobbled up by Amazon and eBay such as Half.com. Currently there are used book sellers that do a huge business on Amazon with both FBA and MF sides to their businesses. They are large companies with warehouses and staffing and may be in a position to take further domination of this used book market with warehoused and shipped merchandise that is sourced by third party sellers. Sites that have not been able to get off the ground due to Amazon’s domination may now have a shot as over time, the selection of hard to find items goes down on this giant retailer. We may see the rise of more corporate online second hand stores that provide an Amazon style shopping experience for buyers and an outlet for the selling of millions of hard to find items.
Another sales opportunity for these hard to find books is to convert them to Createspace and Kindle e-books. There is a business model where authors and estates are contacted by a consultant and a revenue share is put in place. Out of print but in in demand books can be made available and accessible. Perhaps these hard to find books can even be sold more, if the price goes down because it’s a print on demand (POD) product. Are you the professional who knows enough to contact these people and work with them? For many authors or their descendants, understanding Amazon’s POD system is just not a priority so the knowledgeable book seller can switch to a role as a service provider.
Regardless of your plan to adapt, think hard about your inventory levels and take advantage of this free grace period from Amazon.
We’d love to hear what you think and how you will adapt to these new changes. Please comment below.
The friendship and support. The laughs and the compassion. The variety of business models. The humor.
I originally heard of selling on Swap.com in 2015. There have been so many niche marketplaces, I really did not give it much thought. For used merchandise, Ebay and Amazon still seemed like the places to be that had both the easiest interface for sellers and the most customers. There has been a lot of publicity lately on changes to both the Amazon and Ebay marketplaces by their respective CEOs (Jeff Bezos since the days of the dinosaurs and David Wenig since 2014).
I have changed my tune and come to see Swap as a contender for these reasons:
- Swap’s product selection has grown. Originally they just had toys and kids clothes then added some women’s wear. Now they also carry men’s. Their women’s department has a very good selection of plus size clothing which is still a very underserved market.
- People love shopping on swap so much that they literally make youtube videos of themselves opening their boxes of goodies. Can you imagine doing that with the latest box of stuff from Amazon?
- I love shopping on Swap. I now buy clothing for myself and both of my kids there and look there first for toy purchases as well.
- The photos and listing are created by their staff so there is a visual and content consistency to the catalog that eBay lacks.
- They warehouse everything so if you buy 6 things, it all arrives in one fabulous branded box (sound familiar?).
- The customer experience is the best of I’ve seen of any used shopping website and they are scaling and growing rapidly.
In the past they’ve had an issue with seller boxes accumulating for months as they did not have the staffing to keep up with the influx of goods. Their recent fundraise, some policy and fee changes, and subsequent warehouse and staffing expansion is helping with this backlog.
So how do you sell there?
Their acceptance criteria is pretty strict. They are looking for current clothing, here is what they say, “Our best sellers are fashion forward items, that have been in the mall/department stores in the last 3 years.” It must be in new or like new condition as well. Read here about their full acceptance criteria in every category.
Here are the selling on Swap.com details:
- Swap fees are 30% of the sell price of each item plus a $1.50 fee. So the payout on a $10 item is $5.50. Payouts are disbursed via PayPal every 2 weeks.
- All the seller does is ship the items in and then price them, every other part of the sales process (including listing and photographing) is handled by Swap.com staff.
- Box size for inbound items must be no larger than 20″ x 20″ x 20″ with a maximum weight of 50lbs. A MEDIUM box from either Home Depot or Lowes is just under that size. You can also use a bag that is 24″ x 24″. Read full packing instructions here.
- Each box costs $11.90 if you print a label and for $14.90 they will send you a box. (This is up from their original price of $8.90.) Drop your loaded up and labeled inbound box at any FedEx location.
- Each item will be reviewed and either accepted or rejected. Rejects can be returned to the seller or else disposed of. They are looking for a reject rate of less than 20% per box.
- Sellers can only ship in 3 boxes per month. It is unclear as to whether they will allow sellers who consistently send in good boxes (with less than 20% reject rate) to send in more product eventually.
- Accepted items can be stored for up to 9 months before incurring a storage fee.
- Sellers are encouraged to engage in swaps of their items for other items. Their swapping policy is here.
- If an accepted item has not sold in 45 days, sellers have the option of selling it directly to Swap.com as part of their SureSell Guarantee. They will pay up to 30% of the item’s average new retail price.
I do not have any great conclusions from a sellers perspective yet. I’ve met several sellers who make a nice side income from selling on Swap. It can be a good way to dispose of Amazon returns. If you source and low cost items it may be a useful additional stream of income. We will be doing some testing of the sales process and will update this post in the next few months.
Please let us know what you think. As a seller and a buyer.
What is a white label product?
White label is when you order a product from an established manufacturer with your own branding on it. It’s essentially the same thing they already sell but now you have your own brand. If you order a high enough quantity you may even be able to get it customized. It can be a much lower cost way to make your own product to sell online. If you are knowledgable about trends and niches then you can take your knowledge and apply it to develop something exciting and unique. Then set up a brand on Amazon.com, register for the brand registry and be the “owner” of this online. White labeling is more about up front research. You can dive in with a much lower budget than with other types of product development such as private label.
We asked white label expert Katharyne Shelton, of the Blue Sky Create Course and Suite, about her thoughts on this. She gave us this tip, “Emotion is powerful! It drives customers to hit the ‘buy’ button and if they feel really strongly, they’ll hit the ’share’ button too and brag about their purchase. No one wants to tell the world about a boring trip to Target for paper towels. But if Bounty put skulls and tattooed mermaids on the paper you’d be all over that! Well, someone would. With Christmas on the way, it’s time to stock up on items that your buyers will OBSESS about! It’s never been easier to get a unique product made – and how much competition is there on mermaid paper towels? (None!)”
As Amazon sellers, price management can be a big deal. Good repricing is not about lowering to keep up with the competition on shared listings but tweaking higher. Basically, sellers want to charge the highest amount that they can for an item and still sell it at a particular velocity. In the past, automatic repricers have come with a hefty price tag, with a good one running no less than $50 a month and some which are based on selling algorithms can run thousands per month based on sales volume.
Amazon just released it’s own repricer that comes free with a professional sellers account ($39.99/month), called Automate Pricing (still in Beta). As Amazon says, “Pricing rules change your prices automatically in response to events like Buy Box or lowest price changes.”
It will allow you some automation that you can base on your own costs however it will only allow you to lower your price not raise it automatically. As sellers we want to charge the highest price the market will bear, and as a company Amazon wants sellers to be lowering prices constantly. This benefits them, because they still receive their fees on each sale and happy customers, but not us, because as sellers our profit goes DOWN. Many sellers think that this will open up the repricing field to beginners who will choose a quick sale over profit and then prices will plummet. Additionally it is not even in the same field with algorithmic repricers such as Feedvisor, which will allow you to set a rule to the effect of, “Set the price within this range so that 4 of these per day sell,”. It also jumps down to the lowest price rather then doing incremental drops which further narrows profit margins. Repricer, Appeagle did a good blog post explaining this.
So, it looks like if you want to have the ability to raise prices or maximize drops to maximize profits then Automate Pricing is not for you. If you want to set some basic rules do allow for price drops to sell out more quickly then it’s a good feature and you can’t beat the price.
In light of the recent discussions over the future of RA [see recent blog post by Cynthia Stine, “Is Arbitrage Dead?“], I thought I would share some thoughts . For those of you who may not know much about me, I have been selling on Amazon full time for a little over 4 years. During that time I have sold close to $3 million, 99% from RA. My business hasn’t really grown as I sold my first million in 18 months and have averaged around $600k a year. As those with me from the beginning know, I have diversified across RA going from Health and Beauty, to Grocery, then toys and now Clothing and Shoes. This has been my way to adjust to the adversities I have encountered. Others have grown their business and many have moved into Wholesale, Liquidation and Private Label. I have written a couple of books and started many others. My latest book will cover my experience from start to finish as I anticipate my voluntary extinction at the end of this year.
I drafted up a chart to explain how I feel about the different modalities of sourcing for Amazon and offer it up here for the Scanner Monkey tribe. The chart is based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:
Basically in a nutshell, Retail Arbitrage/Thrifting are the equivalent level of Freshman year in college. A necessary component.
For me I am kind of like a black and white photography professor. I teach you to get proper lighting with F-stops and how to pick the right angle, developing film in a dark room etc. I leave the digital and advanced photography to others. Does that mean that if you are going to be a digital photographer or work in animation or another form of videography that you shouldn’t take Introduction to Photography. No, I think it is very important, just as I think it is important for a Neuro Surgeon to have taken Anatomy in lower levels of their education.
Are there photographers who still do black and white photography and develop their own film? Yes, and many are very successful, sought after and very wealthy. However, the trend is leaning towards other mediums and sadly so seems to be the case with Amazon.
“So John, where does that leave us?” For me, business as usual. I am trying to grow my business a little and have involved family in that endeavor. Will I stop sourcing RA because of the possibility that they will not accept receipts from retail stores. Not at this time. Do I see this as another shot fired across the bow? Most definitely. Do I recommend RA as a way to start a business selling on Amazon? Yes! To me it is definitely the right path. What you learn, the product knowledge you gain, will only make you more prepared to be successful at the other levels.
Ok T-rex, like you I am a hard charging RA ground pounder who is selling over $300k a year and just quit my job, what should I do? That, of course, is up to your particular circumstances but as Cynthia’s blog post reads, Amazon ‘may’ take steps that ‘if’ you get inauthentic claims, you will not be able to use retail receipts to defend yourself. What is new? Amazon has been unreasonable in the past and will be so in the future. I have said on numerous occasions that selling on Amazon is basically gambling. To me, a new dealer has just sat down at the table and there are signs he/she may have marked the deck. Complaining to management won’t help, he is management. Do I run crying into the night? Did I when they suspended me two years ago? No, I buckle down, pay attention and try to play by the new rules.
So in summary, RA as a method of sourcing for FBA, may be going by the wayside. Makes no sense to me, but hey, Amazon is a self-serving entity and they will do what they will do. Many are fearful. Don’t be, but be cautious. If you were planning on opening a warehouse next month and hiring five people to do RA for Q4, you may want to reconsider. Growth at this time, may not be the best use of your money. Notice I said ‘may’. If I receive an e-mail or an official policy notification from Amazon that leads me to believe they don’t want my stuff I will slowly move in to other modalities. If I get suspended or see many others get suspended because of Amazon’s new policy I will focus on leaving Amazon totally. Any company that bites the hand of the person that is feeding it which is exactly what would be happening, does not deserve my food.
I am not fearful of new developments, I am cautious. To me the real concern should be for those who are selling non-exclusive wholesale. We have seen how profits have diminished when supply outpaces demand. If large RA sellers start putting their sourcing budget in to wholesale, I personally think that will diminish the returns in that arena. As for Private Label, sourcing from China is like playing Roulette with a .38 revolver. In the past you had one bullet out of five. If Trump is elected, you may see different importation regulations that put a hiatus on that endeavor. (Second Bullet) Also isn’t the whole reason for the discussion counterfeits ? where do they come from? (Third Bullet) Did John just say that! Creating local, American made Private Label items to me would be the best solution at this time.
Once again, this is all opinion and of course may differ from yours. I offer it simply as someone who has seen the ups and downs of business. I wish everyone a most prosperous Q4!
~ John Groleau (aka “T-Rex”)
We’d like to offer this post to the communty so that we can maintain a list as a community of restricted brands to sell on Amazon. These are brands that Amazon either has historically not allowed us to sell or new ones. Please post what you’ve learned.
This is not official but simply the shared knowledge of other sellers (cause that’s how we roll at Scanner Monkey).