Case Study: Rank Changes

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

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

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

Photo 1: Beginning of Case Study 1

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

How to Create a Listing

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

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

Before you get started you will need

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

    Ready? Let’s do this!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    8. Remember, the red is the bare minimum you have to fill out. I fill out more, based on what I know.

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

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

  • Earning Cash Back Online

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

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

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

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

     

    Learn the Basics to Sourcing Online

    Hey All!

    Want to learn to source online for FBA? I’ve put together an eBook that teaches you the basics of sourcing online. I literally go through the steps of how I source, the browser I use and my process. Once you learn this step, I teach you how to speed up the process with free tools. This 16-page eBook has zero fluff so you learn it, and apply it in the same day. We will discuss using Amazon and ebay to find products too. Get tips on signing up for programs to save you money, all with helpful links.

    Learn more at learntosource.com

     

     

    Appeagle Repricer Review

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

    1. A repricer is a necessary evil.

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

    2. Software is both meticulous but worth it.

    Appeagle has some fun settings on their repricing software. You can set a minimum, maximum, or just your magic number. Okay, I’m calling it a magic number, but its just a fixed price that won’t fluctuate. How does this minimum, maximum thing work? If Widget A is currently selling for $29. You know after fees that you must make $8 to break even, you can set your minimum for the bare minimum you want to accept, and yes, the maximum to keep a reality check on products. Don’t worry, the repricer won’t automatically drop you down to $8. It will only go 1 penny below your closest competition. Bad news? If Widget A’s competition has a repricer with a minimum price too- you might go back and forth until you both reach the minimum prices. Why a maximum you ask? Well, some people like to throw numbers from nowhere into the sales price field. Like one bottle of shampoo could be priced $999. Well, if you’re the only other competition, and the bottle should sell for $19, guess what will happen? Yes you will be $998.99. I don’t configure the maximum price for all of my products, but for ones I’m only competing with one or two others for, I’ll add a maximum for good measure.

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

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

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

    4. The verdict is, I like Appeagle.

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

    5. One last point: Appeagle was easy.

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

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

    July Income Report

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

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

    Let’s talk the numbers:

    Description
    Amount
    Notes
    Gross Sales4032.574754 June
    Total Fees/Expenses(1707.46)1500 June
    Cost of Goods(1556.00)1480 June OUCH
    Supplies(172.63)Tax Jar, Arizona sourcing, labels, more misc supplies. Should be minimal in August
    Net Profit596.48$1047 June
    Hours Worked11.50$51.86 // $47.63 Per Hour JUNE

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

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

    Aged Inventory, Oh My!

    I received an aged-inventory email earlier this week. A friendly reminder came to my email today. Here’s a copy. As you can see, I have a lovely 53 units that are too old and not moving that Amazon is going to charge me a fun sum of $25 for the space they are taking in their warehouse. So what do I do now?

    fba aged inventory letterSince this is my first time receiving this letter, I’ve gotta make some movement before I get this fee- and hey, I probably should move that inventory already.

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

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

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

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

    So this means I have three fun tabs open today:

    1. Recommended Removal Report

    2. Appeagle for repricing

    3. Manage Inventory tab

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

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

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

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

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

     

     

    June Income Report

    This month, I decided to do something a bit different and keep track of the hours I work. Because my gross income has been drastically fluctuating, I’ve decided to watch the time I put in to ensure I’m getting a decent return on my (time) investment.

    Finally all settled in, the chaos from moving is over. The “shop” is getting set up, and aside from a bit of chaos of random stranded inventory under tables – things are starting to get organized.

    In May I grossed nearly $7000, and to see June’s numbers I’m a big shocked to see them. I’m not sure any real explanation is available. During the month of June I did use a free trial on a repriced. I decided to aggressively sell some OLD product and that way I can use that money to get fresh better product. Other than that, I don’t have much explanation.

    Two grocery bundles were sent in during the month of June and I’m sad to say they haven’t moved at all. The rank was 50k, and 150k respectively and there is only one other FBA seller on the item. So, we’ll keep an eye on that. The good news is that I sent in one of the products included in the bundle and that item is moving faster than I can keep up with. I’ve got about 30 on the way to me and I’ll probably triple that purchase if it sells as quickly as I expect it to. As it stands, the item has no other FBA seller so I’m stoked. The tricky thing now is staying under the Amazon radar to make sure I don’t lose out on this regional grocery item.

    In other news, an order my VA placed went to my OLD house, so that locked up about $300 in purchase money (at least $1000 in retail value). The box went back to the company and they are refunding me. This was truly my fault as I do the finalizing of the order. But, thinking on the bright side – my VA is cutting out my time, if only I could get my address straight when I go to enter my credit card info.

    I’ll let you see the numbers below and then we’ll talk about hours.

    Description
    Amount
    Notes
    Gross Sales 4754.93$6946.62 May
    Total Fees/Expenses(2157.04)2555.56 May
    Cost of Goods(1480.34)$2000 May
    Supplies(69.73)Business renewal, tax jar and misc supplies
    Net Profit 1047.82$2119.09 31%
    Hours Worked22$47.63 Per Hour

    So, in the last row you’ll see I clocked a whopping 22 hours in the month of June. I can’t help but be excited by the amount of time that went in. Think of it as a positive spin to the money that was made. Yes, I only grossed about $4700. Yes, I only netted about $1000. BUT, that $1000 only took 22 hours of my entire month. If I could focus more time on this, even doing 20 hours a week, this could easily become a full time income. For now, I’ll keep logging hours and see how this goes for July.

    Looking Ahead

    I’m focusing hard on getting school supplies into Amazon, dorm room supplies, and Christmas supplies. I’ll keep at the grocery bundles and see where this all takes me!

    Also, look forward to a repricer review later this month as I’m testing another one before I decide who to stick with.

     

    My Must Have FBA Supplies 2014

    People often ask, what supplies do I have to have to get started? I’ve decided to update the list because after a year, I think my recommendations have changed.

    So here we go, in order of importance (to me):

    Item Image
    Item Description
    Cost

    DYMO LabelWriter 450 Turbo
    $76.49

    30334 Labels$9

    30252 Labels
    $9

    16" Heat Sealer
    $62.99

    Wagner Heat Gun
    $22.42

    2" x 2" Suffocation Warning Labels
    $8

    THIS IS A SET Labels
    $12

    Introduction to Sales Tax for Amazon FBA Sellers
    $14

    Box Sizer/Reducer
    $15.99

    Did I miss any? What must haves are in your FBA supplies?

    May Income Report

    Happy June everyone! Before we get to the numbers, we’ll talk about May’s events.

    Moving is Chaos

    During the month of May, I moved (just a few miles down the road) and it really threw a wrench in my plans. My last inbound shipping charge was May 13. I did not make any more shipments during the weekend of my big move (though we just turned the keys in on our townhouse Saturday). I had a few online shipments come in to the new house during the last two weeks. Nothing left the house, and as we speak I have a lot of inventory sitting in the  “FBA office”. I spent 1 hour of physical sourcing, today, and have spent a total of no more than 3 hours sourcing online. My online sourcing now consists of my VA doing research, my reviewing the results and purchasing. I’ve had him place the orders a few times (I come in and enter my CC info).

    Setting Up Shop

    I bought some Uline supplies like polytubing dispensers, and a new sealer this month. I decided to upgrade to a 16″ sealer when I broke the handle on the 12″ one. I bought some folding tables which will be come packing stations in the future.  All that is left to do is spend a day (yes, a full day) packing up everything.

    Good news, there was an uptick in business in May. I’ll let you read about that below.

    Description
    Amount
    Notes
    Gross Sales6946.62$3133 April
    Total Fees/Expenses(2555.56)Almost double from April, which makes sense. $1328 April
    Cost of Goods(2011.00)$902 April
    Supplies(260.97)Big unusual jump - I had to buy a new Dymo printer, supplies for new set up/office, TaxJar, etc. $11 April
    Net Profit2119.0931%

    $891/28% April

    So, as you can see May was my best month this year. $7000 (rather $6946). The only thing that changed at all was the product that was sent in during the beginning of the month. And believe this, my sales tapered off the last week of May.

    Finding Balance

    My goal in June is to really find some balance with things. $7000 gross a month is nice. I profit about $2000, and that’s a happy number considering the amount of work I put into it.  I have a lot of product in the house right now. I have 3 more shipments coming in this week. I’m hoping to empty this office later this week, next Monday at the latest. Trying to find consistency in sending in product, sourcing, and keeping up the energy is really key here.

    Testing Grocery Bundles

    If you haven’t heard the news about Amazon, they launched a new service called PrimePantry. In a nutshell, you can now buy dry goods, paper items and fill one of their “pantry” boxes for $5.99 delivery charge. The prices are competitive with grocery stores.

    With this service coming along, I’m trying to test regional products Amazon is likely to not carry. I’ll be testing two bundles and 5 more items this month to see how it goes.

    Virtual Assistant Doing Great

    My VA, Norris, has been doing a great job of finding new products. I’ll be honest, it is just like sourcing yourself, in that for ever 20 items scanned you may only find 1 good item. Or you could come onto a great category and find 20 good ones. Its a lot like that. We’ve set up our sourcing rules, and learning about bundles now. I’m excited to say we are finding a lot more product than I can keep up with! A good problem to have.

    How did your May go? Comment below about your month of May and goals for June.