7 Things I Desperately Wish I Had Known When I Started on Amazon
If you are looking to start an Amazon FBA business, you will have many things to learn. Right away, allow yourself to be receptive. Be receptive to everything that people have to say out there. Keep your ears open, and don’t try to prejudge the opinions you encounter. That’s what I did, and it really hurt me. I would have been more successful sooner if I had just stopped judging what I heard people around me saying.
So here are the seven things I wish I knew when I first got started on Amazon FBA.
#1: You Can Get Negative Feedback Removed
For a long time, I had negative feedback on my account. I had told myself, “You know what? If I get a negative, that’s the way it is. There’s nothing I can do.” However, there are actually many ways to get negative feedback removed—but that is the subject of another blog post. Honestly, the bottom line is that it is not overly difficult to get negative feedback removed. If I had just taken the time to learn how to do it, I probably would have made that much more money. Truthfully, negatives on your account don’t look good. People hesitate to buy from somebody whose positive feedback is at 70 or 80 percent.
#2: Rank Doesn’t Mean Everything
When I first got started, I thought that rank was the be-all and end-all. Really, rank is just a number floating in time—a snapshot in time based on when the last time an item sold. If you have a book ranked 9,000,000, it doesn’t mean that book won’t sell tomorrow. If that 9,000,000-ranked book does sell, it might drop down to a million or 300,000. Nobody really knows. Amazon has a proprietary algorithm that they really don’t tell sellers about. The point is that rank doesn’t mean everything. What outranks rank? Pay attention to the overall feedback, how many stars it has, and the number of customer reviews.
#3: Invest in the Right Equipment and Software
Getting the right equipment and software would have saved so much time and allowed me to scale my business faster. I recently picked up a Scanfob scanner. This was something I knew I should have had a long time ago, but for one reason or another, I was just lazy. All it is, is a really fast barcode scanner. Normally when you scan 100 or 200 items a day, it might take two hours. Imagine scanning two, three, or even four times faster. Think about the time you would save and the more money that could come rolling in.
Do your research in terms of the best software for your business, whether that’s Inventory Lab or Scan Power or ScanLister. So many software packages can speed up your time. Take a look at the equipment out there. Maybe you need a PDA scanner. Maybe you need a new phone. I can’t tell you how much money I probably lost out on and how many weekends I wasted because I didn’t have the proper equipment to speed up my business processes. Look at it as an investment. Don’t tell yourself, “That’s going to cost a hundred bucks. I don’t have the money.” When you use that piece of equipment, how long will it take to recoup your money? How quickly will you start showing a profit or return on your
investment? And how much money are you missing out on by not utilizing the best equipment?
#4: Get Approved in the Gated Categories as Fast as Possible
What does this mean exactly? Well, Amazon is closing off—“gating”—specific categories, such as groceries, clothing, health and beauty, watches, and sexual wellness. They are blocking so many categories and limiting them only to certain sellers. Sellers are having to apply to get past these limitations to sell items on the Amazon platform.
Getting into gated categories is getting harder and harder day by day. Getting “ungated” is becoming increasingly challenging. Sellers are having to jump through more and more hoops to get ungated. For example, I now wish I would have gotten approved in grocery much earlier when they weren’t requiring any special actions from the sellers to get ungated. Now they want you to send all these invoices in. And when you get them the invoices, they can still say no.
Get ungated as soon as possible. You can be sure that getting into these categories is going to become harder and harder. Imagine you go into a thrift store with a group of potential sellers and me. But in this case, everybody is blocked from buying clothing except me. I’m the only one who is ungated. Who will make more money? I’m going to make more money because you can’t buy the same items that I’m buying. And the same goes if I go into a grocery store with those same people and they are all approved in grocery but I am not. They would be the ones turning over profits on Amazon.
#5: You’ve Got to Pay to Play
You’ve got to invest in your education. You’ve got to invest in courses and paid Facebook groups, like the Green Room, which I run, or Scanner Monkey. There are so many of them out there. There are workshops, seminars, and conferences. If you want to run with the big dogs, you’re going to have to pay to get near them. The reason you want to pay to get near them is because they know what to do to succeed. They’ve already got the processes in line. They know what products to buy and sell. They’ve got systems allowing them to make money in their Amazon FBA businesses. If you want to mimic their success, you don’t have to make it up on your own. You need to model success. Tony Robbins always says the quickest way to succeed isn’t reinventing the wheel—it’s modeling success. It’s finding the
people who are getting the results you want and figuring out what they are doing. Those people are nothing special. Nobody is special—even the millionaires. They have just figured out what actions are getting the results they want.
Say you want to make $5,000 profit per month. Find somebody who is already doing it, and model that person. Just start doing what that individual is doing. Maybe that person’s process is going to these retail stores, scanning clothing items, and buying them. Maybe this someone is buying clothing items
that are under a 20,000 rank or purchasing Ralph Lauren shoes that are under a 40,000 rank. Maybe this person is bundling them with another item. Start doing what the successful people are doing, and put your own spin on it.
#6: Fees Are Not Too High
I started off selling on craigslist and eBay. Many of the eBay folks make the excuse for not selling on Amazon by saying that the fees are too high. The eBay sellers moan that Amazon has these picking and packing fees. They have this storage fee and this 30 percent fee when you sell the item. But it’s not really true. Yes, the fees are a little higher, but you can get so much more money typically selling an item on Amazon. This applies to certain items, of course, but there are a lot of Amazon Prime buyers out there. Amazon ships fast. There is great customer service. There is an awesome return policy. There are a million reasons people want to shop on Amazon.
There are hundreds of millions of credit cards on file with Amazon. For the buyer, the process is seamless. It’s easy; there’s trust. People love shopping on Amazon, and Amazon is so much bigger than craigslist and eBay. I have nothing against eBay. I sell on eBay. I make some good money. But I wish I had gotten started on Amazon sooner. I had this mindset—does this sound familiar?—that the fees were too high and there was no money to be made there. I should have just taken the time to look at it and see what others were doing and how it actually worked.
#7: Figure Out the Inventory Placement Option
What is the inventory placement option? This term might be a little unfamiliar. Say you are selling on Amazon right now doing retail arbitrage on many different types of items—cameras and books and oversized items. Maybe you are doing retail arbitrage and have 50 or 60 of one item. Maybe you are doing wholesale and buying a lot of one single item, a single SKU. Amazon has something called an inventory placement option. Go over to your Amazon seller account page, and go into your FBA settings. There is a setting that allows you to turn on inventory placement. What that means is you can have all of your items go to a single warehouse—but again, this is mostly for single SKUs. I believe it guarantees that a single SKU will go to one place.
Say you have 60 copies of a single book. Without the inventory placement option on, 20 of them might go to Pennsylvania, maybe 30 will go to California, and maybe 10 will go wherever. It just makes it more difficult for you because you have to put the books in various boxes and print out different labels. It takes more time. But saving time is the key. The inventory placement option is not free (something like 20 to 30 cents per item). But it will save you time and even some money on shipping. Maybe all your boxes go to Pennsylvania, and you’re in Connecticut. That’s cheap. Having to send one also to, say,
California could definitely add up.
Learn from the Lessons I Learned the Hard Way
It took me a couple years to figure out these seven things. If I had known them earlier, it would haven gotten me started in this lucrative business much quicker and saved me time and money. Now that you know these lessons, it’s up to you to apply them to your business processes today.
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