If you worry about these things, you’re probably over-thinking your Fulfillment by Amazon business.
I’m probably going to offend some people here, but I can’t help it.
You’ll hear a lot of frantic concern among Amazon sellers about different facets of the business. These are the top 5 that make me roll my eyes and say to myself:
- These are not real problems.
- You’re focusing on the wrong things.
- It’s this kind of micro-managing that is the reason you’re not making that much money.
With each one of these five, there are a lot of people who are convinced they are a very big deal and deserve a looooot of attention and worry. I don’t mind stepping on a couple toes, as long as my message is understood.
And my message is:
It’s not that these don’t matter at all.
It’s that these things receive an inordinate amount of attention, and are an impediment to profits by sucking up time and attention when they really aren’t that important.
It’s a classic “80/20 rule” thing: 80% of your results will come from 20% of your efforts. And these five things are nowhere close to being in that 20%.
Here’s one thing I promise you: The mega-sellers making real money on Amazon aren’t worried about any of these. They’re too busy focusing on what matters: Sourcing massive amounts of inventory. The rest is just a distraction.
1) Packing Fulfillment by Amazon shipments
Here’s how you do should it:
- Put items in boxes.
- Tape shut.
Here’s how many do it:
- Wrap each item individually and with great care, as though they were sending their first born on a cross-country train journey.
- Fit each item in the box with Tetris-like precision.
- Fill each square-millimeter with some shock-absorbing agent.
- Take an hour or more obsessively doing all of the above.
In other words: Make a giant production out of something that really isn’t that important.
By all means, if you’re sending something genuinely fragile, ensure it doesn’t arrive damaged by taking steps to package well. For example, if you’re sending in items made of glass, boxes of eggshells, or nitroglycerine.
But Amazon buyers understand their items are coming to their house at the end of a long postal journey, and aren’t going to be offended by a slight bump to the corner of a box of cereal.
I’ve sold tens of thousands of items via Fulfillment by Amazon, and literally the only thing I recall ever wrapped individually are a few vinyl records that were extremely prone to bending, and maybe a few hugely expensive and collectible books.
Nearly everything gets packed like this: Item in box —> tape shut —> ship.
2) Superstition about selling new books
This is probably the weirdest one on this list, but if I had to guess, the concern centers around some vague superstition that any book with a previous owner can’t be sold as new.
This is just factually incorrect. If a book is by all appearances unread, and in cosmetically flawless condition, it is “new.” No genealogical survey of the book’s history is required.
There are even people who get upset and hostile that others sell new books on Amazon. Oddly, their superstition never seems to extend to other categories on Amazon. In fact, many of the people who insist you can’t sell new books practice retail arbitrage. Yes – they buy new items and resell them as new. (They hate it when you bring that up).
If an item is new, you can always list it as new. Over-thinking this will cost you a lot of money.
3) Getting freaked out by sales tax
Of course you should comply with all state and federal laws, and so on and so on.
But if you’re letting internet chatter from other Amazon sellers get you worked up that state sales tax is so scary of a subject that you should be intimidated out of selling with Fulfillment by Amazon, your attention is focused on the wrong thing.
If you’re that concerned, hire a professional to sort it out. But this is at worst just another part of doing business on Amazon, not an obstacle.
I’m referring here to those who insist on using free apps that are slow and limited in their functions, versus spending $40 a month on robust software that will easily make them 10x that in their sleep.
This also extends to hardware, and other inefficient tools.
This is kind of a no-brainer. Anything you invest in as part of your business should be making you many times your investment. And nowhere is that more true than with scanning apps, using a bluetooth scanner versus scanning with a phone’s camera, and so on.
You will get out of your business what you invest in it. Being concerned about minor investments with a virtually guaranteed multiple return will guarantee your business remains stagnant and small. (i.e. the Amazon Seller app is not a sourcing app.)
5) Getting deterred by Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) storage fees
Storage fees are among the smallest and least significant expenses of operating an FBA business. They also offer among the highest returns. You get indefinite storage space for just about any item in the universe, and visibility in the biggest store in the world (Amazon), for a penny or two a month. It’s hard to believe this gets a moment of thought from any Amazon seller.
Let’s say you ship in 100 books with an average Amazon sales rank of 5 million, and an average selling price of $12. This is unrealistically terrible. But if only one of these 100 books sell in the next year, you’ve broken even on Amazon storage fees. The rest is gravy.
The point is: Excluding the occasional multiple-unit, long-term storage fee disaster, it is virtually impossible to lose money on Amazon storage fees. And if it happens, you have much bigger problems.
Storage fees aren’t just a small factor in buying decisions, they should be no factor at all.
Feel free to start a fight with me in the comments below.
Endnote: In a few days I’ll be doubling the price of Feedback Mastery – my guide to repairing your Amazon feedback score, and how to get negative feedback removed.
I’m not going to make a big obnoxious “promotion” out of this. I’ll just say: If you’ve gotten negative feedback and were thinking about picking up the book, today is the day. See more here.