How To Get Reimbursed For A Damaged Amazon FBA Removal Order

FBA Removal OrderRight before Long Term Storage Fees (LTSFs) hit on February 15th, I did an assessment of my inventory. I decided that some of my items were probably never going to be profitable on Amazon. I created a FBA removal order and had them shipped back to me.

If you have ever created a lot of removal orders, the returns can be overwhelming. You will get 1 or 2 items shipped back at a time. Since I now sell on eBay, the plan was to list this merchandise there. However, a strange thing happened this time. Instead of my items being shipped in boxes, most of the items arrived in envelopes instead.

Once I opened the envelopes, about half of the items were now damaged. My Valentine’s Day boxes were bent and no longer in pristine condition. The box of some grocery items was so damaged that now the product was open.

Amazon FBA Removal Order Damage Case

I was really upset and decided that I would take the time to open cases for all of this damaged product.  In order to open cases, you need to take pictures of the shipping label, the packing slip and the damaged goods. Right away, I got push back from Amazon. I also ran the Removal Shipment Detail report, so I could include the Order Id, SKU, FNSKU and Tracking number in the case.

Example of Amazon FBA Removal Order Damage

Here are some shoes I got back. These were brand new shoes in a brand-new box and because Amazon shipped them back in a envelope instead of a box, the shoe box is now damaged. At first, they said they needed pictures of the damaged product. I took a deep breath and calmly responded. The shoes are not damaged; however, now that the box is damaged, I can no longer sell these as new. After this response, I received a reimbursement.

I had to do the same thing with a grocery product. Now that the packaging is open, I can no longer sell the product. This took up quite a bit of my time yesterday, but it was worth it. Maybe if everyone does this, Amazon will ship our removal orders better.

When your removal orders come back, don’t just stick them in a corner. Inspect them to make sure they are in the same condition as you sent them in. If not, open a case. I have not had the same luck with getting reimbursed for customer damaged items.

Why My Inventory Performance Index Is Important

Inventory Performance IndexA few months ago, a new thing showed up on your Dashboard called the Inventory Performance Index. This index is based on how well you keep popular products in stock, maintain healthy inventory levels, and fix listing problems. The Inventory Performance Index is updated weekly. You can increase your Inventory Performance Index by increasing sales by keeping popular items in stock, reducing excess inventory to increase profitability, and ensuring inventory is buyable by fixing listings that are stranded.

Inventory Performance Index – Excess Inventory Percentage

This part of the index will show your excess units and the estimated total storage cost. There is even a button to reduce your excess inventory which leads you to the Manage Excess Inventory page. The recommendations that you may get for your products are create a sale, advertise a listing or create a removal order.

Inventory Performance Index – FBA In-Stock Rate

This part of the index will show you your out-of-stock SKUs and the estimated FBA lost sales. There is a button Restock today that leads you to the Restock Inventory Page. When I reviewed this report, I did not agree with some of the recommendations. The report is telling me to restock Valentine’s Day products which makes no sense at all.

Inventory Performance Index – Stranded Inventory Percentage

This part of the index will show you your Stranded Inventory. The Fix Listings button will take you to the Fix Stranded Inventory page.

The following email was sent on March 1, 2018:

Starting July 1, 2018, storage limits will be evaluated every three months on a quarterly cycle. If your Inventory Performance Index is less than 350 six weeks before the start of a quarter, you will be notified of your potential storage limits. If your Inventory Performance Index score is still less than 350 at the end of that quarter, those limits will apply for the next quarter.

Under the FBA inventory storage limits policy, you will not be able to create a new shipment to Amazon until your inventory level drops below your storage limits. If your existing inventory exceeds your storage limits for a given month, we will also charge an Inventory Storage Overage Fee on the portion of your inventory that exceeds your storage limits, in addition to monthly inventory storage fees and, if applicable, long-term storage fees. The overage fee will be charged monthly at $10.00 per cubic foot, based on the daily average volume of inventory that exceeded your storage limits throughout the month. We will be updating our tools to reflect cubic feet of storage instead of the number of units that we currently show.

For more information, check out FBA Storage Limit Changes.

Professional Selling Plan Storage Limits

July 1, 2018 and after
Inventory Performance Index
Score less than 350

(6 weeks before the quarter ends AND at the end of the quarter)

Score of 350 or more
Storage limits Updated quarterly Unlimited
Monthly Inventory Storage Overage Fee $10.00 per cubic foot over the storage limit Not applicable

So not only will you be charged Long Term Storage Fees, but you could be prohibited or restricted from sending in inventory if your Inventory Performance Index is too low.

One of the things that is being discussed is if you should delete or end your listings that you no longer intend to sell. There have been questions as to whether this affects your Inventory Performance index. My FBA stock rate is low because I have a lot of listings with no stock. I will start to close some of these and see if this makes a difference.

How To Write Bullet Points For Your Amazon Product Listing

Amazon Product ListingSometimes you find a product that is not already selling on Amazon or you are creating a unique bundle. In these cases, you need to create your own listing. One thing that you must do as part of creating your own Amazon product listing is come up with bullet points. You may not put much thought into what you write, but you should take your time and create bullet points that describe features and benefits as well as copy that differentiates your product from the competition.

According to the Amazon Terms of Service (TOS), you can have up to 5 bullet points. The number of characters that are allowed per bullet point is different in different parts of the Amazon documentation. Also, the number of characters may vary depending on the category.

Karon Thackston understands this subject very well because she is a professional copywriter. She wrote a blog post called “7 Expert Tips for Writing Bullet Points That Sell“ where she describes how to write bullet points for your Amazon product listing that will actually help you sell your product. Her 7 points are as follows:

·       Tip #1 – Choosing Super Adjectives to Describe Features/Benefits

·       Tip #2 – Segment Your Audience

·       Tip #3 – Lifestyle Uses

·       Tip #4 – Know Whom You’re Writing To

·       Tip #5 – Justify the Cost

·       Tip #6 – Differentiate Your Product

·       Tip #7 – Overcome Customer Hesitation 

I must admit that even though I create a lot of bundles, I do not consider all these tips when I am writing my bullet points for my Amazon product listing. I am more of an analytical person, so this is the part of my business that I struggle with. I usually do a bad job with Tip #1. I tend to list the features but don’t really give the benefits. I don’t even think to justify the cost as stated in Tip #5.

Karon also states that you can use this sample template for your bullet points:

Thanks to their {adjective} {feature}, these {keyphrase} offer {benefit}

I am creating some new listings this week and I will take these points into consideration. It makes no sense to find an awesome product that is never found in the Market Place because the time was not put into creating good bullet points.

If you would like to learn more about creating a good Amazon product listing, then get this free Cheat Sheet Guide, 5 Product Listing Secrets For Amazon Sellers.

The Mystery of the Amazon Buy Box – What You Need To Know

Amazon Buy BoxWhen I was new to selling on Amazon, I kept hearing that you need to get the Buy Box. Now I had been buying on Amazon for years and even had Amazon Prime, but I was not familiar with this mysterious thing called the Buy Box. Well, the Amazon Buy Box is the in the top right corner of an Amazon product page. This is where you can easily buy something now or add something to your cart.

As an Amazon FBA seller, you need to know all about the buy box including how you can get this coveted position. “6 Things You Need To Know About The Amazon Buy Box” by Stephen Smotherman states the following:

  1. 70-80% of Amazon sales come from the buy box.
  2. The buy box rotates
  3. Having the lowest price does not guarantee the buy box
  4. The buy box is geographic
  5. The buy box is for items in new condition only
  6. Sometimes Amazon as a seller shares the buy box with third party sellers, buy usually not

So, it makes sense that the Amazon buy box would rotate among the sellers. If everyone is selling at about the same price and the seller metrics are about the same, then this is fair. It also makes sense that the buy box would be geographic. If I live on the East Coast and you live on the West Coast, the person in the buy box should be the person who has the product in the warehouse closest to me especially if they have prime. Is it much easier to ship something to me to arrive in 2 days that is in a warehouse on the same coast where I live as opposed to the other side of the country.

I learned about #6 the hard way on several occasions. I had a product that I purchased and sent FBA that later Amazon got on the listing. Amazon was not sharing the buy box. I even lowered my price, but Amazon still would not share the buy box. I eventually created a removal order and decided to sell the product on another platform.

I also had another case where Amazon came onto the listing and their price was so low that I could not compete with them without losing money. Fortunately, this was a good product and when Amazon sold out, all of us third party sellers were able to sell our product.

I know a lot of people will say they have no problem competing with Amazon, but I have had a different experience. I would not intentionally get on a listing with Amazon except under one circumstance. I will analyze the Keepa chart first before deciding whether to buy an item. The Keepa chart displays sales price and sales rank history. The good thing is that Keepa is free but there is training available on this valuable tool. If Amazon is going in and out of stock on a regular basis, then I might entertain the thought of buying the product.

Now that the mystery of the Amazon Buy box has been uncovered, the next question is how do I know how often I get the buy box? There is a report in Amazon called the Detail Page Sales and Traffic By Date that shows you the number of sessions, page views as well as your buy box percentage for every product. To find this report, go to your Main Dashboard and select Reports then Business Reports.

Understanding how the Amazon buy box works and all its intricacies is essential to becoming a successful Amazon FBA seller.

4 Ways To Find Wholesale Products To Sell On Amazon

Find Wholesale ProductsAccording to Wikipedia, “wholesale” is the resale (sale without transformation) of new and used goods to retailers, to industrial, commercial, institutional or professional users, or to other wholesalers, or involves acting as an agent or broker in buying merchandise for, or selling merchandise to, such persons or companies.

With all of the recent subcategory, brand and ASIN restrictions on Amazon, I believe that all Amazon sellers should consider adding wholesale as one of their business models. A lot of categories such as Beauty are no longer gated but many of the subcategories under Beauty are gated. This makes it difficult to find profitable products especially for newer sellers.

I started with wholesale early in my Amazon career when I had been selling for less than a year and I was still part-time. To learn more about getting started in wholesale, check out Amazon FBA – Your First Wholesale Account.

There are many ways to find wholesale products to sell on Amazon and this article highlights four of them.

Find Wholesale Products Tip #1 – Products You Are Already Selling

A great way to find wholesale products is to look at the products you are already selling using Retail or Online Arbitrage. If these products are already good sellers for you, then it makes sense to sell them wholesale. How many times have you found a great product but then your source dries up? This happens much less if you were able to get this product via wholesale. When you product is almost sold out, you just contact your supplier and order more.

Find Wholesale Products Tip #2 – Trade Shows

Trade shows are a great way to find wholesale products. This is the way I found my first wholesale accounts. If you are not sure if you should attend trade shows, you should check out Should I Attend Trade Shows As An Amazon Seller. There are all kinds and sizes of trade shows. I recommend that you start with a smaller one first.

Find Wholesale Products Tip #3 – Find Profitable Products On Amazon

The third way you can find wholesale products is to find products that are already profitable on Amazon. You can look at best sellers or find these best sellers automatically using Storefront Stalker Pro and Tactical Arbitrage. I believe it is easier to sell things that are already profitable on Amazon as opposed to bringing a new product to market.

Find Wholesale Products Tip #4 – Google

Lastly, you can use the most used search engine, Google, to find wholesalers and distributors. If you use this method, please do your due diligence and make sure you that you are actually identifying legitimate businesses.

Wholesale Resources

To learn more about wholesale, I recommend two resources. If you are just getting started and want an introduction to wholesaling, then I recommend Getting Started With Wholesale. This 8 week course will be give you bite size lessons on how to start and grow a wholesale business. Lessons will be sent out 1 to 2 times per week with homework for each session to get you started.

The second course that I recommend is Proven Wholesale Sourcing. This step-by-step video course teaches you 25 methods to find wholesale suppliers and manufacturers quickly. This course teaches you how to find new wholesale accounts and how to maintain them.

As you can see, adding wholesale to your Amazon business has many benefits. You can find some replenishable products and keep ordering them over and over. It also allows you to spend less time in your business by automating your sourcing. I strongly encourage you to consider wholesale.

Should I Attend Trade Shows As An Amazon Seller?

Trade ShowsTrade Shows

According to Wikipedia, a trade show is an exhibition organized so that companies in a specific industry can showcase and demonstrate their latest products and services, meet with industry partners and customers, study activities of rivals, and examine recent market trends and opportunities. A trade show may also be called a trade fair, a trade exhibition or an expo.

There are a lot of trade shows that you can attend as an Amazon Seller. Some are big such as ASD Market Week in Las Vegas that happens twice a year or smaller ones. You may be thinking that why should I attend trade shows as a FBA seller? There are many benefits that are outlined in the 5 Benefits of Attending Trade Shows.

Trade Show Myths

There are many trade show myths, and these are really myths.

  1. You need to be a big seller to attend trade shows – When you think of trade shows, you may think that you must be selling millions to attend trade shows. That is not the case. If you are set up as a business, you can attend.
  2. “Newbies” can’t open wholesale accounts – Are you a new Amazon FBA seller? Do you feel like you don’t have much experience? That doesn’t matter. Did you know that you can still open wholesale accounts at trade shows? I opened my first wholesale accounts at a trade show when I had been selling less than a year and on a part-time basis.
  3. You must buy a huge quantity at trade shows – Do you have nightmares of pallets of merchandise showing up at your house from your trade show order? Don’t worry. Lots of vendors have a low minimum order quantity or MOQ. In some cases, I only had to order 1 case of product.
  4. You must spend a lot of money at trade shows – Another fear may be that you must spend thousands of dollars to get started. One of my first accounts did not have a minimum amount of money that needed to be spent and another one was only $100.
  5. It is hard to navigate trade shows – This can be true but does not have to be. The first trade show I attended was about 2 ½ hours away and it was fairly small. This was a great way for me to get my feet wet and start to feel comfortable attending trade shows. I recommend that you find a smaller trade show as your first one also.

Trade Shows For FBA teaches you trade show strategies for Amazon Sellers. This course will give you all the details you need to register for trade shows, what you need to be prepared for the show, what to do at the trade show and even how to research the items that you find at the show to determine if they will be profitable on Amazon. This course also includes a trade show directory along with websites.

How To Calculate Grocery Expiration Dates For Amazon FBA

Grocery Expiration Dates

Selling groceries on Amazon can be very lucrative; however, you must pay attention to grocery expiration dates. Here is Amazon’s Terms Of Service regarding grocery expiration dates:

A product that has an expiration date may be listed with FBA as long as the unit is lot-controlled and the remaining shelf life is greater than 105 days from the time of receipt by Amazon. Units that are within 50 days of the expiration date will be removed for disposal by Amazon.

So this means that if the expiration date is not at least 105 days out, you will not be able to ship the grocery item into Amazon using FBA. If you enter a grocery expiration date that does not meet this criteria when you are creating a shipment, you will receive an error message.

Also, once the grocery item is within 50 days of expiration, Amazon will take the item out of your inventory. It will show up as Unfillable Inventory. When you click on the number of items that are unfillable, it will say expired. You have two choices at this point. You can get it shipped back to you or you can have it destroyed. Both of these options require you to create a removal order.

One thing that I have done more than once while doing Retail Arbitrage is to buy a grocery item and then realize its expiration date is not greater than 105 days. The way I get around this now, is by using a free app called Date Calculator. This app is available for both Apple and Android devices.

The Date Calculator app allows you to calculate the duration between dates and calculate the date if you input a date and a duration. This is how I use it to make sure I am buying grocery items that I can send into Amazon.

This is the picture I see when I open the app. I select the “Date+Duration” option.

Date Calculator ScreenShot 1

If I want to know what the expiration date needs to be for buying things today, I put in 105 in “the number of days here” row.

Date Calculator Screenshot 2

I hit the “Calculate” button and the result is Saturday, April 28, 2018.

Screenshot 3

I would add some days to this to account for the time that the item is shipped and checked in to the warehouse.

This little free app has saved me a lot of headaches and made my grocery Retail Arbitrage trips stress free. No more grocery expiration dates that are too short.

Review of The Reseller’s Guide to Black Friday

Black FridayIf you sell physical products on Amazon, then Black Friday can be one of your best days of selling. If you approach this day as a consumer, you are looking at the ads and standing in line to buy gifts for Christmas. If you are a reseller, you are researching the ads and purchasing items that will earn you a profit on Amazon.

In order to get the most out of Black Friday, you must do advanced research. What is in the stores? What is selling already? What is profitable? There will be deals on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Some stores will even have Pre-Black Friday sales. In the past, most stores were closed on Thanksgiving. Lately, this trend has changed. However, this year, there are a stores that will not be open on Thanksgiving.

My go-to tool that I use to do my Black Friday research is The Reseller’s Guide To Black Friday. This guide gives you the links to 4 Black Friday websites. You can get electronic copies of all of the best ads including ads from Toys R Us, Walmart, Target and Best Buy. When you look at the ads, pay attention to the days of the deals, any quantity limits, available price matching and if there are any guarantees if the deals sell out.

This guide shows you how to do sales rank and sales price history research using Keepa and CamelCamelCamel. If you want more information on sales rank, Keepa and CamelCamelCamel, check out this free video.

Lastly, the guide has updated information about brand and category restrictions. The main take-away is to do your research and make sure you are approved to sell everything you plan on buying for Black Friday.

When you purchase the guide, you also get the following:

  • Access to the 2015 Black Friday Master Class Webinar and Q&A Session
  • Access to the 2016 Black Friday Master Class Webinar and Q&A Session
  • Black Friday Checklist
  • Black Friday Buy List
  • The Reseller’s Guide to Black Friday BOLO List

As you can see, you can be very successful during Black Friday if you are prepared. I recommend this guide to get you prepared.

The Million Dollar Side Hustle

Side Hustle

Image by InvestmentZen

So what is a side hustle? Wiktionary defines a side hustle as “a secondary job that brings in extra cash”. Some may define it as a part-time job, but I tend to disagree. These days, people’s side hustle is something they do on the side that could potentially turn into their full time gig at some point. At lot of people start their businesses as a side hustle while they still have a full-time job. This is exactly what I did.

Well on November 7, 2017, Good Morning America did an interview entitled the Million Dollar Side Hustle. They interviewed a guy that sells physical products on Amazon. Now I am sure that prior to that interview, there were a lot of people who had no idea that ordinary people could sell products on Amazon. Yes they can and so can you. They are called third party sellers.

So exactly how does this work? Well, you use an app on your phone to scan products to determine if they would be profitable on Amazon? If so, you prepare them, pack them in a box and ship to one of the Amazon warehouses. Amazon has warehouses all of the United States and in other countries as well. When the item sells, Amazon packs and ships the item to the customer. They also take care of customer service issues. You can also take advantage of Amazon Prime so the package is delivered in 2 days. This is all due to the Fullfillment By Amazon or FBA program.

So you may be thinking where do I get these items? Basically, you can find profitable items anywhere. You can find items at retail stores, discount stores, club warehouses, convenience stores, drug stores, grocery stores and even dollar stores. When you purchase items at a store, you are employing a technique called Retail Arbitrage. You can also purchase items online and this is called Online Arbitrage. There are other methods you can use such as Wholesale and Private Label but you should stick to Retail and Online Arbitrage in the beginning.

You may be thinking that this is similar to eBay and it is and it is not. Like eBay you are selling physical products. Unlike eBay, you are not storing the products in your house and shipping individual orders. Unlike eBay, you do not have to handle returns if you are using the FBA program. I believe that there are some items that are more suited to eBay and some that are more suited to Amazon. If you have unique one-of-a-kind items then eBay is more suited for these items. If you have brand new items, then Amazon is perfect for them.

Now that the cat has been let out of the bag, you are probably very curious about the FBA program. The Amazon FBA Jumpstart program is a perfect way to get the training you need. This training consists of 4 live webinars that cover everything you need to get started with this lucrative side hustle. The training is all recorded so you will have access to it after the live sessions. Don’t settle for a traditional part-time job when can sell physical products on Amazon.

Top 10 Tips For Amazon FBA Sellers

Amazon FBA Seller Tip

If you sell on Amazon or are thinking about selling on Amazon, there is a lot of information out there. Some of it is paid and some of it is free. The problem is that some of it is not accurate. You must do your homework and make sure you double check the information by reading the Amazon Terms of Service. Below are the top 10 tips for Amazon FBA sellers. Do these things to keep your account in good standing.

Amazon FBA Seller Tip #1 – Ensure Your Product Matches Listing

When you are looking to list your product against a listing that already exists, make sure your product matches the product exactly. I ran into an issue, where the product listed against the UPC was the same product but it was a 12 pack. I contacted Seller Support and opened a case. I had to submit pictures of the product along with the UPC. The listing was fixed. If I had just sent my product in because the UPCs matched, I am sure I would have had some returns.

Amazon FBA Seller Tip #2 – Don’t Ignore Negative Feedback

Every now and then, you will get negative feedback. Sometimes, it is not justified. If that is the case, then open a case with Seller Central and try to get it removed. If the review is a product review, mentions price or has inappropriate language, it is pretty easy to get those reviews removed.

Amazon FBA Seller Tip #3 – Answer All Inquiries Within 24 Hours

If you receive an inquiry, you need to respond to it within 24 hours. Lately, I have been getting a lot of inquiries that are definitely spam. You can mark them as spam and also mark that no response is needed. Do not just ignore these messages.

Amazon FBA Seller Tip #4 – Don’t Ignore ASIN Changes

When there are changes to an ASIN, you can set up your account so you are notified by email. Do not ignore these changes. These changes can cause your product to no longer match the listing. If you do not agree with the change, open a case with Seller Support. The only drawback is you are not notified of changes to pictures.

Amazon FBA Seller Tip #5 – Make Sure Product Passes 3 Foot Drop Test

If you are sending in a product that is fragile, you must make sure that you packing it so that it will not break. Fragile products must pass the 3 foot drop without breaking.  The 3 foot drop test consists of the following:

  • Flat on base
  • Flat on top
  • Flat on longest side
  • Flat on shortest side
  • On a corner

Amazon FBA Seller Tip #6 – Make Sure You Are Allowed To Sell Product

In the last several months, there have been lots of brand restrictions or even individual ASIN restrictions. If you are using a 3rd party app to scan, I recommend that you also scan with the Amazon Seller App. You want to make sure that you are allowed to sell the product. There is nothing worse than getting the products home and realizing that you can not sell it on Amazon.

Amazon FBA Seller Tip #7 – Check Expiration Dates Before Buying Beauty & Grocery Products

You must check the expiration date of your beauty and grocery products before you send them into the warehouse. Grocery products must have an expiration date that is at least 150 days out in order to list a product. When a product will expire in 50 days or less, the product is removed from your inventory. It becomes part of your stranded inventory. If need help finding the expiration dates of beauty products, check out The Mystery Of The Beauty Expiration Date.

Amazon FBA Seller Tip #8 – Ensure Package Is In New Condition If Listing As New

If you are listing a product as new, make sure it looks new. The packaging should be in pristine condition. Do not list products as new if the box is beat up. Make sure that the packaging is in gift condition.

Amazon FBA Seller Tip #9 – Check Sales Rank & Price History Before You Buy

When you are looking for products to buy, you must look for more data than just the current sales rank and profit. The sales rank changes many times and you must look at the sales rank history. You must also look at the price history. Keepa and Camel Camel Camel are free tools you can use to review sales rank and price rank history. How To Keep Camel is a course that teaches you how to interpret this data.

Amazon FBA Seller Tip #10 – Be Careful With Some Brands

Some brands are riskier to sell on Amazon than others. If you using the Retail Arbitrage or Online Arbitrage model, you should be careful with sport leagues such as NFL, MLB, NCAA, etc. If you are going to purchase these types of products through wholesalers or distributors, make sure they have the appropriate licenses. Also, make sure you have the paperwork that gives you permission to sell those products.

As you can see, there are a lot of things that you have to take into consideration when you are selling physical products on Amazon. If you would like more information about selling on Amazon, pick up your free report, Get Started With FBA.