Tag Archive for fulfillment by amazon

Bookselling and Goal Setting

I spend too much time buying things and not enough time selling things.  I'm a collector at heart.  I love the hunt.  I love owning lots of things and looking upon shelves full of books.  I pick them up, leaf through them, and remember when and where I bought them and what I paid for them.  When I have the time, I read one!

I have a backlog of books that I have been meaning to sell for years.  Literally, temporally years.  Through the years, I kept buying books and shelving them for a rainy day.  I found new ways to sell books.  I started selling commodity books alongside my collectible books and found that road less bumpy than the volatile collectible market.  Essentially, the commodity books sell at market price, fetching the going rate on Amazon.  I could list books without taking any pictures and, with the help of Fulfillment by Amazon, ship books without making a trip to the Post Office!  Of course, I could not stop buying the collectible books I truly love, and I now have an enormous collection of cool books that I want to offer for sale.  A collection is a living, breathing thing.  I don't mind selling something so long as I know I'll be buying something with the proceeds.

With that in mind, I have decided to get back into eBay.  I haven't sold anything on eBay for several years.  I grew frustrated with the process and focused my efforts on Amazon.  While Amazon is an absolute monster for commodity books, it's not a great place to sell collectible books.  I've sold a few there, but the collectibles do not get the spotlight they deserve on Amazon.  With collectible books, condition is everything.  Pictures and description sells collectible books.

I think I will open an eBay store and post my collectibles for sale.  I operated an eBay store years ago and I mostly enjoyed it.  I shuttered it because my sales had dwindled and my Amazon business had taken off.  I swore off eBay for good, without a good reason.  It's a totally viable outlet for my inventory.  My sales died off because my inventory stunk.  I tried to extract value from items where there was none.  All my good stuff sold and I was left with a surfeit of junk.  When I moved houses two years ago, I culled my inventory.  Cleared the shelves.  Let the bad stuff go.

Beyond books, I have plenty of music and electronics to sell.  Again, some do well on Amazon, others do not.  As much as I love Amazon and FBA, I can no longer ignore the colony of books growing in my basement.  They need good homes.  They need to be loved and read.

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I took a panoramic picture of my basement with my iPhone.  The panoramic effect turned out pretty well, and the picture inspired me to get to work.  I set some qualitative goals for 2014.  I want to buy more books, read more books, sell more books, and write more blog posts.  Sure, they're not specific, but I'll drown in specificity if I allow myself.  I have to balance these goals with my family and a full-time job.  Who said adulthood was easy?

Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) Overview

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I use Amazon's fantastic service, Fulfillment by Amazon, to house and ship my goods to my customers.  I am a low volume seller and send in small shipments when it is convenient to me, but Amazon does not seem to mind that I am a humble drop of income into their ocean of revenue.  I feel that the service is a win-win-win; Amazon wins by virtue of the fees they charge the seller, the retail customer wins by getting a great product at a great price with unbeatable customer service provided by Amazon, and I win by selling more items at a faster pace for an overall higher profit with a lessened workload.

Sounds good, right?  You want in!  Well, there are a few barriers to entry.

  1. You need to be a Pro Merchant through Amazon and pay the monthly service fee of $39.99, regardless of how many items you sell.
  2. You must be willing to pay the variable closing fee ($0.80 - $1.35 per item sold) and the referral fee (6-20% of the item's price, percentage charged varies by category).
  3. You must be willing to pay to have your item shipped to the customer, which means more fees! You can expect to pay a pick and pack fee of $1.00 per item, weight handling fee ($0.42 / lb), and FBA storage fees ($0.45 - $0.60 / cubic foot you occupy in the warehouse).
  4. Finally, you need to get your items to the warehouse!  As a FBA seller, you can use Amazon's terrific UPS rates to get your items to the Fulfillment Center (Amazon Warehouse) for around $0.25 / lb.

That's the harsh reality.  FBA will cost you money.  It's not a magical free-for-all.  You are paying for Amazon's infrastructure, service, and web traffic.  There is nothing else like it on the planet.  Click here for more information on Amazon Marketplace feesFulfillment by Amazon fees, and a FBA Revenue Calculator.

What's the good news?  Your sales volume will explode.  You will instantaneously experience a surge in sales that you will find hard to believe.  On top of your increased volume, you will pass along your fees to the customer.  Why?  You can an extract a premium for your goods by offering it as an Amazon Prime eligible item, which broadens your sales base to Prime customers who pay $79/yr for unlimited 2-day shipping and a host of other added features.  Non-Prime customers who spend a minimum of $35 to get Free Super Saver Shipping will also be eligible to put your items into their cart to qualify for the $35 threshold.

The fees feel top-heavy, but when you start to make sales and see your transaction reports, you will probably recognize that you are making more money on each item and doing less work in the process.  That means fewer trips to the Post Office or UPS Store, less time spent packaging orders, and less time responding to e-mails.  Once the items are in Amazon's warehouse, your job is done, freeing you to source more inventory, send more items to Amazon, and make more money!