I’ve had some good wins with Profit Sourcery this week. The product stream has been mostly toys for a range of ages. It’s really satisfying to see that toys I packaged and sent to Amazon one evening earlier in the week have already been sold to customers in Spain, France, and Germany. However, I encountered two Amazon FBA shipment warnings this week and here I explain what they were and what I did to resolve them..
This past week plastic figures of characters from films like Star Wars and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were a good buy, and so were certain dolls that are part of a range, which makes them collectible – children love to have the full set!
One thing that I saw for the first time was this message:
Inventory alert. We’ve identified this product to be slow-moving, overstocked or both, and it likely will incur Long-Term Storage Fees. We recommend that you remove it from the shipment.”
This appeared while adding products and preparing a shipment in the Amazon Seller dashboard. Obviously I double checked the analysis on Profit Sourcery, and I went ahead with the shipment anyway because all the indications were good.
I suspect that the Amazon mega computer flags this as a warning in case you’re about to ship hundreds of a single product, but if like me you’re only shipping in small quantities, five to twenty-five for example, then there’s no need to worry. It may be something that sells slowly, but it will sell out eventually.
What it does remind us though is the importance of the size of the products. The volume i.e. the amount of space that your product takes up in the Amazon warehouses has a proportional effect on your long term storage fees, so if you do ship a slow selling product then it’s probably best not to send anything large and bulky, particularly if the profit margin is less than ideal.
Another warning I encountered for the first time was in the form of an automated email that came started with this statement:
We are writing to inform you that we have temporarily blocked your ability to create and send in shipments to Amazon.co.uk fulfilment centres due to a problem that we found with your inbound shipment (FBAXXYYZZ).
No need to panic though. It was quickly resolved by going to my Seller dashboard and clicking a few acknowledgements. The shipment was then accepted and the block was instantly removed. I suspect that I made an error with the labels and/or the packing lists as it was a two parcel shipment.
That’s probably the main lesson of the week – take the time to examine each product’s analysis carefully and concentrate when preparing the shipment.
Give Profit Sourcery a go yourself and let me know how you get on in the comments below.
Here are my ProfitSourcery tips for beginners and intermediate users. It’s a great tool that has provides fresh ideas every day of the week. The support from the ProfitSourcery team has been excellent and they continue to improve the service based on the feedback they receive, so do talk to them using the chat feature at the side of your dashboard.
The ProfitSourcery.com website contains a wealth of guides and tutorials so I’m not going to repeat them here. These are my own tips based on what I’ve learned so far having used the service for several weeks. I make no claims or guarantees as to the accuracy of the information here. Please test and check the results, then proceed with purchasing decisions based on your own judgement, but I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how quickly you generate a profit.
ProfitSourcery is a web based tool with three subscription options. Each day you log in to your dashboard to see 3, 5, or 10 products for sale online at a lower price than the current selling price on Amazon. This enables you to buy low from the retailer and sell higher on Amazon.
Merchants selling on Amazon use two main methods:
FBM – Fulfilled by Merchant. The merchant lists the products on Amazon, but stores, packs, and dispatches them from their premises. They also deal with the order enquiries and returns. The advantage is the saving on Amazon fulfillment and storage fees. The disadvantages are the administrative overhead to the merchant. This method is best suited to merchants who have an existing online store and/or a physical shop.
FBA – Fulfilled by Amazon. The merchant ships the products to Amazon and they take care of everything. They process the order and deal with all enquiries. The advantage is the low administrative overhead to the merchant and the fact that you don’t need to store, pack, and dispatch each and every order. The disadvantage is the fees you pay Amazon for this service. This method is best suited to the small, part time operator who perhaps works from home and doesn’t want courier vans coming and going day after day.
If you haven’t yet set up a seller account on Amazon then you’ll need to learn how to do that first. It seems complicated at first but take it step by step and in time you’ll be confident with adding to your inventory and managing shipments.
Let’s assume that your Amazon seller account has been set up, your ProfitSourcery subscription is active, and you’ve just logged in to your dashboard. We’ll now review the various sections, starting on the left of the dashboard and moving right.
Do the products match?
Click both title links and review the product on Amazon and the the retailer site. If you suspect that the two products don’t match then inform ProfitSourcery by clicking the ‘Let us know’ button on the right.
This information is useful for gauging how much shipping is likely to cost. It is also has value for estimating the storage costs if the product doesn’t sell and incurs fees for storage by Amazon, or the likely space it will take up if you store it yourself.
Here we see the top five sellers on Amazon. Obviously the fewer there are, the less competition there is, but even if there are more than five it could still be a good idea to buy this product if other indications are positive. You can see the full list of sellers by going to the Amazon page and reviewing them under the ‘Available from these sellers’ link.
This section shows you the purchase price, selling price, and Amazon fees. Here we see the estimated profit per item sold. These figures include VAT and don’t take into account shipping, nor any additional packaging and labeling costs.
For example, if you have a box of 20 toy soldiers with an estimated profit of £4.60 per item then the total estimated profit will be £92.00. If you buy these, take delivery, re-label them, and ship them to Amazon using the same packaging in which they arrived then your packaging costs are almost zero and you might pay about £5.30 for shipping (if it’s one box under 5kg).
However, but if you ship 20 dolls with the same profit but in three of four boxes then your shipping could be £10-15 or more. You may have to re-box them if they were delivered in bags which took a bit of a battering in transit. So your profit might be reduced by £20+ instead of just £5+
So size is important, as is weight. You also need to factor in the cost of labels, printer ink, and parcel tape. You will use all these for all shipments.
i. Price Sales & Rank History button. This takes you to CamelCamelCamel.com. Register for a free account to see all the available information and log in before you click on your product link. There’s a lot of information on this site, enough for several blog posts. I suggest you explore this tool and experiment with it until you’re confident of reading the results correctly. Look for an average price that is equal to or more than the current sale price on Amazon. Look out for a healthy sales rank. Remember that the lower the number, the stronger the rank. Sales ranks can rise and fall seasonally, so use the date slider on the right of the box to check back a few months.
You may see the message ‘We don’t have enough data to chart, please check back later’. If so, use Jungle Scout (see below).
ii. Check Product Details button. Visit Amazon through this link and get to know the product. Check the reviews and read a sample of both positive and negative. If the product has negative reviews then use your best judgement based on all the factors and information. It may still be a strong seller even with several negative reviews. Some people leave negative reviews because they didn’t understand how to make the best of the product, or because they are giving feedback about the seller and not about the product itself.
iii. Check Availability button. This is the link the retailer that’s currently selling the product at the lower price. If you click this button you can check for the quantity available by adding as many as it will allow to your shopping cart. Then go to the start of the checkout process and see if you can increase that number to 99 or even 999. It may tell you then how many are available. This doesn’t work for all retailers but when it does it’s very useful.
Jungle Scout Extension
Jungle Scout is a separate tool that is designed for those seeking niche products to sell on Amazon. I use both for its designed purpose but also in conjunction with ProfitSourcery. If you buy a licence for Jungle Scout and install the extension in your browser you’re all set to do some further checks on products.
Assuming the tool is ready then navigate the product page on Amazon and click on the Jungle Scout icon in your browser toolbar. JS will then gather data about the product and show you some statistics in a row at the top of a box that appears. The row includes a Price and a Rank column. The values in these columns are hyperlinked. Click on the price to see the price history over the past few months. Is the price falling steadily? Maybe it’s not such a good buy. Click on the Rank to see the Sales Rank history. You may see data here that CamelCamelCamel.com wasn’t able to provide.
You can also obtain this data using the free browser extension Keepa.com. Jungle Scout has it embedded, but the advantage of Jungle Scout is the other data, like the number of sales per month, and of course you can use it for searching for niche products to buy in bulk from wholesalers as a separate project.
The Jungle Scout sales per month figure enables you to calculate how quickly you’re likely to get your money back and go into profit. For example, if you bought 20 toy soldiers and Jungle Scout says there are about 30 sales per month they won’t have to wait long, but if it’s only 5 per month obviously it could take four months to get your return. These figures may be affected by the seasons, particularly with toys before or after Christmas. They are also significant because it can effect your costs for storage.
Buy Jungle Scout here. It’s a one-off payment and the guides and support are excellent. Watch the introductory video on the homepage. There’s also a very active user group on Facebook.
There are lots of things you can do to make a little money online, but the beauty of this service is the fact that you can start slow at a low risk and scale it up if and when you’re ready. You might not want to build it up and you might continue with turning over just a few hundred per month, but it also has the potential to grow into a larger business.
The knowledge and experience you gain by using this service will prepare you for other larger scale businesses like importing wholesale and shipping direct to Amazon in the USA, UK, and elsewhere. Make a start by subscribing to ProfitSourcery today. You’ll get seven days free and you can cancel at any time.