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Tips for Improving Your Feedback on Amazon

The eBay & Amazon Seller's News, September 2015 - Volume 16, Issue No. 15

Tips, Tools, News and Resources for eBay, Amazon and Online Sellers
by: Skip McGrath

In This Issue:

Musings from and about eBay, Amazon and The World Wide Web

  1. Tips for Improving Your Feedback on Amazon
  2. Sourcing the “Perfect” Product to Sell on eBay or Amazon
  3. eBay Has Released a Preview of the Fall Seller Policy changes
  4. Wholesale Sourcing from Merchandise Marts
  5. New Wholesale Sources for eBay and Amazon Sellers

"Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." ~ Winston Churchill


Musings

I usually publish twice a month but you may have noticed that I only got one issue out in August. We have three computers in our office and unbelievably all three of them crashed within the space of one week. Fortunately, we had everything backed up so we did not lose any data, but we were completely down for 4 days while we struggled to get new computers and get all the data ported over. On top of that as we are Apple users and we had to get used to the new Yosemite operating system. But all is well now and we will be back on schedule for two issues in September.


Most people find products on Amazon by going to Amazon first, but a lot of folks try Google first and Google displays the results on Amazon. Here is a great blog post by Garret Nagle about maximizing your SEO on Amazon to come up better in Google results.


John Bullard at My Inventory Team just announced a new service: Here is the announcement:

"Update We are very excited to launch this brand new side of our business. The MIT newsletter. We hope we can provide you with useful information that could help you with your e-commerce business. Our company is very passionate about helping others in any way we can and this is just one of those ways. This newsletter will also contain information on our companies growth throughout the year There will be something for everyone. If you are a beginner in the E-commerce world then you will not want to miss out. Season Veterans there will be some information available to you that you probably never knew was out there. Sign up Here."


This past weekend Amazon quietly updated its "Prohibited Seller Activities" page. These changes have generated a lot of conversation, speculation and concern among sellers. Seller Labs has done an excellent blog post on the changes and how to stay compliant. Click here to read them.


Lets get started with this month’s articles:

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1. Tips for Improving Your Feedback on Amazon

Over 90% of Amazon buyers typically fail to leave feedback. In addition, customers with a negative experience are more motivated to leave feedback. Every seller should have a strategy for getting more feedback on Amazon Here are some of my best tips to help improve your feedback on Amazon.

Convert to FBA -- One of the biggest tips I can give you to improve feedback is to sell through FBA. It is a fact that FBA sellers on average have better feedback scores than merchant fulfilled sellers. One big reason for that is if an item is shipped or received late or in damaged packaging, Amazon will take responsibility for the feedback and remove it from your score.

Use a Feedback advisory service – There are several third party companies that integrate with the Amazon API and actively send out email messages through the Amazon system to actively solicit feedback. I have used two of the most well known – Feedback Genius and Feedback Five. Both of them are excellent.

The key to making the service successful is the content of the email that goes out. Here is the text of the email that I use:

Thank you again for your order of "[[product-link]]".

[[order-link:View Order on Amazon.com]]

The available tracking information shows that your item was delivered.

When you receive your item, please take a moment to verify that everything is perfect. If anything whatsoever is wrong, or if there is any reason that you wouldn't rate this as a 5-star experience, please [[contact-link:let us know]] right away and we guarantee to make it right. If there is anything wrong with your order, send us your phone number and we will be happy to call you on our dime.

If everything looks fine, we'd appreciate it if you could take a few seconds to click the link below and rate this transaction.

[[feedback-link:Leave Feedback for Summerdale House]]
[[feedback-link]]

Thank You
Skip & Karen McGrath

The text inside the brackets automatically creates hyperlinks in the email the customer can click on and go right to your order. Please feel free to copy my email for your use if you want to or create your own.

Actively Attempt to Fix Feedback – Look, it’s going to happen. We all get the occasional neutral or negative feedback. In many cases the feedback is completely undeserved or caused by something beyond your control. But when this happens it is critical that you not argue the point. When this happens to me I immediately email the customer as follows:

Dear ___________

I just saw your feedback comment and wanted to apologize for the poor buying experience. We are small sellers on Amazon and our feedback is important to us. I know it cannot make up for the frustration and inconvenience you suffered, but by way of apology I would like to send you a $10 Amazon Gift card to help make up for the experience in a small way. So please watch you email for your gift card, which should arrive shortly.

Skip & Karen McGrath
Summerdale House on Amazon.com

Notice in the email I did not ask or mention removing the feedback. If you make an offer of any kind in exchange for removing feedback that is a violation of Amazon policy and can get your account suspended. Instead what I do is wait a couple of days (or sooner if the person replies to my email, which usually happens) and then I send something along these lines:

Dear ____________

I see that you received your gift card and wanted to reach out to you with a request. Since we are small independent sellers our feedback is critical to our business. I was not able to fix the underlying problem but I sent you a gift card by way of apology. So I am wondering if you would consider removing or changing your feedback comment. If you agree it only takes about one minute to do so. Here are the instructions:

Go to http://www.amazon.com/your-account.

Under "Personalization," in the "Community" column, click "Seller Feedback Submitted By You."

A list of all of the feedback left by you will be displayed. Click the "Remove" link next to the feedback would like to remove or change.

Every once in a while the customer simply takes the gift card and ignores you, but most of the time this does work and the customer changes the feedback (about 90%).

Understand and Use the Amazon Feedback Removal Service -- As a general rule, Amazon does not remove buyer feedback even if it is unwarranted or the issue has been resolved. For more information about resolving and responding to buyer feedback, see Using the Feedback Manager.

Amazon will, however, remove feedback in the following cases:

  • The feedback includes words commonly understood to be obscene or profane.

  • The feedback includes seller-specific, personally identifiable information, including e-mail addresses, full names, or telephone numbers.

  • The entire feedback comment is a product review.
    For example:

    The Be-sharp Knife sharpener lacks the sharpness and speed of other sharpeners

    However, if the feedback comment is only partly a product review but also contains feedback about the seller’s service, this feedback would not be removed:

    Seller’s shipping service was very slow, and the Be-sharp lacks the sharpness and speed of other sharpeners.

  • The entire feedback comment is regarding fulfillment or customer service for an order fulfilled by Amazon. Feedback reviewed and determined to be relating explicitly to fulfillment and customer service for an order fulfilled by Amazon will not be removed, but a line will appear through the rating with the following statement:

    This item was fulfilled by Amazon, and we take responsibility for this fulfillment experience.

Amazon strongly suggests that you work with buyers to resolve negative feedback. However, if you believe that the feedback you received meets any of these criteria, then open a support ticket by clicking the "By e-mail" button on the right side of the help page. Select "Orders" from the left-hand menu and then "Customer feedback problems." Amazon will evaluate the feedback and make a decision whether to remove the feedback.

So bottom line, use all these strategies and you will see your feedback score improve in both total numbers of feedback and positive feedback percentage.

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2. Sourcing the “Perfect” Product to Sell on eBay or Amazon

I have written about this before, but I get so many questions on this topic that I decided to update the info and cover it again. When you think of the perfect product the first thing that comes to mind is a product that sells quickly at a profit. Of course we are all looking for those products and sometimes find them –but in the real world most of us have hundreds of products listed and we make money because a few of them sell every day.

If you could find just a few dozen products that are huge and fast sellers you can build up a profitable account quickly, but for most of us the strategy that works best is to have as many SKUs listed as possible, so that some of them are selling every day. For example, I now have about 1000 separate SKUs listed and that translates to about 30 sales a day.

The simple truth about selling on eBay and/or Amazon is the more active SKUs you have, the more sales you will make every day, week or month.

If that is your business model, then you want to select your products very carefully to maximize your profits. Here is my strategy for doing that.

  • Seek products with a higher average selling price – If you are selling through FBA as I strongly suggest you do, then you have to contend with FBA fees – some which are variable and some that are fixed. It’s the fixed fees that are important to your average selling price.

    Amazon has two fixed fees, Order handling and pick and pack. Those two fees total $2.04. So if you are selling an tem for $12.95, those two fees represent 15.7% of your selling price. But if you sell an item for $27.95 then those two fees represent only 7.2% of your selling price. So right there you make 8.5% greater profit on that sale.

  • Look for smaller, lighter weigh products – Amazon also has variable fees based on weight and size. The weight based handling fee on a small 4-ounce item is only 50¢. But one product I sell is aa Air Fryer which is close to 16 pounds and the weight based handling fee on that product is over $13.00. It is also an oversized product so the pick and pack fee on that product is $4.05 instead of the normal $1.04 fee. (Selling that product goes against my strategy but I sell it anyway because it’s a really hot selling product – It sells for $229 and I sell as many as 5 per week. So its OK to violate this strategy once in a while for certain products)

    The other factors related to size and weight are shipping and storage. Smaller and lighter weigh products cost less to ship to FBA and the storage cost is less. These fees can really add up over time and affect your profits.

  • Watch your category selection – Amazon charges different referral fees depending on the category. Most categories have a 15% fixed sales commission, but a few categories have higher fees. For example, the referral commission in jewelry is 20% but its only 6% in the personal computer category. Other different fees are 12% in automotive and 20% in sports collectibles.

  • Manage your inventory qualities – Not all of us have storage space in our homes, but since Amazon does charge storage fees, when you have items that sell steadily –but not that fast, it pays to send smaller quantities into FBA at one time. For example, I have several items that sell about one per week, but my wholesale supplier has a minimum order quantity of 24 per case. Since I do have some extra storage room in my garage, I send those items in 6 at a time. If I sent in the entire case of 24 at one time I would be paying storage on most of them for weeks and weeks.

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3. eBay Has Released a Preview of the Fall Seller Policy changes

The changes will not be released until September, but eBay’s head of trust and safety did a blog post where she gave some hints of what is coming.

Laura Chambers, who is the Head of Trust and Safety, blogged about the upcoming changes. She hinted that most of them will be related to increasing trust between buyers and sellers and that most of the changes will involve the feedback system.

Here first major point was:

“You feel like many of the measurements in seller performance standards (like feedback and detailed seller ratings) are too subjective … based on buyer opinions that aren’t always connected to the product and service that you delivered. I’ve also heard that you understand that it’s critically important for our overall seller community to maintain high standards of service, so our buyers keep coming back to eBay and buying from you.”

In trying to read between the lines it appears that the changes to feedback could be positive for sellers, but with eBay you never know. They have a habit of putting positive spin on things like this and then they institute a policy that throws you completely for a loop.

One of the changes she mentioned specifically is how they plan to measure shipping time. As you know to keep your Advanced seller rating you have to enter tracking information on shipments on 90% of your shipments within 1 business day. One problem with this is for those of us who do drop shipping. Not all of our drop shippers can get the info to us in time to do that.

The other topic Ms. Chambers hinted at change coming had to do with how returns are handled. Returns have always been messy on eBay as many buyers just don’t cooperate and in fact many of them are unseasonal and even use returns to commit fraud. So it will be interesting to see what changes come in this area.

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4. Wholesale Sourcing from Merchandise Marts

If you have never been in a wholesale merchandise mart you are in for a treat. I have said many times that my absolute number one favorite place to source is trade shows, but merchandise marts are a close second. These marketplaces go by several different names.

They are often called Gift Marts, Design Centers or Market Centers. But no matter the name they all operate about the same. You will find them in most major cities with large cities like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago having several. And, each mart will contain storefronts in several different categories. Our local mart in Seattle has stores selling health & beauty, toys, gifts, collectibles, gourmet foods, kitchenware, sporting goods and more. So there is a great variety of products to be found at these places.

Essentially a merchandise mart is a collection of storefronts located in a building with controlled access not open to the public. To get in you must prove you are a real business. The first time you visit you will want to bring a business card, copy of your resale number and a business license if your city issues them. Once you register you will be in their system and they will issue you a badge to wear when you are in the building.

The companies who exhibit at the marts are typically of two types – manufacturer’s reps and the company themselves (or their master distributor). Manufacturer’s reps are businesses that typically represent a number of companies in a related product area. So you may go into one store that is selling jewelry or toys. Typically, the store will display several lines from different manufacturers. Each line will have different terms of sale such as minimum opening order, minimum re-order and so on. Unfortunately, you cannot combine them between lines. So if you saw a toy from one manufacturer and different toys from other manufacture they will each have a different minimum amount of the first opening order.

The store fronts look just like retail stores with the products on display, but the difference is when you pick up a product you will see a price and case pack size. This will be the wholesale price to you. So if you picked up an item that said $6/4. That would mean the wholesale price is $6 each and them come in a case of 4 pieces. You have to follow that as well. Say, for example, a manufacturer has a minimum opening order of $200 you would have to find $200 worth or products and buy them in the case pack size.

And, when you buy a product you don’t walk out with it. What happens is you place an order and they supplier ships it to your business address. (Note – many of these companies will not ship to a residential address. What we use is one of those mailbox rental companies that has a commercial address).

When you are a first time buyer the seller will usually want payment by credit card, but after you buy from them a few times they will usually offer you a 30-day net credit account.

The other type of storefront you will see are once operated by the manufacturer. In those stores you will only see the one line of product and the people working there will typically be full time employees of the company rather than commissioned sales people.

The one exception to buying merchandise and carrying it out, is occasionally you will see a sign in a store window that says “Sample Sale.” When you see this what is happening is the store is selling off outdated merchandise and the price is often ½ of the wholesale price or even less. These can be incredible good deals if the merchandise is sellable. Sometimes its just last year’s model of a product. But other times they are blowing them out because the products are really poor sellers – so you do want to be careful when you do this. All of the sample sales I have seen require immediate payment and you must carry the product out with you.

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5. New Wholesale Sources for eBay and Amazon Sellers

Very few companies still have merchandise available for Halloween, but one company, Coolglow, still does. Click here to download a PDF catalog.

Faceplant Dreams sells Playful and inspiring messages on pillowcases, sleepwear, slippers and a mixture of other gifts.

New Moon Apothecary is another candle company They sell naturally scented soy candles and plant-based, raw body care products. Handmade from organic ingredients whenever possible.

Wood Graphix Inc. makes and sells imaged wood products. Their imaging process is not a decal or overlay. The image is printed directly on the wood with an automotive based pigment.

Auburn Textiles sells a very nice line of decorative small pillows and other textile products.

Love Her Madly sells a very nice line of handcrafted jewelry and hand knitted scarves.

Obon Fashion Design sells a very nice line of fashion jewelry and accessories.

Sunflower Freckles designs and makes bow ties for men, women, children and pets.

American Flags Wholesale sells all forms of American Flags They have a full supply of American Flags for Memorial Day, Flag Day, July 4th Independence Day, 4th of July and Veterans Day. They also sell the small flags on sticks.

Smart Blonde is a Wholesale License Plates Supplier - Wholesale METAL Vanity Novelty License Plates -Wholesale METAL Signs - Huge Selection - Over 1500 wholesale goods novelties.

Irwin Sales makes and sell Embroidery patches and Collectible pins, Military, Motorcycles, Sports, Flags, Cities, Countries, Religious, Comics, Spanish, Black and More.

That’s it for now. See you again in two weeks.

Skip McGrath
The eBay & Amazon Seller's News

P.S. If you missed the last issue, click here to read it.






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