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Amazon Taking Steps to Reduce FBA Inventory on Slow Moving Items

The eBay & Amazon Seller's News - April, 2016 - Volume 17, Issue No. 7

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. Amazon Taking Steps to Reduce FBA Inventory on Slow Moving Items
  2. List of Amazon Prep and Ship Centers in the US
  3. How to Remove Negative or Neutral Feedback on Amazon
  4. eBay Spring Seller Update
  5. New Wholesale Sources for eBay and Amazon Sellers

"No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path." ~ Buddha


Musings

If any of my readers have been getting Spam emails from me I apologize, but my email server company, Isomedia, has been under attack by hackers seeking ransom. Here is the email they sent me about the situation. Some of you who use independent server companies may be having the same issue, as it seems to be a worldwide problem.

There have been a number of different spam emails which are getting through our filters. These include subjects containing Document, MailScanner, and Email viruses. They often are spoofing various addresses including your own address. Since they are spoofing the 'sender' address to be your own, you may get the email virus blocked notifications from us. You can delete those.

We have received countless calls/emails about this and our administrators are working to block these emails. Our Spam signatures are constantly updated and it can take time for a new spam email to be filtered out regularly. This is not an indication of any kind of compromise.

We appreciate your patience while we work through this. We do not need any more examples, as we have enough to go on. This is a global scale spam attack, so it's not just ISOMEDIA seeing this issue.

If you would like to read more about this, here are some external links regarding the surge of spam across the world.


Warehouse theft at Amazon seems to be a problem. I have had three issues with bundled or multipacked items being sent to customers with items missing. We poly bag and seal all our bundled and multipacks, so the theives are cutting the bags open and removing items.

I have reported this to Amazon but their answer is that their warehouses have excellent security and they doubt it is happening.


Are Your Listings Getting Hijacked? Greg Mercer at Jungle Scout has written a great blog post on this topic. Here is what he says about it:

When I think of the things that Amazon sellers say, one of the most common fears would be about getting your "listing hijacked". The term conjures up a frightful sweat for many, but what does it really mean, and how can you prevent it?

In short, if your product listing is hijacked, it means that someone is selling your private label product. How are they doing this, if you are the only one who can source and distribute this product? They are likely selling counterfeit products, or similar products but not with your actual branding. This can be a huge headache to deal with, but there are some preemptive steps you can take to avoid this.

I have put together a post outlining a listing getting hijacked, and how you can prevent that in your own future.

You can read the post here:

How To Handle Amazon Listing Hijackers


In the last issue, I had an article about selling my other business - The Official Geezer Guide website. I though it would take a few weeks to sell, but amazingly, I got a full-cash offer the next day that I accepted, and we are in the process of doing the deal. I had about 25 enquires from readers about buying the site. Thank you to all of you who expressed interest.


When a customer has a problem with an FBA shipped order and they click on the order button, the message comes to you. But, Amazon prefers to deal with the customers on order issues (such as order not received or item missing from box) and if you open a ticket, Amazon usually responds telling you to have the customer contact them directly. The best way to do that is email the customer - explain the situation and give them Amazon's customer service phone number - U.S. and Canada: 1-866-216-1072


This is from Restock Pro

Have you ever uploaded an inaccurate shipment CSV file to Amazon Seller Central?

If you've sold via FBA for very long, you've likely sent in hundreds or even thousands of shipments to Amazon. Given the volume of units in your inventory, one shipping mishap can yield hours of frustration and needless worry.

We recently published this article on our blog, which offers tips for reducing (or eliminating) shipment errors. It's been a very popular article, so I thought you might find it helpful. Enjoy! Click here to read "A Tale of Two Shipments"


Shannon Madlin at Add This wrote a great article about writing compelling copy for your listings. Looking for techniques to help you write copy that drives your readers or website visitors to take action?

Learn how to effectively communicate the value of your product or service by reading " 11 Tips for Writing Killer Copy That Drives Conversions".


Free removal of your FBA inventory until April 30, 2016 - You may have slow-moving or low-selling inventory. Starting March 31, 2016, FBA is waiving fees for any removal order for return or disposal of your inventory that is currently in U.S. fulfillment centers. Learn more (must be logged in to see information)


 

Lets get started with this month’s articles:

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1. Amazon Taking Steps to Reduce FBA Inventory on Slow Moving Items

In the past couple weeks some Amazon FBA sellers have created shipments where some of their items were blocked from being added to the shipment. What is happening is Amazon's distribution centers are getting too full - and much of it is slow moving inventory or inventory where the quantity in FBA is too high to support near term sales.

I had this happen to me last week. I tried to add an item and got a notice that I could not add that ASIN to my shipment. The problem was - that particular item was actually a fast seller, so I opened a support ticket. Amazon answered that they were blocking items where the stock in FBA was too high. However, my item only had 6 each left in inventory and I was trying to send in another 24. So I reopened the support ticket --and this time they explained that the system was an automated system (read Robot) and they had some glitches in it as it was just rolled out. They told me to wait a day or two and try again which I did -and it worked. The next time I tried to add to a shipment it went through fine.

So, if this happens to you, the first thing you want to do is look at the item on Amazon. If it has a really bad sales rank and there are a lot of other sellers with inventory, there is probably nothing you can do. But if that is not the case, then open a support ticket and explain the problem.

On one hand, I can understand why Amazon would want to reduce slow moving inventory - storage is expensive. On the other hand, Amazon makes a lot of money on their long-term storage penalty fees, so I am slightly perplexed at this move.

If you have a lot of inventory at Amazon that is not moving, you might consider reducing the price to get rid of some of it before the long-term storage fees kick in. Or consider looking for some local storage. Amazon's storage fees are actually somewhat expensive and I have found I can find cheaper storage locally.

I also order large quantities of items from China. I have these sent to an Amazon Fulfillment Center. I use www.MyInventoryTeam.com in Tennessee. I currently have over 1000 items stored there and send them into Amazon in small shipments as I need them. My Inventory Team charges me less for storage than Amazon charges, so that works out being very cost effective. For smaller items, I store locally. I have found that a local storage locker company actually works out being less expensive than Amazon's regular monthly storage fees, and helps me avoid issue with the long term penalty storage fees for items that have been in FBA for more than 6 months.

When it comes to inventory, whether you store it or not, the other thing to consider is how much money you have tied up in inventory just sitting around. That is called opportunity cost. What could that money be doing if you had it invested in faster selling products?

So, whenever I make a mistake and buy a slow moving item, I always lower the price to sell it faster and get my money back. That is a far better strategy in term of long term profits than just sitting on non-performing or poor-performing inventory.

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2. List of Amazon Prep and Ship Centers in the US

One of the most frequent posts I see on Facebook groups I am in are from people looking for Amazon prep and ship centers. As I said in the previous article, I use www.MyFulfillmentteam.com, which I strongly endorse and recommend. But recently, Jim Cockrum published a list of fulfillment centers around the country and he generously allowed me to reprint it it my newsletter. Jim also recommends My Fulfillment Team.

If you are not familiar with prep and ship centers, what they do is provide a service whereby you send your inventory to them and they store it for you (for a fee, but the fee is often less than what Amazon charges -but not always - so check. When you are ready to ship to FBA these companies will label your products and ship them to FBA for you. With some of them you have to create the shipment and email them the labels. Others such as My Fulfillment Team will create the shipments for you.

Although Jim and I are good friends, we are also competitors. I publish The Complete Amazon Marketing System and Jim publishes The Proven Amazon Course. This list is actually one of the bonus items in the Proven Amazon Course. So if you want to look at different fulfillment centers - here is the list:

Proven Amazon Course Fulfillment Companies

United States

Arizona
  • Prep and Ship Plus, Ph: 602-397-3330
California
  • FBA Inspection, Ph: 707-961-0343
  • Prep It! Pack It! Ship It! - West Coast, Ph: 760-576-4404
Florida
  • Worldwide Fulfillment, Ph: 561-245-2392
Georgia
  • Prep It! Pack It! Ship It! - East Coast, Ph: 760-576-4404
Illinois
  • Fulfillment Butler, Ph: 217-652-1846
  • Fulfillment Packaging Service, Ph: 844-224-4464
  • SM Operators, Ph: 866-757-1377
Massachusetts
  • FBA Express, Ph: 888-501-1322
Montana
  • Selltec Prep, Ph: 406-320-0079
New Hampshire
  • Prime Zero Prep
  • We Ship-USA.com 888.570.1110 X01
Oregon
  • FBA Prep and Ship, Ph: 541-543-4309
Tennessee
  • My Inventory Team (* Long time partners of Skip McGrath and the ProvenAmazonCourse.com community.), Ph: 877-550-1640
Texas
  • Fulfillment Rescue, Ph: 888-848-4579
  • GDW, Inc., Ph: 832-463-0988
  • Quick Prep & Ship
  • Texas Prep Pack & Ship
Wisconsin
  • Central Wisconsin Prep Pack & Ship, Ph: 855-397-4587

United Kingdom

  • Adstral Fulfillment, Ph: 0330 660 0280 Intl: +44 330 660 0280
  • FBA Prep UK, Ph: +44 (0)1253 708156

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3. How to Remove Negative or Neutral Feedback on Amazon

Protecting your feedback score on Amazon is highly important. A low feedback score affects you in two ways. First, it is one of the most important metrics Amazon uses to determine who gets the buy box. If your feedback score (or any of your other metrics) is low, then Amazon will award the buy box to another seller even if your price is lower. The other reason is keeping your account. Let your feedback score get too low and Amazon may suspend your account.

There are three main ways to protect your feedback.

  1. The first thing you want to do is build up your score, so any one bad feedback is only a small percentage of your total score.

    There are services such as Feedback Five Feedback Five and Feedback Genius that provide a service to help increase your feedback.

  2. Amazon gives several reasons why they will remove negative or neutral feedback. These are:

    • 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 Acme Super-Widget lacks the sharpness and speed of the Acme Ultra Widget.

      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 Acme Super-Widget lacks the sharpness and speed of the Acme Ultra Widget.

    • 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.

      If the feedback meets any of these criteria, open the Amazon help file and click on the link to contact Amazon and select email. Click on Customers and Orders and a window will open up with a list of recent orders and an empty box where you can paste in the order number. When you do that, Amazon will see the feedback issue and display it. There will be a button to click to remove the feedback.

      Below that is a list of reasons. Click on the reason that applies (such as product feedback if the feedback is all about the product) and hit Submit. In some cases, a note will pop up that Amazon has removed the feedback. In others a case file will be opened and you will hear back from Amazon within a day or so. If the feedback was totally about the product and did not mention anything about your service, then Amazon will remove the feedback almost 100% of the time. ( I have had 4 negative feedbacks about my products since Christmas and Amazon has removed all of them).

  3. The feedback was your fault and somehow related to your service. In this case - here is how I handle that.

    I go to the order and click on the customer's name. This brings up an Amazon email form. When the form opens I construct an email that does three things:

    First, I apologize for what happened and take responsibility for it

    Second, If the product was fairly low cost, I will just issue a refund and tell the customer it is not necessary to send the product back. But if it's a higher cost product I ask the customer to return it ( I pay or refund the shipping fees) and instead I tell him or her that I am sending them a $10 Amazon gift card by way of apology (which I do regardless of whether or not they remove the feedback.

    Third, I explain that our policy is to do everything possible to make him happy and solve the problem. That we are small sellers on Amazon and good feedback is critical to our success.

    What I don't do at this point is ask them to remove the feedback. I wait until they answer me. At that point, they are usually calmed down and more reasonable. So I answer that email and ask if they would consider removing their feedback and show them how to do it.

    Here are the instructions I include in the email:

    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.

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4. eBay Spring Seller Update

eBay Spring 2016 Seller Update

The annual Spring seller update is here again. There are some pretty interesting updates this year as the new CEO tries to put his mark on the company.

The updates fall into the following categories:

View item -Improving conversion and the buyer experience through the item description.

Features and fees -Store subscriptions, feature fees, and access to dedicated customer service.

Product reviews -Helping buyers make better buying decisions with more relevant product.

Information Seller Hub -Coming to all sellers this summer with new enhancements.

Category and item specifics -Find out if your categories or item specifics will be updated.

Jewelry Policy -Update your listings to comply with new Fine and Fashion Jewelry definitions.

User Agreement -Seller performance standards, Returns and Cancellations, and legal disputes.

You can see the complete announcement here.

Let's look at each item:

View Item

- The new View Item description for mobile features a clean and consistent item description summary. eBay derives a brief, 250-character, text-only description summary from your full item description. This provides relevant listing information that allows shoppers to make fast, informed buying decisions.

For the summary, eBay determines which content in your full item description is most relevant by identifying keywords that shoppers use to search for your items. If your full item description uses basic HTML, CSS or text-only descriptions, and is no more than 800 characters, eBay will display the full description when buyers view your item description on their mobile devices.

Because the new View Item description summary is automatically generated by eBay, no action is required from you. If you want to highlight information that isn't captured in there auto-generated summaries, you can choose the specific listing information you want to show using more advanced HTML options. This functionality is ideal for items that have unique characteristics, such as arts, antiques and collectibles.

Remove active content for peak performance

The use of active content in listings, including JavaScript, Flash, plug-ins and form actions, inhibits purchases on mobile devices and can lead to abuse in the marketplace. Beginning with the Spring 2017 Seller Update (next year), eBay will limit the use of active content in all new listings across all devices and it will not be rendered by default. By the Fall Seller Update 2017, eBay will remove or block listings with active content. They encourage you to limit your use of active content now. eBay will provide more information later this year about which functionality will be limited and provide the specific timing in early 2017. They also are working closely with there third-party partners in cases where they use active content on your item descriptions or stores.

Features and fees -

This May, eBay will introduce a new pricing structure for some listing features and for eBay Store subscriptions, plus new benefits for eBay Store subscribers.

For eBay Store subscribers
Anchor Stores-New access to dedicated customer service

Beginning in May, eBay will introduce a new pricing structure for Anchor Store subscribers. With the new pricing structure, Anchor Store subscribers will receive new benefits including increases in the zero insertion fee listings allotment for both fixed-price and auction formats in nearly all categories and new credits for promoted listings. North American registered Store subscribers will also receive a coupon for eBay-branded shipping supplies and, by July 1, will receive exclusive access to customer service via a dedicated a toll-free phone number and email.

If you are an Anchor Store subscriber on an annual subscription, you will pay an additional $360 per quarter, and the value of the benefits that you will receive, excluding the value of new, dedicated customer service. eBay says this is worth up to $1,495 per quarter.

Premium and Basic Stores

Beginning in May, eBay will introduce a new pricing structure to Premium and Basic Store subscribers. With the new pricing structure, Premium and Basic Stores will receive an increase in the zero insertion fee listing allotment for both fixed-price and auction formats, and North American registered Store subscribers will also receive a new coupon for eBay-branded shipping supplies.

See the following image for the new store fee schedule

† Optional fees and final value fees still apply. You're charged one insertion fee per listing per category, regardless of the quantity of items, for any duration including Good 'Til Cancelled. Good 'Til Cancelled listings count toward your monthly allotment of zero insertion fee listings upon renewal every 30 days and may incur insertion fees and optional fees upon renewal. Terms are subject to change. Learn more.

‡ Motor Vehicles, Real Estate, Classified Ads, Heavy Equipment, Concession Trailers & Carts, Imaging & Aesthetics Equipment, and Commercial Printing Presses are excluded.

** Collectibles categories include Antiques, Art, Coins & Paper Money, Collectibles, Dolls & Bears, Entertainment Memorabilia, Pottery & Glass, Sports Memorabilia, Cards & Fan Shop, Stamps, and Toys & Hobbies. Fashion Categories include Clothing, Shoes & Accessories, Health & Beauty, and Jewelry & Watches.

Listing upgrade fee changes - Beginning in May, listing upgrade fees for select optional features will increase for items with a list price greater than $150. For details please see the table below:

eBay-branded shipping supplies

Later this month, sellers will be able to conveniently purchase affordable eBay-branded shipping supplies on eBay with quick handling time and free shipping. Premium-quality boxes, envelopes and tape will be available at very competitive prices, providing you with one-stop shopping convenience for all your packaging needs. eBay says there eBay-branded shipping supplies are eco-friendly, too.

*** To be eligible for the dedicated customer services and eBay shipping supplies benefits, sellers must have a valid eBay registration address in the US or Canada. (Sellers using My eBay can verify their registration address at My eBay > My Account > Addresses > Registration address).

Product reviews-a new eBay standard

eBay has updated product reviews to make it simpler to read and contribute reviews.

  • Expanded to even more products
  • Cleaner design with easy to identify ratings
  • Simple follow-up emails to buyers requesting product reviews

eBay believes that product reviews drive buyer trust and confidence by providing relevant information they need. Supplying this information at the point of purchase could mean shoppers are more likely to convert to buyers when viewing your item. eBay's research shows they keep buyers on the site, resulting in an average 18% uplift in sales.

Seller Hub coming to all sellers this summer

In the Fall 2015 Seller Release, eBay announced the new eBay Seller Hub beta. More than 25,000 sellers are now using the new hub to manage their eBay business. Based on their input, eBay made a number of enhancements that will hopefully help you manage your orders and inventory more efficiently. This summer, Seller Hub will be available to all sellers and will become the default tool for managing your listings on eBay. If you want early access to Seller Hub, join the waitlist today. There is a button on the announcement page to join the waitlist here.

eBay says the benefits of the seller hub are as follows:

  • Competitive listing guidance
  • Detailed sales information
  • Listing tools to better manage your listings
  • Access to marketing tools for Store subscribers

Category and item specifics

eBay thinks that new category changes and item specific updates will create an even more intuitive buying, selling, and search experience on eBay. In May, category name changes and item specifics on the US site will be more closely aligned with other eBay sites to offer eBay sellers improved access to cross-border trade opportunities. In addition to category name changes, other updates include additions, removals, moves and renames. ( Its not clear if eBay will make these changes for you or if you will have to do them manually)

See if these updates apply to you

Click on the links below to check the list of affected categories and make any necessary updates to your listings. The specific change to a given category can be found on the detail page by selecting the category. Additionally, some item specifics have been updated.

Category:

Jewelry Policy

Here's what's new with eBay's jewelry policy

eBay has updated the eBay jewelry policy to provide clearer definitions of what can be listed in the Fine and Fashion Jewelry categories, which more closely align with industry standards.

They have expanded their list of fine and fashion metals, gemstones, and materials that can be listed in these categories. They have also updated listing requirements to help you describe your items more clearly and accurately to ensure they're listed in the appropriate category (i.e., Fine or Fashion). Policy changes include:

  • A requirement that the metal type or gemstones need to be Fine as defined in the policy to list items in the Fine Jewelry category. If any part of your item is Fine, then it should be listed in the Fine category.
  • Fine metals that are plated or filled with another fine metal must be listed in the Fine Jewelry category.
  • New Item Specifics for those materials in each category. Sellers will be required to use these new Item Specifics when listing.
  • Clarified listing guidelines for treated, enhanced, lab-created and simulated/imitation items.
  • Natural diamonds that have been enhanced must include "Enhanced" in the title, Item Specifics, and description of your listing.
  • Natural gemstones that have been treated must include "Treated" in the Item Specifics and description of your listing.

Listings that don't follow these guidelines may be removed and your selling privileges may be restricted, and your account may be suspended.

eBay User Agreement Updates

Here is what eBay says about their new updates. I felt it best to use their exact language for this item.

At eBay, we strive to make our policies clear and our services easy to use. As part of that commitment, we're announcing some changes to the eBay User Agreement.

Our updated User Agreement will take effect on April 5, 2016 for new users and on May 19, 2016 for all other users. The updated User Agreement was posted on eBay.com on April 5, 2016.

Key updates to the eBay User Agreement:

  • Using eBay: While eBay is committed to measuring our sellers' performance fairly, we also expect sellers to consistently provide service that results in a high level of buyer satisfaction. We've updated this section to indicate that sellers who fail to meet our minimum performance standards may have their accounts limited, restricted, suspended, or downgraded.

  • Returns and Cancellations: We've updated this section to state that, for new sellers, in all listings where returns are accepted, eBay will set a default rule that automates the return process. As before, sellers can still customize their return preferences (requires eBay login) from their account settings in My eBay, and may choose not to accept returns when listing.

  • Legal Disputes: We've made some minor changes to our dispute resolution policy. Please see the updated User Agreement for details.

- See more here.

So there you have it. Lots of changes this year which is combined with eBay's new look and feel and what's not mentioned specifically is the search algorithms will also change. Personally I am not optimistic about this in the long run, but I could be wrong so we will just have to wait and see. Previous changes to the search engine have been highly problematic for sellers resulting in poorer search results.

Of all the things mentioned in here be sure to check the category updates and make sure you comply with all the new rules.

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5. New Wholesale Sources for eBay and Amazon Sellers

McCall's Candles sells a very nice line of fragrant candles in many different themes.

Barn Cat Mercantile sells a nice line of wax dipped LED flickering candles that look very lifelike.

Mulberry Home Wholesale sells a very nice line of country themed gifts and accessories for the home.

The CQ Bookstore sells a nice line of adult coloring books (Not "adult" themes -just normal coloring books aimed at the adult market).

Garden Supply sells a nice line of garden décor and accessories.

Honey & Me sells a line of themed pillows and signs with slogans and artwork on them.

My Amigos Imports sells hand hewn rustic wood bowls in dozens of different designs. They are very attractive.

Serenity Tea Sips sells a very nice line of loose leaf teas and tisanes in a wide range of flavors.

NutZez sells a line of gourmet flavored nut butters that appeal to sweets lovers and health conscious buyers.

Seven Flowers of Luxury sells a line of skin care products that are all made from fair trade organic ingredients. Their balms and lipsticks are made in small batches to preserve freshness.

North Country Wind Bells sells a large line of wind bells in many sizes and designs.

The Country House sells a line of country themed gifts and accessories for the home.

Nashville Wraps sells a complete line of gift wraps and boxes for those of you who create gift sets to bundle and sell online.

That's for this issue. See you again in about 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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