Getting Started in Private Labeling for eBay & Amazon
The eBay & Amazon Seller's News ~ July 2017 ~ Volume 18, Issue No. 11
Tips, Tools, News and Resources for eBay, Amazon and Independent Online Sellers
Before I forget, I want to let you know about some updated articles on my website:
Jordan Malik is having a Christmas in July 50%-off sale on three of his best-selling products. The sale runs from today through July 18th., and this will be his only sale in 2017.
The sale includes:
This sale actually ended July 8th, but Jordan has agreed to hold it open a bit longer for my readers. The sale price is 50% off until July 18 th. All three products come with a "no-questions-asked 30-day money-back guarantee. Here is a link to read more about the products.
Put the power of Pinterest into your sales quiver. Discover How to Drive Traffic Easily To Your Products, Stores, Websites & Blogs Using The POWER of Pinterest . Let others do your marketing for you. My friend, John Bullard has worked with Teresa Rose to develop a complete course in using Pinterest to increase your eBay, Amazon and product sales. They are offering a low introductory price that will go up in about a week or so. You can read about the Power of Pinterest here .
Amazon Affiliate Marketing is alive and well. My training course - Make Money with The Amazon Affiliate Program was just updated recently and will guide you along the way to create a steady affiliate income.
However, my top-selling book, Sell Used Books on eBay, Amazon.com and the Internet for Profit is also showing folks how to make a steady income.
Free storage fees from Amazon. Amazon recently announced a special offer:
The categories include almost all categories on Amazon:
Kitchen, Patio, Lawn & Garden, Cell Phones & Accessories, Computers (Personal Computers), Furniture and Décor, Pet Supplies, Sporting Goods, Home & Garden, Office Products, Sports Collectibles, Automotive, Arts, Crafts and Supplies, Major Appliances, Musical Instruments Equipment & Accessories, Tires, Industrial and Scientific, Camera and Photo, Entertainment Collectibles, and Outdoors.
Note: New listings created by bundling or multi-packing do not apply to this promotion -only single new products count.
After acquiring Whole Foods, Amazon has turned its attention to fashion sales with their new Prime Wardrobe Service's, Try before you buy program. This program (now only for Prime members) allows customers to try on clothing at home before committing to buy.
I find this interesting because, if they let sellers participate, clothing has one of the highest return rates on Amazon. I think this could have a positive effect on that.
In more fashion news, Amazon has not made an announcement, but they are approaching major clothing brands to get them to sell direct on Amazon. This means the future for fashion sellers may be buying generic and branding under your own private label. (I can't confirm if this is true, but I am hearing that Amazon is making deals with the fashion brands for lower fees and storage costs).
Be very careful listing existing items on Amazon using the UPC code on the product. Just last week, I started selling a new kind of pet treats I hadn't carried before. When I went to Add a product, I typed in the UPC code that was on the package, and the item came up with an existing. I looked at the name and package and it looked the same -but I skipped examining the fine details. What I didn't notice was the treats listed on Amazon were described in the bullets as a 10-ounce package. But my packages were only 8-ounces. To make a long story short, I listed them and they started selling immediately. But, about 10 days or so after my first sale, I got an email from seller performance saying they had cancelled my listing because the product I was selling was different than the product described on Amazon.
The manufacturer had changed the content size of the item, but used the same UPC code.
Amazon Early Reviewer Program replaces incentivized reviews. As you know, Amazon recently changed their review policy (again) to no longer allow any type of incentivized reviews.
You can find information about the Early Reviewer Program here . (You must be signed into Seller Central to view this link). Under this program, Amazon will provide the incentive in the form of an Amazon Gift Card in an amount between $1.00 and $3.00 no matter what the review is (from 1 to 5 stars).
Originally, sellers were able to submit products for review, but Amazon has decided to select products to review randomly from now on.
eBay Open will be held at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, this year from July 25 to 27. Here is a link to read about the event and register .
Unfortunately, I will be in the middle of moving into our new house at that time - so I can't join you this year. However, I do want to point out one thing - The Virtual Assistant company that I use and endorse, 2 nd Office, from the Philippines, will be exhibiting in the vendor's area. If you have any need for a virtual assistant or for help creating eBay and Amazon listings, please drop in and say hello (and be sure to mention my name).
Lets get started with this monthís articles:
Unless you have been living on Jupiter for the last few months, you have probably heard of Private Labeling (PL). Everyone is familiar with Brand Name merchandise. Private Labeling (PL) is nothing more than creating your own brand and marketing it.
Unlike many methods of selling on eBay and/or Amazon, PL is not a fad and is here to stay. Private Labeling works equally well on eBay and Amazon, but I am going to concentrate on Amazon because Amazon has some special challenges. Once your PL product and brand is ready -it is an easy thing to list it on eBay.
You may be wondering why someone would buy your brand, when they could buy a well-known one? Although the economy is improving, times are still tough for many people -and these folks are seeking value and bargains.
So how do we go about creating PL products? You might think that the first step is picking a brand, but you would be wrong. The first thing you need to do is pick a product category. This -and the eventual product you select, will influence your creation of a brand.
If you are new to Amazon, or your account has some performance challenges, I suggest you stick with categories that do not require approval such as Patio, Lawn and Garden, Home & Kitchen, Arts & Crafts Supplies, Sporting Goods and Electronics. Categories such as jewelry, shoes, gourmet food, clothing and fashion accessories (handbags, gloves, scarves, et.) are not good candidates for your first PL attempt.
There are two ways to go with PL. 1) Finding a manufacturer who will PL his goods for you (These are surprisingly easy to find), or 2) creating your own product (There are two ways to do this and we will discuss both).
The first way involves locating a manufacturer who will PL their products for you. There are thousands of companies who will do this. They take their product, use your label and/or packaging, and send you the product ready to ship. There are some costs for doing this, but even with those added costs, your cost typically ends up costing less than the wholesale cost for a branded product.
The other way is, some PL manufacturers will ship their products to you blank with no label and/or packaging and give you permission to create your own labels and packaging and sell them under that brand. This gives you more control and is in some ways easier, but obviously it can be more expensive and time consuming.
How do you find manufacturers who will PL for you?
There are three ways -all of them simple:
The last one, the PLMA has trade shows on a regular basis. The next one is in Rosemont, Nov. 12 to 14. There will be over 300 vendors exhibiting who are looking for PL customers (like you) they can work with.
The second method of doing PL, is to do it yourself. This involves finding generic products, creating a PL brand (including retail packaging) and selling them.
The way I do this is, first I look on Amazon to find a product with a good sales rank in a category I sell in. In my case, I have a lot of Kitchen products (Both branded and Private Labeled), so that is a natural place to start.
I go through the Kitchen category on Amazon and look for products with a sales rank better than 1000 in the category (Each category is different, but Home and Kitchen includes just over 50,000 items. So, 1000 is in the top 2% of all the items in that category which is where I want to be.
When I was looking at small kitchen appliances, I came across immersion blenders (AKA Stick Blenders).
Several of them have a sales rank of 500 or less which is excellent at the top 1% of the category.
Now that I know that stick blenders are a viable product, I need to find one I can source and put my label on. For that, I look at Aliexpress.com. Aliexpress.com is a website owned by Alibaba. The difference is, they sell in smaller quantities. (as few as 1 or 2).
Look at the image below to see just a few of the results I got when I searched Stick Blenders on Aliexpress. Don't worry about the pricing you see. When you negotiate a quantity deal such as 50, those prices will drop as much as 75%.
Once I decide on a product, I have to think up a brand and design a logo. For a logo, I head to LogoYes Ė a site where you can design your own unique logo using one of the many pre-designed images. Here is a logo I did for my brand, The Smart Kitchen:
And here is an example of one of my PL products I created and sell under that name and brand:
But I digress - let's return to how you create your own Private Label product.
The next step is to do some test marketing. Select one of the stick blenders from Aliexpress, and buy 4 or 5 of them. When they arrive, if they are generic (and most products will be), you can list them under your brand name*. The idea here is not to make a killing selling them. You are doing test marketing, so you just want to see if they sell.
* [NOTE: You do not have to trademark and register a brand name to use it. But, just realize, if you do this your brand will not be protected.]
If they sell, you want to contact your agent (I will suggest a couple you can use), and ask him to negotiate a price for you in a small quantity such as 25, 50 or 100. You don't want to invest in a large quantity [200 to 500], until you prove the market.
Almost all of these type products come with a retail box, but they are usually in Chinese. That is OK, because you are going to redesign the box anyway. Why do I suggest you use an existing box instead of just designing your own? Because it's cheaper to modify existing artwork, than to start from scratch.
When your agent sends you the artwork, you are mostly looking at the words -not the design and product photos. So what you want to do carefully is fix the wording so that every statement is accurate, spelled correctly and grammatically correct. Be very careful doing this because redo's can be expensive
Once you send the artwork back to your agent, he can do two things. He will get a quote for the design work and a quote for the printing. In both cases it will cost you far less to do this in China, than it will in the US (or UK).
I realize you are only going to need 50 boxes, but when you get a printing quote, you will learn that 50 is the same price as 500. So get the 500. If these sell well, you will be reordering in the future, and you will not have the cost of boxes.
Once your box is printed, ask your agent to get you a sample in the box, so you can examine it the same way a customer would. This is your last chance to make changes.
Next - just place your order. If I were only ordering 50, air freight will be very close to ocean shipment, because the order is so small. When you get to the point that you are importing several hundred at a time, then ocean freight will be a lot cheaper.
Just one more thing: Above in my NOTE, I said you did not have to trademark and register a brand to use it on eBay or Amazon. This is true unless you want to register yourself as the brand holder on Amazon (or participate in Intellectual property protection on eBay). If you want to do either of those things, then you must trademark your brand.
If you need an agent, here are a couple of names for you, Bruce Wang () and Eric Lo ().
So that is about it. Follow these steps and your venture into PL should be successful.
You may think storage boxes are a mundane product, but they are easy to source and are big sellers on both eBay and Amazon. Before we get started, letís look at a few sold items on eBay and some listings on Amazon.
As you can see, there are a large variety of containers of varying prices on both eBay and Amazon. All of these boxes are new, but there are used boxes selling as well (Mostly on eBay Ė not so much on Amazon). Here are some used items that have sold recently on eBay:
Since there are two markets, new and used, let me talk about them separately.
The variety of storage boxes is huge - there are all kinds and sizes. Probably the biggest sellers are boxes for the home including clothing and tool and parts storage boxes for the garage or workshop..
Where to find them:
Believe it or not, one of the most popular brands selling online is Ikea. Sellers go to Ikea and look for boxes that come in various sizes and create a bundle of three or four (or even more) sizes. Then, they double (or more) what they paid for them. You would think that people would just visit their nearest Ikea store and buy them. But remember, not everyone lives near an Ikea store, and there are plenty of people who just want it now, or prefer to buy online to save time and gas money.
Home depot is another source (examples here). Also, almost every Home Depot has a clearance section where prices are often 25% to 40% of retail. You have to go into the store to find them. Typically, Clearance items are on an end cap in the back of the aisle where a product is displayed. If you don't see any, be sure and ask an employee as they are often hidden. (Note: Home Depot allows you to register your sales tax number so you can buy without paying tax).
Rubbermaid is one of the largest and most popular brands. They sometimes sell direct - but mostly use a network of wholesale distributors around the country. If you visit their website, you can use their Contact us form to ask for the name of your local distributor so you can buy them wholesale.
The largest market for used boxes and storage items are for vintage items. Look for storage boxes that have designs on them or are branded with company names. Most of the vintage storage boxes or containers you will find are wood.
Another big seller of used containers is Vintage Tupperware.
Here are a few examples of sellable storage containers
Older wooden boxes without designs, and/or brand names, also sell quite well - just for not as much money.
Where to find
Your best source of used boxes and storage containers tends to be thrift shops and garage sales. Another good source is Craigslist.
Condition is everything. I never buy goods that are damaged in any way (except very minor blemishes or scratches), and I give each piece a thorough cleaning before I photograph and sell it. Good condition can often double the value.
Remember shipping can be a challenge and costly, so I would look for smaller boxes that are easy to pack and ship. (Try to stay under 20 pounds).
We all want to be happy and successful, but our personal attitudes and habits often get in the way. Let's look at a few things we can do to change that.
One last tip: Find some time to kick back and relax. Being a workaholic is good up to a point. But, if you burn out that can be a major setback. If you have a family or significant other, be sure and find some time for them.
So there you have it: My advice for leading a happier and more successful life and succeeding in your own business.
If you have been selling online a while, you may know most of this, but I get questions from my readers often enough that I know there is some confusion out there. So here are the basics.
With the millions of products available, how does a seller keep track of their inventory? Businesses usually hire employees who manually track inventory and merchandise. Bar codes changed this. You can scan inventory as it comes in -and, as it goes out (sales). This can give you a running total of your inventory.
Bar codes, technically called, Global Trade Item Numbers (GTIN's), are unique product identifiers, which make obtaining product information across different databases and platforms easier. It's a symbol, which, when scanned, will show the unique attribute of a product. The most common type of bar code in the US is a UPC code
With bar codes, operational efficiency is achieved because these allow faster and more accurate recording of information. This means time is saved, errors are reduced and costs are cut. Besides these benefits, putting barcodes on your products enables you to meet regulations on selling platforms such as Amazon, that require unique identifiers on most products.
Identifier Codes on Amazon (UPC, EANs and ISBNs)
As a general rule, you need a code of some type to list a product on Amazon. Amazon requires this in order to eliminate duplicate product listings and incorrect search matches. Note, Amazon needs only the number -not the barcode art, unless you are co-mingling products or allowing Amazon to prep them for you. There are five main types of codes used on Amazon
Amazon requires a UPC, EAN or ISBN number for almost any product you list on Amazon. If you want to sell an item that does not have a UPC number, or if you are creating a unique item such as a bundle of products, then you will need to purchase a UPC number.
Note - If you are creating an item on Amazon that requires you to purchase a UPC number, you only need the number - not the actual bar code graphic. This is because you generate your own bar code label when you create a shipment to Amazon. That label identifies both the product and who it belongs to, so Amazon knows who to pay when the item sells.
eBay is just starting to require a UPC or EAN in some categories, but they have required ISBNs on Books for years.
How to Obtain Bar Codes?
There are several companies who sell UPC and EAN codes. The one I use is Nationwide Bar Codes . They have sold over 4 million barcodes (and counting) and 100% of their codes work fine on Amazon. There are plenty of websites that sell bar codes, but you have to be careful.
There are very cheap barcodes available from some eBay sellers and from Chinese suppliers, but many of them are bogus. Many are previously used or just bad codes. The advantage of Nationwide Bar Codes is that they buy from the official supplier of Barcodes, GS1.
Ideally, barcodes are integrated into the design of your item, so if what you will be selling is not yet manufactured, then you may want to send your barcode to the manufacturer (or box designer) so that the product identifier will be incorporated with the design. But if your product is already manufactured, then you can still easily obtain bar code labels. As I pointed out earlier, you don't really need the bar code art to sell on eBay & Amazon. (Note: If you are creating a Private Label product from a generic product -do not use the code on the Generic item).
Bar codes help you achieve operational efficiency, plus, they allow you to sell in one of the world's busiest online selling platforms.
SKU stands for Stock Keeping Unit and it's a number that you generate to help you keep track of your inventory. There are several systems to create and track SKUs.
Here is one way I do mine:
The first letter stands for the category of product - J for Jewelry, B for Books, K for Knives and so on.
The next letter is the month I listed the item on eBay or Amazon, so a SKU that started with B3 would be a book I listed in March.
Next I put the cost of the item. I use the simple "paintbrush" code. Paintbrush is a ten-letter word with no letters that repeat, so each letter stands for a number. A SKU that started out B3PNH would be a book, I sent in March that cost me $1.40. Then I usually come up with some type of abbreviation to identify the product. So if the book was Tom Clancy's Hunt for Red October the code might be B3PHH-RO. The RO would stand for Red October. (Some other ten-letter words with no repeating letters include: Springvale, Cumberland, Pathfinder, Monkeyspit, Motherland and Falconview).
If you tend to sell a lot of items from one supplier, another way to go is to use the initials of the supplier and the part number of the item. So for my Novobeads jewellery, I might use NB4105. The advantage of this is that I can search the term Novobeads in my Amazon inventory and the SKUS will come up in order. So if I sort by quantity, I can see which beads I am out of, or low on stock, and I have a nice list with the part numbers to place on my order sheet. See image below:
The 6th column is the quantity I have on hand. So if I want to place an order with my supplier, I just use the SKU number without the letters NB as that is the manufacturer's part number.
888 Digital has announced its refurbished equipment catalog that will allow sellers to take advantage of Amazon's new Refurbished Goods Program. Sellers can buy as few as 1 piece at a time.
SunStaches sells a really clever line of novelty sunglasses that include many licensed characters including Despicable Me. I remember seeing this company when they presented on Shark Tank.
Windbridge Power is a website that sells a range of Bluetooth products related to mobile devices. The prices on the website are retail, but if you use the Contact Us form and send them a message, they will send you a price list with prices that are substantially lower.
Sun Day Greetings sells smart, beautiful photographic greeting cards for all occasions. This is another retail website where you have to contact the company to get wholesale pricing and ordering information.
The Manhattan Toy Company specializes in toys for babies and toddlers.
Aprons by JEM sells hand-crafted trivets and aprons made in the U.S.A They use luxury fabrics and denim. Great for kitchen, work, events and gifts.
The Music Connection sells Music Cd's and Cassettes wholesale. Low minimum order of only 50 pieces required. Large selection of music genres.
Ultimate Flags Co. sells flags. Including international flags, all state and national flags, historic war flags and more.
Bluestring Wellness sells a variety of oils and creams for muscle soreness, pain and skin care as well as a line of nutritional supplements.
Poker Chip Customizer is an interesting company. They make a kit that allows you to personalize and customize poker chips with person or company names. Note: Their product is PC compatible only.
Forever Pets is a wholesale distributor of pet urns, pet memorials, and pet keepsakes to those in the pet loss world.
Thatís all for now Ė see you in a couple of weeks.
P.S. If you missed the last issue, click here to read it.
© 1999- Harry McGrath, Inc., DBA Skip McGrath, Auction Seller's Resource and Vision-One Marketing. All Rights Reserved.
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