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Skip McGrath's 2017 Holiday Sale

Amazon Suspension – Avoiding Some of the Common & Less Common Problems

The eBay & Amazon Seller's News ~ July 25, 2017 ~ Volume 18, Issue No. 12

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

In This Issue:

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

  1. Amazon Suspension – Avoiding Some of the Common & Less Common Problems
  2. Multi-Channel Fulfillment (MCF) Fee Changes
  3. Tips for Growing Your Online Selling Business
  4. Understanding The Wholesale Marketplace
  5. New Wholesale Sources for eBay & Amazon Sellers

"If you want to make an easy job seem mighty hard, just keep putting off doing it." ~ Olin Miller


Musings

From $600 to $6 million per year on Amazon

Can you imagine having an online business that generates nearly $6 million dollars in sales per year? Now what if I told you a business that size could be almost entirely automated?

This might sound like the beginning of some fly-by-night promotion you would find in the back of a magazine, but it is actually the true story of an Amazon dynamic duo I have recently come across, Dan Meadors & Eric Lambert.

These lifelong friends from Kentucky started an Amazon business in 2011 with a $600 credit card and the intent of making some extra money. Flash forward to today and they are full blown entrepreneurs with an Amazon business that has done over $11 million dollars in sales in just the last two years alone. They've come a long way from their humble beginnings, but they credit their big breakthrough to a unique business model called Reverse Sourcing Wholesale.

You can gain access to that free workshop by clicking here

Dan & Eric have been traveling the country telling their story at various events and conferences where they are in-demand speakers. If you are wondering how they can afford to spend so much time away from their Amazon business doing this, that is because they have almost completely automated it.

Right now, Dan & Eric are holding a very rare, free online workshop that reveals the inner workings of their business. How it works, how they got started, and how almost anyone can build a business, big or small, using their strategies.

You can gain access to that free workshop by clicking here

I should warn you though, this workshop has already started and is only available for a limited-time. But don't worry, they are leaving up replays of all the free training through July 27th - which is unfortunately not much time. So, if you are interested in learning some tactics and strategies from a multi-million-dollar eCommerce seller, I implore you to check it out.


I haven't mentioned The Amazon Profit Booster in a while, but it still remains one of my top-selling training books. If you sell on Amazon and would like to grow your business and increase your profits, this mini-course can help. I describe three different ways to boost your profits. These are all tried and true methods I've used myself!


If you create a partial listing or, make a mistake when creating a listing, Amazon will now move your listing to a draft folder. Drafts is a new feature that allows sellers to submit partially complete listings and work on them them right from your Seller Central account.

New listings that meet the Amazon listing requirements and are submitted using inventory file templates or, the Add a Product tool will continue to publish as before. Listings that do not meet listing requirements, or incomplete listings, will now be saved as drafts, that you can view and edit & complete later.

To view your drafts, select Complete drafts option under the new Catalog menu in Seller Central. Drafts are saved in your account until you update missing data or correct invalid data, at which time your listing will be resubmitted.

You can add missing data, or correct invalid data, one draft at a time or in bulk for up to 250 listings at the same time. Additionally, you can also export a custom excel file containing all your draft listings and add missing data to those drafts before re-uploading the file.

One thing to note: Amazon knocked the image and description out of 15 or so perfectly good listings and put them in my draft folder. If this happens to you, I suggest you open a support ticket with Seller Support


It's not too early to start sourcing Halloween and Christmas seasonal items. Most companies in this market like to take orders now, so they know how many of each product to make. They will usually ship Halloween in September and Christmas in October. Most of the companies will not charge your credit card until they ship. Therefore, I have included a few seasonal sources in my wholesale sources this month.


What is the effect of growing online sales from year to year?

The Retail Federation recently reported that Brick Mortar Retail sales are forecast to drop by 20% this year (2017). Additionally, (and this one is a real shocker): 8600 retail stores are forecast to close this year.


If you make and sell any type of handmade items, there is now a magazine for you - Handmade Business. It's a paid subscription, but I suspect they would send you a sample copy if you asked.


eBay Inc. delivered gross merchandise volume (the value of all goods sold by eBay sellers) for the quarter ended June 30, 2017 of $21.5 billion, increasing 3% on an as-reported basis and 5% on a foreign exchange (FX) neutral basis. Revenue (Income) for the quarter was $2.3 billion, up a meager 4%.

Here is what the CEO had to say: "In Q2, eBay delivered strong top and bottom line financial results, led by Marketplace acceleration," said Devin Wenig, President and CEO of eBay Inc.

He went on to add, "During the past two years, we have made significant progress to modernize eBay and drive growth by improving the customer experience, creating a product catalog that covers more than half of our inventory, and sharpening the eBay brand. We are on track and focused on creating an even stronger eBay for years to come."

I am not sure what Devin Wenig has been smoking -but these are not great numbers, especially when compared to other Online shopping sites like Amazon, who's quarterly results tend to come in at a rate 4 to 5 times greater. (Amazon will announce their 2nd Quarter numbers next week, so we will see).

Here is an example: Just look at Amazon's results for Prime Day: "Prime Day sales this year surpassed Amazon's Black Friday and Cyber Monday," the e-commerce giant says. Amazon said: "Prime Day Sales grew by more than 60 percent from 2016."

I am not sure what he meant by this: "During the past two years, we have made significant progress to modernize eBay and drive growth by improving the customer experience, creating a product catalog that covers more than half of our inventory, and sharpening the eBay brand. We are on track and focused on creating an even stronger eBay for years to come." But, I haven't noticed anything different when it comes to the buying experience.

There is some good news, CEO Wenig said that the number of eBay sellers has increased (Reversing a trend of the last few years), and eBay's move to add more Brands to the site has been successful.

If you follow eBay, you have seen a number of changes -many of them that don't make sense -and eBay is doing a lousy job of communicating to both sellers and buyers, what the changes are.

So what is driving eBay stock? Well, it might be the fact that eBay repurchased $507 million of its own common stock, and the board of directors recently authorized eBay to purchase $3 Billion more.


If you have been paying attention, you have noticed that Amazon is moving aggressively into launching and promoting their own Private Label products. Wine is their next product. Amazon recently introduced the Next brand of wine that is being made for them by the King Estate Winery, located in the Willamette Valley wine growing region of Oregon. (Not that many people know this, but there are some great wines made in Oregon -especially whites).

Wine is just another of Amazon's private label trend -joining Jewelry, clothing, computer accessories, home goods, pet supplies, grocery items, and more.


Amgates is a company that has been around for 8 years helping Amazon sellers with Amazon category, subcategory, and brand ungating, listing improvement, account reinstatement services, as well as consultation work. If you need any help with these issues, contact Derek Moskow at info@amzgates.com


Lets get started with this month’s articles:

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1. Amazon Suspension – Avoiding Some of the Common & Less Common Problems

This is a Guest Article by CJ Rosenbaum of Amazon Seller's Lawyers. They can help you with a lot of other Amazon problems in addition to suspensions. Please reach out to them for any help you need. Your first consultation is FREE.

CJ Rosenbaum, Esq.| Attorney at Law
Five Penn Plaza, 23rd Floor, New York, New York 1000
Phone | Toll Free: 1-877-9-SELLER
Skype/ WeChat: amazonsellerslawyer
eMail: CJ@AmazonSellersLawyer.com
Website: www.AmazonSellersLawyer.com

Drop by the website and view a short (3 to 4 minute) video that describes their services in detail.

1. Avoid Inauthentic Suspensions - Only Sell Products in Current Packaging.

May manufacturers change their packaging so that only authorized sellers have products that look "new" even though the actual item is, of course, brand new. Sellers should make sure that the products they are delivering to Amazon's customers look exactly like what the consumer will see in a brick & mortar store or if the product was purchased directly from the manufacturer.

2. Avoid Major Brand Sweeps and Suspensions - Stay Away from Problematic Brands.

Sellers should spend time each day on the Amazon forums, Facebook, etc., and avoid brands that are doing sweeps or brand protection. Sellers should google their products before they invest in them. If you google "Apple Amazon Seller Suspension" or "NFL Amazon Suspension" numerous articles and posts will come up. Stay away from brands that are causing sellers problems. A little research before you invest in a product line can save your account from suspension.

3. Avoid Related Account Suspensions. - If you are going to maintain more than one Amazon account without Amazon's permission: never use the same computer, phone, IP address, name, bank, address and do not allow staff to work on more than one account. While you might give up the savings sharing staff, you are also putting both or all of the accounts at risk.

4. Respond to All Cease & Desist Letters - Most brands will send you an email asking you to stop selling their products before they assert a complaint against your account. If you want to avoid suspensions, have the professional courtesy of responding. You do not have to agree with the request, you do not have to honor the request but, all sellers, to avoid suspensions, should respond to the author of the email.

5. Avoid Late Shipment Suspensions - Merchant Fulfilled Sellers, before you run out of inventory...well before, pull out of the listing. We have seen an increase in these issues causing suspensions. You cannot count on obtaining more products....do not take the risk.

There you have it. Be sure and contact CJ, if you have any issues with your account before you try answering Amazon on your own.

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2. Multi-Channel Fulfillment (MCF) Fee Changes

I am a huge user of Amazon MCF, so I looked at the new fees with some reservations. On the upside, for most, small to normal-size items, the fee increase is negligible. But, if you sell Heavier (Over 10 lbs), or larger items (over 24 inches in length), then you will notice a pretty big bite.

Amazon FBA sellers have been paying these higher fees for larger items since last February, but MCF fees are just getting caught up.

Multi-Channel Fulfillment (MCF) is a service provided by Amazon that allows you to have Amazon fulfill orders for you from your other sales channels such as eBay, Shopify, Etsy and others, with the same delivery that Amazon uses for your FBA business.

This includes built-in integrations with website providers such as Shopify and 3dcart.

MCF fees in the U.S. will be adjusted to reflect the changing costs of fulfillment and to better align with Fulfillment by Amazon's fee structure for orders placed on Amazon.com. The new rates will go into effect August 30, 2017.

  • Consolidation of Fulfillment Fees: Amazon's Order Handling, Pick & Pack, and Weight-based Handling fees will be consolidated into a single, per-unit Fulfillment Fee.

  • New Product Size Tiers: The current product size tiers will be segmented into the following tiers: Small Standard-Size, Large Standard-Size, Small Oversize, Medium Oversize, Large Oversize, and Special Oversize to align with Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA). Media will no longer be a separate category.

  • Discounted Fees for Multi-Unit Orders: Amazon will now offer discounted per-unit fulfillment fees based on the number of units in a customer order for the following product size tiers: Small Standard-Size, Large Standard-Size, and Small Oversize.

  • Changes to Unit and Dimensional Weight: Amazon will change the way they calculate unit weight and dimensional weight to match the calculations used by FBA for orders placed on Amazon.com.

    Unit weight will be calculated by adding individual unit weight to a standard packaging weight and then rounding up to the nearest pound. Dimensional weight will be calculated by taking the unit volume in cubic inches and dividing by 166.

Besides Amazon, I sell on eBay and use Amazon to fulfill my orders. Even with the fee increases, the discount Amazon passes on to me in shipping rates is still a good deal. I use a service called Joelister.

JoeLister automatically syncs your Amazon product's description, images, product details, and price with eBay so you can create eBay listings. You can list immediately, or customize (change any details) as you prefer. And when Amazon ships the item, Joelister automatically posts the tracking info to eBay.

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3. Tips for Growing Your Online Selling Business

A lot of people publish tips for growing specific businesses such as eBay, Etsy, Amazon and so on. But over the years, I have learned that there are a few things every seller should be doing to guarantee success, no matter which online business they have. No list like this will ever be complete but, here are some of the best ones I can think of:

  1. When you go to work -GO TO WORK . It's very easy with any online home based business to treat it casually. Some folks, will wander into their computer room still in pajamas or bathrobe. I know you have seen those ads for programs that say, "Make money in your pajamas" -but really?

    Establish a regular workday and stick to it. No going to work in your pajamas. When it's time to work -get dressed and get to work on time and stay there until your work is done.

  2. Decide on a strategy and stick too it . Are you going to be a low price high-volume seller, or a high price low-volume seller? Are you going to specialize in a niche or "sell anything?" Are you going to concentrate on new merchandise or used and vintage products? Are you going to source from wholesalers or do retail arbitrage?

    It's OK to do something a little different once in a while -but don't make a habit of it. Bouncing around from one business strategy to another is a sure way to fail.

  3. Focus - focus - focus . Once you decide what business you are in, stick with it until you master it before dabbling in other businesses. I see this all the time. I will get an email that says something like this:

    "Skip
    I have been struggling with eBay for months now and no matter what I do, I can't make money. Should I try affiliate marketing?"

    My usual answer to this is : "Dear ____:

    Thousands of sellers are making a good living on eBay. If you are struggling, get some help. Find a mentor, try some coaching, buy a training course or join a Facebook Group dedicated to eBay where you can ask some questions. But, before you do that, spend some time trying to figure out what your problem is. Is it sourcing, product selection, selling or what? If you narrow that down, you will know what kind of help to ask for. But, whatever you do, stick with it. A few people "get it" overnight, but the rest of us have to take our time and keep working if we want to succeed. Branching into affiliate marketing at this time would be counter-productive."

  4. Never stop sourcing. Even when you find a good source for your products, don't be afraid to ask for discounts or free shipping. I think it was Stevie Wonder who said: "If you don't ask, you can't get."

    Never stop sourcing, also means, don't be in a hurry to settle on one source. I have a product that has always been profitable and a good seller. I had a good source and was happy with him. Then, one day I got an email from another company that said they could make them cheaper and better quality. I was doubtful, but also intrigued, so I asked for some samples. The samples were good and the price they quoted was about 12% cheaper, so I gave them a small (300 each) test order to try them out. Sure enough, the quality was better. They delivered on time and at the lower price, so now they are my lead source and the old source is my backup.

  5. Be honest -and Be Nice. Your reputation is everything. And, on the internet, any dishonest or deceitful thing you do, will be known by others -often in less than a day.

    Also get the reputation of being a nice guy or gal. I don't know about you, but I hate to deal with jerks -so don't be a jerk. Life is just to short.

  6. Product Selection - When looking for products to sell, look for two things and you will have no problem getting sales: 1) The product should solve a problem, and 2) The product should have plenty of benefits that are easy to explain and understand.

    Our country has been through some tough economic times and there will certainly be more to come. Products that meet the above criteria will always sell, whereas those that fall into the category of "nice to have," will be the first to stop selling. So when sourcing products, look for a demand that needs fulfilled.

  7. Never Give Up! In this business, the only certain way to fail is to give up. There will be setbacks and frustrations, and you will make mistakes. Believe me, this happens to all of us. I have been at this for 18 years and still make mistakes. So be like the frog in the picture -no matter how hard things get: Never, never, never give up!

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4. Understanding The Wholesale Marketplace

I often get emails that ask: "Skip; how do I find real wholesalers?"

When I see that, I realize the person asking has no understanding of what wholesalers are, or how the wholesale market works.

The first thing to understand is there is no such thing as a real wholesaler. If there were, that would eliminate a lot of perfectly good sourcing opportunities.

A wholesale price is any price you can buy something at, that will allow you to increase the price to make money, regardless of the quantity.

First, lets define wholesale: Wholesale is the selling of goods at low prices to be marked up and retailed by others.

OK, with apologies to Merriam-Webster, I took some liberty with that definition

The traditional definition of wholesale isselling in large quantities at low prices to others who will mark them up for resale.

When my wife and I lived back East, we used to have a small antique shop. Our favorite place to source antiques was small country auctions. The prices we paid there were usually somewhat above what you would think of as wholesale -and had we sold the products "as-is," it would have been difficult to make money. But we soon learned that just by cleaning up and polishing the item, we could get a much higher price. So I ask you: Where we buying at a wholesale price?

There are at least seven types of wholesale prices:

  • The giveaway or no-demand price. This is the price that essentially unwanted items are sold at. That can be for several reasons:

    • The fad has passed
    • There is just too much excess supply on the market
    • Something happened to give the product a bad name or reputation
    • The product is somehow damaged, or otherwise unsellable (Smoke damage, flood, etc.)
    • The product has been recalled for safety reasons and someone is trying to dump it on an unsuspecting seller

  • The traditional wholesale price. This is the price that wholesale companies usually sell to retailers. In most cases, it is 50% of the retail price. There is a misunderstanding out there that, to get these prices, you have to buy in very large quantities. This is just not true.

    I deal with several dozen wholesale suppliers, and all of them require me to purchase a case of 12 or 24 as my minimum order. The only time I buy several hundred of something, is when I am having a product manufactured to my specifications.

  • The in-demand price - This happens when the demand for an item is so strong that retail customers don't care what they pay -they just want it. Remember, Toy Story toys last Christmas? When this happens, wholesale suppliers often raise their price to take advantage of this temporary situation. (In general, if a wholesale source does that to me, that is usually the last order they will see from me).

    The Quick Sale Price - This is the sale price or the price you see usually online sellers asking because they can tolerate lower margins

  • The stupid price - There are some wholesaler suppliers out there who know there is always someone who is Lazy and doesn't perform their due diligence. These suppliers mark the wholesale price up to almost retail and add ridiculous handling and shipping costs. A lot of the well-known drop ship companies tend to do this because they know there are plenty of sellers out there who do not have the funds to purchase at actual wholesale, so they can get away with this.

  • The Big City price - Our antique shop was in a somewhat rural area of upstate New York. It was just over an hour's drive from New York City. On the weekends, many New Yorkers would make the drive. It did not take us long to figure out which ones were dealers from the big city. These folks would pay near full retail and think they were getting a steal because the price was so much lower than New York City prices.

    For example: We once had a beautiful Marquetry desk that we bought for about $125. Marquetry was pretty hard to find so we marked it up to $425. It sold the first weekend to a dealer from NYC that asked for a 10% dealer discount, which we gave. A few months later, we were at a big antique show in New York City and spotted our desk selling for $1,650.

  • The Clearance price - This is the price stores charge for products that are either end-of-season, slow sellers, or for some reason they need to lower prices to make room for new merchandise. A lot of online sellers' purchase these goods to resell on eBay or Amazon.

  • The liquidation or surplus price - This is a price for generally new goods (although they can sometimes contain returns) that Department Stores and Chain Stores are clearing out via the liquidation marketplace. The liquidation price is usually a percentage of the regular retail price, such as 80% below MSRP.

The two biggest sources of wholesale products for online sellers are traditional wholesale companies who sell direct, or sometimes through a distributor -and liquidation and surplus companies.

Another large category of wholesale suppliers are overseas manufacturers and importers.

Manufacturers tend to supply a specific product to your specifications and in your packaging. This is a situation where you often have to purchase in large quantities. However, this can be quite lucrative. I have a leather goods product that I designed which now sells several units a day on Amazon and eBay. My landed cost in my PL packaging with my company name and logo is $3.60, but I sell them every day for $19.95, and I have sold them as high as $24.95 approaching Christmas.

Importers are typically companies who import in large quantities of 500 or 1000 (or even more), then they break the shipment up and sell them as cases of 12 or 24. You will pay a higher price than you could get through a manufacturer, but the advantage is, you can buy in much smaller quantities. Interestingly, some manufacturers (usually of brand name products) do the same thing. They will export a large

Lastly, there are reps and distributors. Reps, usually called sales reps, are independent business people who work for the manufacturer or importer on commission. When you place an order with a sales rep, you are actually ordering from the manufacturer or importer who pays the sales rep their commission out of what you pay.

A Distributor is a company that purchases the product from the manufacturer in large quantities -and much like an importer, they break the shipments up into small case-size lots. When you place an order with a distributor, you are dealing with them, and not the manufacturer.

If you would like to learn more about the wholesale industry, and how it works -as well as access my list of proven wholesale sources that will work with small online sellers, take a look at:

The Wholesale Buying System for eBay and Amazon Sellers

How, what and where to buy goods to sell on eBay, Amazon or other online businesses

I regularly update and add to the wholesale sources website on a monthly basis.

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5. New Wholesale Sources for eBay & Amazon Sellers

Remember - A lot of these websites are either informational or retail -but all of these companies sell wholesale. If you don't see a link to open a wholesale account, just use the Contact Us form to ask for the information.

Dollar Days sells both seasonal and regular goods at low warehouse prices. Dollar Days helps entrepreneurs compete against larger enterprises who buy bulk below wholesale merchandise product prices.

Popular Greetings, Inc. has been a wholesaler of discount greeting cards for over 28 years.

The Jerusalem Export House has been bringing the Holy Land to the World since 1969. In 1999 we merged with the AZ Trading Co., an international marketing company based in Jerusalem Israel.

Nashville Wraps is a Gift Packaging and Gourmet Gift Basket Supplies Wholesale Resource Nashville Wraps has a wide selection of gift packaging supplies.

JD Home sells a line of beautiful, high-end candles that are developed from a unique combination of fully-refined paraffin and soy.

OOLY - sells a nice line of pencils, pens, markers, crayons, stencils, Snifty scented pens, Filex and Clip-it's

Morbid Enterprises sells Animated props, costumes, decor, licensed halloween products, masks, static props and more!

The Mary Square Company makes inspirational gifts and additional items such as apparel, fashion accessories and personalized gifts.

Carmel Ceramica sells a line of fine tableware for humans and pets, designed for casual elegance and is inspired by the beauty that surrounds Carmel, California.

Randy Lu Art sells eco-friendly totes, bookmarks, women's shirts, art postcards, and art posters imprinted with artwork by artist, Randy Lu

Private Labeling is hot , so here are a few suppliers who offer Private Label products.
Note: All of these except the first two are food products:

Calico Brands sells a variety of less-expensive products that work well in multi-packs

Advance Pharmaceutical Inc. develops, manufactures and packages over-the-counter solid dosage pharmaceuticals in their own house brand or Private Label

Catania Spagna does private labeling of high quality gourmet olive oils.

Tastemore is a private label snack company that offers high quality all-natural rice cakes and crisps, pita chips , popped chips and more

Commercial Bakeries is a private label supplier of gourmet cookies that are baked to order including gluten free, certified organic and other natural specifications

Smitty Bee Honey also does private labeling of their gourmet, Non-GMO, Kosher honey. They can also offer specialty flavored honey.

Café Vittoria is a Canadian company that private labels a line of Organic, Fair-trade coffee.

OK - back to some regular sources

Best Dressed Tables is a specialty online boutique selling fine tablecloths.

Ergo Chef designs and manufactures innovative, ergonomic Kitchen knives vailable to retailers, distributors and OEM.

Mingzhou Oriental is an importer and wholesaler in the US specializing in oriental furniture, home decor, gifts, antiques, arts and collectibles. Wholesale only

Chef Craft sells a very nice line of kitchen tools, specialty utensils and gadgets

That’s it for now. See you again in a couple of 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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