Importing from Other Countries Besides China
The eBay & Amazon Seller's News ~ August 29, 2017 ~ Volume 18, Issue No. 14
Tips, Tools, News and Resources for eBay, Amazon and Online Sellers
In the last issue I told you the summer slowdown was finally over. All of you should be seeing somewhat higher sales, but the real jump is just around the corner. It may take a few weeks for the Christmas selling season to get into full swing, but if you are an FBA seller, I wouldn't wait to ship you goods to Amazon.
If you sell on eBay or merchant fulfill on Amazon, make sure you offer an expedited shipping option, as that will extend the number of selling days you can ship, and your products will still be received on time.
I have written about Bulq before. Bulq is a great liquidator for eBay and Amazon sellers because they sell in smaller lots that most sellers can handle.
Just one thing - This is true for all liquidators -not just Bulq. When you buy name brand goods from a liquidator, be sure and check Amazon first to make sure the product you want to buy is not a restricted brand. If a brand is restricted on Amazon, it will most likely also get you a VeRO Complaint if you list it on eBay. So I suggest you avoid those products altogether.
Bulq is offering a special one-time deal for my readers. Enter to win a free BULQ case, of your choosing, up to $200 in value (including free shipping).
This is a limited time offer for my readers. Entries must be received by September 10th, at 11:59 PM, ET. Go here to learn more and to register. Good luck!
Be careful of scams when sourcing product. There are several scams to look out for when sourcing wholesale products. The first one is probably the most common, but I have come across the others as well.
Remember the old saying: "If a deal sounds too good to be true - it probably is." Do that and you will not fall for any of these scams.
I often get email from potential sellers who ask: "Skip. I have heard there are over 1,000,000 sellers, on Amazon (world wide) and growing. Is Amazon saturated, and is it still possible for new sellers to make money?"
The short answer is "Yes." You see, Amazon has been growing so rapidly that they have no trouble absorbing all the new sellers. I have been selling on Amazon since 2006, and every year the number of sellers has grown. In fact, Amazon reports that over 52% of their sales are done by third-party sellers (like you and me). Amazon's sales growth is so fast that some Wall Street analysts say it could be the first Trillion Dollar company in market capitalization within just a few years.
Despite this growth in the number of sellers, my sales have increased every year. So no, I don't think the constant increase in the number of sellers has any effect -as long as Amazon keeps growing. That will be the case for years to come -but when that growth plateaus, then it will be a factor, but is still years away and that will self-correct as sellers move to other platforms when that occurs.
eBay is another matter. The number of sellers continues to grow on eBay, but my sales have fallen each year for the past five or six years. This however, has more to do with eBay's poor marketing, than it does to do with the number of sellers.
Here is another fact to consider: According to the US Department of Commerce, total E-Commerce (online) sales represent only 8.5% of all retail sales and that number is growing just over 16% per year. According to the "Rule of 72," that means online sales will double to 17% of all retail sales in less than 5 years.
So to answer the question again, "No, Amazon is not saturated and there is still plenty of room for growth."
To the consternation of sellers, eBay rolled out the new Seller Hub (Many sellers are calling it “Seller Hell.”)
When Karen and I opened eBay to find the new Seller Hub we were completely lost and could not figure out how it works. Typically, eBay rolled out a major change to the platform with no instructions. Fortunately, Ina Steiner at EcommerceBytes did some research and found some news and resources. If you are as confused by Seller Hub as I am, I suggest you read her excellent blog post here.
Could MercadoLibre be the next eBay or Amazon? MercadoLibre is often called "The eBay of Latin America."
Consider this: Although eBay has stumbled over the past few years with low growth compared to Amazon and other online venues, back in 1998 when eBay went public, its annual revenue was only $47 Million, verses today's revenue of over $9 Billion (Almost 4000% growth).
Also consider the fact that online retail sales in Latin America are about 3% of all sales while that number is over 8.6% in the US. Additionally, only about 60% of people in Latin America are connected to the internet, versus almost 90% here in the US. That leaves room for a lot of growth.
There is not a lot of information available about MercadoLibre in the United States, but what I have read says that MercadoLibre is a very well managed company and growing rapidly.
MercadoLibre has been increasing the number of registered users by about 20% per year, and according to the company, the number of items sold jumped over 50% in the past year and their profits are growing at almost 30% per year.
MercadoLibre's stock symbol is MELI on the US NASDAQ marketplace. I learned my lesson a long time agonever to recommend stocks to my readers. So do your own research and due diligence. My only point is MercadoLibre may be worth looking at.
Amazon is boosting their grocery business again. It started out with 2-hour delivery (in some cities) and then dropped to 15 minutes for Prime members. Now if you are a Student Prime member at one of five college campuses, Amazon has set up Locker pickup points where students can access their purchase in as little as 2-minutes (although 3 to 7 minutes is closer to normal). The five college campi are UC Berkeley, Univ. of Columbus, Atlanta, Ohio and U, Md. at College Park, Maryland. The company hopes to expand this service to other colleges and Universities by the start of the 2018 school year.
Toy Sellers - Christmas Restrictions Due Out Soon. In a few weeks Amazon will send a notice to all sellers setting out the minimum standards to sell toys during the Christmas Selling Season. If you, are an FBA seller, don't worry about it. In the past, FBA sellers have been exempt from the restriction. But if you merchant fulfill, you will be required to meet these requirements:
Note: This is based on past-year's policy. There is no guarantee Amazon will not change it, but if they do, I am pretty sure it will be similar to last year. So if you do merchant fulfill, you may want to try and meet these standards if you want to sell toys.
In another move causing seller distress, eBay is adding more products and brands to UPC code requirement. eBay seems to be trying to create a catalog of products and listings similar to Amazon. Right now eBay is focusing on big brands such as Disney, Nike, Nautica, Calvin Kline and so on. If you want to sell any of these on eBay, you will now need an EAN or UPC code to create the listing. But this may still not be enough.
If you bought the item on discount from a store (Target, Macy's, Nordstrom's Rack etc.), you may still get a complaint from the brand that you are selling counterfeit goods. This is because the big brands make that assumption if you are not an authorized reseller and they report you to eBay and/or Amazon as a counterfeit seller, even though what you are selling is authentic.
So far, this does not seem to be a problem with used goods. I can imagine the day when we will see eBay listings like this: "Not Really Used, Tommy Bahama White Silk Shirt, Large" When it happens, it will work for a little while until eBay figures out a way to prevent it.
Lets get started with this month’s articles:
China is not the only country to source from. For example, I source one of my most profitable product lines from Turkey.
There are also - large numbers of wholesale suppliers in countries such as Mexico, India, Canada and Australia who are big suppliers to US importers, including eBay and Amazon Sellers.
If you want to stick with the Far East; besides China, be sure and look at Taiwan, Japan, Viet Nam, The Philippines and South Korea.
So how do you find these suppliers?
The first place to try is Google. Pick a country, such as India (You can do this with any country) and perform a Google search for the term - made in India wholesale products.
I am not going to show the results of that search here, because they go on for several pages. You will have to scan (and ignore) several results that are just not related, but you will find plenty of results that are actual wholesale sources in India. Most of them will ship to other countries, but a few will not, so I would send any company that interests you an email that reads something like this:
When you get to those sites, type the following into the search bar: Products from India.
I did that and got over 2000 results. A few of them were bogus, such as air freight companies who probably bought the keyword, India, but most of the results were actual wholesale manufacturers. Here is just a partial look at what came up:
Another good source of wholesale exporters are the various trade associations in each country. Here is a Google Search I did for India Trade Association:
What you want to do is contact at least two of these associations and tell them you are looking for Indian companies who can supply (name of product). If you click on their website, all of them have Contact information on their sites.
Lastly, try calling the country's embassy in your country. Every embassy has a Trade Officer or Trade Desk. It is there job to find customers for companies from their home country.
When doing this it is better to have a specific product in mind, rather than making a general request. When you get a trade officer on the phone, you should say something like this:
(Just change the word "Cookware" to the product you are looking for)
Finding a country's embassy is easy. Just Google the name of the country and the word Embassy - for example "Indian Embassy." Here is one of the results you get:
One last source is to Google the name of the country and the words Export Directory. Here are some results I got when I Googled India Export Directory.
I have used India as an example in this article, but you can do this for any country. Simply replace the word India, with the name of the country you are interested in.
Before I get into the future - let me say a few things about dropshipping in general. Dropshipping is where you list a product on eBay or Amazon, and when it sells, you order and pay for the product, that is then shipped to your customer by the dropshipper.
Dropshipping has a bad reputation online, due to the many scam artists and phony dropshipping companies that seem to crop up constantly.
There are two basic types of dropshippers: Virtual and Actual.
A virtual dropshipper is a company that does not have a warehouse because they do not actually stock products. Instead, when an item sells and you order it, they shop for the item at a discounter, fill the order (This can take up to a week), and when they finally receive it, they will ship to your customer after charging you a dropship handling fee and an inflated shipping cost.
An actual dropshipper is a manufacturer, importer or distributor who has a warehouse and actually keeps products in stock that they can ship soon after getting your order.
The first type, Virtual Dropshippers, are where most of the scams originate. If you really want to sell real products, you obviously want the second type -Actual Dropshippers. But even these dropshippers can have issues, which is why eBay and Amazon are putting policies in place to discourage dropshipping -and there will be more of these to come.
Some of the problems you have with dropshippers include:
So, as you can see, although dropshipping can be a highly profitable business model, it is fraught with dangers to you profits and even your account. Clearly eBay and Amazon do not like the concept because it leads to customer service complaints, and if anything goes wrong you will find them completely unsympathetic and unwilling to help you.
The following article is a guest post by Erin Alexander from Bulq.com. I have written about Bulq before. They are a prominent supplier to eBay and Amazon sellers for liquidation and surplus merchandise. What separates Bulq from other Liquidation sellers is their focus on online resellers and ability to supply small lots in reasonable sizes.
The Bulq Blog is a great resource of information for eBay & Amazon sellers. If you are interested in reading more about sourcing and liquidation, check out the BULQ blog for helpful resources!
Bulq is offering a special one-time deal for my readers. Enter to win a free BULQ case, of your choosing, up to $200 in value (including free shipping). Entries must be received by September10th, 11:59 ET. Good luck! Click here to enter or just to get more information about Bulq.
Are these Hidden Reseller Costs hurting your Business?
Regardless of your experience level, the two most important business concepts to consider are risk vs. reward and time vs. money. The trick to maintaining a successful reselling business is figuring out the right balance in each of those two trade-offs, and in turn, spending your resources in proportion to your returns. This balance becomes most evident during the sourcing stage of the reselling process. For many resellers, striking this balance between risk vs. reward and time vs. money can be a challenge. A sourcing strategy not only shapes your business, it can also make the difference between a thriving online business and one that goes under. Sourcing strategies can vary drastically - some resellers focus their attention on sites like Keepa or tools like Amazon's Jungle Scout. Others choose to take the more traditional route, driving from warehouse to warehouse, checking out thrift shops, and clearance racks.
Regardless of your approach to sourcing, hidden costs will pop up along the way. We'll walk your through a few costs to keep an eye out for, so that you're not caught off guard.
Flat Rate vs. Bid Pricing
In the wholesale industry, purchases of pallets, truckloads and individual items are often priced at a bid rate or flat rate. A flat rate is a consistent pricing model, while a bid rate means merchandise is sold through an auctioning process. Hidden costs can pop up in each of these models. As a buyer, you can find unbelievable deals on merchandise at auctions-at times, entire pallets can go for as low as $25-$50. However, beware of other bidders who may drive the price higher, resulting in a lower margins. While flat rates are appealing for their predictability, the value of the merchandise may vary. The key to avoiding such surprises is to find a manifest describing the items being sold - you'll be able to reduce the risk and guesswork involved in making your purchase.
The Minimum Purchase
As soon as you begin purchasing (whether it's online or in-store), make sure you are informed as to what the minimum purchase price is. Although most wholesales don't have a minimum purchase price, some do ask that you purchase a certain dollar amount of inventory. These amounts fall on a wide spectrum, some requiring a purchase of $250 while others demanding as much as $2500. Because sourcing is such a significant investment of your time, it's important to know early on whether the minimum purchase price meets your price range.
The best piece of reselling advice we've ever received is "don't stop researching." When sourcing new inventory, you want to familiarize yourself with the merchandise, and get ahead of any surprises. Although your primary goal is usually to score large discounts on inventory, you should always keep in mind that you will only turn a profit if the inventory sells for a higher price, on average. Of course, that means you have to do your due diligence and research to ensure that the product you're purchasing can be sold for more online. Websites like Keepa.com and CamelCamelCamel.com can help you take a closer look at the selling history of a product. If the item is so cheap now because it wasn't selling at its original price, avoid it. If you see major variations in pricing, the purchase may be a gamble. Specific words can also clue you into items that are a good investment. Inspect the language on clearance tags in stores. Goods that say something along the lines of "online return" or "as-is" may not be on clearance across the country, so the likelihood of reselling that particular item at its original price is high.
Even those who are new to the reselling space will warn you about all of the scams out there. These scams can show up in many different forms: ridiculous delivery and membership fees, pyramid schemes, and inflated manifests. When you're researching a new distributor, be sure to look online for lists of scammers or make sure the wholesaler has been verified.
Distribution and Lead Time
Shipping costs can be a huge expense, so it's recommended that resellers spend some time investigating various affordable shipping methods. Flat-rate shipping is one method that could potentially be of value when calculating your ROI. Some wholesalers even ship cases for as low as $30.
Lead time is the amount of time it will take for your items to reach you. While most inventory will follow a standard schedule, some merchandise may not be available for an extended period of time. Be sure to inquire as to what the timeline will be in advance, since a delayed shipment can negatively affect your storage arrangement. Based on the type of item you're purchasing, you'll likely want to stay away from delayed shipping. Seasonal items, for example, only sell within a short time frame. Similarly, prices on electronics can rapidly depreciate. Make sure you're not positioning yourself to absorb the cost of a delayed shipment. Looking into return/restocking fees can be another useful piece of information in the event that the shipment delivery date changes significantly and you want to send the merchandise back to the wholesaler.
Taxes vary from state to state, so do your research in advance to ensure you're familiar with the laws and policies of the state you're operating from, as well as the states you're doing business in. When you register as a reseller, for instance, you'll need to abide by your state's guidelines so that you can avoid paying sales tax on items that you intend to resell. However, you will also need collect sales tax from your customers once you do resell the product. You can find most information you need on each state's unique .gov site.
As you become more experienced in the reselling space, you'll likely be able to spot and avoid hidden costs without too much time and effort. You'll have established a methodology for conducting market research, while also leveraging your wholesaler relationships. However, you should never fully let your guard down. Everyone, whether you're just getting started in the industry or an expert reseller, should be aware of these hidden costs. Make sure to remain attentive throughout your sourcing process, so that you aren't spending money needlessly.
You have all heard the stories about people who travel the country in their RV or sail around in their boat, selling on eBay and/or Amazon as they go. But, how about the rest of us? Is it really possible to run a profitable business from your boat or RV, or even a tropical island?
I actually did this once -but it was out of necessity -not choice. About 12 years ago our good friends who had a 42-foot nicely furnished trawler were heading up to Alaska for a trip down the inside Passage. They were going from Juneau in the North to Ketchikan in the South, and the trip would take 10-days. They invited us to join them, but the invitation was made with short notice, so we didn't have time to change or suspend our listings before we left.
At that time, we were only doing eBay (We had not started selling on Amazon yet), and we were still dropshipping most of our products.
This was in the early days of Wi-fi and not that many places had it yet -but even back then coverage was good at almost every marina in Alaska.
Our first port was Juneau where we had excellent wi-fi, and all of the other marinas we stopped at also had wi-fi. We spent about ½ of our evenings anchored in some bay or inlet with no internet access, but the other half of the time we had good access. This meant we couldn't email our eBay customers right away, but back in those days it was OK. We managed to get through the whole trip without getting a negative feedback.
Another time we worked from a distance was almost every year in the winter when we spent a couple of weeks at our Condo in the Bahamas. Karen and I would get up every morning and spend an hour on the computer handling orders and customers and then go play. At the end of the day we would spend a half-hour or so doing last minute checks before we ate dinner. During these times, our online business never missed a beat.
We stated selling on Amazon about ten years ago, and two years later we moved into FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon). This made our life even easier when we travel because Amazon will ship anything in our FBA inventory to our eBay customers, and of course they take care of our Amazon customers as well.
Although we take vacations and trips to see family and friends, we are not on the road that often, but when we are, our eBay and Amazon business runs seamlessly. This also works for people who are on the road all the time.
There are sellers who travel constantly and still use Merchant Fulfillment, but the advent of Amazon FBA has made life really easy for sellers because you don't have to fill up your RV or boat with inventory while you wait to sell it.
One challenge is receiving wholesale goods while you are on the road because your address changes every day. But, a lot of on-the-road sellers solve this problem by doing Retail Arbitrage. When they roll into a new town, they seek out the local, Target stores, Wal-Marts and Toys-R-Us (plus other stores), look for items on clearance, or products they can bundle, and ship them to Amazon by dropping them off at any UPS pickup location. Used book sellers also do this by stopping at bookstores, library sales and garage sales as they travel. They pick up used books and ship them into FBA.
Those sellers who do sell wholesale goods work this out in two ways:
This second method obviously cuts into you margins a bit, but remember this is offset by shipping and selling more volume than you otherwise could.
As for selling on eBay (and other channels), remember I mentioned above that Amazon will ship to your non-Amazon customers for you. Normally you would have to create fulfillment orders manually, but now there are companies that will do it for you automatically.
If you only do Amazon and eBay, then have a look at Joelister. This is the company I use.
If you are really into multi-channel selling and want to include selling venues such as Wal-Mart.com, Shopify, New Egg and Etsy, then take a look at SellBrite.com.
Both of these companies provide essentially the same service. They download your FBA inventory into their system. Once they have the inventory, both of them have tools that allow you to quickly and easily create listings on other sites. And, when something sells, they automatically create a fulfillment order on Amazon. Further, when Amazon releases the tracking info, they automatically post it for you.
One concern sellers have had about using Amazon to fulfill orders is that items sold on eBay and other sites, will arrive in an Amazon box. We have been using Joelister to fulfill our eBay orders for a couple of years and it has never been a problem. However, some sites like Wal-Mart (and others) are putting policies in place to forbid this. For the time being, I haven't heard anything about eBay doing this, but who knows what the future will bring.
One big issue is finding reliable (and secure) internet while on the road. Most RV parks, marinas, hotels and just about every Starbucks in the country, have free or lo-cost wi-fi connected to the internet. The problem is security. Many of these networks are easily spoofed. You think you are on Starbucks wi-fi, but in reality, you are connected to the bearded fellow sitting outside in his car. We solve this problem with a Verizon My-fi device. It is a secure wi-fi modem that connects to any cell tower and gives you secure internet service almost anywhere in the US or Canada (There are siliar products available in Europe and the Far East.
So, all-in-all, I would say that keeping your online business while on the road, or even out of the country, works as long as you have access to wi-fi and internet modem,
No matter how many times I repeat this, I still get emails like this:
"Skip. You said this was a wholesaler, but the website is only retail."
Many wholesale companies don't want to show their wholesale pricing to the general public. So, when you encounter a website that is obviously either retail, or informational-only, just use the Contact Us link to request wholesale or reseller information.
Now, let's look at some sources
Peace Waters is definitely new age. I spent over 20 minutes on their website and cannot understand what the sell. It's some kind of artwork. The website appears to be retail, but they have been exhibiting at a lot of wholesale gift shows, so contact them for wholesale information if this sort of thing appeals to you.
Lilly & Layla sells a line of affordable fashion handbags in very unique designs.
Mova sells a very nice (and unique) line of Maps and Globes -not just of earth, but outer space as well.
VicBag claims to have pioneered the first reusable shopping bags. They sell a very complete line of both personalized bags and licensed bags.
Matthew's Digital Prints sells a beautiful line of prints on paper or canvas. Their prints cover nature, Wildlife, scenics and more.
Candles and Quotes sells a very nice line of candles in glass with inspirational and/or just clever quotations. Their candles are all natural, soy and Vegan friendly.
Better Bee sells cosmetics made from beeswax and gourmet honey called "Better Bee." They also make sun catchers that utilize pressed flowers.
Drew DeRose Designs specializes in home décor accessories and accent merchandise. They have a new website. If you order by the 31st, they are offering 7% off on all prices. Click on the link that says Sales Reps to find a rep in your state.
Swole Panda sells a line of Bamboo fabric socks and scarves. They also sell a line of handcrafted bamboo sunglasses.
Patch Magic sells Quilts, quilted products, pillows, throws and duvet covers
Wing and A Prayer Angelic Creations, Inc. sells garden décor inspired by angels.
NISSI & JIREH designs and makes baby teether sets and a universal 4 - in 1 pacifier holder and some plush toys.
Mayberry Carpet & Rug sells reproduction oriental rugs, including some closeouts and overstocks.
Uparel LLC makes compression garments in the USA. Mainly, compression shirts, arm sleeves and shorts.
DP & Company, Inc. sells a little bit of everything. They are a wholesaler and distributor of Tools, Tarps, Airsoft Guns, Tactical Gear, Knives & Swords, Novelty Tin Signs and Self Defense Products.
Well summer is officially over. See you after Labor Day.
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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