Using Amazon Reports to Increase Profits
The eBay & Amazon Seller's News ~ November 2017 ~ Volume 18, Issue No. 16
Tips, Tools, News and Resources for eBay, Amazon and Online Sellers
I mentioned in my last issue that I lost my 94-year old Mother recently. My wife, my two sons and their families all traveled back East for the services. Because my mother was a disabled veteran, the local Naval Reserve unit supplied an Honor Guard to do a flag ceremony, and we had a live bugler play Taps. Afterwards, we all went to a private hall for some food & drink and to celebrate my Mom's life.
I have had some time to grieve, but now I am learning about all the work that attends the death of a parent. I am dealing with the will and estate issues, bank accounts, funeral expenses, paying bills and taxes -just to name a few. I am not complaining, but these are not fun to deal with
The point of telling you this is to let you know why I once again missed another issue (late October) of this newsletter. This is the first issue of November, and I hope to be back on track with two issues this month. That is why this issue is a bit longer than most.
Many of you sent kind words and good wishes. I am so sorry I was not able to reply to each of you individually. I do try to answer each email, but I received over 1,200 emails -and with everything going on -I did not have time to answer them.
I mentioned above that we had a live bugler play Taps at my Mom's service. If any of you lose a friend or family member who is a Veteran, and would like this service, go to Bugles Across America. I have been to Veteran's funerals before, and Taps is usually a recording played over a sound system. This is so much nicer.
Bugles Across America is a non-profit group and the service is free. Nevertheless, many of the buglers travel a long distance and will take a meal on the way, so I do suggest you offer them a gratuity (Although our bugler refused this).
Other military activities such as an Honor Guard can be arranged through almost any funeral home.
Every once in a while, I like to survey my readers. I use the information to improve my product and service selection and hone my newsletter topics. Please Click Here to take the survey.
Everyone who participates will get a coupon worth $10 on the purchase of any of my books.* The coupon will be good through November 30th.
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The survey will close on November 20th. I'll share the survey results with all of you in a future newsletter.
Please Click Here to take the survey, get your coupon and enter the drawing.
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Drop Shipping - I have mentioned that Amazon (and eBay) are putting policies in place to discourage drop shipping. Drop shipping, or allowing another company to fulfill orders to customers on your behalf, is still acceptable, as long as you comply with the following rules:
Some types of drop shipping that are not permitted:
Another policy that both Amazon & eBay have is, you must enter tracking on 90% of your orders within 1-business day. Most drop shippers I have dealt with cannot do this reliably.
Until earlier this year, one of the most frequent complaints eBay sellers had was eBay placing 3rd-party advertisements in your eBay listings. However, back in March, eBay announced it would no longer do that. Well- guess what? Third-party ads seem to be back. The reports I have received say it's happening mostly to listings of well-known brand items (including used items).
Personally, I have not seen the ads in my listings, but I have had email from sellers who have. (Since I have not seen this myself - check your listings and see if this happening to you).
This may be another reason why eBay is losing small to medium-size sellers.
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Amazon announced a new service, Amazon Key for Prime members where you can give Amazon delivery people access to your house. This could really help buyers who live in areas where packages are often stolen -but I think I will take a pass. Despite the advantages, I don't want strangers getting access to my house when I am not there.
Amazon sales increased 29% in the 3rd quarter (July, August, September). Amazon executives pointed to the dramatic success of Prime Day in July as one of the major driving factors for the quarter. It was also the same quarter that Amazon bought Whole Foods. Also, Amazon executives indicated that Prime Membership is to to 90-million members.
Meanwhile eBay increased 8% during the same time period.
Feedback Five introduced a new feature called the Buyer-review Match Feature that makes it easier to find out who left a product review. It's a well known fact that competitors sometimes leave negative reviews. This service, while not foolproof, can help spot these situations and report them to seller support.
I get a lot of questions about which is best, Corporation or LLC? Here is some comparison Data from the company I use, for incorporating and trademark registration: Leave your LLC and Incorporation filing to us My Corporation .
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I am often asked about my favorite research tool. Terapeak is optimized for eBay, but I find their results (especially keywords) work really well on Amazon too.
Have you seen all the new and updated content on the site? Here's a list of some of the changes and additions over the last two months:
Lets get started with this monthís articles:
There are over a dozen third-party services designed to help sellers manage their Amazon business. Many of them are quite good. However, before you sign up with one of them -take the time to familiarize yourself with the reports and services that Amazon gives you for free. This will allow you to make a better decision regarding which service can benefit you the most.
You can find your reports in Seller Central under the Reports tab:
There are 4 main types of reports: Payments, Amazon Selling Coach, Business Reports and Fulfillment. There is a wealth of valuable information in these reports. I strongly suggest you take the time to understand them.
Let's take a look at which reports are available under each sub-head. There is also a category for Advertising and Return reports that you should check out if those are important to you, but the ones I have listed above are the most important.
As you can see, there are dozens of reports available. As much as I would like to give a review of each one -that would take a small book (Might be an idea for a new book), and is just too much for a newsletter article.
Before you rush out and purchase any 3rd-party services, make sure you understand what is available from Amazon for free. I suggest you open (or download) each report and take the time to fully understand it.
Most of you who have been selling on Amazon for a while know about Amazon's Product Review policy, but, based on emails I get, and posts I see in Facebook groups -many of you do not.
In general, you can no longer offer discounts or incentives in exchange for positive reviews -but there are some exceptions -so keep reading.
Before we get started, let me clear up one thing people often get confused about -the difference between Feedback and Product Reviews:
Notice that the product review is only about this one product -not your service, or any other products. (This review happens to be about one of my private label products).
OK -Let's talk about Review Policy (Note: This is about the Amazon's policy, but eBay has similar policies as well):
Here is the rest of the Amazon policy:
Let me be clear: This is just my opinion and a lot of successful eBay sellers disagree with me. But, you should make up your own mind.
If you are like me, you may have seen a slowdown in your eBay sales. My sales were down about 10% in September and over 25% in October vs. the same month last year. And, that was on top of a lousy summer. I am not alone. I have seen similar reports in Facebook groups and on message boards.
Not that many years ago, eBay sales dwarfed our Amazon sales. Today the opposite is true. We now sell about eight times as much on Amazon as we do on eBay. We list many of the same products on eBay that we do on Amazon, yet we will sell 7 or 8 of each item on Amazon in the same period we only sell one on eBay.
Of course there may be a reason that explains this. We used to sell a lot of used books and other used and vintage products on eBay, whereas today, most of our products are new merchandise we source from wholesale vendors. The advantage of this is we only have to take one set of photographs and write one listing we can use over and over again. When we sold used and vintage products. We had to create a brand new listing.
Other problems with eBay include:
Are we leaving eBay? We are close to doing that -but not for now. We still average an extra 10% or so on eBay, on top of our Amazon sales. I use a service called Joelister to create and fulfill my eBay listings and sales that really lowers my workload. At 10%, I will stick with it. However, if our eBay sales go much lower than that, I will re-evaluate my position.
In general, eBay is not a great place to sell new branded merchandise, as we do -but it is still the best game in town for art, low-priced antiques (under $500), vintage items, most collectibles and used merchandise (especially blue jeans and children's clothing among other things).
A lot of folks who sell those items are always on the lookout for eBay alternatives, but they are still the biggest game in town.
Saving money can have excellent benefits. Just a few would include: Pay off your mortgage early, take that dream vacation you've always wanted, retire early, and find more money to invest in your business.
There are two basic ways to do this: 1) Cut your spending, and 2) Make extra money. Let's look at both:
Some of these may seem a bit silly or extreme, and may not apply or be right for everyone, but if they work in your situation, give them a try. My wife and I did many of these, and got completely out of debt (including our mortgage) in about 7 years.
OK - there you have my best tips to reduce expenses. I am sure I missed some, and once you look at these, I am sure you will think of more. Now let's look at another way to improve your personal financial situation: Make some extra money.
Make Extra Money
There are many ways to make extra money on the side. These are just a few -and I bet you can think of a lot more. Making extra money on the side is one of the fastest ways to get out of debt and improve your quality of life. It's true that money isn't everything -but it sure helps to have a little extra.
This article relates to fashion items, but the same factors also affect many branded non-fashion items.
As many of you know, selling name brand clothing, shoes and handbags on eBay and Amazon has become problematic. Most of the well-known brands have registered their brands as restricted on Amazon and registered with the VeRO Program on eBay.
The legitimate purpose of these registrations is to prevent sellers from listing counterfeit merchandise, but the brand manufacturers are actually using these registrations to stop sellers like you and I from selling their products.
Most of these companies use master distributors to sell to authorized resellers. So, when a brand sees one of their products being sold by someone who is not an authorized reseller (like you), they file a complaint with eBay VeRO and/or Amazon claiming one of two things:
Both of these are serious violations. Usually, eBay or Amazon will just cancel your listing (permanently) and warn you upon your first violation. However, they will usually suspend your account (temporarily or permanently) after your second violation --but sometimes they do it after the first one.
Therefore, this is something you should take seriously. That brings us to the issue of liquidation and surplus companies. A few liquidation and surplus companies actually sell counterfeit goods, but most of the major ones do not. Instead, these companies buy merchandise that didn't sell from department stores and the large chains. Although this merchandise is legitimate, and you bought it from a legitimate source, you can still have problems if you sell it online, and you are not an authorized reseller.
Many of the large brands employ third-party companies who's job it is to scan the internet for their products and file complaints when they find them.
As I pointed out above, your products may be 100% legitimate, but these companies will claim they are not -and suddenly the burden of proof falls upon you. If you have a receipt from one of their authorized distributors, then they will tell eBay and/or Amazon that you are OK -but if you don't, then forget it. The simple fact is: they don't care.
So, what can you do?
When I am stuck with an item, I can't sell, then, I list it as used. There is a law in the United States called the First Sale Doctrine (I am not sure, but I think Canada and the European Union have similar laws) that says: Once you buy something from a legitimate source, a company may not restrain you from reselling it. However, an exception to this is trademarked and copyrighted products which have tighter controls.
If you use the manufacturer's images, they can complain about an intellectual property violation. This also goes for any trademarked or registered words. Do not use them in your title or description. Just look for the ® or ™ symbol on the product label or packaging. If you see that, then do not use -or be very careful using them.
In my description I usually say something like this:
This food processor is made by Cuisinart® which is a trademarked name owned by them. I bought it from an authorized source. It is new and unused, but I am selling it used because, although the retail box is in good condition, it has been opened. eBay (or Amazon) does not permit selling new items as "new" if the retail box has been opened or damaged in any way.
I set my price about 5% below the MAP or MSRP and I have yet to have a problem with eBay, Amazon or a complaint by a brand. Those of you, who do retail arbitrage, often run into a similar issue, so you can use this method also.
Lastly, let me point out that fashion items (clothing, shoes and handbags) have a really high return rate, second only to consumer electronics and accessories. This means that only really high volume sellers can make money with these goods -so, you might want to look at something else to sell.
This article relates somewhat to the article on liquidation sourcing (above) but goes into greater detail.
As a seller, you're ultimately responsible for the legality of any item you offer for sale on Amazon and/or eBay (Or any online site for that matter) and any listing content (including images) that describe what you are selling.
If you sell an illegal item, or if your item, or listing, violates Amazon or eBay policy, or is reported to them by an intellectual property rights owner as violating its rights, your listing will be removed, and your account could be suspended.
eBay has a Verified Rights Owner (VeRO) Program for reporting an intellectual property rights owner violation. Amazon does not have a formalized program, but they take enforcement of these issues seriously.
No matter what platform, make sure your listing follows these guidelines.
The following are general guidelines to help you create listings that don't infringe the intellectual property rights of others. However, I am not qualified to give legal advice, so if you want specific detail, I suggest you contact an appropriate attorney.
Also, given the wide range of products available for sale on Amazon and eBay, I am not an expert in the specific intellectual property of a given brand or product and I can't offer brand-specific advice. If you have specific questions about the legality of your item, you should contact the manufacturer or an intellectual property attorney.
Follow these guidelines (these are just guidelines and may not be complete) when selling an item on Amazon and/or eBay to help you create legally compliant listings:
Do not sell an item online (on eBay, Amazon, your website, or any venue) that is not legal to sell.
Create your own listing content
Make sure all statements in your listing are accurate
Use brand names accurately and appropriately
Make sure your item is authentic
Before listing an item you may not be sure about, contact the right's owner (brand owner) with any questions
Unlike Amazon, eBay offers intellectual rights owners the ability to create a page to explain their policies and procedures concerning infringing items.
You can review a list of Vero Participant pages created by rights owners here.
Not all rights owners have a Vero participant page. Although eBay recommends right's owners to create a page to help sellers, they are not obligated to do so, although most do.
Restricted Brands on Amazon: Here is an article that lists many (but not all) restricted brands on Amazon. For some reason I don't understand, Amazon prefers to keep restricted brands secret and does not publish a list. However, if a brand is not listed in my article, there are two other ways to determine this:
One thing I have found is, if a brand appears on the eBay VeRO Information Page, it is most likely to be restricted on Amazon also.
I know this information may make you think it is just impossible to sell on eBay and/or Amazon, but that is not the case. I sell hundreds of different products, and over many years I have only had one listing cancelled by Amazon, and received one VeRO complaint on eBay.
In the Amazon case, I had a receipt from the authorized distributor, so the brand holder informed Amazon that I could sell the product and they reinstated my listing. In the case of eBay, I was under the threat of suspension. I contacted the brand holder's representative and explained that I had bought the product from Macy's authorized liquidator and had no intention of violating their rights. I explained that I had made an innocent mistake and promised not to sell their brand again. On that basis they contacted eBay and withdrew their complaint.
The best answer to this problem is to create your own brand and Private label.
Remember - Many of these websites do not show wholesale information because they do not want the general public to see it. When you run into this, simply use the Contact Us link to request reseller information.
The Twisted Purl makes and sells colorful Felted Soap. They also wholesale handmade yarn and eco-friendly all natural wool felted dryer balls.
Enesco, LLC sells a wide range of giftware, and home and garden décor including Department 56 products.
Redline Steel is a custom steel manufacturer of steel home & garden Décor items. They are veteran owned and operated and 100% manufactured in the United States.
Olive Buggy LLC makes and sells Ceramic plaque with inspirational and humorous sayings on them. Most are hand painted and all are Made in the USA.
Saint Biz Design is a designer and manufacturer of fashion belts and jewelry with a factory in China and their own designers in Italy. No website, but you can get a catalog from Saint Biz Design 49 Topeka Irvine, CA 92604. USA Tel: 949-771-5608
K9 Bytes creates handcrafted quick release fabric dog and cat collars and fabric dog leashes.
Tipsy Tags offers very unique wine glass tags and blowout flameless candles.
John Wind Maximal Art offers a unique line of finely crafted lockets, holiday decorations, gifts and other items.
Primal Elements sells a wide range of Bath & Beauty products and candles that are handmade in Huntington Beach, California.
Koehler Home Decor sells wholesale home decor accessories and gifts wholesale direct. Products include Bath & Body, Candles, Christian, collectibles, general merchandise, licensed products, patio & garden, and seasonal items. No minimum purchase.
Sports Brands Inc. - Barbecue Brand Tailgate Tool. Sear your loyalty into almost anything you cook or grill- plus BBQ Tool sets.
Wholesale Garden Supplies sells a large line of garden products. Lawn supplies, water sprayers, gardening tools at wholesale prices.
Mywholesalegifts is a wholesaler of promotional products and corporate gifts which you can buy at wholesale prices.
Walmart Liquidation Auctions - Bid on bulk quantities of returned, overstock and refurbished inventory directly from Walmart stores and Walmart.com. Before you buy, read my article about buying brand name liquidation
Thatís it for now. See you again in about two weeks.
P.S. If you missed the last issue, click here to read it.
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