How to Contact & Deal with Wholesale Sources
The eBay & Amazon Seller's News ~ December 2017 ~ Volume 18, Issue No. 18
Tips, Tools, News and Resources for eBay, Amazon and Independent Online Sellers
This will be my only newsletter in December. Normally my next issue would come out in about two-weeks, but that would put us right in the middle of the holiday season, so I will hold the next issue until January 9th. Since this is the last time I will talk to you this year, let me take this opportunity to wish all of you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah or Happy Holidays -and to all of you a very happy, prosperous and blessed New Year.
Watch out for this Amazon Seller fraud: A few sellers have reported phishing messages coming through their Amazon buyer/seller messaging. The messages are almost always about some aspect of Amazon selling policies, appear to be from Amazon support and invite you to click a link. Since you are inside of Seller Central (in the messaging service), some of your normal caution evaporates.
Now, here is the interesting part. When you click on the link (that for some reason Amazon does not remove), a page pops up with a two-step verification and a message to enter some financial information such as bank account, credit card on file or social security number as a back-up form of identification. I have gotten about half a dozen emails from sellers who have done this. If that many reported it to me -I suspect the real number is in the many more.
REMEMBER, no matter where the message comes from, Amazon will never ask you to enter that sort of information that originated in an email. If Amazon has a problem with any of your information, they will tell you to log into your account (not via a link) and check your account information.
I know this newsletter is aimed at sellers, but a lot of you are also online shoppers -especially this time of year. As you know, the Christmas selling season is the biggest time of year for fraud. Here are some popular frauds to look out for:
Lastly, remember the old saying: If something looks too good to be true -it probably is. And remember to be vigilant right after Christmas -Many of those After-Christmas sales are completely phony.
One feature eBay has always had over Amazon is highly customized eBay Stores
Amazon now makes it easier to drive traffic to your storefront. Just tell buyers to type your seller ID into the Amazon search bar. Normally, your storefront shows all your products pretty much as you listed them. But Amazon is finally offering a way to customize your storefront. Just use the new Amazon Manage Store link at the very bottom of you Seller Central page (You have to be logged in to use it).
You can also place a link to your Amazon store in emails and social media posts. Or, you can put a note on, or in with, your product as long as it doesnít mention your website. We have just started putting a label like this on our products:
Itís too early to know if this helps our sales, so I will let you know in a few months.
A couple issues ago, I mentioned that eBay has gone back to placing off-eBay advertisements in your listings. In that article I mentioned that it wasnít happening to me. Well, I spoke too soon. Here is a listing where eBay added advertising:
Only one of them is a direct competitor, but I visited the website eBay linked to and they had products similar to mine that were also cheaper. Apparently, eBay makes more money from advertising than our seller fees.
Online shoppers spent over $11 Billion from Black Friday through Cyber Monday. Amazon alone shipped over 140 million products during that time period. Although they won't release the exact numbers yet, Amazon also said that Cyber Monday was their biggest shopping day ever.
Total Online sales from Black Friday through Cyber Monday are up over 20% compared to last year, whereas sales at major Department stores were up less than 1% compared to last year. As for our personal sales on eBay and Amazon, they were down slightly because we have fewer SKUs listed this year. However, our margin percentages are higher because we did a better job of getting rid of non-performing inventory, and are expanding our Private Label products which are more profitable
A word about books and training courses you buy from us:
Amazon Seller University has an updated short video on Inventory Prep Requirements . If you want to access all of Seller University, you can do that here . Note: You must have a seller account and be logged into your Seller Central account to access either of these links.
Lets get started with this monthís articles:
Let's deal with how you find wholesalers first. I tend to find my best wholesale sources at wholesale trade shows. My favorite two are the ASD Trade Show held every year in Las Vegas in March and August and The National Hardware Show which trades places every year between Orlando and Las Vegas. This year it is in Las Vegas starting on May 9th. In addition, I also attend the Gift Shows in Seattle near where I live.
Suffice to say, the advantages of trade shows are that you can see and handle the products, and many times you can meet the owners of the company. This is the best way to make special deals such as negotiating an exclusive selling arrangement for eBay and/or Amazon.
Another way I find products is by shopping, both online and offline. When I am in a store and see a product that interests me, I pick it up, look for a website on the box and either write it down or take a photo with my phone.
When I get back to my office, I bring up the website on my computer and look for a link for wholesale customers to register. It usually looks something like this:
If I don't see that, I look for a Contact Us link (which practically all websites have) and send them an email like this:
Notice I did not mention eBay, Amazon or selling online. When you buy wholesale, mark up the product and sell it at a higher price, you are selling retail, so being a "retailer" is correct. If someone asks me if I sell online, I tell them the truth, but I rarely volunteer that information.
Here is how I find wholesalers online: First you have to know what you are looking for. So, let's say I want to sell candles. I go to Google and type "Candle Manufacturers" in the search field.
This brings up several dozen companies (including two that private label). Visit the websites of those companies that interest you. Once you visit the website and decide that you are interested, look for the Contact Us link and send them the same email shown above.
Most of these companies will send you their wholesale registration forms along with price lists and sometimes a PDF Catalog. One of the other things you might get is a credit app. I usually open these and just fill in my banking information and leave the rest blank. I tell them in the email when I return the documents that I prefer to pay with a credit card, because it makes my bookkeeping easier and I earn travel points I can use to attend trade shows. Most companies are fine with this -and many even prefer it.
Sometimes the forms you receive have restrictions about selling online. A few will forbid it all together (when I see one of those, I just throw it in the trash and move on to the next one). But many will say you need their permission to sell online (A few even mention eBay and/or Amazon). The main thing these companies are looking for is for you to agree to follow their MAP (Minimum Advertised Price) policy.
This is a policy whereby you agree to set a price they determine and not to list or advertise any lower prices. Note that we are only referring to the advertised price -not your selling price. For example, if a company has a MAP price of $24.95 for a certain item, then you have to list it at that price on eBay, but if you check the best offer box and someone offers you $20, you can accept that.
Federal law prevents companies from fixing prices by controlling the price they sell at, but they are allowed to control the "advertised" price.
Speaking with wholesale sources
Obviously if you are at a trade show, you will be speaking with the owners or company representatives. But when you contact sources on the web, they may also give you a call. When you speak with a source the first thing to remember is to be nice. Both of you are professionals who need each other. You need to find products to resell, and they are looking for companies to sell to.
You want to act professionally, but you can do this while being nice and polite. If you sense any hesitation or reluctance on their part to sell to you, then ask them some general personal questions such as "Where are you from?" or "Do you have any kids?" I find that people like to talk about themselves and like people who are interested and listen. This will instantly make them want to help you.
Once they agree to sell to me, one of the questions I always ask is if they are they exhibiting at any trade shows. If the answer is yes, then I ask if they have any show specials they can extend to me. This really works. I have signed up with wholesale sources for the first time and gotten free shipping, or substantial discounts on my first order even though I was not at the show.
I know it's too late to send goods into Amazon FBA, but there are still opportunities to sell via Merchant fulfillment or on eBay. The reasonable cut-off date for 2-day shipping is December 22nd. That is the last day you can be sure a package will arrive by Christmas Eve if you use 2-day air. You will find the occasional person who will pay for overnight shipping which gets you to 2 PM to 4PM the day before Christmas eve, but those are pretty rare.
Always offer some type of expedited shipping -preferably 2nd day air. Be careful with priority mail. I find that a priority mail package will reach the recipient normally in 3 business days, but after December 5th or so, that time often extends to 4, or even 5, business days. The USPS website says the priority mail cutoff for Christmas eve delivery is December 22nd -but I am not sure if you can trust that. And many folks who get a Christmas gift too late will often return it, and/or leave bad feedback.
Another important factor is collecting payment and entering tracking. Both eBay and Amazon require sellers to enter tracking information on 90% of their shipments within 24 hours, but there is an additional factor for Amazon Merchant Fulfilled sellers. It's called Paid when shipped. Amazon will not charge a buyer's credit card until you mark a shipment as shipped. The danger there is, you could ship an item and by the time you let Amazon know, the buyer has maxed out their credit card.
You can mark an item as shipped without the tracking info, but that can be problematic. One of the things I like about the post office (USPS), is that you can buy postage and delivery confirmation online and USPS will generate a tracking number when you do that. UPS also has that capability if you have an account with them. When you create the shipping label, UPS assigns a tracking number that you can enter into eBay or Amazon even though you have not actually shipped it yet. This way you can mark an item as shipped even though you technically have not yet done so. This way you are sure to get paid before the goods leave your possession.
Lastly, if you use FBA, keep shipping through December so you have stock in January which is usually a pretty good month. It's not as good as December, but better than most months of the year due to people getting Amazon gift cards and people returning gifts and using the money to buy what they really wanted.
If you are an eBay seller, or an Amazon MF seller, keep ordering product through December so you have it in stock to sell in January.
This is a guest article by Ferry Vermeulen, director at Berlin based INSTRKTIV GmbH. INSTRKTIV helps sellers to create compliant and user-friendly documentation. Read his blog post about creating compliant user manuals for the EU .
The first part of the article deals with Amazon and there is info for eBay sellers at the end.
Amazon Europe: The DoC and Relevant Documentation
by Ferry Vermeulen
Selling products on Amazon Europe, requires you to submit documentation that shows that your product adheres to and is completely compliant with European legislation. This is especially true for certain products such as toys and electronics, which are required to have a CE mark.
Amazon Europe is notoriously strict when it comes to approving products that are not submitted with the right documents. At times, declining applications without explaining what is needed to make submitted documents acceptable.
One of the needed documents is the Declaration of Conformity (DoC).
The DoC is the final step you need to prepare, in the process of obtaining CE marking. As such, it has to be incorporated into the user manual or technical file, or be included with the product you are selling.
In this article we will look at the requirements that Amazon Europe has for submitting product approval documentation, and then explain what to look at when drawing up a Declaration of Conformity.
1. Looking at Amazon Europe's Requirements
- If you want to sell on Amazon Europe, you must know that you carry the responsibility of ensuring that your products fully comply with every standard and document requirement.
- Many seem to think that this responsibility lies with the supplier. This has in the past been a point of tremendous frustration, as products would be kept at customs offices, because they lack the required papers. You as the seller is solely responsible for the compliance procedure.
- Though not all products may require having a CE mark, Amazon Europe requires them to be safe and therefore comply with national product regulations.
- For products that are riskier than others, and are subject to stricter rules, Amazon Europe requires you to obtain pre-approval from them before listing. Examples of a couple of products requiring pre-approval are: jewelry, electronics, shoes, beauty and cosmetics.
- The submission of documents is in most cases initiated by Amazon Europe, as they would contact you to request additional material. In some cases, documents can be attached during the pre-approval phase. Should you not be able to provide all necessary material, Amazon Europe will not grant you product approval.
- Amazon Europe may also require images of the product, especially ones that clearly show the original packaging from all sides. This is necessary for compliance with labeling rules.
2. Drawing Up the Declaration of Conformity
Drawing up a DoC might seem like a daunting task, but if you break it up into small actionable steps, the work seems that much easier. Therefore, we've broken up the process into 4 manageable steps.
Step 1: Visit the EU website and choose your product group(s)
When visiting the EU site make sure to go through all directives that pertain to your product, as some products need to comply with more than one directive.
Should your product need more than one directive, you must fulfill all requirements on each directive for your product. You will find all relevant requirements for the DoC in each directive.
Step 2: Search for all information pertaining to the DoC in the chosen directive
An easy method we utilize to gather all relevant information regarding the particular DoC, is to search for the phrase "declaration of conformity" within the text, and copy all sentences or paragraphs including the phrase to a spreadsheet.
Divide the spreadsheet into 2 columns, with the left column containing the name of the article, and the right column containing the copied information.
Read through the right column information carefully as you now have an overview of necessary information needed for the DoC.
Step 3: Download a template particular to your directive and fill it in
This step is quite straight forward and easy. Now that you have an idea of what your chosen directive requires for its DoC, you need to draw up the DoC.
Scroll down to the bottom of the page, where you will see download links of templates for each type of DoC.
Select the correct template and start drawing up your Declaration of Conformity.
Step 4: Make sure and check to see if you meet all requirements
You are done with your DoC, and the only other step needed is to make sure that you fulfill all other requirements as outlined by Amazon Europe.
For this, look at the section on Amazon Europe requirements, or read through the directive for your product.
Drafting and signing a DoC also applies to eBay sellers when they are selling a product to which CE marking directives apply.
It looks like that eBay checks randomly if a compliant DoC is supplied with a product, see here
Further, there are many cases of eBay sellers that have their products get stuck at customs because of non-conformity, e.g.
I have sold two books related to earning money through blogging: How to Make Money with The Amazon Affiliate Program (explains how to do that by blogging) and How to Make Money Blogging From Home (Now out of print). I will recommend some more books towards the end of the article.
The answer to How to Monetize your Blog is actually two-fold: Affiliate Marketing, and/or sell your own information product. I do both and so can you.
Let's look at each method:
There are three keys to making money with affiliate marketing - traffic, interest and integrity. To get traffic to a blog requires you to have a topic people are interested in and you have to be useful or interesting enough that people will trust your advice and want to visit you on a repeat basis. The integrity comes in when you recommend products. People have to believe you have their best interests at heart and are just not trying to sell them something. This means that your posts should contain lots of good and helpful information.
In terms of gaining readership to your blog, there is an old saying that is still true today: Content is King. What this means is that people find blogs in two ways, the largest being through searching topics on the web. The other is Word of mouth which today usually means Social Media.
Here is an example. Let's say you publish a blog on quilting and you wrote a post on How to quilt with applique. People searching the terms How to applique or applique quilts would see search results for your post. They would go there first and then, hopefully, they would look around your blog for other things that interest them, and add your blog to their feed or their favorites. This would gain readership that you could recommend books and products to, to earn affiliate commissions.
The other way people find blogs is by word of mouth, but today this means social media. Once you set up a blog, look for social media groups related to your topic and join them. Just be careful recommending things in your group that can help your business. This can have a negative effect on group members, and some groups do not allow any type of promotion.
I used to publish a book on that subject, but the field was changing so fast I couldn't keep up with it so I stopped updating and selling it a few years ago.
There are two kinds of information products - free products to promote affiliate sales, and paid information products that teach something that is valuable to people. The first kind might be a book with reviews such as The Best Ten Programmable Sewing Machines.
The book would contain in-depth reviews of products for sale on sites that pay affiliate commissions (such as eBay or Amazon) and would contain hyperlinks to the products embedded with your affiliate link. (The best way to create and fulfill these books is as a PDF file).
The second type of book would contain valuable information people would happily pay for. Let's say your blog was about Fly Fishing in the Western United States. Your book could be something like Fly Fishing Travel Guide to The Yellowstone River. The book would contain lists of lodges, fishing locations and fishing guide services with contact information.
If you think this is a far-fetched idea, realize there are millions of fly fishermen (and women) in the United States, and The Yellowstone River is considered the Holy Grail of fishing rivers. Almost every fly fisherperson hopes to make a pilgrimage there some time in their lifetime. You might say it's on every fly fisherman's bucket list. Any of these people would be a potential buyer for such a book.
The key to both of those books being successful is the relationship they have to your blog. If your blog is about digital photography, then it would be hard to push a book about fly fishing or sewing machines. So, make sure your eBook is relevant to your main blog topic.
If you are particularly interested in, and knowledgeable about a subject, then you could probably write a blog about it. Just be prepared for some work. In the blog's first year, you will have to create and publish posts at least 4 days a week to have any chance of Google finding you, and to build a following. By the second year you could cut back to twice a week, and by the third year once a week. But in the beginning, it's really important to create a lot of content as soon as you can.
Blogging is very cheap. Most blogging software programs are free (the most popular is WordPress) and then you have to pay for internet hosting which costs you as little as $5 per month (slightly more if you add privacy protection). And, it can be very profitable.
There are thousands of bloggers wo make over $10,000 a month (and a few hundred who make even more). And, best of all you can do it from anywhere you can get an internet connection (RV, Boat, Campground, hotel, or even a resort in the South of Spain).
One thing I always worry about is my credibility, so I am very careful about affiliate programs I recommend. My policy is: If I would not recommend it to my sister, then I won't recommend it to my readers . That is one of the reasons I like the Amazon Affiliate Program. Amazon is honest and reliable and I can check the reviews on products before I recommend them. I use the Amazon Affiliate program myself and my book: How to Make Money with The Amazon Affiliate Program has been one of my best sellers.
Earlier, I mentioned that WordPress is my recommended blogging software. It's actually very easy to use, but a little handholding would be helpful in the beginning. My webmaster, Marsha Perry, has written a great primer on WordPress: The Illustrated User's Guide for WordPress Websites and Blogs . Unfortunately, it's only available in Kindle, but if you want some good books in Paperback, I can recommend these two:
Since my book on information products is out of print - Here is one that is more up to date. Unfortunately, it's only published in Kindle:
Blogging is one of those things that looks and sounds a bit scary at first -but if you are passionate about something, it can really be not only profitable, but a lot of fun too.
Live in Flop Flops sells an entire line of gifts and other products based on Flip Flops.
Stella Star Soaps & Candles has created a wax blend for Candles and Soap that both look and smell like baked goods
Wuu JAU sells a wide variety of products including their own design fidget spinners, knives, belt buckles and self-defense products
PDS Enterprises, Inc . is a wholesale, closeout, surplus, and liquidation dealer that sells a wide variety of products including tools, knives, fashion accessories, seasonal items, and collectibles.
Wholesale Car Covers & Accessories is a drop ship wholesaler and company rep for many businesses such as Budge Industries (vehicle covers), Blockit & Lockit Systems (The WRAP steering wheel lock) Guard Dog door lock and more. Note: I have no experience with their drop ship service, so be careful, as you would when trying out any new drop shipper. Their car covers are licensed by NASCAR.
Direct Liquidation allows you to bid directly on Wal-Mart surplus and liquidated products. Since many of these are brand name products, be sure and check with eBay and/or Amazon to make sure you can sell them.
Bambini sells a luxury layette collection of premium, 100% Cotton, interlock infant garments and accessories. The Bambini line of infant wear offers unique and classic styles in soft pastel colors, unique print patterns and detailed embroidery.
ReGo Trading is a wholesale distributor of Health and Beauty products and baby care. They also wholesale some houseware products.
Safe Beginnings Direct offers wholesale childproofing products, baby accessories and home safety items including safety gates, cabinet latches, outlet covers, breast pumps, jogging strollers, educational toys, first aid kits, fire escape ladders and test kits.
Tackwholesale is a wholesale e-seller of affordable English and Western equine supplies, horse tack, saddles, chaps, bridles, reins, boots, breeches, breyer horses, horse health products, fly control, horse blankets, boots and other horse supplies.
SW Trading is a wholesale supplier of jewelry, handbags, luggage, & fashion accessories
Scripture Candy sells candies imprinted with scriptural verses.
Bear Woods Supply is a wholesale wood and craft supplier. They specialize in unfinished wood turnings, dowels, plans, scroll saw blades, clock movements and inserts
Tatiana Distributors supplies wholesale bras, corsets, shapers, thongs, briefs, panties and lingerie.
Watch L.A. is the online wholesale market where you can find the latest trends and styles in juniors clothing including jeans, denim jackets, vests, and shorts.
See you again early in the new year.
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.
Please Note: Some of the products and services mentioned in this website, in articles, banner ads and newsletters and blog posts are for products and services for which I earn a referral fee or commission. We always evaluate anything we recommend very carefully and each year we turn down literally dozens of opportunities to recommend products or services where we can earn a commission. Even though we earn a fee on some of our recommendations, we only recommend products and services that we feel will deliver good value and with rare exceptions, they all come with a money back guarantee.