A New Approach To Automatic Repricing on Amazon
The Online Seller's News, May 2013, Volume 13, Issue No. 8
Tips, Tools, News and Resources for eBay, Amazon and Independent Online Sellers
On May 21, 2013, Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) will launch unplanned services, a new option for when you are unable to prep or package your products yourself, and do not choose a planned service such as the FBA Label Service. Unplanned services may include activities Amazon performs such as labeling, bagging, poly bagging, and taping in order to make products ready for safe and efficient storage and delivery. In other words, if something arrives at an FBA warehouse that is not properly labeled or packaged, then Amazon will charge you to fix it. I found out that this would include even simple things such as putting a suffocation warning on a plastic bag if you forget to do it.
Suzanne Wells has been selling toys on eBay and Amazon for several years. She has just come out with a Multi-media training course called How To Make Money on Amazon Selling Toys .
Talk to any toy seller and they will tell you that toys are one of the most recession-proof businesses there are. Parents, Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles may be living on tight budgets these days, but they can always find money for their kids.
Suzanne’s course consists of a 1-hour audio MP3 file that can be added to a mobile device or CD for convenient listening anywhere. You also get a 30-minute demonstration that shows you exactly how she sources her toys and how she sells them. And then, there is an 18-page PDF document to supplement the audio that includes 15 toy-scouting strategies.
The next issue of this newsletter will have a link to Jenni Hunt’s Annual Summer Toy Guide. With Suzanne’s course and Jenni’s guide you can’t go wrong.
Lately I have been getting a lot of email asking me about Webstore.com as an alternate site to sell on. I am not big on the idea of leaving one site to sell on another. Instead I favor multi-channel selling where you sell on several sites at the same time. Also - I have seen so many Internet auction and alternate selling sites come and go that I am reluctant to write about sites until they have been around a while.
So after I got my tenth or twelfth email about Webstore.com, I decided to take a look at it and I emailed the company to ask some questions. Website.Com does indeed look like a place to expand your business to include. The site is advertising supported and therefore there is no charge for any listing or selling fees. They currently have close to one million items in over 13,000 categories listed on the site with over 135,000 active members, and appear to be adding several thousand members a month.
One of the interesting concepts is an affiliate program for sellers with a high click through rate. Instead of cash they reward their affiliates by highlighting their listed items and giving them higher placement in searches on the site. So if you are looking to expand beyond eBay, you might give Webstore.com a try.
eBay is running another test of its Selling Assistant program that offers to sell people's goods on eBay on a consignment. eBay offered a similar program last year in California and it was so successful they are rolling it out to other states. Unlike traditional consignment selling where you, as an eBay seller, sell the goods and charge a commission, with this program eBay picks up the items from a consignor’s home and sells them for them. You can see a short video describing the program at eBaySellingAssistant.com. If you are interested in becoming a consignment seller, take a look at my best-selling book, How to Start and Run an eBay Consignment Business. The book includes actual contracts and forms you can use to run your business.
Note to my UK and European Readers
If you read my newsletter then you have seen this notice for the past couple of issues. I keep running it because for some reason we are showing up quite well in Google UK and we have been gaining a lot of readers from the UK and in fact all over Europe. Google UK seems to like me much more than Google US.
What has been happening is these readers are buying my US product –not knowing I have products written for UK readers. So if you live in Europe or the UK, go to www.SkipMcGrath.co.uk and see the products we have optimized for the UK.
If you sell on eBay don’t forget to take advantage of making a Seller Outreach Call. eBay offers these calls to sellers twice yearly. You get to spend a half-hour on the phone with an eBay rep who will show you ways to boost your sales. You can ask any questions you want or you can just ask them to take a look at your account and make suggestions. Here is the link to schedule a call: http://www.scheduleonline.com/ebay_strategies.php
Last thing before I get started with the articles. Stamps.com is repeating their great promotion for my readers from last year. If you join from my page, you will get $100 worth of free stuff including a free $50 postage scale, $45 worth of free postage and $5 worth of supplies.
Stamps.com offers postage discounts on Priority and Express Mail, a discount on insurance and it saves you a load of time when shipping. You can ship worldwide with First Class International and Stamps.com imports your eBay and Amazon orders for fast processing. Best of all - you can hide the postage amount on your shipping labels.
With that out of the way – let’s get started:
If you sell on Amazon then you know how critical it is to win the buy box. According to Amazon, in the non-media categories, over 88% of all sales come from the buy box. (I don’t know the number for media categories, but although not as high as non-media, I am willing to bet it is well over 50%).
I have written several articles about winning the buy box and I cover this in great detail in my book, eBay to Amazon. One of the ways to win the buy box is to be the lowest price. Remember how Amazon calculates prices to determine which seller wins the buy box:
I know that most people hate math (at least I do) but this is one time you may want to pay attention. This math is fairly simple, but it’s highly important to your profits.
Say you have an item in FBA and you want to win the buy box. There is one other seller in FBA who is selling at $49.95, and there is a merchant fulfilled seller who is selling for $44.95 + $6.95 shipping (Total $51.90). That means that the merchant fulfilled seller would have to lower his price to at least $48.94 –total including shipping to win the buy box. On the other hand, the FBA seller could price their item as high as $50.93 and share the buy box, or drop their price to $48.94 and win the buy box.
So as the FBA seller, you look at your costs (product cost, inbound shipping, shipping to FBA and FBA fees and you determine that you can lower your cost to $48.94 and win the buy box. If the other seller is not paying attention, you will most likely stay in the buy box for quite a while. Sellers who have hundreds of SKUs rarely have the time to check their prices every day.
But some sellers have what are called Automatic Re-pricing tools. These are online tools that constantly monitor your listings and will automatically lower your price within constraints you set. The problem is what if the other guy has one of these too. You basically have a situation where your re-pricing tool and his re-pricing tool go to war –or as some sellers call it – a race to the bottom.
That is why I have not been a fan of repricing tools – until now. I recently discovered a new tool that was invented by a couple of guys in Israel. It is called Feedvisor. Feedvisor has actually been around a while, but since I was basically prejudiced against re-pricing tools, I pretty much ignored it.
I recently spoke with the principals at the company and agreed to give it a try. (Note – they are not advertisers and I am not earning an affiliate commission).
The difference between Feedvisor and other systems is that Feedvisor uses a unique algorithm to find the “best price” instead of just the lowest price. In some cases the tool will actually raise your price. Besides pricing, the tool also looks at other factors including feedback rating, number of reviews, fulfilment channel, sales history and Amazon performance scorecard. As I noted above, price may be the most important factor, but these other factors matter as well.
Feedvisor does allow you to set parameters and it allows you to exempt products you select from the service. This is important for sellers who have MAP agreements or exclusive product that have no competition. You don’t want those products adjusted so you can just exempt them from the program.
So, if you would like some help reaching the buy box, take a look at Feedvisor.
One way of getting the most out of your online stores and social media pages is to integrate them. It’s also a great way to expand your business reach. Your customers get to see what you are offering no matter what site they’re in—whether they’re browsing eBay, Amazon or even Facebook.
Exporting products though is not easy, especially if you are selling LOTS of products. Good thing, there are helpful tools that are available now to help you do the work.
One of the most interesting tools is Export Your Store, which basically offers three services:
1.) Exporting items from eBay to Amazon, and vice-versa;
2.) Inventory synchronization and
3.) Auto-export of every new item. It also addresses several concerns such as:
The tool gives users two options—whether to Ignore Auctions (auctions will not be exported to Amazon), or Export Auctions and the auctions will be listed on Amazon as fixed listings.
Besides exporting listing there are also services such as Easy Social Shop, which could help you leverage on the power of social media by integrating your eBay and Amazon listings on Facebook with 3 easy clicks. Easy Social shop is an application that once installed, automatically integrates your online stores with your Facebook page—with all products synced.
With these tools around, integrating your online stores is now as easy as 1,2,3! If you want to learn more about selling on Amazon or if you’re thinking of having an Amazon store in addition to your eBay store, take a look at my latest book, eBay to Amazon, which shows the techniques I use to sell over $25,000 a month on Amazon.
I usually take my own photos for eBay and Amazon. On Amazon you just upload your photos to Amazon and they host them for free. For eBay, I use the Vendio listing management system and that includes photo hosting. But some other online businesses are now using photos to promote their products and to share ideas with customers and even fellow business owners.
While Pinterest is continually gaining popularity, and has recently launched new tools for businesses, pinned photos do not always lead to the actual online store. Aside from this, Pinterest doesn’t have a “buy” button and there are times when you have to click many times before you find the photo source.
But Pinterest is not the only game in town and there are other –admittedly less popular, but nevertheless more business-friendly options available. The following photo-sharing sites address these concerns by combining Pinterest’s pinning action with an online store’s functionality. You may want to check these out:
Fancy’s tagline is: “Discover amazing stuff, collect the things you love, buy it all in one place.”
This site has a clear shopping component—it allows users to “add to cart” any product that they’d want to purchase. After checkout, the merchants/retailers are notified, and they handle the item shipping. Although this site is open to different item types, it is primarily geared towards displaying high-end/luxury products, gadgets and pop culture toys.
Nuji’s tagline is: “Start your social wish list.”
This site’s unique selling proposition is its rewards system. It rewards members with points whenever they share product photos of the merchants, and these points are redeemed in the form of discounts in any of Nuji’s 50+ partner stores. Nuji’s primary focus is primarily boutique store products from all over the world.
Olioboard’s tagline: “Design a room and try it before you buy it.”
Olioboard offers up a fun and interactive experience by allowing users to create 3-D “roomscapes”. This is done by dragging and dropping the furniture and accessory’s photos onto a blank canvas. The item photos are tagged with product details and a “Shop It” button, which allows users to directly go to the retailer’s site.
This interior design site offers two options for retailers: pay a flat monthly fee of $250 so that they can upload their products onto the site, and the other is to use an affiliate program so that the flat fee could be foregone in exchange for a referral cut which starts at 8%. A retailer also has the option to sponsor a design contest for brand marketing purposes.
These photo-sharing sites have the potential to help you boost your business. Depending on what product types you’re selling, you can try uploading your item photos on one of these.
One of the most irritating things about selling real physical products is that you work hard to find the right product to sell and as soon as it starts selling the copycats come in and they start undercutting your price. Or you find that magical niche that you have all to yourself and pretty soon you have twenty or more competitors. Yes it happens which is why selling on eBay and Amazon is pretty much a game of moving targets. Unless you are adept at continually finding and sourcing new products you will soon be left behind.
In my books about eBay and Amazon I have often written about how profitable it is if you can find a product and get an exclusive arrangement with the manufacturer so only you can sell that product. This can be done. I have such an arrangement on three different products. And it is very profitable.
Well there is another way and that is to create your own unique product that only you sell. Other sellers may be able to come up with something similar but they can’t really compete on the actual product.
Pete Bruckshaw has come up with something that really works. His system is called Design Profits Unleashed. The key to all of this is in the first word of the product – “design.” If you can design your own unique products you can sell them with virtually no competition. And Pete has done this over 2000 times. Design Profits Unleashed (DPU) is a system for creating art prints on canvas from copyright free photos that are easy to obtain.
You are probably saying something like “I am not an artist. I don’t have any design skills.” Don’t worry – Pete has this covered too. He shows you exactly what kind of prints sell. And don’t worry about copyright. Pete explains how copyrights work and shows you how to stay on the right (and legal) side of them. He also teaches you the one copyright mistake you must never make.
Pete has sold over 2000 of these canvas art prints on eBay and Amazon. And no – you don’t need an oversized printer. Pete can set you up with a company that will print and then dropship directly to your customer for you. You create the design using some really unique tips in Photoshop or Designer, list the print on eBay and/or Amazon and when it sells you send the photo to the printer who prints it and ships it to your customer for you.
Design Profits Unleashed is simply one of the coolest moneymaking ideas I have seen in the last few years. And Pete is doing a special for my readers of only $17 for a limited time and he is adding his book on Auction Arbitrage as a free bonus. That book alone sold hundreds of copies at $27.
The best part about this business is that you don’t need a ton of money to get started. This is a great business for any one with a little creative bent and who need to start generating some cash quickly.
Last Week, The US Senate passed what they call The MarketPlace Fairness Act – more accurately known as The Internet Retailer’s Tax Bill. Passed by a margin of 69 to 27, the bill now moves to the House of Representatives where it faces some serious opposition.
House Republicans have taken the position that raising any tax is not a solution to growing the economy. Speaker John Boehner sent the bill to the House Judiciary Committee where hearings will be held. That is significant because the Senate never held any hearing and opponents such as eBay and small sellers like us never had a chance to give testimony.
The bill provides permission to the States to collect sales taxes on Internet sales made to buyers in their state, even though the seller has no physical presence in that state. Under current law, you only have to collect and pay sales tax on orders shipped to your own state or other states where you have physical presence such as an office or a warehouse.
Reports say that the bill exempts sellers with under $1 million in annual taxable sales, but it is not clear how that will work for eBay and Amazon sellers. If the law sees eBay and Amazon as the seller then they will be forced to collect the tax, but they would then send the money to us and we would have to register and get a sales tax number if all the states collecting taxes and pay the tax. If that happens it will drive thousands of sellers out of business –or it will turn thousands of sellers into tax cheats when they decide to just keep the money and ignore the tax. It is not clear if the bill’s language will force eBay and Amazon to report the sales of each seller and where the seller is located.
Although many republicans are against the bill, there are plenty of them who support it, so there is a good chance it will pass.
Should this bill become law it will create an absolute mess for online retailers. There is just no way that something like this comes out well. There is simply no one in government who understands how our businesses work –and frankly they don’t really care. And how will 46 different states that have sales tax interpret and enforce the bill. This will be a monumental mess!
Members of the House of Representatives of both parties are taking money from the lobbyists that represent giant retailers like Wal-Mart, Target and Home Depot –and for some really crazy reason even Amazon has joined them in supporting this bill. eBay however has been strongly opposed and is fighting this. Just last month eBay took dozens of sellers to Washington to meet with Senators and their staff to oppose the bill.
Despite the lobbying, members of the House are much more approachable and sensitive to public opinion in their districts. So if you oppose this bill, contact your congressperson in your district. Here is a link to Find Your Representative. Just enter your zip code and you can navigate to a page where you can email your representative.
One of our top advertisers from last year is back. Topper Liquidators sells a wide variety of merchandise and they specialize in working with smaller sellers who can only purchase in small dollar amounts. Yesterday they had a lot of 156 Shambala Bracelets that sold for only $224.99. That works out to $1.44 per bracelet. I have been selling a similar bracelet on Amazon and my cost is close to $4.00 each –so that is one heck of a deal.
Topper’s home page shows mostly clothing and fashion items, but look in their index as they have products in several different categories.
Duke Imports sells 1000 and 1200 Count Bed sheets, mink blankets, comforter sets, quilt sets and more. Direct Importer and Wholesaler, not a middleman.
Regal Gift is a wholesale gift company specializing in gifts for the garden. Open an account at this link to log in and see their information.
Lorenzo Imports features high-end gifts and kitchen items from Italy. You won't see it on the website, but email them and ask about the Tutto Chef cooking pans.
Children's clothing is always a big seller on eBay. Children's Wholesale Clothing is a favorite supplier of eBay children's clothing sellers.
Panaria is a large wholesaler of children's and teenybopper novelties. I have seen many of their products selling on eBay.
Wholesale Glass Dealers, Inc Helen & Phil Rosso supply collectible glass dealers all over the U.S.
Some months ago I wrote about Genco and their plan to offer consumer premium lots. These are pallet load lots of brand name consumer goods that have been selected and picked through to remove any damaged items. I honestly have not tried one of these but I know a lot of eBay sellers buy from Genco.
Bonita Cosmetics offers several lines of women’s cosmetic and nail products that do well on eBay and Amazon.
Astral Sea offers a line of natural fragrances, oils and scents at a wholesale-only site.
D&L Stained Glass Supply, Inc is a wholesale distributor of supplies for the art glass industry.
C2F, Inc is a wholesale distributor of Fine Art Supplies, Crafts, Graphic Arts and Drafting.
Art Lot sells wholesale art prints to dealers, print shops and online sellers.
PDS Enterprises, Inc is a wholesale, closeout, surplus, and liquidation dealer. They sell a wide variety of products including tools, knives and swords, fashion accessories, seasonal items, and collectibles. They have recently introduced a drop ship program but I honestly don’t know anything about it, so please enquire carefully.
Opteka Inc has become a branded household name worldwide. They manufacture and distribute digital camera accessories such as SLR lenses for digital cameras, batteries, digital photo frames, tripods, flashes and cases.
Garden Sun Light is a manufacturer/distributor of garden solar lights, solar garden decor and more. They have a Drop Ship program and offer Fulfilment by Amazon labelling and shipping services. No minimum order fee.
Fancy Silver Specializes in wholesale jewelry in sterling silver with CZ. Premium silver jewelry designs with wholesale jewelry prices.
That’s it for now. See you again in a couple of weeks.
P.S. If you missed the last issue, click here to read it.
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