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It Pays to Develop a Relationship with Your Wholesale Suppliers

The eBay & Amazon Seller's News - May 20, 2016 - Volume 17, Issue No. 10

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

In This Issue:

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

  1. It Pays to Develop a Relationship with Your Wholesale Suppliers
  2. Importing from China Direct to FBA
  3. Increase Your Productivity with Virtual Assistants
  4. New Wholesale Sources for eBay and Amazon Sellers

"The great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving." ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes


Musings

The traditional retail sector is really slowing down while Amazon is still growing. The U.S. retail sector - as measured by the SPDR S&P Retail Fund (XRT) - declined nearly 4% last week, even as the general market was rising. Nordstrom, Kohl's, and Dillard's all fell more than 5%.

Michael Kors plunged more than 11%. Even Wal-Mart and Target fell more than 4% each. Online retail giant Amazon (AMZN) was one of the few bright spots, up 1.5%. Another report I read said that overall online sales were up 2.1% in March, so all of this bodes well for online sellers.


eBay Adds User-Generated Videos to Seller Listings. eBay is adding videos to seller listings with the help of WebyClip featuring user-generated product reviews and unboxing videos that are designed to engage shoppers and improve conversion rates. Read more here.


A couple months ago I released a new eBook called The Amazon Profit Booster. The sales were excellent and we got tons of positive reader feedback. You can read about it here.


Did you know there are counterfeit textbooks on the market? Here is some info from my friend Jordan Malik - Counterfeit textbooks? Yep they're out there. Seller beware. Video shows my experience (nothing to sell here).


Announcement from Amazon

In 2015, FBA volumes, growth rates, and inventory levels were very high. As a result, our U.S. fulfillment centers were very full in November and December. This fullness was driven in part by FBA inventory that did not sell until well into 2016.

To avoid potential capacity constraints during the 2016 holiday season, we are accelerating the expansion of our fulfillment capacity. Additionally, we are changing our FBA fee structure to encourage all sellers to send in and store products in November and December that are likely to sell by the end of 2016. To give you time to plan for these changes, they will begin to take effect on October 1, 2016.We are introducing the following updates to our fees:

  • Adjustment to Monthly Inventory Storage Fees: Effective October 1, 2016, the monthly fee for inventory storage will change for Standard-Size and Oversize units. October storage fees will decrease, and the fees for November and December storage will increase. This change will first be reflected in November 2016 charges for storage that occurs in October 2016. See details (or scroll to the Monthly Inventory Storage Fees information below).
  • Reduction of Weight Handling Fees in November and December: To minimize the impact of the increased storage fees in November and December on your business, effective November 1, 2016, we will reduce our Weight Handling Fees for all items shipped in November and December. See details (or scroll to Fulfillment Fee information below). With the reduction in Weight Handling Fees, sellers who reduce the storage space they use in November and December have the opportunity to pay lower total FBA fees. Sellers who hold unproductive inventory through November and December may see an increase in total fees. See examples of how total fees may be reduced.
  • Box content information required for shipments to Amazon: To ensure that shipments to Amazon are received quickly and accurately, effective November 1, 2016, you must provide box content information for each box sent to a fulfillment center. Shipments containing more than 55% of FBA units already provide box content information. In September 2016, we will provide additional tools to make it easier to provide box content information on all shipments. If your shipping processes do not support providing this information, we will apply a fee of $0.15 per unit in November and December. The fee will be $0.10 per unit for January through October. If you provide box content information, you will not be charged this fee.

For complete details of these changes, click here. (You must be logged into Seller Central to see this page)


Lets get started with this monthís articles:

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1. It Pays to Develop a Relationship with Your Wholesale Suppliers

One of the things I learned early on was the necessity of developing a good relationship with my wholesale suppliers. This can lead to many business benefits, including lower prices.

When I place a wholesale order with a new supplier for the first time, I make an effort to start developing a relationship with my supplier rep whom I am communicating with. I tell them a little about my business and ask them some questions such as where are they from, are they married with kids, how has their business been going and things like that. One of the other things I always do is send each of my reps a short email after every order thanking them for taking good care of me. This may seem like a simple thing but it can pay big dividends.

One is pricing. Once I have the relationship developed and have placed few orders I will often write my sales rep and ask for better pricing. I did this just recently on a fast selling item and my rep wrote back that if I ordered at least a gross (144 units) they would reduce the price by 10% and give me free shipping. Since that was a fast selling item, a 144 units was no problem.

On another occasion I found a similar product to what I was buying on a website from a different company that was selling them at a lower price. It would have been a simple matter to just order from the other company, but I really liked the service with the company I was dealing with. So, I sent him a link to the other company. He not only agreed to match their pricing, he actually reduced his price by 2% less. I am positive this would not have happened if I did not have a great relationship with my particular rep.

On other occasions, I have had my reps call me to alert me to new products before they let their other sellers know. And, just a couple weeks ago, I accidently sold an item I did not have in stock. I called my rep and explained the situation and she agreed to drop ship the item direct to my customer via priority mail the same day. This is a company that normally does not drop ship. So this was a great service that saved me from having to cancel an Amazon order which can really affect your account metrics.

The final thing I find is that I just enjoy doing business with people I have developed a relationship with. It makes the days go faster and the business more fun.

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2. Importing from China Direct to FBA

I often get questions from readers about importing direct from overseas (usually China) and having the goods sent direct to FBA to save money on double shipping charges. This can be done, but I don't really recommend it. The reason is that Amazon has very complicated procedures for doing this. See the note from Amazon below that sets out the instructions to see what I mean:

Greetings from Amazon Seller Support,

I've reviewed your email and understand that you want to ship the item from China direct to FBA warehouses and you want to know the instructions.

Use the "Send/Replenish Inventory" option for items listed on the "Inventory Amazon Fulfills" page.

1. Select the listings you want to send by checking the boxes to the left of the titles.

2. Using the Actions drop-down menu, choose "Send/Replenish inventory."

3. Click on 'Continue to Shipment plan'.

4. In order to Complete the Shipment workflow, click on Approve shipment.

5. You may continue working on the shipment by clicking on 'Work on Shipment'.

6. Click on 'Complete Shipment'.

You can begin working on your shipment immediately or return to it later through the Shipping Queue. When you create a new shipment, it appears with the "Working" status in your Shipping Queue.

For more information on shipping inventory to Amazon, go to this Help page .

Please note that any newly converted ASIN to FBA will be reviewed by our operations team to check if the unit can be stored in our fulfillment center. This review will take 4-7 days and may also extend to 30 days depending on the type of the product.

Please be informed that certainly you can use any carrier or any shipping method to ship your products to an Amazon fulfillment center. You will know the address of the warehouse while creating the shipment after you sign up for the FBA service.

I understand that you are shipping from an international location, therefore, as you may know that in order to assist you in successfully shipping imported inventory to our US fulfillment centers, you would have to list Amazon as the Ultimate Consignee and use Samuel Shapiro & Company, Inc. for customs clearance services and abide by its guidelines.

Also, there is no issue even if your shipment takes more than 30 days to reach our warehouse. Therefore, please do not worry, you can certainly use ocean shipping to ship your products.

Kindly know that by contacting Shapiro you would be able to get the most appropriate response as they take care of all the Inventory reaching the FC globally. We suggest you contact Shapiro in advance of shipping any inventory in order to understand its fees and requirements.

Imports must be customs cleared by Amazon.com's designated Customs House Broker: Samuel Shapiro & Company. E-mail all documents prior to shipment departure to:

fbaadvantage@shapiro.com

Indicate Samuel Shapiro & Company as the "Notify Party" on the BOL as follows:

Samuel Shapiro & Co
c/o FBA Program
162 Seven Farms Drive Suite 220
Charleston, SC 29492
Phone: (843)971-0441
Fax: (843)856-0391
fbaadvantage@shapiro.com

To know more about this, refer to this help page link (You must be logged into Seller Central to see this page).

Hope this information's help you. If you still need any help, Please write back to us.

We want you to experience success in selling on Amazon.

Thanks for patience and understanding in this regard.

As you can see making even the tiniest mistake can result in your shipment being totally rejected and then you have the cost to return it. And I can tell you that many of the Chinese manufactures you deal with tend to make a lot of mistakes with detailed instructions that have to be translated.

An additional drawback is that I often order large quantities of things such as 500 or 1000 and I don't want to pay Amazon's storage fees until they sell

What I do instead is have my shipments sent to an FBA prep and ship center. The company I use is My Fulfillment Team. They receive and store the shipments for me so I can send my units in smaller shipments (such as 50 at a time) -and their storage fees are less than what Amazon charges. I have done my last 4 imports this way and everything has gone perfectly and I can use any freight forwarder and customs broker I want to. (My one experience with Shapiro, the company Amazon uses, is that they were pretty expensive). I use Universal Cargo who is both a freight forwarder and customs broker under one roof and they have saved me a ton of money.

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3. Increase Your Productivity with Virtual Assistants

This is a guest article by Sahin Shaik of Mytasker.com, a Virtual Assistant company

The virtual assistance industry has seen exponential growth in the recent years. Not only has there been a constant demand for virtual assistants from all over the world, but the industry has also evolved to meet the demand for new skills. Of course, Tim Ferris shares a greater portion of the credit of this overwhelming popularity.

In his 2007 bestselling book, "The Four Hour Work Week" Ferris has shown how hiring virtual assistants have helped him reduce his workload and work timings from 14 hours a day to four hours a week without affecting the productivity. In fact, his productivity has increased even though his work timings have been reduced.

Significance of Hiring Virtual Assistants

The entrepreneurs are quickly realizing the significance and the benefits of hiring virtual assistants. Having a VA to work on myriad tasks not only increases your productivity but also lowers the operating expenses and gives an entrepreneur enough free time to focus on the core business activities. Hiring virtual assistants actually give entrepreneurs a chance to expand his business without having to increase office space or bear the brunt of perked up expenses that come with the hiring of office assistants.

The benefits of hiring virtual assistants are limitless and most entrepreneurs who utilize their services are extremely pleased with the results. A virtual assistant can help you to prepare your travel plans, manage your emails, manage your social media accounts, develop a website, transcribe audio/video files, create e-books, conduct administrative work, and so on. It is important to form a strong and secure relationship with your virtual assistant, because once it is done, you can then prepare a list of tasks to outsource to a virtual assistant.

Maximize Productivity, Increase Profit Level- Outsource to Virtual Assistants

Hiring virtual assistants does increase your productivity. But you have to know the exact kind of tasks to outsource to a virtual assistant for maximum productivity. Any business is basically made up of two major functions: core business functions and auxiliary business functions. It is really important for an entrepreneur to focus on the core functions of his business with the help of virtual assistants.

For example, developing a product/service can be a daunting task. You can easily rely on your virtual assistant for the market research data, which will be collected from reliable sites, social networks, and forums. Sharing Google spreadsheets and other accessible data would help you and your VA to remain on the same page.

In this competitive world, surviving the market forces entails that you develop a product/service which your clients find innovative. To avoid losing clients, it is essential to bring new ways to improve your product/service quality. One way to do so is to rely on clients' feedback. This is one task that can be outsourced to a virtual assistant. A virtual assistant can sought the feedback and suggestions from your clients, which in turn, can give product/service development ideas.

Improving Work Efficiency at Every Level.

Virtual assistants augment your productivity by improving your work efficiency. By hiring virtual assistants, you will not only get more work done, but the work accomplished will be of better quality.

Research work: Virtual assistants can spend more time on research work, thus giving you more time for analysis. Also, just because they spend more time in doing research, they provide more in-depth and quality research materials.

Innovative ideas for blogs and websites: Virtual assistants can scan the social media and competitors' sites and blogs to come up with innovative ideas for your implementation.

Core Business Tasks: Your virtual assistants take care of your administrative tasks, giving you more time to focus on business-building tasks. You become more productive when you are focused on a bigger goal.

Remain updated: Your virtual assistants keep you updated on the current events. Basically, they scan the new websites and other competitive sources, thus keeping you updated on the latest developments in the business world.

Providing Better Client Services: With business expansion, it sometimes becomes impossible to follow up with clients on your own. At times, no amount of automation can keep the systems updated, content written or follow-up with the clients. Only real people can oversee these tasks. And virtual assistants can take care of these tasks.

Providing 24/7 Services: An office assistant can work for maximum 8- 9 hours. But a virtual assistant can provide 24/7 services. They are remotely located and can work anytime as per your convenience, helping you with accounting, administrative work, content writing etc., thus increasing your productivity.

Virtual Assistants who have expertise in specific areas help to make your business stronger by imbibing their knowledge into it. You can hire virtual assistants for conducting virtually any work such as administrative work, market research, accounting, email management, website development & designing, social media management, data management - the list goes on. By delegating these tasks to your virtual assistants, you can devote your time to do what you do best in your business. The professional virtual assistants put in all the efforts to take your business to the next level, helping to increase your productivity and profits.

About The Author

Sahin Shaik is the Sr. Manager (Process Control) at MyTasker, a virtual assistant company. He started his career as a Masters in Computer Science and Technology. He is extremely passionate about his work and nurtures ardent love for Music and Arts. You can follow him on LinkedIn.

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4. New Wholesale Sources for eBay and Amazon Sellers

Seatreasure Trading sells a line of jewelry, The Out of the Blue collection is an exclusive and affordable jewelry collection consisting of hand-picked shells and pearls from all over the world.

The Sock Factory is a premier performance and fashion sock manufacturer in North America.

Louvelle Showerwear sells a line of turban style shower caps, that have been featured in New York Magazine, Elle and Vogue. They are packaged in a beautiful box perfect for gifting.

Thunder Ridge sells High profit health and beauty products. Emu Oil has been used for thousands of years for its moisturizing anti-inflammatory and healing properties.

Cynita Inc makes the CoverMe Toothbrush Protector is a clear plastic cover designed to fit over your existing decorator toothbrush holder to protect your toothbrush from bathroom germs. It has a curved bottom for ventilation and is dishwasher safe. Protect from Toilet Spray, Soap Splash and Air Freshener spray.

Florapathics is an all-natural aromatherapy brand that offers over ninety 100% pure therapeutic-grade essential oils, and lines of handmade luxury soy aromatherapy candles, body care, and facial care lines.

Traditional Tibetan Healing is a source for effective, natural remedies.

Creative Looks sells Wholesale Beauty Supplies, Fashion Accessories, General Merchandise and Cosmetics.

Skinny Dip Candles are massage oil candles, body candles, and lotion candles in one. All 20+ scents contain natural skin care ingredients that melt to a rich, warm, moisturizing lotion.

L&V Creations is a wholesaler of aroma lamps, Electric fragrance lamps, fragrance oils, plug-ins, incense, and aromatherapy gifts.

Continents Apart, LLC is a national, independent sales organization that specializes in working with drop ship accounts accounts within the home furnishings, gift and licensed sports products space. No membership fees. No drop ship or handling fees. No buying a bogus list of sources.

Vd Importers Inc. are Wholesalers & Distributors of Incense sticks, Fragrance oils, Candles, Aroma lamps, Incense burners & Plastic Housewares. They carry Nag Champa Incense, Hem Incense, Divine Aroma oils and lots of Exclusive Burners.More than 200 fragrances in stock.

Aeropen is a source for quality writing instruments, personal and business gift sets and accessories.

A Candle Co. is a Wholesale candle distributor and manufacturer of wholesale candles and candle holders. Specializing in pillar candles and ultra scented soy candles. Low minimum for wholesale pricing on over 300 candle products.

Thatís it for now - See you again in two weeks.

Skip McGrath
The eBay & Amazon Seller's News

P.S. If you missed the last issue, click here to read it.


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