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FREE 19-point checklist reveals… the secret of finding suppliers in China!!

The eBay & Amazon Seller's News, January 21, 2015 - Volume 15, Issue No. 2

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

In This Issue:

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

  1. FREE 19-point checklist reveals… the secret of finding suppliers in China!!
  2. Why Total Dollars Net From a Sale are More Important Than ROI
  3. Now Is the Time to Source and Ship for Mother’s Day
  4. Easy Product Bundles Anyone Can Do
  5. Combat Amazon's Latest Fee Increases With Higher Conversions
  6. New Wholesale Sources for eBay and Amazon Sellers

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." ~ Winston S. Churchill


Musings from eBay, Amazon, and beyond

Time is running out and we are quickly filling up our Wholesale Sourcing Conference in Las Vegas Feb 28 to March 1st. Go to www.wholesalesourcingconference.com for information and registration.


Here is an email I got from Feedvisor with some important info regarding fee changes on Amazon and how they affect FBA sellers:

This is a reminder that Amazon will update their FBA fees on February 18th.

I would like to let you know that we do not change the floor and ceiling prices automatically, you will have to change the floor/ceiling prices on Feb 18th. Alternatively, I would recommend prepare a file for import end of day on the 17th of February so your prices are up to date.

In order to do this, you can find a FeePreview report available in your seller central account. This report has the fees before and after the change on the 18th, so you can prepare in advance.

Please note- The report only shows preview of fees for items that you actually sold in the last couple of months. This means that you would only be able to update ahead of time the floor for selling items.


I came across a great article in eCommerceBytes about seasonal returns.

Seasonal Returns Provide Product-Sourcing Opportunities By David A. Utter

This is an excellent article and well worth your time if you want to find some new product sourcing opportunities.


Amazon Seller Tip - How to find the top selling items in any category and how to find the total number of items per category.

There are two very useful characters on your computer keyboard. They are called brackets and are located just above the quotation mark keys. There is a left bracket [, and a right bracket ]. When you type them together without a space it looks like this [].

Now here is what you do with these. Go to the Amazon search bar and select a category and type in the two brackets like I did with no space. I selected the appliance category, typed in the brackets and got this:

Now look closely at the screenshot. If you look in the upper left hand corner it says 1-24 of 406,808 results for appliances. The first thing you need to know is when you do this Amazon displays the results in order of their sales rank in the category. So the first page shows you the top 24 selling items in that category on Amazon. The other useful piece of information you want to know is what is the sales rank percentage.

For example, one of the items I sell is a blender stick with a sales rank of 37,200. If there are 406,808 items in the category that means that any item with a sales rank of 40, 680 is in the top 10% of the category, which is a good place to be. If an item had a sales rank of 20,340 or higher it would be in the top 5%, which is even better. (In sales rank the smaller the number the higher the sales rank).

In article number 4 in this issue (below) I talk about creating simple bundles. This is a great way to find items to bundle. Type in the brackets and look for items in the top 5% as candidates for simple bundles.


Jenni Hunt is once again running her private Facebook Group for Gourmet food and Health & Beauty Sellers. The group is limited to just 100 people and runs for three months. The new group contains the following experts: Deirdre Harter, Jude Closson, Andrew Milburn,

Denise Hopkins, Chris Potter and Laurie Gentry. All of them are expert sellers who will answer questions and help you with your business. Click here to read about the group.


Lets get started with this month’s articles:

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1. FREE 19-point checklist reveals… the secret of finding suppliers in China!!

By: Mark Houng

This is a guest article I asked Mark to write after seeing a post by him in Facebook and he agreed to share it with my readers. Mark has years of overseas sourcing experience and you can benefit from his knowledge.

What do Fortune 500 companies know about vetting suppliers in China that you don't yet?

My name is Mark Houng. I have been in the import export business for over 24 years, and I want to give you this 19-point checklist for vetting suppliers in China. This is the list I personally use to help many of the Fortune 500 companies vet their ideal suppliers in China.

If you ever had trouble finding the right supplier in China or are just getting started, this checklist will save you tons of time, money and demystify the process. So you can spend less time researching suppliers and build your business FAST!

For you to take full advantage of this checklist, first, get your potential suppliers to fill out the information as complete as possible. But, don't take their words for it. Have everything checked out with the proper authority or offices.

If possible, have suppliers physically checked out as well. Tell them that you will arrange for a factory inspection. Don't worry if you are not able to make it on your own. You can hire someone experienced to do the job.

There is no better way to vet suppliers than to vet them on sight. And, if the supplier is unwilling to get inspected, that's a sure sign of disaster waiting to happen!

For more great tips on importing from China, go to http://goo.gl/2dhmvh for information.

China Supplier Evaluation Checklist!

❒ 1. English Name: __________________________

❒ 2. Chinese Name of Registration: _____________

❒ 3. Chinese Business Number: _______________

❒ 4. Registered Address: ______________________

❒ 5. Legal representative: ____________________

❒ 6. Date of registration: ______________________

❒ 7. Working Capital: ________________________

❒ 8. Export License: _________________________

❒ 9. Factory size: ___________________________

❒ 10. Number of employees: __________________

❒ 11. Certificates: ___________________________

❒ 12. ISO: _________________________________

❒13. Bank Account: ____________________________

❒ 14. Website: _____________________________

❒ 15. Payment option: _______________________

❒ 16. Shipping option: _______________________

❒ 17. Lead time: ____________________________

❒ 18. Phone number: ________________________

❒19. Factory inspection: ______________________

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2. Why Total Dollars Net From a Sale are More Important Than ROI

If you are a large high volume seller then this is not for you. Really high volume sellers can make a lot of money even though they may make as little as one or two dollars per item. But if you are a smaller seller how much work do you want to do for one or two dollars profit?

Think about this for a minute. Let's say you have about 200 SKUs on Amazon and you are averaging about 5 items sold per day. Your average selling price is $10, and your cost is only $1.50. But after Amazon fees your net is only $5.93 -that is a nice ROI, but at that rate your profit per item is $4.43, so even if you sell 5 units a day, your weekly profit is only $155.05

You have just done an awful lot of work for only $155.00.

Now let's say you sell higher priced products with a lower ROI. I have one product I sell for $35.95 where my cost is 12.85. After Amazon fees I net about $24.03 - So my profit is about $11.18. At 5 a day, my net is 55.90 so my weekly profit is $391.30. (I use a 7-day week for these calculations). Yes, my ROI per item is lower, but my weekly net is more than double the first example.

We have all heard the 3X-formula. When you buy a product you want to sell it for 3X the amount you paid so the distribution is 1/3rd for Product cost, 1/3rd for Amazon and 1/3rd for you. That is a great goal and I have several dozen products where I am doing that and even more. But once you start buying wholesale products (as opposed to doing retail arbitrage) that becomes harder to do because of competition.

In the real world, on most products I sell I am only getting 2X. But the answer to that is to source products that will sell for a higher average selling price (ASP). During the recent holiday season I came very close to my goal of $35 ASP - I came in at $34.72. My average profit per item was in the neighborhood of $12, but between November 1st and December 22nd we sold over 2800 items. That is a total profit of about (I am using some rounded numbers here) $33,000 - not bad for a 52-day period. The point I am trying to make here is not to intentionally look for lower ROI -you should always strive for the best ROI possible, but you can't always do that.

The answer then is to look for items that sell for a higher ASP and watch the larger dollars roll in. When I do the math on my hourly rate during that period it shows that I made about $110 per hour -yet I see sellers all the time on Amazon with great ROI on their products, but at the end of the week they are averaging sometimes less than $15 to $20 an hour.

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3. Now Is the Time to Source and Ship for Mother’s Day

This year Mother's Day falls on Sunday May 10th. I know its still January but you will be amazed at how fast time flies. After Christmas, Mother's Day is the largest shopping holiday until you get to Halloween. Last year my sales in the four weeks prior to Mother's Day increased by more than 40% over the previous four-week period. So this is something you want to take advantage of.

Product selection

Obviously you want to find products that appeal to women. But really almost anything sells. When I looked at my sales from last year I sold everything from socks to health & beauty to kitchen products. I even sold seven concealed carry handbags for women. (I guess a lot of Moms carry guns these days).

Pricing

Pricing is not a big issue as long as you are competitive on any products you are selling against others. But if you have unique products where you own the buy box -don't gouge your buyers, but don't hesitate to add an extra buck or two to increase your margins.

Timing

People typically start shopping for Mother's Day about four weeks before the date but last year I did see some sales pickup in the 5th week before, so I would plan on making sure all your merchandise has arrived and been received by April 7th or 8th to be really safe.

If you are selling on FBA, depending on how far away you are from the warehouse Amazon assigns you, it can take anywhere from 5 to 14 days for your inventory to arrive and be received into inventory. So that means you want to ship in plenty of time. Then there is the issue of how long it takes your suppliers to get inventory to you. If that is two to three weeks then you want to be sure and order in plenty of time to get your products and ship them to Amazon. This is one holiday selling period you don't want to miss.

This is not a hard and fast rule, but my rule of thumb is I order merchandise about 8 to 10 weeks prior to any holiday and that usually allows me to get my merchandise in time to get it to Amazon on time.

Quantities

Mother's Day isn't as hot as pre-Christmas but you do want to go a little deeper on inventory of female-related merchandise as you don't want to run out of any hot selling products. I usually increase my buys before Christmas by 100% over my normal quantity and for Mother's Day I go up about 50%.

FBA vs. Merchant Fulfilling

FBA is a huge advantage during any holiday season because Amazon has so many Prime members that can get free 2-Day shipping. This effectively gives you a few extra shopping days prior to the actual holiday and those few extra days can really add up. The third and fourth days before last Christmas were my single two largest selling days by a huge percentage. All but one sale was a 2-Day shipping sale.

Don't forget eBay

eBay is no longer as large as Amazon but we still sell on eBay and we do see a similar jump during the holiday periods. We send all of our goods to FBA and use Amazon to fulfill our eBay orders. So once your inventory reaches FBA's warehouse, get those eBay listings up. Just don't forget to monitor your inventory closely to make sure you are not trying to sell something on eBay that is already sold out on Amazon. (I use www.autoMCF.com that does the eBay fulfillment automatically for me).

And, as you get into late April - don't forget that Father's Day is June 21st. Father's Day is not as big a selling season as Mother's Day, but it still gives you a bump in sales. I looked at my numbers for the past two years and the four-week period leading up to Father's Day was about a 15% increase in sales over the previous four week period. So don't get so focused on Mother's Day that you forget to get ready for Father's Day.

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4. Easy Product Bundles Anyone Can Do

The advantage of bundling is that you get to create a new and unique product where you always own the buy box. (Well almost always - I have been copied once in a while). The other advantage of bundling is you end up with a higher price point.

Creating bundles that sell can take in-depth product knowledge and some experience. I know. When I first started bundling I made some real blunders and created items that just didn't sell.

But there are some bundles you can create that are just no-brainers. Let's look at a few of these. I am just going to show you a couple, but I think you will get the idea pretty fast.

The idea is to look for things that obviously go together. The first one I looked at was shampoo and conditioner.

First I searched for Shampoo and got this as the top 4 selling shampoos.

Next I searched for conditioner:

Notice that the two top selling brands of conditioner match two of the top 4 selling brands of shampoo. So that would make an obvious bundle.

Ok – Now let’s try a kitchen item. I did a search for food whisk and this was the first result:

After I clicked on the listing and it opened I scrolled to the bottom of the page where Amazon shows you what other things people looked at when they looked at this item.

Notice that there are three other Oxo whisks. Whisks are one of those products like mixing bowls, knives and pots and pans that people like to buy in different sizes and sets. So wouldn't it make sense to make a bundle all three whisks? There is a standard stainless steel whisk in two sizes 9-inch and 11-inch and a silicon balloon whisk. Now you have a product that you can sell for $25.95 instead of $8.33.

So it's really as simple as that. Just think of things that people like to buy together and if you get stuck just scroll to the bottom of almost any Amazon detail page and you will see a list of things that people often either look at or buy together.

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5. Combat Amazon's Latest Fee Increases With Higher Conversions

This is another guest article. It is by Karon Thackston of Marketing Words who specializes in helping sellers write better titles and descriptions to increase sales.

If you're an FBA seller, chances are good that your discussions have turned to the fee increase that Amazon recently announced. In an online document entitled U.S. Fulfillment by Amazon Fee Changes 2015, Amazon rolled out its updates for various fees for 2015. You'll see that the fees are grouped according to:

  • Fulfillment
  • Weight-based
  • Monthly inventory storage
  • Long-term storage

Every category is being hit with higher rates in one form or fashion. Many people are particularly concerned about the impact on higher-priced, physically heavy products because they are vulnerable to a combination of fee increases.

What's more, refund charges have recently changed. Reports from various Facebook groups have sellers upset because Amazon no longer subtracts the full referral fee. It appears Amazon now retains 20% (up to $5.00) as a "refund administration fee" with additional fees applying to apparel, shoes, handbags, sunglasses, jewelry and luggage. Some are speculating that you - in essence - pay these fees twice by the time the refund is completed.

Depending on whom you listen to, the picture may look rather bleak. In just a few weeks (with the first of the fee increases going into play February 18, 2015) you'll begin to see your profits dwindle.

Where Does All This Leave You?

You could consider a dozen different scenarios, but, basically, you have two choices: raise prices or improve conversions.

Raising your prices may sound like an easy fix. However, you probably know that getting edged out of the Buy Box can mean disaster for your inventory turnover. Products that used to fly off the virtual shelf may sit dormant. And, the longer products remain in inventory (as of March 1) the more fees you'll pay.

The other option? Improve your conversions. Notice I didn't say, "Make more sales," but "Get a higher conversion rate." Judging your success strictly by the number of sales you make per day (or week or month) is deceiving. That's because there is no way to gauge how many sales you lost.

Let's say 100 shoppers came to your product page during a 30-day period, and one of them bought. Your product would have a 1% conversion rate (1 divided by 100). This means that 1 out of 100 people accomplished the goal you wanted them to accomplish: purchasing what you're selling.

But what if - during the next 30-day period - you sold four of that item? You might be leaping for joy because you'd quadrupled your sales! That is, until you found out that traffic to your page had a huge surge and - instead of 100 shoppers - you had 1,000 landing on your listing. Now you discover that you only have a conversion rate of 0.004% (4 divided by 1,000). That's less than half of 1 percent. Instead of quadrupling your sales, you'd actually had a major loss.

Improving Conversions: My Favorite Way To Make More Money

Boosting your conversion rate is the easiest way to make more money on Amazon. That's because, when you create a listing that entices customers to buy, you can drive the same number of people to the page and more of them will purchase.

With a listing that is fine-tuned for conversions, it is possible to make more sales. How do you do it? The fastest way is by improving the copy (text) in your title (product name), bullets (features) and product description.

Titles (Product Names) Need To Grab Attention

I know there are lots of folks out there who will tell you your title must contain every keyword you can possibly fit into it. I completely disagree. While the title does count as a keyword field, Amazon gives you lots of other keyword fields as well as fields for other information that they also search when ranking products.

Why confuse or frustrate shoppers by making them read a long list of keywords instead of an enticing or informative title? When writing product listings for our clients, the team at Marketing Words focuses on creating titles that get noticed and cause people to click. This typically means differentiating your products from all the others on Amazon. For example, answer the question "With hundreds of other Vitamin C serums for sale on Amazon, why should I buy yours?"

Bullets Should Engage And Overcome

When it comes to bullets/ features, Amazon plainly states in its terms of service "this is not the place for paragraphs." Most of the time (not always), bullets are limited to 256 characters each. Use that space to list features and their benefits in such a way that shoppers are engaged and intrigued. This is also the place you can overcome some objections that buyers might have and win a few more customers.

For example, instead of:

  • HOLY COW! THIS IS THE BEST OLIVE OIL SET AVAILABLE! With 100% extra-virgin olive oil and high-quality balsamic vinegar, ABC Olive Oil Set is what cooks are raving about. Thanks to our patented process, we are able to provide a product that you will love for years to come. The next time you head to the kitchen, you'll taste drastic improvements in your meals … guaranteed!

Try something like this:

  • Genuine California Extra-Virgin Olive Oil: Unlike imported olive oil from Italy, {Brand} olive oil is produced in small batches from olive orchards in the pristine valleys of Southern California for a milder taste.

Not only does the first example violate several FTC and FDA regulations when it comes to advertising, it also violates Amazon's terms of service about what can and cannot be included in bullets.

The second one stays within everyone's terms of service and regulations by offering a feature (22% of the special ingredient) followed by the benefit of this feature. It skips the hype and won't get you busted by the FTC, FDA or Amazon for false advertising.

Product Descriptions Give You Room To Expand

Each product description can contain up to 2,000 characters. Just because that space is available does not mean you are obliged to use it all. In copywriting, you want to write exactly how much needs to be written to convert lookers into buyers - and not one word more.

Because you have much more room in the description area, you can go into more detail about your products, connect with people, and frame your product so that it will be highly attractive to those who click to your page.

Here's a great example from a women's jewelry/lanyard product:

Focus On Results

When you take time to create product listings designed to maximize conversions, you can turn inventory more quickly - which is fast becoming more important than ever. Starting in February, the faster you move your goods, the more money you'll make.

Ready to improve your conversions? Get Karon's ebook Amazon Advantage: Product Listing Strategies to Boost Your Sales today and save 30% with coupon code SKIP30 (no spaces). Karon explains the step-by-step process she and her team use when creating product listing copy for clients, including keyword research and formatting. Offer ends February 10, 2015.

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6. New Wholesale Sources for eBay and Amazon Sellers

D&L Stained Glass Supply, Inc. is a wholesale distributor of supplies for the art glass industry. They stock thousands of products and offer same day shipping.

Blue Marble is a line of glassware made from recycled bottles.

Silverspoon Jewelry is a line of jewelry and accessories based on vintage silverware patterns from the late 1800s to early 1900s.

Maggie Bags™ are fashionable and functional handbags made from seatbelt webbing used in your car. They take this ultra-durable, machine washable material and create handbags, totes and laptop bags. Whenever possible, Maggie Bags™ uses recycled seatbelt webbing.

Babee Talk sells a line of organic bedding and toys that help customers feel secure they are doing the healthy thing for baby while enjoying trendy, modern styles for their nursery.

Easel Moments makes and sells a unique handcrafted easels that provide many options to display treasures and make your memories last forever.

The Mat Shop wholesales Picture frames, pre-cut photo mats, art mat boards, and picture framing supplies. They also offer custom cut mats for photographers, artists, and crafters.

Swanson's is a 73-year-old international manufacturer, wholesaler and distributor of Christian gifts, framed art, apparel, novelties, church supplies and custom logo items.

D's Keepsakes is a true wholesaler of quality fashion jewelry that offers a $7.95 Flat rate shipping.

NOTW stands for Not of This World. They sell Christian t-shirts, apparel, and accessories.

Gingerich Leather LLC sells quality handcrafted leather belts and wallets all Made in USA

Elms Gifts Wholesale stocks several thousand of the best selling gift products including home decor, garden decor, candles and licensed collectibles. No minimum order, No membership fees and a FREE drop ship program.

Hot Belt Buckles wholesales belt buckles, western belt buckles, Batman many others. They also offer skull merchandise and an exclusive wholesale belt buckles Section

Nostalgic Images sells over 600 designs of nostalgic Tin signs, Collector Metal Signs and Street Parking Signs.

That’s it for this month. See you in February.

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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