Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A Breath of Fresh Air In Between Craziness

I have 2 days off in a row for the first time since November. I got little sleep last night in order to get up early and drop off our tax info with the CPA....so as far I am concerned it is done :D. I have NEVER been this late; in fact I don't think I have ever had a refund come in later than the beginning of January.

So now I can breathe....for a minute.

This is Opie our dog and boy does he know how to relax and take it easy LOL. The cat is Empress and she is actually a neighbor's. They are friends; Opie's happy since our cats won't have anything to do with him.

That being said, with Kmart going under we have done WAY more sourcing that I anticipated....and got our biggest payout yet. We are seriously stoked! We misread some info on Profit Bandit (app) or Amazon has jumped into some of our listings so I will try my hand at bundling items. (Great blog post from Melissa at Granny's Hoard. Read the blog HERE). No idea if I'll have luck but I don't want random items laying around. In addition, I bought a few items specifically with bundling in mind.

I will just leave you with some of my better sales recently:


Another lot of beads. Honestly I am happy for anything that sells as listing has been sporatic at best. Sold for $17 (plus ship). For those that don't remember 2+ years ago we bought a storage unit that had tons of beads in it (plus other stuff). Have easily made hundreds collectively. Paid $25 for unit.

 Lego Minifig arms and hands only (I didn't expect this lot to sell). Sold for $20+ ship.

 Chocolate Littlest Pet Shop Cocker Spaniel. Paid +/- $1 sold for $35+ ship.  I love the orange table as a backdrop. I regret donating it.
 Paid $7 for my work pants then lost weight and never got around to returning them. Sold for $19+shipping.

Wii Sports. Don't even know where I got this or what I paid. Sold for $18 plus ship.

Amazon....all are FBA
 Paid 98 cents at Toys r Us. Was a quick $19.99 sale.
 Ken Parves You are Beautiful Mask. Paid $3 sold for $17.79. All 3 sold within a week.
 Found 2 of these at Walmart for $20 (!!) Would have kept 1 for my kids but they aren't into these sets. Sold for $71.99 each.

 Bought 2 of these mats. Paid $20 each. Still have 1 sold the other for $69.99.

This was a fun seasonal consignment sale find. Bought for $8. Thought it was from the 80s but the box said 1997. Since it had an N/A rank (for those not familiar with FBA read that "not always but usually a slow sale") I price it $5 lower at $34.95. It sold within 2 weeks so I am happy. I was super picky about what I bought but most of it is gone already at great profits.

Hope you are all having a successful, productive, and profitable week!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

FBA ASIN Difficulties

As those who do FBA or have been researching it for any length of time, know that last week unannounced restrictions were placed on what is able to be sent in to FBA.

“You are already at the maximum inventory allowed for this product, due to capacity or other restrictions. This product must be removed from this shipment.”

What? This is a new product for me...or I am out of stock and am only sending in 1. Ugh. Why can't life run smoothly?

Product after product this happened to me; not wanting to spent time scouring the internet I went to the forums and sent a support ticket to Amazon.

I got a few smart remarks to read the forums (hello!? I don't have time! LOL); a user sent me (presumably her) blog link .

(Credit where credit is due; the whole blog post can be read HERE.) 
My personal stance is I don't care for blogs that try to sell consulting services but this information saved me a lot of time.

The moral of the story is after marketing FBA for so long their warehouses are at capacity. Initially they introduced 12 month, and later 6 month long term storage fees. To get out of paying fees, sellers would pay to get their inventory back only to turn around and send it right back in. Totally defeats the purpose.

They have been reduced the # of FBA units (from sellers combined) with "high inventory quantities and little customer demand". It's not a glitch but it is monitored and changed as necessary each week. Some units have 0 FBA units in the warehouses.

I don't mind that they did this. But there was no warning (is that any way to treat 3rd party sellers after we made up 40% of Amazon's 2015 sales?). There is no master AISN list to check before sourcing inventory. And finally, and most frustrating, there is no rhyme or reason. A unit with a ranking of 500,000 (a slower seller) yesterday I could ship but another with a ranking of 738 (an extremely quick sell) I couldn't even though there are less than 10 FBA units in (that I can see unless there is a ton in transit from a seller).

After so many eBay changes and Amazon changes, I have come to accept the fact that the world of e-commerce is always going to change and evolve; as a result I no longer let seller updates bother me much. It's just not worth my time and thought (part of my New Year's Resolutions was to "go with the flow" more). But this is inconvenient.

As a small consolation, Amazon reminded us that we are able to merchant fulfill items still until they can be sent in. The whole idea of FBA was that I don't have room in my house or time to ship a bunch.

Has this happened to any of you? What are your thoughts?

Saturday, March 19, 2016

KMart is my Favorite Store but Now it's Time to Say Goodbye

I absolutely love Kmart. We have a nicer one a mile from our house....along with a Walmart across the street and a Target a mile up the road. How they have survived together so long is beyond me.

I know they haven't been great keeping up with the times however I prefer them to the other 2 previously mentioned. They have been a great source of merchandise for us in the last 4 years. We knew the clock was ticking within the last year when key departments (such as video games) were replaced by rows of pillows and storage tubs.

Bummed but what are you going to do? Stopped by yesterday to do a little sourcing for FBA. What we buy now won't likely be around for bigger discounts in quantity. Had to stop by today for my prescription information before the pharmacy closes in 3 weeks; ended up doing more sourcing even though there was a jungle of people. Why do people swarm for 10-30% off discounts. The nice thing about ours in the clearance tag is small, white, and blends in with regular tags. So I was able to snag several Lego sets and other items to sell at 50-75% off plus the additional discount. I swear if toys hits 50%  we will probably buy out the Lego aisle. Ok not so much..we don't have that much inventory.

In addition youngest son asked for 2 specific Lego sets for his birthday that are older retired sets. One was on Amazon for $31; Kmart had 1 set left at $14.99. We also picked up Shopkins for my daughter's birthday (cheaper than anywhere else but not enough profit to sell on Amazon). So glad we didn't wait till today....the whole Shopkins 2 foot section was cleared.

We did spend a little more than planned but now I'm trying to get it out quickly so we have more to roll over. It is doubtful that through May we will source much of anywhere else. (To give you an idea its 2:45 am right now. I just got home from work and plan on listing the group I bought yesterday before I go to bed).

I am thankful for these bargains so close to home for the time being; however, I really wish they weren't leaving us ;/ (there is 2 more locally; 1 a half hour distance and the other an hour but thats nothing like a mile!)

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

An Update on FBA

Things continue to become better on Amazon. Our goal was to find a niche that we could buy items off the shelf at retail price (although preferably not; I rarely buy items at retail) and sell them for profit. Obviously we would still do clearance arbitrage but an off-the-shelf niche would ax any desire to buy a million and two of something.

I am so happy to say we have *finally* found it....something that works for us! Even better not 1 niche but 2 (accidentally).

On a side note, I have the yard sale spring fever bug but it will be a few weeks yet I imagine. Our big seasonal consignment sale is this weekend. I hope to find some amazing things for FBA and my kids. I doubt I will buy anything for eBay. Now that the weather is warmer I have been organizing the attic again. I just found 2 more good sized bags of Littlest Pet Shop waiting to be listed.

On the plus side, remember when I bought tons of FBA merchandise from Toys r Us a few years ago? Yeah, well so did everyone else in the continental US. After unsuccessfully selling, they were shipped back to us. Tons were donated (I just did my taxes and claimed about 3K in donated goods from eBay and Amazon rejects....thats a lot of stuff!) Some more sold at the yard sale last fall.

I am pleased to report that the vast majority of what I have left is now selling well again on Amazon....presumably because the market is no longer flooded. We are taking whatever profit we can get ($2 and up) but it's adding up to some good $.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Just Smile and Nod....

One thing I have learned in management (and arguably the most important) is to figure out which fights to pick and which things are so stupid and or insane to just roll my eyes and move on.

So who doesn't love a polar bear facepalm?!

Anyway, this carries over into the eBay world also.

In my very earliest eBay days, I would take every return and "item not as described case" personally; they were trying to steal from my family. Let's be honest; if you have been selling on eBay for more than 5 minutes you know there are a plethora of "those kind" out there.

I honestly think there are more either careless or "the lights are on but nobody's home" buyers than straight up dishonest ones. The ones that don't read or don't ask questions then get mad when its not what they expect.

These days, unless its a particularly high value item, I roll my eyes, refund the money, block them, and move on.  No calls to eBay, no irritation, no fuss no muss. Saves my blood pressure :D Thankfully, these buyers have been extremely rare in the recent past. Maybe the powers that be know that I'm at my breaking point.

What brought on this rant is a purchase made a couple days ago from a fellow seller.

* When will this be shipped?
* The details are outlined on the detail page.
* Yes but I bought it Wednesday and paid immediately. (Whooptedo, I require immediate payment on all listings).
* I require 3 business days to ship. I would 50 hours at a job and have 3 small children. I never promise shipping earlier than that as I physically cannot do it. Please keep in mind that weekends do not count as business days. I will have it shipped out by 5PM Monday. Thank you for understanding.

Typically I can guilt people into leaving me alone. I absolutely feel terrible having  such a long shipping time; however, I refuse to stress myself with the pressure of 1 day shipping time. More power to those who can; I'm no longer in that season of my life though.

If I feel a buyer is going to be hassle before the sale I block them now just to avoid a problem. I don't think this buyer will be an issue, I guess I'm just more frustrated with the intellectual (and moral) decline of humans in general.

Anybody have any thoughts or fun antidotes? 

Friday, March 4, 2016

February Numbers....Oh Look It's A Profit!!!

LOL! Happy Dance!! Finally a profit. (Breathes sigh of relief....finally not feeling like a failure at reselling).

OK so maybe I'm a little over dramatic but I'm really relieved right now.

ebay 556.47
Amazon 1955.87
Etsy 69.28
FB American Girl Page 161.50
Other 44.67 (my mother insisted on paying for some Depression Glass she wanted; traded in some games to Gamestop for 10.64)

COGS for items actually sold on eBay $ 92; Etsy $6
New listings eBay 21; Etsy 0
Shipping Costs eBay 73.24 (because I got a voided label refund in February for a January label totalling $42. Yes I screwed up on the label going to France LOL). Facebook $32; Amazon (both merchant fulfilled and items shipped to Amazon's warehouse) $160.72; Etsy 14.93.

Costs of goods sold 1037.14 (eBay $30- 2 Bumbos and a big tub of Littlest Pet Shop items) (1007.14 Amazon)
Van Gas 41.76
Breakfast during one of our sourcing trips 11.12
Shipping 280.89
Profit Bandit 9.99
Supplies 38.09
Ebay 98.28
Paypal 33.46
Etsy 1.71
Amazon 801.36
Refunds 2.75

Outgo 2356.55

Total Profit: 431.24

Now obviously I'd like it to be higher than what it currently is but beggers can't be choosers. We have more than doubled our FBA inventory....while decreasing our eBay inventory for now. LOL.

February was kind to us....how was yours?