Sizing Up Amazon’s ‘Fulfillment By Amazon’ Program by Cliff Ennico

Cliff EnnicoAnyone who’s ever sold anything online – either directly from a website or on one of the major e-commerce platforms such as eBay and Amazon – knows that often the most unpleasant part of the process is packing, shipping and fulfilling orders.  It is labor-intensive, and the time involved can eat into your profits (by limiting the number of orders you can process at any one time).

So it should come as no surprise that one of the hottest things in online retail right now is the “Fulfillment By Amazon” service (“FBA” for short) offered by Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/fba).

Amazon has been building warehouses and distribution centers throughout the United States to ensure that customers receive orders quickly and inexpensively (often for free).  With FBA, online sellers can take advantage of those facilities and “outsource” the packing, shipping and fulfillment part of their business, even if they are not selling on Amazon.  For a fee, of course. According to Chris Green, a leading FBA expert and author of “Retail Arbitrage: The Blueprint for Buying Retail Products to Sell Online for Big Profits” ($25.00 paperback, $9.99 Kindle), FBA is the future of online retail, at least for small business sellers.   “Setting up an Amazon business that uses FBA is much like buying a franchise,” says Green.  “With a franchise, you buy a package, get some knowledge and equipment to get started, and then it’s up to you to run the business.”  Unlike a franchise, though, buying and selling online using FBA does not require an initial investment.  “There are no major upfront costs to get started,” says Green, adding that FBA fees can be as little as $2.00 for orders placed through Amazon.com.  “All you really need is a little knowledge, some motivation, and some inexpensive tools and services.” Green’s company, FBAPower (www.fbapower.com), offers a variety of software solutions, mobile phone applications, webinars and information products designed to enable sellers to take maximum advantage of FBA. FBA is a five step process. First, the seller opens an Amazon seller’s account and selects the “FBA” option. Second, the seller sends its new or used products to Amazon. Third, Amazon catalogs and stores the products in one of its network of fulfillment centers. Fourth, Amazon fulfills orders placed directly on Amazon.com or fulfillment requests the seller submits for sales not on Amazon.  When listed on Amazon.com, each seller’s listings are sorted by total price (price plus shipping) so sellers who use FBA are often first even if they have a higher list price.   Fifth, when an order is placed, FBA picks the seller’s products from inventory, packages and ships the products to the customer. “FBA is a win-win for everyone,” says Green.  “The customer gets prompt and professional delivery at little or no cost, and the seller can focus on sourcing inventory, expanding their product lines, increasing margins, and putting merchandise up for sale without the hassle of fulfilling and keeping track of individual orders.” So what’s the catch? “You have to know and understand the rules of selling on Amazon, and especially FBA,” says Green.  “Amazon is much different from eBay where you can mess up and eBay pretty much isn’t going to do anything about it.  If you’re caught breaking Amazon’s rules or provide a poor customer experience, Amazon will ban your account, and there will be no second chances.” Your merchandise must also conform to Amazon’s product listings and categories.  Precisely.  So, for example, if you are selling a power drill with only one of the two batteries required, you will not be able to sell it on FBA even if you make proper disclosure. Probably the biggest catch – one which Amazon is taking steps to correct but may create problems for FBA sellers selling a wide variety of merchandise – is that FBA sellers may not be totally in compliance with state sales tax laws. Online sellers are required to pay sales tax in their home states and in any other state in which they have a physical presence or “nexus”.  By using FBA, online sellers have “nexus” in each state in which their merchandise is being warehoused (i.e. where Amazon’s fulfillment center carrying their merchandise is located).   While Amazon does send you periodic reports showing you where your inventory is located, Amazon can, without warning or notification, ship your inventory to a different fulfillment center.  Also, while Amazon does collect sales tax and remit it to you, it is up to you to register with each state tax authority and pay the taxes to them when due (usually quarterly).

Chris GreenThis situation may create compliance headaches for FBA sellers, especially in light of states’ increasingly aggressive efforts to collect sales taxes on Internet commerce.

Still, Green says, the benefits of FBA, especially for small sellers, far outweigh the risks.  “You are outsourcing your entire shipping department, Amazon is basically absorbing the shipping costs for you, and Amazon buyers prefer FBA sellers because they know they will get their item fast and that customer service will be top-notch.  What’s not to like?”

Cliff Ennico (www.succeedinginyourbusiness.com), a leading expert on small business law and taxes, is the author of “Small Business Survival Guide,” “The eBay Seller’s Tax and Legal Answer Book” and 15 other books.

Amazon Announces Student App for iPhone FREE!

Amazon Student ProgramFREE Amazon Student App for iPhone Makes Back to School a Breeze

 

Amazon.com, Inc. today announced the free Amazon Student application for iPhone and iPod Touch that offers students a convenient and easy way to shop for textbooks, electronics, apparel, bedding and more. Students can compare prices, buy textbooks, or trade in textbooks for up to 70 percent back–all from their mobile device. With this new free app, signing up for the Amazon Student program, which gives college students access to FREE Two-Day shipping and exclusive deals, is simple.

“Students care about getting the best deal possible on their textbooks and all of their dorm essentials, and now they can easily compare prices and save money no matter where they are,” said Julie Todaro, VP of Books at Amazon. “Plus, for eligible textbooks, when they’re done with the book, they can scan the barcode, see the trade-in price, and submit the books for trade-in with Amazon, all right from their phone.

 

More info click Here

Amazon Holiday Toys Sellers Requirements out!

AmazonHello from Amazon Services,

To maintain buyer confidence in Amazon this holiday season, we are implementing Holiday Selling Guidelines for the Toys & Games store.

Effective September 19, 2011, we will stop accepting new non-FBA sellers in Toys & Games.* Effective November 15, 2011, only those sellers who meet the following performance criteria will be eligible to sell in Toys & Games from November 15, 2011 through the first week in January 2012:

- Seller’s first sale on Amazon.com must be prior to 09/19/2011 (sale does not need to be Toy-specific).
- Seller must have processed and shipped at least 25 orders (do not need to be Toy-specific) during the 60 consecutive days preceding 11/1/2011.
- No greater than 1% short term order defect rate as of 11/1/2011.
- No greater than 2.5% pre-fulfillment cancel rate for the trailing 30-days preceding 11/1/2011.
- No greater than 5% late shipment rate for the trailing 30-days preceding 11/1/2011.

*Orders fulfilled by Amazon will not be subject to the holiday season restrictions provided your account is in good standing.

You can find your Customer Metrics in your seller account. If your performance does not meet the above criteria, we encourage you to take corrective action.

We will provide final notification about your eligibility to sell in the Toys & Games store by the middle of November 2011.

Beginning November 15, 2011, we will monitor the performance and listings of sellers who are approved to sell in Toys & Games during the holiday season. Amazon Services reserves the right to cancel listings, suspend accounts, and prohibit the sale of specific products to maintain a marketplace that is safe for buyers.

Here are some steps you can take to remain eligible to sell in Toys & Games throughout the holiday season:

- Monitor your Customer Metrics and take corrective action if necessary.
- Utilize Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) to ship products to your customers.
- Check your orders frequently in the Manage Orders section of your account
- Minimize order cancellations; don’t show more stock for sale than you have available to ship.
- Ship orders and confirm shipment in a timely manner.
- Ensure your seller policies are up to date.
- If you work with outside drop-shippers, solidify their SLA commitments for providing prompt shipping confirmation.

For answers to common questions, please see the FAQ below. Thank you for selling at Amazon.com.

Regards,

Amazon Services

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why does Amazon implement Holiday Selling Guidelines for the Toys & Games store?
Buyers have high expectations for purchases made during the holidays.  We want to ensure that our sellers in Toys & Games provide a high-quality customer experience.

2. When will all sellers be able to list in the Toys & Games store again?
All sellers will be able to list in Toys & Games during the first week in January 2012. We will post an announcement in your seller account when the holiday season restrictions have been lifted.

3. How will I know if I’m approved to sell in the Toys & Games store during the holiday season?
Amazon will notify you by e-mail of your eligibility by mid-November. Note that as of September 19, 2011, no new sellers will be eligible to sell in the Toys & Games store until the holiday restrictions have been lifted.

4. How do the Holiday Selling Guidelines affect me if I use Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)?
Orders that are fulfilled by Amazon will not be subject to the holiday season restrictions provided your selling account is in good standing.

5. Do these restrictions apply to my Webstore?
Yes. Again, this is to ensure that that our sellers in Toys & Games can provide a high-quality customer experience and that all orders are fulfilled and delivered in a manner that meets or exceeds our customers’ expectations.

6. What is an order defect?
An order has a “defect” if it incurs a negative feedback, an A-to-z Guarantee claim or a service credit card chargeback. Your order defect rate is defined as the number of orders with a defect divided by the number of orders in the time period of interest. Order defect rate is the key measure of your ability to provide a good customer experience. Learn more about performance criteria for sellers by searching with keywords “performance measurement” in our online Seller Help.

Kansas Jubilee eBay to eCommerce

Kansas Jubilee eBay to eCommerce

What is the Kansas Jubilee and why should you attend?  The Kansas Jubilee is an up-and-coming eCommerce event that started in 2008 and is growing into a gathering of exceptional eCommerce talent covering multi-venues. From eBay to eCommerce is the 2011 theme and there will be experts there to teach about selling on Amazon, Bonanza, Addoway and your own website, as well as generous representation from eBay including the famous Uncle Griff himself!  Here are all the details and we would love to meet you there!

The Kansas Jubilee, eBay to eCommerce Conference is a seller to seller working conference held at Fort Hays State University (FHSU) Memorial Union in Hays, KS 67601.  It is supported by the FHSU COBL (College of Business and Leadership) and the Kansas Small Business Development Center.
The Kansas Jubilee,  eBay to eCommerce  Conference, Sept 30/Oct 1 is at Fort Hays State University Memorial Union Conference Center (FHSU).  This will be a two day event of seminars, workshops and round tables focused on Education, Networking and Community. We have a page set up with primary information on Facebook  Kansas Jubilee.     The registration website is Kansas Jubilee Registration  and registration went live on July 25.  Our target is micro sellers who are looking to start or expand a business and business builders.  To that end there will be two tracks of learning:  1. Beginner/Inexperienced sellers. 2. Business builders and entrepreneurs. We are offering Social Networking, Selling on multiple platforms and basic of selling  information.
We held a Jubilee in 2008 and it was a lot of fun and had good response. The Jubilee is supported by eBay.  Jim “Griff” Griffith was here and several eBay staff members to present workshops. Griff is already on the calendar for this one too and is bringing staff members with him again.
This is a regional conference and we have seller experts from eBay, Amazon, Bonanza, Addoway as well as eCommerce and Social Networking, who come in from all over the USA to give workshops/Seminars and participate in round table discussions . Our goal is to provide the best possible information to registrants in a community setting of networking and interaction.
Danni Ackerman, Shawna Seigel, Kathy Simpson, Byran Goodman & Jason Smith (AKA ‘Thrifting With the Boys’), Cliff Ennico, Judy Oglesby, Uncle Joe Adamson, and Fredrick Nijm are a few people who will present workshops and be active in the roundtable discussions.
This is an important conference as it is rural in nature and part of the focus is show how eBay and eCommerce can assist in rural economic development.  Most of rural America is just now getting high speed internet so it opens up new markets for eCommerce and eCommerce seller.

Fort Hays State University (FHSU) is a public, co-educational regents university located in Hays, Kansas. It is the fourth-largest of the six state universities governed by the Kansas Board of Regents, with an enrollment of approximately 11,200 students (4,000 undergraduate, 1,200 graduate, and 6,000 online students in China).

Our sponsors will participate in roundtables to further the learning experience for the registrants.  In other words we want our sponsors to be able to explain the use and need their product fills (without it being an advertisement).  We are selective about who we are asking to sponsor the event.  We are grass roots and our goal is to assist our non-corporate speakers to make the trip–we are not paying any speaker honorarium fees.  Our venue capacity is capped at 200 paid registrations plus the sponsors and speakers so this will be an intimate setting with a lot of person-to-person and networking time. The workshops will take place in break-out rooms rather than one central location.
In addition we are asking our sponsors to assist in promoting the Kansas Jubilee through any avenues they might have to give it exposure.  Sponsors may provide materials for the gift bags, have information through hand-outs and participate in the Round Table discussions.  There will be exposure on our website and and other materials that will be distributed to our registrants.
Please take time to like us on Facebook Kansas Jubilee  and visit the Kansas Jubilee Website

 

GREAT update for Amazon Sellers Return Policies!

New options for customers #LIKE this!

 

New returns management features
Jul 15, 2011

Within the coming weeks a new Manage Returns page will be available in the Manage Orders section of your seller account.

Buyers may now initiate returns through the Online Returns Center, just as they do for products sold by Amazon. When a buyer requests a return authorization, a message will be sent to you. If you authorize the return, the buyer will receive a non-prepaid Return Merchandise Label (RML) that includes your return address and a Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) number.

You can enter your return address in the Settings section of your seller account. This information will be required for return approval through Manage Returns and will be reflected on the RML the buyer receives.

For more information see the Manage Returns and Return Address seller Help pages. You can add your return address now if you like.

To ensure a consistent experience for buyers, Amazon sellers are required to have return policies that are at least as favorable as the Amazon return policies. To help provide the best experience for buyers, we have updated the return information in your Amazon.com Returns tab to clarify that buyers may return products to you in accordance with the Amazon.com return policies.

The updated return information directs buyers to the Amazon.com return policies and gives buyers the ability to contact you for information about any more favorable policies that may apply. If your inventory includes Fulfillment by Amazon items, your Returns tab will reference the Amazon.com return policies.

For more information see the Amazon.com return policies Help pages.

Thinking about FBA ? Check out the PAC !

Recently I’ve been having a lot of sales through the Amazon FBA (Fulfillment By Amazon) program and really enjoying using one of Chris Green’s tools – FBA Power.FBA Power

Today at 3:30 PM Bob Willey of Bob’s Neat Books and Chris joined us to announce the launch of a training program they both helped create, along with Jim Cockrun, Skip McGrath, Suzanne Wells, and Stephanie Inge, the PAC or Proven Amazon Course.

Bob also launched his own new FBA resource site, FBA Rocks! where you can sign up for his yahoo FBA seller’s group or find out any information you might want about the FBA program!

Birdhouse Books Trish February’s Succesful Seller!

Birdhouse Books

Congratulations to Trish, of  Birdhouse Books, on being nominated by Susan Deppner on our Facebook page and chosen to be our February Successful Seller!

Trish has worked in several bookstores, both new and used and also was a preschool teacher for several years!  These two life experiences just fed into her lifelong love of vintage children’s books and other ephemera.

Trish has been supported herself through online sales since 2008. Her primary selling venue is eBay, although she has begun adding items to an Amazon store in the last few months and she also maintains a presence on both Addoway and Bonanza.

Trish is a respected authority in the field of vintage children’s books and cards. Her specialty is identifying the children’s illustrators that also worked on vintage cards.

Check out her blog for some adorable photos and lots of great info on ephemera and more. Birdhouse BooksYou can also follow Trish on Twitter!

Some of the other specialty areas for Trish are Georgia State memorabilia and books, as well as regional community Cookbooks.

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