The Reseller’s Guide to Black Friday – A Review

Ok peeps. Black Friday is right around the corner. I’ve live through a few Black Fridays, but at this stage in the game, I need to be more strategic. So when Stephen Smotherman & Kristin Ostrander reopened their course, The Resller’s Guide to Black Friday, I decided to hop on board. I mean, why not. If it helps me win bigger in Q4, I’ll give it a shot.

What you get:

The course includes an ebook, which apparently is updated annually. You also get a live master class and access to the previous master classes. Not only that, but you get a Black Friday Checklist, Buy List, and Be On the Look Out (BOLO) list. The BOLO list alone is worth the price of the course.

Why I like it:

I was able to attend the live master class with Stephen and Kristin. The most important thing was the amount of information they gave during the webinar. They didn’t give any fluff, it was just solid tips and tricks that could help you increase your profits during Q4. They discussed the techniques they use to research and source products for Black Friday and afterwards. While Kristin is the one who likes to go to the stores and get in the trenches, Stephen prefers shopping from the comfort of his home. This is especially helpful because most people prefer one over the other. Or you may be someone who likes both methods. Either way, they give you the pros and cons of doing Retail Arbitrage and Online Arbitrage. Each strategy has its own set of risks and one of the things they stressed repeatedly was the importance of taking risks.

Also, they weren’t doing a hard sales pitch afterwards. Another thing that I like is that once you buy it, you are grandfathered in when they make updates to the course. That means it’s a one time expense. So there is no monthly fee that you have to worry about unlike with other courses. The current price is $57, which is a fairly decent price considering everything you get. The ebook that comes with the course can be completed in a couple of hours or less depending on how motivated you are. The downside is that the course is only available for a couple of weeks each year. So if you don’t get it while it’s open, you would have to wait until the next year to catch the updated version. From what I can tell, they tend to bump the price up a little each year. Over all, this is a good product if you want to up your game for Black Friday.

Little Known Facts About Me

In the interest of transparency, I thought I would reveal some little known facts about myself.

  1. I’m a Therapist – True story. I’m actually a licensed clinician and my specialty is working with adults who exhibit problematic sexual behaviors (sex offenders)
  2. Anime is Life – I am a huge anime fan. Toonami and I go way back. My favorites are Naruto, Inuyasha, and Bleach
  3. 9 to 5 – Yes. I still work a day job. Until my Amazon income can sufficiently cover my bills on a consistent basis, the day job stay. Plus I go benefits.
  4. Ballerina – No. I’m not a ballerina. But I always wanted to take ballet classes
  5. Geek Out – My undergrad degree is in Computer Science. I was a software tester for years before I went back for my Master’s Degree in Computer Science
  6. Band Camp – I was in the band in high school and college. I played flute and piccolo.

I think that’s all for now. I can’t tell you all my business. Just know I am a normal person just like you. And if I can make it happen with Amazon, so can you!

Pet Peeve: Racing to the Bottom

Ok peeps. Let’s have a talk. I don’t usually complain, but there is one pet peeve that must be expressed. Now this may not be addressed to most of you, but some of you know who you are. The pet peeve, when sellers race to the bottom. Don’t know what that is? Well let me explain.

Racing to the bottom is when sellers hop on a listing at a lower price to try to win the buy box. The buy box is the buy button on the listing. Whoever occupies the buy box when the buy button is pressed gets the sale. Racing to the bottom can happen on any listing. If you’re that person who hops on a listing and your item is priced super low to try to get the sale, stop it. Just. Stop. It. Right. Now. You are ruining things for not only yourself, but other sellers as well. Here’s why.

When you engage in race to the bottom, you lower the perceived value of an item. And if you do it too much, the value may never recover. Also, continuing to lower your prices to try to win the buy box can result in you selling the item for less than what you paid for it. That right there is foolery. Why would you want to operate at a loss?

Now here are some pointers to avoid engaging in “race to the bottom.”

  1. If you see there is a listing with a lot of sellers and you are concerned about winning the buy box, set up your own listing.
  2. Use PPC to get traffic to your own listings. Believe it or not, PPC works. And even though there may be listings of the same item with a lower price, many people will by the first listing they see. Sponsored listings tend to get the buyers’ attention first because they tend to be placed higher in search results.
  3. Wait out the racers. Typically, people who engage in race to the bottom have lower stock and will usually run out first. This is especially true with seasonal or hard to get items.
  4. When all else fails, you may have to have your items sent back to you and set up a new listing.

One last thing. Q4 is definitely not the time to engage in race to the bottom. Especially on low ranking items. Remember that low ranking items are the items that are selling the quickest. If you have an item ranked at 459, chances are it’s selling on a daily basis. Eventually the other sellers ahead of you will run out and you will land the buy box. But don’t be so desperate to win the buy box that you lose money in the process. There is enough money for everyone to win.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for sellers! That’s right, we are in Q4 and sales are starting to ramp up. Are you ready? If you’re already an FBA seller, and your account is in good standing, then by all means, continue to send in items to sell. In fact, don’t stop sending in items. If this is your first Q4 with Amazon FBA, don’t worry. I have some tips for you!

  1. Multi-Packs – Multi packs are when you have one item, but you’re selling as a set. Say you have a roll of red ribbon, and you package 3 rolls together to sell as one item. That’s a multi-pack. People love deals like that.
  2. Bundles, Bundles, Bundles – People already come to Amazon for one stop shopping. If you can bundle complementary items together for one price, you are just enhancing that experience for the buyers. For example, if you sell wrapping paper, gift boxes, and bows as a bundle, then customers don’t have to worry about going to listing after listing to find everything they need. Plus, you can sell bundles at a premium if you have the right items placed together.
  3. Monitor sales – Always be on the look out for good deals. During Q4, the deals are there for the taking. One website I like to use to monitor sales is Retale.com. You can read my review here. All you have to do is enter your zip code and it will bring up sales flyers for stores in your area. This is a great way to see what is selling in your area for retail arbitrage purposes. You may also be able to do some online arbitrage if the store also allows you to place orders online.
  4. Take some risks – Unless you are willing to take some risks, you are not going to win in Q4. Trust me, I know how hard it is to spend money on something and worry about will it sell or not. I have sent items in that I thought would be sure winners and did nothing, and I have sent in items I thought would sell slow and they have consistently sold out. But I wouldn’t know unless I rolled the dice.
  5. Don’t Procrastinate – Once you get your items, send them in within a couple of days. Money likes speed and the quicker your items are in, the quicker they are in front of customers to sell.

Well that’s all I have for now. Remember, you won’t win unless you get in the game. Get. In. The. Game!

My Passion

As a continuation of the “Why I Blog” post, let me tell you what I am passionate about. I want to leave a legacy for my kids. But not just a legacy consisting in material things. I want to leave a legacy where my kids understand the importance of resiliency. I want them to understand the importance of hard work and overcoming obstacles. I also want them to be able to learn how to generate income in a multitude of ways. I want them to know that they can rely more on their brains than their bodies. I want to leave them with the skills necessary to generate income, even if they don’t have a 9-5 job. I want them to know how to position themselves so if their spouse decides to leave, they will still be ok.

That’s why I have been working so hard trying to learn and apply everything I learn about selling on Amazon. Though each year seems to throw some new wrench in the works. There is still money to be made on the platform. And I don’t plan on being on Amazon forever. My ultimate goal is to build up a store, sell it for a profit, then rinse and repeat. I have seen other sellers do it, so it can be done. That’s right folks. I am already thinking of exit strategies. But anyway. That is how I plan on making my passion a reality.

My Favorite Blogs for Amazon FBA

Because I still consider myself a newbie in the FBA game, I send a lot of time educating myself on how to be a better seller. There are a multitude of courses out there that will teach you FBA, but many of them cost hundreds, even thousands of dollars. When you are just starting out, the costs can be prohibitive. I get it. But there are a couple of sellers out there who give out really good, top-notch info when it comes to getting started in FBA. I have a couple that I follow regularly.

  1. Full Time FBA – This is a really great site to follow if your strategy is Retail or Online Arbitrage. Each month they send out a sales rank chart for all the categories. This is especially important when you are trying to decide if you think you have a good find, but it may turn out to be a dud. They also have e-books and courses you can buy that are very reasonably priced.
  2. Amazon Gorillaz – So, they don’t really have a blog, per se. But, you can follow them on Youtube. They are also on Facebook. They are great if you are interested in learning the basics of private labeling. They host a training every Sunday night which you can follow if you subscribe to their Youtube channel. They cover everything from finding keywords to finding potential private label products.

Each strategy has its merits. Are you new and don’t have a lot of money to start? Consider starting with retail or online arbitrage. If you’ve been doing this for awhile or have at least $500-1000 in startup cash, then consider private label. But more importantly, do your research, especially when it comes to private label. The great thing about both resources is they give good, reliable up to date info that will help you, especially if you are just starting out.

7 Ways to Win Big – Amazon Q4

We are 5 days into Q4 and if you’ve ever considered doing Amazon FBA, now is the time. Trying this out can be a scary proposition, but it can be done. In order to do FBA, you need a professional sellers account which will cost you $40 per month. And don’t forget to download the Amazon Seller app to your phone. That way when you visit stores for your retail arbitrage, you can scan products and make decisions. The beauty of Q4 is that just about anything will sell, and you want to get in the game now. So once you have account set up and you’ve found some products to list, here are some ways to help your sales during Q4.

  1. Consistently send in products – If you don’t send anything in, it won’t sell. And during Q4, items that may sell once or twice a week, may sell daily.
  2. Maximize your listings – Provide as much details in your listings as possible. The more product details you have, the more you increase the likelihood of boosting your listings visibility
  3. Use Sponsored Ads – If you have never bought ads on Amazon, they usually will offer you $50 worth of free advertisement to help boost the visibility of your products
  4. Raise your prices – This may seem counter-intuitive, but trust me. Q4 is the one time when you should consider raising your prices, especially on hot selling items. If you have a product that as soon as you send in, it goes flying off the shelves, your prices are too low. If you price your item for $40, but other sellers are selling it well for $60, you are short-changing yourself.
  5. Don’t race to the bottom – many times newer sellers get nervous that they won’t win the buy box, so they cut their prices. So an item that was selling well at $50 is suddenly selling for $20. Don’t do it. Be patient and when the other sellers sell out, you’ll be richly rewarded.
  6. Get ungated  – There will be some items you will come across that are restricted. Apply to be able to sell that item. Sometimes, they will approve you based on your sales history. If they say no, just move on to the next one.
  7. Reinvest – When the profits start rolling in, you will want to spend it. Don’t. Take the money and by more products to send in.

Well those are my tips for now. But out of all the tips, the most important one is BE CONSISTENT. You can’t just send in one shipment and be done. Make an effort to send in a shipment weekly, or if you are just starting out every other week. Now, go forth and prosper!

A Day in the Life of an Amazon FBA Seller

Ever wonder what the typical day of an Amazon FBA seller looks like? You won’t find that here. But what you will find is what my typical day looks like. I still have a day job, but I am actively working towards building a sustainable income. Since my typical weekday usually revolves around spouse, kids, and work, I tend to get things done on the weekends.

Here is my typical Saturday:

  1. Wake up and get kids ready for Saturday activities.Tiny tot goes with hubby and big girl gets dropped off at dance by me. Since she’ll be there for several hours, time for me to make some magic
  2. After dropping off big girl, time to go shopping for dollars. All I really need is my phone w/ the Amazon seller app. I try to hit up at least 2 stores. I only have a limited amount of time to search, so I pick a section like housewares and start scanning
  3. After scanning and loading up on products, I return to pick up big girl. Big girl ate lunch at the studio.
  4. Back at home, time to unload the goodies.
  5. After looking at listings if they exist for the products I bought, I’ll either hop on an existing listing or create my own. Because time is of the essence, I create a “shell listing” with the bare minimum details to get the listing up. I’ll add stuff like pictures and description later.
  6. Time to get dinner ready and family time
  7. Once everyone is fed, time for bed for the kiddos.
  8. Back to the grind. Time to get the items packaged and ready to ship. This may include shrink wrapping, or use of storage bags. Depends on the item. One items are shrink wrapped/placed in storage bags, time for labels
  9. At this point, I go back and create my shipping plan. Rule of thumb, I send items in groups of 30. That’s because I use the 30 count address labels to print my amazon labels.
  10. After adding the Amazon labels, I review the shipping plan to see what is going were. Once items are placed in boxes, I complete the shipping plan.

So here’s the thing. All of this may not get done on Saturday. Depending on the size of the shipment, this may take 2 days. That’s what happens when you’re a one man show. So this is what happens when you are an FBA seller. But don’t be discouraged. As I continue to grow, I plan on adding an assistant in the future as well as hiring someone to source products for me. But that’s all for now. See you soon!

4 Reasons Why I Blog

Hey Peeps,

In my continuing effort to get back in your good graces, I just wanted to leave this little note on the reasons why I blog. When I first started on this journey, I spent a lot of money on education products. Really, too much money, trying to learn the ins and outs of selling on Amazon. Sadly, I later learned that many of the things I paid to learn, were things that were already available online for free. So that leads me to the reasons I started this endeavor.

  1. Sharing – I wanted to share my experiences with others. I have made some mistakes along the way. Hopefully by sharing what I learn, it can prevent you from making some of the same mistakes.
  2. Encouragement – If you are new to e-commerce, it can be an overwhelming experience. There will be times when everything is awesome. There will be times when you want to pull your hair out. I want this to be a space where you can see that you can get through the tough times.
  3. Release – Sometimes I just need to vent and get things off my chest. We all need that from time to time. I don’t want to sugarcoat things and act like everything is ok. I want to be transparent on this journey and let you see my frustration every once in a while.
  4. Accountability – One of the marks of a successful venture is accountability. And lately, I have not lived up to that standard. I know if I make promises, they should be kept. And it’s totally cool if you call me out on not keeping my promise. The focus of this blog is showing you the errors I have made in the hopes you avoid them. You’ll probably make your own mistakes along the way, but if you avoid the ones I’ve made, hopefully your ride will be a lot smoother.

Well, those are the reasons I blog. I’ll stop rambling now and let you get back to your day. Cheers!

Let Me Reintroduce Myself

Hey Peeps

I know it has been ages since I have posted. First, I want to sincerely apologize for my absence. Sometimes life gets in the way and I had to take an unannounced break from blogging. I want you to know that I didn’t forget about you, and I have been continuing on my journey to master e-commerce.

So here is what I want you to know about me. I am a full time wife, mom, and employee of a fortune 500 company. I do like my job, but I’m on the search for financial independence. I am also on the leadership team with Houston African American Bloggers Association. Because I have been working hard as the social media chair, plus working a full time job, and being wife and mom, something had to give. Don’t worry, I have still been doing Amazon FBA and learned a ton during Q4 of last year. So now Q4 is upon us once again, and I will be taking everything I learned over the past year and will apply it to this year.

In case you are wondering, Q4 is the best time for sellers. People will literally buy just about anything this time of year. I LOVE IT. And over the next few days and weeks, I’m going to share what I learned with you.

For example, last year, I hit up almost every store for their after Christmas sales to stock up on items to send in this year. I may have spent a good portion of what I earned for the buy and hold strategy, but when you are getting items for at least 50% off, and then selling them for at least 100% profit, you’ll do it, too. I also bought from a Chinese supplier that was selling items at the fraction of the cost that you would pay from Aliexpress and I didn’t have to buy a minimum order. The shipping was a little high, but almost every item I picked sold out in a matter of days once they made it to Amazon.

Going forward, here is my promise to you. I will post at least once a week. I will share with you my mistakes and triumphs and I will be transparent.

One last thing. While I haven’t been posting here, I have been posting on the FB Fan Page which you can access here.