By Jordan Malik, MBA/MS & Award-Winning Amazon Pro Merchant & eBay Top Seller

Tuesday

Fighting FBA Competition; and Finding FBA Inventory

NOTE: This blog has moved to: http://www.HonestOnlineSelling.com

An FBA Seller over at MySilentTeam.com (disclosure: I'm a content editor there) was having some bad luck with finding inventory, and he was nervous about competition. So I gave him the same truthful pep talk I give other FBA sellers.

I think you'll find it inspirational and helpful (it was edited for clarity). Please post some feedback, I really want to hear from you!

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RE: TROUBLE FINDING BOOK INVENTORY?

Here are some tips:

1. Go outside your comfort zone re: the usual locations you scout for books (i.e. libraries). You might have to go 'direct' to the consumer via craigslist.org (posting an 'items wanted' ad) and freecycle.org. In your ads, tell folks you can take their used books off their hands (make sure you let them know the books you don't accept, i.e. encyclopedia volumes, romance novels, magazines, damaged books, etc.) Offer to pick up the books for free (that way you don't have to spend any $). Some folks will be happy just to get rid of them.

2. Go outside your comfort zone re: products. Do the above (direct to consumers) but also try your hand at sourcing games and toys (new and used) and unopened puzzles. Before scouting, sure your scanner gives pricing data for games and toys (I use neatoscan.com's monthly subscription on my scanner, for $50/month). Also, I get about 10% of my toy and games inventory from my eBay arbitrage method (See my video and post on Arbitrage here: http://bit.ly/hUbvSV)

3. Go outside your comfort zone re: geography. Plan a whole day (or more) and drive to another region in the state (do a little research online to ensure the area is populated with at least 5 libraries and 5 thrift stores). This sounds a little silly but there are people doing this for other 'locally-sourced' products. They place craigslist ads in different parts of their region in the country, respond to ads, and stop at homes along the way.

4. Don't fall into the 'buy from a book wholesaler' trap, that's a surefire way to get a measly 10% (or less) profit margin on your wholesale purchase.

RE: COMPETITION

All in all, yes there is increased competition for you but there is TONS of product out there that's just not being 'claimed'. You have to think creatively now to get to the inventory.

Re: LONG TERM VIABILITY of SELLING BOOKS (my view):

Well by 'long term' I think book selling will be viable as one of several income stream for a few years (2 to 6 years max; more for toys and games because those markets seem to be 'less invaded' by competing sellers.) The reason for this (aside from the increasing popularity of AMZ FBA) is because the technology needed (i.e. scanners and their data applications) are briskly decreasing in price, and getting easier to use.

Now anyone with an iPhone or Android can see competitive pricing on their iphone by taking a picture of the product in a store, or scanning the item's UPC code (not as quick as a scanner but it's free and the speed will only improve over time).

TIPS TO BEAT YOUR COMPETITION:

Where sellers like you and me will excel (i.e. beat our competition in the next 2 to 6 years) will be the folks who:

> know how to creatively get new inventory (see above)

> use the latest technology/web apps to manage our business effectively and grow it (FBAPower for processing our inventory; repriceit.com for auto-repricing our FBA listed items daily so we stay competitive; etc.)

> Get our 'hands dirty' without fear (i.e., when I started with FBA, I was willing to drive 1 hour to pick up 10 boxes of library books (for $30), and spend a whole day throwing out 95% of those books, and sending the rest to FBA. It's a lot of work but my profit margin on that kind of inventory is way above 300%. It is a relationship I struck by calling all the libraries in my area and asking if they had any remnants they get rid of).

> Don't rely on Amazon FBA ALONE for income. Make sure you're diversifying your risk by selling on other platforms (eBay, Half.com, Alibris, etc.), and consider writing and selling an info-product about a niche you might specialize in, i.e. (if you know all about golf clubs), "How to Source and Sell Golf Clubs on Amazon and eBay". Remember the people who got rich during the Gold Rush way back when were the people that sold the tools (i.e. shovels and such) to the rabid, hungry gold seekers. Ensure the knowledge you are building today becomes a sellable guide to someone else 'tomorrow'.

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Do Great Stuff!

-J.B. Malik
Founder, http://www.HonestOnlineSelling.com
Content Editor, MySilentTeam.com

7 comments:

reg55 said...

Hi J.B.;
As always great advise on making my Use Book Business better...
I guess I have to over come my fear of FBA and invest an start letting Amazon sell and shiop out my books,CD's and some toys I have...
thanks a lot...
Reg B.
Ryan's Books and CD's(on Amazon)
ryan570_0 (on half.com & eBay)

Monica said...

I started FBA 3 months ago and what a blessing it has been to my life. It is freeing... I sell books and toys. I sometimes find toys at Wal-mart on clearance and sell for a nice profit on Amazon. I'm learning that some of the classics never die like Barbie and Hot Wheels.


Mo

J.B. Malik said...

You're right, Monica - Classics always do wonderful - i found that out this past Holiday season. Always wise to invest in brands like Barbie, Toy Story, Disney, etc. when you see them on sale because they're perennial 'fast movers' every Holiday.

Chuck Livermore said...

Great information! It was nice and simple for the beginner, but good, solid advice for the veterans, also.
Chuck

Andrew J Titcombe said...

Useful advice Thanks JB. The Amazon FBA team are very helpful with phone-calls, videos and webinars to make it easier. I am about to ship my first batch - taken me a while to get started but Amazon UK have a great shipping refund offer at the moment which is hard to resist
Andrew

J.B. Malik said...

Andrew: Yes, the FBA help on Amazon's site can be very useful. Re: shipping promotion, FBA for The U.S. had that not too long ago, and it was very appealing. But overall, even without the promotion (even in the u.s.), I find that the Amazon-negotiated shipping fees (for you to send your items to the Amazon fulfillment centers) is still very reasonble; and even 'cheap' for media (books, CDs, DVDs, etc). Not sure how it is in the U.K. though, so I appreciate your opinion/input.

Andrew J Titcombe said...

In that case I has better make sure that I update your site on my experience with Amazon UK and FBA!! My personal Amazon contact has been very reliable and consistent -she rings when she has promised to etc etc. She is based in Luxembourg or Ireland (not sure where)
rather than England but is well-informed and helpful.