What NOT To Sell on Amazon FBA

Don't Sell This On Amazon
A short list of things you should not sell on Amazon in order to be successful

There are so many things that you can sell on Amazon and have a successful business, but the flip side to that is that there’s also a few things that you should stay away from. So what should you not sell on Amazon FBA?

Restricted Products

The first type of product that you should not sell are products that are restricted on Amazon. There are times when you are able to create a listing for these products within Seller Central, but you put your account an risk when you do so.

You can find a list of Amazon FBA restricted products here.

There are also products or items that could get you banned.  Items like “play money” which looks a lot like real money.

Lock picking sets is another example of an item that sells well on Amazon but could be risky for your account.

Trends That You Aren’t On Top Of

And when I say on top, I mean….extremely early to market.  You should be on the first 25% of the below chart to make money here, and the hard part is knowing where a product is on the chart, especially if it is becoming trendy.

product lifecycle stages
Product Lifecycle. Source: https://www.slideshare.net/DashrathPurohit/product-life-cycle-and-marketing-strategies

If you are going to go after a trend, you’ve got to be fast. You should plan on getting in, making money and getting out, and not trying to build a company on the trendy product (*cough* fidget spinners *cough*).

Example Products from FBA Teachers

Garlic Press. Apple Slicer. Bamboo roasting sticks. Yoga mats.

These are examples used by people well known in the Amazon FBA space. These products have thousands of additional eyes on them at all times due to the exposure they get on podcasts, blogs and videos.  You can feel confident that even if the teachers aren’t selling these products, there exposure is much higher than the average product which can increase competition.

Products with Too Much Competition

“Too much” is going to be different for everyone. We all have our own comfort level with products.

Generally speaking, if the front page of a product search shows products with thousands of reviews each, it’s going to be extremely difficult to get on the first page.

Don’t Make It Harder on Yourself

These are a few ideas of products where it is likely easier to just say no to keep your account healthy, or your sanity intact.

You can watch this video at The Bootstrap Boutique’s YouTube Channel here.

You can watch more videos at The Bootstrap Boutique’s YouTube Channel here.

Amazon FBA: Preparing for 2018

Planning for 2018
Today I’m sharing 4 things that I’m doing during the last 4 weeks of the year to get ready for 2018!

Preparing for 2018

It is time to begin preparing for 2018, because it’s almost here!

What are you doing to get ready for next year?

If you’re still trying to figure out if Private Label is right for you, take my free 5 day email course here, it helps walk you through that decision in just 5 days.

Here’s four things that I am trying to get done in the last 4 weeks of December.

Set up Product Launches for 2, 3, and 4

Product #2 is almost ready to go, I’m just waiting for a little more cash in my bank account, which will come from the sale of product #1 over the holiday season.

But I need to make sure that I’ve got the momentum going for products #3 and #4 so I can get them launched sooner than later.

Continue to add Sales Tax Permits to States with Nexus

I’m working through my larger liability states to make sure that I’m collecting and paying sales tax in states where I have more product sales.

Tax Jar is a software program I use that makes it easy to see where my exposure is amongst the various states, and I am working down the list.

My goal for the rest of this year is to have one more state set up, and then to continue adding next year.

Wrap Up Bookkeeping

I’m going to spend an entire day towards the end of the year working on my bookkeeping. It’s one of those things that you have to do as a business owner even if it’s not sexy or fun.  (Remember when I said that this is work?)

Take a Step Back

Believe it or not, I’m going to work on taking a step back from the Amazon FBA world over the Christmas season and get a refresh on it. I’ve worked hard this year on getting my business off the ground and I want to be able to reflect on and enjoy that fact. I have plans to spend lots of time with family and friends and enjoy this time of year.

There’s plenty of time in 2018 to get back on the grind!

That’s all I have for the end of 2017, what do you have planned for the rest of the year?

You can watch this video on The Bootstrap Boutique’s YouTube Channel, here.

You can watch more videos at The Bootstrap Boutique’s Youtube Channel, here.

Amazon FBA Barcode, UPC, FNSKU

UPC Barcodes FNSKUs
UPCs, Barcodes, FNKSUs. There still seems to be a lot of confusion around these terms.

In today’s video, I am going to attempt to clear up some of the confusion regarding UPCs and FNSKUs when it comes to selling products via Amazon FBA.

What is a UPC?

Remember, UPC stands for Unique Product Code. It is the number that is on any product that you buy in a store (the part that gets scanned at the register).

An FNSKU is also a number code tied to a product, but it is specific to the Amazon Fulfillment Network. In fact, FNSKU stands for Fulfillment Network Stock Keeping Unit.

I did a video on UPCs vs. FNSKUs earlier this year if you need a refresher on the differences.

Where do I register my UPC?

Well, you don’t. Not at least in the sense you may be thinking.

This is something that confuses a lot of people, so don’t worry if you’re feeling that way.

Surprisingly, there’s no global database of UPCs and what product they are tied to. You are in charge of assigning your UPCs to your products and keeping them straight on your own.

Where do I buy UPCs?

Amazon has gotten much more strict in their messaging around UPCs recently.  See the following screen shot:

Amazon Seller Central GS1 Warning
Amazon is becoming more strict about UPC prefixes matching the GS1 database.

They are basically saying that if the prefix associated with the product does not match the prefix registered as GS1, you may be in trouble.

This is definitely one of those “buyer beware” situations where what you do is determined by your risk tolerance. You can buy from a third party reseller, but the safest thing to do is buy directly from GS1.

There’s lots more info on this in the video so be sure to watch!

You can watch this video at The Bootstrap Boutique’s YouTube Channel here.

You can watch more videos at The Bootstrap Boutique here.

 

Private Label Resource Guide for Amazon FBA

Private Label Resource Guide
Download your copy of the Private Label Resource Guide to get a list of my favorite PL tools.

Private Label Resource Guide

Today I’m excited to share my Private Label Resource Guide that has all the products, tools and services that I use to run my Private Label business.

There are a TON of options out there, and it can get pretty overwhelming knowing who to work with.  I have had great experiences with everything listed below.

The Resource Guide is divided into 3 sections: Finding Your Products, Selling on Amazon, and Running Your Business.

You can download your copy here:

http://thebootstrapboutique.com/PLResourceGuide


You can watch this video at The Bootstrap Boutique’s YouTube channel here.

You can watch more videos from The Bootstrap Boutique here.

5 Ways to Find Time to Start A Business

find time to start a business
Five ways to find time to start a business. Because we all have more time in our days then we think!

Are you trying to find time to start a business? I know it can seem impossible, with work, family obligations, and all the day to day stuff that we have to get done.

But I’d be willing to bet that you can use at least one of these tips to find some more time in your day.

Warning: You may not really like these ideas, but I promise they can help.  You don’t have to stick with any of them forever!  Give it a shot.

5 Ways To Find Time To Start A Business

Tip 1 – Turn Off the TV

We cut cable at our house about a year and a half ago.  It’s amazing how much more motivated I am to work at night when there isn’t the prospect of hours of television stretching in front of me.

We still have a digital antenna to get local news and even with that, I feel like I spend too much time watching TV – even though we actively watch it less than an hour a day.

I’m not saying that you should never watch tv, I still have 1 show that I don’t miss (Survivor, if you’re curoius!) but you should be mindful of how you’re spending time at night if you are trying to start a business, and this is a huge time and energy waster if you let it be.

Tip 2 – Wake Up Early

This isn’t as much about waking up early (you might be better off staying up late) as it is about finding time when the house is quiet and you can put dedicated focus on one thing.

For me, I wake up at 5 am each week day and spend time working on blog posts for this blog. I wasn’t making the time for it during my ‘normal’ day so I decided to dedicate time to it in the mornings.

If waking up early seems too daunting, keep in mid that this is a great example of dedicating yourself to something for a set period of time. You could set a goal of finding a product or some other big task in your business and dedicating morning time to it until it’s done. Then you can go back to sleeping in.

Tip 3 – Shut Down Social

I took Facebook off my phone. I found I was spending too much of my day mindlessly scrolling though it and that was not a good use of my time.

If nothing else, commit to stop checking social media during your workday. Be more productive at work so you can leave it there and have time to focus on your new business when you are at home.

Tip 4 – Block Your Time

I’ve been experimenting with different time blocking methods over the last couple of years. I’ve tried the 3×5 method which I talked about back in 2016, I’ve done the Pomodoro Technique.

And most recently I’ve been experimenting with breaking my calendar out into 30 minute increments and scheduling specific tasks for each of those 30 minutes.

It’s a work in progress and probably always will be. I’m constantly tweaking and refining my time blocking methods trying to find what will work best for me.

Tip 5 – Schedule Everything

Sticking with the 30 minute increments, I use those blocks for all kinds of things. Checking email, returning phone calls, straightening up the house. Whatever needs to get done needs to get on my calendar.

Otherwise its not getting done.  It’s that simple for me, it probably is for you too.

Wrap Up

How are you currently finding time to start your business and what did you hear today that you’re going to try starting today?


You can watch this video at The Bootstrap Boutique’s YouTube page here.

You can watch more videos from The Bootstrap Boutique here.

 

What is a Carton Mark?

What is a Carton Mark?
What is a Carton Mark?

Its, true…you learn something new every day.

And recently, I learned what a carton mark is.

I’ve been through a couple of orders already with my supplier and I like to think that I’m pretty on top of the questions that they will ask me.

So when I got an email asking what I wanted for my carton mark, I was confused, I’d never been asked that before.

What is a Carton Mark?

After some research, I learned that while pretty simple, a carton mark is actually really important.

It is the information that goes on the outside of all your boxes and tells people what is inside the box.

A carton mark should have these things, at minimum:

  • Your shipping label (including a receiving and return address)
  • Country of Origin
  • Contents of the Carton*
  • Numbered Box + Boxes in shipment (Example: 1 of 3)
  • Weight + Measurements (metric)
  • Written in English

*If your contents are high value, you may not want to advertise what is inside in case unsavory characters come across your goods.

The video below has additional information about carton marks, should you need to create one for your supplier.

You can watch this video at The Bootstrap Boutique’s YouTube channel here.

You can watch more of The Bootstrap Boutique here.

Where to Ship Private Label Products: Your Home or Amazon?

where to ship private label products
Where should you send that first shipment of private label products?

New Amazon sellers have a big decision to make, should your first shipment of products come to your house to direct to an Amazon fulfillment center?

Related: How to Ship Your Product to Amazon

There are pros and cons to each, but I think that new sellers should receive production runs, at least the first few, themselves before sending on to Amazon.

Some of the benefits to shipping direct to Amazon include:

  • lower cost as you aren’t double shipping goods (China to you, you to Amazon)
  • potentially shorter travel from China to Amazon fulfillment center
  • less down time before your product is ready to sell
  • no inventory in your home

But..despite all that, I still think that you as a new Amazon seller should have products sent to your home.  It comes down to this:

No one cares about your products as much as you do.

Even if you have an inspection done in China (and if you are sending direct to Amazon, you absolutely should), it’s not the same as putting eyes on your own product.

You’ve seen your supplier’s quality level for a sample, maybe two.

But is the quality maintained over 500 units? Over 1,000 units?

Hopefully the answer is yes, but you may find differences between the first box of product and the last, and that is something that you want to be aware of.

Also, when you are launching a new product, you are never quite sure exactly how quickly your products will sell.  100 units may last you a week or they may last you a month.  If you send too much product in and it sits in the warehouse, you are paying extra monthly storage fees and also have the possibility of hitting long term storage fees.

The ability to control how much inventory is being sent to Amazon fulfillment centers is a nice benefit of having product sent to your home, until you have a better idea of your inventory turn.

Do you agree, or do you think it’s always better to send to the Amazon fulfillment center? Tell me in the comments!

You can watch this video on The Bootstrap Boutique’s YouTube Channel here.

You can subscribe to The Bootstrap Boutiquie’s YouTube Channel here.

October Update – Amazon FBA

October Update Amazon FBA
October Update – What’s been going on in FBA lately.

October Update

Every couple of months I like to check in with a video to discuss all the little things going on that don’t warrant their own video.  Here’s what I’ve been up to!

Out of Stock

Unfortunately, my product has gone out of stock at Amazon again.

The day that I went out of stock, I sold 18 units before noon!  That was exciting to watch.  I was able to turn off my pay per click advertising and the rest of the sales came in organically.

What is really interesting about this is that my traffic was not noticeably higher. My conversion rate, however, was well over double it’s normal percentage.

I wish I knew what caused that difference to try and see if it could be replicated, but Amazon’s business reports aren’t giving me much to work with.

Re-Order Inventory

The good news is that I re-ordered my inventory way back when this round of product landed back in August.  The factory warned me ahead of time that they were busy and the lead time was long, so I’d glad I put that re-order through so quickly.

It should be ready to go by the end of the month, which means it’s highly unlikely that it will be checked in for sale by the Black Friday cut off date.  It should still have plenty of Q4 sales days though.

Product #2

I found a potential second product that I’m pretty excited about.

I’ve ordered samples and have received 2. One is still on the way.  I also ordered the #1 seller on Amazon to see how they compare and what changes I may want to make.

One thing that is frustrating is that in my initial emails. I always share that I need to make a small test order first, of 250 or 500 units depending on how expensive I think it will be. I asked if that is understood.

One of the suppliers that I work with just came back and said they have a huge MOQ (minimum order quantity) that they won’t move off.  I wish that had come up during our initial emails as it would have saved us both lots of time.

Learning from the Past

It has been well documented that I made a lot of mistakes with product #1 that made it take longer to launch than it should have.

I have learned from those mistakes and started working ahead on the product listing for product #2. My listing is coming along nicely and I know better than to wait for all the products to come to my house before getting photos done this time!


You can watch this video at The Bootstrap Boutique’s YouTube channel here.

You can watch more video’s from The Bootstrap Boutique here.

How to Ship A Product To Amazon: Step by Step Tutorial

How to ship a product to Amazon
Step-by-Step tutorial for how to ship your private label products to a warehouse for Amazon FBA.

Today I’m going to show you the step-by-step process to set up a shipping plan to send your products to an Amazon fulfillment center.

How to ship a product to Amazon

This is an important part of selling on Amazon and can cause a lot of stress. Watch this tutorial (take notes!) and you’ll be shipping products to Amazon like a pro!

Don’t forget that in order to create a shipping plan, you must first have your product listed in Amazon Seller Central.

You also need a FNSKU attached to your product, and a UPC or any other type of bar code should be covered up when going into an Amazon warehouse.  See the difference between FNSKU and UPC here.

Mentioned in the Video:

How to Set up a Product Listing on Amazon FBA – another step-by-step tutorial showing you how to list your private label product on Amazon for sale.  Do this first!

Or watch the video at The Bootstrap Boutique’s YouTube channel, here.

Product Tear Downs With Jungle Scout

product tear downs jungle scout
Use Jungle Scout to look at 5 potential private label products to quickly see if thy are good options to sell on Amazon.

We are going back to the updated Jungle Scout Pro Chrome extension in this video to take a look at potential private label items and demonstrate how the new features help you make quick decisions.

Still need to buy Jungle Scout? Get it here!

Today we are going to look at 5 products that I have previously evaluated and passed on for different reasons. If I’d had access to the new features in Jungle Scout earlier this year when reviewing them, I could have gone through the process of eliminating them from my list much more quickly!

Product Tear Downs

Owl Shaped Bird Blinders

These items are used in gardens to scare birds away from your growing crops.  When I first looked at these back in the Spring, they were selling much better, which makes sense. Spring is a time when you would look for these items as people are spending time in their gardens.

Owl Shaped Bird Blinder
Owl Shaped Bird Blinder

Here is the Jungle Scout screen shot:

Jungle Scout - Owl Shaped Bird Blinder
Jungle Scout – Owl Shaped Bird Blinder

What you can quickly see here is that average monthly sales are low across the board.  Again, this wasn’t the case in the Spring but it’s good to know that this is a seasonal product without much interest during the rest of the year.

The average selling price is also low, and if my memory serves me correctly it was low earlier this year too.  This is a price point that may not give you a lot of margin.

The opportunity score rates this at a 4 – low demand and low competition.  Anything with low demand should probably be a “pass” unless you have a really good reason for pursuing it. Otherwise you risk your inventory sitting in Amazon’s warehouses for far too long.

Bird Scare Tape

This product has a similar purpose as the bird blinders, but you can hang it or tape it along a fence post.

It’s funny because I grew up in the country where everyone hung aluminum pie plates around the vegetable garden to ward off birds, but I guess you could buy something especially for that too. 🙂

Bird Scare Tape
Bird Scare Tape

And here is the Jungle Scout screen shot:

Bird Scare Tape - Jungle Scout
Bird Scare Tape – Jungle Scout

This product has the same problem as the bird blinders and likely for the same reason, it is a seasonal product that will have peak demand in the Spring.

Also, this product has higher demand than the bird blinders, but also higher competition. What you can’t see in the Jungle Scout screen shot is that the Listing Quality Score (LQS) for these listings is higher, mostly 6 and 7s for the top sellers. That means the listings are strong enough that you may not be able to outsell the competition just by having a better listing.

Sticky Fly Paper

This next product seems more promising, someone is bringing in 10k a month selling sticky paper! But there are still some issues with it that Jungle Scout points out to use.

Sticky Fly Paper
Sticky Fly Paper

And the Jungle Scout screen shot:

Sticky Fly Paper - Jungle Scout
Sticky Fly Paper – Jungle Scout

Finally a product with some demand! It makes sense that this would not be as seasonal as the bird scare products, but it takes a dip each winter.

The problem with this is competition.  There are competitors with over 1,000 reviews and several more with over 300.  For a low cost product, you would likely have to spend a good deal of your profit margin on PPC just to compete, which may not be the best option if you are starting out as a new seller.

Adult Tie Back Bibs

I was interested in this product because in the United States, we have an aging baby boomer population and, like it or not, the demographics suggest that there will be an increasing need for senior care products.

The good news for you boomers is that, based off this product, we aren’t there yet in terms of tons of people needing it.

Adult Tie Back Bib
Adult Tie Back Bib

And the Jungle Scout screenshot:

Adult Tie Back Bib - Jungle Scout
Adult Tie Back Bib – Jungle Scout

As you can see, no one is buying this product. Average monthly sales are slow and demand is low along with competition.  Also, the price on these is hard to get excited about. You see some higher priced items in the list, but when you look closely, these sellers have 500+ individual bibs in a pack. This is going to be a big, heavy item to ship.

Doll Stand

I can’t remember exactly why doll stands caught my eye, but when I do product research I like to look at a variety of products and this one made the long list. But not the short list. Let’s look at why.

Doll Stand
Doll Stand

And the Jungle Scout screen shot:

Adult Tie Back Bib - Jungle Scout
Doll Stand – Jungle Scout

Something that stand out immediately to me is just how few individual sellers there are here. It appears that one brand is dominating the top listings and they have lower prices than many of the competitors.  Also, there is lower demand than competition.

This brings us to an important point with the Opportunity Score. You want your demand and competition to at least match.  Low/Low or Medium/Medium for instance. When you get into a situation where you have low demand and medium competition, or low demand and high competition, you are working against the law of supply and demand.  That’s not a good place to be as a supplier.

 

I hope that these product tear downs are helpful examples of what you don’t want when finding products to sell on Amazon.

Let me know if you have further questions!