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 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.

Jungle Scout Pro 2.0 UPDATED – New Features to Help You Sell More on Amazon FBA

jungle scout pro updated
Jungle Scout recently got a facelift, but the update isn’t just cosmetic. Check out the new features in today’s video.

UPDATED Jungle Scout Pro!

Jungle Scout recent rolled out a fresh new look for their popular Chrome extension.

Still haven’t bought Jungle Scout? Get your copy here.

The updated Jungle Scout Pro adds features that will help you make better decisions about what you should sell on Amazon.

I especially like the features that can help you make a quick decision when starting the product research phase.

I like to do my research by creating long lists of ideas and narrowing down from there.  With the new Opportunity Score and Listing Quality Score (LQS), I can quickly see what potential products need to be crossed off my list.

For example, if I wanted to private label a product, but the Opportunity Score was a low number and indicated that the product had medium demand but high competition, I might think twice.  If the LQS column showed that all my competitors have high quality listings, then I’m looking at a product that will be tough to compete against.  I can quickly move on to a new product idea.

Of course, Jungle Scout is a tool and not the final say (good news, that’s you!), so you should take all this information it is giving you with a grain of salt, but for making a quick decision early in the process, these new features can’t be beat.

Other Fun Additions

I’m also a fan of some other new add ons from the Jungle Scout team.

The Keyword Cloud will show you top ranking keywords from your competitors.  The larger the word the more popular the keyword.

Jungle Scout Keyword Cloud
Jungle Scout Keyword Cloud

I also like the Historical Monthly Sales that you can access by clicking a products sales number.  This is similar to the information that you can get in CamelCamelCamel, but by viewing it in the Jungle Scout Chrome Extension you are able to save yourself a few clicks.

historical sales data jungle scout pro
Historical Sales Data in Jungle Scout Pro

Jungle Scout’s New Look

I’m really excited about the new additions to the Jungle Scout extention.  The JS team is pushing to be the premier tool suite for Private Label sellers, and you can feel it in this update.

By adding tools and information to the chrome extension that allow you to quickly gather data and make product selections, Jungle Scout has given uses the ability to move efficiently through the product research phase of selling on Amazon.

Make sure you are using Jungle Scout – get your copy today. 

 

Goal Update – February 10, 2017 (Amazon FBA, Twitter, YouTube, Podcasts)

Goal Update February 10, 2017
Check in for a Goal Update from February 10, 2017

Starting in 2017, I began publicly sharing goals related to building my Amazon FBA business as well as growing The Bootstrap Boutique. I set quarterly goals and do a check in on YouTube every two weeks to keep you updated on my progress and to hold myself accountable to working consistently towards meeting these goals.

For the first quarter of 2017, I set the following goals for myself:

 

  1. Sell all 500 units of my Private Label Product
  2. Launch a second Private Label Product
  3. Gain 5,000 Twitter Followers
  4. Send out 1,000 Tweets
  5. Earn 200 YouTube Subscribers
  6. Post 20 YouTube Videos
  7. Review 3 books on YouTube
  8. Appear on 3 Podcasts or YouTube Channels

 

So how did I do?  Let’s check in!

Sell all 250 units of my Private Label Product

0 / 250

So you guys know that I’ve got my first product live on Amazon, I am super excited. It just went live yesterday, or maybe the night before, but anyway. I haven’t sold anything yet, which is fine. I’m running PPC so just waiting for that to kind of kick in and find me some good keywords to focus in on.

But do you notice anything different about this chart that I’m showing on the screen right now? Give you a second. Ok, look at that top number. 250. What did that say last time we checked in? 500. I got my shipment in and it’s 250 units, not 500 units. And at first I was like, “uhh, what happened?”  So I went back and looked at my purchase order and nope, Megan you ordered 250 units. Not 500 units.

And on one hand that’s ok, You know it’s ok, its less to sell and I’m glad I don’t have 50 boxes in my house because they are kind of sizeable. The problem is that my product cost is double what I thought it was. So it is going to be almost impossible for me to make a profit because my product cost is actually right under $13, actually $12.92 and I thought it was going to be more like $6.50 so I have almost no margin. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’m probably taking a hit on profitability on this first product.

So, I am very upset with myself. I don’t want to talk about it anymore. Maybe another time.

Launch a second Private Label Product

Let’s move on to the second product, I’m still in the research phase, still using Jungle Scout.

What I’ve actually done is I took a sheet of paper, I’ve got it around here somewhere, but I said I’m not even going to start pricing and sourcing until I can fill up this whole sheet of paper with good ideas and so I have been spending lots of time in the bowels of the Amazon search engine trying to uncover some good opportunities.

I do have 2 or 3 things I’m pretty excited about but I’m really just, I think the problem might be with this first product is that I didn’t go deep enough, so I’m trying to go super deep this time and just make sure I’m on more solid footing with what I am trying to source.

So, I’m still working, I’m working really hard on this one actually. Like my two main focuses right now are optimizing the listing for product one and really digging deep on product 2. That’s where I am right now.

Gain 5,000 Twitter Followers

4522 / 5000

Moving over to twitter, I am so close to my goal of 5,000 twitter followers as of today I am at 4,522 people following the @MegLoftin handle which is just incredible.

I really enjoy Twitter, I hadn’t really been on it before, I’ve had this handle for a long time but I just kind of grabbed it a while back so I could get my name, but I hadn’t ever really used it until the last 8 or 9 months or so.

But I really enjoy twitter, I enjoy checking in on it and interacting with people so if you are on twitter make sure that you are following me @MegLoftin come say hi.

Let’s be uhhh, twitter friends, I don’t know what that’s called.

Send out 1,000 Tweets (GOAL MET)

1061 / 1000

Ok the second goal related to twitter at least is to have over 1,000 tweets on my @megloftin handle, I have surpassed that now as of this morning I was at 1,061 and you know that just continues to keep happening because like I said, I enjoy Twitter.

I enjoy interacting, I enjoy being there , so I have definitely already hit that goal with really just a month in, 6 weeks in maybe to this quarter so that number is just going to continue to grow because I like tweeting.

Earn 200 YouTube Subscribers (GOAL MET)

288 / 200

Wow, you guys. YouTube subscribers, we are up to 288 on this channel.

So that is amazing, thank you, and you know I’ve been adding about 20 a week or so and I just hope that continues I think I’ve got some really good videos coming up that I hope appeal to people and make them want to hit that subscribe button so we can continue to grow and learn from each other and help each other.

So again, if you think these videos are worth watching, maybe you think they are worth sharing too and you can tell your friends that are interested in Amazon about it and we can just kind of all grow together. Let’s do it.

Post 20 YouTube Videos

15 / 20

The next YouTube goal was to have 20 videos at The Bootstrap Boutique channel, I’m up to 64 videos now from 49 so well on the way to hitting, I’ll actually hit 20 here pretty soon.

Probably by the next goal update or the one after that. So I’m not worried about hitting this goal, I’m definitely going to exceed it, doing the 2 videos a week plus the one every other Friday definitely puts me in the ball park to hit 20 in the first quarter so that’s awesome!

Review 3 books on YouTube

2 / 3

The next goal was to review 3 books at The Bootstrap Boutique channel in the first quarter so you guys know I did Eat That Frog!

I also did 5 book reviews in 1 video but they were only 1 sentence each. So it’s really what is the essence of this book. And I just did classic books that everybody that is interested in running a business should absolutely read, there’s no doubt about that for any of these books. Got some good feedback on it, people seemed to enjoy it.

I don’t know that I’ll do it again because I’m just trying to fill out one more space which I already have the book ready to go, I’m really excited to share it with you for my last one for this goal, but as things come up in the future, especially if I can kind of find a theme, like this one I was calling the “classic business books” so maybe we’ll do a productivity one or something like that. I don’t know. Stay tuned.

Appear on 3 Podcasts or YouTube Channels

1 / 3

And then the last goal that I have was the 3 appearances and/or collaborations on podcasts on YouTube channels, on whatever and I still only have in the books Be Moving Forward with John Lim that is coming out March 7th.

I’m super excited about that. I do have a meeting on the books this afternoon to talk with another creator about doing some collaboration stuff so I’m super excited about that.

Of course I will keep you guys posted. And then we would just be looking for one more opportunity.

If you know somebody that you think I would be a good fit for and mesh well with and you want to see me pop up on their podcast, on their youtube channel, on their blog, whatever, just let me know. I am open.

Wrap Up

That’s going to wrap it up for this 2 week period. As you can see, there’s a lot of work to do still on the Amazon stuff, the YouTube, the Twitter, we’re making progress there. But let me tell you, my focus is really going to be on marketing that product. I’ve got some fun ideas and things I’m trying out to drive traffic to my Amazon listing. So more to come there, I will be sharing it all along the way, of course. And I will talk to you next time. Take care!

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

You can see all The Bootstrap Boutique’s YouTube videos here.