Amazon FBA Feb 2016 update
Ok the more I learn the more questions arise. This is fairly typical with me on new projects; I like to get into the detail, to 'deep-dive' (awful phrase but captures the idea well). I plan to execute FBA as a business venture and want to document my 'adventure' as I go along. After all, when you've acquired knowledge, it's very hard to remember exactly what it felt like BEFORE you acquired it. Hopefully this documentation will help others embarking on similar paths or with similar interests, as well as assisting me in the process of journaling and achieving more in my business. Win-win!
Ok so here's where I'm at.
I'm a podcast guy. I listen to podcasts while walking & driving, and some days I can do quite a bit of that, so it's a great way of soaking up information. If you're not a podcast person so far, give it a go!
I've started listening to The Amazing Seller, and FBA Allstars and have enjoyed both, particularly The Amazing Seller, where I'm working my way through the back catalogue. I'm getting so much great information on different aspects of FBA so intend to plough through the back catalogues. I've got more podcasts to try over the weekend (I've a few hours on a train to come): FBA Journey, Amazing FBA, and AM/PM. I'll jot some thoughts down on them when they're listened to!
Scott Voelker (@scottvoelker) on The Amazing Seller interviewed Nancy Ramirez (@awcblog), an agent who has been working with Chinese businesses exporting for many years. Her insights were illuminating. My first impression was that to do the FBA 'thing', you get on Alibaba, and there you have a load of factories telling you what they have for you. It seems that actually a lot of the work in hooking up manufacturers with suppliers is done by agents, who are absolutely crucial in getting you to where you want to be as a successful FBA seller, particularly as a lot factories are very small and not necessarily staying up to date on sites like Alibaba. I intend to delve much more into this aspect and can thoroughly recommend Nancy's blog at approvedwithcorrections.com.
Doing it yourself; a good option for noobs
Another preconception I had around FBA was that you pick a product, order 1000, and send them straight to Amazon, who do everything for you. While this IS an option, initially, with newbies still learning the processes and building relationships with manufacturers, a sensible approach is to order smaller quantities, have the manufacturer provide the basic labeling service, and have the items shipped to you to check quality before forwarding on to Amazon. This lowers risk and maximises the opportunity for good reviews based on quality products so a bit of a no-brainer for me really.
Incidentally, I am aware that another approach that people take is taking on liquidated stock from shops, getting products from 'flea markets' and 'thrift stores', but this just isn't really my thing so it's not an avenue I'm looking at. I put the ' on those previous terms because as a UK-based seller they are not really appropriate to me.
Still no product
I've got two product ideas, both in the same category, both fairly high on the BSR ranking. With one of them I've found some products on Alibaba with which look great. That's as far as I've got. I've a concern that I should be looking at a product that's smaller; while neither product is 'oversized', they're not 'small' either. I plan to do more work in the next couple of weeks into product ideas, and produce a shortlist of three by the end of the month, having reviewed who the competition would be, BSRs and prospective sales levels.
BSR numbers clarified
Some reading around BSRs on the web has given me ballpark figures on what a 'good' BSR would be in terms of sales of products in major categories. This was for Amazon US sellers, but nonetheless it made me feel more relaxed about the need to pick something in the top ten BSR for a category.
More research to be done, but a fruitful week in terms of moving the project along.