The Situation: After the recent ASIN limitation debacle, which has thankfully been resolved for now, Amazon decided to free up room in their warehouses in another way. Fortunately for us as sellers, Amazon has switched courses from using negative incentives to using positive incentives to bring about their desired end result. What are these incentives? For the entire month of April, FBA sellers can choose to have their active inventory disposed of or returned to them at no charge. This is great news! Disposing of inventory normally costs 15 cents per item, and returning inventory back to your home normally costs 50 cents per item. Amazon is waiving those fees for the whole month in hopes that they can entice us to free up more room in their fulfillment centers to make way for new inventory.
Even if you haven’t been selling on Amazon for very long and you think your inventory couldn’t possibly be dated (or dead) yet, I urge you to follow the steps in today’s blog post to see if you can free up a bit of room in the fulfillment centers. If everyone pitches in and removes a few items, it will go a long way toward alleviating these storage problems, and make it less likely for the dreaded ASIN limitations to be implemented again.
The Problem: No matter how good you are at scouting for quality books, or how closely you adhere to a conservative sales rank strategy when buying books, let’s face it: some of your inventory is by now obsolete. It’s no longer relevant. The sales rank has skyrocketed while the price has tanked. Oops! But don’t fret – it happens to everyone. Amazon is such as fluid marketplace and the prices are constantly changing to the point where I only expect to be able to sell 70-80% of the books I send into the FBA program. Although being wrong 20-30% of the time may seem quite high, keep in mind that it’s at least 2-3 times better than the accuracy of the average weatherman!
All kidding aside, it’s a wise business practice to go back and analyze your inventory from time to time and remove books with a high sales rank and a low price. The basic rule to follow is this: if you wouldn’t buy a book today based on its sales rank and price, then you shouldn’t leave it in your inventory. Sure, it only costs 2 cents a month to store it, but if it has a 9 MM sales rank and there are several penny offers for the book from Merchant Fulfilled sellers, it’s time to cut your losses and remove it. Once a book’s rank drifts higher than 3 MM, I no longer take advantage of “FBA Leverage”. The next buyer for that title isn’t likely to come around in the near future, so I price my FBA offers closer to the MF offers in hopes of catching that next sale. For books ranked under 3 MM, I ignore MF offers (mostly) and price based on other FBA offers, since books with a higher sales volume are likely to have at least one customer who places a high value on books that are Fulfilled By Amazon. (Side note: This pricing and sales rank philosophy is why my eFLIP software only shows books with a sales rank less than 3 MM, because after that point books aren’t likely to sell again soon. If you want to add another revenue stream to your book flipping venture by buying cheap MF books and selling them FBA, sign up for a 21-day free trial of eFLIP today!)
If you try to identify “losers” in your inventory using the Manage Inventory page within Seller Central, your sorting options will be extremely limited, as you can see here:
Amazon doesn’t give you the option to sort your items by category or by sales rank right from Seller Central. Fortunately, there’s another way.
The Solution: There’s a report that contains immensely useful information for identifying and eliminating duds from your inventory. It’s called the Inventory Health Report, and you can see how to download it and filter the data by watching the video below:
As a side benefit, the Inventory Health Report will show you the actual lowest MF and FBA prices for new and used items for EVERY item currently in your FBA inventory. Not only can you remove duds, but you can also find well-ranked books that could sell quickly if you tweaked your pricing a bit.
An Offer to Help: If your eyes glaze over at the mention of the word “spreadsheet” or you don’t have Excel installed on your computer, I’d be happy to help you analyze your inventory, identify duds, and even discover some quick winners where you could bump up your sales with a few pricing adjustments. If you’d like to enlist my help in analyzing your inventory to fully take advantage of Amazon’s free offer to dispose of your inventory, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For $15, I’ll filter and analyze your inventory for you and provide you with a form that you can upload to Amazon to quickly remove your “dead” inventory. Simply tell me your criteria to follow, and I’ll filter your data according to your specifications.
Remember: you only have until April 30 to take advantage of this free offer from Amazon. Be sure to take full advantage of this incentive!
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Thanks for reading – until next time, fellow flippers!