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Amazon FBA: What I Learned During My First 2 Weeks

This post is an update of where I’m at and what I’ve learned during my first 2.5 weeks since joining the Amazon FBA program.  Reading about my experience may help you if you decide to join.

Shipping
My first shipment to Amazon was a box of six books.  Since at the time I didn’t have my Avery labels, I elected to have Amazon label the books for me at 20 cents each.  Let’s just say that I was very anxious to get the box out the door!  I dropped off my box of books at a UPS store on May 5, 2014 and they were finally listed on the Amazon website nine days later on May 14, 2014.  

My second shipment to Amazon consisted of five products – two electronics items, two games and one kitchen gadget.  I expected to send them all to one place using one box, but Amazon decided that two items should go to California and three should go to Tennessee.  Though I didn’t want to pay for two boxes being shipped, I went ahead and authorized the shipment as my products won’t sell sitting at home.  I shipped both boxes on May 12, 2014.  The box to California made it in four days and my box to Tennessee is still in transit.

I shipped three games to Tennessee today (May 19, 2014).  Because of the Memorial Day Holiday, I don’t expect these units to be listed on the website until May 29, 2014.

What I learned: It takes time for your shipment to arrive at Amazon.  The further away that you live from the warehouse, the longer it’ll take.  I know that’s obvious, but hardly mentioned.  Just don’t expect to be buy your inventory today and have it at Amazon tomorrow.  I also learned that Amazon may split up your products and have you ship them to different warehouses.

What I will do differently as time goes on: Ship more things in one box to save on shipping costs.  Right now, I’m just obtaining a few new products a week to ship out and I’m still somewhat slow at the listing, labelling, prepping and shipping.  Once I’m more comfortable with the whole process, I’ll be better able to handle larger shipments.

What I wish that I did differently: Not signed up for the free month of the Pro Account right away.  My month will soon be over and so far, I only have 8 items listed on Amazon’s website.  By the time my other products arrive, the month will be over and I’ll have less than 40 products to sell.  Therefore, I need to make a decision if I should cancel the Pro Account for my 2nd month so that I’m not paying out $39.95 with less than 40 items to sell.  The disadvantage is that I then can’t use the Profit Bandit App anymore.

Supplies
Amazon FBA has a lot of requirements when it comes to what supplies you can and cannot use to label, prep and ship your products with.  I’m not going to write about all of the requirements here, but rather what I have learned:

  1. Labels: I bought the Avery 6460 removable labels as Amazon wants us to use removable labels when placing a label directly on a product.  But so far, I have never placed a label directly on a product.  Rather, I place them on top of the stretch wrap or poly bag that I used to prep my product.  Therefore, I could have saved a little money by purchasing the less expensive Avery 5160 labels instead.
  2. More on Labels: One problem with these 30-to-a-page labels and with using small shipments is that your labels are formatted to print in the first column.  So, you’re ok when you print your first batch of labels.  But when you want to print your 2nd batch of labels, your labels from your first sheet are missing from the first column.  You can work around this by turning that same sheet of labels around and printing on the 3rd column.  But eventually, you’ll end up with a bunch of labels that you can’t print on.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
  3. Prepping Products: I bought the poly bags first and find that they are easy to use.  Unfortunately, the largest sized poly bag in the poly bag kit that I bought is too small for some of my products.  So, I had to spend more money on stretch wrap This stretch wrap is tricky to handle, but does work.  If I could do it over again, I would have bought the stretch wrap first before the poly bags as I can use the stretch wrap on both small and large sized products.  This would have saved me over $50.00 in up front costs.

Business Side of It
What I’m learning is that there is a whole business side to selling on FBA that I didn’t know about when I first started.  I need to collect and pay sales tax.  I  should get an EIN number.  I read that it’s recommended to actually start a business – get the licenses, business checking account, etc.   Besides more learning to do, there are fees involved.  It’ll cost me about $200.00 if I want to start up a LLC business. If I want TaxJar to help me with my sales tax, then that’s another $9.95 per month.  I’m not sure if I should get going on all of this right away or get a few sales first.  Thank goodness I can call up my former accountant for advice (at a fee of course) to get his opinion on all of this.

I’ll write more about this topics later once I know what I’ll be doing.

Amazon FBA Community is Amazing
In the short time that I’ve been an Amazon FBA member, I have connected with several other FBA’ers on Twitter, Facebook and on blogs.  So far, everyone has been very helpful in answering questions and with sharing their tips.  I have to admit that I haven’t found this type of friendliness in a few other niche groups that I have belonged to.  I’m not mentioning which ones, but some are very highly competitive and people won’t talk to you unless they can gain financially from it.  So, if you have helped me, thank you!  I hope that I can help others who have less FBA experience than me.

On a final note, I would love to connect with you!  Please feel free to say hi at anytime by leaving a comment or by connecting with me on Twitter, Google+ or Facebook.

Photo Credits:
Featured Image – © tashatuvango – Fotolia.com
Sheet of Labels: Diana Poisson

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{ 12 comments… add one }
  • Jack April 10, 2015, 10:44 am

    Hi Diana,

    Thank you for your helpful post.
    I clicked to the “poly bag kit” link you mentioned above and I realised that these bags do not have “ready to ship” label. Do you use a separate “ready to ship” label to stick on the poly bag? or it is not required by Amazon?

    Reply
    • Diana April 10, 2015, 1:34 pm

      Hi Jack, it’s funny reading my older posts. In this one, I talk about using stretch wrap first instead of polybags. Now I’m the complete opposite and I polybag everything, large and small and never use the stretch wrap at all.

      I believe there are special cases where you would use a “ready to ship” label, but I believe that has more to do with boxes. Not completely sure as I’ve never used a “ready to ship” label. So no, your polybags don’t need to have the “ready to ship” label. They do need to have the suffercation warning and the ones from my link has that. You may find some bags without that warning label in which case you’ll need to get the labels yourself.

      The other labels you may need to use are: “This is a set, do not separate” if you are doing a bundle or multipack where you have 2 or more items in the same polybag. The other one is an expiration date label if you are packaging grocery items or health/beauty items with expiration dates.

      Diana

      Reply
      • Jack April 10, 2015, 1:47 pm

        Thank for your answer.
        Although your post was old, but I find it very helpful 🙂
        Again, thank you very much!

        Reply
  • Jack April 11, 2015, 4:28 am

    Hi Diana,
    I have another question:
    As you mentioned in your post about the Avery 6460 removable labels, I clicked to the link and I saw that this label can be used for a inkjet printer ( as producer writes on the cover of the label pack).So is it easy to be smeared and smudged when I print label by inkjet printer?
    Thank you!
    p/s: because I already have a inkjet printer so I want to utilise it.

    Reply
  • Diana April 11, 2015, 1:11 pm

    Hi Jack,
    When I started FBA, I had an inkjet at home (no laser) that I used to print some of my labels. My inkjet actually printed clearer than the laser printer that I had access to at work. I sent several products in with the the inkjet labels and never had any problems. I’m thinking they’re more likely to fade over time like two years but products shouldn’t take two years to sell.

    So, you may be able to get away with it for awhile, but I would still get a laser or DYMO as soon as possible. My inkjet quit working so I replaced it with a Brother HL-L2300 laser printer. Sometimes they go on sale on Amazon for $60.00 and after three months, I’m still using my starter toner.

    The other option is to have Amazon label your products if you’re not sending in too many. Last time I checked, it was 20 cents each.

    Diana

    Reply
  • Stewart Rap November 13, 2015, 5:06 pm

    Holy cow. You’re way too afraid. I shipped off a couple 30+ pound boxes of books on my first fba shipment.

    There’s no way UPS is going to ship any package for less than $4 so it makes sense to keep costs down by shipping fewer but larger boxes.

    And as for incorporating, it doesn’t make sense incorporate unless the business is already making enough money to justify incorporating it.

    If I’m starting a new business I always try to spend as little money as possible on things that aren’t absolutely essential until I’ve proven to myself that I can do it and that it’ll make me enough money to be worth my while. In the past when I haven’t done it that way, I’ve wasted a lot of money on businesses that never got off the ground or eventually failed or that I just lost interest in and stopped.

    It seems that if a business owner has money or resources (or even credit) to spend, they’ll inevitably find a way to spend (waste) it. Better to get into the habit of starting businesses with little to no resources. Resourcefulness is what is needed, not resources. Resourcefulness is developed when a business owner has little to no resources.

    Reply
  • Diana December 6, 2015, 8:45 pm

    Hi Stewart,

    Sorry for taking so long to respond as I’m having trouble again of getting notified of new comments.

    This post was written over a year ago and I agree about how new business owners can waste a lot of money. I also overspent on my first business (renting office space at $500 per month + utilities right away was a big mistake) and these days I have turned into a tightwad.

    I do get carried away with buying educational trainings as I love to read and learn, but have vowed not to buy anymore for awhile.

    Sometimes my boxes don’t have a large quantity of items before shipping, but I do make sure that the profit is there to justify shipping. One thing I learned is that the box size or number of items doesn’t necessarily equal to a higher return. I just started sourcing shoes and like that my projected profits are $30.00 average per pair versus processing 3 $10.00 items to make that same $30.00.

    There’s a lot of different methods and it’s great learning all of the different techniques to running a successful FBA Business.

    Reply
  • Bipin Panchal December 28, 2015, 2:38 pm

    Greetings for the day!
    I have just a few months back have enrolled myself on Amazon interested in building up my business.
    I have gone thru many you tube videos but still could not position well to make a beginning.
    Basically i am an importer importing handicraft items and marketing in and around Toronto.
    I have also marketed few on ebay, got a good response. Further i want to sell on Amazon.
    I go thru your blog “secondhalfdreams” that i find very practical,interesting and down to earth. I have put orders on Amazon for the Dymo printer450 and 450XL. I appreciate your suggestion on brand Americopy, but still lack in understanding LABEL sizes/dimension to be selected for product barcodes, FBA labels and packing list used for FBA. Whether they are to be bought in sheets or rolls..bit confused
    Kindly advice
    oblige

    Bipin

    Reply
    • Diana December 28, 2015, 3:11 pm

      Hi Bipin,
      For the DYMO Printer, I use the HL-30334-R Labels. You can buy them on Amazon. If needed, there is a link to them on my “Amazon FBA Supplies” page. You would use these for your FBA Labels to cover up your barcodes. These are purchased in rolls. Another option is to use a laser printer and then you’ll buy sheets of labels such as the Avery 6460.

      If you create your own Amazon listing and your item doesn’t have a UPS or barcode, then you can purchase them from eBay. You won’t need to physically print these. You’ll just need the number to use in Amazon’s “Add a Product” form.

      You don’t need to send in packing lists so no labels for that. Amazon may require “Box Contents” soon and that is all done electronically.

      I know it’s confusing with all of the requirements. My suggestion is to ship in a very small amount of items just to learn the process.

      Diana

      Reply
  • Fatima April 10, 2016, 9:00 pm

    Hey Diana,
    I found your blog a few days ago and i must say it’s great.There’s so much i can learn.
    Can i use a dymo printer instead of the laser printer for my amazon fba purpose?Or do i need to have both?Can i print shipping labels with dymo printer?newbie here.

    Reply
    • Diana April 11, 2016, 2:16 am

      Hi Fatima,

      You’ll need an inkjet or laser printer for your shipping labels. The DYMO labels are too small. With that said, you don’t need a DYMO at all as you can print both your shipping and product labels with a laser….Therefore, I would start with a laser printer and then look into a DYMO later on.

      Diana

      Reply

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I am working towards creating a full-time income by selling on Amazon. It's a lot of work but very fun! If you're interested in selling on Amazon, be sure to follow my blog as I'll be providing you with lots of tips!

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