Helping You with Your Amazon FBA Business

Three Negative Experiences with Inventory Purchased Online

Watching the UPS driver pull into my parking lot at work is the highlight of my work day.  Not only do I get to finally see first hand what Amazon FBA inventory I bought, but it’s just fun and exciting for me to open my boxes.Unfortunately though, there have been a few times when my happiness turned into disappointment when I started the list-prep-ship process and found that I couldn’t sell my products as expected.Before you read any further, I want to point out that my negative experiences are the exceptions and not the norms.  Also, online sourcing will continue to be my primary inventory sourcing method as I don’t have a lot of time during the week to visit the retail stores.

Note: All experiences listed in this post were with products found on the online sourcing lists.  But the same can happen even with products that you find on your own.  So, this is by no means a strike against online sourcing lists.  Also, to be fair to those that created and purchased the lists, I’m not going to give out the names of the exact products.

Hazardous Materials
Buying hazmat items isn’t a unique problem with online sourcing.  For those that read my Beauty Approval post, I bought hazmat shaving creams in person from Target.  Ever since that mistake, I’ve been extra careful to make sure that I don’t buy anything hazmat again.

No-FBABut my luck ran out when I purchased four salicylic acne treatments that I found on one of my online sourcing lists.  My mistake in this case was assuming that all product leads would be fine to sell on Amazon FBA.

So, the lesson learned is don’t assume that products on lists are all 100% safe to be sold on Amazon FBA.  Be sure and do your own research before buying.

Since I don’t want to get into Merchant Fulfilling while working full time, I ended up keeping one of the units for myself and returning the other three.  The company refunded the purchase price but I still had to pay a $5.95 return order fee.

Damaged Packaging
While shopping in person, I don’t buy any products that I’m selling as “new” that have torn, wrinkled or damaged packaging.  But with online sourcing, you take the risk of receiving items that don’t meet your quality standards.

The picture below is an item that I received that looks like it was sliced by a knife.  I don’t know if it was shipped to me like that or if I damaged the product with my box cutter while opening up the shipping box.  Either way, it doesn’t really matter because I can’t sell it.

Damaged Product

Damaged Product

The company that I bought it from does take returns.  But the shipping fee for me to send the product back will exceed my cost of the product.  So, I lost a few dollars on this one.

Wrong Product
Whenever I go though my product leads from my online sourcing lists, I double check to make sure that the products on both the store’s website and Amazon’s website match 100%.  There have been a few occasions when they didn’t but so far that hasn’t been a big issue.

In this case, both product pages matched and I ordered seven of the same item.  I usually don’t go that deep, but I did so in order to qualify for free shipping.  When I received the items and went to list them, I noticed that what I received didn’t exactly match Amazon’s listing. It was close, but the coloring was different.  I received items with a WHITE rectangle on it even though the pictures on both the store’s website and Amazon’s have RED rectangles.

In my opinion, the color shouldn’t be a big issue as the product will operate the same whether the rectangle is red or white.  But, regardless of my opinion, I never want to take any chances of upsetting any of my customers so I decided against listing this product under that ASIN.

I did a product search and found a correct Amazon listing for my product.  The problem is that the ranking for mine (the white one) is in the 450,000’s while the red one has a much better ranking of less than 50,000.  I ended up listing the items under the correct ASIN knowing that they’ll take longer to sell.


Have you ever received a product that you weren’t expecting?  What did you do?  Please share in the comments below or on my Facebook page so others will know what to watch out for.  Thanks for reading this post and happy selling!

Diana Poisson

{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Debbie May 16, 2015, 4:18 pm

    I too love to source on-line, as I don’t have to remove stickers, and I can usually buy as many as I want (or can afford). However, it is sometimes difficult to know exactly what you are buying, like you mentioned, so I haven’t always purchased the item I was looking at. One problem I have had is that the items I buy online are often packed poorly and don’t arrive as nicely as I would like.

    • Diana May 16, 2015, 7:58 pm

      I agree and also I’m always afraid to buy from a store for the first time. I think my favorite store to shop online on is Target because they have my Tax ID card on file so I don’t pay tax and if I can go to any store for returns. I also like Amazon – Tax ID Card on file, $35.00 threshold for free shipping and easy return policy.

      • Debbie May 18, 2015, 9:42 pm

        Diana, how did you go about putting your Tax ID on file with Target? That would help me.
        Also, thank you so much (overdue thanks) for your article on the getting approved in Health and Personal Care. It helped me a lot. One thing I will say is that I turned in my packing slips and I happened to get a agent how was not helpful at all. He just rejected my request out of hand, so after asking and asking what I had done wrong, I found out that you can’t really ask WHAT you had done wrong, as they will not tell you. The best thing is to start from scratch. Then I was approved right away!!!

        • Diana May 18, 2015, 10:41 pm

          Hi Debbie, I’m glad you were finally approved! I was just reading a few minutes ago in a Facebook group that Amazon is really cracking down on the approvals and making the process harder.

          Here is the link to Target’s instructions. Basically, email them your contact info and a copy of your permit. Once approved, it’s on your online account automatically.


  • Diana November 10, 2015, 3:47 pm

    Please note: Target will only set up a tax-exempt account for governmental, not-for-profit organizations, and other similar entities. Target’s policy is to not sell to resellers, thus resale exemption certificates will not be accepted effective May 15, 2015.

    Researched further on tax-exemptions at Target. Were you able to get around the above requirement?

  • Harry January 9, 2017, 2:24 pm

    Hi Diana,
    May I know what size of boxes you usually used – if you have to buy from Uline/U-Haul ?
    I plan to start but I did not plan to buy boxes in large quantities without knowing the right size.


    • Diana January 9, 2017, 2:29 pm

      Hi Harry,
      I purchase my boxes from either Lowes or Home Depot but I’m sure that Uline/Uhaul carry the same sizes:

      Small: 12 x 12 x 16
      Medium: 18 x 18 x 16
      Large: 24 x 18 x 18


      • Harry January 9, 2017, 2:52 pm

        Diana, Thanks – I will try to find the similar size.
        I believe Uline has provided cheaper option.
        Few years back, I bought boxes from wholesale company. The price is under than $1.00 per box compare to what Homedepot/Lowes charges


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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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