Hi everyone, it’s been a while since I last made a blog post. I wanted to tell you that I joined the Amazon FBA program. First of all, what is Amazon FBA? The Fulfillment By Amazon Program is a where you list items to sell on Amazon’s website and ship them to Amazon’s storage facilities. Once sold, Amazon will ship the product to the buyer. This is different from Amazon’s other seller program where you store the inventory until it’s sold and then you ship your product to the buyer directly. Sounds like a great way to remove clutter from your house and earn some extra money, doesn’t it?
Maybe, maybe not. I’ve been spending the past few days reading blog posts and watching YouTube videos made by others that joined the Amazon FBA program. From what I gather, it’s fun and you can make extra money quickly if you do it right. But it’s not as simple as it seems to get started. Here is the basic process:
Find Your Items: Find things around the house that you want to sell. But be careful, there is a list of prohibited items that you can’t sell. Also, there are items like clothing that you need permission to sell. For now, I’m sticking with new items that are still in their original packaging and books. Once I’m more comfortable with the process, then I’ll move on to items that aren’t in their original package. I’m only going to send in a used item if it’s still in great condition.
List Your Items: You have to list each item in your “inventory” section of the Amazon website. You start by searching for the product on Amazon so that it gets listed in the right spot. At this point it’s good to see how much other people are selling the same product for. Then you fill out Amazon’s online form where you list the condition, the selling price and the quantity. They made the form more complex than it needs to be as there are many fields that are left blank.
Process Your Items: Once your items are listed, Amazon will lead you to a screen to print labels. This is Amazon’s barcode label so they can scan your product once it arrives at one of their storage facilities and know it belongs to you. You need to print the labels using either a laser or direct thermal printer. Also, if you are placing your label directly on the product, you need to use labels that are removable in case the buyer wants to remove the label. I didn’t have the right labels when I processed my first batch of items, so I elected to have Amazon do the labeling for me. However, they do charge a 20 cent per item fee for that service. One more note worth mentioning – all other bar codes on your product need to be removed or covered up.
Then you have to prep your package. Books are easy – just put in the box. But if you want to sell your stuffed animal, then you need to either shrink-wrap him or place him in a poly bag. If your poly bag has a 5″ or larger opening, then it needs to have a suffocation warning on it.
Amazon has different prepping procedures based on the type of item that you are selling. I’m not going to list them all here because it would take me all year to write them all up. I found that watching YouTube videos on how other Amazon FBA sellers pack their stuff to be very helpful. Of course, it’s your responsibility to check with the Amazon FBA website to make sure you follow the rules correctly.
Ship Your Items: Again, a simple procedure becomes complex. You need to tell Amazon which of your products you want to ship. They will tell you where to ship them to. This means if you have 6 items, 2 may go to one warehouse and 4 may go to another. So you will need to find two boxes to use. Of course, there are shipping label requirements and packaging material requirements.
The good thing is that you get an “Amazon” rate with UPS to ship your boxes at a discount, which leads us to the topic of costs.
Costs: You do need to pay for your shipping to Amazon. After you fill your box, you weigh it (I used my bathroom scale) and Amazon will tell you how much it costs to ship. But there are other costs involved depending on which plan you sign up for:
- Individual Plan: Amazon charges a $0.99 fee for each item sold + other selling fees
- Professional Plan: $39.95 monthly fee + other selling fees – this is the better option if you sell more than 40 items per month
I signed up for the Professional Plan because right now, new accounts get the first month waived. If I don’t think I’ll sell 40 items in my 2nd month, I’ll downgrade to the Individual Plan. Keep in mind, costs may change in the future. The pricing plans mentioned above are what they are at the date I wrote this post – May 5, 2014.
At this point, it’s too much for to try to explain all of the “other fees” involved. I don’t even understand them all. But from all of the information that I read, your fees to Amazon calculate to about 1/3 of the selling cost. I have not confirmed this as I haven’t sold an item yet. You can do a Google Search for “Amazon FBA Fees” or “Amazon FBA Calculator” and get an idea of what fees are involved.
Is This A Good Way to Get Rid of Clutter?
I feel Amazon FBA is a good way to get rid of clutter and earn extra money if:
- You already have the required labeling, packaging and shipping supplies
- You can easily fit your item(s) in a box
- You have the time and motivation to learn the proper procedures to list, label, package and ship
- You have a good chance of selling it – is it in good condition, priced right and do people want your product?
- Your item(s) will sell for a high enough price to cover your time and Amazon fees and make a profit
I probably wouldn’t join if I just had a few random pieces of clutter to get rid of that aren’t worth very much money. It’s a lot easier to put them all in a box and drop the box off at your local donation center.
Then Why Did I Join the Program?
Because I’m going to use it as a way to earn extra money. I’ll begin with sending in old clutter, but next I will be looking/shopping for things that I can buy at a very low cost and sell at a higher cost on Amazon. There are people making money doing this. I became inspired to try this after reading Jessica Larrew’s Blog and other blogs written by people that are having fantastic results with the program. The Online Selling Experiment Blog has very good information.
I’m shipping my first box today (May 5th, 2014) to Amazon. I’ll let you know how it goes!
P.S. Please follow my Amazon FBA Journey on Second Half Dreams!