10 Things That Keep Amazon FBA Sellers Up at Night
- October 16, 2015 | Marcus DeHart
I recommend a glass of warm milk and a good book to get your mind and body relaxed for a good night's sleep. But if you’re selling on Amazon, you might need something a little stronger from time to time. Here’s my top-ten list of sleep blockers that you might encounter using Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), and some tips on how to manage them so they won’t keep you up at night.
1. Inbound delays
Cash won’t flow if nobody’s buying your products, so once you put your inventory on a truck and send it off to an Amazon fulfillment center, the last thing you want is to find out your shipment is stuck at a loading dock waiting to be unloaded. For small-parcel deliveries, this is rarely an issue, but for a truckload, you need to make sure all your ducks are in line. One of the most important steps in the process is making sure your carrier schedules an advanced delivery appointment. Learn more about LTL or Truckload Delivery to Amazon.
2. Damaged inventory
Not only is it expensive to lose inventory due to damage, it can take a lot of time to research the cause so you can (hopefully) get reimbursed for the damage. The best precaution is to make sure you follow the Packaging and Prep Requirements outlined by Amazon. If you don’t want to do it yourself, you can always use the FBA Prep Services.
3. Lost inventory
Trying to track down lost inventory can also consume a lot of your time. Mislabeling and miscounting are often the culprits. If you’re labeling your inventory, make sure each unit is labeled and that you follow the Labeled Inventory requirements. If your products come with UPCs printed on them, you can simplify your life by using Stickerless, Commingled Inventory or the FBA Label Service.
4. Stranded inventory
You can’t sell your inventory in the fulfillment centers without having a proper listing. The product you listed can get pulled down, change category, become restricted, get turned off, or merged with other products. In turn your inventory in the fulfillment centers might lose its connection with the listing so that no one can buy it. Keep a close eye on the Inventory Dashboard (sign in required) for stranded inventory notifications so you can respond quickly.
5. ASIN merges
Every product sold on Amazon has an Amazon standard identification number (ASIN). When a unique product is listed under different ASINs, Amazon will merge them. If one of those ASINs is your FBA inventory, you might end up with stranded inventory. The best precaution is to make sure that the offer you create accurately matches the product customers will see on Amazon. And don’t create an offer for a new product if the product already exists on Amazon.
6. Commingled inventory
The great thing about commingling inventory is you don’t have to label every unit you ship to Amazon. The downside is that your inventory gets pooled with other sellers’ inventory and what you sell might actually come from another seller. If they are shipping inferior products or knockoffs, your buyers might give you negative feedback or file A-to-z claims against you. Labeling your inventory would prevent this from happening. You can also check out the competition to see how customers have rated them. If they’re not reputable, you might not want to commingle your inventory with theirs.
When a customer returns one of your products, it can go back on the shelf to be sold again. But there’s no guarantee that the returned item won’t be damaged, have the packaging opened, or not even be a product you sold if you commingled your inventory. No matter how well you package your products and accurately list them, the fickle desires of customers are outside your control. Make sure you understand and follow the requirements for Customer Returns for Orders Placed on Amazon.com.
8. Aging inventory
In February and August of each year, Amazon performs an inventory cleanup in the fulfillment centers to make room for new products. Any inventory you have that’s been in the fulfillment center for more than six months can be hit with a long-term storage fee. You can keep an eye the age of your inventory using the Inventory Dashboard, or you can activate the Automated Long-Term Storage Removals feature and forget about it.
9. Negative feedback
Negative feedback from a customer can hurt your sales and affect your eligibility to sell on Amazon. If the feedback is related to the customer service of an FBA order, you can request to have the comment struck and the rating not affect your metrics. You also have the options to resolve feedback through the Feedback Manager.
10. A-to-z Claims
You can’t please all of the people all of the time. Unhappy customers will file A-to-z claims if they are not satisfied with your products or service. Amazon will screen these, but the ones that stick can be a headache. Responding to customer communications quickly can help reduce the claims filed against you. Make sure you understand the A-to-z Guarantee Claims Program.
Do you have tips on how to handle these issues? Or perhaps something else is keeping you up at night. Share them in the comments section below.