I know a lot of folks on here rely solely on FBA to sell on AMZ.
I know a lot of you are freaking out about AMZ prioritizing shipments, what it means for your business, and what you can do moving forward. You have every right to be angry and frustrated and scared - but running around like your hair is on fire ain’t gonna save your business.
So … let’s focus on what you can control - switching to FBM until everything cools down and what you need to think about.
Let’s get the ugly parts out of the way:
1) If you’re not shipping items that have a flat rate charge regardless of destination, your shipping costs are going to change. Period. You’re now, in theory, going to be shipping out of ONE location to end users all across the country.
That will be more expensive. So you need to get your shipping costs in order. You need to look at a few dozen previous shipments (or more - depending on your size) and run the quotes from shipping from your location to the end user. This will help give you a new shipping average. Do this for all of your SKUS that aren’t flat rate and adjust your prices accordingly.
Also, don’t just pick the addresses the furthest from you. Pick some in the middle of nowhere. Pick some close to you. You’re looking for a true average which means sometimes you might eat it on a shipment but, if done properly, it will even out. Don’t just use the most expensive shipments and price yourself out of the sale.
Yeah, it’s no fun but trust us. Shipping costs are crucial for FBM.
**2) Handling time and Goodbye to Prime. You can either run yourself ragged and try and fulfill all your orders that were shipped out of AMZs warehouse with Prime shipping and those costs that you now have to incur directly (i.e. shipping from LA to Vermont in 2 days) - or you can give yourself a reasonable fulfillment window, use a standard 5 day ground (which will save you money), and adjust your business model.
The “I would like to speak to your Managers” of the world are going to have to live with the fact that Prime has made them greedy and that things will have to change - including their expectations.
3) Learn how to handle returns. If AMZ has been managing your returns via FBA, now might be a good time to refresh yourself on that fun process and learn when to stand your ground, when to give in, and how to properly refund / document a return.
4) Storage. Don’t know what you sell, how big it is, etc etc etc. But if you don’t have space in your house, apartment, etc - you need to get creative on this. I’d tell you to drop a 20ft container in your driveway but not all of you have driveways … BUT IF YOU DO, get one. They’re cheap storage that you can keep an eye on.
The Good(?) Parts:
1) Get you a good shipping / inventory management program and integrate it with AMZ, Fed Ex, UPS, or whomever you can. We use Ecomdash to manage our inventory, create packing slips, and shipping labels (pre-paid - just drop 'em off or have 'em picked up).
We used to use Shipstation and I can’t recommend it enough if you have all your inventory in one location.
I can’t stress using the shipping program to print your labels enough. Do it. Quit going to the post office and waiting in line. Schedule a pick up at your house (fed ex, UPS, etc) or office. Also, side benefit of printing your labels. Once your account is integrated with AMZ, it tells AMZ a label has been created on that order and the customer is notified at that time that it’s “shipped”. No more worrying about things being scanned in.
There’s plenty of programs out there. Ecomdash is clunky but impressive. Shipstation is sleek and simple - but limited to one warehouse. Others use Shipworks. Do your homework.
2) If you’re big enough, now is the time to negotiate rates. Get Fed Ex on the horn and see what they’ll do for you based on your shipping volume. You might be pleasantly surprised.
3) Got kids? You got labor. I grew up in a house where I was always helping do something for the family business. I learned to type and mail form letters in the second grade. Your kids may be out of school FOR. A. WHILE. Time for them to earn some real world experience. The lessons you can teach them now (money management, inventory management, customer service, etc) will be f’ing invaluable when they grow up. The next few months could provide a lifetime of education.
4) Breath. Accept that your business model may change and figure out how to make it work. This isn’t just happening to you, it’s happening to everyone.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE.