Thinking about switching to FBM, here's some things to think about


#1

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.


Temporarily prioritizing products coming into our fulfillment centers
Excellent thread about Self Fulfillment
New to FBM. Advice Appreciated
Fulfilling your own orders on Amazon: Important Reminders
General thoughts and advice in these unique times
#2

Hi guys!
I’m a small and fresh)) seller on Amazon.
I also decided to transfer my products to FBM.
But a problem that I see - win Buy Box…
I created a case with my proposal.

-----Given the current situation with the temporary closure of FBA shipment of many categories of products, I ask you to consider a proposal to activate the “add to cart” button for all FBM sellers in order to somehow support sales and enable small businesses to survive in this difficult time.
Please, change the algorithm that prevents buy box winning.
For example, I actively sell personalized items more than 3-4 months and still have not received an “Add to cart” button, although I ship customers orders with lightning speed and get positive feedback.
I really hope that Amazon will give our small family business a chance to survive.-----

Of course, I understand that for me alone Amazon will not do anything, but maybe there will be hundreds of us?


#3

Duplicate everything.

Have two printers. An efficient FBM set up will have a standard printer for packing slips, and a label printer for labels. In a pinch you can make either printer do the other printer’s job.

Order more boxes than you need. The same goes for packing tape, labels, bubble wrap, etc. You might not be able to get more quickly.


#4

Don’t forget the scale.

And if you are using Buy shipping from Amazon best to make an End-of-Day scan form for the USPS
https://sellercentral.amazon.com/buy-shipping/manifest


#5

You can get FREE plastic label holders from Fed Ex.

It’s cellophane, opens at the top, and you can slide the label + packing slip in there, and then seal it. We’ve been using them for years instead of getting an actual label printer.

It’s great if you’re shipping out items boxes bigger than 8.5 x 11.


#6

Ooops! Yes, get TWO scales.


#7

Or get a couple of pods. For the average homeowner, this causes far fewer problems with the neighbors because it looks temporary. You might be preparing to move or remodel.
When the city inspector comes by because one of the neighbors dropped a dime, a container may be hard to explain.


#8

:point_up_2:


#9

Are you talking Fulfilled by Seller? Because I have been in the trial since November and they won’t graduate me. I have been doing everything right, have over 1500 sales completed perfectly. I have called and they say they will not be graduating any shops out of trial.


#10

Can you explain this?
Are you saying your not allowed to ship your own items?


#11

Sorry. I am talking about Seller Fulfilled Prime. I am trying to get the Prime Badge for SFP. I ship same day, Free Shipping, completed the trial but they won’t give me the Prime Badge on my listings.


#12

Last I head they stopped accepting new sellers into the SFP program.

Basically only “legacy” sellers that got the badge in time are allowed to continue in it.


#13

I’m gonna tag some FBM/SFP Forum rock stars here: @Bad_Brittnie, @racingroxstore, @Forum_Friend.

Some additional tips:

  • Dress your packaging professionally.
  • Do not use eBay packaging for Amazon orders.
  • Do not misuse free items from USPS, UPS, or FedEx.
  • Double-check your shipping date before printing your label.
  • Carrier pricing options get weird somewhere between 5pm-7pm ET and 3am ET. If a price looks funny, wait and check again after 3am ET.
  • If you’re on the Professional selling plan, you have the option to offer free shipping. If you do, be sure to adjust the price of your product to accommodate the typical shipping cost for the item.

#14

Even if you could start SFP now, it would be very risky to do so. The USPS and other delivery services are facing higher volume and declining employee count. You can’t count on speedy delivery as SFP requires.


#15

If you are thinking about switching to FBM, you are going to be dealing with customers directly.

Crafting template responses for questions like, Where’s my stuff?, will save you time and remove the temptation to respond emotionally when scammers are trying to give you the business.


#16

@Jules_Obsession, listen to @rms! :grimacing:

This is exactly what Amazon sent to SFP Sellers today…warnings:

This is no time to try to deal with the metrics requirements or trial period–seriously:


So true!

@Sundance had great template responses throughout this thread: FBM Return.... Customer said she did not receive her refund.


#17

Bravo and thank you for caring for your fellow sellers!

I would add:

5) Be prepared for when FBA runs out of non-essential items. Yes, right now FBA is still shipping non-essentials, but unless FBA sellers have more than 4 weeks inventory on their best sellers in FBA, within a month you will find yourself with less competition from FBA PRIME. Be ready for the shift in sales to FBM and SFP. It will be sudden!


#18

In a pinch you can use the bathroom scale. Just hop on with the package. Then drop. Subtract the difference. I’ve done this with big boxes that my little postal scale can’t handle. It is close enough to the pound for media mail.


#19

Drop shippers are the ultimate winners here.


#20

Heads up, make sure your distributors are open, and your stock needs are “ready to ship”. I don’t see AMZ being timely in returning FBA inventory given the current situation.