Fulfillment by Amazon and Entrepreneurs Today
Entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes: some naturally can figure out how their business will get run. Then, there is us, the minority, who struggle day in and day out just to make a penny. Don’t let the title fool you, what you will read in this article are just my findings in the world of Amazon FBA, but they are also revelations. Let me explain what I mean by that last word with a story.
An engineer died and went to heaven. St. Peter looked at his computer printout and said, “I’m sorry, your name isn’t here. The down elevator is to the right.” This, of course, would mean that the engineer was to go to hell.
The engineer found hell to be everything it was pictured in the movies: It was hot, didn’t have any plumbing. It was terrible. So he got himself a corner office and started working.
Before long they had air conditioning, running water, electricity, cars, and dishwashers. Hell became so good that God heard about it. He said to his secretary, “Get me Lucifer on the phone.” A few minutes later the secretary said, “The Devil is on line two.” So God picked up the phone and said, “What’s this I hear about you fixing the place up and starting to compete directly with me. You are disregarding our original agreement.”
The Devil responded by saying, “It’s not my fault. I got this engineer down here, and things just got out of hand.”
Then God said, “Yes, I heard about him, he’s one of Pete’s screw-ups. He is supposed to be up here with me in heaven. I will tell you what, you send him up to me and put the place back the way it was by the end of the month, and we’ll forget all about it. If not, I’m going to sue.”
The Devil just laughed and said, “Where in heaven are you going to find a lawyer?”
According to statistics, about 20 to 30 percent of companies fail within their first year and only about 50 to 60 percent live to see the days of profit. In this scenario, most entrepreneurs and their companies are like that lawyer in the story, a rare commodity in heaven! However, I do hope that by the end of this post, some entrepreneurs will be inspired and eventually changed into that engineer. With the help of Amazon FBA, this is definitely possible!
What is Amazon FBA?
“So, have you heard the news?” Mother Theresa asked Jeff Bezos (founder of Amazon). “What news?” Jeff responded. “Amazon is giving out free food, it’s called FBA (Food by Amazon), and I am so excited. Now we can help out those starving Africans.”
If I was Jeff Bezos, I wouldn’t say she was precisely wrong. Although Amazon FBA means Fulfillment by Amazon, its impact on entrepreneurs today might as well mean Food by Amazon. Indeed, it has simplified the lives of many. So what exactly does Fulfillment by Amazon mean? It means that as a seller, you don’t have to worry about shipping products that are bought on Amazon to your customers. Its opposite is Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM), which means that a seller on Amazon has to directly ship consumer products to their customers. With FBA, you just ship your products to Amazon at places called fulfillment centers. From there, Amazon will handle the packaging and logistics for you. They also take care of customer service. That simple!
Knowing which products to sell
My main focus here is for those entrepreneurs who have already established a seller’s account on Amazon (FBA) but can’t seem to know exactly what products to sell. My research in this area might be helpful.
A lot of factors are at play when considering which products to sell. For one thing, choosing a bad product can cost you colossal sums of money. Of course, alternatively, choosing the right product can help you garner substantial profits. The list I am about to share is not exhaustive, but it is as fundamental as it is instrumental.
Revelation # 1: Pricing is everything
A forty-year-old man had two wives. One of the wives (a twenty-three-year-old) was younger than him, while the other wife (a forty-five-year-old) was older. Although both of them loved him very much, they all wanted to change him to suit their preferences. The twenty-three-year-old wife made sure to pluck out all the white hair that was in the man’s head. She did this so that she wouldn’t appear as if she married someone older than herself. The forty-five-year-old wife, on the other hand, would pluck out all the black hair that was in the man’s head so that it could appear that she married a man close to her age. The ultimate result of these actions, of course, was that the man soon became bald.
The mechanics of human nature operate in the same way. If you give people a price that is too high, there’s no doubt that they won’t think hard about buying it. After all, it’s too expensive, right? However, give them a price that is too low and they will probably think that it is junk. And who would want to buy junk?
So, when you are looking for a product to sell on Amazon. Make sure that the pricing is fair. What does fair mean you might ask? Well, definitely not a product that is so cheap that in selling it you wouldn’t make a profit. After all, you have to pay fees on each sale to Amazon. Experts suggest that the best price range is between $20 and $100.
Revelation # 2: Sales Volume
Perhaps I should have started with this one but that ‘wife story’ was just too good to wait. Anyway, the sales volume is very important when it comes to choosing a product. Pay attention to how many units a particular product sells every month. To some degree, it might seem counterintuitive to sell products that have a high sales volume since you are trying to avoid competition, but like I always say, “wherever there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather.” Don’t look at it from the lens of a monopoly. There’s good business for everyone. You just have to reserve your seat at the dinner table.
Revelation # 3: Look for Products with Good Competition
The tip which was previously mentioned is closely related to this one. Not all competition is bad. In fact, you should look at the competition as a healthy sign. It shouldn’t be a stumbling block. This, of course, doesn’t mean that you should abandon all caution. Avoid products that the big guys in the industry sell. This is so because big companies are in the habit of strangling out newbies like you by selling on low margins. They can make a quick turnover in sales and recover losses quite rapidly. You may not have that speed yet, so it’s better to avoid them altogether.
Revelation # 4: Find a Good Supplier of Niche Products
Last but definitely not least; you have to look for a good supplier for niche products. So why niche products? And what are niche products anyway? A niche product is a product that appeals to a certain class or group of people, as opposed to a general product that appeals to the general public. For example, pet food is a niche product. Why? Well, it’s because not everyone has pets and not everyone would be willing to give them anything apart from the promise that they will be in the company of a human being. What about a general product? An example of this would be toothpaste… Everyone needs to brush their teeth from time to time, so the issue of having toothpaste or a toothbrush is not even open to debate (well, let me not assume but you get the idea).
Niche products will always sell better than products that are generic in nature for two reasons:
- Big Companies love to sell general products
- People look for specific solutions to their specific problems.
Speaking on the latter, imagine walking into a store looking for dog food for your beloved pet. Not only does the attendant in the store ignore the needs of your beloved dog, but he also starts rumbling about how unfair the Government has been and he offers a solution in line with that. Although you are affected by the Government’s unfairness, you probably won’t entertain his solution because you had a specific problem that required a specific solution. A similar situation will play out for your customers.
You must also find a good supplier. There are some good ones out there but, as you can imagine, there also those who are just terrible. Make sure you know your supplier. Do a little bit of research about them and ask other entrepreneurs to see what problems they encountered.
In conclusion, Amazon FBA is a beautiful tool for the serious entrepreneur. The findings and revelations shared in this post are not meant to be exhaustive. There are other metrics that an entrepreneur has to look at in finding a good product to sell. As for now, these will suffice to serve as a starting point in the corporate jungle of Amazon FBA.