Considering TNT Post for eBay Deliveries?

It’s not everyday you’ll get this kind of insight into a business that turns over in excess of 1,200 orders every day through the marketplace channels. So take a close look at the image below.

eBay DSR's Over Time

Click here for huge version

The above graph plots the eBay Detailed Seller Ratings (DSR’s) over time for the past year or so from a single business.

Generally, item as described, communication, postage & packaging are all normal and uneventful, just the way we like them right?! However the blue line for despatch time, well that has a story to it.

Let’s start with the time up to February 2012.
Up until then, the post took a plane and a boat to arrive into the UK before being delivered by Royal Mail. Really boring with a mild peak in December which is to be expected from higher demands on the Postal Service and nothing to be concerned about.

First Peak
Now this is where it gets interesting. The first peak for the DSR “Dispatch Time” during March to April can be attributed to a combination of Royal Mail and TNT post being used as a trial period.

Now for that whacking huge spike in despatch time?
That was when TNT was used exclusively.

If we average out the despatch times up until then a value of 0.4% is fair. During that massive spike which saw a 225% increase in poor DSR’s being reported while TNT mail was being used exclusively and also the other DSR’s remained unaffected.

Understandably the plug was pulled and in July the company moved back to Royal Mail 2nd class. The effects of doing this, almost instant on DSR ratings for dispatch time and since then the DSR ratings have evened back out to what they were almost a year ago.


Do You Use TNT Post?

Have you considered using TNT post or currently use them for your eCommerce business?

What’s your experiences on using them and if you noticed any difference in DSR’s like this business did, we’d like to hear from you and you can let us know by leaving a comment below.

PS. If you want data like this for your eBay accounts, I’ll have this in WidgetChimp in the next few weeks

Podcast 008 – Wasting Time With Fulfilment

The timing of this Podcast is perfect, I’m betting this week has been the busiest week you have ever had in your business and a by-product of that is an obscene amount of orders that need to be picked, packed & despatched.

Both Dave & myself personally see absolutely no value for the average small business to be sticking items into boxes and we need to get you, the entrepreneur away from wasting time on menial tasks and promoting you to a director and working on your business, rather than in your business.

This is a must-listen too Podcast for you if you’ve considered or even not yet considered using fulfilment services for your business.

In this Podcast, we have two very special guests, Sam Phillips from who runs a fulfilment company for small businesses and also Jason Hawkins from AristaComputers who recently moved his entire business to a fulfilment company to look at fulfilment for small businesses.


Because this is may be new to you, above is a green play button. Press play and you’re listening!

If you’d like to download the Podcast for listening to on your iPhone, Droid or iPad you can do or you can press the “Play in new window” button to be able to listen to the Podcast while browsing.  If you use iTunes you can subscribe here for free.


Massive Growth This Week?

I know numerous businesses that have seen 8, 9, 10 and in one case a 18% year-on-year growth compared to last year, eCommerce is not holding back, it’s currently getting bigger by the day. However, a side effect of all the extra sales volume is the sheer amount of orders you’ve got to get through.

I’ll be blunt, I see absolutely no value in you sticking items into boxes.

Your time can be better spent on other key business tasks and this may hurt, but the reality is, there are people (just like Sam) that care about your products and can pack them just as well and dare I say it, probably better too.

Basic Steps for Processes in a New Business

As you go through the basic steps of starting up a business, making sure there is actually a demand for what you’re selling, learning the sales channels, supply chain etc… this is what I call the proof of concept stage. Assuming we get through that stage and we have a model that works, it’s common place for the same processes that you started with, to be carried through as the business grows, I know I did and we’re going to focus on one process, fulfilment in this Podcast.

Some Processes Just Don’t Scale

The issue is, that some processes (and businesses for that matter) just don’t scale and that’s why I’m so grateful for both Sam and also Jason in this Podcast who give us an insight from both running their own businesses and having a need of fulfilment, Sam now running his own fulfilment company and Jason who moved his entire business to a fulfilment company.

Jason likened given away the despatch side of his business to giving a child away when the van arrived to collect his stock, but he knew it was the right thing to do and was at odds for several days follow as he had been so caught up in spending such a large amount of time fulfilling products and this had now been completely removed.

If you’re a one or maybe a two person team, you may think you can do it better,  “that’s nice”, but the reality is it can be done outside of your business for pretty much the same cost as it costs you right now.

Just imagine what would happen if you did that, how many hours per day would you save? And what would you do with that extra time? More products & more sales channels perhaps? Because we both know you won’t be putting your feet up on the sofa.

The Perfect Pick, Pack & Despatch Process.

There is only one perfect pick & pack process and that is a process that is time & cost effective for your business. I know several companies that are in the hunt for the perfect pick & pack process and the irony is, they have the best processes going for their business right now and for plenty of room for growth too.

This is just a myth.

We were looking at fulfilment companies a short while ago with a client and in the middle of their warehouse, the question was asked “Do you use the same process for all the businesses that have their orders fulfilled here?” I thought that the answer was a no-brainer, that they would all be in the same process, but the reality is, that there is no perfect process for all businesses and in that fulfilment centre of over 40 businesses, each had their own process.

RHD. Receive, Handle & Distribute AKA Charge, Charge & Charge

Fulfilment companies generally use a standard process as your stock goes through “Receive, Handle & Distribute” and you get charged at every point. Most of them charge you small fees, for each action.

But in Sam’s case as it’s aimed at small to medium businesses then this is just plain confusing and has opted for a simple percentage on the shipping cost. Sam is also using the discounts that he receives by using PPI as a selling point to small business owners, so in fact for many of his clients, there is little extra costs and he’s doing the fulfilment for them. How sweet is that?!

Good & Bad Amazon

We can’t cover fulfilment without at least mentioning Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA), it’s a topic I’ve been putting off as I’d like to cover as a complete overview in one go, however Amazon really has been taking a beating over the past few months, recently in at least two forums posts from the WholesaleForums that are horrific. The first called “Amazon have destroyed my business and put two people out of work” & the second “Amazon shut down another business”. They’re both worth a read and also going back through the comments here on the LastDropofInk around Price Parity on Amazon, Amazon when she wants to be, can very bullish.

Another more positive example (not without Amazon having a stab at themselves I hasten to add) is in the LastDropofInk forums called “Amazon Vendor Invite” and is worth a read, as Amazon take on a 3rd parties products into their own catalogue and it works out quite nicely in the end for both parties.

Traffic Statistics for Shopping Sites in the USA

Amazon Web Traffic Compared to eBay

Those estimated 12-13 million Amazon Prime buyers are so lucrative, in some cases it’s worth the risks of selling on Amazon with FBA, just to get a tiny slice of the pie and we cannot overlook that Amazon draws more traffic that eBay.

Did you know that?
You do now! Look at the chart above, there is a massive difference between eBay & Amazon in the USA.

About Sam &

Sam PhillipsSam is the prime example of an entrepreneur, Sam, is just like you & me, we are wired differently and you do what comes naturally to you, adapt.

If you listened into the Podcast, then you’ll know that Sam cares about your products as much as you do and is perfectly capable of representing the despatch process of your business.

Sam is just like you, he cares and he understands, he’s been there himself and can help you remove the one of the most time intensive and least value processes (as keeping you as the entrepreneur is paramount) from your business.

You can find out more about Sam & EasiLogic here

About Jason Hawkins

aristacomputersJason a successful entrepreneur, holding down a multi channel business using eBay, Amazon & his website at and doing what entrepreneur’s do best, working on a darn cool new project.

Jason’s been there and put his entire business into an fulfilment company, that happened several months ago and now looking back, when you free up an entrepreneur, sparks fly and I’d like to thank Jason for his invaluable input in this Podcast, thank you Jason.

And a Special Thanks to Dave Furness

Dave FurnessI feel don’t credit enough back to Dave for his help, support & input in creating these Podcasts.

I’m sure you’ll agree, Dave is a vital part of each Podcast we’ve created and I’d like to say thank you Dave, I really appreciate your help.

You can too, by leaving a comment at the bottom of this article.

VIDEO: “Linking Obvious” A Basic Introduction to Web Usability for eCommerce Sites

This drove me so “nuts”, I’m sharing this video with you, so you don’t make the same mistakes and I’ve got a simple rule that you can never fail with for usability on your website.

Hit play below on the video below to see what this rule is:

As I mention in the video, it’s purpose is to demonstrate some very straight forwards points for you to look out for on your own website and if you design your website so that a 6 year old can use it, then a user of any age & experience can use it and that’s gotta be a good thing right?

If you design your website so that a 6 year old can use it, then a user of any age & experience can use it

In the video I discuss “action colours”, these are soooo important to get right on a site and confusing customers with multiple button colours, placements and not using them at all at key stages makes the user think.

This sounds wrong, but we don’t want out customers to think, we want the customer to just follow the item flow all the way through to the checkout pages and it’s our job as website owners to make this as easy and intuitive as possible for them.

Learn More

If you’d like to learn more about website usability, then there are two books on Amazon that are must reads. I’ve got them both and they’re never leaving my office.

The first is “Don’t Make Me Think” which has lots of examples and is super easy to follow, the second is called “Call to Action” and it’s remarkable how many sites just get this wrong or not even at all! Both on Amazon & available on the Kindle.

Oh yea… Lookout this afternoon for our 8th Podcast, the topic’s timing is brilliant, it’s fulfilment!

A Special eCommerce Date You Cannot Miss Out On

Why is this date sooo important that I’m posting anything at all this week, when I know you’re at busiest time? Read on and you’ll find out.

I’ll keep this brief, as I know you’re exceptionally busy at the moment. “Cyber Monday” has passed, but I’m sure most of you are expecting the latter part of this week to be bigger that Monday was and for a few of you, Sunday was far better.

Either way I sincerely hope you’re making some serious cash on the marketplaces this Christmas. But I’d like you to draw your attention to one key date, it’s called 26th December.

Why is this date important and why am I posting anything at all this week, when everything is kicking off and like the picture I saw from Nick on Facebook, the Royal Mail vans are stuffed to the brim?

It’s because you’re at your busiest that I know you have a high chance of overlooking the obvious.

The moment that clock hits 00:00:01 on Boxing Day, your customers are in “sale mode”. We’re programmed to be in sale mode and as it’s at Christmas where more cash shifts around than any other time of the year and it’s perfectly possible to sell more, yes MORE after the 26th than before.

Think accessories, also think that the products could also have been purchased to clear as well, it doesn’t have to be a drop in margin. So in keeping this brief, I’m going to leave you with one question:

Other than the rest of the turkey, what have you got planned for the 26th December?

Oh, when you’re sick of sticking items into bags & boxes, look out for this Friday’s Podcast, it’s all about fulfilment.

Updating Kit Product Costs in eSellerPro Automatically

In ecommerce unique products are like goldOne of the most powerful features in eSellerPro is its ability to manage Kits. Kits are made up of multiples of a single SKU or multiple SKU’s but taken together produce a new product and one which can be unique.

In ecommerce unique products are like gold

Kits in eSellerPro are very cool and John knows first hand how powerful the use of these kits are, but there is one part of the kits that is not ideal, updating the kit prices. John shows us how to tackle this challenge using a little excel magic.

Before we dive into how to tackle updating kit prices in eSellerPro, John is absolutely right, In ecommerce unique products are like gold and we cover over free or inexpensive ways of leveraging kits aptly named Podcast sell more with the same products and this can work for anyone whether they’re using eSellerPro or not.


eSellerPro & Versatile Inventory

We were able to create an inventory system in eSellerPro that enabled users to deal with the complexities of inventory management, multiple sales channels and the requirements needed for larger businesses.

The outcome of this is what you see in eSellerPro today and while we’re focusing on kits, they make up just one part of the inventory system, there are several inventory types in eSellerPro, such as Master SKU’s, Listing SKU’s, Stocked Sub SKU’s, Variation SKU’s, a rare type called Holding SKUs and Kits which we’ll focusing on in this article.

eSellerPro Kit Products

One of the benefits of using eSellerPro for kit products is its ability to manage the stock which makes up the kit. In short kits are amazing.

It’s possible to sell individual SKU’s [say a camera case], as well as Kits of SKU’s [a camera and a case] and eSellerPro will keep the stock accurate. Thus it’s possible to hold say just 10 SKU’s yet make up 100’s of unique products (or close to a million in one case).

The Downside of Kit Products in eSellerPro

While eSellerPro does an excellent job in keeping the stock levels correct, so you don’t oversell every 2 minutes with complex inventory, but it does not count the individual SKU costs in the kit. This is where the guide that follow steps in and makes it easy for you to do so.

So if your selling price is based on the item costs there will be manual work to do in calculating the cost price of the kits. For many of you, your suppliers regularly change pricing then this addition work can seriously negate the benefits of kits. This is especially true if you use formulas to calculate selling prices in your Channel Profiles. Additionally if you post accounts to accounting software your cost of goods lines may be incorrect.

Thanks to John, Help is at Hand

If you are familiar with importing and exporting in eSellerPro then there is a simple way in which your kit costs can be updated.

Here’s one way how to do it and if you know a better way let us know!

Step 1 – Backup!
Before you start export your kits and save the export somewhere safe.
(You can do this using the process explained in step 4)

Step 2 – Create the Layout
Now create an Import/Export Layout with the following columns:

  • StockNumber
  • CostEach

An example of such a layout is below, with the key areas highlighted.

eSellerPro Custom Export Layout

Step 3- Search, Filter & Export
Sort your inventory by ‘Kit Parts’ and export these with this layout. Save the export spreadsheet. Lets call it “StockNumberCostEach.xls”.

A screen shot on how to filter for just the kit parts is show in the screen shot below.

eSellerPro Filter Kit Products

Step 4 – Export the Kits Using the Standard Kits Layout
Using the search filter in Inventory, search for the Product Type: “Kits” and along top press the Excel icon. Now export these using the layout shown below:

eSellerPro Export Kit Products

The resulting spreadsheet will have columns with Stock Number and Quantity for all the kit parts in your kits.

Step 5 – Crack Open Excel

We are going to use Excels VLOOKUP function to find the individual parts prices and add them up.

Once you have your Kit Export Spreadsheet you will need to copy the StockNumberCostEach.xls spreadsheet to a new worksheet in the Kit Export Spreadsheet.

You can then use the VLookup formulas in the following download to calculate the kit pricing. A typical cell formula is similar to this:

=(VLOOKUP(B3,’Parts Pricing’!$A$1:$B$671,2,FALSE))*C3

If we just lost you, don’t worry, John’s provided us with an excel spreadsheet ready for use. You can download this spreadsheet, with the formula’s included here:

Excel Worksheet for eSellerPro Kits

This spreadsheet assumes your kit part pricing export has been copied to a worksheet called “Part Pricing” and it has formulas for kits with up to 17 parts. (scroll to the right if you can’t see them).

Add the data from the two exported sheets for the kits and the kit parts and enter them into the sheet above.

Note: If you have kits with more just follow the formulas given and don’t forget to copy the results and use “Paste As Values”. You can then delete all the columns except the StockNumber and final Prices.

Step 6 – Import Into eSellerPro
Then simply import the spreadsheet using your StockNumberCostEach.xls layout as the “Import Kits” option on the same tab as shown in Step 4.

Step 7 – Create a Support Ticket
Finally – Send eSellerPro a request to add automatic updating of kit costs to their development schedule.
(this was John’s suggestion and I’m leaving this in, I laughed very loudly when I first read his guide, I hope you do too!)

Updating Kits in eSellerPro Summary

Kits whether in eSellerPro or not can give your business the edge and also help customers by combining products into new products so the purchasing process is a lot simpler for them.

The base of this article was provided by John Hewitt from Bamford Trading, an eSellerPro user since 2006. I’d like to express my thanks to John for sharing this with us and if you have any questions, just pop them in the comments box below.

What Music Do You Listen To While Working?

Music is such a powerful medium and I’ve always found that the right tune can help me get through the early hours when completing a project or to just help the day fly by.

I’ve included three of my personal favourites below and they sum up the wildly different tastes in music I have and a little background to why I use them and when I use them too.

These are my tastes but I’d really like to know which tracks give you the chill’s and help you get through your working day. You can let me know them in the comments section at the bottom.



The first is a motivational track taken from Madagascar 3 (mint film by the way, have you seen it yet?) which I use for when I’m working on a tough project and needs me break from the self-doubt I struggle with badly.

Dig Deep and Make the Hours Fly By

The second is actually a collection of classical tracks that I loop through when I need break those small hours and dig in deep and push through. The playlist is here.

Change My State of Mind in 1 Minute

And if I get really stuck, then this tune always liven’s me up.

But it comes with a warning… You might want to turn the sound down before playing as the intro is ‘loud’, hence why I use to change my state of mind and that dude in the orange shirt at 1:00, that’s me, well mentally anyway.

What Gives You Chills?

That’s enough about my tastes, what do you use to:

  • Spur you on?
  • To relax with?
  • Change your state of mind entirely?

Let me know by leaving a link or track name in the comments box below.

Looking For Beta Testers – Amazon Review & Feedback Manager

Amazon Feedback

Did you know you’re really lucky if just 10% of Amazon buyers leave feedback? And I’d personally be really impressed if 1% of customers were leaving reviews on your products.

I was sat sipping a coffee in my favourite cafe, pondering about the lack of feedback comments and reviews that we get on Amazon and they’re really low, hardly anyone leaves feedback on Amazon and when they do, it’s normally not the best, it’s why Amazon feedback is always so hard to improve.

When it comes to reviews on products for Amazon, they are golden tickets. A review can make or break a listing.

I was talking to a footwear seller earlier this week, they had a specific range that flies on eBay, but on Amazon, nothing. The answer was immediately apparent when they checked.

The reason why for such disparity? One bad review of the product and that had sealed its fate on Amazon forever. But on the flip side, did you know that on average, the top 100 selling items on Amazon have over 100 reviews on them, averaging one review per day?

Reviews are extremely powerful and when it comes to reviews, you can never have enough of them.

At the bottom of this article I have an invitation for just 3 people to come “Beta test” a product that can make a serious dent in the low number of product reviews and feedback received. 


Amazon Feedback Manager

I’ve been working on a tool to help improve the pick-up on Amazon feedback comments that are left and also reviews being left for products. This is for business owners just like you and it’s now ready for beta testing.

Let’s be frank here, I’m not suggesting spamming customers with crappy feedback requests, what I am suggesting is that a well structured, personal approach will work and playing the “we care” card with customers can and does work especially if we’re doing it the right way.

Digging around the T & C’s on Amazon, sending an email to an Amazon buyer with shipping information isn’t allowed, but nudging customers along to leave a product review or feedback on Amazon, actually isn’t against any of their policies.

This system is already up and working with a user right now and I’ve included a screenshot of the dashboard below.

Amazon Feedback Manager

As you can see I’ve been busy and there is some basic reporting included on the dashboard (which need more work) and you’re able to keep track of yours orders, their status and communication history.

The way the system works is that it’s not randomly sending out emails willy-nilly, they are highly personalised with a message that would make me leave a comment and also I’m working on timing them so that they are sent in the same time window for when they were purchased and a few days later, after we know that the items will have arrived with them.

Note: I do feel important to note that although the order data and line items are being pulled from Amazon (and I looked at the other parts of the Amazon interface and thought “that’s easy”), there is absolutely no intention to expand this out to full-blown order management software, remember I’ve been there and done that before, twice!

Update: All places for the beta have gone! If you’re interested in this application, then it will be live soon and you can register your interest here.

There are only 3 places available because each setup will be personally guided through by myself, so that we both work together to ensure that this works for your business.

So my question is:

Would it help your business if customers were leaving more product reviews and you saw an increase in feedback left on Amazon?

If the answer’s yes and you’re processing over 100 orders per month, then I’m looking for just 3 beta testers to trial this for a month and I’d like you to be one of them.

If this is something you’d like to be involved in, then contact me via the contact form here, including a link to your Amazon store/feedback page and a little more about you & your business.

Podcast 007 – Becoming THE Expert

A few Podcasts ago we were joined by John Hayes to discuss if Social Marketing Is a Waste of Time (For Product Based Businesses).  In that Podcast we touched upon John’s book “Becoming The Expert” and myself and Matt have both read the book and we knew that it was worthy of a Podcast in its own right.

In this Podcast we ask the questions that you may have about Becoming THE Expert and this supporting article will detail the Q & A session that we had with the author John Hayes and will hopefully answer some of the questions about how YOU can become THE expert.

In this Podcast there is myself Dave Furness, Andy Hamilton the best-selling author of Booze For Free, Our special guest for the second time the author of Becoming the Expert John Hayes, and of course the man who needs no introduction LastDropofInk’s very own Matt Ogborne.


Because this is may be new to you, above is a green play button. Press play and you’re listening!

If you’d like to download the Podcast for listening to on your iPhone, Droid or iPad you can do or you can press the “Play in new window” button to be able to listen to the Podcast while browsing.  If you use iTunes you can subscribe here for free.

Matt’s Comment: There are a few of these comments and for the first one a special “thank you” to Dave for putting this article together for us.

Q1: What is Thought Leadership Marketing?

To fully appreciate what Thought Leadership Marketing is we must first define the term as a thought leader. As John says in the Podcast a Thought Leader is someone who positions themselves as an expert in their own particular industry and becomes known amongst their peers for being an expert.

The concept of Thought Leadership Marketing is using this expertise to help build a brand and generate leads within their chosen industry and ultimately drive sales.

A “Thought Leader” is someone who positions themselves as an expert in their own particular industry and becomes known amongst their peers for being an expert

The key to this concept comes in two parts.  The first part is securing yourself or your brand as a Thought Leader, ensuring that people know that you are at the forefront of your industry and a reliable source of knowledge in your area. Once you have that secure you can then move into the second part which introduces the marketing concept.

Distributing their thought leadership through a number of marketing channels so that their voice is heard and people look to them for information further securing them as Thought Leaders.


As John mentions, there are a number of channels that are open to thought leadership marketers.  Some of they key ones are:

  • Blogs
  • White Papers
  • E-Books
  • Podcasts
  • YouTube

These are just a few of the most common forms of channels available for Thought Leaders to use, and John recommends that the first port of call should be a blog.

So if you are trying to secure yourself as a thought leader in your own right, or as part of a brand, you really should ensure that you have a Blog which is kept up to date as this is the first step in getting your information seen and growing an audience. From there you can then expand into other channels.

Q2: What does it mean to be a thought leader and do you have any examples of thought leaders the listeners or readers could relate to?

There are a number of thought leaders out there who are all prominent in their own niches.  In the Podcast I mention one of mine and Matt’s favourites that is Pat Flynn who runs the from the USA.

Pat has even commented on a few of the posts here on Lastdropofink.  The key here is that every niche will have their own thought leaders and the aim here is to secure yourself as the thought leader in your chosen area.

John also mentions Scot Wingo the CEO of ChannelAdvisor as one of the first Thought Leaders he came across during his time at Channel Advisor.  Scot had wrote a book, which in itself for anyone who has blogged before knows is no small feat called “Ebay Strategies: 10 Proven Methods to Maximize Your Ebay Business“.

The book that Scot wrote was incredibly easy to read was bang up to date for it’s time and it was written in Plain English that anyone could read and understand.  This point in itself is what differentiates someone who knows their industry from a Thought Leader.

Being able to communicate a subject that you are passionate about which has a lot of depth but in a manner which isn’t confusing

You can still be an expert but if you are unable to communicate effectively to your audience, you will never be a Thought Leader.  By being able to communicate a subject that you are passionate about which has a lot of depths but in a manner which isn’t confusing, doesn’t use a lot of industry buzz words and doesn’t aim to alienate those who may not understand the terminology.  Scot does this incredibly well still to this day in his blog for Channel Advisor still very up to date but in plain English.

Thought Leaders are not restricted to the technology sector we hasten to add, our very own Andy Hamilton is the perfect example of this, Andy is regarded as a thought leader in Home Brewing and Foraging, and because he is a very good communicator people turn to him as the expert in his field which has led him into numerous television and radio appearances to discuss his industry in detail. (Matt’s comment: Andy was recently on the Alan Titchmarsh show)

The message here is, every niche or industry needs Thought Leaders almost as village elders who others turn to for advice.  John calls himself a Storyteller and this is a perfect fit for a Thought Leader.

If you think of childhood stories, most of them have a meaning or a message and that is wrapped up in a story to give it a deeper meaning.  This is a very clever tactic which is used by many Thought leaders to get a message across to their audience.

A top tip that Matt shares in the Podcast is to write your content as if it was for a 6 year old

A top tip that Matt shares in the Podcast is to write your content as if it was for a 6 year old.  If you keep your content interesting enough and simple enough for a 6 year old to be able to read and understand.  By doing this, you don’t over-complicate the subject and keep it in Plain English.

A good example of this is the Financial Times newspaper which covers incredibly in-depth topics, but at a level that anyone could pick up and understand. John finishes off the topic nicely by explaining how due to the Internet it is very easy for people to at first ‘seem’ like they are Thought Leaders or to come across as such in their writing, as it is incredibly easy for anyone to put content out there these days.

A true Thought Leader has made the experience in what they write about, it isn’t just an opinion it is based on real life, they have made the mistakes, learnt from them and are passing these onto others, and that is where the true value of a Thought Leader comes from.

Q3: Is it a case of being across as many channels as possible…or, doing a few channels REALLY well when it comes to though leadership, basically is it quantity or quality?

The key point to take away on this question is to make sure the channels that you are working on are at a good standard before moving on to a new channel.  The first port of call for a potential Thought Leader is to have a blog.

Once the blog has good content it is natural to link this into social media and likewise video content is great for Blogs too as well as standing alone on the YouTube platform.  Don’t make the mistake of trying to run before you can walk.

Matt’s Comment: As we cover in the Podcast, the Blog, just like your eBay Store, becomes the hub for your business, get the hub in place and you can start adding to it, however you see fit.

Make sure that your blog is kept up to date and is at a sustainable place before you branch out into other areas.  John states in the Podcast:

Don’t overstretch yourself, you are better off with 2 or 3 well managed channels than 10 poor channels.

The blog is they key stone of your marketing efforts.  Blog posts can be mentioned in YouTube video’s they can be shared on Social Media sites, they can be linked to in forum posts, they are great for promoting products such as books etc.  Which is why the Blog should be the first port of call, and then look for how the other channels can create a web of content which all link in to each other to set up this personal information network.

This can either be for your personal industry or to further the content creation and network of your brand. Quality is the key when it comes to becoming a Thought Leader and it is something that will largely revolve around your experience.  You cannot pretend to have experience and if you try it the chances are you will get found out very quickly.

If you are the thought leader and you create quality content, then the audience will read what you have to say. Matt makes a crucial point in the Podcast which is that it is critical to interact with people who get involved with your marketing.  When you start writing blog posts in the beginning no one will read them, but over time they will start to attract visitors and you will grow your audience.

People may start asking questions or commenting on your content. To be a good Thought Leader it is brought back to communication, you must reply to these questions or comments to further solidify your position as the leader.  By talking about your experience and testimony then you are helping to create even more of an impression that you have been there done it and you are the expert.

Q4: What actionable steps can our listeners use right now in their businesses to leverage this to their advantage?

The first thing is BLOG! Get good quality unique content on there and start building your brand.  If you don’t know where to start with this, or you’re struggling for blog post ideas, let us know in the forums here and the community will do their best to help you.

No-one will read your blog in the early days but as it grows and the audience grows…

Andy again states here that the key is to have patience when it comes to blogging, but to stick at it.  To repeat no-one will read your blog in the early days but as it grows and the audience grows it is key to keep the content coming.

A blog which hasn’t been updated in 12 months can give the impression that the business has failed and this can have the total opposite effect in positioning you as a Thought Leader.  Never blog about something that isn’t quality content, don’t feel that you have to stick to a timetable, but if you are struggling to find something to write about, then as John says, it may be time to get a new job.

Matt’s Comment: Completely ignore SEO, you can never go wrong with this simple rule, “Quality, Unique Content”. It never fails and you can worry about the other parts later.

The natural progression from blogging is to build a social network audience.  Don’t use it as a sales channel, but use it to build interaction with potential customers so they get to know you as a business or person. This again solidifies your brand and shows that their is a human behind the facade of a business an this is important as people like to deal with people.

The key point that Andy mentions is listen to what your audience are asking for, or commenting on, and write blog posts on these topics to almost encourage interaction and the likelihood of it being read. Two Top Tips to take away from this Podcast

  1. Once your business is up and running start a blog, and make sure you turn up regularly with fresh unique content, set yourself a manageable goal to ensure the content gets created, and make it a habit.
  2. Use the blog and therefore it’s audience to feed the e-commerce site and vice versa, create this web of intelligent content based around yourself.  Using social media and other channels to link the content together and pull the audiences in from the different available spaces.

*Bonus Content*
To help you get started I’ve compiled a list of 10 potential starter blog posts for your business blog. 10 Starter Blog Posts:

  1. Introduction of You/Your Business
  2. Product/Service Review
  3. Your favourite book review which relates to your industry
  4. Latest news within your industry
  5. Christmas (Everyone has something to say about Christmas)
  6. A problem you had and how you overcame it
  7. A competition blog post
  8. A picture gallery post of either your business, processes, staff or key products
  9. An opinion piece on a certain technology or news piece in your domain
  10. A post looking to future trends within your industry

Matt’s Comment:  A really good example of #7 is from Pete Moran, who joined us for Podcast #2. Pete has just started a competition today on his site called “Guess That Thing”, take a look at it here, I have no idea what it is, do you?

Q5: Where can people find out more about you John and Thought Leadership Marketing?

Becoming THE ExpertJohn really is the Though Leader in marketing and we would like to thank him again for being our guest on this Podcast.

The truth is however that we have barely scraped the surface on what his book “Becoming the Expert” covers. So if you found this podcast useful and want to take it to the next level we would strongly recommend buying John’s book.

It’s available on all digital e-reader devices and can be found in all the main digital e-bookstores. See below for the Becoming the Expert website and the link to his publisher where you can get all the information on where to get hold of his book.  Likewise if you want to get in touch with John on twitter we have included his Twitter name below too.

John Hayes

John HayesJohn’s Hayes | Blog@john_w_hayes | LinkedIn John’s Book “Becoming THE Expert: Enhancing Your Business Reputation through Thought Leadership Marketing” is now live and you can purchase via his  publishers site here.

Your Feedback

If you have any questions about what we covered with John in the Podcast, let us know by leaving a comment below.

Q&A Free Delivery Versus Reasonable Delivery Costs On Amazon

This is the third of a series of articles where I’m answering several questions that have come in via email in the past few days, that I feel that you’d gain value from hearing the answer too.

Free Delivery Versus Reasonable Delivery Costs

Today’s question is from Christine and is in relation to the having free shipping v’s reasonable shipping costs on Amazon.

The reason why it’s curious is because Amazon is quite different to eBay in the way it organises listing & prices and I’d like to delve into the Amazon Buy Box a little deeper and their prime subscriptions too.

Here’s the question:

Hi There Matthew,

I was just wondering what your thoughts were on Free Delivery versus reasonable delivery costs.

I started selling on Amazon about 1 year ago and have always gone for the reasonable delivery costs option so the actual product price appears a little lower than those who offer Free Delivery.

Even though Amazon calculates the cheapest offer based on a total of product and delivery charges my thoughts are that if a buyer sees a cheaper product cost plus reasonable delivery cost then the perception is that the product is more reasonably priced overall.

However I am considering changing to Free UK delivery for ease of calculating delivery costs etc

Kind Regards

Price Perception

I feel Christine is right, the perception that a customer would have that the price is good and the shipping is sensible then it would appear as a better proposition overall.

However, we must account for that we would assume this to be logical, but as buyers we’re not logical at all, we’re emotional, plus we are considering the Amazon marketplace here and while this may be true for other marketplaces or on our own websites, for Amazon I don’t think this is true and I’ll explain why.

By the way, if you think I’m wrong, you can let me know in the comments box at the bottom.

The Amazon Buy Boxes

To see where I’m going with this reply, we need to take a look at the buy boxes on Amazon and how the change.

Amazon Only / Amazon Prime

Amazon buy Box No SellersIf we take a look at the normal Amazon buy box on for an item that is being sold by Amazon directly, then we can see it’s very clean.

As a buyer we’re presented with just the quantity option, add to basket as the primary action, the option to login or the secondary action of adding it to a wishlist.

All pretty clean.

3rd Party Seller + Free Delivery

Amazon Buy Box One Marketplace Seller

However if we now look at Amazon buy box where there isn’t Amazon and just a 3rd party seller like us, then we can see that the buy box has the extra details at the top about the seller.

We can also see the item price and the shipping amount and the sellers name, noting that the delivery amount is emphasised as “FREE UK delivery”.

3rd Party Seller + Paid Delivery

Amazon Buy Box With ShippingIn the buy box to the right, we have a product where the seller has a delivery price entered.

In comparison, the “FREE UK delivery” stands out more, but Amazon are not promoting the total price, just that there is extra postage to be paid.

And When We have Multiple Sellers

Amazon Buy Box Multiple SellersThere can only be one winner and if you’re up against an Amazon stocked item or an FBA seller then the chances of you obtaining the buy box on equal total pricing, is remote.

If there are multiple sellers that are eligible for the buy box, will rotate at differing speeds through the buy box and any sellers that are not in the main buy box are shown below.

If we look at the example to the right, then we have a winner that is at £2.65 + free delivery and three others with the same product at various prices, however the last one from TLSS is the one I’d like to point out in more detail next.

Note: If you’d like to know a formula that will get you access to the Amazon Buy box for longer, then see this article which gives you this and it’s proven to work and if you’d like to know more about Amazon’s “Seller Ratings”, the new scoring system for Amazon Sellers you can here.

I’m just a mere customer, not a mathematician.

In the buy box example above we’re given numerous options, but as a buyer I only really care about the total price and also I’m just a mere customer, not a mathematician.

Making a buyer think is a bad thing

If I’m presented with prices that all have free options, then I see the prices as the total price. However if you ask me to compare four prices on one set of terms, they’re all total prices with free shipping and you lob me a price that I need to calculate in my head, then you are making me think.

Trying sum up the prices so that I can either rule in the £1.50 plus £1.99 option when all the others are just prices with free shipping makes me think and making a buyer think is a bad thing.

We need to make it as easy as possible for them to work out if the proposition is a good one or not and if the playing field are using free shipping, then that is what you should follow, free shipping, otherwise we’re making the buyers think.

Considering Amazon Prime Users

Amazon Prime Get Your Stuff FastIf we also account for Amazon Prime accounts, this is where an Amazon customer has paid £49 a year (or $79 in the USA) these are the power buyers on Amazon.

According to ChannelAdvisor’s Scot Wingo last year, there are approximately 10-12 million Amazon Prime users whom he also believes that these buyers account for a 3 to 4 times increase in buying volumes. As such they should not be ignored.

If we consider that it was you that paid £50 to have free next day delivery on items, then you’re not going to be that excited about paying extra for shipping when you’ve already stumped up £50 for an item on the Amazon marketplace where you’ve already made a decent outlay to get free shipping. In short as an Amazon Prime buyer you expect free shipping.

Note: You can gain access to these buyers by using FBA (Fulfilment By Amazon), this isn’t for everyone and doesn’t suit all products. 

In Summary

Me me me me me me me me me me, that’s all the customer cares about. Using a quote from Seth Godin:

Customers want ME-MAIL not Email

So with me in mind (as a potential customer) I have a Amazon Prime subscription and trust me I hate paying postage on Amazon after paying £50 for free delivery and I know what the difference is between marketplace, FBA and Amazon stocked products are!!!!

I bet the vast majority of Amazon customers don’t and they just want simple pricing and the simplest it can be is price + free delivery.

While me and you may know that your postage prices are excellent, 99.9% of customers probably don’t know the latest price of a first class stamp (what is that now anyway?), let alone the different pricing bands from Royal Mail and whether your postage price is good value or not. They just want a total price.

If we consider the case for Christine, then if your competition are offering free delivery, then don’t make your buyers try and do maths, regardless of how simple it is. Customers are like babies, you need to keep it as simple as possible and spoon feed them just enough information so they get what they need to know at that moment in time.

Make it really easy for them and let them see that your total price is excellent.

Make it really easy for them and let them see that your total price is excellent. And if in doing so means you need to combine the shipping prices into the sell price and offer free shipping, then so be it.

In the original question from Christine, Christine was considering moving to a free shipping model on Amazon, the answer now with the explanation why, is yes you should move to a free shipping model on Amazon and I’ve hoped I’ve explained why.

Do You use Free Shipping on Amazon or Another Marketplace?

If you do and have seen a positive or a negative impact to doing so, let Christine know by leaving her a comment in the comments box at the bottom.

Q&A: How Can I Use All the Search Keywords for an Amazon Listing?

This is the second of a series of articles where I’m answering several questions that have come in via email in the past few days, that I feel that you’d gain value from hearing the answer too.


Maximising the Search Keywords on Amazon

Today’s question is in relation to using the extra keywords when creating or updating products on Amazon.

If you didn’t know about these, then dig in they can be leveraged to help drive extra traffic to your Amazon product listings and as we find out they complement the product title.

Here’s the question:

Hi Matt,

Amazon have 5 extra cells in excel that we can enter keywords into and they allow 50 characters per cell.

How do I use all these all to maximum benefit and can I put in more than one keyword into the cell, if so how?



So What Are Amazon Search Keywords?

eSellerPro Amazon Catalgue Tab KeywordsSo before dig in we need to make sure that we’re all on the same sheet, literally the same import sheet.

When creating or updating products on Amazon you can do this using an import sheet that Amazon provides. These import sheets vary from category to category and if you are using a 3rd party tool, then look for 5 boxes called “keywords” or “search terms”.

I’ve included a screen shot from an eSellerPro account to the right and these are found on the “Catalogue Details” tab and also they should not be confused with “Platinum Keywords” (Platinum Keywords are used for the Amazon Webstore and their categorisation)

There are a collection of inventory loading templates, the templates you need to use to create new products on Amazon with can be found here and they are at the bottom of the page (not the first ones).

In these workbooks, if you go to the sheet called “Apparel Template” (or similar) and scroll across to the right until you get to columns BW to CA (or about there, depends on the template being used). Here we’ll see “search-terms1” through to “search-terms5”, just like below:

Amazon Search Terms Template File

Why Are These So Important?

It’s these keywords that can help your products be found on Amazon, but they shouldn’t be filled with any old junk. Unlike eBay that has quite a complex search engine (which is going to get very smart next year with Cassini, whole different topic) the Amazon sites search engine is still very primitive in comparison.

And it’s because of this, these keywords can make all the difference in making your items found, especially when we consider that the search bar at the top of the Amazon site, takes up a minimum of 44% of the width header area, even the Amazon logo or cart doesn’t get that kind of treatment!

Amazon Search box 44 Percent Wide

With a search box area that size, we have to be assuming that at least 95% of all sales or more on Amazon are driven by the search this box alone. I think I’ve made the point, search keywords are really important.

What Does Amazon Have to Say About the Search Keywords?

Surprisingly not a lot! Quoting Amazon’s help file for sellers below (which is also worth a good read):

Use terms once

Because the words of the product name are already searchable, do not use search terms that are words also contained in the title. For example, the complete list of automatic search terms for Allison’s Cookies is allison, gourmet, organic, chocolate, chip, pecan, cookie, one & dozen. Good search terms for Allison’s Cookies, therefore, might be “natural,” “baked,” and “dessert.”
Use single words

Single words work better as search terms than phrases. If you use phrases, then customers must type each entry exactly as you entered it. For example, if you enter “natural baked dessert” as search terms for Allison’s Cookies, then that is what customers must type. If they type “natural” or “dessert,” your products won’t appear in the search results. However, by listing these terms separately, you allow for more combinations, such as natural, natural dessert, baked desserts, baked, dessert, and baked natural. If you aren’t getting the sales you expect, continue to experiment with your search terms until you find you have the best combination of product title and search terms for your products.

To summarise what Amazon is suggesting we do is to try and keep to broad words and not to repeat them.

That’s pretty straight forwards and good advice. But sometimes broad is not good enough and we need to be specific and this is where the next question/answer comes in.

How Do You use All the Space Provided in the Search Terms?

In each of the search terms fields, 1-5 you’re allowed to enter up to 50 characters and the trick to leveraging these is to use commas between each keyword. That’s 250 characters of search-for-me-find-me goodness.

That way instead of just entering one keyword into each of the 5 search term cell’s, you can now enter multiple keywords in each and because you can use more than just one or two words you can use phrases too.

Now before you go keyword spam-tasticly-crazy with these, it’s really important to take note of Amazon’s first suggestion, use keywords once or kinda taking notice anyway.

Sticking in “ipod,ipod,ipod,ipod,ipod,ipod,ipod,ipod,ipod,ipod” is going to be futile, however stringing keywords together to make mini phrases, well that’s targeted.

Staying with the iPod theme for a few moments and picking on the #1 selling iPod charger, if we look at the title “FreeLogix – White UK 3 Pin Mains Charger – iPod All Generations” and the keywords that are being used:

  • ipod charger,
  • ipod mains charger,
  • ipod nano charger,
  • ipod  charger,
  • ipod 3pin uk charger,
  • Portable Audio,
  • Portable Audio

While the last two are duplicates, the rest are phrases. In fact the last two are absolutely pointless, who the hell searches for “Portable Audio”?

With thanks to Wikipedia the versions of the iPod are as follows:

  • Classic
  • Mini
  • Nano
  • Shuffle
  • Touch

I’ve got a Shuffle (fab little thing, doesn’t play Podcasts though…)  and the socket won’t fit the shuffle, I’m not sure the others, but for the sake of example we’ll assume they’re all the same.

To make this #1 performing SKU even better, we would bulk these keywords out to include:

  • ipod classic charger
  • ipod mini charger
  • ipod touch charger

Plus seeing as we have 250 characters to use up, we’d also be wanting to play with some other keywords too. Such as:

  • ipod uk charger
  • ipod 3 pin mains charger
  • ipod 3 pin uk charger
  • ipod wall charger

Amazon Search Terms in Search BoxAnd then if you get bored or stuck with a keyword, we have the best tool available… It’s call predictive search.

Nipping over to Amazon and typing in “iPod Charger” and then pressing space, we are then given predictive keywords that users will search for

See where I’m going with this?
Yep, you’re right, it’s keyword data!

In this example, most of the keywords are not really useful, however these are:

  • ipod charger plug
  • ipod charger mains

Very quickly, we can get to our ideal limit of using all 250 characters in the search term boxes. And while yes there will be duplicates, they’re going to match what Amazon are presenting to buyers via that whopping great big search box.

So our final keywords to enter into the search terms fields 1-5 will look something like this:

Search Term 1
ipod charger,ipod classic charger,ipod mini charger

Search Term 2
ipod mains charger,ipod touch charger

Search Term 3
ipod nano charger,ipod uk charger

Search Term 4
ipod charger mains,ipod wall charger

Search Term 5
ipod 3pin uk charger,ipod 3 pin uk charger

Obviously you’d spend a little more time than what I have to do further research, but you get the idea, we can use the same keywords that are used in the title, but supplement them with phrases, not keywords in the search term boxes.

In Summary

We’re given 5 search term fields for enhancing the listing search visibility instead of stuffing these with mindless keywords or just single keywords, use phrases. Use what Amazon suggests in their own search box and copy those to your keywords.

We can use comma’s in search terms to enter more than just one term per search field and that means we can bulk these out to cover the common phrases that allow our items to be found. We’re given 250 extra characters, let’s make sure we use them all :)

Have you used this before and found that it works for you too, or didn’t know that you could use a comma and add even more keywords to the search terms fields? Let me know in the comments box below.

What Drives You Nuts? If You Had a Magic Wand…

Magic WandTime, we never have enough of it and as business owners, we always wish we had more, I know I do!

I’m published this on a Monday on purpose, you’re probably in the thick of it and just imagine you had a magic wand, what task would you like to see automated in your day? I bet there is more than one ;-)

So I have two questions for you and I’d love to hear from you to see if I can help solve them:

  1. Where do you feel you’re wasting time each day?
  2. What’s the one task or challenge, that if gone from your daily schedule, you’d breath easy knowing it was done?

It doesn’t matter if it’s something small or if it’s a huge task, what I’m interested in is seeing if there is a task or challenge that can be solved through some form of automation to make your life easier.


So if You had a Magic Wand…

If you had a magic wand, what task or challenge would you make go away?

Name and email are not required, but are handy if I need to contact you to delve a little deeper into what drives you nuts.

[contact-form-7 id=”6954″ title=”What Drives You Nuts”]

Looking forward to hearing from you.


Q&A: Gaining the Blue Buy Box for a New Amazon Account

Over the next few articles, I’m going to answer several questions that have come in via email in the past few days, that I feel that you’d gain value from hearing the answer too.


Gaining the Blue Buy Box on Amazon

The Amazon Buy boxToday’s question is in relation to scoring the Amazon Buy Box for the first time in a new Amazon account.

As always, there is history around this and the reason why the original account was lost, the point here is that ideally you’d try & avoid this from happening in the first place, but as well all know, sometimes one tiny mistake, can have a big impact.

Let’s hope the reply to this question helps them get back on track.

Good morning Matt,

Your site is great information.   You are welcome to put this in the forums, this was just the easiest for me to email you.

We had a very successful Amazon account with NN,NNN per month  in sales.  Due to some out of stock items, our account was suspended from Amazon. 

We have partnered with someone else in order to get a new account going. 

How do you get the feedback up quickly to get the buyer box. 

We are selling about 1 item per week.  I know it is due to being a new seller and no feedback, therefore we cannot get that little blue box!

Thanks for your help!

The part that is not pleasant is the part where I say, in 3-5 months time. Don’t panic just yet, there is an option that you might not be aware of and we’ll get to that in due course.

Limited Amazon Accounts

Sell on AmazonAmazon to the best of my knowledge sand-boxed new selling accounts. This is where they trickle you sales over a long period of time to see how the business reacts to increasing sales. It’s a good system, that works and this also highlights that Amazon is focused on looking after number 1 in the equation.

No that’s not the shareholders, but the customer. It’s the right thing to do, to protect the site from naughty businesses and the buffer of a few months is generally a good thing. We’re just on the wrong side of her, er Amazon (see note later), that’s all.

Talking from my personal history, Amazon is simpler to list on and you can in some instances sell more product on Amazon than you can in other marketplaces, however it is different and different means you can’t always just bump-in and splash product everywhere and not learn the ropes, this is their way of ensuring that you learn the ropes [and not put in place to intentionally annoy the heck out of us].

Amazon calls this process, “Velocity Limits” and the part that they neglect to mention in their help page is the time factor. (You can read the full details on their help page here)

Along the way of building a new Amazon Seller account, you’ll go through a few emails from Amazon and at least one account review. This typically takes 3-5 months to happen and as I mentioned is designed to build the expertise up in the business over time.

I only now about this as I’ve seen numerous accounts start on Amazon and when the switch is flipped, it is generally noticeable, as you get far higher than normal sales appear from no-where.

Thinking about a conversation last year, it came up that a business owner (again I am doing my best to keep this anonymous as possible) had been selling on Amazon for 4 months, but was saying he still hadn’t got the Buy Box access and Amazon was slow.

So we popped a ticket in with Amazon and they said that this was normal and their account was be activated for Buy Box eligibility as and when their account was reviewed next (or words to that effect).

What actually happened, was the next day, was about 10 times more orders than normal started to appear and the phone call I received was “I’ve got the buy box!“, understandably excitable. So sometimes Amazon just needs a nudge to make the point “Hi, I’ve been trading for a while, I’m a good boy“.

Note: If this is you and you’ve been trading on Amazon for 3 months or more and do not have the buy box yet, open a case and ask them how long will it be and is there anything you can do to aid the process.

Sooo…. coming back to the question, is there anything you can do. Ideally I’d suggest you just wait, take the time to build it up slowly again and earn the trust that was lost the first time around and play the slow game (Amazon is a slow game believe it or not).

Option #1 – Amazon Red Carpet Scheme

Red Carpet Scheme

Much better than just plain-old red carpet don’t you think? Source

That may not be the quick-fix answer you may have been looking for though. But there is another option.

If you’re in the UK and I am unsure about this in the USA, then there is a scheme called the “Red Carpet Scheme”.

This allows you to work with an Amazon representative to load inventory onto the marketplace as an account manager, a free Amazon seller central subscription for a year and crucially gain instant access to the Blue Buy Box (YAY!).

Dave has covered the details on the Amazon red carpet scheme in a post a few weeks back, you can view this here:

It’s an invitation-only scheme, but it wouldn’t be too cheeky to open an Amazon case and include a message something like this:


I’ve heard about a scheme that can help us with launching our X number of products on Amazon called a ‘Red Carpet Scheme’.

Is this something you can help us with?”

Amazon are not daft bunnies, if the products are unique and they spot that it’s a previously banned account, then making yourself stand-out is probably not the best idea and I’d play low, and cool for a few months and take it the slow route.

Another Note: If you’re reading this and have just started selling on Amazon for the first time, then it’s 100% worth your while to make a call or open a case with Amazon and nudging them to see if you’d be eligible.

Option #2 – Fulfilment By Amazon aka FBA

Fulfilment By Amazon - FBA

The other option is that you could leverage Fulfilment by Amazon (now on referred to as FBA as my spelling is pants) to put the more popular products into Amazon and gain immediate access to the buy box.

FBA doesn’t suit all products and I, as Amazon own notes, it’s not sensible to send in ALL your inventory, just the lines that you know will sell in the next 3 months or ideally less.

I’ve not covered FBA to any great degree in an article to date here on the LastDropofInk, so I’m going to leave you with the basics and give you a few links to find out more.

With FBA you send your items into Amazon for them to fulfil orders with, this has several key benefits:

  • You gain access to the blue buy box (the reason for the email)
  • You gain access to the buyers that have Amazon Prime (there are lots of those, trust me you want these, they’re the high-volume buyers)
  • Amazon does the customer services for you (I hear you screaming wooohooo!)
  • Amazon process the returns for you (good & bad)

This would give you the quick win you’re looking for, however there is one key downside. Amazon then handle your products and as such if you’re not welded down with a patent or trademarks, then it is not unheard of (see this thread over at the Wholesale Forums) for Amazon to locate the supplier or manufacturer and go direct, essentially cutting you out entirely.

Note. This thread is also worth reading: No Customer Contact is the Major Downside of Using Amazon FBA

But let’s be frank here (and this is also the contents of another email I answered 15 minutes ago), Amazon and the Amazon marketplace is one great big market research tool.

The key benefit other than the range of products that 3rd party sellers add to the Amazon platform, is that Amazon can then mine the data to see what they should sell themselves. They will do this eventually and there is a very interesting thread in our forums called “Amazon vendor invite“.

So trying to leave this on a positive note FBA could be what you’re looking for and you can find more about Amazon’s FBA schemes at these links:

In Summary

As a direct reply to the question, I’d strongly suggest you play the longer game and reap the rewards in a few months time, exposing yourself at such an early stage could knock you right back. Trees, fruit & nurturing roots and all that.

The Red Carpet scheme might work for you, depending if it’s available in your country and if the products are not too much of a give-away. But as mentioned, if you are a new business selling on Amazon, then this could be a easy way of you expediting access to the buy box.

FBA should also be considered it has many, many positive sides, you get the buy box access you were looking for , it has several other perks and can work out cheaper if you account for numerous items being sent in.

But we must remember:

Amazon, if it was a human, it would be a woman and she would be a ………..

She’d want babies, grand children, a ring, the whole white wedding cher-bang, but she’d divorce you at a moments notice if she found and cheaper or newer model.

(But I love her none the less).

Food for thought….

Excellent question, thank you for asking it and allowing me to reply publicly. If this helps you and maybe someone else too, then the time taken to write this has all been worthwhile.  I’m sorry to hear about the experience, unlike Amazon, the rest of the world is a little more forgiving.

Have a Question?

If you’ve got a question you’d like me to answer, you can either post it publicly in the forums here, the doors are always open or you can contact me directly here.

Alternatively if you can offer any suggestions, words of advice or just a few words of comfort to a fellow business owner that’s had a boot in the knackers, you can let us know using the comments box below.