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Many Amazon sellers often started their Amazon eCommerce ventures hastily without much research, only to regret much later on. In this podcast, Willy shall share the Top 3 Things he wished he knew before selling on Amazon. Take his lessons learnt as a reference for your own eCommerce journeys, and don’t make the same mistakes!  

In this episode, Willy is going to cover:

  • His experiences as a new Amazon seller;

  • The Top 3 Things he wished he knew before selling on Amazon;

  • How to avoid going down the same path as he once did.

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Many Amazon sellers often started their Amazon eCommerce ventures hastily, without thinking clearly about what they are in for. They will regret it much later, but that’s of no use already! I was once like these Amazon sellers too, and when I looked back on my eCommerce journey, there are certainly a few things I regretted about. So in today’s podcast, I shall list out the top three things I wish I knew before selling on Amazon. You can take this as a reference, and I hope you will avoid all these regrets I have.

The first thing I wish I knew before embarking on this Amazon eCommerce journey is that Amazon storage fees can become very costly. Now, to be fair, Amazon storage fees are set at an affordable rate, at around a few dollars per cubic foot per month. This amount can be further adjusted depending on the dimensions and weight of your products. But there’s a catch: if your products do not sell for a long time, say after 6 months or 1 year, you will be charged the long-term storage fees, or what we call the ‘LTSF’, by Amazon. That fee is going to be super expensive. When that happens, the amount of money you pay for storing your products at the Amazon warehouses will skyrocket and eat into your business’s profit margins like crazy! 

So here’s what I encountered as a new Amazon seller: like everyone, I sought a long time for a ‘winning’ product and I bought around 1000 plu s units of it. I then stored all of them at the Amazon FBA warehouses, thinking that I should be able to sell them off within the next 6 months. Little did I know how naïve I was – this particular ‘winning’ product went out of trend after 2 months plus, and I was left with around hundreds plus units! I had no idea how to manage all these leftover stocks, and you probably can guess what happened next – I was down for the LTSF. Man, did my heart bleed when I saw how much I had to pay for the Amazon storage fees back then!

With some experience, I finally figured how to get around this situation. And it’s quite simple actually: either you move your remaining inventory out of the Amazon FBA warehouses before you hit the LTS time limit, or you just don’t store that huge amount of inventory right from the start! So this leads to the second thing I wish I knew back then as a new seller, which is: you can start selling on Amazon with minimally 1 unit of your product stored at the Amazon FBA warehouses.

This piece of news may come as a shock for many of you. When I first heard of it, I was shocked too! This is because I always thought that Amazon needs to store minimally 100 units of any products at their FBA warehouses when the product listings are published. But no – you can start selling on Amazon even if you just have 1 unit of your product! And this is a fortunate piece of news – it’s how I started to develop my test-batch strategy for selling any products on Amazon. I will send around 3 to 5 units of my products to Amazon and see how well each product can sell. To be doubly sure, I will repeat this process for a few rounds before really buying a large amount of any product. This can help me save up lots of the initial capital I put in for buying inventory, and I can use them for other purposes like developing a better version of my products, exploring more effective marketing strategies, etc. My entire business can now progress faster with lesser risks! 

Last but not least, the third thing I wish I knew before selling on Amazon is that one must be firm when engaging suppliers. Now, I’d like to admit – I am an introvert, and in the beginning days of my business, I always felt uncomfortable talking to suppliers. I would avoid conflicts at all costs, and I did not care much about negotiating for better product prices. Every time my suppliers sent me an invoice, I would pay them at once without asking any questions.

But some suppliers took advantage of this and started to treat me as a pushover. They would sell me products at overly high prices, but because I assumed they were trading fair, I didn’t bother to check carefully. It was not until one day when my business partner and I sat down to do up the accounts, did I realise I got cheated of $40,000 for a particular business deal! Even though I tried to get people to intervene for me, it was a goner for my money: that shrewd supplier claimed that since I did not make any objections when I saw the invoice and had already paid them, it’s their right to claim the money and they won’t revert the deal. I couldn’t do anything then!

From then on, I learnt my lesson: always ask questions, negotiate and be firm about your stand. And do all of this BEFORE YOU PAY! Don’t assume! Never be shy or feel that you are being ‘difficult’, or ‘unreasonable’ when doing business transactions. No matter how familiar you are with your suppliers, business is business. It’s everyone’s right to know what they are getting for their money! 

Now, when I shared this experience with my students, some of them asked me: “But Willy, my suppliers already sent me the invoice, so other than paying, what else can I do? I don’t want my relationships with my suppliers to turn sour!” For this, I will say that there’s no rule declaring that you must pay your suppliers immediately once they sent their invoices over. Just think: your credit card bills are also like some sort of an ‘invoice’ the banks issued you, but won’t you call up the bank before you pay the bills, if you find there’s something amiss? And if you find it alright to do so, why should it be any different when you are dealing with suppliers? There’s no need to worry about offending suppliers for clarification purposes – suppliers who are sincere about trading with you wouldn’t mind your questions at all, provided you ask them politely!

So, here are the top 3 things I wish I knew before selling on Amazon. Remember, don’t just jump in on your Amazon eCommerce ventures blindly without thinking through things thoroughly. Or else, you are going to find yourself regretting much later!

Stay tuned, and I will see you in the next episode.

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