Expansion week | international listings & advertising campaigns.

With the full selection of products online on Amazon, my next task is to expand those offers across all the countries that Amazon reaches. Yes, postage costs a fortune – but in hard to reach areas, I figure that people are used to paying the postage. After assessing the demand, I can look at how to ship to warehouses around the world to reduce those costs.

The first things I’m doing, locally, is tripling my advertising spend. My current aCos is 2% – I can afford to increase the aCos to 40% and make less profit per sale if it gets me enough sales. I will monitor it for a week, and see where the aCos is at: then I will either increase or decrease again.

Then I’m creating listings for all the new markets. Sadly the inventory uploader file is different for every country, Amazon aren’t known for making things easy. I’m starting with UAE as its a fairly new market – then USA, then Canada, then Australia, Finally, Italy, France, Spain and Germany. I need a German Tax ID to sell on Amazon Germany, so that’s going to be a bother – and soon, Amazon will be requiring French Tax IDs, too.

My final targets will be Japan and Mexico. Even I’m not cheeky enough to try offering Chinese products back to the Chinese market at a UK price… although maybe I should?

Monitoring the progress of each country is going to take time, to make sure each remains profitable, however once in place & working, the international aspect will provide another income stream.

Clearout Week | Boxing, Labelling & Bubble Wrap

boxes

This week’s focus will be on selling as much stuff as possible from around the house. It’s a general clear out of things that are no longer needed, things that are no longer used and things that are past their sell-by date. There’ll be lots of visits to the tip, and lots of visits from UPS to send things to the Amazon warehouse. I’m even aiming to clear the garage which will be a bit of a nightmare.

At the end of the day though, everything that is junk to me remains sellable to others. Most of it is boxed and new, and now the listings on FBA have been completed, I can send them to Amazon for fulfilment.

Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.

Steve Jobs, Stanford University Commencement Address, 2005

However, unlike Steve’s vision, once everything is gone, it’s time to get everything back again from storage. Whether that will be accomplished this week, I’m uncertain, but I’m hoping to be a lot closer at the end.

Week 1 Progress Report: Dropship Week, Amazon FBA and Excel

I managed to get just short of 2,500 seller-fulfilled products listed on Amazon this week. I used three spreadsheets to accomplish the task: the pricing master spreadsheet (which works out VAT, Amazon fees and profit by markup); the upload master spreadsheet which uses a series of concats and vlookups to create descriptions and keywords; and the FBA Custom Inventory Uploader.

I managed to get just short of 2,500 seller-fulfilled products listed on Amazon this week. I used three spreadsheets to accomplish the task: the pricing master spreadsheet (which works out VAT, Amazon fees and profit by markup); the upload master spreadsheet which uses a series of concats and vlookups to create descriptions and keywords; and the FBA Custom Inventory Uploader.

It took me 4 iterations of the final spreadsheet to get everything correct. FIrst: Amazon was adding in stray columns at the end (check this if you get the duplicate column error). Then, I’d put some dimensions in with the unit of measurement. Then there were various issues pulling the images in, but I’m finally at the point where I have all the products from one particular supplier up on Amazon.

Selling on Amazon will be my second income stream this year in my quest for $100K. I’ve also managed to watch all the Hollyoaks episodes from start of January to end of June 2019… so it’s been quite a productive week in all!

Fixing Amazon Price & Quantity Update Loader File errors on Mac for Excel

There have been multiple reports of errors with the Flat.File.PriceInventory.TTH file on Excel for the Mac since 2014, and it doesn’t seem like Amazon want to do anything to fix it. Visual Basic Unexpected Error 465 prevents users from saving the file after making edits.

A quick workaround for this is to use Google Sheets. Import the downloaded Price & Quantity Update Loader File, make your updates through your browser on Google, then save it to your computer as a tab delimited file.

Change the file extension from tsv to txt, and upload to Amazon, making sure you specify that you’re uploading a Price & Quantity Update Loader File from the drop down menu there before you upload it.

After many hours, this has finally fixed the upload issue.

Getting Started with SSL on Amazon AWS

I was asked to install an SSL certificate on a client’s subdomain which they hosted through Amazon AWS today. I kid you not when I tell you Amazon AWS is complicated as anything, even if you’re a technical person, and you may struggle to even understand the very basics.

The very basics are this:

  • Amazon S3 hosting is static hosting – for websites that only require a little bit of javascript and no database.
  • Amazon EC2 is hosting for dynamic websites – you run a virtual machine with your database connected website on. When the machine is running, it is called an ‘instance’.
  • An Elastic IP allows you to assign a static IP to an instance.
  • It seems that a Load Balancer is also needed to host a SSL certificate on an EC2 instance, however, testing now has me doubting if this is the case (and it may be that a SSL certificate on the CPanel host is enough)

I intend to learn a lot more about Amazon AWS over the year. What I picked up today was very basic stuff, and it is in no way intuitive. Even the pricing levels are hard to understand. However, it’s meant to be one of the best cloud hosting environments out there, so I am intending to add this to my list of skills.

Dropship week | Excel-mania

trophy stock

This week I will mainly focus on getting my dropshipping goods uploaded to Amazon and Ebay. I’ve always had the option of dropshipping, but never felt disciplined enough to check the orders every day and forward them to my suppliers. Now, however, I am ready to take on this challenge: it will cut the amount of stock I have to keep at home, and allow me to provide a better range of goods.

The first step involves downloading the supplier’s spreadsheet. Then, I work out which goods will make me at least $7.50 per sale – after tax, after shipping, after Amazon or Ebay commission and after processing fees. I’ll do this by creating a series of calculations in Excel. Once I’ve decided which items are viable for dropshipping I need to transfer these to the Product Upload template from Amazon, with descriptions and bullet points. Finally I will transfer the spreadsheet to an Ebay uploader.

I had toyed with the idea of setting up a Magento website with M2E pro, but the amount of time it would take me to do that would be more than if I just created the spreadsheet directly. I will set up an online store away from Amazon and Ebay soon, but it isn’t my priority.

Following that, I need to start getting the stock I still have in my house out to the FBA warehouse. It’s going to be a long job, which may take me most of January, but I know I’ll be relieved to have my house back again.