These Ask Scott episodes are the highlight of the week for Scott. He just loves brainstorming problems to find solutions, and this is your chance to get your specific questions answered. You can listen to find out how. But Scott’s not satisfied with only doing these Friday Q&A episodes. He’s going to be doing a LIVE event as well! It’s coming up soon in Denver, Colorado and the space is limited due to the type of event it is. You can find out how to get yourself on the list to attend that live event by listening to this episode!
The Amazon stats dashboard is not all that great. Any suggestions for finding daily product stats?
A listener is a bit frustrated by the lack of usability of the Amazon stats dashboard inside his seller account. Scott agrees, the Amazon dashboard is not exactly user friendly. He’s got a great little hack to help you discover your daily product sales rather than seeing only the total sales of all their products. You’ll want to know how to do this, especially once you have more than one product in your Amazon lineup. Get all the details on this Q&A episode.
When should I promote my seasonal product?
A listener called in with a question about his seasonal product. It’s based around students, so the time of year it will likely sell more is right around the middle of August or the end of September when school is starting up. He wants to get his products ready and his listing live, but isn’t sure when he should begin promoting the product using Amazon PPC (pay per click) to drive traffic to the product. Scott loves the question and has a very specific answer for this listener, so be sure you check out what he’s got to say.
Once my products got to Amazon, the MSKU changed? How can I correct the problem?
A caller just shipped in his first set of products in two different boxes. When the boxes arrived they were checked in to the Amazon system, he can see that from his seller dashboard. Since both boxes were identical products with the same SKU numbers, they should look identical in the Amazon dashboard, but they don’t. One has a different MSKU number assigned to it and he’s being told that it’s a problem that he needs to fix. What’s he supposed to do? Scott’s got a simple solution for the guy, so be sure you listen to find out what he suggests.
Could my product idea be too soft? There’s not many products or reviews.
A listener who’s been doing retail arbitrage on Amazon is considering giving private label sales a try. He’s doing his product research and has found a product in the “hobbies and sports” category that he thinks might be a good one. But there are very few other products in the niche, none that have many reviews, and the sales rank is only average. He’s curious if the market for this product on Amazon is too soft, or if it’s a winner waiting to happen. Scott’s insights on this situation are very helpful, so don’t miss this one!
OUTLINE OF THIS EPISODE OF THE AMAZING SELLER
- [0:05] Scott’s introduction to this Q&A episode.
- [0:59] Details on Scott’s upcoming live event in Denver, CO.
- [3:36] QUESTION ONE: How do you keep track of sales of products individually instead of having them all lumped into one total in Amazon?
- [11:13] QUESTION TWO: When should a seasonal product be promoted for a launch?
- [14:50] QUESTION THREE: Once my products got to Amazon, the MSKU switched. What’s up with that?
- [20:34] QUESTION FOUR: How can I tell if the market for a potential product on Amazon is too soft?
TRANSCRIPT TAS 154
TAS 154 : Ask Scott Session #43 – FBA Amazon Questions (The Good and Bad)
[00:00:03] SV: Hey, hey. What’s up, everyone? Welcome back to another episode of The Amazing Seller podcast. This is episode number 154 and session number 43 of Ask Scott. This is where I answer your questions that you submit via voicemail and I do my best to answer them. Like I’ve said before and I’m going to say it again, this is one of the highlights of my week because I get to answer your questions. It’s the closest that we get to actually get in a room together or in the car together or in the plane together. We’re sitting alongside each other having that cup of coffee or tea, whatever you drink…
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…and we get to talk about this stuff. I really, really love doing this. If you have a question that you want answered head over to theamazingseller.com/ask and you can do that there. You can leave your first name and then leave a question that you have that you want me to answer and I’ll do my best to air it on the show and do that.
That also leads me into this other little update, this little announcement that I want to make here which you may or may not have already heard. I am going to be doing something like this but in person. I’m going to be doing a live event. It’s official now that we’re going to be doing it May 1st 2016 in Denver, Colorado. I’m going to be speaking at an event that’s happening there that weekend. Friday and Saturday I’ll be at this other event but then I’m doing my own event in the same hotel. It’s going to be small, very intimate with just 25, maybe 30 depending. We’ve got to see what we can accommodate but I want to keep it really, really small. It’s where we’re going to do a full day. I’m talking like 9 o’clock in the morning and we’ll probably go to 4 or 5 o’clock and then we’ll do dinner and networking and all of that stuff.
We’re going to do hot seat sessions throughout the day. We’re going to not just allow me to chime in and talk about some of these stumbling blocks or struggles or things that you want to break through in your business, but we’re also going to have the attendees chime in and be able to give their suggestions. It’s really going to be like a mastermind in a sense. That’s the hot seat sessions. We’re also going to do a strategy discussion where we’ll talk about some new things that we want to discuss and maybe other people want to discuss. We’re going to bring that to light. Then the other thing is we’re going to do some good old-fashioned live Q&A just like this here and breakout sessions, all of that fun stuff. We’re going to be able to network and really have a great time. I’m really, really excited about that and I would love for you to join me.
I know that there’s thousands that listen to this podcast and I know that there’s only going to be 25 or 30 spots available. If you don’t get in on this one you can probably get in on another one because we will be probably doing this again as we get through this first one and get all the kinks worked out. Yeah, we’re really looking forward to it but again, it is limited to only 25 or 30 people depending on what we decide to do there. If you are interested and if there is still spots available, if you’re listening to this before May head over to theamazingseller.com/live. That is the link right now to go there and get more information about this, all right? Yeah, if you want to sit in a room together for a day and really talk about this business and really strategize, and listen to other people’s businesses and some of their struggles, and how we can help each other and get through these and break through these, this will definitely be something for you, all right? Definitely check that out. Again, that’s theamazingseller.com/live.
All right, let’s go ahead and dive in here. I’m excited. I want to go ahead and listen to this first question and give you my answer so what do you say we do that? Let’s go ahead and listen and I’ll give you my answer.
[00:03:50] MN: Scott, hey, it’s Mark Nelson in Spokane, Washington. Hey, thanks for taking my call, man, a few weeks ago about the UPC codes. I have another question that I need help with and this one is a big one. My wife and I we just got started on our first product about a month ago and sales have been much better than we had expected. Actually, we’re only selling about three units a day but we only have two product reviews so far because we’ve been focusing on seller reviews so our sales are much better than we had hoped. We have another product added to our product line and that’s scheduled to arrive on Monday. My question is as follows, how the heck do you keep track of sales with more than one product? I’m surprised that Amazon doesn’t give a sales report for which product sold and for how much. Can you break down the best way to record income from products? Do you do an export from Amazon into an Excel sheet? Is there a software that tracks this yet? My wife and I are just getting started so hopefully there’s an inexpensive option. Your thoughts are greatly appreciated. Thanks for everything you do and press on, my friend.
[00:04:55] SV: Hey, Mark. Thank you so much for the question and thanks for the kind words. I really do appreciate it. I’m loving the whole “press on” thing. I’m hearing more and more of that. People are referring back to my garlic press and then saying like, “Press on, man.” I love it because it is. We’re all about taking action and pressing on. When the time is getting a little tough, a little difficult we press on and we move past them so I get it. For those of you that are brand new and you’re like, “What the heck is he talking about?” You’ll get it. Just keep listening to the podcast and go back to some episodes and you’ll hear it. I’m talking about the garlic press and we’re talking about pressing on and taking action.
Anyway, thank you so much for the question, Mark. It’s a great question. I don’t think I’ve really answered this one personally. First off, let’s talk about inside of the Amazon dashboard. Let’s be honest, it really isn’t that good meaning that I think they could a lot better job of helping us figure out what has been sold for the day, but they don’t. The only way that you’re going to be able to see in real time, in a sense, how many units have sold per ASIN is if they are in separate categories then you’ll be able to see a category breakdown, okay? If you have one that’s in Home & Kitchen and one that’s in, let’s see, Sports & Outdoors then each product that’s listed in there you’ll see a breakdown. If you have five products in each that’s not going to really help you, is it?
That is one way if you only have a couple of products and maybe one product is in there. You can get a better idea. The only way that you’re really going to be able to determine this is the following day. Generally for me it’s about 10:00 or 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time is about when the report is published. What you’ll do is you’ll go into your sales report. You’ll go into your backend of Seller Central. You’ll go to where it says business reports and on the left hand side of that you can go by date, you can go by ASIN and then you can go by detail page sales and traffic by child item. That’s the one you want to click on. Then you want to go to the desired date. In this case we want to go to the day before. It’s only going to give us the day before because that’s what we’re selecting. Then from there you can see each ASIN and as far as how many sessions they had, meaning how many people came to that page or how many times … Yeah, how many people came to that page. The page views means that one person could have came back five different times but your total page view is that.
There’s 232 for mine right now on this one listing and I had 175 sessions. My session percentage was 25.81% which is pretty darn good. Then my Buy Box is 100%. Units ordered was 28 for yesterday on this particular item. My conversion rate was 16%. Man, that’s pretty good for yesterday. I’m actually looking at this live as I’m talking you through it. I had, let’s see, yeah, 28 units sold. It gives me that whole breakdown.
You would do that and you would look at all of your different ones. With that being said, you can now again go and look at your monthly. Let’s say, like you said, you want to figure out how much you’ve sold per unit per month. You need to figure that out for inventory and you need to find out how much you spent on those products and how much your profit is. What you would do at the simplest level, and this is what I still do, is then I’ll just calculate how many sold per unit. I know what my cost is because I have that in a spreadsheet. Then from there I just calculate that out. That’s the way that I do it. Then you just tally it up and you go, “Okay. On all five of my products I spent 1500 dollars or I basically sold enough product to where it was 1500 dollars is what it was.”
Let me use a better example. Let’s say for example you sold 100 items and you said they’re five bucks a piece. That’d be 500 bucks, right? Then you could just say, “Okay, I spent 500 dollars on product. I spent another 500 dollars on pay-per-clicks so I got a thousand dollars into this. I’ve got …” maybe some software that you bought. Maybe Jungle Scout or maybe you’ve got another third-party tool, Salesbacker or whatever. You tally up all of your expenses and then you say, “Okay, but I brought in 3 thousand dollars.” Then I deduct that and that’s where you get that price. That’s the simplest way but it’s a little bit of work you’ve got to do. It’s not much work.
There are other third-party tools out there. I have not used these guys yet. I don’t feel I need it as of right now. There’s one called Stitch Labs. I’ll leave a link in the show notes. I’m not currently an affiliate for that. I probably should look into it because I should probably even start playing with it. I’ve had other people with larger portfolios of products need it and want and I probably should do a little bit more digging in on that. If anybody does have any, I guess, insight or any feedback on Stitch Labs let me know. I’d love to hear your take on it and if it’s been useful for you maybe we can do a little bit more on Stitch Labs or any other inventory management software, all right?
That’s pretty much the simple answer. I know it wasn’t that simple but you get what I’m saying, right? I haven’t really talked about this much so I thought I should really probably talk about it because a lot of people … and I did this in the beginning too. I started getting other products in there and I’m like, “Man, everything’s lumped into one number for the day. How do I know how many I sold of each?” You can go and look at your inventory. What did you start with for the day? What did you end with? Then that gets skewed because then sometimes orders haven’t been updated yet. I never went down that route because it didn’t seem reliable enough. This here is the most reliable if you go back to the following day in your reports, you look at all the ASINs and then you see how many sold. You just have to wait a day for it which kind of sucks but that’s the way it works.
Anyway, thank you, Mark, for the question. Good luck to you. Congratulations on taking action and getting out there and doing it. Press on, my brother, all right? Let’s go ahead and listen to another question and I’ll give you my answer.
[00:11:13] M: Hi, Scott. My name is Mike. I have a question for you about launch timing. I’m already a private labeler on FBA for one product and I’m in the process of expanding to a second. I’ve sourced it, I like my samples and I’m ready to make my first purchase. However, my product is seasonal and the students buy this product to begin with each semester. I really think I want to peak in the rankings come September. My question is when should I do my big promotional push to push myself to the top of the rankings? Should I do it in August? July? Even earlier than that? Doesn’t matter? I’m not quite sure how to make sure that I’m there in September and not in July or June when nobody is buying this product. Any information you can give me on that would be really helpful. Thank you for everything you do. I really love the podcast. I can’t get enough of it. Really appreciate what you do for all of us. Thanks a lot.
[00:12:13] SV: Hey, Mike. Thank you so much for the question and congratulations on already having a private label item out there and launching another one. Congrats to you. Yeah, this is a great question. Seasonal items they can be very, very lucrative and very, very good but you lose the sales throughout the year so you have to almost plan these. It’s great but there’s not a lot of stability there. If you can have multiple different seasonal items that are kind of throughout the year then that would balance out the year. There is a huge opportunity here for seasonal items just I’m not going down that path. In your case you said you’re going into the school niche, which I think is a great niche. Definitely you’re going to want to plan for your item to be firing on all cylinders when that time is ready, right? You want to pre-plan for that.
In the meantime does that mean you do nothing? No, I don’t think so. I think that if there’s still sales happening just not the volume that you’ll see in peak season then I would still start to build out some reviews. I’d start to make sure that my listing was optimized. I might even run some pay-per-click, do all of that type of stuff to really get it where it’s not a brand spanking new listing and where you can start getting some reviews for that social proof so when you do go live, you’re going to already have that stuff in place. That would be my recommendation and yes, I would time it. If you’re saying, let’s just say, September 1st you want to be ready to rock and roll then I’d be starting in August, beginning of August. I would do that promotion through the first week then I would turn on pay-per-click because people are starting at that point to look for school supplies and all of that stuff. I would definitely plan probably tail end of July into early August. Then from there I’d start ramping it up and then hit it really, really hard in September.
Hopefully this has been helpful to you. Good luck and keep me posted on that. I’d love to follow up with you and see how that all worked. Anyone else listening that is launching seasonal items or even that you might have a little bit more of a peak season, yeah, you definitely want to build up for that. You can do that by pre-planning this and then looking forward to when that’s going to be happening, but then also preparing and prepping so this way here you’re ready to rock and roll when the traffic is there.
Let’s go ahead and listen to another question and I will give you my answer.
[00:14:50] A: Hey, Scott. This is Andrew. First of all I want to say that your podcast has been immensely helpful. It’s been an amazing resource for getting started on Amazon FBA and I really appreciate it so keep up the good work. I have a question for you. I recently sent in two boxes of 60 units each to one warehouse in particular of my first product. I’m keeping an eye on my shipments and making sure everything’s on the up and up. Yesterday I was checking it and I saw that all of a sudden my one … I have two boxes of 60 units going to this warehouse. One of the boxes all of a sudden had a completely different SKU. I don’t understand what happened because I submitted the shipment all of the same product and all the same SKU. Now I have an error message saying that I have 60 units of a product that was unexpected. Now I have this error message and I don’t know really how to handle it.
I was wondering if you’ve had any other experience with Amazon having issues with receiving products like this. I have screenshots on my computer of the shipment that I made with the same SKU for everything and now all of a sudden, my one box of 60 products has been assigned this different SKU. Let me clarify. It’s been assigned a new MSKU. The FNSKU is all the same but for some reason, another MSKU is generated. Now I have 60 products of unexpected inventory on Amazon and I’m getting this error message and I’m being told I need to correct it. I’m wondering if you have any experience with this and I’m curious as to how I should proceed. Thanks for all your time and again, keep up the good work. I appreciate it. Thanks.
[00:17:13] SV: Hey, Andrew. What’s up? Thank you so much for the question, I appreciate it. Thanks for being a listener. I truly do appreciate it. Thanks for the kind words. This is a tricky question because it’s more of a technical question. I don’t think this is a normal situation that’s happening all that much but it is happening and it did happen to me at one point too. Not exactly what you were describing but similar to where my inventory got sent in and then it got matched up to the wrong number. Then from there they had to … It went to where it was an error but then it wasn’t even accessible to me. It was a little crazy there for a couple of days.
The short answer to this whole thing is contact Seller Central. Talk to a rep. Don’t just go through their chat and don’t just contact them through email. I would do that too but I would get someone on the phone and I would start to go down the road of how to correct this. It is correctable but they will have to almost manually do it and it may take a little bit of time to do it. I do believe that they will walk you through what you need to do or what they will have to do in order to make this right. It sounds like it’s a mistake on their part, which is good on your part. Even if it wasn’t, you still could correct it by having them re-label it and that type of stuff. You want to let them be aware of it so they can pull the inventory and almost, like, lock it down so it doesn’t start getting sent out on your behalf and it being the wrong product or something crazy like that.
My advice here, and I know it’s not that much of advice other than calling them, getting on the phone with Seller Central. Anyone listening, whenever you have a problem that seems as though it’s something inside of Amazon as far as their back end or maybe something that you did wrong … Maybe there is something that you forgot to do. Contact them and ask them what you need to do. For the most part they’re going to take care of it. Everyone that I’ve worked with so far in Seller Central and a lot of people that I know that have worked with them, they are very, very good to their sellers and they will usually fix the problem. I’ve even heard of some people saying that they lost their inventory, couldn’t find it and then they ended up basically sending them the money for that product of what they would have sold it for. That does happen. Again, they’ve got a lot of moving parts there as well.
My advice to you, Andrew, is to contact Seller Central or Seller Support and make sure that you can talk to someone there. You want to probably ask for someone in their catalog team and from there you can start to figure out what you need to do to get this corrected. I know it’s frustrating and I know it’s a little annoying but hey, again, that’s the little hiccups we’ve got to deal with for this business. Hopefully this has been helpful and hopefully you get that worked out. Keep me posted. Let me know how that worked out and what actually you did in order to get it fixed, all right?
Let’s go ahead and listen to one more question and then I will answer that and then we’ll wrap this thing up.
[00:20:34] Speaker: Hey, Scott. I was wondering … I want to ask you a question. I’ve been involved in a retail arbitrage. I’m looking to dip my toes into the market with the private label. The product that I’m looking at doing is a hobby and/or a sport. The top product that’s on Amazon currently has a BSR rank of about, excuse me, about 1500. Not a whole lot of competition, not a whole lot of other things on there as far as other products. There’s only maybe two or three. Not a lot of reviews, things like that. I’m wondering if the market is too soft on Amazon. I know locally and in the real world and in retail the product is strong and the community is actually growing. Anyway, maybe a weird question. I just wanted to ask and see what you thought. I appreciate it.
[00:21:41] SV: Hey there. Thank you so much for the question. I believe the name is Dennis. I’m going to guess here. I think that’s what I remember. You didn’t say it in your voicemail but I think I remember seeing that in the email that comes through using the SpeakPipe widget. If it isn’t I apologize. If it is, Dennis, thank you so much for the question.
This is a good, good question and I’ve got a couple of different thoughts here. Number one is you may be onto something that’s about to take off. We haven’t really talked too much about this. If we want to also be first to market with something that we see is going to be an upcoming trend that’s a good thing. That is a good thing because then you can be there before it really gets known and then you can put your stake in the ground. It sounds like that might be the case because you’re telling me that the numbers aren’t really that impressive but there is a growing market and there’s a growing presence in the hobby space, let’s say. You’re starting to project and you’re starting to look a little bit into the future and see that this is something that is going to probably catch on.
My thoughts are first off I’d want to do a little bit more digging to see if there was any other history, even if it’s not on Amazon, of this product. Or maybe the product’s just too new to do that. I can’t really say without seeing product and without seeing what you’re looking at as far as numbers. You said it was a 1500, I think, BSR, which is pretty good but there’s wasn’t a lot of other competitors in there yet. Is that good? Is that bad? Who knows? We don’t really know right now. If there was 10 sellers and they’re selling the same product, is everyone going to be able to grab some of the market or is just the first and second seller going to grab all the market? That we don’t know. This is a little risky but it’s something that you could potentially capitalize on if you are guessing right.
Again, that’s what we are really doing. We’re guessing. We’re trying to look into a crystal ball to see if this is something that could take off. There’s a lot of products in the hobby and especially in the toy space that products come and go but they’re hot for a year or two. My son, he was collecting, what, Yu-Gi-Oh! cards and Pokémon cards and that type of stuff. Now my daughter is into these … Oh, gosh. What’s the name of those little figures that you buy? They’re like these little plastic … Oh, gosh. I forgot what it is now but we buy them and she’s totally into them. Shopkins or one of those. Yeah, there’s these little figures that you buy and these little … It’s a lunch pail, like a lunch bowl. I don’t know what it … I forget what it is but it’s something that’s hot right now. Everybody is buying. Every time we go into Target we look for them and they’re gone. They’re clear off the shelf. You’ve got those. There’s those little rubber bands that you would make bracelets with, those things. Those were hot and then people were starting to sell just the rubber bands for them.
Yeah, you can capitalize on a trend but understand that you’re just capitalizing for a short term gain. Then from there you’d have to go on to the next but it doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t want to maybe take advantage of that. It sounds like you’re in the retail ARB kind of space, which is good in a sense because I think people that are doing retail ARB can test multiple markets and multiple products without a lot of risk. Then they can see what’s starting to trend, what’s starting to really take, what kind of products this market is responding to and all of that stuff before you actually private label your own products. There’s pros and cons to both but from what I’m hearing from you is that you’ve got a hunch on something, you want to go for it but you just want a little bit more proof before you do. I would say do a little bit more research if you can and then maybe test it and see what happens with a small batch. That’s what I would recommend there. Hopefully that’s been helpful. Keep me posted on that though. Send me an email and let me know how that works out for you or maybe if you switch gears. I would love to know more about that. Hopefully this has been helpful to you.
Everyone that’s submitted questions I want to say thank you. I appreciate it. I love hearing your voice. I love being able to sit in the same room virtually and have this conversation, which also brings up another thing that I wanted to mention one more time. If you’re at all interested in hanging out for a full day, in person I mean, in the same room where we would have a full day and I would bring another 25 to 30 entrepreneurs, Amazon business owners and we had hot seat sessions and we did this for a full eight hours. If that interests you and you would want to be a part of that, head over to theamazingseller.com/live and you’ll get all the details. You’ll also get put on a list if we haven’t already opened up registration for that. You would get on that list to have a chance to join us there for this one day event. I’m really, really excited about it. I wanted to make this a reality in 2016 and that’s why I’m officially announcing it now. I would love it if you could attend. Again, it’s going to be very, very small so if you are at all interested, definitely head over and get signed up for that so you can make sure that you can secure a spot, all right?
That’s it, guys. That’s going to wrap up this episode of Ask Scott. I really, really want to say thank you again for taking time out of your day to listen. Remember I’m here for you. I believe in you. I’m rooting for you but you have to, you have to- come on, say it with me. Say it loud, say it proud- take action. Have an awesome, amazing day and I’ll see you in the next episode.
LINKS MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE[divider]
- www.TheAmazingSeller.com/live – Scott’s upcoming event!
- www.StitchLabs.com – inventory control and management
- Scott’s free workshop – http://www.TheAmazingSeller.com/workshop
- www.TheAmazingSeller.com/FB – the TAS Facebook Community
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