Category Archives: Tips

Yard Saling Tips – Before you get in the car.

It is Friday night. If you are like us, you are looking forward to a weekend of people basically giving you money, in the form of getting excellent deals at local yard sales. Here are a few quick tips that will help you to get the most bang for the buck, keep your paperwork in order, and find the best deals ever.

Preparing to go out.
The first thing to do is plug in any and all devices that you need to assist you while you are out sourcing your products. Plug in your cellphone, tablets, barcode scanner (link), GPS (if you are not using your cellphone or tablet), and anything else that you might need. You should have a backpack in your car with the following items, that is on standby for storage auctions or yard sales.

Backpack – Sunscreen, bugspray, Notepad (in case your batteries die), 2-3 padlocks with keys, and some water.

The tool that I like to use is “Yard Sale Treasure Map” (YSTM). This is an excellent application for Android (link) (and iphone?) that imports all of the yard sales listed in your local Craigslist area and puts them into Google Maps. It includes functions that allow you to add your own sales, and even optimize your route so that you hit the most sales. This tip alone means that you will hit the most yardsales that you could possibly find.

I recommend that you use your local Facebook groups to find more sales and add them to your map. Search Feedback for your area (using both city and county names). Add the words resale, thrift, yard, deals, etc. Find some groups with active participants and add those addresses to YSTM. This will help you find even more sales that are not listed on Craigslist. When the addresses are all entered, click Optimize.

You now have a list of great yard sales, that you can search by keyword, and the proper tools to analyze the deals that are available. Look for future articles on methods to get the best bargains while you are out shopping.

How to create a successful Auction Listing on Ebay

Recently, we reviewed a bunch of completed auctions to look for some keys to success, to improve our listings. Special thanks to the fine folks at the Thrifting With The Boys Facebook group for posting up some of their great success stories. This is what we found, if it helps you then let us know!

There are a few areas where you can make your auction stand out. Take a little time and effort to separate yourself from the people that don’t care.

First and most importantly, PICTURES! I cannot stress enough how important it is to take well lit, sharp, clear pictures. Let the customer know exactly what they are getting, good and bad. Any trademarks, watermarks, tags, defects, special features, unique characteristics, EVERYTHING! You can upload the pictures to a photo sharing site like Picasa to save room.

Starting Price – If you are doing an auction style bidding, starting the price low will encourage competition. People dislike losing even more than they like winning, which is in your favor when it comes to bidders competing in an auction. A low starting price also lowers your fees, so it is a win-win!

Keywords – Use them often, use them a lot. Make sure you search for completed auctions for similar type items. What words did they use in their titles? Are their acronyms or misspellings that people look for often? The completed sold listings are the best place to look for information.

Shipping options – Offering Free Shipping is a huge draw. Customers will often not calculate the difference, and you can just raise the cost of the product to cover your shipping cost. Which sounds better, 9.99 with free shipping, or 4.00 with 5.99 shipping? Give your customers the easy choice. One other benefit is if you offer free shipping, you automatically are given 5 stars for the shipping and handling.

Another option is to provide a choice of three shipping options, and let the customer choose. I know that offering different options makes it more complicated, but some people like the option to pay a little less and get it later, or pay a little more to get it now. One more note on shipping. Always offer confirmation. Even on the free shipping. It is normally .85, but if you have an account with Stamps.com or an alternative, then the confirmation is free. Pass that along to your customers. It is all about them having piece of mind.

Auction times – If you start your auctions on a Thursday and run them for 10 days, you get two full bidding weekends in. Time the auction to end between 7pm and 10pm on Sunday. This is the time when the most people are relaxing at home and checking online. You can schedule your auction to start at a later time than when you type it up. This allows for you to choose when your listing is available for viewing, and also can give you time to edit the posting if required.

Guarantees – Always offer a money back guarantee. It comes down to making people feel safe and comfortable with the fact that if they are unhappy, they are not going to lost anything. Think about the reason so many companies offer money back guarantees and 30 day trials. Once your item is in a customers hand, it takes a significant effort for them to return it. They need to make calls or send emails, package it, and return it to someplace to shop it. Let your paranoid fantasies of all your products being returned lay to rest.

Another way to make your customers feel safe and cared for is to answer all questions that are asked. Even if the question is answered in the description, make sure that you answer them specifically. It shows that you care, and everyone wants to do business with people that care.

Advertising – Advertise your listings on Facebook, Twitter, Linked-in, or any other social media that you are a part of. Join the resale groups in your area, and put them there and offer free local pickup in your listing. It saves you time shipping, and can lower your outbound material costs.

Lastly, have fun with this! Your description doesn’t have to be a compiling of every small fact about the product. It doesn’t have to be professional hard selling material. There are people out there that want what you have. Use your own voice. Throw in a joke or two, a little humor. Talk to your customers as if you were talking to a good friend. Include little thank you notes with your items, and make sure that your customer knows they are appreciated. After all, without them, you wouldn’t make any money!

I hope that these tips help you out. Good luck with your listings, and you can contact us with any questions or recommendations.

If you could give someone one tip to get them on the road to being successful on Ebay, what would it be?

Shrink Your Time & Cost

Packaging  can sometimes be time consuming and costly.

TimeMoney

In some cases, Time = Money. Money you could be making in the time it takes you hours to package up individual items to be shipped to FBA or any where. There are some who will slap a bar code sticker on the back of a book or game and toss it into a box to be shipped “as is” to the warehouse or even directly to their customers.That little bit of time they save by being careless, only comes back around sometimes… costing them more time and money.

What’s wrong with that? Nothing.

Well, nothing to you if you don’t care about your items being returned & received damaged, customers requesting more frequently refunds due to damage, and the quality of service you can provide for your customers satisfaction…oh, and there’s the negative or neutral feedback you could receive that could damage your reputation.

Think about it…your new or very good book, gets handled by someone before you. Then by you. Then by the unpackers at the warehouse. Then probably placed in storage…or even on a conveyor belt. Then handled again by the guy placing into yet another box to be shipped to the customer. Then finally by the customer. Mmm… I wonder what condition it was received in?

Oh it’s a small price to pay , you may say…worth not having to spend hours packing. That small price adds up over time. Pennies become dollars. That negative feedback adds up too. I have seen a book store’s reputation that was 100% fall to 90% on Amazon in a year. So, you say…it’s still 90 %!

Well, believe it or not, I had a customer tell me that the reason she was willing to pay a dollar fifty extra in cost … because our reputation was 100% and the last book she bought from us was shrink wrapped. She said she knew the next book would be care for and preserved in the same way.

Yes, Shrink wrapped. Oh, it only took us mere seconds to place her book into a pre-sized bag and seal it with our sealer. A dollar fifty more profit for a few seconds of caring. The feedback she left increased reputation and made us personally smile. Also, she was a return customer!

“….careful packing that justifies the price…A+Thx.”

Shrink wrap is not as expensive as you may think in the long run. Especially if you buy it in bulk and in sizes that are common. A penny or two a bag usually. It pays for itself.

shrink2-1A sealer can cost you, but it pays off in the long run. You can even find them on Amazon or eBay…sometimes even on Craigslist cheap. In most cases, you don’t even need a sealer. Just a sticker or a clear piece of tape will do. Sealers cut time with scissors and just makes your product look neater. You could use a blow dryer to shrink games and hardback items…or simply leave paperbacks and bendable items looser in the bag without hitting it with the heat.shrink1-1

Not only can you help ensure better shipping and handling when using shrink wrap, but you can make an item that was in just “good” condition to almost “like new” or “very good”. This means you can price higher. Taking a few seconds to shrink wrap some game pieces or cards…and the game box itself can improve the quality and increase your profit. Honestly, who wouldn’t want their game to look in great shape when they get it instead of spread out loose and bent up cards that got shifted and bent during shipping?

How am I shrinking my time if I am taking time to wrap items like this?

Well, lets see… It’s less of your time dealing with customers messages if you don’t have complaints. Less time trying to build up good feedback to cover bad feedback. Less time figuring out if your item is worth paying for the return cost and then waiting for it. Less time & money than saran wrap or in somecases ziplock bags and bubble wrapping….dealing with tape & scissors. Less time & money packing materials needed to pad boxes for shipments. AND…if your like me who cares perhaps too much about my customers satisfaction, …Less time worring about the quality of your products and the condition they are received in.

changeShrink wrapping our products is definitely shrinking our cost & time. It’s a pretty site and definitely will make you some pretty pennies & positive feedback  in the long run.

 

 

 

Combining FBA shipments that are in the Amazon Queue

We tend to buy a lot of our items at garage sales, thrift shops, Goodwills, and storage auctions. As we carry a lot of single items, when we make shipments, sometimes there are several warehouses to ship to. If there are only one or two items going to a warehouse, sometimes we will not ship those right away. Scanpower allows you to add to an existing shipment when you click ship. What do you do if you have already clicked ship?

Reviewing our outstanding shipments today, we realized there were 2-3 shipments going to the same warehouse. Unfortunately, Amazon does not allow you to combine shipments from the shipping queue. I would like to show you an easy way to combine those shipments, and save yourself some money on inbound shipping.

First, determine if you have outstanding shipments going to the same warehouse. The easiest way to do this is to filter the results on your “Shipping Queue” page.

See the attached pictures for screenshots of how this will look.

Select “Filter Results”, and under the “Status” drop down menu, select “WORKING / READY TO SHIP”. This will show you all of your outstanding shipments.

As you can see from the screenshots, we have several shipments going to the same warehouse.

Under the “Merchant SKU” column inside your shipment, copy the merchant SKU for each item that is in that shipment.

Now for the easy way to re-add them to a batch in Scanpower, so that when you ship out the batch you can combine the shipping.

(A “batch” is just a list of the inventory you are currently working on.)

In Scanpower, either load the batch you are working on, or start a new one.

Click the “Restore” button.

Type in the Merchant SKU (paste) and it will restore the listing, with your description and price to the current batch.

Repeat this process for every item in the batch you want to combine.

In your Amazon Queue, delete the shipment that you are no longer using.

When you are done with the batch in Scanpower, click “Ship”. It will ask you to pick a warehouse, and create a new shipment or add to an existing one.

Copy the “Shipment Name” and “Shipment ID” of the remaining shipment in your Amazon Queue that is going to the same warehouse, and select the checkbox in the top corner of the shipping screen that says “Add to Existing Shipment”.

All done!! Now all of the items that are going to the same warehouse can be shipped in the same shipment.

I hope this post was helpful. If you have any questions about this technique, please write us at amusingtreasures@gmail.com.

What items in your Amazon warehouse can’t sell right now?

When you send in a lot of inventory to Amazon, it is important to make sure that there are no barriers between your product and your buyers. Items that are sitting in a warehouse but unable to be seen by your customers just represent money that is tied up and not making you more money. This article will show you how to make sure that all of your items that you think are for sale are actually available. No one wants their money to just sit on a warehouse floor!

When you login, go to the Tabs in the Seller Dashboard.
Select Inventory-Manage FBA Inventory
On the first drop down menu on the left hand side of the screen, select “Error Status”.
Second drop-down menu select “Items with errors”.
Click the top of the column marked “Fulfillable”. This will sort the items and only show you the ones that Amazon currently has in its warehouse that currently have errors preventing them from being sold.
Open another Amazon tab in your web browser, this saves you from having to flip back and forth between the reports and the individual items.
Go to “Manage Inventory” on the new tab.
Look up the Merchant SKU, ISBN, EAC, or any other piece of information that it takes to find the item with errors in your inventory.
Determine the cause of the error.
If it says Inactive, try to relist it, paying attention to the condition you have it listed under. If the condition is Used or Collectible, there is a good chance that it should be listed as the other type (Used or Collectible). As a general rule, Toys and Games that are no longer in production are listed as Collectible, but it is not a hard and fast rule. Some exceptions apply.
Common errors:
If you use a third party listing program, sometimes your items are listed as Used when they should be Collectible, or Collectible when they should be Used.
There are two options:
You can “create a removal order”, you can do this by clicking the drop down box under the “Actions” column. This will cost you $ 0.50 (as of 15May2013). When you create your removal order, make sure that you type in the number of items you want returned in the “Fulfillable Qty” column above the number of items that Amazon has on the next screen.
You can list the product at Ebay, (Shopify, Etsy, or any other online site) and use Amazon’s Third Party Fulfillment service to have it shipped from the warehouse directly to your customer. The cost will vary based on the size and type of item. To use this service, click “Create a Fulfillment Order”, once you have sold it to someone else.

Once you have created removal orders for the items that had errors (or listed them on another site), just wait to ge tthem back in the mail. Once you receive them, list them through Amazon’s interface as new items in your inventory, marking them as Used or Collectible as required. Send them back in, and sit back and wait for the paycheck!

How to make money when you buy inventory

When you are running your business, your goal should be to maximize profit whenever you can do so without sacrificing the quality of the experience for the consumer. Here are a few quick tips to get some extra profit while you are buying your products to sell.

1) Use a rewards credit card. If you are buying and selling items frequently, that is a lot of traffic on your account. Translate that traffic to a 1-5% bonus by using a rewards credit card for every transaction. Not only do you get bonus cash for using the card, having a designated account for all of your business expenses makes it much easier to track come tax time. You can also go through the preferred shopping networks on several cards, and save an even higher percentage.

2) Member cards. Most retail stores have some kind of membership program. Signing up for these programs can give you special access to sales, discounts on merchandise, and exclusive coupons. I recommend setting up a separate email account for these types of offers exclusively, then searching that inbox just prior to a trip to the store.

3) If you frequently shop at the same stores, consider looking into PlasticJungle.com. Plastic Jungle buys and sells used gift cards, often at a discount. For example, when I floored my entire house, I bought over 5,000 in gift cards from there for Lowes. At a savings of 5-7%, that saved me about $300. If you already know that you will be spending money at a specific location, take a few minutes to see if they have cards that can benefit you.

4) If online shopping is your go-to method, then always make sure to check out retailmenot.com. Although their interface has changed lately and in my opinion not for the better, they still remain an awesome place to check for discount codes for most online retailers. A few other sites to check would be slickdeals.net and fatwallet.com.

5) Keep an eye on your local newspaper. Many manufacturer’s still have sales fliers, discounts, and coupons that you can stack to receive significant savings. Especially useful are the offers for XX% off entire store! Unless specified on the coupon, these are good for clearance items also.

6) If you are doing garage sales and estate sales, always bundle your purchases for a better price. Emphasizing the amount of work they would have to do to handle the inventory at the end of the sale is a good way to buy the lot of it at a discount. I bought an entire garage worth of items for $50 because the seller told me she didn’t want to deal with the clutter. The first item we found was a complete set of 9 seasons of Star Trek, which we sold for 75. Every other item in the garage was pure profit.

Remember, that selling is a percentage game. If you can add 1% profit here, a 2% discount there, and then get rewards on top of that, you can significantly improve your bottom line.

Quick Tip – Goo Gone

Goo-Gone is one of the products we used to remove sticky residue from our items left behind from tape or price tags. It works pretty well.

googone Goo-Gone

It can be oily and we suggest using just a drop or squirt on a rag or napkin.

A little goes a long way. I sometimes can use the same drop on the napkin to clean several surfaces. It works best on surfaces that are plastic or have a plastic coating on them. It also works well on finished wood and metal tins. However, you should not use it on paper, un- coated cardboard or glass.

Here’s a tip or two we learned while using Goo-Gone.

TIP 1 : When using Goo-Gone on a dust jacket or cover to remove adhesive, ensure that you remove the cover from the item. For example, if cleaning the front of an Xbox 360 game or DVD movie, remove the cover art.

paper insert

Most cover art will slip right out of the plastic of the case. The Goo Gone can seep around the edge, and will leave an oily stain on the artwork.Using too much goo be gone can leave a product greasy feeling. Be sure to wipe of with a dry rag or paper towel excess goo-gone.

TIP 2: When using Goo-Gone on game boards or coated cardboard pieces. Always test a small spot first lightly. Some coated items including games boards and box covers can spot through the coating and leave a stain.

Game_Board

Also be careful of wiping the edges of a game board. The edges are usually not coated. They will absorb the oil leaving your board possibly damaged.

game1.1L

If it looks like the finish is fragile it probably is…so be careful using Goo-Gone on it. Oil damage will lower the value of your game or item.

List of products to avoid

While it is important to focus on products to sell on Amazon, it is also important to pay attention to which products you should not sell. These products are ones which the manufacturers will give you a difficult time if you are trying to sell on Amazon.

Gillette
P90X
Dunkin Donuts Coffee
Dr Dre headphones
Rosetta Stone software
Warner Brothers movies

From the conditions guidelines, you also need to avoid the following items:

Promotional CD’s
Drafts and proofs for books
Any item that is or is suspected to be counterfeit or fake

I will add to this list as I receive additional information.

How to pack board games for Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA)

We sell a lot of board games through our site, www.amazon.com/shops/amusingtreasures.  We also use Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), which allows us to have Amazon ship out our games, and handle the customer service on the orders.  When you use FBA, you have to pack the items and label them with a unique barcode.  Then you ship them to their warehouses, and Amazon stores them and ships them out from there when the order comes in.  There are a couple of things to keep in mind when preparing board games for FBA.

1)      Condition.  The guidelines for the board game category can be found here. http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200143590#everything_else The important thing to note here is that a “Like New” product should show no signs of wear.  Make sure that you do a thorough inspection.  List all damage, and include all pieces.  If the instructions are missing, there is a good chance that you can find them online.

 2)      Preparation.  It does not do any good to find a New or Like New game, and send it in to Amazon only to have it get all beat up or damaged in the warehouse.  Another thing to think about is the labeling requirements.  Many of the games are collectors’ items, and serious collectors do not like having stickers on the packaging.  Here are our recommendations, based on experience.

 a.       Cleaning.  If you source in Goodwills, thrift shops, yard sales, or storage auctions, then the games might not be ready for resale yet.  Give them a wipe down with a cloth or paper towel to remove the dust.  If they have grease pencil marks on them (pricing from Goodwill or Yard sales), use a dry Magic Eraser to take them off easily.  If it has stickers that you do not want to stay, you can use a hair dryer on low to loosen the adhesive.  Then you can use your fingernails, or a Scotty Peeler, to gently remove the sticker.  Bestine, Goo-Gone, or another cleanser may be required to lift all the adhesive off.

b.      Place all of the individual components in their own bags.  I like to rubber band the cards (if any), but if they are flimsy I might not.  If it looks like the rubber band will bend or damage the cards, then I leave them loose in the bag.

c.       If the pieces are rattling around and you believe there is a chance of damage, then you can place a piece of foam or bubble wrap between the pieces and the board.

d.      When sealing the box, I prefer to use plastic wrap.  We bought a big roll of it from the shipping section of Wal-Mart, and just wrap the entire box.  We prefer not to tape the boxes shut, as some tape will rip the pictures/packaging when you try to remove it.

e.      Place your custom label over the UPC on the outside of the plastic wrap.  Make sure that the plastic wrap is taped into place or snugly wrapped so that it does not shift.  For FBA, all existing barcodes besides the one you create must be covered.

f.        Many board games are over-sized.  Make sure when you are generating your shipment to place them in the same shipments, to cut down on postage costs.       

 

3)      Shipping.  Once you have them prepared, place them in a box with adequate padding.  Ensure that if you stack them on top of each other, do not place a board game that is skinnier than the edges on top of another game.  If you have a game that is supporting another smaller game on top, there is a good chance that the box will bow in the center. 

That is it.  When you ensure that your games are packed well, it ensures that your customers are happy with the things that they order.   Make sure you show the same care with your listing, and people will love to buy from you.  If you have any questions, please contact us at amusingtreasures@gmail.com. 

Interested? Dive in!

A lot of times, it seems that people get excited about a new project or new business and it never seems to get off the ground. One of the most important things to do is to take action whenever something excites you. It is easy to get drowned in the details, and try to learn every little thing about a new interest before deciding to take action. This is usually a mistake. Once you have enough information to make a decision, then you should make a decision within 10 seconds. There are very few decisions that exist that once you make them, you can never go back. Actually, going back should hardly ever be the goal. If the risk is something that you can accept, meaning that it won’t kill you or hurt you badly, then you should try it. Especially if the decision you are making leads to you learning something new, or potentially having largely positive effects on your life. In the case of learning how to sell things on Amazon (or anywhere else), if it interests you at all then you should jump in and try it. The reasons are pretty simple.

You can join with zero money down. This is a large reason why you should not hold back. There are very few business opportunities where everything you need to get started is available to you free. The only catch to this is you must be at least moderately organized. As long as you set yourself some reminders, there is no reason not to try this program.

The negative outcomes are limited. In this case, the worst case scenario is that you will waste some of your time. While I realize that time is one of our most precious resources, time spent learning something new is never wasted.

Here is a very quick, very simple process that will allow you to dip your toes in the water, without setting yourself up for the possibility of getting soaked.

Step 1 – Identify something to sell. For now, stay away from clothing or jewelry. If it is very close to Christmas, you should also stay away from toys. The first free method is to sell something you already own. You can look around the house for some CD’s, books, or DVD’s that you no longer want. Old video games and video game systems are excellent for this. A second method is to download the Amazon application for your smartphone. This free application will give you a method of doing on the spot research, so that you know the resale value of the items that you pick up before you buy them. All you have to do is use the barcode scanner to enter the UPC, or type in the items name. The application will show you what the current used prices are on Amazon. You want to buy items that sell for at least 3x the amount it costs you to buy it. Assume 1/3 of the price goes to Amazon, 1/3 to you, and 1/3 to cover the price that you paid.

There are two methods for buying items with no risk.

The first method is to buy something that you would not mind owning. Whether it is a gift for someone that you know, or an item that you would like, if it does not sell then you don’t mind. This method works best if you are shopping at a Goodwill or Thrift store. These stores are great because they often have new items in the box, at very low prices. This gives you a larger margin, or profit on the item.

The second method is to buy something from a retail store, such as TJ Maxx, Target, Walmart, etc. Simply hold on to the item until the end of the return period. If the item does not sell, then cancel your listing online and return it to the store for a full refund. Hold on to your receipt!

Step 2 – Sign up for a seller account on Amazon. Amazon offers a free 30 day trial. A very important thing not to overlook is to set yourself a reminder. Write it on a calendar, or set yourself an appointment. Set the date for 25 days from now, so that you cancel the program in plenty of time if it does not work for you.

Step 3 – List your item for sale. This is very easy to do. Find the listing that you want to sell. Click the button that says “Sell one like this”. This will take you to a page where you describe the condition of your item. Make sure you read the guidelines for your items condition. You will then select whether the item is New, Used-Good, Used-Acceptable, etc. Write a short paragraph that describes your item. This should be something friendly. Emphasize the positive aspects, but make sure to include the negatives. Honesty is the most important attribute here. Price your item near the low end of the range of prices that is being offered. Make sure you are pricing your items against items that are the same quality. For example, price your New items at about the same price as the lowest New item available. Your Used-Good should be priced against other Used-Good items. Just starting out, your feedback will be zero. Don’t worry about it. Your honesty in the description and care you put into describing your item will make your listing more appealing. Caring goes a long way.

Step 4 – Keep an eye on your email. When your item gets ordered, package it and ship it quickly. Make sure that it is wrapped well, and include a polite thank you note. Most companies don’t go out of their way to make sure that their customers are happy and feel appreciated. Make sure that you do, and you will stand out of the crowd.

Step 5 – Repeat this process as many times as you would like within the first 25 days. Ensure that when you have a question, you look up the answer or ask for help. Amazon customer service for their sellers is excellent, they want you to succeed.

Step 6 – When your 25 days is up, you have to make a decision. Next month it will cost you about forty dollars a month to stay. If you think that you can make more than that, (and you should be able to), then you can continue with selling. If not, cancel your seller account, return the items to the store if you need to, and try to find something that you find more interesting. At least at that point, you would know that you had tried.

I hope you enjoy the experiment. If you need help, or want to share your success story, send me an email at AmusingTreasures@gmail.com.

Dive in!