Category Archives: Tips

Fatwallet.com – free notifications when there is money to be made

How would you like it if someone told you when to pay attention to an item that could make you money? Thanks to a recent article from Chris Green, author of Arbitrage, I have found a way to get an alert when there is an opportunity to make some money. Simply sign up at FatWallet.com, and set up keyword alerts for the categories that you are most comfortable selling in. Then, when there is a new item that fits that description, you can receive an alert letting you know that there is a new deal for you to evaluate.

To evaluate the deal, Chris recommended using Webscout, one of the products in his ScanPower bundle. He also recommended using the Amazon Browser Bar, which is a free add-on that allows you to look up products from Amazon without leaving the page. With a notification of a deal, combined with the ability to instantly evaluate the deal for profitability, it is as if someone is sending you an alarm that says “Hey! Wake up and make some money now!”.

Anytime that you buy things online, you should always stop at retailmenot.com before you click checkout. It is a site that collects all of the online codes and discounts that are available.

A similar site to FatWallet is Slickdeals. The basics are the same, look at the deals to see if there is a difference in price that you can use to your advantage. Remember that altogether, you normally want products that have at least a 3x markup in price. For example, if the item that you are looking for is available for 25$, you want to be able to sell it for at least 75$. You may take a smaller margin on items that sell quickly, but remember to take into account that if the item is available cheaply, the price may be on the decline. Happy Hunting!

To learn more about Webscout, or any of the other FBAPower products that Chris Green offers, check out his site.

Magic does Exist!

You would be amazed at the amount of magic this one little genie sponge has! Not sure what’s exactly in it, but it works like a charm!

This is one product I personally stand behind. It has helped me take dirt, crayon, permanent marker, ink, and even coffee stains off of my inventory products. Not only will it clean up plastic, boxes…etc but I have noticed it does so much more. It will even clean the toughest stains off your counter top surfaces. I used to use bleach and a little elbow grease to clean up tough marks, not anymore. The eraser does it with ease. Even hair dye comes off the sink top. Its is gentle enough to use on your stove top and lap top.

They work so well, they sometimes take the finish or writing off your books or games so be careful. Always test spot a spot first by rubbing very gently. You don’t even have to dampen the eraser in most cases. We recommend when cleaning book and other non coated surfaces not to dampen it.

I buy them by the box full. They last me a while.

 

Peeling Price Tags

For those of you that have nails and for those of you who don’t…here’s a quick easy tool for peeling tags without wetting or ripping your product.

They are called Label Peeler tools.

Yes, your investing in buying a tool that looks a little like a mini shovel…but the cost is a very small price to pay for the quick convience of getting a sticker or label off without damageing your product. It has saved me a lot of time and effort. It was worth it in the long run.

There are several brands of these. They come is several colors. They also come in plastic or metal. I personally use the Scotty Brand but you can look up which ever are cheaper for you.

They can be bought cheaply on the net, Ebay or even Amazon. Sometimes, you can even find them at yardsales or even in Walmart.

The plastic label peelers work really well and are the ones I most commonly use. The metal one is for those super tuff ones but you must be careful not to scratch/cut your product when useing the metal. I made that mistake the first time I used it. I wasn’t under the tag properly and sliced right through the thin plastic on a CD, making the CD’s “new” value decrease.

Useing water and damping your product is time consumeing and can damage the cardboard or paper covering of an item. Even your nail can split the plastic or even in cases rip the tag in serveral places making it tougher for you to remove it in one or two easy pulls.

Try it…if you have other helpful tips on how to pull and remove tags from items, please feel free to post in the comments below. I would love to hear your ideas.

Shipping our first oversize item!

If you would just like the lessons learned, you can skip the personal story by clicking here.

We just got done with our very first oversize item shipment. It was a pretty good learning experience, so I thought that I would share. I became interested in oversized items after reading a post on the Facebook group “ScanPower”. They were discussing buying oversized toys, because not a lot of people want to deal with the hassle. I am always willing to go out there a little bit to see what can be accomplished, so I figured I would keep my eye out.

At a garage sale, I saw a Playskool Kota My Triceratops Dinosaur. He was selling for $60, and when I looked him up on Amazon, I saw that he was selling for $400-$1200. Bingo! I bought him, brought him home. To learn more about the toy, check out our other article here. I listed him for $425, and assumed that if he sold I could just take him to the UPS store. They offer wrapping and shipping, and I figured it was a one stop shop kind of thing. So wrong!

About 2 weeks later, he sold for an adjusted price of $399.99 with $22.19 shipping. I had figured a shipping price of about $75-80, based on reading some other peoples posts. I don’t know where I got that number, but I was way off. I work during the day, so Holly was stuck trying to actually get this thing taken care of.

She called me at work, saying that it looked like we were going to make about $4 on this sale. As you can imagine, I was very surprised! She had taken it to UPS, and called other companies from there. Here are the numbers that we got quoted.

Here are the measurements: 32x24x52 (estimated from UPS), unpacked weight 40.9lbs

USPS – won’t take it due to the size
UPS – $266.60 for shipping, and $27.34 for packing
FEDEX – more than UPS

Yikes! A lot more than I had expected. So I started searching for pack and ship companies in our area. I found a company called Freightquote.com, at 1-800-323-5441 and signed up with them. Special thanks to Sarah (Customer Serice) at x1102, and Anna Hanson (Senior Account Manager) x1213 for their help in understanding what I needed to do. Holly, after watching the UPS girl try to stand the dino on it’s tail (a big no-no with animatronics), decided to pack it herself, with some help for a friend. In the meantime, we had been in contact with the customer who was asking if they could get it by Christmas. In Texas. We are in Virginia.

Holly gets it all wrapped up, with final measurements of 45Lx24Wx35H. We can’t get the final weight because our shipping scale only goes to 25lbs, and we can’t read the numbers on the house scale with it balanced on top. So we estimated 75lbs, knowing we would be over. I learned it is way better to be under your weight than over, as the company can charge you a 30$ fee if you are over. After exploring several different companies, and a couple of phone calls, Anna found us a shipping company that said they could do it if we dropped it off, and the customer picked it up. We talked to the customer, who said picking it up was fine. I emailed him directions from Google Maps from his house to the shipping center.

Total cost was $166.86 for the shipping, and about $20 for the boxes and shipping material.

So final breakdown:
Purchase price: $399.99
Shipping Cutomer paid: $22.19
Cost of Item: -$60.00
Amazon Fees: -$63.33
Packing Material: -20.00
Shipping: -$166.86
Total Profit: $111.19

Lessons Learned:
-UPS pack and ship does not really help with oversize items. Between the employee not really knowing what she was doing, and no guarantee or insurance being offered, either find another company or do it yourself.
-Using a freight company was much better than trying a major carrier for the oversized item. I was happy with the service at Freightquote.com, they were friendly and knowledgeable.
-Insurance is something that we need to look into more, the guys at the freight company where we dropped it off had no idea about insurance.
-Shipping is very expensive, make sure you account for that in your initial buying expense and in your pricing strategy.
-If shipping on a deadline, dropping it off yourself and having the customer pick it up at the carriers location will save you 3-4 days of transit time.
-Ensure that if you are estimating weight, that you go over rather than under. The dimensions are as important as the weight or more. By paying the extra $3-4 dollars by overestimating, we eliminated the chance to receive $30-50 dollars in penalties.

Saving money on shipping – one of our biggest expenses

One of the biggest expenses that we have in our business is shipping. Between the boxes, the packing material, and the postage, a lot of our profits were leaving before we even saw them. I have learned a lot of ways to make things cheaper since we started buying bubbles and boxes at Walmart and shipping at the desk at the Post Office.

The first thing that I usually like to tell people about when I learn that they sell things from their home is Stamps.com. I was very frustrated getting started in this business because I was spending a fortune on shipping. I tried comparing UPS to USPS, but it seemed like the Post Office was cheaper. While I was researching ways to save money on shipping, I found Stamps.com. I was immediately impressed. The thing that I enjoy the most is the free delivery confirmation. Each time I sell something on Amazon or Ebay, I had to pay for delivery confirmation. At $0.85 a piece, it was cutting into our profits quite a bit. We sell on average right now between 5-15 orders per day. That was $4.25 to $12.75 pr day in delivery confirmation fees alone. When we learned that Stamps.com was $15.99 a month, we knew that the cost was more than paid for by the delivery confirmation fees alone!

They also give you a discount on the price that you pay from shipping at the front counter at the Post Office. I have not run specific numbers to share, but I do know that the rate is significantly cheaper.

When I signed up, they gave me the option of a free 5lb shipping scale, or I could pay 25$ for a scale that could weigh up to 25lbs. I chose the larger scale, as I ship out Xbox 360’s and PS3 consoles. I recommend that if you are sourcing things at thrift stores and yard sales like we do, that you go for the larger scale. They have a four week free trial, and give you 5$ to start in free postage. You also get vouchers for $20 in free postage for use after your trial period ends.

The scale was very easy to setup, installed the software and plugged in the USB. We started by printing 4 labels to a page, and taping them onto our packages. It is a convenient way to start. Once we had gotten a little money back from starting out, we invested in a DYMO Label Writer 450 Twin Turbo label printer, 71 Labels Per Minute, Black/Silver (1752266)
printer. With their 3-part labels, it makes it very fast and convenient to print the labels with the tracking information at home.

The software allows you to do a lot of things that reduce the amount of time that we spend packing and shipping. You can buy your insurance, change your delivery options, and customize your return address. One of the best things about it is that you can perform batch imports. What that means is that you can link your Amazon and Ebay accounts directly to Stamps.com, and they will import all of your orders at once. You pack the item, place it on the scale, and click the weigh button. Then it calculates the amount of shipping that is required, allows you to choose the shipping option that is best for you, and even allows you to hide the amount of shipping that you paid! Once all of the items are weighed, click print and all the labels come out at once. Then you can print a single form, called a batch form. The Post Office scans this form, counts your packages to make sure that they are all there, and you are done!

I know this sounds a little like a commercial, but this service has saved us hundreds of dollars this year alone. There are a few things that could use some improvement.

Sometimes the batch form does not print. Not sure why, but that means that you need to have every item scanned individually at the post office. Not a huge deal, but kind of annoying.

Some addresses won’t play nice with the software. Again, it doesn’t happen very often, but when it does it can be frustrating.

Overall, I think that using this service is one of the smartest things that we have done so far as far as saving us money on our costs. I encourage everyone that is doing this business to at least use the trial period. If you ship more than 18 orders a month, you will break even on the confirmation costs alone. The discount on the postage is pure profit! Not to mention the time that you save. In my opinion, scaling is very important. Scaling is the ability to handle an increase in orders. The more orders you can handle quickly and efficiently, the more time you spend managing your business instead of it managing you. Hope you enjoyed the tips. Let me know what you think of this article or anything else you would like to know about. Mail us!

Batteries not Included.

Believe it or not, one of the most common complaints or problems that people reported with their purchases or merchandise is that… “It isn’t working”.

This can mean several things. For most, it’s a simple matter of the batteries not being included or they have gone bad. Yes, things have been returned for simply not checking to see if the power source is valid by being either plugged in, charged up or even batteries replaced or put in.

Check your power source. Make sure if you place batteries in it …that they aren’t cheap ones that may already be bad. Sometimes, especially buying ones from the dollar store can have a “bad” batch.  We recently had this happen to us with our own personal camera. We thought the camera was broke and kept turning itself off, only to find out the batch of cheap batteries we bought were the reason.

Here’s a video you may find amusing…enjoy : )

Batteries Not Included 

 

 

Brown is the New Green

Did you know that most grocery stores will give you brown paper bags if you ask for them? Most of the time, grocery stores even offer them for free as an alternative to plastic. Now a days, “Going Green” means “Going Brown”.

Brown paper bags are great cost efficient way of wrapping packages. Heck, in most places it’s absolutely free! The post office also prefers brown paper and usually wont accept random colored wrapped packages.

Now before you bash brown for it’s drab cheap appearance…some of the prettiest and playful packages I have ever wrapped have been from a plain old brown paper bags cut and flipped so that the printed side is faced down.

There are so many things you can do with a blank canvas like that. Stamp it, mark it, paint it, color it …heck even sticker it. The more creative you are with it, the more you amuse others who receive it. (And we all know that A muse ing = Smiles.) Adding a personal creative touch to your package shows you care. Not only that, its a cheap fun way to get a packaged wrapped and your recycling!

The post office will accept brown paper wrapped packages with touches of color.

So, don’t bash the brown. Brown is the new green and saves you some green $!

Fun Fillers for Free!

Everyone loves FREE stuff, right?

Why buy tissue paper, bubble wrap, wrapping paper and packing peanuts when you can fill your package for free in a fun way?

Fun Fetti:

Do you have a paper shredder? Paper makes a great filler. If you do, shred your old newspapers, cereal boxes, mail or even those pesky junk mail flyers and use it as fun soft filler for your packages. Mixing different shredding sizes also will help give your package a unique inner look. It’s like your package had a party!

 

 

Crinkle Cuts:

No shredder, no problem. Remember making paper fans as a child? Use a pair of scissors and cut your paper into thin or thick strips. Length and width doesn’t matter. Fold the paper back and forth creating a ripple effect. Toss it in your packages. Fun, fast…heck even the little ones can help with it.

 

Nifty Knots:

Paying for packing peanuts are in the past…people. Nifty knots are the new free cool way of filling packages.

Use those plastic bags that your groceries and clothing come in, as packing material. Rip or cut them into thick strips. Tie the strip into a loose knot or several loose knots depending on how long your strip is. If you make several knots, space them out and then cut between them to make them look like old fashion candy drops.Drop them in your package.The more colorful your plastic bags are, the more nifty your packages become.

These are just some of many ideas you can do to make your fillers fun and free. If you have other ideas or suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment below describing it or email us with your creative idea  and pictures so that we may share it with others.

Pack Outside the Box

Have you ever heard the expression “think outside the box”?

Try packing outside the box.

Did you know that you can bubble wrap unusual shaped or very large items several times and ship them at the post office, UPS or FED EX that way without placing it inside a box? It’s true.

Some people are stuck in the old tradition of packing inside a box. Bubble wrap can be a light cheap way of getting your item shipped and help prevent your package from being damaged at the same time.This can also save you some change on packaging, since cardboard adds to the weight of your item and buying cost of boxes.

Now, for breakable items or appliances, I would not suggest packing only in bubble wrap. Here’s a small list of items that I have packed or seen packed like this:

A sit n spin, big cloth dolls and hard baby dolls, a big metal pot & metal cook ware, a large toy car, a game controller, purses, shoes & boots, toy vacuum, a fishing pole, a toaster, fake plants, gift baskets, a car seat and so much more.

Q: Can’t you can see what I’m shipping through the bubble wrap?

A: No, not if you wrap it well or even use paper to wrap it first. Newspapers make for great packing material, is hard to see-through and is lighter than a box.

Bubble wrap that is bought in bulk is usually cheaper, There are several online places that you can search for the cheapest deals. Bubble wrap can also can be re-used from packages you receive as long as the air bubbles are still intact. If not…you can re use bubble wrap as a plastic wrap. Plastic makes for a good filler as well for packages.

You can also plastic wrap then brown paper items that you don’t have a box for. Brown paper is super cheap. The Dollar Store usually has rolls of brown paper for just a buck.Looking for free? Try your local grocery store for a pile of brown paper bags. Paper bags can be cut and used for wrapping and it’s also a form of recycling.We all know recycling is good.

So next time you can’t find the right size box…try packing outside the box.