8 Ways to Crush Seller Competition & Boost Sales

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8 Ways to Crush Seller Competition & Boost Sales

Amazon sellers (and eBay sellers – much of the below advice can work for you, too)….

Print this out because I’ll be taking it down soon…


> Have your sales dropped?

> Noticed more seller competition?

> Downward pressure on prices?

No, it’s not ‘just’ you. There are other sellers and other retailers (big and small) experiencing the same thing. You won’t buy my relief if I just say “it’s just seasonal/cyclical” (it is, but there are a number of factors that play into that — economy, eBay’s umpteenth flubs, and a dramatic increase in new FBA sellers).

But it’s futile for me to analyze (or for you to dwell on) external factors. So instead….

Here are 8 (proven) ways you can deal with it:

1. ‘Double-down’ – “The fools start complaining. The wise refine their game and double down” quote by FBAMastery founder and author Peter Valley. (Not required, but I highly recommend his $47 book ‘s loaded list of ways to boost your FBA business.) In other words, don’t ignore your dip. Find ways to compensate for it (the next 7 ways will help you do that).

2. Multiply your sourcing methods, A ‘sourcing method’ is a way you get merchandise to resell on Amazon. If you’re just buying from (say) local thrift stores and retail stores, you need to add (say):

a.) Source from ebay <– that link is to my proven guide that can help you, but you can learn on your own instead, of course.

b.) Source from craigslist <- that link is to my proven service that can help you, but you can learn on your own instead, of course.

c.) Source from OfferUp <- that’s a new ‘classifieds’ site (I have no affiliation with) that’s more user-friendly than Craigslist.

d.) Hire and train a neighbor to do local sourcing for you. The fools complain about this (“I’ll be creating my own competition”) but that’s unlikely because many people don’t  want anything to do with selling on Amazon, they just need steady part-time or full-time work. Hire one or two so you’re doubling/tripling the amount of volume of locally-procured merchandise. A $9.95/month app for their iPhone/Android is all they need. Buy it for them and have them join you on 3 scouting trips. Explain every buying/not-buying decision you make and have them take notes. Presto, you’ve instantly duplicated yourself.

e.) Browse/research more sourcing ideas on my free site here.

3. Diversify your product types. If you’re just selling just (say) books and DVDs, expand into CDs and toys and games. (By the way, don’t worry about your seller ID. If your Amazon or eBay seller ID is JoesBooks, the end customer does notcare if you are selling Toys or Kitchen gadgets too. Trust me on that one.) Likewise, if you’re just selling new toys, expand into collectible (used) toys and used/new books and used/new Kitchen gadgets. Diversify and when you think you’re done, diversify again.

4. Build ‘barriers’ that separate you from other sellers of the same merchandise. Examples:

a.) Write detailed Condition Notes – see here and here for my examples. Most sellers just slap up their merchandise with generic or no condition notes. But most buyers want to know exactly what they are getting (and thus may not always pick the lowest-priced seller.) Take the time to give at least some details in your condition notes.

b.) Emphasize the assets Amazon gives you in your Condition Notes – We all know Amazon’s return policy is pretty liberal for the buyer. But do buyers know that? Further, do they know the same liberal policy also applies when they are buying from you, a 3rd party merchant? Let them know (see the end of my condition notes here).

c.) Throw in ‘freebies’ that don’t cost you anything (or that cost you just a little extra). I give a lifetime replacement guarantee on an item I created(no competition). (Out of a few hundred sales (<5 years), I had to honor that guarantee about three times.) You can do this to other existing Amazon catalog items too (just include “lifetime” or “1-year” or “5-year” replacement guarantees in your language). Believe me most Amazon merchants, big and small, are too chicken-sh*# to do this because they’re envisioning a flood of customers sending in their product 6 years later demanding a replacement. It just doesn’t work like that: In most cases you’ll never get a replacement request if your item is a.) relatively inexpensive for the buyer (they’ll just buy another one or dispose of it. Requesting a replacement takes too much time for them) AND/OR b.) hard to break (they’ll never need to get, or bother with, a replacement).

5. Assume all sales of your products don’t occur until 6 t0 9 months out from the date you send them into Amazon (the exception here, of course, isChristmas, when sell-through rates are generally very fast). This is actually critical now. I frequently hear frustration from new-ish Amazon sellers (“I sent in 48 sets of cutlery and haven’t sold a single one in the past 2 months!”). This is the new – no, the always-been-there- reality. If you want hot, fly-off-the-shelf products, please expect 5% net profit margins and tons of competition. If you want to enjoy 35% to 50% net profit margins, slow, long-tail niche wins the race, but don’t begin lowering your items’ prices until 6 to 9 months after you send them in.

6. Create new products/bundles for the Amazon marketplace. This is where the real winners separate themselves from the pack. I’ve talked about how bundles are almost a fool-proof method (when researched and executed correctly) for a.) making your direct competition virtually disappear and b.) cornering (and evendominating) a niche/marketplace.

7. Go where other sellers are turning their nose up. I love these routes because other sellers (generally) don’t touch them:

a.) Liquidation stores (common seller refrain: “It’s too dirty!” My answer: wear rubber gloves)

b.) Yard sales (common seller refrain: “It’s too dirty!” My answer: wear rubber gloves)

c.) $1-and-under items (common seller refrain: “There’s not enough profit”. My answer: Ok, I’ll keep all the profits to myself). To wit, qty:200 of a novelty gift bag I bought. I have sold about 200 since Oct. 2013. My total net profit projection for this single SKU was $800+ in about 1 year. That doesn’t look like much, but now multiply that by just 12 other similarly-priced $1 products and you get ~$10K profit annually. Where do you these ~$1 products? See a.) and b.) above, and also c.) Buy lots on eBay and then sell the items from those lots individually on Amazon or back on eBay.

8. Fools rush in, so there will be a shake-out (Don’t be the fool). This is for you who are nervous about the influx of new sellers. Many of those sellers undoubtedly are rushing in because they think this “Amazon thing” is a push-button goldmine (looks like they’ve been buying into the oversold hype). Then they retreat (faster than they entered) when they realize they have to, like, work to make it a real viable income stream.  So yes, there is an increase. Expect many of those sellers to disappear at their first taste of failure (or their first taste of actual work). Also remember how quickly eBay sellers (needlessly) exited when eBay made things a little more difficult. Those eBay sellers couldn’t go anywhere else (there was no ‘Amazon’ at the time). So stick around and find creative ways to win (see #2 through #7 above).

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(updated Nov. 6 2014)