Sent to you by Chris Hunter via Google Reader:
Got crap? Want money instead? Amazon has a neat program that essentially lets you dump old books, movies, gadgets, and more in a box, send it to them, and then wait for the money to roll in. Here's how you can start using it and sell your stuff in no time.
How Does FBA Work and Why Should I Use It?
The name of the program is Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA). Although it is designed to let sellers with high inventory have sales, shipping, and customer support handled entirely by Amazon, you can use it too. The primary advantage of using the FBA program is convenience. You basically dump your crap in a box, tell Amazon what's inside of that box, print out a shipping label, and schedule a pickup request. The process generally takes an hour or two, unless you have more stuff than you could ever possibly sell, and if you've already got the box(es) you're going to use you don't even have to leave your home. When Amazon gets the box, they'll post all your items for sale on their product pages and people will be able to buy them. Amazon will ship the items out for you in their own packaging and handle any customer issues that may arise post-sale. For these services you pay a small storage fee, $1 for shipping and handling, and the commission you'd pay for selling on Amazon in general. Although this service is really great, there are a few downsides you should be aware of:
- It's not great for cheap items, such as used books or DVDs nobody wants anymore. Basically, if you can't sell your item for over $4 you probably won't make much money using this service. When you add items to your inventory, however, Amazon will tell you what you'll make when/if the item sells so you'll know before you send it in.
- Not every item is sellable through this service. While you can generally add anything you could sell yourself on Amazon.com, sometimes Amazon will require certain packaging to be present so they can more easily add it to their system. Basically, if you're missing a bar code or ISBN you might have trouble adding it to the system—but this is not always the case.
- Although the process is really easy once you get started and you understand what you're doing, it's a little cumbersome at first. If you get annoyed easily or are just in a bad mood today, you might get a little frustrated. You've been warned!
If that all sounds good, you're ready to get started.
Okay, Sold! Now How Do I Get Started?
Before you can start the selling process, you're going to need to do the following:
- Assuming you already have an Amazon account, sign up for an Amazon Seller account. Just click "Sell Your Stuff" and skip the professional option—it costs money.
- Add FBA to your seller account.
- Go get some boxes. (Or have a few delivered.)
- Get all your excess crap together and grab your computer.
Once you've done all of that you're ready to get started.
How to List Your Items with FBA
Every time you use FBA, you have to manage your inventory by boxes. If you're only sending Amazon a single box of stuff, this is very easy because you only have to manage one box listing on FBA. If you're sending multiple boxes, you have to simply create a new box every time you fill one up with crap you want Amazon to sell for you. This method is used so the Amazon employees that unpack your boxes and stick them on the shelves for sale will be able to easily and efficiently find the items you have listed. Just follow these steps to create your first "box" and fill it up with inventory:
- Sign in to Amazon Seller Central (if you haven't already) and hover over the Inventory menu. A few options will drop down. Choose Add a Listing.
- Enter in the name of the product you want to sell and click Search. (Alternatively you can enter its UPC, EAN, ISBN, or ASIN if you know it.)
- When your choices appear, select the correct one by clicking the Sell Yours button.
- The next page looks a little more complicated, but the only things you need to fill out are the item condition, the price, and the quantity. If it isn't already selected, you'll also need to tell Amazon this is an FBA item. You do that by selecting the radio button next to "I want Amazon to ship and provide customer service for my items if they sell." When you're done, Click Save & Finish. (You do not need to click next, as those other options are reserved for people with professional accounts.)
- If you're a new seller, Amazon will probably present you with a page that's asking you to make sure you're not selling anything hazardous, prohibited by law, alive, is capable of killing someone, and so on. (You know, nothing fun.) Click the Send Inventory button to move on.
- On the next page, you'll need to let Amazon know where the items are shipping from. Most likely, this will be your default address and it will be filled in for you already. If you need to change it, however, just click the Change Address button to do so. Second, you'll need to tell Amazon you're sending them a bunch of items in one box. Right now you probably have the Individual Items option selected, but you need to switch that to Case-Packed Items. You'll notice this changes the inventory list below and there are a couple of fields to fill in: Units per Case and Number of Cases. If you're selling one book, you'd just fill in the number 1 for both of these. If you were selling one six pack of soda, you'd enter 6 units per case and 1 number of cases. If you were selling two of the same DVD, you'd enter 1 units per case and 2 number of cases. Got it? Click continue.
- Amazon will now use your address to find the closest facility. I'm in Los Angeles, so I was assigned to PHX3 (Phoenix, AZ). You'll now be asked to name your shipment. FBA will automatically provide you with a generic name, which you can keep if you want or change it to something more interesting (like "Magic Pony Surprise Shipment"). Once you've settled on a name, click Save & Continue.
- If that was all your were going to ship, you'd be done creating your box—but you're not. To continue adding more of your crap, just follow these steps again. When you get to step 7 (the previous step), however, you'll now be able to choose Add to an Existing Shipment rather than being forced to create a new one. Just choose the shipment you've already created for your previous items to keep them all bundled together.
How to Ship Your Boxes
When you add an item, be sure to add it to the box it's going to be shipped in—or at least keep all the items grouped together—so you don't lose track of which item belongs in which box. Once you've got all your boxes done, there's just a little more work to do to get your items to Amazon:
- After adding your last item to a box, you can click the Work on Shipment button to start the shipping process. Alternatively, you can always find your FBA shipments by choosing Manage FBA Shipments from the Inventory menu. You'll find the Work on Shipment button next to any unfinished boxes on the resulting page, too.
- After clicking the button, look over your shipment to see if there are any last-minute changes you want to make. If not, click Save & Continue.
- You'll now be taken to the item labeling page where you can print out labels for all of your items. Do that, attach the labels to your items, and click Save & Continue.
- Now you get to pick the size of your shipment and the carrier you want to use. Choose SPD because you're not shipping much. LTL is for shipping pallets that are at least 150 lbs. That better not be you. On the other side of the screen you want to choose Amazon-Partnered Carrier (which is usually UPS). This will let you buy a label from Amazon at a discount and have the carrier come pick up your stuff. You can choose another carrier and ship everything yourself, but we're going to assume that you want the easiest possible method. When you're ready to move on, click the familiar Save & Continue button.
- It's packing slip time! Choose how many packing slips you want to print. You're going to need to put one in the box, but you might want to keep one for yourself because, you know, who doesn't love a packing slip? Enter the number you want to print, click the Print button, and pack it in your box along with everything else. This time, when you're ready, just click Continue. (There is no need to save!)
- On the next page, enter the dimensions of your box and its weight. If you can't measure the weight exactly, use this method and round up. Click the Save button (this time you don't have to continue) and then, once your information has saved, click the Get Cost Estimate button.
- The resulting page will give you a shipping estimate and ask you to agree to be charged for that amount. Agree and then click Accept Charges & Continue.
- Print your label, stick it on the box as instructed, and schedule a pickup with the carrier (or just drop it off at a shipping store/facility)
Although there are a lot of details necessary to get everything in order with FBA, once you've finished your first box you'll get the hang of it and will be able to breeze through the process. If you want to sell a bunch of your stuff, you can do it much faster and without the headaches that often come with online sales by using this service. Once Amazon receives your shipments and sells your items, you'll be able to transfer all the money you made right into your back account. It's very useful and a great way to get money for crap you don't want without much effort on your part.
(Most of the) illustrations by Leremy.