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Secrets to overcoming a downturn in your business

advice for discouraged amazon ebay sellersExclusive:  In my recent survey, some of you were feeling discouraged with 1.) your Amazon/eBay sales and/or 2.) increased competition (Ed. note: the latter is sometimes just a perception).

So I reached out to the best (=most trusted) experts I know in: retail arbitrage, eBay sales, used book selling, and more. I asked them:

"What help can you give the discouraged seller?"

So here you go. Many of the experts have links below for free (or inexpensive) help, I highly suggest you pick one and take action.


Nate McCallister Amazon"Diversify your sourcing methods... If you are 100% retail arbitrage, online arbitrage, wholesale or private label, I recommend you expand your horizons.
Putting all of your eggs in one (metaphorical) basket is very limiting and can leave you high and dry if something goes wrong. Are you 100% retail arbitrage? Why not try some online arbitrage? The concepts are the same! How about 100% private label? Why not work to get some wholesale deals once you have some income generated to impress suppliers? You may be surprised that the method you are currently using to source products may be less effective for you than others.
Want to take it a step further? Don’t be shy to look at other marketplaces like Jet, Rakuten or even your own Shopify store. When it comes down to it, you aren’t merely an Amazon or eBay seller, you are an entrepreneur. Go where the profits are!
Nate McCallister,  founder of the EntreResource.com blog and FBA Today (Facebook Group).


Duncan McPherson Canada Amazon"Pivot from what everyone else is doing and look for opportunities (perhaps locally) where you can find profitable inventory.  If you’re just starting out and have limited funds to invest into inventory, get out there and start scanning for used books at local thrift stores.  Many people don’t want to do this and think it’s below them, or too much work.  This is good for you as it eliminates competition!
If you’re located in Canada (like I am) or outside the US, check local retailers both in person and online for products you can re-sell in on Amazon.  Retailers outside of the US often have less competition, and lower prices due to exchange rate fluctuations.  For myself, buying in Canadian dollars in Canada and selling in US dollars really helps my bottom line since the US dollar is at a roughly 30% premium to the Canadian dollar.
Also: buy when no on else is. Some of my best deals have come from local stores happy to almost “give away” their out of season inventory. As an Amazon FBA seller, your job is a market maker – Taking items in low demand from one area/store and offering them to customers elsewhere who want and will pay a premium for them."
Duncan Macpherson, author of How to Sell on Amazon from Canada (Duncan's Free Facebook group for Canadian Amazon sellers is here.)

"Don't get distracted with unnecessary details. Instead focus on "the one thing". Ask yourself: "What's the ONE thing I can do for my Amazon business such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?" This was popularized by the book The One Thing (Keller), and has radically optimized my business.

For me (and probably for you), that one thing is sourcing.

When you're bringing in large amounts of profitable inventory, all the minutiae doesn't matter. How you pack shipments doesn't matter. Freaking out over sales taxes doesn't matter. Storage fees don't matter. When your sources are dialed in, everything else falls into place.

Source outside the box. The best sources are never the easiest to find. Pick up the phone and connect to a source that no one else knows about, or will ever find. Your sourcing model will heavily define what form this takes.

One giant rule of thumb: If everyone else is talking about it, the competition may be fierce. And if no one is, its probably a goldmine. Focus on facts, not online paranoia and misinformation

This one is less tactical, but extremely important: Learn to be extremely discerning of "facts" and opinions you read on Amazon seller forums (Facebook and elsewhere). There are some great tactics and strategies being shared. And a TON of bad information, weird paranoia, and (sometimes) deliberate lies. Without the proper filter, new sellers (and veterans) can get paralyzed into inactivity, or quitting altogether.

This is not a "don't read online seller forums" editorial. Just remember: Most true Amazon sellers are occupied with selling on Amazon, not debating online.

Guys like Jordan are doing cool stuff with their online presence (Facebook and elsewhere) and are voices of experience. This often isn't the case where sellers congregate online. Have a discerning eye, and only time places that empower and motivate you, and not places that plant seeds of paranoia and doubt."

-  Peter Valley, founder of  FBAMastery (free blog packed with book sourcing tips) and ZenArbitrage.

joelister cto"If you sell on Amazon, stop ignoring eBay! eBay did $2B in sales in Q1 2016 alone. eBay has 159 million active buyers! Some sellers figure out (too late) their item can't be sold on Amazon so they throw it out. But virtually any product type restricted by Amazon (brand registered products, broken items, used (clean) baby products, used (clean) clothing and more) can be sold on eBay. And whatever you are selling via Amazon FBA, can be posted easily on eBay too: Software like JoeLister auto-syncs your Amazon listings onto eBay, and then auto-syncs your listings after the item sells on either marketplace."
- Max Kolyh, CTO of Zinc

Ryan Reger"If you are struggling:

1. Take some risks. If you are thinking about an inventory purchase and debating what to do, just go for it. You will learn much more by buying the item, as opposed to passing on it. Don't put more at risk than you are willing to lose, but testing things out first hand can lead you to finding profitable items you otherwise would have missed.

2. Challenge your presumptions. I have sold many items I never even would have thought had the potential to make money on Amazon before I looked them up. You only have to sell a few boxes of cereal for $10+ a piece before your eyes really start to open up to the possibilities that you might not currently be taking advantage of. "

- Ryan Grant, founder of OnlineSellingExperiment.com (free blog packed with Amazon selling help and ideas.)

Jessica Larrew The Selling Family"Sellers struggling to see sales (even though they have lots of inventory) often forget this critical thing:  Are they pricing their items correctly?  Meaning, are they fully understanding how the buy box works, and how to price their item to get into it.  It sucks to have a bunch of great products, but never actually make it to the Amazon buy box - that's where the buyers are!  So I work with those sellers on pricing just right so they rotate into the buy box, without worrying about causing a 'race to the bottom'.  My advice: is learn how the buy box truly works and start getting your items to show up in there."
- Jessica Larrew, founder of TheSellingFamily.com (free blog packed with Amazon selling help and ideas.)

Raiken Profit"If you feel like you're failing there is really only one thing you should do (and hardly anyone does this). It’s quite simple actually: STOP doing everything they are doing. Yes, that’s right, I said they need to stop and slow down. One of the number one reasons why MOST people get stuck in the rat race, locked into mediocrity, never really growing to the levels they desire, and achieving far less than they know they should be - is because they continue to do the same things over and over and get the exact same results.

If you want to make more sales and increase profit margins in your business, reconsider everything you are doing. Stop doing everything you have been doing in the past and ask yourself 'What can I do differently in my business to achieve a different result?'

Right now: take out a pen and pad and write down a set of new actions you can begin to take in your business that may create a set of new results for you. Break everything down in your business including your strategy for sourcing products to resell, the types of products you sell, the relationships you have with stores, manufacturers, wholesalers, etc, your shipping process, the systems you have in place for your team -  if you have one, and the list goes on and on.

The great Albert Einstein once said 'The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.'

Learn from this quote and begin to do things differently in your business, I think you will be surprised how everything begins to change once you decide to change.

- Stephen Raiken, Host of Youtube - Raiken Profit (700+ Videos!) and founder Raikenprofit.com

Danni Ackerman"As the world of eCommerce becomes so much more competitive and finding rare and unique items a bigger challenge, it is important to position yourself as something other than just a seller of everything.Finding your "something special" that makes you more than just an online yard sale, is how you will be able to stay ahead of the ever increasing crowd of people who are turning to eBay and Amazon for making money.

Do what every successful business does: define your brand, your message and your position in the marketplace and build your own loyal customer base. Run your business like a business, know your numbers, know your target market and analyze what works and what doesn't in bringing in more sales and more profits."

- Danni Ackerman, Founder NichetoSuccess.com

CrazyListerFOCUS! eBay and Amazon are overcrowded, the competition is fierce. We only began seeing success when we finally focused on:
1. Finding our unique competitive advantage - Awesome customer support. We made sure our eBay listings screamed - "We will never let a customer down".
2. A product category - We became experts in our niche and started to accumulate returning customers.
3. A market segment - We found out that our best customers were UK based small-medium cinematographers. We focused on targeting this audience and answering their needs."
Victor Levitin, CEO, Founder of CrazyLister.com

{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Ken Mason July 15, 2016, 11:41 am

    They hit the nail on the head! Focus is a central must. Use your time as effectively as possible. Jordan, thank you for putting this together. It was really helpful.

  • Kathy June 8, 2016, 10:22 pm

    Great words of encouragement! Thanks.

  • DaveP June 7, 2016, 7:22 pm

    That was good stuff, particularly Peter Valley’s comments.
    Thanks Jordan.

  • Josh June 7, 2016, 8:21 am

    Great roundup.

    Seems like the number one thing is to focus focus focus. I know most entrepreneurs suffer from the fabled ‘shiny object syndrome’ (including myself).

    I recently read The One Thing by Gary Keller and would highly recommend it.

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