I first heard about Amazon FBA (or Fulfillment by Amazon) last year by way of Debra Conrad over at Thrifting for Profit.com. Prior to her website, I had been selling on Amazon since 2006 by merchant fulfilling items (mainly books). I never even knew it was possible to ship things to Amazon and have them sell it for you.
Originally, I was just looking on Debra’s website for information on thrifting items to resell so I never gave any thought to Amazon FBA or what it would take for them to sell my items. It sounded like a lot of work, and to be honest, I did not feel it was worth my time since I was so focused on eBay. After reading a few blog posts (many of which didn’t make sense to me at the time), I unsubscribed from the mailing list and stopped visiting the blog.
Why I Changed My Mind
I didn’t have a change of heart about FBA until after finding out about “thrifting” groups on Facebook. I remember a few members here or there posting items that they sold via Amazon FBA for much more money than it could have fetched on eBay. It was around that time that I started reading more about FBA from Amazon themselves. Next, I stumbled upon a few YouTube videos and I dug a little deeper by reading blogs and revisiting Thrifting for Profit again — but this time I actually started listening to the podcasts which put things into perspective.
Even armed with knowledge of how the system worked, it would take another 2 months before I bit the bullet in December 2013 and began to actively scout and store merchandise that I would use for my first shipment.
The Score That Got My Feet Wet
Around that time I began looking for merchandise suitable for FBA, I was still using liquidation as a source for eBay inventory. During the first week of January 2014, I stumbled across an auction for a pallet of VHS tapes from a woman whose consignment business was being liquidated. Now before you roll your eyes at mention of the word VHS, even at the time, I knew there was still money to be made with VHS tapes. After looking at some of the photos of the VHS tapes inside the pallet, I decided to take a risk and use the profits from my eBay sales and put it into getting started with FBA.
I honestly didn’t know how things were going to go with the auction, but I knew that I wanted it and I was willing to pay upwards of $200 for it! During the days leading up to the auction I was on pins and needles. I constantly wondered about how many other people had their eyes on this pallet as well. Additionally, I had no idea how I was going to transport that many items even if I did win the auction.
On the evening of the auction, I was prepared to battle with other bidders, but it turns out, my bidding war never went past $66.00. That’s right! I won that pallet of VHS tapes for $80.35 (after accounting for all fees).
I remember the morning I went to pick it up. The staff were so excited to actually get rid of those tapes. One of them even helped me load it into the trunk, back seat, front seat, and floors of my car. (Mind you, I did all of this with my daughter strapped to me in a Bjorn baby carrier.) I got quite a few stares from others picking up their items and many more comments along the lines of: “…do you think you got enough tapes?”
I should note that there were more than VHS tapes in this pallet. It also contained audio books, ornaments, vintage games, needlepoint kits, jewelry, CDs, and a few DVDs. Approximately 95% of the merchandise was still new (sealed in its original factory shrinkwrap). The other 5%, although not sealed, was still in good condition.
Once I got everything home, I separated them into piles. There was a pile for new/sealed merchandise, opened merchandise, and damaged merchandise. I further separated the piles into VHS, games, audio books, cassette tapes, etc. When it was all said and done, there were over 700 items. In fact, to this day I actually stopped counting.
Most of it has been shipped to Amazon FBA or is still currently stored in my possession for resale on eBay.
Well Worth the Investment
To say this was a “good” score would be an understatement. It was an AWESOME score and it took the sale of 3 rare VHS tapes on eBay and Amazon for me to recoup my initial investment. Afterwards, it took selling another 5 tapes to recoup the costs of sending the merchandise into Amazon. Since then, everything else has been pure profit.
This experience has also taught me how actually send in a shipment to Amazon. I have learned how to properly label and package merchandise, the purpose of a SKU, what tools are needed to make packing and shipping a breeze, and so much more.
If nothing else, I also ventured into a new niche: VHS tapes. Additionally, after receiving my first “Amazon has shipped an item you sold ” email and seeing how easy it was to sit back and watch things sell without me touching them, I figure I will keep Amazon FBA in my basket.
…and just in case you’re wondering if you should at least consider scanning a few VHS tapes when you’re out at thrift stores, here’s one of several tapes that continually bring in income:
If you’re on the fence about getting started with Amazon FBA, I highly suggest you stick with non-complicated categories like media (i.e. books, CDs, DVDs, VHS, etc) and/or items that don’t require bagging and/or involve expiration dates. Once you get a feel for the process, you can branch out from there.