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REAL TALK: What it’s like to be a Seller on Amazon

Would you believe me if I said I hate Amazon? Well, you shouldn’t because that would be a lie. I still love Amazon from a consumer perspective but I will say there are a few things I wish I knew before becoming a seller on Amazon. Here’s my Amazon real talk. 

Amazon Real Talk: From the Seller’s Perspective 

In 2017, I started selling my piano theory book, The Cascade Method on Amazon. A year later, I put NoteMatch, the piano reading tool on the shelves, too! What I didn’t know was that it would end up costing me more to store my products in Amazon’s manufacturing warehouse than selling them outright myself. 

Before I give you all the juicy details as to how I almost went broke because of this (secretly crying and laughing at the same time), I want to say that Amazon is an amazing platform and I think it’s great. I use Amazon all the time for buying products. This article is not to bash Amazon but more to inform other business owners out there with products and items for sale that may be looking into selling on Amazon. The seller side can get a little tricky and I just want to share my experience with you so you don’t make the same mistakes I did! Buckle up, here we go! 

What I wish I knew as a Seller on Amazon:

STORAGE FEES ARE INTENSE:

I just got a delivery from Amazon… 600 pounds worth of NoteMatch- a total of 1,850 units. Why? I decided to pull just about all of my units off the shelves from Amazon because they were destroying me financially in storage fees. 

Now, there is an upside to this situation. It won’t happen to everyone. It all depends on your product size. My product was considered “oversized” because it doesn’t fit under their standard size constraints. The thing that frustrated me was that our product barely takes up any space because it’s so skinny, it’s just long and that’s what makes it oversized.

I said I would give you some Amazon real talk. Listen up! I have been billed over $3,500 in storage fees since last August. I finally got a $1,250 bill a month ago and I was done.NoteMatch: The Piano Reading Tool

THE REMOVAL PRICE CAN BE DAUNTING, TOO. 

After hearing how much I was being charged in storage fees, you’re probably wondering why I didn’t pull the products off the shelves sooner. Well, removal fees can be just as brutal.

Over six months ago, we looked into pulling our product off the shelf. Here’s what we were told: the removal price PER UNIT was about $3.50 (again, because it was oversized). 

So either way, we were losing. We had 1,950 units at the time in stock. If we chose to pull all 1,950 units off the shelves, it would have cost us $6,825. 

 

IT’S PRETTY MUCH A MONEY PIT.

Since NoteMatch is a unique product, it wasn’t easily searched which led to fewer sales. I wanted to set up a coupon code or advertisement to drive sales but that is extremely costly as well. If you don’t have a comparable product, it’s pretty much a waste. 

When I was finally ready to make the investment to set up the coupon code, they told me I had to upgrade my account to a professional seller platform. Mind you, I already pay $40 per month. There are lots of things that they don’t show you on the customer side. It can be a money pit for certain products if you’re not careful or aware of how it works. 

 

IT’S CONSTANTLY CHANGING  

I think one of the most frustrating things was that the pricing, memberships, storage fees, removal fees, miscellaneous fees, whatever you want to call it- it just kept changing. I felt like I couldn’t keep up and I was losing when it came to NoteMatch no matter what. 

Fortunately, I got on the phone this past month and I asked again how much it would be to remove the units. The representative said $0.50 cents this time. SOLD!

I went into my dashboard and ordered for the removal. I kept 100 units on Amazon and pulled the 1,850 left off. It still costs me $950 to remove them but that was WAY better than the last time I asked so I swallowed my pride and just did it. 

 

How to be successful as a Seller on Amazon: 

Now that I just explained the horror stories a seller could potentially go through, I’m going to explain ways that you can be successful on Amazon and how to prevent any of that from ever happening to you!

1. Have a comparable product: The Cascade Method Piano Theory BookThis is a must. As I mentioned, I also sell my Piano Theory book on Amazon and it performs perfectly fine. I also printed my books through Amazon because it was the cheapest option for that as well. Amazon started as an online bookstore so maybe that’s why they’re loyal to books, ha!

I’m not saying that books are the only comparable product. Just make sure to speak with a representative about your dimensions and see if they will be considered “oversized.” You should ask what your storage fees would cost in advance to prepare for that each month.

2. Make sure your product isn’t oversized for Amazon’s storage.

I think I made this clear already. 😉 

3. Reviews, reviews, and more reviews! 

Reviews are your best friend. The more people that are liking your product and reviewing it, the more likely you are to appear in more searches and rank higher in Amazon’s algorithm. Especially when you’re first starting out, they make all the difference. When you’re promoting your product on social media or through word of mouth, always be sure to ask people to leave a review for you! (I wasn’t able to have the coupon code as an option for the first year because my product was too “new” and I didn’t have enough sales to offer a coupon code). Reviews are everything!

4. Be patient and methodical: 

As I’ve said from the beginning, do your research and make sure you’re ready to go hard when you launch. Let your audience know you’re launching and seek out those reviews. The most important thing is to be patient. You have to let it run its course once you commit to being on the shelves. 

5. Decide if you should FBS or FBA: 

If you do happen to be one of the products that are considered oversized, decide whether or not you’d like to be an FBS (fulfilled by seller) or an FBA (fulfilled by Amazon). I will still have my products found on Amazon but I will be shipping them personally rather than Amazon to avoid storage fees. Depending on your situation, feel out what’s right for you. At the end of the day, everyone is on Amazon and it’s a great way to become relevant in your market.

Tara smiling with endless boxes of Notematch in the background

WHERE YOU CAN FIND THE CASCADE METHOD PRODUCTS: 

You can find our products through our company website, as well as through Amazon! Now you know that you’ll be receiving it from me directly. 🙂 

Click here to browse through our online shop on the website. 

Shop on Amazon for NoteMatch here and The Cascade Method Piano Theory Book here!

 

HOW YOU CAN HELP US ON AMAZON:

We would greatly appreciate reviews from our awesome customers! If you haven’t ordered your very own Cascade book or NoteMatch, go get you one! You and everyone you introduce it to will love it! Thank you in advance for supporting us and helping spread the movement: teaching piano the fun way! 

LEAVE A REVIEW FOR NOTEMATCH! 

LEAVE A REVIEW FOR THE CASCADE METHOD PIANO THEORY BOOK! 

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6 thoughts on “REAL TALK: What it’s like to be a Seller on Amazon”

    1. Hi Rebecca! Good to see you here!! heheh That’s actually what I just answered Lianna below! Amazon is great for books because they print on demand, so you don’t have to pay for storage fees. And if you’re with Amazon, you know how good of a price you get for printing with them. I definitely recommend them for printing and selling books =)

  1. Avatar

    I’m sorry all that happened with Amazon. I guess that’s why they have a quadrillion dollars.

    If you need Storage… I suggest this place below for storage. Cheap, clean, immediately on the other side for the Richmond San Rafael bridge.

    Small. They have 5 x 5 x 5 units. ($60).

    5 x 5 x 10 high units. (I pay $69 a month).

    They also have every massive size one could imagine.

    https://www.paylessselfstorage.com/

    1. Hey David! Thank you so much for that advice! Luckily, one of the reasons my husband and I bought the house we did was because of this insane storage space it has below the house! All my NoteMatch units are happily sitting there, storage-fee FREE! hahahah

  2. Avatar

    Wow Tara! So sorry you had to go through that! But thank you so much for the real talk. I have many friends who are thinking to sell books through Amazon and I’ll be sure to forward your blog post to them just so they can watch out for this. I agree that Amazon is good for ease of transaction since so many people trust Amazon’s shopping experience but those fees for the seller are atrocious! Anyways, I hope fulfilling the orders yourself works out better!

    1. thank you Lianna! It’s literally crazy, HOWEVER!!! it’s different for books! I actually sell a book on Amazon. They do “Print on demand” so you’re never paying storage fees with them for books. They do however take a percentage, but of all the companies I looked at to print my books, they couldn’t beat the price. I like to order it directly from them and then sell my books personally. But yes, for books, I definitely recommend them! For storing products, it definitely depends on what you’re selling! NoteMatch just wasn’t the right fit!

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