Built-In Trust
The Amazon FBA Program

by Craig Stark

17 January 2011

Is it Time to Make the Move?

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Yes, I'm late to the party. Fulfillment by Amazon has been available to sellers for several years now, and I just got on board late last year. The FBA concept is simple: 3P sellers bulk ship their books or other items to one of Amazon's warehouses, and when something sells, Amazon packs and ships it. Couldn't be easier. What this does is expose your inventory to market segments you previously had no (or indirect) access to - namely, customers who use Amazon Prime, Super Saver Shipping, not to mention Gift Wrapping. It also enhances your position in search, and most important of all, provides built-in trust. Customers who otherwise might be reluctant to purchase items from 3P sellers are not at all reluctant to pull the trigger under the Amazon umbrella. Fees are somewhat higher and apply to both sales and monthly storage, but in my limited experience these are more than offset by increasing my prices, which I can get away with because of the above competitive advantages. Also, I realize significant savings on shipping by taking advantage of UPS deeply-discounted rates to bulk ship to Amazon warehouses.

My results, so far, are impressing me.

The purpose of this brief article isn't to get into detail about FBA - Amazon Columnist Kristian Strom will be doing this ably in the coming year - but to emphasize how important trust is in the online marketplace. The FBA program brings this issue front and center and reminds us with hard cash just how important it is.

Speaking of trust, I announced last week that Chapter 4 of BookThink's Guide to Online Bookselling, "How to Make Money Selling Books While You Learn How to Sell Books: First Things First," was delivered to subscribers last week. This and next month's chapter show the beginning or struggling bookseller how to make early money - and thus buy time for learning what must be learned to succeed long-term in the trade. The following excerpt from this chapter addresses another trust-building tool - feedback - and shows how to build it quickly.

How to Make Money Selling Books While You Learn How to Sell Books: First Things First

If you're new to bookselling or haven't figured out how to make money at it yet, this and the following chapter are for you. The bookselling game is changing by the moment as the Digital Revolution radically transforms how content is transmitted, so at least some of what you read here will have a limited shelf life. Act on it quickly. The idea is to buy yourself some time while you learn the trade, not to settle into what's easy. Most of your fellow booksellers are content to go on doing what they have been doing. They'll be gone soon enough. If you have any intention of making a go of things as a bookseller, you'll need to understand why some books are easy to buy and sell for at a profit but hold little promise for your future and other books are more difficult to work with but will ultimately sustain you in the trade.


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