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9 posts from November 2009

27/11/2009

Testimonial with German FBA merchant Mr Marble, 101 Shirts

René Kräupziger runs the Mr. Marble Mail-Order retail business together with his partner. Buying, finishing, and selling textiles are his main activities. This family business placed its trust in Internet selling as far back as 2005. It became an Amazon merchant in 2007. Mr Kräupziger has the following to say about his experience with Fulfilment by Amazon.

 

101Shirts_Versand

 

"Amazon enjoys an excellent reputation with consumers. Despite this, the success of the partnership took us completely by surprise. Our sales with Amazon rocketed. All in all, business transactions are far less complicated than with alternative channels.

 

The arguments in favour of FBA seemed plausible. It was clear that the best way to improve our efficiency was to do away with mixed shipping. Our policy was either fulfilment all the way or not at all, in other words, in addition to actually selling, we also use Amazon exclusively for shipping--what’s more, at a very reasonable price. The Fulfilment process is very straightforward. We also received expert assistance from Amazon. The support so far has been fantastic.

 

We used to spend about an hour and a half at the start of the day printing invoices and delivery notes, then sorting these notes as well as parcel labels. It then took us another two hours to pack the goods and process returns. We now save up to three and a half hours every day. Sickness and vacation were always a problem; most of the time, we couldn't even afford to take a week off. Now that our store keeping and product shipping are reliably taken care of by Amazon, finding an opportunity to relax is much easier. Fulfilment by Amazon relieves us of several tasks that other people can get done better. Our model is still the same but the door has been opened to new business opportunities."

Read the full story.

25/11/2009

Automating your data exchange with Amazon

If you upload our template files via Seller Central rather than maintain your product data and orders manually via Seller Central, you may wonder how to automate this data exchange process between your local computer and your Seller Central account.

For this purpose, Amazon provides you with the “Amazon Merchant Transport Utility” (AMTU) which is offered free of charge. You can have AMTU exchange your data just by dragging and dropping the files into AMTU’s “outgoing” folder. If you think of an email program such as Microsoft Outlook – content that has been placed into the program’s outbound folder will be automatically transferred. AMTU works in the same way.

AMTU allows you to transfer file content to your Seller Central account. In addition, it also allows you to have reports such as your order and settlement reports automatically transferred to your local computer without having to go into Seller Central and downloading those files manually. If your data warehouse system is able to process and generate those Amazon files, then implementing a fully automated way of communicating with Amazon is made very easy. Every AMTU installation will run as a background service on your computer and therefore will also be available if a seller has not logged on to that computer.

AMTU is available for all major operating systems (Windows, Max, Linux, BSD). The program (which includes localised program documentation in English, French and German language) can be downloaded from the AMTU web site http://amtu.sourceforge.net. Please check if your system matches the technical requirements listed in the product documentation. For example, you cannot install AMTU on a computer that already hosts a web server. In addition, AMTU is currently not supported for Microsoft Windows Vista/7 operating systems.

Go to the AMTU web site, download the program binary that matches your operating system requirements, unzip the archive and then start the installation process. A detailed description of the installation process, valid across all operating systems, can be found in the program documentation. Note that it is mandatory to run the AMTU installation process with active Administrator/root access rights. Once the program has been installed, you will need to configure AMTU. Besides your Seller Central user credentials (email address and password), the configuration process also requires the “merchant token”. The merchant token can be accessed in Seller Central; go to the “Settings  Account Info” section. The merchant token can be found at the bottom of the page (e.g. M_MYMERCHANT_12345).

Use the program documentation for the configuration of your AMTU account setup. At the end of the process, AMTU will try to authenticate your user credentials by validating them on the Amazon server. When this process is successful, AMTU will be installed as a background service on your local computer.

Once installed, you can simply drop your product feeds, shipping confirmations etc into AMTU’s “Outgoing” folder in order to have these files transferred and processed. AMTU will check its “Outgoing” folder every five minutes. If there are new files, AMTU will automatically transfer them to your Seller Central account where the files are processed. AMTU will then move those files from its “Outgoing” folder to the “Sent” box, thus preventing the same file being sent twice to your account. Once the files have been processed, AMTU’s “Processing Reports” folder will contain the appropriate processing report files.

AMTU also transfers settlement reports and order reports directly to your computer once these files are available on Seller Central – so no manual interaction is required. Please note that if you are interested in receiving XML order/settlement reports, you will first need to get in touch with our Seller Support team – we will then need to configure your account for XML usage.

Summary: AMTU is a very easy way of automating your data transfers with Amazon. Further information about AMTU can be found on the AMTU web site http://amtu.sourceforge.net and in the program documentation.

Jörg

24/11/2009

Best Practices for Listing on Amazon – The Purge and Replace Option

Understanding Purge and Replace
When you upload a product feed you can use the ‘Purge and Replace’ flag to replace your current inventory with the inventory in the feed. This means that all your listings which are not in the feed will be removed from Amazon. If you upload an empty feed with the ‘Purge and Replace’ option, you will delete all your listings from your Seller Account.

Avoid using the Purge and Replace Option
In general, it is not recommended to use the Purge and Replace option to manage your inventory.  You may currently be using it to perform the following tasks:

Disable out of stock offers
If you have a large inventory, you may feel tempted to upload regularly an inventory feed containing only the products in stock with the purge and replace option. This process to disable out of stock offers is not recommended, since it is error-prone and the processing time of a feed with the purge and replace option can take up to several hours. If you run out of stock on some items, please use the Price and Quantity update feed to set the stock levels to 0. This is a more efficient process which also saves you the additional effort of re-listing your products later.

Synchronize your Product Database with your Amazon Seller Account
You can use the purge and replace option to keep your products sold on Amazon synchronized with your own product database. However, this is not recommended. If you have an error in your feed or you upload the wrong feed, you may potentially erase your entire inventory on Amazon. This would entail a loss in sales until you have re-listed your products.

We recommend that you explicitly delete products from your Seller Account, and only if you know that you are never going to sell it again. If you are just temporarily out of stock, please do not delete the product but set the quantity to 0.

When to use the Purge and Replace option
There are some good cases in which you can use the purge and replace option.

Delete your entire Inventory to start from scratch
If for some reason you want to purge your entire inventory to start from scratch, you can upload an empty feed with just the headers using the purge and replace option. This will remove all your listings with the exception of those you created manually using the web interface. The latter have to be manually deleted.

Use different SKUs to reference your products
If you decide to change your SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) naming convention to reference your products, you can use the purge and replace option UNLESS
  1. There is overlap between your old and new set of SKUs, where any new SKU references a different product than the old one.
  2. You are using the ‘Fulfillment by Amazon’ (FBA) program. It is not possible to use a different SKU for a product fulfilled by Amazon. If you are in this case, you can create new SKUs for all your products not fulfilled by Amazon and then delete all old SKUs.

Alex.

19/11/2009

Testimonial with German Merchant Eye-Alpin – "This year our Amazon sales passed the mark of the previous 12-month period as early as June 10."

EyeAlpinbanner 


Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) is an important element of Eye-Alpin's growth strategy that is geared towards expansion beyond its core business.  High quality sports goggles and sunglasses for every sports and leisure occasion are the traditional focus of the company's activities.

 

"In 2008 our sales with Amazon were 80 percent of those recorded with another online channel in the same period. This year our Amazon sales passed the mark of the previous 12-month period as early as June 10. This is at least partly due to Fulfilment by Amazon, even if we only joined in March 2009. Thanks to Fulfilment by Amazon, we can draw on almost unlimited stock maintaining capacity and are no longer forced to provide huge amounts of warehouse space on our own premises. We save a lot of time and human resources through not having to pack the goods for shipping to end customers ourselves. If we deliver from here, the costs are around 90 Euro cents higher per parcel than through Amazon, taking into account the carton, packing material, etc."

"Sensational" is the word Matthias Rosemann uses to describe the customer service Amazon offers its FBA customers. His experience to date has shown this service to be extremely friendly and fast – an assessment that is equally applicable to Amazon’s technical support for sellers. When asked how long it takes for the goods to become available for online sale after they reach the Amazon fulfilment centre, Rosemann answers concisely "it couldn’t be faster." From what he has seen so far, it is only when Amazon is in the midst of special volume-selling campaigns that the maximum period of 48 hours actually takes effect.

"Fulfilment is easily the best thing Amazon has on the market. This is where the future lies, without a doubt. It lets entrepreneurs concentrate on the essentials.

 

 

 

Mathias Roseman

 

The number one argument for us is that it works not just for sports goggles but for absolutely everything connected to sports and leisure."

Matthias Rosemann, owner and Managing Director of Eye-Alpin


Read the complete story at FBA in Action.

13/11/2009

New Item Label Formats now added for Fulfilment by Amazon users

We have added several new common item label formats to our shipment creation workflows in the seller account of FBA registered merchants giving them a broader choice of label stock. Significant price differences between the formats exist depending on local availability. With the increase in the number of label sizes, merchants can often source labels now at a reduced cost. When creating labels, the new formats can be found in the drop-down box in the merchant's Seller Account.

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