Ecommerce Coffee Chats: Recover Lost Amazon FBA Fees This Holiday Season

Ecommerce Coffee Chats: Recover Lost Amazon FBA Fees This Holiday Season

 

 

In this conversation with Joseph Abitbol, co-founder of Seller Locker, we talk about how Amazon sellers can recover lost profit using Seller Locker going into peak season. As ecommerce continues to evolve, so do customer expectations and demand. The time is now to make changes to your business model to stay ahead of the competition and delight consumers.

And what happens when peak season has already started? Listen to Joseph’s top tips on how to navigate the peak season 2020 landscape successfully, and learn the benefits a Seller Locker platform gives sellers who want tighter control and better profit margins.

 

 

Full Transcript

Intro to Seller Locker

Kim Wren, Director of Business Development & Partnerships, SkuVault

Hi everybody, and welcome. I’m Kim Wren and I’m the Director of Business Development and Partnerships with SkuVault. I’m here today with Joseph Abitbol with Seller Locker. And we’re going to talk to you a little bit about how they can help you maybe alleviate some stress and save some money and get some of the money back that Amazon might be taking away from you for your FBA fees. So, Joseph, I’m going to let you talk about your company a little bit and then we’ll chat.

Joseph Abitbol

Awesome. Thanks for having us. So happy to be here.

Kim

Thank you. I really appreciate it.

Joseph

So, Seller Locker has been around for a little bit over three years now. We have about 4,000 FBA sellers using our platform to clean up the leaks in their profits, clean up their FBA accounts, using us and our platform, our tool, to go ahead and reclaim reimbursements from Amazon. We’re recovering a few million dollars a month for our clients and they’re really, really happy. What separates us from the other services out there is we have a software, which I’m excited to show you on this, maybe we’ll do a short demo, which takes the entire process and streamlines it, checking off every single thing that has to get done. So with the software, we’re able to be very thorough, detailed, and do everything in the way that Amazon wants us to be doing it, which has definitely added to our success.

Kim

And I really liked that when we had first talked and you told me that you had that software, I loved the fact that it’s very automated and that people don’t have to sit and just dig through things and then submit forms or submit a lot of spreadsheets and everything else that you go through to try to save some money and make your money back, so that’s fantastic. Do you want to explain a little bit about how this works and what the sellers can expect to see?

Joseph

Sure, no problem. Let me share my screen real quick.

Kim

Sure. And this was a lot with the FBA fees, so anybody who’s selling in FBA, which is probably, oh, I don’t know, well over 50% of our clients and most of our viewing audience is probably selling in FBA in some way, shape or form. So know that then some way Amazon is taking a little more of your money than they probably should be.

Joseph

Right. So I’m going to share my screen with you and here we go. This is the, I think you’ve seen it before, but this is our Seller Locker dashboard where there’s full transparency to all the different discrepancies on your account. What we do is we bring these things to your attention and then we have our team, or some sellers like to actually do it on their own, investigate it to specific issues. Here’s one for example, and this is super important for Q4. There’s really two different types of FBA related types of issues. What happens usually is a seller never knew they can even work on their pick and pack fees and they were overcharged from day one. And those types of sellers definitely want to try and do as much as they can going into Q4 to lower these fees so that they can increase their profits.

And other times, we have things that just happen randomly. So you can be someone who’s totally on top of these things, but as you can see down below in the recent fee changes section, these are things that are happening randomly. On a random day of the week, the item just goes up by 38 cents, 76 cents, a few dollars here, a few dollars there and at the end of the day, it can turn into tens of thousands of dollars. And on this account, this seller added $175,000 worth of profits. That’s not recovering. This seller recovered about 115,000, but this was added profits that they stopped Amazon from even overcharging them in the first place. So that’s done with Seller Locker, with our platform. Sellers plug their dimensions into our tool in the listing section and what ends up happening is we’re on top of it. The second we find a discrepancy, like there’s one here. Amazon’s charging the seller 1130 instead of 694, about $4 a pop going into Q4. Definitely a hot item.

All the seller would have to do, or our team would have to do in this scenario, is click open case. That would open up a seller central submission form, fill out all the data according to Amazon’s policies. We’ll even call out maybe some other reimbursements from the past, just to make sure that we’re covering all of our ground and Amazon doesn’t throw out a pushback that doesn’t make sense. We’re calling out past discrepancies and click send. And that case gets pushed into the Amazon system and really the coolest part about Seller Locker, and this is really due to the fact that we have a software, is the following up. So there’s a lot of companies out there these days in the reimbursement space. The hardest and biggest challenge for sellers and these services are responding to Amazon. So you go ahead and you put in all that effort of submitting a claim, and now Amazon has this pushback for you.

I don’t know if you’ve seen one recently, but you don’t even know what these things look like these days. These long paragraphs, read this policy, that policy, here’s another policy, fair market value, crazy words that they’re using and I honestly don’t know what it is anymore. But we’ve built this system to go ahead and with a click of a button we’re going to respond to Amazon, disproving them with their own policies. So we sent in a case. They pushed back only paying us half of what they owe us. With one click, we’re going to fight them back, disproving them to get back the remainder that’s due. This is something that we released last September. When we released this feature, just this responding feature, we didn’t have it in years past, our business grew by 40%.

Kim

Wow.

Joseph

So what we thought and what we proved was true in the past year is that sellers aren’t putting enough focus on responding. They’re opening, but they’re not responding so they can be seconds or one response away from getting the money that they want, but they’re not taking it all the way home and that was something that we built through software. It would be impossible to use manpower or experience here. Only through a tool are you able to take things, like we said, from beginning all the way to the end, which is something that now’s the time. Q4 is coming.

If you want to clean up your catalog or at least your top sellers, focus on your top 10 hottest items that you’re expecting to do well going into Q4, measure your items or create some listing groups in the tool, which we can go ahead and call out some outliers that don’t make sense and clean it up because these are just profits that you can bring to your pocket instead of having to wait and fight with them come January. So I know sellers are very busy. They don’t want to hear about signing up to new services, new softwares. I promise you, a little bit of work now, 10 to 20 minutes of work, will pay off thousands of times, if you can just stop one discrepancy from turning into tens of hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages.

Kim

No, I agree. And I think being able to just save the money now, instead of just being able to go after it. So you deal with a lot of eCommerce sellers, obviously, since that’s the business you’re in. Any changes you’ve seen over the summer with your program and with everything going… With everything going on, what changes have you seen? It’s been a fun summer/

Joseph

100%. We’ve actually been busy the past 30 days. Amazon changed the entire support system. I don’t know if you’ve seen where they added machine learning to their contact us page. So they’ve definitely, and even from the looks of the dashboard, they’re putting a lot of effort into seller central, making tweaks, trying to bring insight to the sellers. I’m still shocked that there is still so much money sitting out there for sellers to reclaim. The mistakes haven’t gone down. I know Amazon is trying to make smarter sellers and bring more insights to the seller’s attention on the dashboard. But the mistakes, if anything, have increased since March until now. I would assume things are just more chaotic and there’s been a lot of losses and damages and a lot of inbound shipment situations where things are just maybe getting lost in the dock and never actually getting to Amazon’s performance centers.

Kim

Well, and don’t you think as they add more and more distribution centers that it’s just going to continue to get worse? I personally don’t see that number going down as they continue to add distribution centers. And I’m assuming that this works the same for anybody that’s… I mean, it’s FBA, so I’m assuming that it’s FBA, whether it’s seller fulfilled FBA, where Amazon’s tossing some weird fees in there, but also the program that they have where, and I can’t remember the name of it, so the program they have where you send your merchandise into a third party warehouse that is fulfilling as well, but it’s still FBA. So I don’t imagine your system cares as long as it’s FBA.

Joseph

Yeah. So there’s only one right now. It’s called FBA and then there’s SFP, which means you’re fulfilling it on your own, so seller fulfilled prime. So this tool right now only works for FBA sellers, so that means Amazon is warehousing the inventory. But as you said, they keep expanding with new fulfillment centers and even letting you ship the inventory from this DC to maybe Europe or Canada or Mexico, you’re going to have more issues there as well. So that’s going to be interesting.

Kim

Have you seen a lot of slowdowns or changes in getting the product from one distribution center to another? I’ve seen on some of the chat boards that I’m in-

Joseph

There’s been a lot of reserved inventory.

Kim

Big complaints.

Joseph

Yeah. Ton of reserved inventory, which makes it challenging because at what point do we go for the reimbursement or let Amazon do their thing? But again, the responder’s built to manage those scenarios, so those are a lot of things that we’ve added in the past few weeks, just to account for those things.

Peak Season Tips

Kim

Okay. Any tips for getting through the holiday season with your sanity?

Joseph

Tips for the holiday season, I mean, I think the biggest thing for me during the holiday season, I love working with virtual assistants. Some sellers try to do everything on their own. They need to own every single part of the process. For me, I try to split my day, my work into things that I must do, things that have to do with pricing, maybe advertising, and then things that it would be nice or probably awesome if I had a hundred hour work week, but it’s just not possible to go ahead and tackle. So I started divvying them up and really creating processes and letting those virtual assistants take care of that. So that’s going to take time to get to that level of having a bunch of different things working at the same time and processes and all that stuff. But I love having a virtual assistant just take care of the things that are dragging you down. Going to Q4, you got to be fresh.

You have to have your A-game. You can’t be stuck with suppressed inventory and cases and all that stuff. So there’s a ton of good companies out there. We have a small service that we just started because I really love virtual assistants. We have over 30 virtual assistants that help us with the reimbursement game. When we started, we were using them for other things, but I definitely endorse that business as a whole and that mindset, taking some of the stress off of yourself and focusing on the things that matter. That’s been my focus going into Q4.

Kim

That’s a great piece of advice. I don’t think it’s one I’ve heard from anybody I’ve talked to either, and it’s not something I really would have thought about. So yes, and we do know that many small business owners have a hard time letting go.

Yes. Sharing, they don’t like to share. So that’s great advice to do that. Where have you found your virtual assistants?

Joseph

Ours are located in, I’m pretty sure, it’s in the Middle East, around Pakistan.

Kim

Okay.

Joseph

Very well trained team. And it’s all about setting up the systems from the beginning, knowing what you want them to do, how you’d like it done, setting up a tracking system to make sure it gets done the way that you like it. And you can really take, I would say 60, 70% of the work that you’re doing and streamline it and turn more into a manager and less of a slave to the Amazon business.

Kim

That’s great advice.

Joseph

Everyone talks about create a passive income on Amazon. There’s nothing passive about being an FBA seller.

Kim

No, and I don’t think there’s anything passive about income. It’s been a big debate in one of the groups I’m in. Is there such a thing as passive income? Isn’t it all income?

Joseph

I don’t think so.

Kim

But you’re right, there is nothing passive about being an FBA seller. There’s nothing passive about selling on Amazon because you have to constantly pay attention to everything that’s going on for fear that you’re going to get kicked out and you’re not going to have a business any longer and especially now since so many people rely on Amazon. I know I’ve been around a very long time and I started on a website and moved into Amazon, so we were less dependent on it, but now everybody’s pretty well dependent on Amazon and their system and making sure that they’re staying on there. Any tips for making sure that you’re keeping your client experience happy and healthy throughout holidays? I mean, we talk about peak season and peak season, really we’re in it. We’ve started. We’ve got Halloween coming up. We’ve got everything that comes along with that. And then we have all the December holidays that come through with Hanukkah and Christmas and Kwanzaa and everything that’s going on. So yeah, ideas or tips for making sure that you’re keeping your customers happy and you’re staying on Amazon?

Joseph

You talking about from the seller’s perspective?

Kim

Yes.

Joseph

I think a lot of people are, from what I’ve been hearing, are beefing up their detail pages. So being as informative as you can upfront, creating how to videos and the photography, maybe showing some infographics on best use cases. The more information you give to the seller gauging their expectation of the product, the less returns you’re going to have, which is obviously, going to save you money and increase your profits. You won’t have to pay those restocking fees, the damaged and unfulfillable inventory. But obviously we all want sales, but we want people to want and to keep the products that they’re ordering.

Kim

Right.

Joseph

So definitely a lot of people that I heard have been beefing up their detail pages going into Q4, just to get the right customers. There’s going to be a lot of eyeballs. We want the right eyeballs. I think that’s super important.

Kim

I agree. And I think that having good information on your detail pages is great. I hate when I go to buy something and they don’t tell me the size, and then I get it and I had to judge from a picture and I’m disappointed or surprised or both, so agree.

Joseph

One of my sellers actually sent me this today. Check this out. It’s a toilet golf game. This was an item that, I guess, it exploded during the summertime and we got a major fee over charge on this. It’s an 1199 high volume fun product and the seller was used to paying 348 and the fee jumped all the way to 922.

Kim

Oh my gosh.

Joseph

That’s a $6 overcharge on a high volume product. And luckily we were able to catch it really quickly. It ate up 40% of their margins, went to a complete loss, so I actually got this in the mail today. I’m excited to play with it.

Kim

Well, that’s definitely an interesting product.

Joseph

This happens randomly. That’s my point. These things, on a random day of the week, boom, your fee increases and you don’t catch it and you need a system in place. And I think what people are hesitant in using a software like ours, or even the reimbursement game, is I can maybe do it on my own. I don’t want to pay the fees up front. So to those sellers listening and are scared about paying a company to find Amazon’s mistakes, why do I even have to pay guys like you? What we did to circumvent that or to go against those people is we have custom pricing. So we created annual caps where sellers, the most they’ll ever pay us per year is X, a number that they’re comfortable with, that we’re comfortable with, which has been great in preventing scenarios where let’s say Amazon loses $50,000 worth of goods in one shot.

Why would I want to go to a reimbursement company to take care of it? I should do this on my own and save the $10,000 charge over there. So we created a ton of different protections for sellers. So my advice to sellers who are reluctant hearing about pricing and stuff like that, give us a try. Sign up, see the money that’s sitting there. Even if you’re doing a great job on your own, let us show you what you’re missing. Don’t worry about pricing. I promise you, we’ll find the right price for each business and we’re even willing to give, I don’t think I told you this before, but we’re willing to give all the listeners or watchers of this podcast, the first thousand dollars of recoveries free, just to get-

Kim

Great.

Joseph

…their feet wet with this system. I’ll give you the link or the promo code to get that going.

Kim

Okay.

Joseph

I promise you, once you get started, you can end up getting hooked. It’s a really powerful tool and we’re adding a ton of functionality each and every month and excited to help the sellers during Q4 really.

Kim

Well, that all sounds great and we appreciate the promo code. And if you can send that over to me, we will have that on the final portion of this that is published in live and for everybody to see. And anything else you want to add?

Joseph

Nope.

Kim

Okay. Well, thank you so much for joining me. This has been very informative. I actually learned a few things myself. I would have never thought about virtual assistants and I actually had no idea that Amazon played with those fees that way, so that is very interesting to learn that. Thank you so much for joining me. I really appreciate it.

Joseph

Thanks for having us.

Kim

No problem.

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