What Is Amazon FBA?
Amazon FBA is a service that lets you take advantage of the company’s extensive network of fulfillment centers. The company picks, stores, packs, and ships your product to the end customer, so you get to focus on quality assurance and marketing.
What’s more, Amazon handles customer service and returns for FBA products, plus there are other benefits such as Amazon Prime eligibility and free shipping. Overall, this service is great for scaling your online business and it’s great for building trust with your customers.
However, FBA might not be a good solution for novice online retailers and a good course should explain why.
The Best Amazon FBA Course: Curriculum Guidelines
The course needs to teach you exactly how Amazon FBA works, your responsibilities, and the system’s disadvantages. Here’s a quick recap of the important aspects.
Amazon FBA: the Inner Workings
From sending your product to Amazon to customer service, the course should outline all the steps in the process.
There are more than 100 warehouses and fulfillment centers in the United States. Amazon tells you which warehouses to send the items to, but this is only the first step. A good Amazon FBA course should instruct you how many items to send based on your business, which carriers to use, and how to properly label the items to avoid additional cost.
Once Amazon receives your shipment, the products get sorted and stored. There is no need to worry about this step because the company offers reimbursement for all products that get damaged while in their hands. The next step comes when someone purchases your product.
The payment is handled by Amazon and you get an inventory update. But Amazon’s commission structure is the key thing here and you need a clear understanding of minute details.
How Much Does Amazon FBA Cost
As with any retail business, you need to set your margins straight to make Amazon FBA work. The fees are flexible and they are calculated based on a predetermined set of parameters.
The best courses will teach you how to factor in the FBA expenses and pinpoint the products that would yield the best returns. At the time of writing, there were six types of fees and here’s a quick overview.
This is the money you pay for storing each item based on the size. It starts at under $3 per item and goes all the way to almost $140 for oversized units.
The monthly storage fees change based on the time of the year. It’s usually more expensive to store the units during the holiday season and the commission applies to every cubic foot your products take up.
You pay this on top of the monthly storage for items that don’t sell.
At a price, Amazon can dispose of or return the items you don’t sell. Therefore, a course needs to teach you when it’s best to opt for returns or product disposal.
Free returns are great from the customers’ perspective, but you’re the one who gets the bill.
If you fail to properly label and prepare your inventory these fees apply. A course should teach you how to avoid this cost.
Note: The prices were taken at the time of writing and might change in the future.
Expert Tip: Amazon offers free tools to help you calculate the product tier, FBA revenue, and fee estimates. Top FBA courses should instruct you how to take advantage of these tools and adapt your listing to avoid unnecessary costs.
Course curriculum needs to use concrete examples and actionable steps to help you figure out Amazon FBA rules and regulations. At the same time, it should also teach you how to keep your margins high despite fees.
Amazon FBA: Your Responsibilities
In a way, you partner with Amazon when using the FBA service. The retail giant does a lot of the heavy lifting, but you’re still responsible for success. As a rule, there are three important aspects: products, inventory, and marketing and promotion.
In fact, it might be best to choose the course that focuses on your part of the deal first before it delves deep into Amazon FBA. These are the topics a course should cover.
You can sell almost anything on Amazon, but that’s not the point. You need to choose a product that will fly off the shelves to minimize the storage and handling fees. Smaller, lightweight items are a good choice if you’re starting out.
Amazon provides you with inventory level reports and these are invaluable to determine the FBA performance of the items you’ve listed. This also allows you to single out best-selling products and consider whether it’s worth to increase the storage volumes.
However, the data and required actions may be overwhelming when you’re starting out. The FBA course is there to help you make sense of the metrics and adapt you actions and pricing.
Marketing and Promotion
This is one of the keys to your success on Amazon and there are entire courses that specialize in this topic alone. With that said, an FBA course should, at least, cover the basics of Amazon keywords, product descriptions, and advertising campaigns.
Don’t forget, Amazon is one of the most powerful search engines for products and the competition is fierce. This is why you need to know how to make your listings stand out and guide visitors to the order now section.
Ideally, a course should teach you how to create a killer Amazon copy to highlight the main attractions of your product. Special attention should be paid to using images and infographics to catch the visitor’s eye. Finally, creating the Amazon listing title is an art of its own.
Amazon FBA: Disadvantages
It’s safe to assume that you already have a solid understanding of Amazon FBA benefits. But there are a few negative aspects the course needs to outline and provide tips on how to avoid them.
Some of these aspects overlap with the FBA business model and rules and it would be great if the course provided additional explanations.
Amazon’s primary business is selling not storing things and you can cut the costs if your products move fast. This is easier said than done and you need to know how to analyze product cost and overhead to remain profitable.
On the other hand, some retailers are willing to operate at low or no profit to just have the product out there. But these are usually established companies with other sales channels and a large inventory. Assuming you are a beginner, it’s crucial to keep your nose above the water and work with 20-50% profit margins after the expenses.
Minimizing long-term storage fees is also among the basic strategies to ace it with Amazon FBA. If your products stay in the warehouses for more than six months, the fees may go through the roof. You’ll be faced with the choice to get the items returned or disposed of.
It’s no secret that Amazon has strict rules about preparing and labeling your items before they get shipped to the warehouse. Otherwise, you’ll need to pay the Unplanned Service fee for each item.
It can be tricky to get the labeling and preparation right because there are a bunch of rules, plus certain exceptions for specific niches. The best Amazon FBA course should take you through the process step by step. It’s perfect if it features a downloadable checklist with all the required actions, plus some pointers for unique items.
In fact, it should show you how to package and label an exemplary item on the spot. This will help you visualize the required actions for your products and it’ll be easier for you to remember all the steps.
No-hustle returns are a blessing and a curse of Amazon FBA and don’t be surprised by the increasing number of them. The easy returns attract more customers who buy on impulse or just to test out your product. But this applies to all vendors that use FBA and there are ways to deal with the items that bounce.
For example, the course should teach you how to calculate the cost of potential returns and factor it in with each listing. It also needs to teach you what to do with an item if it gets back in your hands.
Since Amazon FBA works in every US state, it can be quite tricky to determine the sales tax. To make matters more confusing, the company often switches inventory from one fulfillment center to another.
The main question here is whether you need to collect sales taxes for each state where Amazon operates or just your business’s home state. Get this wrong and the fines might bury your business. On the bright side, top Amazon FBA courses usually outline the taxation methodology with some state-specific examples.
In addition, the course may point you to an auxiliary service that can handle the taxes for you. And yes, this translates to greater initial spending but you save yourself the trouble in the long run.
Keeping tabs of your inventory on Amazon can be difficult and this doesn’t apply only to FBA items. You need to know exactly how long the items are sitting in the warehouse, how many of them you have, and keep it all synced with other sales channels.
This is why courses often advise you to start low, with 5 to 10 items, and focus on two or three sales channels, tops. As your business grows, you can scale up and incorporate some inventory management apps that act as a bridge between different sales channels.
Inventory tracking is usually covered in more advanced courses and it is perfectly fine to learn about it as you go. But an introductory course needs to get you acquainted with the basics, nonetheless.
Course Duration, Instructor, and the Platform
As with most online sales and marketing courses, the idea is to get immediately applicable tips and tricks. You should be able to put the imparted knowledge to use as you progress with the course. This is why the course duration is not as important as the curriculum.
However, even the best curriculum can’t help you if the instructor is not up to par. The idea is to find an instructor that’s a formidable expert in the field with years (or decades) of experience in online marketing and sales. You should be able to verify his or her expertise online with a simple Google search. Otherwise, it’s best to look for another course.
When it comes to platforms, you options are pretty much limited to Udemy, Skillshare, and Lynda. The upside is that these platforms are affordable, but the courses can take you only so far. If you need a more comprehensive course, you should consider one that’s hosted independently.
These may cost quite a bit, but you’ll get superior insights, access to proprietary tools, or even some one-on-one tutoring time.
Sell like There’s No Tomorrow
Despite the rules, regulations, and fees, Amazon FBA is one of the best ways to reach more customers and boost your sales. It may seem daunting at the beginning, but you now know how to choose the best Amazon FBA course that can help your endeavor.
As a quick reminder, the top two characteristics of a good course are a comprehensive curriculum and a reputable instructor. And don’t hesitate to pay more for superior knowledge.