Selling via Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) – Status update (Part 4)

Ok, I know I haven’t been writing for quite some time.

Truth be told – I have been really busy at work and whatever spare time I had was used for researching on the FBA Private Label experiment or amending the listings I did in my Seller Central Account. Yup the Podcasts on Amazon selling is super addictive.

Check out Part 3 here.

I still can’t ship inventories to USA Amazon Fulfillment Centres yet (can only do so after Dec 2016), but that doesn’t mean I did nothing.

1) Firstly, the major milestone here is that I finally got my Employer Identification Number (EIN), from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the USA. Yes, I am now a Sole Proprietor who can ship goods to the USA.
If I am not wrong, this is critical if you want to ship heavier items via ship. Your freight forwarder or Customs agent would need this to help you clear the goods through the custom.

I don’t foresee I will need this in the near future, as most of the products I am intending to sell are pretty small and light. The cargo probably won’t exceed 150kg. So technically it still makes more sense to ship via air using UPS for a more hassle free approach.

2) I have also applied for ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) with IRS in case I need to file tax in the future. In order to submit the application (via post), I had to specially go down to ICA in Lavender to get a certified true copy of my passport done first. Hope my application get through.

3) I have received a letter asking for more information pertaining to my application for VAT (needed if I intend to sell in Europe).

4) I currently have 8 listings on my seller central account. Some are just color variations of the same product. I took me a really long time to learn how to list variations (either variation in size, color, numbers etc) on Amazon. It is not a simple process… after countless Youtube videos and reading online articles, I finally managed to do variations of 3 products! Another milestone!

A word of advice if you intend to do variation: Save your current descriptions, vital information etc before uploading the Excel sheet, cause if you are familiar with the format and what data in the Excel sheet correspondent to the listing information – you might lose what you have type in your Seller Central (get superseded by what is in the Excel table).

5) I now have 5 samples with me. 3 samples of 1 product, 1 sample each for 2 products. The latter 2 have my customized packaging and logo.
For some products, it is just too expensive doing customized packaging. I would most probably just customized stickers (for the poly bag) or insert a card with my own logo or images, to save cost while testing out the market.

6) I have proceeded to do a couple of bulk purchases with some of the manufacturers- after being satisfied with the sample. They are still the low MOQ as these are my test batches.

The manufacturers do need time to fabricate the products. Typically they need 3 to 4 weeks. Most of them can only complete just before Christmas. I do hope to avoid the Chinese New Year holiday period and to complete whatever product fabrication prior to that and ship these to Amazon.

The key thing when buying from the manufacturer is to do it via the Alibaba Trade Assurance. The money is transferred to a Citibank account held by Alibaba, and it is only upon successful completion or shipment of the products, is the fund released. The sellers also do not need to pay any additional fees. So it seems like a low-cost, low-risk way to purchase in bulks.

7) Hiccups in communication with the manufacturers are still there. Sometimes it is after I have paid – and then found out issues. Well, getting quite numb to these.


Well, that is all for now. Hope things go smoothly.

About apenquotes

Born in 1976. Married with 2 kids (a boy and a girl). A typical Singaporean living in a 4 room HDB flat. Check out my Facebook Page:
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14 Responses to Selling via Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) – Status update (Part 4)

  1. TUB says:

    Hi T,

    Understand you had tried to sell products over at Amazon, I used to do that in Singapore. Had stopped due to the extensive time it required.

    Anyway if you really want to know more, feel free to contact me at my link on T.U.B investing blog. 🙂

    Good luck. It will be a tiring but fun journey!



    • apenquotes says:

      Yeah, I is pretty time consuming. Do you do drop shipping or private label.
      I hope to get to a stage when it becomes more passive, via private label.

      I don’t think it will be fully passive… but after things are shipped there, I will probably spend less time researching and liaising with manufacturers, etc.


      • TUB says:

        Previously I deal mostly with Singaporeans so they prefer meet up. So more taxing. But I seldom deal with overseas customers which maybe to your benefit.

        However, when you want to expand you will need to use multi platform. Do take note of that. Have plan B too… what happens if amazon doesn’t work out?

        In addition when festive starts, you will not be celebrating cause you will be doubly busy.

        Just my 2 cents worth.


      • apenquotes says:

        From your reply, you seem to be doing retail arbitrage – eg. buy at low cost from local wholesaler or hyper marts and sell online via Carousell or Ebay (from what I read in your blog).
        This is really time consuming. Which is why I did not even bother trying.

        To set up an online shop from ground up (eg. via Shopify) is also very difficult.

        Hence, Amazon with their Fulfillment via Amazon system is great. I don’t have to ship inventories to buyers individually.
        But the tough part is at the beginning – dealing with manufacturers and shipping there.

        Yes, there should be plan B (to direct traffic to an online store, get virtual assistant)- but that will come much later.


      • apenquotes says:

        Well, I reckon during festive season, if there are more complaints about the products, I will probably have to deal with them (more busy like you say).

        Btw, if I can use the metaphor of a Hunter Gatherer vs a Tree grower:
        Retail arbitrage (via Ebay and Carousell) will be like using a Hunter Gatherer method.
        While Amazon FBA Private Label is more like a Tree Grower method (building a brand and product).


      • TUB says:

        Looks like you are very ready!

        Good luck to you then! Hope your sales increase significantly!

        Update us when you start selling 🙂


      • apenquotes says:

        Not ready actually.

        Well, I am just curious. You mentioned that the journey was fun but tiring.
        Just curious – for your journey, was it profitable. I read in your blog that you are just trying to offload what your remaining inventory.


  2. LS says:

    Hi T,

    Tried to post this on my mobile but they detected me as a bot. Don’t mind me asking, what is the product you are selling? Or, is it a secret for now? Also, how much have you spent so far?



  3. TUB says:

    It was profitable. Net profit about 10% to 15% for 1 year > But this net profit will be deem as salary for me and my partners.

    I have minimum inventories left – solely cufflinks.

    But it really made me open up and understand what is really “Business”.


    • apenquotes says:

      Thank you, that is good to know.
      Been wondering – kind of alone doing this.


      • TUB says:

        I meet up and use more time but meeting up will require less money.

        Your initial phase will be more costly and time consuming. But after that when all is smooth that this why you just rest and relax behind the computer.

        At the start, you will be alone. That happens to me, it is only when you know IT WILL WORK. That’s when people will join you too – But its up to u!

        Good luck.


      • apenquotes says:

        Thanks. Appreciate the advice.


  4. Pingback: Selling via Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) – Status update (Part 5) | A Pen Quotes

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