Almost every seller has experienced Amazon imposed re-stocking limits at least once. Those, who are not selling on Amazon yet, have most likely heard others complain about this. It usually happens shortly before big shopping season, when all Amazon sellers suddenly try to send in twice as many products to Amazon FBA warehouses, which obviously causes many problems... Exciting Black Friday / Cyber Monday and Christmas shopping events are then usually mixed with extremely stressful times for every Amazon seller.
Experienced Amazon sellers know that out-of-stock products lose their hard-earned search ranking positions because these products do not generate any new sales during this time and it's highly competitive "at the top".
So is there any solution that could at least help mitigate the loss in such situation? Fortunately there is one great strategy which you can apply!
What to do if your Amazon FBA products run out of stock?
Some consultants will just tell you to keep high Amazon Inventory Performance Index (IPI score) to have high restocking limits and send in additional stock on a more timely manner.
But we all make mistakes and there are things that we do not control. So every seller should have Plan B ready for situations when they encounter unexpected issues along their manufacturing and logistics chain, or at Amazon's side.
And here's a simple solution:
Create additional (Seller Fulfilled) offers for all your products (or just the top selection)
The two main keywords here are "additional" and "Seller Fulfilled". Surprisingly, quite many sellers don't even know that you can actually have both Amazon FBA offer and Seller Fulfilled offer simultaneously or are afraid to do it because they don't want to deal with manually fulfilling their orders while they have active FBA offer. But in reality, you won't have to deal with Seller Fulfilled offers while your product is in stock on Amazon.
Here's the summary of things that you need to be aware of when setting up this plan B for countering unexpected inventory issues.
- First of all, you can continue selling your products even while your FBA inventory is out of stock. Yes, it's true that Seller Fulfilled offers have lower conversion rate (=less sales and therefore also negative effect on ranking), however, the out-of-stock situation is MUCH WORSE. If your product is out-of-stock, it gets 0 sales. In addition, all your competitors can overtake you on your brand keywords and also generic product category keywords because your product loses its relative ranking.
- Secondly, if you decide to keep your Seller Fulfilled offers with active inventory even while your FBA inventory is still in stock, you might actually get additional sales from international customers. Why? Because FBA program doesn't offer to ship your products to Europe (and it rarely offers the shipment to Canada) while you can offer shipping to all regions and countries in the world in your Seller Fulfilled offer shipping template. Simple way how to check the "international" sales potential is to check Buy Box %. For example, if it sits at 98% (and you are the only seller of this product), it means that 2% of all product visitors couldn't purchase this product.
- You will actually have to fulfil these Seller Fulfilled offers, so you need to have access to your inventory and ability to ship the products to your customers (Either using some 3PL service or having your own logistics operations up and running)
- You will have to deal with customer questions about the status of their order (has it been dispatched already, where is my order etc.)
As you can see, the only downside to this is actually running classic eCommerce fulfilment & support operations, which most of eCommerce businesses are already doing. For those who have their own online store active, this will hardly be a challenge. Just plug these two "tasks" into your existing system. For those who don't have experience with this, it might not be the best solution to suddenly put your business in completely new territory where you have to set up fulfilment and customer support flows.
How to add a Seller Fulfilled offer simultaneously to your existing Amazon FBA offer?
It's quite simple. Here's a short step-by-step guide:
1) Copy your product's ASIN code
2) Click on Inventory -> Add a Product" and copy Your product's ASIN code in the input field and click "Search" icon.
2) Select selling condition "New" and click on "Sell this product"
3) Enter preferred product SKU, Selling price, Quantity, choose “I will ship this item myself (Merchant Fulfilled)” option and click the “Save and finish” button.Suggestion: use the original SKU and just add “-SF” at the end to easily recognize these Seller Fulfilled orders.
4) Congratulations! Your product now has a Seller Fulfilled offer in addition to your Amazon FBA offer.
Frequently asked questions about Seller Fulfilled offers
How do they affect existing Amazon FBA offers?
Short answer – they don't. As long as you have items in inventory at Amazon FBA warehouse, your Amazon FBA offers will automatically “Win the Buy Box”. In fact, quite often Amazon FBA offers are not shipped to other countries but you can choose which countries you ship your Seller Fulfilled products to – so you can capture some new International sales. As soon as your product will run out of stock at Amazon warehouse, your Seller Fulfilled offer will “overtake the Buy Box” and all future purchases will be done for your Seller Fulfilled offer (until you ship additional inventory to Amazon warehouse).
Can I change the shipping price, delivery time and order fulfilment (handling) time?
Yes. You can set-up a unique Shipping Template for each product. There you can enter your preferred prices for various shipping methods which you offer (standard shipping, express shipping, international shipping) and adjust the estimated delivery time. After you complete creating the product Shipping Template, you can click “Edit” on your Seller Fulfilled offer from Inventory page and apply the specific Shipping Template. While in the “Edit” view, there is also an input field named “Handling Time” – that is where you enter the number of days it takes for you to hand your products to the shipping company after receiving the order on Amazon.