March 2014 Results from selling on amazon and ebay

April 2nd, 2014

March 2014 is history, and it’s time to share my financial results.  If you missed last month’s results post, you can find a link HERE for comparison purposes.

We’ll get started with a little background on how my time was spent this month before we get into the numbers.  I took about 4 days completely off in March as a result of a couple of birthdays in the family, a friends wedding, and a trip to Austin, TX (although there was some sourcing done on this trip).  Besides the aforementioned days that I was not working, I would say I was working about 25-30 hours per week the first 3 weeks of March, and about 40 hours per week for the last week and a half of March directly related to online selling activities.  I could feel my efforts slipping towards the middle of the month, which is a large part of the reason  I started experiment #3 on the 24th.  Some of this time was also spent researching, as well as finalizing the setup of my LLC.  Overall, most of the month was spent on online selling activities, but not all of these activities were revenue generating.

Before we get to the numbers, one more topic to discuss.  My goal with sharing my financial results is to show what can be done, and is not meant to be seen as bragging or anything of the sort.  I want to show that working hard and sticking with your plan  can pay off.  If the results turn out to be poor at any time I will share that too.

With that said, let’s get into the numbers.  I will be sharing the same level of detail as last month.  I want to provide as much clarity as possible into what I am doing on a month to month basis (if you have suggestions for additions to these posts, please let me know!).  The numbers below are basically the profits that I am making for the month.  The profits are calculated only on items that have been sold and shipped during the month.  They were calculated by taking selling prices, minus all fees, minus all shipping and packaging costs, and subtracting the cost of the items.  As with last month, I have broken out the cost of inbound shipping to amazon, customer returns, supplies, storage fees, and services.  The FBA profits number factors in reimbursements from amazon for items lost or damaged at the warehouse.  This will NOT be the exact number that goes on my tax returns as there will be additional deductions for mileage, cell phone, home office, etc.  I will consider adding these separately within these posts in the coming months.  However, these are costs I would generally be incurring anyway, so for simplicity I will be leaving them out of the calculations.  Also for clarity, this does not include any income from www.textbooks4you.com, it is simply my income from amazon and eBay.

March 2014 Income Statement

March 2014 Income Statement

You’ll notice pretty quickly that this month I saw a decrease in my profits of about 24%.  There were a variety of factors contributing to this lower profit number, but I believe the largest driver was an overall lower effort level in the beginning of March compared to my efforts from prior months.  I am not a fan at all of excuses, so I won’t make any, I believe I obtained the results that I earned based on my effort levels this month.   Overall, I am pretty happy seeing this profit level, but I am not going to allow myself to get complacent and plateau already.  I believe I can do better than this, and I am going to work to see much better results in the coming months.

Now, let’s take a look at this month’s cash flow statement:

March 2014 Cash Flow Statement

March 2014 Cash Flow Statement

This month my outflows exceeded my inflows and I had negative cash flow.  At first glance you might think that this would be a very poor results, but I would argue that isn’t necessarily the case.  The primary reason for the negative cash flow is that I spent about $12K on inventory during the month, with those purchases being weighted heavily towards the end of the month.  I am comfortable having this negative cash flow as I am working to continue to grow my level of sales and profits.  In addition, my cash flow has been positive in prior months.  Negative cash flow can be a very serious warning sign that something is wrong with a business, but I am quite certain that you will see in the coming months that negative cash flow will not be a recurring theme.

When analyzing your numbers it is important to understand the difference between profits and cash flow.  As you can see from my results, looking at either number individually paints a vastly different picture of how my business is doing, so it is essential that you understand the importance of both.  If you have questions on this, please feel free to let me know.

Now, here are some screenshots from my amazon account to provide some documentation for the profit numbers.  Here’s a screenshot of my amazon sales for March (click to enlarge, same goes for all screenshots in this post):

March 2014 Amazon Sales

March 2014 Amazon Sales

As you can see I did a little over $17K in sales on amazon versus about $20K last month, the decrease in sales definitely contributed to the decreased profits as noted above.  Now, here is my sales by category for March 2014:

March 2014 Sales by Category

March 2014 Sales by Category

The categories my sales are in this month are pretty consistent with last month.  It’s good to see that around 35% of my sales are coming from grocery, beauty, and health & personal care, as these should tend to be consistent year round sales.

Now, here’s a screenshot of this month’s ebay sales: ebay sales

Overall, I had sales of $18,583 this month versus $20,424 last month.  As mentioned above, I am looking to stop this downward trend immediately and increase both sales and profits in April.  To help hold myself accountable, I am setting a goal of $25,000 in total sales for the month of April.  Want to hold yourself accountable? Share your goal for April 2014 below in the comments and I will follow up with you in May to see if you reached your goal.

One other update, I recently created a facebook page for this blog and I share some tips there that don’t always appear on the blog.  If you are interested, check it out HERE.

That’s all I have for now, if you have any questions or comments please leave them below or send me an email at grant.ryanj@gmail.com.

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45 responses to “March 2014 Results from selling on amazon and ebay”

  1. Mary says:

    Ryan,
    Thank you so much! for sharing this information..I am so encouraged now to get my Amazon business up and going! I have recently lost my JOB. Its time to take control of my own destiny!

    • Ryan Grant says:

      Hey Mary,

      Sorry to hear you lost your job! Hopefully it will provide the opportunity needed to control your own destiny, good luck!

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  2. Jeff says:

    Ryan,

    Thanks for sharing your results. Was sourcing in a differant city successful? Outcome in a future post?

    -Jeff

    • Ryan Grant says:

      Hey Jeff,

      No problem! I would say that sourcing in another city was successful, I would also say sharing the outcome in a future post is very likely. I used a separate SKU for all items that I bought it Austin, TX, so I will likely do an update later in the month on how it went.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  3. Decha says:

    Ryan,

    Great blog and post. I enjoys to see your monthly results. It was great seeing you at the warehouse yesterday. I have subcribed to your blog post and Facebook business page. Keepup the great work and sales.

    -Decha

    • Ryan Grant says:

      Hey Decha,

      Thank you! It was great seeing you at the warehouse as well. Good luck with sending in your first shipment.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  4. Zoli says:

    Hey Ryan,

    Thanks again for the great post! I live in Austin so hopefully you got the warmer weather and not the unseasonably cold weather while you were visiting! There were a couple of weekends here at the beginning of March which was a little too cold.

    My goal is to make $100! Sounds low but gotta start somewhere. I’m about to send my 2nd shipment in tomorrow.

    Can you explain the “inbound shipment” calculation on Profit Bandit? How does this relate to the actual shipping costs?

    • Ryan Grant says:

      Hey Zoli,

      You are very welcome! I was there in early March so it was probably cold by your standards, but coming down from Minneapolis, the weather felt great.

      You are absolutely right you have to start somewhere, good luck with the $100 goal.

      As for your question, inbound shipping can vary significantly based primarily on how many items you are sending into FBA at a time. If you are sending one item in a box to FBA it will cost drastically more than if you are sending 10 items in one box to FBA. My general rule of thumb is to assume inbound shipping will be $0.50-$1 per item for standard size items, and about $3 for larger oversize items. Using these allows me to get an approximation of my costs quickly, and allow me to make a decision. Hope that helps, and let me know if you have further questions.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  5. Kim Kennedy says:

    Hello there! I am glad to see that even when you take some time off you are still seeing some great results, especially as you keep in mind the fact that you are ‘investing in the future’ with the negative cash flow. This will pay off, I am sure.

    I just sent in my first shipment two days ago so am hoping for a $100 profit for April as well. I’ve given myself only $300 to start this up and my first shipment which cost $100 of physical inventory will hopefully net around $100 in profit. Not bad for starters and on such a tiny budget.

    It is a learning game but I hope to continue to learn and earn! Thanks so much for making it easier as I go along this learning journey.

    Kim

    • Ryan Grant says:

      Hey Kim,

      Glad to hear that this blog is helping you learn FBA! Thank you very much for sharing your goal, I will be sure to follow up and see how April turned out for you.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  6. Michael Jones says:

    I’m in the same boat as Kim right now, and I really appreciate your insight and all you share on this site. This is a very fun, and hopefully soon to be financially rewarding business!

    Do you find that continually adding to your inventory, even though you are spending money to purchase, keeps your income flowing regularly?

    • Ryan Grant says:

      No problem Michael!

      My income would flow pretty regularly if I slowed down the inventory spending a little bit. Right now I am completely in growth mode, so I am not looking to take cash out, but if I was to limit my spending per month to $7500 on inventory I believe I would have a regularly flowing income. Hope that makes sense.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  7. Ron says:

    Hey Ryan,

    A lot of great information you are sharing.

    Thanks !

  8. Taliesin says:

    Fantastic blog/website – you should be proud of your efforts!! Do you have any view as to the amount of inventory compared to amount of sales? I suppose i’m asking what level of inventory do you need to obtain a sales level. Any rules of thumb??

    thanks

    • Ryan Grant says:

      Thank you Taliesin! I don’t have a general rule of thumb currently, but to give you an idea of my inventory levels, I have about $35,000 currently in sales value of inventory. That’s not what I paid, but what I have in stock as of today should sell for about $35K. I am constantly adding though, so my inventory levels vary based on how much I am sourcing versus how much is selling. Let me know if you have further questions.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  9. Brian says:

    Ryan,
    These monthly result pages are awesome.
    Thanks for being so open and being so insightful.

  10. Sam says:

    Hi Ryan,

    Great job. I was wondering about how you resource inventory. can you please help me with some of the sources to help me start especially for FBA.

    Thank you and keep up the good work.

    Best Regards,
    Sam

    • Ryan Grant says:

      Hi Sam,

      Thank you! I think if you take a look at some older posts on my blog you will find some good info about the types of stores. If you have further questions after reading through some of the posts I would be happy to help.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  11. P says:

    Hi Ryan. Thanks again for the great blog. Have you got an amount of monthly profit in mind to where you will stop striving to make more and more and be content with the return for the hours put in? Also, is it of any concern to you that basically Amazon could ban you and stop you trading on there site. I know it is unlikely but as I’m sure you have seen it does sometimes happen normally connected to the sale of media items.

    • Ryan Grant says:

      Hey P,

      I don’t currently have a profit goal that I would stop at. I want to see what is possible as I gain more experience, but my true goal is to make this a lifestyle business that provides me with enough income to live comfortably while working part time hours.

      Your second point is an excellent question and something I have thought about more lately. I am going to try to diversify into other areas besides amazon in the future, but for now my goal is to sell as much as possible on amazon. I hope I am able to continue to sell on amazon for the foreseeable future, but I am aware that it is a privilege and could go away. It’s absolutely a concern, but I am confident that I could go out and get another job if I had to in order to support myself should I be unable to sell on amazon for some reason.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  12. P says:

    Thanks for the reply. Also I noticed your outflow is greater than your inflow. I know this is normal for a new venture. My question is do you take a set wage of any kind or do you plan to soon? I’m learning so much from this blog and r/flipping, my first sale was on Feb 14th and if just made my 69th sale FBA. I’ve almost doubled the £500 I started with.
    Keep on being the Guru, cheers.

    • Ryan Grant says:

      Hey P,

      Currently I do not take any kind of set wage, but I plan to start sometime in the next year. That’s great to hear you have had some quick success with FBA, and glad to hear the blog has been helpful to you!

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  13. Lei says:

    Ryan,

    Forgot to mention that I’d love to join your challenge in setting a goal of $500 in revenue for April (considering I have yet to ship my first boxes to Amazon).

    Good luck to you and your readers!

    Lei

  14. sally says:

    hey ryan…

    Your number are very organized. What is the best way to keep organized. What amazon reports do you rely on? thanks

    • Ryan Grant says:

      Hi Sally,

      I am currently using a program called inventorylab to help me keep track of my numbers, so I am not using any reports from amazon currently. Before I used inventorylab I would download everything from the payments account to track all of the sales, returns, reimbursements, etc. The payments account is really the main report I am looking at to see how my results look.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  15. sally says:

    One more question… how long did it take you to find your items to keep purchasing…its been difficult for me to sped $300 a day let alone $7000 a month

    • Ryan Grant says:

      Hi Sally,

      The items that I am able to purchase over and over again took quite awhile to find. In almost all cases they were something I found discounted and found I could make money buying at retail prices and reselling them. The more you go out scanning the more you will find, I don’t have a set amount of time it took to find each one. Let me know if that helps or if you have further questions.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  16. Lei says:

    Ryan,

    What’s your pricing strategy? Do you only focus on competing with other FBA sellers? Do you factor in ranking in your pricing consideration?

    I’ve read a lot of people talk about avoiding racing to the bottom. Please be as specific as possible with examples.

    Thanks,

    Lei

    • Ryan Grant says:

      Hi Lei,

      I focus only on FBA competition, and I price 1% to 5% higher than the lowest FBA competition on just about every item. The worse the sales rank, the closer my price will be to the lowest FBA competition. If I have a toy with a current sales rank of 20K and the lowest FBA price is $19.99 I would price around $20.99. If I have a toy with a current sales rank of 150K and the lowest FBA price is 19.99, I would price around $20.19.

      I find that pricing a little above these prices still allows for buy box rotation, and avoids the race to the bottom since you are not pricing lower than the other sellers. Hope that helps.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  17. Lei says:

    Ryan,

    Thanks so much for your response. It was very helpful.

    Another question is how many SKUs you shipped to Amazon at the beginning to start seeing consistent sales. I am trying to gauge the “velocity” in building up the inventory. Of course, other factors come into play as well such sourcing the right products at the appropriate price point, etc.

    Thanks again.

    Lei

    • Ryan Grant says:

      Hi Lei,

      No problem. It depends a decent amount on the sales rank of the items you are sending in, but I would say that once I had about 50 items in inventory I was seeing at least a couple sales per day. For comparison, I currently have about 570 unique SKUs and today I had 23 unique items sell so far.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  18. Lei says:

    Ryan,

    Really appreciate it.

    Lei

  19. bill burns says:

    Hey Ryan,

    Just found your site – lots of straight, candid info.

    I appreciate the effort and generosity of spirit behind it.

    With Amazon Selling Machine all the rage right now – do you have any private labeled products?

    Any products with your own unique UPC numbers? ..Thanks,

    Bill

    • Ryan Grant says:

      Hi Bill,

      Great to hear you are finding the info valuable!

      I don’t do any private label or anything with my own unique UPC. It’s something that I might look into in the future, but up to this point I have not attempted it.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  20. sally says:

    hey ryan…

    with you spending so much money do you have to use giftcards? The reason i ask is because my bank will block my account after a certain spending limit… how do you avoid this? thank you

    • Ryan Grant says:

      Hi Sally,

      I don’t have to use gift cards. I currently have 2 credit cards with limits over $10,000 so I am able to use them for all of my purchases. I pay them off in full each month as well, but I just use credit cards and haven’t had to use gift cards so far.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  21. sally says:

    Rysn….

    How do you reconcile your inventory once i has arrived at amazon. Sometimes i notice items missing from fba that have been delivered and closed. Once i point this out amazon fixes the problem. This is only for the things I catch. But with me sending so much inventory its hard for me to keep track of every item once it arrives.

    Do you have any suggestions?

    • Ryan Grant says:

      Hi Sally ,

      That is an excellent question. I use inventorylab and that saves my batch history to let me know what is supposed to be in each shipment. I don’t keep track as closely as I should, but I generally just do a quick check of my inventory after my FBA shipments are received and make sure everything looks right.

      So far I haven’t noticed any significant discrepancies, but I am going to be tracking everything in a few upcoming shipments to verify things are being received accurately. Send me an email in a few weeks and I will share the results with you if I don’t post them here on the blog.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  22. sally says:

    Thanks Ryan for answering all my questions I really appreciate it. By the way saw your videos and your a cutie! Keep up the good work

  23. Grace says:

    This is great Ryan! You are very intelligent and selfless.

    I have a question. Are you using some type of program for your financial layout or do you just use excel? If so, would you mind sharing your spreadsheet format?

    I noticed that you get your high numbers from the toy category! I find it hard to find toys on sale but I guess I’m wrong. I have to look harder 🙂

    Thank you so much!

    • Ryan Grant says:

      Hi Grace,

      I am using InventoryLab to keep track of most of my numbers, and excel for the rest. The main part I am doing in excel is exactly what I am showing on these results posts, so you could just copy the line items that I am including to do what I am doing.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

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