5 Ways Spreadsheets are Impacting Your FBA Profits

by Colleen Quattlebaum

Managing the moving parts of your FBA business can require a lot of effort and coordination.

Restocking inventory, sourcing new products, preparing shipments and generating purchase orders are just a few of the things that fill your team's busy day. To keep everything organized and avoid out-of-stock situations, many sellers turn to spreadsheets. Spreadsheets are certainly easy to create and share; however, are they the best solution for managing your FBA business?

In this post, I'll share five ways FBA spreadsheets can negatively impact the profitability of your business.

1. Manual Effort Comes with a Tangible Cost

Stop and think about your organization's current FBA inventory management process. If your team is using spreadsheets, I'm sure their daily work involves one or more of the following steps:

  • Checking the "Fulfillable" levels for each SKU in your Seller Central dashboard
  • Comparing "Inbound" quantities to the data in your shipment tracking sheet
  • Adding hyperlinks to Seller Central shipment records
  • Keying in net inventory data
  • Adjusting formulas, as to continually refine your reorder assumptions
  • Analyzing past sales data to build profitability forecasts
  • Updating supplier cost data and contact information
  • Removing rows for discontinued SKUs; adding rows for new SKUs

As important as these steps seem to your business, they have one problematic thing in common: Each step requires manual effort by your team. And, as you know all too well, your team's time isn't free. Wouldn't their time be better spent on other value-producing activities, such as supplier engagement, shipment preparation and product development?

2. Stale Data, Stale Decisions

What's worse, the moment your team updates a spreadsheet, the data instantly becomes out of date. The Buy Box price fluctuates many times per day. Your suppliers are always sending updated pricing catalogs. And, customer demand is constantly evolving.

Unless your company sells a handful of slow-moving ASINs (which I doubt is the case), it's nearly impossible to ensure that your data remains fresh. Stale data leads to stale business decisions, which ultimately leads to an underperforming profit and loss statement.

3. Errors & Oversights

Spreadsheets can be breeding grounds for errors and oversights.

Put yourself in the shoes of your team members. They're no doubt trying their best, but maintaining a few thousand rows of SKU data would be a monumental task for anyone.

Errors and oversights aren't just annoying - they can actually be quite costly to your FBA business. As a simple example, consider the following situation. Before making any restocking decisions, your purchasing manager always checks the Buy Box price. For whatever reason, on this particular day, she checked the Buy Box price, but she failed to run it through your restocking analysis spreadsheet. As a result, your company ordered several hundred units of an item that were eventually liquidated at subpar margins.

In other words, a single miscalculation can cost your company thousands of dollars in lost profits.

4. Spreadsheets Can't Do Work For You

Spreadsheets are useful for organizing historical information into a digestible report. But, as far as I know, spreadsheets can't actually do work for you.

Take, for example, your team's process for creating and distributing vendor purchase orders. I'm guessing it goes something like this:

  • A copy of your standard PO template is generated
  • The vendor's details are manually keyed into the document
  • Order details are then entered in, based on the data in your restocking spreadsheet
  • The PO is then exported as a PDF and saved
  • The vendor's email address is located from your CRM
  • An email is drafted and sent to the vendor, containing the PO as an attachment

Once sent, someone from your staff must remember to follow up and ensure the supplier does its job. Again, this is most likely tracked in another spreadsheet somewhere on your company's shared drive.

All of this work consumes valuable human resources, which could have been allocated to something more useful (if automated).

5. Your Workflow Doesn't Fit Into a Spreadsheet

Finally, spreadsheets just aren't conducive to the fast-paced world of selling online. Spreadsheets don't tell you what to do next - they simply store and process data.

If you're tired of forcing spreadsheets to fit your dynamic business model, I'd like to recommend our RestockPro tool. RestockPro was built specifically for the unique needs of FBA merchants like you. Unlike a spreadsheet, RestockPro organizes your team's priorities into a scalable, repeatable workflow. RestockPro also replaces spreadsheets, by housing all of your supplier and business assumptions under one roof. And, thanks to our integration to your Seller Central account via the Amazon MWS API, you'll always enjoy the accurate, real-time data you need.

Ready to get off of spreadsheets? Try RestockPro for 21 days and take your FBA business to the next level.

Originally published on May 30, 2018, updated June 10, 2019

This post is accurate as of the date of publication. Some features and information may have changed due to product updates or Amazon policy changes.