Originally published on January 10, 2017, updated July 29, 2020
Managing your inventory on the Amazon marketplace can be tricky. You have to know what to order, when to order, keep track of what items are selling and manage all your internal processes like item stickering, shipments, and more.
Liz likes to show people how easy it is to work with RestockPro, so she conducted a short webinar to give some tips on restocking efficiently and effectively. She walks you through:
You can watch the webinar above or check out the show notes below for the recap and a full transcript.
Running out of stock on profitable FBA items can leave sellers in a rocky spot. In this webinar, Liz Fickenscher outlined strategies for managing lead times and restocking at the right moment to prevent a stocking disruption with the help of our inventory management tool, RestockPro.
As an Amazon seller, you can’t afford to stock products that aren’t making money. RestockPro provides a detailed SKU-level report for every item you stock to give you historical sales data. This report factors in the item price, fees at the Amazon facility, and other costs such as prep expenses and shipping. RestockPro also automatically calculates the estimated margin for each SKU in your inventory.
What does your restock model look like? If you’re like many Amazon merchants shipping to FBA warehouses, you may use more than one restock model, such as direct ship or cross dock. When it comes to making accurate calculations about when and how much to reorder, factor in the appropriate time from the order date to arrival on the shelf at the Amazon facility.
You can select your restock model and enter supplier lead time in RestockPro. You can also manage multiple shipments and the workflow of your purchase orders and shipments for multiple restock models within the tool. To learn more about how to use RestockPro for lead time management, be sure to watch the webinar for a demonstration!
After you’ve found profitable items, you want to keep them in stock as long as they continue to perform successfully. In order to do so, you need to process your reorders in a timely way. The powerful Restock Suggestions dashboard uses red and yellow flags to denote high and medium priority items, respectively.
Liz: If you're just now signing in, we're going to get started in just a couple minutes. We have more attendees joining. We're glad you're here today. We'll get started really soon. We won't take too much of your time today. Okay. Thank you for joining us today for three tips for rapid fire FBA restocking. This is going to be a short little session, and hopefully if we have time, we can take some questions at the end. I'm Liz Fickenscher. I'm business development lead here at eComEngine, which is the home of RestockPro.
Liz: Who is eComEngine? Who are we? Why are we qualified to talk to you about FBA restocking? We are the creators of Feedback Five, RestockPro, eComSpy. We developed these tools to help Amazon merchants automate segments of their business. We think pretty intuitive and innovative tools, and we've got a fantastic customer service team, customer success team and tech support team. We try to publish thought leadership and eCommerce theory and best practices.
Liz: That's why today we want to talk about FBA restocking. We know that a lot of sellers hit multiple pain points when figuring out the best way to manage their FBA inventory and running out of stock can be the worst. Let's talk about FBA restocking and our top three tips for figuring out how to do it right for you and your business. Manually handing your FBA restock can get tricky. Generating POs to send to your suppliers, processing your shipments, printing item stickers, and all the while, forecasting what inventory you're going to need to order in the future is pretty overwhelming.
Liz: Today we're going to give you three tips for rapid fire restocking so you don't miss opportunities to be more profitable, because at the end of the day, that's what we're trying to do, right? We're trying to be entrepreneurs, sellers on the Amazon marketplace and we're trying to be successful. We are here to help you and hopefully you'll find these tips helpful as well.
Liz: Tip number one is to factor realistic lead times. When you think about your inventory and how long it takes to get to an FBA warehouse, you have to factor in your lead times, right? When you factor your lead times, you have to consider what restock model you tend to use with each supplier. Do you ship direct from your supplier to the FBA facility? Do you ship cross dock where you ship from your supplier to your warehouse or an outside prep facility?
Liz: Depending on your model, you need to make sure the lead time you're calculating encompasses all the time from the time you place the order until the time it's on the shelf at Amazon. So many restocking mistakes can happen if you don't consider everything. The amount of time the supplier takes to process and pack the order, the shipping time, those are just the beginning. If you cross dock, you have to factor in the time it takes for your prep center to receive, unpack, repack and prepare the shipments or you might do that yourself. Then how long it takes for your boxes to get to the FBA warehouse. No matter how you ship into FBA, you also have to think about how long it takes for your items to get on the shelves to be picked for shipments when you make sales.
Liz: Amazon tells us that your items hit the shelves within three business days of delivery into the FBA warehouse, but knowing how long it takes for your SKUs to be delivered for them to unpack it and get it onto the shelves can mean the difference between having the appropriate amount of stock or not. The mistake is that if you underestimate the lead time, then you'll not ship in enough. That will result in the likelihood of an out of stock, which is exactly what we're trying to avoid.
Liz: Tip number two, pay attention to your historical sales. Just because you run out of an item, it doesn't necessarily mean you have to order more. You need to pay attention to your margins. How much money are you making on a particular product? If it's not enough, don't reorder it.
Liz: Your Seller Central dashboard is great at telling you when you're low on stock or out of stock, but they don't tell you whether or not the item was profitable. In today's mercurial eCommerce landscape, you can't afford to stock items that aren't profitable for you. If you've recently made a change like the introduction of a prep center, a lot of people are doing that now, you have to factor that per item cost into the equation between the actual item cost, shipping and handling prep and more.
Liz: It can be very difficult to keep track of your actual cost versus your profit. Once you figure that out, you have to know if your profitable items are selling. That's where historical data comes in. It not only tells you how your products are selling, but it should give you information like the Buy Box price, number of FBA sellers, and more.
Liz: Tip number three, never run out of stock on your profitable items. Once you've identified those, you need to make sure you never run out of stock. That sounds easy enough since seller central gives you a heads up when you're running low, but there's obviously more to it than that. The bottom line is that you have to process reorders in a timely way in order to avoid out of stock situations.
Liz: Wouldn't it be great if there was one tool that help you track an item's profitability and restock your FBA items quickly? There is, it's RestockPro. To get a handle on your historical sales to determine which items are profitable, RestockPro calculates an estimated margin for every single item you stock. It factors in the price, the fees at Amazon, your own costs like prep expenses and shipping, calculating that manually for each item would take a really lot of time and that's why we automated it.
Liz: In terms of replenishing your stock, RestockPro's sophisticated restock suggestions let you know when you're getting close to reorder time with yellow flags and when you need to reorder today right now with red flags. Your lead times are included in the restock suggestion algorithm and you can create your POs right in the system as well. RestockPro makes it easy to restock your profitable FBA items quickly.
Liz: Basically, RestockPro is your inventory management go-to. We're going to take a look at how it works in just a second. I just want to add a quick caveat in here. This is in no way, shape, or form everything RestockPro can do. What I'm trying to do with these little short webinars that I'm doing is show you a little piece of the tool geared toward a particular pain point. If you have any suggestions at the end on something that you'd like to see or something you want to know how to do, I am here to address that. We can certainly do more of these webinars in the future. I'm really glad that you guys are here and are taking up some time to spend with me.
Liz: Let's take a look at how to do these three tips in the tool itself. If you'll pardon the messiness of me getting out of my presentation and logging into RestockPro. I'm just going to go to the dashboard to start to go, so this might look familiar to you. I'm just using a demo account right now. In order to input lead times, you're going to go here in the left sidebar to options, suppliers, and then your list of suppliers will populate.
Liz: If you click on an existing supplier, I'm just going to click on this one at the top or when you add a new supplier, you can adjust the supplier lead time, the direct ship lead time, and the cross dock lead times. Your supplier lead time, and that's right here is where this is, your supplier lead time, direct ship lead time, and your cross dock lead time. You can pick your restock model right up here in this dropdown, and if you've got a store rule set then you can just do a default.
Liz: Your supplier lead time, just to reiterate, is the amount of time it takes your supplier to receive and process your invoice and then get your items in the mail. If they ship direct to Amazon for you, you'll learn pretty quickly how much time it takes for your product to get from the supplier to Amazon and onto the shelf. You want to make sure you enter accurate times here. If you ship to a prep center or you cross dock to yourself so you can prep your items, the amount of time that it takes for the items to get to the cross dock location, be prepped and shipped and arrive at the FBA warehouse is what's going to populate your cross dock number. These lead times will help inform your restock suggestion so it's really important to make sure they're accurate and you'll have actionable data from RestockPro to make sure you order your products in time.
Liz: Then historical sales, this is a really handy thing and I think that a lot of sellers benefit from this information. Again, like I said before, if you're tracking this kind of information in a spreadsheet, things change so much. You might be using different data to price your items. You might have a cost increase with one of your SKUs. You could experience all sorts of things that impact your cost and obviously, the velocity at which your items are selling informs this as well. The way you get to this is in RestockPro, let's just X out of the supplier information and we'll go back to the dashboard so I can show you how to get there when you first log in. You just go over here on the left sidebar to reports, click on that. Then you can select the report from the drop down menu.
Liz: A lot of these reports are super, super handy. We'll probably go over some of them in future webinars. The one that was on the slide I just showed you is the SKU monthly sales analysis. You'd pick that and then you've got all of your SKUs over here and you just click on one to populate your report. You can select the date range, last seven days, last 30 days, last 60 days, last 90 days, last six months, one year or a custom date range. That's super helpful. You can also look into SKU profitability, but we'll cover that another time as well. We'll go back to our dashboard. Should have done that before. Sorry guys. Then finally, again, sorry about the clunkiness going from window to window, but I thought it would be helpful to actually show you in the tool how to do these things.
Liz: Tip number three, finally, never run out of stock. You've got to pay attention to those red and yellow flags. Provided your lead times are correct and you're aware which of your SKUs are profitable, your restock suggestions will be right on the mark. Red flags means it's time to order the item now. Yellow flags tell you that you need to reorder soon. This is very easy. From your dashboard, just click in the left sidebar on restock suggestions. It will populate all of your restock suggestions. You can apply custom filters to sort by category, estimated margin, and other different types of data. There's a lot of information available and restock suggestions.
Liz: These red and yellow flags are the main thesis of this section of the presentation but you've also got your product SKU, your product name, the ASIN, got an image of the product if you're just looking at a glance, supplier information. You've got the sold by, whether or not it's sold by Amazon, which is helpful information and the new buy box price, as well as lots and lots of other information that's helpful for you. Again, we'll cover that in a different session. I don't want to take too much of your time today. This didn't take near as much time as I thought it would. I tried to speak slowly. I hope I did for you guys.
Liz: I think that it would be helpful to open up for questions. If you've got any questions, just type them into the question field in GoToWebinar. I've actually got Robin who is our RestockPro guru on the line too, in case there's a question that I don't know the answer to. For attending this webinar today, you can get a 30 day free trial of RestockPro if you're not already a user. Just use the coupon code RSP-FIRE when you sign up at restockpro.com. You can try the tool for free for 30 days and that's longer than our usual free trial. It gives you a little bit more time to dig in and learn about the tool. We are here, we've got a great team who will walk you through how to set up your account. They'll walk you through different strategies for really making RestockPro work for your business in particular. I'm always here as a resource as well. It looks like we have a question from Amie, "How much setup is required to get started?" It's really super easy. I'm going to just show you. When you sign up, you're going to put your Amazon domain in and your AWS access key that you get from Amazon. It takes, Robin, how long to populate?
Robin: Your data should be there, usually it takes about a day, sometimes less, about a day at the most.
Liz: You'll want to go in and set up your suppliers and set up your lead times and that kind of stuff. We also have a great customer success team that will help you with that. There's a really handy way that you can upload product information by uploading a CSV. Probably within just a couple of days you'll be set up and ready to roll.
Robin: Really, I encourage sellers to get started with just a product or two. Go into one product and set up its cost and supplier and fees, and go over to restock suggestions and take a look at that product and try out a test order. You can build a purchase order and create a shipment and delete it and just get comfortable with using RestockPro. Once you have that comfort level down, then you can just use that CSV upload to upload the rest of your suppliers and fees, and you will be good to go. There's the user guide on the bottom of the RestockPro menu on the left and that has instructions for a step by step tutorial as well. That's a great way to get started for anyone who's new to RestockPro.
Liz: Great. Thank you, Robin. My next question is from Chris, "What tips do you have for reducing shipping costs when shipping to FBA facilities?"
Robin: Definitely you want to try to consolidate your shipments and do the best that you can to ship, typically larger quantities of items are going to be less likely to be split amongst Amazon fulfillment centers. The more that you can do to build larger shipments or send larger quantities of items, the less of that splitting that you're going to do. Definitely, shop around different carriers, different methods of shipping as well. Those are the best tips.
Liz: That's awesome. Thank you. We've got Tiffany asking, "We are resellers so we purchase sometimes the same item from different vendors. How do you differentiate the same item with different margins?"
Robin: That is a good question. Right now in RestockPro you can only associate a product with a single supplier. That's something that we don't do currently is to have the ability to select a primary supply or an alternate suppliers where you might compare different margins. Right now, you're just going to have to set the individual supplier that you most commonly use or that you have the lowest price with. Again, the information, if it changes, can be readily updated with the CSV.
Liz: Great. David asks, "Is there a report that sorts products by supplier?
Robin: There is, the supplier performance report.
Liz: That's over here in the left sidebar, you click on reports and you select a report. Sorry about that. You go to supplier performance and then you can see your list of suppliers, the number of SKUs you have with each, the number of units, total costs, 30 day sales. You can download that as a CSV.
Robin: If you click one of the supplier names, you'll see their SKUs at the bottom.
Liz: That's down here. These are great questions, guys, keep them coming. Travis asks, "What if you have multiple seller central accounts?"
Robin: If you have multiple stores that you're selling on, you can set up a RestockPro account for each one. As Liz is showing, you can use the account switcher to switch back and forth between them. We do support both the .com and .uk marketplaces.
Liz: That's also in the help guide. A lot of stuff is available in the help guide, but we realized that you guys are busy so we like to answer these questions too. But I do encourage you to take a look at the help guide. Amie asks, "I'm a Feedback Five customer. Does any of that information integrate into RestockPro?"
Robin: That is a great question. Currently, no, but we are looking into ways to better integrate that information. For example, your product reviews are a great indicator of product popularity in Feedback Five. That information is obviously valuable when you're making restocking decisions. Some of those things are in our plans.
Liz: That was a good question though. David asks, "How long does the yellow flag signify? Because if I have a red flag on a product, I would know which other products to order from the same supplier when there is an order minimum." That's also a great question.
Robin: Red flag indicates that you should order the product now. Yellow is an upcoming alert that the product will need to be reordered in the next five to seven days.
Liz: The actions you can take on that. The order quantities over here on the far right side of restock suggestions and you just input your order quantity so if you got orders of different SKUs from the same supplier, it's really easy to do that from your restock suggestions dashboard. Sparkles asks, I think what you're asking is, can new supplier SKUs as well as MPN SKUs?
Robin: I'm not familiar with MPN SKUs. You might be have been asking MFN SKUs, merchant fulfilled SKUs. A supplier SKU could be associated with every one of your Amazon SKUs. That's the SKU that will appear on the purchase order when you go to reorder the product. Currently, RestockPro is really optimized around FBA. There's nothing special built in to handle MFN SKUs at this time. It does handle Amazon fulfilled SKUs whether those SKUs are sold on Amazon or other channels, as long as they're fulfilled by Amazon, those sales will be reflected in the sales figures that you see in RestockPro and your reorder quantities will cover those as well.
Liz: Great. Then Drawn asked, "When do you plan to support more marketplaces like all the rest of Europe?" That's definitely in the pipeline.
Robin: Yeah, we are definitely evaluating support for additional marketplaces. Unfortunately, I don't have any dates to announce, but definitely on our roadmap. It's good to hear that you're interested in the rest of Europe.
Liz: Yes, definitely. On your dashboard, in the news section, we do give you links to some of our current blog posts but also any product updates occur here. There's also a feature vote down here where you can complete a survey asking what's the highest on your RestockPro wishlist and actually additional European marketplaces is on there. It's pretty popular. Okay. Sparco says, clarified something, the MFN SKU. "Have you used the supplier's SKU as well as the MFN SKU?"
Robin: Right, we don't currently have a specific field for the manufacturer SKU. You could use the SKU notes or tags to hold that type of information, but I could see how that could be a useful additional field as well.
Liz: That would be a workaround for her problem. Maybe give it a try, Tiffany, and let us know if we can help you with that. I'm so happy that you guys had so many great questions and suggestions. We're running up on time now. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to email me. You'll get an email after the webinar with the link to the recording, and you can respond to that from me and ask me any questions you want. We hope we'll see you next time. We do have a webinar coming up next month talking to Amazon Sellers Lawyer Dan Meadors from The Wholesale Formula and Liz Adamson from Egility about brand gating. Hope you guys will plan on attending that, it's on February 16th. It should be a really, really interesting webinar. Thanks again for everything. We'll see you guys next time. Thanks. Special thanks to Robin for helping out with the questions. She is definitely the RestockPro guru. Thanks again, and everybody have a great day.
Originally published on January 10, 2017, updated July 29, 2020
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.