Home > Sell On Amazon > Record Keeping (Part 1)

Record Keeping (Part 1)

This is probably not the topic you’ve been eagerly waiting to read, but good record keeping is essential.  You can’t run your business efficiently, or keep in compliance with tax laws, if you don’t keep complete and accurate records.  You need to keep good records from the very beginning.  Any time you save up front by not keeping good records will cost you much more time later on when you need the data and there’s no way to generate it.

This first post deals with product information.

I maintain a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet with standard information on every product I carry.  The information I keep includes:

  • Official manufacturer’s product name and product number
  • The product’s Universal Product Code (UPC)
  • The Amazon-assigned ASIN (essentially an Amazon version of the UPC)
  • The Amazon-assigned FNSKU (similar to the ASIN)
  • Product dimensions
  • Product weight
  • Unit wholesale cost, including shipping charges from the manufacturer to me
  • Shipping cost to a customer (this is an average, since shipping costs depend on distance)
  • Break-even sales cost (calculated from the above and Amazon’s fees)
  • Minimum Advertised Price, if any.  Some manufacturers don’t permit retailers to advertise their products for less than a certain price to protect everyone’s profit margins.  To be an honest retailer and comply with the manufacturer’s requirements, it helps a lot to keep this information where I’ll see it every time I re-stock the item.

The benefits of maintaining this information are:

  • Ability to accurately re-order inventory.  Many manufacturers have multiple variations of a product, you need to get exactly the item described on the product page.
  • Ability to match a product to the correct Amazon listing, so you send customers the correct item they buy
  • Ability to correctly label your products.  This is for third party fulfillment services.  You frequently have to label your products before sending them to a fulfillment center, this provides a way to match labels to products.
  • Knowing that the manufacturer charged you the correct price.  I’ve only very rarely had problems with the manufacturer charging the wrong price, but it does happen.
  • Knowing what you have to charge to make a profit.  Having this information easily available is convenient when you want to know if another retailer’s price is less than what you have to charge to make a profit.

It does take time to enter all this information for every product you start carrying, but it will save you a lot more time when preparing your products for shipment, either to the fulfillment center or to individual customers.

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