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Using Amazon’s Fulfillment Service for eBay Orders

The Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA) service allows you to ship your inventory to an Amazon warehouse.  When an order is placed on Amazon for your products, Amazon handles all of the pick, pack, ship, and customer interaction for you.  It’s about as hands-off as you can get, allowing you to spend your time looking for more products to sell, rather than the mechanics of filling orders.

You can also use FBA to fill your orders from other websites and marketplaces, like eBay.  As soon as you try to sell your inventory on more than one venue, though, you run into a problem.  You can receive orders from multiple venues on the same day, overselling your existing inventory and not being able to fill all of the orders you received.

Not being able to fill orders is very bad.  The customers who aren’t going to get what they ordered are going to be mad because you wasted their time, and leave you negative feedback.  The marketplaces you’re selling on will be unhappy that you’re providing a poor buying experience to their customers, who might decide to stop shopping there.  And customers you’ve burned before are unlikely to try buying from you again.

To avoid this problem, or at least minimize it, you need a way to automatically reflect sales from any of your sales channels on all of your sales channels.  So if you have 10 widgets to sell, and you sell 1 on eBay, but have the same 10 listed on Amazon and Sears, all 3 marketplaces need to be informed that there are now only 9 widgets left.

As with any mechanical aspect of your business, you can pay for a service to do this for you.  I have never used such a service from any third party (I write my own software), but there are third party services available to do this synchronization for you.  A relatively new service, called autoFBA, presented at the Sellers’ Conference for Online Entrepreneurs this year.  I’ll say again that I’ve never used their service, so I’m not recommending it.  But, if this is something that would be of use to you, you can check them out along with any other provider that offers a similar service.

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Reminder: Congress is working on bills to require online retailers to collect sales tax in all states, rather than just states where they have a physical presence.  There are literally thousands of tax districts in the United States, the time and cost of collecting and remitting the correct sales tax could easily be prohibitive for a small retailer.  Ask your Representative and Senators to ensure any online sales tax bill requires a simplified method for collecting and remitting the tax, such as a flat sales tax paid to the Federal government, which would distribute the funds to states proportional to their populations.

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