Amazon lends $1 Billion to Amazon sellers….

Reuters reports that Amazon has lent $1 Billion to Amazon sellers in the past 12 months. More than 20,000 sellers have accepted money from Amazon lending and half have taken a second loan from Amazon. Amazon sellers say the interest rates are between 6 and 14% and the loan amounts range from $1,000-$750,000. Amazon hopes the lending will keep Amazon sellers growing, with competition such as eBay and Walmart near; they want sellers to grow their businesses faster than ever. Traditional lenders such as banks shied away from small merchants after the 2008 financial crisis which created the opportunity for Companies such as Amazon and Upfund to fund Amazon sellers. Amazon Lending is invite only and they plan to lend across many countries in time.

For Amazon Sellers: Upfund compares quite favorably against Amazon lending. Compared to 50% of their borrowers returning, Upfund.io sees a whopping 80% of sellers return to continue receiving funding with us.

The reason is quite simple. Upfund.io makes money when you sell more product. No payments are required when product is being manufactured, and as soon as inventory is sold, the funds are all paid back, leaving you free and clear of an on-going mountain of debt. Check out our Seller’s Debt Trap article to learn more about how Upfund is different from Amazon lending and others.

FBA usage continues to grow…

According to Market Pulse, FBA usage among marketplace sellers has grown in all countries. From 2015 to 2016, FBA penetration doubled to 1 billion units! In 2016, third-party shipments via FBA was at 55%, up from 40% 2 years before.

Notably, most of that growth happened outside the United States. The gold rush in the U.S. is largely over; the good old days when you could pick any product, throw it up on Amazon and get rich. Nowadays there’s a little more involved due to high FBA penetration and the stability of the market.

On the flip side, European markets have grown considerably by 3 to 5 percent. More foreign sellers are selling within their own country in addition to U.S. based sellers. Amazon is also pushing FBA usage with marketing messages across the globe.

For Amazon Sellers: It looks like FBA is here to stay. There’s plenty of opportunity in the U.S. to sell on Amazon. However, if you want to add a little spice to life, going international is a great way to diversify and increase revenue with your current products instead of going out to find new products. Besides, wouldn’t it be cool to say “I sell products in the U.S. Japan and Europe”. Sounds like boss moves to me!

Will’s Top 5 Criteria For Picking Products…

Picking products is one of Amazon sellers’ biggest issues when looking to start or grow their Amazon business. Here are my top 5 thoughts when selecting a product:

  1. Sales Potential, not passion. It’s not about passion, it’s about sales. If you want to make a lot of money, you must choose products that attract a lot of eyeballs. I’m not sure how many sales you can get from knitting products, but if it’s a hobby that doesn’t have a lot of traffic; don’t walk into the light. It’s all about finding a good balance under high market saturation and above medium sales velocity. You want products that can eventually turn a couple of thousand units per month. Slow selling products create a bottleneck on growth and capital. Try sticking with the lower BSR products.  
  2. Profit Margin. The win is in the buy. You make your money by how discounted you purchase the product for, not when you sell it. Keeping profit margins high facilitates growth, sustainability and a good lifestyle. Finding high profit margin products is not easy, but it’s your job to locate these products or bundle your way into higher profit margins. Some people choose low profit margin products with high velocity, this is ok also, but it will take a lot of resources and is not recommended for new or lower capital sellers.
  3. Beware of Competition. Does your product compete with a huge name brand? There may be a scenario you can compete, but I wouldn’t spend my money trying. Its very hard to compete with brands that influence Amazon customers on a daily basis through TV and radio. Stick to products with a low brand barrier to entry.
  4. Depth of market. Make sure all the money within your product’s market is not being sucked up by the top 1-3 sellers. There should be a healthy amount of Amazon traffic and revenue being circulated to all sellers within the first page of results when you search for the product’s most relevant keywords..
  5. Make sure your product and its sales can’t be compromised in the future, by either Amazon or other merchants. Your chosen product should be clear of legal issues, fad/trends, certification hurdles, high defect rates and most importantly stay away from products with the race to the bottom scenario.

I can go on and on, but I would say these are my top 5 scenarios for choosing the best products. All that said, no one can truly tell a good vs bad product pick until you try selling it. However, at least with the 5 step criteria you eliminate about 80% of the losing product choices. To find out if you’re choosing the wrong products stay tuned for part 2 of the series where we dig deeper into each section.

Amazon is massively discounting Prime membership…

TechCrunch reports. It’s no secret. The two competing businesses are trying their best to take on each other’s strong points. Lately, Wal-Mart is targeting Amazon Prime by providing free delivery on the shipment of various items within two days. Amazon on the other hand has begun offering cash payments on delivery to its customers. Further, Amazon has reduced its Prime membership fees for people who are on government assistance. There seems to be no end to the indiscriminate land-grab between these two juggernauts.

For Amazon Sellers: Even more prime users! For the lower end of the market, price is even more of an issue. One strategy might be: target the lower end of the market with a specific set of keywords. It remains to be seen how lower income Prime members will change the ecosystem. What do you think?

Amazon Go— The Cashier Free Grocery Store…

This one is a few months old, but we figured some may still not know about it. According to Fortune, Amazon revealed this revolutionary concept last year in December in their new Amazon go stores. Amazon Go enables customers to enter the shop with their smartphones after they have installed its mobile app. The Go convenience outlet is a cashier free physical store where consumers do not have to stand in queues to pay for their purchases. It is literally a “grab-and-go” brick and mortar store without checkout lines. The Amazon Go store offers consumers freshly prepared foods along with grocery staples, such as milk, bread, cheese and baked delicacies.

For Amazon Sellers– Now that Amazon is buying Whole Foods and scaling Amazon Go, there may be a way to easily get your brand into physical store locations. For some who already have products application to this category, this could be a massive opportunity. Tell me your thoughts. Are you open to selling your brand at physical Amazon Go locations?

Amazon Set To Buy Whole Foods for $13.4 Billion…

According to New York Times, Amazon has revealed that it is acquiring the upscale brick and mortar grocery chain, Whole Foods, for $13.4 billion. This strategic deal aims at making Amazon a bigger player in the brick and mortar grocery business. Since launching AmazonFresh, the delivery service did not enough traction as most consumers still like to purchase their fruits and veggies in person. According to analysts, if the deal works, Amazon and Whole Foods will instantly account for 3.5% of grocery spending in the USA, which makes Amazon the fifth largest grocery retailer in the country.

For Amazon sellers– This is Amazon’s typical land and expand model. What does this mean for you? Maybe it’s time to consider getting in on the grocery consumables action.  There are many sellers already making a killing within the grocery category and jumping on Amazon’s moving train may be the fastest way to take your business to the next level. On the other hand, it might be prudent to wait a bit before investing heavily in grocery because who knows what Amazon may have up their grocery sleeves. What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Amazon Determined To Gain Foothold in Pharmaceutical Industry

Amazon’s standing in the logistics and retail industry needs no introduction and there are no two views about the fact that it has entirely taken over the industry with unprecedented growth.

Amazon never fails to amaze the world and this has been proved once again recently. According to company’s latest revelations, it has silently been planning to take over a totally new industry that is worth trillions of dollars; pharmaceuticals.

Nnamdi Oranye wrote that he could sense and was expecting this move since the latter half of 2016. But, when he stated it at various places, he was met with skepticism until recently, when CNBC report has confirmed what was considered a speculation. The report also revealed that Amazon had been working on it since many years, which means it has a comprehensive business plan in place.

Amazon has now openly declared that a general manager will be hired to pave the path for company’s entry into the pharmaceutical industry. Keeping in view the company’s track record, this should not come as a surprise.

According to Nnamdi Oranye, Silicon Valley has always nurtured the idea of connecting everything because it has a vision of connecting together industries and innovations.

Last Mile Logistics

Nnamdi Oranye further wrote that Amazon’s decision to enter into the pharmaceutical world comes as no surprise. The company has been making continuous efforts to solve ‘last mile logistics problem’. Also, with the help of modern drone technology, the company can deliver anything to any part of the world then, why it should not consider including pharmaceuticals into its range of products?

With offering cloud services to pharmaceutical and biotech industry and selling medical equipment and other supplies, Amazon has already been somewhat present in the market.

Rural Africa presents an example of the vision of e-commerce company. Drone technology has been explored and experimented both by the Amazon and welfare organizations in rural Africa, such as UNICEF. UNICEF has been running a test project in Malawi where the health workers use their smart phones to call a drone for collecting or dropping off supplies. With the GPS service, the locations can easily be identified. The drones are used in Malawi to pick up blood samples and to deliver medical supplies.

In addition to Malawi, the drones are being used in Ghana and Tanzania for picking up birth registration forms from rural areas and delivering them to the nearby Home Affairs office.

UNICEF is also looking for commercial investors to get involved in the project and pharmaceuticals should be the first one to do so. However, it seems that Amazon is going to take the lead here as well.

Red Tape and Regulations

As mentioned earlier, Amazon has already been somewhat present in the pharmaceuticals industry with the selling of medicines and health equipment. But, it will have to follow the laws with regard to medicine distribution, once they officially enter into the industry. These include selling medicines with the red tape and regulations.

Nnamdi Oranye has put forward an idea of how the Amazon’s system may function. Doctors, rather than writing prescriptions, would download an app and clicks on the medicine that needs to be given to a patient. With the single click, an order for the medicine would go to Amazon and the transaction would go through the patient’s health insurance. Those without medical insurance would have to enter their Amazon account details when an order is placed. By the time the patient reaches home, the medicines would have already arrived. Or you could turn on the GPS and let the drone deliver medicines directly to you so, you won’t have to worry about your medicines when you are on the move.

If this happens, patients will not need to visit a pharmacy to buy medicines. Also, there will be no need to revisit doctor if the patient has lost the prescription or needs more medicine because the app would allow the doctor to create a future prescription and put it on standby or create a recurring one.

Keeping aside the legalities, that are the only hindrance, the system would world amazingly. According to CNBC, Steve Kraus, an expert and a health tech investor, is of the view that every big technology company should participate in the $ 3 trillion dollar industry.

Pharmacy stocks in other companies drop with the news of Amazon’s entry into the pharmaceutical industry. But, according to Steve Kraus pharmaceutical companies should not be the only one to get worried with the news. Amazon is very likely to develop a direct working relationship with the manufacturers and with its huge buying power can take over the entire industry and the major chunk of customers.

Thinking without Borders

According to Nnamdi Oranye this is how African innovators should also think; to own customers’ minds and wallets regardless of borders. He is also certain that if the system that he has put forward is brought to Africa by Amazon, it would be of great benefit for the people, both in terms of healthcare and economy, provided the nations in Africa develop the right framework for it. Otherwise, it will engulf the entire industry, expertise and supply chains before the locals could realize it.

It is not impossible to develop the right framework; all they need is to move quickly, invest, involve the right innovators in the project and to come up with ways to connect everything together. This can be done within few years that Amazon is going to take to work on its new advancement in the US and other areas before entering Africa.

 

Deal between Amazon and PayPal – A New Challenge for eBay…

We all know that PayPal is not in the list of Amazon’s payment methods. But, here’s good news for more than 188 million PayPal users all over the world. Amazon and PayPal have recently signed a deal after which the PayPal balances can be used to pay for the purchases made on Amazon.

This agreement comes as a bad news for eBay as it is posed with a new challenge.

Reports about a possible agreement between the two giants of online marketplace were making rounds since January, this year, when the CEO of PayPal Dan Schulman hinted towards it while talking to Bloomberg. He said that conversations were going on between him and Amazon.

PayPal has now even started offering Amazon gift cards that comes as a surprise to a large number of people because it seemed impossible when PayPal was owned by eBay. PayPal users were informed about this new development via an email from the company, last week. The email’s subject line was:  “Amazon.com Gift Cards are here”.

However, these gift cards are not available on PayPal’s gift stores on eBay; not surprising at all!

According to the email, gift cards worth $25, $50 and $100 are available.

This deal is beneficial for Amazon as its customer base will definitely increase, but keeping in view Amazon’s progress towards Amazon Pay, there are concerns whether the agreement is favorable for PayPal in the long run? Only the future holds answer to this!

While many are celebrating the news, it is not a great one for eBay.

What is Upfund.io?
UpFund.io is the smartest funding source around. Grow your business with OPM (Other People’s Money) without getting trapped in debt.

 

A Look into Amazon Prime Now’s Quick Delivery System…

Ever heard of Amazon Prime Now?

You may have not because it is believed that Amazon is deliberately keeping it a hush-hush because it is still working to ramp up its offers and to further improve its delivery system (the fastest to date).

Amazon Prime Now is a quick (2 hours) and free delivery service by Amazon.com. The service that was initiated in 2014 from just one zip code of New York has now spread to eight countries and 45 cities: 14 cities were added to the list this year only.

Wants to know how Amazon manages to deliver so fast?

We visited one of the company’s hubs in Seattle, its hometown to find out how Amazon workers manage to be so efficient.

What we found is a super efficient team, as expected, that speed up the process by considering the shopping trends in Seattle and, on the basis of the trends, predicting what people are going to buy.

Amazon Prime Now does not offer a whole lot of products. The free 2 hour delivery option is available for unlimited variety of household items, but only to Amazon’s prime members.

Hubs of Amazon Prime Now are located close to the city, as opposed to huge fulfillment centers of Amazon.com. They are also comparatively smaller in size.

With the help of internal catalog system that not only tells where a particular item is stored, but also tells the best and quickest way to put together all the items of an order, the workers manually prepare the orders.

Amazon Prime Now receives most orders around 6 to 7 pm (these are their busiest hours).

What is Upfund.io?
UpFund.io is the smartest funding source around. Grow your business with OPM (Other People’s Money) without getting trapped in debt.

The Amazon Seller’s Debt Trap…

How to get out of the Amazon Seller’s Debt Trap

As you kill it in your Amazon business, are you carrying a mountain of debt that only gets heavier as you grow, with higher and higher monthly payments every time you refinance? If you answered yes, you’re not alone. I’m here to help.

Beware the seller’s debt trap

In order to grow their Amazon businesses, most sellers take on debt, and usually more debt than they actually need, use part of it for inventory, and a big chunk of it to “keep the lights on”. If you’ve ever taken out a loan for an inventory-based business, and are still making monthly payments on that loan months after the inventory is sold off, you’ve fallen in a little trap that I like to call the Amazon Seller’s debt trap.

One thing that allows you to pay off debt and live the good life is choosing the right products to sell. If you have high velocity or high profit margin products you can confidently use other people’s money without over-leveraging. The trouble is, most sellers don’t have this luxury. So they take a lot more time to pay off debt, and when they need more money, they refinance and take on more debt, further increasing their chances of bankruptcy. Eventually they end up in a mountain of debt so massive that it becomes almost impossible to get out of it.

The little-known secret

 Here’s a little secret to say out of the seller’s debt trap: borrow only for inventory, and then pay off that debt as inventory sells. It keeps you out of debt. Seriously. That’s the entire secret.

But don’t take our word for it. Michael and Brett’s stories below perfectly illustrate the power of paying off inventory as it sells.

Rich Seller, Poor Seller

Michael and Brett are very good friends. Brett heard about the Amazon FBA program, and got Michael in on it. They decide to do it together, but separately. They would advise each other, and keep each other motivated. After a lot of searching, sourcing and testing, they each find their perfect product.

Round 1, Month 1: Both need $20K worth of inventory. 

Michael

$20k

Bret

$20k

Michael’s loan requires him to pay starting in month 1, so he must take on additional funds (more than $3K) in order to handle those payments, until his inventory arrives and begins selling. Brett’s loan allows him breathing room until his inventory arrives and begins selling. He doesn’t have to make any payments until 2 months later.

 

Round 1 Score Card Round 1 Score Card
1st round inventory   . . . . . . . . .  $20,000 1st round inventory   . . . . . . . . .  $20,000
Additional funds + Loan Fees . . .  $3,528 Loan Fees   . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . .  $1,000
Round 1 total  . . . . . . . . . . . . .   $23,528 Round 1 total  . . . . . . . . . . . . .   $21,000


Round 2, Month 6. Again, Both need another $20K worth of inventory.

Michael

$20k

Bret

$20k

Michael’s loan term is 12 months, he’s not yet done paying it off. So he refinances, taking on another $21k in loans. At month 5, Brett has already paid off all of his debt, since he was paying them off as he sold inventory. Now he can just pick up another loan for another round of inventory.

 

Round 2 Score Card Round 2 Score Card
1 round debt   . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  $23,528 1 round debt   . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  $0
2nd round inventory   . . . . . . . .   $21,000 2nd round inventory   . . . . . . . .   $21,000
Round 2 total   . . . . . . . . . . . . .   $68,693 Round 2 total   . . . . . . . . . . . . .   $68,693


Round 3, Month 12. Again, Both need another $20K worth of inventory.

Michael

$20K 

Bret

$20K

Michael continues to refinance because he has no other choice. Bret is starting from zero debt again

 

Round 3 Score Card Round 3 Score Card
2nd round debt   . . . . . . . . . . . .  $41,174 2nd round debt   . . . . . . . . . . . .  $0
3rd round inventory   . . . . . . . .   $21,000 3rd round inventory   . . . . . . . .   $21,000
Round 3 total  . . . . . . . . . . . . .   $68,963 Round 3 total  . . . . . . . . . . . . .   $21,000

Extrapolate

Michael and Brett continue this trend for 2 years. Here’s a tally of how much debt each has at 6 month intervals

Micheal (Other Borrower) Brett (UpFund Borrower)
1 month    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    $23,528 1 month    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    $21,000
6 month    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    $41,174 6 month    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    $21,000
12 month    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    $68,623 12 month    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    $21,000
18 month    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    $114,371 18 month    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    $21,000
24 month    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    $190,619 24 month    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    $21,000

Conclusion.

Here’s what made all the difference: Brett used a lending service that enables the neat little trick we described above. He takes only what he needs, and returns the money as soon as inventory is sold, then takes on more money for another round of inventory. In this way he can scale his business infinitely. This system doesn’t work very well for, say, a real estate business, with massive capital outlay at front end and lots of time before that capital bears fruit. But it works great with ecommerce businesses, where you have bursts of inventory purchases followed by sales of said inventory.

There’s only one lending service that allows you to do what Brett did. It’s call Upfund.io.

Michael on the other hand, uses a conventional loan lending service.

What you can do now

Head over to Upfund.io if you need funding for inventory. There’s simply no better way to grow your business with Other People’s Money.