This message is particularly relevant this week as a couple of events have come together at once. First, a well-respected member in the Amazon community claimed that starting as early as October that Amazon would no longer accept receipts as proof of purchases when dealing with things like authenticity claims. This led to questions of whether Retail and Online Arbitrage were dead. The post advised to sell all OA/RA products ASAP and not to buy more. That’s about as dead as dead can be.
Just a couple days later, Amazon released a new feature that is wonderful for private label sellers where if they are brand registered, they can get that brand restricted for other sellers. This keeps hijackers off of their listings and will greatly extend the lifecycle and profitability of the items. However, for many in the arbitrage world, panic has spread. A slew of brands including Nike and Legos appear to be closed, at least for some sellers.
In mere days, I’ve seen people quit Amazon, other people close sourcing groups, and dozens of questions about the future of the business. So, my advice remains the same: You should quit selling on Amazon.
Listen, Amazon is not the end-all-be-all. There are other things out there. Things you might enjoy more or make more. Amazon has been wonderful to a lot of people, but it is savior to none. In a lot of ways the platform is great (and in some ways it is maddening), but the success of any business hinges on the business owner, not the tools or platform he or she chooses to operate on.
And that is the key. If you can be talked into quitting, you should definitely quit. There will be tougher business hurdles than a blog post or a few brands being restricted, I can just about promise you. If this can make you quit, something else down the road will surely be able to and you might as well save the time and energy and find something else. This advice can come off as condescending (“If you can’t handle it like I can, then you should probably quit”), but it isn’t meant like that. Different people have different strengths, different priorities, different interests, etc. In my original Quit Amazon post I told the story of Bill Gates and Traf-o-Data, a company that preceded Microsoft. If Gates and Allen hadn’t quit Traf-o-Data, they probably wouldn’t have ever created Microsoft and we probably wouldn’t know their names. For some of you, Amazon might be your Microsoft. But, for others, Amazon is surely your Traf-o-Data. If Amazon isn’t right for you, do something better for you. It’s your life!
But if you really think that Amazon is the right fit for you, then we need to place this last week in context. Let me first say, I have no crystal ball, no inside sources, or anything else that is going to allow me to predict the future. All I have is history in this business and in business in general. There is always something — usually a couple somethings per year — that make people think the end is nigh. DVDs being restricted, Health/Beauty/Grocery gatings, semi-long term storage fees, ASIN quantity limits, fees going up, fees going up again, etc. etc. In every case, Amazon surely lost some sellers, but for the most part, life went on. Maybe some extra work was required, but people did it. Maybe some extra money was charged, people found ways to absorb it. Sometimes the restriction (like ASIN quantity restrictions) faded away within a few days.
As a rule, successful business owners tend to be able to process changes and challenges as obstacles and not roadblocks. I don’t know what will happen. My plan, for now, is to take a few days and let the dust settle and really figure out what is going on. Then, formulate a plan for success. If I need to alter my business model, then I’m going to do that. For now, there are still many thousand of profitable brands for me and I’m going to continue selling those. In the past couple days, we’ve partnered with Chris Anderson who opened up a brand new Amazon-to-Amazon shoe flipping group with literally thousands of dollars of profit available each day. I see more and more people doing merch. I see people taking Chris Wilkey’s Textbook Arbitrage extension to find books on Amazon that can be converted to more money (Sneak Preview: he has another extension on the horizon that will probably be just as popular). There are so many ways to continue to make money in this business that I’m not grabbing my parachute and getting ready to jump. If, down the road, things change again, then I’ll repeat these steps
As Always, Best Wishes