April COVID19 update at $598K
Here’s the current Gorilla ROI Amazon sales progress. To see the interactive version, go to our income reports page.
Note: These monthly updates are for educational purposes.
If March was crazy, April was just insane. We hit record highs.
Many times we were definitely overwhelmed. Even had a week where everyone had to work in the warehouse to fulfill orders and ship inventory.
All hands on deck.
But we got through it.
Some points I’ll be talking about.
- Inventory issues… in a different form
- FBM processes
- Basic shipping supplies
- Finding help
- Ended the month with $598k in sales
- 221% growth from the same month last year
- 84% growth from last month
- Conversion rate across the account jumped to 29.9%. Normally between 20-21% before COVID.
- Bestseller took off and got the best seller badge in the category for a 4 days
- FBM sales continued to increase (which is also bad because products are switching to FBA)
- ACoS dropped to 12.4%. Normally 25-30% before COVID.
Lowlights for April
- One of our main suppliers refusing to give us enough product
- Majority of products still showing delayed FBA delivery dates
- Dealing with FBM refunds and customer service issues
- 7 out of our top 10 best sellers still classified as non-essential
- Increase in expenses to keep up and trying to stay ahead of the sales
- Not enough manpower
- Had to turn off PPC for best seller to reduce velocity
Inventory/supply chain capacity
A couple of months back, I mentioned that we purchased a year’s worth of inventory in order to get ahead of the virus and to make sure we didn’t go out of stock while the country was in lock down mode.
The thinking behind this was believing the global supply chain would be broken. It didn’t break as much as I thought, but boy, am I glad we ordered a year’s worth of product – because we are nearly out after only 3 months. Another order is on the way.
However, one supplier we rely heavily on in the US, is operating at max capacity and cannot meet customer orders.
This has resulted in the manufacturer allocating inventory to their biggest accounts, leaving smaller accounts (us included) fighting for rations.
We are now at the mercy of our supplier who is reducing our quantities, delaying shipments and limiting how many pallets they will ship us per order.
If there’s ever a way to p*ss off customers, this is at the top. We are moving forward with replacing them.
We could easily be doing 40-60% higher sales. But we are forced to shut down all PPC related to this product line and let SKUs “glide” out of stock. Better to slow it down and try to keep things steady as opposed to going out of stock quickly and giving up a high ranking spot to a competitor.
For the first time, this isn’t the typical out of stock inventory issue or inventory projections that we could blame ourselves. Our numbers and projection models have been working brilliantly the past couple of months.
We know what to order, when to order, how much to order, even with the days where products are spiking. All thanks to the flexibility of our custom spreadsheets and calculations. Being able to update numbers on the fly and calculate new scenarios is keeping our operations ahead.
Now that we’ve had a taste of the velocity needed to run at $600k/mo ($7.2M annual run rate), I’m confident our current operations can keep up if sales continue at this rate.
Sales will slow down for sure. May looks to be slowing down as summer rolls in and people get out more.
FBM is a pain in the ***
FBA has problems for sure. But dealing with FBM is a massive pain in the butt.
We’ve got our FBM to where we can support 200 orders per day, but I’d be more than happy to offload it back to Amazon.
- Picking and packing orders
- higher shipping costs
- more supplies
- extra tables
- extra space needed
- more shelves
- and pretty much double all the basic stuff
Trying to be quick and accurate is not easy. Goes to show how easy FBA makes life on sellers even with all the mistakes they make.
The increase in customer service and extended return period is piling up. We have a new shelf to hold all the returned items we need to check and request reimbursement for and the mountain keeps growing.
I’ve seen some companies take down their phone numbers from their website citing “high demand”. It’s tempting to do the same and make support only available via email.
Basic shipping supplies
A heads up.
Basic shipping supplies are going out fast. Everyone is shipping online and this is causing a shortage of affordable poly mailers, barcode labels and other basic shipping supplies.
Took about 10-14 days to get USPS flat rate padded envelopes. Every USPS we visited didn’t have them or wouldn’t give us any.
The most popular poly mailer sizes continue to go out of stock and barcode labels for the size we need jumped in price by 30-50%.
Like everything else this year, I highly recommend to stock up on the basic essentials. No point in having product if you are blocked because of something as basic as not having the proper size bag.
Back to basics during these times.
Getting help off Craigslist
I’ve had some extreme good fortune hiring off Craigslist. A key employee came in through Craigslist and worked his way up from the warehouse to being my right hand in operations.
But lately, (in the US) specifically, it’s been a train wreck. For all the news you hear about people wanting to work and looking for jobs, 8 out of 10 people end up no showing.
Looks like my main competitor, is not other businesses, but the unemployment office giving people an extra $600 per week.
Here’s a system that’s working though.
I’ve turned the job post into a “schedule your own working day” type appointment booking. People see the ad, if they want to work, they use the calendar link and schedule themselves.
If you find yourself in a similar positions, here’s how I did it.
- Using a free account on calendly.com, I’ve hooked it up to a shared company Google calendar and created an event.
- I first set the limit of people per day to 5, but raised it to 10 when no one showed up after all slots were full. (Depending on your area, you could have 20 people book themselves and have nobody show up.)
- Put up the ad on Craigslist with the link to the calendar included in the ad.
- Tell them to schedule themselves and not to contact or reply to the ad.
- Automatically gets added to the calendar with text and email reminders.
Using this shotgun method, went from 2 people showing up in the week, to 9 people and managed to ship out a boat load of product.
Wholesale and our online store
No wholesale orders.
Online store sales is immaterial compared to Amazon, but traffic is up, SEO is improving and sales are coming in consistently.
Hard to tell whether it’s due to our content marketing finally getting recognized by Google after the major updates, or whether it’s because the retailers that sell our products are all closed.
Walmart is also another surprise. Sales have increased 2-3x what it used to do. I think it also has to do with extra products we’ve added to the catalog. Looks like there is more potential on Walmart for one of our product lines.
New updates and tutorials
We’ve published some awesome tutorials and guides for Amazon sellers.
- Updated the income reports page
- NEW: How to track whether you are winning or losing the buy box
- NEW: ASINSTATUS shows if your ASIN is active or inactive
- UPDATED: GORILLA_FEESESTIMATE() – Get estimated fees for product – added new ways to get the FBA fees as a single value
Free Amazon FBA spreadsheets for all
If you have messy sheets and need something refined to help run your numbers, get the free Amazon spreadsheets.
You can download it immediately without having to sign up for anything.
Just copy straight to your account.
If you want to get updated data straight into your own Google sheets, you can use Gorilla ROI. It makes work so easy when you don’t have to manually update data or log into accounts constantly and wasting time.
What is Gorilla ROI?
Gorilla ROI automatically pulls Amazon data into Google sheets for you to make sense of the data without the inconvenience of manually downloading, sorting and updating spreadsheets.
Learn how you can centralize your data and use it to increase your ROI.