First off, if you’re not in the FBA Sourcing Simplifiers group on Facebook, you’re really missing out. So, stop reading, click this link: FBA Sourcing Simplifiers and let me know when you’ve joined. Done? Good. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get to it.
So You Think You Can Wholesale: Part II
First off, I apologize for the delay in Part II. I had a wholesale shipment come in from Europe and the manufacturer or their shipping company put the wrong address on two of the boxes. Instead of being proactive about it and calling me, customs sent the boxes to the Fedex lost and found warehouse. When lost and found receives the boxes they categorize them by keyword in their system. So, if they receive something like a cricket bat but the person does not know it’s a cricket bat, then they may put the category as “wooden paddle” or “wooden cutting board.” That’s just an example, not my actual product. So, after spending an hour on the phone I just asked if I could come up there since it was a few hours away. Well, I decided to take the next day off work and drove a few hours to the warehouse. Even though it was a complete mess, it only took us twenty minutes to find the boxes. Oh the joys of wholesale.
As frustrating as that experience was, it pales in comparison to the frustration I had after my embarrassing phone calls with Lego and the other companies. I was definitely frustrated by the conversations but the companies provided me with invaluable information. Now, I knew after the first two conversations that I was not setup to be successful in wholesale at that point and that I needed to talk to a couple of more companies so that I could figure out what exactly I needed.
The last company I called I talked with a very nice lady. I told her that I was not experienced in wholesale and asked her if she could help to advise me on what I needed to have in place so that I could set up a wholesale account. She gave me a list of three basic things you absolutely need before you’ll be able to land any wholesale account, a website, a reseller certificate from your state, and a business phone number. All of these things can be done in one day and for much less than $100(depending on how much your reseller certificate is).
Step One: The Website
This step is the more intensive of the three, although it’s really easy. The website is really important in that it establishes you as a legit business in the manufacturer’s eyes. You do not want your website to look like an old thrown together website from a local mechanic. There are two ways you can do this. First, you can just have a regular website with your company name and some information about what you do. I do not recommend this approach. I did this for a few months and while I did land a lot of accounts, I was also turned down by a lot of accounts. Why? Amazon sellers get a bad rap from manufacturers. They believe that you are just some person working out of his or her basement in their gym clothes after they get off work at night (whoops that’s me). While this may be true, it does not mean that you are incapable of being successful in this business. I’m proof of that. However, in the corporate mindset there needs to be systems in place with warehouses and Oracle databases to track inventory, etc. in order for a business to be legitimate. In order to give off this persona you need an ecommerce store.
I know this sounds daunting and dang near impossible. Let me assure you, if I can get an ecommerce store up and going so can you! The absolute easiest way to setup an account that I have found is by using Wix. With Wix there are tons of ecommerce templates for you to use and it’s only $16.58/month for the ecommerce package which is a steal for how easy it is to use. I suggest listing products you currently have in your FBA store on your Wix website to populate it. This does a couple of things. It shows the company that you have a lot of products already and also if you do start to get traffic and sales you can just use Amazon’s Multi-Channel Fulfillment in order to send the items to the customers. It’s stupid easy and maybe you can actually build the next Amazon!
Step Two: Reseller/Retail Certificate
I’m hoping you did your homework since the last blog post and if you did then you already know this one is really easy to do. I would say 95% of all companies require you to have a Reseller/Retail Certificate for your state. Why would they require it if it’s so easy for anyone to obtain one? Taxes! Guess what you don’t have to pay when you purchase wholesale inventory. Sales tax! This is the reason for the certificate. Just like you may have done at Walmart when you set up the sales tax exemption, you can do the same thing with the companies you purchase inventory from. It’s awesome. So, do a Google search for “Reseller Certificate for *your state*” and it should be simple to track it down where to apply for one.
Step Three: Business Phone Number
When I was in college I had this really stupid voicemail. It would come on and say “Hey, how’s it going..(3 second pause)…Oh really, that’s cool…(3 second pause)…I’m just kidding leave a message!” Yeah, I was that guy. Don’t be that guy. You will get a lot of pissed and confused off voicemails. I forgot I even had it when I started applying for jobs my senior year, and needless to say I did not get many offers until I changed it. It’s the same thing with your business. You need a business line. Sounds expensive right? It’s not. Once again, Google is your go-to here. Google Voice is great. You can setup a number and have that number forward to your cell phone and you can also setup a voicemail for it! Too easy. It’s also free…that’s right free. Another step you can take is to get a VOIP. It’s a phone that plugs into your internet and that can be had for really cheap too. For now, I would just use the Google Voice route. You won’t get that many phone calls when applying because most of it is done through email (more on that in the next post) but when you do you want to make sure you look professional.
So, your homework for this week is to 1) Go to [Wix](http://goo.gl/TX4Zok) and get your website up. It doesn’t have to be fully populate but at least most of the way done, 2) Obtain your Reseller/Retail certificate, and 3) Setup your business phone number. Like I said they are super simple to complete. However, if you run into any roadblocks please let me know so that I can help you out. I’ll be more than happy to get you going. You will want to get all of these done because in Part III we are going to discuss how to find manufacturers and get you setup to apply for your first wholesale account! Stay tuned to part III which will be coming soon.