Throwback RWM blog image

 

Our ‘Fulfilled by Amazon’ adventure

Many know ‘Fulfilled by Amazon’ by its acronym, ‘FBA’. Most know it as ‘Amazon Prime’. Granted, a seller doesn’t have to be ‘FBA’ to be ‘Prime’ on Amazon, however, it definitely helps to keep shipping costs down. People shopping on Amazon will look for sellers that offer Prime shipping, which makes sense. Hey, I get my stuff in two days, awesome!

RWM on the Hill

We may have outgrown the garage.

Needless to say, we were thrilled to have Amazon reach out to us earlier this year about going FBA. Here at Ravenwolf Marine, we thought, wow that can really help sales! Wow! That’ll drive sales off the scale – so said our rep with Amazon. Terrific! We were already looking at farming out photography because I had neither the time nor all of the right equipment to do a bang-up job. We even got ourselves a little baby forklift. To top it all off, we finally pulled the trigger on trademarking Den-Dry!

Stoodis! (That’s Indigenous for Let’s do this)

 

 

 

 

Into the belly of the beast

RWM Culpeper Warehouse early 2021

So much space! So we thought. Not too long after moving into the warehouse space in Culpeper, Va.

We busted our humps and scared our bank account prepping for this. Turntable for pallet wrapping, heat tunnel for the stretch wrap since our homemade heater couldn’t handle the volume of rolls we would be processing through it. Better shrink wrap bags for the rolls of Den-Dry. Bulk order of paper goods so I wasn’t printing everything on-site with our two Ecotank printers. Seriously, in 2019 and 2020, I was printing everything myself – quick start cards, thank you cards, FAQ, envelopes.

Having an iPad with an Apple Pencil and the appropriate graphics apps made the thank you cards way easier to mass produce with my handwriting. So y’all are still getting handwritten thank you cards, just digitized. Otherwise, can you imagine the writer’s cramp I’d be dealing with since then? Yeah, I love y’all but not that much.

I had already given up making each card by hand due to volume before this adventure into FBA. You should see how many die-cuts I have for my Sizzix! Not to mention the washi tape, stampers, ink pads, and embossing powders. I love glitter. It’s a good thing I can’t emboss printed paper so easily otherwise y’all would be glitter-fied to a fare thee well. After much thought, that’s probably a good thing considering not everyone appreciates the shiny little flakes. Especially in their bedding.

Feeding the beast

Before FBA, sales were terrific. So feeding the beast pallets of Den-Dry seemed logical. Boy, that beast is a hungry one! We ramped up our production and fed that beast like you would not believe. If Amazon’s beast were a dragon, it would be one hoarding mother and us, their little yellow minions. Well, I’d be the purple one. Because, you know, mayhem.

Andyhoos, I digress. Did you know that pallets are in short supply and are expensive? Who’dve thunk it. We sure didn’t.

Not only did feeding the beast mean production off the rails crazy, but it also meant various freight shipping pick-ups. Then our waiting and constantly checking to see if something was fully received and fully checked in started. Late pick-ups leaving us going ‘where are these people?!’.

Tribble-ations abound and more

What did we get into? One issue after another. Our Amazon listings reverted to previous text that originally got flagged for using pesticides whilst setting up branding. Because bots are stupid like that – and that’s another tale for a different blog post. The twin Den-Dry listing had its own issues all together when Amazon pulled three listings into one with variations. Prime Day turned our Amazon ads off, and we didn’t know it for like, a month. Even our Amazon rep couldn’t get decent support when it came to these issues, running into the same canned BS replies we typically receive.

Wolfie circa 1990
Hair pulling scream moment dealing with FBA

Was it worth it?

Yes, and no. Sure, we have a production line in place that works fantabulously. We also have an abundance of inserts, along with enough envelopes, so I don’t have to order stuff as frequently. Envelope Gallery, thank you! I love you!

In the nope category resides a critical reason to think twice about FBA as a seller. We. Lost. Sales. Granted, we have not been able to put our finger on the exact reasons. However, three months of continually decreasing sales gave us pause. The issues we incurred during our FBA adventure, mixed with our typical seasonal downturn in the summer months, most likely all of the above contributed to the decline. The Pacific Northwest saw an overly warm season, and many of our customers are from that area.

Now we have an abundance of pallets, most of which we don’t necessarily need.

We decided to ditch the beast of FBA and feed the shipping beast ourselves. After much chatting, hubby and I agreed that the boutique experience carries so much more weight with customers than the coldness of Amazon FBA. In October 2021, we switched back to our tried and true method of shipping everything ourselves. Granted, we are human, and our shipping software is designed by humans, so there are hiccups from time to time.

Now, we include stickers, and more recently, Skittles! In the meantime, we’ll continue to figure out what other products to sell. Whether under the Brand Den-Dry, or fun items such as t-shirts and other silly things that I can create. However, the best outcome from ending FBA? Our sales have rebounded hugely, and we have more personal contact with our customers once again.

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