06 May Is Amazon Ruining the Economy?
They took our jobs!
I work part time at a small health food store in my hometown. There’s a Whole Foods going in about 2 miles away from our store in the next year.
The store’s lease for the building is up at the end of this year. The owner of the health food store wasn’t sure if he wanted to renew our 5 year lease, so the Whole Foods was just the final nail in the coffin.
It’s hard to argue that small mom and pop shops can keep up with the lower prices, more selection and better supply lines of corporations like Walmart and Amazon. And there are tens of thousands of people who’ve already lost their jobs to places going out of business, automation, and outsourcing.
The market may be at an all time high, and politicians love to tout the low unemployment rate, and high job growth.
But 3/4 of jobs created in America since 2009 pay less than $50,000 a year.
Thankfully, I have the luxury of living at my parent’s house, rent free, for the next 18 months while I finish my engineering degree.
But a lot of people being affected by Amazon and other huge corporations taking over are low income workers, and don’t have the luxury of living rent free, and going back to school.
But, the other side of the coin rarely gets discussed. That with this shift to online shopping, automation, and massive corporations, these trends also also create opportunity.
Job Destroyer, or Creator?
Call it a conflict of interest, but Amazon pays me more money than 13 hour a week minimum wage job. And unlike my job, Amazon even pays me on days I don’t work!
In the past 2 months I’ve only sent out two book shipments. To be conservative, let’s say $500 out of this $835.50 is profit.
My part time job pays me $10.50 an hour. This month I worked 52 hours at the health food store. That means I’ve grossed ~$550 for these 52 hours.
Because I haven’t sent out any Amazon shipments this month, I’ve spent almost no time on this business. And it’s still making me money!
I use Amazon’s FBA (Fulfilled By Amazon) service to sell on their platform. This means I find the things to sell, scan them into the software I use, and then ship the inventory to one of their warehouses.
It’s true that to sell successfully on Amazon you almost need to invest a couple hundred dollars on software and tools.
But, wholesale and private label require a huge upfront investment in inventory and a ton of market research to make sure people want the 1000 generic bottle openers you just ordered from China.
I’d rather find insanely cheap things around my town to sell for huge mark ups. Namely, books, toys and video games.
What to Sell?
eBay is like a giant flea market: you can sell things as strange as this stuffed animal I found at a yard sale this weekend. I got it for $5, and am going to sell it on eBay for $50, for a profit of about $30.
Amazon is more like a corporate job. There are strict standards you have to follow, the payout happens every two weeks, and it’s easier to get kicked off the platform.
But, selling on Amazon means you’re dealing with a distant, hands-off boss that you’ll rarely see or interact with. I’ve sold over 1500 things on the platform without any problems (besides a couple negative feedback that I got removed).
So, like I mentioned above, toys, video-games and toys are the best things to start selling on Amazon.
Unlike eBay, the vast majority of toys and games have to be new, and sealed to be eligible to sell on Amazon. But, books and video games can be sold new or used.
I think nonfiction books are the best thing to resell on Amazon (most fiction is worthless). But, I can’t speak for every reseller’s experience. I live in a relatively affluent town, so there are an overabundance of nice quality, profitable, used books in thrift stores, and Goodwills.
The best way to get started on Amazon selling is to download their free Seller App (it’s only available for iOS).
You’ll have to make a seller account to download it (it’s free to make a seller account). This free app is a great way to get started.
But if you’re serious about making a lot of money by reselling things on Amazon, I recommend you take This Course (affiliate).
The course is called BookSelling 101, but the process is the same for selling anything on Amazon.
The upfront cost of selling effectively on Amazon is a couple hundred dollars, but by following this course you’ll make that money back in a month.
Where to Find Things to Sell?
Unless you live in Wyoming, which is an awesome state but almost empty, there are likely tons of places around you to find things to resell.
I go to big chains like Goodwills, and Savers, and other smaller thrift stores to find books to sell on Amazon, and used clothing to sell on eBay.
Another good thing about reselling used books is that there are even more places to find them- most libraries have a small section of books for sale, and there are book sales all year round ( Booksale Finder is the easiest place to find them).
I’s finally getting warm in New England, so there are yard sales every weekend. I’m planning on going to yard sales every weekend because they’re so profitable. People are trying to get rid of stuff so they’ll sell you as much stuff as possible for a very low price.
Here are other perks and disadvantages I’ve found after a couple years of selling on Amazon.
- With their FBA program, Amazon takes care of storage, shipping orders, payments, and refunds.
- Because Amazon does most of the work, you can focus on building your inventory. It’s completely doable to work part time, and have a few hundred things in your inventory after a month or two.
- Amazon partnered with Fedex and UPS, so it’s really cheap to send things to an Amazon warehouse. A 100 pound shipment usually costs me less than $20 to ship.
- No need to hold bulky storage.
- Very cheap to find things to sell. Most thrift stores and Goodwills around me ask a dollar or two for a book. These books than can be flipped for serious money:
- If you want to be successful, there’s an upfront cost of a couple hundred dollars for the different softwares and tools. For example, the Amazon Proseller Account (which you want if you sell more than a dozen things a month) is $35 a month.
- It’s hard to scale your business without a car. Unless you live in a city, where there’s public transportation.
- Amazon is a confusing platform to get started on. But once you get a hang of it, it’s very hands off.
- Most books you scan will be worthless.
- The payout for Amazon is every two weeks. I’ve heard that you can change the payout time, but mine is still set for every two weeks. And then it takes a couple days for the payout to hit your account.
Amazon Kindle is easier to get started with, than selling physical things on Amazon.
On Kindle, if you do a little bit of market niche research, you can be making hundreds of dollars in a couple of months with no start up costs besides time spent writing (though Photoshop to design your covers is a good investment).
Over the last 3 months, I’ve published 13 erotica stories, all ridiculous, and have made almost $450:
Some other perks of Kindle are:
- You get to keep 70% of the profits when you price your story over $2.99 (which you should always do).
- It gives you a taste of the crown jewel of online business- passive income.
- Writing makes you more creative.
- You can make money with Kindle anywhere that has internet connection.
- It’s all digital, so you don’t need to deal with physical inventory.
- No returns, or customer questions.
Kindle is an great way to make money online. But if you have a vehicle, some disposable income, and a desire to make more money on the Internet, I highly recommend selling on Amazon using their FBA program (Google Amazon FBA if you want a better overview of it).
The rise of automation and the current rapid evolution of technology is scary and exciting. Who knows what the next 10, 20, or 30 years will bring with the expanses in knowledge and innovation.
It sounds corny, but by selling online you’re taking part in this new economy. Even if you just sell a few things from around your house, it’s exciting to make money from the Internet.