Charlene Anderson

Amazon opened the “doors” to its virtual mall way back in the year 2000. Within a year, Charlene Anderson became one of the first wave of third-party sellers on the platform.

As an avid crafter, her niche was solidified early on. The best writers write what they know; the best entrepreneurs buy or make what they know and sell it for a profit. For Anderson, the opportunity to sell online was a no-brainer. She makes her home in Jackson Hole, Wyoming—a well-to-do area surrounded by national parks, wildlife refuges, protected forests, and some epic skiing. It’s a great place to live if you can make it happen, but the rent and the demographics of the place don’t make it ideal for a brick-and-mortar crafting shop. As an Amazon seller, though, Anderson’s gone the distance: she’s been selling on the site only 6 years less than Amazon itself, long enough to watch friendship bracelets go out of style before Taylor Swift brought them back in again. 

In addition to her Amazon success, Anderson also sells on Etsy and eBay. She’s written a book about wholesale sourcing, and has been mentoring/coaching other online sellers for well over 10 years. 

The Problem

Anderson’s Amazon shop grew at a steady clip, quick enough that she knew she was onto something but not so fast that the demand for products could overwhelm her—until around 2015, that is. By that time, business was so brisk that her store was filling orders every day. There’s a notion that if you’re a merchant using the Fulfilled By Amazon (FBA) service, most everything is a hands-off experience for the seller. Conventional wisdom says that all you have to do is ship your products to Amazon and they take care of the rest. What the conventional wisdom does not tell you is that this is a lot more work than it sounds. As Anderson told us,

I have new items coming in every day, and I don’t want those things lying around my house. So everyday I’m also boxing up and shipping out those things I get as soon as I can. And they’re not all going to one place: Amazon tells you which of their warehouses each one has to go to, and staying on top of it all can be a lot.

With the bulk of her time consumed with ordering, receiving, and shipping, it became harder and harder to keep track of all the merchandise she was shipping out to multiple locations every single day. Plus, even with FBA services, it’s not as if Anderson could let the rest of her business run on autopilot. Tracking the comings and goings of her products all over the country—both before and after they sold—and trying to understand the big picture of her inventory situation finally started to get to her. It was time for some help.

The Solution

Anderson among the mountains of Wyoming.

Anderson got to researching inventory management software, no small task given the sheer amount of choice on the market. While there were plenty to choose from that could help her with a big-picture vision of her inventory, none of them fully dealt with the particulars of being an Amazon seller. When a colleague told her about InventoryLab’s integrations with Amazon, she was quick to check it out. And when she gave it a spin, she liked what she saw. “What I really like about the interface is that the screen looks like I think,” she said. She explained this by way of explaining how she approaches each day she works, which isn’t based on deadlines or hours committed. Instead, 

I try to ship out $1,000 of profit per day, that’s my goal. When I enter something into InventoryLab, it gives me the profit of each item … that takes into account all of Amazon’s fees, my costs, everything, and so I know what the profit is going to be when it’s sold. Once I hit the thousand-dollar mark, I’m done.

When she submits the batch of shipments through InventoryLab, labels are printed and her Amazon store is updated with pending inventory. She then gets to the busywork of organizing everything by location, boxing them up, and then shipping them out. This is the part that comes easy to her: she told us about her parents’ wholesale business, where she helped out as a young girl with packing and shipping. “It’s in my blood,” she joked. 

For her, the most tedious part has always been the screen time associated with the creating, managing, and tracking of shipments: the process of data entry—part numbers, box numbers, delivery locations—improved dramatically with InventoryLab’s workflow. Presets to populate repetitive fields and the direct integration with her Amazon store make her shipments hassle free. When we asked her roughly how much time she’s saved, Anderson told us that she’s shaved an hour off her six-hour day, adding “and I’ve been doing this a long time. I already had my systems down, so that’s pretty big. I could see how somebody just starting out could get much more than that.”

You can learn directly from Charlene by joining her coaching group, Wholesale Sourcing Experts.

Ready to see if you can get even better results than Charlene? Start your free trial of InventoryLab here!