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From “Just In Time” to “Just In Case”: The State of the Supply Chain in 2023

From protecting the customer experience to maintaining healthy inventory levels, the state of the supply chain affects your entire retail business. That’s why it’s vital to embrace strategies that can help you navigate changes, no matter what comes next.

So what do e-commerce entrepreneurs need to know in order to stay ahead of the supply chain this year?

Today we’re sharing the latest data, expert predictions, and potential pitfalls for a glimpse into preparedness.

Supply Chain in 2023: What We Know So Far

  • First, a Look Back at the Supply Chain in 2022
  • The Current State of the Supply Chain — What Every Seller Should Know
  • What Steps Can E-commerce Business Owners Take to Stay Ahead?

First, a Look Back at the Supply Chain in 2022

Supply chains have been vulnerable to disruption since the dawn of commerce.

The McKinsey Global Institute found that companies experienced a one-to-two-month disruption (on average) every 3.7 years — and that’s pre-pandemic.

But for many retailers, the supply chain pain of the early 2020s stung worse than usual. 

Despite the major tech advancements and specialized supply chain tools, many global manufacturers were held back by manual processes and chaotic systems last year. 

“In the 1995 Kobe earthquake, we put people on motorcycles to weave their way along the damaged roads and investigate the status of factories. That was pre-Internet, and well before the kind of AI-enabled supply chain mapping and monitoring that’s available today. Yet, many supply chain organizations still aren’t using these advanced tools,” said Tom Linton, Supply Chain Veteran and Senior McKinsey Advisor, in a 2022 interview with Resilinc.

This lack of efficiency created a domino effect for e-commerce entrepreneurs, with many sellers over- or under-inventoried for at least the third year in a row.

To add insult to injury, many sellers were still dealing with pandemic-related disruptions, negative reviews, lost rankings, and in some cases, a lack of consistency in product quality due to issues on the supplier’s side.

Of course, that’s just scratching the surface.

Add to that the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, port and labor disruptions, and US tariffs on Chinese imports. We can see why supply chain risks in 2022 led to increased costs and fulfillment bottlenecks for sellers.

But how has this changed risk for e-commerce sellers?

Let’s look into the current state of the supply chain and how it may be affecting your business.

The Current State of the Supply Chain — What Every Seller Should Know

While the picture may be looking somewhat rosier compared to last year, the latest research from SAP suggests our supply chain headaches aren’t over just yet. 

After surveying 400 senior business leaders, the report identified global political unrest, inflation, a lack of raw materials, and rising fuel and energy costs among the current supply chain challenges that lie ahead.

With this in mind, the push for sellers to seek alternative solutions has become more urgent than ever. Whether it’s buying your own warehouse, diversifying your supplier base, or transforming your fulfillment strategy, now is the time to explore a new way forward.

According to SAP’s findings, 64% of sellers are moving from a “just in time” to a “just in case” approach, choosing to increase the amount of inventory they store. Of course, striking the right balance can be tricky. With increased storage fees, excess inventory can wreak havoc on your cash flow and profitability. 

“The move to ‘just in case’ means organizations will be storing more inventory to help meet customer demand, but doing so also means increased cost,” said Scott Russell, Member of the Executive Board of SAP and SE of Customer Success.

Whether it’s a “better safe thank sorry” approach or a more calculated method for striking the right balance between sales and inventory, the modern supply chain is pushing sellers to think creatively in order to grow their businesses amidst another year of uncertainty.

What Steps Can E-commerce Business Owners Take to Stay Ahead?

While supply chain problems are far from a thing of the past, they don’t have to be damaging to your bottom line.

Here are some actionable tips to help you safeguard your profits and cash flow.

Take the “Just In Case” Approach

Consider increasing the amount of inventory you store with a focus on stocking up on best-sellers and keeping lower quantities of your less-popular SKUs.

Keep in mind that getting inventory levels right can be quite a balancing act even for the most established brands.

For a “just in case” approach that doesn’t leave your cash flow locked up in excess inventory or your margins vulnerable to death by storage fee, use inventory forecasting tools that can help give you an accurate reading in real time.

Upgrade Your Inventory Systems

Perfect the inventory forecasting process, streamline your operations, and collaborate with key stakeholders and suppliers by adopting the latest supply chain tools and technology.

Here are just some processes you can automate and improve with the right supply chain tech stack:

  • Demand forecasting
  • Inventory management
  • Fulfillment trigger emails
  • Shipping updates
  • Supplier communication
  • Customer journey mapping
  • Restock reminders

Develop Up-to-Date Contingency Measures

Create backup plans that can help support your store in case of any supply chain issues. Document your current processes and tools and brainstorm worst-case-scenario contingency plans for keeping your operations flowing smoothly, even if these systems were suddenly damaged or made unavailable.

Be sure to create a backup plan for:

  • Shipping and fulfillment processes
  • Returns and other customer service operations
  • Inventory management
  • Order tracking

Source and Re-Source In-House When Possible and Practical

If you have the staff, resources, and space to do so, consider consolidating some of your operations by bringing them in-house

To discover which processes you can take on yourself, start by outlining all of your business operations.

Then ask yourself the following questions:

  • Which supply chain management processes have the biggest impact on our sales and revenue?
  • How much time per day or week would be needed to take these workflows in-house?
  • Which processes can we realistically move in-house without burdening our current operations?
  • What materials, people, and technology will we need to create in-house supply chain solutions?

With a clearer idea of your needs and capacity, you’ll be better prepared to take on the right processes vs. all the processes.

Consider Local and Alternative Supplier Networks

While e-commerce brands have relied on China for decades, prioritizing localized supplier networks is a must in 2023.

From avoiding the tech war between China and the US, to saving precious time and money, building closer-to-home supply chain solutions may be the answer to protecting and growing your business.

Consider diversifying your supplier network to include other sourcing options beyond China and the US.

Depending on your business model and product category, consider diversifying suppliers across one or more of the following sourcing countries:

  • Mexico
  • Colombia
  • India
  • Malaysia
  • Indonesia 
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam

For questions to ask potential global suppliers and insights on moving to a China +1 strategy, read The 7 Best China Sourcing Alternatives to Consider for 2023.

Go Green

Eliminate the need for costly shipping and route management processes, reduce your brand’s carbon footprint, and attract Gen Z shoppers by adopting environmentally-friendly supply chain solutions.

Here are some of the ways you can improve your business’s environmental performance while building a stronger supply chain:

  • Use load-planning software to streamline transportation logistics
  • Consider using recycled materials during the manufacturing process
  • Cut back on packaging by using an eco-friendly design
  • Reuse waste and salvage excess materials – get creative about making these materials into new goods and revenue streams

Moving Forward No Matter What the State of the Supply Chain

While things appear to be moving in the right direction, the supply chain still isn’t as reliable as we hoped. That’s why it’s essential to do your part to improve your own supply chain network. 

Whether it’s establishing healthy relationships with new suppliers, purchasing your own warehouse, or transforming your supply chain management tech stack, the right e-commerce funding can help.

With the SellersFunding Working Capital solution, you get near-instant access to flexible funding to help manage your inventory levels, contract new suppliers, and revitalize your supply chain strategy.

We can approve credit limits of up to $5 million in 48 hours or less. Plus, you’ll only pay interest on the amount you use.

But don’t take our word for it. Learn how other e-commerce business owners have taken advantage of flexible funding solutions to fuel their growth. When you’re ready to make the next move, the right funding options are available and we’re here to help.

Register for a no-commitment account and proposal today and find out just how easy it can be.

Amazon Seller Payment Schedule — The Complete Guide to How Payouts Works

Selling on Amazon can be a fairytale or a nightmare depending on your cash flow. That’s why keeping up with the latest Amazon seller payment schedule guidelines is critical.

Because a lengthy seller payout process may be part of Amazon, you may need funding more frequently so you don’t put your inventory, advertising, and other investments at risk while you wait for your disbursement from Amazon.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how Amazon’s seller payment schedule works so you always know when to expect your next Amazon seller payout. We’ll also walk through proven ways to strengthen your cash flow, so you can keep the sales coming while you wait.

Understanding the Amazon Seller Payment Schedule

  • How Does Amazon Pay Sellers? Your Top FAQs Answered
  • Know the Lingo: Amazon Seller Payment Schedule Terminology
  • Why Haven’t I Been Paid Yet?
  • How to Stay a Step Ahead of Amazon’s Payment Schedule

How Does Amazon Pay Sellers? Your Top FAQs Answered

Congratulations, you’ve just made a heap of sales. Excited to check out your increased account balance, you head over to your business bank account, log in, and…nothing.

One of the first (and possibly hardest) lessons every Amazon seller must learn is that there are a series of steps your money will go through before Amazon pays you. 

While this can be a tough pill to swallow, the truth is that the Amazon payout process is there to help ensure all chargebacks, refunds, disputes, and guarantee claims are handled correctly before your sales are paid out.

In other words, the payout process is there to protect you, Amazon, and the customer.

By holding your marketplace payments for a set time, Amazon can help make sure your customers are satisfied with their products before releasing funds. This takes a big element of customer service off your plate.

Now that you know why Amazon keeps your cash for as long as they do, let’s answer some of the most frequently asked questions about Amazon’s seller payment schedule.

How Long Does It Take to Get Paid as an Amazon Seller?

If everything is up-to-date and you don’t have an unavailable balance, Amazon will remit payment every 14 days.

Are Amazon Seller Payments Paid Weekly?

Typically, Amazon sellers do not get paid weekly. Bi-weekly payments are more common.

Do Amazon Sellers Get Paid Right Away?

Amazon doesn’t pay sellers right away. However, if you’ve been selling on Amazon for 10 years or more, you may qualify for next-day payouts. (More on this below!)

How Long Does It Take for Amazon to Pay Its Sellers?

While payments are typically released bi-weekly, it can take up to five business days to receive the payment in your bank account after Amazon remits it.

How Do I Check My Payment Schedule on Amazon?

Check your Payments Dashboard to see when Amazon will pay you and how much. This information updates automatically in the Payment report.

You can also visit the Account Health page in Seller Central to learn about your account performance, Amazon’s payment policy, and if you have an account level reserve that may be delaying payment.

How the Amazon Seller Payment Schedule Works

Here’s a recap of how the Amazon seller payment schedule works:

  1. You receive funds in your Amazon seller account after a customer makes a purchase.
  1. Amazon tracks the customer payment. To account for potential refund requests or chargebacks, Amazon reserves your funds for about seven days after the product delivery date.
  1. Once your seller account is settled and has a positive balance, Amazon will send your money to your bank account via ACH or electronic funds transfer every 14 days.
  1. After Amazon initiates the payment, it can take up to five business days for your money to reach your bank account.

Net Result: Getting your Amazon payouts can take closer to three weeks than two. Hence the big question . . .

How Can I Get Amazon Seller Payouts Faster and on My Schedule?

Designed specifically for cash flow issues that arise from slower marketplace payouts, the SellersFunding Daily Advance cuts your wait time from two weeks to 24 hours. 

With the Daily Advance, you can receive up to 90% of your previous day’s sales with rates as low as 0.5% of the advanced amount. There is zero prepayment penalty and no impact on your personal credit score.

Let’s cover all the factors in play when it comes to the Amazon Seller Payment Schedule. Let’s also cover all of your options.

Know the Lingo: Amazon Seller Payment Schedule Terminology

If you’ve come across some terminology you’re not sure about, you’re not alone. The terms Amazon uses to describe its seller payment schedule can be difficult to understand. Here’s a straightforward overview of the terms to know.

Account Level Reserve

Your account level reserve refers to the money Amazon sets aside to help you fulfill your obligations as a seller. Namely, ensuring that you have enough money to cover customer returns, chargebacks, or guarantee claims after your customer receives their product. 

You might also have an account level reserve if:

  • You’re a new seller
  • Your account is under review
  • Your seller performance has fallen below Amazon’s benchmarks
  • Amazon is withholding income tax from you due to local regulations

Daily Payouts

Although Amazon technically has a daily payouts option, the name of this feature can be misleading.

If you click on the Request Transfer button option on your dashboard, you can access and receive daily payouts from Amazon. But these payments don’t happen in real time

Next-day Payouts 

If you’re a veteran seller who’s been doing business on Amazon for over 10 years, you may qualify for next-day payouts, meaning you get paid the day after a sale.

Disbursement 

Disbursement is when funds clear Amazon’s reserve period and make their way to you.

The day you receive your payment is your disbursement date. Amazon also has a disbursement tracker — accessible from the payment page under the disbursements tab — so you can locate your payment stage at any time.

Unavailable Balance 

Your unavailable balance is the sales proceed Amazon won’t release to you until you’ve cleared the holding period and your account is in good standing.

Why Haven’t I Been Paid Yet?

After making it through the expected Amazon payment schedule, you may find that you still haven’t been paid. This can be frustrating, but don’t worry. There are often reasonable explanations. 

A few common reasons for a delay in disbursement could include:

  • Missing or incorrect bank account information 
  • Invalid bank account listed as the Deposit Method in your seller account setting
  • Amazon-prohibited online payment systems, such as PayPal, are set as your payment account.
  • A negative or zero account balance 

Once you’re sure that everything is correct on your end, and you’re still not receiving payments according to the Amazon seller payment schedule, check out the Amazon support page for help.

How to Stay a Step Ahead of the Amazon Seller Payment Schedule

A strategic funding plan is key to ensuring you have enough money to operate and grow your business, no matter when you receive your marketplace payouts. 

Let’s take a look at some proven ways to strengthen your cash flow and thrive on Amazon.

1. Stay on Top of Your Numbers

Sometimes making the most of your cash flow is about maximizing the numbers and making data-driven decisions. With an all-in-one analytics platform like Sellers Signals, it’s easy to understand your sales behavior and get a sense of your future performance. 

From a single visual dashboard, you’ll be able to see sales forecasts from across all active marketplaces, track your store’s core KPIs in real-time, and always know whether you’re above or below your projections.

2. Create a Cash Reserve 

Things have a way of popping up when we least expect them. That’s why it’s important to set yourself up for success by creating a cash reserve or business emergency fund. 

To commit to saving, consider setting up a monthly auto-transfer, with a percentage of your revenue going straight into your emergency account.

While you want to go easy on dipping into your savings too often, having a cash reserve can help provide peace of mind and keep the business moving while you wait for your Amazon payouts.

3. Expand Your Selling Horizons

Rule number one in modern business? Diversify, diversify, diversify. 

Don’t be afraid to explore other sales channels to broaden your reach and diversify your sales beyond Amazon.

Research by Stitch Labs found that businesses that sell on two marketplaces make 190% more revenue than those that sell on a single marketplace.

Adding the right channels can help increase your revenue, diversify your income streams, and vary your payout dates so that you won’t be 100% reliant on Amazon.

4. Borrow from Family and Friends 

If your cash flow gap is wider than you hoped and you have someone in your family or friend group who can loan you the funds, this is another option you could consider.

As with any other business deal, you’ll want to be sure to have your terms spelled out in an agreement signed by all parties to keep things fair and legal.

5. Use a Business Credit Card

A business credit card is a classic emergency-use option. But be careful. Credit cards are notorious for racking up interest quickly, so you’ll want to choose wisely.

Some cards offer 0% balance transfers for up to 24 months, which can help you spread out payments if you can’t pay in one lump sum. Whatever you choose, try to get a business card with benefits like points or cash back to get the most for your money.

6. Take Out a Traditional Bank Loan

Since most banks don’t understand e-commerce, securing a traditional bank loan can be challenging. But if your business meets the criteria and you can get a reasonable interest rate, a traditional bank loan may be worth a try. 

7. Secure a Line Of Credit

If there are other investments you want to make to boost your ROI on Amazon, a flexible line of credit could be an option. With the right solution, you can even save in interest and fees compared to most banks, loans, and credit cards.

At SellersFunding, we designed our Working Capital solution to be far more flexible and affordable than a traditional loan. Created specifically for DTC brands, B2B sellers, and marketplace merchants, you can be approved for a line of credit up to $5 million in as little as 48 hours and with no usage fees.

Once approved, you can withdraw funds on an as-needed basis. Use these to launch new products, increase advertising efforts, expand into new marketplaces, and more. With Working Capital, you’ll never miss a profitable opportunity because you didn’t have the cash.

Work With (Not Against) the Amazon Seller Payment Schedule

The Amazon seller payment schedule doesn’t have to hold you back. You have options for getting your Amazon seller payouts quickly.

Start by knowing your numbers. Organize your sales data, create cash flow management reports, and build up your savings. With your financial house in order, you’ll be ready to branch out into new marketplaces and geographies to expand your business and diversify your income streams.

Most critically, make sure you have a strategic funding plan in place. This way, you’ll always have access to flexible capital when you need it.

At SellersFunding, our Daily Advance clients grow 75% faster (on average) than sellers not using the Daily Advance. Ready to learn more about how our flexible funding solutions can help? Register for an account today with zero commitment.

The 7 Best China Sourcing Alternatives to Consider for 2023

If you’re looking for words to describe the global supply chain at the onset of the 2020s, “complete chaos” are two that immediately come to mind.

Getting goods manufactured and delivered on time during the pandemic era has been a grueling season in retail history. Thankfully, as Q4 2022 comes to an end, shipping and port congestion seem to have finally improved, with shipping rates dropping back to their pre-2020 averages. But we’re not in the clear just yet.

China remains a supply chain speed bump as factories have started shutting down again due to recent Covid outbreaks. In early November 2022, Guangzhou locked down more than five million residents in an effort to stop the outbreak and prevent citywide lockdowns.

If there were ever a time to think seriously about diversifying your supplier base and seeking sourcing alternatives to China, this would be it. 

And the good news is that you have solutions! Let’s take a closer look at e-commerce sourcing options beyond China — and the pros and cons of working with suppliers in each listed country.

What We’ll Cover:

  • What’s going on with the global supply chain?
  • Top questions to ask when vetting global suppliers
  • The 7 best alternative sourcing countries sellers should consider
  • Funding solutions to ease your transition

What’s Going On in The World of Supply Chain?

With geopolitical turmoil directly affecting supply and costs, China is now a more volatile sourcing destination than it used to be. And with current threats toward Taiwan, the e-commerce community may be in for ripple effects similar to those resulting from the Russia-Ukraine war.

Here’s a snapshot of the international supply chain issues retailers are currently facing: 

  • Limitations on air freight transportation along the Asia-Europe trade lane
  • New COVID-19 lockdowns in China, directly impacting production
  • A rail link from China to Europe that is fraught with uncertainty

The Rise of the China + 1 Strategy

Talks of the China + 1 strategy are dominating conference room tables — and for good reason. 

After all, the best way to combat uncertainty is to get proactive.

The China + 1 strategy helps retailers smooth their transition to a more diversified supply chain by slowly incorporating China sourcing alternatives methodically over time.

Kamala Raman, Vice-President for Logistics, Customer Fulfillment, and Supply Chain Network Design at Gartner, believes “[The pandemic] exposed these really long global supply chains, and the whole dynamic has shifted . . . China Plus One allows companies to hedge their bets, and hopefully pivot whichever way the world is pivoting.”

US-China Trade War

The US-China trade war is another crucial supply chain topic dominating headlines, but the narrative now is much different from when it first began in 2018.

Sanctions put in place to curb China’s actions toward Taiwan are compounding supply chain inefficiencies in the form of tariff hikes, transportation route disruptions, and retaliatory regulations.

A new law that came into effect in June 2022 called the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA), has imposed bans on goods originating from the Xinjiang region where products are assumed to be made with forced labor.

While this might push China to take big steps toward a humanitarian cause, it has also weighed down the supply chain significantly, an unintended consequence that big brands like Apple and Nike are actively lobbying against

With all of these challenges in mind, dividing your suppliers across global territories is becoming less of a nice-to-have and more of a must.

Questions to Ask Potential Global Suppliers When Considering China Sourcing Alternatives

Finding new suppliers is easier said than done. As a manufacturing hub that’s both cost-efficient and highly skilled, which countries could possibly fill China’s shoes?

Thankfully, there are many options on the list that are often overlooked.

Before we go over each one, let’s run through some of the must-ask questions to protect your business from potential scams, unreliable suppliers, and low-quality goods.

1. Stock Check-In

The most important question when vetting suppliers covers making sure they have enough of the products you need.

If they have what you’re looking for, move forward and ask:

  • How much stock do you have on hand at all times?
  • Can you customize products according to my needs?
  • How efficiently do you handle, maintain, and document stock volumes?
  • Where do you source raw materials from?
  • Do you keep safety stock? If so, how much?

Aim to keep your relationship as transparent as possible. No surprises, no disappointments.

If a potential new supplier knows you’re looking to partner long-term, despite getting only a portion of your business, you may be able to negotiate a good deal.

2. Customer Support

When your shipment is delayed and time is running out, your supplier needs to be a reliable emergency contact who can troubleshoot.

Stress the importance of this by asking the following questions:

  • Do you offer 24/7 support? 
  • How can I reach you in case of an urgent issue outside of working hours?
  • What’s your crisis communications and management strategy?
  • Do you have translators or English speakers available?
  • What is your typical response time?
  • Can you provide automatic updates in real-time? What systems do you use for this?
  • How many other clients are you working with? 
  • Will I have a dedicated agent for my business?

Make it clear that speedy and engaged customer support is a priority.

3. Experience Supplying Overseas

Your business shouldn’t be your supplier’s first rodeo. When it comes to China sourcing alternatives, you need a supplier that’s experienced and trusted.

Here are some qualifying questions that can help prove that crucial experience:

  • What businesses do you usually partner with in my market?
  • Have you ever had to navigate a challenging international supply situation? What happened? How did you solve the problem?
  • What’s your emergency strategy in case of supply or shipping delays?
  • Do you have customs experience in our key territories?
  • Are your environmental, social, and governance (ESG) policies in compliance with my country’s?

4. Turnaround, Major Holidays, and Delivery Schedules

Holidays and production schedules clash sometimes. But getting the information on these dates sooner rather than later can save you a lot of time and money. 

Here are some questions that can help you figure out scheduling deliveries:

  • What does your delivery schedule typically look like?
  • When are your major holidays?
  • To what extent and for how long do you typically shut down for holidays?
  • What is your turnaround time during important events? What is your average timeline?
  • Are there any recurring situations that can delay shipping and delivery?

If the supplier checks all of your boxes, be sure to add these dates to your calendar so you can plan your product launches and shipments accordingly.

5. Payment Policies

Money can be complicated, especially when you have multiple currencies and fluctuating exchange rates in the mix.

Here are some questions to help protect you financially:

  • What are your payment terms — frequency and total payable amount?
  • Do you offer any discounts for large wholesale orders?
  • What potential circumstances could increase costs? By how much?
  • What payment options and policies do you currently have?
  • How can I make payments? What payment methods do you allow?

Answering these questions can help you draw up a mutually-beneficial contract that reduces the potential for increased costs due to delays and currency exchange.

The 7 Best China Sourcing Alternatives to Consider

Now that you’re all set up to interview suppliers, let’s take a look at the different options around the world.

1. Mexico

If you’re a US-based retailer, linking up with suppliers in Mexico may be a practical option for a few reasons:

  • The US has free trade agreements with Mexico, thanks to the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
  • Close proximity means you save on shipping costs and products ship out faster
  • This also allows your supplier to ship in smaller quantities — no more unnecessary hoarding in your warehouses!
  • Finally, shorter time differences could mean stronger communication

Not based in the US? Mexico may still be a workable option as it has lower labor costs than China, better intellectual property protection, and a highly skilled workforce.

The main disadvantages at the moment are shipping delays and container scarcity following the aftermath of the pandemic.

Top websites to find reliable partners in Mexico include:

Pros of Sourcing from Mexico:

  • Low tariffs
  • Affordable shipping
  • Fast delivery

Cons of Sourcing from Mexico:

  • Limited product options
  • Language barriers
  • Slow supplier response time

2. Colombia

Colombia is an established exporter of flowers, precious stones, coffee, spices, and machinery. 

It’s closer to the US, so accessibility is great and delivery is quick, especially compared to China.

The US and Colombia signed a Free Trade Agreement in 2012, so similar to Mexico, products can be shipped in without a tariff.

The major industrial centers in Colombia are Bogotá, Medellín, Cali, and Barranquilla. Colombia is also an experienced player in the export game with $41.4 billion worth of products exported in 2021.

Top websites to find reliable partners in Colombia include:

Pros of Sourcing from Colombia:

  • Well-developed infrastructure
  • Relatively stable political environment
  • Low labor costs
  • Easy access to certain raw materials

Cons of Sourcing from Colombia:

  • Mountainous landscape makes domestic business operations difficult
  • Not all markets are infrastructurally resilient

3. India

India is the 4th largest manufacturing country, particularly involved in exporting handcrafted products, home decor and furnishings, textiles and apparel, stationery, and leather products.

English is India’s second official language, which significantly reduces the chances of miscommunication.

The Indian government is also growing its manufacturing industry with the Make In India initiative started in 2014. However, there are still quite a few hoops that foreign investors have to jump through in order to register a business in India. If you’re looking to set up your own supply source there, you may have your work cut out for you.

Top websites to find reliable partners in India include:

Pros of Sourcing from India:

  • Lower chance of language barriers
  • Stable economy
  • Excellent tech skills
  • Large domestic consumer market

Cons of Sourcing from India:

  • Takes a long time to register a business
  • Increasing import tariffs
  • Regulations vary state to state

4. Malaysia

Malaysia is quickly becoming a sought-after sourcing destination. Penang saw big spikes in manufacturing investments in 2022.

Top products manufactured in Malaysia include electrical appliances, machinery and equipment, chemicals and petrochemicals, rubber, and textiles. 

There are already well-equipped and well-invested Malaysia-US and Malaysia-EU corridors in place, setting it up as a “natural base” for manufacturing partnerships.

Unfortunately, Malaysia has recently been under fire for illegal employment and factory worker abuse, which may create roadblocks, delays, and potential shutdowns if the situation escalates.

Top websites to find reliable partners in Malaysia include:

Pros of Sourcing from Malaysia:

  • Good political and economic relations with the US and the EU
  • Established, high-quality supply networks
  • No value-added tax on Malaysian exports (China levies a 0%-13% VAT)

Cons of Sourcing from Malaysia:

  • Limited labor pool
  • Relatively higher production and labor costs
  • Illegal employment in certain factories can increase chances of delays and shutdowns

5. Indonesia

As a part of the Making Indonesia 4.0 initiative, the Indonesian government is focused on increasing employment in the industrial sector to 20% of the country’s workforce — good news for retailers as the labor force expands and becomes more accessible with the help of government backing.

Indonesia’s top products include palm oil, textiles and apparel, rubber, and electronic products with manufacturing hubs in West Java, Central Java, East Java, and Banten.

Unfortunately, the government is also curbing raw material exports, which could pose a problem in the future. 

In one exciting update, new governmental policies are looking to reignite the manufacturing sector by integrating cutting-edge AI technology.

Top websites to find reliable partners in Indonesia include:

Pros of Sourcing from Indonesia:

  • Young labor force
  • Low labor costs (1/5th compared to China)
  • Growing domestic market

Cons of Sourcing from Indonesia:

  • Infrastructure still needs to catch up
  • High levels of bureaucracy and red tape
  • Free trade agreements aren’t widely enforced yet

6. Thailand

Thailand’s 4.0 initiative is taking the manufacturing sector by storm, which has resulted in giant strides toward digitization, specifically in the areas of logistics and delivery systems. With its growing priority on AI, Thailand is coming into focus as a cutting-edge manufacturing industry.

Thailand is also one of the biggest adopters of e-payment systems. Its advanced digital payment software makes transactions convenient for retailers.

Historically, Thailand has been focused on producing electronic parts, automobile components, and other materials essential in the supply chain of technological goods. Thailand is known for its home decor, furniture, ceramics, and clothing.

The biggest setback Thailand is facing is labor. Thailand’s manufacturing sector is short by nearly 500,000 workers and is still far from recovering after lockdown. 

Top websites to find reliable partners in Thailand include:

Pros of Sourcing from Thailand:

  • High Logistics Performance Index (3.41)
  • New government initiatives to modernize production
  • Reforms that ease online registration, tax filing, and cargo-inspection

Cons of Sourcing from Thailand:

  • Higher labor costs, labor shortage
  • Government scrutiny and interference
  • Increasing tax rates

7. Vietnam

Vietnam has promising trade policies with most countries around the globe — the EU-Vietnam free trade policy, a bilateral trade agreement with the US, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership — which means retailers will have to pay little to no export taxes.

Top product categories manufactured in Vietnam include clothing and textiles, bags, electronics, jewelry, footwear, and agricultural products.

Vietnam is often touted as the “next China” due to its significant rise in foreign trade, efforts to scale manufacturing, and increased interest from US investors.

Top websites to find reliable partners in Vietnam include:

Pros of Sourcing from Vietnam:

  • Low labor costs
  • Large labor pool
  • Quickly developing manufacturing facilities

Cons of Sourcing from Vietnam:

  • Logistics and infrastructure isn’t completely in place yet
  • Lack of skilled labor
  • Finding local suppliers is difficult

Funding Solutions to Help You Find (and Leverage) China Sourcing Alternatives

Compared to China, most of the countries listed come with a cheaper price tag. While many aren’t quite up to par with China’s established systems just yet, the future may be looking brighter as we continue to move toward a more globally sourced supply chain.

Still, navigating change comes with its own set of challenges. 

From testing goods before establishing relationships to creating new operational processes with each manufacturer, you’ll need reliable cash flow and currency conversion tools to help broaden your supplier base.

At SellersFunding, our Digital Wallet and Working Capital products were created for growing e-commerce businesses like yours. 

With the Digital Wallet, you can easily pay suppliers in their preferred currencies and save money on currency conversion fees by using the real mid-market rate.

And with flexible Working Capital, you can access a low-interest line of credit to invest in the resources you’ll need in order to diversify your sourcing. We can approve credit limits up to $5 million in 48 hours or less, and you’ll only pay interest on the amount you use.

As e-commerce sellers ourselves, we understand what it’s like to face uncertainty. With over 40K users, $4B in annual client sales, and a 4.9 TrustPilot Rating, we can help you move your business forward.

Are you ready to start sourcing beyond China? Let’s go there, together.

The E-commerce Seller’s Complete Guide to Amazon Lending

Through the Amazon Lending program, Amazon gives qualified sellers access to various credit lines and working capital so they can navigate short-term cash flow gaps and keep growing their businesses. 

For e-commerce sellers, this can be the difference between success and failure or stagnancy and growth.

In the past, business owners had to rely almost exclusively on traditional banks for funding. But as the e-commerce industry has grown, Amazon seized the opportunity to become a funding resource for its sellers.

However, as an invitation-only program, not every seller can partake in Amazon Lending. Those sellers who are invited to participate may still be on the fence about whether it’s the right funding choice for their businesses.

Let’s take a closer look at the potential benefits and pitfalls if you’re thinking about securing funding from Amazon.

All About Amazon Lending

  • Inside the Amazon Lending Program: A Complete Overview
  • Your Top Amazon Lending FAQs Answered
  • How to Decide if Amazon Lending Is Right for You
  • Alternatives to Amazon Lending

Inside the Amazon Lending Program: A Complete Overview

With Amazon Lending, approved sellers have access to working capital to help replenish their products and promote their brands. 

To gain a full understanding of how the program works, let’s review the process step by step.

How Do Amazon Loans Work?

If you’re an eligible Amazon seller, you may be able to accept term loans from Amazon Lending and lines of credit from Marcus by Goldman Sachs. If eligible for either or both, you’ll see an option card on your Seller Central homepage.

Sellers using Amazon Lending no longer have to choose between a term loan and a line of credit.

Amazon and its third-party lending partners currently offer:

  • Interest Only (IO) Loans: Non-revolving sums of funding with the flexibility to repay interest amount for a set period of time before principal payments are due.
  • Term Loans: Non-revolving, lump-sum funding with specified payback periods.
  • Merchant Cash Advances (MCA): Non-revolving sums of funding that tie payment to a portion of the seller’s future sales for a fixed capital fee.
  • Business Lines of Credit (LoC): Flexible financing with access to funding up to an assigned credit limit.

The Repayment Process

Similar to a merchant cash advance, Amazon automatically deducts your loan payment from your account balance in Seller Center. Alternatively, you can schedule a manual ACH loan payment from the bank account you have on file.

Fortunately, Amazon allows prepayment at any time without penalty charges. This early repayment helps sellers save on interest since Amazon prorates the interest due based on the remaining balance.

How Do I Get Funding from Amazon Lending?

Since Amazon Lending is an invitation-only program, you’ll only see an option card to apply if you prequalify.

Here’s how the Amazon lending process works:

  • First, sign in to your Seller Central account.
  • Next, check to see if you have an option card on your homepage. 
  • If you see one or more financing options available, choose the one that works best for you, up to the amount you’re eligible to apply for.
  • Finally, complete the steps to submit the online application.

What Are Amazon’s Lending Requirements?

Amazon evaluates seller accounts regularly, offering financing options to those with a:

  • Track record of growing sales
  • High customer satisfaction rating
  • Seller account in good standing
  • Clean Amazon record (i.e., no policy violations)

What Kind of Interest Rates Can I Expect with an Amazon Loan?

While Amazon Lending doesn’t disclose the rates of its loans, you can peruse the Amazon seller forums to see what sellers have to say on the subject. 

Your Top Amazon Lending FAQs Answered

How Can I Get Invited to the Program?

If you qualify to apply for one of its financial products, you’ll see an option card on your Seller Central homepage. Currently, this is the only way to get invited to the Amazon Lending program.

Will Applying Affect My Credit Scores?

Amazon doesn’t run credit reports, but its third-party lending partners may run them with no impact on your credit score.

Can You Start an Amazon Business with Little or No Capital?

Yes. In a recent JungleScout study of 3,500 entrepreneurs, brands, and businesses selling on Amazon, 69% of sellers reported spending less than $5,000 to start their Amazon businesses and 32% spent less than $1,000.

Common costs for selling on Amazon include:

  • Product costs
  • Amazon storage fees
  • Amazon seller fees
  • Advertising

The report also found that most Amazon sellers bootstrapped their businesses, funding their stores out of their own pockets. Some borrowed money from family or other lenders, and others even used their Covid stimulus checks to launch their stores. Only 22% borrowed money from banks.

Is Amazon Lending Worth It?

For qualified sellers with healthy sales on Amazon, Amazon Lending may be a solid option. Just make sure to keep an eye on your monthly progress to verify that the automatic deductions fully repay the amount due each month.

If you don’t qualify for Amazon Lending right now, or if the loan amounts available aren’t enough to cover the investments you need to make in your business, consider looking into a reputable alternative funding provider like SellersFunding.

How to Decide if Amazon Lending Is Right for You

If you’ve received an invitation to apply for Amazon Lending, take a minute to examine the following benefits and drawbacks before moving through the process. 

Pro: Easy Application Process

If you’re an eligible seller, applying is fairly simple. Amazon already has your business information and monitors its performance metrics, so you don’t have to take any extra steps after submitting your request.

Con: Inventory Collateral

If your sales decline and you’re forced to default on a loan, Amazon can freeze your account and hold your inventory as collateral until you pay your balance in full.

Pro: Fewer Fees

While many funding options come with several fees, such as origination and prepayment penalty fees, Amazon Lending does not include these fees. Instead, paying back early saves you money on interest.  

Con: Fixed Deductions

No matter your sales performance levels, Amazon Lending deductions remain the same each month. This could be an issue for some sellers with fluctuating sales due to seasonal trends.

Pro: No Credit Check

Since Amazon bases approvals on your customer satisfaction and sales history, it doesn’t look at credit scores. While Amazon Lending doesn’t require a credit check, third-party lenders may still choose to run them, but they won’t affect your credit score.

Con: Unclear Eligibility and Interest Rates 

Amazon Lending doesn’t clarify specific determining eligibility factors. As for its third-party lenders, rates vary and are based on their discretion during the approval process.

What Are Some Alternatives to Amazon Lending?

Whether it’s for inventory, advertising, or new product launches, reinvesting in your business is paramount to seeing consistent, profitable growth.

Amazon Lending might make sense in some cases, but for maximum flexibility, you may need a more versatile funding partner.

At SellersFunding, our all-in-one e-commerce funding solutions were built to help e-commerce sellers grow sustainably and at speed, with competitive rates and terms that fit your schedule.

The SellersFunding Daily Advance

The Daily Advance allows sellers to access up to 90% of their previous day’s marketplace sales with rates as low as 0.5% of the advanced amount. The Daily Advance comes with no prepayment penalty and no impact on your personal credit score.

Unlike Amazon Lending, repayments are based on how much revenue you make each month, not on fixed amounts.

When used with the Digital Wallet, sellers can access fair exchange rates and save more on international transactions compared to those of the Amazon Currency Converter.

Flexible E-commerce Working Capital

Alternatively, a flexible line of credit allows you to invest in the inventory, marketing, technology, and human resources you need when you need them.

Our team of e-commerce experts can approve credit limits from $5K to $5M in 48 hours or less and you’ll only pay interest on the amount you use.

“Before getting funding, we had sold $90,000. I got a credit limit from SellersFunding in December and as soon as I got the funds, I was able to invest in my business. We increased to $133,000 in December, and the month we got a Daily Advance, we sold $180,000. So basically, we doubled sales.” –Sansarah Beermann, owner of Sunflower Ideas and just one of many sellers tapping into the power of e-commerce funding to fuel further growth on Amazon

To learn more about how sellers like you are using transparent funding to reach the next level, check out our growing library of e-commerce success stories, or reach out to find out how we can help you succeed and scale.

Social Media Strategies to Build a Brand Community

In the current state of e-commerce, social media marketing is a necessary channel for reaching target audiences. It has become one of the simplest levers to pull to communicate and connect with customers and prospects alike. Building an engaged social media community is a great way to succeed in 2023. 

Social Media’s Impact on Shopping Behavior 

As of February 2021 (the most recent available data), 72% of U.S. adults said they use social media. In the broader global picture, that number is 44%. That is a powerful medium. Your goal as a marketer or business owner should be to reach your target audience where they are already spending their time. Don’t make shoppers come to you; meet your customers where they already are. 

Social media platforms have realized the importance of conversion to sales. Most platforms now include “Buy Now” or similar options, allowing social media users to check out in app. This is the growing trend of “social commerce” and is increasingly important in larger e-commerce. According to Influencer Marketing Hub, “Social purchasing is the way of the future. It’s a dynamic, engaging experience that replaces tedious, time-consuming transactions.” 

It’s Not Just About the Buy

Beyond the actual shopping experience, potential buyers are also quick to turn to social media platforms for customer service. The publicity of a disgruntled customer is likely to get that customer both a favorable and a quick resolution. Future shoppers also want to see how a brand handles interactions like this to measure customer care. 

Also consider the impact of influencers on buying behavior. Thousands of influencers worldwide make comfortable (if not lavish) incomes by promoting products and swaying their communities. Working with one of these influencers or even positioning someone at your company as an influencer is another way to level up the community game.  

The Importance of a Social Media Community 

Let’s set the scene: 

You and your team have worked for months on launching a new product. There has been a substantial investment of time, energy, and funding. Multiple people and departments have contributed. Your whole heart is in this product, and you are so proud. It comes time for launch day, you click “publish” on your product listing, and… 

Then what?

Without a social media community (assuming you don’t have an email list either), you’re stuck waiting for sales to come to you organically while spending heavily on ads. You’ve taken great pains to make sure that everything is optimized for organic and paid search, marketplaces, and your branded website, but you’re still struggling to get your message heard by people who are actively interested. 

With an engaged social media community, you can accelerate that product launch! Build hype for the launch ahead of time, run a promotion on your social media channels once it’s live, offer bundles and giveaways . . . the options are endless. In fact, we’ve known brands (as we’re sure you have too) that have sold out of product on launch day because of the effort they were able to put in with their social media communities ahead of time.  

Add Value and Get Valuable Promotion and Brand Loyalty in Return

A social media community delivers more value than just helping with new product launches. Having an engaged community and a curated social media presence can turn a shopper into a buyer. From there, it can turn a buyer into a brand evangelist. Just think how many times have you Googled a brand name to check them out before buying from them? Those reviews and conversations are the social proof that makes or breaks future sales and customers. 

We already mentioned that potential buyers want to see how you interact with people in your social media community. What about the actual content you’re producing? Are you sharing user-generated content (UGC)? Is your content diverse both in the posts themselves as well as the participants in the conversation? Are you encouraging conversation instead of just using the channel as a vehicle for your own posting? The more involved and the better represented a company is, the more likely potential buyers are to see themselves using/wearing/buying/loving the product. 

Choosing the Right Social Media Channels 

It appears there is a hot new social media network every year. TikTok has been the big winner in 2022. Snapchat was the thing in 2021. Clubhouse was big in 2020 as a way for people to connect when the rest of the world shut down. New platforms are emerging all the time, some general, others hyper-targeted and niche. People are actively finding – and creating – new ways to connect with each other. Pay attention to your core audience and target market and join them on the channels they use. 

Earlier this year, Search Engine Journal compared the top ten social media platforms, based on the number of monthly active users per platform. Chances are that these results won’t surprise you. 

Top 10 Social Media Platforms

  1. Facebook 
  2. YouTube 
  3. WhatsApp 
  4. Instagram 
  5. TikTok 
  6. Snapchat 
  7. Pinterest 
  8. Reddit 
  9. LinkedIn 
  10. Twitter 

Meta owns three of the top ten social media platforms. So, while Facebook itself may not feel like the king anymore, parent-brand Meta is still on top. In terms of growth, TikTok has made great strides, reaching over 1B monthly active users since it first hit the scene in 2016.  

This list is (obviously) missing countless platforms that may be relevant to your business. Platforms like Goodreads, Tumblr, Ravelry, Discord (a personal favorite of Steven Bartlett), Untappd . . .  the list goes on.  

Each social media channel has its pros and cons. These pros and cons will vary based on each business’s target audience. For example, a brand that sells reading glasses may not focus marketing efforts on TikTok. However, a brand that sells blue light glasses might see great success there, due to its increased volume of Gen-Z customers

Top Tactics for Growing Your Social Media Community 

It’s easy to be influenced and feel lost when you’re coming up with tactics to grow your social media community. Trying too much can result in a disconnect with who your brand really is, while being repetitive in content can bore your audience. Start with a few of these tactics in rotation to see what resonates with your audience. 

  • Embrace fun holidays! Websites like National Today or Holiday Insights have thousands of fun holidays that you can tie into your social media calendar. There are universally loved holidays like National Cat or Dog Day, and then more niche holidays that you can tie into your brand and products. Involve your followers and friends to participate by sharing pet photos. Even better if you sell pet-related products! 
  • Be human. This gets easily forgotten. You’re so busy promoting your products that you forget to talk about your people or your company. Implement something like #FridayIntroductions or post some photos of your team volunteering throughout the year. Show the people side of your brand. 
  • Try a contest. This is a great way to get your audience engaged AND to generate some user-driven content. Host a contest that ties in with your product. Get people to post on social media and use a specific hashtag. Not only will you have extra content, but you’ll know who your most engaged followers are. 
  • Go behind the scenes. Shoppers love to see the inner workings of companies. Post a video of your team packing orders or brainstorming the next quarter’s content. Let customers in and make them feel welcome. 
  • Host a brand ambassador search. Similar to an affiliate program, ambassadorship is a great tactic for smaller brands (though even large companies do it too)! Create an application or “rules” on social media to partner with brand ambassadors. If selected, send them a few products and a discount code they can share with their followers. Ambassadors doing an unboxing or sharing reviews is powerful content that inspires buyers. 

Want to join SellersFunding’s social media community? Connect with us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube! Our social media profiles are a great place to stay up to date on the latest releases and get a behind the scenes look at SellersFunding and our team.

What Will Be the E-commerce Trends in 2023? These Experts Have the Answers for You.

From community building and AI to hybrid shopping models, 2022 was a year of exploration and innovation. With advances in personalization, social commerce, and globalization, there were many developments that left retailers reflecting in awe. According to industry experts, these e-commerce trends (plus some new ones) will go even further in 2023.

Looking toward a new year of e-commerce adventures, we checked in with leading CEOs and founders for their takes. We asked them to describe the shifting e-commerce landscape in just one word.

And you know what? They delivered. Here’s what they had to say about e-commerce trends into 2023:

Videos 📽️

“We’ve seen how more and more brands use Instagram Reels, TikTok, and YouTube Shorts to promote their businesses. They will continue to do so next year. We can expect more creative and interactive ways for consumers to engage with the brand through these short-form videos,” says Nunzio Ross, CEO and Founder of Majesty Coffee.

Nunzio predicts short-form video will continue to dominate in 2023 and beyond. His reasoning? Short videos are eye-catching, digestible, and just long enough to give viewers the information they need to buy the product. 

While TikTok might’ve kickstarted the trend, almost every social media platform — Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and Facebook — has adopted this format, leading to the next wave in social commerce.

Today 86% of businesses use video as a marketing tool and 87% report positive ROI.

Majesty Coffee’s adoption of short-form videos on their social media, particularly Instagram reels, has been impressive. It illustrates how any brand can easily jump into the art of short-form video — no mega-influencers necessary.

Omnichannel 📈

“Throughout this year, we’ve seen consumers increasingly demand in-store experiences alongside seamless online interactions. Companies unable to provide a mix of online and in-person shopping experiences are facing increased customer turnover and loss of revenue,” says Mark McShane, Managing Director of Manchester First Aid Courses.

Mark emphasizes that “e-commerce companies that want to succeed in 2023 will have to provide more fluid and seamless omnichannel and multi-channel shopping experiences to retain customers.” 

Whether that means investing in headless commerce or launching on new marketplaces, more brands are getting in on omnichannel selling. According to Shopify’s latest Future of Retail Report, 53% of brands are investing in tools to boost their omnichannel strategies

The way experts like Mark see it, the sooner brands adopt these strategies, the longer they’ll stay in the game.

Disruptive 🎇

“From Amazon to eBay to Walmart, e-commerce is a lot more than just a website. It’s changing the way we shop, how we shop, and how we think about shopping,” says Jamie Irwin, Director and Founder of Straight Up Search.

As a search engine optimization (SEO) expert for leading e-commerce brands and affiliates, Jamie makes it his mission to know how the landscape is changing. 

Jamie honed in on several potentially disruptive e-commerce trends as we move into 2023:

  • Interest in unique, eco-friendly, and handmade items: As shoppers become more aware of the issues surrounding mass production, they are increasingly turning to handcrafted items and are even willing to pay higher prices for ethically made products.
  • Focus on mental health and wellness: Consumers are also becoming more conscious of the ingredients in food and personal care products as they look for ways to improve their overall health.
  • AI and chatbots: As many others have predicted, AI will make big strides in 2023 (and beyond) as it works its way into the fiber of hybrid shopping models.

Jamie also said, “There needs to be a shift in the way people shop and how they value their time. E-commerce has given consumers a lot more choices and has made it easier for them to shop.”

One hard fact is that search abandonment costs retailers more than $300 billion a year. Jamie’s top tip for merchants is to become as searchable as possible. Optimizing your websites, marketplace listings, ads, and navigation tools can help keep your store front and center for online shoppers as they hunt for products next year.

Evolving 🌱

“Knowing the industry is seen as ever-changing, it’s become increasingly paramount for e-commerce sellers to have an ear to the ground — latching onto timely trends, challenges, and unfolding consumer habits,” says Adam Shaffer, President at leading e-commerce accelerator Phelps United.

What are some of the latest shifts in e-commerce trends that Adam’s got on his mind? Here are his top five:

  • Voice Commerce: Amazon has released Alexa Voice Shopping, which allows shoppers to browse for items, add to carts, and track orders. What does this mean for sellers as they plan for 2023? Serious SEO. Brands will need to optimize their sites for voice search to help increase traffic and generate new leads.
  • Premium user-generated content: With consumers being connected to each other at all times, your brand is what shoppers say it is. Consumers are more likely to trust content from their peers over content from you. This means that user-generated content will become more important for building trust and brand allegiance.
  • Amazon business growth: More brands are projected to sell on the Amazon platform. Currently, about 55% of brands are already selling on Amazon. We’re expecting this figure to rise to 70% throughout 2023.
  • Social Shopping: For many, social media is the entry point for all of their online engagement, from communication to news to entertainment — and, now, shopping, too. In 2023, consumers looking to buy via social media will be looking for connection, social validation, and serious efforts toward sustainability from the brands they shop with.
  • Sustainability: Piggybacking on our previous point, the focus on ethical and sustainable consumption will continue to play an important role in shaping consumers’ buying intent. Products that create positive environmental impact will be well-positioned for success in 2023 and beyond — especially if your target market includes Gen-Z shoppers.

With trends like the increase in Amazon growth and social shopping, experts like Adam believe that staying one step ahead is key to making the most of new and developing e-commerce trends.

Community 🧑‍🤝‍🧑

“Over the last 12 months, we’ve seen brands shift their marketing focuses to creating and building highly engaged customer communities. That’s on social channels and in more closed settings such as groups on Facebook or Discord,” says Ryan Turner, Klaviyo Expert Consultant and Founder at Ecommerce Intelligence.

Ryan believes there are many reasons driving e-commerce trends toward organic community building, including:

  • Increased advertising costs and data/privacy tracking issues have become increasingly complicated.
  • Communities provide the highest ROI solution.
  • Customer communities (like Facebook groups) also provide excellent social proof opportunities.

Ryan predicts that new, specialized software tools aimed at customer community building will hit the market in a big way.

Need 💰

“Next year, consumers will be more educated and less impulsive. Focus on quality and improving your process and products to meet the demand from customers who do less ‘want’ shopping and more ‘need’ shopping,” says Marc Werner, Founder and CEO at GhostBed.

Ghostbed is a fifth-generation family business and Marc has witnessed this trend firsthand. In fact, Ghostbed was forced to triple the size of its staff to support the need for quality mattresses during the pandemic. 

But after the pandemic surge, higher-ticket items went from a “need” to a “want” as consumers did extra research and pushed off replacing that 8- to 10-year-old mattress, opting for less-expensive mattress toppers instead.

Customers’ needs and buying power have fluctuated frequently and considerably over the course of the year. More customers than ever switched retailers and brands in 2022.

With more ebbs and flows to come, staying in tune with what your customer truly needs matters more than ever.

Surprising 🤯

“It’s hard to predict how e-commerce will evolve in 2023, but 2022 was volatile, to say the least,” says Hannah Nash, Cofounder at Lucy Nash jewelry.

Hannah advises sellers to look out for the following e-commerce trends in 2023:

  • Micro-influencers on social media will become increasingly important. Their smaller reach but more engaged followers will make them a valuable marketing tool.
  • Shrinking margins will force sellers to offer more discounts to stay competitive.
  • AI and machine learning will play an increasing role in sales and marketing, automating tasks such as lead generation and customer service.

Hannah’s prediction about AI software dominating customer service has been a long time coming. In fact, nearly 78% of brands surveyed by Dialpad feel optimistic about AI. Additionally, 66% have seen a positive impact on business performance after implementing AI-enabled customer service processes.

Hyper-personalization 💁🏽

Personalization will remain important,” says Brian David Crane, Founder of Spread Great Ideas, a digital marketing fund specializing in e-commerce brands.

“Brands will use customer data to provide the best product recommendations and create a personalized shopping experience. These include customized offers or special discounts based on purchase behavior or needs/wants. It may also include hyper-personalized and targeted content, whether in their social media campaigns or email marketing reach outs.”

In addition to this push toward personalization, Brian predicts big moves in the industry toward:

  • Environmental consciousness
  • Mobile and subscription shopping
  • Omnichannel selling
  • Live shopping
  • Flexible funding
  • AI

Echoing this key e-commerce trend is Melanie Edwards, Senior E-commerce and Digital Product Manager at Olipop. She also used the word “personalized” to describe the e-commerce landscape. “It’s not enough to understand your customers’ wants and needs. You must tailor your content to them personally.”

Melanie recommends asking the following questions when personalizing your content:

  • What are my customers’ top pain points? 
  • What are they looking for in products like ours? 
  • Which kinds of content do they consume and does it lead to purchases?
  • What are their shopping habits like?

Use this data to create email campaigns, ads, and blog content. By doing so, you can refine your marketing to fit (and convert) your ideal audience.

Globalization 🌍

“Owing to the rapid surge in e-commerce players, local markets have become quickly saturated. As a result, 2022 has seen more e-commerce companies expand globally so they can increase revenues and market share,” says Michael McCarty, CEO of EDGE Fall Protection.

Companies in almost every sector have been boldly expanding across borders into new markets and territories. In 2022 alone, Amazon spent over $10 billion, IBM spent $20 billion, and Walmart spent $350 billion toward globalization efforts.

Michael expects 2023 to further push companies into going global, making preparation for internationalization more important than ever.

Integrated 🧩

“Retail and e-commerce will be more seamlessly integrated than ever before, with digital capabilities embedded into physical stores and vice-versa,” says Aviad Faruz, CEO of FARUZO.

Aviad predicts an explosion in augmented reality and new developments that will allow customers to view digital product holograms in stores and seamlessly purchase them using their smartphones.

With increasingly more brands entering the metaverse and Web3, a sci-fi-inspired future may not be that far off.

Agile 🏃

“E-commerce has become more agile, withstanding the challenges of fluctuating sales and evolving trends. The integration of more robust sales and marketing analytics tools into e-commerce platforms allows marketers and analysts to quickly pull out and interpret relevant data,” says Robert Johnson, Marketing Director at Coast Appliances.

With only 7% of businesses considering themselves as “advanced insight-driven”, expect to see increased adoption of e-commerce analytics tools.

Robert believes these sophisticated tools will continue to improve, scale, and fortify data insights, content development, and other e-commerce strategies as shoppers’ needs and market trends change and accelerate.

Ready for the next e-commerce trends?

If recent history has taught us anything, it’s that e-commerce is here to stay. In fact, it’s part of our daily routine even if we don’t consider what we are doing to be “shopping.”

While these expert predictions point toward personalization, video marketing, and customer communities (among many other key e-commerce trends and innovations), the fact is 2023 is bound to be full of surprises.

With a reliable funding partner, a solid game plan, and a little willingness to roll with the punches, you’ll be ready to win no matter what disruptions come your way.

At SellersFunding, our mission is to help e-commerce businesses thrive. With our all-in-one e-commerce funding solutions, we support brands worldwide to grow and scale on their own terms. Get in touch to learn more about how we can help make next year your best yet.

Considering Subscription Boxes in the New Year? Know Which Are Best for Your Brand

As a growing e-commerce brand, you’re no stranger to the hype around subscription boxes. But maximizing their results is another beast entirely.

Offering subscription boxes can be a savvy way to generate recurring revenue, create personalized customer experiences, and help shoppers save time and money. 

In Q4 2020, subscription-based businesses saw revenue grow at a rate of 21%. An impressive seven times faster than companies on the S&P 500.

But the days of peak pandemic shopping are largely over. And adding subscription boxes to your business model may or may not be feasible for your unique brand.

From product alignment to fulfillment to meeting customer needs, creating a subscription channel takes careful thought and consideration. 

We’ve already covered the best types of subscription boxes for Amazon sellers. Today, we’re going to break down the subscription box best practices for multichannel DTC brands.

What You Need to Know About Subscription Boxes

  • Do Subscription Boxes Actually Increase Revenue?
  • What Do Consumers Look For in a Subscription Box? 
  • Advice From Two of the Most Popular Subscription Box Company CEOs
  • Ready to Add Subscription Boxes to Your Offers in 2023?

Do Subscription Boxes Actually Increase Revenue?

Let’s tackle the biggest question first. As with any business strategy, subscription boxes may increase revenue if they address unmet consumer needs and deliver real value.

According to McKinsey, it’s crucial to make sure your new subscription boxes are part of a sustainable model that:

  1. Supports your overall brand strategy.
  2. Has a value proposition and business case tied to a clear unmet need.

To address your target customer’s needs head-on, start by identifying pain points in the consumer journey, conducting market research, and testing your concept

Send out polls, questionnaires, and surveys to your most loyal fans. You can also interview a few of your VIP customers and start a focus group to gather deeper insights.

Once you’ve proven your concept, ask your customer cohort to detail the types of experiences they’d like to have when they enroll in your subscription service.

By integrating customer research and machine learning to spot purchase predictors, you can create subscription boxes tailored to your audience’s shopping preferences and get one step closer to meeting your recurring revenue goals.

How Do Companies Make Money from Subscriptions?

E-commerce businesses make money from subscriptions when their customers pay a set amount for a service or bundle of goods every month. The longer a customer subscribes, the higher their customer lifetime value (CLV or CLTV) is, and the more money the business makes.

But there’s a caveat.

To make money from subscriptions, experts and analysts like those at McKinsey are quick to stress the importance of nourishing your subscription business rather than treating it as an experiment. A committed approach is vital if you want your new subscription channel to win and keep subscribers.

Subscriptions also come with a full host of data straight from customers, which lets you in on their key buying habits and patterns. If they sign up for an annual subscription, you’ll have a year’s worth of insights to help you predict what they buy and when — just imagine what that could mean for your marketing campaigns, inventory, and logistics.

Are Subscription Box Companies Profitable?

The short answer is generally yes. One apparel brand even reported that its subscribers spend 2.5 times more than their traditional (non-subscription) customers do.

Here are some other subscription box monetization insights you may find helpful:

  • The average US consumer has four subscriptions.
  • The subscription model may drive greater average spend.
  • Subscriptions inspire customer loyalty. 
  • Subscription boxes provide value to consumers that appreciate novelty, convenience, and personalized experiences.

Who Uses Subscription Services the Most?

Younger generations have adopted subscription boxes the most. According to research by Emarsys, 32% of 16-24-year-olds in the US have a subscription, whereas only 7% of those aged 55+ have one.

What Do Consumers Look for in a Subscription Box? 

Putting yourself in your customers’ shoes is key to designing a subscription box that meets their needs and (when orchestrated with care and creativity) exceeds their expectations. 

Here’s a quick checklist you can run through to ensure you’re creating a subscription box with your audience in mind: 

  • Pricing Flexibility: Subscribers look for pricing flexibility, such as discounts and tiered pricing (think SaaS subscription tiers). They also appreciate reminders to periodically reset their subscriptions to higher or lower-cost plans. 
  • High Perceived Value: Consumers look for boxes that are great value for money. Emotional factors are also central, with 32% of consumers stating they signed up for a subscription because it “feels nice to receive something every month.” (BTW, we agree that it feels like getting a present.)
  • Fun and Personalized Product Options and Experiences: From offering new products to playing up the novelty factor, subscribers value boxes that deliver personalized experiences.  

Ease of Use: Shoppers expect zero barriers to entry when enrolling in a subscription. They’re looking for easy signup and cancellation processes, the ability to reorder items automatically, and zero complications receiving their boxes every month.

Advice from Two of the Most Popular Subscription Box Company Executives

Now that we’re clear on what consumers expect, let’s see what two of the top minds have to say on the subject.

The Bean Box Example

“We are a tech company that happens to sell coffee,” says Bean Box Founder Matthew Berk

Optimizing what needs to be outsourced versus what the company can do on its own is essential to Bean Box’s success.

Rated the best overall coffee subscription by RollingStone, Bean Box has a growing newsletter community of 300,000 coffee lovers, with nearly 40% of Bean Box customers coming from email.

And it’s not hard to see why. 

With deals that smash barriers to entry, such as $5 coffee cash when you sign up for the newsletter and a free tasting flight when you subscribe, Bean Box puts the purchasing power back in consumers’ hands.

Top Reasons Customers Love Bean Box:

  • Flexibility: Subscribers can choose a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly subscription.
  • Product Variety: With a large variety of beans and flavor profiles, Bean Box customers never get bored with their products. 
  • Expert Curators and Personalized Products: Subscribers choose between six ideal tasting experiences and leave the rest to expert curators. The result? Deliciously personalized coffee options.

According to Matthew Berk, the key to a profitable e-commerce subscription business is being both well-funded and in the right place at the right time

He also emphasizes how important it is to think from a consumer standpoint and sell products your customers want to keep buying regularly. “Don’t get into this business because you like the idea of a subscription business — do it because of the consumer use case.”

Learn from Bean Box’s Success

  • Take a look at your current product list and note any options consumers can’t live without. What would they want to buy again and again? What have they purchased repeatedly in the past? Which items naturally fit into your customers’ daily routines?
  • Review your operational procedures and daily responsibilities. Cut unnecessary tasks and outsource as much as possible without risking your bottom line.
  • Offer flexible subscription options to keep customers confident in their choice long-term.
  • Get creative by offering personalized product varieties and curated boxes.

Giorgos Tsetis (and His Glorious Locks) from Nutrafol

“There’s no benefit for us to sell a bottle and someone not be successful with the product,” says Nutrafol CEO Giorgos Tsetis

Giorgos, an engineer (and model!) turned subscription-based business owner, developed hair wellness supplement company, Nutrafol, to solve the very real problem of hair loss.

Founded in 2016, Giorgos started the brand after suffering from hair loss and experiencing a slew of negative side effects when attempting to regain hair growth with prescribed meds. 

Just a year later, Giorgos was featured in Forbes sharing their ultimate business dream: Helping 80 million Americans avoid hair loss.

Giorgos’ plan took off and by 2021, Nutrafol’s subscriber count increased 102% YoY

Today, an amazing 90% of Nutrafol’s DTC revenue comes from subscriptions.

Not too shabby for a brand that expects today’s price-sensitive consumers to spend $79 a month for the product. 

So what is it that encourages Nutrafol’s customers to continue their subscriptions? Giorgos says encouraging customers to “create a habit” is key. Demonstrating how and why to integrate products into customers’ daily routines may inspire your product to become a household staple.

Nutrafol subscribers also trust they’ll receive the same high-quality product every month. The brand takes customer feedback and cancellations extremely seriously and customers feel cared for.

“We want to understand why people cancel so we can improve the consumer experience,” Giorgos says. If a subscriber cancels, Nutrafol asks the customer to fill out a questionnaire to understand why they’re leaving — and then actually uses that data to improve the product and brand.

By setting up repeatable cancellation workflows on the backend, Nutrafol can segment past customers and automate win-back campaigns and retargeting strategies.

One thing Nutrafol doesn’t do? Make it difficult for consumers to stop their subscriptions. 

With Nutrafol, customers can stop their subscriptions quickly and easily.

Learn from Nutrafol’s Success

  • Create a new product that solves a big problem.
  • Never skimp on quality — deliver the same high-quality product every month.
  • Encourage your customers to create habits using your products.
  • Let consumers pause or stop their subscriptions whenever they want. 
  • When customers cancel, ask them why they’re leaving and learn from it.
  • Take customer feedback seriously (and implement their requests).
  • Automate win-back campaigns and retargeting strategies.

Boost Your E-commerce Margins with Subscription Boxes Done Right

Retailers interested in growing their businesses with subscription boxes need to focus on remaining customer-centric and striking the right balance between novelty, convenience, and value

Those that nail it, have a lot to gain.

At SellersFunding, we’re committed to helping e-commerce entrepreneurs achieve their goals no matter how big or small. Whether you need funding solutions or growth-maximizing tools, we’ve got you covered.

With our Working Capital solution, merchants can access a flexible line of credit to invest in the inventory, tech, and human resources you’ll need to fund your new subscription box venture.

Find out how SellersFunding can help you scale with ease.

How Much Does a Merchant Cash Advance Really Cost?

As an e-commerce entrepreneur, you’re no stranger to fluctuating sales. But if you’re thinking of reaching for a merchant cash advance (MCA) to help with the latest cash flow dry spell, there are some things you should know first.

While it may be tempting to jump into an MCA to solve a cash flow emergency, doing so can come at a heavy price of which many e-commerce entrepreneurs are unaware.

If that sounds scary, that’s because it can be if you don’t fully understand the lay of the land.

The true cost of a merchant cash advance can be much greater than most retailers realize. And unfortunately, many MCA providers are happy to leave the details buried in the fine print. 

At SellersFunding, we’re working for big changes in the world of e-commerce funding. We know that when you need cash fast to keep the sales and inventory flowing, it can be easy to think  traditional loans (with their lengthy application processes and endless background screenings) or MCAs are your only options. 

In today’s article, we’re debunking the biggest myths and misconceptions surrounding MCAs by walking you through the reality of how a merchant cash advance works — and how much it’ll actually cost you.

The Truth About Merchant Cash Advances

  • What Is a Merchant Cash Advance? 
  • How Does a Merchant Cash Advance Work?
  • What Will a Merchant Cash Advance Really Cost You?
  • Is an MCA a Good Funding Solution for E-commerce?

What Exactly Is a Merchant Cash Advance? 

First things first, one of the biggest issues we see surrounding MCAs is that many e-commerce retailers simply aren’t clear on what a merchant cash advance actually is.

While some may refer to an MCA as a “merchant cash advance loan,” the truth is that MCAs act more like expensive payday advances than other loans.

Since an MCA isn’t a traditional business loan, there’s a whole different formula for how it works.

Unlike bank loans, lines of credit, and credit cards, business owners receive funds as a lump sum upfront from an MCA provider. Then the borrower repays the advance with a percentage of the business’s sales. 

In other words, you sell a percentage of future sales at a discount to a lender for an upfront cash advance. Essentially, you’re pledging to repay the advance out of your future profits.

For this reason, to qualify for an MCA in the past, businesses typically had to have large volumes of credit card sales. That’s not the case today. Many MCA providers analyze your overall sales and not just your credit card sales.

But while merchant cash advances have evolved over the years, there’s still a lot more to them than first meets the eye, especially when you get down into the fine print.

Let’s take a closer look at how MCAs really work.

How Does a Merchant Cash Advance Work? 

To get approved for an MCA, you’ll need to show proof of sales. The lender will analyze your statements to determine your average monthly sales, then decide what kind of advance you qualify for.

After you’ve gotten approved for an MCA and have received your funds, your lender will deduct the agreed-upon repayment percentage from each credit card sale swipe until it’s repaid.

Facts to Keep in Mind About Merchant Cash Advances:

  • Most MCA lenders will only work with e-commerce stores that accept credit cards.
  • It usually takes 48-72 hours to get approved for an MCA. This speed is why MCAs are popular. But with SellersFunding working capital, you can be approved just as quickly and get terms that are far more favorable than those that come with an MCA.
  • You typically don’t need to have strong business or personal credit, but you do need to meet the provider’s requirement for credit card and non-invoice sales 

MCA lenders usually place few stipulations on how you use the cash, which means you can use the advance pretty freely (SellersFunding working capital has NO restrictions on usage).

The Flip Side of MCAs

Let’s explore the hidden fees and astronomical paybacks you could see if you choose to apply for an MCA.

What Will a Merchant Cash Advance Really Cost You? (Hint: Your Factor Rate Is NOT Your APR)

MCAs come with notoriously high flat fees determined by what is known as the “factor rate”.

The factor rate, or merchant rate, represents the amount you’ll pay on the money borrowed. 

Unlike annual percentage rates (APRs), factor rates are written in decimals instead of percentages. Typical factor rates on MCAs range from 1.1 to 1.5 and apply to the original amount you borrow. Remember that factor means to multiply in this case. For example, 1.5 X original borrow.

Similar to interest rates, factor rates represent the cost of your funding. Your factor rate is built into your payment schedule, and the cost of borrowing doesn’t compound or change as you pay off your funding.

Other Fees You May Incur with a Merchant Cash Advance Include:

  • Loan fee or origination fee: a percentage of the total advance charged to originate the loan
  • Bank fee: the processing fee charged for setting up the transaction
  • Underwriting fee: a fee that covers the costs of underwriting any potential loss
  • Risk fee: a fee that covers the time and effort providers put into evaluating your risk profile
  • Broker fee: a fee paid to intermediaries who may have brought your MCA application to the provider
  • Administrative fee: the fee charged to set up your account
  • Application fee: a fee you pay to apply for the MCA

That is a lot of fees. It’s also important to keep in mind that MCA providers often deduct these fees from the original advance.

For example, if you get approved for an advance of $20,000 and the provider charges $4,000 in fees, you’ll only receive $16,000.

MCA Payments and Repayments

Payments are usually disbursed to you daily or weekly You will typically repay them using one of the following repayment methods: 

  • ACH Withdrawal: The provider will automatically deduct the repayment from your business checking account. 
  • Lockbox or Bank Withholding: Your bank will split your credit card sales between the MCA provider and your bank account.
  • Split Withholding: The credit card processor will split your credit card sales between the provider and your merchant account, sending the percentage directly to the provider.

Providers take repayments via a “holdback percentage.” This is the sales percentage that will be held back and remitted to the MCA provider. The holdback percentage isn’t like an interest rate paid on a loan, but rather the percentage of sales taken for repayment.

Holdbacks are typically between 10-20%, so if your daily credit card sales are $3,000 and you have a holdback of 10%, the provider will keep $300 per day as part of their repayment.

Time to Crunch the Numbers on MCAs

With the factor rate and the many fees, how much does an MCA really cost? How much will you have to pay back? Let’s break down an example of borrowing via MCA:

  • You’re approved for a $50,000 MCA at a factor rate of 1.3. 
  • Your payment is based on monthly credit card sales and you do about $100,000 in these sales every month.
  • Your holdback percentage is 10%.

MCA Example Results:

  • Your estimated daily payment would be $333.33 over the term of 196 days.
  • Your total payback amount for the $50,000 MCA you got will be $65,000.
  • For this loan, you will pay $15,000 in interest.
  • This translates to an effective APR of 104.02%! 😮

Calculation courtesy of NerdWallet’s MCA Calculator

But wait, that doesn’t include the merchant cash advance fees!

If the total cost of fees works out to $3,000, you’ll only receive an amount of $47,000. And you’ll pay back $65,000 — an astonishing $18,000 loss.

The math says it all. Merchant cash advances simply weren’t built with most business owners’ best interests in mind. Fortunately, there are now better and more transparent funding options purpose-built for e-commerce growth.

Is an MCA a Good Funding Solution for E-commerce?

If you’re feeling discouraged about the sheer number of shady funding products on the market, you’re not the only one. Navigating the business loan landscape as an e-commerce entrepreneur with completely different growth challenges from traditional businesses can feel like tiptoeing through a minefield.

We started SellersFunding because we’re sellers just like you. We’ve successfully scaled multiple e-commerce businesses and we continue to innovate solutions to fill cash flow gaps without compromising future growth. 

That’s why we created flexible funding solutions e-commerce owners can feel good about. 

Not only do we offer zero usage restrictions (use your money however you want!), you also keep 100% of your equity. Our terms range from 3-24 months and we can get you funded from $5K-$5M in as little as 48 hours.

As an alternative to a merchant cash advance, our working capital line of credit comes with:

  • No hidden fees
  • No impact on your credit score 
  • A no-commitment application  
  • Competitive rates
  • Terms that fit your schedule

Growing sellers need cash flow solutions that work for (not against) their businesses. But when business owners jump the gun and settle for MCAs, they also risk sacrificing sales and profits for incredibly steep fees and factor rates.

No matter how you choose to grow your business, know that you’re not alone

If you’re ready to explore better ways to fund your e-commerce business, we’re here to help. Register today with no commitment and learn how growing merchants just like you are using flexible e-commerce funding to reach whole new levels of success.

Guide to Amazon Live: What Every Seller Should Know

In 2019, Amazon launched its newest, shiniest feature: Amazon Live. While its earlier livestreaming efforts with Style Code Live ended up going out with a fizzle rather than a bang, Amazon Live has seen increasing success recently.

From a consumer perspective, shopping via Amazon Live can be a form of entertainment, creating an immersive and interactive experience — one that also proved indispensable during the pandemic when people physically couldn’t go out shopping.

Today, Amazon Live gives brands the opportunity to grab shoppers’ attention, build human connections, and make more powerful impressions with their products.

If you’ve been hesitant about tapping into the power of Amazon Live, now might be the time to give it a shot.

The Seller’s Guide to Amazon Live

  • What Is Amazon Live?
  • Inside Amazon Live: What Every Seller Should Know
  • Top Tips for Sellers Who Want to Get Started with Amazon Live
  • Make Amazon Live Work for You

When you’re ready to grow your Amazon business, check out our fair and flexible e-commerce funding options specifically designed for sellers just like you.

What Is Amazon Live?

Amazon Live allows e-commerce sellers to advertise and showcase products through Amazon’s livestreaming service

Amazon offers a Live Creator app that lets merchants register their own “channels,” add any products they want to feature, and chat directly with shoppers as the audience posts questions or comments. 

As a merchant, Amazon Live can help you:

  • Establish a one-on-one connection with your shoppers
  • Showcase your best products through an interactive experience
  • Alleviate any fears or concerns your customers may have
  • Grab attention and increase brand awareness

Now, for the big question: Do Amazon shoppers actually like live shopping?

All signs point to yes. For example, in China, livestream shopping is huge. Last year, it generated $300 billion in revenue accounting for 11.7% of total retail e-commerce sales in the country. In the US, we’re seeing a similar spike in livestream popularity.

According to Klarna’s 2021 Reopening Insights Report

  • 60% of shoppers said attending a livestream event improved their online shopping experience.
  • 47% said they prefer livestream shopping to in-store shopping.
  • Retailers who adopted livestream shopping saw a 53% week-over-week surge in traffic.

With livestream shopping, brands can alleviate customers’ fear of missing out, while meeting their needs for personalization, and keeping them up-to-date on new products. What’s not to like, right?

If you’re looking for ways to improve brand engagement, livestreaming can offer a solution that benefits both you and your customers. But there are some important nuances to getting it right.

Looking for more ways to win on Amazon? Staying in stock is a major part of your success. Bookmark this free guide handling Amazon stockouts and make sure you’re ready for anything.

Inside Amazon Live: What Every Seller Should Know

As an Amazon seller, Amazon Live gives you three ways to engage with your audience and promote products: 

  1. Amazon-Produced Live Shows
  2. Amazon Influencers
  3. Brand-to-Viewer (self-service) streaming platforms

Amazon Live Shows are produced by Amazon. They include a curated display of products from different brands, as well as testimonials and demonstrations. Expect to spend a minimum of $50,000 if you want Amazon to include your product.

But you don’t need featured videos to get your ROI out of this channel. Amazon Live is 100% free if you’re the one streaming, although hiring influencers or external video streaming producers can be worth the investment. For example, Kim Kardashian’s livestream for her signature KKW fragrances sold 150,000 bottles in seconds.

How do I get started with Amazon Live?

Whether you’re looking to do the livestreaming yourself or outsource it to a TikTok superstar, the first step is to create your Amazon Live channel.

You can do that by downloading the Amazon Live Creator app (although, at the time of writing, it’s only available for iOS). 

Once you log in and select your brand (you’ll need to make sure you’re registered with the Amazon Brand Registry program first), you’re all set to upload your product listings and videos.

Two Options for Live Video

Option 1: Record and Schedule: You can film a video (Amazon recommends using something other than your camera phone for better quality), then upload it to your account on the Creator app. You can make the video public or schedule it for publishing at a time when your audience is most active. You can then use your Amazon Overview dashboard to track engagement rate and find a pattern to pinpoint your interactive sales peaks. 

Option 2: Livestream in Real-Time: Livestreaming in real-time is probably the best option of the two. This option lets you immediately address viewers’ comments and concerns and gives you the option to engage one-on-one or one-on-few, which can lead to increased sales and brand loyalty. 

Pro Tip: When livestreaming, have a second person to handle the live comments section. This way, you can focus your energy on engaging with your audience while your helper can give your customers undivided attention on any specific product-related questions.

As soon as you end your live session, you can view your key stats, including: 

  • Number of people who watched your stream
  • Click-through rate
  • Engagement rate

After about 24 hours, Amazon will also give you a breakdown of all the sales that occurred during your livestream. From there, you can use this data to analyze the kinds of livestreams work best for your brand.

When will my Amazon Livestreams start to turn a profit?

We’re not going to sugarcoat it. Your success with livestreaming might not start immediately. 

It can take many sessions get the ball rolling with Amazon Live, especially if you started with zero followers. 

Amazon influencer Scott Ayres witnessed this firsthand using his own experiment and even noticed that engagement increased as people watched past livestreams

Though rare, sometimes your videos actually can end up being hits as was the case with sellers Justin and April Moore. Once they started livestreaming their products, they immediately raked in new customers, increased viewers, and even managed to surpass their previous year’s Black Friday sales by 52%!

Tips for Sellers Looking to Go Live

Getting set up with Amazon Live may only take a few minutes, but getting good at it can take a whole lot longer.

Here are some proven tips to help you succeed with Amazon Live:

  • Curate Your Product List Thoughtfully: Products that appear first in your carousel, right below your video, get the most visibility. The order in which you place them is important. 
  • Use Practice Mode to Get the Hang of Livestreaming: The Live Creator app has a “Practice Mode” that lets you test the waters before you actually dive into the livestream. This is a great way to familiarize yourself with the features, test your audio and video settings, and get comfortable in front of the camera.
  • Check Your Specifications: There are certain video and thumbnail specs that work best for Amazon Live. Amazon recommends using a thumbnail in a 16:9 ratio and a horizontal orientation for all videos. 
  • Leverage Your Social Media Networks: Before you start your stream, share an invitation link on all your social media channels. This will help drive viewership. This way, you can also connect with multiple audiences in one live event.
  • Budget in Advance: The costs of livestreaming can creep up on you. You might find yourself buying new equipment, collaborating with influencers, or using Amazon-produced videos. All can put a dent in your allocated marketing budget, so plan ahead.

Make Amazon Live Work for You

Keeping up with the pace of change on Amazon can be tough even for the most experienced sellers. Fortunately, SellersFunding’s Daily Advance solution is here to help.

Whether you need capital to break into Amazon Live or to secure increased inventory, we’ve got the e-commerce funding solutions to help.

In fact, Daily Advance sellers see an average 75% increase in growth. And unlike other funding products, there are no hidden fees or rules in the fine print. With the Daily Advance, you can receive up to 90% of your previous day’s sales with rates as low as 0.5% of the advanced amount. That includes a zero-prepayment penalty and no impact on your personal credit score. 

With a dependable funding partner on your team, you can keep your marketing game strong with tools like Amazon Live. Now, get that camera ready and start streaming. Your future customers are waiting for you!

What to Do with Excess Holiday Inventory: 5 Ways to Beat the Holiday Hangover

What could cause Nike’s Chief Financial Officer to say the word “inventory” a whopping 48 times on an analyst call? If you’re like many e-commerce owners, you already know. 

Excess holiday inventory gathering dust on shelves is costing the modern retailer big time. With rising warehouse storage fees, the current “holiday hangover” and its impact on over-inventoried retailers might be the biggest inventory headache yet.

This, coupled with layers of confusion around inflation and inconsistent consumer trends, has made demand forecasting a legitimate challenge for almost every e-commerce brand. The past year has been a whirlwind of unpredictable price hikes, supply chain mishaps, and impossible forecasting.

But that’s just one side of the coin.

Even though inventory planning in Q4 feels like peering into a murky crystal ball, you can still put strategies in place to ease your post-holiday inventory hangovers and keep the revenue coming.

What to Do with Excess Inventory After the Holidays

  • What Is Excess Inventory?
  • 5 Ways to Deal With Excess Inventory After the Holidays
  • Sell Your Excess Inventory and Cure Your Holiday Hangover

What Is Excess Inventory? (And Why There May Be More of It Than Usual This Year)

In short, excess inventory or ‘overstock’ is exactly what it sounds like. When you have more products than you can sell, you have excess inventory.

After the pandemic-driven sales spike and inevitable market correction, hopes were high that Q4 2022 would resemble, if not exceed, last year’s holiday season.

In 2021, wholesale inventory rose by 2.3% as the holiday season approached, with products expected to clear shelves within 1.22 months. Not too shabby for a cooling e-commerce market.

But within less than a year, the market has shifted yet again. 

Consumers who had planned to purchase 16 gifts last year are only expecting to buy an average of nine this year. 

Fortunately, the situation may not be as dire as it seems.

While consumers plan on buying fewer gifts, they also expect to spend $507 per household. This is nearly the same as last year.

Not to mention, 100% of retailers surveyed by Deloitte feel confident their inventory will arrive on time thanks to fewer supply chain challenges compared to 2021. 👏🏽

Taking a broad view, this may mean overall revenue from this holiday season will be roughly the same. But thanks to increased product costs, sellers will likely see more inventory left on shelves as consumers purchase fewer products for the same amount of money.

No One’s Safe from Overstocks

If you’re struggling to sell your surplus inventory, you’re not alone. Not even large retailers are immune to overstocks.

Walmart, Target, Macy’s, and Kohl’s all experienced a big drop in Q2 sales. This left them with excess inventory that even heavily discounted prices couldn’t sell. 

Unsurprisingly, over-inventoried retailers who didn’t manage to offload excess inventory earlier in the year are facing a shortage of shelf space. They also face cluttered storage units and they have no escape hatch for their unsold products. 

Then there’s Amazon’s 30% increase in storage fees. For FBA sellers, you may easily end up paying more in storage fees than your inventory is worth or losing out on space that your best-selling products could have occupied.

While the holiday season is usually the most profitable quarter for retailers and a great opportunity to clear their inventory, the reality is that this year we’re expecting only a modest 1–3% growth in sales (below the 10-year average).

But that doesn’t mean you have to relinquish your margins and cash flow. With a few key tactics, you can beat the dreaded holiday hangover and position your store for a profitable year.

5 Ways to Deal With Excess Inventory After the Holidays

If your products are non-perishable, you can store them until the next holiday season rolls around. However, with soaring storage costs, this option isn’t always feasible for growing brands. 

This year, sellers may have to get more creative about how to liquidate and store excess inventory. The tactics you choose will depend on your unique brand and e-commerce business model, but here are a few ideas to consider:

1. Host a Post-Holiday Sale

Once the holiday season is over, many consumers cut down on their purchases, but remain on the hunt for lower prices.

In fact, 68% of holiday consumers will likely shop the week after Christmas to take advantage of post-holiday sales and promos, while putting their holiday gift cards to use. 

If you serve a younger demographic, you’re in luck. Shoppers between the ages of 18–24 are the most likely to shop the week after Christmas.

By marking down prices and promoting your post-holiday products on your most visited channels, you may be able to offload excess inventory and at the very least, break even.

With the right tools and data insights, you can also implement retargeting strategies that nudge bargain-hungry post-holiday shoppers closer to conversion on your overstocked products.

2. Reduce Returns by Offering Exchanges and Gifts

An equally busy return season often follows the busy holiday sales season. In fact, most retailers in 2021 expected roughly 18% of consumers to return their holiday gifts

This is obviously a nightmare for over-inventoried retailers who are already short on storage space for their existing overstock. One possible solution?

Ease the sting of high returns by encouraging customers to exchange their products and promise them a surprise gift along with their new product.

This is a great way to reduce excess inventory by offering products as free gifts that also help increase customer loyalty. Studies have even shown that this could have a positive effect on purchase satisfaction, which can help boost your customer retention rate.

3. Bundle Your Excess Products

When in doubt, consider creating “bundles” at discounted rates. 

In fact, consumers prefer buying bundles since they cut down on search time and help them save money.

By bundling up your best sellers with your less popular or slower-moving items, you can clear out your excess inventory, increase your bottom line, and improve the customer experience. A three-in-one bundle wins for you too. 😉

Want to get really creative? The Running Buddy kills it with its “Super Saver Pouch Bundle” display. 

The brand’s website includes an entire page dedicated to promoting cost-saving bundles and prominently displays its slashed prices. With cost-saving bundles like this, post-holiday shoppers can instantly see how much they’d end up paying if they purchased the products separately vs. in a bundle. It’s FOMO marketing at its finest.

4. Pop-Up Shops

From brick-and-mortar stores to e-commerce websites, many brands have seen successful with pop-up stores. Some have even seen tangible revenue outcomes to the tune of a 46% increase in sales and a 51% lift in visibility.

Pop-ups not only create great opportunities to liquidate overstocked inventory, but the physical store setting can also help you build closer connections with your customers and contribute to an omnichannel presence.

This increased visibility can set you up for more sales and customer loyalty as you launch new products next year.

5. Don’t Destroy; Donate!

If you want to make the best out of excess inventory, donating it may have some valuable benefits.

It’s no secret modern shoppers have an increased focus on social responsibility. By donating your overstocked products to an important cause or organization, you can increase customer loyalty. Socially conscious shoppers love it and you can sleep well knowing you’ve done a good thing.

Depending on where your brand is domiciled, donating may also help you secure certain tax advantages. 

Interested in donating part or all of your excess holiday inventory? Be sure to meet with your tax professional to see which tax benefits you might qualify for.

Sell Your Excess Inventory and Cure Your Holiday Hangover

The only thing worse than running out of stock is having excess inventory at the end of a sales season. But if you find yourself with excess inventory after the Q4 holiday rush, know that you’re not alone. 

Slower sales and higher storage costs put increasing pressure on the bottom line. Many sellers are facing tight cash flow heading into the new year as a result.

Luckily, that’s where we come in. 

At SellersFunding, we’re committed to helping e-commerce entrepreneurs achieve their goals during the busy holiday season and beyond. With all-in-one funding solutions, you can secure the e-commerce funding you need to launch new products and expand into new markets. Funding can also help you offload your overstocked inventory and get your forecasting back on track.

Learn more about how SellersFunding helps brands grow. Check out our growing library of success stories from sellers just like you.