Sometimes I Impress My Own Self

Click the video thumbnail, below, to watch this video I did in my home-warehouse talking about the time saving new Amazon FBA Removals screen in arbinon.com Feature Release 07.

This week, I learned a couple things about myself — some was a refresher, but some was new to me… and I thought I would share a bit about that self discovery with you.

The past few weeks I had been procrastinating because I didn’t want to deal with a huge pile of FBA removal orders.  I had a batch of 10 or so small boxes and envelopes 3 weeks ago, and another 15-20 boxes and envelopes this past week.   Seems Amazon likes to do their returns in huge chunks.  

I hate doing those returns.  I did a batch of around 40 packages in March and it took me probably 3-4 hours.  First part was to figure out how to sort/categorize each, and decide when it makes sense to file claims.  Probably 90% of these returns are missing the small parts that the customer should be sending back … and if I put in the work, I could probably win most of them if they’re not “customer damaged” which is a whole pack of wrong on Amazon’s part… story for another day…

Anyhow, having that memory somewhat still fresh, I was avoiding this new pack of stuff, and I find (learning & remembering this self-discovery) : when I don’t want to do a task because it’s uncertain or tedious, I tend to make something that would automate that … the act of making something does two things : first, it makes me busy “on the problem” (read : avoiding), and it also, in theory will make the ugly part of that task easier and faster when I do get onto it.  So, all in all, it becomes like this utopian mind game where the end-state is out there in the future and I don’t have to deal with it right this moment.  Pretty nifty way of convincing myself I’m working on the task now and solving the problem for the future, without actually getting the job done.   Sometimes it just takes some elbow grease and to get off my arse.

So.  This week, that task was the new Amazon FBA Removals screen in arbinon.com.  When you get that pile of boxes from Bezos’ basement into your own basement, this new screen lets you scan the Tracking ID, the box, the packing slip barcode.  Then you can sort the items into piles based on these broad categories:

  • Sellable — you can send this back to FBA, for example, or sell it as New FBM.
  • Dispose — it’s clearly wrecked and no human should ever see this filthy dirty thing again.
  • Donate — some of the things I sell are not things I would be so inclined to resell.  But I would donate them because there’s nothing wrong with them and they’re worth something.
  • Aftermarket — if you have something that is a customer return, but is missing something small and you want to go through the extra effort to sell it on Facebook marketplaces, Craigslist, Kijiji or somewhere else, this is for you.   I have never done it, but in this batch I am going to give it a whirl as an experiment.
  • Hold — This may be something you need to do some more investigation, so you want to “hold it” for further review or analysis.
  • File Claim — When it is worth your time then you may want to go through the hassle of filing a claim with Amazon.   They don’t make it easy.  I had about 6 units in this batch that were clearly customer sent used and abused products.  But the wholesale cost is $2.50, so I’m not wasting my time.  But one of them is a return of a 6-pack of the same kind of product, and I am not selling that product, so it’s going to be on my “I will die on the principle of this fraudulent return” category.  You gotta make it spicy from time to time. 🙂

The other self-discovery I had from all this was that sometimes I impress my own self.  Some of the simplest tasks we do over and over, when made slightly better can make the world of difference!  

Last time this happened was when I made our OASearch Chrome Extension.  I mean, it’s NOT hard to open a Chrome tab, type in “amazon.ca” or “amazon.com” and then enter a search for a product or ASIN.   But, that simple feature of Right-Clicking and selecting ONE darn menu option to do that for me, somehow has a HUGE impact on my mental well being.

Today, I went through my entire batch of FBA removals and returns with that new screen, and handled the WHOLE batch in under 25 minutes!   I was super amazed how fast that went.

First, I saved all that time.  Second, I have my space back!  Third, I have collected all the details so that if I need to go back and do a claim, I have all those tracking Ids, LPNs, and all that stuff to file claims and more importantly.  Fourth, I have a process now that I could train anyone, which makes it possible for me to outsource that task now.  

And, that 25 minutes will be even less next time.  About half way through, I decided that maybe I would try doing some aftermarket — which was totally new to me — so I had to think about what I would or wouldn’t send… So I had to move some stuff in and out of their sorted locations, remove them from the “donate” scan and re-scan them into the “aftermarket” disposition.  Next time I could probably handle that same volume in 10-15 minutes.

Anyhow, I thought it was cool that my intuitions on this one worked out well.  I knew it was going to be a hassle to handle all these removals and I needed to de-clutter my limited workspace, and I was impressed how the nugget of an idea came out of the blue and I banged it together and it works, and it worked WAY better than I expected!  

And, that makes me excited because in my books this is such a minor feature.  I came out of this process today thinking that these returns will never be a problem for me again! 

That is how I can Rule My Realm better every day.

Have a blessed weekend and a fantastic week, everybody!

Tim McKay, MBA, GDM, B.Sc.

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