Seller Spotlight: Q&A with Retail Arbitrage Entrepreneur Elizabeth Whitcomb

Every Amazon seller has a unique story. Elizabeth Whitcomb, founder of Swannies, opened her Amazon store in March 2016. Early on she experienced inconsistent sales growth due to Amazon’s 14 day payment delay. She would quickly sell out of inventory, have to wait two weeks to buy more and miss out on future sales.

In May 2017 Elizabeth discovered Payability and grew her business quickly. Daily payments gave her the cash flow she needed to buy inventory at the speed it was selling. To celebrate Elizabeth’s success, we sat down with her to learn more about how she runs her retail arbitrage business and her plans to expand it even further.

How do you organize your day?
Each morning I start with fulfilling whatever orders came in the night before. Then I source throughout the day. I take the packages to USPS first thing in the morning. I take the FedEx packages at 3 p.m. and then I do another USPS run at 5:45 p.m.

What’s your favorite part of the process?
Fulfillment is my favorite part because that’s when I get to see how much money I made and how long it took me to sell the product.

What do you worry most about?
I worry about getting packages out on time and getting my selling privileges removed.

How do you put customer feedback into practice?
I just wait for people to give me feedback. I don’t feel right about sending feedback emails out over and over again.  

When did you start doing Seller Fulfilled Prime?
I started in April 2017.

Was it hard to get approved for Seller Fulfilled Prime?
At first I was very nervous because at the time you had to fulfill 250 packages in 60 days or something along those lines and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to fulfill that amount of orders. But with some organization and enough inventory on hand, I was able to qualify for Seller Fulfilled Prime and I’m so glad I pushed my business to reach that goal.

Why not just do FBA?
It takes a lot more of my profits and it takes a lot longer to get your products sold because you have to ship them to Amazon and then Amazon might ship them somewhere else and then ships onto the customer.

What’s the biggest challenge of Seller Fulfilled Prime?
When you’re doing Seller Fulfilled Prime, you have to live your life around what time the orders have to go out. If you’re not around to take care of it, you need to make sure someone else is.

Do you sell on other marketplaces?
I don’t sell on other marketplaces yet. When I get out of school I plan on expanding.

When did you know your Amazon business was really making money?
I knew I was succeeding as an Amazon seller when I would get 20-30 pieces of inventory in one day and be sold out the same day. Also, when Inventory Lab told me so!

When did you start hiring employees / virtual assistants?
I hired an intern because I knew I would be gone for two weeks and in and out of the office during the summer. I have almost always used a virtual assistant through The Selling Family to help me source products.

How do you use your Payability money?
I use my Payability money to buy more product every day. If I didn’t get paid every day I wouldn’t be able to sell the volume I sell.

Do you have any other tricks to maximize your money? (Kohl’s card, points, etc?)
I use Ebates as much as possible. I also use my Kohl’s card and Kohl’s cash for discounts. For instance, I recently used a 40% off coupon code with my Kohl’s card combined with free shipping and Kohl’s cash to get three crockpots for the cost of the sales tax.

In addition to running her Amazon business, Elizabeth is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management at Mercyhurst University. For more on how Elizabeth scaled her retail arbitrage business using Payability, read her full success story.

Victoria Sullivan
Victoria Sullivan is a Marketing Manager at Payability. She has over eight years of social media, copywriting and marketing experience. Prior to joining the Payability team, Victoria developed social media content and strategies for top technology brands such as Skype and Samsung. She holds a degree in Advertising from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. She can often be found in a yoga class or working on her fashion blog.

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