Finance 09 December 2019
Don't Fall into the Amazon Seller 'Money Exchange' Death Trap
I'd like to share a personal story with you if I may. I've been an Amazon seller for years. Most of my customers are based overseas and that's where my bread and butter is – foreign markets. To be honest, I assume that Amazon was the perfect go-to solution for most every component of my online e-commerce operations. I listed my products with them and promoted them accordingly. When buyers were interested in making a purchase, I simply use the Amazon currency converter for sellers to determine my fees.
Now, if you're based in the UK and reselling to the European Union, currency conversion is necessary. The same is true for any other country in the world. There are all sorts of fees to consider with an online business, including things like storage costs for FBA, value-added tax, and things like currency conversion rates. It's really important to understand how much you're being charged vis-a-vis currency conversion rates. I'll digress for a moment with PayPal as an example. PayPal is extraordinarily expensive for sellers – much more expensive than online money transfer services like TransferWise, Skrill, and CurrenciesDirect for example.
You really want to get a good grip on the exchange rate that you're being charged – those little percentages add up to big amounts at the end of the month when you're determining your profits. You will notice them even more if you operate your business on low margins. Unfortunately, this is a fact of life for many e-commerce operators given the intense competition and the glut of sellers in the market. Everybody wants to have an online business nowadays; whether it's selling goods or services – people see the benefits of 'passive' income streams through e-commerce activity. The reality is decidedly different, and I'm going to break it down in terms of the extraordinary costs that are brought to bear on your business if you use Amazon's services.
So, what costs am I talking about here? Ideally, you would want to have a mid-market foreign exchange rate – nothing too high to contend with. If the prevailing GBP/USD rate is 1.30, you certainly don't want to be quoted a rate of 1.26 if your business is based in the UK. That $0.04 difference means that you are getting less USD for every GBP-priced product or service that you are selling online. If we're talking about high-volume, or expensive products and services, that differential can make or break you. All cost considerations need to be borne in mind when evaluating things like base fees on international transactions, hidden fees and international transactions, commissions, and the exchange rate that is actually charged by Amazon. I started digging around, after realising that mind of my profits were far less than I had hoped.
How to reduce your fees when selling on Amazon?
Granted you can't get away from fees entirely, but you can certainly cut down on them to prevent the total erosion of profitability in your e-commerce operations. Other money transfer services like WorldFirst, Azimo, Payoneer and PingPong have rates between 1% – 2% on average, and this got me thinking – how competitive are Amazon's rates? My research led me in many different directions. Fellow Amazon sellers advised me that the best way to avoid exchange rate fees was simply to open bank accounts in the markets that you were doing business with to avoid all the shenanigans associated with exchange-rate fees. That's not always an option with a business that sells in multiple countries. The currency converter at Amazon typically levies charges of 3% – 4% of the total amount of the sale. Unfortunately, banks also want a cut of the money and that could be as much as 2%. It's important to verify the effective exchange rate before the transaction is completed.
The recurring theme in this whole saga is to try and establish a bank account in the country where you are selling your products and services. If this is possible, then you can use your own foreign exchange provider to reduce that figure of 5% – 6% of total charges down to just 2%. To get There, you must pick a different online money transfer service where the total fees and commissions will be between 1% – 2%. There's no getting away from international money transfer services taking account of the funds that are being transferred. However, you can certainly reduce the amount that you are haemorrhaging every month to an affordable figure by shopping around.
Amazon's currency converter for sellers utilises the prevailing exchange rate on the day your transfer to your bank account is made. If you think that the published rates at Bloomberg, CNN, BBC, or Al Jazeera is the rate that you're getting – forget about – that is the interbank rate. However, Amazon's rate is different. You can click on view exchange rates from the payment summary section when you are making transfers to your account. Even if you have a GBP-denominated account in a foreign country, Amazon usually transfers funds in the currency of the receiving countries bank a.k.a. the local currency.
Managing Amazon transfers effectively
So how does Amazon transfer payments to your bank account? Well, Amazon uses ACH (Automated Clearing House) and/or electronic funds transfers to send money into your bank account. It can take up to 5 business days for this process to complete. Amazon Payments Inc is responsible for transactions payments when buyers agreed to make payment before goods have been shipped or before services have been completed. Amazon Services LLC is responsible for payment processing when buyers agreed to make payment after goods have been shipped, or after services have been rendered. So, in closing, I'm going to provide you with two powerful tools you can use to save money as a seller on Amazon:
- As a seller, you can streamline your operations by using different payments providers to facilitate more efficient business operations. There are many options in this regard, including World First, Global Reach, and Currencies Direct
- If you're selling between the UK and Europe, you will need to take that into consideration. Rather than withdrawing your earnings, converting back to EUR and then sending a wire transfer for VAT (expect fees of up to 5%) use a reputable money transfer service which has free services like back payments to EU authorities. I'm not going promote one or another – simply do some research and pick the one that is best for you. If you use the services of international money transfer companies which have local bank accounts in the markets that you are selling in, an international currency allocation, you have an account based in an overseas territory that allows to receive local currency. With this method, you can sell to customers anywhere in the world and get paid in local currency in your receiving account. Then your money can stay in that account while you monitor the exchange rates and you can transfer the funds back to your main account when exchange rates are favourable. Simply add your local bank account information to your Amazon account and Amazon will transfer payment to your local account in that currency.
Hopefully, this sheds a little light on the topic and you will be able to use this information to cut down on the expenses and boost your bottom line accordingly.
6 Min Read
Self-care is not selfish.
What do you believe you deserve? That's a pretty loaded question, isn't it? In more than twenty years working as a women's life coach, I've asked it thousands of times, and I've received countless answers. The majority of responses I've received have been disheartening, and they've revealed a startling truth. Women - even very successful, accomplished women - doubt their deservingness.
Deservingness is not to be confused with entitlement. Entitlement is about believing you have a right to something. Deservingness is about how much you believe you're worth.
When you doubt your deservingness, what you're really uncertain about is whether or not you measure up. Are you good enough? (YES.) You've made some pretty big mistakes. Do those bad blunders make you a bad person? (NO.) Are you a good enough person to deserve good things? (YES. YOU ARE.)
Many women carry around a secret shame that impacts their feelings of self-worth and deservingness.
Our stories are individual, but our core experiences are very much the same.
At some point in your life, someone told you there was something wrong with you. This is inevitable, of course, because there's something wrong with all of us, but it gets to dangerous and disempowering territory through repetition.
If even one person in your life tells you over and over again that there's something wrong with you, well, you can start to believe them. Being rejected or criticized hurts, and it has a cumulative effect. Imagine every criticism you've ever received is a tiny little pin that landed right in your heart. (Seriously bad visual, right? Wouldn't your heart look like a pincushion if that was the case?) Beyond hurting like hell, a heart full of pins holds you back and makes you play small. YOU ARE NOT SMALL. I want you to stop acting like you are.
In life, you always create the results you believe you deserve. If you don't believe you deserve good things, you won't let yourself have them.
You'll sabotage, procrastinate, and excuse the good right out of your life if you don't believe you deserve it. Happily, you can raise your sense of deservingness, and deepen your feelings of personal worth. I'm going to show you how today. It's time to start believing in you again.
Step 1 – Take good care of yourself.
On the face of it, you'd think this advice would be obvious and unimpeachable. Of course you have to take care of yourself. The problem with this truth is that there are whole communities of people who will try to convince you that prioritizing your needs makes you a selfish person. (And who wants to be seen as selfish?)
I've never encountered a woman who hadn't heard some version of this self-care-is-selfish-nonsense. The thing is, these messages are about control, and they come from people who are happy to keep you down and disempowered. (Which makes it easier for them to manipulate you.) Do not fall for this line of hooey.
Self-care is not selfish. Self-neglect is selfish.
Self-neglect tells you that you don't matter. It asks you to stuff your wants and repress your emotions. When you chronically neglect yourself, eventually, you turn into a repressed, angry, self-doubting zombie (or banshee depending on your anger level). Nothing about self-neglect is attractive. I want you to stop doing it. TODAY.
We need you in top form. There is purpose in your life. To make good on it, you need to connect with your SELF. The most fundamental way to begin that process is to take care of your physical body. When I'm working with a client, we practice four physical care basics. (I practice these guys too. Religiously.)
- SLEEP: You need seven to eight hours of sleep. Every night. No exceptions.
- HYDRATE: You need proper daily hydration. Water is energy.
- NOURISH: You need to eat food that nourishes. Not just food that fills your stomach.
- RELEASE YOUR STRESS: You need some way to unload your tension. Think working out, meditation, journaling, gardening, prayer, sitting in nature, cooking, or hot scented bathing. Let. It. Go. Girl. ☺
Notice I said, "you need." These are non-negotiable requirements. If you're tempted to argue against your ability to practice them, please pause. I've heard every excuse known to woman. And I don't buy a single one of them. We're in a no-excuses zone now. You don't get to argue against yourself and also be empowered. It doesn't work that way. You have to choose.
If you haven't taken care of yourself in a long time, this topic can feel totally overwhelming. I understand, and I want you to do it anyway. Remember, I'm your coach. A loving boot-in-the-butt will sometimes be required in our relationship. Consider this my velvet tipped toe, making contact with that booty of yours.
Take a deep breath and start tackling your care basics. You DO have time. You are NOT selfish, and there's no wrong way to do this except not to do it at all. Practice makes powerful. SO PRACTICE!
Okay, time to up the ante a little bit. This next step is harder.
Step 2 – Be someone you can count on.
You can't think your way into believing in your own worth, but you can act your way there. As it turns out, keeping the commitments you make to yourself increases your feelings of worth and deservingness, and strengthens your confidence too.
Think about it. You make countless commitments every day. The trouble bis that most of them are for other people. When you don't have a strong sense of your own worth, you agree to most incoming requests. Which means you're probably way overcommitted.
When your calendar is crowded, and something's got to give, you're the one who usually goes. Because it's easiest to break commitments to you, right?
Every time you break a commitment to yourself, what you're really doing is showing yourself, through your own inaction, that you don't matter. NO! Bailing on yourself is like giving your hopes and dreams a big middle finger. (Please stop doing it.)
It's time to start following through FOR YOU. Don't panic. I'm not suggesting you stop doing things for other people. As a woman, you're a natural-born nurturer. Of course, you're going to do it for other people. I just want you to add yourself to the list of people-you-do-for.
The best way to get a handle on showing up for yourself is to start paying attention to what's going on when you don't. What causes you to cross yourself off your own list? When you bring your triggers into your awareness, you'll notice a pattern, which will give you the power to make changes.
Take things one choice at a time. Whenever possible, choose to follow through for you. Every time you do, you remove one of those tiny little heart pins and strengthen your sense of worth and deservingness.
Now for the hardest part…
Step 3 – Stand up for yourself.
When you don't believe in your own deservingness, you become an earner. Meaning, you spend your time and energy earning love. This can show up in a lot of different ways. We'll talk about three of them here.
- You could be a PLEASER. You say yes when you mean no. You do a ton of favors. You're secretly annoyed the entire time you're doing them, but you keep doing them anyway.
- You might be a PERFORMER. You're the life of the party and an overachiever. You use material items and accolades like money, degrees, titles, and awards to prove your worth. (I used to be this girl.)
- It's possible you're a DOORMAT. This pattern is most damaging because it means you're allowing other people to treat you poorly. On the extreme end of the spectrum, this could look like allowing people to demean, degrade, or disrespect you. Even on the lesser end of things, it means you allow people to get away with passive-aggressive comments, or take advantage of you. On any end of the spectrum, doormat behavior is toxic.
It gets worse. When you live as an earner, you attract users. (That's just as bad as it sounds.) There are unfortunately people in the world that will live at your expense without giving it a second thought. If you're willing to give it, they'll take it, and even talk themselves into believing they deserve what they're taking. These kind of people like to keep you small, scared, and doubting your deservingness. (Then you do whatever they want. Whenever they want you to.)
YOU MUST STAND UP FOR YOURSELF.
Start by catching yourself in the act of playing the earner. What and who triggers the earner response in you? What are you afraid of? What are you trying to prove? If you feel drained or bad about yourself after you're with a specific person or in a certain place, you need to think twice about being with that person or in that place.
I know this is easier said than done. It's possible the people who make you feel bad are co-workers or family members. It's not like you can just stop seeing them, right? If you find yourself in this position, there is only one path. You need to speak up for yourself. Stat.
For help, you can check out three of my other blogs. They'll show you how to stop living like a pleaser, set some boundaries, and say no like you mean it. Will you be uncomfortable? Yep. You will. Can you handle it? Yes. You can. Be willing to be uncomfortable. Speak up. Stand up. Stop accepting less than you deserve.
Every time you speak up for yourself, you remove another pin from your heart, raise your sense of deservingness and you deepen your own sense of worth. You also show other women what it looks like to know your worth and live like you know it. Which encourages them to do it too. (THAT is female power.)
You are good, and you deserve good things. You deserve acceptance, belonging, and love. There's no mistake in you, my sister. YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH. Just as you are.
My mission is your empowerment. That's why I'm here. If you haven't already joined my community, please do it by entering your email (www.kimberlyfulcher.com). Until we meet again, know that life is happening for you.
You've Got This!
KimOriginally published at www.kimberlyfulcher.com