Are you a retailer interested in selling on Amazon? You’re not alone, Amazon has more than 2.5 million current, active sellers, according to Marketplace Pulse. Perhaps you’re a brick-and-mortar retailer thinking about how to sell online, or maybe you’re already selling on your own website and want to diversify with a multi-channel approach (one or a combination of Amazon, eBay, Wal-Mart, etc.). This blog will give you a place to start and seven crucial tips to consider when you’re starting out.
How many Amazon sellers are there?
Not only are there millions of Amazon sellers, it’s worth noting that they are also doing quite well on the platform. As of 2019, approximately 25,000 sellers on Amazon made more than $1 million in sales, and 200,000 sellers were raking in more than $100,000 in sales. Many small businesses or home-based businesses with just 1 to 5 employees also enjoy success on the platform. In 2019, more than half of Amazon’s $280 billion revenue funneled through Amazon’s third-party sellers.
At eCommerce Nurse, we help a wide range of global sellers with everything from Seller Central setup to ad-hoc account support and full account management. Our team of ex-Amazonians and Amazon specialists have sorted out a lot of issues and mistakes and know the common issues sellers face, whether they’re brand new to the platform or well-established with a smoothly running account.
Main considerations when opening an Amazon Seller Central account
Many fresh sellers are searching for Seller Central help. While Amazon makes the sign-up process fairly simple, it can be hard to find answers to your particular questions or the situations when you face issues, especially if your business is new to the world of Amazon selling. These tips will help you get started on the right foot and point you in the direction of success.
1) Be thorough, legitimate and professional
First things first, don’t just haphazardly create an Amazon selling account. Ensure you are properly set up and understand the ramifications of what you’re doing.
- You will need a business address, which will be displayed publicly on Amazon for all to see. If your business is out of your home and you register with this address as your business address, keep in mind it will be permanently visible to customers. If you want to avoid this, be sure you have a business address set up separately with your correct info.
- In addition, you will need to be a legitimate business operating legally. This will require a tax ID, credit card, etc. All of this information will be needed when creating your account.
- If you plan to sell internationally, it’s even more imperative to get set up correctly. Look into what countries are available to you via the global selling tool and note any restrictions and requirements for tax and packaging rules. You are always responsible for abiding by the laws of the countries you sell in. For example, Canadian packaging must be in both French and English.
- Ensure you adequately sample your product and have a good relationship with the manufacturer. It’s nearly impossible to remove a bad review on Amazon, so don’t take risks with product quality or cut corners when listing your items.
- Generally, you also should pay attention to your reputation outside of Amazon before launching on Amazon or simultaneously. It is important for brands to have their own website, be Google optimised, and have a social media presence. All of these components will help towards SEO and building a strong base for customer trust.
2) Decide on a fulfillment approach
Choosing your fulfilment method for doing business on Amazon is going to be key to your success or struggle on the platform. As a seller, you have the option to choose Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) or Fulfilment by Merchant (FBM). Each has pros and cons. Some sellers also choose a hybrid to tailor operations to their specific products.
- If you are using FBA, be sure to look at overall costs, such as shipping your merchandise to the fulfilment centre. Factoring these into your plans can save you resources and work in the long run.
- FBA also has strict packaging requirements that are specific to product type. For example, if you are shipping in glass bottles, they must pass a drop test.
- Pay attention to barcode requirements. Manufacturers may help facilitate this directly, if you ask, especially if they are used to dealing with Amazon.
- When using FBA, be sure to have a tool or spreadsheet setup to track inventory. You want enough stock to cover your needs and not sell out, but not so much that you accrue costly storage feeds. Amazon prefers drip methods of little but often, especially from smaller sellers with few reviews or light traffic. We recommend working to maximum 90-day holdings.
- Be well prepared for key events like Prime Day and Black Friday. Know your product and seasonality. Booking-in times can really increase during these times.
- If you are using FBM, ensure you are prepared to fulfil orders and respond to customers daily. This is not a good method for a hand’s off approach.
3) Take advantage of Amazon programs for sellers
- If you are a brand owner with a trademark or in-process trademark, ensure you apply for the Brand Registry.
- Make sure your brand name matches your registered brand name in Seller Central and in the Brand Registry. This can be a headache if it does not all link up and can be nearly impossible to fix without creating new accounts. For instance, don’t make your name “Expert Sports Company” in Seller Central and “The Expert Sports Co.” in the Brand Registry.
- If you are a start-up, consider Amazon Launchpad, which can give you an extra boost when it comes to assistance and marketing goals.
- Learn about Seller Central and take advantage of free resources and how-tos using Amazon Seller University.
- Strong reviews help you gain traction and success in rankings, search and browse. If you are a seller in the Brand Registry, consider using the Early Reviewer Program. This program requires a small fee ($60 per product enrolled), and Amazon will incentivise purchasers to leave an honest review.
- Similarly, Amazon Vine allows sellers and vendors to submit products to be reviewed by trusted, honest reviewers from a pool chosen by Amazon.
- If using a review program, stick to the guidelines! Do not try to solicit reviews or violate customer review rules.
4) Optimise your content
Your listings must be optimised to do well on Amazon. This requires solid copywriting and a bit of research. See this blog for common listing optimisation errors.
- Keywords are especially important for success on Amazon. Your keyword lists and competition should be well-researched and your content (including the title, bullets and description) should be peppered with these keywords. Ensure you are meeting content guidelines. Titles, bullets, and descriptions have rules about what you can and cannot say, plus length limits.
- Optimise your images, too. This is often the first thing customers will see about your product. Ensure you have good photography, cut out on a white background, filling 80% of the space.
- Consider secondary main images. Lots of our clients are now using infographics on these. Lifestyle images are always helpful to show the size of a product and how to use it.
- If you need to set up variations, ensure this is done correctly from the beginning. Amazon has a lot of restrictions on what is a variation. It must be the same product in different sizes, pack sizes, or colours. It cannot be accessory bundles, etc. If you violate these rules, your account can be suspended. Don’t take a risk. Ask questions, read the rules, and get it right from day one.
- When it comes time to upload content to your ASINs on Amazon, ensure you are using the right new-item setup sheet (NIS). These vary by category because different information is required for certain products (for example, hazardous items, fashion products, etc). This also can help ensure your products are classified in the correct store on site.
- If you are a brand owner, budget time and resources for a Brand Store. This can provide a great landing page for advertising and external marketing. It’s a good place to communicate your brand story and cross-sell items in your range.
5) Don’t neglect marketing and advertising
- Even with fully optimised listings and a great product detail page, customers will have trouble finding it, purchasing your product, and leaving solid reviews if they cannot discover your product.
- Use Amazon Advertising to create Sponsored Products, Sponsored Brands, and ad placement on and off Amazon.
- Ensure you have created an advertising budget that is sustainable and ongoing. You will need to continually drive traffic to your listings.
- Create a marketing plan with a clear pricing strategy and promotional calendar. Do this 12 months in advance so you can accurately plan and budget to your needs. Consider Prime Day, seasonality, key periods for your product, and holiday events.
- Use social media and all your available tools to drive traffic to your Amazon listings.
- Run promotions like coupons/vouches or price discounts using the available options in Seller Central.
6) Use external tools to help your business succeed
- Seller Central is great, but it has limits. If your business is complex, or you do not have systems in place to manage everything, there are a variety of tools out there to help. You can link your third-party tools to keep track of where sales are happening across all of your selling platforms.
- Use the wide range of tools available online (many of them free) to create keywords and do product research. These include Sellics Sonar, Jungle Scout, Helium 10, ZonGuru, etc.
- To ensure you are generating reviews and staying within Amazon’s rigid buyer-seller communication guidelines, using a tool like Feedback Five or similar is a good way to engage with customers and get legitimate reviews.
- Some tools will help you manage inventory and streamline your operations. Check out Restock Pro, by eComEngine.
- Visit more tools we recommend, especially if you plan to sell globally, on our External Services page.
7) Collect, analyse, and leverage data to your advantage
For success on Amazon, it is key to identify the metrics to focus on. Think about this carefully, especially when starting up as a small business.
- Metrics like Average Order Value (AOV), Average Order Profit (AOP), and Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) are a great place to start because they are relevant even if the sample of data is very small. Once there is big enough sample data (basically more orders), start looking at Conversion Rate (CR) and thinking about ways to improve this.
- Set learning goals for the e-commerce business and a few key things to learn from customers. For example, if the learning goal is retention rate, metrics to monitor would be: Repeat customer rate, average days between customers, etc. Once this is established, start testing different actions (on Amazon and outside Amazon). This might include, for example, a promotional email after first purchase for first-time-buyers.
- Keep an eye on your performance notifications and voice of the customer. Always act in the best interests of the customer. If you get a few comments that start to feel like a trend, take the hit on sales and thoroughly research and correct the issues. Amazon will block you from selling if negative customer experiences are >5%. They are not lenient or kind in letting you back. Avoid this happening at all costs.
Conclusion and additional resources
You may think that the initial set up process on Amazon is the tricky part and once that’s organised, you can sit back and watch the sales flow in. We will warn you right now: This is not a reasonable assumption.
Success on Amazon requires substantial time and effort. You must do what you can to drive off-Amazon traffic to your listings. You must update and refresh content, keep track of inventory, analyse metrics, react to pricing and competition, tweak and adjust advertising spend, implement your marketing plans, and more. Sellers must keep adding to the flywheel to grow in earnest.
We hope these tips get you started and ensure you avoid basic mistakes when launching on Amazon. If you need more assistance, troubleshooting help, a pathway for international expansion, or overall integrated account management, eCommerce Nurse can help. Please contact us today.