Competition is brutal between first, second and third-party sellers across Amazon’s twelve global territories: 1,029,528 new sellers joined the platform in 2018 alone. With so many sellers vying for a piece of the pie, some have resorted to nefarious practices in a bid to get ahead.
The most common mistake all businesses make is to think their product will fly off the shelves as soon as it’s launched with little effort. The second is to think it’s all about price. Succeeding long-term on Amazon means winning the Buy Box through legitimate means based on sound research, accurate pricing, SEO, product quality, brand integrity and great customer service.
We’ve put together these eight key points to help you launch successfully on Amazon quickly and to see your business continue to grow.
1. Invest time in thorough Amazon product research
How are brands like yours selling, which keywords are working for them, how much do they cost? Get your answers by checking the Best-Sellers list, Amazon storefronts, Movers and Shakers and product sub-tiers.
Check your competitors’ product listing pages and their websites. Read reviews about their product quality and customer service. Focus particularly on the Sponsored Products, Frequently Bought Together and Customers Also Bought sections. These are products promoted by Amazon because they sell well and so are worthy of analysis.
After researching Amazon, type some keywords into Google or another search engine and see if your competitors are appearing outside of the platform as well.
Tip: It’s very easy to fall down rabbit holes during research. Be clear about what you want to know and stay focused.
2. Optimise your product listings correctly
95% of Amazon listings are set up incorrectly. This could mean poor keyword usage and either copy, images or both, resulting in disappointing conversion rates.
The golden rules are:
- Your listings should look good
It must be easy for people to understand what you’re selling
- Think simple and effective. And make your listings scannable for the 90% of shoppers who do not read a complete product page.
Shoppers make decisions very quickly. They will first look at four main areas: Title, Reviews, Price, Images. If they’re engaged, they will read Product Features and finally, the Detailed Description.
Tip: Use Amazon’s Enhanced Brand Content and visual aids such as bullet points to draw attention to key points and features.
3. Master Amazon SEO and its A9 search engine
Like Google, Amazon’s A9 search engine decides which product should appear in a search based on keywords. Unlike Google, A9 is not concerned with user intent: people are there to buy or sell only. This means your Amazon SEO strategy should focus on buyer motivation rather than trying to answer questions, as it would with Google.
A9 crawls your listings and combines its analysis of what you’re selling with other specific signals to award you a score. The higher your score, the more prominent your position on the page.
While keywords are central to scoring highly, an equally crucial scoring signal is your sales record. Amazon wants to make money so the more you sell, the higher you rank.
Tip: Don’t be tempted to offer random discounts in a bid to up your rank. Discounted sales are the least valuable to Amazon so discount with reason such as launches, seasonal offers etc.
4. Understand Amazon’s ABR, EBC and FBA and how they can help you
Amazon wants to ensure consistently high standards of user experience and customer care across its entire global marketplace. They do this by helping sellers help themselves with tools, services and programs that refine the marketing and sales process.
Amazon Brand Registry (ABR) allows trademarked brands full control over product listings content, offering protection from counterfeiters and other nefarious sellers. ABR provides additional support and exclusive opportunities to increase sales.
Enhanced Brand Content (EBC) helps optimise your product listings so that shoppers find what they want when they want it and engage more readily with your brand.
Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) helps you offer better customer care by storing, picking, packing and shipping directly from an Amazon depot. This service also takes care of returns, refunds and after sales care. 66% of the top 10,000 Amazon sellers use FBA.
Tip: Research which tools your most successful competitors are using and copy their model.
5. Price competitively and control your supply chain for Amazon success
More than 70% of sales happen on page one of the Amazon search results. An important part of achieving this is competitive pricing. You need to price high enough to make a profit but low enough to be attractive to buyers.
Setting your break-even cost is your first step and this means understanding your Amazon Floor Price.
This price takes into account all your costs on top of product purchase or manufacture: shipping, customs, payment wiring, Amazon FBA fees, customer return fees, variable overheads, product category related fees etc.
Whether you use Amazon FBA or your own warehouse facility, inventory management is vital. If you are Prime seller, your buyers expect to receive their goods within a few days. Make sure you can honour this commitment and have the means to restock regularly.
Tip: Consider all your options before you jump onto Amazon. Without a pricing and supply chain strategy, it’s incredibly easy to suffer expensive losses before you even get properly started.
6. Don’t get stung for fake Amazon reviews
Generating positive reviews is an important part of achieving a good page rank but never be tempted to pay for them or fake them yourself. This practice undermines a vital part of buying and selling on Amazon and they are clamping down heavily on culprits.
Automated technology is weeding out false reviews and the penalties when it finds them can be massive. Cure Encapsulations is currently facing a $12.8m fine for buying fake positive review for ‘slimming pills’.
Top tip: Familiarise yourself with Amazon’s rules regarding reviews. There are plenty of ways you can get great reviews legitimately, without getting flagged, fined or suspended.
7. Have a customer service model in place to avoid Amazon penalties
Amazon’s mission is to be Earth’s most customer-centric company. You are competing against Amazon as well as other brands, so your customer service has to stand up.
How will customers be able to contact you with a question? If you sell products overseas, how will you manage the language barrier? What about returns and refunds?
The Amazon Seller’s Code of Conduct is long and complex and if you don’t stick to its rules, your seller’s account can be suspended.
Tip: Using FBA will take care of such issues automatically, so it’s worth looking at the tiered fee structure and determining whether that would be the best choice for you.
8. Identify and report third-party sellers for selling your products or counterfeits
Don’t let nefarious sellers get away with breaking Amazon’s rules. Amazon relies on legitimate brands to report selling practices that either violate Amazon’s code of conduct or applicable law.
Reportable abuses include attempts to circumvent established sales processes, improper use of business names, spamming Amazon customers, operating multiple seller accounts, misuse of ratings and more.
Tip: Never let an abuse go unreported. Amazon is under increasing scrutiny from Which? and other consumer watchdogs. It benefits you as a seller and all Amazon customers to nip wrongdoing in the bud.