Getting started on Amazon has never been easier. However, getting started is only the first step. Understanding fulfillment, fees, SEO, and advertising are just a few hurdles you will encounter. After a while, you will begin to realize that Amazon is its own ecosystem. What works on the platform won’t necessarily work on social or search. Depending on your brand equity, the quality of your product, and the marketing budget will determine the timeline to become an established seller on the platform.
Why Sell on Amazon
Let’s briefly talk about why you must be on Amazon. Amazon is the largest eCommerce marketplace in the United States, representing 47% of all US eCommerce sales in 2019. In 2018 Amazon.com had net sales of $160B.
Amazon is where users discover products, research reviews, and leverage Prime benefits. It has multiple touchpoints across the buyers’ journey. If you aren’t on Amazon, you’re leaving money on the table. For anyone with decent brand equity, you’d be surprised to find how many unauthorized sellers will be reselling your products and misrepresenting your brand on Amazon. This article will help you get started on the world’s largest marketplace.
Registering for a Seller Central Account
When you register to sell in the U.S. on Amazon.com, you will need to provide a valid credit card, phone number, and tax information. For taxes, you are required to go through an online step-by-step interview that will determine whether you will need to complete a W-9 form (as a U.S. taxpayer) or a W-8BEN (as a non-U.S. taxpayer). You will need to provide a valid credit card, phone number, and tax information. More details below;
As a Pro Seller, you will only pay subscription fees corresponding to the marketplace where you first registered to sell. For example, if you registered to sell on Amazon.com, you will pay that marketplace’s subscription fees ($39.99). If you decide to sell on Amazon.ca, you will not pay additional subscription fees. However, for all per-item sales, you will pay the fees applicable to the marketplace in which the item was sold.
We recommend that you register for a pro account and take advantage of the additional features. Below are the differences between the two programs:
Create Your Listings
After you register and are approved for an Amazon Seller account, you will need to start listing products. Before you list your products, you will want to make sure you have all of the correct information to get started. You can add products to Amazon in two different ways depending on if the product exists or not inside of Amazon.
Match to an existing product listing: If you have a product you want to sell that already exists on Amazon, you must match the existing product detail page.
Create a new product listing: If the product you want to sell does not exist on Amazon, you can list a new product, and Amazon will create a new product detail page.
If you are creating a new product listing, you will need the following information:
To further break this down, you must have a GS1 UPC Code on your product. You can use an Amazon FNSKU (Amazon Barcode) if you plan on fulfilling through Amazon, but the GS1 certification is a must. Also, make sure you have your product dimensions (packaged and unpackaged) as well as weight. Product dimensions and weight will speed up the process. It will also help with conducting a Fulfilled By Amazon (FBA) fee analysis if you plan on using Amazon for fulfillment.
The next big piece after creating your listings is to optimize your listing for search. Amazon provides guidelines on how to properly optimize your listing for search.
Optimize listings for search
Customers should be able to find your products before they can buy them, and searching is the primary way they can do that. Customers search by entering keywords, and Amazon matches this against the information (title, description, and so on) that you provide for a product. Factors such as the degree of text match, price, availability, selection, and sales history help determine where your product appears in a customer’s search results. By providing relevant and complete information for your product, you can increase your product’s visibility and sales. Below are some general guidelines to improve your product listings.
Product detail page
Each individual word in the Product Name (Title) is searchable on its own. For example, a product called Laura Ashley Sophia Collection 300-Thread-Count Pillow Cases (Blue, Queen, Set of 2) is better than Blue Pillow Cases. This is because the recommended Product Name above includes this information:
- Brand – Laura Ashley
- Product line – Sophia Collection
- Material or key feature – 300-Thread-Count
- Product Type – Pillow Cases
- Color – Blue
- Size – Queen
- Packaging/Quantity – Set of 2
Titles should be approximately 60 characters long. You only have a moment to catch the eye of a customer and your online title on Amazon should echo what would be on the physical packaging of a product.
Keywords & search terms
You can add additional keywords to an ASIN’s catalog data to describe that product. These are hidden from the customers.
To add keywords:
- Go to Manage Inventory under the Inventory tab.
- Click Edit next to the product you want to add keywords to in your inventory.
- On the next page, click the Keywords tab and enter your keywords in the Search Terms field.
Note: Amazon limits the length of the search terms attribute to less than 250 bytes to improve the quality of search results. To see search term examples and learn more about how to make your products discoverable within those limits, see Using search terms effectively.
Amazon provides you with an opportunity to add search terms for your products. These search terms should only include generic words that enhance the discoverability of your product. For example, if you’re selling headphones, your search terms can contain synonyms such as “earphones” and “earbuds.” Search terms are not required fields.
Here are some best practices for providing search terms:
- Don’t include product identifiers such as brand names, product names, compatible product names, ASINs, UPC codes, and so on.
- Don’t provide inaccurate, misleading, or irrelevant information such as the wrong product category, wrong gender, out-of-context words, and so on.
- Don’t provide excessively long content. Respect the limits that are set for different fields.
- Don’t provide redundant information such as title, author, brand, and so on. It won’t improve your product placement in search results.
- When entering several words as a search term, put them in the most logical order. A customer is more likely to search for “big stuffed teddy bears” than for “teddy stuffed bears.”
- Use a single space to separate keywords. No commas, semicolons, or dashes are required.
- Don’t include statements that are only temporarily true, such as, “new,” “on sale,” or “available now.”
- Don’t include subjective claims such as amazing, good quality, and so on, since most customers don’t use subjective terms in their queries.
- Don’t include common misspellings of the product name. Amazon’s search engine compensates for common customer misspellings and offers corrective suggestions.
- Don’t provide variants of spacing, punctuation, capitalization, and pluralization (“80GB” and “80 GB,” “computer” and “computers,” and so on). Our search engine automatically includes different case forms, word forms, and spelling variants for searching.
- Don’t include terms that are abusive or offensive in nature.
- Abbreviations, alternate names, topics, and key characters (for books, movies, and so on) could be included as search terms.
Pick a Fulfillment Method
Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) vs. Fulfilled by Merchant (FBM) or Merchant Fulfilled Network (MFN) are the two primary methods that orders can be fulfilled on Amazon.
FBA fulfillment comes with multiple benefits making it the ideal choice for fulfillment on Amazon. FBA products are Prime eligible, buy box advantage, improved product visibility, more programs available, customer service, returns, and shipping are processed by Amazon, and convenient inventory storage.
Some cons of the program include high FBA fees, inventory storage charges, lower profit margins, no control of packaging, and limited access to storage once in Amazon fulfillment centers.
FBM are orders fulfilled by the merchant. Meaning orders will come in through Amazon, and you will be responsible for fulfillment. You will also be responsible for all returns and customer fulfillment inquiries. Keep in mind Amazon has strict seller guidelines. Late shipments and bad customer service will lead your account to be suppressed.
Depending on your sales velocity, FBM fulfillment is a cost-effective way to penetrate the Amazon marketplace. FBM is ideal for sellers who hold small amounts of inventory or leverage a third-party logistics provider. Some additional benefits include control over packaging, easier inventory management, and better margins.
Some cons of the program include high overhead costs, tough to compete against FBA sellers, more responsibilities on the seller in terms of tracking and customer service.
You can use Amazon’s FBA Calculator to calculate your profit margins. You can also check out this more in-depth post about How Amazon FBA Works.
Promotions & Advertising
Promotions and advertising are the best way to get your products in front of potential shoppers and incentivize a purchase. Promos and ads will prove most useful when getting started on the platform and building validation by generating sales and acquiring product reviews. For FBA products, two promotional programs that will help with initial reviews are the Early Reviewer Program and the Vine Program. These programs are designed by Amazon to help sellers get reviews on new products to the platform.
Here are some promotional tools we have at our disposal on Amazon.
Lightning Deal or 7 Day Deals
Lightning deals are available on Amazon for a small fee and give you access to the Today’s Deals page and the Prime Day page. Lightning Deals are time-sensitive and leverage the Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) trigger to get visitors to make a purchase. Lightning Deals work great during high trafficked periods like Prime Day and can provide a halo effect perpetuating organic sales. The drawback is you don’t always get to choose the time for your lightning deal, leading to a low ROI. 7 Day period is very similar, but the time is longer, seven days to be precise 🙂
Percent-off is a great and easy way to get started with promotions. A percent off is available to all sellers on the platform and allows your product to show up in search results with the discount present. Percent-off can be a great way to get to differentiate your product on search. Also, a great way to test price points when experimenting on the platform.
A coupon discounts a product by a percent off or a dollar amount. Coupons are also visible in search results and require the customer to clip the coupon on the product detail page. Coupons come with a $.60/use fee but only when the coupon is used, not just clipped.
Buy One Get One
A BOGO strategy is excellent for complimentary items, liquidation, or to run a tiered type of discount, i.e., buy one get one for 5% off. These promotions are easy to set up and have no additional fees associated with them. The only drawback is that they can be hard to find because they are located in the Special Offers section below the fold. Most BOGOs go unnoticed.
Advertising on the Amazon platform is the best way to get traffic to your listings. Amazon Sponsored Product ads allow us to advertise on keywords based on customer searches. Sponsored Product ads are a Cost-per-Click (CPC) based system. We have two main ad types we can use to get started; Automatic and Manual Ads.
Sponsored Product ads show up on top of search results. Note the Sponsored icon in grey above the product title.
The second-place ads will show up on the product detail page below the bullets. It also has a Sponsored icon in gray above the product images but below the Products related to this item orange header.
Automatic ads are ads where Amazon will automatically select when your products show up in search results. Automatic ads are a must for anyone getting started on the platform as you will discover how potential customers search for your products. Using a strategy like keyword harvesting will help you to build more robust and efficient manual ad campaigns.
Manual ads are ads where the advertiser selects the keyword, match type, and bid on specific keywords. Manual Ads are the best way to double down on keywords that generate a profitable Advertising Cost of Sale (ACoS). We also can target competitor products to ensure our ads show up on their detail page. Manual campaigns tend to be more efficient and give us much better control over our spending and ad placement.
Getting started on Amazon is only half the battle. Building a brand and consistent customer experience across all customer touchpoints is key to success in the Amazon marketplace. The above tips will help you get started selling on the Amazon platform.
If you are looking for assistance from the experts, reach out to us and we can put you in contact with the folks at bellavix.com.They are a full-service Amazon Agency and our preferred partner.