If you’ve ever looked closely at the Amazon logo you will see an arrow leading from the A to the Z. The message? This is a comprehensive service that allows anyone access to both purchasing and selling solutions. As a small business owner, you likely have purchased a few items on Amazon, but what you may not have considered is how simple it is to sell your own products via the sales giant’s platform.
Red Stag Fulfillment has created a comprehensive step-by-step guide, easy to follow, that outlines how to take your product and expand your audience exponentially through Amazon. They outline three basic stages toward making your Amazon sales goals into feasible action steps as:
- List it
- Sell it
- Ship it
And the fourth… get paid.
Start with a Suitable Product
Despite the ubiquitous nature of Amazon, some products are more suitable than others when it comes to viability over the marketplace.
The most successful Amazon products have similar attributes:
– Cost more than $20 but less than $200 per item
- Are able to be sold quickly (ideally 10 or more per day)
- Are easy for the layperson to use
- Have a profit margin of over 50%
How Do You Know What Your Profit Margin Will Be?
Amazon is in the business of helping your business succeed. That is how they earn their return. Therefore they’ve provided a number of tools to assist you when joining their platform. To determine your return on investment (ROI) you can use the Amazon Seller App. This assists you in calculating costs, keeping track of spending and estimating profits.
After you’ve chosen your product you will want to calculate the return on investment (ROI) you are standing to earn. This will help you determine costs and keep track of how much you expect to earn.
Be sure to research products similar to yours on the site. The mobile app will even allow you to scan any products barcode and receive pricing and fee information from Amazon.
You can learn the shipping as well as pricing of any item. And even if you do not yet have an Amazon account you can use the Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) Revenue Calculator
FBA Revenue Calculator. This will calculate how much profit is likely for your product.
Once you know your product’s viability in the market, it’s time to move forward.
There are a few steps still required in order to properly prepare your product for the Amazon market.
- Provide high quality photographs of your product.
- Order UPC codes — Amazon requires all products to have a barcode, this is something you can easily purchase from a vendor like such as BarCodes Talk.
- Create a logo and branding.
- Set up your bank account.
Now you are ready to participate in the marketplace with confidence. Starting out is easy—just click on the SELL button at the top of the Amazon home page. Amazon will then walk you through how to set up your seller account.
Should Your Seller Category Be Individual or Business?
Selling as an individual is usually the best path if you plan to ship less than 40 items per month. Amazon will charge individual sellers $1 per item. Selling as a business is $40 per month, therefore it is not cost effective unless you are planning to move more than 40 units in a month’s time.
The next step is to fill in pertinent profile information such as your address, phone number, credit card and Tax ID or Social Security Number.
Set Up Seller Settings
In the settings section you will be able to customize how you receive information like product news. This can be set up according to how you feel it would be most efficient, but it is imperative that the “Listing Notifications” and the “Report Notifications” are turned on.
This is also the place to consider shipping settings. If you are shipping your own product you can choose your own cost here, but keep in mind that the lower the cost of shipping the more desirable your product becomes.
You can use Amazon for your fulfillment needs, however, it’s a good tip to contact other fulfillment centers, as they may be less expensive than using the Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) service.
Tax settings for your business are something you should discuss with a tax professional particularly if your business requires a supply and fulfillment chain spanning several states.
Lastly, you can add personal information regarding your business. Look at examples on the site as templates for your own, or just add your logo here.
Set up listing
Amazon is now ready for your to sell on their site, however there are a few further considerations before customers can begin to purchase.
- Make sure your product is not restricted by Amazon.
- If your product is not already on Amazon you will need to get an FNSKU number. This is what Amazon uses to track your product.
- Selling individually (rather than in bulk) is recommended for most who are just starting out on Amazon.
The best way to learn your way around is to get to know the salient features of the portal.
What is a Buy Box and How Do You Win It?
Amazon uses an algorithm to match customers with their ideal products. When that match is complete the product is accessed by the Buy Box which is how a patron places your item in their cart. To have your product “win” the buy box is your ultimate goal.
To be eligible for the buy box you need:
- A seller account
- New (rather than used) products
- Available inventory
Winning the buy box is a game of negotiating the algorithm. Amazon takes into account cost but also performance and other metrics regarding your business, including response time to complaints and reviews. If you have a new product, you may have to price lower than competitors initially in order to win your buy box challenges.
Amazon also prioritizes products with shorter shipping times so keep that in mind when listing.
Advertising on Amazon
To increase sales you can bid on specific keywords and ads will appear at the top of search results and other placements. These ads tend to be cheaper than AdWords or Bing Ads and have good return as they connect with a specific audience that is ready to shop.
How to Optimize a Listing
While the nuances of optimization are complex and there are many theories on what strategies to take, there are a few relatively simple rules to follow as you go through the elements of a listing.
- Title: When creating a title make it as specific as possible. A lengthy description is best as it is possible to use up to 500 characters. Titles that incorporate keywords and details are most successful.
- Content: It is best to have specific bullet points in your content section that utilize keywords.
- Categories: Defining your product very specifically will give you a better chance of gaining a “best seller” ranking for your category of items.
- Reviews: These deeply affect purchaser habits. Ask buyers to leave reviews and quickly address any negative comments.
The best shipping options available has to do with your product and how you bring it to market.
Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)
Predictably, Amazon suggests using their fulfillment service and there are a number of Pros and Cons to this for your business.
Reasons to use FBA:
- Amazon ships quickly and has warehouses all over the country
- They will handle any returns
- Products will be eligible for Amazon Prime members
Reasons not to use FBA:
- Inventory and supply chain mistakes are common with FBA
- Tax questions are complex as the definition of the “sales tax nexus” evolves
You handle all the details but shipping rates are determined by Amazon for each product. If your actual shipping rate is more, you will pay the difference.
Third Party Fulfillment
If your business is starting to expand, it may be time to consider matching up with the right fulfillment partner. Consider the kind of expansion you are hoping for. Are you looking to move product overseas? Is online integration important to you?
The right fulfillment center will provide options that align with your product needs including return management, customer service for your products, and ways for your businesses to communicate easily online.
Considering Global Expansion?
Amazon has tools such as FBA Export and Amazon Global Selling. With FBA Export Amazon takes care of packing, shipping, and returns but adds fees. Amazon Global Selling is more customizable and thus more efficient, but means longer lead times. Take a look to see which is best for your business.
Now you get paid, of course. But the last step to consider is keeping your customers happy so you continue to do so.
Tips for customer retention:
- Quickly respond to new orders: check the portal often – at least once a day
- Send shipping confirmations: communication with customers is key
- Maintain inventory: do not accidentally sell out of a popular product
- Keep pricing competitive: stay abreast of pricing trends
- Cultivate five star reviews: ask customers to actively review
- Respond quickly to service issues: Amazon connects business health with rapid customer response.
- Keep returns below 8%: Amazon will shut down a listing with returns higher than 8%
There are many more aspects to successfully selling your products on Amazon, however, following these steps will allow you to begin selling with confidence. It is important to bring your product to the marketplace where your customers are and Amazon helps you expand to the people who desire your product like never before.