10 crucial must-know tips for selling on Amazon’s omnichannel marketplace.
Omnichannel marketing helps independent merchants boost their sales and broaden their customer bases by selling through popular third-party marketplaces such as Amazon, Walmart, and eBay. Millions of shoppers trust omnichannel marketplaces when they need to make a purchase. Big-box retailers often unwittingly serve as showrooms for omnichannel marketplaces as customers will use them to compare prices and cross-shop their desired products before placing their orders elsewhere.
Amazon is the world’s largest online retailer and the second largest overall retailer next to rival Walmart. Amazon’s advertising clout and public recognition means access to a virtually unlimited pool of potential customers. However, that also means a virtually unlimited slew of competitors who’ll also be challenging you for those very same customers. To avoid being buried by the legions of other merchants that are also selling on Amazon’s marketplace, you’ll need to learn and understand how Amazon works and how to best utilize their services. Here are our 10 tips for merchants selling on Amazon.
#1: Optimize Your Product Listings
Amazon uses a search algorithm called A9, which is very similar to the Google Search algorithm. Sales determine how high or how low your product listing will rank within Amazon’s search. Therefore, optimizing your product listings with accurate product information, descriptions, relevant keywords, and detailed product images will help convince shoppers to purchase your item versus your competition (including Amazon themselves).
- Product titles should contain details such as brand, model, material, color, size, etc. but be careful not to overcrowd the title with too many details; the longer the title, the less of it may show up when viewing the page. Also, overtly long titles are treated by Google as keyword spam so while the product itself might be locatable through Amazon’s search, it might not appear on Google Search which is, arguably, even more important than Amazon’s search.
- For high-quality images, you don’t necessarily need to be a professional photographer but images need to be clear, defined, displayed with a solid white background, and in multiple angles. For the best results, save the largest image (for use with the image magnifier) at 1500 x 1500 pixels and use it as the base for the main image. With this image size, work your way down to the thumbnail. Resizing from largest to smallest will ensure that the multiple image sizes will not lose clarity, whereas attempting to upsize a small image will result in blurring and distortion.
- Use the listing bullet points to make note of key features and benefits of your item. How you word these bullet points will also air their chances of being indexed as keywords for the Amazon A9 algorithm. The bullet points themselves do not get indexed, but the words or phrases in the bullet points will be used for Amazon’s search.
- A well-written product description doesn’t have that much influence over the A9 algorithm but what it can do is help drive more sales by providing the reader–and hopefully, potential customer–into making a purchase. That purchase will aid your listing’s viability with the A9 algorithm and will thus impact its visibility either positively or negatively.
- Price competitively but do not go for the immediate undercut. Not only does the A9 algorithm ignore severely undercut prices, Amazon will undercut itself to secure a conversion away from their competitors–including the merchants using their marketplace. Remember: just because you’re selling on Amazon’s marketplace doesn’t mean you’re part of Amazon. Amazon is hosting you but to them, you’re also a competitor (and in reality, they are likewise to you).
#2: Pay Attention to the Amazon Product Identifier
There are over 12 million products listed on Amazon, not including the product listings from independent merchants such as yourself in the Amazon Marketplace. The Amazon Product Identifier is a system that determines how individual products are categorized within the Amazon infrastructure. However, it is not a perfect system. The Amazon Product Identifier uses a product’s UPC barcode information and the time said product is uploaded to Amazon’s database to create a unique Amazon Standard Identification Number or ASIN. The problem with this system is that since it relies on when a product is uploaded, the first entries can sometimes have incorrect information applied and this incorrect information will become the default data applied onto other following products that match the initial description. It is important to be entirely accurate when entering the product’s UPC information when uploading. If Amazon’s data does not correctly reflect the item, those issues need to be reported to Amazon. Otherwise, it’s SOP for Amazon to root out violations to their product identification requirements, including but not limited to deactivated listings or even deactivated seller accounts.
#3: Sell Products That People Want to Buy
You’ve chosen a specific field and interest on which to base your store, but is it a popular one? Is it so exclusive that you’ll be limiting yourself? The challenges are the same for both scenarios: jumping into an oversaturated market or appealing to only a select percentage of the consumer public will both net relatively meager sales in comparison to a well-established retailer. But there are ways to overcome those hurdles. Diversify and pay attention to who’s shopping your store and what it is they’re buying. From there, you’ll learn how best to serve your customers and you’ll gain a clearer picture as to how to establish yourself.
#4: Manage Proactively, Not Reactively
Managing proactively means to take matters into your own hands and become the cause for action. This is in contrast to managing reactively, where you’re called to action as the result of someone else’s doing. To manage your Amazon listings proactively, follow your direct competition and pay attention to their every move. The idea is not to mirror them or counter their moves after they’ve taken them, but to anticipate their strategy and to come up with and execute your own counter strike beforehand. This usually pertains to competitive pricing and launching sales campaigns but it can also extend to inventory management and the decisions that will affect what and when you stock items for sale. Watch your sales, costs/overhead, return on investment (ROI), and be on the lookout for areas that need improvement. Keep constant watch over your performance because while the Amazon Marketplace is a great source for boosting sales; it can’t do it all by itself with no actions taken on your part.
#5: Take Advantage of Positive Reviews
Positive product reviews lets shoppers know that an item is a good buy and positive seller reviews tells new shoppers that you and your store are trustworthy. It’s important to go above and beyond in the customer service department because people don’t care about middle-of-the-road; they’ll be more than willing to share their very best and very worst experiences with others. You can even ask your customers to leave a review; it is one of the best ways to generate new reviews. Unfortunately, Amazon does have a problem with rampant fake reviewers artificially boosting certain product listings. You, the seller, will always have to compete against thousands of unverified 5-star reviews but the most important thing to remember here’s to never stoop to that level yourself and resort to leaving your own fake reviews.
#6: Make it a Point to Get the Buy Box
The Amazon Buy Box is that little box on the upper right hand corner of a product page that lists every merchant on Amazon that is selling a select item. The Buy Box leads shoppers to initiating the purchasing process. By default, Amazon themselves get first shot at the Buy Box but it’s not impossible to push them down the list when competing against the other merchants on a single product that you’re all selling at the same time. By design, Amazon will not divulge the exact steps that are needed in order for your listing to win the Buy Box but criteria such as pricing, available stock, fulfillment options, and positive reviews from verified customers help determine who is worthy of the top spot on the Buy Box list.
#7: Advertise Outside of Amazon
In addition to your product listings being within accordance to the Amazon A9 algorithm, you should also advertise and market yourself outside of Amazon. Social media is today’s ‘word-of-mouth’ advertising and while you can spend money for paid posts and sponsored posts on Facebook and Instagram, you can build a strong organic presence on social media through engaging content and connecting directly with your followers. You can also check out forums that are specific to your field/product/industry and advertise there; niche forums and communities are good sources to connect with targeted audiences.
#8: Consider Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)
Chances are, when selling on the Amazon Marketplace, you import your Amazon orders along with your regular store orders and process, pack, and ship them out all together. That means you’re responsible for all the logistics and customer service. With Fulfillment by Amazon, you send your inventory to Amazon and allow them to store it in one of their distribution centers. When an item sells in your Amazon Marketplace, Amazon will take care of the logistics and customer service for you. This also helps assure some of the more skeptical shoppers passing through Amazon that, while they buy from you, they don’t exactly trust your name or reputation and are much more comfortable dealing with the services they know and expect from Amazon. Of course, FBA comes at the cost of a larger percentage that Amazon will take out of your earnings for selling on their marketplace so think about if it’s worth doing.
#9: Provide World Class Customer Service
Through customer service, you can ensure customer satisfaction. Be as accommodating as you can to your shoppers and customers. While accurate product descriptions and competitive pricing will help give the shopper incentive to buy from your store, it’s imperative that you don’t forget the aftercare. People want to shop from companies who appear to genuinely care about them, and they’ll shop again if the experience is good enough to warrant a return visit. The likelihood of this happening increases exponentially when the customer receives service that goes above and beyond their expectations. As in the case of positive product reviews, your Amazon store can earn positive reviews and trust from consumers by providing exceptional customer service. Politely ask your customers to leave positive reviews and those who were most impressed will share their experiences for others to read. Conversely, this also works the opposite way; people will also have no qualms about publicly sharing their experiences with truly horrific service so know to pick and choose your battles carefully.
#10: Don’t Anger Amazon
The Amazon Marketplace has some of the strictest and most unyielding regulations of all third-party channels. This is the trade-off for being aligned with the #1 most powerful name in online retail. Sometimes, accidents happen and you might unintentionally go against Amazon policy and they might not pick up on it. DO NOT MAKE THIS A HABIT. Because while it’s easy to get started selling on Amazon, it’s just as easy to get your account deleted and kicked off of the Amazon Marketplace. Bring any questions and concerns to Amazon directly; if you are unsure of a specific guideline, need assistance on any Amazon-related technical matter, or need clarification on Amazon regulations, be open and contact them directly through the support channels. This will remind them that you have every intention of obeying their rules and are not trying to cheat their system.