How to Sell on Amazon: A Guide for Beginners and Experts AlikeSeller Labs
Introduction: Amazon Really Wants You to Succeed. Really.
Given all of the rules and restrictions of the Amazon Marketplace, sellers often express that they don’t feel supported by Amazon or that they feel as if Amazon doesn’t want them to succeed. With so many policies, so many changes to those policies, so much difficult-to-find documentation in Seller Central, and so many minor infringements punishable by suspension, it can indeed seem as if Amazon has deliberately put up barriers to seller success.
Those perceived barriers, coupled with Amazon’s near-obsessive pursuit of customer satisfaction at all costs, can render sellers feeling overwhelmed and as if everything is stacked against them. As technology providers for Amazon sellers, we understand the frustration. We also firmly believe that Amazon wants sellers to succeed. Simply put, seller success is in Amazon’s best interests in terms of generating profits and providing the breadth of selection and the low prices that are essential to the Amazon Marketplace’s success.
That said, never underestimate your importance in the Amazon model and never think that you can’t succeed as an Amazon seller. Your success and Amazon’s are closely intertwined in a partnership that can be exceedingly beneficial and lucrative for each party involved. In this guide to selling on Amazon, we’ll show you how to sell better by understanding your role in moving the customer-centric Amazon flywheel. You’ll learn how use proven ways to optimize your product listings and to maximize sales and service, and to in turn, reap the rewards that Amazon provides.
Chapter 1: The Amazon Flywheel (AKA The Bezos Napkin Sketch)
Below is the now-famous visual of the Amazon flywheel. It’s famous enough, simple enough, and familiar enough to not need too much explanation. Suffice it to say that we can understand the mechanics of it with just a little knowledge of Newton’s First Law of Motion, which, simply put, states that unless acted on by an external force, a body at rest tends to stay at rest and a body in motion tends to stay in motion.
We know this from our own experiences with momentum. Consider how much effort it takes to start a bicycle at a dead stop and get it moving on an upward incline. However, once you get it going and you’re pedaling consistently, things become easier. After you’ve built momentum or leveled off to flat terrain, pedaling feels smooth and nearly effortless. When a wheel is turning and it’s fast and smooth and seemingly powering itself, it can seem almost magical in ease, flow, and both the use of energy and the conservation of it. It’s positively elegant in both simplicity and sophistication. That’s the optimal Amazon flywheel zone and it’s totally achievable for Amazon sellers who have great products and who tend to the smaller wheels powering the bigger Amazon flywheel.
As a seller, you turn some of the gears that are essential to the larger flywheel motion. The better you do that, the more Amazon rewards you, and the more your business on Amazon will grow at the expense of your competitors. There is no trick to achieving this. Amazon wants you to succeed and it makes no secret about how sellers ought to go about that. If you understand the pieces of the machine and the way in which the machine works, you can run your Amazon business accordingly and you will prosper. The challenge is not so much in doing this but in understanding that optimization is never complete and that it requires ongoing innovations, additions, experiments, and edits.
Chapter 2: Understanding the Basic Tenets Guiding All Things Amazon: What Sellers Need to Know and Do
All sellers need to understand the tenets upon which the Amazon flywheel and Amazon success in general are based. From there, beginners and seasoned sellers can start to master how to sell on Amazon.
1. First and foremost, the customer experience is everything. You know this, but just take a moment to remind yourself of it. At the heart of everything that Amazon does is customer satisfaction and keeping customers buying more and buying beyond what they thought they wanted, needed, or could even acquire through Amazon.
2. Seller success is measured on two types of factors: relevance and performance. Both of these contribute to how Amazon ranks products and how those products are found and displayed.
Relevance has to do with the Amazon algorithm. It is what gets your product considered a good match for a user’s search input and what he or she is most likely to buy. Relevance factors include:
– Backend keywords
Performance is how strong Amazon deems your product to be in terms of existing profitability as well as product potential. Key Performance Indicators (KPI) measure:
– Sales velocity
– Sales history
– Inventory and fulfillment
– Conversion rate
– Seller feedback score
– Product reviews
3. Success begets success on Amazon. It’s a cycle wherein success is rewarded with the tools and privileges that further increase the likelihood of subsequent success.
On Amazon’s Side
Lower Costs → Lower Prices → Growth and Expansion → New Programs → Lower Costs … repeat …
This relates to efficiencies and costs. We see this with Amazon’s cutting-edge logistics in fulfillment and delivery and how that lowers costs and prices, allowing the company to reinvest in technology, innovative products, and exclusive offerings. To say that this has paid off for Amazon is an understatement.
On the Seller Side
More Sales → More Reviews → Higher Rankings → Better Placements → More Sales … repeat …
This relates to selection, speed, sales, and profits. Seller success is integral to Amazon’s success as a marketplace. The key is creating compelling listings and optimizing them in ways that signal to Amazon that you are a seller who knows how to sell on Amazon.
Chapter 3: Wheels Turning Wheels — How to Sell on Amazon and Win
Now that we have our big-picture foundations and fundamentals, let’s explore the smaller parts at work when it comes to how to sell on Amazon successfully.
The gist is as follows: If you provide listings that are complete and compelling and optimized, you’ll get more conversions and sales. Then this magic happens:
- When you start selling more of a product as evidenced by conversions, that product will rank higher.
- When that product ranks higher, it gets better placement.
- With better placement, a product sells more.
- When a product sells more, it ranks higher … and the beat goes on.
In this model, motion can be accelerated organically by great products, low prices, good reviews, and great customer service. It can also be accelerated artificially by sellers using Amazon Sponsored Advertising and product launch strategies. Feed the cycle and the cycle will repay you.
Below is a visual representation of the gears at work and how they turn. For each component, we’ll provide information, tips, and resources to help you move not only the gears but the larger flywheel, along with the needle, in terms of your power as a seller.
How to Sell on Amazon: The Gears and How to Turn Them Into Power and Profits
Simply put, discovery is about showing up in search results. Shoppers can’t buy what they can’t find. Help them find and buy your products by optimizing your Amazon product discoverability and upping the relevance factors upon which Amazon’s search algorithm picks up listings and ranks them. Below are some important relevancy components and information to help you in your listings. In order to make the most of these, you will need to be savvy about keywords.
Keywords: Remember that as you are creating your listing, you are peppering it with keywords that will be used throughout the title, headline, bullets, description, and on the backend (hidden keywords that Amazon uses for indexing but shoppers do not see). It is these keywords that signify to Amazon’s algorithm which products it should pick up as matches to user searches and how it should rank those products in presenting them to the shopper. To say that keywords matter is an understatement. While keywords they aren’t everything to a listing, they are everything to discovery and ranking.
How do you find the best keywords?
- Ask friends and family to describe your product in their own words.
- Do an Amazon search for your product/similar products, as well as searches on other commerce sites like Walmart, eBay, and Target.
- Use the Search Term Report in Seller Central.
- Read your product reviews and incorporate those phrases.
- Read competitors’ listings, especially the listings for those ranking as top sellers in your category.
- Do a reverse ASIN lookup using Seller Labs Pro’s Keyword Center Powered by Scope. Scope is a keyword discovery tool that will show you the keywords that are driving organic sales for an ASIN. These keywords are ranked on a 1-100 score — the higher the score, the better the keyword. Each keyword will show you where an ASIN ranks in search based on a keyword search term. Scope also allows you to see the estimated sales a keyword has generated for an ASIN in the past 30 days.
What do you do with those keywords?
Now that you’ve gathered your keywords and you have a sense of their weight and impact, distribute them across Amazon’s required fields in order to build clear, compelling, shopper-friendly listings and detail pages that signify relevance to Amazon while creating interest to shoppers.
Title: This is not only crucial to the Amazon algorithm but it’s probably the most valuable and impactful element of your listing. It can make or break whether or not the shopper continues to read further or goes back to look at other search results. You only have 200 characters for your title so use them wisely. Include brand name, what the product is, what it does, and variations of those for which shoppers may be searching. Here I urge you to consider the increasing role of mobile shopping and that you need to strike a balance between inserting lots of information and keywords (using your full 200 characters) along with how that title renders in a smaller mobile display. That said, you want to put the most-important keywords first. Default title style to get you started is Brand + Model + Product Type + subsequent information such as material, purpose, size, quantity, color, etc. Read Amazon’s Product Title Requirements so that you can create the perfect title for your listing.
Bullet Points: Use all five bullet points and make them easy to read, formatted in a consistent fashion, and full of pertinent keyword-rich information. This will help not only your ranking in search results but your conversion rate as bullets resonate with both the algorithm’s hunt for keywords and the shopper’s hunt for features and benefits. Go the extra mile and anticipate questions shoppers may have and answer those questions preemptively in your bullets. What do I mean? I mean that if you get a lot of questions about how your cast-iron pan starts out and how it ages with use, make a bullet about it being pre-seasoned, rust-proof, and lasting for generations of cooks. If you stand by your product (and you should), include (and tout) a guarantee of some sort. Read Amazon’s bullet points overview for more.
Power Resource: Make it easy on yourself, use this info straight from Amazon: Clear and Concise Bullet Points.
Testing shows that well-crafted bullet points increase sales. Customers rely on them to understand key product features as they highlight important or distinguishing facts about your product.
Use the following guidelines as you craft your bullet points:
- Highlight the five key features you want customers to consider, such as dimensions, age appropriateness, ideal conditions for the product, skill level, contents, country of origin, and so on.
- Maintain a consistent order across your products. If your first bullet point is about materials, keep that same order for all your products.
- Reiterate important information from the title and description.
- Begin each bullet point with a capital letter.
- Write with sentence fragments and do not include ending punctuation.
- Do not include promotional and pricing information.
Product Description: Here’s where you are most free to tell your story and how your product and brand came about and why this item is the best choice for purchase. It’s where you can express what your product does and how it does what it does and why that is of benefit to the buyer. This section is an expansion of the title and bullet points and it allows you to take a tone with shoppers and present your brand and your product in a way that communicates something unique and worthwhile. This is not a place to simply stuff keywords or mention the competition or make claims that you cannot substantiate. It is a place to tell your story and make a connection with your buyer.
Backend (Hidden) Keywords: This is where you put the keywords that you want Amazon to index but you don’t need shoppers to see (e.g., if you are selling headphones, your hidden keywords may contain synonyms such as “earphones” and “earbuds.”) These keywords should only include generic words that enhance the discoverability of your product. Amazon indexes only the first 249 characters in a product detail page’s backend keywords so you have to be sparing and smart. That limited number means that finding strong keywords and leveraging those is more important than ever.
Remember that Amazon wants sellers to succeed and it helps them by giving clear best practices about listings. Here is some of what Amazon says regarding backend keywords:
Put keywords in the most logical order (a customer is more likely to search for “big stuffed teddy bear” than for “teddy stuffed bear”).
Provide inaccurate, misleading, or irrelevant information.
Use a single space to separate keywords. No commas or other punctuation needed.
Include statements that are only temporarily true (“new,” “on sale”).
Include abbreviations, alternate titles, topics/subjects (for books, etc.), and key characters (for books, movies, etc.)
Include subjective claims such as amazing, good quality, etc.
Include terms that are abusive or offensive in nature.
Mention competitors or their brands.
Writing a quality listing takes time, energy, and effort. Here are two things to keep in mind when doing so.
Unlike Google, Amazon doesn’t care about original content. This means that if you have an awesome keyword-dense product description on your own site or another commerce site or anywhere else, you can use it as is on Amazon. So make that easy on yourself with some copy-paste-adjust treatments of existing listings.
Time Taker (But Well Worth It)
Remember that Amazon is asking sellers to provide structured listings written in keeping with its guidelines. Follow the instructions, respect the rules and parameters, and complete every applicable field. Taking the time to thoughtfully complete as many detail fields as possible is a win for you, buyers, and Amazon.
Be Efficient: Amazon’s algorithm is smart, so smart that you needn’t include certain information and variations of keywords as the algorithm has already picked them up from other parts of your listing or it will parse the common variations behind the scenes.
Skip the following in your backend keywords:
- product identifiers such as brand, product, ASIN, UPC
- keywords that already appear in the title, description, and bullets
- variations like upper and lowercase keywords, singular and plural forms of the same keyword
Pro Tip: Instead, use keywords that are synonyms, hypernyms, or spelling variations of content in visible attributes (e.g. if product title is ‘whiskey’, use ‘whisky‘ in generic keywords).
A listing that is complete and chock full of details does the following:
- Gives buyers the extra information that may make them more likely to choose your product over your competitor’s.
- Provides the kind of details that clarify confusion so that buyers know exactly what they are getting. The result: fewer returns.
- Feeds Amazon’s algorithm all of the keyword goodies that it needs to find your product and match it to a customer’s search and move it up in results.
- Makes your product filter friendly in the left sidebar. Not only will this help you if the user is browsing and narrowing things down as he or she goes, it will tell searchers exactly what they want and that your product (and not others) is the best match in terms of color, size, brand, Prime eligibility, etc.
- Sends a signal to Amazon that you are an organized seller who takes the process seriously and is committed to providing the customer with the best experience.
Don’t Forget the Details!
Both shoppers and Amazon respond well to listings that are complete. The many fields in a listing submission may seem pesky but they are actually opportunities to rank better and sell smarter. Below are some of the fields where providing information (that is thorough and correct) is essential:
Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): When a shopper is looking for something specific, such as a replacement part, Manufacturer Part Number is crucial. A specialty light bulb, a replacement heating element for an oven … these are the sorts of things where shoppers rely on unique identifiers to make sure that they are getting the exact part they need. Be sure to not only add your MPN (if applicable) but to double check to make sure you’ve got it listed correctly and have included other products with which it is compatible.
Specifications: Don’t skimp on specs. Sure it seems like hyper-specific technical info, but it matters, and not just to gear geeks browsing electronics. Specs like size dimensions, weight, color, power output, software version, etc. are what will:
- Differentiate your product from others (think sound output in similar wireless electronics at the same price point).
- Prevent returns (consider someone ordering camping gear that didn’t list folded size and then realizing that the gear wouldn’t pack down small enough for travel).
Category and Subcategory: Although search is the most-important, most-used method for finding products, we mustn’t ignore that shoppers browse as well. This is where the category and the subcategory are important. Be sure to select these carefully and to drill down as narrowly as possible so that you are competing with fewer other products in that classification. Learn more about Amazon’s Browse Tree Guides (BTG) so you can increase your product’s discoverability for browsing shoppers.
Here we’re talking about clicks, plain and simple. You’re taking a shopper from having found your product (along with many other competing products and brands), to clicking on your listing for further information and a possible purchase. How do you drive traffic and cross that bridge from impression to click? Advertising.
But don’t just advertise; experiment and take calculated risks and monitor your reports. Perhaps most important with advertising is that you treat it like investing (which it is) and you diversify your portfolio. Try the different advertising options available to you.
- Sponsored Products Ads (available to 1P and 3P sellers), strategy tips here.
- Sponsored Brands Ads (available to sellers who own their brands and are registered with Amazon Brand Registry)
- Sponsored Display Ads (available to sellers who own their brands and are Amazon brand registered)
Other Methods of Advertising on Amazon:
Try them in various combinations and make adjustments as the data dictates. Understand that not every type of ad is a best fit for every product or brand. But if you work your ad campaigns methodically and diligently and listen to what the data says, you can absolutely turn lackluster product performance into best-seller status. Start by reading The 4 Cornerstones of How to Effectively Advertise with Amazon.
Crush Amazon PPC with Seller Labs Pro’s Advertising Center Powered by Ignite
Seller Labs believes in the power of Amazon PPC but we also know that Amazon’s Seller Central campaign-management interface can be cumbersome and the reports can be delayed and they often require advanced knowledge of Excel.
We built our Advertising Center Powered by Ignite to not only take the pain out of managing PPC but to simultaneously find you the best keywords based on historical data as well as current trends and competitors’ listings. Between the powerful data-driven keywords, intelligent suggestions based on ever-changing marketplace factors, and the interface being fully integrated with AWS so that any work you do is synced and live in your account, we’ve seen blazing sales velocity and profitability for many a seller. Get the Advertising Center and more seller apps free for 30 days when you try a Seller Labs Pro Account.
Now it’s all about sealing the deal. You’ve got a potential buyer on your detail page and now you need to move that buyer to adding your product to his or her cart and checking out. Remember that this point, completing the sale, is the number-one way in which Amazon measures success. Did Amazon match the right product to the buyer? Did that buyer make the purchase? The answers to these questions are in large part how rankings shift and sales get rewarded with better placement that further increases the likelihood of subsequent sales.
Conversion Rate: Detail page conversion rate is determined by the following simple formula:
About the terminology:
- Total Order Items: Total number of order items ordered for selected time period. (Note: An order can have multiple order items, and each order item can have multiple units.)
- Sessions: Number of unique visits to your Amazon product detail page within a 24-hour period. (Note: A user might view your pages many times on a single visit, resulting in a higher number of page views than sessions in your reports.)
What can you do to increase your conversion rate?
A lot, actually. Amazon wants you to succeed so they make no secret what you need to do in order to do just that. In the case of conversion (the most important gear in the flywheel because this is where you and Amazon make money), we know that the following factors influence whether or not a customer buys a product:
- A+ Content
- Fulfillment by Amazon
You already know the importance of the Buy Box. Price is indeed one of the most-important factors determining which seller owns that crucial real estate and gets the bounty of conversions that it delivers. But price does more than play a determining role in Buy Box ownership, it also influences conversions (and plays into rankings because lower-priced items have a higher likelihood of being bought). Ceteris paribus, shoppers are going to choose the item priced lowest. This gets tricky because sellers want to have the lowest price in order to capture the sale but the price can’t go so low that there’s no profit in selling the product. It’s a balancing act and one that isn’t about prices so much as it is about margins. And where there are margins, there are opportunities.
So how do you play the price game with your competitors without accelerating the race to the bottom? Set a price threshold and don’t cross it. Commit to a price that you will not sell below and stick to it while working on all of the other factors that help your ranking and conversion rate.
Shoppers will indeed pay a little bit more if your page looks amazing and your reviews and feedback are all high marks and you’re running a promo and shipping fast and free through Prime (especially if your competition has some bad reviews and the fuzzy images make his or her product look not just low resolution but low quality).
Accept that there is only so much that you can do about price and do your best at cutting costs before you get to the retail marketplace that is Amazon. If you optimize in areas like sourcing and manufacturing and packaging and shipping, you’ll have a lot more play when it comes to flexible pricing. Do that, tend your other ranking and performance factors, and put your customers first, and you will find that it’s not all just a race to the bottom.
The Amazon algorithm loves compelling content and so do shoppers. Making compelling content is key to how to sell on Amazon, but it can be a daunting task, particularly when you aren’t a writer or a designer by trade. Amazon has come a long way in order to help sellers make attractive, informative, user-friendly pages that don’t require editorial or graphics expertise. With an increasing number of attractive templates available, sellers can now make detail pages that look great and present all the information a shopper would need in order to make an informed purchase.
I can’t say enough good things about A+ Content. These tools don’t just prettify product detail pages, they allow you to tell the story behind your brand and your product, which can be incredibly powerful when it resonates with a shopper. These content-rich pages leave standard pages in the dust in terms of look and feel and delivering information. Plus, a page that is super-robust in these ways implies a seller who is professional, attentive, detail oriented, and invested in the customer getting the right product.
Need-to-knows when deciding whether or not to use A+ Content:
- Amazon doesn’t index A+ content. This content is not intended for Amazon SEO so it’s not going to help your discoverability. The goal of these pages is to create a more visually compelling product detail page, which does help your conversions.
- You need to be a member of Amazon Brand Registry in order to use A+ Content. There are many reasons you’ll want to join Brand Registry if eligible.
- While A+ Content tools are awesome, they take time to learn and to utilize and the resulting submissions require approval from Amazon, which not only takes time but puts you at risk for having your submission rejected.
Pro Tip: Get a handle on your relevance and performance fundamentals such as Title, Bullets, Description, Backend Keywords, Price, Images, and Reviews before digging into these next-level conversion drivers like A+ Content. Remember that you can do a lot with simple HTML, quality images, and great copy.
This is a no-brainer as images are hugely influential when it comes to product perceptions. Use images wisely. Make them appropriate and consistent with what you are saying about your brand and your product. If some part of the product or its use is confusing, show pictures to clarify. Make your images large and sharp and high quality. Use as many of the available image slots as you need to convey selling points and information about your products. You technically get nine images per listing, but only seven are usually displayed. To be safe, stick to seven images and designate one large primary image with up to six alternate/secondary images. Don’t just use snaps of your product from various angles. Lifestyle shots of people using your product speak volumes.
Again, Amazon tells you how to do this so that you satisfy both the algorithm and shoppers. Here are some of Amazon’s image guidelines as well as some proven best practices we’ve gathered.
Image guidelines straight from Amazon:
- Images must accurately represent the product and show only the product that is for sale.
- The product and all its features must be clearly visible.
- Main images should have a pure white background.
- Main images must be professional photographs of the actual product (graphics, illustrations, mockups, or placeholders are not allowed).
- Images must not show excluded accessories; props that might confuse the customer; text that is not part of the product; or logos, watermarks, or inset images.
- Images must match the product title.
- Images should be 1,000 pixels or larger in either height or width. This minimum size requirement enables the zoom function on the website. Zoom has been proven to enhance sales. The smallest your file can be is 500 pixels on its longest side.
- Images must not exceed 10,000 pixels on the longest side.
- Amazon accepts JPEG (.jpg), TIFF (.tif) or GIF (.gif) file formats, but JPEG is preferred.
- Amazon does not support animated .gifs.
- Images must not contain nudity or be sexually suggestive.
- Even more image specifics here.
Image tips from Seller Labs:
- Take photos at flattering angles and using good light.
- Shoot high-resolution, sharp-focus pictures.
- Clean up your pics in photo-editing software (but do not alter the product depiction).
- Watch out for shadows, reflections, and background elements that might be captured.
- Make sure that product occupies at least 85% of the image area.
- Show the product in use so you can convey its value to the user.
- If your brand is on the product, capture that in a photo.
- Snap close-ups of important/differentiating features.
- Include pictures of product packaging, included accessories, and the product in various states (opened, closed, in its case, etc.)
A few key takeaways regarding images on Amazon product detail pages:
- Don’t be afraid to spend a little money on a professional photographer. That is how important pictures are to driving sales. Rarely do shoppers look at a detail page and think “Wow, those are some amazing photos! I’m going to buy this because the pictures are so sharp!” However, plenty of shoppers have looked at detail pages and thought “Those are terrible pictures. I can’t see anything. Forget this, I’ll find something else.”
- Amazon measures the user’s time on a page. Longer duration is better. You know what makes for a longer visit? More pictures zoomable pictures and ones that really show important details.
- Follow Amazon’s rules. Submitting pictures that are not in line with Amazon’s guidelines will result in Amazon suppressing your listing, which means no sales and you’ll have to re-submit your listing. Save yourself the hassle and get it right the first time (and do so with all listing elements, not just images).
Video is available to active professional-level sellers who are in good standing and Brand Registered. Video content must be approved by Amazon and there are strict video guidelines to which Amazon sellers must adhere. Before you take on creating and adding videos to your Amazon product listings, carefully read Seller Central’s Upload and Manage Videos main page and the pertinent links. The last thing you want to do is spend time and money on unacceptable content or content that could jeopardize your account. Try some other options as explained in “Amp Up Your Amazon Product Listings: Add 360-Degree Images and Livestreams.”
Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)
FBA has changed the way Amazon sellers do business. Not only does it take some of the burden off of sellers in terms of packing and shipping, FBA comes with Prime, which means fast, free shipping from an Amazon fulfillment center. When you use FBA, you get “Fulfillment by Amazon” on your detail page as well as the Prime checkmark icon. This speaks volumes to customers who now see your product as Amazon endorsed and your business as a part of the Amazon family. In addition to the customer-friendly practical benefits of FBA like fast shipping and easier returns, customers feel a comfort and confidence with these products. This does wonders for conversion rates. As well, because Amazon is extra invested in products that they represent via Prime inclusion, FBA items get a bump up in terms of Amazon rankings. Employing FBA is an essential when it comes to how to sell on Amazon.
Badges and Endorsements
The Prime checkmark icon isn’t the only badge that can be applied to Amazon products. There’s also “Amazon’s Choice” and “#1 Best Seller,” both of which carry a lot of weight in rankings and conversion. These badges not only inspire trust, they signify that the product is solid and well liked.
- “Amazon’s Choice” appears somewhat mysteriously, quite often on Amazon private label products (go figure). Seller Support claims that it is decided by a number of factors, including price, stock levels, shipping speed, seller rating, etc.
- “#1 Best Seller” is exactly that, the current best-seller in that category. As we discussed earlier, a product needs a high ranking (or a sudden velocity surge, the kind that only things like an Oprah mention can provide) in order to become a bestseller and get the “1 Best Seller” badge. In turn, getting that badge drives more sales, which keeps the ranking high, and so on. Getting the “#1 Best Seller” badge is one thing, keeping it is another. Amazon best sellers are updated hourly so that badge is up for grabs 24 times per day.
Run them well and you’ll sell more and faster, in turn helping your ranking, which in turn helps your placement and turns the gears of the Amazon flywheel. Seller beware though, there is no shortage of sellers, Amazon included, who have experienced promos gone awry and ended up losing a lot of stock and a lot of money. That said, when you get into the promo area of your account (Deals, Coupons, and Promotions within Advertising tab of your Seller Central account), read it all very carefully and play with the various types of offers such as Percentage Off and Buy One, Get One. Practice and start with short-run offers so you can get a sense of the response and any mistakes you make won’t wipe out your inventory. And when you do go live with a promo, test it immediately and edit as needed. Otherwise, you could find yourself literally giving product away thanks to an unlimited claim code that went viral.
Aside from the obvious options available in your seller account, we recommend trying these tactics. They’re great ways to not only sell more and rank better, but to clear out inventory so as not to accrue Amazon Long-Term Storage Fees.
- For tiered money-off promos, create stackable offers that will apply in increasing order. For example, buy 5 items and get $5 off, and buy 10 items and get $10 off.
- Try BOGO promos where instead of getting a second of the same product free or at a lesser price, you attach a different item for the freebie or discount. If enough buyers partake, you’ll find yourself with those two products linked and suggested in the Frequently Bought Together section.
- Create a Sale: Technically not a promotion, you can create a sale using the FBA Inventory Age report and Amazon will recommend a price point that should help you sell more (you can also just lower the price but Amazon gives no recommendation in that case).
There is a flip-side to conversion rate, namely the other number needed to add up to 100: the percentage of non-conversions. Yes, Amazon is measuring this and it does affect your ranking. Everything that you need to know about your standing can be found in your Account Health (under the Performance tab in your Seller Central account) and Business Reports (under Reports in your Seller Central account). Here you will see the metrics that Amazon is using to rate you as a seller and how you rank in terms of representing the Amazon Marketplace. These metrics include, but are not limited to, orders, sales, defects, sessions, returns, cancellations, stock-outs, etc; all of these things factor into your ranking and display when a shopper performs a search. Nothing in these reports should be a surprise. Make it a habit of checking both daily. For additional insights delivered in a clear, helpful manner, try Seller Labs Pro. The Pro dashboard will keep you up to date with insights so that you can make better business decisions.
What buyers (especially buyers who have made verified purchases and have that badge by their names) say about you as a seller and about your products matters as much, if not more, than anything you can say about it. Product reviews are a must. A product without reviews is a turnoff to any buyer because no one wants to be the first to take a chance on it. Also, don’t disregard your competitors’ reviews, those can provide you with valuable information.
Seller Feedback and Product Reviews Are Critical
Let’s reconnect with the foundation upon which Amazon is built and stands: customers first, always. Remember that you are an Amazon seller and thus an extension of the Amazon Marketplace and brand. Everything is about providing a great customer experience through price, selection, and service.
When you as a seller provide an awesome product at an excellent price and you get it delivered fast and make right any wrongs (even if the customer is at fault), you will be rewarded by good seller feedback and product reviews. These customer opinions will significantly help your conversions and your rankings. You’ll also get social shares and your customers will become brand loyal and they will recommend your brand to friends and family.
Doing all of the right things (and there is no shortage of them) is immensely important to your position as a seller. So far we have told you how to successfully sell on Amazon by doing the things that satisfy Amazon’s search algorithm and shoppers which set you up for success. Now you need to turn that least gear that propels your portion of the Amazon flywheel. Until October 2016, this could be done via incentivized reviews (offering free or discounted products in exchange for reviews). With this practice banned and many buyer-seller communications restrictions added, you need to master how to get more reviews on Amazon and improve your Amazon seller feedback.
Use a Feedback Management Tool
Don’t take chances on customers maybe leaving you feedback and reviews or maybe not and don’t make the mistake of confusing a product review with a seller rating. Follow up with buyers methodically and respectfully using a feedback-generating tool such as Seller Labs Pro’s Communication Center Powered by Feedback Genius. Use this sort of communications tool not just to garner feedback but also to:
- Check in with buyers after they’ve made their purchases and had time to unpack the products and use them.
- Guide buyers about where to leave a product review and where to leave a seller rating.
- Ask questions that will help you discover ways to become an even better seller who sells even more.
- Address buyer concerns and make the appropriate changes to your listings and processes.
- Offer buyers more value by including usage guides and instructions or other supplemental resources.
Go Beyond Your Product
Do not be content with what buyers are saying about your products and your service. Check competitors’ reviews and look for any trouble spots that customers have experienced. Turn your competitors’ negatives (e.g., “product has weird rubbery smell that never goes away”) into your own positives by addressing these issues in your product listing information (“guaranteed to be odorless”).
Conclusion: Moving Forward: Continue Improving and Optimizing. Always.
If this all seems like a lot to do and manage, remember your physics and the flywheel model and that the hard part is setting it in motion. Once you do the heavy lifting there and set yourself up for success by attending to the above gears, kinetic energy kicks in and the wheel will keep spinning. This being eCommerce, however, changes will indeed take place (and Amazon will indeed make changes often and without notice). Sellers cannot anticipate all of these or how the changes will affect the marketplace (How many times have we heard of Amazon changing its algorithm and the sky falling?) That said, do your part to keep the flywheel spinning smoothly—keep your gears clean and well oiled, stay informed, seize opportunities, and be nimble when changes happen—and you’ll be rewarded for it.
How to Sell on Amazon: Key Takeaways for Success
- Amazon’s success and sellers’ success are intertwined. It’s a partnership where Amazon even goes so far as to give sellers instructions for how to sell on Amazon successfully and in compliance with its rules.
- There are four basic tenets guiding all things Amazon. Sellers need to understand that:
- The customer experience is everything.
- Seller success depends upon and is measured on two types of factors: relevance and performance.
- Success begets success on Amazon.
- Success is rewarded in simple terms as “More Sales → More Reviews → Higher Rankings → Better Placements → More Sales … repeat … “
- There are seller-powered gears at work within the Amazon flywheel mechanism:
- Discovery is about getting found and ranking high in Amazon search results. This is done in the product listing (title, bullets, product description, backend terms) and using keywords that resonate with Amazon and match the user’s search. Amazon’s ranking uses more than 20 performance and relevance factors. Sellers can and must play to these and continually optimize their efforts.
- Keywords require a data-driven approach to find the terms that rank best according to Amazon. This can be done many ways, including by using Scope, a keyword discovery tool, within Seller Labs Pro.
- Fill out as much of your product listing page as possible, using as many keywords as possible.
- Traffic is about getting shoppers to your product detail page (clicks). Advertising using offerings such as Amazon Sponsored Products Ads is a way to drive traffic. Amazon PPC campaigns can be extremely profitable with the help of a campaign-management tool such as Ignite.
- Conversion is about turning a shopper into a buyer. It is driven by price, Prime eligibility, the words and images on a product detail page, reviews, promotions, etc.
- Seller feedback and product reviews can make or break a seller and a product.
- Participate in the Fulfillment by Amazon program to mitigate fulfillment risks that can result in negative feedback.
- The best way to avoid negative reviews and ratings is to deliver a great product and great service. There are no shortcuts.
- Get more seller feedback and product reviews while also delivering proactive customer service with Feedback Genius.
- Never stop looking at data and customer feedback. Optimizing your listings based on the information you glean.
- Remember that the customer experience matters most to Amazon. Make that experience great.
- You got this.
Now that you know how to sell on Amazon, get all the tools you need to do it more profitably and efficiently than you ever imagined. Start your FREE 30-day trial of Seller Labs Pro.
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