Amazon is a gateway to the worlds largest international online sales community that offers many exciting opportunities for businesses to grow and thrive.
Getting started can seem a little daunting, so here are some frequently asked questions to help you navigate the world of Amazon ecommerce.
1. What Rules and Policies Should I Be Aware Of?
Selling on Amazon can often turn out to be more nuanced and complex than people first expect, especially if they are coming from a more public oriented platform like eBay and branching out. While it is not necessary to know everything, staying on top of the basic policies can save you time and money in lost revenue from falling foul of some less obvious rules and suffering temporary suspensions.
2. What is FBA (Fulfilment By Amazon)?
FBA allows you to sell your items through Amazon directly, giving you access to customers across Europe and the buyer confidence that comes with an internationally renowned brand.
This is achieved by sending as little or as much of your inventory as you like to an Amazon fulfilment centre who store your items until they are purchased. When sold, items are picked, packed and dispatched by Amazon themselves in exactly the same way they would do with their own inventory.
For a customer, this represents the best of both worlds. They get to enjoy the freedom of the market place while still getting the reliable service everyone has come to expect of Amazon. You can see why this would represent a very attractive option for customers, with many willing to pay more in some cases to choose an FBA seller over a regular one.
As a seller FBA also brings the advantage of access to Prime members, which will in turn improve your odds of winning the coveted Buy Box.
3. Why Associate Products With Those Already Listed?
The design of Amazon is that each product should have a single listing with multiple sellers all linking their stock to that one listing. It is against Amazon’s selling policy to create a product detail page for a product that already has one. Doing so will result in the page being deleted.
Rules aside, it makes sense to associate products with the pre-existing listing as this will make it more likely to be seen by customers.
4. How Does The Buy Box Work?
In 2015 Amazon’s Buy Box accounted for roughly 82% of their sales. That is a huge number that simply cannot be ignored and it shows how understanding the Buy Box is a critical part of being a successful seller on Amazon.
The basis of Amazon is that there are usually multiple companies selling the same item, and the Buy Box represents Amazon’s way of showcasing the sellers with a long and proven track record of good customer experiences based on multiple criteria.
While there is no clear cut list of things that pave the road to winning the Buy Box, it is clear that most of the things required are essentially best practice for ecommerce sellers and represent Amazon’s core values.
Price – Offering competitive prices inclusive of shipping is a key factor to moving up the ranks within the Buy Box. That being said, offering the cheapest price alone does not automatically move you up either. In the example above, the cheapest price was actually at the very bottom of the seller choices.
Stock Availability – Simply put, having no stock means you will not be included in the Buy Box for obvious reasons. The best sellers use all the tools at their disposal to manage their stock effectively and ensure key lines are always available. Cloud Commerce Pro can be configured to manage and update stock levels so you never have to find yourself in the position of selling stock you do not have available, thus avoiding the inevitable bad feedback which can cast a shadow over your reputation for a long time.
Order Fulfilment – There are 3 main methods of fulfilment with Amazon, and the more of these you use, the higher the chance you will win the Buy Box. Unfortunately the criteria required to participate in certain fulfilment programs is quite similar to what tends to lead to winning the Buy Box, but that is all the more reason to ensure best practices are being adhered to.
a) Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) – See below for a detailed description of FBA.
b) Fulfilment by Merchant (FBM) – This is your basic market place fulfilment where an independent seller takes control of the fulfilment process.
c) Seller Fulfilled Prime (SFP) – Sellers can apply to Amazon to join their scheme that allows sellers to fulfil Prime orders. As mentioned above, there are some strict criteria to be met in order to qualify, but these are all things a good seller should be working towards anyway.
Customer Feedback – Seller reviews play a big part in the metrics that determine a Buy Box winner since Amazon place such high value on the overall customer experience.
If you want to know more about seller performance measurement on Amazon click here.
5. How Can I Increase The Frequency of Reviews On My Seller Account?
Securing reviews is often a case of good customer engagement. It is strictly forbidden to pay for reviews and you can no longer offer incentives either, which used to be an alternative strategy.
The sellers that tend to inspire the best reviews are the ones that go out of their way to make a customer feel special. While this can be extremely difficult in an oversaturated market or simply not logistically possible for a company dealing in high volume sales, all it takes is to impress a few with impeccable customer service with a personalised feel and the reviews should start to pile up.
6. Why Are All Shipping Methods Not Available?
As with the Buy Box and SFP fulfilment, some shipping methods need to be earned as well. Options such as two day shipping are held back until a seller proves they are reliable at shipping via the standard methods.
7. What Sort of Businesses Perform Best On Amazon?
Working out why one business succeeds over another on Amazon is often somewhat of a mystery. That being said, there are a few success trends that can be identified.
Originality – Selling a unique product such as something you design and manufacture yourself tends to be one recipe for success. Half of the battle when selling on Amazon is competing with other people selling the same thing as you. Anything you can do to reduce that pool of competition is going to increase your chances of finding one of those elusive market gaps that all sellers dream of.
Niche – Similar to selling a unique product, finding a niche is equally effective. Sometimes you might have access to a product that others don’t, allowing you to take full advantage of a niche market and use Amazon to reach the customers that are searching for it.
Second Hand – The used and refurbished market is booming, especially in such a price conscious market. Customers are picking used more and more since they can still take advantage of item and seller reviews and various buyer protections.
Perception – Image is everything, and this is just as true in ecommerce. Projecting the image of a successful and professional business can be difficult when selling through someone like Amazon as much of your visibility as a seller is tucked away behind Amazon’s branding. Still, many customers will actively research sellers by checking their websites, so having a professional looking website is imperative. If a company is having success on Amazon, they will likely find loyal customers may start using their website directly, making it even more of a priority. The companies that do the best on Amazon almost always have thriving sales through their home page as well.