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Building Relationships With Customers

Every business needs to build strong relationships with its customers. But if you’re an FBA seller, that’s difficult, as you don’t control the relationship. The customers are Amazon’s customers, and your ability to interact with them is strictly limited.

So you need to look for ways to build those relationships outside Amazon. That means building on your customer’s common interests rather than on the transaction. In some cases, you’ll be building relationships with people who aren’t customers, but might well become customers.

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Growing a multi-million dollar Amazon brand

If you’re a brand registered FBA seller, your brand may be a nice side hustle for you. Or it might have become a full time job.

But you might want to go further. Can you make it into a multi-million dollar brand?

It’s a stretch. You’ll need to expand your team. You’ll need to think of yourself as a CEO and marketing manager rather than as a small business owner. You’ll need to make a big commitment. And you might need to smarten up in a few areas, too.

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How many products do you need to sell on Amazon?

You may have got started with a single branded FBA product. Many sellers do. Considering that samples and inventory for a single product are likely to cost you $3,000 to $5,000, launching with more than one product can be capital-intensive.

Even if you already retail through your own sales channels, remember that you’ll have to set aside a certain amount of inventory in Amazon’s warehouses. That can eat up your cash so you might want to start with a skeleton portfolio, or only highlighting your new products, for instance.

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Finding the right products to sell on Amazon

When you’re looking for products to sell as an FBA seller, you’re looking for products that will make you money. Being an FBA seller isn’t like being a craftsperson on Etsy, in which case, you sell the things you already make, and perhaps try to make them a bit more market-orientated. It’s not like running a hardware shop, in which case you have to sell all the bits and pieces people want. You just want to choose products that are profitable.

But how do you find them?

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Keyword stuffing: what it is and how to stop doing it

If you’ve ever read a page which repeats the same words over and over again, quite often without really saying anything worth your reading, that’s a keyword-stuffed page.

Back in the very early days of the internet, search engines were rather simple things. They looked for keywords in web pages, and they counted how many times the keywords came up. Then they awarded a score for that. The more keywords, the higher you ranked.

So canny people made sure their keywords appeared lots of times in their web pages, even if it didn’t really make sense. You got a feeling they had looked at Roget’s thesaurus too much. You’d find sentences like “when you open the box you will feel amazed to see such a stylish pen, stylish writing instrument, good-looking ballpoint.”

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Why you need to update your Amazon product listings

When you go in a bricks and mortar store and it feels a bit tired, you know it. The Christmas decorations are still up and it’s July? It doesn’t entice. You probably will walk out of there without buying anything.

Amazon product listings are the same. They may have been great and state-of-the-art a couple of years ago, but need a refresh; the online equivalent of a lick of paint and a new window display.

But how do you know which pages really need updating? And where should you focus your effort?

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Inflation and the FBA Seller

Inflation has really taken off this year. Supply chain disruptions due to Covid had already started it off, but the hike in energy and food prices as a result of war in Ukraine are now pushing it further; currently prices are increasing by over 9% year-on-year. That comes after years of low single-digit inflation and, in e-commerce, prices that were actually falling, so it’s a big shock.

How are consumers reacting? First of all, they’re making fewer impulse purchases and buying fewer ‘fun’ products. Rubber chickens, T-Rex costumes, and similar amusements are probably not going to sell well right now.

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Creating A Great Amazon Storefront

An Amazon Storefront is a great way to capture customers. When they’re on your storefront, they’re not seeing your competitors’ products; it’s as if they’re in your shop, not on Amazon at all. And while they’re in the shop, they may well see other things they want to buy. (Remember going to the grocery store and coming out with a load of stuff that wasn’t on your list?)

Your Store is also the best way to communicate your brand on Amazon. Product pages, however much you use the create opportunities you’re given, look like Amazon product pages, but your Storefront can look like your brand.

One key to success is to create a Storefront that has more than three tabs. According to Amazon that can nearly double user retention, and adds a third to sales per shopper. After all, you’ve given them a couple of reasons to click on to the next tab, and see what’s there.

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Increasing Traffic To Your Amazon Listing

According to estimates we’ve seen, a third of customer traffic begins off the Amazon platform. While two-thirds of customers come to Amazon and start shopping, the others are following links they’ve seen elsewhere.

There are big advantages to this traffic. If you point customers from your website or social media to your product page, they will see your product directly. They won’t have to search, and they won’t see competitors’ products up against yours. Or you can point them to your Amazon Store where they’ll see all your products, not just the one they want, and they’ll also see your branding rather than just a typical Amazon product page.

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HOW TO RUN GREAT PROMOTIONS

When you’re thinking of discounting a product there are a number of questions you need to ask yourself. If you’re not certain of what you’re doing, you’re making less profit for no reason.

First of all you need to ask what is the purpose of the discount. It should have a definite reason, such as:

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Amazon: Dominating The Pre Purchase Stage

Many FBA sellers think a customer comes on Amazon, puts a search query in the text box, and buys the top product, click, just like that.

No one ever gets married that way! They have a first date. A second date. Take a holiday together or meet each others’ families. And then, way down the line, they get married.

So most customers who are making a significant purchase are going to do some research first. They might hang out on forums for their interest and ask questions to scope out what they need. They might look around sellers’ web sites (which is one reason you need one). They might read magazines and newsletters.

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How to differentiate your FBA product

It’s a competitive world on Amazon, and one in which any product search will turn up dozens if not hundreds of hits. So how can you make your product stand out? In marketing speak, how can you differentiate your product?

First of all, find the gaps and the pain points. Listen out for questions like

•      Why don’t women’s clothes ever have pockets in?

•      Why can’t I get pie dishes the right size for one person?

Or screams of anguish like

•      I love jeans but blue is not a choice of color!

•      My hairdryer is either cold or SCORCHING!!!

•      I keep losing the wretched little kneading arm on the bread-maker, darn it!

Someone, whoever made this comment, has a problem that your product can solve. Make pretty summer dresses with pockets, single-size pie dishes, screaming pink and neon yellow jeans, hairdryers with five different heat settings all of which work, and you have solved the problem.

(Okay, you need to work out whether that’s just one person’s problem, or whether other people are also crying out for a product to solve that problem. We went on Twitter about the pockets issue. Starting a clothes brand called WITHPOCKETSIN is very, very tempting indeed.)

Look at competitors’ product listings to see what the issues are, too. Sometimes they are just small things that need to be put right, but sometimes you may see a really major gap.

Secondly, look for the value added. Can you bundle products that are often sold separately to make something that’s more useful? This is how tour operators got started – they realized most people don’t want to have to book four plane tickets, two hotel rooms, a load of restaurants and activities … they want to have a simple choice: “us and the two kids, for two weeks.” (This is also why some tour operators came unstuck when websites like Kayak and Lastminute started making it so much easier for people to make up DIY holidays.)

Taking the bread-maker example, I wonder how many people would prefer to buy a bread-maker with two or three extra paddles? That saves them having a useless bread-maker. (Buying replacement paddles is expensive and often difficult.)  So that’s value added, or at least, it avoids the subtraction of value!

Adding a recipe book to kitchen equipment or a guide to three simple projects with a craft tool also adds value.

And thirdly, look for a niche. It might be as simple as focusing on black women’s beauty products (most cosmetics assume you have pale skin), or on products for people with RSI or carpal tunnel syndrome (eating implements with large, easy to hold handles, specially laid out computer keyboards). It might be a style niche (luggage for Goths and Emos, perhaps?) or a special interest niche (quilting, scrap-booking, home brewing).

Most people who inhabit niches get tired of products that are almost, but not quite, right, or have to put together their kit from numerous different places, sometimes making compromises (implements that are usable but ugly, brewing kit that’s been adapted from jam making purposes). Offer them a brand that clearly understands their lifestyle/needs/interests/style, and they will come back over and over again.

Any one of these ways of differentiating is good. Two would be even better!

Of course you can also differentiate by being cheaper than everyone else, to some extent. But it’s much easier for a competitor to change that in two clicks. It also reduces your profit margin. So if you can differentiate by fixing problems, filling gaps, adding value, or dominating a niche, that’s definitely the right way to go.



How to create a great Amazon brand

People often have difficulty creating a brand for their FBA business. It’s not something we’re taught at school, and it doesn’t come naturally, nor does it lend itself to ‘ten steps’ or flowchart processes. But there are ways to think about brands that can be very helpful when you’re starting up.

For instance, looked at one way, a brand is simply a story. Everybody loves a story, so make it an interesting one.

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All you need to know about Amazon Acronyms

Amazon FBA is a great business, and like most businesses it has a number of abbreviations you’ll need to learn if you want to succeed. It can all be a bit difficult, so this week we decided we’d devote to the most commonly used abbreviations. Now you have them all in one place and you can refresh your understanding, or perhaps actually find out what some of them mean in the first place.

SKUs are Stock Keeping Units. All kinds of businesses have their own SKUs; IKEA has SKUs, each separate car part and spare has its own SKU, Walmart has SKUs (and you can look up to check availability). An SKU lets a business see where products are – in stock, out of stock, sold, whatever.

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Dealing with negative Amazon reviews

Social proof – other buyers’ experiences as shown through their reviews – has a huge impact on Amazon users. That’s one reason getting your first dozen or so reviews is really important when you launch a product.

But if you get a bad review, it’s a strike against you. It doesn’t matter that the buyer used the product upside down, didn’t realize it had to have batteries inserted, or just wanted a different color – the damage is done.

Or is it?

If you’re a brand registered seller (and you should be), then the answer is “not necessarily”. Although Amazon won’t let you comment on the review, as it used to, it allows you to contact the buyer for any review that gives you fewer than four stars.

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SELLING ON AMAZON: HOW TO STAY MOTIVATED?

Starting an Amazon business is relatively easy. But there are a number of things that can go wrong, and it’s easy to get discouraged. Being able to get past those discouraging moments is the difference between failure and success. So how can you do it?

First of all, you need to get started with the right expectations. Some people think FBA selling is a get-rich-quick scheme. They’re going to be disappointed. It may make you rich, but it takes time and effort to get there. For instance, building your brand, your reputation, and your seller metrics, is going to take time. Getting into restricted categories may take time. Getting good reviews will take effort and maybe some investment.

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Grow Your Business With Amazon Posts

Amazon Posts offers you a way to improve your online content and contact with potential buyers, through Amazon’s own social media platform. If you think of a captive Instagram within Amazon mobile, that’s pretty much what Posts delivers.

It’s particularly potent as we estimate over a fifth of buyers start their purchase journeys on social media, whether that’s Facebook, Youtube or Instagram. If Amazon Posts delivers an equivalent performance, you could increase your sales significantly.

One of the best things about Amazon Posts it that can help you to promote your overall brand, not just individual products. You’ll need product links, but this is a great place to use lifestyle images, to talk about your brand story, and to build your brand profile. It’s a sellable feed which consumers can use to click through to your product, but it’s not as tightly focused as your product pages.

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Launch new products at lower risk with the New Selection Program

Launching new products is always tricky. Amazon’s search engine rewards existing best sellers, since its algorithm takes existing sales volumes into account. You’re taking on products which are already established, and you need to get yours into the market and selling fast.

It’s also a risk. Even if you’ve done your product selection, design and sourcing properly, someone else could launch a similar product at the same time – worse, you could see several new products come to market at the same time. In that case you’ll either have to be number one, or you’ll want to sell off your stock fast and move on to a new idea.

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How to avoid getting your Amazon account suspended

Amazon knows its reputation depends on consumers’ trust. Buyers need to know that they can confidently buy from Amazon without being cheated. So Amazon comes down hard on sellers who break the rules.

That could mean having your account suspended without notice. That’s disastrous for your business. You can’t sell your products, and since you’ll lose your access to Seller Central, it’s going to be very difficult to appeal a decision.

So let’s look at some of the reasons Amazon might decide to suspend your account.

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Get ready for Amazon Prime Day 2022!

Amazon has announced that Prime Day 2022 will be in July. They haven’t, as yet, given a firm date, but it’s time to get moving if you want to be ready to make the most of it.

Prime Day moves around – it was in June last year, and October in 2020. This year, it’s likely to be a bit more complicated for sellers, as supply chain issues mean it’s going to be difficult to get stock resupplied quickly in time for the promotion. If you need resupply, get it fast or it will be too late. Make sure, if you hold buffer stock, that you’ve got as much inventory as possible in the Amazon warehouse before Prime Day. You don’t want a #PrimeDayFail hashtag if you get a stock-out!

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