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
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
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.
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
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.
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.”
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
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?
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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