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Hacks to improve your productivity as an FBA seller

When your productivity suffers, your business suffers. A lot of the time, you’re probably spending your effort on things that don’t need it. So here are a few tips for improving your profitability.

1. First of all, have a disposable e-mail address. Sometimes, just contacting a supplier means you’ll be getting all kinds of special offers and newsletters from them for ever after, even if you don’t end up doing business with them. Use a disposable address for first contacts and then you can always junk it; keep your real email for real suppliers and customers (and Amazon, of course).

2. Remember a picture is worth a thousand words. Skitch from Evernote is a great tool that lets you create images and, even better, easily provide input on images – for instance drawing an arrow to show the crucial aspects of a product or ringing the letter that’s wrong in the product name. Particularly if you’re dealing with suppliers for whom English isn’t a first language, this is a great way to get your point across. It’s also a fantastic tool for brainstorming with team members.

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Marketing hacks to improve your FBA sales

So often, a product is just ticking along quite nicely on Amazon when it could be a real barnstormer. Or it’s not doing anything much, when it could be selling steadily. The difference is in the detail – so tweaking your sales listing and advertising could do the trick and help it achieve its potential.

First of all, look at your listing title. You have up to 250 characters there, so if all you’re saying is “tea towel”, you’ve given up prime real estate with nothing to show for it. Have a think about what tea towel buyers want – they want to know what color, is it cotton, will it fit their interior design style? So take up some of those 250 characters and let them know, it’s blue and white striped, 100% cotton, French cottage or farmhouse style – zap! You’re selling!

The same way, “lucky horseshoe charm” doesn’t convey nearly as much information as “SweetiePie brand lucky horseshoe charm for bracelet – hallmarked sterling silver jewelry” which gives your brand, what the charm is intended for, and the fact that it’s real sterling silver (or “925” – that is, 92.5% pure silver).

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Creating a purchasing strategy

Many FBA sellers get started with a single product. They spend a lot of time researching suppliers, get a shortlist, get samples and T&Cs, choose their supplier, and get the product shipped. And then for their next product they go through the whole process all over again.

That can be really time-consuming. Imagine if you spent hours going through your shopping list and deciding which supermarket to visit for each item. You’d never get anything else done! So you need a long-term purchasing strategy.

First of all, unless you’re a very fast-moving business trying to grab trends quick and exploit them fast, it makes sense to build long-term relationships with your supplier. That’s the same whether you’re buying through Alibaba, from a Chinese manufacturer directly, or in the US or elsewhere.

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Your Amazon Storefront

Your Amazon Storefront is a micro-site within Amazon which showcases all your products and has information about your brand. It’s really useful if you have a particular niche such as stationery and art supplies, pet products, or cookware, or a target customer such as DIY enthusiasts or lovers of the outdoors.

It gives you a place to do a bit of storytelling about your brand and its values, to assert your credentials and to get potential buyers interested.

While your product pages have to obey strict rules, such as photos against a white background, you have much more control over the look and feel of your Storefront. With 2.4 million sellers on Amazon, this is your chance to stand out!

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Learning from mistakes – Epic FBA Fails

We usually focus on success stories. But it’s fair enough to say that a lot of FBA businesses do just about okay, and some are really quite epic failures.

We’re not going to be negative. We’re actually being quite positive here, because the really big failures usually stem from one of a relatively small number of problems – and when you know what the mistakes are, you’re much less likely to make them!

Let’s take the two most dangerous mistakes first. (This is our version of learning how to put the brakes on before we let you out on the highway.) They are the dangerous mistakes because they can lose you a whole lot of money. Other mistakes will usually just stop you achieving a profit or a worthwhile profit (working for a year to establish a business turning over $100 a month is pretty sad).

First, spending on PPC advertising without setting some targets and some limits. If the problem lies elsewhere, no amount of advertising is going to get you sales – but it will cost you money. Setting a limit is easy to do, so do it!

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Bundles for Amazon

If you own a brand on Amazon FBA, you can bundle your products to create an all-in-one package. That’s an advantage that unbranded sellers don’t have, and it can help you sell more product at better margins.

First, think of your customers. What are the experiences that are likely to lead them to want a package? For instance, “I just got a new puppy, what do I need?”

If you’re in this space, a chew toy, harness and leash, litter tray, food bowl, water bowl, collar with name-tag, and puppy bed all packaged together could make a great package for first time dog owners.

“My granddaughter’s moving into her own apartment…what can I get her?” If you have kitchen products for instance, a gift pack bundling things she’ll find useful with some appealing items – spatula, measuring cups, pans, a recipe book and some spice packets – could sell well.

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Fads versus Trends

Fads can make you a fortune fast. Two kids who were among the first to sell fidget spinners in 2016 made $350,000 in just six months.

But the problem with fads is that they can die very quickly. First, the big guys notice the market, create their own products, and use their immense economies of scale to bring the price down. Fidget spinners started at $25 and ended up selling for $5 each by mid 2017.

And eventually, a fad has nowhere to go. I saw a market trader trying to sell some a while back – three for a buck! (I wonder what he paid for them?)

So how do you spot a fad, as opposed to a trend?

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Groceries on Amazon

It’s true – more and more people are buying groceries on Amazon. Partly because of Covid-related concerns about visiting big stores, or because of local lock downs, partly for convenience – particularly for people who are working at home, and partly for choice.  A year ago, about a third of US customers had bought groceries on Amazon – now it’s well over 40%.

Some specialty foods are particularly difficult to get if you don’t have much choice where you shop – for instance for those living in small country towns. Gluten free, Kosher, and Vegan specialties aren’t always available while many consumers want to know they’re eating Fair Trade or Organic food. These could all be good niches.

But selling groceries on Amazon is a bit tougher than selling dog chews or pencil sharpeners. Amazon needs to know you’re not going to poison anyone, and it also needs to know you’re a reliable distributor. So first of all, check whether you’re automatically approved (if you have a good track record, that could happen), or get approved by providing a purchase invoice from a manufacturer or wholesaler for at least ten units as well as live photos of the product and packaging.

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Amazon Business Reports – the Four Essentials

Amazon Seller Central provides far more data than most sellers ever use. It will tell you about your stranded inventory, it gives you advertising reports, sales totals, page traffic, FBA fulfillment reports. There’s a whole lot there, but you need to cut through the plethora of data to get to the essentials.

Essential 1. This is your conversion rate, shown as ‘unit session percentage’. A conversion rate of 5-10% is good; that’s better than most websites, as people tend to go to Amazon when they are ready to buy, not just looking for general information. If you have a conversion rate lower than 5% then you have an issue.

That could mean your listings page isn’t good enough. Do you use A+ content? If you qualify for it, you should definitely use it. Do you have great images and a good video?

It might mean you have bad reviews. You’ll need to do something about that. Or it could mean your price is too high – check comparative listings.

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What You Need To Put On Your Packaging

Packaging design is partly about branding – and we’ll get on to that later. But there are also a few things that need to be on your packaging, and without which, you won’t be able to sell – or worse, you’ll be doing so illegally. Don’t worry, it’s not too difficult to comply with the regulations, as long as you carry out the following steps.

1. One of the most important things that needs to go on your packaging is your FNSKU – the stock number that Amazon issues you when you create your listing. You could ask your supplier to put it on with a sticker, or actually print it on the packaging (for instance if you’re using a cardboard box).

You can also get Amazon to do it – but that costs money. It’s much better to get it done by your supplier. (You’ll need to generate a pdf file from Seller Central, where it says ‘Print item labels’.)

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Get Your Launch Off To A Good Start

There are a good number of ways that you can kickstart a new product. That’s good, because Amazon is a very, very big marketplace and it’s not easy to get your product noticed.

For instance, you could use a ‘deals’ site to promote your product. Use Seller Central to create your coupon codes, and give those away via the site. For real impact, try half price, or even 70% or 90% off, just to get the ball rolling. Remember, this isn’t a loss making product, it’s a marketing investment.

The idea is to get people who would be “kind of” interested in your product at the regular price to say “hey, at this price it’s a no-brainer”. You’ll be able to rack up some sales quickly that way. However, ensure you set a maximum order level to prevent people being naughty and buying your product to resell at a profit!

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Managing Inventory For Better Margins

Managing your inventory better can save you a lot of money.

If you want to know how well you’re managing, first stop is to go look up your IPI score on Amazon. This will give you a broad view of how well you are managing. If it’s not too good, then there are a number of actions you can take to improve your inventory turnover and reduce your storage charges.

First off, identify any items in long term storage – that is, over 365 days. It’s a pretty simple calculation to compare this with your sales figures to see how long it will take to sell off all this stock. If it looks like it’s going to take a while, then you need to take action now.

You could, for instance, run a promotion or reduce the price. It’s pretty simple to calculate your break-even price for selling the stock against paying another month’s storage charges. (Of course, that assumes you do sell the stock.) If your product is just slow selling but ticking along, this is the right thing to do.

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Make ‘long tail’ keywords work for you

Keywords have a demand curve, like any other good. If you imagine it starting right at the top left side of the chart, there is a huge number of searches for a single overall keyword. As you get more and more specific, the number of searches falls off – but so does the amount of competition for that specific keyword (or, if you’re advertising, the amount you’ll pay for it).

Let’s take an example: “dress”. There will be millions of searches for “dress”. What’s the chance you’ll be at the top? Zero. You can’t afford it.

“Black dress”. Not quite so many searches, but still a lot. And this is a keyword where big sellers are going to dominate, and the keyword’s really expensive if you want to advertise.

“Little black dress”. Fewer searches, more specific.

“Little black dress Azzedine Alaia.” Then “Little black dress Azzedine Alaia size 12.” Now you’ve got a very specific keyword. Anyone who wants Chanel, Givenchy, Saint Laurent… you’ve excluded them. And you’ve excluded the customers who want another size.

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Refine your keywords to increase your sales

If you think of Amazon as a kind of store, or a big depot, you’re wrong. What is its business model, really? It’s the same as Google – a massive search engine.

Unlike Google, it’s a search engine that results in a transaction rather than just a click-through. But it’s a search engine, and once you understand that, you understand that it works on keywords as well as on other algorithms.

Keywords need to be relevant. And you need to get that relevant data into the customer’s head ASAP.

Yes, you can have a great long title on Amazon that includes all kinds of information about your product. But you need to put the most important information up there first. For instance, brand. If I’m looking for a Samsung phone, I need to see the brand up front. If I’m looking for a cat carrier and the word ‘cat’ doesn’t appear right at the beginning, I’m not going to read on.

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Help! I’ve been hijacked!

Amazon hijackers can be very sneaky. You might not even realize you’ve been hijacked, if your sales aren’t much affected. But someone has copied your product, and they’re selling it with your brand on it, and taking away your business.

Now there are sometimes viable reasons for a second seller. You may have an authorized reseller, or someone may have bought your product with a coupon and is reselling it. But other times, you’ve been hijacked – someone noticed you were doing well, and they’ve decided to skim the cream off your success.

You might only notice when suddenly you start getting one-star reviews. What’s going on? People who think they’re your customers are getting low-quality product from the hijacker, and blaming it on you.

So let’s see how you can reduce the risk of being hijacked, and stop it continuing if it’s already happened.

#1 Being in the Amazon Brand Registry program should help; it will give you more control over your listings. While it won’t stop hijackers, the program will put dedicated protection at your service. (But you do need to have a trademark first, which can take 18 months, so this isn’t a short term solution.)

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Amazon Product Listing Text

A really, really important key to planning your product page on Amazon is to think about what you’d want to see there if you were considering buying it.

#1 Benefits, not features

What potential customers want to see is a list of benefits. But probably, what you have is a list of product features.

One copywriter has a way of extracting proper benefit information from clients. The client will say “my spatula is lime green.” The copywriter asks: “Which means that…?”

The client looks puzzled, and says “Well, it means it’s green.”

The copywriter nods, and the client gives the next feature. “It has a cool-touch handle.”

“Which means that…?”

And then the client gets it, and says, “Which means that if you use it, you’re not going to burn your fingers.”

I’d suggest you do the same. And keep asking till you get something that will really make people want to buy. “This coffee press has double walls.”

Which means that… “The coffee will keep hot for longer.”

Which means that… “I can make two cups of coffee at the same time.”

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TikTok For Amazon

TikTok is immensely powerful once videos go viral. A single TikTok post had one Amazon seller working overtime with over 10,000 sales in a single day.

Yet so far, brands aren’t well represented on TikTok. Probably it will take the big brands some time to get on to this platform, so right now, it’s less competitive than Facebook or Twitter.

•    Start by building a presence. Tailor your content for the platform – short, snappy, amusing. And when we say short, we mean short – 15 seconds, that’s it! (On the other hand your video quality doesn’t need to be top-notch – a decent smartphone will produce all you need.)

•    Make sure your content is all relevant to your niche. Keep everything on-brand; content, hashtags, the influencers you collaborate with, your bio, even the emoji  you use.

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Negotiate Like A Pro

Every $1 you save is $1 extra profit. In the short term, this does not seem like a lot. But what if you sell 30,000 units a year?

The cheaper your product is – the higher your profit margin will be and the less you need to invest in inventory. Your cash flow improves too.

We will cover some of our top strategies for reducing your costs.

Finding a Supplier

If you only ask 3 factories for a quote – it is unlikely you will get the best item for the best price. It is super important to make sure that you have contacted every available supplier for the item. Go through Thomas Net, Alibaba, Global Sources and any other platforms that may have suppliers making your type of item.

Request quotes from all the suppliers that can make your product. This way, you can be sure to have the best initial pricing. You will also get the best quality product this way too!

Even if you have an existing product already selling on Amazon – you can reduce the price by negotiating with your existing supplier or changing suppliers.

Target Price

Give your top 10 suppliers a competitive target price to hit. E.g. If all the suppliers quote you $4 to $8 for your item – ask them all if they can do it for $3.20 and see what they say. If they say – no – and come back at $3.50 you still just saved over 10%!

If your target product sells for around $30 on Amazon, you want to buy it for under $6 to maximize margins. Start with giving suppliers a target price lower than your optimal buy price.

Suppliers usually have a very large margin built into the product. They expect to negotiate and might have 10 to 30% added into the product just to give away as a discount. By giving them a low target price, a few of the suppliers will come back with much better pricing.

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Boost Your Amazon Profits

What are some ways you could increase your profits without spending a lot extra on your Amazon business?

In this article we outline some strategies to help you increase your net profit.

Improve Your Listing

The better your main image looks, the more people that will click onto your product and buy it. The same for your other listing page images.

If your images were taken in a dark room with your iPhone, it is gonna be really hard to justify a higher price & people will not trust the item is good quality.

If you invest in high end professional photos, great copywriting and excellent images for your product – then customers are going to perceive the same item as higher value.

The same item will look more valuable with better photos.

The same item will seem better if the copyrighting helps users see the benefits of your products.

Without changing anything but levelling up your amazon listing you can potentially increase the value of your product in customers minds.

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Reviews: Why Customers Leave Feedback

What is the reason why a customer will leave a review? Is it because they had a good experience with the product? A bad experience?

In this guide we deep dive into some of the main reasons customers leave reviews.

Great Product!

A large percentage of customers will leave a review simply because they think that the product is good and they want to share their positive experience with the product.

These are the type of reviews we want to get the most of. By not overpromising on the listing, showing accurate photos and description of the product & working to make the item good quality – we can gather more good reviews in the long term.

Help Other Buyers!

A major reason for customers leaving feedback is not for the seller! They want to help other buyers to understand the product better. They may even have suggestions on how to improve the product too.

Reviewers know that other people like them might be considering the product. They point out the good and bad points of the product so other potential buyers can have a better understanding of the product.

As a seller, you should read all these reviews and incorporate the feedback into improving your product over time. By acting on the suggestions – you will turn more future buyers into happy customers that leave positive reviews!

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