Listings Your Products to Start Selling on Amazon
In Getting started with Amazon Seller Account – Part I, we covered the importance in timing of your sign up for starting an Amazon business. And, as you would recall, timing doesn’t mean season, it means specifically down to the weekday and hour. You get this wrong, you will have to live with the impact it will have on your Amazon Seller Account forever. We then laid out some of the elements of Amazon’s “best customer experience” philosophy. Well, listing your products is where Amazon will expect you to demonstrate how well you adhere to this philosophy.
Incidentally, if you are looking to sell a few pieces of a few items regularly on the Amazon Marketplace, the knowledge we provide here will not be the most helpful for you. On the other hand, if you are a manufacturer or a retailer, looking to generate large volumes of orders on a growing basis, you will need systems, procedures, checks and balances. They will not only help you satisfy Amazon seller ratings but also use algorithms, automation and employ analytics during your decision making. Then you will find our articles extremely valuable.
Selling items with your own brand -vs- Selling existing Amazon listings
Whether you are selling your own branded items or not, the first step is to find out whether Amazon already has listings for the items you would like to list. If a listing exists and you are the brand owner, you MUST be on Amazon’s Brand Registry.
The following shows how you can tell the brand of an item.
Some items such as sponges, spare parts of equipment and other generic items may not have a brand. If that is the case, it would be beneficial to get on Amazon’s Brand Registry for such items. You will need a UPC number for every item, but it will be well worth it in the long run.
Once you register yourself with Amazon, make sure your seller name matches the brand name. This will automatically make you the “Merchant of Authority” in Amazon system. We will touch on this concept in future articles so stay tuned for that part but suffice it to say that being a “Merchant of Authority” will play a tremendous role against the competition and in your pricing thus yield profitable results.
If, on the other hand, you would like to sell an item, which currently does not have a listing on Amazon AND you are not the brand owner either, this becomes a question of whether you should do that or not. The first step for such items will be to create a listing and by default, the listing will have the lowest rank with no market awareness. This is the same as trying to sell a low demand item. On the other hand, sometimes there are good reasons to create listings for items such as new launches.
If you are not a brand owner but wish to sell under existing item listings, the next step is figuring out the items you want to sell on Amazon.
What to Sell on Amazon
Amazon will provide you with several tools to list your items, but the starting point is NOT the tools. It is the product strategy of deciding what to sell on Amazon. If you list items with little and no demand, you will generate insignificant revenues. One thing to realize is your listings are your commodities. If you are going to make money with a commodity, you need to do your research and pick the right ones. Amazon is no exception.
So therefore, the starting point is gathering the data points for every one of the items you would like to sell on Amazon. Such data points exist on the Product Detail Page of Amazon Marketplace. We will dive into analyzing the Product Detail Page in a future article so stay tuned for that but in the meantime, the following is essential to gather over a period for every item you intend to sell:
- Buy Box Price (Item and Shipping separately)
- Seller Name
- Seller Type
- Seller Rating
- 2nd Seller Price (Item and Shipping separately)
- 2nd Seller Name
- 2nd Seller Type
- 2nd Seller Rating
- # of sellers
- Best Sellers Rank
- Review count
- Product Rating
After gathering this data, it is time to analyze the data to select the “Winning Items”. It would be a good idea to set your parameters to define what Winning Item means. For example, do you want to compete against many sellers for a low ranked item with a few reviews? Probably not. On the other hand, items with high ranks and a lot of reviews will probably have heavy competition. In addition, you are not likely to make much profit on them. That is not all. Study who the other sellers are, how are their rankings? These are just some of the factors to consider. So, define your sweet spot and pick the qualifying items, otherwise non-qualifying items will take so much of your time but not generate much revenue.
A Word of Warning
Starting an Amazon Business is exciting, and one wants to jump in and start selling as soon as possible. Don’t! You need to do trend analysis on the data for the items you want to sell. Make your decisions based on the trends NOT the data you collected in one or two days.
Mechanics of Listing Your Items on Amazon
As mentioned earlier, these articles are not how-to instructions for available tools for running an Amazon business but have more strategic values for large volume sellers who want to answer the question of how to sell on Amazon successfully.
So, here is a significant point. As you would recall, we mentioned Amazon’s best customer experience philosophy. Now a simple question kicks in. Who is more likely to provide such experience? A seller with no real checks and balances or systems and procedures -vs a seller with consistent and standardized processes? The answer is clear. So, Amazon knows if you are listing items manually on Sellercentral by typing in information or using their downloadable templates -vs- utilizing their XML based product feeds.
By now, you must know what I am getting at. If you list your items manually or do a quick template job, Amazon will tag you as a potential risk. This doesn’t mean that they will penalize you, but they will modulate your order volume very carefully. They do not want you to be able to receive so many orders so quickly and then cancel a lot of them or receive return requests due to defective merchandize. This would ruin their “best customer experience” philosophy. So, until they are sure that you can operate consistently and meet their requirements for their philosophy, your order volume will be much lower than you can realize. So, use their XML based product feeds. This will make a statement about who you are. It will say that you have systems with checks and balances. In your product fields, standardize the information. For example, capitalize the brands, use consistent standardized words such as “…. for Men by ….”. A company that has standardization, checks and balances and operates with consistency is a lower risk for Amazon , which means more orders, more flexibility and harder to compete with by other Amazon Sellers.
These are just some of the important points, but there is much more to the story than we can cover in a few lines. Here’s where our Amazon experts come in should you have any specific questions. Ask for a FREE evaluation of your opportunity to start an Amazon Business HERE
Also, since we tend to do a deep dive into specific and technical areas in my articles, if you have any questions, ideas or comments, reach out to me via Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. I would love to hear from you.
Next, we will cover “The rest of the Amazon Settings” before you start selling on Amazon, so stay tuned for our next blog post.