Strategies Successful Amazon Sellers Recommend
By Tina Marie Bueno | February 24th, 2016
39.6% of Amazon Sellers make $100,000 – $1 million annually and 16.7% make over a million (that is 4x more than on eBay) according to a WebRetailer survey. If you are reading this article, most likely you have already jumped onto this e-platform which is open to anyone with minimal start up funds for the dream of running their own business without opening a physical store. Are you striving to be a part of that 39.6% or well on your way to the 16.7% group? What have those Sellers done to join the ranks of successful Amazon businesses?
I am a huge fan of everything Amazon. I read articles, listen to podcasts and watching interview videos. It is always inspirational and every merchant offers a different perspective from their unique experiences. Keep in mind that many successful Sellers have started out and some remain, small or family owned businesses. Managing costs, time, inventory, fulfillment, customer service, returns, marketing, etcetera, is often handled by just a few people.
While there are many combinations of strategies successful Amazon Sellers implement into their action plans, the following are the top 6 reoccurring themes I often hear.
Sell Unique Items Whenever Possible. Some successful Sellers start out as resellers. This presents a challenge however. When adding a product already in the Amazon catalog, their listing is placed on the same detail page as all of the other competitors offering that same item. Unable to make the changes that would distinguish them from everyone else on the same product page, led them to investigate other more empowering options.
While some resellers continue with those products simply because they are performing well, successful Sellers regularly recommend adding or transitioning to unique items that fit a niche market, or can be bundled and ideally, Private Labeled. A Seller adding a new product can use “Create a New Product Listing” which generates your own detail page.
Of course this may not preclude all competition nor keep aggressive Merchants from trying to jump onto your page to sell the same item. Often top Sellers keep these, and sometimes questionable competitors at arm’s length by utilizing strategies such as Brand Registry (Private Labeling), Bundling, and Frustration Free Packaging. Look into these options to see if you qualify for them. Sometimes these processes (especially legally trademarking a Private Label name) adds time to the launch process; but it appears to be well worth it.
Price Boldly. If your product already exists in the Amazon catalog, then the main aspect of creating product differentiation is with pricing as mentioned earlier. Sellers in this scenario are constantly on the hunt to find items that have enough margin to absorb a lower pricing game plan.
If you offer a bundle, niche product or unique item that can be listed on your own product page; there is an opportunity for bold pricing. As long as the goods contain a consumer-perceived value filled with features and benefits; then pricing may not be an issue. In other words, the price tag may not hold you back from gaining and growing sales.For non-Prime members, Amazon just increased the minimum ordering limit for free shipping to $49. If your product is still competitive at that price; you may not scare off these buyers.For Prime members who get free 2-day shipping; research shows that they spend at least 2x more than non-members and willingly pay premium prices for items they need or want.
Market to Amazon Customers. Some of the successful Sellers jumped into Amazon fast and furious. Eventually, everyone ends of recommending taking the time to make your product easily discovered with meaningful keywords and consumer-oriented descriptions. A product detail page may be the first and only exposure potential buyers have to your listing. Optimize your listing as it could be the “first impression” opportunity so make it appealing with high quality images and info rich content. Always be honest.
Every successful marketing strategy I have heard throughout various interviews includes getting existing customers to spread the word via posting Reviews. This is one of the most powerful marketing tools available to Sellers.
If you would like more details and suggestions regarding Reviews, here is a helpful article to check out: The How-To’s of Amazon Reviews. For the majority, this step alone boosted Sellers to the next sales tier and Best Seller Rank.
Many Sellers have packaging and labels that evolve until it looks like big budget pros. Everyone did their homework in one way or another and stopped using store bought, makeshift labels.
Offer both FBA & FBM. Fast shipping options once an order is placed is one of the key reasons Amazon attracts 188 million unique Amazon site visitors monthly and has an ever increasing 54 million Prime member base.
For a Seller, this is a critical decision and definitely a part of any customer service plan you create. There are pros and cons to shipping FBA or FBM, however, many Sellers offer both since it lists their company twice as buying sources on the same listing. That may be a good option if there are same product competitors as long as you can manage both FBA and FBM orders.
- Give Great Customer Service. ALWAYS. From the beginning to the end of every transaction, Sellers who focus on providing an excellent customer experience earns higher ratings. If you are an FBMer, write a return policy that matches FBA sold products (a.k.a. Amazon’s policy). To do otherwise puts you at risk with ratings and reviews.
Respond to all orders (if you ship), queries and customer messages within 24 hours. This directly affects your Account Health.
Dealing with Negative Customers
Successful Sellers have also learned to respond without ego to any “bad” reviews, or A to Z Claims. It is important not to take them personally. Listening to those Sellers who wear many hats, I am often impressed with the way they approach these situations which would test the patience of a Tibetan Monk.
The best strategies I have heard are ones that include a genuine effort to find out what the issue really is, then reach out to the customer with alternative solutions. The blame word is not a part of their vocabulary and customers are treated like royalty even at the literal expense of the business. As a result, customers have been known to change their ratings with efforts for resolution. And those who stubbornly hold on to their low rating? Well, most Sellers just move on.
Some Sellers have made the point that Amazon recognizes and appreciates when you go the extra mile to make customers happy. Amazon’s customer-centric objective is to create an excellent customer experience since it leads to greater conversions. If you participate in making that happen, they appreciate it and often express that in their communications with you. Also, if there is a bad review that is not justified, Sellers can ask Amazon to remove it. They usually don’t and they certainly won’t make a habit of it; but stories of proving forthright efforts led Amazon to respond in their favor in some of the cases.
Master Inventory & Cashflow. Often these Sellers are learning as they go. So keeping products in stock and managing cashflow was a practice-makes-perfect skill building exercise. Timing inventory purchases (especially if units come from overseas) with built in days to pack and label for shipping to FBA centers generally comes with a learning curve.
Some of these successful Sellers strongly suggest finding local (in country) sources to negotiate pricing, delivery and any manufacturing. This also helped greatly with possible dropships directly to Amazon warehouses and expanding product offerings using the same source.
While these top 6 strategies may be a common theme; everyone’s experience is definitely unique. I recommend scheduling in half an hour per day to read the latest posts, watch Amazon University videos, or listen to a current podcast. There is so much to glean from their failures and successes!
Tina Marie Bueno is a global citizen with an MBA in Int’l Business plus over 20 years of content marketing experience both in the U.S. and overseas. As iLoveToReview’s Marketing Director, she strives to deliver relevant content to serve Amazon businesses of all sizes.