Set up your seller account? Check. Set up your profile? Check. List your products? Check. If you read the first part of our Selling on Amazon series, then you’re ready for Part II on selling and shipping! These last few steps will put you in a good position to make money selling your products on Amazon. We're starting with Step 4, so if you need to catch up, read last week's Web Insights Blog post.
Selling Your Products
Step 4: Start Selling
Once you’ve uploaded your listings, it should take 24 hours for your products to go live and then you can start selling products! If you’re the only one selling your products, then making sales shouldn’t be as difficult as it is for sellers with already existing products. But, there are ways you can beat out the competition through strategic selling features like the Buy Box and getting your products to be Prime-eligible.
- Buy Box: In order to stay competitive with other sellers, Amazon has a Buy Box feature that allows the “winning” seller to become the default listing for a product. Winning the Buy Box will typically increase sales, as a majority of shoppers buy the defaulted item that is featured. So, when someone clicks “Add to Cart,” the Buy Box winner gets that sale. But the good thing is, the Buy Box rotates between the top sellers so it’s not always just one seller winning the business.
What are the requirements to compete for the Buy Box you may ask? Like all great things, you never know the entire truth; meaning, there is not a specific set of guidelines or requirements that Amazon discloses to sellers. But, we do know that there are areas that Amazon pays attention to that should be optimized in order to increase your chances.
In order to be eligible for the Buy Box, you must be using Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA), Fulfilled by Merchant (FBM), or Self-Fulfilled Prime (SFP). Using Amazon to fulfill your shipping has the biggest impact on your chances of winning the Buy Box since it’s run by Amazon and they consider themselves to have the best customer service and shipping times when it comes to fulfillment services.
o Shipping Time
That being said, shipping time is another important element that is evaluated. If you’re using FBA, then you don’t necessarily need to worry about shipping times since it’s being fulfilled by Amazon.
Pricing will be an important factor that can get very competitive. A general rule is, “the cheaper the better,” but that isn’t always true. For example, if you have excellent shipping and delivery times, with great customer service and outstanding reviews, you may be able to increase your price and still maintain a share of the Buy Box. On the other hand, if your metrics are good, but could be better, you should consider lowering your prices in order to stay competitive.
o Customer Service & Feedback
There are plenty of other elements that are considered, but none are as important as the three listed above. Things that have to do with the customer experience in terms of customer reviews, ratings, response times, feedback score, cancellation rate, etc. all are factors of Buy Box eligibility.
- Getting Prime Products: Getting your products to be Prime-eligible isn’t very difficult, but it could take some time if you’re just getting started as a new seller. In order to get your products on Prime, you must be using FBA. Using Fulfillment by Amazon works to your advantage in terms of shipping performance because Amazon takes a look at your seller metrics. Strong seller ratings will help your products qualify for Prime shipping. So, make sure you check your merchant dashboard frequently and provide excellent customer service.
Shipment & FBA
Step 5: Ship Your Products: As an individual seller, you are limited to self-shipping and would not be eligible for FBA, which is if you have a small inventory. Doing it all yourself can be manageable as long as you stay organized, but if you are registered as a professional seller, you may want to consider using an alternative method for shipping.
- Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM): FBM is when the merchant or seller takes care of the fulfillment process. Of course, you will have to pay for shipping fees, but sellers usually transfer those costs to the buyer. Ultimately, you can save money by fulfilling orders yourself, but you must be prepared to meet Amazon’s strict requirements in order to maintain positive performance metrics, which you need in order to keep selling on the platform. If your metrics fall below the recommended threshold, your account can be suspended. So, if you’re going to fulfill orders yourself, have a game plan in place and be knowledgeable of Amazon’s shipping requirements.
FBM gives you the ability to control your own products and potentially lower fees, but keep in mind, you cannot become Prime-eligible if you are not using FBA. And, if you’re products are not Prime, it will be hard to compete with products that are. The huge draw for Amazon is their Prime shipping and without it, your listings can get overlooked.
- Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA): FBA can be beneficial for sellers who are just getting started with a lot of inventory. As a new seller, you have a million things to do and the nice thing about FBA is that Amazon handles the entire fulfillment process for you. You also don’t have to worry about keeping up with strong performance metrics as FBA focuses on providing customers with on-time deliveries and customer service. Another sweet perk about having FBA is that your products become Prime-eligible!
- Third-Party Fulfillment: Sometimes going with a third-party service to fulfill your orders can help save you money, especially if you’re a seller who already has their own ecommerce website. If you’re going to use an outside company, there are some factors to consider when weighing the pros and cons including pricing, returns, customer service, support, and integration. You’ll want to think about each one of those factors in order to determine whether or not it’s valuable for your business. But before you start evaluating, you’ll definitely want to make sure that the third-party company you’re looking at actually integrates with Amazon.
Amazon Prime and the Buy Box feature are big incentives when using Amazon to fulfill your orders. Without FBA, you cannot use Prime and it would be extremely difficult to try and win a Buy Box. Keep in mind that the Buy Box looks at your performance metrics and it would be hard to compete with FBA if the third-party fulfillment company isn’t up to par. So, if you decide to go with a third party, make sure they have great performance and customer service records.
Step 6: Make Money!: Congratulations! The hard part is over. After setting up everything, uploading your inventory sheet with product details, and choosing your fulfillment method, you are ready to start selling and making money!
Once you start selling, Amazon will deposit payments into your bank account every two weeks and they will also collect any fees. Anytime there is activity from Amazon on your bank statement they will send you an email notification, so it’s very simple to keep track of. Something to be cautious of is that if you’re having trouble moving product, Amazon will suspend your account if you do not make a sale within 30 days. Typically, with popular items, that is not an issue, but if you are selling something that is very niche, you should monitor sales on a daily basis.
Don’t forget to check your dashboard regularly for any new alerts, orders, customer questions, and other product maintenance duties like checking your inventory. Everything you do on Amazon pertaining to your products will be reflected in your dashboard. That’s why it’s important to check it regularly, especially if you want to keep your performance metrics up!
Wrapping It Up
Selling on Amazon is a good way to stay competitive and cover your ground on the platform. Once you start getting the hang of the Amazon platform, you can start getting a bit more competitive and go for the Buy Box!
More people are using Amazon as a search engine to start their product research. Selling on Amazon will get you in front of the customer during their awareness, consideration, and purchasing phases. Optimizing your product listings will help them show up for related searches on the platform and in search engines. In terms of getting more visibility on the platform, you could consider advertising, which we will cover next week in Part III of our Selling on Amazon series.
New Target, Inc. offers a full range of digital services including e-commerce design and development services and web marketing strategy. If you’re in search of a digital agency to help you drive online results and grow your business, contact us to see how we can help. We have offices in Los Angeles and Washington DC, so no matter what coast you’re on, our ecommerce experts can help you move the needle in the right direction.
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