How to Create Amazing Amazon Listings: Part 2 – Amazon Title, Bullet Points, Descriptions, and Search Term Best Practices

Creating an Amazon Listing that generates sales and builds a brand takes a lot of work.
You have to have titles optimized, copy in place for title and descriptions, backend keywords added, clear photos, and much more.

Today, we’re going to talk about optimizing our title, bullet points, descriptions, and search terms to ensure that we get in view of potential customers and convert as many clicks into sales as possible.

A software called Sellics states that the order of importance is: Title, Back-end Keywords, Bullet Points, Description

Title Best Practices:

  • Capitalize the first letter of each word
  • Don’t include trademarks or registered marks
  • Don’t include the type of company (Ltd, Srl., Inc., etc.)
  • Include only the information required for each field
  • Avoid duplicate words
  • Keep under the Character Limit of 200
  • Add keywords to title to help with SEO

[Example:

Meliora Goods 4K Ultra HD QLED Smart TV 240Hz High-Contrast 1 Billion Shades of Color HDR Power-Efficient Voice Activated Back-Lit (65”)]

 

Bullet Point Best Practices:

Bullet points should highlight the five key features you want customers to consider. These might include dimensions, age rating, ideal conditions for the product, skill level, included accessories, country of origin, and so on. Each individual bullet point should:

  • The first words on each bullet point should start with all-capitalized letters followed by a Colon
  • Reiterate important information from the title and description where applicable
  • Use semicolons to separate phrases within a single bullet point
  • Be more than 10 characters but less than 255 characters
  • Use 3-5 Bullets with 2-5 sentences in each.
  • The first bullet should be unique to the SKU and should capture the attention of the customer
  • The second through fifth bullet points can include size, brand statement, generic benefits that can apply to multiple SKUs

Bullet points should never include:

  • Website links

[Example:

  • MAXIMUM ANTI-AGING RESULTS: Our Anti-Aging Serum is a luxuriously rich, silky Facial Serum formulated to diminish the visibility of fine-lines, age-spots, and wrinkles. Enriched with 24k Gold, Amino Peptides, and super-antioxidants Vitamins A,C,E – all known for their anti-aging properties – this Serum improves skin’s firmness and elasticity for a radiant, youthful appearance. Directions: Gently tap onto clean skin. Use 2-3 times a week. FOR ALL SKIN TYPES.
  • HIGH-PERFORMANCE ANTI-AGING INGREDIENTS: Enriched with powerful Anti-Aging ingredients 24k Gold, Amino Peptides, and super-antioxidants Vitamins A,C,E – all known for their anti-aging properties, this Serum is designed to boost, nourish, and recharge your skin for a glowing, radiant appearance. 24k GOLD is the best natural, anti-aging, anti-inflammatory antioxidant. POTENT AMINO PEPTIDES stimulate Collagen reproduction. VITAMINS A, C, and E are super antioxidants for best anti-aging results.
  • HIGHLY-EFFECTIVE TIMELESS SERUM TO BOOST RESULTS: This 24k Timeless Anti-Aging Serum defies the aging process by reducing the visibility of fine lines, wrinkles, and other visible signs of premature aging. It nourishes the skin from within with supreme anti-aging ingredients for a luminous, flawless appearance. This cream’s luxurious texture will leave your skin revitalized and recharged for hours after each application.
  • BEST VALUE FOR THE GOLD STANDARD OF SKINCARE: We provide spa-level skincare at an affordable price point providing the best value for an exclusive, high-end skincare.
  • MADE IN USA. NOT TESTED ON ANIMALS. CRUELTY-FREE. PARABEN FREE. NO FILLERS. NO HARMFUL FRAGRANCES: Discover the Gold Standard of Skincare. Buy now and discover the Gold Standard of Skincare. Satisfaction Guaranteed or your money back.]

 

Product Description Best Practices:

The product description lists the product features, explains what the product is used for, and provides other product-specific information.

A good product description is concise, honest, and friendly. It introduces the product and gives an overview of its uses and where it fits in its category. It can expand on the features mentioned in the bullet points.

When writing your product description:

  • Use between 100 and 200 words, but under the character limit of 2000
  • Write full sentences and use a full stop at the end
  • Include HTML formatting

[Example:

Enjoy our <strong> Living Progesterone Cream </strong>! Each pump of Living Progesterone 50 delivers a generous 50mg of Progesterone, or 5% strength per bottle. <br /> Every Living Progesterone 50 container manufactured includes over 80 pumps that should last approximately 2 months. <br /> Living Progesterone 50 is 100% Paraben free and 100% Phenoxyethanol Free. <br / > Living Progesterone 50 has a 5% strength, which means that one pump provides 50 mg of progesterone. <br /> Living Progesterone 50 usage may vary, however, one bottle should last at least 2 months. After it is applied, Progesterone only lasts for about 5-6 minutes in the bloodstream because it is so readily picked up by receptor sites. <br /> The most important time of day to use progesterone is before lunch. Insulin levels are the highest in the afternoon, which, of course, is why many people get sleepy between 3-4PM. Please keep in mind that when sugar levels drop, the body will be releasing adrenaline to raise the sugar levels back up. <br /> <strong> How to use: </strong> <br /> This container yields about 180 half pumps or 90 full pumps. Massage into your inner arms, thighs, chest or apply to inner forearms and rub arms together until fully absorbed. Use at night or once or twice a day as needed. Each pump delivers about 55mg of Bio-Identical Progesterone along with MSM, Shea Butter, Coconut Oil, Aloe Vera, and Licithing in a rich cream that absorbs into the skin. <br /> <strong> BENEFITS: </strong> <br /> Progesterone has been shown to help with a variety of health conditions, including: <br /> – Stress <br /> – Adrenals <br /> – Unbalanced Cortisol Levels <br /> – Sex Drive <br /> – Managing Cholesterol Levels <br /> – Sleep <br /> – Restless Legs <br /> – Managing Thyroid <br /> – Managing Blood Sugar <br /> – Aging <br /> – ADHD <br /> – Depression <br />]

 

Search Term Best Practices:

In order for customers to find your products, it’s important to provide keyword search terms customers might use when searching for products…

Our system limits the length of the generic keyword/search terms attribute to less than 250 bytes. It is still technically possible to go over the limit, however if you do, none of your entries will be indexed by our search engine. Being indexed means that your product is eligible (but not guaranteed) to appear in search results.

In general, characters count as 1 byte. However, some special characters such as ‘é’, ‘ä’ or ‘&’ count as 2 or more bytes. We recommend that you use an online byte counter to check the byte count of your generic keywords.

Your keywords should be:

  • Not separated by a comma or semicolon
  • Include synonyms, abbreviations and alternate names.
  • Include spelling variations; no need for misspellings.
  • Use either singular or plural; no need for both.
  • Don’t repeat words within the search terms field.
  • Don’t include your brand or other brand names in search terms.
  • Don’t include ASINs in search terms.
  • No need for stop words, such as “a” “an” “and” “by” “for” “of” “the” “with” or punctuation, such as ; : , – .
  • No temporary statements, such as “new” or “on sale now”
  • Don’t use subjective claims, such as “best” “cheapest” “amazing” and so on.
  • Don’t add abusive or offensive terms.

[Example: ORO24KARAT ORO 24KARAT GOLD OROGOLD 24K 24KGOLD reinvigorating express non-surgical facelift minimize age spots reduce fine lines new anti aging formula anti wrinkle made with gold 24 karat]

 

How to Create Amazing Amazon Listings: Part 1 – Amazon Photo Best Practices

Creating an Amazon Listing that generates sales and builds a brand takes a lot of work.
You have to have titles optimized, copy in place for title and descriptions, backend keywords added, clear photos, and much more.

Today, we’re going to talk about optimizing our photos to ensure that we catch the eyes of customers and convert as many clicks into sales as possible.
Amazon has a strict policy when it comes to photos. You can view their guidelines here.

In order to accommodate Amazon rules, MyAmazonGuy has created best practices that you can follow that also helps you optimize your photos.

– MAIN/HERO Image has to be on a pure white background (255, 255, 255). Your photo may get rejected by Amazon if it doesn’t. It will also look much cleaner if you do it in Amazon’s uniform and desired manner.
Example of a pure white background:

Example of an invalid HERO image with a non-pure white background. Amazon would reject this HERO image:

– All photos should be in focus. Out-of-focus pictures tend to show a lack of professionalism to customers.
Example of an in-focus photo:

Example of a photo not in-focus. Amazon would reject this image:

– Dimensions matter. Customers will be using different devices to view your photos, so you want to use a larger (in terms of dimensions) photo to show up clearly despite their device. For this reason, you want to have each photo (MAIN/HERO and secondary) be at a resolution of 2000 x 2000 pixels. If you cannot do this, the bare minimum is 1000 x 1000. Photos can be easily shrunk down without much of a loss in quality, but being expanded destroys the quality of an image.
Example of a properly-sized photo:

Example of a photo with too small of dimensions. Notice how the quality is lost as it is expanded to fill the screen:

– Amazon often changes its guidelines for photos. It recently came out with a rule against “People in the main image/product on model with the exception of adult apparel.” This means that you cannot have any people in a HERO shot.
Example of a proper HERO photo without someone:

Example of an invalid HERO photo with a model in the picture. Amazon would reject this HERO image:

– Another rule that was recently instituted was “Text, logos, borders, color blocks, watermarks, or other graphics over the top of a product or in the background.” This means that you cannot have any text or logos in your HERO shot. This photo would be rejected by Amazon:
Example of a proper HERO photo without texts:

Example of an invalid HERO photo with text. Amazon would reject this HERO image:

– Secondary photos boost the conversion rate significantly. You should have 3-5 secondary photos that complement your product. Here are some ideas for those secondary photos:
+ Help your customers see the item in action. If you are selling shampoo, have lifestyle photos of someone washing your hair with the shampoo. If you are selling a table, have lifestyle photos of a family playing games on the table.
Examples of lifestyle photos. Notice how these utilize a product and a human to have the customer visualize themselves with the product:

+ Additional angles of the product can help give the customers the feeling like they’re seeing it in person. For any product that is to be worn on the body, additional angles can help a customer decide if they like the look of the product.
Example of different-angled photos. Notice how the different angles can help the customer imagine what this product would look like up close:

+ Include a group photo of your product line. This increases brand awareness.
Example of a good group photo. This type of photo can also assist in helping the product find other of your products that they may want to purchase:

+ Use infographics to explain key differences between your product and a competitor’s product.
Example of good infographics. These catch eyes and give helpful tips to the customer:

Launching on Amazon is getting Harder – Do it Now Before it’s Too Late + An Amazon Advertising Guide

Amazon is entering the maturity phase of it’s business. They’ve won the eCommerce game, and they’ve won the retail game. They’ve successfully made it faster and cheaper to buy items across the United States than anywhere else. I personally predict that American Made and High Quality Goods will be the next phase of Amazon. In addition to that, you will need to start pushing external traffic into Amazon to even get off the ground.

Examples of new barriers to entry:

  1. Categories Requiring Approval – Grocery, Topicals, among the hardest.
  2. Ads within Amazon ecosystem aren’t triggering impressions as of June 2018 without prior sales history. (No one is talking about this)
  3. Brands much have a trademark to register with Amazon. It takes 6 months to get a trademark.
  4. All consumables, liquids, topicals, require hazmat approval.
  5. Batteries require documentation.
  6. Photos, titles, and other critical attributes are now being towed to a specific bright line. Either produce good customer experience, or Amazon removes them or changes them to whatever they see fit.

So what do you do about all of this? Launch on Amazon now!

In order of priority, here are the things you should do:

  1. Open a Seller Central account.
  2. Hire a consultant who can get you launched. Yours truly has scaled an Amazon Agency, and we onboard 3 clients a week. www.MyAmazonGuy.com Steps 3+ are best done by the pros.
  3. Load products to the account.
  4. Ship products in.
  5. Optimize products. Get your titles, photos, bullets, back end SEO all setup.
  6. Launch Sponsored Ads.
  7. Launch a storefront. Article and video on that here. 
  8. Launch Headline Ads.
  9. Build Enhanced Brand Content.
  10. Get reviews on your products.
    • Sign up for early reviewer program.
    • Get Feedback Genius to automated review requests.

Every company ever is going to get stuck on one of those steps. Whether it’s the logistics, the merchandising, or the marketing. That’s why you should hire a consultant who can get done in days what your company will try do in months. Let the top executives make the hiring decision of on a consultant, so that they are empowered to cut through the red tape, and growth hack you some results.

Now for the bonus, below is an advertising guide, one you won’t see anywhere else on the internet. Because I made it, customized it over years of thinking about it.

The best way to setup advertising on Amazon

What I’m about to share is one of my biggest trade secrets. It reveals how I setup advertising. Highly segmented strategies, that produce results. First of all, advertise every product, 24/7. Every product deserves its own bidding strategy, but advertising can always be profitable. Exceptions of course if you’re in beauty – PPC bids there are astronomical. Apply this strategy and you will have control over your Amazon advertising destiny. At MyAmazonGuy we’ve even applied this strategy in foreign languages we don’t speak, with great results. Google translate works. Techniques matter more than language barriers. We recently launched a client in Europe across 6 languages with the below techniques and they are already performing at a 10:1 return. (Returns are easier in Europe than USA)

Ad Segmentation for Sponsored Ads:

We build four campaigns as follows. Each with its own strategy and segmentation.

  • Auto Campaign
    • Keywords chosen by Amazon, good for keyword discovery in case manual campaign misses opportunity, medium spend
    • Brand terms are negated
  • Brand Campaign
    • Brand terms are only used on this campaign
    • Defensive advertising, not incremental sales, low spend. Protects us from competitors advertising on our brand.
  • Competitor Campaign
    • Competitor brand names are only used on this campaign
    • Often very small spend, high results, low impression counts, incremental sales
    • Set up to target competitor’s brand keywords in order to gain market share.
  • Manual Campaign
    • Highly segmented ad groups, will have most benefit, most spend, most sales.
    • Keywords are all manually chosen.

Keyword Strategies:

We have added the same keywords in the following three formats below, essentially A/B/C testing the keywords for strength. A keyword could perform better in any one of the below formats, and we adjust bids ongoing accordingly.

  • Broad Match
    • Generically targets the keyword, can have other words in search result mixed, has most impressions
  • Phrase Match
    • Must contain the phrase, can have other words in search result
  • Exact Match
    • Is exact match, and only targets when precise letter for letter keyword is used. Least amount of impressions, but most controlled and targeted format.

Bidding Strategies:

Each Amazon advertising setup uses a unique bidding strategy. In the case of many brands we choose to apply a growth bidding strategy. Where we put in high bids to test the market, and see what happens due to the competitive nature of your category. If results are poor we will pull back within 2-4 weeks. Our target is to get ads to be performing within 90 days. Advertising in competitive categories can have a ACoS of 30-80%. Advertising in less competitive categories such as home goods, can maintain a 15-25% ACoS. 

Bonus round – Create a Facebook meme, and send traffic to Amazon.

You don’t have to a masterful creative designer to make an ad that works. I built this in 3 mins, launched it in 5, spend $50 and made 30 unit sales, and got 900 engagements. Showing up is half the battle. I even put in Pickle Rick for Rick & Morty, which is totally off brand for www.momstir.com, one of the brands I own. It still worked. Because it got people’s attention. I abuse my own brands quite a bit for testing purposes. It’s all about targeting, low bids, right message, and push them to Amazon using an SEO super url. An SEO super url is keywords in the UTF of the coding of the URL. It makes your product rank for those keywords when you get sales when someone clicks the url because it signals to the search engine that someone sought those terms out to make their purchase.

 

Understanding the Amazon Inventory Index – The Magic Score of 350

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about whether inventory will be limited, and when the magic date comes into effect for FBA inventory limitations. With the new FBA Inventory Storage Limits, if your Inventory Performance Index is less than 350 for six weeks before the end of a quarter you will be notified of your potential storage limits. If your score is still less than 350 on the final day of the quarter, the limits will apply for the next quarter. This means that your score of less than 350 for six consecutive weeks before the current quarter ends and at the end of the current quarter will have a limited storage.

In order for your FBA Inventory Storage Limits to be unlimited, you may need to maintain your score of 350 or greater than for standard-size, oversize, apparel, and footwear items. You will only have storage limits if your Inventory Performance Index score is less than 350 six weeks before the end of the current quarter and on the last day of the current quarter. In this example, you would not have storage limits if your score is more than 350 first score check which is six weeks before the quarter ended or the final score check.

Quarterly storage limits are based on 1) your sales volume, 2) your historical Inventory Performance Index scores, and 3) available fulfillment center capacity. Sellers with consistently higher scores will receive higher storage limits, adjusted for sales volume and available capacity. When setting limits for an upcoming quarter, both your recent sales volume and seasonal volume from the last year are considered.

Seller Central Help File: https://sellercentral.amazon.com/gp/help/GXLRKWL8L5BMSHWB?referral=A3TI3F8839JJFF_A2VMNEEYCY3YGZ

Amazon 2018 Prediction of Massive Seller Acquisition & Mergers MyAmazonGuy + Seller Accountant

Steven Pope (MyAmazonGuy) teams up with Tyler Jefcoat (Seller Accountant) to discuss their prediction that here will be a massive amount of acquisitions and mergers in the Amazon Seller world in 2018 and in the next 3 years. Investors are starting to gobble up brands selling on Amazon, typically brands that are 80-90% of their sales specifically on Amazon.

Amazon is entering the maturity phase.

Image result for maturity phase cycle

Amazon is entering the maturity phase.  Amazon has grown grown grown and now it’s maturing. What happens when a company like Amazon matures is they make it harder for sellers to participate as a seller on Amazon. Barriers and additional rules like Hazmat reviews, gating, higher threshold metrics that accounts have to adhere to, and increasing fees. It’s now ripe for sophisticated sellers to gobble up competition and bring additional resources into the same house. Investors can bring 5-20 different Seller Central accounts into the same company and have on person to run the following areas just like a single company:

  1. Marketing & Sales
  2. Accounting & Finance
  3. Merchandising & Product Growth
  4. Customer Service

By bringing multiple brands together, you can have deeper expertise focused in these areas. You can have a rockstar (who you pay exceptionally well) run all the accounts in any of those specific job function. As a single account you wouldn’t be able to afford that expertise. But as a group, you have one person over each of those areas.

So watch our discussion so you can learn what it means for you as an potential investor, or a seller (regardless of whether you are selling your business):

What the South Dakota v. Wayfair Case Means for your Amazon E-Commerce Business

One of my good friends Tyler Jefcoat runs an accounting business for Amazon sellers. He’s been following the supreme court case that will impact all online sellers in a big way. With his permission here is his take on the court case in an article he published today, which can be found originally published here at SellerAccountant.

What the South Dakota v. Wayfair Case Means for your E-Commerce Business

The Supreme Court issued a landmark decision on 6/21/18 in South Dakota v. Wayfair, INC siding with the State and overruling two prior Court decisions (Quill & Hess) to redefine what constitutes “nexus” in a given state.  This has huge future implications for e-commerce sellers and we want to unpack this landmark decision for you.

So What Is South Dakota v. Wayfair, INC?

Let’s start with a summary of the case and its core arguments. When consumers make purchases, the consumer’s states often impose a sales tax. This case requires the Court to determine when an out-of-state seller can be required to collect and remit that tax. All justices agree that taxing e-commerce sales is lawful and constitutional. The question is whether a previously held rule called the physical presence rule is a valid test for either including or excluding sellers from a given state’s tax law.

What is The Physical Presence Rule?

According to the old Quill ruling, a state only had the right to require sales tax compliance IF a company had a “significant physical presence” in the state. The court had defined “significant” as a company having a location, employees or inventory housed in that state. For e-commerce sellers, this was great news and created an advantage. It meant we only had to worry about collecting and remitting sales tax in states where we literally had a physical location.

Amazon FBA complicated things since Amazon moves inventory to any of its fulfillment centers across a growing number of states, therefore, giving a seller nexus in those states. Amazon’s extra confusion meant that sellers were at most on the hook for the 26 states where Amazon had an FC. Sellers had a hard time determining whether to file in a particular state and recent MA, PA and WA rulings have made this risk management decision even harder.

South Dakota’s Response to Not Collecting Enough Revenue

Back to South Dakota v. Wayfair, INC: It is impractical to collect a use tax from each citizen and the result of non-compliance is estimated to cost the states between $8-33 Billion a year(the Court opinion cited multiple studies). In response, South Dakota enacted a law in 2016 to try to correct this issue by asserting authority to require all sellers who sell into their state above a minimum line to collect and remit sales tax regardless of whether they have a physical presence in SD.

When Wayfair and other large sellers Overstock and Newegg decided not to comply with the new law South Dakota filed suit. The defendants asked for a summary judgment thus combining their cases into this one case, South Dakota v. Wayfair, INC. The lower courts sided with the companies against the state because of the precedent established by Quill and Hess (the 2 prior landmark Supreme court cases).

The Supreme Court decided to weigh in on the case and heard arguments in April of 2018 and have now issued an opinion on 6/21/18.

What Was The Supreme Court Opinion?

The Justices ruled 5 to 4 in favor of the states. In Kennedy’s words: “Held: Because the physical presence rule of Quill is unsound and incorrect, Quill Corp. v. North Dakota & National Bellas Hess v. Dept of Revenue of Illinois ARE OVERRULED.” Check out the actual 40 page Supreme Court Opinion here.

What Does This Mean?

The South Dakota v. Wayfair, INC opinion means that the physical presence rule no longer applies and that the states have the right to enforce sales tax laws on any seller above a “reasonable” minimum regardless of whether that seller has any physical presence.

How Does South Dakota’s Law Protect Small Sellers?

In an effort to protect small sellers and startups, South Dakota established minimums of $100,000 per year in revenue OR 200 distinct transactions. This means any seller who doesn’t sell at least these minimums into South Dakota in a year is exempt from collecting sales tax. Since the population of South Dakota is very small these minimums will likely exempt almost all out-of-state sellers who sell less than $10,000,000 per year unless their products are particularly popular in SD.

Is This Good News or Bad News?

We aren’t 100% sure yet if this is good news or bad news for 3rd party sellers because this ruling doesn’t at all address whether marketplaces like Amazon should have to collect taxes for its 3rd party sellers.

Will Amazon Take the Compliance Burden Finally?

This is a major question that South Dakota v. Wayfair, INC doesn’t settle. Will Amazon respond by using its existing sales tax infrastructure to make this compliance headache disappear from the plates of millions of 3rd party sellers? Although this ruling doesn’t address platforms like Amazon it does appear to be one more logical step down the path toward Amazon owning the sales tax problem for its sellers.

Since this ruling most directly gives states the right to create and enforce sales tax legislation against sellers without addressing Amazon things may get more complicated before they get a lot easier. In other words, unless Amazon voluntarily steps up to the plate many sellers who have ONLY had to file in the fulfillment center states may now have to file in additional states since physical presence isn’t required any longer.

Although the fate of Amazon and its sellers is somewhat up in the air this is definitely bad news for Wayfair, eBay, Newegg and other large sellers and marketplaces who aren’t already collecting and remitting sales tax. These companies took pretty strong stock price hits when this ruling came out on Thursday as you can see on the following chart via Bloomberg:

Thursday’s Blood Bath For E-Comm:

  • Wayfair: -9.5%
  • eBay: -12.1%
  • Amazon: -1.9%
  • Etsy: -5.7%
  • Overstock.com: -7.8%
  • and more

Amazon suffered the least because the effect on Amazon and its 3rd party sellers remains to be seen. Just as importantly Amazon is already collecting sales tax in all required states on products that Amazon directly sells and Amazon already collects and pays sales tax on behalf of 3rd party sellers in two states (Washington and Pennsylvania). This means that Amazon has the infrastructure to make a move and has already proven in WA and PA that sales won’t be radically harmed by adding sales tax.

The Bottom Line:

Each state is now going to present and pass a new sales tax law (at least 16 are already in process or completed) and will follow South Dakota’s law as a template in an effort to collect those billions of dollars that have been slipping through the cracks. We hope states set volume minimums that are higher than South Dakota’s and therefore proportionate with their population sizes (i.e. South Dakota makes up a quarter of a percent [.27%] of the US population while California makes up 12.14%). So if California’s minimums were to be 45 times more than South Dakota’s since the population is 45 times more then California’s minimums would look like this:

If this trend held true for all states then only sellers selling more than $25,000,000 a year would even need to worry about sales tax in most states. Our suspicion is that states like California that have a much stronger appetite for regulation won’t be nearly as generous as South Dakota has been. So don’t expect the final outcome to be this rosy but our guess is that states will compromise depending on the political climates and that most of the newly taxed sellers will be 8-figure sellers. If we are correct then this is great news for 95% of all e-commerce sellers. Oddly enough this is also great news for large traditional retailers like Target, Walmart, Best Buy, etc… who already had to pay sales tax in all states that have one.

So… In Summary:

  • Bad news: all 50 states can now create new laws enforcing sales tax compliance on all sellers regardless of location as long as the minimums are “reasonable”. The ruling doesn’t clearly define “reasonable.”
  • Good News: South Dakota chose to define “reasonable” pretty generously given their population. If this trend were to continue among all of the states then only 8-figure sellers would need to worry about sales tax. This would be unbelievable news for 95% of all sellers.
  • Unknown: Will Amazon respond in the next few months by biting the bullet and just collecting and remitting sales tax for all 3rd party sellers? Maybe they will but this ruling doesn’t require them to at all. In fact, if anything this ruling provides a cleaner path to enforcement for states against individual sellers. Now we just have to hope that most sellers are too small to be considered targets by the new sales tax laws in each state which leads to the next point.
  • Unknown: What will each state decide is a “reasonable” minimum in order to protect the smaller sellers? Some states will be more aggressive than others and the most aggressive states will be challenged in court until “reasonable” is more clearly defined either via federal legislation or by future Court rulings.
  • Timeline: Our guess is that this is the very beginning of a long trajectory and that nothing dramatic will happen until each state has had time to create and pass its own laws.

What Should I Do Now?

South Dakota v. Wayfair, INC should immediately make sellers do at least two things:

First, you don’t need to use the physical presence rule to determine if you should file, collect and remit sales tax in states since this new ruling has eliminated the physical presence rule.

Second, It is critical to stay on top of where you sell your products to and to stay up to date as states enact new sales tax laws over the next 12-18 months. Make sure your accounting and compliance partners really understand the ins and outs of this evolving landscape. Our accounting clients have had a good experience with TaxJar as a sales tax filing software. If you don’t have a good software partner check them out.

We’ll Keep You Posted

Seller Accountant will keep you updated as we see things unfold. Feel free to reach out to Seller Accountant if you have questions about your specific situation.

This post was co-written by Seller Accountant CEO, Tyler Jefcoat, and Accounting Intern, Christian Joseph.

How to create a FBA shipment in Amazon Seller Central

Amazon continues to change how you do shipments for FBA. In the last year alone they’ve added the following options:

  1. Prep services
  2. Labeling services.
  3. Hazmat roadblocks
  4. A new shipping index score that impacts storage limits July 1, 2018

Amazon has even started forcing categories like Beauty to all use Amazon labels, tracking all inventory back to root seller instead of commingling.

In this video I walk through a basic shipping plan. If you’ve never made an FBA shipment before, or you’re rusty, it’s a great tutorial to navigate the ever changing Amazon ecosystem.

How to look up a trademark with United States Patent and Trademark Office

Getting a trademark is more important to your business than ever. A trademark protects your products and your brand. Without it, you have no recourse to another person or company ripping off your stuff.

Today it’s never been easier to order something off Alibaba Express and start selling an item. We live in the Amazon private label age. If you spend time and money investing in a new idea and don’t get a trademark or patent in place, someone can start selling your exact product and piggy back off your success.

Sometimes even on your own Amazon listings they’ll show up with knockoffs. That not only damages your brand and product, but it could put pressure on your pricing and hurt your margins.

Trademark leads to Brand Registry on Amazon

Having a trademark allows you to get brand registry on Amazon, and you can report products and the sellers of those products for infringing on your trademark. The Amazon brand registry also allows you to build enhanced content, advertise headline ads, open a storefront with a vanity url of www.amazon.com/(your_brand_name_here), and better control your data.

It’s easier to get a trademark than a patent, so at bare minimum get a trademark in place for your brand. Trademarks currently heavily impact success on Amazon. In the near future they could impact other marketplaces and websites as well.

This video walks through how to look up a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Which is a starting point for figuring out whether a trademark is in place for your brand name.

  1. Go to https://www.uspto.gov/trademarks-application-process/search-trademark-database
  2. Click “Search Trademarks” (lands you at http://tmsearch.uspto.gov/bin/gate.exe?f=tess&state=4810:tt6qdr.1.1)
  3. Click “Basic Word Mark Search (New User)”
  4. Type the name of the brand or trademark in, it is case sensitive.
  5. Find the live trademark in question to find the needed information.

You will need to do this if you’re trying to figure out if a brand has a trademark, whether you want to create a trademark, of if you have an Amazon account and want to file for Brand Registry but are unsure if a trademark exists.