Pros and Cons of Starting Your Own Amazon Account vs Leveraging Another’s

It recently dawned on me after setting up a couple dozen seller central accounts that not every seller really needs their own account. And while there are pros and cons to both options, starting your own account, vs leveraging another seller central account, many first time sellers may want to consider using someone else’s. What I mean by using someone else’s seller account is – sell your products at wholesale to another retailer on Amazon. Or give them a rev share. They handle keeping stuff in stock, all the customer service messages, reviews, marketing etc.

You can open a Seller Central account here.

If you are a manufacturer or wholeseller and have never sold on Amazon before, you should at the very least hire a consultant (such as myself…). Whether you launch your own account, or leverage another seller’s depends on your mission and resolve.

 

 

 

 

Pros of using your own seller account:

  1. Visibility into daily sales
  2. Control
  3. Everything is tied to single tax id
  4. You can spend more marketing dollars out of your own pocket

Pros of leveraging another’s account:

  1. Save $40 per month in Amazon seller account fee
  2. Less time required and far less setup
  3. Customer service messages, shipments, and other items are more easily handled for me as a consultant (less $ you have to pay me)
  4. Faster sales velocity due to prior account history
  5. Marketer likely knows how to better spend dollars to get sales

How many skus do you have?

  1. If you have 10 or less skus and sales under 50k a year – you should use someone else’s account.
  2. If you have 10+ skus and sales over 50k a year – you should be on your own seller central account.

Distribution control and MAP can also impact which direction makes the most sense.

Problems that can come up when you open a Seller Central Account:

  1. Identity documents Amazon requests don’t match and you can’t finish setup
  2. Multiple accounts. If your email or phone number are attached to another seller account you may get flagged and unable to sell.
  3. Bad bank account information
  4. Tax ID issues

If you run into any of these issues I can help you sort them out steven@myamazonguy.com

Logistics Expert Interview – What Amazon Sellers Need to Know About Importing?

Questions discussed in this video:

  • What does every Amazon seller need to know about importing?
  • How long does it take?
  • What problems come up?
  • Quality control issues
  • Private labelers selling on Amazon, should you hire a logistics expert?

My guest Ruby can be reached at mayford2@gmail.com. Ruby has been doing logistics and importing for 20 years.

Should I Merge Duplicate Listings on Amazon? How Do I Merge Duplicate Listings in Seller Central?

The answer to this question, should I merge duplicate listings on Amazon, depends upon your relationship to these listings. Duplicate listings come about for various reasons. Sometimes other retailers load their own UPC codes, and duplicate the data on purpose – to achieve 100% buy box potential. This is of course against Amazon terms and conditions, but it happens. Other times retailers will list their items under a different brand, again against Amazon terms and conditions but it happens. In less nefarious instances, listings can get duplicated for a variety of corrupt or bad data instances.

Watch this video to walk through the quandary of duplicate listings.

So should you merge the listings?

If you are the manufacturer:

Yes. 100% of the time. No questions. That’s because a single listing will have a higher BSR (ranking) on Amazon and generate more exposure and sales.

If you are the wholesaler:

Same answer as manufacturer. Unless you allow white labeling. Often wholesalers will avoid managing MAP and just let the listings chaoticly exist to avoid the effort of crowd control. But same benefits apply here.

If you are the retailer:

Depends. If both listings are clean, and there are no MAP issues, you should consider it. However, if you’re the only prime seller on your listing, and your BSR is higher, and there are prime sellers on the other listing, there is no net benefit to you as a retailer to merge it. Often retailers will negotiate with manufacturers to go about these mergers despite this, to gain other benefits such as limiting the # of FBA partners they engage with, or inside discounts. So if you are a retailer with a tight relationship with the manufacturer you can consider this measure.

Duplicate Listing Example:

How do I know if there are duplicate listings?

My tool of choice is Scan Power. There are many tools out there to consider. But whatever tool you use – you upload a simple UPC list. The tool crawls the UPCs across Amazon, and spits out an excel sheet for you to comb through.

How do I merge listings?

From the Scan Power, or other tool download, Highlight duplicate UPCs in the UPC column, and determine the highest ranking ASIN. Open Seller Central and file a ticket to merge the listings.

How to do Keyword Research – Website & Amazon

Doing keyword research is the best way to do SEO and optimize your product titles and copy “to sell more products to more people more often for more money.” Quote by Harry Joiner.

There are a few tools you can use to help you with your keyword research:

  1. Google Adwords Keyword Planner
  2. Jungle Scout Chrome Extension
  3. Jungle Scout Web App

This video walks you through how and why to use these tools. If you follow this advice it will skyrocket your organic traffic to your products and help push your sales!

 

How to Change your Amazon Seller Name on Seller Central – Can You Change Your Name? YES!

You can in fact change your Seller Central Amazon Seller Name. You can even change the business legal name and tax ID structure.

To do this follow these steps and watch my video:

    1. Open Seller Central
    2. Go to Settings
    3. Click Account Info
    4. Click “Your Seller Profile” or click here: Seller Information
    5. Make sure you are logged in as the main account admin holder so you have privileges to make changes.
    6. Hit edit on on store details.
  1. Change your Display name.
  2. Must be done for each country sold in.

If you need help making this change you can hire me for an hour and I would be happy to assist you. I also specialize in helping wholesalers & manufacturers launch on Amazon for the first time, as well as help current sellers scale their programs through advertising, listing optimization, and product launches.

eCommerce Strategy = Traffic and Conversion – B2C Marketing Explained

In this video I explain what makes up an eCommerce strategy. It’s all about traffic and conversion. If you sell consumer based products (B2C) watch this to learn what your marketing channels should comprise of, and what factors impact conversion.

 

 

All things eCommerce boil down to driving traffic and increasing conversion to produce sales growth.

Drive Traffic

  • Advertising
    • Pay Per Click
      • Text Ads
      • Shopping Engines
    • Display Banners
  • Affiliates
  • Search Engine Optimization
    • Content
    • Technical Data
  • Marketplaces
  • Email
  • Social Media

Increase Conversion

  • Funnel Marketing
    • Multiple touchpoints in sales journey
  • Reducing Anxiety
    • Is it safe to buy from this source?
  • Reducing Friction
    • Can I get through the checkout funnel?
  • Merchandising & Personalization
    • Can I find the right product?

 

If you need help with your eCommerce strategy or execution, reach out to me for a complimentary consult Steven@MyAmazonGuy.com

My Amazon Guy

How to Create an Amazon Brand Storefront

How to Create an Amazon Brand Storefront – get Amazon consulting with Steven@MyAmazonGuy.com

How to get an Amazon brand storefront, click these links depending on which step you are on.

  1. Get a trademark.
  2. File for brand registry.
  3. Go to storefront in seller central.
  4. Plug and play assets to create your store page! (see video)

Reasons why you would want a storefront:

  1. Brand control
  2. Location to drive Headline ads
  3. Location to drive external and offline traffic to
  4. Landing pages convert better
  5. You can push chosen products
  6. Personalized product engine supplied by Amazon
  7. It’s really freaking easy to setup.

State of Amazon – Selling Tips in 2018

Selling Tips Amazon 2018 State of Amazon

I’m in Las Vegas this week attending the Prosper Show, an Amazon conference, where I’m enjoying a lot of great speakers and topics.

While sifting through a lot of new information here at the conference, I found myself thinking that many Amazon sellers just need some practical down-to-earth advice on ways to improve. This article focuses on that, as well as some general big Amazon news pieces. And, as always, if you need help with your Amazon account you can reach me by email.

Top 3 hacks at Prosper Show:

  1. http://www.pickfu.com  to quickly AB test for anything like what main photo to use
  2. File tickets through Seller Central using tax question in drop down when you have a case you can’t get resolved properly, it routes to USA based support. Even if not a tax question. Also an easy dial in way to get to USA catalog team. Ask for a transfer.
  3. Find anonymous customers name on Amazon when they show up as “Amazon customer” on a review by clicking their name and check their wish list. Their name will show there. (Bet this gets patched soon)

These hacks received 3/4 the vote of 500 attendees at Prosper Show. Out of 12 hacks.

First a brief mention of the potential ways to sell on Amazon. This continues to be important because your sales outcome is impacted by other platforms.

Vendor Central vs Vendor Express vs Seller Central

Most sellers should be on Seller Central. Big brands who focus on manufacturing or wholesale should be on Vendor Central, most likely. Sold by Amazon is the #1 threat to Seller Central businesses due to logistics control. Resellers are getting hurt big time. I’ve seen a ton of new intermediate parties who sell direct to Amazon on behalf of wholesalers. If you sell on Seller Central, and you are a retailer who shares the selling rights of goods, you have a huge business threat. Try to work with wholesalers or manufacturers for exclusive rights to sell on Amazon.

Increased Selling Costs

Seller Central accounts are getting hit hard with increased costs, warehousing fees and 6-month overstock fees now hitting monthly. See latest Amazon announcement here.

What’s the Target Price Point to Sell at?

Seller Central accounts should target items $20 and above, if you sell items at retail for less than that, you should be vendor central due to fulfillment fees.

Best Amazon Tools:

  1. #1 best Amazon tool right now is Jungle Scout
  2. I learned about an up-and-coming tool at Prosper called Viral Launch.

I use both Jungle Scout tools, the onetime fee paid app, and the monthly subscription to gain access to sales data, product tracking, keyword data and more.

Brand Registry

Brand registry is more important than ever for the following reasons:

  1. Controlling data
  2. Headline Ads
  3. Brand pages
  4. Enhanced Content (From the manufacturer section)

Brand pages should be the #1 takeaway that can have immediate positive impact on your sales. Push this hard. I recently sent a physical mailer, yes, you heard that right, an eCommerce guy is talking about snail mail. And I’m pushing traffic to brand pages. Brand pages are basically a customizable landing page on Amazon. You hold all the links, you can send your headline ads here, you can send external traffic here, and conversion rates sky rocket compared to typical search results on Amazon. It’s basically a landing page for Amazon. Dedicated URL to drive traffic to only your products. It replaced Store pages.

Ultimately you need a trademark on your brand to get into the brand registry. Learn how to setup brand registry here: https://brandservices.amazon.com/

Video Shorts

Sellers can easily upload videos in shorts now. I use Snagshout, which is a deals-based website but has some great seller tools to drive external traffic. These tools include purchases, ranking improvements, and, as of last month, their newly launched product will help you upload video shorts onto Amazon.

Vendor Central users can upload videos to photo location. Seller Central accounts can only load to the video shorts section. Rumor is that this is coming to Seller Central via Brand registry soon.

Examples of video shorts can be found here.

Here’s a live listing for Savoy House on Amazon, scroll to the bottom and you can see where a video short appears.

Amazon keeps taking away seller tools, and customer touch points

Feedback Genius and other email programs have lost a lot of value recently. Almost a year ago Amazon started allowing customers to opt out of seller emails altogether. As recently as two weeks ago rumors swirled that Amazon had a new policy to limit to a single email per buyer. However, Seller Labs came out rather strongly saying this rumor was false.

In either case, it now feels like 60% of customers have completely opted out of seller emails all together. I am only citing that based on my current rejection notices.

How to grow Amazon sales

Growing Amazon from product perspective

  1. Build a product that is already in demand but improve upon it, read the reviews and figure out what is lackluster, sometimes simply duplicating a product and shooting better photos is still enough. Duplicate what’s working, and improve upon it. Fixing issues flagged in user feedback can be really helpful.
  2. Kitting – Adding two products (or more) and selling them together. This can lower fulfillment costs and make your product more price competitive.

Growing Amazon from marketing perspective

  1. Amazon is aggressively reaching out to brands to pitch $35,000 advertising programs for external traffic, which they pitch as HIGH funnel, while maintaining sponsored ad program which is LOW funnel.
  2. Internal traffic more competitive than ever.
  3. Sponsored Ads – everybody been doing this for 10 years. But a lot has changed (besides a new UI rolled out last week).
  4. Auto campaigns for first time are surpassing manual campaigns. Making manual marketers like us less valuable.
  5. PPC competition varies widely between industries.
  6. Avg PPC cost in Home goods still low, 50-80 bids still work in many home sub categories. Low bids still also work in grocery.
  7. Whereas PPC costs in beauty are averaging 1.5-2.5. Most competitive category on Amazon seemingly.

SEO

SEO tricks still exist, better to have lengthy titles. Big brands still haven’t optimized titles, private label brands are all over this.

Seeing tons of SEO black hat firms pop up who can successfully push to page 1. I see Facebook ads target to me as a marketer for these constantly.

Optimize your listings. Ton of guides on this so I’ll link to one instead.

Nexus

Nexus and tax issues were the #1 hot topic at Prosper. There were handfuls of tax vendors with booths at Prosper. Expect big changes in the next 1-2 years from Amazon on tax issues. Even as of last week Massachusetts is now requiring taxes to be collected on Amazon sales. Washington already collects it.

Honorable Mentions

Stockouts should be avoided at all costs. Use software to keep in stock if necessary.

Seller Central accounts can now participate in the Early Review Program.

If you need help with any of the above on your own seller central, vendor express, or vendor central account, reach out to me here.

Best slide from Prosper Show, on Amazon selling framework

Slide available for PDF download at productlabs.net/prospershow

 

How to Launch Marketplaces for Your Company

(Originally published by me in 2015 at http://ecommerceconsulting.com/2015/08/launch-marketplaces-company.html)

If your company sells consumer goods, there’s a near 100% chance you want to sell those products online. Selling online is increasingly competitive. For most companies it makes little sense to invest a couple million dollars in a website to compete with eCommerce giants such as Amazon. Instead you should look at launching your products on all the major marketplaces.

What are the Major Marketplaces?

Amazon eBay Sears Rakuten Walmart

 

These links will take you to the requirements and steps for each marketplace:

No matter how many products or SKUs you have to sell, Amazon, eBay, and most likely Sears are the three marketplaces you should consider launching first. Most products are sellable on Amazon and eBay. Sears is more of a home goods focus – so technology items are less applicable there. (Technology marketplaces are a completely different ballgame, see Best Buy and NewEgg.) So whether you’re selling kitchen knives, or party supplies, you can sell practically anything on a marketplace. I’ve sold on these marketplaces with products including clothing, kitchen equipment, paper supplies, and more.

Why Should My Company Launch Marketplaces?

  1. Low Cost
  2. Easy
  3. Fast

First it’s super cost effective. Fees vary slightly but you can estimate a monthly hard cost of about $40 per marketplace, and a percentage on successful sales ranging from 8-12% plus 1-3% for payment services such as PayPal (eBay specifically). It roughly washes out to 10-12% overall. You could spend 2-million dollars on a state of the art website, or you could pay 10% of your sale to get your product in front of customers who are already in the purchase mood (that’s why they are at a marketplace afterall) and get essentially free advertising.

Dropshipping

Second it’s super easy. There is essentially no barrier to entry for the major marketplaces except Walmart. Drop shipping is the future of eCommerce. All the marketplaces are adding literally millions of products from anybody and everybody because consumers are flocking to the top tier eCommerce models. How long does it take you make a purchase on a random company website? 2-5 minutes if it’s decent, 10 minutes if it’s bad. On Amazon it’s 10 seconds. You can’t compete with that. Because of this marketplaces need you as much as you need them. So they make your barrier to entry to launch on them incredibly easy. You can pay a consultant such as myself to launch your products, which is the most cost effective and time effective method, or you can go to each marketplace and follow their guides to launch your products. The value of utilizing a consultant comes from the value of the optimization from using an expert. Just like a website has SEO, so do marketplaces. So experts can help you optimize your products from the get go and see huge lifts.

Third it’s fast. Most have a super easy application process and you can be live within 72 hours. eBay has the lowest barrier and you can start selling within minutes of creating an account. Some people don’t realize eBay is a marketplace, but it is. There’s major differences but in the end, it’s still a website people go to, are in a buying mood, and can find your product.

Steps to launch marketplaces:

  1. Have a product that can be shipped
  2. File applications at the marketplace websites (links to each application above)
  3. Satisfy launch requirements, including filling out product information, company information, payment and receivable constraints, and any policies on shipping and/or restrictions. (This is where a consultant comes in really handy)
  4. There isn’t a lot of post launch maintenance. Customer service is about all you need besides actually shipping products.
  5. Profit

Amazon Prime

 

Bonus – Go Prime

Marketplaces are increasingly adding warehouses across the country. Both Amazon and eBay have fulfillment services. Advantages include fast shipping (2 day), increased competitive product listings, and possibly even international sales potential (eBay especially.)

 

If you’re ready to launch on any of these marketplaces and need help, email our leading marketplace expert Steven Pope, or add him on LinkedIn.

Feed Me – A Guide to Feeds for Shopping Engines, Market Places, & PLAs

The conundrum of digital marketing is you need several departments to work harmoniously toward the same goal. And in the case of eCommerce feeds, you need the marrying of entrepreneurship, online sales, and technical aptitude. A feed is information that it sent from one point to another, translated carefully to be understandable at the end point. The consequence of which if not done right is the like of playing the children’s game of telephone.

Building a feed for Amazon, eBay, shopping engines, marketplaces, and more

So do you sell frozen peas or do you sell flea repellent? Well that depends on what your feed told the third party where your information is being seen. A feed should be refreshed on a request basis. Especially if you have price changes, limited inventory, or new products coming in.

eCommerce Requires MANY Feeds

The reason eCommerce requires multiple feeds is in this day and age you aren’t just selling products at one storefront. You’re selling on 11 types of channels. Most people would get 2 of these right off the bat, websites and marketplaces. But there’s many more to consider such as shopping engines, product listing ads, and even display banner advertising.

Optional Fields Are Mandatory

If you’ve ever built a feed, you’ve probably seen that only a few fields are mandatory. And many more are optional. The thing is, if all you do is send a PDF of the feed requirements to your IT team, all they are going to do is fill in mandatory fields and call it a day. I’ve seen this at several companies. It really isn’t their fault because they have piles and piles of requests on their desks and as long as the feed goes live they can move onto the next project.

Examples of Mandatory Fields:

  • Product Title
  • Product Description
  • Inventory (Stock)

Examples of Optional Fields:

  • Color
  • Material
  • Manufacturer

Findability is Key to Accessibility

The reason optional fields matter? In an information age, the more you inform the consumer, the more transparency you use, the more likely they will be able to…

  1. Find your product
  2. Understand your product
  3. Buy your product

Example: Let’s say your company sells clothing. Well if you don’t list color in the attribute field, and the consumer is looking for a black dress, and not just a dress, then they’re going to find your competitor’s item and buy it, not yours. Simply putting “black” in the title of the product, or the description is insufficient. Take a look at this screen shot where it shows how on Amazon you can filter for color:

Optional field attributes make a big difference in feeds for marketplaces

None of these products in this screen shot have black in the title, but they all probably uploaded black in the field for color. On the bottom left you can see where black has a check mark, indicating this particular search is for only items that are black.

One of the Fastest Ways to Grow eCommerce is Feeds

I’ve talked about how there’s a lot of money to be made selling in marketplaces in two other articles.  How to Launch Marketplaces like Amazon/eBay/Sears and If you’re not on Amazon, you’re irrelevant.

But you can build feeds for many other channels. I’ll briefly touch base on shopping engines and product listing ads. Both are basically the same thing. PLAs are just Google’s shoping engine.  Shopping engines include websites like Shopzilla, Pricegrabber, Become.com, and hundreds of others. A user interacts with these shopping engines by searching for a product they want, they find multiple companies to compare from, and then go to the company’s website to finish the purchase.

The distinction here, between a marketplace and a shopping engine, is where the consumer makes the purchase. With a marketplace, they buy directly from the marketplace. A user shops directly on Amazon/eBay/Sears etc. But with a shopping engine, you control the transaction. And generally, you are paying these shopping engines by CPC (Cost Per Click). Then there’s also affiliates, which you pay a cut of the actual transaction. Feeds aren’t as necessary in an affiliate model, but could also be valuable depending on the partnership.

The reason feeds help you grow eCommerce is you’re going directly to where the user is already comfortable shopping, and presenting the information they are looking for. They’re already in the buying pattern, and they’re likely going to buy regardless – the question is, did you build your feed so they can find your product – instead of your competitors?

Okay, Feeds are Important, What Now?

If you already have a feed in place, audit it. Map every attribute, and read the documentation for that feed’s setup. If you need to set a feed up, it’s probably easier to just hire a consultant to do the work for you. A person outside of your company can also audit your feed to make sure it’s accurate and getting you as many sales as possible. I’ve setup feeds for practically every type of product-based industry and can help you out.

To Get Help With Feeds, Email eCommerce Expert Steven Pope

Ecommerce Consultant Steven Pope can help you build feeds to Amazon, eBay, Rakuten, Shopping Engines, to help you sell products

You may also like:

How to Launch Marketplaces like Amazon/eBay/Sears
If you’re not on Amazon, you’re irrelevant.