With market capitalization of $1.597 Trillion as of Jan 2021, Amazon is one of the largest e-commerce and retail arbitrage platform. Although getting started on Amazon is easy, the competition grows with the growth in population density of sellers vying for the sales dollar. There are hundreds of listings for one single product with a myriad of variations. Sellers are now leveraging the power of sponsored ads to help them get the buy box and keep their offerings appear on top of the search results. Since its first book sale in Aug 1995, Amazon has become the de facto choice of online shoppers. The value proposition of becoming an Amazon seller is compelling. Here are some strategies that we hope would help you in your entrepreneurial journey.
For any business to be successful it needs a plan. It is a recipe that puts your vision on paper, helps establish your goals and serves as a benchmark of your strategic goals. Your business plan should include details about your product, capital, target market, market segmentation, suppliers, and finance. The plan should also include competitor analysis, market trends, customer reviews, startup costs and a sound marketing budget.
This is probably the most important thing to consider. When selecting a product consider the advantages you currently have. Your social assets are one of your biggest leverage towards finding products and gaining precious market share. Maybe you know of a friend who is into manufacturing or wholesale? Maybe they carry items in their inventory that are profitable sellers on the Amazon marketplace? Be creative, reach out to other manufacturers and online wholesalers, leverage your strengths, and consolidate your target inventory. In short, product research is one of the most important steps in finding profitable products to sell on Amazon FBA or as an independent seller.
So, what is your play?
Position yourself. Are you planning on offering high quality private label products using amazon prime or amazon fulfillment centers or are you planning on providing self-customer service and fulfilment? The answer to these questions influences your choice of the sales channel that you would employ to fulfill your orders. There are two ways of selling on Amazon, Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA) and Fulfillment By Merchant (FBM). Read this article to educate yourself on the similarities and differences in these selling channels.
So, you have your products lined up and have a set of product categories that are part of your selling game. Great! How are you going to be profitable though without knowing what your cost structures are? For any business to be profitable it must know at any time what its COGS (Cost of Goods Sold) look like. Typically, your total costs are computed as follows.
Total Cost (T) = Fixed Cost (F) + Variable Cost(V)
Depending on your selling strategy, FBA or merchant fulfilled, your variable costs will significantly differ. There are different referral fees, variable closing costs (for books and media) and monthly storage fees that differ based on your sales channel. In short know your costs. A good way to estimate your costs is to use the free Amazon FBA calculator (https://sellercentral.amazon.com/hz/fba/profitabilitycalculator/index?lang=en_US)
After product selection the next step is to analyze the market in your niche. Keep track of competitor sales over a period. Tracking your competitors will give you a realistic view of the market, niche, or segment. You can communicate with suppliers or check reviews about the product on amazon to gauge market sentiment. Estimate your sales based on your product selection and the product’s Amazon Best Seller Rank (BSR). Use this as a starting point to project your sales and forecast your inventory needs.
Source your inventory using reputed online wholesalers like Alibaba or AliExpress. Use Google to research local and national suppliers for your inventory needs. Check the reviews for these suppliers on Google to make sure you are dealing with reputed suppliers. Compare prices and shipment charges of the same product from different suppliers. You can also trade shows for your inventory sourcing needs. Most of the suppliers are willing to white label their offering which maybe a good option for you to build your brand. Suppliers at trade shows also offer free samples which are a good way to learn more about the product.
Order Your Product
Once you have a list of suppliers it is time to place your first order. Use your first order as a proof of concept to convince yourself of your inventory selection. Do not go overboard with you first order. Order the Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ) required by the supplier and test the waters before you go all in. Learn to crawl before you walk. Once you get some positive feedback and review and have consistent sales you can grow your inventory. Hire and indenting agent. An indenting agent verifies the quality, quantity and ensures that the product delivery per your specifications on your behalf for a nominal charge. Be proactive and take care of costly low inventory and out-of-stock conditions.
Register Your Amazon Account
The next step is to register for an Amazon seller account on Amazon's seller central (https://sellercentral.amazon.com). Amazon offers two types of seller accounts. Individual seller and pro for businesses. For individual seller there are no upfront charges however Amazon will bill you $1 per sale. A pro seller account costs USD 39.99 per month.
After setting up your selling account it is time to list your inventory. Consider your listing as your store front for your brick-and-mortar store. With an attractive store front, you typically get better sales results. Use high resolution images, SEO optimized content and use proper product description about your product. This will help in improving your conversion rates over time.
Know the a9 (and no we are not talking about Avery here). A9 is Amazon’s search engine algorithm. Although Amazon has never released the inner workings of its a9 or the now a10, based on years of observations it has been generally accepted that its algorithm works mainly like Google and Bing’s with one significant caveat. In addition to considering the keywords as an element, Amazon also considers the sales velocity of the product. This makes sense, since Amazon only makes money if it can turn a sale and heavy emphasis on the product’s sales velocity ensures it returns products with higher sales that match the keywords entered by the user.
In addition to following Amazon’s listing guidelines and using crisp, high resolution images you should also focus on keyword research. Find long tail keywords where the competition is low and use the backing keywords to help the a9 rank your product.
Pay special attention to your inventory levels to avoid costly out-of-stock situations. If your inventory level drops and your product is not available for customers, your listing will be automatically de-activated, and you will lose your ranking. Using tools like RockitSeller's xSell will help you manage your inventory, reorder levels, COGS, profitability, margins, ROI, financials, and projections. Leverage these tools to ensure that you are always on top of your game to successfully start selling on amazon and stay ahead of the game.
Customer feedback is the credibility for your brand that you have built over time. This is possibly one of your biggest selling assets as an Amazon seller whether you are a FBA seller or otherwise. When a new customer lands on your listing they check your product reviews. Regular communication with your customers can increase your credibility and increase sales. POST from RockitSeller is one tool that lets you automate your feedback and review process by helping you create the right message to be delivered at the right time.
In closing, with the combination of a set of tools to improve your productivity, passion and your own drive will determine your level of success. To get you started and as a token of our commitment to your success we are offering you a free 30-day trial of our Pro subscription. We wish you phenomenal success in your endeavor!