Amazon has allowed practically anyone to open a store online. It’s now simple to find customers and sell products all over the world, without having to create a website and generate traffic.
But there’s a ton of competition. There are reportedly more than 5 million active sellers on the platform. You can’t simply post your products and hope to make money. You need a strategy.
But there’s money to be made. 19% of professional Amazon vendors sell more than $1 million per year. And if you’re keeping costs down, that’s a very healthy return.
So in this post, we’re going to identify the five features that the top Amazon sellers have in common:
Let’s tackle each of these one-by-one.
Online reviews have become incredibly important for pretty much all businesses. When you arrive in a new city, you check TripAdvisor to decide which attractions to visit. When you want dinner, you look for the best restaurants on Yelp or The Fork.
And when you’re trying to decide which blender to buy on Amazon, you check the reviews.
It’s called social proof. To be sure a purchase is worth it, we rely on “proof” from other buyers. That’s why Uber drivers care so much about receiving five stars, and why AirBnb begs you to leave feedback after your stay.
Because you have so much competition on Amazon, a good rating is probably the best way to differentiate yourself. That and price – but more on this shortly.
And it can’t just be a handful of five-star reviews. You need a big enough sample so that buyers can trust the overall score. That can mean dozens; even hundreds.
There used to be ways to game the system. You could offer gifts or discounts in exchange for reviews.
This is now strictly against Amazon’s terms of service. So what can you do?
Amazon has its own rules about what’s acceptable. You need to know these if you want to stay out of trouble.
All of this is pretty obvious. But it’s good to know that these rules are real and written down somewhere.
Aside from just having a lot of reviews, you also need a good overall rating. And not just for your products – for your Amazon vendor profile as well.
As TaxJar explains, “seller feedback also influences your relationship with Amazon. For example, Amazon considers negative feedback frequency when calculating its overall seller rating. In addition, feedback plays a major factor in determining Buy Box eligibility. If two FBA sellers are competing for the Buy Box, there’s a strong likelihood that feedback would be used as the determining factor.”
So in short, a strong vendor reputation is essential.
A good reputation depends entirely on customer feedback. Just like with product reviews (above), you need buyers to rate your store.
Positive reviews are essential, as is a high volume.
Amazon uses a slightly complicated score system to aggregate customer feedback:
SUM (positive feedback) / SUM (all feedback) for feedback left in the last 30 days, 90 days, 365 days, and lifetime
It takes your four-star and 5-star feedback, then divides that number by the total to give the average. That’s not too tricky.
It’s a little more complicated because it does this for the last 30 days, 90 days, one year, and all time. Which means you can’t rely on good results in the past – you always need new, positive feedback.
The good news: Amazon sends every buyer a request for feedback two days after the order should have arrived.
And you can respond – either publicly or privately.
The bad news: You can’t delete incorrect reviews. Only the buyer can do that. [You can also request that incorrect feedback be removed, but you can’t rely on this].
So the single best thing you can do to improve your feedback score is reply to reviews – especially bad ones. This is a delicate process, and you need to be careful. But if a buyer has given an unnecessarily harsh review, you can try to understand what caused this, and fix any problems they might have.
If you do a good enough job here, there’s a chance that they’ll change or remove their rating. Again, they’re the only ones who can do this.
As Amazon itself says, “we encourage you to resolve any situations by researching the root cause behind each negative rating, addressing the buyer’s concerns, and making improvements to your processes and policies.”
Approach this as an opportunity to learn, and you might just encourage this customer to remove their review. Plus, you’ll hopefully avoid similar issues in the future, and therefore strengthen your reputation moving forward.
If you’re a regular Amazon merchant, Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) is probably going to be very valuable. With this option, you let Amazon handle all the packing, shipping, customer service, and returns for your orders.
That’s a huge amount of time and energy you don’t have to commit to each order.
But there’s a cost. And it can be somewhat difficult to figure out.
There are two main pricing factors to think about:
So the amount you pay per month can easily fluctuate, depending on the number of sales you do.
The rates for storage also tend to shift quite a lot, especially during the holidays. This can make it considerably more expensive than finding your own warehouse space.
But the fulfillment (shipping) fees are usually far better than the local post office. And keeping the services together makes administration much simpler.
Amazon has created a helpful FBA fees calculator. Test it out to see whether it’s worth it for your business.
Just know that 80% of the top Amazon sellers use FBA. So if you’re going to be one of them, it’s worth looking into.
You may be familiar with SEO, the process of getting web pages to appear at the top of Google search results. There’s also ASO, the same process but for apps in the iTunes and Google Play stores.
The same phenomenon exists on Amazon. If you want your listings to appear first when a user searches, you need to find the best keywords.
Unlike for SEO (on Google), you don’t need to limit your optimization to the best one or two phrases for each listing. Instead, you enter every relevant search term into Amazon’s Seller Central.
And here’s another difference from Google: only product listings that include every keyword used will be displayed. So you need to make sure you include every term a searcher might use.
Your Amazon keywords should include both:
Just like in the SEO world, there are lots of great tools to help you find the perfect keywords. They’ll show you how popular or rare your particular terms are, and therefore how competitive a listing might be.
From there, here are the top things you can do to improve your listing’s chances:
So take the time to get them right. It’ll be worth it.
This final point will be brief. Price is always going to be a driving factor for buyers – whether online or in-person. You’re always going to want to charge more, and they’re always going to want to pay less.
There’s nothing you can do about this.
But if you can master the factors above, you’ll have more wiggle-room. A seller with a 95% vendor rating can afford to charge a little more. Buyers will risk spending more if they’re sure they’re going to get a better service.
Equally, if your products are listed on the first page – rather than the fifth – buyers may not realize that they can get these products for less. And they may choose to just pay up, rather than having to check dozens of listings.
Of course, your best bet if simply to be flexible in price. Offer sales, try packaging products together, and tailor your prices to suit the season.
Don’t stick to the a fixed price – find the price that’ll get people to buy now.
And of course, see what you can do to bring costs down instead. In the end, you may have more control over this than the total number of sales you attract.
Sometimes, there’s not much you can do to encourage people to buy what you’re selling. A lot of it depends on trends, and a single seller can’t make something all on their own.
But there are things you can do to make your product listings more competitive. With such a high number of sellers worldwide, you need to strive to be a leader in a few categories.
The keys are to provide a great service, find prices that suit your buyers, and make sure you describe products well to help people find them.
Best of luck!
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[Note: This post was inspired by an article in Le Journal du Net. Thank you for this resource.]