Amazon – The Basics
What you need to know when getting started
Heard of Amazon?
If you said no, I hope the weather was nice under the rock you have been under for the past 10 years.
Amazon has redefined what a man can do when starting a company in his garage. Envy aside, the channel is a household name to most of the planet now. We won’t bore you with the statistics – they are mindbogglingly large.
Selling on Amazon has never been easier than today. It has also never been as competitive. Where many new Brands try, not all succeed. This is because Amazon is a painful learning curve to experience – mistakes can lead to serious long term consequences and the company is unforgiving to sellers who do not plan, manage and execute their online Amazon accounts properly.
It’s a Catalogue
Amazon is an online catalogue of product. You either connect to existing product records, competing with other sellers of those same product on price and shipping… or you add your unique Branded product to the catalogue. Either way, the listings aren’t “your’s” strictly speaking. The listing is Amazon’s.
The Amazon BuyerThe buyer belongs to Amazon. You sell the product on the Amazon platform, but Amazon is the retailer and the buyer is Amazon’s. Your ability to communicate with the buyer is limited, and must be done on Amazon only.
Get good grades
Amazon will measure how quickly you reply to questions, how ‘on time’ your orders are dispatched and delivered. They will grade the accuracy of your data based on returns and complaints. Your Amazon success or failure is in a big part determined by how well you measure up.
Amazon means many things…
Want to host your website? Amazon has a service for that. Want to ship your website orders, or have them warehoused? Amazon has a service for that. In fact, Amazon has so many spun off services and secondary companies, it’s hard to keep track of them all month to month.
We’re not here to chat to you about all of them. You can ask your Echo.
For the online sellers reading this, we’re focused on what Amazon means to you. Are you a wholesaler and thus thinking about an Amazon Vendor account? Are you an e-commerce trader and thinking about Amazon Seller? Are you a physical store, or chain, and debating both of them?
Maybe that part is resolved, and Amazon Sponsored Product listings is on your radar? Or Sponsored Brand ads? Maybe it’s not just Amazon native traffic you need – maybe you want to drive external traffic to Amazon? Or market Amazon products externally?
I’m confused already, and I’m supposed to be en expert…
You want the right buyers finding you. Not every single buyer under the sun. Not every single living human being on Amazon. Conversion is about how many find your product and buy the product. Being found by many, with only a few purchasing, will produce a poor long term conversion.
Amazon is using your past account history, across many grades, to determine how safe you are for its buyer to have a positive experience. Your history is therefore important to build and grow long term.
Amazon tracks how well a product listing, known as the ASIN, performs over time. Some products sell better than others and Amazon will, over time, push better sellers higher in search results to buyers, because it is focused on the buyer experience.
Buyer, buyer, buyer…
There are pages above to help you with various topics for set up, or help you plan out your strategy for the channel but, whatever you decide to do, you must do it right.
Some companies think they can test Amazon by doing the bare minimum… no. Stop it, no. That will not only give you an awful ‘test’ of the Amazon platform’s potential, it may inadvertently stop you from ever doing Amazon properly.
Amazon made it this far by staying laser focused on one thing; buyers. Amazon prizes the buyer satisfaction above everything. If a buyer has a poor experience, Amazon is all over that like hot syrup on spongy pancakes.
Guess who is in the firing line when a buyer gets a poor experience? I’ll give you a clue – it’s not Amazon. It’s you, the seller. And if you keep screwing up, you may wake up one day to being permanently barred from selling on Amazon.
So, for the good of your ‘testing the Amazon water’ plans, and for the sake of any longer term thinking, don’t launch a fast and furious Amazon account.
Am I selling product competitively? This is a catalogue – if you are twice the price of the next seller of the same product, there is nowhere to hide. And no – you can’t duplicate them and get away with it for long!
Are my products optimised for core search terms a buyer will input? Remember – buyers are searching for a ‘shoe’ more than ‘Nike’. Are your listings optimised in the right ways to be found?
Demand of yourself…
Am I ready to ship orders on time, all the time? Are my couriers reliable to deliver within strict timelines? Is my customer service ready for same-day replies?
Short term plans
No matter how you decide to make a start, your short term plan often will be different from your long term. Amazon relies on history. Your account history and the product history are factors.
If you start from step one, so does Amazon’s knowledge of you. They focus on the buyer, so they have no reason to trust you early on. Your rankings will therefore be low.
This means one simple thing – you need to maximise conversion. That means a compelling offer. And that means a low price.
If you want to launch on Amazon, plan it.