Navigating through the Amazon Seller Central seller forums can be an overwhelming experience. You’ll often find sellers complaining about buyers or a new Amazon policy. Sometimes these sellers are right and make excellent points; other times they are clearly in the wrong. Through the questions and complaints that you find on the forum, you can learn a lot about selling on Amazon and the obstacles that other Amazon sellers like you are facing on a daily basis.
One forum poster, SmallTimeTechGuy, compiled a list of things that they learned from the forum. This isn’t a scientific list or an infallible one. It is simply one seller’s observations from spending six months as an Amazon seller and a daily reader of the forum. The list is well worth a read in its entirety, but we’ve hand-picked seven of the best lessons that this Amazon seller has learned over their first 6 months.
8 of the Best Lessons for Amazon Sellers
1. “Reading this Forum is the best way to gain experience without pain and costs.”
No matter how much research you do, you will still inevitably have to deal with unforeseen obstacles and road blocks in your journey as an Amazon seller. Policies are always changing and mistakes can always be made.
With that said, there is no substitute for research. As SmallTimeTechGuy wisely points out, learning from the mistakes and obstacles of others saves you the pain and money of having to learn those lessons yourself. The Amazon Seller Central forum features thousands of sellers asking questions and dealing with issues that will in many cases be extremely relevant to your brand and business. Don’t let this free and valuable resource go to waste.
2. “Amazon is teasing you by showing you the contact information of your customers. There’s pretty much no valid reason to contact them. If you think you have a valid reason, run it by the forum first. Then probably still don’t.”
As a seller, you are responsible for understanding and adhering to the communication policy guidelines, or Terms of Service (TOS). Sellers that use the platform are responsible for keeping up with keeping up with these changes and complying with the guidelines that are put in place. So even though you have all that juicy customer information, you should double check Amazon’s TOS before sending any communication with your customer.
Amazon’s communication guidelines break down permitted forms of direct communication between the seller and the buyer into two categories; “Necessary Permitted Messages” and “Proactive Permitted Messages”. All permitted messages must be sent within 30 days of the original order.
Necessary Permitted Messages
These types of communications are deemed necessary to complete an order. They include:
Proactive Permitted Messages
Proactive Permitted Messages are messages initiated by the seller that are not responses to a buyer’s inquiry. They include:
• Problem with Order Messages – If a seller is having an issue fulfilling the buyer’s order in a timely manner, they will be expected to use messaging to update the customer on these issues
• Return-related Messages – Returns should be handled in the “Manage Orders” section on your Amazon’s Seller Central page. In the event that you need additional information to complete a return or you are offering a partial return, you may use messaging to communicate with the buyer
• Resolving an issue with order fulfillment
• Requesting additional information required to complete the order
• Asking a return-related question
• Sending an invoice
• Requesting product review and/or seller feedback
• Scheduling delivery for a heavy or bulky item
• Scheduling a Home Services appointment
• Verifying a custom design
• Any other reason where the contact is required for the buyer to receive the purchase
|Both of these communication types are order specific and can only be sent through your seller account on Amazon’s Seller Central.|
It is important to note that under Amazon’s guidelines, “requesting a product review and/or seller feedback” is still permitted. Amazon sellers can now determine if they want to use buyer-seller messaging or the Amazon request a review button to ask buyers for reviews.
They can manually send these out via Seller Central, use third-party applications in the Application Store, or via Application Programmer Interface (API).” This means that third-party services like FeedbackWhiz can still be used to generate feedback and review requests.
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3. “If your business plan involves selling inexpensive books, you’re not going to make money. If your business plan involves selling expensive books, you’re in for a lot of drama from both your customers and the Bots.”
It’s easy for Amazon sellers to identify product trends. Profits are either up or down — you don’t need an advanced data analytics degree to view your bottom line. But digging into the Amazon Seller Central data and identifying root causes is a different beast.
Any good business plan for your product’s success answers some key questions. Is your listing optimized with the right keywords? Is your product earning positive reviews? Is it priced appropriately? Is it the right season?
We could go on and on with these questions, but you get the point — without Amazon seller analytics data tracking your Amazon profits and losses over time, you’re making key strategic decisions in the dark. Effective Amazon sellers need effective data analytics software to maximize profits.
A Profits and Accounting Tracking Tool lets you do this on both a micro and macro level with graphs and charts that cover everything from a single ASIN to overviews of your entire business. This article breaks it all down for you and what it means for your Amazon business.
4. “Do lots of research before selling outside of the United States. Ask in the forums about experiences selling into the country you’re considering.”
As mentioned in the first item on this list, there is no substitute for great research. If you are interested in selling in global marketplaces like Amazon’s Europe marketplace or Amazon’s Asia Pacific marketplace, make sure you do plenty of research first.
Selling across international borders brings a whole bunch of new complications into the equation including taxes and shipping considerations. On the other hand, it also brings access to hundreds of thousands or even millions of new potential customers that you wouldn’t have gained access to selling exclusively in North America. The only way to weigh the pros and cons of selling your products internationally is to research what the pros and cons are in the first place.
5. “If your business plan involves selling nutritional supplements or beauty products, your odds of experiencing black-hat behavior go way up.”
Black-hat behavior including listing hijacking and negative review farming is unfortunately quite common on Amazon, especially in highly competitive categories. Some bad actors would rather try to take their competition out using shady practices rather than trying to compete for clicks fairly and legally. Amazon’s TOS prohibit this behavior, but sometimes the damage can be done long before you or Amazon is able to take action.
Fortunately, there are actions that you can take to protect your brand and listings from black-hat tactics. Make sure you register your brand and catch suspicious activity early with FeedbackWhiz’s powerful listing monitoring tools to protect against black-hat SEO tactics.
6. “Don’t count on Prime Day doing anything for you. Expect slower sales the week before.”
The hype around Prime Day is so huge that some new sellers make the mistake of believing that they will see a sharp increase in sales without putting in any work. In reality, Prime Day preparation is an extremely hands on and comprehensive practice. Without putting in the time and effort to optimize your listings, advertising budget and marketing strategies, you could see Prime Day come and go without any major benefits.
The same is true for fourth quarter sales. Yes, your listings may catch some windfall from the additional traffic during the holiday season, but putting yourself into position to succeed requires action. It is never too early to start preparing for the next big sales event on Amazon.
7. “Selling your product next year will probably be harder than selling it this year. The degree to which this is true is proportional to the number of federal and state regulations that apply to your product type.”
When it comes to selling on Amazon, fees are one of the many business expenses that Amazon sellers must endure. These fees are worth paying for most sellers as they grant access to the biggest online marketplace in the United States and one of the world’s most efficient fulfillment networks as well. But even with these perks, sellers are always looking for ways to lower Amazon seller fees.
Unfortunately, most of these fees are set by Amazon and can not be lowered. There are a couple of exceptions to this rule though, and also some tips to consider when calculating and factoring Amazon seller fees into your cost of doing business. This guide will cover what Amazon seller fees are and how you can lower Amazon seller fees in 2021.
8. “You have [a] cold, monetary a [sic] business relationship with Amazon only. Just like you would quit selling here if it ceased to be to your advantage, they’ll make you quit selling here if it’s ever to their advantage. This includes you being more trouble to deal with than you’re worth from a profit standpoint. They have no interest in helping you learn from mistakes that violate policies.”
This echoes what successful Amazon sellers have figured out: you can’t compete with Amazon. Work with them. If you make money, Amazon makes money. It’s that simple.
Selling on Amazon can be a rewarding, fun, and profitable experience to scale your eCommerce store. If you’re just starting out, be sure to check out our valuable resources of articles, blogs, and other content to help you grow.
We want to hear advice from all of you Amazon sellers? Let us know in the comments below!