September 19, 2014

Rewards lurk in the Amazon jungle

Ever considered selling products on Amazon? Some people are quitting their day jobs and making a small fortune by setting up shop on the world’s most popular e-commerce platform. Amazon is an enormous player online, with 10 percent market share of all e-commerce sites and nearly $75 billion in revenue.

Jeff Bezos, the chief executive, opened his amazing online bazaar to individual retailers in 2000. Now more than 40 percent of his company’s unit sales come from third-party sellers. Entrepreneurs can piggyback on the Amazon selling machine and get unheard-of exposure and support. Plus, Amazon does well – getting a cut of every sale that’s made in its enormous sales system.

Talk about a win/win!

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With Amazon support, sellers can overcome the restrictions of a niche business and find plenty of new customers. They even can even have Amazon fulfill the orders, avoiding the need to carry inventory themselves or go to the post office every day to ship things out.

But, in exchange, they must follow every single stipulation in the selling giant’s terms and conditions. Amazon is particularly demanding, since its selling model is to give the customers the best price and provide the best service.

When is Amazon successful? When you, as a consumer, find a great product at a terrific price and buy it without hesitation. If you, as a seller, fail to follow the terms of the program in any way, you will lose favor with Amazon and might even find your store shut down – without warning.

Let’s say, because the rewards are so appealing, that you are willing to take the challenge of selling on Amazon. What are you going to sell there? You need to think of something that is unique. Maybe take something that’s ordinary and package it and price it so that no one else has that particular offering.

Next you’ll want to optimize your product listing. Simply uploading your inventory onto Amazon’s catalog will be unproductive. You’ll get lost in its plethora of products. For the most prominence and a steady increase in sales, you should keyword your product listings. The search term fields do influence ranking on Amazon, so be complete.

The title of a product is one of the most important places to include keywords. Amazon suggests incorporating the following attributes in product titles: Brand and description, product line, material or key ingredient, color, size and quantity.

Some other ways to achieve high rankings in Amazon search?

Customer service is key. If you delight customers, Amazon will be happy. Give away free samples of your product and encourage reviews on Amazon. Mind you, never ask for the review to be favorable! That’s a violation of the terms.

Then there are other factors, such as whether you have the lowest price, a wide selection, good availability and even this “gotcha”: strong sales. You’ll do well if you do well! Amazon goes with the winners. Overall, products that have a history of selling well will appear early in the results list. It may take time, but you’ll get there.

Become a better-selling product by promoting in your off-Amazon marketing. Like your newsletter. Tell your existing customers about your new Amazon store. Think of other ways to promote too. And you can always pay Amazon to run ads for you on its results pages. Their pennies-per-click costs seem very affordable, at far less per click than the Google averages of $1.50.

Amazon appreciates professional high-resolution product photographs. Be sure photos are accurate renditions of your product – and even consider providing shots from all angles.

Don’t get negative reviews. You can reduce your chances of being slammed by keeping product in stock and immediately shippable, sending the right item to the customer, making it ultra easy to return products and being pleasant to deal with.

We’ve only skimmed the surface of opening a business on Amazon. Want to know more?

Amazon also has dozens of documents on selling – and a few webinars. Go to their website.

Take a class on Amazon selling – they are popping up everywhere. Some are quite expensive, but some are affordable and a good way to get started. You could even hire an Amazon selling coach. Just Google that!

On MeetUp.com, you’ll find 22 existing groups devoted to the topic – http://amazon-seller.meetup.com/.

Do take this approach to e-tailing at your own pace, learning as you go. And let me know if you end up making money in your sleep!

Laurie Macomber, owner of Fort Collins-based Blue Skies Marketing, can be reached at 970-689-3000.

Ever considered selling products on Amazon? Some people are quitting their day jobs and making a small fortune by setting up shop on the world’s most popular e-commerce platform. Amazon is an enormous player online, with 10 percent market share of all e-commerce sites and nearly $75 billion in revenue.

Jeff Bezos, the chief executive, opened his amazing online bazaar to individual retailers in 2000. Now more than 40 percent of his company’s unit sales come from third-party sellers. Entrepreneurs can piggyback on the Amazon selling machine and get unheard-of exposure and support. Plus, Amazon does well…

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