Even the best product photographer’s photos may need some cropping, whitening or general adjustment to get the image in line with Amazon requirements.
This cleanup can take a lot of time when considering the addition of dozens or hundreds of new listings. This is not an ideal way for you to invest your time in your business. Fortunately, these low-cost, quick-turnaround options are available, allowing you to take moderately professional photos and get them cleaned up for primetime on Amazon.
Only so much cleanup can be done on a bad photo. It’s ideal to get some feedback on a test run of photos you take to make sure you have provided these companies with an adequate quality of photo before modification.
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Whether you are looking to optimize new listings or existing listings onto which you have added your product offers, it’s important to understand what keywords Amazon customers are using to find your product. Otherwise, you may have a fantastic product that never gets discovered by Amazon customers or loses out on suitable keyword traffic.
Customer preferences can change over time, meaning that your keyword selections today may need to be updated later. Consider refreshing your primary listings at least annually. Also, remember that customers may be finding your products through keywords that aren’t obvious to you today. There is a significant benefit in referencing the large historical databases that these providers have built to match keywords with products.
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If you are building a private label business on Amazon, you’re going to need UPCs (Universal Product Codes) for each product you list. We also want to mention that you should not be buying UPCs to put onto other companies’ existing products. We have seen too many new listings get created that are duplicates of existing listings, but the new seller didn’t do the necessary work of matching its offers to the existing listings in the Amazon catalog.
Never recycle UPCs onto other products. Once a UPC has entered Amazon’s catalog, it is tied to a specific item. If you decide to stop carrying one private label product, don’t use that UPC for some new item. You will create a mess for yourself that can result in hundreds of canceled or returned orders and far too much negative feedback.
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As you increase the number of new listings in your catalog or you consider adding new marketplaces (beyond Amazon) to your overall business, it will quickly get very complicated to keep track of all the columns of data needed for your listings (whether on Amazon or other marketplaces). By working with a company that specializes in keeping up with what columns of data are needed in each category of each marketplace, you can save yourself a lot of time building and maintaining your product feeds.
Some inventory and order management solution providers indicate that they offer listings functionality in their tools. But first, you need to be sure your product categories on your desired marketplaces are all covered by your inventory/order management solution provider. Some companies pick an apparent “all-in-one” inventory/order management partner only to discover not all listing templates needed are available. This requires the seller to work with a data feed provider anyway.
It is also worth mentioning that if your business is all-Amazon, and focused exclusively on adding offers to existing listings that someone has created, your need for a data feed provider is going to be low, as you aren’t likely contributing new data or editing existing data on your listings.
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If you sell private label product, you should be immediately looking for ways to get legitimate product reviews on your items from the get-go. The presence of a minimum 5-10 product reviews per private label product helps to reduce a customer’s hesitancy to purchase, as the customer can read what others have written about your product. Furthermore, listings with product reviews are much more likely to get better search results on Amazon than products with no sales history.
There are unfortunately a few sites that offer illegitimate product reviews where the reviewer has never seen the product, and writes product reviews blindly for cash. After recent crackdowns at Amazon on such reviews, there are much more strict rules about how product reviews need to be sourced, and Amazon is now watching more carefully than ever before to make sure reviews are legitimate.
“Verified purchase” reviews are much more valuable than reviews that haven’t come from “verified” purchases, raising the importance of not only getting product reviews on new listings, but also getting some initial sales on those items which will then lead to “verified” product reviews. Most of the solution providers mentioned here will help you get sales on your new products, coupled with verified purchase product reviews. This is a powerful duo for new product launches.
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Feedback is one of the critical measures used by Amazon to evaluate sellers, while also providing prospective customers with guidance on how efficiently you have historically provided high-quality product on time to other Amazon customers. From the first Amazon sale you make, Amazon tracks how you are doing both in terms of average feedback as well as overall feedback count. Your feedback score will be used in evaluating if you qualify for the Buy Box.
Ideally you should aim for an average feedback score above 98%, while below 90% is likely to result in a loss of your Buy Box privileges. In fact, for brand new sellers (not using FBA), it is common for you to have to wait at least a month building up the number of feedback before Amazon will allow you to become “Buy Box eligible.” Feedback matters from day one on Amazon, and you need to collect feedback from your customers.
Many sellers choose to manually solicit customers directly for feedback through Seller Support. While that is allowed according to Amazon’s Terms of Service, the process can get rather unscalable as your business grows. Fortunately, there are software providers that can make this feedback request process an automated process, complete with easy-to-use templates.
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If you are competing head-to-head with other sellers on your listings, it’s likely you are fighting it out over price. As other sellers reduce prices, your product becomes less interesting and less visible to customers as a result of losing the Buy Box. That is, unless you can reduce your price too, ensuring your ability to remain competitive for the Amazon Buy Box. As you know, products that appear in the Amazon Buy Box sell 4x more than those that don’t ever make it in, and an estimated 90% of new product sales come from products in the Buy Box.
When you sign up for a re-pricing tool, you will need to identify your floor price for each item. To do that effectively, it is best to have a strong grasp of your all-in costs by SKU (including indirect and overhead costs). That way, you aren’t inadvertently setting a floor price that is underwater for you, all in the name of getting the sale at all cost. Let’s focus on remaining profitable.
Also, keep in mind that pricing alone does not determine if you will win the Buy Box. Without strong performance metrics across the board (related to customer service, late shipment rate, cancellation rate, negative feedback, etc.), your ability to match your competitor on price and get your fair share of the Buy Box will be hampered significantly. Next, remember that not all of your competitors are equal, even if their prices are equal. Keep an eye out for Amazon Retail offers and FBA seller offers. With those in place, it will be harder to use a re-pricer to match price alone and get your fair share of the Buy Box.
The list below includes standalone re-pricing tools. It’s worth noting that many of the inventory management and order management solution providers offer integrated re-pricing tools as part of their software.
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If you are looking to expand your business into other marketplaces, you may need to get your listings data translated. In most Amazon marketplaces, the listings must be in-language for the local country.
While free tools like Google Translate are useful for simple translation of common phrases, they are not yet anywhere near the level of accuracy to capture marketing nuance or technical product explanations that are common in product descriptions, bullet points and titles.
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For the more sophisticated seller, a new tool has recently become available to help sellers test out different versions of product images, content and pricing.
This tool is useful specifically for the seller that controls the listing content of specific products. In such situations, it makes a lot of sense to see how customers respond to different content.
We like the experimental, scientific nature of such a tool, and encourage you trial out a variety of these tools. We hope to see many more tools available to help sellers to test and refine what they are doing, just as Amazon does itself today with thousands of daily tests on its website.
Sellers should be open-minded that customers may surprisingly respond to content that isn’t the Sellers’ own favorite content. So it’s up to sellers using this software to test a wide range to evaluate relative effectiveness of such content. Furthermore, testing should not be done along a “1 and done” approach, but rather regular testing and improving on listings (much like how Amazon constantly evolves through its nonstop testing efforts).
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James Thomson is Partner of Buy Box Experts, a managed account services firm enabling brands to sell direct on Amazon. He is also president of PROSPER Show, the largest US-based continuing education conference for Amazon sellers. Previously, James was the head of Amazon Services (which recruits >99.5% of all new sellers to the Amazon marketplace each year), Amazon's first FBA account manager, a banker and a management consultant. He earned a Ph.D. in Marketing (B2B Pricing and Distribution) from the Kellogg School at Northwestern University.