I sell my own products on Amazon. I get lots of enquiries from people wanting to start selling on Amazon and I help and work with a lot of Amazon sellers every single day.  I see a lot of people do well – but I also see people who don’t do as well and that’s why I wanted to record this episode.

Read the blog post for this episode

Listen in to hear me share:

  • Why Amazon Is an appealing place to sell your products (01:24)
  • The good and the bad! (01:52)
  • The types of products it’s good for (and not so good for) (05:40)
  • Selling handmade products on Amazon (08:04)
  • The importance of having a great product (12:36)
  • Free research, you can do yourself, to see if Amazon might be a good fit for your product(13:37)

USEFUL RESOURCES:

FREE guide – How to Successfully Launch a Product on Amazon or Rescue One that’s Not Selling!

Blog post for this episode

How and why to validate your product ideas

How to carry out your own customer and market research

Episode 6 – how and why to validate your product ideas

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Transcript
INTRO:

Welcome to the, bring your product ideas to life podcast, practical advice, and inspiration to help you create and sell your own physical products. Here's your host Vicki Weinberg.

Vicki Weinberg:

I sell my own products on Amazon. I get lots of inquiries and people wanting to start selling on Amazon and I help them work with a lot of Amazon sellers every single day. I see a lot of people do really well, but I also see people who don't do as well. And that's really my main motivation for wanting to record this episode. I just want to start by. Doesn't mean that people who don't do well, don't have a great product, but we will talk about that a bit later. It could just be that they're actually Amazon. Isn't the right marketplace. And there's another marketplace that would suit your products a lot better. Also, you've probably heard me say many, many times Amazon is a really tricky place to get started. Even if you have an amazing product. I completely stand by this. I think it's getting harder all of the time. And it's so hard. In fact that I wrote a free guide all about this, which is called how to successfully launch products on Amazon or rescue one. That's not selling if you're just getting started or if you're selling on Amazon already, and you're not getting the sort of. You'd expect definitely D take a look at this. You can get it via my website, Vickiweinberg.com, or you can get it in the show notes for this episode. So let's start by talking about why Amazon is an appealing place to sell your products and why so many sellers want to be on there? Well, there are lots of reasons, so it's a huge well-known marketplace. Many of us shop there already, so we're familiar with it. And there were lots of customers already there. So if your product is what people are looking for, it can be easier to convert them. Then on Google, for example, as customers are already there and usually they are looking to shop also apologies. If you could hear my dog in the background, just there. Like with any marketplace to have a good and bad points about selling on Amazon. So let's start with the good ones, which is, it's a large marketplace. It's well recognized. People know it and people trust it. As I said earlier, the customers are already there. So you don't need to worry about getting customers onto the site. You just need to focus on them, being able to find your products and convert them into buyers. So it can be. To get them to buy from your Amazon and your website, for example, because they're on Amazon already, whereas they might not necessarily be on your website. You have to do a bit more work of getting them there in the first place. So there were lots of in-built marketing tools on Amazon. You can use to attract customers. And in my opinion, these are just getting better all of the time. If you try it decide to use filled by Amazon or Amazon FBA, which is what I'll probably use going forward. That's what FBA means fulfilled by Amazon. Then that means that they handle the logistics for you. So that's the storage and the shipping. This can be expensive. In my opinion, it's worth trialing this. We've just sold them out of stock. And initially that's my new view in this space. Now I used to think FBA was great and it was a good option for everyone now. I'm not so sure. One reason being is that even if you know, you are using FBA and you're in prime delivery, prime doesn't always mean next day or something. Any more, it can still take a couple of days and probably you could ship your product yourself and get it to customers. Just as soon. So it's worth just experimenting with that. You also have the opportunity to sell globally on Amazon. As there are marketplaces all over the world, there are loads of opportunities for expansion you can sell in Europe, the Americas, UAE, Japan, Australia. Of course there are tax implications and other logistical things to think about, but you know, the option is there. So let's talk about the things aren't. As I alluded to earlier, there's a bit of an art to creating a great product listing on Amazon. And you really do need great product listing to get found in the first place. There are lots of rules to adhere to and break in any one of them can get your listing shutdown. I am just from what I've seen, I think that Amazon is stricter than lots of other places like eBay and Etsy. There were lots of rules about the wording you can use. You have to be really careful here. So for example, you can't claim that food supply. Cool something. Also if your images, they have to be your main image, for example, has to be on a white background. There's no way around that. You have to be careful about the wording you put on images. There's there's a lot really. So you know, and that can be, that can be, that can make it a little bit true. There's also a lot of competition on Amazon and it girls get harder and harder to get started. And I do think that's just going to continue. I usually suggest paying for Amazon sponsored products, which is Amazon's pay-per-click marketing, but I know this can get expensive. And even if you do that, There's still no guarantee of sales, particularly if you don't have a great product and a great listing. And even if you do, you know, it's still tough. Amazon seller support. So that's like the customer services, the sellers aren't actually that supportive. So lots of standard struggle, particularly to get started. You can have so many, just have little teeth and SJS and some of them give up right. Dealing with seller support can be really difficult. You need to fix this, get in and you need to be pretty tenacious to get anyways, my advice, you know, you really have to just keep coming back and that can be hard going, whereas I believe, you know, plenty of other marketplaces, you just don't have these issues. And you also don't get any customer details. So other than what you need for shipping, if you're shipping yourself, you will get an email address. If you're fulfilling orders yourself. If you do an FBA, you'll never see that. So that makes it really hard to build up an email list as well, and get people to buy from you again and possibly buy on your own website or somewhere else that you can trial. So those are the downsides that isn't to say by the way that I don't think Amazon is a great place. I've spoken before about the fact that I sell my own products there and I help other people get started all the time. I think he can be a really good marketplace, but only if it's right for you. So let's talk a bit about what kind of product is Amazon best. So you can actually sell most things on Amazon in the UK, a few things that you can't sell include new or used vehicles, vehicle airbags, fetal Dopplers, you use clothes and shoes, clothing made from animals. This isn't the full list. But actually, I don't think there's any there's much. That's on the full list that wouldn't surprise you. However, I do always suggest checking the restrictions for anything you want to sell, just to be on the safe. It might well be that you can actually sell that product, but you'd have issues if you wanted to send him fulfill by Amazon or maybe not even issues, but you know, you'd need to provide some more information to be able to do that. And we'll talk about that a little bit later. It might be that you have to request reprove request approval for your, so your product first, which can take a bit of time. And do you remember the requirements can and do change recently? I listened to product for a client and then, and it wasn't on the restricted list and then it. We got that listed. We got it up and running. And then the close listing, because it was on the restricted list. Obviously nobody knew that was going to happen. It was really unfortunate, but it is frustrating. And this does happen. So, I guess the next thing to talk about is how do you know if there's demand for your products? How do you know if people are on Amazon shopping for whatever it is you've got to sell? Well, I definitely suggest in a bit of research for listing your product. If you've listened to any episodes before, you know, how much I love research and I think most things we do can benefit from a little bit, actually. And I'll talk about how to do this a bit later in the episode. Well, I just want to reassure you now that this doesn't need to be expensive. There are lots of free tools you can use, and it doesn't need to be particularly time-consuming anyway, because if demand and competition are really high for your product, then it can be really hard to stand out and compete with sellers who already have sales history and already have reviews. And this is why I think it is worth spending just this little bit of time. Doing some research. So, you know, from the outset, whether it looks like you might even stand a chance because equally if your product is really unique, so it's something completely new, for example, and people don't know it exists, then that can also be tricky or perhaps your product is something that people might not necessarily go two hours in for. So let's say how may products and it can also. Harder and harder to get noticed because perhaps people aren't coming on to Amazon and searching for that product in the first place, which is why as always, I do recommend looking into this. Before you get started. So actually let's talk specifically about how products, because I think this is a really good example. So I'm thinking of the kind of products that you would see on Etsy. So I recently worked for sella and she was doing really well said in her hand, my candles are that say, and she wanted to try Amazon to see whether that gave her more opportunities. And so we did, but actually so far sales are way down from what they are and let's say. Now this isn't to say that this client shouldn't be trying Amazon. We did a lot of research into the product that she's selling. And actually it was one that we researched and looked like it could have potential to sell well. But she is doing it in a low risk way. So she has professional seller's account, which is to house them. I think leading VAT purely because she wants to try ads for which we're keeping spend really low, because as you heard me say earlier, advertising is very essential on Amazon. Now, if you want to get much visibility and she's also. You know, dispatch and all her orders herself, although we are sending just a handful of units into FBA to see if they sell better. And I'm also probably worth talking about the fact that she set listing on the main Amazon site, rather than under the handmade cards. So, I don't know whether many of you would have heard of Amazon handmade. So it's described by Amazon is artisan only, and there's an application process to go through. If you want to sell on there and you need to apply and you need to be audited before you can join. And then once you do, there's a flat 12% referral fee. So you need to have an Amazon seller central account to apply. Presumably as well, you would need the professional accounts. That's 30 pounds a month. As I mentioned before, you can then do FBA. You can do advertising and you can also have the option to allow customers to customize their products. As you might do an Etsy, although that can actually already be done by Amazon custom, which isn't part of Amazon handmade, which is where this gets very confusing. I haven't used Amazon handmade, so it's really hard to comment, but then again, if I. But I wanted to have my products. I don't think I would go to Amazon. I would go straight to Etsy because in my very humble opinion, that is the best place for her made salad. Amazon handmade to me does look quite nice, but for me it still remains to be seen as to wherever it's a good place to be. And I should point out actually that my client, he was doing really well on Etsy and is now selling on Amazon. The product that she sells is a craft's kit. So you could actually, that is something that. You might go to Amazon for, and as I said, we did some research and it was something that was selling really well on Amazon. And there's also a potential issue with selling how may products on Amazon and that's around safety data sheets. So if you wanted to use FBA, you have to submit a safety data sheet, which is a detailed information bulletin and it contain sections. Paired by the manufacturer importer. And it talks about the physical and chemical properties of the product, the physical and health hazards, routes of exposure, precautions for safe handling emergency, and first aid procedures and control measures for the product. So the kind of things you might. The safety data sheet for our maybe hand sanitizers, fragrances food cosmetics, and this can really trip up how amazing is because you just might not have that. So for example, you're selling a candle making kit that contains a fragrant soil. Now for that fragrance soil, you will probably need to have a safety data. But sh you probably saw that oil from somewhere else and it might not, you know, you might not have that data sheet to hand the manufacturer of that should be able to provide it to you. But it, it's just another thing you're going to have to go through and you may or may not want to take that battle on as I said, the only real issue with B is that you then can't use FBA and that's not necessarily a bad thing or reason not to sell on Amazon and dispatchers as yourself. I mean, I've already explained my views on that, but I just really want to make you. Aware of what I've seen, you know, the sort of things I'm seeing handmade sellers experience, just to give you an idea really a bit earlier, I talked about Amazon custom, which I mentioned gives you the opportunity to customize products without necessarily being handmade. Say for example, personalized books where you can add in a character's name. I used to, I used to sell my tiny chip monk towels, have the option to have a name embroided. I actually don't offer this anymore. Logistically that was quite tricky, but I did offer that on Amazon and I did get some sales to that via Amazon. The reason I chose to do that on Amazon, by the way, is that my towels aren't I have my products and therefore, I didn't think Etsy was the white marketplace and the towels themselves sort of the standard normal. Yeah. Fashion sold really well on Amazon. So I thought, well, actually, why not give customers the options? Why the name, or if they want say, okay, you know, I think this is really nice to have, and I do think this would work well for some products. Although I still think that I personally might go to Etsy if I was looking for customized. So let's talk more about having a great product because to do well on Amazon or anywhere else, you know, as well as your product, then, you know, as well as Amazon. Place you put it last, be good in the first place. And that applies to anywhere that you sell. So I've got a couple of blog posts and previous episodes where I've talked a lot about researching products and, you know, making your product the best it can be. So I'm not going to go back over all of that here. Episode six, which is how my, to validate your product ideas is linked up in the show notes. That's a really good one to listen to. If you want to find out how. You know, use research to create a really great product. I've also just recorded an episode talking about your USP or unique selling point and how to make sure that your product has a really compelling USP. So that's definitely once listened to, that'd be out in about two weeks and that will also should help you with sort of the product development side as well. So let's talk about some of the tools we can use. So let's say you've done some research. If you're into your products, you say you've got a fantastic product to sell. I now suggest doing some research to figure out if Amazon is the best marketplace for your product before, you know, spending the time and the effort to get your product listed up there. Because as I mentioned earlier, you need a great listing. You need a great images, which you need for any way you want to sell per given. You know, the requirements about Amazon product listings, given how competitive the marketplace is a great listing is something. You need to invest in. So wherever that is a financial investment, because you're paying someone to research and write your listing or wherever you're doing it yourself, you're still going to have to do a certain amount of research. It's going to take you time presumably, to, to write the listing, getting everything set up can also take a while. It's it's definitely. Quite as simple as other marketplaces, as I mentioned before, you can have little teeth and issues and things to, before you go ahead and do that, I do think it's worth doing some research to find out wherever Amazon, somewhere that your product does stand a chance. So my first free suggestion is to simply go on to Amazon search for products, similar to yours, have a look, how many pair and how many reviews do they have? And the reason I suggest that you do that is because if there aren't many coming up, then that's how you there isn't laser competition. If they're all up. And there's maybe there's lots of products with loads of reviews then. And I mean, hopefully by the way, you've done some of this when you are all sort of actually researching your products. Because if there are lots of products with lots of reviews, you can take a look at the reviews and see what customers are thinking and then think about, okay, so how is my product? Better or different to this products and where does my product fit in? That's always something I suggest you do at the outset. Because if you find out actually your product is exactly the same. Another product and that product is selling really well and has got hundreds of reviews. Well, actually, are you going to, how are you going to compete against it? And as I said, when we have the episode talking about your USP, we'll go into that in a bit more detail. And as well as actually just looking on Amazon, we can actually do a bit more. So once you're on a product listing, if you scroll down to the additional information section, you can take a note of the best seller rank and the category of the product you're interested in. And then there's a free tool which is called the jungle sale. It's the jungle scout sales estimator is a great tool. It's one of my favorites, and that will give you a rough idea of how many sales a product makes an Amazon per month just by entering that best sellers rank and the cat. I do have a blog post and a little video that explains how to use it. And I will link to both in the show notes. I do think it's pretty intuitive. But if you want, you know, if you're more of a visual person, you want to see a video of me sort of doing this process, you can go by that and do that and what you can do then. So say that you, you know, you've got an idea of, okay, this product is selling this many units a month. Okay. So I could possibly, you know, that's something that's possibly achievable for me. That's, you know, that's the first thing that's good too. What you can then do is get an idea of what the fees would be using. Amazon's free FBA revenue calculator. Again, this is linked in the show notes. This is another really useful tool. This is great tonight because it's not just important to know that they were going to people. There's a buy your product. You also need to know what you're going to be paying for every order that you ship, because you've now. Cost your product to produce. You need to have an idea with the fees to get an idea of whether the margins are actually going to work for you based on what you can price your products for. Cause Amazon fees vary across categories. It's something you can need to look into. You. Might've decided that initially you want to do some sort of sale price or a discount. You've got to take that into account. Perhaps you're wanting to do some advertising. You need to take that into account. So having an idea of the fees really helps you to wherever this adds up and wherever you can make it profitable. If you actually wanted to invest in an Amazon research tool, I also recommend using jungle scout. It's probably the tool I use the most. I have the full tool and a Chrome extension, and that allows me to see at a glance how well any product is selling on Amazon and what the monthly revenue is. So literally if I go into the Amazon search bar and type something in for everything that comes up, I can see how much money they're making per month on that product, which is really useful. And you can also search for a product and see for that keyword, what the competition's like, the mom's like and how well optimized competing listings are, which is basically a way of saying, you know, how good are these listings? Because if there's a product and there's lots of people selling it, but actually their listings aren't that great. You could presumably come along and list your products and have an absolutely fantastic listing. And that was really help you, you know, because that should help you get some more sales. And the full tool also has different product ideas, Amazon specific keyword tools, as well as analytics. Your sales, your margins, your profits. Once you actually start selling, if you're looking to build or expand your business on Amazon, it's well worth looking into if you're just going to be selling sort of one product initially, perhaps as a trial with this might not be something you want to invest in, but if you're thinking Amazon is like your long-term strategy then, but potentially is. And. So let's say that you've done all of this research. You've got a great product. You've done some research. You can see there are people on Amazon buying your product. You've had a look at the competition. You can see where your product fits in and you know, there's definitely a place for it. The next thing is you need to get off to a really good start. So if you've decided that Amazon that's, the marketplace might work for you and your attempt is to try out, do you make sure you download a copy of my free guide to help you get off to the best start possible. And again, that will be linked in the show notes or available@vickiwinebag.com. So I really hope this episode has helped you. I understand it's quite a quick overview. There's also a blog post for this episode. If you wants to look in more detail, you can get that Vicki weinberg.com forward slash blog or in the show notes. If you have any questions, if there's anything that's unclear or anything additional you'd like to know, then do reach out. You can email me vicki@vickiweinberg.com

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that was Vicki with an I.

Vicki Weinberg:

And as always, if you've got the time to rate and review this episode, I'd really appreciate it. And don't forget to subscribe. So you don't miss out on any future episodes.