Buy my new book – ‘Bring Your Product Idea to Life’

A few months ago I published a post about the different places you can sell your products online and the pros and cons of each of them.  Selling on Amazon is how I got started and it’s the channel I know best.  It’s also a marketplace I know lots of people are interested in.

There are really obvious attractions (14 marketplaces worldwide, a huge customer base, fulfilment options), but it’s not right for everyone, or for every product.

I’m going to talk about selling on Amazon in more detail, so you can make an informed decision about whether it’s the right marketplace for your product, or whether there’s a better fit.  I won’t go into the pros and cons again, as I covered those in this post about the best place to sell physical products online.

What’s the attraction with selling on Amazon?

I guess there are a few reasons why so many people look to sell on Amazon.  

It’s well-known and trusted for a start.  There’s also a whole load of customers shopping there already.  I looked it up and, according to what I could find, there are well over 400 million visits to alone, every month in 2020, aside from a slight dip in February and March.

It’s great there are so many customers on Amazon – but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll buy, or even be able to find, your product.

Something clients will often tell me is that they can’t find their own product when they search for it.  There’s a reason for this. Most of the time when you search on Amazon you get pages and pages of search results.  I just searched for ‘bamboo baby bowls’ and got 7 pages of results.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t go any further than page 1 when I’m shopping on Amazon.

Getting on page one is key – but it’s hard to do

Amazon rewards sales and the more sales you make, the higher up your listing will show in search results.  Remember, for every sale you make, they make money too.  The more sales you make, the more money they make.  So it’s in their interests to give more visibility to the listings that have been ‘proven’ to convert well and make them more money.  High conversions (i.e. a high proportion of people who look at your product go on to buy it) is important, as it tells Amazon that your product must be relevant for the search term they used.

This means that getting started, and particularly getting those first sales, is incredibly hard.

Is Amazon the Right Marketplace?

Firstly, do look into whether Amazon is the right marketplace for your product.

I think part of the attraction is the hundreds of articles, blog posts, podcasts and courses about selling on Amazon (particularly FBA) and making a lot of money.  I’ll be honest, this is what got me interested initially too.  However it’s never as simple as it sounds!

Do your research

You can sell most things on Amazon, although there are restrictions and for some products and categories you’ll need to apply for approval.

So the first question is – ‘do people buy similar products on Amazon?’

A free way to find out is using Jungle Scout’s free Amazon Sales Estimator.  This post explains how to use it.

It’ll give you a rough estimate of how many sales a product makes on Amazon, per month based on their BSR (best seller rank). While it may not be 100% accurate, for products similar to yours, it’ll give you an idea.

You can also use another free tool, to get an idea of the fees you’d pay to Amazon, so you can work out if it’ll be profitable.

It’s also worth looking at how much competition and demand there is for your product.  I use Junglescout for this.  Ideally you’re looking for products with medium or high demand and low to medium competition.

If competition is high it’ll be hard to stand out, particularly if those other sellers already have an established sales history and good reviews.  If your product is unique then it might be something people won’t be looking for – or, if you believe they are, it’s key to do your research to figure out exactly what they’ll be typing into the search bar, so you can include those words in your listing.

How to set yourself up for success on Amazon

I’m assuming that you have a great product, you’ve done some research and are at least fairly certain that Amazon would be a good fit for your product. If not, please start there!

Once you’re ready to start selling on Amazon, the things I suggest you do are:

    • Make sure you have a professional Seller’s account.  This might seem obvious, but you can actually add listings and make up to 35 sales a month with a free, basic account. The professional account costs £25 + VAT (£30) a month, but it’s well worth it.  One of the key differences is you’ll be able to set up sponsored products campaigns and pay to advertise your listings on Amazon, as well as setting up discounts and promotions.  All of these can help with initial sales.
    • Ensure you have a well-optimised product listing.  Your text, images and keywords all have to be the best they can be.  I’ve written an article all about writing a great Amazon product listing.  It might be worth finding someone to help you by writing your listing too.  If you decide to write it yourself, make sure you carry out some keyword research, using a tool that’s designed for Amazon listings.  (Amazon and Google keywords won’t necessarily be the same.)  I like to use Junglescout for this.
    • Invest in your images.  It’s well worth investing in really good product photos and graphics to show your product at its best. Remember, on an Amazon search results page you can see two things – the product image and the title.  Your image has to entice people to click through to your listing.  I also suggest getting some graphics made up, if your product would benefit from that. For example, highlighting dimensions, or key features. i.e. if you sold boxes maybe you’d have an images showing the height, width and length, one showing a cut away so you can see how it’s constructed, etc – plus lifestyle images of someone packaging, stacking, carrying, etc.
    • Sign up for Amazon’s Brand Registry.  If your brand is a registered trademark then sign up for Brand Registry.  It gives you the opportunity to create enhanced content on your listings, set up a store page and advertise your brand.
    • Set up Sponsored Products campaigns.  Amazon has all kinds of options for running Pay-Per-Click marketing within the marketplace.  You can target keywords, or even pay to advertise on other products.  It’s a big topic, and one for another post, but there are lots of options and I alway think it’s worth testing out what works for your product (in terms of type of campaign and exactly what you target) in the early days.

Other things you can do include:

    • Actively ask for reviews. Reviews are important, but they’re hard to get and you need to work at it.  This post contains 20 ways to get more reviews.  Remember, you can’t offer any kind of incentive for a positive review – or Amazon can close your offer and block your account.  
    • Drive external traffic. You don’t just need to rely on Amazon traffic.  Share your listing on social media and email.  Tell people you have something to sell that they might want to buy!  You can even pay for Facebook ads, that link to your Amazon product page.  If your product has been designed with a customer in mind (which I hope it has!) find those people and tell them it’s now available.  Even better, if they helped you with your research and validation, offer a discount as a thank you.  You can set up discount codes within Amazon and I’ll talk about this next. 
    • Set up discounts and promotions. You can do this with Amazon and it’s a useful strategy to get started.  However, a customer usually won’t see your deal unless they click through to your listing, so I’d suggest doing whatever you can to promote it.  For example, email out to your list if you have one, email friends and family and share on social media (personal or business) and ask your friends and followers to share too.  You can set up deals where a code is needed (which you can share however you’d like to), or deals where the customer just clicks to get their discount, without requiring a code.
    • Register your product(s) for Amazon Vine or Early Reviewer.  Both programs encourage customers to either purchase, or review your product by offering them an incentive.  Do note you’ll pay to enroll and the price does vary, but it’s a relatively low cost and in the early days I suggest doing all you can.

In summary, I do think Amazon is a great opportunity to get your products in front of customers – but it’s not for everyone and it does take a lot of work to succeed.  The days of putting up a listing and waiting for sales (if that is to be believed!) are long gone.   However, once you put the work in and start getting consistent sales it can be a great platform.