Online selling is one of the quickest, easiest, and most effective ways to start earning an additional income. You can even begin by getting rid of old possessions that you don't use anymore. You can further your e-commerce ambitions by finding reliable suppliers and drop shipping products to direct to consumers from the manufacturer. The barriers to entry are low, and the steps to take getting started are fairly simple, especially if you want to sell on Amazon.
Amazon.com has a pretty intuitive setup process, and a platform that makes it easy for you to build your brand as a third-party seller in its marketplace. As a result, it's become flooded with competitors. The real effort in online selling, is finding a way to stand out. Doing this requires a level of strategic thinking.
This how-to guide is designed to help you break that glass ceiling and become a top Amazon seller.
As I said, the setup process is pretty simple. Go to Amazon.com and click the Sell tab at the top of the page in the navigation bar.
From there you'll start your own seller's account. If you already have a buyer's account (and I know you do), enter in your username and password, and choose a professional seller's account. As a professional seller in the setup, you'll pay a fee of $40 a month and 15 percent commission per sale. If you had opted to sell as an individual seller, you'd be charged 15 percent commission plus $0.99 per sale (but no monthly fee).
Since you're looking to become a top seller on Amazon, it's better to be a professional, as you'll be aiming to move much more volume. As long as you move more than 40 items a month, you'll save money on fees. This might not seem like a big deal, but if you begin moving hundreds or thousands of units per month, it can add up to a lot of savings.
After that, enter your credit card information. This is so that Amazon can verify your identity and minimize the number of scammers who take advantage of the platform.
Next, you'll add and verify all the information required to start selling. This will include company name, address, and contact information. Once you've entered it all twice — just to prove you're not a computer program — you can begin listing your inventory.
Now that you're at the inventory stage, it's time to get down to the serious business of strategy. Because there are a multitude of professional e-commerce entrepreneurs to compete with, your main goal will be to set yourself apart. There are a few ways to do this:
Having the Lowest Prices
Unless you have a deal with a shipping company and get your inventory in bulk, straight from the manufacturer, this probably is an impossible thing to do. In addition to competing with your fellow sellers, who may have such business contacts already, you're also competing with Amazon itself. If you had that kind of buying power, you'd hardly need my advice on strategy. So let's assume you've got to find another, more clever way to under cut your competition.
Selling One-of-a-Kind Items
If you're selling an item that doesn't have any duplicates, that automatically eliminates your competition. You'll be the only game in town. Additionally, unique items are more likely to appear in Amazon's Buy Box, where statistics say more than 78 percent of Amazon's total sales are made. Having the lowest prices for a given item is also a good way to get into the box, but we've already covered that as an unlikely scenario.
So that means studying the market and filling the demand gaps. SaleHoo's Market Research Lab is an excellent tool to get an idea of market demand for any such unique product. Over time, and with enough sales volume, you can develop a productive relationship with your drop shipping suppliers.
Once a productive relationship has been established, you can try to negotiate a deal to be the exclusive seller. If you're the only one selling, you're guaranteed to have unique items.
If, however, you're thinking that it might be difficult to think of or procure a one-of-a-kind, distinctive product that nobody else has thought to sell, you are dead on once again. There are thousands of sellers trying to make a buck on Amazon, and many go through the same process of looking for obscure products with high demands.
One way to circumvent the competition is by choosing an uncommon item, and bundling it into a group purchase. Perhaps there are hundreds of Amazon sellers listing toothpaste, but never in packs of five. Bundled items are viewed as unique items by Amazon's search engine, so it's a neat way to trick the system.
Amazon is famous for being a customer-first company. Everything it does is designed to be more convenient or cost effective for shoppers. You can take a note from Amazon's book and do likewise. You want to be polite in all customer interactions, and quick to respond to any queries they might have. Always enter the tracking information for your products so they can see where their purchases are in the shipping process, and try to talk your suppliers into packing marketing materials into your packages.
This can be an excellent place to ask for feedback. You can leave a survey about the seller's experience along with a thank you letter inside the box. Little gestures like that can go a long way in eliciting good will toward your business. And if anyone does give you feedback, respond to them with a thank you, and give them an opportunity to leave a product review. Glowing product reviews from customers will often be the tipping point for other users to buy your products.
Furthermore, if you have any sort of dispute with a customer, do your best to resolve the situation amicably. Negative feedback is terrible for any online business, and it's often very simple to have it removed. It just takes the right amount of finesse, and cozening to an irate buyer's sensitivities. Whenever you get negative feedback take the following steps:
- Email them personally with an apology.
- Include a gift certificate. (Only if you can afford to. Use your best judgement here, make sure they have a legitimate complaint that did stem from a mistake you made before spending.)
- Wait for a response.
- If the customer responds, explain how and why the mistake you made was made, and politely ask that they erase the negative feedback.
It won't always work, but the majority of consumers will be moved by your sincerity.
One of the most important parts of selling is simply being found. Search engines look for keywords before anything else. Target a couple of keywords, put one mention in your title of the main phrase, and repeat the keywords in your product's description and in bullet point lists. Never put more than one mention of the same keyword in your title. It doesn't help the search engine, and it makes your business look tacky.
Another thing you can do is enter competitor brand names in your target keyword fields. That way if a customer is searching for a specific brand of product, they may get your items in the results, see your superior pricing and pick your offering instead.
These are just a few of my favorite Amazon selling strategies. How do you bring your e-commerce business up to the next level? Tell me about it in the comments.