In 2018, over half of all online product searches in the United States happened on Amazon. That number is absolutely staggering and if you’re an online retailer not currently selling on Amazon, you’re likely missing out on a huge chunk of sales.
It may seem intimidating at first to launch your brand on Amazon but we’ve put together our 2019 Amazon FBA Seller Guide to help you navigate through the early steps of building your store and selling online. From our Amazon glossary to Brand Registry to Amazon Pay-per-click Advertising to content optimization and more...we’ve covered all the basics to give you a solid foundation of knowledge so you feel confident launching your new store!
For the purpose of this article, the information provided is for FBA (Fulfilled by Amazon) sellers using Seller Central and some of the information may differ for sellers using other methods like FBM (Fulfilled by Merchant) or Vendor Central.
Brand Registry: Amazon’s brand registry is a program that helps brand owners and manufacturers protect their intellectual property, brand identity and registered trademarks.
Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA): FBA is one of the methods (and usually the main method) that third party sellers use to sell their products on Amazon. With FBA, sellers ship their products to Amazon’s warehouse and allow Amazon to managing the shipping of their products to customers. However it is still the responsibility of the seller to manage their listings, advertising and store.
Third Party Seller: That’s you! A third party seller is anyone selling on Amazon Seller Central whether big or small.
ASIN: ASIN stands for Amazon Standard Identification Number and is the 10 digit unique code that Amazon uses to identify different product listing pages. ASINs are automatically assigned when a product listing is created and will never change. It’s also important to note that you can only have one UPC per ASIN. The ASIN can be entered into the Amazon search bar to find specific products as well.
Amazon Listing: The amazon listing, or product listing, is the actual product page where your item is listed for sale on Amazon. This page includes all of the details of your product including product photos, titles, description, pricing, etc.
Buy Box: The product buy box is the yellow box in the upper right hand corner of a product listing page that customers can click to add a product directly to their cart. Since there is often multiple sellers on the same product page, sellers often have to compete for the “buy box”.
Organic Rankings: A product pages organic ranking is the rank in which your product falls within the entire list of all products in the same category as yours.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO): When people refer to Amazon SEO, they are referring to improvements made in the content and backend keywords of a product listing that will help increase the organic rankings of a product within the Amazon search results.
ACoS (Advertising Cost of Sales): ACoS is a metric used by Amazon to determine the performance and efficiency of an advertising campaign. ACoS is measured by dividing ad spend by sales then multiplying by 100. For example, if your ad spend is $15 and your sales are $125, your ACoS would be 12%.
15 ÷ 125 = 0.12 x 100 = 12%
The lower your ACoS, the higher your ROAS (return on ad spend) so your goal should always be to have the lowest ACoS possible.
Amazon Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising: Amazon’s in-platform advertising tool that operates on a pay-per-click model, much like Google’s AdWords platform. This type of advertising is set up so that you only pay if your ad is clicked on by an Amazon customer.
Automatic Campaigns: When you create an automatic campaign, you choose the product(s) you want advertised and the amount you’re willing to bid and Amazon will automatically target keywords and products similar to the product(s) in your ad.
Impressions: The amount of people who have seen, but not necessarily clicked, on your pay per click ad.
Keyword Match Types:
- Broad Match: A broad match is when a search term contains your keywords in any order. For example, if your keyword is “facial mask” and a search is made for “mask facial”, your ad would be served.
- Phrase Match: A phrase match is when a search term includes your keyword, in the order it’s written. For example, if your keyword ss “facial mask” and a search is made for “women’s facial mask”, your ad would be served.
- Exact Match: An exact match is when a search term is identical to your keyword. If the keyword is “facial mask” then the search term would have to be “facial mask” for your ad to be served.
Manual Campaigns: With manual ppc campaigns, you choose the product(s) you want to advertise, add the keywords you want to bid on (choosing broad, phrase or exact match) and then you set the amount you want to bid either at an ad group level or a keyword level.
Sponsored Brands: Formerly known as “Headline Search Ads”, sponsored brands are pay-per-click ads that are only available to registered brands. The sponsored brands ads are shown as a banner with 3 featured products at the top of the search results page.
Sponsored Products: The product pay-per-click ads that are shown on both the search results page as well as on product listing pages where it says “Sponsored products related to this item”.
Amazon Brand Registry
Registering your brand on Amazon has become increasingly important in recent years, and we anticipate that it will only gain more importance and authority in 2019. Brand registry allows you to have more control over your brand and the product pages that use your brand so you can be sure your product is represented accurately.
In addition to it being easier to make updates to your product listings, having brand registry offers the benefits of additional brand protection where Amazon will prevent your trademark from being used in third party product listings, using images that contain your logo but not your products and creating new product listings separate from your own catalog.
However, one major downside is that brand registry does not prevent other sellers from adding themselves to your listings and selling your products as well. If a third party seller joins your listing, it’s your responsibility to either prove to Amazon that they are selling counterfeit products or if they are re-selling your products then it’s your responsibility to get them to stop - either by detailing rules in your reseller agreement or even cutting their supply off completely.
What are the eligibility requirements for Amazon Brand Registry?
Amazon has a few eligibility requirements for sellers interested in registering their brands. The main eligibility requirement is that your brand has an active registered text or image-based trademark that’s been issued by the United States government.
Once you have a registered trademark, you can sign into your existing Amazon Seller account to enroll your brand. After Amazon has verified and approved your brand, you’ll gain access to the Brand Registry features that help you to protect your brand.
Enhanced Brand Content
Once you have a registered brand, you may start hearing about enhanced brand content but just what is it?
Enhanced brand content allows you to add images, comparison charts and other content that you can’t normally add to product listings. It’s a lot like creating a landing page for your ASIN and it’s the perfect place for you to tell your brand’s story and to really emphasize the features that make your product unique.
What is it that your product has that your competitors don’t? This is the place to show your customers.
According to Amazon, product listing pages with enhanced brand content (also called EBC) typically get 10% higher sales than product pages without EBC.
Once you have registered a brand on Amazon, you can also create an Amazon Brand Store.
Amazon’s store builder tool allows you to choose from a variety of designs and layouts so you can create custom features that best suit your brand. When you create your brand store, you’ll also receive your own unique URL that you can use to promote amongst your customers.
Once you’ve created your store front and submit it to Amazon, it’s typically approved within 72 hours.
We don’t personally find a lot of value in an Amazon Brand Store page unless you’re driving outside traffic to your store from social media, paid ads, email marketing, etc. There’s not an easy way for customers to find brand stores once they are on Amazon’s site and there’s typically a higher value in product listing pages than there is with a general brand store.
Product Listing Optimization
It’s easy to think that simply adding your products to Amazon, writing a quick title and description and putting up a product image is enough to start selling your products on Amazon but is it really as simple as that?
Well, not quite.
There are two main ways that people can find your products on Amazon. The first is through a paid advertisement called PPC (we’ll get to that later) and the second is what is referred to as “organically”.
So what does it mean when someone finds your listing organically?
Let’s take a quick step back and talk about something called SEO - that is Search Engine Optimization.
Search engine optimization means that you optimize your product listing so that Amazon’s algorithm allows your listing to be shown towards the top of the search results. The more optimized your product listing, theoretically the higher up in the search results you’ll be.
To optimize your listing means to write clear and descriptive product titles, features and descriptions and to include all important and relevant keywords in your product listing as well as in the backend search terms section. In some ways, the longer, more descriptive the information, the better.
For example, here is a product title that would be considered fully optimized:
This title uses the brand name, the type of product it is plus descriptive keywords like “facial sheet mask”, “anti-aging” and “skin balancing”. It also clearly indicates this listing is for a 5 pack.
On the contrary, this title would not be considered optimized:
Ice Plant Sheet Mask 5 Pack
Keywords are a critical part of product listing optimization and it’s important to use keywords throughout the product listing, however it’s also important to make sure you’re using these keywords in a natural manner.
If the keyword you’re trying to rank for is “sheet mask”, you don’t want to just litter the keyword throughout the listing as Amazon will consider that keyword stuffing and you can actually get penalized for that.
It’s important to note that Amazon takes many factors into consideration when determining where to rank your product. While listing optimization plays a huge role, so do things like price, product reviews, customer satisfaction, return rates, etc.
Product listing optimization not only factors into your product rankings on the Amazon search results but it also plays a major role in winning the buy box on Amazon.
What is the buy box?
See where it says “Sold by Nallah and Fulfilled by Amazon” with a yellow button beneath that says “Add to Cart”? This is the buy box meaning when a customer clicks the “Add to Cart” button, the product belonging to Nallah will be sold. It’s possible for multiple sellers to be on the same listing but only one seller can win the buy box.
Over 80% of sales on Amazon come from listings that are in the buy box so it is absolutely critical to your sales to be in that buy.
Here are some quick tips for winning the buy box:
- Make sure your price is competitive against other sellers - while this is not the only factor for winning the buy box, it’s certainly a very important one
- Reviews & review ratings matter so you want to make sure you have a good number of reviews (10+) with at least a 3.5 star rating or better
- Think of Prime as King - if you’re not selling your product on Prime and your competitor is, chances are very likely they will win the buy box over you
Amazon Pay-per-click Advertising
Remember earlier when I mentioned PPC advertising? What is PPC?
PPC is short for pay-per-click which is the type of advertising model that Amazon uses where...you guessed it, you literally pay for each click of your ad.
PPC campaigns are growing increasingly important on Amazon, especially as the number of sellers on Amazon continues to grow tremendously and the competition continues to get tougher.
Amazon currently offers 3P sellers the option of utilizing several different types of pay per click campaigns, though they all operate under the same underlying principle. You can create both “manual” campaigns where you manually choose the keywords or competitor products you’d like to target as well as “automatic” campaigns where you tell Amazon how much you’d like to bid per click and they target what they believe are the relevant keywords.
Automatic campaigns are critical for keyword data mining as Amazon provides a report of customer search terms which you can then utilize in manual campaigns as well as for use in organic product listing optimization.
In addition to manual vs. automatic campaigns, Amazon also has 2 other campaigns types called Sponsored Ads and Sponsored Brands (formerly Headline Search Ads).
Sponsored Ads look similar to an organic product listing in the search results, except they have a notation indicating they are a sponsored ad, as seen here:
Sponsored Ads can also be seen on the bottom of product listing pages, as seen here:
Sponsored Ads can be utilized by all third party sellers, regardless of whether they have brand registry or not and Sponsored Ads allow for both manual and automatic campaigns.
Sponsored Brands on the other hand are a banner ad featured at the top of the results page that displays a brand’s logo, three products of their choosing as well as a line of ad copy, as seen here:
Sponsored Brands are only available to third party sellers who have be accepted for brand registry and you can only create manual campaigns within sponsored brands, not automatic.
Customer Service & Inventory Management
Now that we’ve addressed all the major points of selling on Amazon, there’s a few other topics to touch on.
When you’re selling via FBA, Amazon handles all of your customer service regarding things like replacements, returns, refunds, etc. You can enable buyer-seller messaging if you want to be able to respond to product knowledge and informational inquiries which can sometimes help with the buyer experience. However you are not required to turn on buyer messaging as an FBA seller.
Another topic we should touch on is product inventory management. While Amazon does give some estimates of the amount of product you should ship into the fulfillment centers, it’s ultimately up to you as the seller to find the best way to manage your inventory.
There are third party software systems that can help with inventory management or you can create spreadsheets and formulas to help with inventory planning as well. There are a few important things to remember when it comes to managing FBA inventory.
Tips for selling on Amazon:
Amazon likes to see a minimum of 15 reviews with at least a 3.5 star rating
In addition to the main product photo with a white background, we always recommend adding images such as other product angles, lifestyle images and mini infographics highlighting important product features
Make sure photos are at least 1,000 dpi so they are crisp & clear and to allow customers to zoom in on them
Try not to raise and lower your pricing too much as Amazon does not really like that. If you want to temporarily lower pricing, try offer a coupon or promotion instead
Amazon likes to see low return rates so if you have a product with high return rates, consider pausing sales of the product while you figure out the cause of the return - does your product listing contain inaccurate information? Is there a defect in your product causing issues?
Asking or encouraging customers to contact you outside of the Amazon platform either via email, website or other methods is a huge violation against Amazon’s TOS. Never ask your customers to do this unless you want to risk account suspension
Amazon Seller FAQs
“Is it easy to sell on Amazon?”
Selling on Amazon may seem as easy as creating a store and adding products but it's a little more intricate than that as you have to take into consideration factors such as photography, SEO on Amazon, Amazon Product Ads, review management, etc. Thankfully Indition SellerTools offers an array of products to help successfully manage, automate and grow your Amazon seller business.
"Why should I sell on Amazon?
For most people, deciding to sell on Amazon is a no-brainer. In 2018, Amazon had almost 50% of the share of all US online retail sales. This number is staggering and if you have a retail store of your own, you almost have to be on Amazon selling your products. If you don’t, someone else will. Be sure to get your share of the pie!
"Can I give away discounted or free products in exchange for product reviews?
It’s strictly against Amazon’s Terms of Service to provide discounted or free products in exchange for a review. If you solicit customer reviews in this manner, Amazon can suspend your account and we at Indition SellerTools advise against this practice.