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Coronavirus: The Long-Term Impact for Sellers

Coronavirus The world has changed in a matter of moments, and with it, so has the world of online selling. And I don’t think things will ever be the same again.

If you’re an online seller, who like most of us, is overwhelmed at the state of the world right now and are wondering what it means for your online business and your livelihood, then keep reading.

Coronavirus

I’m Kev Blackburn, the founder of Life Success Engineer, and today I’m going to be breaking down the current impact of coronavirus on Amazon sellers and what it means for our businesses in the long run.

Video: Coronavirus Impact on Your Amazon Business

The Current Crisis and Its Impact

In 2019, ecommerce sales accounted for 14.1% of all retail sales worldwide and are predicted to reach 17.5% of all retail sales by 2021.

But that was before coronavirus came along and changed everything.

The invisible virus has completely taken control of the world, and for the most part, pretty much shut it down. Everything apart from essential stores (grocery stores, pharmacies, supermarkets etc.) have been forced to close their doors, simultaneously cutting off a large percentage of the remaining 85.9% of retail sales that are not made online.

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This has had a huge effect on the supply chain and as we can all see, online sales have gone through the roof!

Amazon itself has seen an enormous spike in sales and if you’re an Amazon seller, I’m pretty sure you’re experiencing this too right now. The company even had to place restrictions on certain categories as the demand for more essential items (food and groceries, medical supplies, health and personal care products, pet supplies and more) has absolutely exploded. Oh, how the tables have turned.

Although statistics aren’t available yet, I’m predicting that the percentage of online sales in these times at the moment, must have sky-rocketed to way beyond 14.1%.

With so many physical stores being closed worldwide, this number could even have reached 70%-80% or more.

The demand is absolutely crazy and I can honestly say I haven’t experienced anything like this before. Our prep centres are busier than ever, my private label supplement products are selling hotter than hotcakes, and a number of our success partners have made more in sales during this period than Q4 just gone!

What Does This Mean for Amazon Sellers Moving Forward?

Well, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the world has changed and nothing is going to be the same again.

The whole landscape of business, in general, has completely shifted. With more people working from home than ever before, businesses are having to become more swift and savvy in their operations.

From using online management systems to virtual assistants; from online communication systems to online training methods, it appears that those that hadn’t yet made the leap into the online world, are now being forced to do so.

And do you think that once this has all passed, that they’ll be going back to their old ways? I certainly don’t think so.

For us as Amazon sellers, this is a crucial time. With being busier than ever before, flaws in our operations, systems and methods are going to be coming to the surface right now, and they need to be addressed if we want to be able to stick this journey out for the long run.

As sellers, we need to become swift and speedy. We need to innovate and streamline our businesses. Now is such an important time for taking massive action because it will most definitely lead to massive growth; it’s either this or risk being left behind.

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Don’t Get Left Behind!

Charles Darwin once said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change” and I think in order to survive the world of Amazon selling, this is how we need to look at things.

Although there are things happening in the world outside of our control, we must turn our attention and focus on those things that we can control.

We must adapt to the changes being presented to us currently and take massive action in the areas that will help us to survive, grow and thrive.

So if Amazon is something you want to continue to pursue long-term and it’s somewhere that you want to grow and expand your businesses, then it’s time to become a problem solver.

Think about all aspects of your business, think strategically and identify the areas where you can take control.

Here are some examples:

  • If managing and prepping stock is an issue, get your business into a prep centre
  • If you’re having issues with quantity of stock, look at additional supply
  • If your categories have been restricted, become more flexible and look into getting into those that aren’t
  • Make more phone calls! Wholesalers are still looking to open new accounts and there is massive opportunity out there

And then, I’d highly recommend spending some time thinking over your long-term contingency plan; how can you create multiple streams of income for yourself, without relying solely on Amazon?

The Future is Bright

So to conclude, the long-term impact of coronavirus on Amazon business could be pretty great and I mean that in every positive sense of the word!

We’re going through a quantum leap shift and the rapid growth that is happening for us in this current climate, on personal and business levels, is going to change the world and change the way we live our lives. When this all passes, everything is going to be on a whole other level and I for one, am very excited.

Although in some ways, times are dark for many right now, the future certainly looks bright for those with online businesses.

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Best Amazon Sales Estimator for Sellers in 2020

Estimator Having a rough idea of what your sales should be is an essential part of selling on Amazon, starting from researching profitable product ideas and ending with adjusting your pricing rules post-sale.

Estimator

But if you aren’t a maths person or don’t know how to calculate all fees to come up with a final figure, RepricerExpress has your back with these Amazon sales estimator tools you can start using right now.

Jungle Scout

Amazon and Jungle Scout go together like peanut butter and jelly. Whenever you check out the best tools to use on Amazon for a variety of areas, Jungle Scout is usually on the list and for good reason, too.

One of the best parts is it’s free to use when on the website. All you have to do is plug in numbers for Best Sellers Rank Number, Amazon Marketplace and Amazon Product Category, hit enter, and get a rough idea of what your estimated sales might be.

AMZ Tracker

If you like the interface of Jungle Scout but want a beefier tool, then AMZ Tracker could be the one for you.

It’s a paid option, which means you get tons of features and specificities that can give you a more accurate idea of estimated sales than some of the free tools.

The basic tier starts at $50/month on the monthly plan ($41.70/month on the yearly plan) and gets you 50 products for sales tracking, and goes up to $400/month for the Legend plan ($333.33/month on the yearly plan) for 400 items.

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Unicorn Smasher

If you’ve checked out AMZ Tracker, you may have noticed a tab at the top of the page for Unicorn Smasher. Think of it as its budget-friendly (re: free) alternative where you can save money and still get a decent idea of what your estimated sales might be.

All you have to do is enter in your name and email to download it, then you can start using it right away as a Chrome extension and get the information you need right on your browser.

While it’s lighter on features than some other tools, Unicorn Smasher’s biggest benefit is efficiency. You can say goodbye to endless spreadsheets if all you want is quick guesstimates.

AMZ Scout

What’s neat about AMZ Scout is it’s a hybrid of paid-with-tons-of-options and free-with-the-essentials — and its sales estimator falls under the free umbrella of the many Amazon tools it offers.

Like Jungle Scout, you can get Amazon sales estimates right there on the browser. Just select a country and Amazon category from the dropdown menus, then enter in the sales rank and it’ll calculate how many sales per month you could be looking at.

Helium 10

We’ve written about Helium 10 before when it comes to various Amazon FBA tools you can use, but the Black Box tool on the app can really help you with estimating sales on Amazon. It’s got access to almost half a billion products on Amazon, giving you the depth and breadth you need to find the most profitable products.

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ASINspector

ASINspector is an amazing tool to use if you value hard data (and plenty of it) without fancy, dressed-up interfaces. It’s not to say it looks like variations on spreadsheets, but that they really pack in a ton of information, options and analytics and don’t need to distract from any lack of that with lipstick.

This is exemplified with their Amazon sales estimator. Sure, you can enter in numbers and get the basic results, but why stop there when you can get a much bigger picture? Combine the sales estimator with their other tools so you can get a much more accurate idea.

Final Thoughts

Knowing what something could cost or earn you should underline every product decision you make on Amazon. With one of these Amazon sales estimators, you can sharpen your product research and make an educated choice instead of throwing things at the wall to see what sticks.

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How to List Products on Amazon in 2020

Everyone talks about setting up product listings on Amazon and getting going…but how do you actually list products? What are the steps involved? How do you know if you’re doing things the right or best way, or if you’re making a mistake that’ll cost you later on?

Products

There’s no need to worry because RepricerExpress will guide you through how to list products on Amazon.

Part 1: Prepare Before You List Products on Amazon

There are a couple of things you need to take care of first before listing products on Amazon. They’re pretty straightforward, but it’s important not to miss any of them because it’ll cause a ton more work later on.

  1. Get UPC codes for all products – Each item you list on Amazon will need its own UPC code, whether that’s a single item or several bundled together (Amazon counts a bundle as a single item). We wrote this guide on Amazon UPC codes that outlines what they mean, how and where to find them, and the differences sellers need to know about.
  2. Measure and weigh the products – One of the parts of uploading a product to Amazon is including its measurement and weight, and there are two ways of doing this. If you’re lucky enough to find that your product is already sold elsewhere on Amazon, you can copypaste the dimensions and weight from that listing. If not, you’ll need to physically measure it (length, width, height) and weigh it. Plus, knowing what your items’ size and weight can help you with selling and storage strategies.
  3. Take pro-quality photographs – Product images are one of the most important parts in a product listing, so take the time to really get this step right.
  4. Make your products findable – The last step before actually listing products on Amazon means ensuring buyers will be able to find them once they’re live. For starters, double-check that you have the right category selected, as you might have to get approval to sell in restricted categories. Once you’re sure you’ve got the right ones, spend a fair bit of time on keyword research.

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Part 2: Begin Listing Products to be Sold on Amazon

Now we’re in the fun bit! The first part might have been a bit lengthy and full of details, but it’ll come in handy for the second part because all you’ll need to do is click, configure and upload.

There are only four steps in this part; if you did everything right in the first part, this section will be a breeze.

  1. Login to your Seller Central account and toggle to the Inventory dropdown menu, then select “Add A Product”. You can also get to this point by clicking on “Add Products Via Upload”, which is handy if you’re used to working with spreadsheets.
  2. Next is to choose one of three options on the “Add a Product” page.
    1. Use the search bar to look for a product by name or ID.
    2. Just under the search bar, click on “Create a new product listing” (if your product is brand new and not currently being sold on Amazon).
    3. For batch uploads, go to the right side of your screen and click on “Bulk upload”.
  3. Confirm the primary category and add in any other categories or sub-categories your items belong to.

Switch to “Advanced View” and fill in all the fields under the various tabs, i.e. Vital Info, Variations, Offer, Images, Description, Keywords and More Details. If you’re selling products that are the same except for small differences, like colour or size, then the Variations tab is where you’ll distinguish between those differences. This one requires going to the “Help” tab on your Dashboard and downloading the template you need (just search for “inventory file template” to get the selection of templates to choose from), making sure you have Excel to fill in all the fields and upload it to Amazon.

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Final Thoughts

Although there are several steps involved in listing products on Amazon, the more you do of it, the easier and faster it’ll be. Once you’re done and figuring out strategies to drive traffic and sales, fire up RepricerExpress and set up your pricing rules so they can be running right away.

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Google Shopping: The Ultimate Guide for 2020

Guide In 2012 the service became part of ‘Google Adwords’, the well-known paid for advertising model and from this moment on, retailers were required to pay to be featured in the Google Shopping searches. The good news is that after nine long years, Froogle has returned, well kind of!

Guide

Free Google Shopping listings are currently being rolled out across all regions which makes right now an excellent time for you to implement your own Google Shopping ads because it won’t cost you a thing and you won’t need Google Ads either! There’s no clear indication as to whether this is a temporary change or whether it’s permanent.

Still, our advice is to take advantage of the free Google Shopping ads while you can as you will be in the unique position of being able to gain exposure and better connect with consumers immediately.

If you’re an existing user of Google Shopping Ads, you won’t need to do anything to take advantage of your free listings. For new users of Google Merchant Centre, the onboarding process is currently being streamlined. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves! This announcement is excellent news, but first, let’s rewind a little and talk about online shopping.

It is, of course, an activity that most of us participate in regularly and in this era of ‘Want it now. Got to have it now.’ it’s easier than ever to shop online and to own anything our hearts desire, and quickly. The only downside to online shopping is the time-consuming process of comparing products.

This can be frustrating when you are clicking between websites – but of course is where ecommerce platforms such as AmazoneBay and Etsy come into their own. And so too does Google Shopping. If you are not familiar with Google shopping, nor utilising it to advertise your products, read on to understand how it can help you. 

What is Google Shopping?

Powered by Google, arguably the most significant search engine there is, technically, Google Shopping isn’t an ecommerce platform or a marketplace in the way that Amazon, eBay and Etsy are. However, from a buyer’s perspective, it does provide the opportunity to browse and compare physical products from different retailers, based on your search query very quickly. This is also known as Comparison Shopping.

If someone searches for a product you sell, Google shows relevant ‘shopping’ ads for your product, alongside your competitors’ ads. In fact, you are likely familiar with Google Shopping already – you just didn’t realise it, as Google Shopping results show up in the search as small thumbnail images along with the retailer, price and sometimes other retailer-specific information too.

From a seller’s point of view, Google Shopping is highly beneficial. Supported in over 40 countries, sellers can advertise their products in a visually appealing way, and buyers are sent directly to the seller’s website to make their purchase. It’s a win-win.

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How Does Google Shopping Work?

Google’s algorithms process a product feed which contains your store’s product data – product names, descriptions, price and images.

This data is used to match your products with relevant search queries and to create your ads.

Searchers will see Google Shopping ads containing an image of your product, the price and any additional info.

When a buyer clicks, they will go directly to your website or store.

Up until recently, Google charged on a Pay Per Click (PPC) basis. Currently, however, free Google Shopping ads are being rolled out, so the service is free!

Why Use Google Shopping?

Google Shopping is highly visual and highly visible.

Often when searching for a product online, as a buyer, you’ll be met with millions of text-based results. This can be overwhelming, and of course, most of us won’t scroll past page one.

For sellers, Google Shopping ads stand out! They put you in the spotlight and typically appear across the top of the search results and include images, often colourful, making them tempting for potential buyers to click through to. In a world where many people make mobile purchases, this is particularly advantageous as Google Shopping ads feature first on-screen.

Alternatively, searchers can click on the ‘shopping’ tab and go directly through to more detailed versions of the Google Shopping ads

Google is the ‘Go-To’ Search Engine

Google is where many people will start their search for a product before they go to Amazon, eBay or specific niche websites. By advertising on Google Shopping, you can put yourself in front of your potential customers at the exact moment they are looking for a product.

Google Shopping Converts

According to Marketing ChartsGoogle Shopping is proven to have a 30% higher conversion rate than standard text-based ads. The reason for this appears to be because by using Google Shopping ads, your products can be seen directly by customers searching for that item. There is also a strong focus on the product image and the price rather than other information that is often deemed less critical to buyers.

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Google Shopping Gives You Multiple Sales Opportunities

Your Google Shopping ads will show up multiple times on Google search engine results pages (SERPS). So, this means your product can be found as a website result, a text-only result and a shopping result.

Google Works For You

With your Google Shopping ads, Google will automatically pull in the data from your website or store, create ads for your products and match them with all relevant search queries. Little effort is required by you once the set-up process is complete.

Google Shopping Levels The Playing Field

Businesses of all sizes can use Google Shopping, thus leveling the playing field and making it the perfect channel to create not only brand awareness but also to bring leads and sales.

What You’ll Need To Use Google Shopping

The truth is, Google Shopping is a little tricky to set up, but once it’s done, apart from a few tweaks, little effort is required as Google does the work for you.

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The Top Amazon News Stories in May 2020

News On Monday, Amazon announced that they will be waiving the storage fees that were scheduled to be charged on 15 May. They are doing this as removal orders have been delayed due to prioritising essential shipments.News

This is good to see and should provide a small break for sellers who were going to be subject to these fees.

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Coronavirus: You might think Amazon profits are soaring right now. You’d be wrong: Sky News reports that Amazon has said it could record its first loss in five years despite a hike in revenue as it spends at least $4bn (£3.2bn) in response to the coronavirus outbreak. While other traditional shops have been forced to shut because of the COVID-19 lockdown, the online retailing giant recruited an extra 175,000 workers to cope with a surge in orders during the pandemic. In the current financial quarter, which has witnessed coronavirus lockdowns around the world, Amazon said it could see a 28% increase in revenue to $81bn (£65bn). Continue reading…

US lawmakers demand Jeff Bezos testify over Amazon’s ‘possibly criminally false’ statements: Julia Carrie Wong at The Guardian reports that a bipartisan group of House lawmakers investigating Amazon for possible antitrust violations have demanded that Jeff Bezos testify before Congress to address statements by the company that “appear to be misleading, and possibly criminally false or perjurious. Although we expect that you will testify on a voluntary basis, we reserve the right to resort to a compulsory process if necessary,” seven leaders of the House judiciary committee, including the chair Jerry Nadler, wrote in a letter to the Amazon CEO on Friday. Continue reading…

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Amazon unit’s vice-president resigns over whistleblower firings: Patricia Nilsson at the Financial Times reports that a senior Amazon software engineer has resigned in protest over the company’s dismissal of whistleblowers who brought attention to safety concerns among its warehouse workers. Tim Bray, a vice-president at Amazon Web Services, the retailer’s cloud computing division, said on Monday that he had stepped down from his role as vice-president and distinguished engineer after having “escalated [concerns] through the proper channels and by the book”. “I quit in dismay at Amazon firing whistleblowers who were making noise about warehouse employees frightened of Covid-19,” he said in a blog post. Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Continue reading…

Amazon encourages sellers to help supply medical institutions with vital PPE: Lauren Fruncillo at Tamebay reports that Amazon has announced they are working with European governments and health agencies in response to COVID-19 in order to supply hospitals, medical institutions and government organisations with personal protection equipment (PPE) and other key health and safety products. The news comes shortly after eBay announced that they were creating NHS Portal to supply PPE across the UK with DHSC. It’s great to see these companies working together to help ease the pressures on healthcare services. Continue reading…

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6 Tips for Retailers Battling the ‘Amazon Effect’

The “Amazon effect” refers to the ongoing disruption in retail and rising consumer expectations driven by e-commerce. Some of the most significant changes that Amazon.com has had on consumer expectations are related to one-click ordering, free shipping, faster delivery, and extraordinary customer service. The online retail giant has also driven physical retailers to make in-store shopping a more compelling experience for consumers. If a retailer can’t meet these standards, both online and offline, it’s harder for it to convert consumers into customers.

RetailersHowever, Amazon’s continued growth doesn’t mean other brands don’t stand a chance of succeeding against the retail giant. Here are six tips for winning in the age of Amazon:

1. Be digitally smart.

Consumers expect to find retailers online and to have a good experience shopping their websites, whether they’re using their phone or computer. Slow page load times and frustrating user experiences can be costly as shoppers simply click away to a competitor’s site. Retailers should make sure their site pages load quickly, are user friendly, and are mobile responsive. Clearly displayed products, enticing product descriptions, and easy-to-navigate customer service are key details that shouldn’t be overlooked.

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2. Focus on the store and staff.

As the saying goes, “don’t judge a book by its cover” — yet everyone does. A storefront is no different. Retail locations should be clean, welcoming and inviting, making shoppers want to explore and discover things they’d like to buy. Popular products should be placed in strategic locations to encourage visitors to venture further inside. Digital technology, such as virtual fitting rooms, digital price tags, automated checkout, and more can also help reinvent the in-store experience while increasing convenience for shoppers.

While appearance, product placement and in-store technology can go a long way, retailers shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that their employees are the most important creators of the in-store experience. Investing in knowledgeable and friendly sales staff is key. Sales associates with a deep understanding of customer needs and the products they sell create a more personalized experience that entice shoppers to buy.

3. Bridge the generation gap.

The shopping habits and expectations of baby boomers, millennials, Gen X, and Gen Z shoppers vary greatly. Some generations may prefer the convenience of online shopping, while others favor brick-and-mortar stores. To build lasting relationships, retailers must adapt their brand experience in a way that accommodates their customers unique purchasing preferences.

4. Be social.

It’s no secret that social media has shifted the power from brands to consumers, giving shoppers the freedom to voice their opinions about a product or company in a very public way. Even when shopping in-store, consumers can browse various social platforms to see what other people think about a product or brand. Maintaining an active presence on social media enables retailers to engage consumers in authentic, two-way dialog while getting a better understanding of their needs, preferences and passions in the process.

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5. Post and promote reviews.

Retailers should never underestimate the power of reviews. Today’s shoppers depend on online reviews the way their parents depended on a friend’s recommendation. Ask for and incentivize customers to leave online reviews post-purchase. By posting honest reviews, not just positive ones, retailers can win the trust of potential customers, allowing them to come to their own conclusions.

6. Measure and optimize marketing.

Retailers can no longer assume the customer journey started where the transaction took place. Consumers may navigate across multiple channels and touchpoints — both digital and physical — just to make a single purchase. Retailers need a holistic view of the customer journey so they can understand and optimize the interactions that led to a sale. By embracing sophisticated measurement approaches, such as multitouch attribution, retailers can ensure credit is accurately assigned to all the marketing touchpoints that influenced a digital or offline sale. Retailers can then use these insights to allocate spend to the best-performing channels and tactics, and better optimize the omnichannel customer experience.

Amazon remains a looming threat for many retailers, but the situation isn’t all gloom and doom. With the right know-how and tools, retailers can keep their doors open, and shoppers coming back for more.

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What to Sell on Amazon FBA: The Definitive Guide

Let’s face it, you might just have a weird sense of taste or style! But with nearly 400 million individual products being sold on Amazon, how can you possibly know which products are most likely to give you a return on your investment? Well, that’s where research and considering product criteria are critical.

Sell

The main point you should remember when deciding what to sell on Amazon FBA is that it is a ‘price-driven’ marketplace. In other words, people visit the website intending to seek out the best deal on products.

This means that whatever you plan to sell on Amazon FBA must be attractive to your target audience and often in a particular price range, so you must understand the identifying criteria to follow when you are deciding what to sell on Amazon FBA.

Since FBA (Fulfilment By Amazon) was introduced back in 2008, it has been an absolute game-changer for Amazon sellers. So it’s unsurprising that many successful sellers are firm fans of the service.

FBA allows Amazon sellers to store large amounts of stock and have all their order picking, packing and shipping dealt with remotely from Amazon’s vast warehouses.

Amongst other things, this allows sellers to concentrate on different aspects of their business rather than having to deal with day to day administration.

But the question is if you are selling on Amazon FBA, should the products you choose to list differ from those that you might decide to sell if you were managing and shipping orders yourself?

The simple answer is no! Amazon FBA makes the process simple, but the criteria for what to sell on Amazon remains the same.

What to Sell on Amazon FBA: Product Criteria

You may not realise this, but there are some precise criteria you should follow to ensure you research and select the best products to sell on Amazon FBA. For starters, although it’s tempting, you should not try to sell well known or designer branded products.

Amazon is not the place to do that! Amazon is, of course, the platform that best lends itself best to the sale of own branded products at competitive prices.

Most Amazon buyers are genuinely not interested in purchasing big brand-named products, they are interested in buying a decent product that looks the business and comes at a low cost to them.

This strategy, however, does mean you will potentially be going head to head against other sellers offering similar products, which is why along with specific product criteria, you should also take the ‘similar but better’ route.

In other words, by all means, sell the same product, but make sure it is listed under your own brand name, and you offer something a little extra. The extra doesn’t have to be something big, just faster shipping or a better product listing and overall service. So, let’s have a look at the most important criteria you should consider when you are deciding what to sell on Amazon FBA.

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Choose a Selling Price Between £10 and £50

Any product you list and sell below the £10 mark is unlikely to make you any kind of decent profit. You will need to sell in huge volumes, which isn’t necessarily a problem when using Amazon FBA, as your storage, packing and shipping will be dealt with for you, but actually ensuring you achieve volume sales is another matter.

You’ll need to be a marketing whizz at promoting your product, and at that price, it’s unlikely you’ll have a unique product, so competition will be super fierce.

On the other hand, if you sell your product for £50, there is the potential for more profit, assuming you have researched and sourced the product correctly, and you will need to sell fewer.

The good news is that any product selling for less than £50 is within the ‘impulse buy’ price range! In other words, your buyer won’t need to think very hard about making the purchase.

Between £10 and £50 is a small enough amount for buyers to make a quick decision, which is precisely what you want as it means more sales for you!

Choose a Small and Lightweight Product

The heavier and bulkier your product, the more complex the shipping. This applies even when it comes to selling on Amazon FBA. Although they will store your product for you, the amount of space it takes up in their warehouse is an important consideration, especially if you choose a slow-selling product, as you’ll then be charged extra storage fees.

You will also need to take into account the shipping costs, initially from the manufacturer and then later when it is fulfilled by Amazon FBA. The bigger and heavier the product, the more those costs will be. Remember, many buyers will expect free shipping even if they are not Prime members.

Private Label Your Product

Gone are the days when unbranded generic products sold on Amazon FBA! Right now, the more profitable option is to private label your products – in other words, brand them as your own.

Private label products are simply goods created by one company and branded and sold by another company. The usual process is to get your branding done at the manufacturing stage, although you may decide to source unbranded products and then simply label them with your own brand yourself – this is the cheaper (but less professional) option.

Choose a Non-Seasonal Product

It makes sense to want to achieve year-round, steady profits when you sell on Amazon FBA so avoid seasonal products where possible. For example, you should not choose to sell Christmas lights, Valentine’s Day gifts or products that can only be used during one season, for instance, paddling pools, ski accessories, and so on.

If you have a large inventory of products, by all means, add seasonal products to achieve additional sales, but they should not be your main product line as seasonal fluctuations will occur.

Choose an Uncomplicated Product

When considering what to sell on Amazon FBA, a popular go-to category is Electronics. The reason for this is that it’s popular with buyers looking for goods and so is seen as a profitable niche. But, the electronics category has enormous potential for customer issues too. Products can break down, contain restricted products like batteries and can generally cause headaches if you pick the wrong product.

The same can be said for clothing and footwear products that may require you to stock a variety of colours, sizes and styles. You should also steer clear from certain foods, toys, batteries and beauty products because these often require certifications or paperwork that is challenging and frustrating to obtain.

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Choose a Product that Solves a Problem or Fulfils a Need

The straight facts are that if your chosen products don’t address a need or solve a problem, they will be harder to sell! While people ‘browse’ on Amazon, it’s rare they are not searching for a specific type of product.

But actually, if you think about different types of products, you’ll find that pretty much every product can be placed in the problem solving or fulfilling a need category, even though sometimes it’s tenuous and you may have to be a little creative.

Source a Quality Product from a Reliable Supplier

Every product you decide to sell on Amazon FBA should be sampled, checked and tested by you. Sourcing your products from a reliable supplier and ensuring they are the best quality is an essential part of the research and source process when deciding what to sell on Amazon FBA. So, get to know your supplier and build rapport because the products that you sell will ultimately be your responsibility!

Choose to Sell a Niche Product

This is the single most important piece of criteria you should follow when you are selling on Amazon FBA. Your products must be niche specific. Not just category-specific! Once you have decided on the category you will sell within on Amazon FBA, let’s say pets, for example, you then need to dig deeper into the niche, and deeper and deeper until you uncover a highly specific product that is selling well but has low competition.

Related: 5 Ways to Find a Profitable Amazon Niche

What Products Should You Sell on Amazon FBA?

First, which are the most profitable categories. This is a tricky one, but the most popular categories are:

  • Apparel (Clothing and Accessories)
  • Beauty
  • Baby
  • Books
  • Electronics
  • Fitness
  • Garden & Outdoors
  • Health
  • Home & Kitchen
  • Jewellery
  • Toys

Should You Sell in Popular Categories?

Yes! These are the most competitive categories, and you are probably thinking it will be harder for you to sell within them. You are right of course, and that’s why it’s you must follow the criteria discussed earlier.

The trick is to narrow down your research to a point where the product you are going to sell is so specific that competition is drastically reduced, and you only attract serious buyers who are looking to purchase your product right away.

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10 Great Amazon Product Photography Tips

Photography They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, but what do your product photos say? Do they tell the full story of what your item can? Or does it tell another story where there are missing details and shoddy quality?

Photography

Because there are so many ways to improve product photography we have compiled the top ten Amazon product photography tips to take your listing images to the next level. Let’s get started…

1. Pay Attention to Amazon’s Technical Requirements Before Shooting

It’s easier to plan a product photography shoot if you work within an outline of technical requirements instead of shooting whatever and editing later.

Amazon has set out the technical requirements for images, so make sure you have the following in place:

  • Correct filename extension. All photos need to be saved as a TIFF, JPEG, GIF or PNG file, so adjust the setting on your camera before beginning.
  • Always shoot in RAW to make it easier to scale down and avoid blurriness. Your photos should be a minimum of 1,000 pixels in either height or width.
  • Colour mode. You have two options: sRGB or CMYK colour mode.
  • Spaces, dashes or additional characters. Don’t use any of these when naming your images, as they won’t be uploaded.
  • Naming convention. You need to have the product identifier (e.g. ASIN, UPC, EAN or JAN), followed by a period and the filename extension.

2. Make Use of the Maximum Allowed Photos

Amazon lets you upload up to eight images per ASIN, so make good use of that. The photos should show your product from a variety of angles and being used in various ways to give the shopper an accurate idea of what to do with it.

As well, if your products are wearable, include a sizing chart (with size conversions for different countries/regions) so consumers can pick the best-fitting option.

3. Follow All Specs with the Main Image

Amazon has specific criteria for the main product photo:

  • The background must be white (RGB 255,255,255).
  • It has to be an image and not a graphic or drawing.
  • It needs to fill at least 85% of the canvas and the entire product needs to be in the frame.
  • There can be no additional text, graphics or inset images, just the main image itself.

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4. Include an Infographic if Possible

MIT neuroscientists found that the human brain can process images really fast, like on the scale of a fraction of a second (13-80 milliseconds). To take advantage of that, include an infographic with relevant details as one of your child images to go the extra distance in persuading your consumer to buy.

5. Show the Size of the Product

In the movie The Aviator, there’s one scene where DiCaprio’s Howard Hughes realizes that his shots of flying airplanes mean little to the viewer because they can’t see how fast they’re flying. So, he directs the pilots to fly past buildings and towers.

Do something similar with your pictures by setting them against bodies or recognizable objects to give shoppers a concrete sense of size and scale.

6. Include at Least One Lifestyle Image

At least one of your child photos should be a lifestyle one that shows the product being used in real life. Not only does it help buyers get a sense of how it’s being used, but the extra details and aesthetics can really help tip the scales towards a sale.

Look at IKEA for an excellent example. They show complete room setups to give people inspiration for how to decorate their own rooms. You’re not only selling a product, but also an idea.

7. Wait, an Image of the Product Packaging?

Yup, one of your child images should also include the packaging along with the product. Why? So that buyers can get a really accurate idea of what to expect when the product arrives. Showing what they can expect — and verifying the accuracy once it’s delivered — helps build trust that you’re an accurate and honest Amazon seller.

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8. Use a Chart Comparing Features Across Similar Products

Whether you have variations on the same product (think clothing, bedding, or anything else with basic or upgraded features), use one of your child photographs as a chart to highlight the differences.

You can also include a chart with competitor photos to show why your product has more features or would make a better overall purchase.

9. Flesh Out Details with a Video

When videos accompany a product listing, viewers are 64-85% likelier to make a purchase. Videos help fill in the gaps left by product photos by showing the object in use, answering questions, showcasing features or benefits, and can be used in social media marketing when shot in a square aspect ratio.

10. Go Pro if Needed

If you don’t have the right camera and lighting equipment or don’t feel confident in taking the best photos possible, hire someone to do it for you. Amazon has a photography service where you can link up with local photographers and get your shots done by a pro.

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Best Ecommerce Conferences to Attend in 2020

Ecommerce conferences can be a great place to learn about the latest news and industry trends. You’ll be able to network with other ecommerce professionals and gain valuable insights into how you can improve your online business.

Ecommerce

To help you we’ve compiled a list of the best ecommerce conferences happening all over the world in 2020.

Ecommerce Conferences 2020

January

NRF 2020 (Retail’s Big Show)

When: January 12-14
Where: New York City, United States
Tagline: NRF 2020: Retail’s Big Show is where the industry unites to get a whole new perspective. NRF convenes the largest community of movers, shakers and industry makers who come together to see beyond what is, to reveal what could be. NRF 2020 is where visionary talent meets visionary tech and the latest and greatest becomes the here and now!

AI Masters

When: January 24-25
Where: Berlin, Germany

West Coast Ecommerce Summit

When: January 29-30
Where: Long Beach, California, United States
Tagline: The West Coast eCommerce Summit brings together 300+ retailers and brand professionals to share their knowledge, learn and evolve their customer acquisition strategy.

Future of Retail & Ecommerce

When: January 30
Where: Paris, France

February

eTailing Summit 

When: February 11
Where: London, United Kingdom

eTail West

When: February 24-27
Where: Palm Springs, California, United States
Tagline: Transforming Retail. Together.

eTail West is a four-day retreat designed to help you increase the profits from your business. You’ll get action-packed strategies and make connections with the top mind’s at America’s most successful retailers. No commercials. No egos.

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March

eTail Asia

When: March 3-5
Where: Singapore

eTail Germany

When: March 9-11
Where: Berlin, Germany

Prosper Show

When: March 23-25
Where: Las Vegas, United States
Tagline: Learn best practices to better build your Amazon seller business.

Prosper Show – now in its fifth year, continues to be the trusted source to filter out the noise. Among the 39 speakers are former Amazonians and Amazon solution providers.

Alibaba Ecommerce Expo

When: March 27-28
Where: Melbourne, Australia
Tagline: Connecting Australia and New Zealand local brands and businesses to the growing market in China.

Imagine 2020

When: Mar 29-Apr 2
Where: Las Vegas, United States.

April

Internet Retailing Expo

When: April 1-2
Where: Birmingham, United Kingdom

Social Media Week New York

When: April 20-May 2
Where: New York City, United States
Tagline: Social Media Week brings together marketing, media and technology professionals from more than 50 countries with a curiosity and passion for new ideas, innovations and emerging trends in social media.

May

eTail Canada

When: May 4-6
Where: Toronto, Canada
Tagline: This is the largest eCommerce conference in Canada, not just in size, but by the quality of the speakers and its organization.

June

eTail Europe

When: June 23-24
Where: London, United Kingdom

IRCE

When: June 9-11
Where: Chicago, United States

July

eTailing Summit 

When: July 7
Where: London, United Kingdom
Tagline: The eTailing Summit is specifically designed for ecommerce and digital managers from online retailers to find inspirational ideas and gain up to date knowledge from leading solution providers.

CommerceNext

When: July 28-29
Where: New York, United States
Tagline: The Summit for Next Level Customer Acquisition. 100+ Speakers from leading retailers, DTC brands and innovative tech companies.

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September

Paris Retail Week

When: September 15-17
Where: Paris, France
Tagline: Paris Retail Week will propose a global offer for all the retailing ecosystem.

Retail Global Las Vegas

When: September 20
Where: Las Vegas, United States
Tagline: The conference for retail professionals.

Ecommerce Expo London

When: September 30-1 October
Where: London, United Kingdom
Tagline: Actionable Insight Derived From Data.

October

Internet Retailing Conference

When: October 8
Where: London, United Kingdom

eTail Nordic

When: October 21-22
Where: Copenhagen, Denmark
Tagline: The event for Scandinavian eCommerce and Multi-Channel Retail Innovators.

How to Get the Most Out of an Ecommerce Conference

Ecommerce conferences help you stay up to date with the latest trends across the sector. Here are five tips to ensure you get the most out of a conference if you choose to attend.

  1. Review the agenda.
  2. Come prepared – adaptors, business cards, chargers are a must.
  3. Plan your time wisely to get the most out of your visit.
  4. Visit a mixture of big brands, startups and medium-sized businesses.
  5. Meet new people and send follow up emails post-conference.
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VAT Advice for Amazon Sellers in the UK

UK In simple terms, VAT is a tax on the sale of goods and services. You pay VAT on the majority of goods and services in the UK. I will not go into lots of detail on how VAT works, as there are plenty of guides online.

The current rate of VAT in the UK is 20% on most goods and services. However, on some goods, a VAT rate of 5% or 0% is used.

UK

Businesses with revenue of over £85,000 in any 12-month rolling period must register for VAT and they then have to charge VAT on any products sold, but they can also then claim VAT on products purchased. This is important as you can only claim back VAT on products supplied by businesses that are VAT registered.

Once VAT registered, you will have to complete a VAT return every three months. This return looks at how much VAT you’ve paid, and how much VAT you’ve collected (from sales). You have to subtract the first from the second, and if this figure is positive (which it normally will be), then you pay this to the Government (HMRC).

How I Registered For VAT

Since the threshold for registering for VAT is £85,000, I sold up to around £82/83k as a Sole Trader (self-employed) and then formed a Limited Company in May 2019.

Since the Limited Company is a separate legal entity to the Sole Trader, the VAT threshold effectively “resets”. This means that I could again sell another £82/83k worth of goods before I registered for VAT on the 1st of October 2019.

The obvious benefit of this is that you get an extra £85k worth of VAT free sales. This is good as being VAT registered reduces profitability.

Before making this plan, I did my research to find out whether VAT registration was for me. See below for some of the considerations that helped me with this decision.

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1. Effect on Profitability

I’ll use a very basic example to explain this. In this scenario, we will consider a VAT registered seller and a seller who hasn’t yet registered for VAT.

The scenario is simple, we buy a product for £50 which we then sell for £100. We assume no other expenses for simplicity and a VAT rate of 20% for the product.

The seller who isn’t VAT registered makes £50 (£100-£50) but the seller who is VAT registered makes £40.

Why is this?

Because they can reclaim 20% of their cost (£10). However, they have to remit 20% of the sale price (£20). This means it’s £80-£40, which is a profit of £40.

Expenses are important as you can claim the VAT back on these, provided the service provider is VAT registered. We will continue the previous example to illustrate this.

Say our expenses are as follows (we will assume all providers are VAT registered).

  • £8 in Amazon fees
  • £1 prep centre cost
  • £1 in other services (all software costs apportioned)

This means that the non-VAT registered seller now has a profit of £40 (£50-£10).

The VAT registered seller can claim back £2 in VAT on these £10 worth of expenses, meaning their profit figure is now £32 (£40-£8).

So claiming VAT back on expenses reduces the impact on VAT registration. Let’s check out some other factors which will also impact profitability and aid your decision making.

2. Extra Admin Costs

I highly suggest you outsource bookkeeping and VAT returns to a qualified accountant. Yes, this will incur a significant monetary expense, however, not doing this will cost you a lot of time, and potentially a lot of money — both in fines and also from not maximising what you can claim.

This being said, you do need to be aware of these additional expenses involved in being VAT registered. You also may have to spend more time/money as invoice collection and general record keeping becomes even more important.

3. 0% Goods

Following the discussion on the effect on profitability, it is important to look at the impact of goods that have a 0% VAT rate. At first glance, it may seem that this would be the same as being non-VAT registered, however, that’s wrong and these are even better, as you can still claim back VAT on expenses, which a non-VAT registered seller can’t.

If we refer back to the previous example and assume this is instead a 0% VAT good, the profit would be £42. This is because before expenses the profit would be the same as a non-VAT registered seller (£50), but you can claim back the £2 VAT on expenses, meaning the profit figure is £42, £2 higher than that of a non-VAT registered seller.

If you can source lots of 0% goods, then your profitability will be impacted less by VAT registration!

The issue is that 0% goods are hard to come by. I won’t make a list, as you will need to research these. GOV.UK provides a good starting point for your research.

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Should You Register for VAT?

I am aware there are a lot of negative points here but ultimately if you’re looking to do this seriously, it’s an inevitable step.

To decide whether this step is right for you though, you need to consider the factors and weigh them up against your personal situation. For some, ticking along at around £80k a year in sales and doing this part-time works perfectly for their business. For others, like myself, VAT registration was an inevitable step as I made the decision (after weighing up impacts on my business) that I wanted to do this full time.

I would suggest you try to understand your profit margin now and consider what it may be after VAT registration. Have a look at some products you’re selling and consider if you could still sell them if VAT registered?

Consider whether you have the resources to increase your revenue. Whilst you can take steps to reduce the impact of VAT registration on profitability, ultimately it will lower your profit margin.

For example, if you sold £150k of goods at a profit margin of 9%, is this better than £80k at 12%? How about if you can do £200k at 8% or 9%? Consider the extra time and resources needed to hit these figures.

One tip I would give is to have a call with a seller who is VAT registered and ask them questions. Don’t rush this decision! It’s a big one, with no obvious right or wrong answer, as it depends on your personal circumstances.

If you decide registration is correct for you and you haven’t yet formed a Limited Company, I would highly advise you take my advice of self-employed to 85k, and then forming a Limited Company to “reset” the VAT threshold.

If you do decide to register then one thing you need to do is…

Stay on Top of Invoice Collection

Whilst a lot of retailers will provide invoices for any orders stored in their records, some only provide invoices for recent orders and other unforeseen events may occur. It’s important to stay on top of invoice collection. A good example here is Mothercare, who went into administration and now you can’t get invoices from them.

I suggest you make sure you don’t have any outstanding invoices over 30 days old. Build a system for this and stick to it. You should work with your bookkeeper to build a system that works for both of you.

Claiming VAT – Suppliers

The Reverse Charge Mechanism

The European Reverse Charge Mechanism is something you need to be aware of. I won’t explain the details of it here, as there are guides that do this better than I can.

What I would like to note is that you should check invoices provided by businesses based in Europe to ensure they meet the correct specifications. Check this with your accountant if unsure.

A lot of the time you need to provide these businesses with your GB VAT number before making a purchase. If they already have a GB VAT number, then this won’t be an issue.

Businesses Outside of Europe

Whilst I don’t usually source products from outside of Europe, I do use some software providers. For example, you won’t be able to claim back any VAT on a Tactical Arbitrage subscription, as this company is based in Australia and there is no VAT element.

Effects on Sourcing

An issue I have encountered being VAT registered is identifying the VAT rates on products at the time of purchase. Once an invoice is supplied by the supplier, you can see what VAT rate they have charged and this is usually what you will charge on the product you sell.

The issue is you need to know what the VAT rate is at the time of purchasing, as this can be the difference between a good product and a bad product.

From the two VAT returns I have assisted in completing, I now have a good idea of the VAT rates on products. You can research the VAT rated for products (Google, HMRC website) and over time you will begin to learn what the VAT rate is. This is fine, but for those like me using VAs (Virtual Assistants) to source, it’s not necessarily feasible to teach them all the VAT rates on different products.

What I have done (and you may have a better system) is to get VAs to assume a VAT rate of 20% on all goods, unless they are in the grocery section, in which case they need to analyse at both 0% and 20%. This is because a lot of groceries are 0% rated. I have also built up a database of all 0% products purchased which helps with future replenishment.

The final tip on this point is to be careful with deal analysis tools, like BuyBotPro etc, which can be misleading. They assume the VAT rate based on the category and this is obviously not always correct. Make sure to check this when purchasing! I would recommend Seller Amp which lets you configure the VAT rates on items you analyse.

VAT Rates in Amazon

You need to set the VAT rates for the products you sell. This is done when you add your inventory to Amazon. If you do not do this, Amazon will assume the product sold has a VAT rate of 20%.

Checking VAT rate

If you are unsure on the VAT rate of an item, you can use an Amazon business buying account to check. Simply log in to your Amazon account and search for the product. Go onto the Amazon business account and search for items. See if prices are excl or incl of VAT.