How small businesses can be successful on Amazon
With 168 million monthly visitors, it’s no mystery why small businesses would want to sell their products on Amazon. It’s become the largest and most commonly utilized marketplace on the Internet, especially due to the ease that the company provides for other businesses to get involved.
If a small business is going to be successful among the intense competition, simply signing up, listing products, and hoping for the best won’t be enough. Here are some tips and tricks to help small businesses stand out when selling products on Amazon:
Make sure a merchant account is worth it
An Amazon Merchant Account costs $39.99 a month. There’s also a handful of other selling fees, but that subscription provides virtually unlimited sales. On the other hand, selling as an individual costs $0.99 per sale, plus any other selling fees a business might incur. If a small business plans on selling more than 40 items per month, that $39.99 “unlimited” price is going to be worth it. If it’s just getting started, or if it doesn’t plan on selling that many items, it may not be in its best interest to make that kind of commitment. If that’s the case, it’s best for a small business to start as individual seller, learn the ropes, and then upgrade when sales start to exceed the $39.99 threshold. However, if you’re like Crazy Dog T-shirts and sell pages and pages of products on Amazon, the merchant account is definitely the way to go.
Understand that price competition is fierce
Small businesses owners want to sell on Amazon because it’s such a popular platform, which is the idea that almost every other business owner in the world has. That means there’s going to be hundreds, if not thousands of competitors selling similar or identical products, some of which are capable of producing or distributing at much lower rates. This doesn’t mean that small businesses can’t be competitive, but they should be prepared for the likelihood that the planned price point will probably be undercut.
Find a way to make your products unique
Rather than trying to compete directly with competition by listing an identical product, small businesses can stand out on Amazon by listing items that are unique offerings. Amazon groups items by title, so if a competitor has the same item with a higher rank and a lower price point, products from smaller businesses are likely to be unseen in the results. On the other hand, if they list a product nobody else is selling, it’ll be the only item to pop up when users search for it. This is easier said than done since almost anything you can imagine is already on Amazon, but doing the research and finding a unique way to name or position products helps small businesses differentiate themselves from competition. Crazy Dog T-shirts sets itself apart from competitors by naming their products in a detailed manner that gives customers the entire picture of what they’re about to buy. For example, one of their products is titled ‘Womens Only Talking to My Dog Today Funny Shirts Dog Lovers Novelty Cool T Shirt’. Where else on Amazon are you going to find that?
Create synergy between your seller account and social profiles
Having a seller account by itself can be valuable, especially if there’s a big investment of time and effort into it, but there’s a lot of potential reach that comes with establishing synergy between an Amazon account and a company’s social media profiles. Social media gives a broadcast channel that can exponentially surpass the visibility limits of Amazon. If a small business gets buried in the mix or wants an extra boost for some of its products, promoting its Amazon presence on its social channels will be key for more visibility. This is only effective with an existing social following, but synergy works both ways. With an Instagram account that has 19,000 followers, Crazy Dog T-shirts definitely has reason to want their customers to visit their page. Small businesses should take every opportunity to lead Amazon customers and visitors back to their social pages with something like a thank-you email to purchasers including social information with the product.
Integrate Amazon into an e-commerce platform
If a small business is thinking about selling on Amazon, chances are it already has an e-commerce platform. Since Amazon offers an open API to sellers, it’s easy to integrate all listed Amazon products into an existing e-commerce platform. Users will be able to find, review, and even purchase Amazon products on a small business’ unique storefront, giving them an easier, more familiar experience without alienating them from the domain of the online brand. It might be worth designing and building an e-commerce platform if a business doesn’t already have one so there can be an off-Amazon location for potential customers to make purchases. This is especially effective if coupled with a content marketing strategy, which can help improve search visibility and attract organic traffic.
Make your customers feel special
This goes without saying for any seller, regardless of whether or not they’re on Amazon, but taking the time to give customers a great experience will go a long way in encouraging repeat traffic. Small businesses should include some sort of surprise or thank-you with products when they ship out, such as a discount for a future order or an extra small gift. Additionally, an audit of the customer service department can help ensure any inquiries are addressed promptly, personally, and appropriately. Doing this will help a small business get great reviews, which will attract more new buyers in addition to reinforcing the great experiences of existing buyers.
Optimize product postings
By now, most people are familiar with search engine optimization (SEO) as it relates to ranking in Google searches, but it’s also possible for small businesses to optimize their products and seller accounts to increase rank and visibility in Amazon searches. Amazon considers two factors when calculating rank for a given search phrase: performance and relevance. Performance factors relate to how well businesses have done in the past and the likeliness of their success with new purchases. Small businesses can improve their performance on Amazon by improving their history and making products more sellable to end users. Relevance factors have to do with how relevant a product is to a given query. Small businesses can make their product more relevant by having a full, descriptive product title (including both a brand name and an accurate product descriptor), a detailed product description field, and appropriately filled out “search terms.” Search terms on Amazon should include any individual words that could apply to the product, which aren’t necessarily grouped as they are for Google searches.
Selling on Amazon is like any other marketing strategy; it requires patience, commitment, and ongoing analysis and adjustments before results are seen. If a small business applies those strategies to its marketing campaign from the beginning, it’ll have a head start on the competition in terms of visibility and ultimately, sales.