Due to popular demand and an ever increasing audience of eCommerce entrepreneurs wanting to maximise their sales using multi-channel marketing I’m writing an epic guide on how to sell on Amazon. Having been selling on Amazon for more than 4 years, I know a thing or 2 about selling on Amazon.
I’ve focused primarily on building my eCommerce business and team around our own Private Label (custom designed) products then used the Amazon FBA Programme to test and launch products. However, I’ve worked with eCommerce entrepreneurs and gained first hand experience working with them on launches and product optimisation when selling wholesale on Amazon, Selling to Amazon using the vendor program, Kindle Direct Publishing, Amazon Merch and more.
I’ll be talking through some of the hot topics when selling on Amazon UK, Amazon USA, across Amazon Europe and even out into Amazon Australia and beyond.
With so many considerations there’s no way this guide on how to sell on Amazon could be anything other than epic – and no doubt will be a work in progress for some time into 2021.
Keep yourself posted by signing up to the newsletter in the footer!
Finding a Product to sell on Amazon – if you don’t already have a product
I’m going to assume you’ve had your fill of Amazon product research tools, product selection criteria for FBA and the rest of it.
I’ll drop in some key resources in here for you to take a look and I’ll also provide some input on my opinions about what makes a good “product selection” (hint, it’s more about the brand and addressable market than it is about BSR!)
How can I sell my products on amazon – if you DO already have a product?
Believe it or not the mass majority of people getting into Amazon FBA are coming up with new products to launch on the Amazon marketplace. Starting literally from scratch.
If you already have a product that you sell elsewhere – at a farmers market, on Etsy, in a retail setting then you’ve potentially got a few less hurdles to jump through.
That being said – don’t assume just because the product is already “on the market” that you don’t have to worry about product compliance, regulations and insurance. You’re graduating to the bigger leagues by jumping on Amazon and selling on Amazon FBA – so your mindset needs to shift.
Amazon FBA Startup Costs and Things you should do
This section is likely to be broken down into sub-sections and expanded upon as there are a bunch of things to do when starting an eCommerce business – regardless of whether your starting out on Amazon.
Selling on Amazon carries many of the same requirements as selling on your own eCommerce store – and in some cases more, some cases less.
Let’s get to it…
Product Liability Insurance for Amazon FBA / Insurance
You’ll read some misinformation out there about having to trade over a certain revenue per month before Amazon requires you to have Product Liability insurance. It’s BULLSHIT.
You shouldn’t give a crap what Amazon wants.
You should be thinking about your own business and personal livelihood.
For those of you thinking “I’ll get cover when I get big enough” – that’s fine. But insurance isn’t one of these things where you can plaster the cracks retrospectively. You’ll have to do some serious convincing to get an insurer to cover you for sales already made prior to asking them for cover – and probably pay through the nose for it. Meaning you’re left with product liability in the market in perpetuity if you don’t put your big boy pants on and actually be a responsible, grown up business person.
If you’re in the USA – you of course have options. I’ve cut to the case and eliminated the need for you to do any further research.
Speak to Ashlin Hadden at ecom.insure
If you’re in the UK speak to the ladies and gents at Crendon
Product liability insurance is a must – and if you’re of the mindset that you’d rather risk your entire personal wealth furthermore on a product that you’re going to throw into the market to “see how things go” – that’s fine, but this website isn’t for you. This advice is for grown up eCommerce entrepreneurs who understand their place in the world and want to protect themselves from ruin.
Proposition 65 / Product Regulations
Saying “other sellers aren’t doing that” is not an excuse when it comes to product regulations.
I myself have been the victim of a Proposition 65 Extortion attack by a lawyer in California. I managed to stem the costs at 4 figures, but we were looking at 5 figures in costs – maybe even 6 figures – all because of a “labelling law”.
Proposition 65 is complete horseshit when it comes to selling on Amazon.
Legally as a business with less than 10 employees I didn’t have to abide. That’s fine, but there’s still question over whether Amazon is the marketplace or the retailer (needs to go to higher levels of court to be fully defined) so the lawyer could have taken Amazon to court instead of me. Amazon would have settled (because that’s cheaper) and due to the terms I signed up to in the Selling Agreement, I would then have to compensate Amazon for their legal costs – no-one having actually done anything wrong…
Yes it’s bullshit – and maybe the optics of Amazon coming after sellers like this would be something they’d want to avoid. But as Prop 65 notices are on the rise, I expect the above to come to fruition in the near term.
You need to get your products Pthalates tested. SGS and the other product quality test houses all know what a “Proposition 65 Pthalates test” is – so if you just ask for that to find out if your products have any of the substances on the Prop 65 list then you’ll have an answer.
To be clear – coffee grounds and leather dust are on the Prop 65 list, along with a compound commonly found in poly-bags (which EVERYONE uses to put their products inside) so it’s highly likely you might have trace amounts that mean it would be worthwhile you declaring that you have that substance in your product on your Amazon listing.
To be clear, all this means is that a small notice appears on your Amazon listing (only for Californian shoppers) it’s barely noticeable and hasn’t had any impact on conversion rate for us.
I rest a lot easier now knowing that the Prop 65 bottom feeder lawyers who are just looking for settlements are likely to pass by my listing because the Prop 65 warning is on the listing (although really small).
This one costs very little to defend yourself against complete bottom of the barrel lawyers who have no interest in improving the state of eCommerce, only extorting small businesses out of their hard earned cash. Don’t be extorted!
Barcodes or UPC Codes for Amazon FBA
Ok so GS1 membership is what you need here.
It feels like a steep startup cost – somewhere in the region of $30 for a single code, to $250 for 10 codes that include a brand prefix and come with a yearly membership fee – a small price to pay for a fully legitimate UPC.
Let’s get real here. You’re starting a legitimate eCommerce business – so “planting a landmine in the garden” is not a good idea.
That’s what using “recycled UPC Codes” is like – you’re waiting for that day that the UPC code blows up in your face and you lose your hard earned reviews, rank, livelihood.
It’s against terms to use recycled UPCs – not because Amazon say that specifically, but because those UPCs are ACTUALLY registered against other products / other brands.
If the UPC has been un-used and remains unused, you may get lucky.
However, if the UPC was previously attached to a product this is where problems occur.
In fact a close friend had a product taken down (his top seller) from Amazon because of a product safety compliance issue.
He assumed it was something to do with HIS product (wrongly) it was actually the product that was previously registered on the UPC code – it had been recalled!
Then there was the hassle of explaining to Amazon that the UPC had been recycled (putting the account at risk) to then get them to “exempt the product from needing a GTIN (UPC Code)” – it’s a mess and lots of stress – especially when you’re so reliant on sales to keep your rank.
Having products taken down doesn’t just result in lost sales for the time the product is taken down, but all of the lost sales as a result of losing your keyword rank to your competitors.
I have close friends who’ve had 5 figure per month products taken down for stupid reasons, they’ve got them back up – but they’ve never EVER ranked like they used to – losing tonnes of sales AND profitability in the process.
Don’t build your house upon the sand!
Trademarks, Brand Registry and Protecting your listing from hijacking & random editing on Amazon
This is probably only something you’ll appreciate once you’ve been selling on Amazon.
Other sellers will jump on your listing saying they’re selling your product. You’ll say “that’s weird, how have they got my product?!”
There are a number of things that could be going on here. In many cases they’re selling something “like” your product and they’ve just jumped on your listing (brand registry won’t prevent this from happening, it will just give you an enhanced path to resolving the issue)
Random editing of “your” listing is completely above board if the brand of the listing ISN’T brand registered with Amazon Brand Registry.
i.e. you can get what they call “Amazon Retail Contributions”
Meaning your black hat competition can go in and change your title, bullets, keywords, images, change the product to adult so you can’t run PPC etc. etc.
Not to mention Amazon will completely SHIT all over your listing now and then destroying the title and more. It’s a shit show.
So you need to register your brand with Amazon.
To register your “brand” with Amazon you need to qualify as a “Brand” in Amazon’s eyes.
Key components (but not an exhaustive list):
- Website with your products listed, descriptions and images present
- Trademark (can be US, UK, Canadian etc. you just need a trademark)
You’ll then need to setup a brand registry account for EACH Amazon marketplace you sell in (and I’d advise you setup brand registry accounts for even the Amazon Marketplaces you DON’T sell in – as people will list your products for sale in other marketplaces, adding 10’s of dollars to the price – destroying brand reputation and more.