Everyone’s least favorite holiday is here yet again.
“Nothing is certain but death and taxes.”
While it’s certain that you must pay taxes, there’s plenty of uncertainty about filing them.
With the weather warming and a return to normalcy appearing closer every day, you might look forward to filing your taxes as much as your next dentist’s appointment.
But, paying your taxes on time can save you from the plethora of problems that come with the alternative.
Below, we’ll answer some of the basics to help you through Tax Day 2021.
When is Tax Day 2021?
In 2021, Tax Day is Monday, May 17th.
Typically held every year on April 15th, it was delayed to May 17th due to the backlog of millions of unprocessed tax returns. Last year, it was delayed until July 15th as a result of COVID-19 pandemic complications.
What is Tax Day?
In the United States, Tax Day is the last day in which income tax returns can be submitted to the federal government before a late penalty is applied. If you do not pay taxes on time, a late penalty of 5% to 25% of your total taxes owed is applied each month your taxes are late.
Those who do not file or pay their taxes open themselves up for the government to garnish wages, loss of privileges, visits from the IRS, or potentially prosecution.
With severe risks and pesky penalties, the best thing advice we can offer is to pay your taxes and pay them on time.
As an Amazon seller, what do I need to file taxes?
You’ll need your 1099-K form and likely, an accountant or tax expert.
A 1099-K form is used to report payments received through reportable payment card transactions and/or settlement of third-party payment network transactions. If you’re an Amazon seller who totaled at least $20,000 in total sales and 200 individual transactions through Amazon. Both of those thresholds must be met to receive a 1099-K.
Sellers can find their 1099-K by visiting the Tax Document Library within the Reports section within Seller Central.
Wait, why do I need an accountant?
The fee for an accountant or tax expert can be a dissuading point that encourages you to file your own taxes. However, the fee oftentimes pays for itself and saves you the time and stress of filing taxes near the deadline.
Additionally, there may be new options to claim items not covered in typical years. With more employees working from home, plenty of work from home deductibles exist that you may not be aware of. By delegating taxes to an expert, you can trust that you won’t leave money on the table or make potentially costful mistakes if audited.
Overall, the act of filing taxes and paying money isn’t anyone’s idea of fun. But they help pay for the many programs that exist in our society.
Best of luck filing your taxes! After this, you won’t have to worry about it for nearly another year.
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As Millennials and Gen Z become a larger share of consumers, businesses can make a lot of green by going green.
Globally, and in the United States, consumer demand for environmentally-conscious products is growing.
For decades, social responsibility has gained steam as an important factor among employees and consumers. The next evolution of social responsibility, environmental responsibility, is getting closer to reaching its tipping point as the Millennial and Gen X groups continue to make up a larger segmentation of consumers.
In certain industries, going green has been more noticeable than others.
The beauty industry has exploded in recent years, with brands prioritizing sustainability and without animal testing leading the way. Nike and Adidas have both moved towards emitting fewer carbon emissions and created clothing and footwear from recycled materials.
Perhaps more than anyone, the outdoor sports brand Patagonia has led the charge among major brands shifting towards going green. Most famously, its 2011 Black Friday ad in the New York Times urged customers not to buy its signature jacket, highlighting how much waste was created to make and distribute it to retailers. Additionally, they’ve pledged 1% of all sales go to the preservation and restoration of the natural environment.
While it makes perfect sense that an outdoor brand such as Patagonia would take such a bold stance on the environment, making a committment to sustainability could go a long way for companies in any industry.
“Sustainability is based on a simple principle: Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. To pursue sustainability is to create and maintain the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony to support present and future generations.”
In the study, experts note that the idea of environmentally responsible shoppers has shifted from a forecast to fruition.
“As consumers increasingly embrace social causes, they seek products and brands that align with their values. Nearly six in 10 consumers surveyed are willing to change their shopping habits to reduce environmental impact. Nearly eight in 10 respondents indicate sustainability is important for them. And for those who say it is very/extremely important, over 70 percent would pay a premium of 35 percent, on average, for brands that are sustainable and environmentally responsible.”
A 2020 IBM and NRF Study
Elsewhere in the same study, it’s noted that 81% of shoppers worldwide are considered to be either value-driven (41%) or purpose-driven (40%). While the value-driven shopper has cost and convenience in mind, the purpose-driven shopper prioritizes brand trust, the importance of sustainability and expresses a willingness to change habits to reduce environmental impact.
Ways To Make Your Business More Sustainable
Kudos to sellers who have already taken steps to run a greener business. For many sellers, the idea of changing their business can be quite intimidating, but there are a few basic ways that you could implement environmentally sound practices into your business.
Source a sustainable product If you’re sourcing a product, whether it’s your first or most recent, consider prioritizing sustainability in your product research. Based on the customer data in the IBM and RTF study, sustainable products have an organic (pun-intended) advantage, as most customers prefer a more sustainable product and some would even spend more for sustainability.
Reconsider your packaging We’ve all ordered a product that has a ridiculous amount of unnecessary packaging. While the effort for safely delivering a product is appreciated, consider if you could scale down your packaging to create less waste. Additionally, sustainable packaging materials exist, and instructions for recycling any relevant materials would likely be appreciated by your customers.
Get certified Across industries, there are certifications business owners can earn by a commitment to environmental responsibility. Not only does this exemplify your ecological awareness, but it also can be wonderful for marketing materials.
One of the most popular is a Certified B Corporation stamp of approval. Ben & Jerry’s, Allbirds, and Tillamook are just a few of the thousands of companies from around the world with B Corp certifications. Some customers even begin their product search on sites that aggregate sustainable brands. If this practice becomes more popular, there could be a tremendous advantage to being in these marketplaces sooner rather than later.
Let’s Make Our World A Better Place
While it’s easy to look elsewhere, even the smallest changes incrementally have a positive impact. No matter how small, each step in the right direction leads by example and gives us a reason to feel good about ourselves!
We all share one home. Let’s all do our part to take care of it!
As the largest and latest round of stimulus checks make their way into bank accounts across the USA, we take a look into how you can use it as an investment into your business.
According to the IRS, about 90 million Americans were sent their $1,400 stimulus checks on Wednesday alone, with more to be sent in the coming weeks.
The newfound financial flexibility creates opportunities previously not afforded for those fortunate enough to receive the $1,400 as “extra” money. One popular way to view the stimulus check is as an avenue into investing, but investing isn’t limited to stocks.
Instead of investing in another company, why not invest in your own?
Whether you’re a longtime seller, beginner, or considering leaping into FBA, there are plenty of ways to rejuvenate or jumpstart your Amazon business with $1,400. By investing in your e-commerce business, you could easily turn your stimulus check into a long-term money-making machine.
We should mention this isn’t necessarily a guide. Every seller’s journey is different. The options we’ll highlight below are merely a few options you may want to consider. With prudent planning, these options present a promising opportunity for you to get a great return on investment from your stimulus check.
Without further ado, let’s dive into it!
Elevate Your Product Research Game
When it comes to selling on Amazon (and in most aspects of life), having the luxury of reliable data to base your decisions on is a tremendous luxury. For Amazon sellers, this is made possible through product research.
Whether you’ve yet to begin your FBA journey or have a catalog full of successful products, product research is crucial for sustained profitability. When you have access to comprehensive market data, it’s almost like having the answers to a test.
While reliable Amazon sales data is crucial at all stages, it’s especially vital for beginners. The research that goes into deciding upon your first product serves as a foundational aspect of your Amazon career. Choosing to source and sell a product without conducting intensive research with data you can trust is a surefire way to make your first product your last product.
So if you’re beginning to look into FBA, test out a few software providers. Most software providers will offer a free trial, giving you time to see if they’re right for you.
Feel free to test trials from different software providers simultaneously to compare and contrast the data. If you notice any inconsistencies, don’t be shy. Ask their customer service team how they arrive at their numbers. With such an important decision that can pay off handsomely, don’t leave any stones unturned.
Aspiring Amazon entrepreneurs aren’t the only ones who can take their product research game up a notch. Often, Amazon sellers don’t utilize all tools within their toolset.
Whether there are underutilized tools in your current software plan or an opportunity to upgrade your plan for additional access, there’s no better time than now to explore unfamiliar tools. Amazon is constantly evolving, so sellers must evolve with it.
Boost Your Business with Captivating Creatives
It’s springtime! You know what that means. Spring cleaning!
For Amazon sellers, the seasonal cleaning isn’t limited to dusting ceiling fans, clearing out the refrigerator, and giving your home a good deep cleaning. It may be worth considering if your listing creatives are due for an upgrade.
Do your listing’s copy and product photography abide by Amazon requirements and follow the style guidelines? Is your competition doing something with their photos that seems to be working? Are you maximizing your visibility by having a keyword-optimized product listing, or are you missing out on indexation for keywords customers are using to products like yours?
These are just a few of the questions you should ask yourself when considering updating your creatives.
Even if your product photography is in tip-top shape, additional photos can still provide plenty of benefits for your business. For example, possessing extra product images opens the door for creative advertising.
One way you can spruce up your advertising with enhanced photos is Amazon Posts, a relatively new option to increase brand visibility. Amazon Posts is a social media-like platform within Amazon that allows brand registered sellers to flex their advertising muscle. Appearing on product detail pages selected by Amazon, brands get the ever-important chance to poach customers from competing listings.
The best thing about Amazon Posts? It’s totally free. Well, submitting your Posts is free, anyway. You’ll still want professional photos capable of enticing customers to earn a click. Since Amazon Posts is somewhat new, it’s flying under the radar of many sellers, but can be an incredibly efficient weapon for stealing customers from the competition.
Additionally, having extra photos come in handy if you sell outside of Amazon or may consider selling elsewhere at a later time.
Lastly, having extra photos at your disposal provides an even better opportunity to experiment for peak optimization. Once you’ve got premium product photography, don’t forget to split test! With a plethora of split testing sites to choose from, it’s an easy step to maximize your conversions and profitability!
Flex Your Marketing Muscle with PPC
Another great way to invest your stimulus money into your business is by using it to take the next step with Amazon PPC (pay-per-click) advertising.
Although Amazon debuted PPC advertising in 2012, it has grown considerably over the last 2-3 years and shows no sign of slowing down. With Amazon expected to net nearly $13 billion in advertising in the United States marketplace alone, the company has every reason to continue pushing and developing PPC.
Whether this means finally taking that PPC course, creating your first campaign, or trying out an unexplored ad type, doing it with a bonus $1,400 makes it a prime opportunity to experiment with PPC.
For sellers currently selling, it especially makes sense to test out new campaigns now as plenty of customers are flush with their stimulus money and tax season right around the corner.
After all, you’re not the only one receiving the stimulus. More customers shopping with more money is a recipe for more customer searches. As your product appears more frequently through search and on competitor listings, the sample size for your campaigns grows larger and, thus, more reliable.
Fortunately, the options are flexible for you regarding your PPC campaigns. Set your budgets as low or as high as you feel comfortable with, and barring disaster, let them run until the reporting data begins to stabilize. Once they’ve matured, you’ll have real data on your performance that you can use to optimize to your advantage.
Scale Your Store by Expanding Your Brand
Suppose you feel like you’ve squeezed nearly all the juice you can out of a product. First off, congratulations! It’s every Amazon sellers’ goal to reach and maintain peak performance, but what do you do once you’ve achieved it? For many, it can be a never-ending pursuit of perfection.
However, it may be more beneficial to scale your brand by finding your next home run. Think of your stimulus check as $1,400 off the development of your next product, and this becomes especially beneficial.
Of course, this entirely depends on your goals, resources, and risk appetite. Ideally, the learning curve for launching a new product shortens with each new product. If you’ve built a strong brand on Amazon, the likelihood of your next product being a success increases exponentially.
Instead of squeezing every penny possible out of your current storefront, dig into your sales reporting numbers and do your best to determine the best course of action for your business.
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to supercharge your Amazon business! Whether jumpstarting your entrepreneurial career or looking to take your existing e-commerce operation up a notch, investing in your business with your stimulus money could provide an excellent, long-lasting return on investment.
No matter what you decide to do with your stimulus money, enjoy it! Without a doubt, extra cash in your pocket is nice. But creating long-lasting, sustainable sources of income is even better.
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Held annually in the United States on November 11 to commemorate the armistice that ended World War I, Veterans Day is observed in appreciation of those who have honorably served.
Today, we at Viral Launch would like to take a second out of our day to celebrate Veterans Day 2020.
We are deeply grateful to those who have served in the United States Armed Forces for their sacrifice to help protect us and our freedoms.
According to the most recent census, there are 17.4 million veterans living in the United States. With so many veterans, it’s likely you know somebody who has served. If you have a family member, friend, or anyone in your life who has served our country, we strongly encourage you to celebrate by reaching out to them.
As it is with most heavy topics, talking to them about their experience can seem daunting. But a simple “thank you” or “thank you for your service” can go a long way. It’s the absolute least we can do, as they’ve risked their lives and spent precious time serving their country.
Without their bravery and dedication to country, we understand that the lives we live wouldn’t be possible.
Thank you to those who have served in our Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, and Coast Guard for all that you’ve done.
Being an Amazon seller has always come with its hurdles, but as the world grapples with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, sellers face a new kind of challenge. This guide will walk through what changes have arisen, how all of this affects you as a seller, and what you can do about it.
The Coronavirus has caused lawmakers at state and local levels to encourage and enforce that citizens stay inside their homes for anything other than essential activities. As the world works from home out of necessity, the eRetailer is the go-to source for delivered goods (the eCommerce giant already owned 52% of all online sales in 2019). Household staples and medical supplies are running low, and Amazon is racing to keep their digital shelves stocked to meet surging demand. “Getting a priority item to your doorstep is vital as communities practice social-distancing, particularly for the elderly and others with underlying health issues,” said an Amazon representative in an Operations blog post.
Amazon has recently made a few drastic changes that impact millions of third-party private label brands. While it’s something to definitely understand, don’t lose hope. There are still options, and you can get through this. You are an entrepreneur, after all. And we are relentless.
Changes that Amazon has made amid COVID-19
With its origins in China, Coronavirus has been on Amazon’s radar since mid-January 2020. The company announced changes to its fulfillment network and workforce in mid-March to address growing concern and meet surging demand.
1. Sellers cannot initiate a new FBA shipment for non-essential products
Amazon sent the following notification to all active sellers:
Temporarily prioritizing products coming into our fulfillment centers We are closely monitoring the developments of COVID-19 and its impact on our customers, selling partners, and employees. We are seeing increased online shopping, and as a result some products such as household staples and medical supplies are out of stock. With this in mind, we are temporarily prioritizing household staples, medical supplies, and other high-demand products coming into our fulfillment centers so that we can more quickly receive, restock, and deliver these products to customers. For products other than these, we have temporarily disabled shipment creation. We are taking a similar approach with retail vendors. This will be in effect today through April 5, 2020, and we will let you know once we resume regular operations. Shipments created before today will be received at fulfillment centers. You can learn more about this on this Help page. Please note that Selling Partner Support does not have further guidance. We understand this is a change to your business, and we did not take this decision lightly. We are working around the clock to increase capacity and yesterday announced that we are opening 100,000 new full- and part-time positions in our fulfillment centers across the US. We appreciate your understanding as we prioritize the above products for our customers. Thank you for your patience, and for participating in FBA.
For third party sellers, this means that you cannot create shipments to be received at an Amazon fulfillment center in Seller Central until at least April 6th. Only essential items will be accepted as inbound shipments. Essential items are listed within the following categories (but not all items are considered essential):
Beauty & Personal Care
Health & Household
Industrial & Scientific
If your inbound shipment was created before March 17, Amazon will check it in. For existing non-essential inventory in Amazon’s warehouses, you can still expect Amazon to pick, pack, and ship your products, but the process will likely be delayed as essential items are prioritized and shipping carriers race to keep up with increased demand.
If you do sell essential items, beware that Amazon has a zero tolerance policy for price gouging. The marketplace has removed thousands of listings and even threatened legal action against sellers seeking to profit from a global pandemic.
2. Amazon is strengthening its workforce to meet demand
With the surge in online shopping, Amazon is experiencing unprecedented labor needs. Because of this, the company is opening 100,000 new full-time and part-time positions in their fulfillment centers and delivery network across the U.S. Amazon extended an employment invitation to those who have been economically impacted in industries like hospitality, restaurants, and travel.
Amazon will also pay their employees an additional $2 per hour worked from their current rate of $15/hour or more, depending on the region, at least through the end of April. The company seeks to keep health and safety a top priority. “We continue to consult with medical and health experts, and take all recommended precautions in our buildings and stores to keep people healthy. We’ve taken measures to promote social distancing in the workplace and taken on enhanced and frequent cleaning, to name just a few,” said an Amazon representative.
How Coronavirus is Affecting Amazon Sellers
Amazon sellers have mixed feelings about the recent changes. Some are angry with the eCommerce giant, convinced that the moves will put them out of business. Others respect the decision and see all of this as an opportunity to pivot and grow. And most are somewhere in between, hoping for the best and making operational changes with each announcement.
Here are a few of the varied Amazon seller comments posted in response to Amazon’s inbound shipment freeze:
Amazon just put tons of businesses out of business. Destroyed thousands of jobs amidst a crisis. Horrible joke. Absolute joke. No warning. Expect major lawsuits coming from sellers who now will go bankrupt.
This virus is not a joke, and I am sure Amazon didn’t take the decision to suspend FBA shipments, just because they felt like it. Have you considered the fact that the Amazon employees are affected also? Some of them might even be sick, quarantined, have kids at home because of closed schools? It is not about you, it is not time to be selfish. This is a matter of life and death for many people around the globe.
It is not doable. Most of us do not have the infrastructure in place. We do not have the boxes or packing material to do this. Amazon should have had the basic integrity to give us a few days notice so that items that were low or out of stock could be sent.
Overall, it seems that Amazon sellers are unsure of how the future will play out. With online sales rising but no opportunity for non-essential products to reach their normal fulfillment avenues, there will definitely need to be pivots made in the short-term for sales to continue.
Many sellers are calling on Amazon to pause inventory loan payments and selling plan fees for those who are ineligible to fulfill through FBA. But because Amazon’s focus is always on the customer, it’s unlikely (though not impossible) that this will be prioritized.
Because there seems to be new developments every few days, it’s important that Amazon sellers keep an eye on the news and Amazon announcements in the coming weeks. Just as we are all making decisions based on the information we have, Amazon’s executive team is pivoting as needed.
For now, here are a few action steps you can take to sustain your business and prepare for the future.
1. See if your products are still eligible for FBA shipments
Many products in the following categories are still eligible to be sent into Amazon’s fulfillment centers: Baby, Beauty & Personal Care, Grocery, Health & Household, Industrial & Scientific, Pet Supplies. If you sell within these categories, head to your Shipping Queue within Seller Central and attempt to create an inbound shipment. This way you’ll know what products you need to enact (or create) a Plan B for. Please note that many sellers are experiencing hang times when creating shipping plans because of the increased number of people trying to do this in a short period of time.
2. Outline your path(s) forward
Whether it’s pivoting your sales strategy for your existing business, planning for your future product, or even exploring options like dropshipping, you need to understand your options so that you can make an informed decision on how to move forward. It’s okay to wait and see how things unfold in the next week or so, but outline your possible paths forward so that when it comes time to make a decision, you’re ready to act. Big changes like this affect everybody, and someone is going to come out on top. But it’s going to take a dedication to the process and pushing through obstacles for you to be that one.
3. Pivot your fulfillment method
For those of you with non-essential FBA products, you’ve got three options when it comes to fulfillment: find a Prime-eligible third-party fulfillment partner, switch to Fulfilled by Merchant, or pause operations until Amazon opens their fulfillment centers to your products. Again, do your research now so that you can make the best decision for your business. You may find that a third party fulfillment partner is just as cost effective as FBA was, or you may discover that it’s best for you and your family to wait out the storm.
4. Prepare your next product
Although Amazon is only allowing certain products right now and there have been disruptions in the supply chain, this won’t last forever. Now, especially if you have some extra time on your hands, is the perfect time to use historical data to research which product you might bring to market. If you’re an existing seller, keep an eye on how your competition is handling the situation using Competitor Intelligence. And if you’re a new seller, begin the process of sourcing your very first product. The first step of the Amazon seller journey is finding a product that sets you up for success. Product Discovery makes that process incredibly easy, and it can be completed during this time. That way, your product is ready to stock when the shelves are ready.
We’re in This One Together
The fact that this blog post exists means you are not in this alone. There are a lot of uncertainties right now, but there are also new opportunities to take advantage of. Maybe the excuse used to be, “I don’t have time to work on my business.” Many of us now have time, but the circumstances have shifted. If there were ever a time to buckle down and figure it out, it’s right now.
Find out how your products have been affected. See how sales are trending in your market. Map out your options. Dig in and figure it out because that spirit is exactly what got you into this business in the first place. We’ll be here for you along the way updating you of the news. If you want to see how other Amazon sellers are handling the situation, get advice, and stay up to date on the most recent changes, join our community on Facebook: Amazon FBA Data Hunters. We’ll see you in there.
As a new seller on Amazon, you’re probably eager to break into the marketplace and start moving products. But there’s one major challenge that stands in your way: competition. The Amazon marketplace is giant, and it’s only getting bigger. As of the first quarter of 2020, third-party sellers make up 52% of paid units sold on Amazon, and that number will keep going up.
Just because the market is crowded, however, doesn’t mean new sellers can’t find an in. They just have to learn to use the competition to their advantage — with Amazon competitor research tools. A competitor analysis of Amazon is the best way for new sellers to maximize the effectiveness of their listings and get ahead of the competition.
Don’t get stuck in a spot where you create a product listing and don’t know what to do next. Learn to be savvy about the competition with a high-quality Amazon seller competitor analysis, and carve out a spot for yourself in the marketplace.
Enter the Solution: Competitor Intelligence
Our Amazon competitor research tool, Competitor Intelligence, gives you the best shot at cutting through that market chaos and finding success among fierce competition. Essentially, Competitor Intelligence allows you to compare your listings to competitors’ listings by giving you an actionable Amazon seller competitor analysis to inform your strategy.
Get the Fullest Picture With Product Analysis
You can review how your product listing compares to competitor listings in the Product Analysis tab in Competitor Intelligence. You can contrast various information such as price, review quantity, review rating, listing copy, and images. This tool allows you to quickly see which keywords your competitors are ranking highly for — even if you’re not tracking those keywords. This makes it simple for you to see where you have potential to create selling points against them.
For instance, can you offer a lower price, even if it’s only temporary? Can you upload objectively better product photos? Is the quality of your product better? Product Analysis helps you isolate tangible advantages that you can highlight to drive sales.
Keep Track of Competitors’ Keyword Rankings
Then, you can do deeper competitor research to dissect competitors’ strategies using the Competitor Keywords tab. Competitor Intelligence allows you to find competitors’ most important keywords in under a minute. It shows you every keyword a competing product currently ranks for. Unlike other keyword research tools, it shows you what a competitor has ranked for historically. This gives you a more comprehensive view of a competitor’s overall advertising strategy.
Now, as a new seller, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to jump in right away and dominate those primary keyword areas, but you can use comprehensive competitor keyword data from Competitor Intelligence to find out which keywords competitors aren’t targeting.
These lower-volume keywords may not necessarily have the same sales potential as the ones your competitors are targeting, but they can still drive some conversions for you at a lower advertising cost and with fewer competitors. As you gain visibility and drive sales through these keywords, you’ll begin to generate reviews and raise your organic search rankings.
Over time, you’ll build up your sales history and accumulate enough reviews to begin tackling some larger keyword areas and competing with the big guys.
Tracking Competitors in Real Time
Competitor Intelligence is also the only Amazon competitor research tool that updates you daily, or even hourly, on changes in important competitor data.
Product notifications alert you when a top competitor raises its prices, for instance, so you can take advantage of that as soon as possible. Keyword notifications also alert you when a competitor’s keyword rankings change, allowing you to stay up to date at all times without having to manually check the competitor’s rankings throughout the day. Competitor Intelligence is the only tool out there that will give you this real-time view of the landscape, and with it, you’ll be able to react quickly and effectively to optimize your products.
Valuable competitor analysis on Amazon will give you insights into both how your products compare to other listings and how your competitors interact with the market. Competitor Intelligence offers this through unmatched product analysis and competitor keyword research.
It may be unrealistic to expect to jump right in and sell alongside your top competitors, but the right data can reveal the best opportunities. Once you’re in, Competitor Intelligence will inform your strategy as you build your products up to the top of the increasingly crowded Amazon marketplace. And the earlier you start, the better.
Jeff Bezos is obsessed with providing the best customer experience possible. In fact, he was recently quoted saying, “We’ve had three big ideas at Amazon that we’ve stuck with for 18 years, and they’re the reason we’re successful: Put the customer first. Invent. And be patient.”
As a shopper on Amazon, this means an overall better experience. We can all appreciate a seamless shopping experience and super-speedy shipping. But as an Amazon seller, every update to the algorithm, every policy change, and every feature roll-out can directly impact your bottom line. In order to adapt, maintain sales, and grow your business, you should always understand how recent changes are affecting you.
Here at Viral Launch, we live and breathe Amazon. And right when they make a change, we set out to help you understand what it means for you. In today’s news roundup, we’ll go through 4 updates you should know about. And if you want to keep an even closer eye on changes,follow along on social media where we share the latest news and success tactics in real-time.
1. Product Inserts Policy Mixup
The news: Many sellers were shocked and frustrated after receiving an email on 10/31 reminding sellers that product inserts may not ask for a review of any kind. This email contradicted the official policy on their site that only prohibits product inserts that ask for a positive review. Amazon quickly corrected the error with a follow-up message reading: We want to remind you that Amazon policies prohibit box inserts and product packaging that direct consumers to write a positive review, even if no incentive is offered for a review.
What it means for you: Because Amazon corrected the error, there is no change in policy here. However, it’s a good opportunity to ensure you’re in line with Amazon’s terms when it comes to product inserts and reviews. Your product inserts cannot ask customers to take an action based on a positive or negative experience, which means you can’t ask them to contact you instead of leaving a negative review. And remember, you cannot review your own product, incentivize reviews in any way, or use third party services that offer free or discounted products tied to a review. If you have any products already in fulfillment centers and are in violation of the policies, you’ll want to create a removal order to proactively remove your inventory and avoid any trouble.
2. Communication Guidelines Simplified
The news: Effective on December 3rd, Amazon has updated its Customer Communication Guidelines. The company says they’re not changing the policies but are refreshing the language to make it clearer after hearing complaints from many sellers. In summary, the guidelines state that you may contact a buyer who has purchased from you on Amazon only to complete an order or to respond to a customer service inquiry. You may not contact buyers in any way for marketing or promotional purposes, including via email, physical mail, telephone, or otherwise. Read the full policy.
What this means for you: This is another scenario where Amazon is making it crystal clear that it is not allowed to contact buyers for anything other than support. While no drastic action is needed, you’ll want to review the policy to make sure you’re not in violation. Historically, Amazon has made small changes that lead to suspension sweeps, so if you’re currently promoting your brand to past Amazon customers, take this as an opportunity to make changes that align with TOS.
3. Request a Review Button
The news: In Seller Central, you may have noticed a new button on the “Order Details” page labeled “Request a Review.” When you click it, you’ll see the following message:
And after clicking Yes, you’ll see a popup that says, “A review will be requested for this order. (Note: We will suppress this request if a review has already been requested for this order).” For now, it seems Amazon is testing this button on the Amazon US marketplace, and it’s only available once per sale.
What this means for you: Amazon has also recently removed sections of a customer’s contact information, such as last name and shipping address. The “Request a Review” button falls in this same effort to keep buyer-seller messaging in-house. It’s definitely worth requesting reviews from your buyers to see if you’re able to generate reviews quickly. With the ask coming from Amazon, customers may be more inclined to act. However, as more and more sellers become aware and abuse this button, it could mean that Amazon pivots again or simply that the button will lose effectiveness. Either way, we’ll keep a close eye on how the market is responding and will update via our social media channels.
4. “Posts” in Beta
The news: Under the Amazon Advertising umbrella, Posts let Amazon sellers use curated photos to inspire shoppers to engage with their brands and products on Amazon. Focused on a brand-shopping experience, Posts help shoppers discover new products and see what’s new from brands by browsing feeds of brand-curated content. They’re currently US only, free to participate in, and include engagement metrics, including views, clicks, and clickthrough rates. Learn more.
What this means for you: Amazon understands the power of social selling and branding. They’re putting resources behind it, so as a seller on their platform you should too. You’re probably no stranger to the value of growing a following early on a social media platform. Of course, Posts may not explode the way Instagram did or TikTok is (in fact, they just shut down Spark, a discovery shopping feature launched in 2017). But, if you’re running social media for your brand anyways, it may be worth testing whether or not Posts will pay off for your brand. They show up on your own detail pages, detail pages for related brands, feeds for related posts, and category-based feeds… all of which are prime real estate.
Make Small Changes for Big Results
By being the first to know about Amazon updates, you can stay ahead of other Amazon sellers and ensure your products are positioned for success. But you’ll also want to make sure you’ve got all your bases covered when it comes to the basics. For example, are your Amazon advertising campaigns adding to your bottom line, or are you confused about how to make them work? We understand how important it is to get the basics right, so we recently launched two free Amazon courses. Yep, they’re free!
Imagine signing into a single platform that fully equips you to build a successful e-commerce brand through innovative solutions and data-driven automation. This is our mission here at Viral Launch, and we work tirelessly towards making this a reality for you.
Some people may call our team “obsessive.” But hey, we’ll take it as a compliment. We’re obsessive about data. Obsessive about innovating. Obsessive about driving real results for your brand. And because we are so invested in truly driving success for our customers, we want our tools to be as effective and user-friendly as possible. To achieve this, we release product improvements and bug fixes every single day.
Most recently, we made a few game-changing updates to our newest tool, Competitor Intelligence, along with pushing a few other notable improvements to our other seller software.
8 Notable Updates to the Viral Launch Software Suite in February
1.BSR Added to Rank Trend Graphs
Competitor Intelligence, Keyword Manager
Have you ever wondered which keywords are driving sales for you or your competitors? With this update, you can view the correlation between BSR and keyword rank, which gives you insight into how heavily the product’s sales depend on that specific keyword’s ranking. If the historical BSR trend closely resembles that keyword’s rank trend, you can conclude that an important portion of sales are being driven through that keyword.
For example, let’s say you sell fish oil. Looking at your product’s historical data in Keyword Manager, you see that your organic keyword rank dropped significantly for the keyword “burpless fish oil,” but your BSR remained relatively consistent. Here, you can infer that not many sales were being driven through that keyword. But if your keyword rank dropped for “fish oil,” and your BSR dropped along with it, you know that “fish oil” is an important sales-driving keyword for you. The more similar the trends, the more your sales depend on that specific keyword. This same method can be applied to competitor ASINs in Competitor Intelligence.
To find which keywords are driving sales for your products or competing products:
2. ‘Your Keyword Rank’ Comparisons to Your Competitor’s Rank
Tracking your competitor’s keyword rank is a great way to understand their strategy and revenue-driving keywords. This update allows you to take it one step further by viewing your organic keyword rank side-by-side in a brand new column called “Your Rank.” This way, you can visualize which keywords your competitor is out-ranking you on to take action.
3. CPC Suggested Bid Enhancements for Greater Accuracy
Keyword Manager and Competitor Intelligence
Did you know that Amazon may suggest a different advertising bid for your product vs. a very similar product? Your suggested CPC bid is dependent upon a number of factors (basically, Amazon is going to prioritize products that convert over those that do not). For this reason, we typically show a generic suggested CPC bid, or one that is not specific to any individual product. However, with a recent update to Keyword Manager, you will now see your product’s suggested CPC bid, tailored to your specific ASIN directly from Amazon. Plus, if you have linked your product in Competitor Intelligence, you will also see this enhanced, tailored suggested CPC bid. Three cheers for increased accuracy!
4. Real Sales Data instead of Estimates for Your Linked Products
In Competitor Intelligence, you can view your ASIN and a competitor’s ASIN side-by-side through linking your product. This allows you to compare and contrast your organic keyword rank, price, units sold, review rate, and more. With this update, instead of seeing sales estimates for your product, you will now see your real sales data pulled from MWS access for your units sold, revenue, and net profit, which allows you to more confidently measure your success and strategize for the future.
5. Faster Keyword Load Times
When plugging in a competitor’s ASIN to get a list of their relevant keywords, you previously had to wait for all results to load before getting started with your competitor keyword research. We’ve now optimized performance so that you can start researching right away while results come in as loaded.
6. Adding Keywords to Your Bank in Bulk
You can track other brand’s ASINs in Competitor Intelligence, but to track your own ASINs, you’ll want to use Listing Analyzer. As you’re completing your competitive research in CI, you’ll come across keywords that you may be interested in tracking for your own products. In the past, you could add competitor keywords one-by-one to your Keyword Manager bank in order to track them for yourself. But with this update, you can now select multiple competitor keywords and add them to your product’s bank all at once!
7. ASIN Tracking from Your Competing and Complementary Products
Amazon recently released new targeting options for Sponsored Product campaigns. The Product Targeting feature allows you to choose specific products to target placements for your sponsored ads, which changes the way you manage your campaigns and helps shoppers find your products on detail pages. In January, we added a Competing and Complementary Products tab to Listing Analyzer. By understanding your listing, we’ll give you a list of suggested products for you to target where you may convert well. And recently, we added the ability for you to easily track these suggested products in Competitor Intelligence. To utilize this update, simply click the three “more options” dots next to the product, and click Track in Competitor Intelligence.
8. Tutorial Videos Added to Better Understand the Tools
Because there are so many features and capabilities in our 7 seller tools, it can be overwhelming at times. Each feature is thoughtfully integrated, and by fully understanding each tool, you can harness the power of the entire suite to have massive impacts on your bottom line. Of course, our goal is to equip you with the data and insights you need. But beyond that, we want to enable you to utilize the full functionality of each and every tool. So, we’ve added additional tutorial videos to Competitor Intelligence, and we will continue adding how-to’s and walkthroughs on the Viral Launch YouTube channel.
Two bonus enhancements to improve your Viral Launch experience:
We now auto-refresh keyword analysis when you track an ASIN with data more than seven days old in Competitor Intelligence
We pushed an update to your tracked keyword quota in Competitor Intelligence and Listing Analyzer; we now deduct per unique keyword across all of your products to ensure you’re getting everything you pay for.
Pro Tips: Unlocking the Full Value of Your Subscription
Most people understand the basics of what is available inside of each Viral Launch tool. But for those that truly understand the deep-rooted capabilities, the impact to their business is absolutely game-changing. For example, you may know that Competitor Intelligence allows you to track a competitor’s keyword rank, but did you know it can also be used as a powerful hijacker monitoring tool for your own product?
Your subscription is a treasure chest that you’ve already uncovered; we want to help you unlock the value inside. To get the most out of your Viral Launch subscription, here are three Pro Tips.
Hijacker Monitoring: Plug in your own product ASIN to Competitor Intelligence, head to Manage Notifications, and turn on Buy Box Owner Change alerts. And wa-lah, you’ve just set up hijacker monitoring! You’ll get an email immediately if/when another seller takes the buy box from you.
Monitor Your Competitor’s Product Strategy: To stay in the loop on strategic changes your top competition is making to their product offering, head to Competitor Intelligence and turn on product notifications. You can specify when you want to receive an email notification about changes to their Best Seller Rank, sales quantity, review quantity and rating, price, and buy box ownership. If you notice a strategic and successful pattern, you can implement a similar strategy for your own product.
Product Targeting Suggestions: We mentioned this briefly, but the Competing and Complementary Products tab in Listing Analyzer makes it quick and easy to get started with product targeting, saving you time by cutting down on manual research so you can make smart decisions quickly. Using this feature, you can discover complementary products frequently bought together, identify competitor products in your keyword markets, and sort/filter by products with high sales to maximize your ad’s exposure.
“No excuses. No explanation. You don’t win on emotion. You win on execution.” -Tony Dungy
What is the biggest difference between you and the brands sitting atop page one for your main keywords? Time in the market? Budget? Expertise?
There will always be a reason not to push harder for your brand’s success. The competition is too big. They’re too good. They’re too far ahead. But you can compete, even with your toughest competitors. You just need a competitive advantage that they won’t see coming.
Here at Viral Launch, our team of around 70 go-getters work hard every day – innovating, analyzing, building – to equip you with the data, insights, and automation you need to rise to the top of your market and then replicate the process over and over again. These updates are more than just tool improvements; they’re our way of contributing to your brand’s success – because at the end of the day, your success is our success.
Check out all of the new capabilities in your Viral Launchpad, and let us know what you think! We thrive on your feedback, and the best feature updates are ones that are sourced from sellers like you.
To make the midterm elections even more exciting, Viral Launch hosted an Election Day Giveaway on our Facebook page on Tuesday, November 6! Four lucky people each received a $500 Amazon Gift Card.
Entering was easy.
After you rushed to the polls and voted, all you had to do was go to our Facebook page and leave a comment on the contest post before 11:59 PM ET on November 6.
A vote in the US election was not required to enter the contest, which was open to all US residents 18 years of age or older. (You can read through the official contest rules and terms right here if you’re interested.) We then chose 4 contest winners at random on November 7.
CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR WINNERS:
We hope you all enjoy your $500 Amazon gift card!
Now, we would also like to recognize the creativity of our Viral Launch community members. We read through every singlecomment and picked out some favorites!
And our honorable (and hilarious) mentions are:
Viral Launch would like to thank everyone who participated in our Election Day Giveaway. Many of your comments brought joy to our company and maybe even a tear or two. We would also like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who was able to get out and vote.
Again, thank you for participating! See you next time!
-The Viral Launch Team
P.S. Looking to get in on what’s happening next with Viral Launch? Don’t forget to sign up for our webinar for November 13, 2018. Some exciting stuff is about to go down! Also, everyone who signs up is automatically entered into a raffle each day leading up to our tool reveal!
We’ve all been there. You look around and notice you have somehow collected enough books to open a mini library. There’s old textbooks you’ll never use, books that were given to you as gifts, and the stack of books you keep saying “one day” to. No? Just us? That’s fine. The point is, sometimes you find yourself with a stash of books, and you don’t know what to do with them. You could donate them, but sometimes those books cost a small fortune. And you don’t want to lose out on all that cash you spent on that geology textbook you didn’t even use (Sorry, college professors). So, what do you do with them?
Solution: Sell Used Books on Amazon
If you’re looking to get into the Amazon selling game, selling your new or used books is a great place to start. There’s no risk of spending a small fortune sourcing a product that may or may not sell and no need to worry about manufacturing or importing costs.
And if you’re already in the Amazon selling game, adding books to your inventory is a no-brainer if you’re looking to make a few extra bucks here and there.
How to Sell Used Books on Amazon – Getting Started
First things first, you’ll need a stash of books to sell, and you’ll need an Amazon seller account to access your dashboard, Seller Central. Amazon offers two types for you to choose from: Individual Seller or Professional Seller
Individual Seller: $0.99 per sale closing fee, NO monthly subscription
Professional Seller: $39.99 monthly subscription fee, NO per sale closing fee
If you’re unsure which option is right for you, consider how many books you are wanting to sell per month. Amazon allows a maximum of 40 items per month on an Individual seller account. If you are planning on selling more than 40 books, or you are planning on selling books in addition to other products totaling more than 40, you will want to opt for a Professional seller account.
Listing Information – What You Need to Know
Once your Seller Account is all set up and ready to go, gather the appropriate information about your books. This allows you to have all your information readily available when it comes time to actually list them on Amazon. Whether you just make sure you know where the information is located in each book or you write it down so it’s all in one place, here is the information to gather:
What’s an ISBN and where can I find it?
ISBN is an International Standard Book Number. They always consist of 13 digits and are assigned to each edition and variation of a book. It can be found on the book’s barcode.
How do I know what the book condition is?
When selling pre-owned books on Amazon, you are required to list the book’s condition. This is applicable to hardcover and paperback books. Your books can be one of six types of conditions:
Used – Like New
Used – Very Good
Used – Good
Used – Acceptable
Used – Unacceptable
Books categorized as Unacceptable are not sold on Amazon. This includes books that are sale of advance reading copies, including uncorrected proofs, of in-print or not-yet-published books.
Listing Books to Sell on Amazon
Once you have all the information, you’re ready to list your books for sale. When it comes to actually listing books, Amazon is by far the easiest platform to use. Creating a listing for your book can take as little as one minute.
When starting a listing, there are three different options for you to choose from:
“Sell Your Stuff” and enter the Title or ISBN number
Search for the book as if you were wanting to buy it and click “Start Selling”
List a New Title if no results come up for the ISBN you’re wanting to sell
Sell My Stuff
Go into your Seller Central and find the “Sell Your Stuff” tab. Type in the title or the ISBN number and search. Make sure your category is set to “Books.”
Click “Start Selling” and begin your listing.
Go to the Amazon homepage and use the search bar to find the book you are looking to sell. Once you find it, go to the listing detail page.
Click “Sell on Amazon” on the right side of the screen to begin your listing.
On the rare occasion the above two options don’t work, Amazon will provide you with the option to create a brand new listing.
This will happen when you search for an ISBN and no results come up, meaning there is no existing listing for that book. Amazon will then direct you to begin a new listing.
For a new listing, you will need to provide the following:
Setting the Price – What’s the best price to sell my books for on Amazon?
When listing your book, Amazon shows you how many other offers for the same book are being sold and what price range the books are selling within.
This is super convenient and helpful, as it will allow you to determine your price point. If you’re a new seller listing a single copy of a book, you should list it as the lowest price in the price range. This will boost the chances of a quick sale.
For some books, it might make more sense to list in the higher price range. This could be for current edition textbooks, first edition novels, or special edition books.
Shipping and Costs
Once you input all the required information and click “Save,” your listing will go live on Amazon and will be ready for potential buyers to search for.
You will need to decide on your shipping method: FBM vs FBA.
FBM – Fulfilled by Merchant
If you’re only selling a handful of books, this might be the option for you. Because you already have the books, you just keep them in your house until someone buys them. No additional storage fees! Once a book is sold, you are responsible for boxing it up, labeling, and shipping it out. Shipping costs can be calculated into your initial price point.
FBA – Fulfilled by Amazon If you’re selling more than 40 books, multiple copies of a book, or you don’t want to have to worry about shipping, FBA is a great option. For extra fees, you ship your inventory to an Amazon Fulfillment Center and they take care of the rest when an order is placed.
Make sure you fully research the pros and cons of FBA and FBM before deciding. Deciding on a fulfillment method is important as additional steps and fees may apply.
The Pay Out
Getting paid is arguably the best part about selling on Amazon. If you already set up your seller account and have everything approved, you probably remember Amazon requesting your bank information.
Amazon will directly deposit payments into your account every two weeks. Each deposit can take up to 5 business days and Amazon will send you a notification when the payment is sent.
Other Ways to Sell Books
If you’re looking to sell books that aren’t pre-owned or used, there are definitely options. Amazon offers 5 book selling portals for you to sell from if you wish. These portals are for selling e-books, audio books, and even self-published books. But that’s a blog for another day!
While Amazon is now the second largest ecommerce platform in terms of sales, it actually got its humble beginning as an online bookstore in 1994. It all began inside of Jeff Bezos’ rented garage in Bellevue, Washington!
Jeff Bezos chose books due to the high demand of literature worldwide and their low price point. This still stands true today so selling used books on Amazon is a smart move to make some extra pocket change and relieve your overcrowded bookshelves.