Everything You Need To Know About Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing

Making money through writing has never been easier or as accessible thanks to Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing!

Do you have a passion for writing that’s gone unfulfilled due to the logistics and concerns with publishing your work? Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing may be your saving grace!

Like how Amazon’s FBA program streamlined the opportunity to create your own full-scale online business, Kindle Direct Publishing, or KDP, works similarly for creators to publish and own their own work without many of the roadblocks associated with traditional publishing houses.

Does this money-making opportunity sound like it might be for you? Let’s dive in deeper to learn the ins and outs of KDP.

What is Kindle Direct Publishing?

Kindle Direct Publishing is a program that allows anyone the option to self-publish eBooks, paperbacks, and hardcover books for free.

This gives anyone direct access to publish on Amazon, including a product detail page for your book and options to expand your book’s availability globally.

A product detail page for a KDP-published book.

What type of content can be published using KDP?

According to Amazon’s KDP Help page, the following content types typically published using KDP include but are not limited to the following:

  • Book Series
  • Children’s Books
  • Comics
  • Cookbooks
  • Journals
  • Novels
  • Poetry
  • Textbooks

Magazines, periodicals, calendars and spiral-bound books are prohibited regarding KDP. If you have questions about whether or not a content type would be allowed, you should contact KDP to clarify the subject.

How much does Amazon self-publishing cost?

Publishing through KDP is absolutely free!

In contrast, traditional publishing in the United States typically ranges from $500 to $5,000! Much of these fees go towards editing, book design services and marketing. Through KDP, these costly elements are thrown to the wayside.

While there’s no fee to publish, Amazon does receive a cut of the revenue created with your content.

How do authors get paid with Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing?

Authors receive royalties that are dependent on the type of royalty plan selected. There are two royalty rates: 35% and 70%. Before you do the mental math and choose 70% because you receive a larger cut, you should know there are stipulations to qualify for the 70% royalty plan.

The stipulations for each of the two royalty plans.

As for getting paid, authors just need to verify their identity and include their banking information to receive their monthly royalties.

As for how much do self-published authors make on Amazon? It depends!

At the most basic level, the KDP structure rewards success. If you write the next smash, you can earn royalties well over $1,000 monthly. Most authors earn anywhere from $0 to $500 monthly for their work, which is completely up to the popularity of the created content.

While extremely rare, it can also be rewarding to own the rights to your work, an option that isn’t always the case when submitting work to a publishing house. For example, author E.L. James wrote the best-selling novel Fifty Shades of Grey and actually self-published using KDP.

On top of the revenue generated by its popularity, James sold the rights for what would eventually become a trilogy of movies for $5 million while maintaining some control over the making of the films. Of course, the chances your book becomes a New York Times bestseller and multi-million dollar movie franchise are slim, but it’s equal parts security and motivation to know what the ceiling can be financially if your work succeeds.

Self-Publishing on Amazon Pros and Cons

When weighing the self-publishing on Amazon pros and cons, it’s essential to consider where you’re at with your writing career.

For established authors, the fees incurred by a publishing house may be worth the trouble. After all, these publishing houses offer services such as editing and promotion to help the quality and visibility of the work. Also, publishing houses often offer an advance payment to the author upon completion if the work is likely to earn significant fanfare.

However, this is such a small group that it likely isn’t the case for many with a story to tell.

KDP democratizes authorship by offering to self-publish with zero upfront fees. The speed of publishing (often less than 5 minutes) through KDP is a modern miracle. Additionally, self-publishing on Amazon ensures your book can be promoted and displayed in the Kindle Store. With estimates often ranging around 20 million or so active Kindle readers, this massive audience is alluring for upstart authors.

In short, the pros of KDP are more beneficial for lesser-known authors. The option of publishing work in the first place, visibility from a massive worldwide audience, zero upfront fees, full content ownership, and royalties based on success make it appealing for aspiring authors to get their writing careers off the ground. On top of the digital versions, you can wholesale paperback versions, although you’ll have to pay for the printing cost of each book.

A con for KDP would be the lack of editing and graphic design. If you’ve read books on Kindle and noticed misspellings, poor grammar, imperfect punctuation, or a general lack of professionalism, the lack of editing or approval process can likely be attributed to this. Long-term revenue sharing can also be a drawback, although that’s often a concern with traditional publishing.

How to sign up for Kindle Direct Publishing

Signing up for Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing is a very simple and straightforward process. And once you’ve signed up, you’re virtually 5 minutes away from being able to publish your work.

  1. Select the “Sign Up” button on the Kindle Direct Publishing main page.
  2. Agree to the KDP Terms and Conditions
  3. Fill in the basic information necessary for your profile, payment information, and tax information

Once you’ve completed these steps, you can start publishing your work! The upload process is also quite simple, as Amazon requests information about your work to be visible in the Kindle store and grouped properly to be discovered by readers. In this procedure, you’ll include details about your eBook, content such as a book cover, and set pricing.

After submitting all this information, your work is ready to be published. Congratulations! You can now update your resume with the accurate claim that you’re a published author.

Your work will be included in the Kindle Store, and you can share your work on social media or advertise with options like KDP Select to boost the visibility of your content.

For more about KDP, check out our post from an author who shared his journey of Amazon self-publishing.

The Influence of Social Media on eCommerce Sales

As of October 2022, there were roughly 4.74 billion social media users around the world. That equates to 59.3% of the total global population. That is an increase in 190 million people from the same time last year (and that number will continue to grow). THAT is why utilizing the influence of social media to advertise your eCommerce business is a good idea. Of course, there is more to it than my mere blanket statement of opinion, but never fear! I will be uncovering the blanket with a list of interesting facts to help prove my point below. Let’s get started!

A Covid eCommerce Miracle?

Let me first be clear that nothing was good about the world being under quarantine for over a year. However, it would be tough to argue that eCommerce did not receive a significant boost during that time. And thank goodness for it because people were still able to purchase food, medicine or any other types of supplies needed without risking their health.

During the span of Covid, eCommerce sales increased by an astounding $244.2 billion. This ended up altering the consumer landscape, shifting the dominance of in-store shopping towards the online experience. In turn, eCommerce businesses started stepping up their game by updating their search functionalities, payment methods, and the personalization of a customer’s experience through artificial intelligence. These positive changes in convenience left a lasting effect that has lingered on after the pandemic ended.

It’s Easy to Connect!

Over the last decade, people’s attention spans have been steadily decreasing. Advancements in technology have left little wiggle room for retailers to make their products known. As of 2022, the average U.S. household has approximately 20 smart devices that includes smartphones, computers, tablets, and TVs. That is a large number of potential connections that can be made through social media. The ease of having access to the World (wide web) at your fingertips is too high a commodity to dismiss. A customer is much more likely to purchase a product or service if the accessibility is easy!

The Advantages of Social Media

Depending on who your target customer is, a strong social media advertising strategy can be a helpful proponent for great success! Here are some of the great social media advantages that can benefit your eCommerce business:

  1. Low Cost – Fortunately, most social media ad models operate on a pay-per-click (PPC) system, which means your business only has to pay when someone has actually clicked on your ad or video. Essentially, you only have to pay when your advertisement is working, which means your chances of earning money increase and could even offset any ad costs! Plus, the average cost for doing a PPC ad on a social media platform such as Facebook is only $1.68.
  2. High Brand Awareness – Social media ads give your brand instant awareness, even before any potential clicks, by showcasing it to millions of people online. Having your business ad up on social media feeds helps keep your products and services fresh in people’s minds, even subconsciously. Increased exposure like this can bring about fresh leads and high conversion rates.
  3. Healthy Brand Loyalty – In addition to promoting your business, social media provides a great opportunity to engage with your audience and develop a strong connection. You can also share testimonials from satisfied customers to help build a positive reputation for your brand.  
  4. Detailed Analytics – One very helpful advantage of social media advertising is its ability to quickly provide analytics and statistics regarding how well your campaign is performing. This will help you design future campaigns to optimize what works best. You even have the option of utilizing live campaigns and A/B tests to further refine your strategy.  
  5. User-Friendly Software – Yes, again, it’s easy! The majority of social media advertisers provide a simple, user-friendly platform to work with that will walk you through each step for getting set up. You just have to choose an objective, input your audience’s requirements, and specify your budget. Some platforms even allow you to create your own rules and customized reports that should make managing your campaigns even easier! 

TikTok Customer Trends

It is being forecasted that in 2023, for the first time, more than half of U.S. social media users will make purchases via social platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and especially TikTok. These platforms seem to have mastered the logistics for putting out strong, easy-to-maneuver eCommerce sales content. However, TikTok has by far the largest audience. But how has an app that was known mostly for creating silly dance trends catapulted itself into the eCommerce spotlight? Well, it all started with TikTok providing a different type of eCommerce environment that included native shopping, payments, logistics, and fulfillment. The process benefited from the following:

  • The app’s commerce monetization follows a unique structure developed by their sister-app, Douyin, based in China.
  • Douyin already has eCommerce customer fulfillment centers, which enable them to operate like a true retail company. TikTok is looking to open their own fulfillment centers in the U.S. which would make their eCommerce platform even more streamlined.
  • The majority of TikTok users are younger people whose thoughts and behaviors are more impressionable and more receptive to purchasing products directly through the app.  

Brands have also taken note of the advantages of advertising on TikTok and some have seen tremendous, if not overnight growth due to it. The influence of social media has never been more obvious than on TikTok; users frequently saying “TikTok made me buy it”.

Social Media’s Influence: In Closing

The influence of social media is clear and only growing. I hope that you now feel a bit more comfortable engaging your eCommerce business with a social media presence. It truly is a wonderful way of optimizing your brand’s reach without breaking your budget. Next time you’re on any type of social media platform, take a look at how many ads for things you may be into actually show up. You may be surprised how many there are, but know that YOU can have your own wonderful company/product/service up there as well, ready to help the right person who truly needs it! 

How To Create An Amazon Seller Account: A Step-by-Step Guide

Join the thousands of online entrepreneurs and learn how to create an Amazon Seller Account in a few quick and easy steps!

Are you looking to take the next step toward realizing your entrepreneurial dreams by starting an Amazon business? Before you start your Amazon empire, you’ll need to create your Amazon Seller Central account.

With e-commerce thriving, Amazon’s status as the dominant e-commerce platform, and their seller-friendly logistics offering, Amazon is prime (no pun intended) online real estate for entrepreneurially-minded individuals like yourself. On Amazon, the sky is the limit for starting a booming online business, and a great place to begin or expand your business.

To get started, visit the Seller Central Amazon login and sign-up page. Then, select the Learn More option near the top-right of the page to create your Amazon Seller Central account. You can either sign in using your Amazon customer login, or create a new login entirely.

Choose your selling plan

Before providing any of your information, you’ll want to do a little homework and decide which of Amazon’s selling plans makes the most sense. For the most part, the Professional plan fits the need of serious Amazon sellers, but it all depends on your goals, resources, and where you are in your selling journey.

Individual

The Individual seller plan requires a $0.99 fee every time you sell an item.

This plan makes more sense for sellers still deciding on a product or totaling less than 40 units per month. Because of the per-item fees, the Individual plan presents a more cost-efficient option for anyone selling 40 or more items monthly. If you’re still searching for a product or not ready to open up for business, this plan saves you a few bucks while ramping up your store.

The Individual seller plan also makes more sense for anyone testing the waters on Amazon with just a few products. This plan does not provide access to inventory tools, so anyone with a more extensive product catalog or volume of products would be better served on the Professional plan.

You can upgrade to a Professional account at any time once you’ve decided on a product or plan on increasing your sales.

Professional

The Professional seller plan requires a flat $39.99 monthly payment, no matter how many items you sell within the month. In addition to the $39.99 monthly payment, Amazon collects a seller fee (a percentage of the total transaction that varies by product category) on each of your sales.

Additionally, sellers on the Professional plan gain access to Amazon benefits such as Brand Registry, which protects your business from fraud and abuse while allowing additional perks on your listing.

In short, the Professional plan makes more sense for sellers looking to create a brand on Amazon. On top of capping your monthly payment, the Professional plan offers access to the Amazon Advertising platform, qualification for top placement on product detail pages, promotions including free shipping and much, much more.

Amazon’s pricing and benefits breakdown for the Individual and Professional seller plans

Both the Professional and Individual seller plans provide an opportunity to add new products to the Amazon catalog and to grow your business with the Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) service.

What You Need

The signup process is quick and easy, but you’ll need a few items to be approved when signing up. First, create your Seller Central Amazon login and begin the signup process.

In addition to the list of items required to provide below, you’ll need to be a resident of these approved countries to be eligible for seller registration without further information.

  • Business email address or an existing Amazon customer account
  • Internationally chargeable credit card
  • Government ID (for verification purposes to protect sellers and customers)
  • Tax information
  • A cell phone and phone number
  • Bank account information for where Amazon can send your proceeds from sales

This information is requested in a five-part signup process in which Amazon takes Business Information, Seller Information, Billing Information, Store Information, and Verification.

While providing personal information online can be nerve-wracking, it’s vital that Amazon be able to authenticate your existence and business for safe and smooth transactions between buyers and sellers.

Business Information

First, you’ll need to provide basic information about your business.

If you haven’t registered your business with your state or federal government, you’ll need to before completing this step. You can register your business and receive a company registration number, or Employer Identification Number within 24 business hours if you’re a United States seller registering with the IRS.

Amazon will send a one-time PIN to a personal phone number for verification before moving on to providing your seller information.

Seller Information

Next, you’ll be asked to provide information regarding a point of contact for your business. In addition to the basics of name, location and verification, the form will ask to confirm if the contact is a beneficial owner or legal representative of the business.

Unsure about these legal terms? No worries. Amazon provides FAQs about the process on each page to guide you through common roadblocks.

Amazon’s on-page FAQs help make these somewhat complicated terms easy to understand.

Billing Information

While making money is on the horizon, you must invest in your selected seller plan first! As with any online purchase, Amazon will need your card number, card expiration date, cardholder name, and billing address before finalizing the purchase. Your information may already be on file if you used the same Seller Central Amazon login as your Amazon customer account.

Store

You’re this close to wrapping up seller registration! Before the final verification, Amazon asks you to include your store name and answer a couple quick questions.

The store name doesn’t have to be your actual store name and can be a placeholder if you’re undecided on a store name. You can update this field later, but if you have your store name ready, you might as well make it official.

Lastly, Amazon will ask if you have Universal Product Codes (UPCs) for all your products and if you’re the manufacturer, brand owner, agent, or representative for any of the products you will make available on the platform.

The Final Verification

You’re just a few clicks away. All that’s left is to verify that you’re a human to Amazon’s standards. You’ll need to upload a document with your name, date of birth, country of birth, and citizenship. At least two sources of verification, such as a driver’s license, passport, or a recent bank account statement are needed to submit your seller registration.

Upload clear, high-quality images of your documents, and be sure your typed information matches to avoid roadblocks that can pop up during the online verification process. If you upload a recent bank account statement, remember Amazon is a global business and larger, more recognized bank accounts are likely to pass verification without issue than smaller local banks.

Conclusion

Once all this information has been submitted in the signup process, you should hear back soon once they’ve verified the information provided. You may be asked to meet with an Amazon Associate to verify your submission if additional verification is necessary.

After all this, you should be set up with your Amazon Seller Central account. Congratulations! You’re ready to move on to the next stage of creating your online business.

If, for any reason, you encounter any errors or issues during your account setup, reach out to Amazon Seller Central support to check the status of any issues standing in the way of taking the next steps in starting your Amazon business. Feel free to sign in using the Seller Central Amazon login and explore all you can do in Seller Central.

What’s next? Check out how How To Start Selling on Amazon: A Step-by-Step Guide below to move on to the next juncture of launching your online business.

Amazon Announces 2022 Holiday Peak Fulfillment Fee for FBA Program

During the busiest time of the sales calendar, Amazon sellers are likely to experience rising costs.

Amazon sellers who utilize FBA can expect an additional uptick in their expenses, according to a recent update in Seller Central. Amazon announced a 2022 Holiday Peak Fulfillment Fee for US and Canada FBA sellers that will take place from October 15, 20222, to January 14, 2023. On average, the fee will be an average of 35 cents USD per item.

In the announcement, Amazon cites increased operating costs throughout the supply chain during the peak holiday period as the culprit for the fee increase. It also states that while rising costs in the supply chain have always existed during the busy holiday season, Amazon previously absorbed the costs. Due to already rising prices in the market, the company decided to implement the timebound fee, almost literally passing the buck onto FBA users.

An FBA vs. FBM comparison to help you find out which method is right for your business.

The notice states that Amazon’s fulfillment fees during this peak period will remain 30% less expensive for slower standard shipping methods when compared to other third-party logistics providers, and an average of 70% less expensive than comparable two-day shipping alternatives.

Perhaps most notably, UPS, FedEx and the United States Postal Service have also announced increased surcharges for roughly the same time period, which Amazon accurately stated is a regular occurrence for service providers supporting businesses and customers during the hectic holiday season.

Suffice to say, sellers utilizing the FBA program aren’t happy taking on elevated costs that eat away at profit. Nonetheless, there appeared to be a few different perspectives regarding the 2022 Holiday Peak Fulfillment Fee.

One Amazon seller expressed dissatisfaction with the change and outlined its impact on their business.

Another communicated their aversion to the change while stating their understanding.

The change also marks the second time this year that sellers have been hit with an unforeseen fee, with the first being a 5% inflation surcharge in April due to rising fuel and inflation costs.

If the past couple of years has proven anything, it’s that the ability to adapt to market changes on the fly to overcome cannot be understated in the Amazon marketplace. As is the case with many aspects of life, the only constant in the Amazon marketplace is change, and the ones who can strategically conquer the conditions will be rewarded.

Will you be passing these costs on to the customer? Will your competitors? Depending on your product market and business accounting, you may want to consider making calculated changes to your business to mitigate or neutralize the effects of rising rates.

Take advantage of game-changing data provided by Viral Launch’s software to come out on top in your market. Tools like Market Intelligence and Competitor Intelligence allow you to observe your competition in the market, or zero in on specific ASINs to monitor their gameplans for approaching elevated costs.

Spy on your Amazon rivals with Competitor Intelligence to monitor the impact of this change on the market.

As always, we highly recommend monitoring Amazon news and updates closely, as critical changes happen regularly, allowing you opportunities to streamline your business and emerge better than ever in your market to rake in the profits.

For more specific information on which aspects of the 2022 Holiday Peak Fulfillment Fee apply to your business, check out the following Seller Central resources to see how the upcoming changes will affect your business.

What Amazon Sellers Should Know About Tax Day 2021

Everyone’s least favorite holiday is here yet again.

“Nothing is certain but death and taxes.” It is here: tax day 2021.

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.

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 for tax day 2021?

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.

In Conclusion

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.

Want the latest Amazon tips, tricks, and updates sent directly to your inbox? Drop your email below to stay informed on all things Amazon!

Earth Day 2021: The Importance of Sustainability, Eco-Friendliness Growing Among Consumers

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. Welcome to Earth Day 2021.

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.

Generation Z consumers who prefer shopping for environmentally sustainable products in Canada and the United States in 2019.

In certain industries, going green has been more noticeable than others.

Patagonia’s ad requesting customers not buy its R2 Jacket.

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. Very fitting for Earth Day 2021.

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.

What is Sustainability?

Before digging any deeper, perhaps it’s best to answer the question of what “sustainability” actually means. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) answers this question with the following:

“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.”

The Statistics

In a 2020 study conducted by IBM and the National Retail Federation that monitors consumer trends, the significance of ecologically ethical products stood out as a significant takeaway.

In the study, experts note that the idea of environmentally responsible shoppers has shifted from a forecast to fruition.

A 2020 IBM and NRF Study

“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.”

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 for Earth Day 2021

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! Celebrate Earth Day 2021 in style.

We all share one home. Let’s all do our part to take care of it! Happy Earth Day 2021.

Ways to Start, Grow, or Scale Your Amazon Business with $1400

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.

[YOU MAY ALSO BE INTERESTED IN: 10 Ways You Can Make Money with Amazon]

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.

How to Find Successful Amazon Products with Viral Launch

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.

How Amazon Posts appears to shoppers.

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.

Want to know more about Amazon PPC? Enroll in our FREE PPC Playbook Course.

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.

In Conclusion

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.

Thanks for reading! Want Amazon news sent directly to your inbox? Just drop your email below.

Veterans Day: Thank You for Your Service

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.

Amazon Sellers: What To Do About Coronavirus

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. 

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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):

  • Baby
  • Beauty & Personal Care
  • Grocery
  • Health & Household
  • Industrial & Scientific
  • Pet Supplies

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. 

What Amazon Sellers Can Do Now

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. 

How Viral Launch can help

How To Use Amazon Competitor Research Tools

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.

See the tool in action today for FREE with a trial of the Viral Launch platform.

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