Is Private Label dying? Is it dead? Or…Is it just changing? Questions have been circulating through the Amazon Seller space over the past couple months. A lot of people are saying ‘yes’ to this question. We wanted to give our insight on the subject. This episode is raw audio, breaking down our answer to the question of whether Amazon Private Label is dead or not. I really want you all to give your input on the subject – it doesn’t even have to be a direct response to this video, it could just be your thoughts on whether Private Label is dead or not. Stay through to the end to get the number to call, and head to Facebook to share. I’d love to feature some of your thoughts on the subject.
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There are billions of products for sale in the U.S. retail market, both in stores and online. The Amazon U.S. marketplace alone sells 564 million different products. These items sit on the shelves of stores or in the warehouses of online retailers until they’re ready to be purchased. With this many products available, it makes sense that there would be a need for a system to track and organize them as they arrive and when they’re purchased.
In order for stores to do this, a barcode system was put in place years ago that assigns each product a unique product code (UPC). Ecommerce sites are no different than any other brick and mortar store — every product sold on Amazon is required to have a legitimate UPC barcode before it can be input into Amazon’s system.
If you’re just getting started in your Amazon selling journey, you probably have a lot of questions about this step of the process. For those unfamiliar with it, the process of obtaining a UPC can be a little confusing, but we’re here to help! Let’s start at the very beginning and outline everything you need to know about UPC codes for Amazon.
What is a UPC?
A UPC is a unique code that consists of 12 digits. Usually, the first 6 digits are your company prefix, the next 5 are the product number, and the final digit is generated automatically and referred to as the “check digit.” Each UPC is translated into a series of black bars and white spaces called a barcode. This allows for easy reading by scanning devices instead of requiring manual entry.
The barcode system we know today has been used since the mid 1970s. What began as a solution for brick and mortar stores has been carried over into the rise of ecommerce. If you want to sell products on a large scale whether in stores or online, you’ll have to obtain a UPC for it.
What’s the Difference Between a UPC and an FNSKU?
As a new seller, you may be encountering some confusing information about UPCs. If you’ve seen the term FNSKU thrown around, but aren’t sure what it means, we’ve got you covered. Some articles mistakenly use UPC and FNSKU interchangeably, but they’re two very different types of barcodes. Let’s break down the difference:
UPC: A global barcode assigned to any product that is to be sold in retail stores or online. Amazon requires you to have a UPC before you can create a listing or add a product to your Amazon inventory.
FNSKU: An FNSKU is a barcode Amazon generates for your product to keep track of it internally within their warehouses and databases. Once you’ve added the product to your inventory, Amazon will generate an FNSKU for it, which you must incorporate into the product packaging or have placed on your product by Amazon (for an additional fee). Once you have both barcodes, your UPC and FNSKU can also be tied together.
Source: Seller Tradecraft/Youtube
If you’re only planning to sell on Amazon, your UPC doesn’t have to be printed directly on your product or product packaging. Amazon only requires the product to have a UPC in order for an FNSKU to be generated. Once the FNSKU is generated, this is the barcode that must be placed directly on your product before it can be accepted at Amazon warehouses. Amazon will then use the FNSKU to identify your product at check-in as well as when it’s picked for an order.
Where do I Get a UPC?
In order to keep thorough records and prevent fraudulent UPCs, there’s a single legitimate producer of UPCs globally called Global Standard 1 (GS1). This non-profit organization has set the standard for UPCs and barcodes across the globe.
You may have seen ads for third-party businesses selling replicated or recycled UPC codes, or maybe you’ve seen someone selling a product UPC on eBay. Many times, recycled UPC codes are codes that were used for products that have since been retired, such as VHS tapes.
While in many cases you can successfully link these codes to your product, within certain retail systems, the old coding can remain which can cause issues with your inventory. It can often be tempting to purchase these types of UPCs because they are cheaper, but it’s usually not advised.
Amazon requires that your product UPC be tied to your company and your company alone. If you place a replicated UPC on your product and it’s still tied to another company, Amazon could take action. That’s not to mention there may also be legal consequences to using a replicated UPC.
It’s always best to know you’re purchasing a legitimate barcode by purchasing straight from GS1. This way there will be no questions of its legitimacy and you can be assured your UPC meets all requirements for Amazon.
Source: GS1 US/Youtube
How do I Get a UPC?
GS1 makes the process of applying for and obtaining UPC codes for Amazon and other retail stores relatively simple. You can usually complete the process in four steps:
1. Apply for a company prefix
The first step of this process is the most important. You must start by applying for a company prefix. Your prefix is usually the first six digits of the UPC but can be up to 10 digits long. It’s unique to your company and will appear the same on each of your products. So, if you plan on expanding your line, the prefix will remain the same. This prefix also identifies you as the manufacturer throughout the entire supply chain.
Some sellers get a little concerned about the cost of applying for this company prefix, especially if they have a large product catalog that will all need UPCs at the same time. Be sure to include this cost in your initial start-up budget.
According to GS1, the first-year cost of obtaining a company prefix ranges from $250 for up to 10 products to $10,500 for 100,000 products. Each year after that, there’s an annual license renewal fee which allows for continued use of the unique prefix number. Annual license renewal fees range from $50 to $2,100 depending on the number of products.
2. Assign each of your products a product number
Once your company prefix has been generated, GS1 will give you a digit length for your product number, also called a GTIN. The product number is usually the five digits after the six-digit company prefix. The length of the product number is based on the number of future products you indicated on your company prefix application.
Keep in mind that every unique product you have will need its own unique product number. For example, if you sell the exact same shirt in 10 different colors, each color variation will need its own product number. GS1 allows sellers to use their own numbering system for each product as long as it meets length requirements.
3. Determine how the barcode will be displayed on your product
Once you have your product UPC, you can submit it to Amazon to generate the FNSKU. Then it’s time to figure out how to incorporate the FNSKU into your packaging. If you’re still in the early stages of production and your packaging hasn’t been printed yet, you have the opportunity to incorporate the FNSKU directly into the packaging, which will save you time and money.
Amazon allows you to obtain a digital file of your FNSKU barcode, which you can then send to your manufacturer to add to the package design. Many manufacturers have experience placing FNSKUs, so you can work with them to find a place on the package that you feel is best.
An FNSKU barcode needs to be placed where it will easily be seen and is easily scannable. Any unscannable items won’t be accepted at Amazon’s warehouses. Be sure to follow these guidelines for placement:
Place the FNSKU barcode on a flat surface of the product packaging; do not place it on a curve or corner
Allow for 0.25 inches between the edge of the label and the edge of the packaging
If you’re printing labels and adhering them to your product, be sure they’re not smudged or wrinkled as this can cause scanning issues
If you’re planning to sell on Amazon as well as in retail stores, you’ll also need to place the UPC somewhere on your product. The UPC is the barcode retail stores will scan when customers purchase the item in order to pull up the correct product and pricing information. The above rules should also be followed in the placement of UPCs.
GS1 can also provide a digital file of your UPC barcode, which you can use to incorporate the UPC into your packaging. You can also choose to place adhesive barcodes later. GS1 can connect you to a printing service through its Solution Partner program. Once you’re in touch with a printer, you can order barcodes that can be placed directly on your products.
4. Place FNSKU labels
Though it’s more cost effective to have the FNSKU included in your product package design, sometimes that isn’t possible. If your product has already been manufactured and packaged, you’ll have to order barcode labels that can be placed on the outside of the packaging.
You can either choose to have these labels sent to your manufacturer and have them placed at the supplier warehouse (usually for an additional fee), or you can receive your product shipment before it’s sent to Amazon and place the barcodes yourself. There’s also the option to have Amazon place the FNSKU labels on your product, but this does come with an additional cost.
Prepare Your Product to Succeed
Obtaining a UPC code for your product is just one small step in the Amazon selling journey, but it’s a crucial one. Once you have your UPC codes for Amazon, you’ll need to ensure you have the right tools, data and guidance to succeed.
At Viral Launch, we’re here to help you navigate the way in this journey. If you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers. Our software is some of the best on the market and was created to help Amazon sellers just like you. You can also talk to one of our experienced coaches or sign up for our creative services, including product photography and listing optimization. Whatever you need, we’re here to help!
You don’t need a logo to sell on Amazon, but it is a worthwhile investment. Your logo is the building block for all other marketing materials, like business cards, social media, emails, and PPC advertising. It goes beyond seller ranking and reviews to establish a professional identity that buyers can trust. All private label sellers, regardless of fulfillment method, can benefit from learning how to make a logo.
Everything about your product and packaging sends a message to the buyer, but nothing speaks as loudly as your logo. Having one makes it easier to report counterfeit products (it is even easier if you are signed up for Brand Registry) and protect your reputation. Your logo is your biggest opportunity to prove your legitimacy and communicate your values, so you need to make sure that it is an accurate representation of your brand.
What Makes a Good Logo?
When consumers first come in contact with your brand, one of the first things they will notice is your logo. A well-designed logo keeps buyers interested and shows that you are committed to providing a quality experience for shoppers.
Effective logos typically follow these general principles:
Your logo should speak for your brand, but it also needs to reflect the interests of your target audience. Pay attention to what works for your top competitors. Is there a specific style that seems to resonate with buyers? What do you offer that can differentiate your product from competitors? Answering these types of questions will ensure that your logo is both effective and, leading us into our next point, unique.
It is okay to draw inspiration from current design trends, but your logo needs to set you apart from the competition. Badge logos, similar to the ones below, have become popular for their adaptability and compact style. A badge might be the best choice for you or it may not. Either way, you should not settle on a design just because it is popular at the moment. For example, younger audiences are particularly good at picking up when a brand is trying to be cool rather than authentic. Take the time to research trends to discover what best fits your brand.
Your logo should be easy to read at a glance, so stay away from vague shapes and heavy lines that are too close together. Consider the Apple logo: an extremely simple shape, an apple with a bite missing, but eye-catching and memorable nonetheless. The IKEA logo is another good example of using basic shapes and complementary colors – an easy visual trick – to grab your attention. Try to stick to a maximum of two colors and shy away from overly complex graphics.
You want your logo to be recognizable regardless of size. Use vector software like Adobe Illustrator, or save your design in different resolutions for scalability. Make sure the design works in black and white as well as color. One trick is to begin designing in black and white and then switch to color once you settle on a basic layout. If you are outsourcing your logo, the designer should provide you with several different file types for digital display and printing.
You want your logo to be more than just a pretty image. It needs to be memorable so you can stand out against the hundreds, or even thousands, of other sellers in your product market.
How to Make a Logo
There are lots of free tools available online that explain how to make a logo if you would like to do the design work yourself. Or, if you have space in your budget, you could outsource the task to a design firm or freelancer. Your decision will also depend on how much involvement you would like in the design process.
Use free design tools like Canva, Piktochart, orAdobe Spark, or pay for professional vector software like Adobe Illustrator. Most sites have blog posts or instructions on how to make a logo with their software. If you use a free site, you may have to pay to download high-resolution images for printing.
The main benefit is you are in complete control of the process, from sketching to final design.
If you want complete control but do not want to draw a single thing, websites like SquareSpace and Logojoy create logo prototypes based on your preferences and offer them in different resolution packages at varying prices.
More pricey than doing it yourself but less costly than hiring a design firm.
You get what you pay for (less for quick, easy designs, more for high-quality designs).
You do not have much input beyond your initial proposal and a round or two of edits.
Most expensive option, but the highest quality of work.
You have little to no input beyond the initial consultation.
If you do not like the final product, you are out a lot of money.
It is always a good idea to know what direction your logo should take before paying for a branding package. Use one of the free design sites to create a mock-up so designers will have a clear idea of what you want.
Get a Second Opinion
It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of creating a logo and miss a crucial flaw in your design. Mistakes like this happen quite often, even for big companies or events.
For example, the logo for the 2012 London Olympics was extremely controversial. Traditionally, Olympic logos have featured a popular landmark or recognizable symbol from the host city, so they celebrate the occasion while also advertising the location. The 2012 design may have been technically exciting, but many were angered by the lack of London specific imagery and did not consider it a true representation of the city. Because this logo alienated its audience, it has generally been considered a failure. Mistakes like this can easily be avoided in your design by getting a second or third opinion on your logo design.
How to Make a Logo for Brand Registry
Last year, Amazon rolled out a new and improved Brand Registry program that gives private label sellers an added edge on the market. Brand registered sellers can access advanced product page customization options and receive extra protection against counterfeiters and listing hijackers.
To enroll, you must have an active registered trademark that is the same mark as what appears on your product or packaging. According to Amazon, your trademark must be in one of these forms:
a text-based mark
a stylized text-based mark (like the Coca-Cola or Google logos)
an image-based mark with words, letters or numbers
If you already have a logo that fulfills these requirements, all you have to do is register the design for a trademark.
Besides building buyer recognition, adding your trademark to your product or packaging provides an extra layer of security against hijackers who mimic your registered brand at a cheaper price. Once you report the hijacking, Amazon can typically remove the copycat listing in just a few hours. If Amazon needs more proof of infringement, you can order the hijacker’s product and then send it to Amazon as proof they are not selling the same branded item.
A trademarked logo is an incredible addition to your marketing toolbox. If you have a larger Amazon store, becoming brand registered will give you the protection and visibility you need to grow your business.
The marketing needs of an online storefront are not the same as a brick-and-mortar retail store, but the same branding strategies apply. Creating a logo and registering your brand are two very effective ways to set yourself apart from other private label sellers and build customer loyalty. Here at Viral Launch, we want to provide you with all the information you need to become successful on Amazon. For more on Amazon selling strategies, we encourage you to subscribe to our blog, check out our Youtube channel, and listen to our Follow the Data podcast.
The journey to selling on Amazon can be a long one. The first step is of course choosing a product that matches your budget in a market that you can confidently break into. Next up is turning your idea into a tangible product! You may be wondering how to find manufacturers, especially if you are a first-time Amazon seller, but it is easier than you may think.
Finding a supplier or manufacturer can be an intimidating process for experienced and first-time sellers alike. You want to find a supplier that will not only supply you with stock, but will also become a business partner with you as your company grows.
Domestic vs. Overseas
Your first step is to decide whether to buy from a domestic or overseas supplier. Most sellers will end up sourcing from China because the costs are so much cheaper, even after accounting for shipping and quality inspections. There are benefits and disadvantages to both, and it will ultimately come down to your personal preference and budget.
Advantages of sourcing overseas:
Cheaper production costs
More manufacturers to choose from
Wider variety of products
Disadvantages of sourcing overseas:
Turnaround time is longer
Harder to ensure the manufacturer’s legitimacy
Quality of goods is not guaranteed
Little to no legal safeguards or payment protections
Shipping is more expensive and must clear customs
Communication barriers and cultural differences may be hard to navigate
Advantages of sourcing domestically:
Quality is perceived as higher
Shorter turnaround and shipping times
Easier to verify the legitimacy of the manufacturer
More legal safeguards and payment protections
Disadvantages of sourcing domestically:
Production costs are dramatically higher
Fewer product options
You do not have decide between one or the other right away; just keep those factors in mind as you begin your search.
What to Look for in a Supplier
Your goal should be to find a supplier that you can have a lucrative long-term partnership with. As you begin searching for suppliers that can create your product, look for those who exhibit these traits:
Good communication: Do they respond to your messages in a timely manner? Do they ask for clarifications?
Helpful: Do they answer your questions completely? Are they honest about setbacks and shipping delays? Are they willing to have a quality control inspection done by a third party?
Reputable: What do other vendors in the space say about them? Will they provide copies of their business licenses and agree to a property inspection?
Experienced: Have they been in business for 3 years or longer? How many orders do they process every year?
Flexibility: If there is a problem with production, are they willing to work with you to find a solution?
Affordable: Do your profit margins allow you to work with them? Are they willing to negotiate prices?
In addition, look for suppliers who make a wide range of products and can keep up with your growing Amazon business. If your orders increase dramatically, or if you want to diversify your products, you want a supplier who will be able to meet your needs right now as well as in the future.
Finding a Supplier
Compile a list of at least 10 suppliers to make initial contact with so you can find the right partner as quickly as possible. The process may seem overwhelming at first, but there are multiple sources of information that can speed up your search and make it easier.
The internet is a great place to start looking for suppliers. Most online directories allow you to browse products and get in touch with suppliers worldwide, all in one place.
Alibaba is the largest online wholesale manufacturing directories and one of the most popular one-stop shops for sellers looking to source their products from overseas.
We actually just hosted a Webinar with Alibaba.com, talking a bit about Q4 but also about sourcing and manufacturing! Check it out in the video below:
Because counterfeit accounts are harder to track on such a massive database, Alibaba offers several supplier verification categories to protect buyers from fraud and increase payment security, including (but not limited to):
Trade Assurance: Your payment is protected if the supplier does not ship on time or if the product quality does not match what you specified in your contract.
Gold Supplier: Suppliers with a gold rating have gone through a verification process by an approved third party inspector.
Customs Data: You can access the public trading records of all the companies that have shipped into the United States.
Inspection Service: If you make an order through Trade Assurance, you have the option to get a quality control inspection from an Alibaba approved third-party inspection company.
To further narrow down your choices, you can filter search results by vendors that have Trade Assurance and Gold Supplier badges. You can also browse the supplier’s company profile to check their certifications, production capacity, and physical location to determine their legitimacy before making initial contact.
Other popular online directories include:
Trade shows offer buyers a chance to talk directly with a large number of potential suppliers at one time. The Canton Fair is the largest and longest-running trade fair in China and takes place twice a year. Most booths display finished products, but you should still ask if they can do custom orders. You can also collect free product samples instead of paying expensive airfare to ship them. Being able to communicate face-to-face with suppliers is essential for building trust and developing a better relationship for future orders.
Ask businesspeople and other eCommerce sellers in your professional network about how to find manufacturers that would work best for your needs. You are more likely to get an honest assessment of a supplier’s capabilities from someone who has worked with them in the past. If you develop a rapport with a supplier who ends up not being a good fit, do not be afraid to ask them for recommendations.
Always keep your profit margins in mind as you look for a supplier. Pay attention to minimum order quantities, and add up the costs of production, including shipping and FBA fees to determine if you could actually make a profit.
You may be able to put yourself into a better financial position by negotiating prices with your supplier. For more tips on how to find and negotiate with a manufacturer, be sure to check out our Follow the Data podcast episode on the subject.
Final Thoughts on How to Find Manufacturers
Finding the right manufacturer takes patience, perseverance and a little elbow grease, but by the end you will be one step closer to making your Amazon dreams a reality. Here at Viral Launch, we want to provide you with all the information you need to become a successful Amazon seller. For more on Amazon selling strategies, we encourage you to subscribe to our blog, check out our Youtube channel, and listen to our Follow the Data podcast.
If you’re looking to start selling on Amazon, setting up an LLC is a great place to start. Creating your own LLC will help you to establish your own private label brand. This is highly popular for people looking for a side hustle or larger opportunity to help make money from home.
What is an LLC?
LLC stands for Limited Liability Company. It is a legal entity that separates and protects your personal assets if your business is sued (fingers crossed that doesn’t happen!).
While the concept of forming your own company might seem daunting, creating your own LLC does not have to be scary or overwhelming.
Here are the 3 main steps to setting up an LLC:
Pick a state
Pick a name
File the paperwork
Let’s dig in deeper so you’re ready to go!
1. Pick a State
Where should you form your LLC?
The first step in setting up an LLC is picking a state. There is such a thing as “hype states” however, so take caution here. Every state has its own set of rules and requirements regarding LLCs, so make sure you choose the right one for you. States like Delaware and Nevada are often hyped up as great places to form LLCs, but unless you are a resident of those states, they will only increase your costs and double your paperwork.
So which state is the best state to organize your LLC in?
The short answer: the state you live in is the best state!
The long answer: when deciding on which state to register your LLC in, there are two questions you should consider.
Where do you live?
Will your business have a physical presence outside of the primary location?
Keep in mind that LLC regulations vary per state. Make sure you double check your state’s laws, regulations, and fees before you start the process. You can find all that information at its Secretary of State’s Office or online with a quick Google search. If you’re using a website to find that information, make sure the url ends in “.gov” or the state’s abbreviation. This ensures the information you will be receiving is accurate and up to date on your state’s LLC best practices, rules, and regulations.
Where do you live?
What is your physical address? Where does your mail get delivered to? Wherever it is, that is the state and location where you should form your LLC. Why?
Well, there are a lot of reasons, but the short answer is it saves on fees and paperwork.
What if you want to form it someplace else?
If you want to form an LLC that is outside of the state you live in, you most definitely can. What you would need to file for is a Foreign LLC. If you choose to go this route, make sure you have a full understanding of what it means to form a Foreign LLC. When you form an LLC in the state you live in, you are forming a Domestic LLC. If you form an LLC in a state you do not live in, you are forming a Domestic LLC and a Foreign LLC.
For example, if you live in Indiana but want to do business in Wisconsin, you would file for a Domestic LLC in Indiana. Once your Domestic LLC is filed and certified by the state of Indiana, you would then move forward with filing a Foreign LLC in Wisconsin.
While forming a Foreign LLC has its own benefits, it will have a higher price tag and require more paperwork.
Forming a Foreign LLC essentially means you have 2 LLCs, one in your home state (domestic) and one in a different state (foreign). This leads to you doubling what you would have to do if you were only establishing a Domestic LLC.
With a Foreign LLC, you would have:
2 LLCs (Domestic and Foreign State)
2 state filing fees
2 annual report fees
2 registered agents (one in each state)
As you can see, setting up a Domestic LLC in your home state is the most cost-effective way to go!
What if your LLC will have a business presence outside of the primary state?
A business presence could be a storefront, office, or even a sales representative. If you have any of these outside of your primary state, filing for a Foreign LLC is a must! While it involves extra costs and paperwork, it is a small price to pay to make sure your LLC is legal in all states.
Other reasons for forming a Foreign LLC include:
Having a business bank account in another state
Selling in a state through an agent, distributor, or manufacturer
You transact or hold business in that state
What if it is all online?
As for a business that is 100% online, like many third-party Amazon sellers are, the answer is still a Domestic LLC. This is because the majority of online businesses are run from people’s homes. Even if you travel while working, you should register your LLC in the state you have the biggest connection to.
To determine which state that is, ask yourself the following:
Where is your primary address?
What state do you file taxes in?
What state are you a resident of?
The answer to those questions will lead you to the best state to file in. Once you have determined what state you will be filing in, the next step in setting up an LLC is finding a legal name!
2. Pick a Name
What should you name your LLC?
A good LLC name is valuable because it helps customers remember and distinguish you from other competitors.
When it comes down to it though, deciding on your LLC name is more than just picking something that sounds cool. Yes, you want something that is unique which your customer base will remember, but you want to make sure you do it right.
Is it legal?
The official name that appears on file with the state is your LLC’s legal name. This is a crucial asset to your LLC so make sure your name is legal.
It cannot include state-prohibited words such as Bank, City, or Insurance.
It must include Limited Liability Company or an acceptable abbreviation (LLC, L.L.C., Ltd. Liability Co.) at the end.
The legal name cannot be the same as an LLC that already exists on file.
Each state has its own list of prohibited words. These are in place so your LLC will not get confused with official government agencies, offices, or businesses. There are also words that are restricted, pending state approval. These might include words such as Bank, Insurance, or Hospital. You can file to have approval to use those words, but it will cost a small fee and will lengthen how long it will take to fully register your LLC.
Is it available?
To find out if the name you want is available, you can do a name check. Your state’s LLC office will be able to tell you if your proposed name is available or not. Websites like LegalZoom also offer services including checking LLC name availability. If it is, great! You can move forward with filing. If not, it’s unfortunately back to the drawing board.
If your name is available but you are not quite ready to file, one thing you can do is reserve your LLC name. Most states will allow you to reserve an LLC name for a short period of time for a fee.
The final step to take in setting up an LLC might seem like the least fun, but will actually take you the least amount of time.
3. File the Paperwork
What paperwork is the right paperwork?
After deciding on your state and LLC name, next comes the paperwork. And let’s be real, paperwork is not fun. It can be time consuming and confusing. Thankfully, the paperwork for registering an LLC is actually very user friendly! On average, it will only take you a half hour to an hour to complete it. What you will be filing is known as Articles of Organization and an LLC Operating Agreement.
Articles of Organization
Articles of Organization is a formal legal document that needs to be filed to establish a limited liability company at the state level.
Forming and filing this paperwork should take less than an hour. You can either do it yourself or consult an experienced attorney. Most states’ Secretary of State websites contain pre-printed forms for you to use so you can just fill in the blanks. Companies that specialize in helping people file for LLCs also offer free Article of Organization forms that are user friendly. So if you want to do it yourself, you are certainly able to. Plus you’d be saving on attorney fees!
Just do a quick online search to find the one that best fits your LLC. Wonder. Legal offers a great online template that allows you to select the state you want to form your LLC in and updates the template accordingly.
Having trouble finding Articles of Organization in your state? Try searching for a Certificate of Organization or Certificate of Formation. Same thing, just different names.
Here’s what information is included:
Name of the LLC
Address of the LLC (principal place of business)
Type of Legal Structure (i.e. a Limited Liability Company)
Purpose of the LLC’s business (use broad language to avoid limiting future prospects)
Name and address of the registered agent
Name(s) of manager(s) and members of the LLC (if known at the time of filing)
Every business that is registered with a state as a legal entity must have a registered agent. Also called a statutory agent or agent of process, a registered agent is the person who will accept federal and state legal documents and service of process.
Be careful about companies telling you to hire them as your registered agent. Some trick people into thinking they need an experienced company, but that just results in more money out of your pocket.
Anyone can be a registered agent! You, a friend, a family member, etc. As long as they have a business address in the state your LLC is located and are available during business hours, they can be your registered agent.
Once all of that information is gathered, all that’s left to do is sign and file. When filing, you also need to take into account the cost of filing fees.
Make sure you check filing fees in your state. Articles of Organization can be filed with your state’s Secretary of State office or a similar state agency that can handle business registration. All states require payment of a corresponding filing fee. The amount varies depending upon the state of organization. While most states have modest fees averaging $50, other states such as Tennessee charge $300.
LLC Operating Agreement
An LLC Operating Agreement is rarely required to be filed by state law, but it is essential that one is still created. LLC Operating Agreements set rules of ownership and operation of business. It allows you to structure the financial and working relationships in a way that best suits your business. This can be for a single-member LLC or a multi-member LLC.
The operating agreement helps guard your limited liability status and ensures your business is governed by your rules.
Here are the main things typically included in LLC Operating Agreements:
Percentage interests of member(s)
Rights and responsibilities of member(s)
How profits and losses will be allocated
How the LLC will be managed
Meeting and voting procedures
What to do if a member wants to sell their interest dies, or becomes disabled
Many companies have created templates for LLC Operating Agreements so you do not need to start from scratch. The Northwest Registered Agent offers an amazing free LLC Operating Agreement pdf and/or Word download.
Next Steps for Setting Up an LLC
You’ve completed the 3 main steps to setting up your own LLC. Congratulations! So what comes next?
Publish a Notice (if required by state)
Depending on your state, there may be an additional step. A few states require you to publish a notice in a local newspaper. It is a simple notice that states you are forming an LLC. It must be published several times over a period of weeks and an “affidavit of publication” is then submitted to your LLC filing office. If you are having trouble with that, your local newspaper should be able to help you out.
Licenses and Permits
After filing, be sure to secure all licenses and permits before you open your doors. Not all businesses are the same, so what you need will vary depending on the purpose of your LLC.
Here are the most common licenses and permits you may need:
Business license (tax registration certificate)
Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN, Employer ID Number, Federal Tax Number, etc.)
Annual LLC Fees
In addition to the one-time filing fee to form your LLC, each state requires an annual fee. The annual fee is called the Annual Report in the majority of states but can also go by these names:
Annual List of Members
Annual Registration Fee
Business Privilege Tax Return
Franchise Tax Report
The average annual fee in the United States is $100. There is no way around this. You must pay this fee to keep your LLC in compliance and in good standing regardless of income or LLC activity. If you do not pay it, your LLC will be dissolved.
Did you know that Viral Launch Started as an LLC?
Casey Gauss was a fresh college dropout and coding with socks on his hands to stay warm when he co-founded Viral Launch as an LLC in 2014. It is now 2018 and that LLC has transformed into a tech company that has over 50 employees. Driven by the desire to help other people launch their own online businesses, Viral Launch continues to grow as an 8-figure corporation.
If Casey was able to do it, why not you?
Viral Launch is Here for You
As always, Viral Launch is here to help you in your Amazon journey. For more tips on Amazon advertising and selling strategies, we encourage you to subscribe to our blog, check out our Youtube channel, and listen to our Follow the Data podcast.
Q4 is already here. Are you prepared? In this episode of Follow The Data, Cameron talks through essential dates to take into consideration for your Q4 strategy, as well as how to launch your product to capture increasing sales. We also brought Alibaba.com onto the show to talk through manufacturing/sourcing strategy. Alibaba.com also has some deals in store for our listeners! Tune in, take note of those dates and strategy, and get ready for Q4.
The goal of this series is to talk through high-level Seller Strategies from Amazon Sellers who are killing it in the CURRENT Selling Game. We’re talking through what they’re doing to scale their business: What’s currently working, what’s NOT working, where underpriced attention is, where you should be investing your time, and where Amazon is headed in general.
In today’s episode, I’m talking with Tom Wang, a Seller of his own who’s been implementing a lot of high-level strategy and is VERY in-tune with what other sellers are going through. Part of what we talk about in this episode involves developing a healthy entrepreneurial / Amazon-oriented mindset. Let’s dive in.
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We’re all aware that Amazon sells its own line of products on their ecommerce site, but you may be surprised to learn just how many Amazon brands exist. Some are quite obviously owned by Amazon, as their name includes a reference to the company. But many others are marketed under completely different brand names with no hint that they belong to one of the largest online retailers in the world.
Amazon began their journey into manufacturing and selling their own goods in 2009 with the launch of its AmazonBasics line. According to Recode, since that time they have grown to offer products in nearly 80 different brand names, with 60 alone being added since the beginning of 2017. Many of the recent lines have been focused in the clothing, shoe and jewelry markets.
Are Amazon Brands Profitable?
This recent push to add more brands has made Amazon’s intention of growing their product lines pretty clear. This means even more revenue for the already multi-billion dollar company. But just how much are these private label brands bringing in for Amazon?
Reported by CNBC, a SunTrust analyst estimates that Amazon’s private label sales should produce $7.5 billion on the online marketplace in 2018. This is up 108% from their previous estimation of $3.6 billion in 2017. Though this is small in comparison to some of Amazon’s other areas of business, it’s still a significant money maker that is expected to grow even more in future years.
How Do Amazon Brands Compare to Others?
Amazon’s private label brands compete well with other major brands in the online marketplace. The same SunTrust analyst reports that Coresight Research has discovered Amazon brands are the fourth most purchased clothing or footwear line on the online retailer. Its clothing brands are only surpassed by market giants Nike, Under Armour and Hanes.
Current Amazon Brands
Amazon is silently releasing more and more brands without any public announcement of these new launches. The company already has lines of clothing, shoes, jewelry, baby products, snack foods and many household items. Recode reports that Amazon offers products under 75 different brand names. Quartz adds that Amazon has also trademarked or applied to trademark as many as 800 other names, suggesting that the company plans to keep growing their product lines.
According to Recode’s reports, the 75 Amazon brands include:
Clothing, Shoes & Jewelry
A for Awesome
Isle Bay Linens
Lark & Ro
Moon and Back
Quality Durables Co.
Rugged Mile Denim
Scout + Ro
The Lovely Tote Co.
The Luna Coalition
The Plus Project
The Slumber Project
Trailside Supply Co.
Ugly Fair Isle
Wood Paper Company
Health & Household
Home & Kitchen
Prime Members Only
Along with these 75 brands come some stipulations on who can purchase. There are many Amazon clothing brands that are exclusive to Prime members, so the average non-Prime shopper will never see them. This makes Prime memberships all the more appealing as you now have access to free shipping and more products.
Additionally, in 2017 Amazon rolled out Prime Wardrobe, a shopping service that sends clothing items to your home so you can try them on before purchasing. This makes their clothing items even more accessible. Since there are already several successful online businesses that provide similar services, it makes sense that Amazon would want to get in on this.
What Does This Mean For Sellers?
As we can see, it appears that Amazon has some major plans for further product line expansion. Just how far they plan to go and the effect on the market as well as other sellers remains to be seen. While their products are competitive in a variety of categories, smaller brands with proper marketing tactics and strong listings are still able to come out successful as well.
It’s still important to be cautious as you enter into markets where Amazon is present as a seller. Often, Amazon will be able to compete on price, kick-starting price wars and lowering margins for other sellers in the space. If you’re considering entering into a market where an Amazon brand is present, just be aware that you may need to lower your price in order to stay competitive. Keeping a competitive edge through listing optimization will increase your ability to compete in a market that Amazon has entered.
To ensure your listing has all the elements to stay competitive, talk to an Amazon Seller Coach at Viral Launch. Our experience working with over 8,000 brands has given us the tools and knowledge to help you succeed.
Is your Amazon product stuck in a rut? Selling consistently can be a challenge, and with sales lower than you want them to be, you’re probably left wondering what you’re doing wrong. Your low sales volume could be due to any number of things. Maybe your listing isn’t optimized well for main keywords. Maybe people are choosing to buy a similar product with more reviews. If your stock isn’t moving as fast as you would like, we’ve got some tips to help you learn how to increase sales on Amazon.
Before we begin, it’s worth noting that there’s no one quick fix to increase your product’s sales. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a silver bullet. Amazon uses a variety of factors to determine which products appear on page one for any specific search. And just because your product is on page one, doesn’t necessarily mean it will convert well. These tips give you a range of ideas that will all work together to help boost your sales.
1. Optimize Your Listing
In order to make sales on Amazon, you have to get your product in front of shoppers. No one is going to buy a product they’ve never seen. In order to rank in Amazon’s search results across all major search terms and get your product seen, your listing needs to be optimized for relevant keywords related to your product.
This can be achieved by using a keyword research tool to help you identify high volume keywords. Be sure you are utilizing a tool that utilizes only Amazon data. When you search the main keyword that describes your product, the tool should give you the monthly search volume for that exact word as well as other suggested keywords to use and their monthly search volume.
Once you have a list of relevant keywords to your product, you can start writing your listing. Unlike Google, Amazon’s search engine focuses on unique keywords, meaning if a keyword is in the listing once, no extra weight is give if it is used again.
While using a keyword multiple times doesn’t give your listing an extra boost, the placement of keywords does matter in ranking. A keyword placed in the title will carry more weight than a keyword placed in the bullet points or backend. With that in mind, it’s usually best to place the highest volume keywords in the title to capture as many searches as possible.
To keep track of all the keywords while writing, we recommend using a listing builder tool. Many of these tools will remove a word from your “master keyword list” once you have used it in the listing.
If you don’t feel particularly confident in your writing abilities, another option is to hire a professional copywriter to create your listing for you. An experienced writer will be able to work with you to write engaging and informative copy that captures all main keywords and adheres to your brand voice. If you’ve got the money in your budget, this option could take one thing off your plate.
It’s important to remember that an optimized listing can only get you so far. Yes, it will ensure that you are indexed for all relevant terms and provide useful information, but it takes a combination of things to convert sales. Make sure your entire listing is strong from top to bottom. This includes investing in professional photography, ensuring your product is priced competitively, and getting to the top of search results.
2. Focus on Increasing Your Review Count
Over 85% of online shoppers say they trust product reviews as much as they trust a personal recommendation. This means that having a high number of reviews plus a high review rating can translate to big sales for your product. However, about 90% of Amazon shoppers never leave feedback, meaning the vast majority of shoppers are never giving their opinion.
Obviously there’s no way to ensure every person that buys your product will leave a review. But there are a few tactics you can use to help encourage past buyers to login and write their thoughts on your product.
Many Amazon sellers find that a small insert in your product packaging can nudge buyers to visit your review page and leave their thoughts. This simple reminder can also contain information on who to contact if for some reason there are any issues with the product at the time of delivery. This allows you the chance to make things right before the buyer torches you in a bad review.
That being said, there is a risk in adding these inserts to your product packaging, since Amazon’s terms are written so loosely. While some sellers see success with marketing inserts, add them at your own risk and know that Amazon could take action.
Email Follow Up
Email follow ups are a great way to communicate with buyers. It’s usually best to send a series of emails that builds up to asking for a review. You can create an email template for each of the follow up steps and use an automated email system to send these out:
Delivery Confirmation – Sent 1 to 5 days after delivery, this email will confirm the delivery of your product. This is also a great time to provide a contact number and let the customer know they can reach out with any issues they might have. You always want customers to contact you first with any problems in order to deter them from leaving bad reviews.
Review Request – The third email, sent 5 to 15 days after delivery, should contain a request for a review. Explain to the customer how reviews help your business and that you would really appreciate it if they took the time to leave their opinion. You can even include a link that will take the customer directly to your review page.
It’s best to end your email sequence at 2 emails. Any more than that, and it may appear spammy to customers. While nothing will ensure every single customer leaves a review, an email follow up sequence will help to nudge customers in the right direction
Important Note: When asking customers to leave reviews of your product, be sure to not offer any incentive for a review. This is against Amazon’s terms of service. It’s crucial to not break any of these rules when it comes to asking for reviews, as Amazon has recently been cracking down and suspending accounts for review manipulation. Make sure you read the terms of service thoroughly and that you aren’t in violation of any of them when asking customers to leave feedback. For more info. concerning email follow-ups, check out our video below!
3. Run a Promotional Launch or Giveaway
At first thought, this may seem counterproductive in your search for how to increase sales on Amazon. How could giving away your product at a discount help make it a success? But there is a science behind this process that could help boost your ranking and improve your sales in the long run.
What is a Launch?
A product launch is a targeted giveaway meant to project your listing to page one of search results for a major keyword. The overall goal of this process is to increase organic sales, but you’ll have to giveaway your product at a deep discount in order to boost keyword ranking. To rank among your top competitors, you must match or slightly exceed their daily sales for a short period of time. Usually this discount is 90% or more so that you’re able to sell the required number of units per day.
Who Can Help Me with a Launch?
The Amazon Seller Coaches at Viral Launch are here to help you in every step of this process. First we’ll help you identify a keyword to target for your launch. Then using Amazon data for your specific market, we’ll determine the number of units you’ll need to give away in order to achieve page one status.
Typically, launches run for 7 to 10 days. This range is the sweet spot. It allows enough time for Amazon to recognize the sales, while also being short enough that it limits the number of units you’ll have to give away. This will allow you to boost ranking while also saving money.
While a large portion of our data points to 7 to 10 day launches being the most effect for sales history and velocity, Amazon’s algorithms are constantly changing. This means it’s important to keep an eye out for the latest best practices. Some Amazon sellers have recently found success giving away a larger amount of inventory within one day for a larger, sharper sales peak to boost ranking.
What Happens After a Product Launch?
Once your product is ranking, the goal is to get enough organic sales that you can maintain your page one ranking. This places a lot of importance on your listing, photos and price. Be sure your copy is optimized for your main keywords. Upload professional product photos and make sure your product is competitively priced. All these factors will help you convert and maintain your ranking.
4. Utilize PPC Ads
PPC (Pay Per Click) ads allow your listing to get more exposure for a targeted keyword. When you set up a PPC campaign, you set a daily budget and bid on a click price. Amazon will then post your listing as an ad for targeted keywords. You do not pay unless the ad is clicked. However, keep in mind that just because someone clicks, does not mean they will buy, so be sure your listing and photos are optimized to convert sales. There are two types of Sponsored ads in Amazon Seller Central:
Manual – This allows you to pick the specific keywords you want to target. If you know which keywords your listing converts best for and you want to target them specifically, this is a great option.
Automatic – This option allows you to set a budget and then Amazon’s algorithms will select which keywords to present your product for. These ads can be a bit unfocused or random, but can give great insight into which terms your product converts well for and can still help to get your product seen.
Use the Data
One thing people often overlook about PPC campaigns is that it gives you tons of useful data about your listing, impressions and conversions. This can help you improve your listing and increase sales. For example:
High Clicks, Low Sales – If you’re getting a lot of clicks for a keyword, but low sales, you may be able to tweak your copy and optimize the listing in order to take advantage of the customer interest in the specific keyword.
High Conversions – If you’re getting a high number of conversions for a specific keyword, you may want to put even more focus on and budget into that keyword, as it’s clearly paying off for you.
High Impressions, Low Sales – If it seems that you’re getting a lot of impressions, but no one is buying your product, this may mean that your chosen keyword isn’t relevant to your product. This then causes people to click the ad, but leave the page as soon as they realize it isn’t what they want.
Bonus Tip: External Traffic
While it’s against Amazon’s guidelines to include any links or marketing language in your listing that takes shoppers away from their site, you are allowed to push visitors from other sites to your product on Amazon. You can utilize your company website, blog, etc. to bring people to your Amazon listing.
If you have a website or blog with decent traffic, start including links to your product listing. You’d be surprised of the difference this can make. The goal is to get as many eyes on your product as possible, so the more paths to your listing, the better.
Keep in mind though that for some sellers, driving external traffic isn’t always the best use of effort or money. First focus on using the tips previously mentioned in this post and take advantage of the immense traffic that Amazon already provides.
Get to Work!
Remember there’s no magic bullet for increasing your sales on Amazon. A variety of factors go into ranking, converting and staying competitive in any market. Don’t simply pick one of the tips out of this list and assume it will mysteriously solve all of your problems. Take your time, gather data, do research and create a strong overall listing with optimized text, professional photos and a competitive price. With all these factors working together, you’re sure to find the methods that make your revenue grow!
Keyword Matter. YOU matter. How you USE a keyword MATTERS. Placement, frequency, plurals, hyphens – there are so many intricacies to keywords and listing optimizations on Amazon, and it’s INCREDIBLY important to get them all right. Getting it right means you’ve checked that box off your list – that you can now focus on improving and implementing changes across other mediums. Getting it wrong means you’ll be fighting an uphill battle until it DOES get fixed. In this episode, we’re breaking down 5, updated, data-driven, data-based simple tips to improve your listing optimizations. These are insights that you can take, and instantly go and implement. We’ve seen conversions increase from following these. So listen in, take notes, and take action. Let’s get started.