3 Reasons to Start an Online Business with Amazon FBA During COVID-19

If you’ve been considering starting an eCommerce business, now is actually a great time to jump in. Of every single product sold online, over half of them are sold on Amazon. And thanks to their Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) program, you can run a physical products business without worrying about fulfillment or customer service. 

Like almost every other element of our society, COVID-19 has affected Amazon. However, the eCommerce giant is taking big steps to ensure its third-party sellers (or, people like you) are still able to start and build profitable businesses from the comfort of their homes

For you, that means there’s a great opportunity to launch products that meet growing demand while still obeying Stay-at-Home orders. Let’s walk through 3 reasons why it makes sense for you to start selling on Amazon during this time, plus what steps you can take to get started. 

3 Reasons to Get Started with Amazon FBA

If we know one thing for sure, it’s that people will continue to purchase products online… now more than ever before. Here’s why it makes sense to meet that demand through Amazon FBA. 

1. It takes time to learn the process.

The journey of selling on Amazon involves quite a few steps. In order to get real results, it’s important that you’re informed of rookie mistakes and best practices along the way. For many of us, COVID-19 has provided some extra time at home. (If you’re an essential worker, we thank you for your service!). 

A great way to spend that free time is to dive into learning what it takes to be successful as an Amazon FBA seller. In fact, we created a Free A-Z Amazon Course with two entrepreneurs who grew 7-figure FBA businesses from scratch in a few short years. They started in your shoes, learned the process, took action, and now provide for their families on their own terms. Check out the free course and see if Amazon FBA is a good fit for you. 

2. There is increased demand. 

With many states under strict Stay-at-Home orders, Americans (and people all over the world) are turning to Amazon to meet their physical product needs. At first, Amazon struggled to meet this increased demand. However, they have recently added 100,000 workers and plans to add 75,000 more, and now they are once again accepting all products – whether they’re essential or nonessential – into their FBA warehouses across the country. 

Essential items are obviously seeing a dramatic increase in sales. But there are other products that are seeing positive movement, too. This includes home workout equipment, homeschooling activities, gardening products, and more. Now is the time to analyze which markets are being positively affected and which are hurting. A research tool like Market Intelligence shows you graphs of sales movement for individual products and across entire markets, so that you can make predictions about the future to determine which markets you may want to enter and which markets you want to steer clear of. Start your free trial to begin researching. 

3. The supply chain is stabilizing. 

The Coronavirus originated in China, which is where a majority of third-party Amazon sellers source their products. With China on lockdown earlier this year, most warehouses were unable to produce products. However, China has been stabilizing, and many manufacturers are back up and running… Many of them are even working overtime. 

Once you decide on which product you want to sell (and remember, it’s crucial to get into a market with high opportunity and low competition), you’ll want to find a reliable manufacturer to produce it. By reaching out to suppliers on Alibaba, you can see which factories are fully operational and begin bringing your product to life.  

How to Get Started with Your First Product

There are quite a few steps that go into this process, but we’re going to lay it all out for you. Afterall, it’s important to know what you’re getting yourself into! At a high level, here’s the what it looks like to successfully launch a product on Amazon: 

  • Research different markets
  • Pick a product with high opportunity and low competition
  • Find a few manufacturers who could produce the product
  • Order samples
  • Order inventory from the best manufacturer
  • Ship your inventory into Amazon warehouses
  • Create a listing optimized for SEO and conversions
  • Drive external traffic to the listing to boost your keyword rank
  • Run Amazon advertisements 
  • Solicit reviews for social proof

Of course, there are steps within these steps. In order to feel confident in how you should move forward as you’re building your business, we highly recommend following a course. The best way to set yourself up for success is to follow in the footsteps of someone who has done what you’re trying to do. Like mentioned earlier, we put together a free Amazon course alongside two veteran sellers, and it will aid you along your entire journey. 

You’ll find that your first step is to choose a product with high opportunity (or, one that will make you money) and low competition (or, one that you can become dominant with quickly). There are many methods of finding product ideas. You could browse Amazon to see what’s hot, or you could use software that identifies stand-out markets for you. For example, Product Discovery pinpoints markets that are ripe with opportunity now so that you can make the most out of an otherwise crummy situation.

Join the Amazon Seller Family

COVID-19 has certainly shifted the way we live and work, but it’s also opened opportunities for those that are bold enough to seize them. As someone who has been considering Amazon FBA, now is a great time to take action and get started. More and more Americans are shopping online. Amazon is reducing fees and making sure the infrastructure is strong. And with the internet at your disposal, you can learn what to do at every single step in your journey. 

Feel free to join our Facebook community of thousands of Amazon sellers. You’ll find people just like you who are agile, resourceful, and ready to take on a challenge that will ultimately provide for them and their families. Here, you can make friends, keep up to date on the latest news, and be supported in your journey with Amazon FBA. 

The team here at Viral Launch is dedicated to supporting you, whether it’s business as usual or not. Let us know how you plan to take advantage of the online revolution that COVID-19 has only accelerated. We’re pumped to equip you with everything you need to succeed!

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. 

Jump to our recommendations.

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.

4 Notable Amazon Updates & What They Mean for Sellers

Jeff Bezos is obsessed with providing the best customer experience possible. In fact, he was recently quoted saying, “We’ve had three big ideas at Amazon that we’ve stuck with for 18 years, and they’re the reason we’re successful: Put the customer first. Invent. And be patient.” 

As a shopper on Amazon, this means an overall better experience. We can all appreciate a seamless shopping experience and super-speedy shipping. But as an Amazon seller, every update to the algorithm, every policy change, and every feature roll-out can directly impact your bottom line. In order to adapt, maintain sales, and grow your business, you should always understand how recent changes are affecting you.

Here at Viral Launch, we live and breathe Amazon. And right when they make a change, we set out to help you understand what it means for you. In today’s news roundup, we’ll go through 4 updates you should know about. And if you want to keep an even closer eye on changes, follow along on social media where we share the latest news and success tactics in real-time.

1. Product Inserts Policy Mixup

The news: Many sellers were shocked and frustrated after receiving an email on 10/31 reminding sellers that product inserts may not ask for a review of any kind. This email contradicted the official policy on their site that only prohibits product inserts that ask for a positive review. Amazon quickly corrected the error with a follow-up message reading: We want to remind you that Amazon policies prohibit box inserts and product packaging that direct consumers to write a positive review, even if no incentive is offered for a review. 

The email that caused confusion, neglecting to clarify that you cannot ask for positive reviews.

What it means for you: Because Amazon corrected the error, there is no change in policy here. However, it’s a good opportunity to ensure you’re in line with Amazon’s terms when it comes to product inserts and reviews. Your product inserts cannot ask customers to take an action based on a positive or negative experience, which means you can’t ask them to contact you instead of leaving a negative review. And remember, you cannot review your own product, incentivize reviews in any way, or use third party services that offer free or discounted products tied to a review. If you have any products already in fulfillment centers and are in violation of the policies, you’ll want to create a removal order to proactively remove your inventory and avoid any trouble.

2. Communication Guidelines Simplified

The news: Effective on December 3rd, Amazon has updated its Customer Communication Guidelines. The company says they’re not changing the policies but are refreshing the language to make it clearer after hearing complaints from many sellers. In summary, the guidelines state that you may contact a buyer who has purchased from you on Amazon only to complete an order or to respond to a customer service inquiry. You may not contact buyers in any way for marketing or promotional purposes, including via email, physical mail, telephone, or otherwise. Read the full policy.

What this means for you: This is another scenario where Amazon is making it crystal clear that it is not allowed to contact buyers for anything other than support. While no drastic action is needed, you’ll want to review the policy to make sure you’re not in violation. Historically, Amazon has made small changes that lead to suspension sweeps, so if you’re currently promoting your brand to past Amazon customers, take this as an opportunity to make changes that align with TOS.

3. Request a Review Button

The news: In Seller Central, you may have noticed a new button on the “Order Details” page labeled “Request a Review.” When you click it, you’ll see the following message: 

And after clicking Yes, you’ll see a popup that says, “A review will be requested for this order. (Note: We will suppress this request if a review has already been requested for this order).” For now, it seems Amazon is testing this button on the Amazon US marketplace, and it’s only available once per sale.

What this means for you: Amazon has also recently removed sections of a customer’s contact information, such as last name and shipping address. The “Request a Review” button falls in this same effort to keep buyer-seller messaging in-house. It’s definitely worth requesting reviews from your buyers to see if you’re able to generate reviews quickly. With the ask coming from Amazon, customers may be more inclined to act. However, as more and more sellers become aware and abuse this button, it could mean that Amazon pivots again or simply that the button will lose effectiveness. Either way, we’ll keep a close eye on how the market is responding and will update via our social media channels. 

4. “Posts” in Beta

The news: Under the Amazon Advertising umbrella, Posts let Amazon sellers use curated photos to inspire shoppers to engage with their brands and products on Amazon. Focused on a brand-shopping experience, Posts help shoppers discover new products and see what’s new from brands by browsing feeds of brand-curated content. They’re currently US only, free to participate in, and include engagement metrics, including views, clicks, and clickthrough rates. Learn more.

What this means for you: Amazon understands the power of social selling and branding. They’re putting resources behind it, so as a seller on their platform you should too. You’re probably no stranger to the value of growing a following early on a social media platform. Of course, Posts may not explode the way Instagram did or TikTok is (in fact, they just shut down Spark, a discovery shopping feature launched in 2017). But, if you’re running social media for your brand anyways, it may be worth testing whether or not Posts will pay off for your brand. They show up on your own detail pages, detail pages for related brands, feeds for related posts, and category-based feeds… all of which are prime real estate. 

Make Small Changes for Big Results

By being the first to know about Amazon updates, you can stay ahead of other Amazon sellers and ensure your products are positioned for success. But you’ll also want to make sure you’ve got all your bases covered when it comes to the basics. For example, are your Amazon advertising campaigns adding to your bottom line, or are you confused about how to make them work? We understand how important it is to get the basics right, so we recently launched two free Amazon courses. Yep, they’re free! 

From Employee to Entrepreneur: How to Sell on Amazon: Follow this step-by-step process to learn the basics of Amazon, confidently build an online business, and unlock your full potential as an entrepreneur. Enroll for free! 

Amazon PPC Playbook: Follow this step-by-step process to make sponsored ads work for you, receive bigger payouts, and get one step closer to freedom. Enroll for free!

Stay in-the-Know

As Amazon continues to make changes, the Viral Launch team will be the first to make sure you’re aware. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for immediate updates.

Follow us on Twitter for real-time Amazon updates!

And if you have any comments or questions about the most recent updates, let us know in the comments below!

New to Seller Central: How to Set up Prime-Exclusive Discounts

Prime Day is right around the corner, and in true Amazon fashion, they’ve rolled out a brand new feature just in the nick of time.

As an Amazon seller, you’re probably quite used to visiting the Advertising tab in Seller Central. For US accounts, you’ll now see sub-tab called Prime-Exclusive Discounts. This is a new way to offer a discount on your products exclusively to Prime members. These discounts can be offered all year long, and they’ve been unveiled just in time for Prime Day (which has been rumored to be July 15th, 2019). But hurry up… the deadline to run these new discounts on Prime Day is July 5th!

Prime Day will provide sellers with an incredible opportunity to jolt their sales. We even put together a step-by-step guide to help you prepare. Now is the time to take action, and Prime Exclusive Discounts are an easy opportunity for you to set your product apart from the pack… or at least to make sure you’re not left behind if everyone else sets them up too.

What are Prime-Exclusive Discounts?

Prime-Exclusive Discounts are offered on Prime-eligible products sold through FBA, which are only available to Prime members. These products will show strikethrough pricing plus a savings message in the search results and in the buy box.

Amazon is giving sellers like you the ability to create Prime-Exclusive Discounts specifically for their upcoming holiday: Prime Day. You can do this by checking the corresponding box during setup. On Prime Day, these discounts will even include an extra badge that reads “Prime Day Deals” in the search results and on the detail page.

What are the requirements for Prime-Exclusive Discounts?

Many Amazon.com products are going to be eligible for Prime-Exclusive Discounts, and they are free to create. In order to set one up, your product must meet the following criteria:

  • Prime shipping eligible in all regions in the US
  • New condition
  • No rating or 3+ stars
  • The discount must be 10%-80% off of your listed price. For a Prime Day discount, it must be 20%-80% off
  • The discount must be the lowest price in the past 30 days

How do I set up a Prime-Exclusive Discount?

The process for creating Prime-Exclusive discounts is quite manual, but it only takes a few minutes. Don’t forget: the deadline for Prime Day discounts is July 5th, so take action now before it’s too late!

1. Find the discounts in Seller Central

Sign into Seller Central and navigate to the Advertising tab. Inside, you’ll find the option for Prime Exclusive Discounts. To get started, click “Create Discount.”

2. Name your discount

A name is required, and it will be used internally for your reference. Give the discount a name that corresponds to the product(s) you’re setting it up for so that, in the future, you can look back and quickly recognize what the discount was for.

3. Decide whether or not to run the discount on Prime Day

From what we can tell, you cannot uncheck the box labeled, “Is this a Prime Day discount?” So for now, it seems the Prime-Exclusive Discounts are being initially rolled out for Prime Day specifically. We assume that, in the future, you will be able to set a timeframe and date range for these deals. (If you’re seeing something different, please let us know in the comments below!)

4. Upload your product template

This part is a little bit manual, but don’t let it scare you away. It’s pretty easy to set up. Click the “view upload template” link, and it will download a spreadsheet for you to read through and fill out. There are three tabs:

  • Instructions: Learn how to use your Price Loader Template. This is pretty straightforward, but read through it so that you’re fully informed.
  • Data Definitions: Get specific instructions on what exactly to put into each field.
  • PrimePriceLoader Template: Enter your discount information, including SKU, amount off vs. percentage off, price discount, minimum discounted price, and the action (whether you’re adding, editing, or deleting the discount).

Don’t worry about deleting or renaming any tabs. If you do, it will cause an error. Simply fill out the information, save the Excel document, and upload the file. In the next step, you will find out if your inputs are valid.

5. Validate products

Here, you can make sure you’ve filled out the template correctly, along with seeing any issues that may make your product ineligible. If there are issues, the status will show why. You can edit the Discount Type, Prime Discount, and Minimum Price to resolve the problem. From here, you can add more products or Submit the Discounts. Next, you’ll be taken back to the main page where you can view discount details along with the status of each deal. Amazon states that if your start date is today, then the discount may take up to 120 minutes to go live.

Do Prime-Exclusive Discounts overlap with other deals?

Yes, they do overlap! Regular promotions or coupons will stack on top of these Prime-Exclusive Discounts. Please review your products carefully before scheduling to prevent customers combining them for significant discounts. And keep in mind that if you are running a Lightning Deal during the Prime Exclusive Discount, it will impact the maximum Deal Price of your Lightning Deal.

What do you think about Prime-Exclusive Discounts?

Prime-Exclusive Discounts are brand new, so we’re not sure how they will impact conversions. Some sellers are frustrated, calling this another way for Amazon to make money while sellers dig into already-slim margins. Others are hopeful this will help set their products apart.

What’s our suggestion? Well, we know that shoppers will be flocking to Amazon in mid-July during Prime Day, hungry for the best deals on products across all categories. And honestly, the more you can appeal to these shoppers, the better. So, our suggestion is to try these out. The volume here will hopefully make up for the cost (of course, this depends on your market, your conversion rate, and your visibility). If your margins are already pretty thin, consider raising your price and then discounting it to appeal to the discount-nature of Prime Day. The extra badge on your listing should help draw some meaningful attention to your product (especially if you missed the Lightning Deal deadline). And since you cannot set these up for Prime Day after July 5th, schedule them now and keep an eye on your clicks and conversions during the holiday.

To make sure you’re fully prepared for Prime Day, check out our free guide: How to Jolt Sales for Prime Day 2019. We’re excited to see the results for those of you that take action on these new discounts, and we can’t wait to hear of the successes that Prime Day brings.

We’re interested… what do you think of these new Prime-Exclusive Discounts? Will you be using them in your strategy?


February Feature Updates with Lasting Impacts for Your Business | Viral Launch

Imagine signing into a single platform that fully equips you to build a successful e-commerce brand through innovative solutions and data-driven automation. This is our mission here at Viral Launch, and we work tirelessly towards making this a reality for you.

Some people may call our team “obsessive.” But hey, we’ll take it as a compliment. We’re obsessive about data. Obsessive about innovating. Obsessive about driving real results for your brand. And because we are so invested in truly driving success for our customers, we want our tools to be as effective and user-friendly as possible. To achieve this, we release product improvements and bug fixes every single day.

Most recently, we made a few game-changing updates to our newest tool, Competitor Intelligence, along with pushing a few other notable improvements to our other seller software.

8 Notable Updates to the Viral Launch Software Suite in February

1. BSR Added to Rank Trend Graphs

Competitor Intelligence, Keyword Manager

Have you ever wondered which keywords are driving sales for you or your competitors? With this update, you can view the correlation between BSR and keyword rank, which gives you insight into how heavily the product’s sales depend on that specific keyword’s ranking. If the historical BSR trend closely resembles that keyword’s rank trend, you can conclude that an important portion of sales are being driven through that keyword.

For example, let’s say you sell fish oil. Looking at your product’s historical data in Keyword Manager, you see that your organic keyword rank dropped significantly for the keyword “burpless fish oil,” but your BSR remained relatively consistent. Here, you can infer that not many sales were being driven through that keyword. But if your keyword rank dropped for “fish oil,” and your BSR dropped along with it, you know that “fish oil” is an important sales-driving keyword for you. The more similar the trends, the more your sales depend on that specific keyword. This same method can be applied to competitor ASINs in Competitor Intelligence.

Close correlation
No substantial correlation

To find which keywords are driving sales for your products or competing products:

  1. Toggle on “track” in Keyword Manager or Competitor Intelligence for keywords you’re interested in
  2. Click the blue “Org. Rank” or “Spons. Rank”
  3. Toggle on BSR

2. ‘Your Keyword Rank’ Comparisons to Your Competitor’s Rank

Competitor Intelligence

Tracking your competitor’s keyword rank is a great way to understand their strategy and revenue-driving keywords. This update allows you to take it one step further by viewing your organic keyword rank side-by-side in a brand new column called “Your Rank.” This way, you can visualize which keywords your competitor is out-ranking you on to take action.

3. CPC Suggested Bid Enhancements for Greater Accuracy

Keyword Manager and Competitor Intelligence

Did you know that Amazon may suggest a different advertising bid for your product vs. a very similar product? Your suggested CPC bid is dependent upon a number of factors (basically, Amazon is going to prioritize products that convert over those that do not). For this reason, we typically show a generic suggested CPC bid, or one that is not specific to any individual product. However, with a recent update to Keyword Manager, you will now see your product’s suggested CPC bid, tailored to your specific ASIN directly from Amazon. Plus, if you have linked your product in Competitor Intelligence, you will also see this enhanced, tailored suggested CPC bid. Three cheers for increased accuracy!

4. Real Sales Data instead of Estimates for Your Linked Products

Competitor Intelligence

In Competitor Intelligence, you can view your ASIN and a competitor’s ASIN side-by-side through linking your product. This allows you to compare and contrast your organic keyword rank, price, units sold, review rate, and more. With this update, instead of seeing sales estimates for your product, you will now see your real sales data pulled from MWS access for your units sold, revenue, and net profit, which allows you to more confidently measure your success and strategize for the future.

5. Faster Keyword Load Times

Competitor Intelligence

When plugging in a competitor’s ASIN to get a list of their relevant keywords, you previously had to wait for all results to load before getting started with your competitor keyword research. We’ve now optimized performance so that you can start researching right away while results come in as loaded.

6. Adding Keywords to Your Bank in Bulk

Competitor Intelligence

You can track other brand’s ASINs in Competitor Intelligence, but to track your own ASINs, you’ll want to use Listing Analyzer. As you’re completing your competitive research in CI, you’ll come across keywords that you may be interested in tracking for your own products. In the past, you could add competitor keywords one-by-one to your Keyword Manager bank in order to track them for yourself. But with this update, you can now select multiple competitor keywords and add them to your product’s bank all at once!

7. ASIN Tracking from Your Competing and Complementary Products

Listing Analyzer

Amazon recently released new targeting options for Sponsored Product campaigns. The Product Targeting feature allows you to choose specific products to target placements for your sponsored ads, which changes the way you manage your campaigns and helps shoppers find your products on detail pages. In January, we added a Competing and Complementary Products tab to Listing Analyzer. By understanding your listing, we’ll give you a list of suggested products for you to target where you may convert well. And recently, we added the ability for you to easily track these suggested products in Competitor Intelligence. To utilize this update, simply click the three “more options” dots next to the product, and click Track in Competitor Intelligence.

8. Tutorial Videos Added to Better Understand the Tools

Competitor Intelligence

Because there are so many features and capabilities in our 7 seller tools, it can be overwhelming at times. Each feature is thoughtfully integrated, and by fully understanding each tool, you can harness the power of the entire suite to have massive impacts on your bottom line. Of course, our goal is to equip you with the data and insights you need. But beyond that, we want to enable you to utilize the full functionality of each and every tool. So, we’ve added additional tutorial videos to Competitor Intelligence, and we will continue adding how-to’s and walkthroughs on the Viral Launch YouTube channel.

Two bonus enhancements to improve your Viral Launch experience:

  • We now auto-refresh keyword analysis when you track an ASIN with data more than seven days old in Competitor Intelligence
  • We pushed an update to your tracked keyword quota in Competitor Intelligence and Listing Analyzer; we now deduct per unique keyword across all of your products to ensure you’re getting everything you pay for.

Pro Tips: Unlocking the Full Value of Your Subscription

Most people understand the basics of what is available inside of each Viral Launch tool. But for those that truly understand the deep-rooted capabilities, the impact to their business is absolutely game-changing. For example, you may know that Competitor Intelligence allows you to track a competitor’s keyword rank, but did you know it can also be used as a powerful hijacker monitoring tool for your own product?

Your subscription is a treasure chest that you’ve already uncovered; we want to help you unlock the value inside. To get the most out of your Viral Launch subscription, here are three Pro Tips.

  • Hijacker Monitoring: Plug in your own product ASIN to Competitor Intelligence, head to Manage Notifications, and turn on Buy Box Owner Change alerts. And wa-lah, you’ve just set up hijacker monitoring! You’ll get an email immediately if/when another seller takes the buy box from you.
  • Monitor Your Competitor’s Product Strategy: To stay in the loop on strategic changes your top competition is making to their product offering, head to Competitor Intelligence and turn on product notifications. You can specify when you want to receive an email notification about changes to their Best Seller Rank, sales quantity, review quantity and rating, price, and buy box ownership. If you notice a strategic and successful pattern, you can implement a similar strategy for your own product.
  • Product Targeting Suggestions: We mentioned this briefly, but the Competing and Complementary Products tab in Listing Analyzer makes it quick and easy to get started with product targeting, saving you time by cutting down on manual research so you can make smart decisions quickly. Using this feature, you can discover complementary products frequently bought together, identify competitor products in your keyword markets, and sort/filter by products with high sales to maximize your ad’s exposure.

“No excuses. No explanation. You don’t win on emotion. You win on execution.” -Tony Dungy

What is the biggest difference between you and the brands sitting atop page one for your main keywords? Time in the market? Budget? Expertise?

There will always be a reason not to push harder for your brand’s success. The competition is too big. They’re too good. They’re too far ahead. But you can compete, even with your toughest competitors. You just need a competitive advantage that they won’t see coming.

Here at Viral Launch, our team of around 70 go-getters work hard every day – innovating, analyzing, building – to equip you with the data, insights, and automation you need to rise to the top of your market and then replicate the process over and over again. These updates are more than just tool improvements; they’re our way of contributing to your brand’s success – because at the end of the day, your success is our success.

Check out all of the new capabilities in your Viral Launchpad, and let us know what you think! We thrive on your feedback, and the best feature updates are ones that are sourced from sellers like you.

See the New Features Live


Recap: Our $2,000 Gift Card Giveaway

To make the midterm elections even more exciting, Viral Launch hosted an Election Day Giveaway on our Facebook page on Tuesday, November 6! Four lucky people each received a $500 Amazon Gift Card.

Entering was easy.

After you rushed to the polls and voted, all you had to do was go to our Facebook page and leave a comment on the contest post before 11:59 PM ET on November 6.

A vote in the US election was not required to enter the contest, which was open to all US residents 18 years of age or older. (You can read through the official contest rules and terms right here if you’re interested.)

We then chose 4 contest winners at random on November 7.

Drumroll please…

 

Source: tenor.com

 

CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR WINNERS:

Jared N.

Daniel Y.

Isaac C.

Wilma S.

 

We hope you all enjoy your $500 Amazon gift card!

Now, we would also like to recognize the creativity of our Viral Launch community members. We read through every single comment and picked out some favorites!

And our honorable (and hilarious) mentions are:

 

Viral Launch would like to thank everyone who participated in our Election Day Giveaway. Many of your comments brought joy to our company and maybe even a tear or two. We would also like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who was able to get out and vote.

Again, thank you for participating! See you next time!

-The Viral Launch Team

 

 

P.S. Looking to get in on what’s happening next with Viral Launch? Don’t forget to sign up for our webinar for November 13, 2018. Some exciting stuff is about to go down! Also, everyone who signs up is automatically entered into a raffle each day leading up to our tool reveal! 

How to Sell Books on Amazon

A Beginners Guide (Part 1)

We’ve all been there. You look around and notice you have somehow collected enough books to open a mini library. There’s old textbooks you’ll never use, books that were given to you as gifts, and the stack of books you keep saying “one day” to.

No? Just us? That’s fine.

The point is, sometimes you find yourself with a stash of books, and you don’t know what to do with them. You could donate them, but sometimes those books cost a small fortune. And you don’t want to lose out on all that cash you spent on that geology textbook you didn’t even use (Sorry, college professors). So, what do you do with them?

 

Solution: Sell Used Books on Amazon

 

If you’re looking to get into the Amazon selling game, selling your new or used books is a great place to start. There’s no risk of spending a small fortune sourcing a product that may or may not sell and no need to worry about manufacturing or importing costs.

And if you’re already in the Amazon selling game, adding books to your inventory is a no-brainer if you’re looking to make a few extra bucks here and there.

 

How to Sell Used Books on Amazon – Getting Started

First things first, you’ll need a stash of books to sell, and you’ll need an Amazon seller account to access your dashboard, Seller Central. Amazon offers two types for you to choose from: Individual Seller or Professional Seller

 

Individual Seller: $0.99 per sale closing fee, NO monthly subscription

Professional Seller: $39.99 monthly subscription fee, NO per sale closing fee

 

If you’re unsure which option is right for you, consider how many books you are wanting to sell per month. Amazon allows a maximum of 40 items per month on an Individual seller account. If you are planning on selling more than 40 books, or you are planning on selling books in addition to other products totaling more than 40, you will want to opt for a Professional seller account.

 

Listing Information – What You Need to Know

Once your Seller Account is all set up and ready to go, gather the appropriate information about your books. This allows you to have all your information readily available when it comes time to actually list them on Amazon.

Whether you just make sure you know where the information is located in each book or you write it down so it’s all in one place, here is the information to gather:

  • Title
  • Author(s)
  • ISBN
  • Publisher information
  • Book condition

 

What’s an ISBN and where can I find it?

ISBN is an International Standard Book Number. They always consist of 13 digits and are assigned to each edition and variation of a book. It can be found on the book’s barcode.

How do I know what the book condition is?

When selling pre-owned books on Amazon, you are required to list the book’s condition. This is applicable to hardcover and paperback books.

Your books can be one of six types of conditions:

  • New
  • Used – Like New
  • Used – Very Good
  • Used – Good
  • Used – Acceptable
  • Used – Unacceptable

Books categorized as Unacceptable are not sold on Amazon. This includes books that are sale of advance reading copies, including uncorrected proofs, of in-print or not-yet-published books.

 

Listing Books to Sell on Amazon

Once you have all the information, you’re ready to list your books for sale. When it comes to actually listing books, Amazon is by far the easiest platform to use. Creating a listing for your book can take as little as one minute.

When starting a listing, there are three different options for you to choose from:

  • “Sell Your Stuff” and enter the Title or ISBN number
  • Search for the book as if you were wanting to buy it and click “Start Selling”
  • List a New Title if no results come up for the ISBN you’re wanting to sell

 

Sell My Stuff

Go into your Seller Central and find the “Sell Your Stuff” tab. Type in the title or the ISBN number and search. Make sure your category is set to “Books.”

Click “Start Selling” and begin your listing.

Start Selling

Go to the Amazon homepage and use the search bar to find the book you are looking to sell. Once you find it, go to the listing detail page.

Click “Sell on Amazon” on the right side of the screen to begin your listing.

New Title

On the rare occasion the above two options don’t work, Amazon will provide you with the option to create a brand new listing.

This will happen when you search for an ISBN and no results come up, meaning there is no existing listing for that book. Amazon will then direct you to begin a new listing.

For a new listing, you will need to provide the following:

  • Title
  • Author
  • ISBN
  • Publisher information

 

Setting the Price – What’s the best price to sell my books for on Amazon?

When listing your book, Amazon shows you how many other offers for the same book are being sold and what price range the books are selling within.

This is super convenient and helpful, as it will allow you to determine your price point. If you’re a new seller listing a single copy of a book, you should list it as the lowest price in the price range. This will boost the chances of a quick sale.

For some books, it might make more sense to list in the higher price range. This could be for current edition textbooks, first edition novels, or special edition books.

 

Shipping and Costs

Once you input all the required information and click “Save,” your listing will go live on Amazon and will be ready for potential buyers to search for.

You will need to decide on your shipping method: FBM vs FBA.

 

FBM – Fulfilled by Merchant

If you’re only selling a handful of books, this might be the option for you. Because you already have the books, you just keep them in your house until someone buys them. No additional storage fees! Once a book is sold, you are responsible for boxing it up, labeling, and shipping it out. Shipping costs can be calculated into your initial price point.

FBA – Fulfilled by Amazon
If you’re selling more than 40 books, multiple copies of a book, or you don’t want to have to worry about shipping, FBA is a great option. For extra fees, you ship your inventory to an Amazon Fulfillment Center and they take care of the rest when an order is placed.

 

Make sure you fully research the pros and cons of FBA and FBM before deciding. Deciding on a fulfillment method is important as additional steps and fees may apply.

 

The Pay Out

Getting paid is arguably the best part about selling on Amazon. If you already set up your seller account and have everything approved, you probably remember Amazon requesting your bank information.

Amazon will directly deposit payments into your account every two weeks. Each deposit can take up to 5 business days and Amazon will send you a notification when the payment is sent.

 

Other Ways to Sell Books

If you’re looking to sell books that aren’t pre-owned or used, there are definitely options. Amazon offers 5 book selling portals for you to sell from if you wish. These portals are for selling e-books, audio books, and even self-published books. But that’s a blog for another day!

 

If you’re interested in learning more about how to become an Amazon Seller, subscribe to the Viral Launch blog, YouTube channel, and our podcast: Follow the Data: Your Journey to Amazon FBA Success.

 

While Amazon is now the second largest ecommerce platform in terms of sales, it actually got its humble beginning as an online bookstore in 1994. It all began inside of Jeff Bezos’ rented garage in Bellevue, Washington!

Jeff Bezos chose books due to the high demand of literature worldwide and their low price point. This still stands true today so selling used books on Amazon is a smart move to make some extra pocket change and relieve your overcrowded bookshelves.

Amazon Inventory Management: What You Need to Know (and Do!)

As a new Amazon seller, it’s crucial to understand the best practices for Amazon inventory management. The trouble is, this skill primarily comes with experience and requires mastering a lot of moving parts. And when compared to crafting a listing and showing off your product with stunning Amazon photography, inventory management isn’t the most exciting task on your to-do list. But if you don’t get it right, it’s going to impact your business from top to bottom.

We’re not going to sugarcoat it — sales forecasting and inventory management is tough, even for experienced sellers. The big thing to take away here is understanding why inventory management is so important and how you can avoid a detrimental stock out… never letting customers see this:

 

Let’s get to it!

Why Being Out of Stock is So Bad for Your Amazon Business

The implications of being out of stock run much deeper than you may think. Amazon inventory management is a crucial component of your business because, unlike brick and mortar stores, there are no backorders or clients who will wait patiently and just pop back in whenever a product isn’t available. Amazon shoppers will go straight to a competitor who has the item in stock, causing you to lose sales and all-important cash flow.

As if that weren’t enough, here are more ramifications for going out of stock:

  • Dropped Rankings: If you’re out of stock for a long period of time or on a regular basis, you’ll likely experience a significant drop in keyword ranking, which can be difficult to overcome even when your product comes back in stock. Giveaways and sponsored ads can help you regain ground, but you’re now operating with poor sales history and you’ll be operating with less money due to lost revenue.
  • No Organic Search Visibility: Amazon typically removes product listings without stock from its search result pages. While your listing may still live somewhere on Amazon, it’ll have a lot less visibility.

A huge part of Amazon’s appeal and what makes it arguably the world’s best business is its fast, easy access to millions of products. If you don’t manage your inventory properly, you’re going to be missing out on so many sales opportunities.

Having Too Much Inventory Isn’t Good Either

While you want to avoid having too few (or worse, zero) of inventory, you also want to avoid having too much. Inventory that’s sitting stale and stagnant isn’t making you any money — it’s actually costing you some.

On the 15th of each month, Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) performs an inventory cleanup and any inventory that’s been in its warehouses for 181 to 365 days will incur a long-term storage fee (LTSF) of $3.45 per cubic foot. Items that have been in fulfillment centers for more than 365 days on the inventory cleanup date will incur a long-term storage fee of $6.90 per cubic foot.

Starting August 15, 2018, items that have been in Amazon fulfillment centers for more than 365 days will be subject to a minimum fee of $0.50 per unit per month. Either the long-term storage fee or the minimum fee will apply, whichever is greater.

If you’re not moving inventory, these storage fees can really add up!

Amazon Inventory Management: Knowing When and How Much to Order

So you don’t want too little and you don’t want too much. What does that mean? Take stock of your inventory and find a happy medium, or a healthy number that allows you to re-order stock while still continuing to fulfill orders.

When to Place a New Order

All new sellers struggle with how many units to buy because there are so many factors to consider. However, understanding your lead times and anticipated sales velocity can help you forecast sales and plan inventory orders.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, lead time is the number of days that occur from when you place an order with your supplier to when the item is ready for purchase. Many Chinese suppliers typically operate on 30-day turnaround times, but if it takes another 20 days for the units to ship, clear customs and be delivered to a fulfillment center (or wherever else), that’s 50 total days you’ll need to take into account.

Like everything else in your Amazon selling journey, getting a good handle on your lead time comes with experience. As you continue to work with your manufacturer and forwarder, you’ll be able to compile data and better determine this. To help you do so, we recommend you keep detailed records of:

  • The date you order from the manufacturer
  • The date manufacturing is completed
  • The date it ships from the manufacturing facility
  • The date your shipment arrives at your home or an Amazon FBA center
  • The date your product is checked into Amazon and ready for purchase

This information will also help you evaluate the performance of your manufacturer.

Using Historical Sales Data for Inventory Forecasting

When it comes to predicting your inventory needs, examining past sales is a great place to start. If you don’t have enough data to go by, check out your competitors’ sales trends to make these predictions.

Viral Launch’s Market Intelligence is currently the only tool available that offers Amazon specific market sales trends. We use a system of complex calculations based on hour-by-hour changes in BSR to create the most accurate sales estimates. We also show past sales estimates that we’ve calculated for each product to give you an understanding of how the product has performed in the past compared to how it’s performing now. This will help you better predict how the market will behave in the future.

With the proper sales forecasting techniques and Amazon inventory management, products will stay in stock, ideally resulting in more sales and more cash flow. A win-win!

Prepare for Peak Times

As you examine historical sales data, you’ll see how demand ebbs and flows. While this may be the nature of the market, there are other factors at play that will affect your sales history and therefore, your stock needs.

To meet fluctuations in demand, plan ahead and prepare for these peak times:

  • Seasonal Demand: Consider seasonal weather and activities and how that might impact your sales. For example, anyone selling pool toys like squirt guns or floaties will naturally see an increase in sales during the warmer months. Other products may see a sales increase during the winter months or the wedding season.
  • Holidays: We all know Christmastime is huge for retailers. On Amazon, it’s all about Cyber Monday. And aside from your own country’s holidays, it’s also important to know what holidays are coming up for your suppliers. The Chinese New Year is the most notable holiday in China, resulting in widespread work stoppages across the country.
  • Trends/News Stories: Solar eclipse glasses and fidget spinners are great examples of products that capitalized on big news events and popular fads. Pay attention to what people are talking about on social media and news sites and see if you can take advantage, too.
  • Q4: Since Q4 is right around the holiday season, most brands can typically expect to see increased demand from shoppers as well as more competition from other sellers.

Preparing for peak times means anticipating longer lead times on all inventory orders, shipment delays and longer check-in times at Amazon. For reorder quantities during the Q4 boom, it’s best to find your peak sales projections for the holidays and order to accommodate it.

The goal is to always keep your inventory moving and be able to meet any spike in demand without missing a beat. By anticipating (and meeting) demand properly, you’ll be maximizing profit potential and building a better overall brand.

Managing Your Inventory in Seller Central

There are several free tools available within Seller Central, some specifically for FBA sellers, that can help with your Amazon inventory management.

On the Manage Inventory page, you’re able to perform many routine inventory management tasks, including:

  • Viewing and sorting inventory
  • Creating, copying and editing listings
  • Managing pricing
  • Adding and removing images
  • Closing and deleting listings

On the Inventory Reports page, you can find a wide range of information about your FBS inventory:

The Restock Inventory tool provides recommendations to FBA sellers on products to restock, suggested order quantities and reorder dates. Input your specific lead time and product volume to further customize these suggestions for your unique business.

Amazon also recommends that sellers keep a close eye on the shipping queue to monitor information about their shipments, including those that are in progress, in transit and at a fulfillment center.

For sellers with Professional selling plans, Amazon Selling Coach can provide you with personalized recommendations to help facilitate your success on Amazon. Discover new product opportunities, use the Match Low Price feature for pricing strategies or check out different Listing Enhancement tools to improve the quality of your content.

Selling Coach also offers in-depth inventory opportunities, including low stock alerts and Amazon’s suggested restock time using your recent sales data.

Source: Amazon

Third-Party Inventory Management Tools

While Amazon has many helpful tools, you may find it’s just not feasible to manage inventory for hundreds or even thousands of SKUs all on your own. Multi-channel sellers in particular face this problem.

There are scores of automated inventory management software tools available from third-party companies to help you manage your inventory on Amazon and across other eCommerce platforms. However, many can cost you upwards of $40 a month, so take the time to weigh the pros and cons of these services before investing.

Final Thoughts

A streamlined and organized Amazon inventory management strategy will help you stay in stock and plan ahead for peak times. While there are plenty of moving parts to inventory management, many problems that pop up are preventable. Continually monitor your current inventory levels, sales volume and lead times to make informed decisions about any new inventory shipments. Maximize your sales and profits by meeting inventory demands head on!

The Importance of China Quality Inspection for FBA Sellers

Your first FBA journey is going to be scary. You’re in uncharted territory dealing with unfamiliar manufacturers who are hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away. Take a deep breath and keep your eyes on the prize — becoming a successful FBA seller!

As an Amazon seller, your main priority is sourcing and selling a quality product. Because without a quality product, you’re facing an uphill battle right from the start. You’ll likely see low sales, bad reviews and a lot of returns, which could put you in bad standing with Amazon and even lead to the suspension of your account. And oh yeah, you won’t be making any money!

But how do you monitor quality control from another country? Sure you can hop on a plane to China and go do it yourself, but is that really feasible? This is where a third-party China quality inspection comes in.

Let’s dig in deeper.

China Quality Inspection: A Crucial Step for Sellers

While you can contract an inspector domestically, it makes the most sense financially and logistically to hire a company in the same country where the product is being manufactured. This way, any minor damage or major defects can be corrected before the products are shipped to Amazon.

Regardless of whether a product is being manufactured manually or by a machine, innocent mistakes can happen — and they will. It’s common to have a small defect rate on every order. You just don’t want those products going out to customers! Hiring an inspector helps ensure only quality units are being sent to Amazon and only quality units are ending up in customers’ hands.  

Save Yourself Time and Money

To save on cost, manufacturers will often use cheaper, lower-quality materials instead of the more expensive ones. Avoid this issue by being very specific with your manufacturer regarding all materials, measurements, and packaging that your product requires. Give the same information to your inspector so he or she knows what to test and check for.

Refunds and warranties are rare in China and don’t mean same things as in the US. If you don’t discover a mistake or manufacturing error until you receive your product in the states, chances are it’s not going to be fixed anytime soon. So how do you protect your products and save yourself time and money? As a general rule, it’s recommended to do the following:

  • Tell your supplier straight away you’re going to hire an inspector
  • Never work with a supplier who won’t accept quality inspections
  • Have a firm purchase order and contract agreement in place
  • Withhold partial payment until an inspection takes place

Suppliers will be quicker to respond and make corrections if they haven’t received the full payment yet. This gives you more leverage before you pay in full and are fresh out of luck.

Pre-Shipment Inspections

Identifying problems before they’re fully packed and shipped out is much cheaper and easier to correct. There are typically two types of quality control inspections offered by third-party inspection companies:

  • Full Inspection: A review of each and every product
  • Spot/Random Inspection: A review of 〜10% of inventory

Obviously, a full inspection is going to cost more money, but in return you’ll get greater peace of mind. For example, say you do a partial inspection of 100 pieces and they find 20 with defects. What now?

You could either move forward and accept the risk that 200 units out of your 1,000-piece inventory are potentially defective, or you could pay for a full inspection (on top of what you’ve already paid) to be completely sure. Your best bet is to order a full inspection and get the peace of mind they provide.

What are QC Inspectors Looking for?

During an inspection, your inspector will be looking at:

  • Quantity verification
  • Conformity check (style, color, label, packing, and shipping conformity)
  • Workmanship check (appearance and basic function)
  • Function check (more in-depth functionality)
  • Contract product quality

You want products to match all of your specifications as well as any quality standards set by the industry. You’ll need to weigh the pros and cons of repairing or removing units with minor issues, but more severe issues should immediately result in your supplier repairing or remaking the product.

FBA Requirements

Another quality control check for FBA sellers to consider focuses on shipping and packaging. Amazon’s FBA program has its own inventory requirements, including those for product barcodes, packaging and prep, shipment packaging, and shipment labels. Failure to follow these requirements could lead to extra fees or Amazon returning your product.

If you’re not handling the packaging and labeling of your FBA products yourself, you must work with your manufacturer to make sure all of these requirements are being met.

Hiring a Pre-Shipment Inspector: Alibaba and Other Options

Aside from connecting you with an extensive directory of manufacturers, Alibaba can also connect you with professional third-party inspectors close to your supplier whose background and profile have been verified by Alibaba.com.

These inspectors visit the manufacturing facility in China and prepare a written report with pictures to verify that the products being produced and shipped meet industry standards as well as those specified by sellers. These detailed reports are typically ready to view within 2 business days and you can even track the inspection progression in real-time so you can follow along.

Inspections generally cost around $300 for each shipment and must be booked up to 3 business days in advance. Alibaba does offer deals for their inspection service, like this 50% off all inspections promotion for their annual #SuperSeptember event, which is shown below.

Source: Alibaba.com

There are many other China quality control inspection companies out there, and freight forwarders also offer inspection services.

Pro Tip: Look for Manufacturers, not Trading Companies

When you’re in search of a manufacturer on Alibaba, verify that whoever you choose is actually a manufacturer and not a trading company. Trading companies resell items from manufacturers, whereas manufacturers are actually producing the items themselves. Look for this information on the company’s Alibaba listing or check their business registration license.

Who Can Order Alibaba’s Inspection Service?

Alibaba’s inspection service is available to all Alibaba.com members outside of mainland China who have placed a Trade Assurance order. For those of you who haven’t placed an order yet and are unfamiliar with Trade Assurance, this is Alibaba’s free order protection service that covers buyers in the event of payment, shipping and product quality disputes.

To order on Alibaba.com, simply start a Trade Assurance order and select Product Inspection Service under Value-Add Service. After you make a payment, you’ll be able to track your order and see the inspection status on the Trade Assurance page.

Ordering a China Quality Inspection: Is it Worth the Money?

While ordering a China quality inspection is optional, it’s something that should be seriously considered when you’re breaking down costs and examining profit margins. Think of it this way: if defective products end up in an Amazon FBA warehouse, you’ll most likely have to pull all of your inventory to pick out the defects.

Then, not only will you be have to ship the products back to Amazon (again), you’ll have to somehow dispose of the units if you can’t donate or store them somewhere. This will undoubtedly lead to delays in current orders or even force you to make your listing inactive for a while, which is never good for meeting your margins and always bad for customer service.

Another issue you’ll be facing is Amazon’s order defect rate policy. Your ODR is determined by:

After these are all taken into account, Amazon divides it by the total number of orders during a given period to get an ODR. The Amazon recommended ODR is 1%, and they will suspend accounts with rates slightly above 1%. A rate much higher than 1% can be a cause for termination. You can find your ODR on your Account Health dashboard in Seller Central under the Performance tab. 

For sellers who only have a handful of orders each month, this could be a major issue as a single defective unit could skyrocket your ODR.

Inspections Keep Suppliers in Check

You don’t slack off when you know your performance is being monitored, right? The same principle applies here: if suppliers know a third-party inspection is imminent, they’re probably going to do a better job. Hold them accountable and don’t let them cut corners! After all, they’re not the ones going to suffer the consequences — you are.

You may be tempted to forego inspections as you build a long-term relationship with your manufacturer, but this typically isn’t recommended. No matter how reputable and experienced they may be, problems can still pop up — the manufacturing process isn’t an exact science. People (and machines) make mistakes!

A Quick Recap

A China quality inspection can protect your brand’s reputation, Amazon status and pocketbook. Are you willing to risk all of the above on something that could have been avoided?

Today’s shoppers are also more vocal than ever and will absolutely let you know if your products aren’t up to par. And as more and more sellers enter the space, having quality products can immediately set you apart from a sea of competitors.

As always, Viral Launch is here to help you in your Amazon journey. For tips on Amazon advertising, selling strategies and more, we encourage you to subscribe to our blog, check out our Youtube channel, and listen to our Follow the Data podcast.