According to a report from Insider, Amazon sellers reaping the benefits of July’s annual Prime Day may not be waiting too long before another retail holiday to boost sales. Leaked documents from Amazon detail plans for a potential Amazon Prime Day – like sales event in October named the Prime Early Access Sale.
While we can only speculate at this time, the “Early Access” name may imply an opportunity for Prime members to receive early access to the following month’s Black Friday deals. Amazon sellers will surely want to pay attention to more information about this potential sales event as more information becomes available.
Veteran sellers will remember this would not be the first major sales event in Amazon history held in October, as the COVID-19 pandemic pushed back Prime Day 2020 from its usual mid-summer date to October 13th and 14th.
How major could the Prime Early Access Sale be?
“This event is one of the best deals events of the year and Prime members would be crazy to miss it,” one document said. Also according to the Insider reporting, some third-party sellers report receiving invitations to submit deals for the event.
Whether officially billed as a precursor to Black Friday or not, an Amazon-led sales event in October could mark the unofficial kickoff to the holiday shopping season.
Seemingly since the massive success of the initial Prime Day in 2015, speculation has persisted that Amazon could add a second major sales event. The duration of Prime Day has slowly increased from 24 hours to 48 hours in 2019, which is the current span of the sales period. After years of establishing Prime Day as one of, and perhaps the most important shopping event on the calendar, Amazon may be looking to the next idea to expand its reach in e-commerce.
After a period of unforeseen and fortuitous growth in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, the re-opening of brick-and-mortar retail and a downturn in consumer spending have served as a reminder that meteoric growth can’t sustain linear growth forever.
By adding a second signature sales event, Amazon could provide some juice for third-party Amazon sellers to bolster sales heading into the very busy holiday season.
After yet another colossal Prime Day in July during which 24 countries participated in days of deals, any Amazon promotion should be prepared for and meticulously planned for, as it can skyrocket sales and make a tremendous difference in your bottom line.
The timing of the event adds even more weight to this opportunity, with the potential for an avalanche of sales and reviews to enhance visibility for your product and make your product more appealing to shoppers in the run-up to Black Friday and the ever-so-crucial holiday season.
The addition of a second major sales date before the busiest time of the year could be a much-welcomed accelerant to bolster sales.
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To many, it serves as a bit of surprise that such a substantial number of countries could still be added to the Amazon marketplace. Although Amazon’s grown into one of the world’s largest companies since its founding in 1994, the recent inclusion of nearly 100 new countries to the approved sellers’ list shows it’s still growing.
Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and Venezuela are among the notable new additions to the marketplace. With this revision, few countries are omitted from the directory of approved countries, with 188 countries now approved for seller registration. For the most part, only countries with strict sanctions, such as North Korea and Cuba, remain excluded from the Amazon Approved Sellers list.
For aspiring Amazon sellers in the newly approved countries, this update encourages aspiring entrepreneurs to enter the marketplace by removing a major barrier to entry. Now, they can get in on the growing number of third-party sellers cashing in on the billions of dollars generated in the marketplace.
In the past, sellers from these newly added countries could still sell on Amazon. However, they’d be forced to establish their business in a country on the approved sellers’ list.
While many in the group sold on Amazon before Pakistan was approved, countless others entered the Amazon marketplace as virtual assistants. Certainly, removing restrictions and breaking down barriers to entry may stimulate them to become sellers in their own right.
Our interview with Saqib Azhar, serial entrepreneur, Amazon mentor, and leader of the Ecommerce by Enablers Facebook group
In previously banned countries with a strong Amazon presence like Pakistan, many celebrated the newly opened doors. As Azhar notes, Amazon represents a massive opportunity for Pakistan to improve the country’s economy. Additionally, he believes FBA can be a promising opportunity for the country’s youth to discover financial freedom.
Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) has proven to be an incredibly rewarding opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs. After a record-setting 2020, e-commerce continues to thrive in 2021. Even more encouraging, market analysis projects Amazon to be responsible for 50% of all e-commerce retail sales in 2021.
All in all, the excitement from newly added countries underlines the opportunity provided with FBA. While many industries experience turbulence and many unknowns, selling on Amazon offers a tremendous opportunity with an even brighter outlook.
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As advertising becomes an even more prominent part of the Amazon marketing mix, be sure to stay away from these five common Amazon Advertising mistakes.
Every day, more Amazon sellers make the smart decision to start incorporating advertising into their seller strategy. Unfortunately, many get their Amazon advertising experience off on the wrong foot, committing costly blunders.
At Viral Launch, we specialize in assisting sellers through each and every stage of their Amazon selling journey, and PPC is no different.
For that reason, we pay close attention to our customers, Amazon news and updates, and the pulse of the Amazon seller community. Amazon has ramped up the importance of advertising over the past few years, and is impacting Amazon sellers now more than ever.
Due to this, we’ve witnessed many seller mistakes or flawed teachings within the community.
Since Amazon PPC can often seem like a foreign language to sellers, often don’t realize these mistakes until it’s too late. That’s why we’re here to clear the air to discuss a few common mistakes and why you should avoid them.
1. The “set it and forget it” fallacy
Contrary to what some in the industry say, Amazon PPC isn’t set up for “set it and forget it” strategies. As much as we hate to be the bearer of bad news, there are simply too many variables involved for a campaign to run unattended.
Ignoring your campaign performance once it’s gone live is wasteful at best and downright dangerous at worst. By monitoring campaigns regularly, sellers can recognize trends and optimize accordingly.
Now, thankfully, Amazon advertising doesn’t need to be monitored too closely. You don’t need to agonize over your data reports every few minutes or hours. But we do recommend checking in daily, especially early on in your campaign lifespan.
Of course, as you make strategic adjustments and allow your campaigns to run, less changes will be needed. But it’s paramount that sellers understand that PPC is a process.
If we’ve learned anything about the Amazon seller community, it’s how fiercely competitive sellers can be when it comes to their business. Undoubtedly, at least one of your competitors is meticulously monitoring their campaign performance so they can make tweaks that give them the edge.
Sellers who view PPC as a “set it and forget it” aspect completely miss the point and are practically begging for competitors to take a larger market share.
2. Not doing enough homework
At all stages of selling on Amazon, performing intelligent, data-based research is necessary for success. So why do some sellers seem to think they can run sustainably profitable campaigns that maximize success without doing their homework?
Sure, sellers likely know their high-performance keywords, but PPC is a different game. Many sellers think they know what they’re doing when setting up campaigns, but sellers who do thoroughly intensive research know what they’re doing.
What are your margins? Which keywords would be most beneficial to run ads for? Should you add negative keywords to avoid wasteful spending? Are there any competing listings your listing performs well for in product-targeting ads?
These are only a few of the many strategic questions sellers should take into consideration before crunching the numbers to find tactful answers.
Viral Launch’s Kinetic PPC Tool allows you to implement data, strategy, and profitability rules into your ad campaigns. Sign up for your free trial to avoid these Amazon Advertising mistakes!
3. Disregarding strategy or structure for your ads
Often, PPC rookies decide to test out advertising under the impression that if you spend money, sales will come in. But without strategy or structure into those campaigns, they’re likely doomed before they begin. Whether it stems from foolishness or a lack of understanding, the result ends the same.
For the most part, ad campaigns should be created with two goals in mind.
To Drive Profitable Sales Nobody ever lost money taking a profit. Sellers emphasizing profitability are simply looking to make sure they aren’t spending too much for a sale to be profitable. Their most important metric is likely Average Cost of Sale, or ACoS, with a focus on it being as low as possible.
To Improve Organic Rank While less popular, this is an excellent strategy for sellers more focused on long-term growth. In this strategy, sellers largely ignore ad profitability in the short term as they’re looking to drive in sales for keywords to boost organic rank. As we know, organic rank remains the best way to position your listing for sales. Sellers who utilize this strategy are prioritizing long-term profitability over short-term gains.
Why not both?
In a perfect world, sellers can do both. But due to competition for highly valuable keywords, it may not be profitable to appear for keywords with the highest search volume. In this case, sellers who want to drive profitable sales should likely pursue lesser-used keywords at a lower cost. Those who prioritize organic rank may embrace short-term inefficient spending to rank higher and cash in on organic sales.
Within these strategies, there are a few different campaign structures you can utilize to achieve your goals. Not knowing how or why to structure campaigns to achieve your goals makes advertising a long and unnecessarily circuitous hassle.
4. Not taking advantage of the unique targeting methods
Each seller, product, and market are unique. Because of this, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for your product’s success.
Luckily, there are a few different targeting methods and ad types sellers can choose from to find which ones are right for them. However, sellers often don’t explore all the options that exist for them to become PPC rockstars.
Although we certainly understand time and money are not in abundance for sellers, take a little time to study the different ad types available to you. Amazon Advertising has grown exponentially in recent years, and as a result, Amazon has made countless advancements in this space.
With new features appearing in the Advertising Console somewhat regularly, it’s rare that sellers have turned every stone in the search for PPC success. Dedicating the time to learn and experiment can go a long way towards staying ahead of the curve and gaining an edge over your competition.
Especially for beginners, finding the right balance of budget, keywords, and ad groups can be difficult. Even worse, beginner mistakes can cause sellers to avoid PPC altogether instead of knowing where things went wrong.
While you certainly don’t have to spend an arm and a leg on your first campaign, setting a budget to $5 or $10 a day isn’t going to lead to enough sales or exposure to draw any insight worth applying in the future. Not giving your campaigns the resources to succeed will ensure they don’t.
Regarding doing too much, sellers can often put too many keywords into a campaign without the budget to support it. If you prefer to start small, that’s perfectly fine and likely savvy. But starting small with budget should likely be coupled with starting small with keywords.
Additionally, sellers frequently apply the “helicopter parent” mentality to their campaigns. As we mentioned earlier, paying close attention to your campaigns is recommended, but hyper-focusing on them can lead to more problems than it solves. Be sure to let your campaigns run long enough to develop a statistically significant sample size before making tweaks. Constant tinkering before campaigns have run long enough is tempting, as data informs the seller. But without a sizable sample, making changes can be a result of being misinformed instead of uninformed.
Finding the perfect balance may take time, but sidestepping these common Amazon advertising mistakes can put you on the fast track for success.
Wrapping It Up
The five highlighted Amazon advertising mistakes are only a few of many common errors that can affect sellers. We hope you avoid them all and skyrocket your business to new heights.
To learn more about Amazon PPC strategy, sign up for our free Amazon PPC 101 course!
Amazon’s latest seller program aims to cut down on returns, increase customer satisfaction, and improve the buyer and seller experience.
Recently, Amazon unveiled its Product Documents Program, a helpful resource for sellers to upload electronic documents for potential customers to view.
Safety information, user guides and manuals, fact sheets, and instructions for use are just a few of the vital documents that eligible sellers can upload to improve their customer experience.
Previously, sellers needed to include these documents as inserts with their purchase, making them only available to customers who had already made a purchase. Now, this information can visible to customers as they shop.
Amazon describes the program below.
These are customer-facing documents that will be shown on your product detail pages. They are intended to provide pre-purchase information and post-purchase support content to customers. Adding product documents to your product detail pages can result in higher conversion rates, lower customer support costs, increased sales, and fewer returns when used effectively.
Of course, with any new program, there are questions. Below, we’ll answer a few of the initial questions to help you get familiar with the new program.
Why does this program exist? Who does it benefit?
Customers and all eligible sellers who utilize the program benefit by increasing the quality of seller-to-buyer communication.
Before purchasing, customers can see important information about the product they’re purchasing. For instance, a customer may purchase a product that is more difficult to assemble than they anticipated, contains materials they don’t approve of, or be sized differently than anticipated. Typically, these transactions end with some combination of an unsatisfied customer, a return, or a poor review.
Amazon Product Documents allow sellers to be more transparent with customers regarding crucial product information. As a result, a more informed customer is more likely to be a satisfied customer. Additionally, a seller that is more transparent about product information is more likely to make a sale, avoid a negative review, and generate brand loyalty.
All in all, the program is mutually beneficial for the seller and the buyer.
Who Can Participate?
Registered brand owners in the Amazon Brand Registry program.
The Product Documents Program is the latest perk of being brand registered. While purely speculation, we’d imagine this is unlikely to become available for non-brand registered sellers any time soon.
Choose a name for the document you are uploading. This is only for your reference. Customers will not see this name.
Select a document type from the list of allowed document types.
Choose the language or languages that are present in the document you are uploading.
Choose a file to upload. Files must be:
Less than 10MB
PDF format except for CAD drawings
CAD drawings may be in PDF, dwg, dxf, igs, eprt, edrw, sidprt, or stp format
Search by ASIN or product name and follow the on-screen prompts to associate one or more ASINs with the document you are uploading. At least one ASIN must be applied to the document for it to be uploaded.
Once submitted, your content may take seven business days to be reviewed for adherence to below mentioned Amazon guidelines for product documents. It may take longer during peak times. Documents that do not adhere to these guidelines will be rejected.
Once approved, it can take up to seven business days to publish on the detail page of the ASINs to which it applies. If the document status is “Not approved,” view the rejection reasons by clicking Edit for a specific document and make the changes.”
Above all, the Amazon Product Documents Program appears to be a great option to improve customer experience. For eligible sellers with applicable documents, we highly recommend joining this program as soon as possible!
As always, any opportunity to stand out from the competition on Amazon is an edge worth exploring. Uploading product documents with important information may boost consumer confidence and increase the likelihood of turning a click into a conversion.
Furthermore, by uploading your own documents and making them easily accessible to potential sellers, you have the chance to gain control back. As a result, you can turn would-be 1-star reviews into 5-star reviews by giving the customer everything they need for a happy transaction.
In this episode of Follow The Data, John Cant of Rising Sun Commerce joins Cameron for a deep dive on tips and strategy to jump into Amazon Japan.
Amazon Japan is quickly becoming a hotspot for Amazon sellers to diversify online sales.
As international e-commerce sales continue to spike, more sellers are recognizing the massive potential of expanding their online business in additional marketplaces. The Amazon seller community continues to mature, and for many sellers expanding internationally may be a more profitable expenditure than adding another product or increasing marketing spend.
When it comes to selling on Amazon Japan, nobody knows it better than Rising Sun Commerce. Host Cam Yoder chats with John Cant of Rising Sun Commerce to discuss the pros and cons of expanding your business to Japan, best practices for finding success selling in Japan, and what NOT to do
This episode covers a handful of essential tips to consider when jumping into Amazon Japan (as well as any international marketplace). John, who has years of experience selling in Amazon Japan, shares his biggest tips and strategies for catering products, listings, and experiences for the Japan marketplace.
If you’ve ever considered going international with your Amazon business, or would consider Japan as a possible extension, this is a great starting point.
Find out John’s story and learn Rising Sun Commerce’s history (0:00)
To kick things off, John explains his e-commerce experience and how Rising Sun Commerce began. With the U.S. Amazon marketplace doing much of the company’s heavy lifting, why pursue Amazon Japan?
One common mistake from sellers is to assume customers act similarly across marketplaces. How does buyer behavior in Japan vary from other countries? (3:22)
Customer behavior changes depending on where you’re selling, so selling isn’t a One Size Fits All approach for expanding internationally. John breaks down what distinctions exist with Japanese customers in comparison to American or European customers.
Where does Japan rank in priority for seller consideration? (5:09)
When considering expanding your brand internationally, selecting the ideal country to start selling in is often the first question. With Amazon continuing to expand internationally, John explains why Amazon Japan is such a promising opportunity.
A top-selling product in the United States doesn’t guarantee similar success abroad. Continuing the conversation on buyer behavior, what categories perform better or worse in Japan? (7:02)
While finding out if Amazon Japan is right for you, market and product research is a necessity. Get an expert’s perspective on what products tend to do well and which ones fizzle out in Japan.
What are the first steps a seller can take to start selling in Japan? (15:14)
You’ve done the research. Selling in Amazon seems like an opportunity worth pursuing. You’re ready to take the next steps. But where do you even start? John lays out the step-by-step gameplan for expanding to Amazon Japan.
These important questions and answers are only a fraction of the valuable insights from a proven expert. Be sure to tune into the entire show to find out if Amazon Japan is right for you!
As always, we greatly appreciate John’s time and expertise. If you have any questions for John, reach out to him directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org Or visit his site to jump straight into Amazon Japan strategy.
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Ashley Kinkead has incredible experience hiring a virtual (AND in-person) team to scale her Amazon business and eCommerce operations.
Loyal Follow The Data listeners may have noticed growth and scaling are a steady topic in 2021. While “solopreneurs” are undoubtedly a major part of the Amazon seller community, hiring others to help run your business is necessary for large-scale growth.
Often times, the entrepreneurial mindset comes with a penchant for independence. For beginner sellers with a brand or two on Amazon, this can be a perfect opportunity to harness that competitive drive for success to execute your visions.
However, the bandwidth required for mass scaling is just too large for one person to sustainably handle. Luckily, sellers can grow their team to assist with the growth of their business. But the process of building a team for your Amazon business is one most sellers aren’t quite familiar with.
Ashley and Cameron dive deep into the world of hiring to scale in this episode of Follow The Data.
When turning your solo business into a team, who’s the first person you should bring on?
So you want to grow your team? Where do you even start? As aspects of Amazon become more sophisticated, elements that go into running an online business become more specialized. Ashley walks us through her recommendations for laying the foundation for building your team and reveals her first hire.
When you should consider first hiring for your Amazon / eCommerce business?
While we often speak in generalities that cover most of the Amazon seller community, no two businesses operate the same.
Find out how to properly scale your team as you grow.
Doing too much too soon, or doing too little too late can doom your attempt at growth. The relationship between scaling your team and scaling your company can be a complex one. Ashley provides her insight based on her years of e-commerce experience.
What can you do to help your employees AND your business grow together – how to properly support and pour into your employees?
Leading a team is about more than just growing profits, it’s also about helping your team grow. In addition to the monetary compensation, a part of the value for employees is personal and professional development. As an employer, investing in your team members can be a mutually beneficial opportunity for your business and the individual success of your team.
With much of 2021 ahead of us, what strategy tips and advice does Ashley have for the remainder of 2021?
After a hectic 2020, the opportunity for success selling on Amazon has never been greater. Along the way, pick up helpful tips and tricks to accelerate your online business in the year ahead.
Saqib Azhar talks through his Amazon-focused growth strategies in 2021 and gives insight into how he built an enormous, highly engaged Amazon group on Facebook.
For the latest installment of Follow the Data, Saqib Azhar graciously shares his Amazon knowledge with host Cam Yoder. From starting your own business to training a country for taking on entrepreneurship, Azhar possesses one of the more influential voices in the Amazon seller community.
Azhar is the CEO and Co-Founder of Enablers and the leader of the world’s largest Facebook group for Amazon sellers.
At Enablers, Azhar’s mission is to combat unemployment in Pakistan by empowering and educating the youth to sell on Amazon. While most Amazon sellers seek to establish themselves, Azhar aims to lift a nation along with him.
With over a decade of e-commerce experience and a perspective unlike any other, Saqib has plenty of unrivaled knowledge to share. In other words, this is a must-listen for serious Amazon sellers.
Be sure to check out the show for advanced Amazon seller strategy from one of the world’s most knowledgable resources!
Get familiar with Saqib Azhar and his unique experience as an Amazon seller and community leader. (0:00)
Enjoy the episode? Like and subscribe to our YouTube channel or wherever you listen to podcasts! Don’t miss out on the Amazon seller insights within our hundreds of episodes.
With years of experience in the Amazon space, how does Saqib plan on growing his business in 2021? (7:12)
As a long-time seller who manages one of the largest seller groups and teaches aspiring Amazon sellers, Saqib knows the ins and outs of Amazon in a way few others do. Don’t miss out on his valuable insights on how to take your Amazon business to the next level in 2021!
Saqib witnesses plenty of new sellers entering the marketplace. What common mistakes do beginner sellers make when starting out? (15:13)
Like many aspects of life, the beginning stages are an excellent opportunity for a learning experience. However, beginners on Amazon quite literally can’t afford to commit beginning blunders. Saqib shares common beginner mistakes, so you can accelerate the learning curve and avoid rookie mistakes.
As e-commerce continues to grow, the ability to build a community around a product or a brand allows for explosive results. Further, Saqib breaks down how what has powered the growth of his company.
Before we say goodbye, Saqib offers sage advice for Amazon sellers. (31:29)
The entrepreneurial spirit and desire to be self-sufficient leads many to Amazon. But that same mentality can be their downfall on such a wide-ranging platform. To wrap up the conversation, Saqib leaves us with sound advice.
Attention all Amazon sellers and those interested in starting their own online business!
Amazon is hosting Amazon Accelerate, a free-to-attend virtual summit taking place from September 1–3. Amazon boasts the conference as the “biggest-ever U.S. event dedicated to seller success.”
Accordingly, sellers can expect to discover insights, strategies, and techniques from experts to help their business thrive.
What is Amazon Accelerate?
The biggest name in e-commerce has set two unique agendas; one for current sellers, another for those just starting or interested in selling on Amazon. More than 60 sessions hosted by Amazon pros covering all aspects of the platform are currently scheduled throughout the three-day event.
Among scheduled events, conversations with successful sellers and educational walkthroughs stick out as great resources. Especially for FBA beginners, the summit provides a tremendous learning experience.
“Amazon is deeply invested in empowering small businesses, and this is an important time for us to come together and learn from each other as we navigate new economic realities,” said Jeff Wilke, CEO worldwide consumer at Amazon.
Third-party sellers make up 50% of all sales on Amazon, and it appears the company realizes the health of its small businesses is a catalyst for their success.
“It’s our good fortune at Amazon to partner with a large, vibrant community of sellers,” Wilke said. “Accelerate will help small businesses find new ways to grow and expand while also creating new connections.”
Are there any presenters?
Namely, Wilke is one of four featured Amazon Accelerate speakers and will kick off the event with a fireside chat. In addition to Wilke, fellow speakers include Dharmesh Mehta, Amazon’s vice president of worldwide customer trust and partner support, Devesh Mishra, VP of Worldwide Supply Chain, and Amazon fashion group leader Christine Beauchamp.
As a result, sellers can expect content centered around the latest in online selling tools, programs, and services. Also, prospective sellers anticipate timely information about how to adapt and prepare for a successful holiday season, along with a Build Your Business Toolkit.
Don’t miss out on the Amazon Accelerate summit! Sign up and confirm your virtual seat here to be a part of the seller spectacle. You can create your schedule ahead of time with their Agenda Builder once signed up.
If you’re unable to join the action live, don’t fret! All keynotes and breakout sessions will be available on-demand for registered attendees the day after they air through September 30th. At that point, the materials can be found within Seller University.
For additional resources on how to get your Amazon business off the ground or take your existing one to the stratosphere, subscribe to our YouTube channel, where we have content for every step of your Amazon journey!
We’ll cover the event and provide updates on important takeaways. Come back next week as we’ll be summarizing and breaking down all the big happenings from the seller summit!
Amazon states the change has been made to “help customers learn more about the businesses of a seller and the products that they are selling. We are making this change to ensure there is a consistent baseline of seller information to help customers make informed shopping decisions.”
The change is the latest in a series of Amazon news and updates to increase accountability and deter the sales of counterfeit or unsafe goods on their platform.
Chiefly, this is significant for third-party sellers as many don’t operate from a traditional office location. Seller Central requires an address when registering for an account, and it’s common for third-party sellers to post their home address.
All sellers, but especially third-party sellers, should take a few minutes to make sure their account is set up to their liking for this impending change.
How will my information appear?
While this change is new for the US Amazon marketplace, it’s consistent with practices for international markets such as Europe, Japan, and Mexico.
The address will be displayed to all shoppers, but customers have to do some digging to find it. As a result, your business name and address will only be displayed on your Seller Profile page. By and large, this page generates sparse traffic.
To find this page, a customer would have to click on the seller name in the Buy Box or under the Additional Sellers if an item has more than one seller available.
Can I keep my information private?
If you sell from home but don’t want your home address listed, options exist. For example, registering for a PO Box. Additionally, setting up an alternative such as a UPS Mailbox to maintain personal privacy.
Customers remain advised to use Buyer-Seller Messaging to communicate electronically, so an influx of mail to your business address is unlikely. Still, it would only make sense for sellers to establish a line of separation in public and private information.
Lastly, Amazon recommends taking the following steps to ensure your information is current and what you want publicly displayed:
1. First, login to your Amazon seller account.
2. In the Settings menu at the top right corner of Seller Central, click Account Info to view the Seller Account Information page.
3. In the Business Information section, click the links for the information that you want to view.
4. To change your business name, click Display Name and to change the address, click Business Address. Enter the new information or edit the current information.
Being an Amazon seller has always come with its hurdles, but as the world grapples with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, sellers face a new kind of challenge. This guide will walk through what changes have arisen, how all of this affects you as a seller, and what you can do about it.
The Coronavirus has caused lawmakers at state and local levels to encourage and enforce that citizens stay inside their homes for anything other than essential activities. As the world works from home out of necessity, the eRetailer is the go-to source for delivered goods (the eCommerce giant already owned 52% of all online sales in 2019). Household staples and medical supplies are running low, and Amazon is racing to keep their digital shelves stocked to meet surging demand. “Getting a priority item to your doorstep is vital as communities practice social-distancing, particularly for the elderly and others with underlying health issues,” said an Amazon representative in an Operations blog post.
Amazon has recently made a few drastic changes that impact millions of third-party private label brands. While it’s something to definitely understand, don’t lose hope. There are still options, and you can get through this. You are an entrepreneur, after all. And we are relentless.
Changes that Amazon has made amid COVID-19
With its origins in China, Coronavirus has been on Amazon’s radar since mid-January 2020. The company announced changes to its fulfillment network and workforce in mid-March to address growing concern and meet surging demand.
1. Sellers cannot initiate a new FBA shipment for non-essential products
Amazon sent the following notification to all active sellers:
Temporarily prioritizing products coming into our fulfillment centers We are closely monitoring the developments of COVID-19 and its impact on our customers, selling partners, and employees. We are seeing increased online shopping, and as a result some products such as household staples and medical supplies are out of stock. With this in mind, we are temporarily prioritizing household staples, medical supplies, and other high-demand products coming into our fulfillment centers so that we can more quickly receive, restock, and deliver these products to customers. For products other than these, we have temporarily disabled shipment creation. We are taking a similar approach with retail vendors. This will be in effect today through April 5, 2020, and we will let you know once we resume regular operations. Shipments created before today will be received at fulfillment centers. You can learn more about this on this Help page. Please note that Selling Partner Support does not have further guidance. We understand this is a change to your business, and we did not take this decision lightly. We are working around the clock to increase capacity and yesterday announced that we are opening 100,000 new full- and part-time positions in our fulfillment centers across the US. We appreciate your understanding as we prioritize the above products for our customers. Thank you for your patience, and for participating in FBA.
For third party sellers, this means that you cannot create shipments to be received at an Amazon fulfillment center in Seller Central until at least April 6th. Only essential items will be accepted as inbound shipments. Essential items are listed within the following categories (but not all items are considered essential):
Beauty & Personal Care
Health & Household
Industrial & Scientific
If your inbound shipment was created before March 17, Amazon will check it in. For existing non-essential inventory in Amazon’s warehouses, you can still expect Amazon to pick, pack, and ship your products, but the process will likely be delayed as essential items are prioritized and shipping carriers race to keep up with increased demand.
If you do sell essential items, beware that Amazon has a zero tolerance policy for price gouging. The marketplace has removed thousands of listings and even threatened legal action against sellers seeking to profit from a global pandemic.
2. Amazon is strengthening its workforce to meet demand
With the surge in online shopping, Amazon is experiencing unprecedented labor needs. Because of this, the company is opening 100,000 new full-time and part-time positions in their fulfillment centers and delivery network across the U.S. Amazon extended an employment invitation to those who have been economically impacted in industries like hospitality, restaurants, and travel.
Amazon will also pay their employees an additional $2 per hour worked from their current rate of $15/hour or more, depending on the region, at least through the end of April. The company seeks to keep health and safety a top priority. “We continue to consult with medical and health experts, and take all recommended precautions in our buildings and stores to keep people healthy. We’ve taken measures to promote social distancing in the workplace and taken on enhanced and frequent cleaning, to name just a few,” said an Amazon representative.
How Coronavirus is Affecting Amazon Sellers
Amazon sellers have mixed feelings about the recent changes. Some are angry with the eCommerce giant, convinced that the moves will put them out of business. Others respect the decision and see all of this as an opportunity to pivot and grow. And most are somewhere in between, hoping for the best and making operational changes with each announcement.
Here are a few of the varied Amazon seller comments posted in response to Amazon’s inbound shipment freeze:
Amazon just put tons of businesses out of business. Destroyed thousands of jobs amidst a crisis. Horrible joke. Absolute joke. No warning. Expect major lawsuits coming from sellers who now will go bankrupt.
This virus is not a joke, and I am sure Amazon didn’t take the decision to suspend FBA shipments, just because they felt like it. Have you considered the fact that the Amazon employees are affected also? Some of them might even be sick, quarantined, have kids at home because of closed schools? It is not about you, it is not time to be selfish. This is a matter of life and death for many people around the globe.
It is not doable. Most of us do not have the infrastructure in place. We do not have the boxes or packing material to do this. Amazon should have had the basic integrity to give us a few days notice so that items that were low or out of stock could be sent.
Overall, it seems that Amazon sellers are unsure of how the future will play out. With online sales rising but no opportunity for non-essential products to reach their normal fulfillment avenues, there will definitely need to be pivots made in the short-term for sales to continue.
Many sellers are calling on Amazon to pause inventory loan payments and selling plan fees for those who are ineligible to fulfill through FBA. But because Amazon’s focus is always on the customer, it’s unlikely (though not impossible) that this will be prioritized.
Because there seems to be new developments every few days, it’s important that Amazon sellers keep an eye on the news and Amazon announcements in the coming weeks. Just as we are all making decisions based on the information we have, Amazon’s executive team is pivoting as needed.
For now, here are a few action steps you can take to sustain your business and prepare for the future.
1. See if your products are still eligible for FBA shipments
Many products in the following categories are still eligible to be sent into Amazon’s fulfillment centers: Baby, Beauty & Personal Care, Grocery, Health & Household, Industrial & Scientific, Pet Supplies. If you sell within these categories, head to your Shipping Queue within Seller Central and attempt to create an inbound shipment. This way you’ll know what products you need to enact (or create) a Plan B for. Please note that many sellers are experiencing hang times when creating shipping plans because of the increased number of people trying to do this in a short period of time.
2. Outline your path(s) forward
Whether it’s pivoting your sales strategy for your existing business, planning for your future product, or even exploring options like dropshipping, you need to understand your options so that you can make an informed decision on how to move forward. It’s okay to wait and see how things unfold in the next week or so, but outline your possible paths forward so that when it comes time to make a decision, you’re ready to act. Big changes like this affect everybody, and someone is going to come out on top. But it’s going to take a dedication to the process and pushing through obstacles for you to be that one.
3. Pivot your fulfillment method
For those of you with non-essential FBA products, you’ve got three options when it comes to fulfillment: find a Prime-eligible third-party fulfillment partner, switch to Fulfilled by Merchant, or pause operations until Amazon opens their fulfillment centers to your products. Again, do your research now so that you can make the best decision for your business. You may find that a third party fulfillment partner is just as cost effective as FBA was, or you may discover that it’s best for you and your family to wait out the storm.
4. Prepare your next product
Although Amazon is only allowing certain products right now and there have been disruptions in the supply chain, this won’t last forever. Now, especially if you have some extra time on your hands, is the perfect time to use historical data to research which product you might bring to market. If you’re an existing seller, keep an eye on how your competition is handling the situation using Competitor Intelligence. And if you’re a new seller, begin the process of sourcing your very first product. The first step of the Amazon seller journey is finding a product that sets you up for success. Product Discovery makes that process incredibly easy, and it can be completed during this time. That way, your product is ready to stock when the shelves are ready.
We’re in This One Together
The fact that this blog post exists means you are not in this alone. There are a lot of uncertainties right now, but there are also new opportunities to take advantage of. Maybe the excuse used to be, “I don’t have time to work on my business.” Many of us now have time, but the circumstances have shifted. If there were ever a time to buckle down and figure it out, it’s right now.
Find out how your products have been affected. See how sales are trending in your market. Map out your options. Dig in and figure it out because that spirit is exactly what got you into this business in the first place. We’ll be here for you along the way updating you of the news. If you want to see how other Amazon sellers are handling the situation, get advice, and stay up to date on the most recent changes, join our community on Facebook: Amazon FBA Data Hunters. We’ll see you in there.