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!

Back in Business: Amazon Sellers Can Ship Nonessential Products into FBA

If you’re an Amazon seller with nonessential products ready to ship into FBA, we’ve got some good news for you. This week, Amazon will start accepting shipments of nonessential items into their warehouses once again

In fact, some sellers reported that they have been able to create new shipping orders as early as last week (the freeze started on March 17 and was supposed to end on April 5). Like most changes, Amazon seems to be gradually rolling out this ability. 

Here’s what a company spokeswoman shared, “Later this week, we will allow more products into our fulfillment centers. Products will be limited by quantity to enable us to continue prioritizing products and protecting employees, while also ensuring most selling partners can ship goods into our facilities.”

Amazon is taking these steps so that we can move forward with our businesses, even amidst the uncertainty and frustration. It’s time to buckle down, take action, and ensure your business endures (and hopefully even gets stronger) during this season. Luckily, there are some small steps you can take to set your business up for success now and in the future. Let’s get into exactly what you can do.  

How to Check if Your Products are Eligible

You’ll first want to see if your products can be shipped into Amazon. To do this, you will create a standard FBA Inbound Shipment in Seller Central. As you’re selecting your Shipping Plan options, you may see the following message: 

The alert reads: 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.

Through our testing, we were still able to create an inbound shipment even while this message was present. If you can complete each of the steps below without getting an error message, your product is once again eligible for inbound shipments to FBA.

7 Steps to Creating an Inbound FBA Shipment

  1. Go to the Manage Inventory Tab
  2. Select Send/Replenish Inventory for the chosen product
  3. Create a new shipping plan
  4. Set the quantity of units
  5. Select who will prep the goods: you or Amazon
  6. Print labels, if needed
  7. Review the assigned Amazon warehouse

If you do get an error message, try lowering the number of inbound units. Due to the increased demand from Stay-and-Home orders during COVID-19, Amazon is placing limits on how much inventory can be shipped in. 

We recommend testing this every day until you’re able to successfully create a shipment, especially if you have inventory waiting to be sent into FBA. You never know when the company will flip the switch for your specific products, though you should have the ability within the coming days (if you don’t already).

Other Notable COVID-19 Updates for Amazon Sellers

COVID-19 has rapidly changed the way we live and operate as a country… and as a world. Sometimes it feels hard to keep up with the news, the changes, and the best practices moving forward. 

Here at Viral Launch, we’re dedicated to helping third-party sellers navigate the Amazon seller journey, no matter how messy it may get. Here is a condensed list of the most important Amazon updates you should be aware of. 

  • Keeping Up with Demand: You may have noticed that Prime delivery dates have been pushed back by up to one month. Amazon is slowly gaining control and reinstating 2-day delivery as they’ve filled 100,000 new jobs since March are adding 75,000 more to keep up with demand.
  • Waived Fees: In March, Amazon announced they would waive the April 15 long-term storage fees plus two weeks of inventory fees for products stored in the U.S. and Europe. In addition, Amazon Lending direct loan repayments are on pause until at least April 30.
  • Account Suspension Pause: Earlier this month, Amazon temporarily paused suspensions related to supply chain and fulfillment issues. This is in effect until at least May 15. 
  • Delayed Prime Day: Amazon normally hosts its annual sales extravaganza in mid-July, but this year Prime Day will be delayed (likely until August 2020 at the earliest). 

Major updates are typically added to the “COVID-19 Related Announcements” News thread in Seller Central, and we will be sure to update the community frequently with pressing information.

How to Move Forward

If you’re a little bit uneasy about the state of the market right now, don’t worry. You’re not alone. COVID-19 has put all of us in uncharted territory, and so moving forward, all you can do is your best. As always, the team here at Viral Launch is here for you with the latest news and advice on which steps you should take to ultimately see success. In the wake of this pandemic, here are three ways you can make the best use of your time: 

1. Study the process. 

While some things have changed, the principles of success have remained. Think about it… there are more people than ever shopping online right now. And Amazon is doing everything it can to support the infrastructure that allows you to meet that demand. As an Amazon seller, you should familiarize yourself with the strategy behind a successful Amazon operation. This may look like brushing up on your skills with a free A-to-Z Amazon Course, or it may look like networking with like-minded people in an Amazon seller Facebook group. There is always something to learn, and like Oprah says… when you know better, you do better. 

2. Research the impacts. 

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 moving forward. Start your free trial to begin researching. 

3. Add to your product line.

Lots of countries are completely shut down, but many Chinese manufacturers are back up-and-running. And as Amazon gets a better grip on the magnitude of orders coming through, now actually isn’t a bad time to add to your storefront. It’s also more important than ever that you understand exactly what to expect in a market, so you’re not selling out in the first week or left with hundreds of products left sitting in a warehouse. With a reliable product finder and a robust market research tool, you can pinpoint markets that are ripe with opportunity now and make the most out of an otherwise crummy situation. Start researching for free now. 

How has COVID-19 affected your business? And what are your plans moving forward? We’d love to hear from you in the comments. Remember… we’re all in this together.


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 E-Commerce Brands Can Best Bounce Back In the Wake of the Coronavirus

While coronavirus has impacted nearly every aspect of the global economy over the past few weeks, e-commerce brands have been hit especially hard. Retailers with major ties to China have struggled to deal with significant interruptions to the supply chain as well as travel limitations between countries. 

The good news for e-commerce brands is that the spread of coronavirus in China has been slowing down, allowing factories to reopen. The bad news is that coronavirus is still a major concern worldwide and it is difficult to predict how its spread throughout the world will affect business. 

Because of the continued concern for the world population’s health, it’s imperative that e-commerce brands take careful steps to navigate this global issue, minimizing risks and maximizing opportunities. Here’s how you can revitalize your brand, despite any recent effects of this recent disease.

Increased Customer Communication

With the frequent shipping delays, inventory shortages, and unknown an unknown timeline for the end of the coronavirus, some businesses have been worried about dealing with upset customers. But even the best brands can’t control for unexpected events like global disease. Customers will understand this as long as you keep them in the loop. 

It’s true that upset customers can wreak havoc on your brand. Fifty-two percent of customers tell others to avoid a brand after a bad experience, and 47 percent of customers have switched to a different brand due to bad customer service. It’s essential to take care of your customer, so when circumstances are out of your control, the best thing to is update customers as the situation evolves.

You’ll earn the trust and loyalty of many people simply by being honest and showing you care. Share your estimated timeline for progress with customers and be clear that you will continue to update that timeline as you receive more information. When your operations are back to normal, you’ll have an even more solid customer base than before.

The Online Advantage

Rising anxiety about coronavirus is causing many customers to stay at home. This means e-commerce brands have a major advantage over brick-and-mortar. This is an excellent moment for online retailers to reach out to customers who need products, but don’t want to expose themselves to germs in public spaces.

In fact, e-commerce has helped the economy during disease outbreaks in the past. During the SARS outbreak of 2002 and 2003, Alibaba, China’s biggest e-commerce company, took off. Cell phone and Internet companies also thrived at the time. Due to the lack of reliable information about the disease provided by broadcast news, many people turned to their phones and computers to learn how to protect themselves. 

The SARS epidemic was tragic, causing numerous deaths throughout Asia. While millions of people were confined to their homes, however, the e-commerce sector worked to allow life to go on by offering services online. 

E-commerce has the chance to help the world economy during the current coronavirus outbreak in the same way that it helped during the SARS epidemic. It’s important to capitalize on this moment in order to keep your business alive as well as help those people who need your products.

Allowing Remote Business

The spread of a global disease is one of the many reasons to be grateful we have 21st century technology to work with. While there are plenty of aspects of business that must be conducted in person, administrative work, client meetings, and company-wide communication is possible to be conducted remotely. 

Especially if you are located in a region with a growing number of coronavirus cases, the more people who stay home, the easier it will be to contain the disease. The worst thing for your company would be for an outbreak to spread through the ranks of your entire company, completely immobilizing business. 

For those positions that require in-person work, be sure to emphasize the importance of employees watching for symptoms of sickness and staying home if they suspect they may not be fully healthy.  

Diversify Fulfillment Centers

Many e-commerce retailers have seen benefits of having fulfillment centers in a variety of geographic regions. It leads to faster shipping times and the ability to hold greater inventory, avoiding products being on back-order.

Diversifying your location for this centers is best practice in business at all times, not just during a global disease. But the rise of coronavirus has shown that if you are following this diversified location model already, the disease’s impact on your company will not be quite as harsh.  

Although multiple regions in China were hit by the coronavirus, some experienced more severe outbreaks than others. If you have fulfillment centers and warehouses in multiple locations, you increase your chances of being able to keep some of your company’s operations running during an outbreak. 

You’ll also benefit from using multiple fulfillment centers during a disease epidemic because you’ll be able to hold greater amounts of inventory in order to make up for a potential slowing of production in factories. Many businesses are currently seeing products run out without the ability to replace them due to the interruptions to the supply chain caused by the coronavirus. If you can inventory shortages, you’ll be able to win over the customers from other businesses that were not able to meet customer demands. Strong inventory management during a time like this is one of the biggest things that will set you apart as a brand.