What It’s Like Starting an Amazon Business in 2020 & 2021 with Kae Peterson

Is it too late to start an Amazon business in 2021? Not at all! We spoke with Kae Peterson, an Amazon seller who launched her brand in the past year.

On Follow The Data, we aim to cover the hottest topics for Amazon sellers. In this episode, we tackle the most common question we receive from those interested in starting their own online business: Is it too late to get in the game?

The short answer: absolutely NOT.

In this episode, host Cam Yoder chats with Kae Peterson, who knows firsthand that starting an Amazon business remains an excellent opportunity for entrepreneurs.

Kae’s background and experience in the volatile entertainment industry pushed her to search for more consistent, reliable income sources.

With an entrepreneurial spirit and appetite for learning, Kae charted her own path into Amazon and eCommerce. After successfully launching her first product in the past year, she’s looking to expand her business and online presence in the new year.

Be sure to check out the video below to learn how Kae made her leap into the Amazon marketplace, her recommended best practices for starting from scratch, and some inspirational gems to get your mind right!

HIGHLIGHTS:

INTRO (0:06)

Get to know Kae! Although a newbie on Amazon, she’s no rookie in entrepreneurship. Dating back to 2013, she’s ran a brick-and-mortar store and experienced success with music and modeling. So what led her to selling on Amazon?

It’s one thing to consider the prospect of selling on Amazon, it’s another to go through the stages before selling your first product. Kae walks us through the evolutions of her learning experience. (5:26)

Even with Kae’s unique background, her learning experience is a fairly common one. Once you’ve decided to start your online business, it’s all about finding a process that works for you. Finding experts you can learn from and accurate, reliable tools to discover and validate clever product ideas makes all the difference.

Additionally, Kae includes one crucial mistake that taught her a vital lesson with the product-finding process.

The cost of starting up an Amazon business can be a major deterrent. But Kae didn’t let the start-up costs slow her down, funding her own business in a creative way. (9:56)

Faced with the issue of not having the funds to confidently start her Amazon business, Kae took matters into her own hands. While programs such as Amazon Lending exist, the prospect of taking out a loan can be scary. So Kae started her own business as a way to fund her bigger vision, becoming a perfect example of how you can grind your way to make your dreams reachable.

Possessing a big picture strategy and learning from past experience are crucial for growth. What’s in Kae’s roadmap for finding products in 2021? (14:15)

There’s no greater teacher than experience. With her first Amazon product experience down, Kae offers insight on the elements of a product idea that gained emphasis for future products.

You’ve started selling on Amazon, but what happens next? Kae outlines her goals for in regard expanding her brand after launching. (22:15)

Every seller jumps into Amazon with goals and a purpose that is driven from within. Those components can determine your path beyond your first product launch.

With so much emphasis on making sure your first product is a home run, it can be easy to feel lost once the product is launched. Listen as Kae breaks down her long-term goals and what’s in-store for her brand for the year ahead.

Certainly, 2020 presented a unique experience for Amazon sellers. What issues are on the radar for sellers in the new year? (27:34)

After the past year, we could all use a dose of optimism. 2020 showed that challenges, both foreseeable and unforeseeable, will continue to persist and the successful will take them as they come and persevere.

A special thanks to Kae Peterson for hopping on the show and sharing her experience starting an Amazon business to this point. Make sure to give her a follow in the links provided below to follow her on her Amazon journey!

Connect with Kae:
Instagram @Iamwankaego & @GetThatCoinSisCEO

Head here to stay plugged into the podcast: https://virallaun.ch/FTD

Try the full suite of Viral Launch tools for FREE: http://virallaun.ch/FreeTrial

And as always, be sure to drop your email in the box below to receive the latest on Amazon!

Should You Start an Amazon FBA Business or Purchase an Existing One?

One of the most challenging aspects of starting a business is getting your product in front of the right audience. As Amazon owns about 49 percent of the U.S. e-commerce share, it makes sense to start an Amazon FBA business to sell your e-commerce products as your target market already prefers shopping there. 

Additionally, Amazon makes it easy for sellers to list, sell, and ship their products through their Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA) program. Here’s everything you need to know about an Amazon FBA business and whether you should start an Amazon FBA business or purchase an existing one.

What is FBA?

Some 73 percent of Amazon sellers in the U.S. use the FBA program, making it one of the most popular e-commerce sales options. Amazon FBA sellers receive immediate access to Amazon Prime customers, which can significantly impact the bottom line of the business. On average, Amazon Prime customers spend $1,400 per year on Amazon, whereas standard Amazon customers only spend $600 per year. 

The other reason why FBA businesses are popular is that it’s convenient. 

With an Amazon FBA business, you don’t have to ship, package, or store any goods yourself. Instead, you pay a small fee, and Amazon employees handle all of this for you.

Shipping fees are up to $5.26 for large items (items up to 21 pounds), and they also have oversized pricing options for much larger items. 

Storage fees are also reasonable at $0.69 per cubic foot for standard items January through September (October through December fees may be higher to accommodate increased demand during holidays).

You’ll also have to decide whether you want to be a professional seller or an individual seller. You aren’t required to have a professional seller account to have an Amazon FBA business, though it may be cheaper depending on how many items you plan to sell. A professional seller account pays a flat rate of $39.99 per month, whereas an individual account pays $0.99 per item.

Therefore, if you plan to sell more than 40 items per month, it’s likely more economical to purchase a professional seller account. 

So if you’re looking to own an Amazon FBA business, is it better to purchase an existing business or start one from scratch?

While there is no right or wrong answer, here are a few questions you should ask yourself to determine which is the best solution for your situation and goals:

Do You Have The Capital?

The first question you should ask yourself is if you have the means to purchase an existing business.

An Amazon FBA business usually sells for about two to three times its yearly net profit. In other words:

Annual Net Profit x Multiple (usually 2 or 3) = Valuation

Therefore, if you want to purchase a business that makes about $10,000 in annual net profit, you can expect to pay $20,000 – 30,000.

Unfortunately, if you don’t have any capital upfront, your only choice is to build one from scratch, which can still be quite profitable!

Is This a Long Term or Short Term Investment?

Another question you should ask yourself before getting started with an Amazon FBA business is how long you’re willing to invest in the project. 

If you’re willing to invest in this business for a few years, starting from scratch may offer you a more significant ROI. Getting started can be challenging as you’ll have to find your own suppliers and build reviews and a brand. Therefore, during those first several months, you may not make a dime, so you can’t expect to flip the store in a few months. 

On the other hand, if you are looking to purchase a store, sell for a few months, and then flip it quickly, an established store is a better option.

Building momentum in a brand new company takes time. Not all sellers are profitable in the first year of a new Amazon FBA business, making it difficult to flip for a reasonable price as your net profit may be zero or negative. 

However, once you pass a certain threshold of reviews and brand equity, exponential growth becomes possible.

What Skill Sets Do You Have? 

Some people entering the Amazon FBA world have a background in business or marketing. If this is the case, one of the best ways to decide whether you’ll purchase or start an FBA business is to play to your strengths.

For example, if you previously worked for an e-commerce store and understand how to grow it, you may perform better if you purchase an existing store and grow it.

However, suppose you worked at a startup company and understand how to be resourceful, play the long game, and hang in there during the first challenging year of zero profit. In that case, you might be more successful starting a business from scratch.

Building a business from scratch and taking a business from five figures to six or seven figures requires two very different skill sets, so play to your strengths.

What Kind of Risk Would You Rather Take?

Starting any business involves some risk. However, the type of risk you take differs based on whether you purchase an existing business or build one from scratch.

Building one from scratch requires zero capital risk upfront though your chances of becoming profitable are much lower.

If you purchase a business that is currently profitable, your chances of remaining profitable are much greater. However, if you suddenly run into problems with suppliers, knock-off items or pricing wars and your business falls apart, you’ll lose a larger investment.

Therefore, while the risks differ, both have risks. So would you rather gamble time or money? Here are your choices:

Buy a Business = Higher Probability of Profitability + Increase Capital Risk

Start a Business = Lower Probability of Profitability + Lower Capital Risk

What Is Your End Goal?

Ultimately, the right decision depends largely on your goals. Do you plan to grow businesses from scratch and then sell them? If that’s your end goal, starting a business from scratch is the best way to learn.

Above all, running an Amazon FBA business is similar to running any business. Regardless of whether you purchase one or start one from scratch, it requires a lot of time, dedication, and commitment, and you can’t give up on it after a few months. You’ll have to put out fires and appease angry customers, though the rewards of growing a thriving business are more than financial. Get started now, and commit yourself to keep going!

Ready to get in the game? Start your free trial with Viral Launch and gain access to the seller tools powering some of Amazon’s biggest sellers.

The Viral Launch Black Friday & Cyber Monday Special

Thanks to sellers, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are two of the most anticipated shopping dates on the calendar.

At Viral Launch, we believe the sellers deserve a deal too!

That’s why we’re offering them 50% off the first month of Pro monthly, our most popular plan.

What’s included in a Pro Monthly subscription? Everything you need to find winning products, be a master of your market, and keep tabs on your listing’s performance. Whether you’re looking for your first product to source and sell or an FBA veteran, our Pro plan has everything you need for every step of the way.

With a Pro Seller plan, you’ll receive access to SEVEN insightful tools to take the next steps in your FBA journey:

  • Product Discovery: Quickly uncover brilliant product ideas to start selling on Amazon! With 4 unique search types and plenty of filters, sellers can reverse engineer product ideas that align with their goals and resources.
  • Market Intelligence: Master your market to ensure your product’s success! Gain access to the most accurate sales estimates along with price, and review trend data to understand the market and validate product ideas.
  • Keyword Research: Eliminate the guesswork with the most accurate search volume estimate data available. Search for a product and instantly see a list of all related keywords with current and historical search data.
  • Competitor Intelligence: Know the competition better than they know themselves with our cutting-edge reverse ASIN lookup tool. Find out what they’re doing right or wrong and use that info to optimize your listing, ads, and more.
  • Listing Builder: Craft an SEO-optimized product listing designed to convert with our time-saving tool. With a comprehensive keyword list to draw from and real-time feedback with our Optimization Score, anybody can create their listing’s copy like a pro!
  • Listing Analyzer: Never miss out on a sale due to a lousy listing ever again! The innovative tool provides data-based feedback and performs a SWOT analysis to make sure every aspect of your listing is top-notch.
  • Keyword Manager: Uncover cutting-edge keyword analytics such as index checks, organic and ad rank tracking, search volume trends, badge notifications, and keyword scores.

But this deal won’t last forever! Lock this in before the end of day on Cyber Monday 2020 to gain access to the seller tools powering some of Amazon’s most successful sellers.

Skyrocket Your Online or Amazon Business with FBA Alternatives Such as Deliverr

In this episode of Follow The Data, we’re interviewing Michael Sene from Deliverr – one of the top 3PL companies eCommerce sellers are tapping into for explosive growth.

Amazon’s revolutionary two-day Prime shipping changed the logistics game forever and played a sizable role in making it the eCommerce powerhouse it is today. Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) is one of the many pillars that make becoming an Amazon seller appealing and possible.

But it isn’t the only way to store your products and fulfill your orders on time.

Amazon coach and Follow the Data host Cam Yoder sat with Michael Sene from Deliverr to discuss the advantages of Fulfillment By Merchant (FBM) third-party logistics.

Like Amazon Prime, Deliverr boasts fast and affordable shipping options that enable multi-channel logistics to sellers of any size. However, unlike Prime, Deliverr allows for fulfillment on orders outside of Amazon. As a result, they’re simplifying the fulfillment experience and allowing sellers the opportunity to explore omnichannel options.

When COVID-19 hit, Amazon sellers saw their inventory (and profit) freeze. Many started searching for alternative options for fulfillment and researching the growing industry of 3PL companies such as Deliverr.

Alternative fulfillment options allow you to maintain the shipping speed and convenience necessary to continue growing while opening the door to easily host and sell your products on websites like Walmart, Shopify, Wish or eBay (not to mention protecting your eCommerce operations when big events like COVID-19 or the holidays hit).

Check out this installment of the Follow The Data podcast for more information on 3PL companies like Deliverr and if FBM via 3PL is right for your business.

HIGHLIGHTS

Who is Michael? What is Deliverr? (0:00)

Get to know Michael Sene, Director of Sales and Partnerships at Deliverr. If you haven’t already heard of Deliverr, get up to speed with one of the companies to watch in ecommerce.

On Deliverr’s rise, and why merchants are flocking to their service. (1:45)

Based in San Francisco, Deliverr has skyrocketed since its 2017 inception thanks to its speedy and affordable fulfillment platform. Michael breaks down what solutions they’re offering to innovate the fulfillment space and become a preferred service for sellers.

Fulfillment has made significant strides in recent years. What do the next 2-3 years of fulfillment look like? (16:00)

The appeal of Amazon Prime’s two-day shipping changed eCommerce forever, but it’s not the end of advancements in shipping fulfillment. Is same-day shipping a realistic possibility? Sene gives us a look into what Deliverr is doing to shape the future of fulfillment.

What should sellers be thinking about when considering the migration to a 3PL? (22:41)

For existing Amazon sellers, change can feel like a risky proposition and is easy to put off. But Amazon is continuously evolving, and all avenues to earn a leg up on the competition should be weaponized. Sene provides his expert insight on what aspects should be considered when migrating from FBA to FBM using a 3PL.

What sets Deliverr apart from the competition? (26:45)

Deliverr is at the forefront of transforming logistics as we know it, but they aren’t the only 3PL. Hear from the expert on why Deliverr is the hottest name in logistics with seemingly limitless potential.

For more information on whether Deliverr is right for you, be sure to head to their website. With powerful integrations and shipping options for Amazon, Walmart, Shopify, Wish, and more, Deliverr is an up-and-coming 3PL that is shifting eCommerce as we know it and helping sellers fulfill their dreams.

Amazon Updates: Brand New Seller Communication Guidelines

Amazon announced imminent updates to its Buyer-Seller communication guidelines. Does this affect your store?

Sellers talked, Amazon listened.

After receiving feedback from sellers and developers about aspects of the Amazon Communication Guidelines being confusing, Amazon has attempted to simplify and clarify their updated policy.

The updated guidelines go into effect on November 3, 2020. Wise sellers will familiarize themselves with these changes to avoid being left behind during this hectic Q4.

Violating Communication Guidelines risks limitations on Permitted Messages or even a suspension of selling privileges. It’s important to remember these guidelines exist to maintain the mutually beneficial relationship between sellers and buyers on Amazon.

What’s Allowed?

Perhaps the most significant, actionable update, sellers maintain the option to directly ask customers for a review or feedback.

“You may send proactive Permitted Messages for the following reasons: resolving an issue with order fulfillment, requesting additional information required to complete the order, asking a return-related question, sending an invoice, requesting product review and/or seller feedback, scheduling the delivery of a heavy or bulky item, scheduling a Home Services appointment, verifying a custom design, or any other reason where the contact is required for the buyer to receive their purchase.”

In terms of timeframe, sellers can only send messages to a customer within 30 days of the order being placed. Sellers can send 1 message per order placed. After 30 days, contacting them is a no-go unless they are to place another order with you.

You retain the option to include instructions or warranty information, but not messages that simply say “thank you” without approval.

Sellers can breathe a sigh of relief, as they can still utilize third-party applications to help simplify the review generation, provided those third-party applications utilize Amazon’s “Request A Review” button. Viral Launch’s Review Automation tool, included inside of Market Intelligence, automates this process to make it simple and effective for sellers to maximize their review boosting efforts.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that Amazon still handles much of the communication with sellers to set a standard across the marketplace and streamline the buyer and seller experience. Amazon requests that sellers promptly confirm shipment of all orders, primarily completed in the Manage Orders feature. Once you’ve confirmed shipment, Amazon fires off a confirmation email to the buyer.

What’s NOT Allowed?

While most of the updated policy remains the same in practicality, it’s worth reviewing as a refresher. Amazon continually tweaks its policies, and staying aware of these changes can be a great advantage.

One of the eye-catching notes also included in the policy is that “spelling errors or grammar issues” may not be included in messaging.

As always, it might be worth running your messages by a second person or through an app such as Grammarly to make sure you’re figuratively crossing your t’s and dotting your i’s when it comes to spelling and grammar.

If you sell internationally, Google Translate is a free app that may come in handy. This is especially notable for those who sell outside of their residence and may not be fluent in the customer’s language. Sellers must respond to buyers in the customer’s Language of Preference.

The updated guidelines dictate no tracking pixels or images, links to opt-out of messaging, or external links for formatting purposes. Additionally, approved message and graphic sizes are specified in the guidelines, so ensure your layout is within Amazon’s recommendations.

For questions regarding your communication methods, it’s best to contact Seller Central Support.

Verify your messaging templates are in line with the updated Communication Guidelines by November 3 to optimize your selling experience! Lastly, be sure to drop your email below to stay informed about the latest Amazon updates and news.

The Complete History of Amazon Prime Day

Amazon Prime Day has only existed for a few years, but has made a tremendous impact since its inception.

Amazon Prime Day 2020 is finally here! Shoppers and sellers rejoice!

After being postponed amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Prime Day has arrived for its first-ever Q4 date. Typically held in July to fill the summer shopping season’s void, Prime Day will instead serve as an unofficial kickoff to a holiday season unlike any other.

Since the first-ever Prime Day in 2015, the amount of Prime Subscribers has more than tripled. An increase in subscribers means an increase in Prime Day participants, which leads to even more sales that can benefit more sellers!

An instant success, Prime Day has grown exponentially since its inception.

In just a few years, Amazon has turned a special event to celebrate a landmark anniversary into one of the most preeminent shopping days in the world.

To celebrate its arrival, it’s worth looking at how the eCommerce mega-event has evolved since its inception.

Prime Day 2015

The first-ever Amazon Prime Day touted more deals than Black Friday.

The first-ever Prime Day took place on July 15, 2015, to commemorate 20 years since Amazon.com went live and 10 years of Prime. Lasting 24 hours, the first-ever Prime Day features participation from 9 countries, including the U.S., UK, Spain, Japan, Italy, Germany, France, Canada, and Austria.

Sales outpaced the previous Black Friday, which was the biggest Black Friday to date. Customers purchased hundreds of thousands of Amazon devices, furthering their reach with items such as the Echo, Kindle, and Fire TV Stick. For many, this sales event introduced Amazon Alexa, a voice-activated virtual assistant AI, into households worldwide.

Amazon sellers who utilized Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) experienced an unprecedented amount of sales, as unit sales grew nearly 300% worldwide.

Prime Day 2016

After an astonishingly successful debut, the hype over the sales spectacle only grew for its sequel. The original 9 countries participated yet again and added Belgium to its reach.

Despite some users reporting checkout issues, likely a result of the massive influx of consumer traffic and consumers checking out at such a rampant rate, Prime Day 2016 was a success of epic proportions. 

Over the course of the record-setting sales day…

  • over 2 million toys were purchased
  • more than 1 million pairs of shoes were bought
  • 200,000+ headphones were sold on the platform

After selling 24,000 Instant Pot pressure cookers in 2015, that number ballooned to 215,000 in the same 24-hour span. Prime subscribers purchased an average of one Alexa-exclusive deal per second.

Prime Day 2017

How do you follow up on the sensation of the first two Prime Days? You expand it from 24 hours to 30 hours. All the while running one-day sales specials across Amazon categories in the five days before Prime Day officially began on July 11th. 

Did the extended length put a damper on the excitement? Of course not! 

More new Prime members joined on Prime Day 2017 than any single day in Amazon history to this point. This statistic highlights the mutually beneficial brilliance of Prime Day, as it rewards its customers while simultaneously promoting the Prime service.

Partially thanks to the record-setting sales event, the Prime subscriber base grew to the 100 million milestone in 2017.

In 2017, the number of countries participating in the Prime Day grew, with Mexico and China joining the fun. Orders on the Amazon app more than doubled the 2016’s mobile orders, marking a turning point in how customers shop.

Prime Day 2018

After Prime Day 2017 proved the sales event didn’t need to be confined to just one day, it was expanded to 36 hours and was the most extensive global shopping day and a half in Amazon history.

Small and medium-sized Amazon businesses exceed $1.5 billion in sales. After acquiring Whole Foods in the previous year, Amazon included the grocery store with Prime deals for the first time ever.

Continuing to innovate, Prime Day 2018 saw the debut of Prime Day Launches for new product launches and Unboxing Prime Day events in select cities. Unboxing Prime Day saw local celebrations in certain cities, with special entertainment. The Unboxing event in New York saw a live concert headlined by Ariana Grande. 

However, expanding to grocery stores and holding concerts by pop superstars didn’t come at the expense of Prime Day’s signature lightning deals and mega markdowns.

Customers purchased more than five million items in each of the following categories: Toys, Beauty, PCs and Computer Accessories, Apparel and Kitchen products. Prime members purchased over 300,000 Instant Pot 7-in-1 pressure cookers in the 36 hours.

Prime Day 2019

Amazon Music got in on the Prime Day celebration with a concert from music superstar Taylor Swift.

For the first time ever, Prime Day became a full two-day event, lasting 48 hours on July 15th and 16th. The list of participating countries doubled from the original 9, with 18 unique countries included.

Sales exceeded the previous Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. Over 175 million items were purchased and Amazon devices such as the Echo Dot, Fire TV Stick, and Fire TV Stick 4K saw top-selling deals.

The 48-hour event was even headlined by 10-time Grammy award winning superstar Taylor Swift.

An estimated $7.16 billion worth of goods were sold on Prime Day 2019.

The massive amount of goods sold shows just how far Amazon has come in only a few years, with sales and Prime subscribers expanding so rapidly.

Prime Day 2020

Better late than never, Amazon Prime Day kicks off today in place of the regular mid-July date due to complications resulting from the worldwide coronavirus pandemic. 

More than ever, Amazon has emphasized the commitment to helping small businesses as they continue to recover from the unforeseen consequences of COVID-19. Amazon has offered $10 credit to use on Prime Day when members spend at least $10 on items sold by select small businesses within the platform. 

Prime Day 2020 will surely be yet another enormous worldwide sales event. The mid-October start date will undoubtedly be interesting to see how it stacks up with the usual July deals. Industry experts forecast Prime Day 2020 to crush the competition yet again.

Prime Day taking place so close to Black Friday will undoubtedly steal some of the thunder from Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and has the potential to change what we know of the holiday shopping season.

As traditional retailers face struggles presented by COVID-19, ecommerce appears poised to dominate this holiday season. With an extended shopping void due to the delayed Prime Day, the appetite for deals could be at an all-time high.

Where does it go from here? There’s no telling!

As Amazon continues to expand its reach, there truly is no limit to how expansive Prime Day can be! Who would’ve thought that a Taylor Swift concert would headline Prime Day? Or that Prime Day would be in grocery stores, as it is with Amazon-owned Whole Foods?

The possibilities are endless, and the Prime subscriber base continues to expand in the U.S. and around the world. 

For more on Amazon Prime Day 2020 and all that’s happening on the Amazon marketplace, be sure to subscribe by dropping your email below!

Amazon Prime Day 2020 Scheduled Date Leaked

According to reports, Amazon Prime Day 2020 has a start date at long last. The biggest day in eCommerce is slated to last 48 hours, starting on October 13th.

The long-awaited signature shopping holiday from Amazon typically occurs in July but experienced a delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its complications. Instead, Prime Day 2020 will kick off an absolutely loaded Q4 in mid-October.

Amazon Prime Day 2019 was the largest shopping event in Amazon history. Lasting 48 hours, Amazon offered over 1 million deals leading to over 175 million items sold, more than the previous Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.

With just a few weeks to prepare, sellers should take all possible precautions to handle an influx of sales, such as ensuring inventory is adequately stocked and replenishing the warehouse as sales. Sellers who are not on Page One for desired search results pages have a little bit of time to increase their organic rank through promotions, PPC advertising, or other methods to boost visibility and take advantage of the inevitable increase in traffic.

The mid-October start date beats other retailers to the punch on the upcoming holiday season. In an ordinary year, Black Friday is known for being the unofficial start to the holiday shopping season. However, Prime Day will steal some of Black Friday’s thunder as customers flock to the Amazon marketplace looking to take advantage of the massive markdowns and limited-time Lightning Deals.

While traditional retail suffers from COVID-related restrictions and customers opting to stay inside for their shopping, 2020’s Q4 has all the makings of a hectic holiday season that will present unique challenges and provide tremendous opportunities for sellers.

Sellers who are able to successfully navigate through the potential roadblocks in these unprecedented times will reap the immense benefits. As this holiday season becomes more imminent, it’s as critical as ever to have the data in your hands.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook and YouTube to stay up-to-date as we march toward Amazon Prime Day 2020 and a holiday season like no other. We’ll be sure to keep you posted with the latest Amazon news, along with tips and insights to make Q4 is your best sales season yet!

WeChat Banned: 6 Alternative Messaging Apps for Amazon Sellers

On Friday morning, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced plans to ban downloads to TikTok and WeChat effective Sunday, September 20th.

Users who have already downloaded the apps will retain access for the time-being, but will be unable to download updated versions of the app in the future under current restrictions.

“The only real change as of Sunday night will be [TikTok users] won’t have access to improved apps, updated apps, upgraded apps or maintenance,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Friday morning on Fox Business.

For Amazon sellers, the restrictions to the apps may present a roadblock — and not because it complicates their ability to upload their version of the latest TikTok dance craze.

Many Amazon sellers who use manufacturers abroad in countries such as China rely upon WeChat for communication with their suppliers. Any disruptions in communication could be crucial for Amazon sellers, especially as a loaded Q4 awaits.

While those with WeChat already installed will maintain the ability to use the messaging, social media, and social media, US servers carrying data will no longer work. This means messages will be sent through servers overseas, which will likely take much longer and complicate communication.

Affected sellers would be wise to establish another means of communication to exchange messages with manufacturers as soon as possible. There are quite a few WeChat alternatives to choose from: 

WhatsApp: Perhaps the mobile chatting platform most similar to WeChat, WhatsApp allows quick and easy messaging without pesky SMS charges. WhatsApp is a stripped down version of WeChat that focuses more on chat and less on being a social media and search engine.

Slack: As more and more companies opt to go the remote route in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Slack has become an integral part of businesses in 2020. Slack is commonly at the top of the list for collaborative productivity tools as it contains seemingly endless integrations to fit the needs of professionals.

Line: The Japanese-based messaging app is free and gives users the ability to communicate via chat, voice, or video. 

Telegram: With an emphasis on end-to-end encryption to keep your messages between you and the intended recipient, Telegram can be used via app or desktop. Telegram is expected to announce end-to-end encrypted group videos before the end of 2020, and its popularity could see an uptick soon as a result.

Weibo: Usually referred to as the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, Weibo has over 500 million active users and gives you the option to post publicly or send private messages.

Facebook Messenger: Chances are, you already have a Facebook and utilized the handy Facebook Messenger app with family, friends, or coworkers. Facebook’s messaging app is free to use with a Facebook account and is American-owned, so there’s less risk from potential U.S. governmental interference.

With an unprecedented Q4 ahead, avoiding potential communication hazards will be increasingly critical to your company’s ultimate success.

As with much of the recent news regarding the availability of TikTok and WeChat, the situation remains fluid and is something Amazon sellers should be keeping tabs on.

5 Tips on How to Improve Your Amazon Ranking

Whether you’re just starting or a longtime seller, every seller should be taking advantage of these tips on how to improve your Amazon ranking.

On Tuesday, Amazon kicked off their Amazon Accelerate virtual conference for current and prospective sellers looking to boost their Amazon ranking.

After a session titled “Getting Started: The Seller Journey,” guests participated in a live Q&A with Conner Sigman, an Account Representative at Amazon. As they took questions from the digital audience, one question dominated in popularity:

“How do I get on the first page [of search results]?”

It’s a question that has raged on since 1999 when third-party sellers were allowed to sell on Amazon’s platform. But rarely do we get answers straight from the horse’s mouth on how to maximize rank. Sigman answered with five helpful tips sellers should be doing to increase their opportunity to land on the coveted page one.

At Viral Launch, we strive to provide helpful solutions for Amazon sellers. Since our inception, we’ve studied what steps sellers can take to improve organic rank. 

Below, we’ll share five recommendations on how to rank higher on Amazon and how our software suite of tools can help you accomplish these tasks.

Step 1: Choose Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA)

“Using FBA immediately will give you the Prime badge and give you options for a couple of different advertising opportunities,” Sigman explained.

FBA comes with not-so-fun fees, but the cost is well worth the benefits of being a part of Amazon’s legendary fulfillment program.

Utilizing FBA guarantees the customer receives the full Amazon treatment that they are accustomed to experiencing. Free two-day shipping, the valuable Prime badges, and Amazon-led customer service ensure a sturdy foundation for your product. Customers want to know that they’ll receive items quickly and be taken care of appropriately if any help is necessary.

Amazon takes care of all of that for you, simultaneously making your product more likely to be purchased while also taking cumbersome aspects of e-commerce off your plate. Choosing the FBA route will also help you out with #4 on this list!

Step 2: Optimize your product detail page

Consider your personal buying habits. Customers are drawn to main product images that pop off the page and sales-inducing copy that stands out.

“Product detail page is another really good opportunity to show how important your product is and how it differentiates from the rest,” Sigman said about product listings.

A crucial part of the formula to elevate your rank is increasing sales velocity. Above all, your product detail page must have captivating product images to make a positive first impression and SEO-friendly, sales-inducing copy.

For this step, Viral Launch actually offers a few helpful tools to help your listing stand out.

Listing Analyzer performs a SWOT analysis on key aspects of your listing, including photos and copy, to make sure it’s optimal. Listing Analyzer informs you of what facets of your listing are thriving and what has room for improvement.

Keyword Research and Listing Builder are a powerful duo that provides everything you need for an optimized listing for your listing’s written content. 

Keyword Research provides valuable data in the form of an exhaustive keyword list and search volume estimates to inform you of your most potent traffic drivers.

Listing Builder allows sellers to experiment with their listing’s copy and strategically place keywords in areas with the most indexing weight.

To be eligible to rank for a specific keyword or phrase, it must be included somewhere in your listing. The title and bullet points possess the most indexing weight, so you’ll want to prioritize your more prized keywords accordingly.

Consider #1 and #2 to be the base level foundation for a successful, high-ranking listing. While these two alone do not guarantee a high ranking, it’s nearly impossible for a third-party seller to climb their way to the top without them in place.

Once you master these tips, the rest becomes much easier to tactfully execute.

Step 3: Drive traffic through advertising and promotions

You’ve set your listing to convert, but how will people find your listing?

The two popular avenues to boosting discoverability for your Amazon listing are advertising or running promotions that drive external traffic.

To boost ranking through either of these options, your product listing would need to receive credit for purchase as if it came via a keyword either through advertising or search. When driving external traffic to your product listing to improve rank, make sure you use a two-step URL that includes the targeted keyword to achieve the intended results.

Two-step URLs require the customer to arrive at a search results page where your product is featured exclusively to complete the purchase.

Running a Launch, or a discounted promotional giveaway to a buyer group with substantial size can be an excellent way to drive exposure and sales to your listing without relying on customers to stumble upon your product listing organically.

Another great option to boost external traffic to climb the Amazon ranks is ManyChat. ManyChat requires a bit of technical skill, but the results make it a no-brainer to learn. As we detailed in a prior post focusing on driving external traffic, we sum up the ManyChat process as such:

“To recap the basic steps for a ManyChat campaign:

Create ads and posts to provide an offer to your audience and direct them to messenger for engagement with ManyChat.

Develop a ManyChat script, first implementing some sort of simple engagement step.

If someone engages with the chat, provide them with the coupon code, steps to claim the code, and a link to purchase (using a targeted URL for the link)”

Advertising your product is a great way to get your product in front of potential customers. Amazon offers Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising that allows you to choose exact keywords or opposing product pages to advertise on to capture some sales.

“The first thing I would say is to start a pay-per-click campaign; even if you want to budget $5 a day, it will help a lot.”

Kinetic and Keyword Manager are two tools within the Viral Launch fleet of seller tools that help you run, monitor, and automate your PPC campaigns.

Keyword Manager showcases your high-priority keywords and notifies you of its organic and sponsored rank for each keyword. You can even sign up for rank change notifications to stay up-to-date on how ads or promotions impact your ranking in real-time.

Kinetic is our all-encompassing PPC automation tool that simplifies creating and optimizing your PPC campaigns from start-to-finish.

Step 4: Earn reviews

Let’s take another step back and think about our own buying habits. You searched for a product. Attractive product images caught your eye. The compelling copy explains why you need this and answers any questions you might have. But before you Add to Cart, you want to see what customers have to say about this product.

Sigman highlighted Amazon’s stance on customer reviews, “The product detail page and customer reviews are also something we really cherish here at Amazon.”

By placing average review rating and review count directly below the product title, customers can quickly see past consumer feedback. Bad reviews or no reviews at all risk losing consumer trust, and that can spell doom for your product.

Amazon’s Early Reviewer Program helps sellers garner their first five reviews to compete with more mature products. We strongly recommend paying the fee for the program to get your listing off the ground, but the program ends after your fifth review.

After the fifth review, there are very few options with Amazon’s terms of service for sellers to generate reviews. You’ll find competitor tools and Facebook groups to help boost reviews. But, Amazon can and will erase those reviews and provide a warning or ban to sellers who utilize black-hat methods.

Enter Viral Launch’s Request Automation tool. 

Within the Market Intelligence Chrome extension, sellers can send review requests in bulk. It’s a time-saving hack that is entirely within Amazon’s Terms of Service!

Step 5: Be Price-Competitive

It’s no secret that Amazon can be a dog-eat-dog marketplace, and that’s a hallmark of its success. A competitive marketplace means sellers have to box out competitors, resulting in a lower price for customers. Sellers need to remain price-competitive to keep a steady flow of sales coming in. 

As previously mentioned, sales velocity is critical towards boosting and maintaining your Amazon ranking. If your product isn’t price-competitive with others in your market, picking up optimal sales velocity is an uphill battle.

With Viral Launch’s Market Intelligence and Listing Analyzer tools, you can quickly inspect and examine your competition. As displayed in the image for #2 on this list, Listing Analyzer will show you the average market price.

Market Intelligence takes a more granular approach to keeping tabs on rival sellers. Search a keyword to find your product, and you’ll see a full list of significant metrics of each top-selling competitor.

Clicking on any of the data points in orange and you’ll also be able to see this data historically. As a result, you catch sight of when your competition raised or lowered their price and how it impacted sales.

One Last Note On Sales Velocity

The importance of sales velocity can’t be understated in regard to boosting or maintaining rank. Sales rank is updated hourly on Amazon, so the Amazon ranking algorithm is continuously checking for sales trends.

To rank with the top-sellers in your market, you need to sell like them. Market research tools like Market Intelligence provide all you need to know about how competition performs on page one. Depending on the market, it may only take a day or two of high sales velocity to see results.

Utilizing PPC or a Launch are two recommended strategies for boosting visibility.

At Viral Launch, we possess a tool for each step of your Amazon journey to help you achieve out-of-this-world results. Start your free trial today!

Introducing Amazon Accelerate: A Free Virtual Conference for Sellers Sept. 1–3

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!