Amazon 101 - The Basics: How to Sell on Amazon

This article reviews the basic components of how to succeed on Amazon. For a full walkthrough of how to create your Amazon account in the first place, sign up for a free (no credit card required) trial of the eSale Portal here and download the guide from the first page.

Amazon is an e-commerce leader with more than 244 million customers globally and more than 2 million merchants selling items on its marketplaces. Over the last 20 years, Amazon has grown from a seller of just books to a marketplace where customers can buy nearly everything and merchants can sell nearly anything. In fact, in 2014 third-party sellers on Amazon shipped over 2 billion items. Sellers on Amazon can choose an "Individual" or "Professional" selling plan, but to use a software provider such as eSale, sellers must select the "Professional" level, which cost $39.99 per month plus a commission on each sale ranging from 8%-16% depending on the product category. Despite the number of customers shopping on Amazon, success doesn't happen automatically and there are six things to keep in mind when selling on Amazon:

Seller Name

Your Amazon seller name is not the most important factor in determining whether or not you will succeed, but it definitely helps to create a sense of credibility and branding. Some things to keep in mind when coming up with your shop name:

1. Originality is good - Names that are memorable and interesting have a better chance of being remembered by your customers, as are those that can invoke an emotional connection.
2. Simplicity is also good - Long names are hard for us to comprehend and remember, so keep it to the point. Capitalize multiple letters where it makes sense to separate words and try to avoid uncommon spellings so that it's easy to find you again.
3. Be yourself - This is your business, not someone else's. Make sure your name represents you and your style.
4. Make sure it's available - Search for the shop name on Amazon and on various search engines and social media platforms. If someone searches for your name, will you come up or will someone else? Double check to make sure your name isn't trademarked by someone else either.
5. Don't let your name limit you - If you only sell one type of product, it might make sense to have that be a word in your shop name. But if you're thinking about expanding into other categories, you don't want to mislead customers who read your name.
6. Add modifiers if your name isn't available - Adding words such as "shop", "store", "boutique", and others to your shop name can help you set it up even if someone else has a similar name. Be careful with this though - you don't want to be confused with someone else!

Product Selection

Amazon isn't tailored to one category over another, though some have argued that lower-priced items do better than higher-priced items (which is not necessarily the case for items sold by third-party sellers or in speciality categories such as Luxury Beauty or Fine Art). And the customers who shop on Amazon aren't necessarily the same ones who shop on other channels or who come to see your products in person, so put all of your items up there and see what happens! Let your Amazon customers tell you what's working and not working. After a few months of seeing what items are selling the best, make adjustments as warranted.

Think about when you go shopping either online or offline - do you prefer to see a wide range of products or do you want to see only a handful? A broader selection gives you credibility and the best opportunity to sell something. Amazon doesn't have a limit to the number of products you can list so take full advantage of the opportunity!

Product Titles

The title of your product is by far the most important factor in determining whether it will sell. Not only is it the first thing a customer reads about your product both inside and outside of Amazon, but it also helps Amazon determine how relevant your product is to a customer's search (and therefore how high up to show it on the page of results).

Make sure to clearly describe your product at the beginning of the product title - start strong and use keywords you think a shopper may search for. Be sure to also put in your seller name somewhere in the title. For example, "Vintage Gold Necklace with 14-inch Chain by John's Gems" is a better title than "John's Gems 14-inch Necklace - Gold and Vintage".

Keywords

Keywords are another big part of Amazon's search algorithm and are very helpful for showing your products when customers search for them. Use a mixture of specific and general keywords, such as "fine jewelry", "gold necklace", "necklace", "vintage jewelry", "vintage necklace", "fun jewelry", etc. Put yourself in the shoes of a customer - if you yourself would not use that word or phrase to search for a product, it's probably not a good one.

Images

The quality of product images is probably the thing that varies the most among Amazon sellers. When you personally shop online, you can tell the difference between good and bad images, and you should keep that in mind when taking images of your own products. You don't need to be a professional photographer, but we do recommend showing at least a few different views of your products (as a side note, eSale can help optimize your images for display on Amazon):

1. The plain shot - Your product clearly visible against a plain white background. It's the best way to show your product for what it is and the plain background helps show off the details, even for a white product.
2. The reference point - Your product next to something else to show relative size (such as a necklace on a neck or a bar of soap in a hand). This image gives customers a better sense of how big your product is since it can sometimes be hard to visualize when given just dimensions.
3. The lifestyle - Your product in its "natural element". This image is perfect for a piece of art or clothing to help the customer get a sense of what it'll look like in action.
4. The container - If your product comes in a nice-looking box or case, showing an image of that can help complete the circle for a customer.

You'll notice that we didn't mention the "close up" as we suggest for other marketplaces. This is because if the image is at least 1000x1000 pixels, customers can automatically zoom in on the image while on the Amazon detail page. And note that all images need to comply with Amazon's image guidelines which prohibit backgrounds amongst other things.

Descriptions

When you sell your products online, you lose the opportunity to talk to your customers directly. Your product descriptions therefore need to be just as robust as if you were actually having a conversation with someone. Be a mix of both sales-focused and technically descriptive and ensure that all of someone's questions are answered by what you write. How big is the product? Who is it for? How did you make it? Why is it better than something else? What is it made out of? Do your products justice and don't skimp on the descriptions! Good grammar and spelling are important too, as is making sure that your descriptions match your brand style.

Price

Pricing is the biggest concern we hear from Amazon sellers - "How should we price our products to make money but also compete against other sellers?" In short, the price of your product should represent the true value of your item, which admittedly can be hard to determine.

Make sure that your price represents the quality and craftsmanship of your items, and ensure that your titles/descriptions validate your price. Adding words such as "handcrafted", "one-of-a-kind", or "limited edition" can help justify a higher price. When in doubt, look at your competitors too - if you can afford to match or beat them on price and still make the margin you want, it may be worth a test to see how customers respond.

Final Thoughts

It seems that you can't look anywhere online without hearing Amazon's name in some context - shoppers, sellers, and investors all vary in their views on the e-commerce giant. One thing that we can always count on though is Amazon's continued quest to add value to every type of person out there, whether by adding new categories for sellers, new deals for customers, or expanding into new business areas. eSale's merchants have seen success selling on Amazon (even those that don't fit the "traditional" Amazon type) and we're excited to offer merchants the opportunity to grow their sales on this marketplace. If you have any questions about Amazon or how to succeed selling through it, send us an email at support@esalesolutions.com and keep an eye our for future Amazon articles in the eSale Learning Center!

Looking for a step-by-step guide for how to create a seller account on Amazon?
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