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Understanding Amazon Seller Coach Reports

Amazon Selling Coach Reports offers personalised recommendations to guide you in maximising your effectiveness as a seller. The report’s sections are:

Inventory Opportunities

Restocking advice back on your sales over the past seven days.

Product Opportunities

Products which customers have recently shown interest in and which have limited availability on Amazon. You can set your recommendation preferences to include or exclude brands, categories or specific products.

Global Selling Opportunities

Listing which you have on your home marketplace which are also available internationally but which you are not yet selling.

Fulfilment Opportunities

Product in which customers are displaying an interest, but are not yet available as fulfilled by Amazon or SFP

Low Price Opportunities

Comparison of your inventory against the competition to show where more sales could be achieved by reducing price.

Email notification

The email setting tab allows merchants to received email update on seller coach recommendations.  The seller can specify where they want the emails to go and which alerts they require.

A notification history can be seen under the communication tab.

Understanding what you are being charged for FBA fulfilment and storage

This can be a bit tricky.  There are several methods to discover what you are being charged at a product level.

Fulfilment fees

  • FBA fee preview report.  This should in theory have the fulfilment fees your FBA inventory, but in practise quite a few items are missing.  See an annotated file here.
  • Inventory screen.  By clicking on FBA fees you can see the fulfilment fee for that market. 

Storage fees

The Monthly storage Fee report will give estimated monthly storage cost per ASIN in your inventory.  If you do not want to go this granular, simply divide the storage cost by the number of orders.

See an annotated file here.

Example

ASIN B0096PBVZ8 has dimensions

  • Longest side: 24.8 cm
  • Median side: 19.6 cm
  • Shortest side: 5.59 cm
  • Weight: 0.12kg

It is a standard sized item which is not in the clothing category so that storage fee is 0.65/sq ft/month.  The Item volume is 0.096sq ft and so the storage charge per month will be £0.0624/item/month.

AS the shortest on this item >5cm it will be a standard parcel < 0.5kg and so the fulfilment fee is £2.90 to UK destinations.

How to create Amazon FBA Shipping Plans

Sending inventory to FBA is managed rom Inventory > Manage FBA shipments

Shipping plans

For items to be sent to an Amazon warehouse, they need to be added to a shipping plan.  There are two ways to do this

  • From inventory select the FBA product and from the Action drop down menu select Send/Replenish inventory
  • From the Manage inventory menu select Manage FBA shipments and then select upload a shipping plan file

Upload a shipping plan

A shipping plan is a list of item to be send up to Amazon.  It is specified by mean of a templated text file

An example file can be found here.

Shipping queue

Once the shipping plan has been uploaded it appears in the shipping queue under Shipping plans.  From here the merchant can work on the details.  These are:

  • Set quantity. This tab shows the inventory to be sent up, and also skus requiring additional info (e.g. dimensions) or removal
  • Prepare products.  Details of product requiring bagging or other preparation
  • Label products.  SKUs requiring labelling
  • Review shipments.  This shows where the inventory is to be sent and how it is to be boxed
  • Prepare shipments.  Labels for the boxes
  • Summary.  Details of the shipments

Shipments

Once a shipping plan has been completed it will appear as a shipment.  The status of the shipping plan with regard to Amazon will be shown on this screen.

Reconcile shipments

When a delivery is booked in by the Amazon warehouse, they may find (or think they find!) discrepancies between what was in the delivery and what they booked in.  The discrepancies can be seen under the Reconcile shipment tab.

Understanding Amazon FBA Fees

There are several different fees to consider when sending FBA stock:

  • Fulfilment fees.  A fulfilment fee is changed on each order based on the item size
  • Storage fees.  A monthly storage fee is charged based on the actual storage used
  • Optional fees.  These are fees for optional extras such as labelling,

Fulfilment fees

FBA fulfilment fees are based on an item’s size and are banded. The prices are set out on a rate card which can be found here for the EU and UK.  The size of an item is set when the product is originally onboarded into FBA.  It can only be changed by contacting Amazon customer service. 

Items are divided into three broad categories

  • Small and light. FBA Small and Light is an Amazon fulfilment solution for your fast-moving, small, light-weight products priced £9 or €10 or less (including VAT). This Programme offers lower fulfilment fees versus standard FBA fulfilment fees on comparable products when shipped locally
  • Standard. 
  • Oversized.  Larger items which incur a higher fulfilment fee

Storage fees

Storage fees are changed by the cubic foot/month (UK) or m2/month (EU) based on the volume actually stored.  This varies slightly by category and also the time of year with Q4 being more expensive.

After an item has been in storage for over 365 days, storage will be charged at a punitive rate. This is known as the Long Term Storage fee.  Merchants can avoid this by electing to have item returned to them before the fee kicks in.

Optional fees

Amazon FBA offers a number of additional services, some of which are optional.  Merchants must pay to have item returned or disposed on.  On the other hand they have the option to prepare their own items of let Amazon do it for them.

  • Returns.  There is a cost per item for product to be returned
  • Disposal.  Instead of return items, merchants can chose for them to be
  • Labelling.  Some items need to have a different Amazon specific barcode to be accepted into an Amazon fulfilment centre.  In this case either the merchant must over-label the barcode or Amazon can do it as a additional service
  • Product preparation. Amazon requires products to properly packaged e.g. any products with open packaging must be bagged.

Creating Amazon FBA listings (or convert FBM to FBA)

There are several options for creating FBA items. This post looks at how to convert FBM to FBA and also how to create new products as FBA listings.

Converting items form FBM to FBA – Manually

FBM items can be converted to FBA listings one at a time via the Manage inventory screen. The process is as follows:

  • Select a product and select convert to FBA from the menu on the top LHS
  • Select whether you want this product to use the manufacturer barcode or an Amazon barcode
  • Fill in the Hazmat information (Hazardous materials + batteries)

And you are done!  After a few minutes your product will appear in your FBA inventory

Converting item form FBM to FBA – Bulk

If converting product in bulk this can be done by the inventory loader file. 

  • Download the inventory File from Inventory > Add product via Upload and download the inventory loader from inventory files at the bottom of the page
  • The FBA specific fields are the
    • fulfillment-center-id.  (Column M)
    • Field relating to batteries (Q to AD)
    • Fields relating to Hazmat (AE to AK)

Refer to the data definitions detail in the inventory upload file for the valid values for this file.  If you

Creating new FBA items

The process of creating FBA listings is basically the same as FBM products, except there are additional FBA field to complete.  These fields are:

  • Fulfilment centre ID
  • Packaging dimensions
  • Packaged weight
  • Details of product batteries
  • Hazmat details

Understanding FBA Settings

Before sending up your FBA inventory for the the first time there are a number of setting which must be specified in Settings > Fulfilment by Amazon.

Cross border fulfilment settings. 

Pan European FBA is a programme where listings can be delivered across Europe at the delivery rate of the ordering country.  To qualify a listing must have a listing in each of the EU4 (FR, DE, IT, ES) and Enable multi-country inventory storage.

Labelling service. 

To be accepted into Amazon warehouses, some product must have a new Amazon specific barcode affixed (Amazon Barcode). Choose whether to allow Amazon to apply new barcodes where they are necessary.  This incurs a fee per label.

Inbound settings

Choose what warning to see when sending up FBA inventory.  Some product may be fine to sell on Amazon but can’t be sent to FBA. 

Removal/Furbishing settings. 

Enabling Furblishing allows Amazon to inspect items and put them back into inventory if possible

Removal settings specific what to do with unfulfillable items (e.g. return or destroy)

Barcode preference. 

Chose to use the manufacturer’s barcode or a new barcode for each product.  If the manufacturer’s barcode is used then Amazon will use this identify items and these can be commingled with the exact same products from other sellers who also use Manufacturer barcodes for those items.  That is to say if you make a sale of a product then that same product as supplied by another seller may be sent.

This is usually fine, but some unscrupulous sellers have been known to send up fakes.

Selecting to use Amazon barcodes means that your product will be sent to fulfil your orders, but items must be individually re-barcoded using codes specified by Amazon.

More details can be found here: https://sellercentral.amazon.co.uk/gp/help/help.html?itemID=G200141480&language=en_GB

Customer support. 

Specify whether to allow Amazon to manage customer service for your orders

Shipping programmes and export settings  

Chose whether to allow overseas customers to purchase your FBA products.

Benefits of Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA)

FBA is in many ways a brilliant service, as can be seen by its enormous popularity.  Benefits include:

Easy

Amazon does most of the work including customer service and delivery and you have the benefit of selling to Amazon’s enormous customer base.

Pay as you go fulfilment service with no contract or minimum fees

Most fulfilment houses will make merchants sign up to a long term contract and will need to pay for a certain amount of storage space.  They may also need to pay for incoming deliveries.  Amazon does not require any of this

FBA offers have preferential buy box treatment

Amazon gives Prime eligible order which are fulfilled by Amazon a better change of getting the buy box, increase sales potential

FBA offers are Prime eligible

FBA order are eligible for Prime, Amazon wildly popular subscription service.

FBA orders can be delivered throughout the EU from the same inventory

FBA inventory in the EU can be delivered as Prime eligible offers from the same inventory pool.

FBA is available in most Amazon countries

FBA is available in most of the countries which Amazon operates in.  The system is the same in each country and so this can be a convenient way to expand internationally.

Managing Cross-Border Amazon sales

Managing sales obtained on Amazon sites outside your home country is much the same on all Amazon sites, however there are some additional factors to consider:

Customer service

Customer service should be in the native language of the site. There are companies to whom it is possible to outsource international customer service, however from experience, it is possible to get away with using Google translate.

Returns

Amazon expects sellers to have a local return address, or alternatively refund order without a return.

There are several companies providing a return address service internationally.  These include

  • EZI returns
  • ZigZag international

Delivery

Shipping internationally takes longer than domestically and it is best to under promise and over deliver i.e. set delivery times on the generous side to allow for delays.  Delivery times can be set when creating delivery zones on shipping templates.

Accepting payments

Payments on international Amazon sites are in the local currency i.e. Amazon.com in USD, Amazon.fr in Euros etc. Amazon will remit the payment into a bank account of your choice, but the bank account must be in the currency of the country in which the account is based i.e. a bank account based in UK can only be in GBP, France in Euros etc.

If you are a UK company making sales in Amazon.fr you have two choices.

  • Allow Amazon to convert the funds into GBP and transfer into your UK GBP account
  • Pay in Euros into a bank account based in the Eurozone.

You cannot transfer Euros into a bank account based in the UK. 

Amazon’s conversion rate is not very good, so it pays to use the service of a currency international payment provider.  Payoneer, for example, can provide sellers with a foreign bank account for the purposes of accepting foreign currency payments.  They will then convert the funds at a more favourable rate and deposit in your bank account.

How to select keywords for your Amazon product listings

For a product to appear in the Amazon search, the product listing must contain the searched keyword. Without it, the customer will not see your product. Include all the relevant keywords on your product page.

A listing contains many content areas and we will be discussing how to create an optimised listing later on.

When searching for keywords for your Amazon listings, use the following sources

  1. Use your head. Spend some time thinking about when they would buy your product, what kinds of questions they would have – even what kind of items they would buy instead of your product (either as a replacement or from a competitor).
  2. Amazon Autocomplete. Amazon itself can even be used for keyword research. If you tap a few letters in the search box, products automatically appear as suggestions. This autocomplete function is not arbitrarily generated, rather, Amazon displays the terms search for most. So, it makes sense that autocomplete actually provides you with a set of legitimate keywords.
  3. Related items. Look at products which are shown as Customers who viewed this item also viewed’
  4. Competitor products.  In the title and the product information of other products are keywords which you haven’t thought of, but your competitors have!
  5. Keyword research tools. Tools such as Sellics Sonar will give you a list of popular keyword by category and ASIN

Keywords tools include:

As a result of your research, you should have a list of keywords that covers all relevant queries from customers. Among that list should be, on one hand, your top keywords that are frequently searched for and reach as many customers as possible.

How to Manage Amazon returns including Safe-T Claims

Returns are a fact of ecommerce life and Amazon is no different. Stay on top of returns to maintain good feedback and metrics. Also, customers may start returns when there are problems with an order.

Return settings

Returns setting are managed from Settings > Return Settings.  This includes:

  • Authorisation of returns.  Options to authorise each return separately, or to auto-authorise returns.  According to Amazon’s policy, some returns are automatically auto-authorised e.g. SFP orders
  • Return postage labels.  Select whether to provide a free label of not.  Note this is not obligatory.
  • Return number setting.  Chose whether to let Amazon generate a Returns Merchandise Authorisation number (RMA) or provide your own one
  • Refundless returns.  Specify circumstances under which an item return is not required
  • Return message settings.  Messages sent to customers when returns are accepted
  • Returns address settings. Amazon requires local returns addresses for international orders

Manage returns

Any requested returns will appear in Orders > manage returns and an email sent to a specified email.  The following options are available for each return

  • Authorise/deny.  Valid return requests should be authorised.  Requests outside the return window can be denied
  • Issue refund. If there is a problem with the order it may be better just to refund the order
  • Contact customer.  Frequently customers use the return option when they have a problem with an order which needs fixing

Safe-T claims

Amazon gives itself carte blanche to do whatever if like customer service wise.  It can refund a customer for any and all reasons. 

If you feel that a refund is not justified e.g.

  • An item was sent back outside the 30 day return window
  • A refund was given for an order which was recorded as delivered

The file a Safe-T claim to try and reclaim the money.