Blog

Expand Globally with Amazon’s Sell Globally Tools

Under Inventory > Seller Globally there is a tool which assists with international expansion.  This section has tools which help with the following:

  • Launch international accounts.  By opening seller account for other Amazon countries through this tool, these accounts will be linked and then be available though the same login
  • Training.  Help with aspects of international trade such as tax, importing and product compliance
  • Build international listings.  This finds matches for inventory which on your domestic site on international amazon sites, help you build your inventory fast.

How to create Amazon shipping templates

The Amazon Shipping template sets the shipping destinations available for each product.  These are set up under Setting > Shipping settings > Shipping templates.  Each seller can have a maximum of 20 templates.

Price Calculation

Shipping templates calculate shipping in two ways:

  • Per items/weight based.  Fixed price per items and then a price per kg
  • Price banded.  Shipping based on the order price range

Note: Items weight for shipping is set under Manage inventory > Edit product > more details.  This can also be specified in bulk using the inventory loader file.

Setting zones

In the shipping template the merchant specifies delivery rules Domestic and International Standard and expedited Shipping. 

  • Region. Split into Domestic and international regions.  The merchant will select the region e.g. Dometic > Scotland or International > Austria
  • Address type.  Street must be selected but PO Box is optional
  • Shipping time.  Delivery timescale
  • Shipping fee.  This is set from Item + Kg or price banded as mentioned above

How to win at Amazon Search

In effect, Amazon is one of the world’s biggest search engines and rivals Google as a first port of call for consumers researching products.

As Amazon search has become more and more important to merchants, a new discipline of Amazon Search Optimisation has emerged, focused specifically on improving performance in the Amazon search

What is Amazon Search

When a user performs a search on Amazon, Amazon will try an generate a list of results most relevant to that query.  The Amazon search algorithm is called A9 and has two equally important ranking factors:

  1. Keyword optimisation – In principle, a product can only be found with the Amazon search if the product page contains the keyword(s) a customer is looking for. Keyword optimization ensures that a product can be found for all relevant keyword searches.
  2. Listing performance – How well a product ranks for these keywords in turn depends on its performance metrics. The performance metrics are traffic and sales, as well as click rate (CTR) and conversion rate (CR).

Keyword optimisation

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.

Listing performance

How well a product ranks for these keywords in turn depends on a listing’s performance metrics. These include the listing’s customer rating (product reviews and customer questions) as well as the sales performance of the listing.

  • Sales Rank. More sales = higher rankings and higher ranking = more sales!
  • Customer reviews. The number of product reviews you receive, and the quality of these reviews are important ranking factors.
  • Price. As well as being one of the most important Buy Box factors, the price of your products also strongly influences conversion rates and sales
  • Click through and conversion rate.  Amazon will look at the historical sales performance of a listing when ranking search results

Gathering Reviews

An important way in which can increase your listing performance is by encouraging product reviews.  You can increase your number of reviews in various ways.

  • In general, a customer’s willingness to submit a review increases with excellent customer service. You could also use parcel inserts to prompt customers.
  • Amazon also offers vendors and sellers it’s a fee-based programs for generating reviews: Amazon Vine (vendors) and the Early Reviewer Program (seller).
  • Use Amazon’s request review button
  • Send a review request via email.  This can be automated using tools such as Feedback 5

****Always make sure you stay within the review guidelines of Amazon***

Managing Reviews and questions

If you are the manufacturer of a product, it is best practise to:

  • Answer any negative product reviews.  This helps to mitigate the impact of negative reviews
  • Respond to any customer questions

Setting up Amazon Business

Amazon Business is Amazon’s business focused offering.  Registering for the programme allow merchants to:

  • Offer business specific pricing
  • Provide invoices for business from within the Amazon system

Registering for the programme

It is free to register for Amazon business and this is done from Setting > Account Info > Your Services

Business Pricing

Once registered merchants can set specific business pricing.  The merchant enters the gross price (price including VAT) and Amazon will display this along with the net price (price excluding VAT) to business registered customers.

Note: the default VAT rate is set via Settings > Tax settings.  A VAT rate per item is set at the inventory level.  This can be set in bulk using the inventory loader upload file.

Business pricing and discount can be seen from the Manage inventory screen.  If you can’t see this then change the columns which are selected. 

Click on add quantity discount to specify the discounts on a product.

Discounts

Discounts can be set based on a quantity which is purchased.  This is based on:

  • % discount based on the quantity of item purchased
  • Fixed price based on the quantity of items purchased.

B2B Central

B2B central is the landing page for Amazon Business.  The page has the following information

  • Links to business resources
  • Reporting on business sales

Product opportunities

The product opportunities report shows product opportunities for business sellers on Amazon.  It can be accessed from B2B central > Product Opportunities. The report shows:

  • Product opportunities for items already on amazon e.g. items without a business offer
  • Products which are not on Amazon, but which Amazon thinks there will be business demand

Manage Quotes

Amazon business customers can request quotes for specific items e.g. I want 100 items at £50/piece.  These requests can be seen under B2B Central > Manage Quotes.

In order to be considered for these quotes, you can change the discounts available on your items directly from this screen.

Managing Invoicing

By opting into managing invoicing, Amazon will manage invoices to business customer on your behalf.  In order to do this a business must enter its VAT registration details. If you have a combined EU account and have a registration in multiple countries, you should do this for each country. 

How to set up an Amazon seller account

Amazon account levels – differences

There are two different levels of Amazon account

Individual (Basic) Seller

This account levels of for individual with only a few items to sell every month

  • No monthly fee
  • No listing fees
  • £0.75 per item sold
  • Referral fee on sold items (standard 15%)

Professional Seller

  • £25 + VAT/month
  • No per item fee
  • Referral fee on sold items (standard 15%)
  • Create products in bulk
  • Set you own shipping rates
  • Buy box Eligibility

Note that new sellers are only eligible for the buy box after three months of trading activity.

The buy box is a very important concept which will be discussed in a later lecture.

Combined EU and NA accounts

In Europe and north American a single account allows you to sell across multiple countries, along with several other benefits

Combined EU account

The Amazon Europe Marketplaces account allows sellers to:

  • Share inventory levels across EU marketplaces
  • Combined order screen for EU + UK orders
  • Fulfil through the European fulfilment network
  • Pay a single monthly subscription fee
  • Shared account information

Combined North American account

This is similar to the EU account except focused on the North American

  • Share listing information and manage your inventory consistently across Amazon’s U.S., Canada, and Mexico marketplaces
  • Combined order screen for NA orders
  • Single monthly fee
  • Shared account information

Amazon referral fees

Amazon charges a referral fee on each sale. There is no fee to list an item.  The referral fee is charged on both the sale price and any shipping charged.

For many categories the referral fee is 15%, though this varies by category and by amazon country

EU + UK fee schedule: https://sellercentral.amazon.co.uk/gp/help/external/200336920

US fee schedule: https://sellercentral.amazon.com/gp/help/external/200336920

Note: For professional level account there is a monthly subscription fee. 

Many sellers chose to gain additional exposure for their product by buying advertising.  Amazon’s advertising programme is called Amazon sponsored products and is charged on a cost per click basis.

Account opening requirements

In order to open a professional level account, you will need the following information

  • Business trading details
  • Owner details
  • Valid credit card
  • Bank account details

Account setup

Some things to bear in mind

  • Only one seller central account per region
  • Addresses should match
  • Set a seller name to identify your account
  • Set business policies
  • Add a logo

Enabling single sign on

If you have multiple Amazon accounts in different Amazon countries is it possible to access them via a single login. Very convenient when selling across multiple sites.

To enable this go to Inventory > Sell Globally

Or Setting > global accounts

Understanding Amazon’s product listing page

Mystified by Amazon’s product listing page? Help is at hand! The Amazon listing can be split into several distinct sections.

  1. Title. The product title is a maximum of 200 characters and you should aim for at least 80 characters. Include your top 5 keywords and capitalise each word
  2. Images. Aim for at least 5 high quality images (min 1000px on longest side). For the main image the product should be on a white background and be 85% of the image.
  3. Variations. Such as different colours, scents, or sizes
  4. Bullet points. Short, descriptive sentences highlighting key features and benefits. Use all 5 bullet point available. Use sentence fragments. Should be skimmable. Capitalise first word.
  5. Featured offer. (“Buy Box”) The featured offer on a detail page. Customers can add to their cart or “Buy Now”
  6. Other offers. The same product sold by multiple sellers offering a different price, shipping options, etc
  7. Description. Min 250 characters. Can use HTML to structure. Clear precise informative
  8. Reviews. Customer reviews of your products
  9. Questions and Answers. Customer questions
  10. A+ Content. A rich content area available to brands which can be used to give more information about the product. Amazon says using this feature increases conversion
  11. Additional product information. Additional information can be entered for each product, for example about material, weight, or energy efficiency class. Fill in this information as thoroughly as possible: The filter navigation in the sidebar of the Amazon search uses it, as well as specialized product finders.
  12. Search term fields. Use this field to include other keywords which for some reason you could not include in the product description. No need to repeat keywords.

Amazon Performance Metrics – Feedback, A-Z Claims & Order Defect Rate

Amazon is serious about its performance metrics and getting on the wrong side of them can get an account suspended or even permanently closed.

Merchant Feedback

Once an order has been placed, a buyer can leave feedback for the seller.  This is distinct from reviewing the product. 

A score of 1 or 2 is counted as a negative, 3 is neutral and 4 or 5 is positive.  The feedback score is a percentage of the buyers who left feedback so gives a rather inaccurate picture of the performance of a seller.

Amazon’s Feedback policies – feedback removal

Amazon will remove feedback under very specific circumstances

  • The feedback includes words commonly understood to be obscene or profane.
  • The feedback includes seller-specific, personally identifiable information, including email addresses, full names or telephone numbers.
  • The entire feedback comment is a product review.
  • The feedback refers to delivery when the order was delivered by Amazon FBA.

The product review policy is a particularly important one of know about as frequently buyer review the product and so the merchant can request feedback removal.

Feedback best practise

It is important to keep on top of negative feedback as too many negative can lead to account closure.  You may get a tsumani of negative feedback due to a product or delivery issue and so keeping on top of feedback before this point may save your bacon. Best practise:

  • Check all feedback to ensure it is within Amazon’s policies.  If not request a removal
  • Respond to all negatives
  • Contact customers who leave negatives asking if there is anything you can do to help

Requesting feedback revision

Amazon has a slightly confusing policy when it comes to revising feedback.  Merchants are not supposed to offer refunds for removing negative feedback and this could in the extreme get an account suspended. Amazon suggest that merchants and customer work together to resolve the issue.  What you do if the customer is satisfied with a refund is not clear!

Best practise:  Be careful when offering customers refunds in exchange for removing feedback.  You should broach it is flowery language like: “If that resolves the situation to your satisfaction, we would be grateful if you could consider revising your feedback” and not “We’ll give you 10% off but please revise your feedback first”.

A-to-z Claims

Amazon promises that orders from marketplaces sellers will arrive on time and in the condition specified.  If they don’t then customer can put in an A-to-z guarantee claim where they can ask Amazon to set in.  The order to place an A-to-z guarantees the buys mush have:

  • You’ve contacted the seller through their Amazon account.
  • You’ve waited two days for a response.

A-to-z claims can be made for the following:

  • The seller failed to deliver the item by 3 calendar days past the maximum estimated delivery date or 30 days from the order date, whichever is sooner.
  • The item received is damaged, defective, materially different.
  • A returned item has not been refunded or the refund was the wrong amount.
  • For international deliveries the Seller does not (1) provide a return address within the UK, (2) provide a pre-paid return label, or (3) offer a full refund without requesting the item to be returned.
  • The buyer has been charged extra (e.g. by customs authorities for a shipment to EU) in addition to the purchase and dispatch price you have paid, and the Seller did not cover those costs.
  • You have waited no longer than 90 days from the Estimated Delivery Date to file your claim.

In my experience merchants almost never win A-to-z claims unless it is about delivery and proof of delivery is available.  If a order is over 90 days old and delivery has not been recorded then the A-to-z claims will be automatically awarded to the buyer.

Order Defect Rate

In many ways, the Order Defect Rate (ODR) is the one which merchants need to pay most attention as falling below target (1%) on this metric can get your account suspended.  The ODR is made up of the sum of

  • Negative order rate
  • Filed A-to-z claim rate
  • Customer chargeback rate

The assessment window is the last 60 days.

The A-to-z claim will be counted even if it was closed by the customer or awarded by Amazon to the merchant. For this reason, it is best to try and resolve issues before they get to this stage.

Note: each order will only be counted once i.e. if there is an negative feedback and an A-to-z claim on the same order then only one of these will be counted.

Managing your ODR

If you ODR rate gets too high, it is best to try and reduce your score.  The only way to do this is to try and get any negative feedback on your account revised.  From experience offering these customer a full refund is the best policy.  Once an account is suspended it is a faff to get it reopened.

Other metrics

Amazon is constantly adding new metrics by which to monitor sellers.  These include:

Policy compliance

This covers listing policy issues such as suspected trademark infringements and other listing policies.  Serious infringements can get an account suspended.

Delivery performance

Delivery based metrics.  The won’t get your account suspended but can impact buy box percentrage.

  • Pre-order cancellation rate
  • Late dispatch rate
  • Valid tracking rate
  • On-time delivery rate

Voice of the customer

Looks at product with negative customer experiences e.g. wrong item frequently sent.

Managing Orders on Amazon

Manage order Screen

Amazon orders can be managed from the managed order screen in the main.  If you are selling from a unified EU or NA account orders from all linked accounts will be shown.

Delivery promise

When purchasing an order from Amazon, a promise will made to the customer regarding delivery.  If delivery is not made by this date the customer may start to query the location of the package.  Best practise:

  • If delivery is going to be late, inform the customer
  • If the order has been sent via a tracked service, provide the tracking number
  • If the delivery is delayed due to a carrier issue, you can ask the customer to do so but they are under no obligation to wait, and could start an A-Z claim which they will win.

Buy Shipping

Shipping can be purchased directly from this screen by clicking the buy shipping button

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

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

Understanding Amazon Pricing

Importance of the buy box

The 83% of sales come from seller who hold the buy box.  The Buy Box rotates between sellers (including Amazon) who have Buy Box Eligibility and are competitively priced.

Although pricing is a major factor, having the lowest price does not guarantee the Buy Box. The Buy Box price is not always the lowest price on Amazon.

The Buy Box is only for items in new condition.

Buy box ranking factors

Amazon uses a wide range of factors to govern which seller wins the buy box.  The most important of these are:

  • Fulfilment method.  Amazon will award the buy box to Prime eligible sellers (FBA or SFP) over other sellers
  • Landed price.  The landed prices is price + shipping.  This is a vitally important ranking factor but not the only one.
  • Shipping time.  Offers which can be shipped more quickly will get better placement
  • Seller performance.  The performance of the seller including feedback, online shipping rate, valid tracking rate and order defect rate are all considered.

Note: Not all sellers are eligible for the buy box.  For example, new sellers are not eligible for several months.  Sellers with an Order Defect Rate (ODR) of over 1% are also excluded.

Dynamic pricing

When trying to win the buy box, a small change in pricing can make a huge difference to sales.  Changing the price by as little at £0.01 is the difference between 1st and 2nd place.

If you are repricing a large number of SKUs then it will be necessary to automate the process.  This required setting a minimum and maximum price and varying prices between these based on the competition.

Amazon’s Automate Pricing tool

Amazon has its own dynamic pricing tool which can be found at Pricing + automate pricing.  Merchants create pricing rules and then assign these to SKUs.  Pricing options are:

  • Competitive Price Rule by Amazon. Match the Featured Offer price, on all offers for the same ASIN and condition. Also compare with prices from retailers outside Amazon.
  • Customised pricing rule – Buy Box.  Matches against the buy box price
  • Customised pricing rule –lowest price.  Matches, or beats the buy box price by a set amount
  • Customised pricing rule – external price.  Matches, or beats the Buy box and an external price by a set amount.
  • Customised pricing rule – sales volume.  You can decrease the price of your SKU based on the sales volume target that you select within a set time period.

Amazon’s dynamic pricing tool is free to use and simple to set up.  It also works across multiple Amazon sites. It does however miss some of the advanced features available in third party tools

3rd Party pricing tools

There are many third party dynamic tools on the market which aim to optimise sales. Their advantage over Amazon’s tool is that they provide a wider range of functionality, for example:

  • Filter sellers by feedback
  • Filter sellers by delivery time
  • Reprice based on landed price
  • Time based repricing

The range of rules can be bewildering so it is best to keep the rules as simple as possible.

Pricing Health

Amazon’s pricing health dashboard will give you information on the pricing health of your products including:

  • Pricing health.  Price alerts from Amazon where they deem to price too high or too log
  • Fix pricing alerts.  Alerts where the set price is outside the set min/max
  • Automate pricing.  As discussed above
  • Fee discount.  Certain product may have fee discount available if the price is reduced.

Conclusions

Pricing is a very important factor for optimising Amazon listings.  A small change in pricing can increate your buy box percentage and lead to a step change in sales.

If you are managing a large catalogue you will need a tool to manage your pricing. The Amazon Automate pricing tool is a good tool to start with but for better performance consider using third party tools

Creating product listings on Amazon by matching by EAN or ASIN

The easiest way to create inventory on Amazon is to match against items which already exist in the Amazon catalogue. This post looks at how to do this product by product and in bulk.

Catalogue matching – individually

If you have only a small number of products to create (less than 10) you can create them directly in the Amazon interface. At a minimum you will need:

  • Your stock number
  • Barcode/ASIN
  • Price
  • Condition
  • Shipping template

Note: when searching for barcodes, Amazon is sensitive to barcode length.

  • EANs are 13 characters
  • UPCs are 12 characters

If your barcodes are too short, you can add zeros to the front.

To add a single product go to Inventory + add an product and search for the product using a barcode or an EAN. You can then add your offer details and this product.

Catalogue matching – bulk

If you have a large number of product to create by matching, these can be created using the Listing loader template.

The inventory loader files can be downloaded from Inventory + Add Products via Upload + Download an inventory file.

The fields you will need to complete are:

  • SKU. Your stock number for this product
  • ASIN/barcode. Product identifier used to match against Amazon’s catalogue
  • Price
  • Min/Max. If using dynamic pricing this will prevent the price going too high or low
  • Shipping template. Defines the shipping rates and destinations for this product
  • Tax code. If you are a business seller this will define the tax applicable to this product
  • Shipping weight. Used to define shipping cost if using a weight based calculation
  • Shipping weight unit of measure
  • FBA fields. Fields required to create FBA listings

Warning: Amazon’s catalogue is of variable quality as it is created by multiple parties. Frequently a barcode is matched against the wrong product, the description or the quantity are wrong