Interview with Juan Ignacio García Braschi from Beepos

Boopos is a financial company founded by Juan Ignacio García Braschi. They are focused on helping e-commerce companies fund acquisitions. They provide non-dilutive revenue-based financing to e-Commerce and Saas Businesses. Get mid to long term and multipurpose financing to buy a new business or grow your own.

Juan was talking to Trevor Ginn from Vendlab, an eCommerce agency specialising in online marketplaces and e-commerce sales platforms.

Interview with Issacs Kuhlman from Real Coaching

In this episode of the eCommerce Odyssey Podcast, Trevor talks to Issac Kuhlman from Real Coaching. Real coaching is a programme that helps Amazon FBA businesses launch and scale their businesses. Issac is free from the BS which surrounds many coaches and has lots of thoughtful advice for new businesses.

We discuss:

  • The Real coaching programme
  • His experiences of Amazon before launching Real
  • What makes his coaching programme special
  • Is it becoming more difficult to sell on Amazon?
  • The most important skills required when building an Amazon FBA business
  • White label or own label?
  • Where he thinks Amazon is heading as a platform
  • What has inspired him recently

Interview with Lesley Hensell from Riverbend Consulting

In this episode of the eCommerce Odyssey, Trevor interviews Lesley Hensell from Riverbend consulting (https://riverbendconsulting.com/).

Riverbend specialises in the nitty-gritty of Amazon, helping sellers fix issues with their accounts and listings. They also help their clients scale their Amazon businesses.

Lesley has many useful insights and tips to share if you are interested in Amazon. We talk about how to deal with account suspensions and avoid issues in the first place. Lesley also shares her views on the future of Amazon and eCommerce in general.

Boosting your Amazon sales: Sponsored Products, Amazon Business and Dynamic Pricing

Dynamic Pricing

With price being a significant factor in determining which offer gets placed into the buy box, it is vital to monitor price carefully and adjust pricing to remain competitive. If you are selling many products, it becomes impractical to price manually, and it is best to use one of the many ‘repricers’ available to manage pricing based on rules. Typical these tools work in the following way.

  • Select products. Import details of the products whose price you wish to manage.
  • Select competition. Set the parameters of the products against which you wish to reprice. For example, you may only want to compare prices against products with the same fulfilment method, of the same delivery timescale, or sellers above a specific feedback score.
  • Set pricing. The tool will need a floor price and a ceiling price, i.e., match prices against competitors but do not go lower than X or higher than Y.
  • Set pricing rule. For example, match pricing, go lower by a certain amount, go lower by a certain percentage.

Repricing is an effective way to boost sales but will eat into your margins. Example repricing tools include Bqool.

Amazon Sponsored Products

Amazon’s Sponsored Product programme enables traffic to be driven to listing based on specified keywords. Sponsored Products ads are charged on a Pay Per Click (PPC) basis.

As mentioned, Amazon search performance is primarily based on the listing’s sale history. As new products do not have any history, it will often be necessary to buy traffic to build a sales history. Once the listing’s natural sales performance picks up, sponsored products ads can be scaled back.

Amazon sponsored product works similarly to other PPC programmes such as Google Ads, i.e.:

  • An account is organised into campaigns and ad groups.
  • Advertisers specify specific keywords to drive traffic to listings.
  • Negative ad targets can also be added, e.g., keywords not to appear for.
  • Bids set at the Ad groups or keyword level.

For example, a merchant of iPhone cases might bid £0.5 to appear for the keyword ‘iPhone 5S case’. They might only have iPhone 5 cases, so use ‘iPhone 6’ and ‘iPhone 7’ as negative keywords.

There are several options within sponsored products:

  • Sponsored products. Promote products to consumers actively searching with related keywords or viewing related items on Amazon.
  • Sponsored brands. Rich, engaging adverts highlighting your brand.
  • Sponsored display. Rich display ads promoting your brand or products.

Amazon for Business

Amazon’s B2B programmed called ‘Amazon for Business’ enables businesses to buy from Amazon and get the following benefits:

  • VAT invoicing
  • Quantity discounts for bulk purchases as specified by sellers
  • Request quote for bulk purchases from sellers

To enrol in Amazon Business, a seller must be a VAT registered business. They can then set quantify discounts based on the following criteria:

  • Percentage discount based on order quality.
  • Fixed price based on quantity.

Amazon says that selling to businesses through their platform can boost sales by up to 30%.

Sell Globally

Most of Amazon’s international sites are open to international (i.e., non-domestic) sellers. Each Amazon site works the same way. If you are familiar with one site, selling internationally will be straightforward.

As Amazon is a catalogue system, you may find the much of your inventory will already exist on international sites. This means that you will not need to translate your products and can get selling straight away. Products should have the same ASIN in each country, so it is easy to identify the products you want to create.

In the EU, the Pan European FBA programme allows merchants to deliver their inventory to one country but have prime eligible offers throughout the EU.

Amazon Fulfilment Options: FBA, SFP, Pan-EU FBA and FBM

Fulfilment is a significant factor on Amazon as it is a crucial factor in buy box ranking. Merchants can choose between Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA), Fulfilled by Merchant (FBM), and Seller Fulfilled Prime (SFP).

Fulfilled by Amazon

FBA is Amazon’s wildly popular fulfilment service. Items are stored in Amazon warehouses and shipped by Amazon to fulfil merchant orders. FBA has three main advantages:

  • Easy. Ship the products to Amazon, and they do everything else. The merchant does not need their warehouse or customer service staff.
  • Buy Box. FBA orders get preference over FBM orders.
  • Prime eligible. FBA orders are eligible for Amazon Prime.

FBA is a great programme and makes a lot of sense for retailers and brands looking to sell to Amazon customers. It works best under the following circumstances:

  • Fast moving product lines. You do not want to be paying storage for products that are not selling.
  • Small catalogues. Managing many items in small quantities in FBA is a headache.
  • Sturdy products. Breakable products will not survive the process.

FBA Fees

There are four types of FBA fees:

  • Carrier fees. Charged if you use one of Amazon’s carrier partners to collect and deliver inventory to an Amazon fulfilment centre.
  • Storage fees. Charged based on the volume of inventory stored every month.
  • Fulfilment fees. Each order incurs a fulfilment fee based on the size of the product.
  • Optional fees. Amazon offers a range of product processing services that incur additional charges, e.g., re-barcoding, product furbishing.

Pan-EU FBA

The Pan-European FBA programme enables delivery of Prime eligible orders across the EU from a single inventory pool. Inventory is delivered into a single EU warehouse, and the fulfilment will be charged at the local rate. To be enrolled in Pan EU FBA, a product must have a live listing on Amazon DE, FR, IT, ES.

For example, a merchant has a listing for a product live on Amazon DE, IT, ES, FR and delivers the inventory into Germany. The inventory level displayed will be the same on each site (pooled inventory). When an order is placed, the fulfilment fee charged will be at the local rate of the site on which the order was placed.

ROW FBA

The FBA programme is available in most countries where Amazon has operations and is available for international merchants. For example, a UK merchant can use FBA in the USA, but they will need to manage the importing process, including freight and customs clearance.

FBM and SFP

Fulfilled by Merchant is where the order is shipped directly from the merchant to the customer. This gives the seller complete control, but FBM orders will be ranked lower than FBA offers, all things being equal.

A hybrid option is Seller Fulfilled Prime. SFP enables merchants to ship Prime eligible orders from their warehouse. This option has the advantages of FBA (Prime eligibility) without managing stock in two warehouses.

Shipping order via SFP has the potential to boost sales but has the following disadvantages:

  • Lack of control. Amazon gives itself full right to refund Prime customer’s orders for any reason. If you think that a refund is not justified, you need to put in a Safe-T claim to claw back the funds.
  • More returns. Returns are automatically authorised for Prime members.

Amazon for Brands – Brand Registry, Branded Storefronts & FBA

Brand Registry

Amazon actively encourages brands to sell directly to Amazon customer and has launched a range of tools to enable brands to protect and promote their brand on Amazon. Brand Registry enables brand trademark owners to register their brand with Amazon. Once the brand is registered, brand owners can do the following:

  • Create a branded storefront
  • Run sponsored brand advertising campaigns
  • Add A+ content to listings
  • Remove counterfeit products
  • Amends listing details

Branded storefronts

A branded storefront shows the products listed under a brand. The store has a vanity URL and is organised by categories. Page Sections can give product information and highlight products.

Tangle Teaser’s Amazon Storefront

A+ Content

A+ (or Enhanced Brand) Content is an area of rich media content added to the product listing page by brand owners. According to Amazon, adding A+ content can boost conversion rates by 5-10%

A+ content for Firepot dehydrated meals

FBA Brands

Amazon offers brands a fully functional ecosystem for selling their products.

  • Publishing platform of listing products
  • Traffic via Amazon natural search or sponsored products
  • Fulfilment via FBA

The ease of setting up with Amazon has heralded the launch of many ‘FBA Brands’ who only sell their products through Amazon FBA and no other channels. They get products produced in China and shipped directly to Amazon fulfilment houses from where Amazon does all the fulfilment and customer service.

Amazon Search Optimisation

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

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

What is Amazon Search

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

  1. Keyword optimisation. A product can only be found with the Amazon search if the product page contains the keyword(s) for which a customer is looking. 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 depends on its performance metrics. The performance metrics are traffic and sales, click rate (CTR) and conversion rate (CR).

How Amazon Ranks Listings

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

  • Sales Rank. More sales = higher rankings. Higher ranking = more sales!
  • Customer reviews. The number of product reviews received and the quality of these reviews are important ranking factors.
  • Price. The price of your products strongly influences conversion rates and sales.
  • Click through and conversion rate. Amazon looks at a listing’s historical sales performance when ranking search results, including click-through and conversion rate.

Building Sales History

Sales history influences the search performance of a listing. However, when a listing new, it obviously will not have any sales history. You can either wait for this to build naturally over time or use Amazon’s Sponsored ads product to drive traffic to the listing and hopefully generate sales.

A listing will more quickly build sales history by using sponsored ads and thereby climb up the organic search rankings.

Improving Click-Through Rate and Listing Performance

The click-through rate of a listing can improve by having high-quality content, including a compelling hero image and product title. Optimising listing is covered in the Creating Amazon Listing section above.

Gathering Reviews

An essential component of increasing your listing performance is by encouraging product reviews. You can increase your number of reviews in several ways.

  • Excellent customer service. Both great and terrible customservice encourage reviews. You could also use parcel inserts to remind customers to leave reviews.
  • Amazon programs. Amazon also offers vendors and sellers two fee-based programs for generating reviews: Amazon Vine (vendors) and the Early Reviewer Program (seller).
  • Request review button. Use Amazon’s request review button on the order details page. This is guaranteed to ensure you stay with Amazon’s T&Cs
  • Send a review request via email. This can be automated using tools such as Bqool

Creating an Amazon listing

Matching Against the Amazon Catalogue

On Amazon, to list a product, a seller can add their offer to the existing product listing page. Each barcoded product should only have one entry in the catalogue. To add an offer to a current product, a seller must specify the following information:

  • Offer price.
  • Quantity available.
  • Condition (new, used etc.)
  • Shipping template (sets shipping allowed destinations and prices)

Products can be added in bulk by matching a list of barcodes against the Amazon catalogue. Some categories, brands and individual products are restricted by most are available to all sellers.

Creating new listings

If a product is not already on the Amazon marketplace, a professional seller can add that product to the marketplace. In most categories, a product must have a unique identifier (e.g., a barcode like an EAN or a UPC). Along with the unique identifier, the seller must specify the following core information to create a product:

  • Product name
  • Manufacturer
  • EAN
  • Description
  • Category
  • Photos

Other optional attributes are also available. Amazon’s catalogue supports variations.

Amazon’s listing system makes it easy to list new products. Sellers are free to create new product though, for some brands, new ASINs can only be created by the brand owner (as registered in Amazon Brand Registry). Products can either be created individually or via an upload file.

Whilst most categories require the product to be barcoded, Amazon’s handmade programme lets artisans sell their handcrafted products directly to millions of Amazon customers all over the world.

Optimising product listings for Search

Amazon product listing should contain high-quality content that gives consumers all the information they require to purchase. While the listing should be written primarily for consumers, the content must include appropriate keywords for relevant searches.

Keyword research

To appear for an Amazon search, a product listing must include the keywords in the query. Consequently, when writing Amazon listings, sellers need to be careful to include all relevant keywords. When research keywords for your Amazon listings, use the following sources:

  1. Use your head. Use your knowledge of the market and your experience as a consumer to brainstorm keyword ideas.
  2. Amazon Autocomplete. If you enter a few letters in the Amazon search box, high volume search will automatically appear as suggestions.
  3. Related items. Look at products that displayed under ‘Customers who viewed this item also viewed.’
  4. Competitor products. The title and the product information of competitor products contain keywords that they think are important.
  5. Keyword research tools. Tools such as Sellics Sonar will give you a list of popular keywords by category and ASIN.

Writing Compelling Listings

There are several different elements to the Amazon listing. The most important are:

  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 five high-quality images (min 1000px on the longest side). For the main image, the product should be on a white background and be 85% of the picture.
  3. Bullets. Each listing can have up to five bullet points. These should highlight salient product features and include keywords so long as it does not compromise readability.
  4. Descriptions. Minimum 150 words giving more information about the products
  5. A+ Content. An area of rich content available to brand owners.

When writing listings, it is essential to focus first on creating a readable product listing that promotes the product and gives the customer the information they need to purchase. Write for the customer and not Amazon search.

Anatomy of an Amazon listing

Each product in the Amazon catalogue has a single listing on the website, known as a product detail page. The product detail page will display information about the product and give several buying options.

  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 five high-quality images (min 1000px on the longest side). For the main image, the product should be on a white background and be 85% of the picture.
  3. Variations. Such as colours, quantity, or sizes
  4. Bullet points. Up to 5 points that highlight key features and benefits.
  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 other merchants offering a different price, shipping options, etc.
  7. Description. Write a description which gives clear and precise information about the product. Can use HTML to structure.

Not shown on the diagram

  • Reviews. Customer reviews of your products.
  • Questions and Answers. Customer questions.
  • A+ Content. A rich content section available to brands used to give more information about the product. Amazon says using this feature increases conversion.
  • Additional product information. Further information about each product, such as material, weight, or energy efficiency class.

Featured Offer

Many Amazon listings will have offers from multiple sellers. Of these, one will appear as the featured offer in the ‘buy box.’ This is the default offer for buyers and will receive the lion’s share of orders. Other buying options are displayed on the product detail page under the Buy Box as ‘more buying options.’ Clicking on more buying options will link to an ordered list of offers.

This system rewards sellers who offer good customer service and competitive prices. Every Amazon seller aims to get their offer into the buy box. Winning the buy box is vitally important as 80-90% of Amazon sales go to the offer in the buy box. Amazon rotates the featured offer for listing with multiple sellers, giving high placement to sellers who perform well in the following areas:

Price

The ‘landed price’ (item plus shipping) is one of the most influential factors when Amazon awards the buy box. Even being cheaper by £0.01 can be enough to win over another offer.

Prime Eligibility and Fulfilment Method

Amazon takes the fulfilment method’s quality very seriously and rewards higher placement to offers that are Fulfiled by Amazon or Seller Fulfilled Prime. Also, Prime members will often filter out non-prime offers entirely. See section on fulfilment options below.

Availability

Amazon will give a higher ranking to offers that have better availability. For example, offer A, which is available in 1-2 days, will rank higher than offer B, which is available in 1-2 weeks, even if offer A is more expensive than product B.

Performance Metrics

Buy a merchant’s performance metrics also influences box performance. All other things being equal, merchants with better performance metrics will rank higher. The most important metric is Order Defect Rate (ODR). The ODR is the percentage of sales which was not perfect, that an order which receives one of:

  • Negative feedback. Orders which received negative feedback (defined as a score of 1 or 2 out of 5)
  • Credit Card Chargeback. Amazon treats a chargeback like a piece of negative feedback
  • A-Z guarantee claim. A-Z claims are complaints by customers that a product did not arrive or was not as advertised.

Each order will only count once toward the ODR. Other important metrics include refund rate and late shipment rate.