How to use Amazon catalogue Drafts & Selling Applications

Drafts

If a product does not upload successfully it will appear in Catalogue > Drafts. In Drafts the products can be filtered by issue (e.g. missing information, qualification requirements) and the data can then be either directly on the product product list or by editing the products.  Once the require information has been added the item will go live

Selling applications

Certain categories and brands require permission to sell.  To apply for a brand/category go to Catalogue > selling application and search for a product within that category/brand by ASIN or EAN.  Click to apply and then product the requested information.

How to use Amazon Category Specific Product Upload files

Once a category specific file has been downloaded, then it is time to complete the data before uploading. 

The file is separated into a number of different sections. Which I will go through form left to right below. The required fields are at the left of the sheet with the optional fields to the left of this.  Note that only filling in the required fields will leave a very thin listing, seller should fill in as much detail as possible

Valid Values

Many of the fields in the upload template must be chosen from a list of options.  These options are given in the Valid Values tab in the upload template.

Required fields section

There are a number of required fields on the file, these are:

  • Feed file type.  Determines the attributes for the product.  Based on category selection
  • Item SKU.  Your stock number for the product
  • External product ID.  The barcode for the product e.g. UPC, EAN, ASIN (Use if the product exists on another Amazon site already)
  • Item name. Product title
  • Manufacturer
  • Brand name
  • Browse node.  Category for the product in the form of a numerical code.  Can be obtained from the download inventory file page or a Browe node tree guide can be obtained from the Amazon website
  • Quantity.  Must be zero for FBA items.
  • Main image URL.  Each product must have at least 1 image

Details on the required and optional fields is given in the Data Definitions tab.

Images section

There is a tab on the inventory template which give required image specification for new Amazon products. 

Images included in the image file must be available from a downloadable location and the full URL must be used. 

Right:  https://i.imgur.com/yQTzcVj.jpeg

Wrong: yQTzcVj.jpeg or https://i.imgur.com/yQTzcVj

If you are looking or a free website hosting company for your product then https://imgur.com/ is one option.

When creating listings use multiple images to improve conversion rate and give more information buyers.

Variation section

This section is only used if variations are being created.  Details on variation listing creation is given here.

Basic and Discover sections

Despite being optional this section contains vital information about a product such as description, bullet points and part number which should be completed for every listing.

Fulfilment section

These fields are required for FBA items.  To create FBA items the dimensions must be completed and the Fulfilment centre must be set to Amazon_EU (for the EU).

Compliance section

Fill these fields out for items being sent into FBA for Hazmat clearance.  Most important is the battery and Hazmat information.

Offer section

Details on the offer the seller is creating including

  • Merchant shipping template.  This sets the shipping rates for the product is using FBM. 
  • Condition
  • Tax Code.  Set from a set of valid tax codes available on the Amazon site

If you are uploading to multiple EU countries then the prices must be set for each country in the Offer (UK, FR, IT, ES, FR, NL) section.  EU prices in Euros.

B2B section

For setting discounted prices for business customers.  Can we set as percentage discount or a fixed price.

Upload files

Once the file is completed it can be uploaded as and Excel workbook in inventory > add products via upload > upload an inventory file.

The status can be seen under the Monitor upload status tab.  Once the file has been uploaded there will be a process report to download. Incomplete product can be viewed in catalogue > drafts.

How to use the Amazon Price & Quantity Flat File

The price and quantity file is for changing the price and quantity of listings.  It has the following fields:

  • SKU.  Your stock number for a product as specified in manage inventory
  • Price.  No currency symbols.
  • Minimum seller allowed price.  Min price for the purposes of automatic pricing
  • Maximum seller allowed price. Max price for the purposes of automatic pricing
  • Quantity.
  • Handling time.  Lead time to dispatch.  Can only be set if a quantify is uploaded

The pricing sheet only must be must be uploaded as a tab delimited text file.

Downloading a Category Specific Inventory Flat File from Amazon

When creating products bulk on Amazon it is first necessary to download a flat file template (know as Inventory Files for Specific Categories).  This is done from Inventory > Add product via upload. A different flat file is requires for each category you want to create products in. 

The process for downloading the right flat file for creating products is as follows:

  1. Choose category for the flat file.  Each category has slightly different attributes.  You can select more than one category for the file, but this may cause confusion
  2. Select Advanced or Custom template.  Advanced will have all fields, custom only the ones you select
  3. Select the marketplace you wish to target.  If you are uploading to the EU, the you can use one upload to create in multiple marketplaces (UK, FR, DE, IT, ES, NL)

When uploading the Inventory file the whole file can be uploaded without resaving as another format.

At the bottom the screen there are a number of standing feed files which can be downloaded.  Most useful of these are:

  • Inventory loader file.  This is used for matching against the amazon catalogue and also updating offer information
  • Price and inventory file.  For updating prices and inventory levels

How to deal with Amazon seller account suspensions

As an Amazon seller, getting your seller account suspended can be a terrifying experience. The process is opaque, unaccountable and it is not possible to talk to anyone. In my opinion it is a manifestation of Amazon’s unaccountable monopoly at its very worst.

For now there is no point in moaning about it, as sellers we just need to suck it up. We have had our accounts suspended multiple times for various reasons and in this post I will share some of what I have learned.

Sometimes easier said than done, but the best way to deal with suspensions is to understand what causes them and avoid this. In this article I cover both how to avoid suspensions and how to respond to them.

(If your account has been suspended and you are looking for help, contact us)

Reasons for suspensions and how to avoid them

Account performance or product issues

Account can get suspended due the missing one of Amazon performance targets. In my experience the only one which really matters is the order defect rate which is the sum of negative feedback and filed A-Z claims, with each order only being counted once. If you ODR goes over 1% your account is in trouble.

Sun Tzi said that in every battle someone has already won and someone has already lost, and I think that this very much applies to account performance. General advice:

  • Stay on top of feedback. Sorting negative feedbacks as you go along will put you in a better position if you get a negative feedback Tsunami. Remember Amazon will remove ‘product review’ feedback.
  • Identify the causes of A-Z claims and try and prevent them in future
  • Make sure the the contact details in you account are currently. The appeal will go to the main account email, not to the CS email.
  • Escalate the problem to management. Don’t leave it to your CS operative who my not be used to doing this.

In my experience performance based suspensions are fairly easy to fix by writing a well worded response (see section below).

Linked accounts

If Amazon links your account with another account which it feels has broken its rules, then it will shut down both accounts. This can be really difficult to fix.

  • Be really careful opening more than one Amazon account. This is probably something to avoid. Inform Amazon first if you are planning to do this.
  • Don’t open accounts for other companies. These account will then become linked by IP address and if the registration fails both account can be suspended
  • When opening accounts provide high quality documentation. Also ensure that all the information you provide is consistent i.e. the address on your documentation matches the your company address EXACTLY.

If you do get in a pickle, the first thing to do is to establish what the offending account is. If you ask seller support they should be able to give you the first 3 letter of the account name. The only way to fix a linked account issue is to get the problem account reactivated first.

If you have contacts within Amazon, ask them for help. You may need to be persistent.

If you do manage to get a linked account unsuspended, you might want to close it completely which can be done from Settings > Seller info.

Tips for writing a good appeal

For someone with good writing skills, writing an appeal is straightforward. Here are some rules to follow:

  • Respond to the suspension a timely manner
  • Be polite
  • Take full responsibility
  • Follow the format requested by Amazon
  • Don’t make excuses
  • Keep going – multiple responses may be required

True as they may be, avoid any mention of mitigating circumstances. Your dog may have died, but cold hearted Amazon won’t give the first shit.

An appeal typically has the following components:

  1. What went wrong. Show you understand the problem e.g. Our account received too many negative feedbacks. This was caused by delivery performance being below standard due to a using a untracked service.
  2. Show the problem has been fixed. e.g. We have contacted all unhappy customers to ensure that they have either received a full refund or have definitely received the problem
  3. What you will do to stop the problem occurring again. e.g. In future we will be sending all order using a expressed tracked service to ensure deliverability.

Should I use a specialist appeals company?

The preceived difficulty of answering appeals has created a whole industry of companies guaranteeing to get your account sorted. As far as I know these companies do not have privileged access to Amazon and so can’t do anything you can’t. What they can do is write a well structured appeal, but that is not rocket science.

If you have good writing skills there is no reason not to do it yourself. If you find writing hard then perhaps outsource.

Need help

We don’t claim to have any special access to Amazon seller support (but then nobody does). We have however written a lot of successful appeals and not how the system works. If you need help please drop us a line.

If you require inspiration, I’ve created a folder containing appeals we have written.

Introduction to Amazon Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands

With the ever-expanding range of products on Amazon, it can be difficult for new products to get traction as they have no sales history.  As previously covered performance in the Amazon search is largely based on the historical performance of a listing i.e.:

  • Sales history
  • Reviews
  • Conversion rate

Waiting to build a sales history through the natural search will take a long time and paying ads is a way to accelerate the process.

Why use Sponsored Products/Brands

You can use both Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands together to drive sales, increase discoverability for a new product, and continue to capture engaged customers from display advertising campaigns.

How much does it cost?

Amazon promoted products are charged on a cost per click (CPC) basis.  The merchant sets a daily budget at the campaign level which sets the maximum amount which will be spent per day. 

The merchants should optimise their campaigns to keep their performance within an acceptable level.  The level you are happy with will depend on your margins and also the your advertising goals.  According to Adbadger the average Advertising cost of sale (ACoS) is 27.6% of sale value.  This is on top of Amazon’s referral fee.  ACoS is defined as Advertising cost/sale value.

Types of campaign

There are three different types of adverts on Amazon:

  • Sponsored products. Promote products to shoppers actively searching with related keywords or viewing similar products on Amazon.
  • Sponsored brands. Help shoppers discover your brand and products on Amazon with rich, engaging creatives.
  • Sponsored display. Help shoppers discover your brand and products on Amazon with rich, engaging creatives.

Sponsored Products

Amazon Sponsored products allows merchants to drive traffic to individual products within their inventory. Charged on a CPC basis.

  • Promotes individual products
  • Appears within product detail pages and shopping results
  • Clicking on the ad will direct to the product’s detail page

Sponsored Brands

Sponsored brand allows brand owners (i.e. registered in brand registry) to drive traffic to collections of products or the brand store homepage.

  • Promotes a collection of products
  • Appears on product detail pages and at the top, within, and at the bottom of shopping results
  • Features a custom headline and logo or image
  • Clicking on a product featured will direct to product detail page
  • Clicking on headline or logo will direct to the brand’s Store or page featuring a collection of products

How to grow your Amazon sales: Deals

Deals can be accessed from Advertising > Deals in the Amazon Seller Central main menu.

Lightning Deals are flash sales where a product is featured for several hours on theAmazon Deals page, one of the most visited pages on Amazon. 7-day Deals are also featured on the Amazon Deals page for up to 7 days at a time.

The Deals page, is one of the most visited pages on Amazon.  Featuring a product as a Lightning Deal or a 7-day Deal might help increase sales, and it can also be an effective way to reduce your inventory. There is a fee required to run a Lightning Deal or a 7-day Deal.

Deal Fees

You will be charged for each Lightning Deal or a 7-day Deal that is submitted and has successfully run. The fee is displayed as part of the Deal creation work flow when you select the schedule for the Deal.

What doesn’t affect the fee: Changes to the number of variations, quantity, and price.

What does affect the fee: The country in which you run the deal and the week you choose to run the Deal.

Deal results

Once submitted the deal will appear on the deal homepage.  Once the deal has gone live, the following information will be available about each deal

  • Units Sold. The number of Deal units sold during the deal
  • Items Waitlisted. The number of items that the customers added to a waitlist after a deal sells out. A high number of Items Waitlisted suggests that you could have sold more Deal units than the Quantity for Deal that was entered for the SKU
  • Deal Revenue. Ordered product sales (Units Sold x Deal Price) for that SKU
  • Total Deal Revenue. Ordered product sales for all SKUs that participated in the deal

Understanding Amazon Payment Reports

Amazon payment reports can be accessed from the main menu under Reports > Payments.

Payment reports is divided into the following sections:

  • Payments Summary. This page summarizes your payment information. It shows your current total balance, available funds and recent pay-outs across all account types.
  • Statement View. This view shows a graph which breaks down the account balance by settlement period and line item type e.g. refunds, fees, FBA fees.
  • Transaction View. Displays the account transactions within a statement period, up until the prior day’s close. A transaction can be an order, a refund or an Amazon-initiated charge or credit. Drill down to see item detail
  • All Statements.  A list of settlement periods with summaries.  Drill down to see details in the statement view
  • Disbursement. This page shows the amount paid out in each settlement period to your account and the status of your funds.
  • Date Range Reports. Individual transaction reports and summary reports for orders within a specific range based on the date when you marked the orders as dispatched.
  • Download payment reports. Detailed breakdown of transactions during a given settlement period.

How to create an Amazon Branded Storefront

Amazon branded storefronts are available to brands registered in brand registry and can be managed from Stores > manage stores.

Multiple storefronts can be managed from the storefront as well as access to store insights (see below)

The storefront is a modular based system which has the following features:

Homepage

Each store must have at least one page which is the homepage.  Modules can be added to this page like any other.

Header

The storefront has a header which is 3000×600 px minimum.  This appears at the top of each page.

Publishing and Scheduling

There can be multiple version of the shop which the seller can select from the version drop down at the top of the page.  A live version can be updated or there can be multiple draft versions.

Once a shop is completed is can be submitted for approval and a publishing date set.  Once approved it will publish on this date.

Store Settings

Amazon allows the following settings for each store:

  • Store brand name
  • Store logo
  • Product display box (tall or short)

Pages

A store can have multiple pages.  These could be use for product information or as category pages.  Pages can be nested to create a category structure.  When creating a page a standard layout can be selected or a blank page where user can specify their own modules.

Top level categories will appear in the navigation under the header.

Modules

Each page is made up of a number of modules.  These can be:

  • Product grids (product selected by users)
  • Text area
  • Image
  • Shoppable image (links through to ASIN)
  • Videos
  • Image gallery

The modules can added underneath each other and moved around on the page

Insights

Amazon providers shop owners with an analytics too to viewing the traffic to their branded storefront.  The information which can be viewed is:

  • Traffic
  • Sales
  • Traffic source
  • Page visits

How to create Amazon A+ Content

Enhanced brand content or A+ content is a rich media area which is toward to the bottom of each Amazon listing under the title ‘From the manufacturer’.   Amazon says that creating A+ content improves conversion rate by up to 10%.

The process for creating A+ content is as follows:

  • Got to Advertising > A+ content manager
  • Click Start creating A+ content in top RHS
  • Add and configure modules.  The are various module formats involving text and images
  • Assign ASINs from your brand
  • Submit for approval

Previously created A+ content can be edited in a similar fashion.

Example A+ content:

Below are some samples of Enhance Brand Content: