The Comprehensive Guide to Selling on Amazon
With the proper tools, resources and know-how, you can go from selling various items on Amazon to building an entire e-commerce business out of it. Long gone were the days when customers relied only on malls and local shops for their needs and desires; now the process has been extremely simplified without even leaving your home. And, as far as online sales are concerned, Amazon has definitely been crowned king of the industry. Even though eBay and Etsy come in close at 2nd and 3rd place, the countless benefits of Amazon as an online marketplace has attracted (and continues to attract) more buyers and associates (aka sellers) than you could imagine. In fact, Statista reports that there are currently over 304 million active accounts while The Telegraph has labelled the platform as the most influential retailer in Britain.
With stats like these, you can understand why more and more individuals are turning to Amazon in order to develop their online businesses. Regardless of whether you want to start increasing your income or taking your current business to the next level, Amazon should be among your top options. If you have never opened a shop on Amazon before, it might seem like a handful. However, you will soon find out that the process isn’t as complicated as newcomers tend to perceive it to be. To have a successful Amazon business, you need to understand:
- The basics of delivery and shipping & what options you have for gaining 100% customer satisfaction.
- What type of seller accounts you can choose from, according to your objectives.
- What strategies you can apply to increase your sales.
- How to price your items to be aligned with the market average.
- Why flawless packaging can contribute to the positive reputation of your business.
- The importance of Amazon reviews.
These are just a few of the aspects we will cover in our Comprehensive Guide to Selling on Amazon. Another very important issue is packaging- learning to find sturdy materials and simple solutions. Feel free to take a look at the contents of our guide and explore the sections you are interested in the most. We recommend that you browse through all of them so you can get a well-rounded idea about how to make it big on the platform with more than 100 billion USD in annual revenue.
Before diving into associate accounts and strategies, we want to walk you through the #1 detail that will make your business stand out among competitors: top-notch shipping. If you browse through random customer reviews, you will be unpleasantly surprised to find how many individuals regretted their purchase due to extremely poor shipping conditions. Aside from the fact that some Amazon shops have ridiculous shipping fees, they also deliver products that are hastily packaged. It should be common sense that a weakly packed item will get damaged throughout the shipping process.
As far as Amazon’s shipping service is concerned, there are a few essential pieces of information that any novice seller should keep in mind:
- Free Delivery is available only for products that are fulfilled and sold by Amazon and Marketplace items that are fulfilled by Amazon Sellers who have items that aren't fulfilled by Amazon are not eligible for free delivery. All relevant info for free delivery in the UK can be accessed here.
- Postage Credit must be covered by the seller even if it's not equal to the full cost of delivery. Full info on postage credits here.
- Best Practices for Shipping are covered by Amazon.co.uk in a short manual on this page.
We’ll talk more about shipping, packaging, and delivery details in the fifth section of our comprehensive guide. Even though it might seem like a lot of information to begin with, you will gain clarity as we proceed with the two account types for sellers so you can weigh your options.
Seller Accounts - Understanding What You're Signing Up For
If you have made the decision to start selling on Amazon, you should now look into the selling plans you can choose from. On Amazon.co.uk, there are two main selling plans: Individual & Pro Merchant. Both plans have ups and downs, but if you're just getting started with your business, we recommend that you start with an individual selling plan. if you aim to sell expensive items or want to go into
Even though the plans are quite different, there are a few features that they have in common:
- No fees for listing a product
- Support for sellers
- Ability to sell on all Amazon European Marketplaces, not just the UK and Ireland ones.
- Secure selling experience
- Both plans have variable closing fees and referral fees.
As for the details that set them apart, consult the basics of each plan below.
Individual Selling Plan Summary
Most new users are encouraged to sign up for individual selling. Amazon.co.uk describes its main attribute as a ‘pay-as-you-go system’. It’s easy to use by any person with basic online knowledge and can be set up in a matter of minutes. Additional features of the individual selling plan are:
- Order Management
- Online Listing
- One listing can't exceed £10,000
- Single Listing
- Each sold item is charged with a £0.75 fee (VAT-exclusive)
- Fee is only paid after the item is sold.
The individual selling plan is also regarded as Basic (Sell a little). It is generally recommended for sellers who won’t be exceeding 35 products every month.
Pro Merchant Selling Plan Summary
Sellers who want the complete Amazon experience and plan to make a serious business out of their online shop should look into the pro merchant plan. This is the best option for sellers who are interested in selling more expensive items or a greater amount of products each month. The pro merchant seller plan includes features like:
- Monthly fee instead of paying per item
- Inventory reports
- Order reports
- Add listing with any price
- Value for large amounts of sales
- Add listings in any category
- State-of-the-art seller tools
If you plan on selling more than 35 products a month, it is best to go for the pro merchant plan. Instead of paying the fee we mentioned above for every item, you pay £25 for a monthly subscription. You can instantly spot the value if you’re dealing with a lot of products. This is also why the pro merchant plan is called Pro (Sell a lot).
Create a Seller Account
If you’re ready to set up your Amazon account and start selling your products, follow these instructions to register with Amazon.co.uk.
- Go to Amazon's Seller Central by clicking this link: https://sellercentral.amazon.co.uk
- Click the Register now button.
- Scroll down to read any extra info you want to learn about beforehand. If you're good to go, click the orange Register Now button. If you only want to sell products to UK customers, uncheck the box related to selling in all European Marketplaces.
- If you will primarily be using Amazon from your mobile, enter your phone number in the first field. PC users can enter their email address.
- Select the Create a new account option.
- Click Continue and start customising your account!
Clever Selling Tactics
After you register your account and you have decided on what items you want to sell, you should start doing some research about potential selling strategies. On Amazon, it’s not enough just to have a reliable product, especially if you’re a novice seller. You need to wrap it in a well-thought out marketing strategy that will lead you to fast sales and a flourishing customer portfolio.
If you have prepared a marketing budget for your product, you can look into various online ad services to get it across to a broader audience. Product developers are encouraged to experiment with ads, but those who are resellers might not want to make this initial investment. If you decide to invest in ads, you should first try Amazon Ads. Their in-house ad service helps you reach an abundance of potential customers that are relevant for your target.
Nonetheless, we’re well aware that many start-ups won’t have a large marketing budget to begin with. In these cases, here are some strategies and tactics to sell your product organically:
- Keywords: We really can't stress enough how important it is to use relevant keywords to get your products noticed. The reason is that customers who browse through Amazon Marketplace will look for a product they desire based on some pretty basic keywords. Make sure that your product's title contain keywords, but don't overdo it so that you seem to be 'spammy'.
- Reviews: The more reviews your product has, the better its reputation will be. To help you understand the impact of reviews better, just put yourself in the customer's shoes. You have most likely purchased something from Amazon at one point or another. When you did buy an item, did you scroll down to see reviews? Most likely. Try to encourage your customers to rate and review your products after they buy it.
- Give away: If you don't have a consistent customer following to start out with, you can build your reviews by offering yor product for free or a small price. As an exchange for your offer, ask the customer to give it an honest review. However, if you choose to do this, make sure that the customer mentions he or she was given the product for this purpose so you don't break Amazon's rules. The best way to start this strategy is to give your product to family members and friends and ask them to write a few lines about their experience. An extra tip on this topic is to ask them to find your product by searching for a specific keyword in the platform so it can add to Amazon's statistics.
- Follow up: When your product begins to sell, make sure that you pay special attention to your customers. Ask them if they were satisfied with their purchase, be open to their feedback and take note of any suggestions. Not all options might be positive, but take any constructive criticism into consideration so you can upgrade customer experience for all.
- Amazon Prime: You should also strongly consider reaching out to Amazon Prime customers. This category of customers is great for driving sales, as they have upgraded their accounts to purchase more often. Take a look at the Amazon Prime Benefits and see what you can to mould your product to their needs.
- Buy Box: An awesome feature available for select Amazon sellers is BuyBox, in a nutshell, it means that more than one seller can market the exact same product. Focus on competitive prices, maintaining an active stock and watch how your sales grow.
A crucial detail for all new sellers is to follow Amazon guidelines. If you break the rules or ignore best practices, your products will most likely fly past unnoticed and you might even have your account closed. However, if you sell accordingly, there are high chances that your business will start booming in no time, to see the full list of Amazon UK community rules, check out this help page.
The Importance of Competitive Pricing
Even though competitive pricing is, without a doubt, among the basic Amazon selling strategies, it is such a significant topic that it deserves a section of its own in our guide. Any experienced Amazon seller will agree that having the perfect price can lead you to numerous sales and creating a database of loyal customers. Nevertheless, how do you know what the best price is for your product? How do you set the price so you can cover the rest of the fees involved?
First of all, you need to do your homework on your competition. Break down the information you have about your product based on:
- Target Audience
- Manufacturing Costs
A great way to get insight about the products in your industry and their e-commerce activity is by looking at Amazon's Best Sellers Categories. You can see the top-selling products in your class and see what the average prices are.
Based on the details you extract, search for items that are similar to yours on Amazon. In most cases, there will be an industry average that you should be pretty close to. If you’re just starting off and you want to offer more value, you can price your product a bit under competition until the word gets out. However, we don’t recommend creating a huge discrepancy. If you price the item to make it really cheap compared to what it’s worth, you’ll be ruining the market for both you and your peers.
On the other hand, it’s not encouraged to set your price extremely high, either. Most look to Amazon to get better deals on products than they would in stores, so do your best to keep your price below their average. These tips can vary from category to category, but it’s just a general rule you should keep in mind.
Shipping & Packaging
Now that you know all about getting your account set up and selling smart, you need to consider a vital aspect for customer satisfaction: shipping and packaging. You are required by Amazon’s rules to ship any media items in the first two business days after getting the order from a customer. As a UK seller, you can use any service for shipping your product, but it’s recommended that you look into the least expensive (yet reliable) option.
As far as UK deliveries are concerned, there are several options available for your target audience:
As a seller, its best to fully understand the delivery processes so you can see how to meet the needs of your online customers the best. You can find the full options here.
Generally, UK deliveries take one business day, while Western and Eastern Europe take anywhere between 3 and 5 days. If you are planning to ship outside of Europe via post, inform your customer that their package can arrive anytime between 5 and 10 days.
You will receive assistance on Amazon’s part with Postage Credit. This means that every customer who buys something from this platform will have to pay a delivery fee, which will aid you in covering the costs for posts. Unfortunately, even if the postage credit you get doesn’t cover all costs, you still need to cover it on your own. This is an aspect you should keep in mind when pricing your product.
International Shipping & Delivery
There are high chances that a part of your customers will be from outside the United Kingdom. If you chose to sell your products in all of Amazon’s Marketplaces in Europe, then you can get a customer from any of the five platforms they manage for this continent. In addition to the fundamental rules for sellers, there are specific regulations for selling internationally:
- Local Requirements: All products that are shipped in the EU need to be compliant with the local regulations. You also need to be well aware that some countries exclude specific products.
- Restrictions: This leads us to another essential point for international shipping - there are numerous marketplace products that are restricted for delivery outside of the country. To see all of the items that are restricted, consult this page.
- Warranties: If your customers benefit from a warranty for your product and you are shipping it outside the UK, make sure that the warranty is valid on the territory you are delivering it to. If your product is not warranted in a certain country, make sure that this information is clear on your product page.
- Customer Service: Just as you would with local buyers, make sure that you offer active customer service during business hours. If any returns are required, accept them according to Amazon's guidelines. Encourage your customers to study the specific number of business days required for your product to be shipped from the UK to their country.
Amazon-friendly Packaging Guidelines
Packaging is just as critical as prompt delivery. As we mentioned in our introduction, a lack of quality packaging can lead to negative reviews about your products that greatly damage your business’ reputation. To maintain the platform’s image and help you get happy customers, Amazon has created an extensive list of packaging requirements and tips. You can use this step-by-step process to suitably package your Amazon product, with specific tips and tricks for packaging books:
- Gather all the materials you need for packaging the item. They should all be new, clean and appropriate for the weight, shape and size of your product. Common materials include:
- Cardboard boxes or envelopes
- Corrugated Cardboard
- Cling Film
- Sturdy Tape
- Bubble Wrap
- To see the full list of materials suggested by Amazon according to product specs, read this document.
- Prepare your item by cleaning it and boxing or bagging it accordingly. If you are shipping a book, make sure you do not use a bag. Instead, wrap the book gently in cling film to keep any water or dust from getting inside. Use it all around, but make sure to not damage a book's jacket, if it has one.
- After it's wrapped in cling film, you need a piece of corrugated cardboard. Use the side with ridges to go directly over the book's cover and wrap it tight. The edges of the book should also be covered and the package should be taped at the end. Make sure you include a packaging slip.
- Provide the full address for shipping either by printing a label or neatly writing it in capital letters on the package. You also have to label the package with Your Amazon.co.uk Marketplace Order and include a valid return address. Make sure that all labels can be easily read by post employees.
- If shipping through Amazon FBA (Fulfilment by Amazon), you need to use a clear item label or barcode that can be easily scanned.
If you are dealing with larger products that require extensive packaging, don't hesitate to seek professional help. Amazon customers highly value the quality of the packaging and the way they recieve their product. Look for a reliable packaging company in your area that can fulfil your needs and those of your customers.
When it comes to reaching success as a seller on Amazon, the difference really is in the details. A properly packaged item can make the whole world of difference between a one-time, unhappy customer and one that is bound to keep buying from yout time and time again.
Amazon Reviews - Why You Should be Aiming for 5 Stars
Reviews can make or break your Amazon business. In any case, they are fundamental for getting your item on the Marketplace map and achieving customer loyalty. Ideally, try to obtain as many five star ratings as much as you can. However, in addition to the stars, do your best to encourage customers to leave a written review. The more reviews you get, the higher your product will rank in its category. The best possible scenario is to have customers positively (and honestly) rate the item with five stars and leave an extensive review with the aspects they truly enjoyed about it. But, in the end, why is it so important to get five star reviews on Amazon?
- You are buying the trust of your current customers.
- You are paying the way for potential customers.
- You are building your reputation as a reliable seller.
- You are offering an online or digital alternative to the classic 'word of mouth' recommendation.
- You are helping your customers feel they are part of a community.
To inspire customers to leave these impeccable reviews, do everything on your part to offer optimum conditions:
- Be 100% honest about your product from beginning to end.
- Provide a clear and informative item description, with pros, cons and special features.
- Use high quality photos that accurately represent the product.
- Be an active presence on the product page and thank them for their feedback.
- Provide prompt delivery in quality condition.
- Offer discounts and promotions on a regular basis.
- Maintain professionalism throughout the buying process.
Not only is it essential to gather as many five star reviews as you can, but it’s also incredibly important to steer clear of negative reviews as much as possible. When we say negative, we mean anything from 3 stars and under. When a customer first checks out any product page on Amazon, their eyes will reach the stars meter at the top. After reading the description, they will definitely scroll down to see what other customers thought of the product.
Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that you should fall prey to false reviews. Amazon’s community guidelines are very strict when it comes to honesty, so stay away from the temptation that purchased reviews might present. Fewer authentic reviews are far more valuable than an abundance of fake ones. Even more so, multiple false reviews can lead to your seller account termination, which you obviously try to avoid at all costs.
To sum up, registering as an individual or pro merchant seller on Amazon has a myriad of benefits both on a personal and a professional level. If you want to get into the reselling business, Amazon is the safest, fastest and most reliable platform you can use. If you are planning to develop a product and expose it to a large audience, it is also the most trustworthy online shop. Sellers who want to reach international customers can easily sell their products on the UK Marketplace and have them reach customers from all around Europe.
Any new Amazon seller should get acquainted with all of the rules and regulations that this online marketplace has set up. They were defined by the Amazon team for a reason, and quite a very good one – to offer the best possible experience for buyers and sellers alike. These community guidelines are one of the reasons why Amazon has become the most successful website of its kind today. To have a positive experience and increase your income with Amazon, make sure that you are familiar with the rules and follow them accordingly.
To boost the chances of your Amazon business turning into a lean, mean, money-making machine, you need to put quality before all other aspects. Your product, description, packaging, delivery and customer service all need to be up to par with industry standards so you can keep your customers coming back time and time again. Never overlook the packaging and delivery aspects, as they are the primary details that convince customers to leave a positive or negative review.
As a final note, always be open to new ideas and improvements. Even if you do get critical feedback, always take it into consideration as long as it’s constructive. The honest opinion of a customer can be your ticket to a new and improved business that will rake in even more profit. You should always do your best to stay up to date with any new tools and resources available for sellers. From time to time, access the Amazon Seller Central to see if any news popped up that will help you expand your business. If you find that your Amazon business has successfully grown, consider upgrading to a pro merchant account to take it to the next level.
With the proper research, respect and reliability, your shop on Amazon can turn into the work-at-home job of your dreams. Best of luck!