3 Mistakes Selling On Amazon And 3 Tips For Selling On Amazon From Amazon Experts For 2020
Table of Content
- 1 Never miss an opportunity to speak with an Amazon expert!
- 2 Mistake #1: Being careless about best product selection and daily upkeep routines
- 3 Mistake #2: Ignoring the cash flow
- 4 Mistake #3: Not thinking about the brand and the audience from the start
- 5 Advice #1 Have a routine plan — and follow it day by day
- 6 Advice #2: Focus on selling a few products WELL at any one time
- 7 Advice #3: Create value from the get-go
- 8 Bonus Advice #4: Keep learning things applicable to Amazon that you do not know yet
Never miss an opportunity to speak with an Amazon expert!
We at Profit Whales love talking to the Amazon community, both the real-life Sellers and the fellow Agency experts.
And sometimes we come across a bunch of people who believe that sharing their experience with the rest of us is a good thing. And we couldn’t agree more!
Last week, we asked some Amazon experts two simple questions:
- Name one mistake and what you learned from it
- What is one tip or piece of advice you would give to new Sellers?
Needless to say, the answers we got back were rather diverse, each pointing to the unique experience they’d had when selling or working with Amazon.com Sellers.
And yet…. there was a certain trend to what they said. Especially when talking about question one.
This thing is implied in all the answers, but not stated specifically: it’s about being open when they are NOT being careful or watchful. It is literally what all of these experts did at the beginning of their Amazon achievements.
We believe that this is really important.
When you just start something new (like selling on Amazon) – you cannot take everything into account. That will just get you into “analysis paralysis.” You will NEVER get started, and all the while, the opportunity window you see begins to close….
So essentially our guests say this: DO NOT HESITATE. Go, do what you feel is right, fall, get up, and go again. And if you repeat that long enough – you WILL get results. And maybe one day, you’ll even become knowledgeable on the subject and tell the rest of the community about yourself and your first mistakes.
Again – especially if this is your first time with whatever you want to try – go bold. Right now! Bull rush at your goal. You like a product, and you think it’ll sell? Go for it! Register an account with Amazon and buy and ship a test batch to your home market. Register with the Amazon FBA program and start selling. Throw in some money via paid Facebook or Insta advertising to get your first sales and reviews. Use and abuse Amazon’s discount system to get more sales. Get your first thankful buyers, and then talk to them and listen to what THEY say about your product.
These are all the things our guests actually DID before they realized what was really going on, and they adapted to their respective mistakes and kept going.
And only when you’ve done all that… THEN come back and read the rest of this advice.
“My largest mistake was listening to too many gurus and chasing too many shiny objects. Once I focused my energy on understanding the AMZ SellerCentral platform and apply simply marketing you can build a successful listing.”Norman Farrar, PR Reach
Now, with this motivational part out of the way, let’s see what actual mistakes even seasoned 6-figure Amazon Sellers make when it comes to real life Amazon trading:
Mistake #1: Being careless about best product selection and daily upkeep routines
“The one mistake I’ve made as an Amazon Seller is focusing far too much of my time on shiny objects. At the end of the day, it’s the unsexy fundamentals like listing optimization, product research, and basic product launch strategies that move the needle forward.”Danny Carlson, CEO at Kenji ROI
It is naturally tempting for a Seller to work with multiple products at once. Each sells differently, and each one has the potential to become the new golden cow. Not all of them will, of course. But some surely might! And… this is where you’d get it wrong.
Amazon in 2020 is not the same as in 2015. The primary reason is that all the Sellers are now seasoned and armed to the teeth with effective SaaS solutions to decrease repetitive work.
They are much more poised in their efforts to stay in business than they were in 2015. They do their homework. They constantly improve their product, experimenting with the best ways to present their listing. They optimize their PPC continuously. And yes — they work hard to do that all at a profit.So picking 1-2 products at a time and doing them WELL is now actually a faster way to get selling on Amazon.com with a profit. You do not have to beat the rest of the competition to be at position one of the page one search results. You just need to be good enough to stay in the league. And this isn’t that hard to achieve.
“The best thing to do is find a FBA product or two in the same niche/category and focus on sourcing and selling the best, most valuable, and premium version of that product as you can. Amazon wants and rewards Sellers who: solve problems with current private label products and Sellers who offer high-quality products on their website.”Brian Noonan, Entrepreneur, Amazon Seller & Mentor, YouTuber
Dealing with a few products at a time is not just about the effectiveness of sales. It’s also about a lean and accountable work in progress for you and your team.
Working ad hoc with multiple products at any one time creates a mess for a team. Especially a fresh team that doesn’t have prior experience in diligently managing just a few products at first.
“One mistake I made as a seller was not doing a better job of managing my catalog. We added SKUs very quickly, and I wish we had a better inventory management system in place before scaling.”William Tjernlund, co-founder Goat Consulting
“I have a million-dollar brand called Momstir where I mostly sell the top Funny Wine Glasses on Amazon. I went into the hot sauce category and got burned! Amazon shipped my bottles in padded envelopes and refused to ship them in a box! A 4lb hot sauce glass bottle. As you could have guessed, the sauce damages were quite high. I scraped the project.”Steven Pope, Founder of My Amazon Guy
Speaking of diligence…. There is another observation (a rather boring one) that gets brought up again and again, which we will call 👇
Mistake #2: Ignoring the cash flow
When you see how much it costs to order/buy your products from China and import them into the US (or other thriving Amazon marketplaces)… and when you then compare that to the prices that existing Amazon competitors sell the item at, you may say, “Hey! Even with all the costs and logistics, there is plenty of profit to be made doing this!”Aaand… boom! 💥
You may not even see where the problem is for a long time. The problem that will be staring you right in the face. It has a lot to do with seeing each individual expenditure as bearable and manageable (when compared to overall price* inventory numbers). Until you sit down and do the boring math — and finally get the full picture.
“One mistake that I have learned from doing this so long is that you can grow too quickly. We all want our businesses to do well and succeed, but at the same time, we have to be able to handle that growth.Brandon Clark, Author of The A to Z Assembly Line
When our first companies grew exponentially, we had to grow our staff, tools needed, warehousing, and be able to handle the massive inventory purchases needed to keep that growth. Amazon is a cash flow game, and when you have things eat away at your cash, it can actually cause your business to struggle.”
Only then will you probably come to realize that it’s not just about finding the right product and selling lots of it to the right market. It’s about balancing all the money coming in and money going out.
And don’t get me wrong — nothing else would matter if you do not do the “finding” and “selling” part first. But this game is one level more complex than that.
You NEED to scrutinize every step and aspect of your expenditure. And squeeze every extra % of the costs.
A good place to start would be to calculate your optimal inventory-to-sales ratio. Order more inventory if you feel like you can sell more and get that bulk unit economy (bringing down the cost of each unit).
Step up your PPC efforts to increase the sales speed if au contraire — you feel like keeping the inventory cost you too much. Or clear your FBA inventory with a few Lighting Deals and then drop it to decrease the turnover time.
Seek alternative logistics to cut down on logistics per unit. Negotiate a payment delay with the manufacturer to pay after the Prime Day on X-Mas sales to clear your inventory clean.
Almost every aspect of your Amazon supply chain and business can be improved in one way or another. And it is these subtle actions that can double your profits forever if managed properly and dealt with creatively.
“During my first two years as a seller, I wasn’t aggressively managing each SKU as its own P&L, doing unit economics. As a result, I sold a lot of products that didn’t make me money, but Amazon still made its commission!”James Thomson, Chief Strategy Officer, Buy Box Experts, former Amazon insider
One more important thing about building an Amazon business with positive cash flow: you are NOT obliged to ride a dead horse. Sometimes (especially if you already DID focus all your efforts as suggested in Mistake #1)… it just doesn’t work out.
You’ve put the effort into finding this new product and its potential Amazon buyers. You’ve invested cash into the inventory, did the ordering and logistics. You’ve set up your Amazon.com listing, got your first reviews, or launched a state-of-the-art Amazon PPC campaign (or Google, or Facebook, or told a school friend, or whatever).
And still, your cash flow is in the yellow or even in the red. Just be honest with yourself. There are lots of viable alternatives out there. When it’s time to dismount a dead horse — do it. Your personal journey to success won’t complete itself, you know! And a new, colorful horse would certainly get you there much faster.
“[I was] not cutting losing products quickly enough – It is essential to cut products that aren’t selling well or have healthy profit margins and ROI in order to maximize profitability and cash flow.”Kellianne Fedio, Amazon Sales Coach
Continuing on the subject of cash flow… let’s talk about business expansion into new markets. What’s great about Amazon.com is that its instruments are identical for every market country in every language.
So it is easy to assume that scaling up your business on Amazon by duplicating a successful model from your home turf to another country is a foolproof way to grow your business.
For instance: while selling in Mexico and Spain may seem like a simple duplication task – it is far from it. Current (2020) Spanish buyers are still much more susceptible to lower prices than their counterparts across the Atlantic. Yes, lower prices are valued both by Amazon’s buyers and by Amazon’s algorithms all over the word. And yet… more seasoned buyers know better.
Experienced Amazon buyers (like in the US or Germany) examine other products, read more reviews, and compare product quality and return services before buying. Which already means that a Sellers expansion to another market is BOUND to lose some cash while they learn about these specifics first hand.
This brings two solid conclusions:
- Switching to a new market is much easier if your home turf sales are good and your home market cash flow is strong so that you have a financial spine, so to say – to endure the discovery part of your expansion
“Europe certainly represents a great opportunity to grow your business; the timing for expansion needs to be based on the results you are showing in your local marketplace. For example, if you have just started selling on Amazon in the US marketplace, you might want to wait until your business is established in your local marketplace before looking to expand.”Melanie Shabangu, Director/Partner – AVASK Accounting & Business Consultants
- Unlike the Seller Central interface, the taxation policy in every country is different and often complicated. Remember when we talked about carving out a few % of costs here and there to make overall sales profitable? Well, it’s just that, but from the local government regulation’s point of view. An expanding Seller would be wise to carefully examine this cash sink and how it works before beginning.
“Sellers do not give enough importance to Value Added Tax (VAT) and the role this is going to play in their expansion journey.
Each European country has different VAT rates, liabilities, and thresholds, and it is the seller’s responsibility to comply with the many rules, regulations, and laws.
VAT influences every step of your expansion, as you will need to identify under which rate your products fall; in which cases you need to register for VAT and in which countries Distance Selling Thresholds, Import VAT, whether you need fiscal representation, EORI numbers, and much more!
Sellers who do well when selling in Europe are those sellers who have relied on VAT experts from day one.”Melanie Shabangu, Director/Partner – AVASK Accounting & Business Consultants
Mistake #3: Not thinking about the brand and the audience from the start
A Seller doesn’t want to put all their eggs into one basket. They hope that whilst some of the products will fail (as is often the case with Amazon) — others will eventually be successful and score their dream revenue.
But for lots of our guests, the reality of success turned out to be quite the opposite: what really worked was making a long-term commitment to a selected product.What this focused strategy does is allow a Seller to uncover a product’s full market potential. If successful, it allows these products to:
- pay off sooner
- secure a stable source of cash to try and pick the next product to focus on
And last, but not least: creating your own brand. You should do your best and start working on your brand whilst working with new products.
“This is where the real long-term money is made on Amazon; building a real valuable Brand and solving problems”Brian Noonan, Entrepreneur, Amazon Seller & Mentor, YouTuber
And it’s not just for those Sellers who prepare to run a marathon with their products.
This advice is just AS GOOD for those Sellers who consider selling off and exiting the Amazon business. A well-established brand with a firm customer base and followers costs more than a simple Seller account reselling no-name stuff from China.
“We didn’t start building an audience early enough. In the early years, we were so focused on launching products without a ton of differentiation, and we didn’t take the time to learn about our customer base. In hindsight, I wish we would have started building a tribe of 1000 raving fans earlier, and that would make introducing new products much easier in the long run.”Fernando Cruz, Co-founder Pixelfy
Experience is paved with mistakes and successes. And those who’ve walked this road long enough don’t just have a story to tell, but also some valuable advice to give.
We’ve identified three distinct areas where our guests have a strong opinion of things WORTH DOING for the Amazon.com Seller.
Advice #1 Have a routine plan — and follow it day by day
– If you could give one tip to any Amazon seller, which one would that be?James Thomson, Chief Strategy Officer, Buy Box Experts, former Amazon insider
– Running a successful Amazon business is about repetitively monitoring key aspects of your business
– develop and follow a list of actions that you need to take daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually to make sure you are tracking variances in your business and ensuring that your business doesn’t go off the rails long before you bother to measure the missteps.
– If you could give one tip to any Amazon seller, which one would that be?Norman Farrar, PR Reach
– Create simple SOPs from day one.
Yep. No fancy marketing strategy. No incredible techniques for finding unique products and securing blue ocean sales on Amazon. Not stunt Google+YouTube+Facebook+Chat bot+TikTok+Amazon sales funnel combos. Day-to-day work on your current product IS a surefire way to make it a success (if there is such a thing as surefire with Amazon.com).
The one tip that I can give you is to follow a plan and focus on one product at a time. Allow that product to grow to a point where it pays for itself and gives the business a cushion.
From there, rinse and repeat that process with your second product. Then you will have your assembly line down to launch more products through that process while being able to handle the growth of your business.
At the same time, you will be building up the necessary cash flow for you to become one of the top sellers and start to grow your business off of Amazon for ultimate success.Brandon Clark, Author of The A to Z Assembly Line
A routine plan like this consist of simple tasks:
- Monitoring your listing and reacting to reviews fast
- Keep A/B testing different ways to bring your message to potential buyers
- Shuffling and adding new pics
- Altering title, bullet points, and description test
- Observing the results of all above and recording them for a future knowledge base
- Routinely optimizing Amazon PPC
- Warming up sales with Lightning Deals, Discounts, and Coupons (including outside Amazon.com)
- Preparing the inventory of peak sales (like Mother’s Day sales, X-Mas season, or Prime Day)
And other routine upkeep. This hard work is what brings long-term product sales, stability, and a loyal customer base, and it’s what drives your business value.
Advice #2: Focus on selling a few products WELL at any one time
This one is mentioned often both as a mistake and as advice. Paying attention to all aspects of selling a few specific products (ideally under a brand name) PAYS OFF. As you are working with essentially the same people, you gain market experience with that particular niche. So the next time you roll out a new similar product, you can throw all the aces from your sleeve right on the table.
Another benefit from focusing on a niche and working on good-selling products is how Amazon’s algorithm reacts to it. A10 is significantly geared towards promoting products with good reviews AND a history of non-stop sales.
So whatever you try: a new way to build your listing, new PPC strategy, or a new product variation — the algorithm will give you an advantage over a less stable Seller and will float your product higher up in the Search results. And this means more impressions, better CTR, and faster feedback from your customers on whatever you try. Neat!
I have launched 8 FBA P.L. products and registered two Brands on Amazon. I would strongly recommend finding a niche or category and focus on trying to build a strong Brand and presence in 1-2 niches/categories rather than launching products in all different categories.Brian Noonan, Entrepreneur, Amazon Seller & Mentor, YouTuber
Even more so — working within a specific niche scores you experience with this type of buyer and their behavior. This goes beyond cold data mining and optimizing Seller Central based on reports. This is about intimately feeling how your customers react to your every action, since you’ve been working closely with what they’ve been buying for a long time.
“My tip would be to narrow in on a specific audience, start building a list, and retargeting them into funnels. You’ll be glad you did!”Fernando Cruz, Co-founder Pixelfy
Advice #3: Create value from the get-go
Whenever you can afford to think about making your own branded products… do it. It will require a bit of creativity, dealing with manufacturers who can stamp your logo on products and, some paperwork with Amazon.com. But once all this is settled — the brand starts working for you.
As long as your product is of decent quality and you maintain your customer service (including reacting to reviews and return claims) – you WILL start gaining brand awareness and brand followers. People have a tendency to become a bit more intimate with things that are good at what they’re made for. Those products get reordered. Customers spread word-of-mouth recommendations to other people. They stick out from the bland ranks of similar no-name products.
This one long-term investment is definitely worth it when selling on Amazon.
“Brand them from the very beginning (logo on products and packaging) launch the product and then enroll in the Amazon I.P. Accelerator Program to get access to A+ Content and Brand Registry, and a Trademark. This is where the real long-term money is made on Amazon; building a real valuable Brand, and solving problems.Brian Noonan, Entrepreneur, Amazon Seller & Mentor, YouTuber
Also, make sure whatever product you choose that there are 5-10 longer tail keywords that will be easy to rank to page one, rather than having to spend a fortune on PPC at the beginning that eats away all your profits. 🙂
One more very important issue that seems like a far-away thing… and still is the one thing every conscious Seller should be keeping in mind from the very beginning: an exit strategy. Sooner or later, you will want to quit Amazon selling (regardless of how successful it is). And if it WAS successful for you — you will want to monetize all your hard work by selling this well-oiled, still-running, money-making machine to someone. And it is this final moment of your play when a strong and recognizable brand name truly shines. Sometimes literally.
“In today’s fast-paced digital economy, a big opportunity exists to sell your Amazon business for a huge profit. The most money you’ll ever put in your pocket for an Amazon business comes when you sell it. If you want to be successful on Amazon and have a sellable business someday, you must create a real brand and be able to source and sell a high volume of profitable products with healthy margins and ROI.”Kellianne Fedio, Amazon Sales Coach
Bonus Advice #4: Keep learning things applicable to Amazon that you do not know yet
Oh, we’ve almost forgotten. A final word of advice from our guests. This is a motivational one.
– If you could give one tip to any Amazon seller, which one would that be?Scott Needham, BuyBoxer CEO
– How about three tips? Work smarter, not harder. What does that mean in Amazon/E-Commerce land?
1. Educate yourself
2. Implement technology
– You focus on these things, and you’ll be a better company every week!
– If you could give one tip to any Amazon seller, which one would that be?William Tjernlund, co-founder Goat Consulting
– One tip would be to learn before you do! Work for Amazon or an Amazon agency or software company, and you will be much more educated and successful!
And this is it for today’s round-up. We thank you for sticking with us to the very end. We are very grateful to all our guests who found time to share their real life stories and mentor all our readers (and us too!) about things to do and not to do when setting up a business on the world’s #1 selling platform — Amazon.com.
We hope that you find something useful and applicable for your day-to-day practice. And if you got inspired by our guests’ stories, please feel free to share your own. Because every true story is worth telling.
And we’ll leave you at that.
Good hunting, fellow Amazonians!
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