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164 Amazon Sales with Shane Stinemetz Part 1 of 3

It is important for any business to measure its profit and loss as this helps in determining the direction of the business. It helps in understanding if the business is headed in the right direction or if there are changes that need to be implemented. Continue reading

155 How to Split Test your Amazon Listing with Andrew Browne Part 1 of 2

Split testing is a technique you can use to test which variation performs better. It’s very common in web design. An online store may want to find which color checkout button converts the best. They would then show half their audience one colour, and the rest another and track conversion rates. It’s very important to split test your Amazon listing to help optimise it.

Split Test your Amazon Listing

Andrew Browne co-founded Splitly as a way to use this technique with Amazon listings. This way you are able to test different aspects of your listing, to fine-tune every feature so it converts as good as it can. You can test different main images and title to find out which gets better traction. This uses objective data rather than your subjected intuition.

Best Place when Getting Started

Main Image

It is the first thing your customers see therefore has a major impact on getting potential buyers’ attention. If you split test your Amazon listing image, you can determine the best picture that will get people to click on your product.

One success story that Andrew shared was one he did on his own product. He wasn’t looking for results, he was merely testing the software. In doing so, he found that by changing the main image, to one he thought were do poorly, he improved his conversion rate by 50%.

Price

Another great place to start is your price. It’s easy to test and is incredibly impactful on your conversion and you can get your results quickly. Other places to test are your title, bullets, and product description.

Split Test Your Amazon Listing with Splitly

Splitly is an amazing tool that does the split testing for you. When your start you test, your listing updates at midnight, Amazon time, which is GMT-8. The reason for that is Amazon does your reports based on that time. Then every night at midnight, you listing updates with the other version of your listing. While it’s not true AB testing, it’s the best you can do with Amazon’s limitations, and it’s better than using your own intuition.

Which Products to Split Test

It’s important to understand that split testing isn’t for saving products. If you have a failing product, it won’t help to split test to try and save it. You need to have enough traffic in order to get enough data to make improvements. You want to split test products that are already doing well in order to improve them and boost them a few percent. You’re looking to improve upon products that are already getting traffic and sales.

Timeline for Testing

How long it takes to split test a listing depends on a few factors. The more sales your product gets, the quicker you’ll get your results. If you’re selling 5 units a day, Splitly will be able to collect enough data much quicker than if you’re selling 1 unit a day.

The significance of the difference places a large factor. If you’re testing a price difference of 5 cents, it might not affect the sales enough to determine a winner. Whereas if you’re testing a $5 difference, it will have a larger effect and the software will be able to determine which is better.

There is no specific number, it just depends on how long it takes Splitly to gather enough data to give you an answer. It may determine that there isn’t enough difference to go one way or another.

154 Time Management for eCommerce with David Aggiss Part 2 of 2

The great thing about running an Amazon business is the freedom it allows in your personal life. You can go on holiday as you want and you can take a day off as needed. You set your own schedule and make your own deadlines. That also creates one of the more difficult aspects of your job as an Amazon seller, time management. Today on the show we have David Aggiss and we’ll be discussing time management techniques when you’re running an online business.

Time Management for eCommerce

If you are first starting out, the challenge is finding enough time to work on your business. You have your full-time job, maybe a spouse and children, then your Amazon business on top of that. It’s going to lead to some late nights and long days. That’s the struggle of it. It’s important to set aside time-blocks for specific tasks. If you start working without this, you’ll end up working on a number of things and accomplishing nothing.

Customer service is a daily task. You’re probably going to be in Seller Central a lot anyway, which is a good thing so you can respond to customer questions and other issues as they arise. Once a week, you want to look at your listings. See if there is any way to improve them. You should take a look at your PPC and keywords to make sure they are performing how you want.

Time Management when Expanding Your Business

Expanding your business is an evening job. If you are looking to research new product lines or find new suppliers, make sure you have a few weeks available where you can put in some serious evening hours. You’re going to have to work everyday with emails back and forth with your suppliers, especially if they’re in China. Unless you can get on a Skype call, this process could take a week or more because of the time difference.

Skype is recommended to help speed up this exchange. However, keep in mind that if you’re looking into several suppliers, that Skype could get overwhelming. It is easier to maintain all the information if you limit it to email since that has understood, built-in limitations. Also, you will have a record of everything discussed.

Outsourcing

If you find that you don’t have the time to handle everything that you need, consider outsourcing. Be aware of what your strengths and weaknesses are. Focus on your strengths, outsource your weaknesses.

If you are making enough money from your Amazon business that you can afford to outsource, then you are probably pretty proficient at the day-to-day Amazon tasks. Then you’ll want to continue to handle those. If your background is in web design, then build your website yourself.

If, however, you don’t know the first thing about building a website and you have no idea how to work on social media, outsource those. Chances are you can find someone that will do it better and faster. If a task is going to take you a week, but someone who is an expert can do it in a day, pay them to do it. The task will get done several days soon and you now have that week to work on something you’re an expert in.

Focus Management

While time management is important, focus management is as well. Like I said before, you have the freedom to make your own schedule, but you don’t have a boss to keep you on track. It’s easy to lose focus and let your business suffer because of it. You have to keep in mind why you want to run your own business. Whether it’s to have a luxury house, nice cars, or to simply spend more time with your family. Whatever it is, whether it changes over time, always remember that and let it be your motivation to stay focused.

149 How to Become a Wholesaler with Manuel Becvar Part 3 of 3

How to Become a Wholesaler

It’s more than just growing your business on Amazon. You have to actively contact and cold call retailers in order to sell your products. It’s the next step in the process. You’ve sold on Amazon, you’ve diversified through other channels, and you’ve built up your brand. If you want to become a wholesaler, you have to take the time to build your brand. It’s not an overnight task. It takes a lot of time to build a brand.

Approach Local Retailers

It might not be a good idea to start large chains like Tesco or Wal-Mart. The better idea would be to find a smaller one in your area. Make contact with the owner or decision maker, and set up a presentation where you can make a pitch on your products. A fallback would be to create a PDF that goes over all the information. You can them email the document to them and follow up a few days later with a phone call.

Go to Exhibitions

You may not have the money to get a booth or a stand, but you can go as a guest. You can find local retails and get their contact information. Then you can send them an email and PDF where you talk about your company and make a pitch. One vital aspect, in order to become a wholesaler, is making these connections.

Build Your Catalog

You can’t go to these retailers and sell some generic widget. It needs to be unique. It also helps to have several products in your catalog before you become a wholesaler. Bear in mind that even though it may take a year or two for your wholesale business to get going, the payoff happens when retailer orders tens of thousands of products at once.

Immense Potential

The great thing about wholesale is the potential. It really is possible to to do great things with it. Whether you want to do it to make some extra income or make it into a large operation. Manuel has done this. He currently does about $300,000 on Amazon, and close to $1.5 million in wholesale. When you factor in his consulting and sourcing income, he is making around $2.5 million a year. The potential is there if you’re willing to put in the time and effort.

Get in touch with Manuel at importdojo.com and get a free eBook and newsletter.

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142 Amazon Launch Strategy for 2017 from Brad Moss of Product Labs – Part 3 of 4

We’re going to start this off wide open. Can you give us some tips on the best tips for selling in 2017?

Brad runs a one-stop consulting firm that helps Amazon sellers and one of the strategies they use is not to think of a product or product sales life cycle one dimensionally. There are different phases a product goes through. You want to identify those phases and what is need for each phase. A lot of people are wondering what to do for an Amazon launch. After the review blast is over, what do you do?

They have something called “Spur the Machine” that they do for their ASINs and sellers. It’s a four phase approach to the first step of getting something up on Amazon. In their experience, it takes about three months to get a product up and running and there’s a lot going into this.

They have four phases for launching a product.

  1. Prepare the launch
    1. Do everything you can with your branding and imaging.
    2. Optimize the backend to, your best guess, the keywords.
    3. Make sure you have brand control.
    4. Get your price point on-par or slightly below competition.
    5. Setup your review follow-up campaigns.
  2. Launch
    1. Push PPC ad campaigns for 2-4 weeks.
      1. Do automatic and your best guess manual one.
    2. Let them sit and see what the best keyword results are. Determine which keywords you’re overpaying for.
    3. Track your conversion rates and your sessions per product.
  3. Refine
    1. After 2-4 weeks, determine what needs to go from broad match to specific match.
    2. Start using AMS with the keywords you have found to be useful.
    3. Optimize your listing based on the initial feedback you’re getting.
    4. Push promotions for you products.
      1. It’s been said that Amazon give a bump to new products which drops off and promotions during this time will help push the product.
    5. Refine your review follow-up campaign.
    6. Use the data you have collected and refine you email campaign.
  4. Make a mid-term plan
    1. Now that your product is up and running, get some more reviews, stop your big promotion push, and make a three month strategy.
    2. Refine your PPC and AMS for long-term results.
    3. Set up long-term deals and promotions.

The big thing is to take a snapshot, then stop and review your data. People tend to keep going and make small adjustments along the way. Doing that makes it difficult to see what’s happening and what’s causing it.

You’ve told us how to get sales rank, and how to use PPC to drive traffic and then refine it to make a profit. However, the one thing people still worry about is getting reviews. How important do you think that is, and how do you deal with that side of things?

Some research was done on this topic. They gathered data from millions of SKUs and they found that the number of reviews stop mattering after 21 reviews. After that, it’s the amount of stars you have. Reviews matter for sure. Intuition would say that a product with 3000 reviews would do better than one with 100. However, according to the data, what really matters is the star rating.

How do you go about getting those 21 reviews in a post-incentivised world?

Brad has found that when you run promotions, there is a higher rate of reviews that comes from people buying your product. The normal rate is about 1-3% of people who buy your product, will review your product. That number jumps up quite a bit when you run promotions. Usually, you don’t have to give away more than 30-50 units on products with a lower price point. With product over $100, you could probably get away with less.

A Facebook crowd around your brand is a great resource. You can promote new products there and get a good response

What do you do specifically with a Facebook crowd? Do you have any specific strategies around that?

If you have built up a following around your brand. i.e. A Facebook page or group. You can leverage that following to help you. When you have an Amazon launch and are trying to get a new product out there, you can post about it on your page or group and tell them about your promotions, and ask them to leave a review. It’s a great resource if you have that following.

So you can ask for a review. When you do these promotions, do you do based on discount codes?

You can. It’s the idea of making your Facebook community feel special.

That makes sense. I guess the question is around the Terms of Service. If you give a promotion code to people where people on Amazon don’t have access to it, and you ask for a review, will that raise a red flag for Amazon?

It’s hard to say. Within Amazon, it’s an individual person making the call every time. They have their SOPs that say if someone is given a promotion for a review, take it off. If it’s in a grey area, Brad has seen them overreach their bounds too much. However, there should be nothing against giving away promotions for your products.

Let’s say, for example, I give an 80% off coupon. It’s a general code and not a one-time use. I send it to 200 people on my email list and tell them to check out our latest product and I add in something to the effect of asking for a review. Will that raise a red flag at Amazon?

It shouldn’t. It’s such a new thing and Brad doesn’t know what the internal procedures are but it’s not an incentivised review. You’re not saying, “Here’s a product so that you’ll review it for us.”

That’s good to know coming from someone that worked inside Amazon and explains a bit  about the inconsistencies with the implementation. You’re saying that Amazon themselves haven’t sorted it out internally yet?

Brad could see that argument between two VPs as he has seen in the past, however, he doesn’t have much more insight than that. All he can really go on is the success of promotions in that past that his firm has experienced.

123 Are your products beautiful?

Are your products beautiful?

If you are selling on Amazon, you are likely private labeling products, probably from China. Although, if you are in America then you might be looking at other alternatives in light of Trump’s plan to raise tariffs. For now, let’s assume you are importing from China. China makes some of the world’s worst products. China makes some of the greatest, such as the Apple iPhone. It’s equally possible to create terrible products as it is to create amazing ones since 80% of the world’s manufacturing happens there.

Have you got a design that is interesting? If not unique, is it at least beautiful? Are you sure you are really checking the quality of your manufacturing?

From the consumer stance, simply put, is your product beautiful? Does it work beautifully? Is it reliable? Is it amazing?

Today, I was out in London and came across the amazing building. It was once a school for choir boys that is now a youth hostel. What makes it truly beautiful is the detail. They put so much care into the details that it is immediately striking. When you really look at the detail, it is magical as well.

Now my question, is your product doing that for your customers? If not, you need to get on that. I am, by no means, an expert in product design, but my business partner and I have some products on their way from China and we are very excited about them. We order samples from about six suppliers and got eight samples from some suppliers. We went through a lot of trouble. We reviewed 60 suppliers! Some were dodgy and their prices came tumbling down from $15/unit to $3; some didn’t have solid business credentials, and we rejected them.

We have a whole complicated system that we use to check out a supplier thoroughly, and I can go into that later if you are interested, but the big thing is to get a sample! Check through different photos on Alibaba, or wherever. Get out of Alibaba, do some Googling, go out and get some samples in real life. Whatever you need to do to get a vision of what would be your perfect vision of you product.

Keep in mind what your market wants. I’m not saying to create something in a vacuum. Never do that! Do research. Look at demand. Look at demand depth. If here a lot of sales in training shoes, but 90% is Nike, forget it. If you want a company that you can sell down the line for two or three times yearly revenue. If, you want a brand that people are willing and excited to buy. When people see your product in their search results, they should immediately be drawn to it and want to click. If you want a product where people will be amazed when they scroll through your photos and want to buy it. They you have to work and sweat and make your product beautiful.

Don’t stint on samples!

I hear complaining all the time about how suppliers want to charge for samples and whether it’s worth paying for. Let me tell you, it is. If you are going down the private label route, you’re going to be spending thousands of pounds, tens of thousands, don’t be cheap about the research. Don’t go too far and get 20 products when you know the 10th is really really good, but take the time to find that 10th products that is really really good. If you can’t afford to get the proper samples, can you really afford to get into private label?

The room is not mass producing cheap crap, it’s being the Apple iPhone of your category. China is the kings of cheap products, but there are still manufacturers where the designs are fantastic and the quality controls are rigorous. Even if you don’t design your own products,at least you can pick one that is still good.

You either have to do research designing your own product, or you have to do research in looking for a great design. Regardless, you have to do the work. Warren Buffett used to say, “You can either create value, or find value.”

122 Big Business Vision- St Paul’s Cathedral, London

Have you got a vision for you business?

I have to confess. I have spent way too long, jumping from product to product, trying to make a buck, which is fine. However, after a couple of years, I stop and think, “What’s it all about?” This is a very important question you must ask yourself, and it’s something that will change over time.

When I first started, my vision was to make a lot of money quickly and put it back into my life, into other projects that were important to me. While that is still a part of my vision, it has grown. Now my big picture is to build a business that I can sell for a decent amount of money, and be proud to own because it is producing really beautiful products; rather than before when I would grab any product that looked like it might sell.

If you take the St. Paul’s Cathedral, the full vision of the architect was never realized. As beautiful and amazing as it is, there plans were much bigger.

The first thing is, you have to start with a plan

You may not be working with stone and mortar, but it is still very similar. The financial aspects are similar. You have to work within a budget. Maybe you have more than you expected, maybe less.

In your business, you have to worry about competition

There are many other people that are selling the same or similar products to the same customers. You need to plan ahead to combat that.

  • Your plan needs to be fluid

You need to make your plan with the understanding that it will change. Amazon is always changing things, moving the goalposts. You need to have a plan that can adjust to change with it.

  • Be Realistic

You can’t go in with £5000 and expect to turn in into £500,000 by the end of the year. Big visions are great, but you need to make realistic goals. You can’t invest peanuts and expect to turn it into a mint overnight.

While this has always been the location of the St. Paul’s Cathedral, the original burned down, along with a lot of the city, in The Great Fire in 1666. You need to be able to handle setbacks and recover. Sometimes we make a bad product, sometimes we get close to bankruptcy, sometimes we have business partnerships that go bad.

Out of that makes room for something bigger. A lesson to learn from the cathedral is the chance for renewal. When thing go wrong, that can open the door to create something much bigger, much better, and a much stronger vision. You can take lessons from before. Figure out what worked, and recreate those things, and figure out your mistakes and avoid them.

It’s good to make sure you have the right mindset but, I believe, success follows hard work. So e sure to go back, if you haven’t listened already, to episodes 115 to 120, for an overview of how to increase your profits by increasing sales, and reducing costs.

Think big. Act Big. If you are in London or come down to London, consider being a part of the AmazingFBA Mastermind group. My goal is to have two levels, one for those getting started and another for those that are much further along. All that is coming up so stay on the lookout.

120 How to Increase Your Amazon Profit – without more sales

The final 5th part of this miniseries of 5 episodes, this completes this overview of Profit Maximizing Strategies. Remember the basics: you can only increase profit 2 ways:

  1. Increase income
  2. decrease costs

We looked last time at decreasing your overheads. Here we address the other profit killer: your Direct Costs.

Otherwise known as COGS=Cost of Goods Sold.

look at your Total Landed Cost (TLC): Here are some ideas for reducing these:

-Manufacturing cost – can you negotiate with your supplier for lower costs? If you order more units, can you get a lower per unit price?

-Freight cost – get multiple freight quotes. Order more in bulk so you can sea freight rather than air freight etc. Choose lighter products!

Also consider your Amazon costs when choosing a product:

-Weight handling costs: Consider product weight & calculate costs very carefully if considering a heavy product. Will it make a profit?

-Oversize product costs: same things to consider as heavy products.

-Amazon Warehousing/storage – generally these are low but again very bulky products may increase these – do your P&L calculations carefully as well.

-Receiving warehouse/Prep: compare costs between eg FBA Inspection, Earth Class Mail, EZPrep in the USA.

Other supply chain cost reductions:

  • remove a link in the chain! Eg get products sent directly from China to Amazon warehouse(s) rather than via a warehouse. I advise against it for a new supplier but if you plan it carefully for a proven supplier/product, that will save you money – and of course time as well.
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119 Are these Hidden Amazon Costs Killing your Profit?

This is the 4th of 5 episodes in the mini series with One aim: Increase Your Profit!

Today we address the less sexy side of increasing profits: decreasing costs! All of us are to some degree aware of costs when ordering inventory because a sudden spend of several $1000 in one go generally gets your attention!

But there is a hidden profit killer that I’ve fallen victim to too many times: OVERHEADS!

Your overheads creep up over time, it seems, like weeds! Add the latest software product once a month, use a VA for research, add a bank account… and it can add up over the months to several hundred pounds a month. If you are running a huge business, that’s fine – but is it in proportion?

Here’s what works for me: every 3-6 months latest (don’t leave it for over a year like I used to!), I download a CSV of a bank statement. I go through all my expenses and ruthlessly cull half or even 2/3 – anything the business doesn’t really need yet and isn’t necessary for expanding in the next 3-4 months.

For research, having played with many tools, I now use just two paid ones for the majority of work: Jungle Scout* Chrome Extension and Keyword Inspector. (*affiliate link)

Two free tools to track sales and price history: Keepa and Camelcamelcamel.

Other overheads:

Check the best deal for a business address, phone numbers.

Do you really need complex accounting software? I’ve used Xero and A2Xaccounting for 2 years. I still can’t make my bank accounts reconcile with the system – the result is that the Xero accounts are wildly out with reality.

I’m giving up and saving myself £50 a month.

For sales and profits tracking, I find cashcowpro really really helpful at just $29 a month or so.

Bootstrap to start with, get the cash coming in and THEN spend a proportionate amount of money on overheads. You should in any case do things manually to start with so you understand your business numbers and processes.

Face it, we mostly check our sales stats more than once a day! It’s so easy to overlook overheads but the danger is that all your hard-won gross profits get swallowed in your overhead. I’m embarrassed to admit how long I let that happen. Don’t copy my mistake!

 

117 The 2nd way to increase Amazon Sales

This 2nd way of increasing sales is so neglected, you can get ahead simply by implementing anything in this area!

The simple idea is to increase the AOV=Average Order Value.

It can be more difficult to implement on Amazon than just getting new customers but is potentially much more profitable.

If someone usually buys a $10 widget at 50% margin, you get $5 profit per sale. If you usually sell say 10 orders of 1 $10 widget a day, your profit per month=$5X10X30=$1500

If you can increase the AOV by say just $1, you would end up with $11X50%X10X30 profit=$1650. $150 extra ie 10% extra.

Multiply such effects across several products and it can add to your bottom line quickly.

The simplest way to increase your AOV is simply to increase price! But you have to weigh up against conversion rate changes etc. to see whether that increases or decreases your price.

Another way is to bundle together products physically eg a 3-pack, 4-pack, 6-pack etc etc. Easy and very very easy to sell on Amazon.

Another way that is even easier is to offer a discount via a promotion code. Eg BOGOF (Buy One, Get One Free) or buy 3, get 10% etc etc.

If you set things up wrongly, you’ll make less profit, not more, so know your numbers going into this! Done right, this is a simple way to edge up your profit margin.

A harder way but possible on Amazon, is to do cross-sells eg “this is also bought with X” (spatula with slotted spoon for example). It’s possible to influence this again using promo codes – you can offer a 25% discount off a slotted spoon, for example, when you buy a silicone spatula etc.

Another way that is hard to do on Amazon but possible, is to upsell eg from a $5 spatula to a $25 frying pan. Same kinds of methods.

Increasingly, we are looking at strategies that will work best when you have control – in other words, you start to build your own email lists (and other assets like social media subscribers/followers etc.).

There is one more basic way to increase sales that is used least of all by Amazon sellers but could be the most powerful of all…read on…to the next episode…

To find out more about the Amazing FBA London Mastermind mentioned in the episode, click here

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