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153 Selling on Amazon.com with David Aggiss Part 1 of 2

Today on the show, I have one of the first contacts I made when starting this show, David Aggiss. I had him on, all the way back in November of 2015. Since then, he has given up the day job and is his own full-time boss. He has a few business, one of which being an Amazon business. We’re going to dive in and find out David’s strategy for selling on Amazon.com.

Getting Started selling on Amazon.com

David started learning about Amazon in April/May of 2015 and began receiving some training. In about four months, he started selling his own product. He took off quite well in Q4. At the time, incentivised reviews were still allowed so he made that a large part of his strategy. His sales exceeded his expectations going from 10 units a day to 30 on average. He launched his second product in Q4 last year and focused on his listing since incentivised reviews were no longer available.

Finding a product

There are a lot of techniques for finding products. David decided to simply look through Amazon. This is a great technique for finding good products. Look for lower prices and low competition items when first starting out. If you find a good product and the listing isn’t optimised, then there is definitely an opportunity for you to sweep in and take over. You can use Google Trends, Merchant Words to help you find what popular and what people are looking for.

David didn’t use any tools to find products, like Jungle Scout etc. He didn’t know what his products would be so he wouldn’t know what to search. Once he picked the products, he verified through Jungle Scout that there was a demand. Now he has about 5 products he’s working through launching.

He search Amazon to find his products. He narrowed his search to products between $15 and $50 and looked for products that interested him. If you are interested in the product then it’s easier to relate and figure out what those buyers are looking for. Then you can tailor your listing to those shoppers.

Selling on Amazon.com Post-Incentivised Reviews

Getting reviews has become much more difficult since Amazon banned incentivised reviews. With this new world, you have to pay more attention to reviews since you can no longer give products away in exchange for a review. One thing to pay attention to when getting started with a new product is the number a reviews your competition has. If they have thousands of reviews, it’s going to be much harder to compete because it is more difficult to reach a competitive level.

Make sure you competitors only have a hundred or so reviews so you can better compete. Then you can use other services to help get legitimate reviews. You can also try to get traffic coming in from off Amazon.Ads on Facebook, Google, and Bing are great places to start.

There are also ways you can use Amazon to boost your listing. Spending heavy on PPC at the beginning is a good way to drive traffic when selling on Amazon.com. Once your listing gets going, then you can cut back to where it’s profitable. One thing David mentioned was participating in Lightning Deals. These deals on put on by Amazon that offers their shoppers very good discounts for a very limited amount of time. There is a link underneath your Advertising tab on the main screen of Seller Central. It’s not all the time, but Amazon will offer you a Lightning Deal when it’s relevant. This is a great way to drive a lot of sellers to you listing and gives a nice boost to new products.

Amazon sets the parameters. They will tell you the time slot, the minimum number of units, and the sale price which is based on your sales history. David, for example, recently got a time slot for 1am to 7am. Not the best time as many people aren’t looking at Amazon so early in the morning. Despite that, he had an additional 40 sales from the deal.

150 Optimising your Amazon Listing with Anthony Lee Part 1 of 3

Optimising your Amazon listing basically means setting up your listings to get the most traffic and the most sales. This is especially important because you want to be set up in the best possible position for success. Optimisation does not happen instantly but it is a process emanating from having the right foundation set up. Your optimization before your first product listing is actually the laying of foundation for your products or business.

Basic Elements for Optimising your Amazon Listing

Your Images

Your images are the most important part of this process. First, understand the direction to which you are driving. The first goal is to increase traffic and the image is the first thing that people see. It’s the image that causes people to click on your product. You want to use the best, most captivating picture as you main image.

You need to optimise your image for all browsers and ensure it is captivating. On mobile, you want to use portrait images because they appear bigger on mobile devices. Use various shots from different angles. It is highly recommended that you use staged shots. These are the images where the product is shot where it can be found in real life. For example, if you are selling kitchen knives, have images of them in a kitchen next to a cutting board. Include images with people using the product because then the buyers can imagine themselves using the products.. Use infographics if you need to include complex information in a simple form.

Title

When optimising your Amazon listing, a good title has to be keyword rich and feature oriented. It needs to be keyword rich because if has to be found by the Amazon algorithm. But it has needs to be easily read by humans. Your title can give the targeted buyers a brief description of the benefits and what the product does. Ensure the most important information is captured in the first 80 characters as this will ensure this section shows in all browsers. Don’t be too specific if your product has multiple uses. If you are selling a cat brush, it is likely that it can be used on dogs and other animals. Rather than saying “Cat brush” in your title, use “Pet brush.” This will attract owners of all types of pets rather than limiting yourself to a specific type.

Bullets and Description

Description and bullets play an important role in SEO as they are indexed by Amazon. The bullets give details on the uses of the product. The first three points are always the most important since those are the one that show up in mobile. The description area is important; put the most important information in the first part as this is what shows on mobile devices. Description also gives technical specification and makes your listing more professional.

Your Price Point

As buyers understand the details of the product through the product image they become more comfortable with the price you set for the products. Ensure the image design justifies the price set for the products.

138 Greg Mercer on Amazon Product Launch – Part 4 of 5

One of the big things in 2017 we’ve got to deal with now, Greg Mercer, is obviously launching. In October of 2016, incentivised reviews were banned in the US, then shortly after, Germany, the UK, and the whole of Europe. How do you do an Amazon product launch now?

Greg has first-hand experience with this as he has launched six or seven products since October; three or four in the last few weeks. An Amazon product launch is very different after this updated Terms of Service was released.

Let’s take a 10,000 ft. look at this. In order to rank organically on Amazon, you need to have sales. There are a few ways to get sales. You can make your products really cheap, you can try to drive outside traffic, you can use deal sites like JumpSend. Without sales, you can launch your product but it will end up in the deep dark hole of Amazon and no one will find it. As Amazon sellers, we need to be thinking about how we can get sales on a product that is not organically ranking and  doesn’t have any reviews so there’s no social proof.

Greg utilizes his JumpSend tool. It’s a deal site where about 30,000 people are visiting and looking for good deals. It’s no longer a place to get reviews, it’s a place to get sales. It still works, and it is completely within the Terms of Service of Amazon.

So Greg puts his products on JumpSend. Then he offers it at a price people want it, which can vary. He offers about five coupons a day, maybe ten if it’s competitive. From this, he is getting sales. He will do this for about a week. After that time, the product will be ranking very well. From those sales, a few will end up resulting in a review. He will also turn on pay-per-click advertising (PPC). It’s costly, but it does get you sales. That’s what you need to get started; you have to have these sales.

Where most people go wrong, is that they get scared of spending the money. Usually, Greg has to turn PPC so high that he is losing money on that sale. If he is offering 70% off, then he is likely losing money. People seem to get shy about losing money. However, that’s a part of doing business but you will recoup this money in the long-term. A big problem for people is that they’re afraid to bid the PPC that high, or they’re afraid to give that big of a discount because they’re afraid of losing money.

That’s the gist of it. To do an Amazon product launch, you have to force sales somehow. The easiest way is deal sites and PPC. Then you’ll start ranking organically, and start getting reviews. Another thing is that you definitely want to have an email follow up sequence turned on. You can use any tool for that, but keep in mind that JumpSend is also a follow-up email service as well as a deal site. It’s nice that it is a full launch package. No matter what you use, before you do your first giveaway, you need to have some sort of email follow-up that asks for a review.

The first email will thank them for the purchase. The second may let them know that they can contact you if you have any issues. The third could ask for a review. With an email sequence you’ll see that you can get 10-15 reviews out of 100 compared to the 3 out of 100 you may get without one.

Going back to the coupons. Amazon forbids any action that tries to manipulate the sales ranking, and in a way, giving out coupons does that. It’s not so much following the letter of the law but how Amazon sees that. If you give coupons to only JumpSend users but not to the general public, is that potentially violating the Terms of Service?

There is a clause in the ToS that was release in the first quarter of 2016 that said something to the effect that purposely manipulating sales rank is against the rules. It comes down to, what does this mean? It is a bit of a grey area. Greg’s personal opinion is that Amazon put that in because, at the time, sellers were doing these massive giveaways, especially in the supplement category. They were giving away about 100 units everyday for a couple days. That is probably what that clause was looking to prevent.

So, is giving away a couple coupons a day considered manipulating sales rank? All Greg really cares about is making sales and ranking organically in the search results. Since those Terms of Service were released, there hasn’t been anyone, that we’re aware of, that has gotten in trouble for manipulating sales rank. Some have gotten in trouble for some review type infractions. They have been big sellers doing about $500,000 a month. One seller, their VA got in touch with a top reviewer, didn’t ask for a review but it might have been implicated that they expected one, and their account was suspended for two months.

Some sellers have mentioned that some of their reviews were removed if the discount was too high. The sales were legitimate and organic in every way, but if the discount was over 50% off the regular price, then they were removed. You mention that you might give 70%-80% off, does that create any issues, as far as Terms of Service?

Amazon’s ToS are really vague, so Greg bases his knowledge off data and what people are actually experiencing. Whatever you do, do NOT imply that they are getting the discount in exchange for a review! That is a clear violation of Amazon’s ToS. If a person uses a coupon to buy a product, you’re just giving out coupons to make sales. Since October, Gerg has noticed that some of the reviews have been marked “unverified”, so he assumes that those are the ones bought with a coupon.

There is no way to know since you can’t track a review to an order. It seems that, for now, they are sticking. They might not stick a year from now. For the short-term, they are nice to have since, when you do an Amazon product launch, you won’t have many reviews. So even though they are unverified, it’s better to have them than little to no reviews.

They’ve done a lot of testing, and there is no one number, say 30% off, that will get a product verified. Some products, you can give a 50% off coupon and it will show verified. You can give 20% on another, and that will result in it being unverified. Even if you post it publically in the listing.

It’s reassuring that you’re not hearing about people getting their accounts suspended for giving away coupons and that, if you have a follow-up sequence, you can still get reviews. Since you have so many JumpSend users, you have a good amount of data. Also, that Amazon doesn’t seem as trigger happy with this as they seem to be with reviews.

Greg gives away about 5-10 units a day. That isn’t really manipulating sales rank. If it was 100 units a day or 500 units a day, it is probably more likely that Amazon will come knocking on your door. You just have to be mindful.

With the reviews, it’s worth repeating, you CANNOT give a coupon with the purpose of getting a review, or expect a review, or require a review. There is no more incentivised review.

You were talking about adjusting to new realities in 2017. At the end of last year, we tried to launch some products without an Amazon product launch service. With all the talk around incentivized reviews being banned and the risk of account suspension, I think we were a bit too risk averse. So It’s good to know that JumpSend is still an option.

Greg and some others that were running review sites had the chance to speak with Amazon lawyers. At first it was a bit scary but in the end it was a great experience. The lawyers were willing to work with them because they were looking to make the whole industry more legitimate and do away with the whole incentivized reviews.

There were a few things that aren’t in the ToS, but they did put it in writing. Big picture, you can’t incentivise anyone you’re giving a coupon to, in any way, to leave a review. An example of this, is that there were a lot of Facebook groups that had implied reviews with each other. They were saying that you don’t have to leave a review, but if you do you get more coupons. That’s not okay.

They’re not cool with you checking their review profile to see if they left a review. You may not require a review, but maybe you could check  to see if they left one or not, and kick them out of the Facebook group.

Offering them more deals or giving them more coupons if they left a review is something Amazon is not okay with.

Basically, anything you do to check up on reviews, or anything link to reviews at all. That was when ReviewKick was relaunched as JumpSend. It’s totally legit and by the books. They have the lawyers blessing. You give out coupons to these people, but you have no idea who they are, you can’t follow up to see if they left a review. They don’t get more coupons for reviews. You’re just giving away coupons in the hopes of getting more sales.

Another thing that was surprising, Amazon’s not dumb. They are very in the loop. All these Facebook groups with the implied reviews, there is probably an Amazon lawyer in the group. Amazon is very attuned with what sellers are doing.

It’s surprising that people think they can fly under the radar. Amazon is one of the biggest companies in the world, and third-party sellers account for ⅓ of their sales.

#100 Adam Hudson on Amazon Basics Pt. 4

To find out more of Adam’s own strategies and tactics, CLICK HERE

Reviews are a major part of any strategy and you mentioned earlier that you want enough reviews to seem viable. Is that correct and could you expand on that?

Yes. It hard to seem credible if you have five reviews and everyone else has 100, so you have to work for those reviews.

How much is enough? And what do you do now that incentivised reviews have been removed?

How many depends on the product. It depends on what page one looks like for you products’ search terms. There is still opportunity out there. There are a lot of products with low reviews that are still dominating. Adam would use ilovetoreview.com, which he also owns, to get 25 reviews for products in the UK and 50 in the US.

Find out more of Adam’s latest thinking HERE

It’s only in the US that incentivised reviews are gone and it’s only compulsory reviews. There are other services that never guarantee the review but would push out your products at a discounted rate or for free. It’s not clear how it works, but it seem that after you get around 25 or 30 sales in a day then you products get a jump start and the sales keep rolling in. So even if you’re not getting a guaranteed review, there is still value in pushing your products out at a discounted rate.

Adam can only speak to his community at ilovetoreview.com, but the reviewers have been doing this for three years where they use the coupon, get the product, and write the review. So, they will probably continue to do so even though it can no longer be required.

Companies will continue to do this even if the review rate drops in half. Adam’s company has a review rate of 87% meaning 87% of products that were pushed out came back as a review. With these new rules, that will likely drop. And if it drops in half that means you will just have to send out twice as many products. This is a one-time investment for something that can generate income for life.

Another tip from Adam is to follow up with you customers via email. Especially in the UK, they are very responsive to this. Zonguru (which Adam also own) has this automation built in.

Every time you make a sale it can send an email when it ships, six days later following up with any issues,and 14 days later asking for a review.

Not only will this help in getting reviews, but it allows you to get ahead of any issues with the product, say if the box was damaged or the product wasn’t right, allowing you to take care of the issue without before going through Amazon’s return system.

Adam tries to casual in his style in his emails. Just a quick “Hey, how are you doing? Just wanted to make sure everything is good with the product.” He doesn’t try to sound like a big company with huge copy in the email, just a quick message like you would send to an acquaintance. 

The bogeyman in all this, as Adam puts it, is that Amazon can change this against this type of thing. They have already sued a bunch a review companies last year. All they have to do is make a change in the algorithm that scrutinizes those reviews that have reviewed an above average amount of products, and out of those, how many used a coupon and just wipe out those reviews. They can just remove reviews of people who are just reviewers.

No one knows how things will work out, but sellers will just have to adjust. They will still have to do product launches, just like every company in the world when they launch a new product. You just have to follow up and encourage your customers to leave a review. You only need 25 – 50 –  if you need more than that you’ve gone into the wrong niche.

As you say-  Amazon has the ability to wipe out these reviews if it chooses. It just drives the point, that at the end of the day it comes down to organic reviews and organic sales.

Yes. Just make great products that people like. It’s that simple. And don’t be impatient. Adam likes the way this is because it knocks out all the people that think they can get rich quick on terrible products. It’s about putting in the work. Putting in the effort. That gives him the freedom to sit around all day, and look at his seller account and see that he made $3,000 in  a day.

You mentioned earlier that you teach this stuff. How do you do that? Is it live webinars, live courses, group training?

He has a company called Reliable Education. The aim is to give people a realistic expectation going in and tell them the truth.

On the website, you can enroll in a free training program that is four videos where he shows you his home and drives you around where he lives in Australia.

He educates you on what the Amazon opportunity is, how to find products and his criteria for that. He teaches you about “Velicity Retailing” which is how to compound your capital over time.

All this leads to a paid programme which is an online course where you get access to about 90 videos that show you Chinese factories and how a 3D printer is made and a lot of very cool stuff.

It includes a private Facebook community and will link you with a mastermind group that they cap at seven people. Everyone signs a NDA so they can freely talk about what their companies are doing and talk on Google Hangouts or in person, and they’re all trained with the same philosophy of not being opportunistic, not get rich quick. They are solid people that want to build solid businesses.

They also have 12 coaching webinars with each member of the course. They have an onboarding program for every new member. There are two guys whose job it is to call every new member and talk to them and get a feel for them. They also have a program where they loan money to a 3rd-world entrepreneur, interest-free, and gets paid back over time. People seem to find a lot of value since their refund rate is less than 5%.

How do listeners get hold of you or find out more about you?

Just at reliable.education. Adam doesn’t really use Twitter etc. so you can’t catch him there – sounds like he’s more likely to be on his boat!

95 Amazon Reviews Update – DON’T PANIC!

Unless you’ve been living on Mars, you will have gathered by now that Amazon has done a major update, basically banning “Incentivized Reviews”.

From What I’ve seen  on the Facebook groups, as usual,  in response to an Amazon shifting of goalposts, the usual panic and “The sky is falling!” mentality abound.

My advice is: Don’t Panic! There are and will be multiple ways remaining of gathering the necessary reviews.  I’ll be going into detail on that in the next couple of weeks.

More importantly, as I focus on in this episode, is to put reviews into perspective in the first place.

  1. The main purpose of giveaways as part of a launch is, and always was, to get Sales Rank by getting sales! Simple! Reviews were, apart from being a nice bonus, mainly a plausible reason for a drastic price reduction.
  2. We don’t necessarily need hundreds of reviews to compete. THis idea is, according to Kevin Kind, just “Hogwash!” In reality, I think it depends on the competition. In some markets, maybe you do need 100-150 reviews. But if you are that worried, simply avoid markets where you need 100s of reviews just to look plausible on page 1.  Go for lower competition niches, which is generally good advice anyway unless you have pots of cash.
  3. The average review (no. of stars) is way more important, in my and others’ experience, than the number of reviews. I’ve seen my conversions drop from 30% to under 10% in response to an average rating change of just 4.8 stars to 4.2. Quality not quantity!
  4. The quality of the individual reviews that FIRST display on your page is also crucial for better conversion. As Kevin King said,  you need to have a video review or two in there (it’s the only way for most of us to have videos in our listings at all). And customers’ photos are seen as way more reliable than our own, so those are very important too. You only need a few reviews to get selling anyway, so these are the ones to go for first. How? Watch this space and I’ll tell you, but for now, just know there are still multiple options open.
  5. Apart from anything else, organic reviews tend to have a flavour of authenticity (apart from not saying “given in exchange for a discount” which always looked lame anyway). SO have an email follow-up sequence in place to get them -and get selling! I’ve had around 3-5% conversion on this, so not huge. Some people have better, some worse. But it adds up. For example, if you sold say 10 units a day (300 a month) for 3 months and got 5% of those customers to leave reviews, that should give you around 45 genuine reviews. With judicious use of other methods of reviews, that gives a nice solid feel to your listing.
  6. Basics: Differentiate and make sure your product is good! That way, you will end up with high average reviews. Remember – the average review is CRUCIAL. Way more important than raw numbers.
  7. Finally, don’t forget, this update is (for now at least) only for amazon.com. SO if you sell in .co.uk or .de or any other European marketplaces, I would gather reviews while I can in the old-school way to get ahead of the game before the inevitable transfer of this new policy to Europe. Nevertheless, the quality of your first 10 reviews is still way more important than getting a ton of mediocre “in exchange for a discount” reviews. And organic reviews will ALWAYS be best.

#87 The Amazon Reviewer’s Perspective with Augustas Kligys – Part 2

Can you tell us about any products that you get asked to review that are over-saturated and there are too many of them out there?

It can depend on the season. For example, during the summer he was getting a lot of review requests for money pouches and passport holders that you would use when you travel. As we get closer to Christmas he will likely start getting a lot of requests for lights and other holiday items. Keep this in mind if you have seasonal items.

For instance, let’s say you are going to sell neck pouches for traveling. You know the summer is going to be the busy time for travel so you want to plan ahead and start getting reviews in spring or even winter. You want to get ahead of the competition.

If you wait until June, the reviews will have received several requests for similar items and may not want any more. Also, reviews may take a couple weeks for the reviewer to get around to it. If you wait until June, it might be in July when the review comes in. At that point, you have already missed a good portion of the traveling season. As a bonus, if you get your reviews early, you are prepared for customers to start looking to buy these items. Click here for more information on the European summit if you are looking for tips on breaking into the European market.

Other items he gets requested a lot include flashlights, bike lights, headphones (bluetooth and wired), LED lamps, garden lamps, solar/ battery powered lamps.

Amazon has banned the use of super URLs, have you had any issue with this?

(A super URL is the address Amazon uses when you search for items and listings get ranked higher based on the keywords people search for. There are tools that will mimic this super URL and makes Amazon think people are finding your product based on keywords that they didn’t search for and thus these products get listed higher.)

Augustas hasn’t seen much of this lately. It used to be that the requests would give instructions directing you to go to amazon.de/keyword and it will be the third item down. This would build your ranking for that keyword but it was very inconvenient for the reviewer and often Augustas would ignore the instructions and simply locate it by the ASIN. He doesn’t get these much anymore and there is even a service that will mimic that URL so you don’t need to go through all that. However, be warned that Amazon is cracking down on the tactic and has even started removing listings.

A tip from Augustas for sellers that do fulfilled by merchant rather than FBA. If you have a good relationship with a reviewer, you can use them to make sure your staff or external warehouse is doing a good job. Augustas had a seller that had his own shop and staff that packaged everything. Augustas would give him feedback on the packaging and ways to improve it or if something was missing. It’s a good way to test for quality assurance. It’s better to get private feedback from a reviewer rather than a very public negative comment from a customer.

How important do you think reviews are in general for listing conversion?

Some people may not believe a review is genuine. As a reviewer, it might be difficult to leave a bad review if you have a good relationship with the seller. So rather than giving a 4-star review, you may give 5 because of the customer service.

As a customer, Augustas will always compare reviews especially if one doesn’t seem genuine. And if he sees a short review from a customer that hasn’t left many other reviews, it will hold more weight because it’s a casual shopper that wanted to leave their experience rather than a top reviewer. He noticed on one particular item that he was giving 2 or three stars and the reason why, and he saw the rest of the reviews were all 5-star reviews from top reviewers because they were getting free stuff.

Do you think, as a shopper, that the quantity of reviews is important for conversion? Or is quality more important?

Augustas will look for 2 or 3 quality reviews. If it’s just 2 or 3 lines he will often skip it and look for someone that wrote a couple paragraphs. If he sees that the person got the product for free in exchange for a review then he will look for another one and compare. But definitely, he wants to see a few quality reviews.

Augustas was looking at another product some time back and noticed they were getting close to 50 reviews a day. However, they are said they got the product for free. This went on for a while, around 50 reviews a day and they had around 1000. About 6 months later he went back looked and found that they almost completely stopped getting reviews. They might have gotten another 50 organic reviews which showed that they might not be getting many sales. They invested a lot to get all those reviews but that didn’t translate into actual sales because they weren’t quality reviews.

As a buyer, how important is the quantity? Are you looking for 100 reviews or are you happy with 5 as long as they are long quality reviews?

A few good reviews are great. If he can get a good idea about the product from a few well-written reviews then it doesn’t matter if there are 50 more reviews.

For more info on the European Private Label Summit, click here where you can learn other tips for succeeding in the European Amazon marketplaces.

What about photos and videos? Do you think they make a big difference to the impact of a review?

Oh yes. Since sellers cannot upload their own videos they really like it when the reviewer does one. Some sellers have approached Augustas about reviewing their products because they saw the videos he did.

Now Augustas will upload about 10 photos and a video for each review he does, and as a buyer, it holds more weight than what the seller uploads because it is an actual customer’s unboxing rather that the photoshopped images the seller is putting out. Depending on the product, in his video, he will show how the product is used. This could be particularly beneficial if it can be complicated. This way buyers can watch how it’s done rather than be dissatisfied with your product.

Does it make a difference to Amazon if you have a lot of top-reviewer reviews?

Probably not. It’s unlikely that Amazon would weigh top reviews more than regular reviewers. In fact, Amazon doesn’t really like these free reviews. He did an interview with a private seller that used to work in Amazon and according to him Amazon is all about the customers, and when reviews are getting free products then they are losing the true connection between the product and the customer. It may be, that in the future, it will be more difficult for this type of reviewer to exist.

Even as sellers, we know that these reviews aren’t completely genuine. It’s different than when as a customer, you buy a product, you really like it, and decide to go and leave a review. It’s likely that Amazon will make it more difficult and in fact, in the US, they are starting to require that sellers can only give a 50% discount for reviews.

Tell us about the private label online summit

Augustas wanted to start his own private label business but it ended up not working out and he got into reviews. He noticed that people often had a lot of questions about Europe and there wasn’t one place you could go for consolidated information about getting reviews in Europe, different languages, taxes, and many other topics. Augustas decided to help out by gathering experts about all these different topics. He has about 20 speakers that will be sharing their knowledge. He has some sellers from the US so you can hear their stories and follow their paths. There is a lawyer from Germany that will discuss some of the laws and regulations you have to follow, especially in Germany where they are a bit stricter.

He decided to go with a virtual format because it’s easier to set it up, it easier for the speakers to be there, and it’s easier for the audience to be able to get all the information.

If you have had any desire to sell in Germany, this is a great resource to learn what you need to know. If you’re a UK based seller, you can still be based out of the UK and sell in Germany. Your orders will be fulfilled by the UK warehouse. If you are in the US, don’t let the language barrier stop you, it’s not that difficult to work around.

Click here for more information on the European Summit

Do you have any websites/events/places that people can learn more from you or contact you?

agustaskligys.com

European Private Label Summit

Any parting words of wisdom?

Treat you reviewers like your customers. Forget you are giving them something for free and treat them with respect. You will get more and better feedback from them.

1

#57 Q & A Tuesday: UK vs US Seller Central Accounts; ASIN transfer US to UK or UK to US; Friends and Family Reviews; HTML in product descriptions

Q& A Tuesday No. 7 Show Notes:

Q1: Anila:  I know that  inventory listed in Amazon.com can be listed on Amazon.co.uk under the same ASIN but can it work the other way round too?  i.e. listed in UK first and same ASIN listed in US after?

Michael :  Hi Anila, not done it personally but I believe so. Talk to SC – but maybe talk to more than one rep so you check it out properly.

Seller Central Response:
“Dear Anila,
Thank you for contacting us. As per your concern, I would like to inform you that you can use the same ASIN in various marketplaces. Lets say, if you are selling an item on Amazon.co.uk then you can list the same item with same ASIN on Amazon.com or any other market as well.”

Q2: Dan: Quick question for those selling in the US and the UK – once you’ve set up your US seller central account, and then when you’re planning to sell the same product in the UK also, do you set up a completely new UK seller central account? When I try to set up my UK account, using my business email address, it says the email address is already in use. So should I set up a completely new UK seller central account using a different email address, and pay the monthly fees separately, or should I be somehow linking my US and UK accounts?

A2: Simple answer, yes, you need a new Seller Central Account for the UK. With a different email address. But actually it is a Europe account so it includes UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain Amazon marketplaces (ie all Amazon European marketplaces).

I think this is actually good news in that it diversifies your risk – even if your US account was shut down (worst case scenario), your Europe one should be safe – and vice versa (as ever, check the latest ToS at the time of reading however!)

Q3: Ben:  I noticed in your blog post to support the latest podcast that you recommend using <b>bold</b> html in the listing. [also paragraph <p>paragraph</p>] I can’t get this to work for love nor money…is there something I’m missing or have amazon stopped this? All my competition has bold in their listings…

Rob Sleath – “this has been against TOS for at least a year, if not longer. However general consensus seems to be to do it until you get told otherwise. I think they typically give you a performance notification/violation and blank out the description entirely. Performance notifications etc. are serious, particularly if you’ve had a few before.  If you decide to do it you might need to do it via flatfile upload if it won’t let you enter it in the backend.”

Michael: It may be that Amazon have stopped the ability to do this directly in certain categories. I tend to copy or try to beat the competition until Amazon raps me over the knuckles but you need to weigh up risk and reward.

Q4: Ruth Hi everyone, what are the rules now on getting friends and family to review your products? Is this no longer allowed or is it allowed with a disclaimer? I am selling in the UK and after many delays my product is finally being on its way so I am working on my listing and my launch plan. I am also looking at review groups but I do have many friends and family wanting to support me and buy my product which is great, but if they could review it as well that would be even better. Also, if you sell items through other means (like in a shop or market or somewhere that’s not on amazon) – can the customers still leave a review on amazon?

Hi Ruth, as far as I know it’s always been against ToS (Terms of Service) in theory. I think it always was, to be honest.

It’s an obvious conflict of interest. Amazon and their customers obviously want objective reviews. We obviously want favourable reviews!

Having said which, if Amazon can’t link the buyer to you, you should be safe. Apparently, it’s easy for them to put you together if you’ve used the same IP address etc., otherwise you should be reasonably safe. I’ve heard that they may be able to trace your friends if you are Facebook Friends with them. But I have no strong proof or insider knowledge either way. Again a risk you need to weigh up. I might do it on a small scale if I had to but I wouldn’t want to do a large giveaway that way. 

Again, you have to weigh up risks and benefits.

Risking a listing suspension over HTML in description is probably not worth doing, as the Description is no longer indexed by the algorithm and probably has little impact on buyers and thus conversion these days. So if you have had too many performance notifications, I would give that a miss.

But getting Reviews is vital, so if you have no other ways of doing it, I might push it a bit more on that front.

#43: Amazon Supplier Negotiation & The Future of Amazon with Greg Mercer – PART 2 of 2)

Episode #43: Greg Mercer of Jungle Scout Interview  (Suppliers & Predictions – PART TWO)

Suppliers

Does negotiating on price ever work much with suppliers or do you have to increase the numbers to get the discount or try to add in extras to get lower prices per unit?

Greg doesn’t worry so much about this now. 10 cents off doesn’t add much to your profit.

But if you keep asking for lower price, the Chinese person at the other end feels more inclined to cut corners, e.g., use worse materials, leading to Quality issues. Or it will get put to back of the queue etc. etc.  If you get moved back to the back of the line so you’re out of stock for several weeks, you could be losing $100 a day in lost profit! This doesn’t compare to 10 cents a unit!

Don’t get hung up on low price if it’s profitable. If there’s something left in it for the factory, they’ll be more inclined to be helpful.  (This ties in with Peter Zapf’s advice – Global Sources).

Actually factories do have rising costs. Going out there has given Greg a perspective.  Your suppliers are a crucial part of your business so treat them well. 

Apart from Chinese new year are there any other times of the year that slow down the manufacturing rate such as the Canton Fair?

Gearing up to 4th quarter in Sept, Oct means longer queues. Seasonal items like patio products would be even worse because that involves Chinese New Year.

Just say to your supplier, I’m planning the year out (and they will like this!) so can you let me know when you will need longer to manufacture? This actually sends great signals: a. you’re organised b. you are planning to order regularly.

Is there any way of ensuring that once you have differentiated a product from a supplier (by colour or design) that the supplier won’t then send your differentiated product out to other customers as samples and then they will just order the same differentiated product (just with their logo on it)?

Short answer: not really! You can try to work with your supplier on this – you can try to get them to sign something which could possibly work. But if you tore them apart about saving 6 cents on something, they probably won’t do it! Talk to them about it. You have the most negotiating power BEFORE you place your first order. Or first large order.

However, even if your factory does that, there are probably 7 other factories making the same product. Don’t get too hung up on that.

So how do you build a defensive wall around your products?

It’s almost impossible to do fully with a private Label product. But if you go into a newish market or you are the first into a market with a modification, you can use the time that buys you (say 3-6 months) to build reviews and sales rank to get a solid head start on the competition.

 An example from Greg: first person to sell a product with metal instead of plastic buckles. For 6 months he was the only one; now there are 15 others doing it.  even though there is tons of competition, he has top rank, 400 reviews, the best pictures etc. So he hasn’t really seen sales decrease.

When I looked on Aliexpress at getting just a few items of the product I was interested in, they seemed quite expensive (like the same amount as similar products were selling for on amazon) and I would be making quite a big loss once I included import duties and FBA fees.

Do people just take this loss to test if a product sells or is there any negotiating on price on aliexpress rather than alibaba?

Greg has never used AliExpress – but it is bound to more expensive because there are no economies of scale! Just treat it is as a market and supplier test. Or to be more cost effective,  you could just place an order for say 100 units with an Alibaba supplier. 

Would Greg recommend going the route of getting an agent to source products from different suppliers, rather than contacting different suppliers individually through something like Alibaba?  If so what is the best way of finding a trustworthy Agent?

Greg for the first year or so just went direct to suppliers. He found an agent as someone he already worked with at a factory. Everyone Greg knows who uses an agent met them through an established relationship. [Same is true for Michael]. In China it’s all about relationships anyway.

There are small advantages to having an agent, such as factories not on Alibaba,  but you do have to pay them a cut!  It’s really  more about outsourcing than money saving.  

How do people find out more about you and Jungle Scout?

Greg writes a solid blog post each week. There’s a cool product case study (“Jungle Stix”). Just comment on the blog or Tweet: @mercer_greg

What are your views and thoughts on trends you see happening on Amazon? What are the most successful sellers doing right now?

One thing successful sellers have in common: if you can make a small improvement on a product, it works really well. Find a product with mostly 3 star reviews. Read the 1 and 2 star reviews; if it’s something simple you can fix, make the improvement they ask for. You can both take away sales and charge a premium for it. 

For example the product with metal buckle vs plastic buckles – Greg sold his for $29 and the competition was selling for $14.95 , and the cost difference to Greg was about 50 cents!

Also larger/oversized items, although there are still opportunities with smaller, unmodified products.

What’s new and what do you see coming in terms of changes that we should be thinking about adapting to?

If looking at 2016, & probably 2017, there will still be lots of good opportunities in the .com store especially with modifications and larger/oversized items. Realistically it probably will start  to get really competitive by say 2018. By then a lot of other marketplaces like UK, Germany, Japan and India will be maturing with more demand, which Greg will be entering in due course. 

Parting Advice:
If you’ve been listening to the podcast and researching for a while, it’s time to get started. A lot of people seem to be worrying about things they don’t need to worry about. You’ll hit little roadblocks but it’s important to keep pushing forward, get your 1st product up for sale. It’s probably not as complex as you think!

HOW TO SUBSCRIBE TO THIS PODCAST

A podcast is a free downloadable audio show that enables you to learn while you’re on the go.  To subscribe to my podcast for free, you’ll need an app to listen to the show from.

For iPhone/iPad/iPod listeners – Grab your phone or device and go to the iTunes store and search “Amazing FBA”.

This will help you to download the free Podcasts App (produced by Apple) and then subscribe to the show from within that app.  Every time I produce a new episode, you’ll get it downloaded right on yt sentence.

For podcast enthusiasts – If you already listen to podcasts and have a podcatcher that you prefer, the feed you’ll need to add is: http:// amazingfba.com/feed/podcast.

For those who don’t have a mobile device – You can always listen to the show by clicking the audio file at the top of this page.

If you have any queries, just go to www.amazingfba.com/ask

 

#38 Amazon FBA Q & A Tuesday No. 1

Show Notes for #38 Q&A Tuesday No. 1

This is a brand new part of the Podcast, dedicated to answering questions raised in the Amazing FBA Facebook Group

Q1: Packaging your products

A1: Always ask your supplier to reinforce (priority order)

1. corners (where 3 sides meet) 2. edges  (where 2 sides meet) (3. sides is a bonus)

They won’t charge much more but won’t do it unless you ask. They work on wafer-thin margins but you shouldn’t!

Also ask for minimum 10% replacement packaging (to replace damaged packaging) to be sent along with your products to your warehouse in USA or to your home/office/warehouse in the UK (eg 500 units order, add 50 spare packaging boxes). 15%-20% is safer.

Q2: Has anyone used AMZTracker for reviews? How many reviews can I get from 50 coupons given away? How fast do reviews come?

A2: I’ve tried Snagshout (several promos), Tomoson (2 or 3 times) and AMZTracker (maybe 10-15 times!). I must say, AMZT is the cheapest/easiest and mostly the best. I’m wary of Amazon review clubs, so haven’t used them.

The simple answer is about 66%-70% so probably about 35 reviews from 50 giveaways.

Generally reviews should be mostly done within 2 weeks – many within a week.

Don’t get too obsessed with Review NUMBERS only; pay attention to the AVERAGE review (e.g. 4.8 stars) and the quality of individual reviews: plenty of detail is important now. Photos are good. Videos even better. AMZTracker seems to give good detailed reviews but the reviewers can be critical.

To ask your own question, join the Amazing FBA Facebook Group

Q3: Anyone fulfilling from the US to the UK?

A3: Broadly speaking – don’t! Get the Chinese (or US) suppliers to send directly to Amazon USA.

If you have inventory in the UK and want to send it to the USA as a test order, I’d use DHL or UPS.

BUT Air freight is often similar to or more than actual manufacture costs. Then you have duty, warehousing costs and Amazon inbound shipping to pay. So for anything over say 10-40 units (depending on size and weight of course), it’s probably cheaper and easier to go back to your Chinese supplier.

Q4: Is it worth using FBA Inspection’s photography service or is it better to use a proper professional photographer?

A4: I would personally use my product sample with the best pro photographer you can afford. I use Brian Cottam (and so have several members of this group, with great results).

I haven’t used FBA Inspection for product shots so I can’t speak from experience, but I would stick to using FBAI to just photograph any flaws with the product.

Also I would suggest getting someone in the same time zone or even similar area. A relationship with a great photographer is a crucial asset in your business. If you get a chance to meet them physically at least once, it’s a great bonus.

Q5: Do I need to be registered as a company or sole trader to set up my Amazon seller account? Do I need a reg business number?

A5: You can set up on Seller Central and change over from Sole Trader to company pretty easily.

I did this myself (although it was about 18 months ago or so).

The simplest path is to start off as a sole trader. If you don’t have much time or business experience, I recommend it.

However, setting up a company is simple and quick. I used Companies Made Simple  (as recommended by my accountant, Penny Lowe).

 The 3 bits of paperwork you’ll need to deal with after about 12-18 months are:

1. Annual Return (5 minute job max – easy)

2. Corporate tax return (involved- get an accountant to help)

3. Annual accounts (with Companies House) (also use an accountant).

This is more work than a personal tax return. However, you’ll probably need to use an accountant either way. AND you will be able to separate your business and personal tax situation, which is HIGHLY advisable!

This can wait till you’ve proven the market so don’t get stuck on this. But if you’re more serious/have more time/are putting more money in, I’d advise this route.

To ask your own question, join the Amazing FBA Facebook Group

HOW TO SUBSCRIBE TO THIS PODCAST

A podcast is a free downloadable audio show that enables you to learn while you’re on the go.  To subscribe to my podcast for free, you’ll need an app to listen to the show from.

For iPhone/iPad/iPod listeners – Grab your phone or device and go to the iTunes store and search “Amazing FBA”.

This will help you to download the free Podcasts App (produced by Apple) and then subscribe to the show from within that app.  Every time I produce a new episode, you’ll get it downloaded right on yt sentence.

For podcast enthusiasts – If you already listen to podcasts and have a podcatcher that you prefer, the feed you’ll need to add is: http:// amazingfba.com/feed/podcast.

For those who don’t have a mobile device – You can always listen to the show by clicking the audio file at the top of this page.

If you have any queries, just go to www.amazingfba.com/ask

#19 Amazon FBA Seller Interview with David Aggiss

This Episode, #19,  is a very exciting first for the Podcast: our first interview!

David Aggiss was one of the first to join our Facebook community and has been a very active member, including taking the initiative to reach out to me and meet up in person at a conference.

David took some great training, and has been very committed to working his business. As you would hope, that has resulted in some very quick successes. Here, David shares his journey, what worked, what challenges he has had to overcome.

** REVIEWS CONTEST!**

The first 25 people to review the show on iTunes will be entered into a draw. The winner will receive a £50 Amazon Voucher from Amazing FBA!
Head over to iTunes now and leave your review! If you haven’t  already, you can also subscribe through iTunes to get all the info you need to start your own successful Amazon business!

CONTEST EXTENDED to the end of November or 1st 25 reviews, whichever comes first !

SHOW NOTES FOR EPISODE #19 David Aggiss Interview

  • David’s Background: got into property as an investor then moved into mortgage broking.
  • Was drawn to Amazon FBA private labelling model because it offered Passive Income.
  • Passive Income is important to him as a way to get to spend time with his young family and to escape office culture.
  • Also it can be as hands-on or hands-off as you like (Amazon handles sales and can do customer service – you can outsource a lot as well)
  • David started with Amazon training in April this year and his first product went live in September.

GIVEAWAYS and REVIEWS

  • He allocated 200 units to dollar giveaways, targeting 100 reviews (because of the psychology of triple digits of reviews, and because biggest direct competitor has 200+ reviews)
  • Aim was to give away 10 units a day for two weeks
  • Put in three batches of 50 codes to AMZTracker
  • Turned on PPC Amazon Ads after about 20-30 reviews
  • He actually gave away just 150 units, for about 100-110 reviews (so about 66% converted to reviews) as he was running out of stock and had hit his target no. of reviews.
  • David was able to be selective as his product was popular, so he tried to select reviewers who had reviewed similar products, had given a few video reviews and gave decent length reviews [i.e., not just one short sentence!]

SALES

  • Sales got quickly to 10 a day, then went up to 15, then 20, then up to 25 sales/day
  • Sales: Month 1: including $1 giveaways, $5000
  • Month 2: $6000 but that includes running out of stock!
  • PRODUCT SELECTION:
  • Don’t overanalyse
  • Avoided oversize items because of upfront costs and cost of Amazon fulfilment
  • Went for something that could be bought for about $2 a unit
  • Did due diligence and made sure the numbers stack up
  • Not too competitive
  • Happy to go for 10 sales/day

SOURCING AND FIRST ORDER

  • Manufacturer’s MOQ was 1000  to have his logo on product plus customised packaging
  • David negotiated down to 700 units only with custom packaging (no logo on product)
  • But then after firming up the order, he said to supplier he was going to be ordering more, so negotiated including logo on product on the 700 unit order

CAPITAL and CASHFLOW

  • David has only used his capital for stock ordering. Other costs e.g. Amazon Ads etc. are on the Credit Card for cashflow reasons.
  • He needed about £2000-3000 upfront to order inventory and launch the product

AMAZON ADS

  • David turned these on after about 2 weeks and about 20-30 reviews
  • He ran a manual and auto campaign alongside each other at the start
  • He put a $20 daily budget to Manual and $10 to Auto
  • The auto campaign only produced 1-2 sales and those were for a Keyword he knew already was important
  • He then paused the auto campaign
  • He launched with bids of about $3 a click to get onto page one with ads while product was on page 14 or so of organic search results
  • He then gradually reduced the costs per click over time.
  • ACoS (Advertising Cost of Sales)  started off over 100%; then it went down to about 65%; last month it was around 45%.

BIGGEST CHALLENGES AND HOW DAVID OVERCAME THEM

1. Stock management

  • running out of stock happened because he didn’t expect sales to take off so fast
  • The solution is that he will over-order (now has 1500 units in transit either in China or in the USA) and have 3-4 months worth of stock of his first product so he can focus on buying and launching product no. 2

2. Quality issues

  • These weren’t so terrible but there were higher returns than David wanted.
  • He is having the returned units shipped to him in the UK
  • He will then inspect these and then ship some on to China
  • David uses Viabox to receive returns, which gives a free USA Address. They’ll also store packages for up to 30-60 days and arrange shipping pretty cheaply.
  • David’s shipping 18 units for $40 (1.6 oz weight/unit). I make that 1.8 pounds in weight, so that’s about $22 a pound of weight or £14.75/lb (or about $49 a kg=about £33)

3. Reseller on his listing

  • One of David’s buyers for $1 (giveaway for reviews) listed his product for sale.
  • David had saved the URLs of the profiles of all of his reviewers
  • So he was able to track down the reseller and sent them a stern email
  • The reseller on his listing disappeared!
  • David had been prepared to just buy the product to get rid of the reseller anyway.

4. Time management

  • During the set-up phase, because of doing the Amazon business on top of having a full-time job and a young family, David was having to work evenings and weekends, sometimes 2-3 hours late evenings.
  • His solution is to commit to the business, and to try to fit in an hour whenever it’s possible, even if that’s 11 pm after a full day of work and family life!

BEST THINGS ABOUT THE AMAZON FBA BUSINESS MODEL

  • It can take off very fast
  • It requires very little input to maintain once set up
  • The money to be made is very substantial

ADVICE FOR NEWCOMERS TO THE BUSINESS

  • “Jump in and get going!”
  • Don’t over-analyse. For example, in his first batch of products, David had no inserts and no instructions. He’s just sorted both out for his last (2nd) batch.
  • If start-up capital is an issue, you can do what David did and use capital for stock but put the recurring costs on a credit card.
  • Have enough stock to not run out if you can!

HOW TO SUBSCRIBE TO THIS PODCAST

A podcast is a free downloadable audio show that enables you to learn while you’re on the go.  To subscribe to my podcast for free, you’ll need an app to listen to the show from.

For iPhone/iPad/iPod listeners – Grab your phone or device and go to the iTunes store and search “Amazing FBA”.

This will help you to download the free Podcasts App (produced by Apple) and then subscribe to the show from within that app.  Every time I produce a new episode, you’ll get it downloaded right on your iDevice.

For Android listeners – Download the Stitcher Radio app (free) and search for “Amazing FBA Podcast.”  Or, if you have already downloaded a podcasting client, follow the directions in the next sentence.

For podcast enthusiasts – If you already listen to podcasts and have a podcatcher that you prefer, the feed you’ll need to add is: http:// amazingfba.com/feed/podcast.

For those who don’t have a mobile device – You can always listen to the show by clicking the audio file at the top of this page.

If you have any queries, just go to www.amazingfba.com/ask.