Amazon has just released their first ever Small Business Impact Report, and the conclusions, while incredible, are not unexpected. If you’re selling retail, the odds are very good that you’re also selling on Amazon. And if you’re selling on Amazon, you’re part of a huge community that’s having a major impact on the US economy.
In fact, that community is more than one million strong; small and medium-sized US-based businesses that, like the larger US economy, are the backbone of Amazon’s stores, providing customers with millions of unique products.
If you’re one of those 1 million + Amazon sellers, or looking to become one, your goal is to maximize your Amazon business.
Rewards & Challenges
As with any platform there are both rewards and challenges to selling on Amazon:
- Is huge. It’s probably not wrong to say everyone shops there.
- Makes it easy to sell. FBA (Fulfilled By Amazon) provides magically convenient options for inventory storage and fulfillment.
- Handles the full processing of orders and payments.
On the flip side:
- Amazon makes the rules. It’s their platform, after all.
- Data you need to manage is often dispersed and hard to find.
- You can’t see profits, margin or ROI.
Plus other issues encountered by Sellers when trying to grow their Amazon business.
On the one hand, it’s almost foolish not to sell on Amazon. On the other, by playing in their sandbox, you forfeit certain areas of control in order to gain a piece of that gigantic, magnificent opportunity.
Fortunately there are ways to take back the reins.
Playing By Their Rules
When it comes to selling on Amazon, there are really two parts to the equation. As an Amazon business owner, you’re subject to both. As stated, it’s their platform, so in order to do business there you need to:
- Know the basics of setting up and managing what Amazon calls a Seller Central account, which is the foundation of your Amazon business presence.
- Accept their terms and understand the limitations that those terms place on your business, insofar as your activity on Amazon is concerned.
Titans of industry, mega corporations, midsize sellers, big guys, little guys, people with only one product — everyone plays by the same rules.
The Beauty of It
Sellers choose to play, of course, because Amazon has made it very lucrative do so. The beauty of Amazon is that when someone comes to Amazon, they already know what they want. They came for a reason, looking for Item X. There are lots of ways to market and drive people to your Amazon listings, but at the end of the day, you really just need to be the result that comes up when they search for the item they’re looking for.
Keywords are key, badump bump. Knowing the terms that shoppers will use to search for your item, and beefing those up in your listing, is central to ranking on Amazon. You want to be the one that comes up when they come looking.
Moreover, Amazon now has their own internal Ads platform which has become a major force in search. It gives you an opportunity to bid for eyeballs, and mastering that platform is, as you may imagine, hugely important.
Tools and services exist to help you dominate with PPC (Pay Per Click) campaigns.
The Profit Conundrum
We can all agree that Amazon is a great place to be. But one of the first things you’ll notice is that they don’t give you a way to see key metrics like Profit, Margin and ROI.
In effect, you see only totals in terms of sales and revenue, with no real understanding of the actual health of your business.
Finding the data that is there is another matter altogether. Amazon’s Seller Central interface can be difficult to navigate, and is notorious for the convoluted paths required to get to certain data. And this data is needed to effectively manage your business.
Transparency where that data is concerned would be a good thing. Unfortunately, it’s up to Amazon to make it more readily available.
Know Your Customers
This is another area where it’s easy to lose touch when selling on Amazon. Basic customer data is hard to find, let alone information like repeat buyers, geographical analysis, generating customer lists, sorting by specific criteria, and other functions standard with most businesses.
And what about the customer experience? Automated emails after purchase, delivery, and other events are key to ensuring your customers are happy and well serviced. Amazon provides no way to do that.
So What’s the Solution?
Efficiency is one way to solve it. Transparency. Insight. Tools. Help. And any other synonym for those core, key requirements to an expanding and maximized Amazon business.
- Gain the full insight you need to manage.
- Multiply your reach while reducing your effort.
- Establish a strong foundation for growth.
Step One: Tools
In order to expand, you must be able to see all the data you need to manage. In addition, you need a way to automate repetitive actions. Lastly, you need systems that help you both service your customers and promote your business.
Equipping yourself with the right tools is the first step toward a maximized Amazon business. Tools like ManageByStats, which provides a suite of tools for Amazon sellers, are available. Finding and implementing the right tools for your business … well, enough can’t be said about how important that is. You wouldn’t build a house without hammers, drills, screwdrivers, etc.
Tools make the difference.
Step Two: Freelancers
In the same way you wouldn’t build a house without tools, you (probably) wouldn’t do it without help, either.
Realize the long-term effects of getting good help. Business owners, especially smaller ones, often fail to realize the value of outsourcing both repetitive and specialized tasks. Look at the long game and what a little help can save you.
Two things are likely:
- You’re doing things that require a time commitment far in excess of your value.
- You’re doing things that you’re actually not skilled at.
The sooner you can offload those tasks, the better. The cool thing is that, in this modern age of freelancers, you can start small. It’s quite easy these days to hire someone very skilled for an hour or two a day, get used to them and their work, then evolve them to more responsibilities as you grow.
Resources exist, like FreeeUp, which have it as their mission to connect you with invaluable help. Manage your business better with the assistance of remote freelancers.
Growth is the endgame. Growth comes by freeing up your time and creative energy so you can envision and plan the next conquest. This is true in any enterprise. A war isn’t won with the generals on the field firing guns.
Tools are the first step to getting a clear picture of your business, making improvements and removing yourself so you can create even more expansion. Turning those tools over to help, in the form of regular workers and/or freelancers, is the next step, and, ultimately, will be the foundation of your future.
Hopefully this got the wheels turning. Thanks for reading.
Here’s to your success!
Dave McDaniel is a senior VP with ManageByStats. ManageByStats is a suite of online software tools for Amazon sellers that includes tools for managing sales, customers, advertising and inventory, automated email notifications, email campaigns and reviews, feedback and keyword features.
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