Amazon is a huge marketplace which offers all its sellers - big and small, pro and novice - the opportunity to reach millions of potential customers. Of course this means it’s a valuable shop window with a massive amount of traffic, but selling can be a challenge. Aaron Schlesinger is an Amazon seller. Aaron and his partner began selling their private label product on Amazon FBA at the end of 2014 and have since ramped up sales, reaching #1 and #2 in their category and have featured in "what's hot" on Amazon. He is currently running an e-commerce website for his products and has blogged about his FBA experiences and tips. Aaron has most recently rolled out all of his Amazon marketing expertise, strategies and experience into a software-as-a-service product called Social Scout specifically aimed at helping Amazon private label sellers. He offers help on how to optimize marketing and product promotions across multiple social media channels.
How did you get into selling on Amazon**?**
We began with a goal to replace our full time incomes (I am a software engineer and my partner is a clinical pharmacist) and knew we had a unique product with a market fit that we had casually proven out prior. We discovered FBA first and decided to begin selling seriously after hearing some podcasts on the subject.
What are some of the things you did to help you increase sales when you first started?
We ran some Amazon pay-per-click ads (also called sponsored listings) and did social media marketing on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. To date, social marketing and promotions have been our most effective and revenue efficient means for driving conversions, not just raw clicks.
How did you get your big break?
We ran some very aggressive daily deals on Amazon, some for over 80% off. Once those deals hit, two major events happened:
- We pretty quickly made it onto the "New & Noteworthy" and "Hot Deals" sections of Amazon's home page for our product category. Pages like this receive a tremendous amount of traffic from highly motivated buyers
- The SlickDeals community found our deal and drove a high rate of conversions to our product pages
The end result was that our heavily discounted product made it to #1 in its category, and our related products (which Amazon links to from the main product page) made it to #2 and #3. [bctt tweet="Heavily discounting one item on Amazon results in a spike in sales on your related products"]
What has been your largest revenue from a store till date?
The day of our 'big break' showed $1800 in revenue.
What is your main focus right now?
Our main focus right now is determining the most effective and highest ROI marketing & advertising strategies for our products. Simply running ads on Amazon is not enough anymore due to rising competition and volatile costs per click, and it's always been a major advantage to acquire customer emails, so marketing and advertising outside of Amazon is crucial. We're developing the best strategies and techniques specifically for marketing Amazon products on social media platforms, and we're building everything we learn into Social Scout.
What are top sellers are doing right now to increase their sales?
Top sellers right now are looking for any way to stand out on Amazon. Since Amazon shoppers are extremely price sensitive, many of these strategies are marketing tactics around pricing - daily or flash deals, buy-1-get-1 deals, one time use promotions, free shipping, and so on. We're also seeing top sellers diversifying their marketing and advertising. Similar to our main focus, we're actually seeing many sellers (not just top sellers) marketing their products via blog endorsements, Facebook groups, on Pinterest, and so on.
What's the key to sourcing successfully?
Successful sourcing depends on the product. Since many products are sourced from China, primarily on Alibaba, I'll focus there. Sourcing begins with fairly tough negotiation and after the first order is built entirely on trust. Before you start, decide on your terms for your samples and first order. Here are most of the big ones:
- How many samples do you want?
- How much will you pay per item in your first shipment?
- After receiving samples, how will you decide whether to continue with your first full order?
- How big will your first order be?
- How long can you wait for your first shipment?
- How will you pay for shipping and product fees? (we recommend PayPal)
Once you've answered all these questions, start negotiating with your supplier. Every supplier we've worked with has been willing to negotiate. They, like you, should be looking to do business and build trust. If that means that they have to sell to you at cost, go below their normal minimum order quantity, or similar, they'll potentially be a good business partner. Also, invest in a large first order. This strategy may be counter-intuitive but you'll likely need to do a sizeable giveaway to give your product any exposure. When your first order starts selling, watch sales for the first day and decide immediately how much to order next (if at all). If you are selling fast, place your second order immediately to avoid running out of inventory. Amazon penalises you significantly if you do so and you should never slow your sales down due to dwindling inventory. Finally, focus on building trust with your supplier with your second order and beyond. It's impossible for me to prescribe exact steps for building trust with your supplier because everyone is different. Like every relationship, telling the truth and being open will go a long way.
How do you optimize your listings to ensure higher exposure with Amazon search results?
- Use every input in your Amazon listing (such as size, dimensions, MSRP, ...), even if Amazon says it's optional
- Use high definition product images
- Beyond finding good reviews, find good reviews that include media. Video reviews or reviews with product pictures (even though your listing already has them) work wonders
How do you promote your online businesses?
I get them as much exposure as possible. I have confidence that we're building & selling good products, and I just need to tell more people about them. As people find the products, they'll sell themselves. Specifically, social media is a great promotion tool. When soon-to-be customers find one of our products, they immediately have a place to tell their friends about it and spread the word.
What are some of the tactics used to ensure you are price competitive?
I look at prices in my category regularly. If another seller lowers their price, I don't go immediately lowering mine, but if there's a trend, then I do an experiment. I lower one of my products to $0.01 lower than the lowest and compare that one's sales to my others. If others drop off and the lowered one stays as-is, then it's time to lower all of them. Otherwise, I go back up and make sure that my listings and marketing are better than my competition's.
Can you share with us some tactics you have used to increase your reviews?
Friends and family go a long way, but you can go further. There are plenty of Amazon reviewers in the world. They love to give reviews if you send them the products for free. We also contacted other sellers outside of Amazon to give us reviews. As an added bonus, some of them gave us negative or constructive feedback on the product outside of Amazon so that our review rankings didn't go down and we had a chance to improve the product before mass production. [bctt tweet="Get reviews of your product outside of Amazon and use negative feedback to improve it"] Here's a hint - give them a one-time use promo code for 99% off (Amazon won't let you give one for 100% off), and tell them to "buy" your product with that promo code. They'll pay almost nothing for the product, and you'll get a verified review. Amazon's search ranking considers verified reviews (especially positive ones) more valuable since they know that the review is genuine.
What are some of the emerging trends you see in the marketplace right now which is helping others increase their sales?
Branching out of Amazon for marketing and ads. Many are beginning to blog (or get others to blog) about their products, advertise on social media, Google or elsewhere, or run external promotions. And these efforts are making a real impact. After all, approximately $108,000 are spent every minute globally on Amazon. You won't reach even a fraction of those potential sales just running Amazon pay-per-click campaigns. Get creative and reach more customers outside of Amazon. As you can see from this example, there are plenty of things you can do to sell more on Amazon, it’s just a case of being tactical and strategic, as well as making the most of the software available out there to help you.