Selling on Amazon; What You Should Be Aware Of

February 18, 2014

Anyone selling unique, hobby or niche products will particularly benefit from selling on Amazon. It might seem like an easy decision to make, but here are some hurdles you might not have considered.

Adding Your Products

Products are only allowed to be listed once on Amazon. When listing your products, you must check if it’s already listed within the Amazon catalog and must not add a duplicate if it’s already there. So, product listing pages are shared by all sellers of that product and Amazon are ultimately responsible for what information is on these pages. If you are adding new products to the Amazon catalog, you can be assured of the accuracy of the product data, but be aware that it’s a lot of work to add products and once the product is in the Amazon catalog, it’s there for other sellers to use!

You might think that selling products that are already listed is an easier option. Think again! As a distance seller, you should be aware of your obligations and will want to be sure of the accuracy of the product descriptions on everything you sell. This means that you will need to check the product information that has been added for everything you want to sell – after all this data is likely to have been added by another seller, who you do not know or trust and could even be from another country. If you find any product information within the Amazon catalog that is incorrect or misleading, you need to contact Amazon to get it amended and this can take a lot of time. A particular example I have previously had to correct was the size names on numerous children’s clothing. The sizes were listed as “8-10” which was particularly misleading as it meant age 8-10 and not the adult UK clothing sizes 8-10. I suspect that this data was added by somebody who isn’t in the UK and had no idea of the confusion caused.

Your Shipping Settings

Unless you sell in one of the books, music, video or DVD categories, Amazon will let you set your own shipping models and prices. The price that you set is the price the customer pays for shipping, but be aware that Amazon will also take a cut of this off you as well. The Amazon fees that are taken off you for each sale are for the whole sale price, so make sure you make allowances for this when deciding on your shipping prices.

Setting Prices

Setting a competitive price for your products can be tricky, especially if lots of other sellers are tinkering with their prices of the same product. Within the Amazon seller account area, there is a column that lets you see what the current lowest price is (and if it’s you). This allows you to go through and adjust your prices manually every day or week. This can easily become very time consuming, especially if you’re likely to get obsessive over it. If you want to always be the cheapest and never miss out on being more than a penny cheaper than your competitors then you’d better automate the process using price checking software.

Dealing With Customer Enquiries

Amazon measure the ‘Contact Response Time’ of each customer enquiry you receive through your seller account. This is measured as a percentage of messages which received a response within 24 hours. A seller should aim to have a score of over 90 percent, so missing the odd one isn’t going to harm your account rating. However, I suspect that this rating is used by Amazon within their seller ranking and Buy Box algorithms. It is worth noting that weekends and holidays are not excluded from this response time calculation. It is therefore important that somebody is always available to respond to customer enquiries, even over the weekend, as this is when most people tend to shop online.

To Sell Or Not To Sell?

Selling on Amazon isn’t for everyone – only you can decide if it’s right for your business. Amazon offer a free three-month trial, which should be long enough to address the issues discussed above, get your products added and actually start selling. Once you have your products added, have started to build a positive selling history and have a few good reviews on your account, the initial hard work starts to seem worthwhile.


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