How Online Sellers Can Make the Most of Amazon

Mar 27, 2013 11:21 AM  By

It seems that there is no stopping marketplace giant Amazon.  The online retailer and marketplace recently reported that third-party unit growth was up 40% year-over-year, which is more than two times the overall e-commerce growth rate (15%) reported by comScore.

amazon-ipad-300It’s clear that the opportunity is there for third-party retailers, but there is a difference between listing your products on Amazon and being successful on Amazon.  Oftentimes the difference for retailers lies in their ability to meet Amazon’s customer service expectations and increase their product visibility.

Meet customer expectations
According to Amazon, the top priorities for its customers are selection, price, delivery speed, convenience and product information. Being an Amazon seller is a mind-set. Amazon is clear about its objective to offer a stellar shopping experience, and a seller who can anticipate buyers’ needs and ensure a positive transaction process will be successful.

One of the best ways for Amazon sellers to comprehend these factors is to put themselves in the consumer’s shoes when considering how to advertise products successfully.  As a seller, test out some searches for items that you desire.

Take note of the shopping experience.  Was the product easy to find? How did you search? Is there sufficient product information available? When you purchased the item, did you receive a speedy confirmation with shipping information? Were your questions answered in a timely manner? Did your order arrive on time? Were you able to return your items without a lot of hassle? Any seller that does not meet these requirements will certainly have trouble making strides on the marketplace.

Answer customer questions
It is best for sellers to list as many products as possible in order to offer a large selection and increase exposure on the marketplace.  It is also important for sellers implement a competitive pricing strategy to offer the best possible price on top selling items.  Sellers should create a streamlined fulfillment strategy that delivers items as fast as possible, or consider Fulfillment By Amazon.

FBA allows retailers to store their inventory in an Amazon fulfillment center, where Amazon employees pick, pack and ship the seller’s items upon purchase. FBA also provides a positive customer service experience, which is crucial in order to prevent negative feedback on orders.

Additionally, providing as much information as possible in product data feeds helps educate customers about product specifics and thwart returns ahead of time.  Sellers should send Amazon product feeds with details such as search terms and brands on a regular basis, and quantity and price updates hourly, to ensure inventory levels and pricing changes are up to date on the marketplace.

Focus on the customer experience
The foundation of Amazon’s success is excellent customer service, and sellers who do not comply with this ethos can lose out on the chance to win the buy box. Winning the Amazon buy box is a sure way to increase sales on the marketplace, but this coveted spot is awarded, not bought. Meeting customer expectations based on Amazon’s requirements is crucial to buy box placement.

To ensure compliance with Amazon’s standards, sellers should monitor their seller metrics daily. It is essential to understand key metrics such as Order Defect Rate, which is the percentage of orders that have received a negative feedback, an A-to-z Guarantee claim or a service credit card chargeback. The order defect rate allows Amazon to measure overall performance with a single metric.

Increase product visibility
In addition to meeting customers’ expectations, sellers must do all they can to ensure their products are easily found on Amazon in order to be competitive. While customers do use the left navigation tool to browse products, the product search bar remains the primary method consumers use to find products. This tendency makes optimizing product keywords a vital activity. In keeping with the Amazon mind-set, it is important to know that Amazon harvests keywords from product title, search terms and much more.

The first place Amazon looks for keywords associated with an item is the product title.  Sellers should create product titles that are descriptive and understandable, using common terms and phrases. Additionally, sellers should keep titles customer-friendly and remember that customers don’t use punctuation, caps or asterisks to search for items, so including any of these is unnecessary.

Next, Amazon pulls keywords from the search terms submitted by the seller. When identifying search terms, be sure to use all 250 characters that Amazon allows for search terms. Be aware that title, merchant and brand are automatically included, so avoid repeating these in this section.

Lastly, sellers shouldn’t forget about the left navigation tool when thinking about product visibility.  Browse nodes are the product codes that identify sellers’ items in a particular product category as seen on the left navigation tool. Sellers should make sure to attribute each product to two browse nodes for maximum results.

These tips will help sellers improve their performance on Amazon, beginning with meeting customer expectations and improving product visibility.  The best way to execute on these objectives is to maintain an Amazon mind-set, remembering that it is all about an optimal shopping experience. At the end of the day, Amazon wants its customers to keep coming back for more, which is certainly in the Amazon seller’s best interest as well.

Jennifer Artabane is ChannelAdvisor’s Director of Platform Product Management.