Selling Tools for Mining Earth's Biggest Bookstore - Amazon
By Greg Holden
If you sell on eBay, you already know that your ability to make a profit with a minimum amount of work increases when you start using sales software. Most eBay sellers are familiar with software like eBay's own Turbo Lister, Seller's Assistant, and Selling Manager. But sellers on Amazon.com have access to their own set of tools that helps maximize their exposure in Amazon's marketplace. Amazon is an increasingly attractive option for sellers who are looking to branch out beyond eBay. You can sell in many different parts of the Amazon.com site:
- The Marketplace. This is the name Amazon gives to the books, CDs, DVDs, household appliances, and other items for sale. If you have something for sale that's already in the marketplace, you can add it as a new, used, or "collectible" item.
- Advantage. This program enables music and book publishers, musicians, and other copyright holders to distribute their creative work on Amazon.com.
- Auctions. Amazon.com has its own auctions, though they're not nearly as wide-ranging as eBay's.
- zShops. Amazon.com lets you create your own online storefront on the site.
- Amazon Merchant. Larger and well-established business can join this program, which enables them to offer products through a part of the site called Seller Central.
On Amazon.com, as on eBay, the principle holds that the more desirable items you can get online at any one time, the greater your income will be. The key is to automate processes like formatting sales descriptions, adding images, and printing shipping labels. Since most of the items listed on Amazon have identifiers like UPC or ASIN numbers, it would save time if you could gather those numbers automatically, too.
The products listed below all make use of Amazon Web Services, a technology platform that lets developers create products that tie into the Amazon.com marketplace. The first three help you sell more efficiently on Amazon; the fourth is an innovative tool that lets you do on-the-spot research on used books and other products.
AMan, by Spaceware (http://www.spaceware.com), keeps track of orders you have received on Amazon and maintains a list of which items have been shipped and which remain to be sent out - data that becomes important if you sell dozens or even hundreds of separate items at a time.
Seller ratings are a vital component of Amazon, especially when you might have a half a dozen or more individuals selling the same used or "collectible" book in the marketplace. You'll stand out from the others if you have a better seller rating.
As you know from your eBay selling, the best way to improve your seller rating is to ship quickly. AMan gives you a head start by letting you print out shipping labels and packing slips that can include your business name or User ID. AMan also generates U.S. Postal Service bar codes so you can print out your own postage and avoid waiting in line at the post office.
Thomas W. Hawksley, Ph.D., an award-winning author and financial analyst who owns and operates Global Media Direct and TV Tapes U.S.A., currently uses a beta version, AMan Pro, that will soon be available for about $40 per month. "AMan Pro does all my order, listing and pricing management for me. When I get my orders, they are ready to be processed because AMan Pro imports Amazon emails and order reports automatically. I then print shipping labels and packing slips (which are customized for my business) with one click, and I am ready to go." The software also automatically relists and reprices items based on rules Hawksley has set up beforehand so he can keep competitive with other sellers.
But that's not all. "The best part of the product is the customer support," Hawksley adds. "Spaceware is available just about 24/7 with fast responses and resolutions to questions and issues."
Monsoon, Inc. (http://www.monsooncommerce.com/) provides several a bulk listing tool for Amazon: Monsoon Gold Standard, Premium, and Enterprise Editions. Each package enables sellers to "grab" the sales information for a group of items and prepare multiple sales listings at prices that are competitive with those of competing sellers. You can schedule your sales so they all start at the same time if you wish. Monsoon Gold lets sellers manage sales listings across seven different marketplaces, including Amazon.com.
SellerEngine by SellerEngine Software (http://www.sellerengine.com) is an application that enables you to search Amazon in way that the site itself doesn't permit - by the names of individual sellers. You can search through all the items sellers currently have for sale. That way, you can adjust your own prices to make sure they are competitive. SellerEngine, like Monsoon, also lets you upload sales listings in bulk. SellerEngine is software that you download and install on your computer; the trial version lets you list ten items at a time. To list more, you need to pay a $39.95 per month subscription fee.
ScoutPalSE3, by ScannerPal, Inc. (http://www.scoutpal.com) is hardware rather than software. This amazing device lets you scan the bar code of an item you see in a secondhand store, a flea market, or a resale shop. You connect ScoutPal to your Web-enabled cell phone (the device only works on specific iDEN Motorla cell phones and on the Nextel cellular network, however) while you're on the road or in the store shopping for books to resell. ScoutPal records the ISBN or other number of the product and automatically looks up the price of the item in the Amazon.com marketplace (as well as another prominent marketplace for booksellers, Abebooks.com). It's a great way to do on-the-spot research to see if you should buy that item and resell it for a profit on Amazon. It helps you avoid passing up on a book only to find out it's especially valuable on Amazon.com.
If you don't want to buy the ScoutPalSE3 hardware, you can use your Web-enabled cell phone to retrieve Amazon.com product information by entering the ISBN or other product number of an item and searching ScoutPal's Web site. In either case, you pay a $9.95 per month or $29.85 quarterly subscription price to use the ScoutPal service.
My gut feeling tells me that Amazon.com will be an increasingly attractive option for eBay sellers who are unhappy about high fees and want to branch out on their own. Amazon.com's Director of Strategic Partnerships, Sam Wheeler, says it has seen a slow but steady increase in sellers in recent months. These products will help you make the most of your sales efforts.
About the author:
Greg Holden is EcommerceBytes Contributing Editor. He is a journalist and the author of many books, including "Starting an Online Business For Dummies," "Go Google: 20 Ways to Reach More Customers and Build Revenue with Google Business Tools," and several books about eBay, including "How to Do Everything with Your eBay Business," second edition, and "Secrets of the eBay Millionaires," both published by Osborne-McGraw Hill. Find out more on Greg's website, which includes his blog, a list of his books, and his fiction and biographical writing.
You may quote up to 50 words of any article on the condition that you attribute the article to EcommerceBytes.com and either link to the original article or to www.EcommerceBytes.com.
All other use is prohibited.