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EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 297 - October 23, 2011 - ISSN 1528-6703     3 of 7

Five Things Online Merchants Should Know about Selling on Amazon

By Ina Steiner

October 23, 2011

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Amazon has become the 800 pound gorilla in ecommerce, but retailers of any size can capitalize on its powerful reach by selling on the Amazon.com platform. Diane Buzzeo has over 25 years of experience boosting sales for retailers as CEO of Ability Commerce, which she founded after launching a musical instrument mail-order catalog that she built into an ecommerce behemoth. Diane believes every online retailer should make Amazon a part of their selling strategy, and provides answers to the question, what are the five key things online merchants should know about selling on Amazon.com?

EcommerceBytes: How should selling on Amazon fit into your overall ecommerce strategy?

Diane Buzzeo: As the leading ecommerce website, Amazon is a must for online retailers. Not only does it connect sellers with buyers from all around the world, but it is a powerful new customer acquisition tool. Because of the immense traffic Amazon receives, it can expose your products and your web store to much broader audience than your website alone. Nearly every retailer who joins Amazon will likely see their website visits and conversions increase as well. In fact, there is no real down side to selling on Amazon.com. It should be a part of every online retailer's business model.

EcommerceBytes: How does Amazon.com compare with eBay for small merchants looking to take advantage of the traffic that marketplaces bring?

Diane Buzzeo: eBay is the easier marketplace to use but it lacks in prestige compared to Amazon. Basically anyone can sell on eBay with just a few clicks. Amazon.com certainly has much stricter guidelines for sellers but this benefits them in the form of increased trustworthiness. When users see retailers as a highly-rated Amazon seller, they can feel more confident the product and service will be quality.

EcommerceBytes: What are the five key things online merchants should know about selling on Amazon.com?

1) Competitive Pricing - Not surprisingly, your listing price will have a huge effect on Amazon sales. And the best way to judge if your product is priced right or not is by checking on competitors. Monitoring competitive pricing can be time consuming. This is most easily monitored with echannel management software with a competitive pricing module, which can show you how your price ranks amongst the other retailers representing this same product on Amazon. In some cases, you may be able to raise your price and still maintain the Buy Box.

2) Product Availability - Managing and updating your stock is another essential point. Make sure to have enough supply to meet demand as Amazon favors sellers that can handle a high number of orders efficiently. This can be complex if your Amazon feed isn't updated with information from your website and your order management system in a timely manner. It's important to use an echannel management software that integrates with all of your other software so your inventory updates frequently and you don't sell out of a product before your Amazon inventory updates.

3) Quick Response Time - Amazon is customer-centric. As an Amazon seller, quality customer service policies are expected at all times. This means that any customer questions or comments should be addressed quickly and politely. Problems specifically should be resolved quickly in order to avoid negative feedback toward your account. Amazon has very specific rules about customer service. These should be followed to the letter if you want to remain in good standing with Amazon.

4) High Ratings - Just like in your local neighborhood, word of good or bad stores gets around quickly on Amazon. Earning positive feedback and high ratings can go a long way in pushing buyers to choose you over the competition. Don't be afraid to offer praise to those you have worked with as well - you are more likely to receive strong reviews from people whom you've rated positively. The more customer interaction you initiate on Amazon, the better.

5) Win the Buy Box - Following all the above mentioned points can often lead to the biggest benefit Amazon.com offers, the Buy Box. The Buy Box is the blue dialogue box on the right side of any Amazon product page that gives buyers a quick option to add an item to their cart. Since multiple sellers could be offering the same product on Amazon, the one controlling the Buy Box can significantly affect the number of sales earned. There is no guaranteed formula to winning the Buy Box but following Amazon best practices go a long way, with pricing and product availability the two biggest items to watch.

EcommerceBytes: What resources do you recommend for merchants to learn more?

Diane Buzzeo: Amazon itself is actually a great source for more information, including tips and how-to's. Their site features a lot of useful links and presentations for everyone from the small local seller to the large-scale retailers. For more sophisticated software solutions, programs like Ability Commerce's Channel Feed make managing an Amazon account simple and much less time consuming.

Diane Buzzeo is the founder and CEO of ecommerce software provider Ability Commerce. The company's Ability SmartSite increases client web sales by an average of 66% in the first year and offers software solutions that address the ever-growing needs of ecommerce retailers to drive sales. Its ecommerce management tool Ability Channel Feed also includes a competitive pricing module to help retailers monitor listing prices of other Amazon.com sellers. For more information, visit the Ability Commerce website.

About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.

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