The 2020 PRO Guide To Amazon Seller Central : All FAQ Explained
The 2020 PRO Guide To Amazon Seller Central : All FAQ Explained
Needless to mention, Amazon seller central holds a huge business potential for online merchants. After all, it gives you access to millions of customers on the world’s largest e-commerce platform.
However, at times, it can be quite tricky to navigate the platform, especially if you are new to this.
With this in mind, we have prepared a comprehensive guide to help you make the most of the Seller Central Amazon. This is your crafty Amazon Seller Handbook, with all the information you need to make the best of your business included right here.
In this article, we will take a quick look at things like setting up and securing your Seller Central Account, the applicable seller fees, Amazon metrics and business analytics, ad campaigns and promotions, and common mistakes to avoid.
- Capital Required to Start Amazon Business
- What Kind of Products to Sell on Amazon?
- What is Amazon Seller Central?
- Deciding on Fulfillment Options
- FBA Fees
- Getting Started with Seller Central
- Amazon Seller Central Dos and Don’ts
First Up, How much Capital Do You Need to Start an Amazon Business?
The answer to this question primarily depends on two things: where you source your products from and the shipping method you choose to deliver your items. There are three primary ways you can about procuring the inventory for your business:
- Manufacturers: You get in touch with the main company itself, buy the products at a wholesale price and then resell it on Amazon for a profit (or any other channel, for that matter). This option may require a bit of investment since companies are usually interested in doing business with those parties who can handle large volumes.
You can also get in touch with their suppliers to buy inventory.
- Retail Outlets: This is, by far, the most popular way to do business on Amazon. You go to a retail store like Walmart or Target, buy the items at a discounted price and then sell it on Amazon.
- Creating Your Own Brand: You will design and develop your own products, and get it manufactured. You will be responsible for its branding, quality testing, and all other operational aspects before the items hit the market. All the profits you make here will be yours and the manufacturer has no rights over the brand. This method is also referred to as Private Label and is among the most preferred option by sellers.
With that in mind, your initial inventory cost may be around $200 - $8,000 or more, depending on the product you choose and your business model. To this, you may also want to add your Amazon monthly selling fee of $39.99, branding costs, shipping fees, product photography charges, and other overheads.
So, depending on how you go about it, you can expect to start your Amazon business with an initial investment of $350 - $600. This number obviously varies from person to person across different product categories, but you can certainly use it as a benchmark for your calculations.
What Kind of Products Should You Sell on Amazon?
Identifying the products you want to sell on Amazon is an important task. You need to do your market research carefully and pick that perfect product that has the following traits:
- Excellent margins
- Low/moderate competition
- Small and lightweight
- Has a steady demand throughout the year
- Does not suffer from seasonality
- Can sell at least 10 units every day
Ideally speaking, the product trends should look something like this:
On average, this product has sold 300+ units every day and made some excellent revenues in the process. Of course, that’s a big number to start with, but any product that manages to bring in 40-50 orders a day is a good bet.
One thing that you should remember is never to go after a product that is a part of a highly saturated market. You will have a tough time competing with the well-established players and furthermore, it will be difficult for you to get that much-needed visibility to drive traffic and sales to your products.
You should also make it a point to choose your product upon careful consideration and research, rather than just blindly jumping into the market. Every decision you make in your Amazon business must be driven by logic and research.
Amazon product research is a comprehensive subject in itself and we can speak about it for hours here. Instead, we have compiled this handy guide to find top-selling products, which will go very well with this Amazon Seller Central handbook.
Now that we have got that out of the way, let’s take a dive into the exciting world of Amazon Seller Central.
What is Amazon Seller Central?
Amazon Seller Central is an online platform which enables pretty much anyone to become a retailer on Amazon. Using Seller Central, you can become an online seller without having to worry about things like handling payments, designing and maintaining a personal website, or even processing returns like most e-commerce stores.
If you want to sell on Amazon, your journey starts here at Seller Central. There is no other way to go about it.
Furthermore, with the Amazon FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) model, becoming an Amazon seller has never been this easy. All you have to do is send your inventory to Amazon and let them take care of the rest.
Therefore, it is recommended that you take some time to understand the intricacies of Amazon’s Seller Central before you start your journey to become a seller. Your efforts here will definitely be rewarded down the road.
How to Set Up Your Amazon Seller Central Account Correctly
In order to sell on Amazon, the first thing you need to do is set up your Seller Central account. Before you get started, make sure you have the following information available with you, so that you can save some valuable time in the process.
- The name of your business
- Contact information for Amazon and your customers (It is recommended that you keep these separate)
- Your real name and address
- Shipping locations, that is, the regions to which you are willing to deliver your products
- Bank account details
- Seller logo
- Business information/About us – Pay special attention to this part as this is where the customer is going to ‘evaluate’ your business by reading about the values and story of your company. The idea here should be to instill confidence and trust in your prospective buyers
- Return and refund policies, if applicable
To create an account, here is what you do:
- Visit Amazon.com and click on the ‘Sell’ option at the top of the page. Alternately, you can also go to Services.amazon.com
- Once you are there, click on the ‘Start Selling’ button. You will be directed to the account creation page. This step is fairly straightforward. Enter your name, Email id, and password
- Once you have your login credentials set, log in to your Seller Central account. Then, you will be taken to the Seller Central account configuration page where you need to enter the basic information we mentioned above
- As you can see, there are five sections you need to fill. These are fairly simple and easy to understand. In the ‘Tax Information’ section, you need to furnish your tax identification details such as the name of your entity, address, federal tax classification (whether the company is registered as LLC, Partnership, or Sole Proprietor), and your Social Security Number or Individual Tax Identification Number. You can find more information on the same right here
- While you are filling out these details, be sure to cross-check them. In addition to this, you should keep in mind that you need only one Seller Central account if you are planning to sell your products only in one region, irrespective of the number of products and brands you have. By contrast, if you are planning to enter different regions/continents, you may need to set up multiple accounts
Oh, and do make sure that you secure your Amazon Seller Central account with two-step authentication. You can’t really go wrong by adding an extra layer of security to your account, can you?
Decide On How You Are Going To Sell Your Products
Broadly speaking, there are two ways to go about selling your products on Amazon – either do it by yourself or go for the Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) program.
In the first case, the process is quite simple – you list your products on Amazon and whenever you receive an order, you ship them. In addition to this, you are also tasked with the responsibilities of processing refunds and returns, providing customer service, and ensuring that the products are delivered on time. However, to ensure that all of this goes smoothly, you need to have a reliable logistics partner. You also need to have the necessary infrastructure set up to avoid any scaling issues.
By contrast, the FBA model is where you let Amazon do all of the aforementioned tasks. In effect, all you have to do is the label and ship your products to Amazon’s fulfillment centers and let the world’s largest e-commerce conglomerate take care of the rest. When you receive an order for a product, Amazon picks, packs, and ships it to the customer with the help of its well-established infrastructure. It also processes refunds and provides customer support, thus leaving you free to focus on the important aspects of your business.
Amazon FBA Fees
It goes without saying that these features come at a price, often known as Amazon FBA fees. This is the fees that you pay per unit and it depends on factors like the dimensions and weight of the product. However, before you let the idea of paying Amazon FBA fees discourage you; know that a wide majority of sellers on Amazon have opted for the FBA model primarily for the following reasons:
- Your products carry the prestigious Prime logo which automatically means better rankings in the search results and free shipping options for your customers
- It is considerably easier to scale with FBA, in contrast to scaling your business by yourself
- Amazon FBA is highly convenient and simple to use
- Your products are accompanied by Amazon’s trusted reputation
- You don’t have to worry about customer support, shipping, and processing returns and refunds
Before you decide, you should certainly look into the pros and cons of these two methods. But based on our experience, the FBA model has certainly got the upper hand.
| Check out this comprehensive video on FBA fees, with all the information you need to launch business with Amazon FBA in 2019.
Don’t Neglect The Fees
For obvious reasons, Amazon is not going to let you use its platform for free. You will have to pay them Amazon seller fees for using their services. There are many types of fees that you are quite likely to incur, and they have been mentioned below:
- Amazon monthly subscription fee – This is the pay that you pay Amazon every month for using their platform. The fee is capped at $39.99 per month. However, remember that this fee is applicable only if you are planning to sell more than 40 items per month
- Amazon referral fee – This is the fee that you pay per product and is calculated as a fixed percentage of the selling price. You can think of Amazon referral fee as the commission that you pay Amazon for every sale that you make. For example, if you sell a book worth $20 on Amazon, then the referral fee may be 10%, that is, $2
- Amazon FBA fees – If you have opted for the Amazon FBA program, and chances are you have, then you will be incurring what is known as Amazon FBA Fees This is the fees that you will be paying per product and in return, you will be able to enjoy all the exciting features and benefits of the Fulfillment by Amazon program. Remember that these fees depend on the weight and size of the product - larger the product, the more will be the fees you need to pay.
- Other fees that you may incur are stock removal fees, storage fees, export fees, et cetera.
You need to make sure that your margins don’t suffer heavily because of these fees. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you study these fees carefully and consider them into your costs calculation before you join Amazon Seller Central.
Getting Started with Seller Central
As we mentioned earlier, Amazon Seller Central is the main interface to sell on Amazon. There are quite a few tabs on this page that you should familiarize yourself with, to make the best of your journey on Amazon. The best way to go about this is by getting your hands dirty. You can read plenty of guides online on this topic, but the real experience will come only when you learn to do things yourself.
With that in mind, we have prepared this short guide here to help you understand the various features of your Amazon Seller Central dashboard.
Catalog: In the Catalog section, you can add new items to your inventory or add a product that already exists on Amazon. You can also save your previous work as draft and get back to uploading it at a later point in time. You can also use this section to edit information.
Inventory: Inventory is one of the most important tabs on your Seller Central dashboard. This is where you manage your product inventory and take all the necessary steps to make sure that your items are always in stock. Whether you are selling through FBA or fulfilling the orders by yourself, this is the section where you monitor it all.
In Inventory, you also manage the shipments you send to Amazon’s warehouses for FBA. Additionally, if you are interested in setting up a global presence for your brand, you can do so right here.
Pricing: In the Pricing dashboard, you get to set and observe the price of your products on Amazon. Here, you can set the pricing of your products, set alerts, and automate the same so that the price of your items changes with respect to your competitors. You can also take advantage of fee discounts if you are eligible.
Orders: As the name suggests, in the order screen, you get to observe the orders your business is receiving and their fulfillment status. You can view how many orders are pending, shipped, and unshipped. Furthermore, all returns that are to be processed can be seen right here.
Advertising: Advertising is where you are likely to spend most of your time in the Amazon Seller Central. This is where you will create Amazon PPC campaigns for your products and run them based on your preference. You will also monitor their performance and optimize them based on their ACoS, conversions, and sales.
In addition to Amazon PPC, you can also market your products through promotions, coupons, and lightning deals with the help of Advertising. Lastly, if you have signed up for the Amazon Brand Registry, you can take advantage of Enhanced Brand Content to give your product listings a superior touch.
Reports: This one is self-explanatory. You get to see a bunch of reports here, describing the health of your business, ranging from payments and orders to advertising and taxes. An interesting feature here is that you will also get guidance from Amazon Selling Coach on how to improve your business further.
Performance: As a new seller, you definitely want to pay attention to this section. In Performance, you will see the feedback people leave for your business, messages from buyers, along with any A-to-Z guarantee claims and chargeback claims.
In case you violate any rules on Amazon, you will be notified of the same in the Performance Notifications segment. You can also get customer insights and take advantage of Seller University.
So this is pretty much it. These are the major sections that you need to take care of. As you progress along the way, you will become acquainted with more new features that can help you enhance the performance of your business.
Amazon Seller Central: Dos and Don’ts
There are a few things that you must keep in mind while you are on Amazon Seller Central. These will help you become a better seller while keeping an eye out for potential mistakes that other sellers make.
Amazon Seller Central Dos:
Work On Your Product Listings
Consider that you have a high-quality product that has the potential to do wonders in the market. However, if the description of your product is shoddy and poorly written, then the chances of selling those products on Amazon will be less. Therefore, it is advisable to invest some time and quality in filling up the product information fields wisely.
Check out this article for an in-depth understanding of How to make your Amazon product listing efficient
Your product description should carry all the relevant keywords from the Amazon SEO perspective. On top of this, your description should be in bullet points, impactful, and crisp. You should also make use of all the space provided to you by Amazon, given that it is limited. This is where good keyword research comes into play. You need to build a solid foundation of top-selling Amazon keywords for your products.
You can also look into Amazon Enhanced Brand Content and other strategies to write meaningful product descriptions.
This article from SellerApp is your best guide to 12 unconventional ways to do Amazon Product Research.
Learn How To Read Business Metrics
Your Amazon Seller Central account holds all the important metrics and data regarding your business. As a result, it is important that you learn how to read and analyze these key performance indicators. Some of the metrics that you should be looking for are:
- Number of times people have viewed your products
- Number of sales made
- Conversion rate
- Sales reports and Amazon PPC campaign reports
- Number of returns
- Customer reviews
It is fair to say that to run your business on the Amazon platform successfully, you should keep a balanced overview of all these figures. You should monitor these metrics regularly to identify areas where your business is underperforming and in turn, work on them.
In case you are not familiar with these, take some time and understand how they work. These numbers provide valuable insights into your business and can very well help you maximize your sales and profits. You can find all of these in the ‘Reports’ section of your Seller Central account.
Contact Amazon Seller Central Support
Let’s face it – you are bound to have some or the other difficulty while navigating through your Seller Central account. Luckily, Amazon has already prepared a solution for your issues in the form of a dedicated help page. There are a plethora of documents which address a wide variety of issues, ranging from managing returns to writing product descriptions.
You also have dedicated forums which connect Amazon sellers. You can ask any Amazon-related questions on these platforms and rest assured, a fellow Amazon merchant is bound to answer. Alternately, you can also browse through the case logs to see if anyone else has incurred a problem similar to yours.
If you are still facing difficulties, then you can get in touch with the Seller Central customer support. They are known to be prompt, efficient, and dedicated.
Monitor Your Inventory Levels
One of the many factors that go into ranking your products superbly on Amazon is inventory level. Since Amazon wants its customers to benefit from a world-class shopping experience, it generally shows only those results which have the product in stock.
Furthermore, Amazon stands to make money off every sale you make and if you go out of stock, it will be bad for business. Therefore, when you fail to replenish your inventory in time, your listing will be pushed down in the search results and they will be replaced by your competitors. To get back up in the rankings, you will have to start from scratch.
Hence, it is important that you proactively monitor your inventory levels and ensure that you have more than enough time to replenish your stock. For this reason, it is also recommended that you set up a well-defined process to restock your inventory by communicating with your manufacturer/sourcing connection.
Provide Customer Service
It is a well-known fact that customers shopping online prefer to do business with someone who is known to provide exceptional customer service. Whether it is processing returns and refunds or answering queries about the product itself, as an Amazon seller, you should be equipped to handle these situations flawlessly.
Of course, if you are using Amazon FBA, you don’t have to worry about any of it but if you don’t, then you need to set up the necessary infrastructure in place to take care of these logistical aspects. You should also make sure that your orders are delivered on time to avoid negative feedback.
Look Into Marketing Campaigns
Amazon Sponsored Products, also known as Amazon Pay-per-Click campaign, is one of the most popular marketing strategies employed by Amazon sellers. This is quite similar to Google PPC campaign – you bid on a set of target keywords for your products and Amazon will then display your advertisement alongside the search results for those keywords. You pay Amazon only when a potential customer clicks on your ad (Hence, the term sponsored) at which point, he/she is directed to your product page.
You can choose the keywords either yourself or through Amazon’s automated targeting system. The ads can be customized such that they are triggered when someone searches for those exact keywords or for its synonyms. If done right, Amazon Sponsored Products campaign will not only improve your visibility and drive more traffic to your products, but it will also boost your brand’s image and improve your rankings. This is an investment for the future of your business and you should definitely consider Amazon Sponsored Products campaign.
Keep in mind that running a successful PPC campaign is an iterative process. You need to constantly monitor what works for you and what doesn’t. You will have to refine your keywords based on the traffic they are bringing and focus on the ones that are performing well.
Another thing that you can do is offer coupons and discounts to your prospective customers. You can consider running these type of campaigns during the holiday season. This is a terrific way to improve your brand’s image and boost visibility, especially on social media. However, in the long-run, it can hamper your margins so you need to be calculative while a promotional campaign.
Take care of your Taxes
To avoid any trouble down the line, it is crucial that you are aware of your tax liabilities in your Amazon business. You must be aware of all the necessary tax rules that are in place, and ensure that all of your documents are in order to avoid getting a call from the IRS. If you are not entirely clear, you can seek help from a professional accountant who specializes in online sales tax, to help you manage your taxes while you go about your business.
Amazon Seller Central Don’ts:
Failing to Understand Amazon fees and charges
One of the most common mistakes that sellers make is failing to understand how Amazon charges them for the services provided. When that happens, their cost estimation and margin calculations go haywire. Therefore, before you start your journey on Seller Central, calculate your costs and margins carefully. Make use of FBA calculator to estimate your potential profits before you start selling.
Also, take into account additional charges like overheads, advertising and branding budget, referral fees, et cetera that can play a role in your profits.
Do not Provide Expensive/Late Shipping
Nothing drives a customer away faster than charging exorbitant amounts for shipping. For online shoppers, shipping is absolutely critical and as a seller, you must not overcharge them for the same. Studies have shown that six out of 10 shoppers abandon their carts due to shipping fees While you are at it, you should also make sure that your orders are always delivered on time.
Do not Purchase Reviews
While reviews are important to drive future sales, you must not make the mistake of purchasing them. In recent years, Amazon has taken strict actions to curb these fake reviews and ensure that all the testimonials that accompany a product on its marketplace are genuine and honest. Needless to mention, it is also against Amazon’s policy to solicit reviews.
Instead, you can make use of Amazon Early Reviewer Program, PPC ads, and social media promotion to drive traffic to your page and get reviews.
Operating Under More than One Seller Account
As per Amazon’s policy, you can sell products on Amazon only through one account. Having multiple seller accounts is a direct violation.
In the end, the best way to make the most of Amazon Seller Central is by paying heed to the points mentioned above. As you progress on your path, you will discover more features which may or may not prove to be beneficial to your business model. Amazon definitely holds a great deal of potential and the internet is full of success stories of people who highlight how Amazon helped them quit their 9-to-5 corporate jobs.
If you have any suggestions or useful tips on how to make the most of Amazon Seller Central guide, then do share it in the comments below! Alternately, you can also follow the SellerApp blog as we bring you the latest tips and developments to help you make the most of Amazon as a seller.
Good luck Seller!