(Additional) Secrets to Successful Selling on Amazon: Part IV

April 23, 2014

Marketplaces ChannelAdvisor By ChannelAdvisor

You asked. We listened.

In February, many of you joined ChannelAdvisor Marketplaces Services Team Lead John Bryan for an informative webinar, “7 Secrets to Successful Selling on Amazon.” During the webinar, John dispensed wisdom on selling your products through the popular marketplace giant.

Data QualityWe were overwhelmed by the positive response to the webinar, and even after it ended, you flooded our inbox with additional questions about the marketplace.

We get it. Amazon can be complicated. And we’re here to help. This month, we’re posting a five-part follow-up blog series based exclusively on your questions and broken down by topic. (Read Part I on fulfilment by Amazon, Part II on the Amazon Buy Box and Part III on Amazon keywords.)

This fourth instalment, focused on product data quality, features 20 of your most pressing data questions answered by ChannelAdvisor experts.

Q: What are product filters?

A: Product filters are a way to remove or filter certain products from submission to Amazon using business rules via the ChannelAdvisor platform.

Q: My company is a manufacturer, and we sell our products to resellers. The resellers often list our products on Amazon with the wrong image or with poor images. How can we prevent this or correct it?

A: In our experience, Amazon doesn’t police this, but you may be able to do so by reviewing the agreements you have with your resellers.

Q: When you upload product data for an existing product, does that new content override the data that’s already there? Is it ignored, or is it appended to the existing data? What do you do if there are UPC matching errors?

A: Uploading new content doesn’t automatically override what’s in Amazon’s catalogueueue or append it. Amazon decides which product data should be displayed. If you think your data should be displayed, reach out to Amazon Seller Support. If there are matching errors, first determine if your UPC data is correct. If so, get an understanding from the error messaging what content isn’t matching. If you need more assistance, reach out to Amazon Seller Support.

Q: Would you recommend creating your own listing or attaching to someone else’s listings?

A: We recommend using the valid product identifier (UPC, for example) to list your product. This would likely group the listing with other sellers’ listings if others have sold the product before. Amazon could merge multiple Amazon Standard Identification Numbers (ASINs) if there are duplicate listings for the same product.

Q: Some of my SKUs are rejected because of brand name, but I know my listing is correct, as I piggyback on the existing ASIN/UPC. Amazon states that my data contradicts what’s currently listed, but I want to add this data to enhance the product I’m selling. Any insight? Submit cases before I load?

A: Your best option would be to reach out to Amazon Seller Support with your feed information. Their support team will likely want Feed IDs, so you should load the product before submitting a case.

Q: I sell large appliances and kitchen equipment with many specs, such as electrical. What’s the best way to list these? In the bullet features? They require much more space than the allotted five bullets.

A: Consider how your product description is being used and also review the inventory specs from Amazon. Many of those specifications may be able to be included in the data fields.

Q: How do you know if an item is restricted on Amazon before trying to list it?

A: Products in categories requiring approval can be listed only with specific permission from Amazon. Amazon limits access to sell in these categories to help ensure that sellers meet standards for product and listing quality as well as other category-specific requirements. These standards help Amazon customers feel confident when buying in any category. For details on restricted categories, read Amazon’s page on product categories.

Q: What’s the point of enhancing your content when only one seller’s description shows up (usually the seller who’s been selling the product longest, has the Buy Box, etc.)? Because of this, Amazon isn’t necessarily picking the best content. For example, for a product my company sells, Amazon shows only one image instead of the eight that we have, and one bullet point instead of our five. There seems to be no way to fight Amazon to make it appear, since their only answer is that the system is automatic and they can’t influence which description to display unless information for one is incorrect. Hence, all the perfect content you’ve spent hours working on is not even showing up, and may never actually show up.

A: It’s important to always put your best foot forward and continue to challenge Amazon on the data quality of their catalogueueue listing. If you feel like your products constantly fall into this scenario, though, you probably shouldn’t prioritize content enhancements — and instead focus on the other important factors involved with selling on the marketplace.

Amazon-logoQ: If you offer a holiday discount on expedited shipping, for example, how do you highlight or advertise that?

A: If you’re using discounted expedited shipping through the Manage Promotions tool within your Seller Central account, the promotion will display on the listing under Special Offers and Product Promotions as long as the buyer views your product on a multiseller listing.

Q: Does it matter what department your product is listed in? We sell directly to Amazon and feel our product should be in a few departments (i.e., we’re in Home but feel we should be in Office as well).

A: Department does matter, as it helps Amazon decide where your product will show up. Consider testing the department values you’re providing to Amazon to understand which work best.

Q: My products have been sold on Amazon previously. Recently, we upgraded our product descriptions and sizes from 6 oz. to 9 oz. However, either the old descriptions and sizes keep appearing on our new listings, or our new info is appearing on older products. Amazon told us that this is how their algorithm works and can’t be overcome. What can we do?

A: You could try adding these as new products on Amazon. They may need a different product identifier (UPC). If you’re the only seller and originated the data, you may be able to have Amazon Seller Support edit the information.

Q: How important is it to list product size, weight, etc.?

A: Product size and weight are required for participation in fulfilment by Amazon (FBA).

Q: Do you recommend using business rules to dictate/create valid values? Or, should we create individual attribute fields to do an “exact match” for specific fields (like “colour blue” vs. “dark blue”)?

A: Yes, using ChannelAdvisor business rules makes the data prep work much more streamlined. You can create custom attribute fields in your ChannelAdvisor inventory and store the valid accepted Amazon value in those attribute fields.

Q: Can we mention in the product description that selling this product is part of a fundraising campaign? We are a nonprofit organisation.

A: Product descriptions should be focused only on the item itself.

Q: Is there a good formula for coming up with the best titles?

A: Here’s the default recommended title structure: [Brand] + [Department/(and Special Size, if applicable)] + [Product Name]. While the format may vary by category, this general structure allows you to effectively communicate what product you’re selling and incorporate keywords to improve your search visibility. See here for more details.

Q: Most of our items are standardized on Amazon. If all of these items are already available, can we not just use UPCs to list them? Do we have to provide keywords and other information if they’re already available on Amazon?

A: Certain fields are required (review your category’s inventory specs for details), but you can rely on Amazon’s data if you want. You don’t have to provide the required data elements, but we recommend doing so to enhance the content and potentially increase the visibility of the listing on Amazon. This is especially the case if you’re the only seller of a product or the product doesn’t have quality data.

Q: Can you populate your own template?

A: The ChannelAdvisor software uses a template to populate required and recommended fields for Amazon. Request a demo to see how this works.

Q: What’s more important, optimising items you’ve already listed or listing new items?

A: You should continue to add new products, but consider how these items could be optimised as you add them. You want to give yourself the best opportunity for those items to be discovered.

Q: We’re a toy vendor, selling several variations of the same toy format. Is it better to have separate product pages for each instance of the toy? Or have a single product page featuring all variations of the toy format?

A: If the variation is colour, it would be best to list the item as a variation. We also recommend using a variation listing for size options, too.

Q: How do we make sure that we select the right product category?

A: Research similar sellers and products to determine which categories make most sense to list in. In addition, consider testing different categories over time if your sales are low.

Check back next week for the fifth and final part of this blog series, which will tackle all your remaining questions on a variety of Amazon topics, including international shipping, customer feedback and more.

Blog post by Luke Evans, manager, marketplaces services, and John Bryan, team lead, marketplaces services at ChannelAdvisor.

Your Cheat Sheet for Avoiding Errors on AmazonFor more information, download the full Amazon webinar or the tip sheet “Your Cheat Sheet for Avoiding Errors on Amazon.”