Off-Season Tactics to Stay on Top During Slow Selling Seasons
This is a guest post from the team of BellaVix.
Seasonality on Amazon is a major challenge for eCommerce brands, particularly those selling in categories like apparel, novelty, and garden. Low demand on the digital marketplace doesn’t have to mean no sales though. Unlocking basic techniques and strategies is key to sustainable success as an Amazon seller.
Understanding the Amazon Best Sellers Rank (BSR)
The number-one factor to consider when measuring seasonality (or any product) is Amazon’s Best Sellers Rank (BSR). The BSR is a crucial metric for sellers, as it reflects the sales performance of a product within its specific category. The BSR is updated hourly, with recent sales carrying more weight. The lower the BSR, the higher the sales volume, which suggests greater product popularity. Amazon assigns BSR by category, subcategories and marketplaces included. See the example below on the same 7-in-1 Instant Pot Duo in the U.S. versus the UK marketplace.
A common misconception is that BSR influences ranking or ad sale, or even sales velocity. This is false; BSR is only an indicator of a product’s sales velocity and popularity. Products with stronger BSRs enjoy greater visibility, leading to increased sales. However, external factors can influence the BSR, such as changes in Amazon’s algorithm or competitor actions. Consider anything that may discourage shoppers from purchasing your products as a way to impact BSR.
Sellers must closely monitor their product performance, analyze competitor strategies, adjust pricing and promotions accordingly, and stay informed about Amazon’s policy updates and algorithm changes.
Impact of seasonality on BSR
BSR is a dynamic metric that changes constantly. It’s updated on an hourly basis and is directly impacted by category demand. During slow periods, you can expect your BSR to weaken due to low demand or less competition. When demand picks up, you should see improvements in your BSR as sales increase and more competitors enter the market to compete in your category.
Understanding your product’s seasonality can help you plan and strategize effectively. To stay on top of seasonality, sellers must identify and capitalize on relevant trends and events, adjust marketing strategies, offer promotions or discounts, and optimize product listings to target seasonal keywords.
Pay attention to your product category when monitoring your BSR. A broad category will see the largest swings since other items in different subcategories that are less impacted by seasonality will improve their BSR. Check the Best Sellers page and look for similar items to ensure you’re competing in the best categories for your products. Below is an example of Best Sellers for the sunscreen category:
Off-season tactics to maintain BSR
Sellers can employ several tactics during the offseason to maintain their BSR, including:
- Offer bundle deals or product variations: Combining complementary items or selling multiple versions of the same item can increase perceived value and attract buyers.
- Run targeted ad campaigns: Both on and off Amazon, this strategy broadens your audience reach.
- Evergreen advertising strategies: Identify relevant keywords that you want to rank higher for when in season and continue to advertise modestly to maintain a strong BSR year round, making ramp-ups more efficient and edging out the competition.
- Optimize product listings: Include relevant keywords and updated content to improve search visibility.
- Leverage social media and influencer marketing: Social media excels at generating buzz and driving traffic to product listings.
- Engage with customers: Take advantage of Amazon’s Manage Your Customer Experience tool or Amazon Posts to encourage repeat purchases.
Here’s an example of an effective seasonal bundle strategy by Sun Bum:
Sell throughout the seasons
Expanding your product offering to cover different seasons can protect your profit margins. For example, consider adding a winter-related product to your portfolio if your primary product is geared toward summer. This diversification helps maintain consistent sales throughout the year.
Quicksilver is a brand that’s successfully bridged the gap between seasons. They have winter and summer apparel lines targeting surfers and snowboarders. They also update their stores based on the season, which earns them consistent sales year-round.
Leveraging seasonal keywords
Amazon’s search engine aims to provide customers with the most relevant product results based on their search queries. For example, a query for “jacket” has a different set of relevant documents in winter than summer. However, with a limited context and an open-ended query like “jacket,” the onus is on the search engine to show more seasonally relevant documents, or at least not become over indexed to the user behavior recorded during the preceding season.
Therefore, it’s important for the search engines to be seasonally aware and incorporate that information into rankings. Using seasonal keywords in your product listings can increase your product’s visibility during specific seasons or events, potentially boosting sales.
An example of this is how, when someone searches for “jacket,” Amazon search results will display winter jackets in the winter, and summer jackets in the summer:
Analyze Amazon seasonality
Closely monitoring seasonality trends on Amazon is crucial when planning your sales strategy. If you understand your product’s performance during the previous season, you can better prepare for the upcoming season. This includes stocking up on inventory before the start of the peak season and setting up Amazon PPC ads accordingly.
Manage seasonal campaigns
Sellers must structure their campaigns to adapt smoothly to seasonality. This could mean advertising for seasonal products aggressively during the on season and bidding on your seasonal keywords. Alternatively, it could involve including seasonal keywords and targets in regular ads but increasing bids on them when the season arrives.
Budget for seasonality
Budgeting plays a crucial role in managing seasonality. Sellers must proactively adjust their budgets based on anticipated changes in demand. This could involve increasing bids for all seasonal keywords as demand for seasonal products rises. Alternatively, sellers could monitor their Amazon reports for signs that the on-season is about to begin and adjust their budgets accordingly.
The influence of external factors on BSR
External factors, such as changes in Amazon’s algorithm or competitor actions, can significantly impact a seller’s BSR. Sellers need to monitor these elements closely and adapt their strategies accordingly. That could entail adjusting pricing and promotions, analyzing competitor strategies, and staying informed about Amazon’s policy updates and algorithm changes.
For example, in 2022, the FDA banned Benzene, which heavily affected sunscreen manufacturers and their ability to sell products on Amazon.
Operational efficiency and BSR
Efficient inventory management ensures consistent product availability, minimizing the chances of running out of stock and negatively impacting BSR. Streamlined order processing and fulfillment procedures also help maintain fast shipping times so you consistently meet customer expectations, which leads to positive reviews and repeat purchases.
Wrapping up — Turn seasonal lows into selling highs
The fluctuations of seasonality can be challenging for eCommerce sellers. However, with a strategic approach and a keen understanding of how it affects their profits and operations, sellers can effectively manage and boost sales of seasonal products on Amazon even during periods of low demand. The key is to stay adaptable, proactive, and informed by employing a combination of strategies to maintain a strong BSR and drive consistent sales growth.
How to Prevent Stockouts as an FBA Seller
This is a guest post from Julian Bonte-Friedheim. Julian writes about the ins and outs of eCommerce for 8fig, a company that provides flexible funding to online sellers. Their advanced AI CFO technology gives sellers the tools to scale their operations and optimize their supply chains for sustained long-term growth.
Seeing your products sell in large quantities is the dream of every FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) business. However, behind this triumph hides an insidious risk: running out of stock. What appears to be a blessing can quickly become a curse. When your inventory is empty, you lose huge sales, possibly even during a peak sales period.
Other downsides can arise as well, from lost customer loyalty to decreased product ranking. In this article, we offer the best tips for preventing stockouts — and derailing your sales momentum.
How does a stockout affect an FBA business?
Running out of stock is a nuisance for any retail business. However, as an FBA seller, that misstep can harm your operations in even more ways.
Stocking out at the wrong time can cost you your best potential sales window. This is especially important if you sell seasonal items like school supplies; being out of stock during the few weeks in August before school restarts can mean major profit losses. Or, if you sell heart-shaped chocolates, running out of inventory the week before Valentine’s Day can be extremely costly to you.
Poor customer retention
With perks like same-day shipping becoming the norm, customers are now highly demanding when it comes to convenience, and seeing a product they want out of stock can induce frustration. That, in turn, may drive them to shop with competitors, which risks even previously loyal buyers switching over and committing to another brand.
Products that are needed regularly and purchased with a subscription are particularly vulnerable to this outcome. In the worst case, it can even result in someone writing a negative review of your product to express their frustration and deter potential buyers.
As such, staying in stock beyond simply keeping your sales at a consistent level quietly maintains your repeat customers. Adequate inventory gives them one less reason to leave you for a competitor.
When your product runs out of stock, Amazon responds by lowering your ranking on search results pages. The marketplace has a vested interest in doing so, since clicking on a product that’s unavailable worsens the overall customer experience. Additionally, shoppers who can’t purchase the item they want are more likely to buy from a competitor like Walmart, delay their purchase, or abandon their cart altogether. For these reasons, Amazon does their best to make absolutely certain people only see items that are ready to ship right away.
You might spend $1–$5 dollars in marketing budget to target someone with ads and move them through your purchase funnel, only to lose them because of a stockout. Worse, running out of stock incurs several hidden costs you may be unaware of (more on this later). When you eventually restock, it’s possible to regain your ranking, but it’ll take time and more of your marketing budget. That’s in addition to lost consumers who might not return and now prefer to buy from competing brands.
Loss of reviews
This may seem like a small factor, but regular positive reviews on your product listings is a significant sales driver. One study found most online shoppers look at reviews, with 93% of them saying it impacted their buying decisions.
Sometimes, listings experience a change in production or are sourced from a new supplier, causing deviations in quality; recent positive comments serve to reassure customers about the continued excellence of the product. Knowing that people bought the item recently and were happy gives consumers more confidence to click “Buy.” So, a prolonged stockout that produces a gap in product reviews can deter new buyers, even once you’re back in stock.
How to avoid running out of stock
The main cause of stockouts is supply chain mismanagement. With clearer oversight of your operations, you’ll be better able to anticipate and avoid disruptions that lead to running out of stock.
Use supply chain planning tools
To build a seamless supply chain, you need appropriate software designed to reduce the margin for error. Accurate, data-driven inventory forecasting can make an immense difference in understanding when to order your next product shipment. The goal is to create a broad outline of your logistical processes.
For starters, plan your shipments according to your predicted sales numbers. You want to identify the thin line between avoiding a stockout and acquiring too much inventory and needlessly increasing your storage costs. By mapping your expenses, you also increase your cash flow, which is always beneficial.
Using supply chain planning software will also sharpen your oversight of your operations and expenses. Being able to monitor them and spot abnormalities early on will enable you to adapt quickly and avoid situations that cause stockouts.
Consider alternative storage and supply options
Diversification is a great way to avoid risk. When you rely exclusively on one supplier and they experience issues, all your operations come to a standstill. So, it’s important to set up alternative options early on.
Talk to other suppliers who are able to procure the same product and maintain the level of quality you expect. You should look for someone local, even if the price is higher; faster shipping times when your stock is almost empty can balance out that added expense.
Relatedly, you may want to consider storing safety stock locally as well. Although it’ll raise your storage expenses, having that failsafe can prevent a stockout (and the associated sales loss).
Pause marketing campaigns
If you notice your stock is set to empty before your next shipment comes in, you should reduce or completely cease your ad spending. Besides cutting marketing expenses, this can lower the demand for your products enough to avoid the dreaded stockout. Once your inventory is full again, you can restart your ads without the risk of running out of items.
Improve your shipping operations
Review your contract with your supplier and check how it compares to competitors’ offerings. If you find a better deal, like faster shipping, explore that avenue. You don’t have to switch, but you can show your current supplier the other company’s stronger offer to negotiate greater benefits for your business. If they refuse, you can always part ways.
Even if you struggle with negotiations, know that you may have more leverage than you realize. Just as you want a reliable supplier, suppliers like customers who earn them consistent sales. If you’ve partnered with them for a long time, they might be willing to offer better shipping conditions to convince you to stay. Those faster shipping times will help avoid stockouts.
If you already stopped your marketing campaigns, but your sales are still pushing you toward a stockout, consider raising prices slightly. This should only be a last resort, since it might reduce your store’s search results ranking. When done correctly though, increasing prices can lessen demand enough to keep you in stock until your next product shipment arrives. As an added bonus, it also boosts your profit margins for the inventory sold during that window.
Before you raise prices, develop a thorough understanding of the market and current pricing norms. A significantly higher cost than your competitors will need to be compensated through better product quality or other perks, such as a warranty.
Explore funding options
A lack of cash flow is one of the main reasons for FBA sellers to run out of stock. Ordering inventory in advance, then having to wait several months before it starts to sell requires deep pockets. That’s why many eCommerce sellers look for external funding to hold them over until then. This can come in the form of a bank loan, merchant cash advance, or revenue-based funding.
8fig offers several great options that provide the continuous capital needed to prevent stockouts. Having this extra cash on hand enables you to respond to looming stockouts quickly and effectively. You also gain access to 8fig’s AI CFO technology, which helps you oversee your supply chain and plan up to an entire year of inventory shipments ahead of time. Sign up today and take your business to new heights (while avoiding the lows of inefficient inventory).
Wrapping up — Go with the flow (of stock) on Amazon
As we’ve shown, going out of stock is a surefire way to lose sales and customers on Amazon.
However, you can avoid this with supply chain planning tools, alternative storage backups, and better optimized logistics. Follow these and the other tips above to prevent stockouts as an FBA seller and keep the sales rolling.
How to Plan Your Product Strategy Around Seasonal Trends
This is a guest post from Maureen Walsh of DCL Logistics. MyFBAPrep and DCL Logistics work together to provide strategic logistics services so brands can grow without sacrificing flexibility, quality, or customer satisfaction.
Building a cohesive product strategy involves analyzing market data and developing a product portfolio that maximizes customer experience and overall business performance. One aspect that brands often overlook, though, is seasonality.
When developing and launching product lines, you need to take into consideration seasonal fluctuations (for instance, launching a new bathing suit line at the beginning of fall is a straight shot to low sales). By selling products according to seasonal buying trends, you’ll attract more customers, generate greater revenue, and stay competitive in your niche.
Seasonality in eCommerce
Seasonality refers to the fluctuating patterns of consumer buying habits and corresponding order volume that occur at specific times of the year. They’re often tied to various events, holidays, and weather patterns. You must remain aware of buyer trends throughout the year to match demand appropriately.
Understanding and effectively managing seasonality is crucial to launch new products successfully, execute sales and marketing campaigns that convert, meet shopper expectations, and maintain overall customer satisfaction. To offer you assistance, we’ve broken down some common shopping patterns in each month.
New Year’s capitalizes on the psychology of resolutions, so most consumers focus on health and other self-improvement goals like saving money. As such, businesses can expect a general uptick in items like gym equipment, workout clothing, vitamins, supplements, and health and wellness products in general. Cold-weather gear and equipment for winter sports is also prevalent at the beginning of the year. Although many people purchase these types of products over the Christmas season, they see heavy usage during the coldest time of year, so their market demand remains strong after the holiday.
Valentine’s Day is the big tent-pole event in February and can bring high sales volumes for brands that offer romantic-themed goods. Popular items include flowers, confections like chocolates, wine and alcohol, and pajamas and loungewear.
Other holidays and observances in February include President’s day — a popular three-day weekend for short getaways — and the Super Bowl, which is much more about brand exposure than big sales volume (unless you’re in the business of TVs, specialty food items, or sports regalia of the playoff teams/cities).
Although not a major American holiday, Lunar New Year often occurs in this month, so eCommerce brands with international supply chains should expect slow downs in shipping and manufacturing in China.
March and April
These two months bring the hope of more sunshine and longer days. St. Patrick’s Day and Easter are the two biggest U.S. events at this time that generate seasonal sales. International Women’s Day, April Fool’s Day, and Earth Day are also commonly recognized holidays during this time and could serve as opportunities for well-designed sales.
During this time of year, consumers are focused on spring-themed products like rain gear and gardening tools, but they may also begin to hunt for the perfect summer sports gear like golf, tennis, or basketball equipment, baseball paraphernalia, and lawn games.
The second-biggest shopping event of the year for many product verticals is Mother’s Day, which falls in May. Other holidays that brands can build sales campaigns around include Teacher Appreciation Week and Memorial Day, which some see as a summer kick-off event. Expect summer gear like grills, patio furniture, pool toys, beach stuff, and bathing suits to be in hot demand.
June and July
Dads and grads are the people to shop for in June as Father’s Day approaches and the graduation season takes place. Meanwhile, Juneteenth and the Fourth of July are the major summer holidays that have consumers shopping for picnic items, BBQ goodies, and products to help entertain them outside.
Additionally, Amazon Prime Day often falls in one of these months and is a big driver of sales on both the Amazon platform and competitor sites. Many retailers have begun to offer sales during Amazon Prime Day to compete for consumer clicks.
August and September
The back-to-school theme dominates the fall sales cycle. It starts in late summer when students and parents shop for school supplies, clothes, laptops and headphones, causing a seasonal uptick in shopping demand.
Labor Day is also a big selling weekend to clear out summer items from eCommerce stock and make room for fall products like cold-weather clothes, home decor, and decorations for the fall and winter holidays.
Halloween and the Day of the Dead are the two big sales opportunities in late fall, with candy and sweets being the most popular commodities. For brands that want to make up revenue in Q4, this is also the time to launch holiday sales early.
November and December
Many brands see a major spike in order volume between Thanksgiving and Christmas, since these weeks are considered the busiest shopping time of the year in every vertical. The Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales events are the peak of the season. However, there are many other holidays celebrated in December — think Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, the winter solstice, and Boxing Day — that make it the gift-giving height of the year.
8 Steps to set up a successful product launch
Every business and product will require different tactics to launch successfully. However, there are some core components that each share.
1) Market research
Before launching a new product, it’s imperative to understand and identify your target audience. Conduct a full competitive analysis that includes:
- The needs, preferences, and pain points of your target demographic
- What other eCommerce businesses offer
- Where and how you can differentiate your products
2) Product selection
Once you’ve sifted through your market research, select products that align with your target audience and have the potential to generate demand and profitability. Consider factors like product uniqueness, scalability, production feasibility, shipping costs, and seasonality.
3) Pricing strategy
Set competitive prices that reflect the value of your products and align with customer expectations. This is where you need to factor seasonal promotions into your overall product strategy. You may want to add discounts like bundling options to attract and retain customers while maximizing the average cart size.
4) Product development and sourcing
If you’re creating your products, establish a development plan and timeline. Factor in the major holidays we mentioned above to anticipate any slow downs or crunch times in manufacturing. Work with your supply chain partners to ensure all vendors are on the same page.
5) Marketing and promotion
Develop a marketing plan to generate awareness of your new products. Be sure your operations and marketing departments sync on timing and expectations. If your sales campaigns are based on seasonality, you’ll be marketing new products every few months, so the last thing you need is internal confusion or miscommunications.
6) Fulfillment and logistics
Decide how your products will be picked, packed, and shipped. Some brands choose to do this in-house, while others outsource to a third-party logistics (3PL) provider. If you opt for this route, it’s important to find a provider with services that meet your brand’s needs. Partnering with an experienced and reliable 3PL can provide benefits like lower long-term costs and more opportunities for growth and scalability.
Note that shipping plays a big role in customer satisfaction, so you need a carrier that can adequately support your brand needs and customer demands. Consider the size, weight, and volume of your packages, and look out for peak season surcharges, delays, and other factors that can affect your profit margins. Also, during the holiday rush, maintaining clear communication with your carrier is crucial.
7) User experience and customer support
Optimize your eCommerce site and sales platforms so you can start selling without issues bogging you down. Put time into every aspect of your customers’ experience, including the checkout process, package tracking, product guides or manuals, support for troubleshooting product use, and follow-up communication, to maximize retention.
8) Feedback, iteration, scaling, and expansion
Your work isn’t done once your product is online and available for purchase. Evaluate the success of your products continuously and identify opportunities for growth. Encourage customer feedback and use it to improve your products and services.
Stay prepared and cognizant of seasonal trends
Managing seasonality in eCommerce requires careful planning and preparation. Brands need to understand how to forecast accurately and source the right amount of inventory to meet consumer demand.
It’s important to leverage quality partners throughout your supply chain. They’ll help you streamline your order fulfillment process, find the best shipping services that accommodate both your product and your customers’ expectations, and open more opportunities to scale and grow your brand. By capitalizing on seasonality, you can improve your operational efficiency and generate more revenue during peak shopping periods.
Top Amazon Categories: The 10 Hottest-Selling Categories of 2023
This is a guest post from SmartScout, one of the leading market research and data analytics tools trusted by Amazon sellers worldwide.
Amazon is abuzz with activity as buyers and sellers trade millions of products across a vast array of categories every day. Navigating this marketplace successfully is vital for sellers, and a crucial aspect of that lies in identifying the top-performing product categories.
Recognizing the top-selling categories empowers vendors to spot potential opportunities for new items to branch out to, understand consumer trends, and strategically expand their offerings.
In this post, we’ll explore the 10 best-selling categories on Amazon based on estimated monthly revenue. We’ll uncover the secrets behind their success and the key trends fueling their growth.
Whether you’re an established Amazon seller or a newcomer, these insights will help you optimize your product selection and boost your sales.
What are the best-selling categories on Amazon?
Here’s an overview of the top 10 categories on Amazon based on monthly revenue.
|Category||Est. Monthly Revenue|
|Clothing, Shoes, & Jewelry||$5,364,805,909.31|
|Home & Kitchen||$3,879,525,594.72|
|Health & Household||$3,407,125,818.43|
|Sports & Outdoors||$3,051,131,098.20|
|Patio, Lawn, & Garden||$2,544,481,499.40|
|Beauty & Personal Care||$2,350,263,284.26|
|Tools & Home Improvement||$2,115,375,918.63|
Note: This information was collected from SmartScout. The estimated monthly revenue figures represent the revenue each category generated as of June 15, 2023. These figures may change over time due to market fluctuations and trends.
1. Clothing, Shoes, & Jewelry (est. monthly revenue: $5.3 billion)
This category tops Amazon’s sales charts, earning an estimated monthly revenue of over $5.3 billion. It appeals to fashion enthusiasts and style-conscious shoppers with its vast selection of items.
Key growth trends include:
- Online shopping surge: Consumers increasingly prefer shopping online, drawn by Amazon’s convenience, diverse options, and competitive prices.
- Sustainability and quality: The demand for sustainable, high-quality products has skyrocketed as consumers prioritize ethically made, durable items, even at a higher cost. Sustainable brands lead the way — Pangaia, Tala, Stella McCartney, and others are capturing more market share by championing organic and recycled materials, fair labor practices, and transparent supply chains.
- Influencer culture and social media marketing: Shoppers turn to Amazon for influencer-promoted or social media-featured items, driving the category’s high sales. According to a study published in “Frontiers in Psychology,” influencers’ authenticity and relatability strongly affect consumer behavior, particularly among Gen Z, impacting purchasing decisions.
2. Home & Kitchen (est. monthly revenue: $3.8 billion)
This category offers home organization products, eco-friendly solutions, smart home technology, home decor, and health and wellness products. As people spend more time at home and prioritize comfortable and functional living spaces, the category has experienced significant growth.
Key growth trends include:
- Home organization and storage: The increasing focus on home life has boosted demand for clutter-free spaces. Consumers actively seek storage containers, closet organizers, and space-saving furniture to optimize their living spaces. This minimalistic trend drives sales of home organization products.
- Smart home technology: Products like voice-controlled assistants, smart thermostats, automated lighting systems, and smart kitchen appliances have gained traction due to their convenience, energy efficiency, and enhanced functionality.
- Health and wellness: Consumers are buying products like air purifiers, water filtration systems, exercise equipment, and wellness-related kitchen gadgets to promote a healthy lifestyle and home environment.
3. Health & Household (est. monthly revenue: $3.4 billion)
Expanding beyond the previous category, this sub-group comprises personal care items, health products, home medical supplies, and natural and organic alternatives, thriving on the growing emphasis on wellness and self-care.
Key growth trends include:
- Home healthcare and medical supplies: With an aging population and the rise in chronic diseases, consumers actively seek products like blood pressure monitors, glucose meters, mobility aids, and orthopedic supports. These items help manage health conditions and provide comfort for individuals facing health challenges.
- Home fitness: Consumers are buying fitness equipment, workout accessories, and wellness-related products for home use. Items like resistance bands, yoga mats, and stationary bikes have witnessed increased sales as individuals focus on maintaining their fitness routines from the comfort of their homes.
- Mental health and self-care: Shoppers invest in products promoting relaxation, stress reduction, and overall well-being. Items like aromatherapy diffusers, meditation aids, sleep aids, and stress relief supplements experience higher sales as emotional and psychological well-being becomes a top priority.
4. Sports & Outdoors (est. monthly revenue: $3 billion)
This category encompasses fitness equipment, sports gear, outdoor recreation products, and athletic apparel. Its popularity is soaring as more individuals prioritize active lifestyles and outdoor activities.
Key growth trends include:
- Health and fitness consciousness: Consumers are increasingly focused on physical fitness and active lifestyles, leading to a rise in demand for fitness equipment, workout apparel, and accessories for activities like running, cycling, yoga, and strength training.
- Tech-integrated sports gear: The sports gear industry has embraced technology, introducing innovations like smartwatches, fitness trackers, GPS devices, and sports performance analytics that have gained popularity among sports enthusiasts. These advancements enhance training, tracking, and overall sports experience, driving increased sales.
- Outdoor recreation: Consumers seek products like camping gear, hiking equipment, fishing accessories, and water sports equipment to enrich their outdoor adventures. A desire for exploration, connection with nature, and a break from sedentary routines fuels the demand for outdoor recreational products.
5. Pet Supplies (est. monthly revenue: $2.9 billion)
The pet supplies category owes its success to a large and devoted consumer base of pet owners. This category fulfills pet needs with products like food, accessories, grooming items, and health supplies.
Key growth trends include:
- Premium and natural pet products: The pet humanization trend is driving the demand for top-notch, natural pet products. Consumers invest in high-quality pet food, organic treats, and eco-friendly accessories, prioritizing their pets’ well-being and nutrition.
- Eco-friendly and sustainable products: Sustainability holds increasing importance in the pet supplies market. Consumers seek eco-friendly choices like biodegradable pet waste bags, natural and organic bedding materials, and recycled or upcycled pet toys. Brands offering environmentally conscious pet products have carved out a niche in the pet supplies category.
- Smart pet technology: Technological advancements led to the birth of smart pet technology. Pet owners opt for smart pet feeders, GPS trackers, pet cameras, and automatic pet toys, valuing the convenience, remote monitoring capabilities, and overall enhanced pet ownership experience.
6. Books (est. monthly revenue: $2.8 billion)
Despite the prominence of all things digital, books maintain their popularity, with physical and ebook formats driving strong sales. The books category spans various genres, including fiction, non-fiction, self-help, and children’s books.
Key growth trends include:
- Ebooks and digital reading: Ebooks and digital reading devices have transformed the book industry. Consumers increasingly prefer the online format for convenience, portability, and easy access. Ereaders, tablets, and smartphone apps have thus expanded the reach of the books category, opening new opportunities for authors and publishers.
- Self-help and personal development: Consumers seek guidance, inspiration, and practical advice on mindfulness, productivity, relationships, and career growth. The books category caters to these interests, empowering individuals to enrich their lives and achieve their aspirations.
- Audiobooks and podcasts: Consumers value the convenience and multitasking ability of audio formats, and the books category has embraced that trend, offering a wide selection of audiobooks on platforms like Amazon’s Audible. The podcast boom also enables authors to reach fresh audiences and promote their works effectively.
7. Patio, Lawn, & Garden (est. monthly revenue: $2.5 billion)
This category serves outdoor living, gardening, and landscaping needs. The growing interest in outdoor entertaining, gardening hobbies, and serene outdoor havens propels its growth.
Key growth trends include:
- Outdoor living and entertaining: Consumers are shaping their outdoor spaces into extensions of their homes, fashioning areas that invite relaxation and socializing. This trend has boosted sales of patio furniture, outdoor décor, fire pits, and grilling accessories.
- Gardening as a hobby and self-sustainability: Shoppers embrace gardening to connect with nature, cultivate their own produce, and create picturesque landscapes. This trend heightens the demand for gardening tools, planters, seeds, and organic fertilizers.
- Wellness and relaxation in outdoor spaces: Related to the first point, people also seek products that promote relaxation and mental well-being in their outdoor spaces, like hammocks, yoga mats, meditation gardens, and Zen-inspired décor.
8. Beauty & Personal Care (est. monthly revenue: $2.3 billion)
Beauty and personal care includes skincare, haircare, makeup, and personal care products. The focus on clean and natural beauty, personalized experiences, and self-care has contributed to the success of this category.
Key growth trends include:
- Natural and organic ingredients: The clean beauty movement has gained momentum as consumers increasingly prefer products formulated with natural and organic ingredients. This trend has also sparked the rise of indie brands and the expansion of clean product lines among established brands.
- Skincare routines: Individuals now prioritize skincare routines and are willing to invest in high-quality products, including serums, essences, face masks, and other specialized treatments. This trend has boosted sales of skincare products that address specific concerns such as anti-aging, hydration, and acne.
- Men’s grooming and self-care: Men have embraced skincare, haircare, and grooming routines and so seek products tailored to those specific needs. This trend has driven the expansion of men’s grooming offerings, including beard care products, skincare designed for men, and specialized grooming tools.
9. Tools & Home Improvement (est. monthly revenue: $2.1 billion)
This category covers tools, home improvement supplies, and equipment for DIY projects and renovations. With more people taking on home improvement projects, plus the integration of smart home technology, the category has seen a noteworthy increase in sales.
Key growth trends include:
- DIY culture and home renovations: The popularity of DIY projects and home renovations has risen, driving sales of tools, power equipment, and construction materials. Consumers seek products that enable them to tackle projects themselves, in turn saving them money and personalizing their homes.
- Smart home technology and automation: Buyers are embracing products such as smart thermostats, home security systems, voice-controlled assistants, and automated lighting systems. These innovations provide convenience, energy efficiency, and enhanced functionality and so are driving sales within the category.
- Home organization and storage solutions: The focus on decluttering and organizing living spaces has driven the popularity of home organization and storage solutions. So, shoppers are buying products such as shelving systems, storage containers, closet organizers, and garage organization solutions.
10. Electronics (est. monthly revenue: $2 billion)
The electronics category includes a wide range of devices, such as smartphones, laptops, TVs, and smart home devices. Advancements like smart home technology and the increasing demand for mobile devices have driven the success of this category.
Key growth trends include:
- Mobile devices and accessories: The demand for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets remains strong. As such, consumers continually seek out the latest models and advancements. Additionally, the market for mobile accessories, including cases, chargers, and wireless headphones, has grown as shoppers look to enhance their mobile experience.
- Smart home technology and connected devices: Buyers are adopting smart speakers, displays, thermostats, and other connected devices to create a seamless, automated living experience. The convenience, energy efficiency, and integration of smart home products have accordingly boosted sales within the category.
- Wearable technology: Wearable technology has become increasingly prevalent in modern society. Customers have embraced smartwatches, fitness trackers, and health monitoring devices to track physical activity, monitor health, and stay connected.
Wrapping up — Find your Amazon store’s next big sales ticket
Understanding the top-selling categories on Amazon and the trends driving their success is crucial for any seller aiming to thrive in this competitive marketplace. But acquiring knowledge is only the first step. From there, you need to:
- Identify your niche: Examine the categories and trends aligning with your product or business idea. Can your product stand out in a specific category? Is there a trend you could capitalize on?
- Understand your customer: Gain insight into what encourages customer purchases. Use that information to become familiar with your target customer’s needs and preferences.
- Tailor your product offering: Can you adapt your product to better fit these trends? For example, if you operate in Amazon’s Beauty & Personal Care category, could you offer products with natural and organic ingredients?
- Market strategically: Apply these trends to your marketing. Emphasize how your product aligns with them in your product descriptions, social media posts, and other marketing materials.
- Optimize your fulfillment: Work with a logistics partner that can help you across a wide range of 3PL services, so no matter which categories you expand to, you’re ready with FBA prep, DTC, and more.
Armed with these insights, you’ll be well equipped to make strategic decisions that drive your success on Amazon.
How to reduce Amazon returns
This is a guest post from Isaac Hadriye, President & CEO of OnSite Support.
Providing a smooth buyer’s journey is an arduous task for Amazon sellers, and returns only add to the complexity. They can result in lost revenue, especially if you can’t resell the item. This is particularly problematic for merchants who sell products with low profit margins. You also have to contend with additional costs like return shipping expenses and Amazon’s refund fees, which can quickly add up and hurt your bottom line.
Through internal research, we found it takes three new sales to make up for each order that’s returned, and with average eCommerce return rates ranging from 20% to 30%, Amazon merchants face potentially huge revenue loss. Preventing returns in the first place is your best defense, as it helps you preserve inventory and maintain a healthy store reputation. We’ll walk you through specific strategies that can turn these minuses into lucrative pluses.
How to minimize returns for your Amazon store
To limit the number of returns you receive on the marketplace, adopt a comprehensive approach consisting of the following tactics.
Include accurate product descriptions and images
One of the most common reasons for returns on Amazon is inaccurate product descriptions and misleading images.
As a buyer, there’s nothing worse than receiving something in the mail and realizing it’s completely different from what you expected. If the discrepancy between what’s on your product listing and what the customer holds in their hand is too great, they’ll likely return it.
Each product listing should be detailed and accurate, with all relevant information clearly laid out, including its uses, dimensions, color, material, technical specifications, compatibility with other products, and even limitations. Also, feature high-quality images and videos from multiple angles to set realistic expectations for customers.
If your item comes in various versions, highlight any differences between each option. If you sell clothes, include a size guide so customers can measure themselves and make the right selection — clothes that don’t fit are certain to be sent back.
Remember, with online shopping, customers are unable to see or feel the item before they buy, so you have to make it as easy as possible for them to understand what they’re buying.
Create engaging videos
People are more likely to purchase if they can see a video of the product in use. Static images are helpful, but being able to show how a product works with movement gives a better idea of what they’re buying. Cover multiple angles and use cases so the customer has all the information they need to make a decision.
Display a clear and easy-to-understand return policy
It may be counterintuitive, but having an easy, no-hassle returns policy goes a long way toward reducing returns because it establishes customers’ trust in you from the start. Customers may avoid you if they know stringent requirements limit their ability to return items. Having a “free returns” option, however, lets them know you care about making them happy.
Concretely outline your return policy on your product listings, including the time frame, the product conditions required for a return to be accepted, and the refund process.
Provide excellent customer service
Lackluster customer service virtually guarantees you’ll experience more returns. Make sure you address every complaint quickly and efficiently. People want to feel their concerns matter, so actively listen to their issues and keep consumers informed of the actions you take. That white-glove service can change their minds before they pull the trigger. Beyond preventing returns, the quality of your customer service can also turn a negative experience into a positive one and thus reinforce brand loyalty.
Provide better technical and quality support by establishing an open, well-structured communication channel with your customers. This allows you to drill down into each buyer’s specific issue and take corrective measures. Sometimes, returns are due to incomplete or inaccurate product information, while in other cases, consumers may require a replacement due to defects, or outright refuse to accept orders if the packaging is damaged. Clear communication is imperative to identify these problems and remedy them correctly.
Another key component of satisfactory customer service is having robust product support for Amazon. Onsite can build a customized landing page for your business where customers can go directly from their order page and find all kinds of resources to help them troubleshoot their purchase letting them hopefully sort their issue before having to return anything.
“Get product support” button directly on Amazon orders
Conduct quality control checks
One of the most effective ways to prevent returns is to perform quality control checks on products before they’re shipped to customers. This entails inspecting for defects, ensuring items are properly packaged, and verifying they meet the specifications outlined in the product listing.
If you use FBA, you can book inspections to make sure everything meets the program’s requirements and that the quality of your fulfillment operation — including both incoming and outgoing shipments — is up to a high standard.
For the incoming shipments, you can verify that what you receive matches what you ordered in terms of product and quantity, as well as check that all inventory has the correct barcode, packaging, and labeling before they arrive at FBA facilities.
From there, you can carry out quality control checks that’ll look at the units themselves and, among other things, inspect that:
- Your products are in good working condition and not damaged or malfunctioning
- Your items are all visually consistent, without blemishes, marks, or inconsistencies
- The size and weight of the items are correct
- All documentation is correct and everything is compliant with local laws and regulations
Be sure to complete additional tests as well like internal checks, color, smell, and even drop tests.
The thoroughness of this process also requires you to maintain good communication with your supplier. Any concerns with the quality of the product or the packaging should be brought up with them as quickly as possible to prevent future stock from having similar issues.
Invest in efficient fulfillment
The less time between someone hitting the “Buy” button and them receiving their item, the better — both for them and your business. For example, if the order takes too long to arrive or is delayed, the customer could decide they’re better off simply going to a physical store and returning your product whenever it arrives.
If you don’t use FBA to fulfill your orders, make sure your third-party provider is reliable. If tardiness becomes a pattern, you could see customers leave you for more efficient sellers.
Use high-quality packaging materials
The more money an item costs, the more upset a customer will be if it arrives in poor condition. So, make sure both product and shipment packaging are sturdy and reliable to protect items from damage during transit.
Look into high-grade bubble wrap, boxes, etc., and consider eco-friendly options to reduce your carbon footprint and appeal to environmentally conscious shoppers. If you find you’re receiving too many returns of a certain item, experiment with different price points if your margin allows.
Monitor customer reviews
Analyze customer reviews to identify any issues triggering returns. You can track feedback on Amazon, social media platforms, and other online forums.
Take charge of managing your customer experience and resolve any issues that arise. Poor communication is often the root cause of both unnecessary returns and poor reviews. So, attend to grievances promptly and effectively to ensure a satisfying experience overall and promote positivity.
Although you can’t completely stop bad reviews, you can at least keep track of them. Rather than ignoring them — which will only cause them to fester and drive away potential new customers — respond to negative feedback as soon as it arises. Remember, everyone will see how you react, so be positive, helpful, and, if need be, apologetic. Clearly convey that you’ll do everything you can to fix the problem. In this way, you can turn a poor opinion of your company into an opportunity for refinement and growth.
Review the data and spot trends
No matter how proactive your efforts, you’ll inevitably receive returns. When something is sent back, one of the most important things to do is find out why. Ask for (and actively review) feedback from customers — their opinions are your best indication of how your products perform in the real world.
Also, keep track of returns data to find any trends affecting your business. Are the returns coming from a particular geographic area? Is it during a specific time of year? Are they more likely to be returned if they’re bundles?
If you can identify the patterns, you can break the return cycle.
Introducing OnSite Support for eCommerce sellers
OnSite Support works directly with Amazon to bring their Product Lifecycle Support (PLS) program to marketplace sellers. Merchants enrolled in this program can display the Get Product Support button on their Amazon customers’ order page, which solicits direct assistance for buyers on the verge of returning a product.
This attentive support significantly reduces returns and negative reviews: Since launching the program, Amazon tracked over 350,000 monthly clicks on the Get Product Support buttons from frustrated buyers. They also reported they were able to avoid returns in approximately 68% of those cases.
Currently, only brands that participate in Amazon’s Brand Registry are allowed to join the Product Lifecycle Support program. To join the Brand Registry, you have to have a trademark or a pending trademark.
Wrapping up — Take a detailed approach to limit returns on Amazon
Slashing unnecessary returns can be a game changer for your bottom line. Refunds eat away at your brand’s profit, and it only takes a few returns to earn a negative ROI from a product launch.
Combine the strategies outlined in this article to cultivate smoother business operations and more satisfied customers. In turn, that improved experience will bring down the number of returns you receive and garner more positive customer feedback.
How and Why to Outsource Your Amazon seller account
This is a guest post from Minhas M, an SPCTEK Amazon consultant with several years of experience in the eCommerce industry. Minhas has helped numerous businesses achieve success on the Amazon marketplace. With a passion for technology and a deep understanding of the platform’s complex algorithms, he has built a reputation as a go-to expert for businesses looking to increase their sales and visibility on Amazon.
Running a successful Amazon seller account requires dedication, expertise, and careful management. However, as your business grows, overseeing all aspects of your account can become overwhelming. At that point, it may be worth your time and money to hire a professional agency. In this article, I’ll explain why outsourcing the management of your Amazon seller account is a smart move, which tasks to pass off, and what to look for when choosing a service provider.
Why outsource your Amazon seller account?
To run an Amazon seller account effectively, you have to devote significant effort, especially as your store expands. By outsourcing the process though, you enjoy several benefits, including:
Saved time: Outsourcing tasks such as product listing, inventory management, order fulfillment, and customer service frees up time to focus on core business activities. You can concentrate on product development, sourcing, and expanding your brand while a third party handles the day-to-day operations.
Scalability: A professional service will ensure your account management scales alongside your business. These providers have the necessary infrastructure, technology, and resources to handle a large volume of products, orders, and customer inquiries, providing a seamless experience for your buyers.
Enhanced product listing optimization: Optimizing product listings for maximum visibility and conversions is critical to secure sales on Amazon. Hiring experts for this task will ensure your listings are well crafted, keyword-rich, and appealing to shoppers.
More efficient order fulfillment: Efficient order fulfillment is essential to meet customer expectations. Outsourcing the process to fulfillment centers or logistics providers can streamline operations, reduce shipping costs, and ensure timely delivery to maintain customer satisfaction and a positive business reputation.
Professional customer service: Exceptional customer service contributes greatly to a positive reputation on Amazon. When you let professionals take over, you can feel confident that all customer inquiries are addressed promptly and respectfully. These providers are trained in Amazon-specific queries, which enables them to resolve issues quickly and maintain high customer satisfaction.
Robust reporting and analytics: Professional service providers often have robust reporting and analytics tools to monitor and analyze your Amazon account’s performance. They yield valuable data on sales, consumer behavior, advertising effectiveness, and inventory management. Leveraging these analytics can help you make data-driven decisions and optimize your strategies for improved results.
Amazon account management elements to outsource
While every business has unique needs, there are some common aspects of Amazon account management that you should consider outsourcing.
Product listing optimization
If your Amazon product listings struggle to generate sales, it’s time to refine and hone them. Hiring a service to optimize your product listings ensures they’re keyword-rich, well structured, and appealing to potential customers. Expert service providers can conduct thorough keyword research, write compelling product descriptions, and strengthen titles, bullet points, and back-end search terms, resulting in improved search rankings and increased sales.
Efficiently managed inventory is vital to avoid stockouts and maintain a positive customer experience. Outsourcing inventory management allows you to optimize stock levels, track inventory performance, and implement effective replenishment strategies. Service providers can set up inventory management systems, forecast demand, and ensure seamless integration with your supply chain to reduce the risk of inventory-related issues.
Outsourcing order fulfillment to specialized fulfillment centers or third-party logistics providers ensures fast, accurate, and cost-effective order processing and shipping. These services have the infrastructure and expertise to handle picking, packing, shipping, and tracking so you’re assured every order reaches its destination on time and in pristine condition.
Professional customer service companies provide prompt and efficient handling of customer inquiries, order issues, and returns. Those with expertise in Amazon-related customer support can handle a high volume of inquiries, offer multi-channel assistance, and ensure timely resolution to problems.
Running successful advertising campaigns on Amazon requires expertise in campaign setup, optimization, and analysis. Outsourcing your advertising efforts to experienced professionals can help you maximize your return on investment (ROI). They can develop and manage targeted campaigns, optimize keyword bidding, and monitor performance to ensure your ad spend generates the desired results, ultimately boosting visibility and sales.
Building a positive review profile is crucial for establishing trust and credibility with potential customers. By handing off review management to service providers, you can monitor and respond to reviews with prompt and professional customer engagement. These third-party services can help you implement strategies to increase positive reviews, address negative feedback, and maintain a favorable reputation on the platform.
Account health and performance monitoring
Monitoring your account’s health and performance metrics is essential for uncovering areas in need of improvement and mitigating risks. Outsourced professionals will regularly review your account, identify issues, such as policy violations or performance discrepancies, and provide actionable insights to optimize performance. This proactive approach helps you maintain a healthy account and minimizes the possibility of suspension or penalties.
Competitor research and analysis
To stay competitive on Amazon, it’s crucial to understand your competitors’ strategies and market dynamics. Specialized agencies can provide valuable insights into pricing trends, product assortment, marketing tactics, and customer preferences. These insights enable you to fine-tune your strategies and differentiate your offerings to gain a competitive edge.
Expanding your business to international Amazon marketplaces can be a complex endeavor. However, partnering with experts who are familiar with different regions’ regulations, cultural nuances, and customer preferences can streamline the process. These professionals can assist with product translation, localization, market research, and compliance.
What to look for in a service provider
When selecting a professional agency to outsource your Amazon seller account, consider the following factors:
- Experience and track record: Look for providers with a proven history of working with Amazon sellers and delivering tangible results. Assess their client portfolio, read testimonials, and check case studies to gauge their expertise and success in managing Amazon accounts. An experienced provider will have a deep understanding of the platform’s intricacies and be equipped to handle various challenges that may arise.
- Range of services: Verify that the service offerings align with your specific needs. Choose a provider that offers a comprehensive suite of services to cover all aspects of account management. This ensures seamless integration and consistent performance across your Amazon business.
- Communication and transparency: Your chosen provider must maintain clear and open lines of communication. They should provide regular updates on the progress and performance of your account, be responsive to your inquiries and concerns, and designate a point of contact for you. Transparent reporting is also essential to track key metrics, assess the effectiveness of strategies, and make informed decisions.
- Expertise in your niche or category: Different product categories have unique challenges and require specialized knowledge. Potential partners should have a demonstrated understanding of the nuances of selling within your category and be able to provide valuable insights and recommendations. Familiarity with your niche’s market dynamics, customer preferences, and competition allows them to tailor strategies and optimize performance.
- Pricing structure and ROI: Evaluate the value a service provides compared to the cost. While price is an important factor, focus on the provider’s ability to deliver a positive ROI for your business. Assess their pricing models (i.e., a flat fee, percentage of sales, a combination) and consider the level of expertise, range of services, and expected outcomes when determining their overall value proposition. Look for providers who demonstrate measurable results.
Hiring a professional agency to run your Amazon seller account offers numerous advantages, including access to platform expertise, time savings, scalability, and enhanced efficiency. Careful consideration of which aspects to outsource, coupled with a meticulous selection process for a service provider, will help you unlock the full potential of your Amazon seller account and drive sustainable growth for your business.
Fortifying Your Cargo Against Cybersecurity Threats in 2023
This is a guest post from David L. Buss. David is CEO of DB Schenker North America, a 150-year-old leading global freight forwarder and 3PL provider. He’s responsible for all P&L aspects in the North American region, which comprises over 7,000 employees located throughout 39 forwarding locations and 55 logistics centers.
Over the past few years, cybersecurity has become an increasingly significant concern for businesses across all industries. Organizations whose operations rely heavily on digital systems face graver consequences from cybercrime as technology evolves. This issue is predicted to continue its upward trend well into 2023 and beyond.
Cargo transport businesses in particular have become vulnerable to cyberattacks, because the shipping industry depends on digital systems to track and process cargo. That makes this sector an attractive target for online thieves.
Now more than ever, it’s crucial for businesses to take proactive measures against cyberattacks on their cargo and other transportation systems to safeguard their operations’ integrity.
How cargo system vulnerabilities can lead to cyberattacks
From improved operational efficiency to enhanced security, advancements in technology have brought numerous benefits to the cargo transportation industry.
Unfortunately, it’s also raised the risk of cyberattacks.
Cybercriminals are constantly on the lookout for operational vulnerabilities to exploit. Whether it’s hacking into cargo databases or intercepting communications between cargo ships, there are numerous ways hackers can attack cargo systems, with two of the most common being:
- Software vulnerabilities: Attackers take advantage of weak points in the software that manages cargo transportation to access systems and extract sensitive information or disrupt operations. These vulnerabilities are often due to outdated software, unpatched systems, or weak passwords.
- Phishing schemes: Phishing involves tricking unsuspecting users into divulging sensitive information, such as login credentials or personal information, by posing as a legitimate website or service. In the cargo transportation industry, these attacks can leak confidential information about shipments or even result in rerouting shipments to different locations.
Due to increasing technological integrations in cargo transportation, companies must be aware of the weak points in their systems and take appropriate measures to defend against cyberattacks.
10 Expert-recommended strategies for protecting cargo from cyber threats
Given the number of connected devices in a business, the growth of data-driven operations, and companies’ reliance on software and networks, cargo system weaknesses constitute a significant concern. The rise of cyber threats has made it essential for companies to adopt practices to secure their cargo.
I’ve outlined 10 expert-recommended strategies to prevent or mitigate cyberattacks and keep your cargo safe.
1. Regularly update software
Like personal computers and mobile devices, cargo systems must have up-to-date software.
Outdated applications, firmware, and operating systems are more vulnerable to cyberattacks. So, it’s essential to implement an automated patching process to ensure updates are applied quickly. Regularly doing so hinders digital thieves from exploiting vulnerabilities in a system.
You should also remove software that’s no longer supported, as it receives no new patches and so is more prone to attacks.
2. Implement strong access controls
Access controls are the mechanisms that limit authorization to sensitive systems, applications, and data. Robust access controls are critical for securing cargo from cyber threats. As such, your business should implement least-privilege strategies, meaning users and accounts only have the minimum required permissions. You can also use multifactor authentication and other advanced tactics to restrict access to the right individuals.
Be mindful of insider threats as well, which are one of the leading causes of cyberattacks. Strong access controls help stop insider threats in their tracks by limiting users’ access to sensitive information. Regularly review and update your access control mechanisms to maintain their efficacy.
3. Conduct risk assessments
Prevention is your strongest defense, so schedule periodic risk assessments internally and with your 3PL fulfillment partners. Risk assessments identify vulnerabilities and provide actionable insights to protect against cyber threats.
Your company should also develop a risk management plan that includes ongoing monitoring of risk factors and the implementation of appropriate countermeasures.
Risk assessments must take into account various scenarios and potential attack vectors. Focus on pinpointing your most critical assets and prioritizing security to avoid emerging threats and tighten your safety practices.
4. Train employees
Educate your employees on how to identify and respond to cyber threats. They should clearly understand their role and responsibility in protecting cargo from digital attackers. Consider introducing a training program that teaches employees about common attacks, how to recognize potential threats, and how to report incidents.
5. Encrypt sensitive data
Encryption is a mandatory strategy to protect sensitive information from online threats. Verify that all sensitive data is encrypted when stored and transmitted. To secure that information, you can adopt industry-standard encryption mechanisms like AES or RSA.
Thanks to encryption, even if an attacker can access your data, they’ll be unable to read it without the appropriate decryption key. As such, you need to manage and store decryption keys securely.
6. Establish incident response plans
An incident response plan details a set of actions to perform during a security breach or cyberattack. It should be explicit and outline the roles and responsibilities of personnel involved in the response, including senior management, IT staff, and external stakeholders such as law enforcement agencies. Test the procedure to ensure it works and covers all bases.
A robust incident response plan should include the following elements:
- Identification of all assets within the IT infrastructure
- A procedure for prioritizing incidents based on severity level
- A clear communication outline that identifies all stakeholders involved and how communication will flow during the incident
- Secure data backups to restore operations to normal after a successful attack
- Guidelines for training and preparing employees to detect cyber threats and follow the incident response plan
Proper training of all personnel is essential to ensure the plan’s effectiveness. Run regular drills and training sessions to keep everyone updated on the latest procedures and best practices for handling online incidents.
7. Monitor and audit systems
To identify potential vulnerabilities and cyber threats, regularly monitor and audit your IT systems. This includes logging activities on the network and system, monitoring access attempts to critical systems, and reviewing reports from security software. Continuous monitoring helps detect any unusual activity, such as changes to system files, unauthorized access attempts, and new malware infections.
Auditing system configurations and software changes are vital as well to configure your system and apply up-to-date software patches. It helps isolate system issues, detect security gaps, and provide corrective measures.
8. Employ network segmentation
Network segmentation is the process of dividing more extensive networks into smaller, more secure subnetworks, or segments. Each segment is generally isolated from the others, with its own network device and security protocols. That individual security limits the potential damage of a successful cyberattack since hackers can only access a small portion of the overall system.
Employing network segmentation ensures any unauthorized access to sensitive data can’t spread throughout the entire network. Separating the network also makes it easier to isolate any further compromises and quarantine the impacted systems. This approach simplifies the identification of unusual activities in the network and helps determine how to protect sensitive data.
9. Maintain physical security
While cybersecurity is a significant concern, physical security is equally important in protecting cargo. To guarantee the physical safety of a cargo system, you must store all cargo safely, track access strictly, and secure equipment and the site itself.
You can adopt several measures to maintain physical security, such as:
- Establishing security policies for cargo storage and movement
- Employing strict identification procedures for visitors, employees, contractors, and suppliers
- Setting access controls that restrict entry to authorized personnel only, as well as area redundancy
- Monitoring the supply chain constantly
- Reviewing and updating security protocols to account for evolving threats
10. Collaborate with industry partners
Industry-wide partnerships enable cargo operators to swap experiences, best practices, and resources to tackle data security problems in their niche. They can also uncover shared vulnerabilities, develop workable security solutions, and detect slow or emerging attacks.
Your collaborations may entail exchanging visibility on threat intelligence, cooperating on security research projects, and calling for mutual defensive measures. The information transmitted in these partnerships is invaluable for identifying imminent threats and taking appropriate steps to mitigate the impact on your cargo operations.
Wrapping up — Keep your shipments safe by implementing the right security protocols
Maintaining secure cargo requires a multi-faceted approach that includes network segmentation, physical security measures, and strategic industry partnerships. By taking the necessary steps to protect your shipments from cyber threats, you can minimize the risk of data breaches and ensure their safety.
How to perform Amazon product research in 2023
This is a guest post from Jordi Ordoñez. Jordi is an Amazon seller consultant who has written and participated in La Vanguardia, Shopify, Prestashop, Radio Nacional de España, Capital Radio, El Español, Revista Emprendedores, Brainsins, Marketing4ecommerce, eCommerce-news.es, SEMRush and other media. He provides Amazon training at The Valley, Foxize, EOI, Esic and other business schools.
For Amazon sellers, it’s essential to conduct thorough product research before releasing a new item or even launching variations of your existing lines. The marketplace competition is fierce: Merchants face white hat and black hat sellers, plus Amazon Retail and Amazon white brands — sometimes all four in the same niche!
Without proper research, it’s challenging to find a lucrative product and matching supplier. To add to the complexity, you need to analyze your niche as a whole for useful industry insights. Thankfully, powerful tools like Helium 10 and Jungle Scout are available to simplify this undertaking. They’re designed to identify what works and what doesn’t, streamlining the product research process for you.
Along with explaining the value for your store, I’ll walk you through how to conduct Amazon product research and show how each tool works.
The importance of product research
To avoid running a generic Amazon seller profile, you need to conduct exhaustive product research. Anyone can find an item using Jungle Scout, source it on Alibaba, and start selling it on Amazon. That includes your competitors and even the item manufacturer, who almost always offers a better product and pricing by cutting out the middle man.
So, you need to uncover a more competitive option, and the only way is to dig deep into product research (hence the need for robust tools). This extends to your suppliers as well; a typical manufacturer that appeals to the masses might not be your best bet. You should also consider less mainstream options like Tmall, 1688, Spocket, HyperSKU, DH Gate, Made-in-china, and trades and fairs.
Based on my experience, I’ve pinpointed the characteristics of a great product, which I’ve broken down below.
You can find great manufacturers in many countries like Turkey, Poland, Mexico, Hungary, India, or Pakistan, to name a few. I personally love sourcing from countries that are connected to my own by road and train so I have at least two alternatives to freight shipping to ensure prompt delivery. After all, if the product performs great on Amazon, you don’t want to wait three or four weeks to refill it.
Let’s say you analyze the market, settle on a great idea and manufacturer, and build your product. You’ll want to protect your idea so the same manufacturer or other clients don’t steal or copy it, so go for patentable ideas.
The right product for Amazon FBA is a $25–$30 tier product that’s small and shippable in two days. However, if you opt for high-ticket products, that means fewer competitors and bigger profits. Think outside of the box when it comes to product research.
A product should be able to grow and diversify. After all, it’s easier to launch a new variation than an entire product.
Finally, try to find products that can expand to other categories or subcategories, or even beyond Amazon. If you sell a sports item, for example, look to sell it on Walmart, Decathlon, Sprinter, Tradeinn, and other online marketplaces.
What is Helium 10?
Helium 10 is a powerful suite of tools designed for Amazon sellers. It provides a range of features to help you optimize your eCommerce business, including product and keyword research, listing optimization, and much more. Helium 10’s product research tool is particularly useful for finding profitable items to sell on Amazon. As an Amazon seller myself, I use both Helium 10 Black Box and Xray, which is a Helium 10 Chrome Extension.
What is Jungle Scout?
Jungle Scout is another popular tool designed for Amazon sellers, with a focus on product and keyword research. Their tool provides detailed information about items like sales data, pricing, and reviews to help you find profitable products that meet your criteria.
Both Helium 10 and Jungle Scout’s tools contain millions of products on their databases, but the key to finding great ones is how you analyze the data.
A step-by-step guide to Amazon product research
Step 1: Define your product criteria
Before you start your product research, you must define your product criteria, including product category, price range, sales volume, competition level, and the like. These help you narrow your search to find products that meet your requirements. I myself prefer to stick to categories I already know or products I have experience with. Avoid categories like:
- Promotional categories: The ones that have 50% or more of their products discounted
- Amazon Retail populated categories: Unless you have a strong brand or a different USP, selling something like coffee, which has lots of established brands under Amazon Retail plus Happy Belly and Solimo (Amazon’s own brands), is a bad idea
- Chinese sellers populated categories: Low pricing and margins, listing hijacking risks
Step 2: Use Helium 10’s Black Box tool
Once you’ve defined your product criteria, you can use Helium 10’s Black Box tool to search for products that meet your requirements. (I prefer to start my journey using Black Box and Xray, then move to Jungle Scout.)
Black Box is a powerful tool that allows you to filter products based on a range of criteria, including product category, sales volume, and price range. It also provides data on factors like estimated monthly revenue, review count, and ratings.
The filters I like to apply are:
- High growth products
- Low rating products
- New products skyrocketing sales
- Large/Oversized products with no SFP
You can learn more about using Helium 10’s filters strategically in this article I wrote.
Consider other markets as well. According to Jungle Scout’s “State of the Amazon Seller 2022” report, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Australia, and Japan are Amazon’s fastest-growing marketplaces.
Of course, always look for new ideas and angles in product research. Helium 10 has some great posts on how to find keywords with a high search volume and a low number of indexed competitors quickly, or how to use their tools for competitor analysis.
Step 3: Analyze product data using Jungle Scout
After you’ve listed potential products with Helium 10’s Black Box tool, you can turn to Jungle Scout to analyze the data further. Jungle Scout provides sales data, pricing, reviews, and other critical product information. That can help you identify items with high demand and low competition. Jungle Scout’s database is 475 million products long and growing, so you’re all but guaranteed to find a lucrative investment.
The keyword research tool is also great to help you calculate margins based on the products’ related keywords cost per click (e.g., broad match, exact match keywords) so you gain a more detailed look at your potential profit and loss.
Step 4: Validate your product ideas using Helium 10’s Xray tool
Now that you’ve identified potential products using Jungle Scout, you can embrace Helium 10’s Xray tool to validate your ideas’ profitability. Xray uncovers data on factors like sales volume, revenue, and competition level and allows you to analyze the keywords being used for top-ranking products in your category.
I like to look for:
- % of Amazon Retail listings in the niche
- % of Amazon Brands in the niche
- % of popular/known brands in the niche
- % of Chinese sellers in the niche (nearly half of the top third-party sellers on Amazon are based in China)
- If my competitors use lots of variations
- Daily Sales Velocity to rank on page 1
- If there are any products with only a few reviews on page 1 (this implies I can generate sales without having lots of reviews and rank on page 1)
Other elements you need to check manually include:
- The number of sponsored products on pages 1 and 2
- The presence of any sponsored brand videos
- If your competitors use A+ pages
- If your competitors use discounts
Helium 10’s Chrome Extension is also useful to download, as it reveals ASIN per ASIN and the 5,000 main reviews on your competitors so you can explore bad reviews to pinpoint product weaknesses.
Step 5: Finalize your product selection
After analyzing your data using Helium 10 and Jungle Scout, you should have a strong list of potential products that meet your criteria. It’s essential to evaluate each of them carefully and choose the one that fulfills your requirements. Consider factors like profit margins, competition level, and demand when making your final selection.
To search existing products and their popularity, Helium 10’s Xray has an “Alibaba Suppliers” feature that checks for items on Alibaba, while Jungle Scout boasts its own supplier database. You can also use the free Aliprice Chrome Extension to reverse look up product images on Alibaba, Tmall, Aliexpress, JD, 1688, and other Asian Marketplaces.
You need to introduce new products regularly to keep your store’s catalog fresh and your profit margins healthy. Performing Amazon product research with Helium 10 and Jungle Scout is an efficient way to find lucrative items to sell on Amazon.
Define your product criteria and learn your niche to build a list of options. Then, narrow it down through manual research using Helium 10’s Black Box tool or Xray extension, as well as Jungle Scout’s product database.
Remember to evaluate each candidate carefully and select the product that offers the best profitability and has both low competition and high demand. By relying on these tools, you’re sure to find your next Amazon bestseller.
Carrier contract negotiation: How to negotiate with FedEx and UPS
This is a guest post from Refund Retriever President Brian Gibbs. Brian founded Refund Retriever in 2006 while running his first eBay-based business and seeing the shortcomings of other shipment auditing companies. Refund Retriever’s primary focus is FedEx and UPS parcel invoice auditing. Gibbs has been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur, and other publications discussing parcel auditing, shipping, eCommerce, and more.
FedEx and UPS are vital partners for your business, but unfortunately, fulfilling through them is only becoming more expensive and problematic. That’s why it’s essential to negotiate your carrier contracts to your benefit so you can continue selling your product. (As an owner, you should know well how much the cost of shipping affects your business.)
Introducing more strategic planning into your parcel contract negotiations can enable you to optimize shipping expenses, counterbalance rate increases, and fulfill your customers’ demands more efficiently. For most retailers, shipping and transportation costs account for at least one-third of their budgets, so it’s imperative to research and understand all aspects of carrier agreements before signing to ensure you maximize your savings.
What do carrier contract negotiations entail?
During carrier contract negotiations, each party discusses and agrees upon the details of their partnership. Then, the carrier creates a shipping contract that includes the terms and conditions of said relationship.
The carrier will then issue a proposed agreement for the shipper to sign electronically. Once the proposed contract goes into effect, future shipment pricing will abide by these terms.
Contract carriers want to maximize their profit margins, not yours, and their aggressive tactics reflect this mindset: Pre-negotiated shipping rates are expensive, and your post-negotiation rates will usually be inconsistent with similarly sized shippers. The harsh reality is, parcel carriers operate under a duopoly — two major carriers (FedEx and UPS) control the industry rates.
Understanding UPS contracts
UPS contracts usually feature individual sections for specific pricing items, including accessorial fees, refunds, surcharges, and incentives. The carrier issues a new rate proposal based on the shipper’s volume every time a new shipping contract replaces an older one. This means any price changes at the time of contract renewal will affect all UPS service levels.
The initial pages of a UPS contract outline general information related to UPS customers and the term duration and termination clause.
Under Addendum A of your UPS agreement, you’ll find information about customers’ shipper accounts and commodity tiers. Addendum B is most shippers’ focus during the contract negotiation process, as it includes terms related to portfolio tier incentives, minimum charges, guaranteed discounts, applicable DIM weight factors, and fee adjustments. Fee adjustments relate to accessories like additional handling, residential, and delivery area surcharges.
Understanding FedEx contracts
FedEx agreements are separated into subsections for the Ground and Express service levels. Make sure you have all current carrier agreements on hand before reviewing parcel shipping rates.
The first few pages of FedEx contracts discuss the general terms and agreements (i.e., automation, unexpected volume, and confidentiality) between the carrier and the shipper. Next are separate pricing pages for domestic and international shipping. They include information about shipping volume and applicable discounts based on your total shipping spend over the last 52 weeks.
Other notable terms are minimum transportation charges on domestic shipments and discounts offered on international shipping under domestic pricing or based on shipping volume.
Towards the end of your FedEx agreement, you’ll find accessorial and dimensional weight concessions terms, including applicable discounts on FedEx Ground, Express, Air, and other service levels. Accessorial fee reductions have term limits, which expire and will cause your shipping to increase if missed.
How to negotiate with FedEx and UPS
The foundation of a successful carrier contract negotiation is leveraging your data and established relationship. When planning how to haggle rates with carriers, remember that your carrier wants to retain your business.
1. Minimum charge impact
All service levels have a minimum charge for each package. The standard minimum charge is usually a Zone 2, one-pound package. For 2023 FedEx and UPS ground, this is a charge of $10.10; no matter your discounts, you’ll pay a minimum of $10.10 for that shipment, so it’s important to know how many of your packages hit this mark. Then, determine how much discount to obtain on the minimum charges.
2. Properly structure earned discount tiers
Many shippers aren’t aware of this, but carrier contract negotiations can occur at any time. While earned discount tiers can be beneficial in providing further incentives, you want to monitor your gross spending and understand the entirety of your contract, including your discount tiers. These tiers and the discounts associated with them are negotiable.
3. Beware of Guaranteed Service Refund (GSR) waivers
Some carrier agreements will incorporate a GSR waiver, so it’s imperative that you read the details of your contract. Never sign an agreement that precludes you from receiving refunds when you deserve them. In many cases, this will be a last-minute addition from the carrier to increase their margins. When performing a thorough audit of your FedEx or UPS invoice, we typically see anywhere from a 1%–4% return on total spend when filing claims for late deliveries, manifested-not-shipped mistakes, erroneous residential charges, etc.
4. Know your shipping data
It’s vital to study your shipping history before every carrier contract negotiation. Being unaware of factors like parcel expenses, shipping zones, package weights and sizes, and dim divisor places you at a disadvantage. When your carrier knows your shipping data more intimately than you, it’s nearly impossible to negotiate a better deal. In many cases, hiring a professional audit firm like Refund Retriever that has powerful reporting can provide the information needed to gain leverage over FedEx or UPS.
When to negotiate with FedEx and UPS
Any time you see a significant increase or decrease in your shipping volume, reevaluate your agreement. You could be losing valuable tier-level discounts or missing out on additional volume discounts. Further, FedEx accessorial fee discounts have a term limit; when the time expires, FedEx will charge full price for accessorial fees, so know how long your agreements last.
Navigating shipping contracts can feel intimidating and time-consuming, and contract management, negotiation, and renegotiation tend to be long processes. However, most customers think they’ve already negotiated the lowest price and so sign contracts without calculating savings.
FedEx and UPS carrier contracts contain confusing language, underlying clauses, and other subtle details that often go overlooked, including yearly rate increases, overcharges, shipment exceptions, and late deliveries — all of which hurt your bottom line. Further, poorly implemented shipping and pricing agreements can generate additional excessive overspending. Negotiation is thus essential to control your business’s shipping costs.
As a valued customer, you can review and renegotiate with your provider to continue enjoying the best prices, and Refund Retriever’s carrier contract negotiation experts can help with every stage of the process.
Navigating Amazon’s policies: How to avoid suspension and keep your account in good standing
This is a guest post from AMZ Sellers Attorney. They work exclusively with Amazon sellers to appeal account suspensions successfully and get their clients back to selling.
Amazon is one of the largest online marketplaces in the world, where individuals and businesses sell their products to a global audience. With over 2.5 million active third-party sellers on the platform, competition is fierce, so sellers need to be diligent in adhering to Amazon’s policies to avoid suspension, which can be a costly disadvantage.
In this article, we discuss Amazon’s policies, their importance, and how you can navigate them to keep your account in good standing.
What are Amazon’s policies?
Amazon has a long list of rules and regulations that merchants must abide by when selling on their platform. These policies are in place to ensure a fair and safe marketplace for both sellers and buyers.
Third-party sellers are further bound by Amazon’s Business Solutions Agreement (BSA). The BSA governs the use of Amazon’s business services, including the selling of products on the marketplace. Key points to note in the BSA include:
- Amazon’s right to suspend or terminate accounts that violate the agreement or cause harm to Amazon’s customers or brand
- A requirement to maintain accurate and up-to-date account information, including contact information and tax identification numbers
- Obligations to comply with applicable laws and regulations, including product safety and intellectual property laws
- Amazon’s right to withhold or deduct funds in the event of customer disputes or chargebacks
- A dispute resolution process that generally requires arbitration and prohibits class actions.
The major policies to know
Some of the most important policies to be aware of are those that deal with product detail pages, prohibited content, reviews, and logistics.
Product detail pages
These rules cover a wide range of topics, from product images and descriptions to their pricing. Sellers must accurately describe items and follow Amazon’s guidelines for product listings. This ensures customers have a clear understanding of what they’re purchasing and reduces the risk of returns and negative feedback.
The policies for product detail pages deal with:
- Accurate product information: Sellers must provide correct information about their products, including descriptions, images, and pricing. It must be consistent with the product being sold and not mislead shoppers.
- Images: Amazon sets regulations for product images that specify their quality, size, and content. Images must accurately represent the product being sold and contain no watermarks, logos, or other branding unrelated to the product.
- Titles and descriptions: Product titles and descriptions need to detail the product being sold clearly, avoiding any promotional language or misleading information. Titles should be concise and to the point so customers are well aware of what they’re purchasing. Meanwhile, descriptions should be detailed and informative, giving customers all the information they need to make an informed decision.
- Pricing: An item’s cost can’t be arbitrary; Amazon establishes minimum and maximum allowable prices, as well as rules for price comparisons and discounts.
Amazon also prohibits the sale of certain products they consider to be illegal or harmful, such as:
- Counterfeit items: Amazon takes counterfeiting very seriously and has strict policies in place to prevent the sale of counterfeit items. Sellers must be able to provide proof of authenticity for any products they sell, and Amazon may take legal action against those who violate these regulations.
- Illegal drugs: These include prescription drugs that aren’t approved for sale in the United States.
- Tobacco products: This category includes cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco.
- Hazardous materials: Amazon prohibits the sale of hazardous materials like chemicals and other substances that could be harmful to customers or the environment.
Customer reviews are crucial to a seller’s success on the platform. Positive feedback helps boost sales and improves product visibility, while negative ratings can damage a seller’s reputation and harm their sales. Because sellers can manipulate consumer opinion to their advantage, it’s important to adhere to Amazon’s rules and guidelines regarding customer reviews.
One of their most prominent policies states that sellers are prohibited from offering incentives such as gift cards or other rewards in exchange for positive reviews. Additionally, sellers aren’t allowed to post reviews for their own products, solicit reviews from family and friends, or ask customers to alter their reviews.
Due to the recent case involving The Bountiful Company, Amazon has also taken harsh steps to combat fake reviews on the marketplace, including lawsuits and permanently banning brands for review fraud. The company has established policies to prevent review abuse and continuously monitors for violations. Amazon receives millions of global reviews every week, which they analyze before publishing using skilled investigators and sophisticated, industry-leading tools. Thanks to this diligence, more than 99% of products customers view in Amazon’s stores contain only authentic reviews.
Intellectual property rights
Intellectual property rights (IPR) are a critical aspect of selling on Amazon, so merchants must have the appropriate rights to sell their products on the platform. Amazon takes IPR seriously and has developed a number of tools and programs to help sellers protect their intellectual property and ensure they don’t infringe on the rights of others.
One way merchants can protect their IPR is through Amazon’s Brand Registry program. The program provides a number of tools to help sellers defend their brand, including store creation and management, access to advanced search tools, and the ability to report instances of infringement directly to Amazon. To participate in the Brand Registry program, merchants must have a registered trademark for their brand. Once enrolled, they can monitor their brand and report any instances of infringement with ease. The program also offers customized product detail pages and automatic brand protections.
Additionally, Amazon has developed a number of policies and procedures to govern the use of intellectual property on the platform to ensure merchants avoid infringing on others’ IPR. These include strict rules concerning the use of trademarks, copyrights, and patents, as well as guidelines for product listings and descriptions.
For instance, sellers have to keep invoices showing the provenance of the products they purchase from suppliers. These invoices must contain sufficient detail so Amazon can identify the brand name, the product, the supplier, the merchant, and the number of units. That information helps Amazon verify the authenticity of the items sold on the platform and combats the sale of counterfeit goods.
Despite these efforts to protect IPR though, instances of infringement still occur. According to a recent report, Amazon remains a hotbed for counterfeiters, with many using the platform to sell fake or knockoff versions of popular items. In response, Amazon announced a number of initiatives aimed at cracking down on counterfeit goods and protecting brands’ intellectual property. These include the creation of a Counterfeit Crimes Unit dedicated to fighting counterfeit goods on the platform, as well as the use of advanced machine learning algorithms to detect and remove counterfeit listings.
Shipping and fulfillment
Customers expect fast and reliable shipping, and sellers have to meet that expectation to maintain a positive reputation and grow their business. In that regard, Amazon also enforces specific policies, such as requirements for how quickly orders should be shipped, how to handle returns, and the use of tracking information for each order.
Merchants are required to ship orders within the time frame specified in their shipping settings. They can adjust those settings to reflect their available shipping methods and the time it takes to prepare an item for shipment. In general, Amazon recommends sellers ship orders within two business days of receiving an order notification.
Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) is an Amazon service that allows merchants to store their products in the company’s fulfillment centers. When a customer places an order, Amazon handles the picking, packing, and shipping of the item, as well as any customer service inquiries or returns. This can be a convenient option for vendors who want to take advantage of Amazon’s fast and reliable delivery options without having to manage their own inventory and logistics.
Returns also require care and attention to avoid negative feedback and penalties. In general, customers are allowed to return items within 30 days of delivery for a full refund, provided the item is in new, resellable condition. Sellers are responsible for providing a return shipping label and handling any customer service inquiries related to returns (unless they opt in to FBA).
Proper tracking of every order is essential for both the seller and the buyer. Tracking information allows merchants to monitor the progress of the shipment and ensure it arrives at the customer’s address on time. It also gives the customer peace of mind and avoids potential disputes or claims of non-delivery.
Why Amazon’s policies are important
Adhering to Amazon’s policies is not only important for avoiding suspension but also for maintaining a good reputation on the platform. Amazon has become a household name for online shopping and is known for its customer-centric approach. As a result, shoppers have high expectations for product quality, pricing, and shipping times. Sellers who violate Amazon’s policies and fail to meet these demands risk hurting their reputation and losing consumer trust. This leads to negative reviews and feedback as well, which further damage your store’s name and make it difficult to attract new buyers.
Customers are less likely to trust a merchant who’s been suspended, even after their account is reinstated. It’s also difficult to regain the confidence of current shoppers once you’ve been suspended.
These consequences snowball into a loss of revenue for your store. Amazon is a highly competitive marketplace, and sellers must constantly work to differentiate themselves and win over customers. If you’re suspended, your products will be removed from the platform and you’ll be unable to generate sales until your account is reinstated.
To complicate things further, Amazon has strict procedures in place for appealing suspensions: Sellers must provide detailed plans of action outlining the steps they’ll take to prevent future violations, as well as demonstrate a thorough understanding of Amazon’s policies and guidelines. The appeals process can thus be lengthy and may require the assistance of a qualified Amazon appeals specialist or attorney.
Navigating Amazon’s policies
Abiding by Amazon’s rules can be challenging, but it’s essential for maintaining a healthy account. Here are some tips for navigating Amazon’s policies successfully:
- Read the policies: The first and most important step is to read the rules thoroughly, which are readily available on Amazon’s website. This will help you understand what’s expected of you and what you need to do to stay in compliance.
- Stay up to date: Amazon’s policies change frequently, so it’s imperative to keep up with any changes or updates. Regularly check Amazon’s policy pages and subscribe to Amazon’s seller newsletter to stay ahead of the curve.
- Use Amazon’s tools: Amazon offers a suite of tools to help merchants stay in compliance with their policies. These include the Product Listing Quality Dashboard, which displays how your product detail pages perform and highlights areas for improvement, as well as the Brand Registry and Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), which we discussed earlier.
- Monitor your account: Check your accounts regularly to ensure you’re in compliance with Amazon’s policies. This includes monitoring product detail pages, customer feedback, and order metrics. Taking these actions hones in on issues early so you can address them before they become significant problems.
- Respond to Amazon notifications promptly: If Amazon notifies you of a policy violation, it’s essential to respond quickly and take the necessary steps to rectify the situation. Failure to respond promptly can result in account suspension, so take these notifications seriously.
- Seek professional help: Navigating Amazon’s policies can be a maze-like undertaking, especially for successful Amazon merchants who are busy maintaining supply chains and managing resources. The platform’s internal appeals process can be even more convoluted, prompting many sellers to seek professional assistance. An Appeals Service like Amazon Sellers Attorney offers free consultation to help you understand the marketplace rules, maintain a healthy account standing, and reinstate suspended accounts. Their supervising attorney, Kenneth Eade, also provides legal services concerning intellectual property and Brand Registry support, as well as arbitration.
Wrapping up — Follow Amazon’s rules to stay competitive with uninterrupted operations
Amazon’s policies are crucial to understand and comply with to ensure your store runs smoothly. They cover product detail pages, prohibited content, customer reviews, intellectual property rights, shipping and fulfillment, and other important topics. Failure to abide by these rules can result in negative consequences like account suspension, loss of revenue, and damage to your brand’s reputation.
To navigate Amazon’s rules productively, read them thoroughly and stay up to date on any changes, use Amazon’s tools to monitor your account regularly, respond promptly to policy violations, and turn to outside help if needed. By following these guidelines, you’ll guarantee a positive customer experience while simultaneously protecting your business and remaining competitive on the marketplace.