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blog / How to sell at scale on Amazon Marketplace

Photograph: Bloomberg/via Getty Images


The incredible story of Amazon continues with the news that company is paying $13.7 billion for Whole Foods Market in an all cash deal - the biggest transaction ever for Amazon. Following the conclusion of the deal at the end of 2017, Whole Foods will become a subsidiary of Amazon, widely expanding Amazon's presence as a physical retailer.

It has also been reported that Nike may soon commence selling directly on Amazon.com. The world's largest sportswear maker and the world's largest online retailer might soon work together according to analysts at Goldman Sachs. This would seem to make good sense given that the company's products are already sold on Amazon, but from third-party sellers and unlicensed dealers that purchase the product wholesale from Nike.

If you are already selling online or even if your not, you too may wish to start selling products on Amazon. There are a number of options available - you can either sell on Amazon or sell to Amazon. For the purposes of this post we will be focused on selling on Amazon. The Amazon Marketplace is one of the most well-known marketing channels for online retailers. To list products on the Amazon Marketplace, sellers must create an account, and set up a product feed to send to Amazon.

There are millions of independent sellers on the Amazon Marketplace who sell more than 50% of all items on Amazon worldwide and their sales are growing faster than those of Amazon itself. But such exposure comes at a price: in seeking a foothold in the marketplace, independents find themselves competing with the biggest seller of all – Amazon itself.

With Amazon getting about 175 million unique visitors every month, competition to achieve sales through Amazon is intense. To get a good idea of how your business will perform in this marketplace environment, you’ll want to get a clear picture of what selling on Amazon entails.

There are two selling plans available to Marketplace sellers: Individual, for smaller sellers with only a few items to offer; and Professional, for experienced and volume sellers. The individual selling plan allows you to sell less than 40 items with the professional plan allowing for sales above 40 items a month.

When choosing a selling plan, you will need to consider the products you want to list. Both Individual and Professional Sellers can list products in more than 20 categories. Another 10 categories are available only to Professional Sellers who apply for permission and meet requirements.
Amazon breaks down its selling process into four simple steps:

  1. List
  2. Sell
  3. Ship
  4. Get Paid

You can add products to the Amazon Marketplace one at a time, or in large batches using your Professional selling subscription. Amazon’s seller central offers a number of options for product uploading. The most efficient method for volume sellers on the professional plan will be to set up a data feed from your ERP system that refreshes information such as stock availability and pricing at regular intervals.

As a third party seller selling on the Amazon Marketplace you have the option to use Amazon’s fulfillment services: Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) – Sellers leverage Amazon’s fulfillment for products sold on the Amazon Marketplace Or sell using your own fulfillment (FBM) – Sellers handle fulfillment for their products sold on the Amazon Marketplace.

If you have primarily listed new products in the Amazon marketplace, the hardest part of getting started as a seller is already behind you. But if you are selling products that have already been listed on Amazon, you will need to work toward building the best possible listings for your products in order to be chosen by customers against the competition. Each product on Amazon has its own product page, which compiles the same products from different sellers. For Amazon sellers, this means getting visibility on Amazon’s product pages is a significant challenge, and differs from optimising other online sales channels.

Amazon manages this competitive selling process through what they call the Amazon “Buy Box.”

The Buy Box is the little blue box on the right side of each product detail screen on Amazon. It may seem unimportant as a shopper, but to a merchant, it is prime real estate. It means the most visibility, the most searches and the most sales.

Though it may seem difficult, placement in the Buy Box is not out of reach.

To check your Buy Box eligibility, follow these steps:     

Make sure your item is competitively priced, including delivery (remember that your delivery charge is taken into account so lowering the price of the item and increasing shipping to make profit doesn’t work).

There are various software solutions available to help with automatically setting your prices to keep them competitive against all the other sellers.

You can also increase your chances of winning the Buy Box by choose Fulfillment by Amazon. This means that you allow Amazon to house, pack and ship your products. Because Amazon has physical control over your inventory, has seen it, verified it and will use its resources to fulfill an order, it can better guarantee its quality and services. When you choose to manage your products through Amazon FBA, your entire inventory becomes Amazon Prime eligible—a benefit that regularly leads to your listing being chosen first, ahead of competitors with similar listings.

Contact us now to see how Apparatus can automate your integration with the Amazon Marketplace and increase your online sales.