The exposure you get when listing your products on Amazon is difficult to match. Statistica reports show that Amazon averaged 164 million unique visitors in the first quarter of 2013 putting it at the top of the list of most popular U.S. retail websites. Although increasing sales is the primary goal of sellers on Amazon, Shopify notes that revenue is not the only advantage. It is also a great way to acquire new customers who may not have found you otherwise. This gives you the opportunity to market to them directly and encourage repeat sales.
In order to take advantage of these perks, however, you must get your products out of your ERP or point of sale (POS) system, format them according to Amazon’s specifications and upload them to Amazon. Understanding Amazon’s requirements and being prepared will help you do this quickly and efficiently so you can start selling ASAP. Here are a few tips to get you started:
Make sure your products have a Universal Product Code (UPC) – Amazon requires a unique identifier for most of the products sold on its site. You may already have a UPC for your items but if not, you can get one through GS1 U.S., the organization that manages this process. There is a fee to become a member of GS1. The alternative is to subscribe to one of the internet-based companies that are already a member of a GS1 organization. In this scenario, you will be paying to use the internet company’s identification number. This might be suitable for small companies who are only selling one or two products, but won’t work if you are planning to sell your products on a larger scale.
Amazon maintains a single item catalog – Amazon is unique in that sellers utilize its existing catalog when posting items. So if you want to sell an item on Amazon, you need to look up the item and add your company as a seller. The descriptions and images are maintained by all sellers of that product, with approval by Amazon. You can also add new items to Amazon as long as you have a UPC/EAN and follow Amazon’s item layout structure.
Amazon has an established category structure – Amazon has created categories and sub-categories that cannot be changed and they do not allow sellers to create new ones. Each category has specific listing rules associated with it that determine who can sell the item, whether or not you have to fill out an application to sell, what approvals are necessary, etc. Furthermore, each category has specific attributes that are associated with it. When a seller selects a category, those attributes are displayed so the seller can fill in the appropriate information. Before you begin selling on Amazon, it is recommended that you map your items to Amazon’s category structure and research the related attributes to make sure you have all the necessary information so you can expedite the listing process.
There is a great opportunity to increase sales on Amazon, but it’s a unique marketplace and understanding it will be critical to your success. Preparing your data before you get started is half the battle. After that, it’s a matter of streamlining your order and inventory processes to make sure you maximize the margins you earn from this new and exciting sales channel.
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