[Guest post by Monsoon Commerce]
Selling on Amazon, eBay and other marketplaces can be a very profitable channel for an e-commerce business. However, for merchants just getting started, there are many pitfalls one can accidentally fall into before you can really get going.
1. Make sure to set up the correct tax settings
Many merchants are great at the daily e-commerce operations and naturally understand the requirements for Amazon success. However, one of the things that many people forget about is tax. Making sure Amazon and eBay is properly collects taxes for sales of your products is something that many merchants don’t think about at first, but could create a problem come tax time or an audit.
The Tax Settings page (in Amazon Seller Central settings, eBay’s My eBay setting) enables merchants to set the tax collection approach, product tax codes and set up other settings required in order to properly collect tax from buyers. The right settings vary by merchant, and get even more complex if you use Amazon FBA, so consult a tax professional on what you need to set – just don’t forget to do it.
2. Falling below Seller Performance standards
Accurate inventory control is extremely important to ensure your order defect rate doesn’t spike due to out of stock cancellations. While you may think that canceling an order because you can’t deliver is no big deal (money goes back to customer, nothing is lost except a little bit of customer’s time) Amazon and eBay strongly disagree.
If buyers end up with a bad experience because you were out of stock, it is a reflection on Amazon and eBay, so the marketplaces are very strict regarding acceptable cancellation and on-time delivery rates. Not following the rules can quickly result in loss of selling privileges.
If you’re going away on vacation or your warehouse is unable to fulfill orders for over a day for any reason, DO NOT Leave your product listings active. On Amazon, use the Listings Status feature to set your listings to inactive until you are ready to fulfill orders again. On eBay use the Store Vacation setting.
3. Not contesting a bad review or claim on Amazon
Many new Amazon merchants don’t dive deep enough into the Amazon review system – at their own peril. Amazon uses the information from customers for buy box ranking and for product visibility. You need to know that reviews are for products and feedback is for the seller.
If a buyer gave your product a 1 star review because it arrived late or in a broken box, you can contest that, because that should have been seller feedback, and of course vice versa, if a customer gives the seller 1 star because of the product. As a merchant, you can ask, and should ask Amazon to remove the negative or inappropriate reviews and feedback.
It’s also important to keep accurate shipping records and ensure items ships and arrives within stated handling & delivery times. If a buyer complains that an item didn’t arrive, shipped late, or arrived late, tracking information will be your best friend in proving your case to Amazon that you fulfilled as expected.
4. Use Amazon brand registry for brands you own
The Amazon Brand Registry allows manufacturers to register themselves as the brand owner to make it easier for sellers to manage their own brands and list their products on Amazon. Once you register your brand on Amazon, you have more control over the product detail information that a regular seller may not be able to alter without Amazon’s review. Additionally, by being a registered brand, you can list items for sale without UPCs or EANs.
5. Be very clear about your policies
Few of Amazon’s shoppers understand that they are buying an item from a 3rd party merchant and not from Amazon.com. To buyers, since they completed the transaction on Amazon.com, the expectation is an Amazon level of customer service and as such Amazon sellers are required to adhere to return policies that are at least as favorable as Amazon’s.
If you want to charge re-stocking fees or otherwise customize returns, make sure you describe your policy under the Returns and Refunds Policy section of your Seller profile page.
Selling on Amazon and eBay is a successful venture for thousands of merchants, if you follow the rules Amazon and eBay provide you can expect to see your sales continuously increase as your positive selling reputation grows.