More than 2 million Americans make a full-time or part-time living selling merchandise on Amazon.com. In May, roughly 200 of them attended a three-day Sellers’ Conference for Online Entrepreneurs (SCOE) in Philadelphia, a semiannual trade show on the do’s and don’ts of selling on Amazon, eBay, Etsy and similar online retail platforms. SCOE featured world-class speakers, presentations by 36 companies providing goods and services to Amazon sellers, and networking opportunities with sellers from the United States, Canada, China, Japan and Israel in virtually all Amazon merchandise categories. Here are some cool things and new resources I learned about in Philadelphia.
“You cannot overestimate the importance of product reviews when selling on Amazon,” according to Chad Rubin, founder of Crucial Vacuum, the leading seller of vacuum cleaners on Amazon. He pointed out that the best-selling (and highest-rated) vacuum cleaner on Amazon is not available in Target, Wal-Mart or anywhere else in the brick-and-mortar world.
If an item isn’t selling quickly on Amazon, sellers often have to re-price the item frequently in order to stay in Amazon’s Buy Box. Feedvisor is a re-pricing software program that uses a self-learning, constantly improving algorithm that checks hundreds of thousands of competitive products every minute and automatically re-prices your items so you stay competitive.
“You know those Coinstar machines in the supermarkets where you can get rid of your excess coins and they charge you an 8 percent processing fee? Many of these machines offer Amazon gift cards in lieu of cash back, and if you choose to take the gift card, they often will waive the 8 percent fee!” So says Jason T. Smith, star of the “Thrift Hunters” reality television show on the Spike cable channel.
Wouldn’t it be great if, instead of listing your items separately on the 22 most popular online retail platforms, you only had to do it once and push a button? Check out Zoobilee — you enter your inventory to your Zoobilee account via upload or FTP. Your listing is then sent to the venue(s) you select at the price(s) you specify, along with your photos and other images.
“We used to measure advertising success in terms of the cost of every thousand customers reached, or CPM. Today, thanks to Facebook and other social media sites that track your online activity, we have a new metric — CPP or ‘cost per pixel,’” according to John “ColderICE” Lawson, a social commerce evangelist.
Uber offers peer-to-peer sharing economy taxi service in many large American cities. Did you know that Roadie offers a similar service for package delivery? These guys are going to give UPS a run for their money.
You would like to sell in Amazon’s popular Fulfillment by Amazon program, but you are concerned that you will have to collect sales tax in each state where FBA warehouses your merchandise. A number of smaller companies offer “in state” warehousing and fulfillment services so you can participate in FBA without your merchandise ever leaving your home state. If you are a seller in Michigan, for example, check out the Port City Fulfillment Center website. And if you do have to collect sales tax in another state, TaxJar will do the paperwork for you.
Still using Google AdWords to find the right keywords for your product listings? MerchantWords has an inexpensive database of the top 20 million Amazon keywords. The key to private label success, says MillionaireDrive CEO Danny Hausmann, is to “choose items that weigh less than 3 pounds, can be priced between $20 and $300, are durable, small and easy to pack, and have no obvious liability risks.”
Amazon sometimes shuts down a selling account due to a perceived infraction of one of their many rules. Amazon seller coach Bob Willey says the key is to make sure your email to Amazon’s dispute resolution team contains the words “buyer satisfaction.” Doing so sends the signal you are a conscientious seller and, according to Willey, “there’s a greater chance your message will reach a sympathetic support person.”
The next SCOE takes place Oct. 2 – 4, 2015, in Seattle, Washington. Details are at www.scoe.biz.