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10 Skills You Need To Be A Successful Amazon FBA Seller

  • Sep 19, 2015 | Marcus DeHart

Do you have what it takes to sell on Amazon? It’s true that Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) can make selling on Amazon easier by allowing you to relinquish ownership of one of the most critical components of ecommerce--getting your products to customers fast.

But while this frees your time and money to focus on other aspects of the business, there’s still a lot to do. Here are 10 questions you should ask yourself when selling on Amazon with FBA.

1. Can you source it?

Everybody knows someone who is always looking for a great deal. For them the hunt for the deal is more valuable than how much they will save. If you have that same kind of drive, you can source it. Whether digging through thrift stores or finding connections with high-end wholesalers, you’re inquisitiveness and resourcefulness will drive you on to find that next product or bundle and the right margin to sell through FBA and turn a profit.

2. Can you measure it?

In a previous article FBA Seller Success Series: Part 2, The Cryptanalyst I talked about the abundance of data provided by Amazon about your inventory, sales, and performance. Being able to measure your performance over time is critical to future success. Data gives you an objective way to measure your success. 

3. Can you extrapolate it?

Having data is one thing. Interpreting it is another. I’m surprised when I encounter business owners whose knowledge of Microsoft Excel is limited to basic sum formulas and creating pie charts and graphs. If you don’t know what a "vlookup" is or how to create a pivot table it might be time to get a book, watch some YouTube videos, take a class, or hire someone who does know.

Try a google search for “Excel business analytics” to find an abundance of resources to see what fits your learning style and budget. Go beyond the basics and it won't be long before you’ll be able to slice and dice data like a master chef with a Henckels knife.

4. Can you prioritize it? 

Indecision can kill a business. At any given time you could have a dozen really good ideas, but the resources to deliver only a handful. Prioritizing time and money doesn’t come naturally to everyone. The key is to accomplish more by doing less. That may sound counterintuitive, but doing more leads to confusion, task switching, and other distractions that result in lost time and inefficiency.

Measuring and extrapolating will help you get to the point of making the decision, but the choice is ultimately in your hands. Nurture Habit 3 of Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Put First Things First. Here are additional steps toward that end: How to prioritize - the keys to setting priorities effectively.

5. Can you mollify them? 

Any time you take someone's money, you run the risk of unleashing their inner Kraken. With customer reviews and social media in play, a bad customer experience can be costly.

But turning a negative experience into a positive one can have the reverse effect. In FBA Seller Success Series: Part 3, The Therapist, I talk about why customer service is important to Amazon and the metrics they use to evaluate your performance. These are the metrics that have made Amazon one of the most trusted brands world wide. 

6. Can you compete with them?  

In addition to competing with Amazon and other sellers on Amazon, you have to contend with sellers on other e-commerce platforms and with physical store presence. You might win the Buy Box on Amazon, but if a shopper can get a better price at the Walmart ten minutes away, you might not get that sale.

Think like a shopper. Go where shoppers go, whether online or on foot. Find out who your competition is and identify what makes your products or customer service unique. If you know what you're up against you can be prepared to go toe-to-toe with the best.

7. Can you get their attention?

Getting your products online and inventory into Amazon’s fulfillment center is only half the battle. Getting shoppers to your products will require a bit of marketing know-how.

Creating descriptive detail pages (titles, descriptions, bullets) is a good start. Sometimes you need to go the extra mile and run promotions or campaigns with Sponsored Products to make your products more discoverable. Off Amazon you can use marketing emails or social media to cast your nets wider. 

8. Can you coordinate it?

From a customer’s perspective, receiving what they ordered quickly is like magic. But getting your product to their doorstep is more than just “1 Click” for you. Ordering, receiving, prepping, shipping, tracking, removing, and disposing of inventory is a complicated process.

Having an effective workflow is critical, along with developing solid relationships with providers and carriers. FBA offers guidance on How to Ship Inventory to Amazon.

9. Can you prep it? 

You’ve invested a lot in your inventory. Shipping it from your warehouse to Amazon and then from Amazon to the customer puts your inventory into the hands of more people. Each hand-off is an opportunity for damage.

Amazon provides requirements for packaging each product and your entire shipment, with downloadable PDFs you can print for offline use. Study these resources and know how they apply to your products so you can keep your investment safe.  

10. Can you wait for it?

Patience is a virtue. But can you afford to be patient? You sink a wad of money into products, packaging, shipping, storage, and fulfillment. If you’ve backed the right horse, your inventory will go flying off the shelves. If not, it might be sitting in a fulfillment center for months. Do you have the cash flow to keep your head above water? If not, maybe you can qualify for Amazon Lending. Count the cost and plan for the long haul.

Sales tax rates, rules, and regulations change frequently. Although we hope you'll find this information helpful, this blog is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal or tax advice.
Avalara Author
Marcus DeHart
Avalara Author Marcus DeHart

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