Despite what some now-defunct businesses might have you believe, Amazon didn’t sound the death knell for other members of the ecommerce world when it assumed its dominant position atop the retail world. It raised the bar and forced its competition to shape up or be left behind.
And in the process of establishing the Amazon Marketplace, it created a huge amount of opportunity for entrepreneurs to sell to a massive audience — and many have seized that opportunity to remarkable effect, yielding huge revenue streams through the convenience of the Amazon ecosystem.
It’s a lucrative market alright, but a very tough one to enter. Not every entrepreneur succeeds, or can succeed given how many Amazon sellers are out there. So what separates the hits from the misses? There are certain traits you’ll find in every successful Amazon seller, and we’re going to look at them here.
Being extremely flexible
Something every aspiring Amazon seller needs to accept is that success isn’t guaranteed and it very rarely arrives on a predictable schedule. When the chips are down, the people who find the will to adapt and overcome the challenges that face them are the ones who tend to succeed in the end, and flexibility is the key to this.
Just think about how saturated some product types are, then consider that there are sellers out there making huge amounts of money doing almost the same things as everyone else. This results from a willingness to tweak things, to make small changes and adapt on the fly. Top sellers understand that they don’t need the best products or even the best prices — they just need to play the overall ecommerce game better than anyone else.
It’s hardly simple to start bringing in huge profits from selling phone cases, for instance, because there are so many of them, and yet sellers can pull in huge sums from shipping readily-available imported items at standard prices because their sales instincts push them to experiment until they find the magic formula.
Using social proof effectively
Reviews are enormously important for ecommerce in general, but particularly for Amazon because they’re displayed so prominently, offer a lot of information, and provide what is usually the most useful filtering option for the discerning customer.
The top Amazon sellers understand that getting some great reviews for their listing of a generic product will set it apart from any other listings of that exact same product, especially since users aren’t typically in a position to be confident that two products that appear identical are actually the same (especially since imitation products are common in ecommerce).
For example, if a user visits Amazon to find a new phone battery, they’ll probably find a page of similar results. Which one will they opt for? The one with the most social proof. Even if what looks to be the exact same product is offered for less by other sellers, they’ll spend more simply because of the evidence of the product being legitimate and fit for purpose.
Knowing how to negotiate
Every top seller drives a hard bargain but also manages to keep their suppliers happy. This isn’t an easy thing to achieve. It takes an understanding of psychology, no small amount of personal charisma, and a savvy awareness of the market to come out ahead.
Consider that the margins on offer through big wholesale providers tend to be very slim as a result of Marketplace costs and products being sold for not much more than it costs to manufacture them. While Amazon sellers can make great use of locally-sourced items, that also requires very smart negotiation.
Know when to make concessions, when to demand them, and when to move on from a business relationship that isn’t working. You should always be thinking about how you can win better deals in the future.
As if handling an investment portfolio, sellers must keep their product assortments and operations as diverse as possible to afford them protection against sudden drops in sales that can follow anything from stock problems to new players entering the market and severely undercutting their rivals.
To use the example from before, no top seller would ever sell nothing but the top-selling phone case with the greatest margin, because what happens if there’s a PR issue with the build quality and sales drop like a stone? Accessory sellers in particular maintain huge ranges of different items with countless color, material and size options, so no matter what happens to be in style on any given day, they have something relevant to offer.
And because Amazon has strong integrations with standalone CMS platforms such as Shopify, WooCommerce or Magento, it’s straightforward to set up a site through estore software and connect the products directly to the Amazon Marketplace, so a seller can target two distinct channels with one operation (rather than sticking simply to Amazon).
These options are both excellent for SEO (being easy to find through search engines). The more product types and options a seller offers, the more traffic they’ll get from people searching for specific niche terms, and the more channels through which they offer them, the more chances they’ll get to convert.
Getting granular with data
While they can feel somewhat arbitrary to users on occasion, ecommerce prices, discounts and bundles are anything but random. They’re the practical, targeted results of a lot of in-depth data analysis, and that kind of painstaking attention to detail sets the leading sellers apart from the entrepreneurs who rely on gut feeling and instinct.
Through carefully investigating analytics data — particularly at scale — you can glean valuable nuggets of information. Perhaps a certain color of product sells well at one time of year but poorly otherwise. Maybe some products are pulling in a lot of traffic but not converting well at all.
Knowing the specifics of how the product range is selling grants you the opportunity to make positive changes, and the best Amazon sellers in the world know exactly what they’re doing when they make even the smallest adjustments to their value propositions.
They also make use of smart reporting and automation tools to get things done more efficiently and free up time to act on the trends and issues they identify. In a digital world, making the best use of available digital technology is an essential part of succeeding.
Could the Amazon Marketplace be your path to ecommerce success? Absolutely — but it isn’t a sure thing, and you have to approach it correctly. Nurture all of these traits, make use of all the tools and resources available to you, and never stop learning and tweaking. Good luck!
Patrick Foster is a writer and ecommerce expert from Ecommerce Tips — an industry-leading ecommerce blog that shares the latest insights from the sector, spanning everything from business growth hacks, to product development. Check out the latest posts on Twitter @myecommercetips.