In episode 353: The 5 Most Asked Questions by EcomCrew Premium Members, Mike and Dave answered some of the most frequently asked questions they’ve received over and over, and they dig into 5 topics that many sellers struggle with every day.
In this article, we'll answer the top 11 problems that Amazon sellers face. At the very least, whether you're a newbie in Amazon or not, knowing these will set you up to be more aware of how to deal with these problems, so let’s get to it!
- Should your blog content be on a standalone domain or should you have it on your e-commerce website?
- When should you group your products together?
- When you should open a second Amazon account?
- What type of URLs do you use when sending traffic to Amazon?
- How to Protect My List from Hijackers?
- How to hire VAs from the Philippines?
- What’s Amazon Global Logistics (AGL) and how do you enroll?
- What is the NARF Program and why sign up for it?
- How to work with influencers?
- What is Amazon Arbitrage?
- How Do I Protect Myself from Product Liability Suits?
Blog Content: Standalone Domain or Ecommerce website?
If you’ve been doing ecommerce for a while, you may have wondered if it’s beneficial to have a blog for an eCommerce store. Running two separate sites is a lot of work but experience shows us that in most cases it is better to have the blog separate from the online store. Let’s explain why.
If the content is going to be your main strategy for your eCommerce brand it should be on a standalone domain. There is one reason for this:
- There's an SEO benefit to your blog having its own domain compartmentalization. Maybe one day both can be strong enough on their own to be separate so they don’t need one or the other to stand on and to survive.
Advantages of having blog content on your ecommerce website
- Easier to rank for SEO
- More professional and secure
- Reaching the same target audience through two different and complementary channels (those looking for information and those looking to buy your product)
- Benefits the usability and navigation of the user
Disadvantages of having blog content on your e-commerce website
- Significantly more time and effort to maintain
When should you use variations?
The next most asked question by Amazon sellers is this: when should you group your products in a family and when should you do standalone variations?
In this case, the answer may vary depending on where you are in your eCommerce journey and your product variations.
When you have a product with different colors or sizes (small, medium, large, etc), it doesn't make sense to break that up into individual sizes because when someone comes to your listing, you need them to buy the right size and you don't want to make it difficult for them, which can ultimately hurt your sales.
In episode 353 of the EcomCrew podcast, Mike talks about how one of his products skyrocketed in sales after deciding to get rid of some colors, thus selling the one that was the bestseller, which led to the conversion rate on the bestseller product going up substantially over the next couple of months as the flywheel effect took hold.
What about if those other products have their own standalone keyword volume? Well, in that case, you should separate those two products because there is independent search volume.
You can also decide to launch a variation on a successful product to kind of ride the coattails of its success. Doing this might hurt your successful product a little bit in the short term, but it's going to help your new product. Eventually, when you get about a hundred reviews, separate it.
When you should open a second Amazon account?
Around April 2020, Amazon changed their policy regarding multiple accounts and now allows sellers with legitimate business reasons to open multiple accounts without Amazon’s approval.
However, we still recommend you to open a seller support case to ensure you cover your bases to avoid permanent suspensions in the future.
When you should open a second account? The official answer should be when you have two different businesses that are not sharing any entities, any brands and products. The unofficial answer is that once you start to surpass a million dollars in sales, you should probably start to open a second seller central account.
Setting up a brand new store on Amazon is beneficial for your brand in several ways. It opens many doors, as you will be able to sell a variety of different products to a much wider audience,
Running your second business through Amazon is a very good way to start increasing sales, increasing traffic, and generally making your brand stand out.
However, there are downsides to this. Maintaining multiple accounts can be a pain in the rear end, plus your costs will be doubled.
You can check out our article on Opening Multiple Amazon Seller Accounts for more in-depth information.
Advantages of having a second Amazon account
- Make it easier if you’re planning to sell a brand
- Different brands and products in different accounts
- Will help you once your brands are established and can stand on their own
- When you are running one or two million $ different brands it is better to divide them (especially in terms of taxes)
- Allows you to keep selling without having to build up seller history from scratch
- Will increase your bookkeeping work and overall maintenance
Disadvantages of having a second Amazon account
- More management effort
- Differents SAS Software (more expensive)
- Separate accounting systems
- Separate bank account, separate email, and separate credit card
What type of URLs do you use when Sending Traffic to Amazon?
There are tons of controversy around this question and various shades of white hat, gray hat, and black hat answers.
We’ll talk about the tactics called white hats since they’re the ones that we practice and the only legitimate ones that won’t result in possible account suspensions. What does this mean?
- White hat means following the “rules” by simply playing everything by the book.
- Gray hat are neither black hat nor white hat, but something in the middle. It’s a blurred line.
- Black hat means using risky practices. When you’re breaking the rule and you’re not following the terms of service.
There are different options out there:
- You can just send people directly to your Amazon listing without any other parameters.
- You can send people to your store, not directly to your listing, and then make it easy for people to buy something off Amazon from there. You can add a “Buy from Amazon” button, for example.
- You also can use affiliate links or Amazon attribution links.
In the article, Everything You Need to Know About Linking to Amazon Listing Pages, we take a more in-depth look at what you need to know about linking to your product pages and how to get as much SEO as possible.
How to Protect My List from Hijackers?
Protecting your brand on Amazon can be tricky. One of the biggest fears that new and even experienced Amazon sellers have is having their listings hijacked. What can you do to protect your brand on Amazon? Here some tactics:
- Put your logo on your product and packaging, making it difficult for someone who wants to copy your products.
- Use an Amazon FNSKU not UPC. Using this will identify you as a seller and it makes it harder to point out the fakes if a hijacker does counterfeit your product.
- Use Amazon listings alerts. Get a service that monitors your listings like Sentry Kit.
- Trademarking your Amazon brand. Owning your trademark gives you more rights under the law.
- Joining Amazon Brand Registry will give you more protection.
- Use Amazon Transparency. Gives sellers fancy unique barcodes.
- Use Amazon Project Zero. It’s an invite-only program, where sellers receive unique codes for every unit of the manufacture.
- Use Amazon Brand Gating and will put a gate around the specific ASIN you’d like to protect, but you must proof of counterfeit activity.
Learn more about what threats your brand faces on Amazon and how to protect it in our Ultimate Guide to Protecting your Brand on Amazon.
How to hire VAs from the Philippines?
At some point, each entrepreneur asks the question of how to achieve the gift of omnipresence. Since cloning is not possible, the best option is to hire a virtual assistant.
Today, many employers are hiring VAs from the Philippines, where you can hire a full-time assistant with good English and Internet skills for between $500 and $1,000 per month.
Delegating tasks to a Filipino virtual assistant is a cost-effective way to free up your time so you can focus on the big things that matter to your business.
There are 5 steps you have to know to start the process of hiring a Filipino VA:
Step 1: Posting a job ad and reviewing applications
- Publish a job ad on sites like UpWork and Onlinejobs.ph
- Include instructions at the bottom of the ad where the applicants need to do something like “put the word POTATO in the subject line” (this way you’ll make sure that the applicant read the whole ad)
- Eliminate applicants who don’t fit your required skill set and those who did not follow your instructions.
Step 2: A screening test
- Basic data questions (location, start date if hired and expected salary).
- Skills test (internet speed, typing speed and English skills).
Step 3: Interview via chat (pick the top three candidates who pass through all of this to this point).
Step 4: Video interview. Watch out for these:
- Candidates who may have lied or exaggerated on their resumes and or other red flags.
- Candidates who best fit your company culturally
Step 5: Contract signing
If you need a more detailed explanation, check out our article on How to Hire and Train the Best Filipino Virtual Assistants.
What’s Amazon Global Logistics (AGL) and how do you enroll?
AGL is Amazon’s Freight Forwarding service. They offer air and ocean shipping service from China to US, UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain.
The program, Amazon Global Logistics (AGL), has actually been around for years but is not promoted by Amazon. Amazon has updated their interface on Seller Central when creating shipments using this service. Basically, you can now book a shipment using this service within Seller Central.
AGL is about 20-30% more expensive than most freight forwarding services but has two major advantages: you get to ship to a single warehouse and your shipments get cleared into stock MUCH quicker than with your own freight forwarding services. For standard size items, it takes about 14 days from arriving at the port in China to being received into FBA inventory.
In EcomCrew Premium we show non-Chinese sellers how to get enrolled.
What is the NARF Program and why sign up for it?
Amazon’s North America Remote Fulfillment Beta Program or NARF will make it easier for sellers on Amazon’s U.S. marketplace to also sell in Canada and Mexico (North American territory).
NARF allows sellers to display their inventory stored in U.S. FBA warehouses on Amazon’s Canadian (amazon.ca) and Mexican (amazon.mx) marketplaces without having to ship and store inventory in either of those countries.
Amazon will make this possible by using a single global SKU for your product. So your product will now only need one FNSKU. And that also means you only need to create one listing.
To register for NARF program, visit this page https://sellercentral.amazon.com/rafn/inventory?ref=nslp_at_GTPGN589TFXXH55F_nslnk_2 (you must be logged in to Seller Central) and you can do it in less than two minutes.
How to work with influencers?
If you don’t have your own audience on social media or an email list you can tap into, there are other ways brands can get creative to extend their reach, like for example, paying an influencer.
Influencers are huge drivers of traffic and revenue. Most people utilize influencers to get them talking about their products.
You can use influencers to get them to share pictures and videos of them using products in action (this way you’ll have some incredible contributions which is fantastic for social proof).
Usually, the influencer is willing to work basically for a free product and/or a commission. Sometimes they’re just happy as can be to get free products and have content to make for their channel and talk about a win-win, but it depends on the influencer and of the popularity that they have or on how many followers they have.
When looking for an influencer, try to find your niche target and kind of go after those specific influencers, because if you’re not focusing on the right target, then you’re not going to get conversions.
Regarding the aspect of working with them, one of the key points of this is being able to understand from their point of view what motivates them and what they want.
What is Amazon Arbitrage and What are some of its Advantages?
Amazon Arbitrage is the process of buying discounted or discontinued products and reselling them for a profit on Amazon.
For example, you buy a product for $5 and sell it on Amazon for $20, you must list it under the product on Amazon that is the same as the one you bought, and you sell it and you earn the difference.
Amazon Arbitrage has excellent advantages like:
- You don't need to create a new product or brand
- You don't need to invest in large inventories
- You don't need to do affiliate marketing
- You don't need to deal with suppliers doing dropshipping
You can find more in-depth details about Amazon Arbitrage and how to get started in our article Amazon Arbitrage: How It Works and How You Can Earn From It.
How Do I Protect Myself from Product Liability Suits?
There are quite a few cases of third-party seller products malfunctioning. Remember the exploding hoverboard case where the Court ruled Amazon is not responsible although it was purchased on its site?
Perhaps one of the most famous product liability suits is the one involving Buckyballs. In 2009, the founder, Craig Zucker, started by importing just $2000 worth of Buckyballs from China, eventually growing it into an $18-million-a-year business. The problem was the magnetic balls could be deadly if swallowed, something children were prone to do. There were dozens of very serious injuries from kids digesting the balls. Eventually, things got heated between the two parties resulting in Buckyballs' closure and the Consumer Product Safety Commission suing Zucker for millions.
To avoid these types of situations, here are some of the things you can do:
- Make sure your supplier understands and is capable of implementing your products' specifications properly.
- Get product liability insurance.
- Include warnings and well-written instructions.
- Hire a remote quality control specialist if you can't examine your products yourself.