Don’t Make These Common Amazon Seller Mistakes
Amazon is the single largest retail e-commerce company in the world. It is the first destination for shoppers all around the world when looking to purchase anything from an alarm clock to a ziplock bag.
With this large loyal customer base shopping on the site daily, selling on Amazon provides an enormous potential for profit. However, despite all the opportunity Amazon offers, many sellers fail before they even start!
And before you think this is only due to things like bad SEO or not optimizing their product listings, these sellers don’t even reach that point. Many sellers sabotage their own future success by making basic mistakes when first starting out.
With that in mind, here we’ll cover some of the most common and avoidable mistakes new Amazon sellers make.
Mistake #1: Registering Multiple Accounts
This is an outright violation of the Amazon terms of service that can, and will, lead to a permanent ban.
It’s as simple as this: one identity – one account. The key to higher sales is not the number of accounts but rather the quality of service and positive customer reviews.
Mistake #2: Directing Customers to Your Website
The huge amount of website visitors and customers Amazon has may make it tempting to try to divert some of that to your own website.
However, attempting to direct customers off of their platform to your own website to build a mailing list or sell to them off Amazon is a cardinal sin.
Amazon’s customers belong to Amazon. You can sell to them on Amazon and communicate with them after a sale but don’t try to send them away from Amazon on a listing.
As a simple rule, don’t put URLs to your website on your product listing. If you include a URL to your website and you get caught, and then your account gets banned. Game Over.
You can of course send external traffic to a landing page where you collect visitor email addresses, before sending them onto your Amazon listings. That would allow you to build an email list outside of the Amazon platform.
Mistake #3: Not Following Amazon Product Title Guidelines
Amazon draws a fine line between what you can and cannot include in your product titles.
New sellers often fail to read the guidelines and attempt to include as many keywords as possible, capital letters, special symbols or HTML code to make words stand out in the title. These are against Amazon guidelines for product titles and can result in your product not showing up in search results.
Product titles that include “50% discount”, “Sale price – limited time only” or “lowest price guarantee” can be extremely effective to sell a product online. While these kinds of offers may work with e-commerce stores, however, they should not be used by sellers on Amazon. Amazon has a strict policy against the use of any title information that contains promotions, discounts or doesn’t directly describe the product.
See our post about optimizing your product listing for conversions including how to best optimize an Amazon product title within Amazon rules.
Mistake #4: Violating Amazon’s Product Image Standards
All images on your product listing need to be in line with Amazon’s Image Standards.
The primary image must have a pure white background and all images must accurately represent the actual product. Incorporating image borders and watermarks is strictly against Amazon’s policies.
You are allowed one primary image on your listing that will also be the image displayed in search results. You are then allowed up to eight alternate images.
Mistake #5: Including Promotional Text on Images
If you had the idea of adding promotional text to your images, you may have thought you were on to something and found a good marketing trick.
However, you’re not quite as smart as Amazon.
They’ve thought of this already and they don’t allow promotional text to be included on images. If their systems detect any images with text that might be construed as promotional, your image – and perhaps your account – is going to be banned.
Mistake #6: Incomplete or Incorrect Product Data
This mistake can be more serious than it may first appear.
Including accurate and complete product data will help shoppers find your product and convert them into buyers. Customers can’t physically see or touch the product they are buying on Amazon, so they rely heavily on the description and product data.
You may think it is a good marketing strategy to exclude some information or exaggerate other information in your product descriptions, however, there is a difference between good copywriting and misleading the customer.
If your product information is inaccurate or incomplete, it will result in returns, refunds, negative reviews and potentially a product suspension from Amazon.
Mistake #7: Selecting the Wrong Amazon Seller Plan
Choosing which Amazon seller account plan to use can be a challenge when first getting started and many sellers end up making the wrong choice.
Needless to say, this negatively impacts their bottom-line in the future.
When choosing a Selling Plan, you should carefully consider the charges or fees for each selling plan as well as the products you want to list. Each plan has its own requirements and benefits to offer, so choose the one that suits you best.
For most people, the professional seller plan is the best option. We’ll cover the differences between the different seller plans in a blog post soon.
Mistake #8: Poor Handling of Customer Reviews or Complaints
As an Amazon seller, you’re bound to encounter overly demanding or irrational customers. The key is to not argue with them, else it can have detrimental implications for you.
You will likely find that some customers will be quick to put a one star review if everything with the product isn’t perfect. You will also find customers that leave unreasonable and illogical one star reviews such as “Great product but I bought the wrong color – 1 star”.
New sellers may be quick to get angry with unreasonable customers, wanting to point out that it was their mistake. A response such as “The colors are listed in the product; you purchased the wrong color, if the product is good, this should not be a one star review” may be the initial reaction many sellers have to the above review.
How you deal with negative reviews and unhappy customers will determine your success on Amazon. Other customers will look at how you respond to negative reviews and unhappy customers can be turned into your brand evangelists if handled correctly.
On the other hand, handling negative reviews or customer complaints incorrectly could result in losing sales from other customers, and perhaps even lead to the dreaded product or account suspension from Amazon.
It’s always best to avoid arguing with your customers; use the assumption that the customer is always right. Try to be as accommodating as possible, offering returns, refunds and doing everything you can to resolve their issues and deal with them with a friendly, professional manner. Vent your anger out elsewhere!
Mistake #9: Running out of Inventory
A big factor in Amazon’s A9 algorithm is that it ranks products for certain keywords based on sales. If you run out of inventory, nobody can buy your product and you ultimately lose your rankings.
It can be very difficult and sometimes impossible to get back to the same position you were ranking before you ran out of inventory. You need to avoid this and be careful to manage your inventory levels to ensure you don’t run out of stock.
When first starting out, many people only have enough money for their first inventory order with a supplier. It’s important that you can afford at least three months of inventory when starting out.
It’s also important to know the time from placing an order with a supplier to the time it reaches an Amazon warehouse. Failing to order new inventory before your existing stock runs out will lead to you being out of stock, falling in the rankings and losing out of sales until you restock your inventory again.
While selling all your products may seem like a good problem to have, if you can’t restock your inventory before running out then you can fail by succeeding.
Mistake #10: Incorrectly Setting Up Promotions
When launching a new product on Amazon, a good way to boost rankings and bring attention to the product is to offer discounts and run promotions. These can be done either by putting a discount on the product listing available to everyone, or creating single use coupon codes and promoting them on deals sites.
These strategies can help if done correctly, however if done incorrectly they can wipe out your inventory, allow your listing to get hijacked and ruin your Amazon success.
It’s important to learn how to correctly set up discount codes and set a max order quantity when running a promotion to protect your inventory from being cleared out at a discount by hijackers and resellers.
Mistake #11: Not Communicating with Buyers After Sales
Customer reviews can work for you and they can work against you. Positive reviews can dramatically boost sales while on the other hand negative reviews can drastically reduce your sales.
Amazon has strict policies about getting reviews. You can’t buy reviews or ask for dishonest reviews, however, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask for reviews at all. Here are some things that you can do.
Reviews offer critical insights to potential customers and they greatly aid their decision of whether or not to buy a particular product. Most customers today seek product reviews from their peers before making a purchase decision and if you don’t have many positive reviews, customers will likely buy a similar product from a competitor.
Setting up an autoresponder that provides helpful information to the customer about the product after the sale can build rapport with them. It may increase the chance they contact you before leaving a negative review.
The key is to first provide useful information and helpful advice such as a free ebook, tips or information about using the product. After that initial helpful message, don’t be afraid to ask for feedback from the customer on the product and encourage them to leave an honest review if they enjoy the product.
Mistake #12: Asking Friends and Family for Reviews
A big mistake new Amazon sellers make when trying to get reviews is asking their friends and family to purchase the product and leave a review.
This is a clear violation of Amazon’s rules and a sure-fire way to get your account suspended.
What you may not realize is that Amazon uses social media data along with advanced algorithms to connect friends and family to each other. If you’re connected to someone on facebook, you use the same computer or wifi network, Amazon may associate your accounts together.
If you ask someone you are closely connected with to purchase and leave a review on Amazon, be prepared to have the review removed, receive a warning from Amazon or even get your account suspended. Big brother is watching you. 😉
Instead, there are legitimate services like Jump Send that can help you get those initial sales and reviews; you can learn more about that service here. It’s not in violation of Amazon’s rules as you’re not “buying” reviews or sales, it’s simply a marketplace of genuine shoppers that you can provide deals to. It also includes an autoresponder service for communicating with buyers after the sale which will increase your chances of them leaving a review, as suggested above.
Mistake #13: Not Optimizing SKU’s When You First Add Products
Many of the above mistakes are arguably a lot more obvious and common sense, however, this is something you likely won’t give much thought to until after the fact. And that is, using a system to create SKU codes for your products so they make sense and are easier to organize.
Using well thought out product SKU’s instead of random ones or the default ones Amazon generates for you makes for a much more efficient process when it comes to managing and locating your products on the back-end and for generating analysis reports.
We have a whole guide on creating optimal product SKU codes, that is worth reading right off the bat.
Here’s to Playing by the Rules!
These are just a handful of some of the most common mistakes that new Amazon sellers make when starting out.
Many people jump in head first, unaware that simple mistakes early on could ultimately get your account suspended, stopping you in your tracks before you’ve even begun! And of course, being an experienced seller on the platform won’t make you immune to any of these mistakes.
This list is not comprehensive but if you manage to avoid these mistakes it will give you a much better chance of success when selling on Amazon.