Have you ever dreamed of running a business online? Amazon Seller Central makes it possible for you to reach millions of potential customers with your products almost immediately. Whether you already own a retail business and want to create an online platform to sell your products or you want to establish a new online store to market a line of items, Amazon Seller Central is where you can go to learn how to sell on Amazon.
Selling through this platform is ideal for someone who wants to get started in e-commerce but doesn’t have the skills or money to create a personalized website for their company, and it’s also ideal for someone who wants to spend less time on the operations of an online store but still wants to take advantage of a global market. Before you get started, it’s important to understand the way Amazon seller and vendor accounts work and how they can help you increase sales and your online presence.
What Is Amazon Seller Central Canada?
Amazon Seller Central is the online software program that sellers and brands use to introduce products to customers. If you sign up for a seller’s account, you’re considered a third-party seller. A third-party seller’s account on Amazon is the least expensive option for selling on the site, so it’s the perfect choice if you’re a startup or just want to save money on expenses. A third-party seller’s account lets you:
- Maintain complete control over your inventory.
- Use Amazon Pay to receive payments from existing Amazon customers.
- Advertise your products to millions of users.
- Only pay for advertising when a user clicks an ad.
- Easily sell in Europe, Japan and other markets.
You can sell nearly any product on Amazon, from sporting goods equipment to books and clothing. If you haven’t completely decided what to sell, there are several ways to locate products for your company to sell or resell. You can purchase new merchandise at closeout prices and resell it on Amazon, or purchase items from other online retailers at wholesale or discount prices and resell them. You could purchase in bulk from auction sites or directly from the manufacturer, or create your own brand of products and sell them. This might include homemade goods, makeup or even furniture. By getting started while the competition is low, you can build up your listings and reviews, and create a loyal following. Even though Canada has only been part of the Amazon sales wave for a couple of years, popularity of the site is increasing quickly.
Two Fulfillment Options for Seller Central
If you sign up for an Amazon seller account, you have two different ways to get orders to your customers.
- Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA): With the FBA method, you decide how much inventory you want to send to an Amazon Fulfillment Center (FC). You maintain control over your inventory, and it still belongs to you, but Amazon handles the shipping to a customer once they place an order. The FC also takes care of any customer returns, which eliminates a lot of your administrative tasks. If you decide to let Amazon ship products and manage inventory for you, you have to pay a storage fee for holding your products and a small processing fee for every item you sell on the site. Other than that, you simply list the products and wait for them to sell. With FBA, your products are eligible for a Prime listing. This is an advantage for your company because buyers tend to spend more money when a product is listed as a Prime product. Some customers also use the “Prime only” filter when searching for products, which means products not listed as Prime aren’t seen as often by the customer.
- Fulfilled by Merchant (FBM): The other option for filling orders for items you sell is the FBM method. This is the cheapest way to sell products, and you have more control over the process. With the FBM method, your company has to fulfill orders to customers, manage shipping and returns, and take care of any customer service issues. This method of filling orders is perfect for companies that produce made-to-order products or require a longer lead time for processing. Even though Amazon isn’t filling the order, your products may be listed as Seller Fulfilled Prime (SFP). This means products will still show up when a customer selects the “Prime only” option. To be eligible for SPF, your company has to ship items quickly and have a high customer satisfaction rating during the trial period to enrol in the program.
What Is Vendor Central?
Aside from individuals and businesses, manufacturers, distributors and suppliers sell products in bulk directly to Amazon through Vendor Central for resale. Even if your business falls into one of these categories, registration in Vendor Central is by invitation only. When searching through Amazon’s marketplace, you can tell these products apart from regular Seller Central products because they’ll usually say, “Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.” When you sell direct wholesale to Amazon, you no longer own the product.
As a vendor, you have access to many benefits that Seller Central does not offer. The Vine Program is offered to vendors only. With Vine Voices, trusted reviewers post opinions on your products to help drive in new customers. These reviews are honest and are not paid for. As a vendor, you can also list your products in additional categories, like gift guides and holiday collections, which provide access to a greater number of online shoppers.
Other perks for vendors include access to programs like Prime Now, Fresh and Pantry. You also have the opportunity to place ads on category pages and insert your brand on corporate emails and newsletters. If you’re a vendor, you can take advantage of Amazon’s seal of approval for your brand and your products. When customers see that your products are ranked high and trusted by Amazon, it can increase your sales and help develop customer loyalty.
How to Become an Amazon Seller
Once you become an Amazon seller, you have instant access to millions of customers who frequently visit the site. If you’re ready to sign up for a seller’s account, there are a few steps to follow.
- Decide what you want to sell. First, decide what products or services you want to offer your customers. If you’re still not quite sure what to offer, look at the best sellers list and use this as a guide. As a regular seller, you have access to 20 different product categories, including office supplies, beauty, baby products, and toys and games. Professional sellers have access to 10 more categories, including professional services.
- Choose a selling plan. Once you know what you will be selling, choose a selling plan for your business. As of late August 2018, the professional plan has a monthly subscription fee of $29.99 plus other selling fees. Professional sellers can list an unlimited number of products each month. If you want to sell as an individual, you pay a fee of $1.49 per item sold plus other selling fees once your product sells. Individual sellers do not have to set up a business account. You have to file taxes on items you sell, but this will be filed with your individual Social Insurance Number. Most individual sellers sell items as a hobby or as a side gig, while professional sellers tend to be businesses that make a living selling 40 or more products per week.
- Fill out the application form and start listing.
- Once you start listing and send your inventory to FBA, you want to start using sponsored products to save money. Simply go into your settings and turn on the sponsored ads.
Selling on the Amazon Canada Site
Selling products on the Amazon Canada site is different than selling products on the U.S. site. For one, Canadian e-commerce just started booming in recent years, so the timing is perfect for you to put your products on the site. Consider the following when you’re getting ready to sell on Amazon Canada.
- Check Your Products: One of the first things to do before you list products on the Amazon Canada site is to make sure the products are legal and unrestricted on the site. Some prohibited items include counterfeit merchandise or replicas offered as authentic, unauthorized or unlicenced merchandise and transferred media. You can also check the full list of restricted products before you list.
- Though the list tends to fluctuate, some of the most popular items that top the best sellers list on Amazon Canada include:
- Video games
- French Packaging and Listings: Food and other consumables sold on Amazon Canada require bilingual packaging by Canadian law. Some residents, like those in Québec, prefer French, so you can maximize sales and increase customer satisfaction by including the packaging and product listings in both languages.
- Understanding the Buy Box: The Buy Box is located on each product details page. This is where customers choose which seller to purchase the product from. One of the key features of the Amazon platform is that multiple sellers offer the same products at different price points. Sellers at the top of the Buy Box are listed as the featured seller. Becoming the featured seller means your products receive maximum visibility and usually generate the most sales. Several factors determine whether your products reach this list, including:
- Competitive pricing: Because buyers expect to see low prices when browsing Amazon, competitive prices are a must. The total cost of a product listed includes the cost of shipping.
- Special offers: To help boost your product to the top, it’s helpful to include special offers and discounts.
- Seller history: Sellers with a successful history on Amazon tend to have a better chance at obtaining the featured spot.
- Seller reviews: Customer reviews have a huge impact on increasing sales. Like with a retail store, sellers that offer excellent customer service, quick shipping and premium products tend to gain a following of repeat business.
As a business owner, you can always set up both a Canadian and U.S. account to reach the greatest number of customers. This allows you to gain customers across North America. In Canada, there aren’t as many options for shipping to get products to your customers, so shipping tends to be more expensive. This is one reason why more Canadians don’t purchase products online, but through FBA, your business can take advantage of Amazon’s free two-day shipping to reduce shipping costs. You can also reduce customer service issues by allowing Amazon to streamline all your returns. If you have a product that’s hard to find in the United States, the profit margins will be huge along with the sales velocity. One thing to keep in mind if you price your products in Canada, is that you’ll convert your sales from U.S. dollars to Canadian currency. Be sure to monitor the exchange rate every month. As the exchange rates go up and down, the prices on your products should reflect those rates.
For all products you sell on Amazon Canada, you have to pay a federal sales tax. Unlike the United States, the tax in Canada is relatively simple. Each province sets its own tax rate. Once you make a sale, you remit all taxes on one form.
How to Optimize Your Products
Amazon is a search engine just like Google and other similar sites, so it’s important to understand optimization to keep your company name and listings at the top of the list. Unlike Google, which focuses on links and unique content, product rankings on Amazon are based on how much money is generated on each product. The more money a product makes, the higher it will be when a customer searches for the product. Amazon has a specific format for each of its product sale pages that involves specifics about the product, so unique content isn’t necessary to attract customers and to be successful.
Because the Amazon marketplace doesn’t care about unique content, if you have the same bullets, title and description as another page, it won’t affect your sales. Instead, when you create a product page that follows Amazon’s rules for listings, you help drive traffic to the page.
Search optimization for Amazon isn’t difficult to understand once you know the basics of listings. Fortunately, the algorithm doesn’t change very often for Amazon, so you won’t have to update your listings as often as you do with a traditional website on Google. Google focuses mainly on on-page optimization, so as long as all of the necessary information is located on your product page, you can increase your rankings relatively quickly.
Elements Involved in Optimizing Products
There are a few elements you need to pay attention to when listing products for sale on the Amazon site. These optimization factors determine where your product ranks in the search results.
- Title: The longer and more detailed the title of the product, the better, because it helps direct customers to your product in a search. The title can be up to 500 characters and should include at least one keyword and follow a formula that includes the brand, model number, model name, product type and colour.
- Description: Start the description with a bulleted list that provides all of the important features of the product. Bulleted lists are much easier for customers to process and read, but you can also include a short written description below the bulleted list describing any other important factors about the product.
- Text match: There are three types of text match search methods to choose from for your ads, including broad match, phrase match and exact match. Broad match creates a large audience and can include misspelled words, phrase match controls the word order and narrows down your audience, while an exact match of search terms narrows your audience down to the smallest size.
- Price availability: There are three main factors to consider when you’re pricing your merchandise for Amazon, including competition, sales rank and price history. Matching Amazon’s price on a product generally ensures an item will sell quickly and you won’t have to fight a price war, but when the competition for a product is fierce, you may have to lower or raise your prices as needed.
- Selection: Carefully research what products are selling best on Amazon. For best results, consider finding a top product, locate a supplier making the product, and then put your name on it and sell it too.
- Sales history: Amazon looks at the sales history of a product to help determine its rank on the page. The more items of a specific product that you sell, the higher up in the search ratings it will appear.
- Fulfillment method: Choosing the Amazon fulfillment method with two-day shipping has a higher conversion rate for sales. If you choose to fulfill your products yourself, your company may save money, but you may receive less overall sales, so it’s important to choose your fulfillment method wisely.
- Reviews: Reviews may not have an effect on rankings, but they can help you make a sale. Create a campaign to reach out to prior customers and offer a discount or a free product for an honest review.
- Images: Images help showcase the items being sold, so it’s important to include quality images with each product. Use five to six images, so your potential customers can see the item from several viewing angles.
- Advertising (The most important factor): Ads make your products show up next to the search results for the keyword you specify. This keeps your products near the top of the page so more buyers have a chance to see them.
- Sales velocity: Determine how well your products will sell by looking through Amazon’s velocity chart. The chart indicates how many products are sold in each category each month.
Tips to Break Into the Seller Market
Offer Competitive Pricing
There are two ways to achieve higher sales more quickly. First, start by offering a low-competition item to boost your seller rank. Consider searching for products using an application like Jungle Scout, which helps project sales on that specific item. You might also try offering an extremely competitive price on a popular product. This draws bargain shoppers to your business and can increase your overall seller ranking.
Syncing Data to QuickBooks
QuickBooks Online has many apps that integrate. Check out these retail apps to help maximize your Amazon sales.
- Entriwise: Entriwise lets you sign up for an account using your Amazon credentials. Once you create an account, you choose which features you want to use and let the program know which version of QuickBooks you’re using. Choose between automatic handling or manual handling of your Amazon fees. After setup, you can start transferring your Amazon sales data to help you reconcile accounts, handle inventory and run reports. This online account app lets you track sales, work out taxes and keep track of shipping.
- Unify: Are you bad when it comes to managing daily or weekly accounting tasks? Unify lets you simplify your business accounting by automatically posting data from Amazon directly into QuickBooks. This means you can manage online orders, track shipping, adjust inventory levels and even access customer information all from a single application.
- Zapier: Zapier lets you combine a trigger with an action to automate many of the Amazon tasks and to sync directly with QuickBooks. For example, you can set the program to send an invoice as soon as a new order comes in or to email a receipt once a customer pays. This program helps you automate some of the most tedious tasks, so you can spend more time running your business.
- Cloud Cart Connector: Cloud Cart Connector works with Amazon Canada, Europe and United States. This application lets you pull Amazon orders and transfer them to QuickBooks. You can also retrieve your data online from anywhere with an internet connection. You can receive a summary of your orders, track and pay fees, and manage inventory levels.
While most large brands are attracted to the large U.S. market, selling items on the Amazon Canada site can help you expand your potential market and generate more sales and revenue for your business. Because the Amazon market hasn’t taken off in Canada like it has in the United States, you stand to gain a large following among current buyers in the online market.