Selling on Amazon part 2 (the useful stuff)

If you’re looking for actual advice about getting going on Amazon Seller Central you can skip part 1 of my Amazon posts and just start here. I promise you’re not missing much. It was mainly a rant about how bad it was and how much I dislike it. On reflection though, there are actually some things I do like:

  • They store my stock for me. My husband is already complaining that we need a bigger shed, or a garage. Imagine what would happen if I had a few pallets of swaddles delivered. I definitely can’t just throw them on top of the wardrobe like I do with everything else that doesn’t have an actual place.
  • They’ll wrap/box it up all nicely for me. I’m rubbish at wrapping. Which isn’t particularly good with Christmas just weeks away. Apologies now to anyone reading this (I’m assuming most readers are friends or family right now) who receives one of my badly wrapped presents. I do try my best (for the first few anyway, then I get bored and it just becomes a chore to complete as quickly as possible).
  • They’ll post it for me. This is very important, as I hate going to the Post Office. I always have at least one impatient child with me, there’s always a queue, I have to either take a ticket (like at a meat counter) and wait for my number to be called, or use the self service machine. And it isn’t really self service as once you’ve weighed the parcel and keyed in all the details, you still need to wait for someone to come along, press a few buttons and take your parcel away.

Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA)

All of the above is made possible by selecting Fulfilment by Amazon in your seller’s account. Sure, they do charge you for storage, and postage (on top of the £30 monthly seller’s fee, which I’ve paid despite selling nothing and having nothing in the warehouse…), but how good is it not to have to do all of this yourself? Plus, you can sell on your own website (or anywhere else you fancy) and they’ll still do it all for you. (For a fee.) AND the biggest benefit, of course, is the hundreds of thousands of customers you have access to.

So, getting set up is relatively easy. Right at the bottom of the main Amazon homepage is a little link that says ‘Sell on Amazon’. You fill in a form, give a bit of information (I had to provide some ID) and you’ll hopefully get approved. So that’s step one and you’re now in Seller Central.

There are a few set up things to do, but nothing too taxing – give them your bank details, choose whether you want Fulfilment by Amazon or whether you’re brave enough to handle it yourself, whether you want to list on Amazon’s other European sites, decide who handles returns and customer services and that’s you pretty much ready to go. They send you a few confusing emails about what to do next, but I didn’t find them particularly useful. I read the policies (to make sure I don’t do anything that will get me kicked out) and figured out the rest myself, or by using the forum.

Starting to sell

So there are two things you really need to do to get selling. The first is to get your product listing up. The second is to book in your inventory. If you’re selling products you’ve manufactured yourself there is a little interim step too. Basically, to sell anything you need a UPC (unique product code) or some other way to identify it. (They mentioned ASINs, EACs – they seem to amount to the same thing.) If you’re re-selling someone else’s product it should have this already. If not, you can buy UPCs (although that seemed to me to be a good way of getting ripped off), or apply for an exception. The simplest way to do this is to register your brand (as if you’re selling your own products, presumably you have a brand) on Amazon’s Brand Registry. They’ll then assign your products a GCID (Global Catalogue Identifier) and you’re good to go.

Amazon’s Brand Registry

As an aside, I didn’t find the brand registry an easy process. I got declined twice, both for different reasons. I then emailed customer services to complain about this injustice and my application was suddenly approved. So, if you’re confident you’ve done all that’s required (the key things seem to be having a website, photos that show your branding and being able to prove you’re set up as a company) then don’t just accept a no.

Adding your listing should then be relatively simple. You need to have some decent photos, plus bullet points of your products key features. It’s helpful if you have the product dimensions and weight. There’s also space for some free text.

Creating your shipping plan

Once you’ve done that, you can go into the inventory menu and add a shipment. For this, you need to know what you’ve got coming into the warehouse (if you’re sending your stock to Amazon). How many boxes/packets, how many cartons, they’re packed into, how big they are and what they weigh. Amazon assigns the warehouse and then you’ll then have two sets of labels to print / send to your manufacturer. One is for the product itself and replaces the barcode. The other is for each carton you’re sending in. (For example, I have 25 cartoons, each containing 20 boxes of swaddles, so 25 individual labels.)

After that, you’ll be where I am now – anxiously waiting for the stock to actually get there so you can start selling it. (Although, as I covered in another post there’s plenty to do in the meantime.)