Swim the Amazon: Using One of the World’s Largest Retailers to Enhance Your Business

In the wild waters of online commerce, it’s tough to skip a rock these days without those ripples reaching Amazon, and for good reason! Amazon accounted for nearly half of US e-commerce sales in 2017, and their surge of success shows no signs of slowing down. Thankfully, pairing Amazon with your store can mean cresting that wave and employing a tsunami of tools to benefit yourself and your business - and we’re here to help!

Wading Right In

There are two ways to integrate a Volusion store with Amazon - providing Amazon Pay as a payment method on your store, and using the Sell on Amazon feature. Amazon Pay in particular is quick to set up and straightforward to use, a great way to attract customers used to paying for merchandise through their Amazon account. Selling on Amazon (through our handy integration or just in general) can also prove lucrative, and for that you will want an Amazon Professional Seller account.

Once you’ve dipped your toes in the Amazon system, you can start to create listings. And these waters run deep - there is much you can do to promote your brand and maximize your exposure on Amazon’s platform. We’ll go over the basics here.

Revenue Streams and Tributaries

The first thing to know is that when you are listing non-unique products on Amazon, they will be grouped with offers from other merchants. You will be one of many new or used listings and competing with them for the best price, most painless shipping, and most attractive bells and whistles, like good reviews, images, descriptions, and customer service. When on a particular product’s page in Amazon you will be listed with these other offers via a link below the product description...but there is another way Amazon allows its best merchants to float to the top, the coveted “Buy Box”.

How does Amazon determine who 'wins' the coveted 'Buy Box'? What criteria are employed?

The buy box is the familiar yellow Add to Cart button on many Amazon product pages, and the vast majority of sales happen from customers clicking this shiny lure. How does Amazon determine who “wins” this buy box? What criteria are employed? It’s the same method they use to decide the order of their various merchants’ listings, and the answer is “many and varied”. If you haven’t been on Amazon long and built a reputation with them, landing the top spot is unlikely. But thankfully much of what Amazon uses to filter raging rapids from dribbling dams is already ecommerce best practice, and they're transparent about it.

You want your prices to stay competitive, your inventory to stay updated, and your options for the customer to be slick and accommodating, especially shipping. In addition your ranking will improve naturally as your history grows, showing what a solid bet you are for customers: good reviews and positive selling histories can turn the Amazon algorithm tide to your favor, in time. The main thing to remember is to ensure you are providing as seamless and efficient an experience to your Amazon customers as possible.

Fulfillment by Amazon is a program where customers purchase merchandise from you, and Amazon ships it to them from their warehouses (rather than your own).

Fulfillment is also worth a mention here, as it can improve your ranking in listings if it fits your business model. Fulfillment by Amazon is a program where customers purchase merchandise from you, and Amazon ships it to them from their warehouses (rather than your own). Not only does this work well with Volusion’s drop shipping settings, but it can help your products cross the gulf needed to reach an ever-increasing population of Amazon Prime members! Not to mention freeing you from worries of your items making it to distant shores.

Avoiding the Piranha Products

There are a few schools of thought to avoid when creating listings, if you want to make a splash in their ranking system. If you’re just starting out, do your research! You may find they don’t allow new merchants to use one or two-day shipping until you’ve established a history of reliability at slower speeds, so extremely perishable items are out (for now). Avoid gaming the system by making your own product detail page for an item you know is already listed - if this is discovered (and it very often is) your listing will be removed before it’s even seen. And of course, the more popular your merchandise is through other sellers, the less likely you are to stand out.

Selling refurbished or used products can be advantageous - there is a large market for these with buyers who are more concerned with price than speed or pristine condition.

Instead, try selling hobby or niche products. Amazon rarely carries these sorts of items on its own, so you’ll only be competing with other, likely smaller, businesses. Selling refurbished or used products can be advantageous as well - there is a large market for these with buyers who are more concerned with price than speed or pristine condition (do note that used products don’t count for the Buy Box, however). Selling your own unique items (like crafts) or items you’ve already noticed have little competition can also boost your seller ranking. And if you’re limited to more common fare, there is always the tactic of setting a very competitive price to draw in bargain shoppers and give your account a quick boost of reputation.

See the Rainforest for the Trees

We mentioned doing your research above, and that is useful for choosing the right products and knowing Amazon’s policies. But it’s equally important to stay current on Amazon’s big picture! You can check out Amazon’s own publications to see what they get up to, and your seller tools and other areas of the site like “Most Wished For” can give you tantalizing data to consider for listings.

It’s vital to stay abreast of Amazon’s latest strokes of genius; you never know what could align with your own brand. Being prepared for a rollout of their next big feature could provide you with a major leg up on the competition, as you modify your listings to capitalize on their change in direction.

Amazon can attract people to your own web presence as they become curious about the quality of your products or service.

A River Funds Through It

Ultimately, few businesses will want to rely solely on Amazon for their sales, but as many merchants have found it can provide an important second revenue stream. And there are other advantages to consider - Amazon can attract people to your own web presence as they become curious about the quality of your products or service. It can provide your business with alternate flows for prospective visitors - the more sterile, familiar, and streamlined process Amazon offers, and the more attentive, personal, customized design of your own site and brand, turning impulse buy into lifestyle choice. Sometimes it is as much about the journey as the destination! Finally, it supplies you with all the powerful tools and wider market at Amazon’s disposal, without having to invest the time and money Amazon has into predictive AI and other fields of R&D, helping your goods flow like water and keeping your business goals on course.

Have any questions about selling on Amazon? Let us know in the comments!