FIRST THINGS FIRST
SAVE YOURSELF FROM FUTURE TROUBLE, BY GETTING THINGS RIGHT FROM THE FIRST INVENTORY ORDER
As every other amazon seller you must have spent countless hours on product research, trying to find that one product that will sell like hotcakes and bring plenty of $$$$ in your bank account.
Before placing the first inventory order to your manufacturer, you need to make sure that EVERYTHING is taken into account and no obstacle will stop your way to success.
No matter what concerns you the most at this point, you should turn your attention to order the BEST product that no customer can ever say a bad word about.
In this article, you will find out 3+ 1FOOLPROOF methods to ensure your products superiority over your competitors!
- ELIMINATE GUESSWORK & FIND OUT EXACTLY HOW YOUR CUSTOMERS WANT YOUR PRODUCT TO BE LIKE!
Choosing the right product in terms of competition, profit margin, seasonality and solid demand, is not enough.
You may have chosen –for example- that your next product will be a set of placemats, in the home and kitchen category, as it passes all the criteria mentioned before.
Well, is that enough?
Just by taking a quick look at this product on Amazon, you will see that there are more than 300 pages of such products. Some are doing great, while others are hardly making a couple of sales per month or even worse are rated with less than 3 stars.
As a part of your research, you should check hundreds of negative reviews in order to find out what disappointed those customers and turn your competitors’ weak points to YOUR advantage.
THAT’S A GOLDMINE!
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Now you have access to a vast amount of information, that your customers themselves provide in the product reviews they post in competitive listings, and they are actually informing you on what your product MUST or MUST NOT have.
It could be size problems, quality issues, poor design, lack of customer service or anything among those lines.
Once you collect this invaluable info, your job is to create a product that won’t feature any of those issues.
Let’s take a look at the following example:
NOTE FOR YOUR PRODUCT: Ensure that it will be 100% heat resistant
NOTE FOR YOUR PRODUCT: Ask for double sticking, so that edges won’t fray
NOTE FOR YOUR PRODUCT: Ask the manufacturer for non-slippery material
And the list goes on and on….
Another secure way to find out what your target audience loves is to check the positive reviews of your competitors and find their strong points, ensuring that your product will feature those too!
NOTE FOR YOUR PRODUCT: Make sure it is easy to clean. Maybe vinyl material
NOTE FOR PRODUCT: Consider waterproof mats
NOTE FOR PRODUCT: Provide great customer service
EXTRA NOTE: A table runner would be a great complementary product
Finally, you can find valuable information about what your product should or should not be like, by checking successful retail sellers out of Amazon. Just spend some time reviewing the websites of such companies and you will find out all the details your product needs.
A UK Company named John Lewis that has sold hundreds of placemats, provides the following table of valuable information you can use for your product:
You may also check more popular sites, like IKEA or Target, and trust their expertise on how your product should be designed.
To keep everything neatly organized, depending on your product, just create a table with all the features or details you want your manufacturer to follow, including material, size, quality and more.
DO NOT JUST CONTACT YOUR MANUFACTURER AND LET HIM CHOOSE ALL THESE FEATURES FOR YOU; NOR TRUST YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY ON WHAT YOUR FINAL PRODUCT SHOULD BE LIKE
As the success of your product depends on those details, it is your responsibility to make a thorough research that will define the final specifications of the upcoming product. To do so, you have to check:
- NEGATIVE REVIEWS -> What to avoid
- POSITIVE REVIEWS -> What to include
- SUCCESSFUL RETAIL COMPANIES -> What to focus on
If you are too busy doing that, just contact us and we will take the hassle away!
A FINAL TIP:
Once you have created a list of all the MUST HAVE specifications for your product, contact your manufacturer – or even better many manufactures- and ask them if they can handle this, without neglecting any of those features.
On top of that, if your manufacturers’ team is an expert on the field, you can also ask them if they have any further suggestions/ improvements to make, to ensure even better results!
In many cases, they may be able to offer some complementary products in a rather profitable price that you could use to bundle your main product in order to differentiate yours from the competition.
Make Your Own Research -> Ask The Supplier -> Make Your Own Research Again -> Rinse & Repeat
2. FIND A SUPPLIER THAT CAN PROVIDE CERTIFICATES OF QUALITY
No one gets super excited when the product they receive says “Made In China”.
Well, as a seller you should know by now that as in every other country, China also offers different quality standards and respectively, different pricing plans.
It’s your choice whether you will choose the cheapest manufacturer of all, who has admittedly informed you about the quality of the final product –or sooner or later you will find out by the negative reviews on your listing- or if you are willing to pay something more to produce and sell a more high-end quality product, that won’t attract dozens of negative reviews about its effectiveness or durability.
If you belong to the second group of sellers- which probably means that you take your business seriously- there is something else you should keep in mind while contacting manufactures:
Depending on the product you will be launching, there are some certificates you can provide to attest to their quality, suitability or durability from the manufacturers’ part.
A well-established manufacturing company that works with countries that usually uphold high standards like Europe, North America or Canada should be able to provide any kind of certificate that can be used for your product.
Product certifications highly depend on the nature of the product as well as the market you are selling to, as different certificate regulations apply to Europe or US states.
To find out what certificates could be provided for your product, you may:
· Check for your competitors’ listings/ websites, in and out of amazon
· Ask your supplier/ manufacturer (trust only someone who is an expert on the field)
· Consult an inspection company
(NOTE: The inspection companies provide different quality controls, which is a different thing. Yet, they should be able to advice you on what certificates could be used for your product)
TIP: If you are launching a low-risk product (no electronic devices, no kids’ toys or baby items, no beauty/ healthy products) then you could even ask your manufacturer for a Declaration of Conformity, where he confirms that the product provided abides by the regulations/customs of the respective country.
Why having a certificate is so, so important?
- You, as a seller of a new product, can feel confident about the inventory you will be selling.
- Customers will instantly trust your product more, especially when it comes to baby, kitchen or personal care products
- You can use these Certificates as an excellent selling point in your listing.
- Your pricing could even be higher than your competitors’, as your product will be perceived as a high-quality item that a customer can invest in.
3. ADD THE RIGHT IDENTIFICATION CODE IN YOUR PACKAGE, IN THE FIRST PLACE
No matter if you are a new or experienced seller, I am sure that the following acronyms have –at some point- been a headache. Let’s take a closer look at those to find out which one you need to add in your product package:
UPC => Universal Product Code, widely used in North America. (12 digits, scannable out of amazon)
EAN=> European Article Number, mostly used in Europe (12 or 13 digits)
ISBN=> International Standard Book Number (13 digits, used only for books)
ASIN => Amazon Standard Identification Number, provided only by Amazon for Amazon products, visible in the URL of each product listing (10 digits, with letters and numbers)
SKU => A custom code created by the seller or generated automatically by Amazon (nothing to worry about at this point)
FNSKU=> Fulfillment Network Stock Keeping Unit. The unique and ONLY way Amazon scans a product in the warehouse to match it with the listings’ ID.
Wondering which on you need to print on your product?
Just because this is how Amazon will scan and locate your products in their warehouses. It is MANDATORY for each product to have an FNSKU code.
How to get it?
In order to generate an FNSKU code from Amazon, you need to set up your listing first. At this point you do not have to worry about images, description, bullet points etc. All you have to do is to set up the skeleton of your listing, so Amazon’s system can provide the FNSKU code you need.
To do so, you have to use a UPC or EAN code, depending whether you are selling on USA or Europe.
Once you have purchased a code for your product, you can add it to your Amazon seller central account while setting up your listing, along with some other information you will be asked. (You can come back anytime to rework on the title, pricing etc. For the time, just compete those fields in order to get Amazon’s system to “save” your listing)
Once your listing is saved, this page will pop up, asking you to choose between Manufacturer’s Barcode or Amazon Barcode (FNSKU), and you should choose the latter.
Select the product listing you just created, click on “Edit” and choose “Print Item Labels”
Once you click that, a PDF file will be downloaded, including the FNSKU barcode for your product, which should be send to your manufacturer to be added in your product or product packaging!
Let’s clarify some points!
- Many FBA sellers choose to have the UPC or EAN code in their package, and just stick the FNSKU code on top of that, as any other code other than FNSKU has to be covered.As this process would take more time and effort, you can as well skip using the UPC/ EAN code on your package, and go with the FNSKU code right away. You can also check amazon’s official guide on that!
- You cannot skip purchasing a UPC or EAN code for your product. You do not have to add it in your package, but you do need it in order to set up your listing.
- The SKU and ASIN codes are generated by amazon once your listing has been set up and they are useful just for identifying your listing within Amazon. Do NOT add them in your package.
- If you are an arbitrage or wholesale seller, your product should already have a UPC code. In this case, the only choice is to cover that code with a FNSKU sticker.
- ADD AN INSERT CARD TO YOUR PRODUCT PACKAGES BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE
When your product starts selling, one of your biggest concerns would be gathering positive reviews and definitely preventing negative ones.
Later on, when your business will be growing, your focus will be on how to successfully scale it.
The most powerful tool you may use to achieve those goals would be INSERT CARDS.
In this small piece of paper you can ask your customers to leave a positive review, to contact you directly in your email in case of any issue and you can even start creating your email list, which every successful Amazon sellers uses for launching new products, cross selling, promoting their own websites and so much more!
It works in a pretty straightforward way:
-> You add an insert card to your product, asking the customer to leave a review or sign up in your landing page to receive a coupon code, lifetime guarantee, a free eBook or anything among those lines.
-> Some of your customers follow your instructions, and sign up in your list or share their feedback on your listings.
-> With every purchase, the number of the reviews or your email list is growing, at almost zero cost!
Yet, there is a catch!
You can ONLY add an insert card to your product package, while the product is still in the manufacturing process. Once your product is shipped to Amazons’ warehouses, the chance to add an insert card to your product is lost, once and for all!
Make sure you won’t miss that, by following the next easy steps:
=> When you select your manufacture, ask him/her if they can handle insert cards (Almost everyone does. In the improbably case they don’t just search for “business card printing” or “post card printing” on Alibaba. These agencies will print and send the package inserts to your supplier to be added in your packages.
=> Find a talented copywriter and a graphic designer to prepare your insert card. You may use Fiverr for those two services, as it is super affordable and the results in the majority of cases are impressive.
=> Send the final insert card design to your manufacturer –BEFORE THE MANUFACTURING PROCESS IS OVER- to print and add those cards in every single package. (While there is no standard pricing for that, the value of this should be less than $0.20 for each card- usually even less)
=> Follow up with them multiple times to ensure that everything is handled according to the plan.
For a super detailed guide on how to make the most out of your insert cards, check the following article: Insert Cards For Amazon FBA: A Detailed Guide To The Best Marketing Tool
There are millions of products out there, but none of them is created equal.
It is your job to ensure that the product you will invest your money or saving to, will be carefully designed and produced in order to help you succeed.
IMPORTANT: Your supplier will produce your products, but you are the one to design them. If the design/details/features of your product is not what your customers want, no matter how good your manufacturer was, you will have some hard time to make that product a success.
And there is ONE solution on that: thorough COMPETITIVE RESEARCH.
This is the first and most important step for building a solid foundation for your upcoming bussiness.
What are the next ones? If the savage competition on amazon scares you, take action by:
=> Providing certificates of quality for your new products to gain a competitive advantage
=> Being proactive. Today, you may consider insert cards as a pointless extra, time-consuming step you don’t have to take. Same day, next year, having an email list of 500 customers that was built with the help of those pointless papers, could have invaluable importance for the future of your business.
Manufacturing the perfect product is the basis of the whole endeavor.
Without a solid foundation, you will have trouble creating and preserving anything of value.
Are you willing to take the risk?