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How To Master Amazon: “Understand what makes your product different” With Tara Darnley & Eldad Shashua

How To Master Amazon: “Understand what makes your product different” With Tara Darnley & Eldad Shashua 0

…So, the first thing I tell my clients is knowing your unique selling proposition is key in becoming successful on Amazon first and foremost. What makes the product you are selling different? How will it simplify or change the customer’s life after purchase? Knowing your competition is also important in upselling the beneficial features of […]
Are You Using Linkedin Effectively: How I Got Amazon to Feature My Brand on their Blog and Additional Press

Are You Using Linkedin Effectively: How I Got Amazon to Feature My Brand on their Blog and Additional Press 1

Are you familiar with Linkedin? Did you create your page and forgot about it? Seems like another platform to master and you are just over it?

I get it! I was right where you are two years ago. Last year I decided to start investing some time into polishing up my Linkedin account. LinkedIn is a social network specifically designed for career and business professionals to connect. LinkedIn is ideal for building connections for freelance work, a customer base, potential partners, or simply to keep your job prospects open. For me, LinkedIn is Facebook for professional friends or potential clients etc to connect and network.

I've not fully mastered it, but after doing my interview with Bianca this year on Episode 21: Bianca Jackson on Leveraging LinkedIn to Market Your Business & Win More Clients I was all in. I was certainly missing out on major opportunities and coinage! This year was all about no coins left behind, so optimizing my page I did.

So I took Bianca's advise, added my professional profile picture (new upgraded one) and added my Biography and companies. I automated my weekly Podcast to be posted there as well, gained new listeners with this method. This year I also focused on growing my personal brand, particularly as a Public Speaker. So I leveraged the platform heavily this year for this. I also realized that whenever I pitched anyone to speak or before I was pitched for an opportunity, they almost always viewed my LinkedIn before. It's your first virtual business card. My clients often have said they've found our services based on Blogs we've posted on the platform or viewed my LinkedIn page before they invested in our services.

amazon stories

So how did I get Amazon's Blog to feature our main brand Darlyng & Co.'s Story? I did some detective investigation.......

Found the email address on LinkedIn of the person in charge of Amazon Stories where they featured small businesses that have had success on the platform. So let me note that it's important when pitching that you are providing their audience value and content that actually ties into what they are doing. Otherwise, this won't work! We've been selling on Amazon for 4 years and have had Success. So I emailed a cold email and no response.

But here's the thing with cold emails. It could be potentially 100 reasons that person didn't respond. What I've learned is to never take it PERSONAL! They may have very well seen your email, loved your pitch and had it in mind to respond at a later time. But we are all busy and it could easily be forgotten with tons of more important emails with deadlines coming in every second. So I would wait about a week or two (depending on how time sensitive) to email again with a follow-up email. I normally do 3-4 follow-up emails. About 2-3 weeks later, I received an email from her assistant wanting to feature us for the blog and wanted to interview us.

Oh yay!! So what was amazing about this Press Feature was it was a few days before Black Friday and our Amazon was LIT! On top of this amazing opportunity, Amazon's team booked us to be featured on our Local News Channel on Cyber Monday! Plus our local channel wants to feature us for segments next year!

 

So yes, LinkedIn is BAEEEE. If used correctly.

 

I've been working on a few new techniques and will definitely update this blog post with more tips and tricks and techniques that have actually worked for me. Until then, please comment below if this was valuable and also share with us what has worked for you. Share this post with your network if this was helpful and join our Facebook Group for more dope actionable and practical steps you can take today to grow your business.

Add me on LinkedIn

I'd love to network with you :)

 

Amazon's Gated Categories: How To Get Approved In Restricted Categories

Amazon's Gated Categories: How To Get Approved In Restricted Categories 0

ungated category

 

In this article, we will teach you the various gated and ungated categories in Amazon as well as what you should do to get ungated.

Amazon wants customers to be able to shop with confidence on Amazon. For certain products and categories, Amazon might require additional fees, performance checks, and other qualifications.

So before we jump into the proper process of getting ungated on Amazon, let's review the good news! Guess what? There are tons of categories that are automatically open to everyone, including new sellers!

These are the categories:

  • Baby *
  • Beauty***
  • New & Used Books (not including Collectible Books)
  • Camera & Photo
  • Consumer Electronics **
  • Fine Art (but new seller applications are limited)
  • Health & Personal Care***
  • Home & Garden
  • Kindle Accessories
  • Musical Instruments
  • Office Products
  • Outdoors
  • Personal Computers
  • Pet Supplies
  • Software **
  • Sports
  • Tools & Home Improvement
  • Toys *
  • Video Games **

* Some restrictions apply during the holiday season.

**Specific products may still require approval.

***There are sub-categories that may still require approval, and an application fee.

 

The Categories That Are Restricted On Amazon

amazon restricted category

So now that we have covered all the categories that are open to all sellers on Amazon and we have also cleared up some confusion about the categories that are sometimes (or were) gated, let's get to the real deal! what are actually restricted categories on Amazon?

 

 

These are the restricted categories:

  • Automotive & Powersports
  • Clothing & Accessories*
  • Collectible Books
  • Entertainment Collectibles
  • Gift Cards
  • Grocery & Gourmet Foods
  • Industrial & Scientific (the BISS category)
  • Jewelry (Note: Amazon is not currently accepting new seller applications for jewelry)
  • Luggage & Travel Accessories*
  • Major Appliances
  • Shoes, Handbags & Sunglasses*
  • Sports Collectibles
  • Watches

These categories are listed as restricted in some places or pages on Amazon, but it actually appears that these are open, but just be careful because some BRANDS require approval. 

Restrictions Based On Product Condition

restricted program

Used items cannot be sold in the following categories:

  • Beauty
  • Clothing, Accessories & Luggage
  • Grocery & Gourmet Food
  • Health & Personal Care
  • Jewelry
  • Shoes, Handbags & Sunglasses
  • Toys & Games *
  • Watches

NOTE: Amazon has long banned selling toys in used condition but would allow sellers to list them in Collectible condition. This is considered a “loop-hole” because that is where buyers and sellers go for “used” toys.

Why Does Amazon Restricted Categories Exist?

gated and ungated category

Understanding Amazon’s Point-of-View

Every single requirements page for the Amazon restricted categories reads the same:

“Amazon limits the addition of new sellers in [this] category to ensure that customers can buy with confidence from all sellers on Amazon.com.”

 

HOW TO GET UNGATED IN AMAZON RESTRICTED CATEGORIES

ungated category

What is Ungating? – this is the process of getting approval to sell in Amazon restricted categories

You will really find that some Amazon categories are very restricted for new sellers. Sellers will need to get approved by Amazon in order to sell products in certain categories. There are a lot of benefits to getting ungated so if you want to expand your Amazon FBA business you should consider starting the approval process.

The harsh reality is that most of the best categories with the biggest opportunities are gated for new sellers.

So, what are the advantages of getting ungated on Amazon?

There will be LESS competition in the gated categories and therefore MORE opportunities for sourcing GREAT DEALS. It also means you will avoid any new rules and regulations as Amazon continues to make things more difficult. In gated categories, you tend to get more experienced sellers. This means less inexperienced penny pinchers constantly undercutting prices in a race to the bottom. Amazon sellers usually find their ROI (return on investment) is much higher once you are selling in gated categories.

E-commerce is growing and therefore there is a MASSIVE business opportunity to be had by those who see the potential. It will never be EASIER – Amazon is adding more rules and regulations all the time so we recommend you do it now while it is as EASY as it is ever going to be.

 

Requirements for getting approval in restricted categories

Before you start your ungating journey, you need to ensure your seller account meets some of Amazon’s minimum requirements.

Professional Amazon Seller Account.

A knowledge of good genuine wholesalers and not cash and carry firms.

Invoices correctly addressed to your Seller Account name and registered address and dated within the last 90 days, although our recommendation is to use very recent invoices.

You must be able to provide a return delivery address in the local country (Amazon provide this if you’re doing FBA).

You must be able to provide local language support for customer service in the country in which you wish to sell (gotta love Google Translate 😊).

Good Seller Metrics.

The Basic Process For Getting Ungated On Amazon

In some cases, you'll request approval to sell in a restricted category and will be approved automatically. This happens randomly and without notice. Amazon doesn't specify which brands or categories this works for.

In general, however, you'll request approval by following these steps to start the process:

  • In Seller Central, click the inventory link and select Add a Product.
  • Run a search for the item you wish to sell. Or ANY product that you know is listed in that category.
  • In the search results, click the Listing Limitations Apply link across from the restricted item.
  • Click the Request Approval button to begin the application process.

To check the status of an application, return to the Add a Product tool and click the Selling application status link located toward the top of the page.

Depending on the category you are requesting approval in, the process that happens after clicking request approval could be slightly different.  We will cover some of the different processes below.

 

How to Get Ungated In The Grocery Category

Of the restricted categories, Grocery & Gourmet Food is probably the one that new sellers are most interested in. It has a wide variety of products that are familiar and easy to source, and with low investment. In fact, we wrote an entire book about how to sell grocery items!

Amazon outlines the process to apply to get ungated in Grocery & Gourmet Food on Seller Central, though sellers have had varying experiences with that process and have filled us in on tips that worked for them.

First and foremost, you'll need good seller metrics, an invoice showing proof of purchase, and possibly some other paperwork.

Seller metrics include:

Be a PRO MERCHANT – this means you are paying the $39.00 a month for your seller account.

  • Order defect rate: < 1%
  • Pre-fulfillment cancel rate: < 2.5%
  • Late shipment rate:        < 4%

The only reason you would fall below these as an Amazon seller is if you are doing Merchant Fulfilling. Since you are most likely just doing FBA, you will meet the above requirements no problem :)

We wish you every SUCCESS in getting yourself ungated and unlocking the possibilities available to Amazon Sellers.

Amazon is a GREAT platform for selling and the more products you can SELL, the more MONEY you can make!

 Here are a few recaps:

Request approval

Sellers must meet additional qualifications to sell certain brands or list within certain categories on Amazon. Follow these steps to apply for approval:
    • From the Inventory, menu select Add a Product. 
    • Search for the item you want to sell.
    • In the search results, click the Listing limitations apply link next to the item. 
  • Click the Request Approval button to begin the application process.

 

Food & Beverage 

Important: If you supply products for sale on Amazon, you must comply with all federal, state, and local laws and Amazon policies applicable to those products and product listings.
The grocery and gourmet food department’s products are all consumable products available for purchase on Amazon. This category includes hot and cold beverages, snacks, breakfast foods, cooking staples, baby food, and even flowers and plants.

Organic products

Products that (1) claim to be organic, (2) claim to contain organic ingredients, or (3) use the U.S. Department of Agriculture ("USDA") organic seal must comply with the USDA organic regulations at 7 CFR Part 205. You are responsible for understanding and complying with all requirements of the organic regulations, including production, certification and labeling requirements. For more information, see Organic Products.

Examples of permitted listings

  • Properly prepared and sealed foods and beverages that are appropriately packaged and labeled. Products need to be shipped appropriately to protect the quality and safety of the food, to avoid spoilage, melting, damage, and so on. All food packaging must include the following:
    • Product name
    • Name and address of the packaging company
    • Expiration date
    • Net content quantity and weight (the weight of the contents, not including any packaging)
  • Lot-controlled products with a shelf-life of greater than 90 days.
    • Perishable products must be removed from inventory 50 days before the expiration date.
    • For Amazon-fulfilled orders (FBA), units within 50 days of expiration will be removed for disposal and will not be available for return.

Examples of prohibited listings

  • Unregistered infant formula
  • Goat's milk infant formula
  • HIPP formula and milk products
  • Products containing any meat imported from China
  • Betel nut products or products containing betel nut flavoring
  • Kaffir lime leaves imported from Thailand

Shipping and labeling requirements

Each shipment of produce must have: (1) the name and address of the shipper or owner; (2) the name of the person to whom the shipment is being sent; (3) the name of the country, state, or territory where the contents were grown; and (4) a statement of the contents. State and local governments may have additional requirements for both interstate and intrastate shipment and labeling of certain produce.

Additional useful information

See Selling Custom Variety Packs of Single-Serve Hot Beverage Products for additional Grocery & Gourmet Food guidelines.

 

Food & Beverage

Sourced Credit: Amazon Seller Central

 

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How Can Small Business Participate On Amazon Prime Day

How Can Small Business Participate On Amazon Prime Day 0

amazon prime day

 

Amazon PRIME DAY BEGINS ON JULY 16TH AT 3 PM!!!
 
What is Amazon Prime Day?
Think BLACK FRIDAY, but EXCLUSIVELY on Amazon. 
Over 150 million people expected to shop for an estimated 1 million deals with its sellers. Amazon is the #1 leading eCommerce platform in the world, so it's only right that they created their very own shopping Holiday.
Amazon Prime Day is exclusively for its Prime Members who get to reap all the discounted rewards for 36 hours beginning July 6 - July 7.

 

It's also the first Prime Day with Wholefoods, Amazon's latest acquisition.
Amazon is offering Prime members a $10 credit when they spend $10 or more at Whole Foods between July 11 through 17.
Whole Foods is also offering deals on grocery items, and doubling the cash back bonus to 10% from 5% for Amazon Prime Rewards Visa cardholders.
This is an even bigger opportunity to lock more Wholefood shoppers into their membership.
This is pure marketing genius from a Branding perspective for Amazon.
They get to showcase to other competing retailers such as Walmart, eBay and Target their retail might and the sales generated is just the icing on the cake. Prime Day is also used to advertise their very own products and gain new members through their subscription program which is a requirement to take advantage of all these amazing deals. Sales are estimated to gross 3.4 billion this year for Prime Day, though Amazon does not disclose revenue from previous years.
 
The long-term goal for Amazon is to gain new members to its $119 annual free-shipping program and strengthening existing customers relationship.
This is a model I believe we can all learn from as small business owners.
Over $10 million new members subscribe annually from this model.
How are you re-engaging with your customers?
How are we acquiring new customers and clients?
Amazon tested out its inaugural Prime day back in July of 2015 to celebrate their 20th anniversary. The day was designed to replicate the most popular shopping holiday, Black Friday. For Amazon's loyal Prime Customers and gained more sales than their November deals.
 
I personally love the fact that Prime Day created this sense of urgency and everyone wants to take part, even if the savings are minimal. I was able to score a Dymo Label Printer last year for almost half the regular cost with a few office supplies. People were also shopping for back to school supplies and upcoming Holidays.

chart prime day sales

Competitors such as Walmart, for example, debuted new apps and online tools for back-to-school shopping, including a 3D virtual experience called "Buy the Room," and deals on school supplies. Target also announced a one-day sale to rival Amazon on Tuesday for "everyone—no membership required."
 

How Can You Participate On Prime Day?

    1. During Amazon Prime, shoppers are searching the web to score deals on products not only on Amazon but on other channels such as eBay, Walmart and using google as a search tool to compare & score these deals. You can position your website to be optimized for your niche keywords, run Google ad campaigns to target these shoppers and drive traffic to your site to win new customers. Offering some type of discount would be appealing for conversion. So think Free Shipping + a competitive discount off your product. Post your deals on Social Media to let your customers know you are in on Prime Day frenzy. Create scarcity deals as well!                                                             
    2. For those with Amazon Sellers account such as some of my amazing clients, you can also offer a discount off your products to capture the millions of eyes that will be hunting for deals starting Monday. Truthfully you don't even have to run a deal. I've not discounted my items as much and my sales still quadruple on Prime Day. I'll be testing a few discounted price on both days to see if it has a huge impact on sales. But offering a deal would be appealing, especially with all the major brands offering competitive savings. I've positioned our brand on most of the major competing retail platforms such as Walmart.com and Ebay.com, this is definitely our first Black Friday of the year!
    3. Yes, Prime Day is only for Amazon subscribers, but if you're not one, don't think you have to pay the $99 yearly fee to take part. New subscribers can sign up for a 30-day free trial and get access to the deals. Just be sure to unsubscribe before your trial expires
    4. Don't impulse buy, write a list of the things you need and focus on getting deals for those items. Not every deal will be a deal.
    5. If you are missing out this year to sell your brand on Amazon, yes I said your brand. Start preparing yourself to level up to do so. There is coinage being left on the table. Not sure where to start, here's a blog post I wrote that can help you. As an Amazon brand strategist, my goal is to get as many small businesses on the platform to grow there brands and become more profitable.

Here Are A Few Small Businesses You Can Support On Prime Day

Curlmix - Hair Care (Flaxseed Gel)
Sassy Jones Boutique - Exquisite Women Jewelry & Accessories
Minkeeblue - Organizational Travel Bag
Darlyng & Co. - Baby Toys & Essentials
Gabby Bows - Double Snap Barrettes
Urban Intellectuals - Black History Flash Cards
Queen of Africa Dolls - African Dolls and Accessories 
Leah The Creative - Stylist & Influencer
Dreams Inspire Reality - Inspirational T-Shirt

 

Until next time, Dream Big and Execute Hard!
To learn more about our Amazon Services, Schedule A Consultation HERE