By now we’ve all heard: Amazon FBA has restricted inbound shipments of all non-essential items and, in some cases, increased the estimated delivery times for FBA orders in the wake of COVID-19. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t (or shouldn’t) keep your non-essential item sales going strong.
In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Amazon is still accepting orders on all products. Ecommerce sales are booming as buyers are in self-isolation, and traditional retailers shutter their doors.
Now more than ever, it’s important to get in front of your customer and protect your cash flow. In this blog, we’ll cover several ways that you can maintain stock levels and fast shipping speeds on Amazon, even if you were impacted by the FBA freeze.
How Amazon merchants can keep non-essential item sales going strong
1. Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM)
Fast shipping is still important to customers, especially if they’re waiting on a product that’s limited in stock, a tool that enables them to work from home or something that makes the time go quicker.
Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM) is an alternative to FBA, whereby you fulfill Amazon orders in-house or via a third-party fulfillment provider (the latter is especially critical if it’s physically impossible for you to get to your warehouse now due to “shelter in place” restrictions). With many shipping carriers and third-party fulfillment providers still operating as normal, this is a logical way to maintain service levels and Prime-like shipping for your customers.
Whether you choose in-house or outsourced FBM depends on which is the most practical and affordable method to implement at this time.
Tip: Using a fulfillment calculator can help you discover the most affordable way to get items to your buyers as fast as possible.
2. Seller-Fulfilled Prime (SFP)
Visibility on Amazon is also still important, particularly with more people shopping online. When adopting FBM, ensure that you retain your Prime badge and visibility through Seller-Fulfilled Prime (SFP).
This involves meeting the SFP metrics in-house or using a fulfillment provider that guarantees SFP-compliant delivery KPIs.
3. Amazon Storefront
During uncertain times, the human need for trust balloons. Trust can be notoriously difficult to establish online, especially with new customers. However, by using your lockdown time to build an Amazon Storefront, you can create a professional image of your brand that increases recognition, fosters trust, and encourages conversions.
With an influx of shoppers on Amazon, advertising on the platform is vital for getting your products in front of the right customers to maintain sales.
There are many ways to advertise on Amazon, the most popular being:
- Sponsored products that appear on the first page of the search results
- Sponsored brands that appear as banners on the results page
- Display ads that appear on other Amazon websites, apps and devices
Note that you shouldn’t just limit yourself to Amazon. Use alternative advertising channels like Google Ads, Facebook and Instagram maximize your brand exposure—even if they all point back to your Amazon listings.
5. Multiple channels
With Amazon no longer competing on speed, channel diversification is essential for capturing online shoppers who begin looking for fast delivery elsewhere. Diversify your ecommerce business by going multi-channel and consider a partner like Zentail who can get you up and running in record time.
A note about shipping programs
Fast shipping programs on other online marketplaces, such as Walmart 2-day delivery, Wish Express and eBay Fast N’ Free, are all crucial for driving strong sales. Ensure that your third-party FBM fulfillment provider or internal FBM operation can qualify you for these programs, too.
A note about owning a webstore
There’s a big push for people to support smaller businesses during the pandemic and to shop direct and locally. Therefore, now is an excellent time to start your own ecommerce website using Shopify or WooCommerce, and to benefit from direct sales with lower selling fees. Zentail released a recent study showing the power of selling on a webstore in addition to marketplaces; sellers with a total of four channels (including a webstore) saw 73% GMV growth in March, whereas sellers with only one channel saw anywhere between an 11% to 17% decrease in GMV.
6. New product ideas
People’s priorities and needs have changed—your product lines may need to change with them.
For example, if you sell cosmetics on Amazon, makeup sales may decline with customers going out less for work or social gatherings. However, this is a perfect opportunity to expand into skincare and pampering products while still appealing to the same audience, since customers can’t get out to the salon.
Use your usual product sourcing techniques to identify new trends and niche products that will perform well on Amazon now.
7. Steady stock levels
Needless to say, in order to keep your sales strong, you need a steady stream of items to sell. The global outbreak of the pandemic has damaged many supply chains. However, there are ways to protect your supplies going forward.
Make efforts to diversify your supply chain by spreading manufacturing sources across multiple countries, maintaining communications with your current contacts and diversifying your channels and SKUs.
8. Automate tasks
Your staffing levels and productivity may be impacted over the coming month owing to illness, childcare issues or lockdowns. Automate common tasks on Amazon, such as repricing or restocking, to ensure your business can continue running even on skeleton staff.
9. Speak to others
Selling during a lockdown can be pretty lonely business, especially if you’re new to selling on Amazon or online. Use Amazon Seller Forums as a place for advice, support and conversation. Not only will it do your business well, but it can help your mental health and wellbeing too.
Good luck. You’re selling through a major historical event, and if you can weather the storm by maintaining or growing sales of your product lines, then you can handle just about anything.
About the Author
This is a guest post from Michael Krakaris. Michael is one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 and the co-founder of Deliverr. Deliverr is a trusted partner of Zentail. The company provides fast and affordable fulfillment for your Shopify, Walmart, Amazon, and eBay stores, helping to boost sales through programs like 2-day delivery for Shopify, Walmart 2-day delivery, Seller-Fulfilled Prime and eBay Fast n’ Free.
Deliverr’s FBA-like multichannel fulfillment comes with clear pricing, easy on-boarding and a hassle free experience so you can focus on growing your eCommerce business.