You've probably heard of Amazon is Amazon Removing Verified Purchase Badges on Reviews. It's a new policy that's removing the orange "Verified Purchase" badges from some reviews. I'm sure you've seen them around.
Amazon's old definition of "Verified Purchase" meant a product that was purchased through Amazon.
A review was only unverified if the customer received the product elsewhere and then wrote an Amazon review about it (e.g. a gift from a friend, Wal-Mart, bought online, etc.).
But recently, Amazon has started removing some "Verified Purchase" badges from items that were sold at a discount in exchange for an honest review.
The process has started with older reviews, and is moving forward to the present time (newer reviews remain unaffected). Reviews are being treated retroactively now, but the screening process will probably be instantaneous one day.
The process is also incomplete. Some reviews have been left with badges, other full-purchase items have had the badges removed, and some gift card purchases have been deemed "unverified".
3 THINGS WE'RE TESTING NOW
(updated July 11, 2016):
1. What discount percentage constitutes removal of the "Verified Purchase" badge?
Answer: items discounted at 50% or more will not have badges.
2. How does Amazon's system identify unverified purchase reviews?
Answer: Amazon may be using the mandatory "discount in exchange for a review" disclaimer to identify units sold for review. This remains mandatory, so if you're doing a launch, be sure to enforce that rule.
3. Are "Verified Purchase" reviews better than reviews that are unverified purchases? Does this new dynamic affect search rankings?
Answer: the short answer is 'no'. Here's why.
As a seller, the key question is always: how does this "Verified Purchase" update affect my sales?
The answer: it won't, because it doesn't have a major impact on your conversion rate.
Removing "Verified Purchase" badges from reviews doesn't affect the conversion power that the overall review count has on regular buyers.
Imagine that you're an Amazon shopper looking for a turkey baster. "Baster A" has 10 reviews and baster B has 150 reviews. Which do you trust? Which are you going to buy?
You look at the 150 reviews for baster B, and see that some of the reviews are "Verified Purchases" and others are not. That's the way it's always been for Amazon shoppers. You're looking for positivity or criticism, a discussion of the product features, helpful things to know about the product, etc. A review without a badge just means the customer bought through another channel.
In Amazon's words: "If a review isn't marked Amazon Verified Purchase, it doesn't mean that the reviewer has no experience with the product - just that we couldn't verify it had been purchased at Amazon."
3 actions you (the seller) should take after this update:
1. Stay TOS compliant.
With this update in place, the little blackhatter on your shoulder might consider paying someone to write glowing "unverified purchase" reviews. However, soliciting positive feedback and paying reviewers are forbidden (as always). And Amazon knows which order numbers correspond to which reviews. To get a full understanding of Amazon's Terms of Service, check out "Will this get me banned?"
2. Have reviewers leave pictures and videos.
Verified review or not, pictures and video are great proof of purchase and help to sell new customers. For example, you can even use the HonestFew Video Program to get in-depth video reviews that often get naturally up-voted by shoppers for being so darn helpful.
3. Focus on conversions.
Amazon's top priority, like yours, is sales. That's the 80/20 in this game. Here's how to boost your conversions:
- get a product review video on your page with HonestFew Video, as I mentioned
- increase your review count. Verified or unverified, highly-reviewed products get more clicks in search results
- optimize your pictures, title, bullets, description, and back-end keywords
4. Sales spike.
Amazon's 49 million daily visitors are the traffic you need to kickstart your 6 or 7-figure brand. But you need initial sales for momentum, which HonestFew can provide.
Our sales spike improves your BSR. This improves your visibility so you can sell higher volumes. Plus, we get you reviews so that your conversion rate permanently improves.
Rockets go fast to break away from Earth's gravity.
4.9 miles/7.9 kilometers per second.
It's called orbital velocity, and it's 20x the speed of sound. I'm going to challenge you here: if a rocket (made by people no smarter than you) can break the speed of sound 20 times over, YOU can break onto page 1 on Amazon!
But like the rocket, getting there requires velocity. Sales velocity. From there, the journey's easier. With enough velocity you can cruise, enjoying the rewards of page 1.
So, how do we get to page 1 and stay there, ensuring recurring income?
Answer: earn Amazon as much money as the other items that currently show on Page 1 for a keyword. And to stay there, maintain that sales level.
Let's do this 5 steps with an example product: "shiatsu pillows", vibrating neck pillows for after a tough day at the office. If you want more cool ideas like these, check out our 100 niches over on YouTube.
(1) CALCULATE DAILY PAGE 1 SALES
Consider this quote from The Art of War: "in war, the victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won, whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights and afterwards looks for victory."
Point: make sure you can win before even starting.
Calculate the average daily sales on page 1 with a tool like Jungle Scout. That way, you'll know how many products you need to give away to artificially match the page 1 competition boost your ranking.
I spent 71 hours compiling a list of 100 such niches for 2016. It comes with the main keyword, written recommendations for launch, a Jungle Scout screenshot of the market, and projected ROI. The report is $500 to protect the niches from non-serious sellers and you can get it here.
Let's get back to our example: shiatsu pillows.
Average monthly revenue in the top 10 = $31,948.
Average selling price = $46.55.
Average review count = 307.
Most important to our strategy is this: Jungle Scout shows the monthly sales levels in top 16 (page 1) is 711 units/month. If we divide this by an average 30-day month, that's 23 units/day.
So now we have a very important piece of information: we need to sell 23 units/day to match the other page 1 sellers.
Amazon will want to know that our listing can sell at least 23 units (if not more), otherwise why would we appear on page 1? We wouldn't deserve to.
(2) OPTIMIZE RUTHLESSLY
How good your listing is determines the success of the following steps.
Do the following:
+ take 7 good product photos (1 main image on white, 2 others on white, 2 with props, 2 presenting core benefits)
+ title that hits the main keywords, makes grammatical sense, and presents benefits
+ bullet points and description that sell using deep human needs. Here are the only 8 things customers want.
+ add non-repeating Search Terms to the back-end of your listing in Seller Central
To show you how to optimize properly takes about 20 minutes. But you'll be glad you spent it. After all, unoptimized listings bleed money. So watch our YouTube tutorial or read the article.
Alternatively, you can outsource optimization to HonestFew, and get the same quality as our $300k/month clients.
(3) LAUNCH WITH POWER
Next, you'll use a service like HonestFew in order to generate your target amount of sales that are competitive with page 1 sellers. This is an essential step if you seriously want to rank on page 1 of Amazon.
We ordered 500 shiatsu pillows from our supplier. And, we've decided to launch 50 units/day for 4 days (to have a commanding lead over the page 1 average of 23). So we'll promote 200 units, an HonestFew Diamond Package. A little example, there.
By launching and selling 50 units every day for 4 days, you're showing Amazon that you're capable of matching (and exceeding) the current standard on page 1 for the keyword "shiatsu pillow".
It'll take some time, but Amazon will take notice and your BSR will start to improve.
Now, it's time to maintain the sales velocity using natural sales.
(4) PRICE TO MOVE
While the promotion is winding down, lower your price so that you can seamlessly transition from launch sales to natural sales.
A launch (like those from HonestFew) will give you sales velocity (the thrust to leave orbit), but a lower price will give you those natural sales to keep your daily numbers up (leaving Earth's gravity for good).
Ideally, your price should be low enough that you can hit your daily sales numbers to be page 1 competitive. Calculate your break-even point, and charge just above that.
Example: the break-even price for our beloved shiatsu pillows:
Your eventual Amazon listing price = $46.55 (that's the page 1 average)
Your price on Amazon post-promotion = $14.99 (we're pricing it to sell and maintain our BSR; profit is secondary)
- $2.25 Amazon referral fee (15% on $14.99)
- $9 in product cost (production and shipping to Amazon)
- $2.68 Amazon pick and pack fee
= $13.93 in total cost.
So selling for $14.99 you're making $1.06/unit in profit. But who cares? Still profit!
As long as you're not losing money per transaction, you're maintaining your sales velocity so that you can rank on page 1 long-term. Per-unit profit is short-term thinking. Maintaining a page 1 sales velocity so that you can rank there is long-term thinking.
Once on page 1, you'll be in a position to raise your price to make better margins.
(5) RUN AGGRESSIVE PPC
Amazon's pay-per-click (PPC) allows us to be super-aggressive with sales. You have only to spend.
At this stage, don't hold back. Target the top keywords in your category. It's the amount of sales that matter; you can fine-tune your keyword selection later.
Like with pricing the shiatsu pillows to move, preferably the ACoS indicates that we're making a profit or at least breaking even. If not, consider pausing the PPC campaign (or at the least the problematic keywords within the campaign that are getting clicks but no conversions).
All Amazon sellers are trying to learn how to increase sales on Amazon but did you know that you can convince people to buy from you using biology?
Not psychology. Biology.
Here's the thing: everyone has the same biological desires that need to be met. They're naturally programmed into you. And as a seller, you can make more money and beat your competition by appealing to these primal needs. Originally from Ca$hvertising by Drew Whitman, the "Life Force 8" (LF8) are these desires:
(1) Survival, enjoyment of life, life extension.
(2) Enjoyment of food and beverages.
(3) Freedom from fear, pain and danger.
(4) Sexual companionship.
(5) Comfortable living conditions.
(6) To be superior, winning, keeping up with the Joneses.
(7) Care and protection of loved ones.
(8) Social approval.
Stop and think: is there one of these 8 that you don't want?
So, the next time you sell something (which is every day on Amazon), change your ad copy to touch on 1 or more of these.
You'll make the sale if you can show them that your product meets a biologically-programmed need.
I'll give you an example: perfume and cologne, body fragrances.
Really? Magic scented water that you spray on your body for $100 a bottle? That's not necessary for survival!
But that doesn't matter, because the fragrance industry sells using the Life Force 8. The market is worth $28 billion dollars annually.
Fragrances aren't sold like this:
This fresh-smelling cologne comes in a modern 30mL bottle that dispenses a scent other people love.
Yes, that's what it physically does. But those are features, not benefits! It doesn't reach you on a biological level.
Fragrances are sold like this:
This cologne will send luscious, sexy girls flocking to you. Don't buy it if you can't handle the attention! In just minutes, you'll have other guys wondering what your secret is.
In this biologically-infused example we see:
(1) Enjoyment of life ("attention")
(4) Sexual companionship ("luscious, sexy girls")
(6) To be superior, winning ("your secret"; notice how this article opens with telling you a secret?)
It also doesn't hurt that there's a promise of fast results with the phrase "in just minutes".
That's stupid, you think. Of course I wouldn't write copy like that first example.
Yet, 95% of sellers are writing their Amazon listings with a list of features instead of appealing to biologically-programmed benefits.
Every listing could use an LF8 tune-up. The day you do it is the day your conversions increase. Share this with another seller who could use it. And if you're wondering exactly how to optimize everything from start to finish, check out our full guide on optimization. It's free.
The 3 most beautiful letters in the alphabet? FBA. Fulfillment by Amazon.
In other words, sending your products to Amazon and letting them ship (fulfill) your customer orders for you.
It's what makes private labeling with Amazon so worthwhile. Picking, packing, shipping, warehousing... Amazon does it all for you. It's near-complete automation! Now, just pick a winning product and you're home free.
Now, before you move to the beach villa or cruise-liner of your choice, you need to understand how to ship products to Amazon properly. Here's everything step by step.
Before shipping to Amazon from your Seller Central account, make sure you have this stuff:
(1) Sourced product. Sourced a product and are prepared to ship it from the supplier's factory, a third party warehouse, or your place of business. To boost your sourcing ability 10x, check this out. No lie. 10x.
(2) UPC (universal product code). Every new product simply needs a universal product code, a UPC. You buy one and give it to Amazon to signify you're bringing a new product to market. You could spend $1000's chasing them down, but we recommend Nationwide Barcode. They serve up GS1 compliant UPC/EAN/barcodes for $7 each, and they work perfectly. With each purchase of $7, you get everything you need to codify 1 product in Amazon's system. That's an affiliate link, so you'd be supporting more useful content like this at no extra cost to you.
(3) The number of units and cases. You need to plan how many units you want to send to Amazon, and how many different boxes they'll be sent in (note: boxes over 50lb need to be marked "team lift" and no more than 150 units of product can be sent in a single box; if you're sending more than 150 units you need multiple boxes).
(4) Weight and size. The weight (in lb) and dimensions (in inches) of each box that you'll be shipping. If you're shipping directly from your supplier or from a warehouse, you'll need to ask your supplier for this information.
(5) Sending location. The location you'll be shipping from and the carrier you'll be using (this assumes you're shipping by air with one of the big couriers like UPS, DHL, or FedEx)
Got this info?
Let's go to Seller Central and tell Amazon what and how we're shipping, and get special labels for our products and boxes.
SHIPPING IN SELLER CENTRAL STEP BY STEP
This is the fun part.
Keep this article open in another window as you're filling out your shipping info on Amazon to avoid mistakes. If it's your first few times doing this, this is crucial.
Everything's laid out here, so take a deep breath.
The past is over; the future has yet to unfold. There's only now.
Kick back, relax, and take your time with it. Do it right the first time to avoid headaches down the line.
(1) Go to Seller Central (sellercentral.amazon.com)
(2) Go to "Inventory" and its 1st subheader "Manage Inventory". You'll see all of the products that you sell.
(3) Once there, check the box on the far left that corresponds to the item you want to ship to Amazon for fulfillment.
(4) The first thing we need to do is confirm that Amazon knows that this listing is FBA (Fulfilled by Amazon). If it's a brand new product listing, the system automatically assumes that it's FBM (Fulfilled by Merchant), not FBA. You can't move to the beach doing Fulfilled by Merchant. You'll be stuck at home printing shipping labels, which is no fun. So, we'll need to change the listing to tell Amazon's system that you want Amazon to fulfill the customer orders. So choose the action "Change to Fulfilled by Amazon" from the drop-down menu.
It'll give you the option to just Convert the inventory (meaning just switch the fulfillment method from FBM to FBA in general), or to Convert and also begin a shipping plan for the stock.
Assuming that we're already sourced the product and you and the supplier are ready to go, we'll go straight into the shipping process by clicking "Convert & Send Inventory".
Alternatively, if you wanted to start the shipping plan at a different time you'd just go to Inventory > Manage Inventory > select the item > Send/Replenish inventory.
(5) We are now on the doorstep of Amazon's famous shipping plan. It's time to give Amazon some basic details before we enter the shipping workflow.
There are 3 basic bits of info:
- Select "Create a new shipping plan"
- Enter the address it'll ship from on its way to Amazon (this will be your address or your supplier's address depending on if you're inspecting the products yourself or shipping directly from your supplier).
- Also, select the packing type. For most private label products, they'll be "Case Packed", meaning that your products are all the same SKU and that they'll be inside one larger box all together.
Here's Amazon's official definition of Individual Products and Case-packed Products, just to sure that your items qualify as Case-Packed.
Now, on the next screen you'll see that Amazon's put us on a sort of step-by-step process known as the "Shipping Workflow". It's basically a draft of what inventory you plan to ship, and how. You can fill out each area at your own pace. You won't be penalized for creating a workflow and then waiting before shipping off the goods.
Here's what we're working with: a 6-step shipping process.
For the sake of this example, let's say that we're going to send 500 units to Amazon (because we're launching with HonestFew, and will do an 100-unit promotion to get reviews and will sell the other 400 through organic keyword ranking at a cheaper introductory price and PPC).
We're shipping directly from our supplier in China. We've already talked to our supplier and agree that we'll be doing 500 units at 4 boxes with 125 products in each box (4 boxes * 125 products each = 500 products sent to Amazon total).
Keep in mind that Amazon has a limit of 150 units per case when it comes to case-packed products. We're doing 125 units per case, so we'll be just fine.
Enter that information and click "Continue".
On to Prep.
Generally, to make the process as seamless as possible, I usually ask the supplier to prepare the shipment so that Amazon can start selling it right out of the box (in this case, the supplier will print Amazon's scannable barcode stickers and affix them to the packaging for me).
So in answer to the question "Who preps?" I select "Merchant." That is, our supplier on our behalf.
If you're shipping the product to your home or office for personal inspection and affixing the labels yourself, you'd also select "Merchant". Basically, it'll be "Merchant" unless you want to send the products in without scannable labels and have Amazon do it for you.
Alright, Label Products. The Merchant (our supplier on our behalf) will label the products. And 500 will automatically be there based on the information we gave about our case-packed units.
This is important.
This is where you get the PDF with all 500 (in this case) units. There's one for each box. You also get to choose the size of each of the labels. We prefer the size selection 27-up labels 63.5mm x 29.6mm on A4. Not too big, not too small. But every package is different. Get a ruler out and see which scannable barcode would be best for your package.
Make sure that the sticker will be affixed to a flat surface on your product or package. Pick a size accordingly.
Click "Print labels for this page" and a PDF of 500 (in this example) individual labels will begin to download. If you selected the "Merchant" labeling option earlier, it's your responsibility to make sure these labels are printed and 1 label is affixed to each product so that Amazon can scan the inventory on arrival at the FBA fulfillment center.
Once the PDF with your individual product package labels downloads, click Continue.
It's getting interesting now that we're in the Review Shipments section.
Here's where Amazon assigns warehouses for you. In this example, Amazon has blessed us with 3 different warehouse locations for our 4 cases of product.
Amazon.com has fulfillment centers across the USA, and assigns your shipping locations based on its data.
Note that you can also pick where you'd like to ship. A fee applies, but if you do the math on your shipping fees and it makes more sense to ship to 1 location, then you should do that instead. To change these settings, head to the Seller Central main page and follow these four steps:
Once you've found a mix of locations that works for you, hit "Approve Shipments" to move on.
Now, we're in the View Shipments section.
You'll see that you can "Work on Shipment" for each of the warehouse locations. We need to click that for each of our warehouse locations.
So, go through and complete each one individually. It's the same process for each, so we're just going to do the first row (125 units going to TPA1 in Ruskin, FL) as the example here.
When you go into "Work on shipment", here's what you see (section 1 isn't included in the screenshot because there's nothing to do there).
You'll want to select SPD, most likely (unless you're shipping pallets) and the carrier that you're using. UPS is Amazon's preferred carrier, but DHL and others work just fine as well. It's up to you.
Carriers like UPS and DHL are licensed customs brokers, so they'll be in charge of clearing your packages through customs on their way to Amazon. Make sure that you provide your phone number as the contact for the shipment, and it should go without a hitch.
Back to Seller Central. In point #3, the Shipment Packaging, you'll enter the number, weight, and dimensions of the box. "Box" here is our case. So what they want to know is how many boxes are being shipped to fulfillment center TPA1 (answer = 1 in this case) and the weight and dimensions of the box. This is optional. Ask your supplier for this information.
And for sake of comparison, do you remember that Amazon told us to send 2 cases (250 units) to EWR4 in Robbinsville, NJ? Well, when we go in to work on that shipment, we'd enter the number of boxes as 2, instead of 1 as in the case of our TPA1 shipment.
Also on this "Work on shipment" page, don't forget to save your box shipping label (this is the label you'll put on the outside of the big box that holds all of your individual product boxes in it). That will also download as a PDF. Then, hit "Complete Shipment".
Repeat this process for all 3 shipments, downloading each of the box labels as you go.
At the end of this process, make 100% sure that you have downloaded:
+ 1 PDF with 500 individual product package labels that Amazon will use to scan and receive the inventory. Each box should have 1 label affixed to it (the label should not be affixed over the box opening where the box is cut), and should be printed as-is (i.e. the files should not warped or manipulated to a different size). They should be out in the open and exposed, not under a layer of thick plastic or packaging. That could hamper visibility.
+ 3 PDF's with a total of 4 box labels (1 for TPA1, 2 for EWR4, 1 for ONT2) for the cases of product. Each one will be affixed to a case, so that Amazon can scan the big boxes when they arrive and know what's inside.
Send this series of documents to your supplier and have them print and prepare a sample unit with the barcode affixed. Have them send you a picture, just to make sure that you're on the same page.
Nothing confirms a mutual understanding quite like pictures.
Once you've confirmed that your supplier can affix the product labels correctly, ship everything to Amazon using your selected carrier. The labels for the cases indicate where each box is headed, so there should be no ambiguity there. But just in case, make a list of all of the product quantities with warehouse names and locations for your supplier.
In our example shipment, our "let me confirm this 100%" list of products and destinations would look like this:
125 units (125 units in 1 box) to:
3350 Laurel Ridge Ave.
Ruskin, FL 33570
250 units (125 units in 1st box, 125 in 2nd box) to:
50 New Canton Way
Robbinsville, NJ 08691-2350
125 units (125 units in 1 box) to:
Golden State FC LLC
1910 E Central Ave
San Bernardino, CA 92408-0123
We hope you enjoyed this tutorial on how to ship to Amazon FBA. Stay tuned for new helpful guides!