Read an Excerpt
This is a book of secrets for success from some of Amazon’s top sellers.
They’re some of the brightest entrepreneurs of this still-new century.
They work for themselves, but under the smart, knowledgeable,
somewhat-stern watch of the Internet’s top retailer, Amazon.com.
Some of these successful business owners brought their thriving
businesses with them when they came to Amazon. Others set out
to build e-commerce businesses that might never have existed
without the Amazon platform.They all have fascinating stories to tell
and a wealth of knowledge they have been willing to share with others
who’d like to follow their paths to success.You can be one of them.
We wrote this book to help you get there. Along our journey together,
you’ll learn about people like Kathy Wojtczak of Element Jewelry &
Accessories. She’d been operating a bricks-and-mortar store until
she tested the Amazon waters in 2005. Now, she would never turn back.
You’ll meet experienced e-merchants like Michael Jansma of GemAffair
and Andy Mowery of debnroo. These two Amazon top sellers were hugely
successful eBay PowerSellers first.They saw some changes at eBay that
drove them to look for other, better environments for their businesses. They soon
realized that Amazon fit the bill.You’ll meet Dan Morrill, who never
owned a store before, but set out to build a successful online bookstore
of his own, with Amazon as its cornerstone.
But back to you, our reader.We’ll share with you the advice these
sellers offer and the knowledge base they’ve gained to help make
your trip to a successful e-commerce business faster and more comfortable.
Amazon isn’t quite like its famous competitor, eBay.You can
find books and seminars galore to help you build a life for yourself
using that site. But Amazon hasn’t received much attention of that
kind, and it’s not as easy to immerse yourself in a self-directed
Amazon education. So picking up this book is a great first step.We’ve
not only provided shared advice and “secrets” we’ve gleaned from
these sellers, but we’ve also put those secrets within the context you
need to understand them.We realize that selling on Amazon is new
to many of you, so we’ve helped you find your way around this
neighborhood and explained how it works.We’ve also profiled some
of your most successful new neighbors at the end of each chapter.
They’re a fascinating lot, and we’ve enjoyed telling their stories, convinced
that you will enjoy reading them.
Happily for us all, the sellers who worked with us were all great
teachers, as well as being smart businesspeople. Anyone who’s ever
been to school knows what a huge difference that makes.Your teachers
throughout this book will help you learn by sharing their experiences
and engaging your curiosity. They might even make you
smile. They’ve helped us sprinkle surprises throughout this book,
including these great tidbits:
• Profiles, or real-life Amazon success stories, complete with
• Savvy advice from experts, such as one of the world’s top
shipping experts, Mark Taylor, and e-commerce marketing
wizard Dale King
• Details needed for moving to other selling venues, such as your
• Quotes and stories from some of Amazon’s most successful
Perhaps most important, Gary Richardson worked with us to
prepare this book. Gary was Amazon’s number-one seller in his category
for 2007. He helped us keep things fresh and real. Gary was our
sounding board, our teacher, and our cheerleader every step of the
way as we prepared this book for you.We’re excited to share the benefits
of his experience with you as you travel through these pages.
We’re convinced that you will agree with us.You made a great
decision to read this book. Here’s a brief rundown of the chapters
that follow.We’ll guide you all along the way, from sourcing products
for your Amazon business to building a successful presence on the
Chapter 1. Amazon, and You’re Done.You may think you
know all about Amazon because you’ve bought a few things
from the site, but trust us, you’ll be amazed at just how
far-reaching the Amazon empire has become.We’ll describe
that empire briefly, and throw in a little history to add some
context.We devote much of this chapter to Amazon’s
Marketplace—a very good place to start selling on Amazon.
Chapter 2. Which Way Should I Go? It turns out that selling
on Amazon’s Marketplace is not your only option for making
money there.You can also become a Pro Merchant. Seller
Central also fits in here. Additionally, you can sell through your
own Amazon WebStore(s). Amazon gives you plenty of options
for building a business, and while that can seem intimidating at
first, it’s ultimately what you want: choices.
Chapter 3.You Have to Buy It Before You Can Sell It. It
doesn’t matter whether you’ve set up shop on eBay, Amazon, or
Main Street; if you don’t have a steady stream of great products
to sell, you won’t be around very long. Our years of speaking to
new entrepreneurs have shown us that this is the number-one
question all sellers have:Where do I get more products to sell?
This important chapter covers strategies for sourcing products—
from finding inventory on your own shelves, to working directly
with manufacturers, to buying wholesale lots on eBay for resale
on Amazon. (We can tell you from personal experience that
eBay can be a very good source of products for resale on
Amazon.) And guess what? Amazon, too, with its millions of
products, can also be a great source of inventory for you when
you start selling on your own website.
Chapter 4. Creating Great Product Detail Pages. Here
we provide “best practices” advice on describing, classifying,
and, yes, pricing your items.You’ll learn tips for creating
high-performing product detail pages. And here, as in every
chapter, we’ll include success strategies from top Amazon sellers.
Of course, you don’t always have to create your own product
pages if your products are already part of Amazon’s vast catalog.
So we’ll also describe how best to piggyback on pages that
Chapter 5. Automating Your Amazon Business. Smart
sellers use software tools, whether they download them from
Amazon or other sources, to help them automate listings, track
sales, manage inventory, and run their businesses effectively.The
largest sellers work with companies such as Channel Velocity to
help them move vast amounts of inventory through more than
one channel. An industry insider told us the information in this
chapter is difficult to find in a single place, so we were happy to
compile it for you.
Chapter 6. Customer Service Without the Smile.
Although your online customers can’t actually see your warm
smile, there’s still much you can do to ensure that buying from
you is a pleasant experience. Just as on eBay, your feedback
score is hugely important, and is a keen measure of your success.
We’ll ensure that you have all the information and success
strategies you need to leapfrog competitors and attain (and keep)
the highest score feasible. For example, it is more important
to maintain good feedback than to have large numbers of
customers. Sellers must also know how to encourage feedback,
since Amazon buyers are less likely to leave feedback than are
other online buyers. Sellers must learn not to be shy about
asking customers to reconsider unfair feedback.
Chapter 7. Marketing Your Amazon Business. Amazon has
more than 1 million “third-party” sellers, yet many customers
think that all Amazon sellers are the same. As a matter of fact,
many of your Amazon customers won’t even realize they’re not
purchasing directly from Amazon. So, how can you possibly
distinguish yourself in such a setting? Here are true secrets for
setting yourself apart from other sellers.We provide tips and
tricks from branding experts that would make a marketing whiz
at Coca-Cola proud.We’ll show you how to win the buy box
and build your customer base even when Amazon fulfills your
orders using its own well-branded boxes. Also, we’ll show you
how to drive traffic to your listings through reviews, which are
very powerful, yet sometimes hard to get. Finally, there’s advice
about using Amazon tags, your Amazon blog, and Amazon’s
already popular shopping features, such as recommendations
Chapter 8. Shipping: The Workhorse of Your Operation.
Sold! Ship now! Those three words bring joy to the hearts of
Amazon sellers worldwide. But two more words, packing and
shipping—the less glamorous parts of operating e-commerce
businesses—are hugely important.They’re also quite time
consuming.We’ll share secrets for making the shipping process
as inexpensive and efficient as possible. Did you know, for
example, that you could outsource all of this to Amazon
through its Fulfillment by Amazon service? More and more
sellers are using this program, and the vast majority are glad
they’ve signed up. Finally, you’ll learn how to make the best use
of packing slips, invoices, shipping materials, and return labels.
Chapter 9. Life Beyond Amazon: Selling Through Other
Venues. OK, you’re an Amazon success story yourself. Now
what? Should you also sell on eBay? How about other
media-oriented sites such as ABE or Alibris? How can you get
your products on comparison shopping engines, which more
and more shoppers use to ensure that they are getting the best
deals? Most important of all, when should you consider creating
your own e-commerce site? Finally, why not leverage all that
hard-earned experience by becoming a consultant or trainer?