Michaela and I recently got in touch with a bunch of top Amazon sellers and asked them to tell us about their top mistakes and to share any other tips they might have.
Here is the exact message we sent:
Hello [first name],
My name is Michaela, and I’ll keep this as short as possible since I know your time is valuable.
I’m writing a blog post about the top mistakes successful Amazon sellers make.
Since you’re a successful seller I was hoping you’d answer this question:
In 250 words or less, what is the #1 mistake you’ve made when selling on Amazon?
Not all of the responses people sent are immediately applicable to Low Hanging System since many of the sellers sell via FBA, but with a little bit of twisting you can see how you could utilize them for the LHS model – and sometimes, any model.
Below are some of the top responses along with a quick note from me about how the info can be applied to LHS.
1. Giving up before you really start
“The #1 mistake I made during selling on Amazon was not committing soon enough. I was aware of the opportunity in 2012, yet I truly [didn’t] start until 2015.
You just have to jump in and do it—you’re going to learn from experience whether successful or not (my first attempt was a complete failure); the key is to persevere and never give up.
The number one way students fail is because they give up before even starting—this means they don’t give it their all, they are looking for excuses.”
Amazon FBA Email Course
[Rachel’s note: This is a great point and one everyone in LHS should take seriously!]
2. Not being careful with packages
“I have been selling on Amazon 10 years, and the number one mistake I make is mixing up product packaging and info when I send products to Amazon FBA.
Here is an example: I do a lot of product bundles. One of my most popular bundles is a Tomato caper and Tomato Olive spread. I sell them as a set of one each.
Just last week, a customer complained that her package included 2 of the Tomato Olive spread instead of one each.
I had 8 more of these at Amazon, so I had to recall them. Sure enough, several of them (not all) had been packed incorrectly. I had to fix the problem and ship back to Amazon – that was a very expensive mistake.
I am very-very careful to create correct shipments when I ship to Amazon, but no matter how careful I am, I still do this a couple of times a month.”
The Complete Amazon Marketing System
[Rachel’s note: You don’t have to worry about sending in product, but what I’m getting in this post is the reminder about BUNDLES! These really increase order value.]
3. Not researching product patents
“I have made several mistakes when first learning to sell products on Amazon. I found that I learn best by simply taking action and learning from trial & error.
But my biggest mistake was the second Private Label product I launched on Amazon in 2014. I was new to importing products from China and still learning the ropes. Everything was going amazing, and I grew my product sales up to around 15 sales per day!
But after around 3 months of selling the product, I received a ‘cease & desist’ letter to immediately stop selling the product. The product was patented by another company, and I was forced to stop selling the product. I lost thousands of dollars on my product inventory since I could no longer sell the product.
So my number one tip for new sellers is to make sure to do adequate research on product patents before purchasing thousands of units of inventory.”
[Rachel’s note: You don’t have a product patent to worry about when you’re doing the LHS model, so consider yourself lucky!]
4. Not creating a brand
“Not creating a brand! When I first got on Amazon, I had just heard of the power of this eCommerce beast that you could sell product on with ease.
BUT, to have long term staying power and brand recognition, we pivoted our various generic/unbranded product listings to highly branded and “Amazon Brand Registered” listings!
Don’t let other sellers hijack your listing and reviews you have worked for (and paid for via gifting)… protect your Amazon listing with BRANDING!
This also benefits you two-fold as your SIMILAR items sold by the same brand will automatically be upsold to Amazon buyers!
Amazon FBA Course
[Rachel’s note: I know, I know – trying to work on getting us all into getting rid of these #&@ hijackers.]
5. Not taking proper financial precautions
“I made the biggest mistake a becoming entrepreneur could make. While I did have some incoming orders from my retail business, I still lived my lifestyle as if I had a regular income and a paycheck at the end of the month.
My one and most important advice would be that you need to account for expenses and you can’t take money out of your business for many months – IF you are planning on doing this full-time.
Your profits need to go back into your company.
Today I am very happy with the products I have created and wanted to give you a little advice on how to build your brand:
Focus on building a brand from the beginning. Keep this in the back of your head with everything you do. The majority just starting out or having a few items running has limited capital and can therefore not play around.
So build better products from the beginning, have A+ photos and listings, great customer service, and if you have existing items, improve those constantly. Also don’t be afraid to invest your money in the future into higher priced and better quality products; be unique in what you do.
Look at this business not as a get-rich-quick scheme but rather see your investment as an opportunity to build your brand and in turn make more money in the long run (do this as opposed to releasing and launching a product every week). Build it slowly, and keep quality and focus in the back of your head.
So save up more than the initial product and shipping costs and don’t quit your job. You still need money to live on.”
[Rachel’s note: Wow – I hope you’re seeing how lucky you are to not have to save up money for inventory! And there’s also a good point about customer service being important.]
6. Underestimating your competition
“The biggest mistake new sellers make is underestimating competition. A lot of gurus and podcasters treat number of reviews as if they don’t matter, but they do. There is a correlation between number of reviews and sales.
You can’t expect to throw up a product and reach your revenue goals overnight. You have to put in some work to get the reviews necessary to really compete on the platform.
Once you have a review count around those of your moderate competitors, you will find things for your listing improve, like conversion, and you’ll find your ROI improves using Amazon PPC.”
“Want to buy an Amazon course?”
[Rachel’s note: I don’t necessarily agree with the needing reviews for the LHS model as my personal experience has been different, but I wonder if ROI does improve with reviews and PPC. If you try it – let me know!]
7. Not differentiating yourself from the competition
“Newbie sellers often fail at the most crucial part of private label business, at the product selection. When I was starting I was guilty of the same mistake. Although back in the day you could get away with bad product choices. Demand for certain products was much greater than supply.
As Amazon got more crowded, the marketplace got saturated with generic products. Basically, everything that can be found on Alibaba with low MOQ got transferred in form of a brand to Amazon.
Now it’s time to differentiate!
Selecting a good product opportunity became the make it or break it part of the business. The more you differentiate the easier time you’ll have launching a private label product on Amazon. By differentiating I mean different design, materials, colors, product improvement, bundles, packaging, etc.
The harder it is to source your product the better chances you’ll have in fighting against the increasing number of new Amazon sellers.
I urge sellers not to think like this: ‘Ooh this French press coffee maker is selling great let me source the exact same one and call it my brand!’ You will have hard time getting it of the ground if it’s IDENTICAL like every other and if you don’t have control over a traffic source off of Amazon. Although it’s possible to make a generic product profitable, it usually requires much higher advertising budget.
Focus on trends, differentiating, improving existing products, controlling traffic source etc.
Building a brand is much more than just slapping a brand name on a generic product and creating a custom packaging. Your job is to build an asset that is going to be recognized in future and bring repeated sales. Keep in mind that not a single brand has succeeded long term without repeated sales.
Because of it’s sheer volume of buyer intent searches, Amazon is the perfect place for customer acquisition and launching physical product brands. Offering quality product with a unique value proposition is prerequisite to success on Amazon!
Luckily, a lot of people are lazy to go the extra mile and uncover interesting products. That is our opportunity!
Amazon is still widely open if you think creatively enough!”
Amazon FBA as a Private Label Business Launching Platform (link goes to discounted course)
[Rachel’s note: I think you can do really well with certain sub-niches in LHS, because you’re not competing with tons of people.]
8. Falling in love with your niche
“When we first started selling on amazon we spent months doing rigorous research on each product. The first product we chose went through a very tough research phase were we analyzed every element of the niche and product. We analysed competition, demand, pricing, competition, keyword searches even the weight of the item and many other small details.
This first product hit it out the park, getting over $10,000 a month. It did so well that we thought we should stick with the same niche and sell a related product. This first product was so successful that we thought a related product would be just as successful if not more.
We had completely fallen in love with this niche.
So we bought a similar product in the same niche, we ordered thousands because we were so confident in the niche, and it turns out that this new product was not nearly as popular as our original one.
The new product never did as well and even thought we got very high ranks on amazon, the demand just wasn’t there.
This niche ended up costing us thousands because we had to pay for long term storage as they were never selling, and we eventually destroyed them because there was absolutely no demand.
#1 Mistake: Falling in love with the niche and forgetting the principles
Lesson: Always research each specific product for it’s potential on amazon and never rely on guessing and ‘liking’ the niche.”
Shimmy & Joshua Morris
The Complete Guide to Your 6-Figure Amazon FBA Home Business (link goes to discounted course)
[Rachel’s note: I agree with this. Trying out new niches is important.]
9. Not creating a website to build a list
“In the Amazon FBA business there are many mistakes we can make. It’s hard to tell you the number one mistake, because to succeed on Amazon everything must be well managed.
One of the mistakes we should never make is about the reviews. You should pay special attention to reviews because success depends a lot on this. Knowing if your customers are happy with your product before they leave a review is super important.
But if I have to choose, I would say that if you do not create a website (with direct links to your product page on Amazon) to generate an email list of your customers, for me it is a big mistake.
In each package you must have business cards with the website of your brand and offer a bonus to motivate the customer to register on your website.
And this to me is the gold of the business, because you get the email from your customers forever and you can create a huge list to do email marketing with new products and promotions. This will leverage your sales and make your customers always buy your products again and again.”
How to Build Your Own Brand on Amazon (link goes to discounted course)
[Rachel’s note: These tips are great, but you don’t need to do this right away. Eventually graduating to having your own store is a good idea, though. When you’re ready, use this link to get 10% off Shopify.]
10. Overlooking product seasonality
“The biggest mistake is starting to sell summer products during fall. Always remember about seasonality of the products, check the trends! A lot of products, for example fun coffee mugs are only selling as Christmas gifts, we would not know that until we check for the trends. Use sells like hot cakes tools to help you identify that.”
Good Guy Mike Sole
Sells Like Hot Cakes
[Rachel’s note: This can definitely be true of seasonal designs, but I’ve found that fun coffee mugs are popular year-round, with a definite spike around the holidays.]
11. Not selling in other countries
“I was lucky with Amazon, I got in early and became a powerhouse seller. I stayed current with the ever changing algorithm to make sure my product was on the first page of the search results. It wasn’t always easy, but I give it my all.
Still, the biggest mistake I made with Amazon is not using it to sell in other countries quicker. If you want to make serious money, why limit yourself to selling strictly in the United States?
There are so many opportunities in other countries where customers are just now starting to realize the benefits of Amazon. These customers, depending on their country, are willing to pay even more for the same products.
They want the purchasing ease that Amazon has to offer. They want their products centralized on one site, easy returns, and great customer service.
I would say to any seller, ‘If you’re not selling in other countries, you’re really missing out.'”
[Rachel’s note: Selling in other countries is a great way to increase your sales potential!]
What do you think of the mistakes these FBA sellers discuss? I hope you’ve found these insight helpful. Leave a comment and let me know what you think!