Amazon has made a name for itself as one of the biggest and most trusted brands in ecommerce. But small businesses don’t necessarily need to view Amazon as a major competitor. You could instead make the company into a partner.
Most ecommerce sellers already know that you can list and sell your own products on the platform. But you can actually rely on Amazon to handle the shipping and logistics part of your business as well — through the Fulfillment by Amazon program.
Theo Prodromitis is the owner of the Spa Destinations shop on Amazon. She uses Fulfillment by Amazon to process nearly all the company’s orders. Small Business Trends recently spoke with Prodromitis about her experience and some tips for other ecommerce sellers about using Fulfillment by Amazon.
Do Your Research
Before getting started with Fulfillment by Amazon, Prodromitis recommends reading all of the resources and tools that Amazon makes available to sellers on its website so you’re prepared to handle the process.
She says, “Use the resources that are there. At times I thought I had to figure out everything by myself and that led to some of the mistakes I made. But they have so many resources available and if there’s something you’re still unsure about, you can always ask.”
Look at It as Outsourcing
There are costs involved with using Fulfillment by Amazon. Those costs are calculated based on the number of products you have, their dimensions and what specific fulfillment services you require. However, Prodromitis doesn’t believe you should let those costs dissuade you from taking advantage of the service.
She says, “You’re basically outsourcing a big part of your operations. You get all of this support behind you to do this major thing for your business and you get that brand equity behind you.”
Don’t Wait to Sign Up
While it may seem like outsourcing a major part of your business’s operations is something that’s reserved for large companies, Prodromitis actually believes it’s something that can work for businesses of all sizes. And freeing up your time and effort to focus on other parts of running your business can potentially help you grow your company faster.
She says, “It’s something I really think can work for any size business. I couldn’t see a business model that it wouldn’t work for, even if you’re dealing with really small quantities.”
Be Very Specific About Labeling
Once you get started with the Fulfillment by Amazon process, the company will provide you with specific instructions for how to package and label your products before sending them to fulfillment centers. And Prodromitis says that attention to detail is especially important when it comes to labeling packages.
You need to make sure that every piece of information is included and the label is placed in the exact spot Amazon outlines. Since there are specific processes in place for Amazon’s fulfillment centers, having those uniform standards in place helps the whole thing run as efficiently as possible.
Learn from Mistakes
There was a lot of trial and error involved in Prodromitis’ experience. While all the specific instructions and materials that Amazon makes available can really help clear things up, you’re still likely to put a label in the wrong spot or evaluate a shipment incorrectly at some point.
She says, “As a seller, you never want to see one of those red flags show up on your dashboard saying you missed something or did something incorrectly. But you just have to learn your lesson from it and do it right the next time.”
Raise Your Own Standards
Even though you’re still running a small business, using a service like Fulfillment by Amazon allows you to align your brand with a major company that a lot of customers trust. That trust was built in part because Amazon has high and uniform standards for things like shipping. So you might have to elevate your own standards to make a successful transition.
Prodromitis says, “There’s a level of excellence associated with Amazon. And it leads to a lot of excitement and stress at the same time. Everything going to FBA has to be right. You get all of that positive behind you for a reason.”
Over the course of running your business, you’ll probably run into some new and unique situations that give you pause. But Amazon has customer service reps ready to answer questions, as well as forums you can use to confer with other sellers. So Prodromitis says you should never be guessing about how to do something — when in doubt, always ask.
Be Prepared for Growth
Because of the improved visibility and consumer trust coming from aligning your own brand with Amazon, your business could experience significant growth. In fact, Prodromitis says Spa Destinations experienced about 95 percent year-over-year growth after signing up with Fulfillment by Amazon. So you should be prepared to increase inventory and other parts of your operation to support that growth.
Have the Ability to Handle Shipping During Busy Times
Additionally, Prodromitis says there have been a few times, specifically when they’ve paid to promote listings, where Spa Destinations didn’t have enough products sent out to fulfillment centers to meet the demand. In those instances, the team did have to fulfill some of its own orders. So even after signing up, know that there may still be some times when you have to step up and pack and ship some orders if you don’t predict sales accurately.
Use Your Extra Time Wisely
Essentially, using Fulfillment by Amazon allows you to free up the time you would have spent packing and shipping orders so you can focus on other areas of your business. So you have to be strategic with how you use that time for things like marketing, fine-tuning your shop and completing administrative tasks. Test out some different marketing or growth strategies to find what works best for your business so you can focus your time on the areas that are likely to make the biggest impact.
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