It seems like everybody is listing their products on Amazon these days. It’s no wonder why. Amazon reaches almost 200 million shoppers every month, and is expected to capture 50% of the U.S. eCommerce retail market by 2021, according to Statista.
There’s a big difference between listing on Amazon and succeeding on Amazon. You have to watch your margins, there’s lots of competition, and you’re playing by Amazon’s rules. Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic formula for success—if there were, everybody would be using it. Still, there is a lot more you can do to give your products the best chance of selling.
Part of a successful Amazon venture includes optimizing your product listings for the marketplace. If you want to maximize your potential, this is vital. And yes, if you have thousands or hundreds of SKUs, this is easier said than done.
Here are 5 best practices you should follow to ensure you have effective product listings on Amazon.
1. Populate your category-specific attributes
If you’re serious about scaling up your business on Amazon, then you’re probably looking into bulk product listing, or you’re doing it already. With thousands of SKUs, or even hundreds, it quickly becomes tedious to manage your listings manually.
Even if it’s slow, creating products one-by-one is pretty simple. Amazon provides all the relevant attributes for you, and you only have to fill in the blanks. There are tooltips next to most attributes, and you can select preset values from the drop-down menus. Listing products in bulk is quicker, but more complicated.
Once you get into bulk product listing, you will need to use category-specific templates for your products. Understanding these category templates is important because it provides a guide for the product data you must provide, and the extra information that will make your listing stand out.
Each category of product you sell will use a different template, with different required attributes and valid values. Shoes have different required attributes from electronics, beauty products, foods, and so on. If you’re not able to populate all the required attributes for a product, you won’t be able to list the product.
When you’re filling in the category-specific attributes using templates, you can’t select from a drop-down menu like you would when you create single products manually. You’ll have to make sure you’re matching Amazon’s valid values exactly (including spacing, spelling, and capitalization), or you’ll receive errors when you upload your products, and they won’t get listed.
Once you’ve filled in the required attributes, you should provide as many preferred attributes as you can, too. For example, if you’re selling an electronic device with a screen, you may not be required to fill in the “Screen Finish” attribute, but it’s a preferred attribute that could help you show up for customers who specifically want to buy something with a glossy or matte screen. If you have “matte” somewhere in your product description, you could parse that information into a new field that you map to the [screen_surface_description] attribute from the Amazon template. You would need to format it as “Matte” to match Amazon’s valid values.
There are also optional attributes that can help you. For example, if you’re selling a set of orange cones in the Sporting Goods category, you might want to include “Soccer, Basketball, Track & Field, Football” in the [sport_type] field. It’s not a required field, but filling in extra attributes will make your products more discoverable to customers.
2. Fix up those titles
Your product title tells customers and Amazon’s search algorithm what you are selling. Building a good title is an essential part of optimizing your Amazon listings.
The first words in the title should be the most important words. Amazon weighs the front of your titles more heavily, because that’s how customers read them. Best practice is to put your brand at the front, followed by the model number and name of the product.
Don’t forget to include valuable product nouns. If you’re selling an office chair, make sure you have “office chair” in the title. “Feedo’s Furniture Airseat” is not as helpful as “Feedo’s Furniture Airseat Office Chair,” and your search rankings will reflect that. You also want to include attributes like color, material, size, and other relevant information that factors into a customer’s product search.
Remember, keyword stuffing is not recommended! Don’t cram every possible product noun into your title. It looks scammy, diminishes trust in you as a seller, and there are better places to put your keywords. Use the “Search Terms” field to list your keywords, up to 250 characters (punctuation and spaces do not count toward the limit, and punctuation is not necessary).
3. Add lots of high-quality images
Online shoppers depend quite a bit on product images to make their decisions, and study after study confirms it.
Your main image should show the product by itself with a white background. You can supply up to eight additional images, so you can show multiple angles of your product and lifestyle images of the product in use.
Amazon recommends providing images that are large enough to enable the zoom feature, which has been shown to improve sales: 1,000 pixels or larger on at least one side. The smallest allowable image can be 500 pixels on its longest side.
4. Make good use of your descriptions and provide bullet points
Take a look at what a customer sees when they land on your product page. The bullet points appear near the top. To find the product description, you’ll have to scroll down the page a bit.
When it comes to at-a-glance, valuable information and features on Amazon, you can’t beat bullet points. Providing a good description is still really important, because it allows you to tell your product’s story in greater detail, and it factors into search relevancy. But because bullet points cut to the chase and are immediately visible, you’ll want to find ways to populate them.
What if you have thousands of products, and you don’t have bullet points in separate fields? It would be a lot of work to provide bullet points for each product. There are a few ways you could solve this problem and apply bullet points in bulk.
For example, you may already have bullet points in your descriptions, using HTML code. You could parse out the information from in-between your HTML tags and populate the bullet point fields that way. Or you could take attributes from your other fields and list them as bullet points. For example, if you’re selling sunglasses, you may have a field that lists your UV ratings or another field that lists the country of origin for all your models. Mapping those fields to the bullet points would be a quick solution to provide customers useful information.
You can also create bullet points in bulk by using your product type categorizations. If your products in a subcategory all share similar features (like 100% organic cotton T-shirts), then you could create the same bullet points for all products in that subcategory. In this example, you would make your first bullet point “100% organic cotton” for any T-shirt in your catalog. That’s an important selling point that you wouldn’t want to miss.
5. Resolve your errors
Resolving your item errors can mean the difference between listing 50% of your catalog or listing 99% of your catalog. When you initially upload your product listings in bulk, you’re bound to get some errors. There’s a wide range of error messages you may receive.
Errors can be the result of typos not matching Amazon’s valid values. Fixing this is relatively easy; consult the template and adjust accordingly. Other times Amazon will flag special characters as a result of HTML formatting or encoding issues. Generally, your descriptions are the first place you want to start looking for special characters to strip them out.
HTML formatting is not allowed on Amazon, but you’ll still see listings with paragraph breaks and bullet points in the descriptions. There’s a lot of conflicting information about this, but it’s better to err on the safe side and follow Amazon’s official guidelines. You may be able to list a product with HTML in the descriptions one day, and then a month later that same product will receive errors for the HTML tags.
Sometimes you’ll discover that the product you just uploaded already exists on Amazon, and you’re not able to make changes to the product data. You’ll receive error code 8541, which will say something like, “The SKU data provided is different from what’s already in the Amazon catalog,” with additional details about the
If you’re not the brand owner, you’ll either need to match the product data that already exists on Amazon, or you’ll need to log a case with Amazon support and argue that the data you are providing is better than what already exists. If you are the brand owner, we highly recommend registering your brand on Amazon. This will give you more control over your product data and allow you to create an Amazon storefront. Our friends at Tinuiti have provided a useful guide for creating Amazon storefronts.
It’s important to resolve your errors on Amazon, because you never know which products will sell. The more sales traction you generate, the better your seller ratings will be, which will help your search rankings over time. If you have 2,000 SKUs, but only 1,000 of them are showing due to errors, you’re potentially missing out on 50% of the visibility you could be generating for your brand, not to mention sales.
If you’re looking for an Amazon marketplace solution, Feedonomics can help. Our service helps sellers with the integration, product listing (including categorization and optimization), order management, data governance, and error resolution. Book a demo today to see how Feedonomics can work for your business!
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Brian Roizen is the Cofounder and Chief Architect of Feedonomics, a full-service feed optimization platform that optimizes product data for hundreds of channels. He has been featured on numerous podcasts and eCommerce webinars, and regularly contributes to Search Engine Land and other industry-leading blogs. Brian graduated summa cum laude from UCLA with both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering.