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5 Must-Have Back to School Items Under $16 on Amazon

Ah, a new school year. The scent of freshly sharpened pencils and stress pheromones fill the air. Whatever you say about the beginning of a new semester, there’s no better time to hone your inner “studyspo” with some fresh new supplies that will have your teacher wishing she got something better than a plain apple.

The Pencil Case


Sleek. Modest. Not too flashy, but not too bland. The LIHIT LAB Pen Case ticks all our boxes for a writing utensil caddy.

The Water Bottle


Hydration may be last year’s meme, but like all great things, the legacy lives on. Great for socializing: the water cooler never leaves your side.

Raincoat or Poncho


Easily to pack and bring around for sudden rain emergencies or casual hikes. Keep yourself dry with the Terra Hiker Rain Poncho for any occasion.

The Snack


Oof. Okay, buy them for yourself, but whatever you do, don’t offer any to us. We don’t have the willpower. Good thing you have the nuts to keep your energy up as we claw for them.

The Journal

Writing in this journal’s pages might summon a fairy. Good thing your classroom’s windows have screens. Use this to jot down your homework, plans, ideas, doodles. Or spells.

EXTRA: The Dongle

For the special students with an attachment to earphones with cable. These are necessary for long study sessions that last longer than your wireless earphone batteries.

Or check out some of these offers below:

The New Amazon Catalogue Feature

Amazon is listenting to sellers and trying to make the uploading or the ‘build’ process a bit easier.  There is a *New* feature that arrived June, 2017. this feature is the Catalogue tab.

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Summary:

1. ) You can now use Complete Your Drafts ‘drafts’ to edit builds that are missing information when you uploaded them. — HOWEVER it seems this is still in beta and we get an error page. > The other features are working immediately.

2.) The ‘Variation Wizard’ makes it easier to add variations. It is particularly exciting because it is geared towards already existing products.

3.) Prepare Your Listings: There is now a simplified, guided, way to quickly add products to your catalogue with the minimum amount of information needed.

 

What’s in the tab?

There are two sub tabs: Add Products and Complete Your Drafts.

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Add Products

Add Products has not changed too much from when the tab lived under Inventory. Still, there are a few exciting new features once you click into the subcategory: First the Variation Wizard and second the Prepare Your Listings.

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Variation Wizard

The most exciting part of the Variation Wizard is that you can use it to group previously created products. This is a key step in making product catalogues more manageable. I would also imagine that it reduces the amount of cases that request groupings from the Amazon Seller team.

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A.) Step by step instructions for the first option, “Add to or update an existing variation family” :

  1. Choose what I call a “source” ASIN. This will be the ASIN that you are going to group On To.
  2. Add in the required information
    1. SKU
    2. Product Name
    3. External ID Type
    4. Variation Theme
    5. Theme Attributes (Size, Color)
    6. Size Map
    7. Condition
    8. Quantity
    9. Price
  3. Hit Save.

 

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B.) The second way is the group stand along products.

For this method you need to use a template and choose which product will be the ‘parent’ item. Then follow the detailed instruction given by amazon.

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Prepare Your Listings

This is a step by step instruction guide to creating new products. There are 4 steps. No macros or huge amazon files to contend with. We recommend downloading the sample file, and using it as your guide. Once you start the process you can go to the next step where you will immediately see if you were successful on the step before. Try this method for immediate product gratification.

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Complete Your Drafts

This is still a mystery! While Amazon has let the page go live, I keep getting an error message when I hit ‘edit’ (as of Wednesday June 28th 1:57 PM).  Don’t worry Amazon Sellers, I’ll definitely be back when this feature is working to publish another post.

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Reclaim Your Brand on Amazon

What is Amazon Brand Registry?

Overview:

Manufactures, private labels, and exclusive or authorized sellers can use Brand Registry to extend some control over their product listings and add additional Enhanced Brand Content, ultimately making it easier to control your brand’s product pages.

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The Perks:
  • Authority Over Content
    • When other sellers list your product, the content (images and text) your upload will supersede what was previously written.
    • This includes all product details like title and bullet points.
    • It also includes the ability to request modifications to how variations should be grouped (ex: size name should be dimensions and not just S, M, L.)
  • Enhanced Brand Content
    • Additional photos and text that helps increase sales. Read more about EBC here.
  • Global Catalog Identifier (GCID)
    • This identifier can be in place of or in addition to UPCs, EANs, or JANs. It also allows you to sell internationally.
What It Doesn’t Cover:
  • Other Seller that also have brand Registry
    • If another seller with Brand Registry has a better seller rating while competing on the same listing, they will can win the buy box and the content.
  • Brand Gating
    • Brand gating, so that another seller cannot sell your product as new, is not included.
As of the first week of April, Brand Registration is closed for all applicants excluding those without UPCs or other product identifiers. The expectation is that Amazon will reopen Brand Registry applications with an additional fee for reviewing or upon accepting an application.

What are Amazon A+ Pages and Enhanced Brand Content?

Overview of Amazon’s A+ Content and Enhanced Brand Content (EBC)

A+ pages and Enhanced Brand Content feature additional photos and text on an Amazon listing that gives customers more information about a product. The fundamental difference between A+ pages and Enhance Brand Content is that A+ pages are accessible as a Vendor Central merchant, whereas EBC is available as a Seller Central third party seller/ merchant.

Before discussing the differences between the different platforms and what they offer, I want to establish their value.

Supplemental content can:

  • Give the customer additional information on your product (ex: explaining the significance of materials and composition)
  • Answer common customers questions
  • Help build brand awareness
  • Demonstrate the uses of your products (traditional and untraditional)
    • Ultimately, the supplemental content encourages a full and accessible understanding of your product that means customers choose to buy your product more often. There is no doubt that EBC and A+ pages increase sales conversions.

Comparison

EBC and A+ are available to different specialized parties:

  • EBC content can, for the most part, only be added to parent products of brand where the seller has been verified as an authorized seller. In other words, if you have Brand Registry you are qualified. At the moment, publishing EBC content is free while Amazon introduces the service.
  • A+ content can be added to any product in Vendor Central.  The platform for making A+ pages allows you to easily divide parent products by ‘color’ and ‘size’ so you may customize the content that appears on child variations. Different product categories will charge different prices for publishing A+ content. At the moment some areas that Amazon is trying to build up, like Home & Bedding, allows you to publish A+ pages free of charge.
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EBC and A+ ‘live’ in different sections of the Amazon product page:

  • EBC is in the Product Description section.
  • The A+ pages appear below Product Description in From The Manufacturer. 

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EBC for Printed Hawaiian Shirts by Campia

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A+ Page for Truly Soft Burgundy Red Sheet Set

EBC and A+ are created differently:

  • EBC has 5 templates to choose from. Each template has a specified size images and text boxes
  • A+ pages can mix and match up to 12 different modules.
    • Advanced modules have some animated function like scroll over changeable images and text.
    • Standard Modules have static images and text
      • 7 Header type modules that have room for larger banner photos etc.
      • 3 Feature type modules that leave more text room for explaining smaller feature images.

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EBC Creator

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 A+ Page Creator

 

EBC and A+ have different content capabilities. Read more about leveraging EBC and A+ content with these best practices and spec requirements.

 

Click for Tech & Bowery Case Studies of EBC and A+ pages.

 

What is EDI?

What is EDI?

In Ecommerce the best way to efficiently manage inventory and orders is through EDI or Electronic Data Integration. I like to think of EDI as one computer talking to another without messy humans getting involved. The base of EDI is a standardized messaging format that computers in different companies can automatically read and update, so that both computers are speaking to each other in the same language.

Why is EDI important for Ecommerce?

EDI makes speed possible. With digital retail, its easy to wait for each part of your company to respond to the order, but that slow pace builds into an unpleasant shopping experience for the customer. Customers expect your fulfillment to be as efficient as the glossy front end of your website. To get the different parts of your operation working efficiently they need to communicate with each other.

Traditional order processing happens over 3 – 5 days. An order is printed out, mailed to the fulfiller, and then that order receipt is included in the customer’s shipped product.

With EDI the automated that entire communication process can happen under an hour. You get your orders to the warehouse faster and they can then fulfill it immediately. EDI can be used for transferring any documents between companies and computers, but it is primarily used for order processing and shipping.

Is EDI only for your own website?

EDI doesn’t only integrate your own website’s orders to your shipping. EDI also integrates any drop shipping you have over multiple channels. If you sell on Overstock.com and Walmart Marketplace you are required to have an EDI set up.

Modifying Listing Content – Amazon Seller Central vs Vendor Central 2/6

Modifying Listing Content – Amazon Seller Central vs Vendor Central 2/6

When it comes to enticing customers to buy, its all about creating content that customers can touch. That means images that are drool worthy, content that is correct, and descriptions that enhance the value of your product. Getting in that information is the difference between having a sparse product page and a product page that can convert window shoppers into buyers. To fully give your potential customers the power to choose your product, it is important to understand how that content can be managed. Here are the differences in working within the Seller versus the Vendor Central portals.

 

Vendor Central Seller Central
Bulk Uploads of Listing Data Product uploads are based on the information that is input onto your templates. In Vendor it is difficult to modify the content after the initial upload. If you input the minimum amount of data you leave your consumer under-informed. The trick here is to be very careful in managing what information goes up. Try a few test samples out first so that you know what information ends up where.   Bulk uploads allow you to upload the information you need and ‘build’ a product. You have the ability to modify the content of your product even after you’ve uploaded them. You can modify the listing, see how the change look in 15 minutes, and then modify them again.
Grouping Products Amazon chooses how to group the products you’ve given them. Companies can request groupings, but ultimately it is chosen and grouped according to Amazon.  Choose how to group your listings so that they cross sell and follow customers’ buying logic. Amazon limits the variations to ‘size’ and ‘color’.
Images and Descriptions The images have to be labeled according to ASIN or Product Identifier and then uploaded into the Amazon system. Once you’ve uploaded the images, Amazon’s system can take a few days to make the photos go live. To upload photos, go to ‘Item’ the ‘Upload Photos’. All images are uploaded here.
To change descriptions you can upload an excel doc. If a product is under 12 months old, you can modify it, to a limited extent, in ‘Items’ then ‘Edit Products’.  Be careful with experimenting. Placing information in the wrong place can mean that an PO won’t be fulfilled.
The Seller Central portal makes it clear which bullet points will show up and where the information will live on each product page. To modify text and images go to Manage Products, find your product, and hit edit.
Images are in the images tab. Most images that are uploaded, are visible within a few hours. On occasion it might take a day to see the uploaded images. All images are uploaded in their individual product editable pages.
Try experimenting with the “More Information” tab. Some of that information is used in searches, and for filtering. Information like Fabric and Care Instructions show up as bullet points too.
Modification Request/ Amazon Response Times All listing changes go through the Vendor Central team. Vendor Central takes approx. 24 – 48 hours to respond to your requests. Outsourced Vendor representatives may have difficulty fixing the issue the first time it is explained so that you go back and forth a few times before the issue is even acknowledged. Moral of the story: take the time to get your content correct the first time.   There are some things you cannot modify once they’ve been uploaded, for example: a variation color name. Open up a case with Seller Central, they have a response time that is under 24 hours. If there is not satisfactory resolution, you can call Amazon and speak to representatives. It may take a few tries, but you’ll get a response. Personally, Tech & Bowery has established a rapport with the Seller Central team. Together, we fix things quickly.

 

If you’ve been invited to Vendor Central, consider how your business works so that you can effectively plan whether you should stick to Seller Central, migrate to Vendor Central, or use a mix of the two. Either way, when it come to content, remember to cultivate listings with rich content, long descriptions, and vivid photos, that entice customers.

Common Ecommerce Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

One of the best ecommerce philosophies is “in it for the long haul”; start out the way you plan to continue. At Tech & Bowery we’ve seen too many companies come to us after they have discovered their short foray into the digital commerce world has left them confused and left them with a whole warehouse of insolvent products. This post will outline some of the mistakes to avoid and the approach companies and individuals should take when they decide to expand into digital markets.

Mistakes to Avoid:

  1. All of your inventory and variations are uploaded in one shot to an ecommerce platform with minimal data so that the products are ‘live already’. What usually follows are sparse product pages that don’t convert well, sitting on page 1000 where no one ever discovers them.
  2. A lone enthusiastic salesperson jumps into a digital marketplace with a small quantity of leftover goods that sell out quickly. In a bid to increase revenue, tons of Leftover Product A is produced and stocked, only to find that the product doesn’t sell as well the next time its placed online.
  3. Inconsistent products that confuse customers and prevent them from buying again and encourages them to leave bad reviews that daunt new customers. 

What happened? Most of these mistakes are a symptom of not understanding the larger ecommerce world. When Tech & Bowery take on a new clients several meetings are created not only to understand how a company works, but also so that we can research where a company best fits into the many different digital spheres. Is a company suited to a wholesale relationship with Amazon or a more speed oriented discount Groupon page? Perhaps both or neither. 

Why didn’t my product sell at all?

  • Product pages aren’t content rich.
  • The upload is not filled with filterable data.
  • You’re selling on the wrong ecommerce marketplace for your product type.

Why didn’t my product sell as well the second time I posted it?

  • You aren’t leveraging the momentum from the first time you sold out. This can include: loosing the search ranking, pricing the product higher, selling the product with different packaging, and not checking the reviews for things to correct in the next run.
  • You’re undercut by a competitor. For example: Someone copied your product and sold it at a lower price. 
  • Your seasonal product is not in demand as of last week and won’t be in demand again for another 6 months.

Going forward you should consider following these tips. These are also the first pieces of advice that we offer to anyone who is considering the move to commerce.

How do I do better ecommerce?

  • Get Organized – Each part of the commerce process needs attention. From shipping in the goods in a timely manner to having content at the right time. Make sure you consider everything the customer will need to feel confident in your product. You should also consider how much inventory you need on hand versus how much you can bring in later. At minimum you will need people to plan which products work on which sites, look at sales, measure restocking needs, create product listings, and populate the listings with rich content. 
  • Get Knowledgable – Learn about the nuances of each marketplace. Whether its Amazon, Overstock, Walmart, or Ebay – learn the platform, how its search function works, and what appeals to the customers on each site. If you’re selling on your own site, learn who your customer base is, how to reach them, and how to retain their interest. 

There is a more nuance to digital marketplaces that are completely different from traditional business. The best way for companies to approach their ecommerce efforts is by being thoughtful and planning not only the launch into ecommerce markets, but also planning how their continued success will look.

 

Amazon Seller Central vs Vendor Central – Part 1/6

Which is Best for You?

Amazon is an amazing tool that gives retailer and wholesalers the opportunity to sell to a larger audience. Within Amazon there are different ways to post products and sell them. The two main business portals are Seller and Vendor central.

The main difference: When you use Seller Central you are a third party seller that gets their own products and sells them. Vendor Central is invite only and you sell wholesale to amazon so that the product is “sold by Amazon.com”

  • Modifying Listing Content
  • Overall Account Management
  • Product Pricing
  • Amazon Chargebacks
  • Putting Up New Product Listings
  • Inventory Supervision

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