Amazon Pitfalls to Avoid at All Costs

Ron Dodby Ron Dod

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If anyone can make Google’s knees shake, it’s definitely Amazon. Instead of visiting Google to research products, many people are starting their research on Amazon first. According to a survey conducted by BloomReach, fifty-five percent of people in the U.S. now start their online shopping trips on Amazon. That represents a 25% increase from last year’s survey, with 44% percent of shoppers saying they start their research on Amazon first.

For shoppers, Amazon represents an easy to use, affordable, and complete online shopping experience where they can get anything from soap to a new bed. For businesses, Amazon has given the opportunity to sell products without worrying about tech stuff such as building a website, SEO, or integrations. It also helps businesses gain credibility through good customer reviews and Amazon feedback.

online shopping in united states graphic

However, it’s this low barrier to entry that is putting many businesses at risk. Online retailers are hasty to build an Amazon store, without taking the necessary time to learn its best practices. Don’t be fooled! Although your store won’t require SEO, as you know it, it will require “Amazon SEO” and best practices to make your store successful.

Amazon can become a lucrative source of revenue for your business, but it can also become a waste of money if you don’t know how to manage and optimize your accounts.

To help you boost your performance, we’ve compiled the ultimate list of Amazon pitfalls you must avoid at all costs! It’s great when you can learn from mistakes, and even better when you get the chance to avoid them entirely by learning from someone else’s mistakes, so let’s get started!

Amazon Account Mistakes

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Not Paying Taxes

Before we start discussing the mistake, let’s get some background information. There are three basic things you need to keep in mind when dealing with taxes to understand this point. First, note that every state has different rules about levying taxes. For example, some states will charge sales tax on shipping charges; others won’t.

taxes iconThe second thing you need to keep in mind is that you must collect taxes everywhere you have a “sales tax nexus.” This simply refers to every place you have a “presence,” such as an office, warehouse, or an employee. I’ll bet you can imagine how this can get complicated, especially selling with Fulfillment By Amazon, or FBA, where Amazon’s warehouse is away from your business. But, don’t worry. We’ll get to that in a minute.

The third thing you should have in mind is that you are liable for collecting taxes through Amazon. The system can do it for a small fee, but you have to make sure to set that up in your Seller Central. Going back to FBA, the easiest way to collect taxes is using an integration such as TaxJar. All you would need to do is connect it, and you’d easily get sales tax reports. So, remember to adjust your tax setting in Seller Central to avoid having to pay retroactively. The amount adds up fast, and it can seriously impact your business for the worse.

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Not Configuring Amazon Seller App for FBA

In case you’re not familiar with it, the Amazon seller app is a free application provided by Amazon that allows you do things like track sales and source products. For sellers doing retail arbitrage, finding products in retail stores to sell for a profit, it can be an especially useful app since it allows users to calculate profits on the go.

The mistake that many FBA sellers make is to skip the configuration designated for FBA. Therefore, the profit numbers turn out to be off, which can make you lose a good amount of money. To avoid this issue, simply go to your app, visit the menu, and then click on settings.

Select product search and, ultimately, select Amazon Fulfilled under the Default Fulfillment Channel, and you’re good to go. Once it’s set up correctly, every item you scan will tell you the fees that will be charged for your item using the FBA service.

Product Listing Mistakes

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Using Multiple Listings for Product Variations

online shopping options graphicIf you offer the same product in different variations, such as size or color, it’s recommended to use parent-child options. This way, all your product variations will be located in one place. It will help you increase the chances of making a sale because shoppers won’t have to click around visiting multiple listings to find the product they like.

For example, if you’re selling a product in black, and you don’t have parent-child options, a shopper looking for the same product in white may think you don’t have that option available, and he or she will end up looking for the product someplace else. Instead, by using parent-child options, you’ll be able to keep that shopper interested and possibly convert them. It can also help you gather all reviews in one product listing, strengthening your listing.

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Not Using Proper Search Terms

In conjunction with product description and title, search terms help Amazon know which keywords are related to your products to properly trigger them when necessary. All of these factors form part of what some people call “Amazon’s SEO.” It’s important to note that this type of optimization is different from Google’s SEO. To start, Amazon and Google users may have different levels of intention.

There’s a higher chance someone shopping on Amazon is ready to make a purchase right then, compared to someone researching on Google. The latter may be looking for more details about the benefits and uses of the product, but the Amazon shopper is already comparing prices. This difference in intent creates a difference between the types of keywords used in Amazon versus Google.

A keyword research tool can help you start brainstorming good keyword ideas to incorporate in your list. Also, keep in mind that you don’t need to include variants of spacing, punctuation, capitalization, or pluralization.

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Not Offering Enough Product Information

Lack of information affects your product listing in two different ways. One of the negative impacts is that it can reduce the visibility of your listings. Amazon’s algorithm has to have enough information about your products to retrieve them, so the lack of them will prevent the platform from showing your products as many times as it could if your listings were well optimized.

animated gif - information entering brainIn addition, the algorithm knows that a lack of information leads to a poor shopper experience, which Amazon will try to avoid at all costs by reducing your visibility. This will hurt your chance of getting the precious Buy Box, which can bring additional sales growth.

To make sure your products are well optimized with enough useful information, check your title, bullet points, and product descriptions. A well-optimized product title will not only help your visibility but will also help your CTR by encouraging shoppers to click on your listing versus your competitor’s listings. All of the following attributes are recommended for titles:

  • Attribute 1: BRAND
  • Attribute 2: DESCRIPTION
  • Attribute 3: PRODUCT LINE
  • Attribute 4: MATERIAL
  • Attribute 5: KEY INGREDIENT
  • Attribute 6: SIZE
  • Attribute 7: COLOR
  • Attribute 8: QUANTITY

The key is to order these keywords according to priority. The highest priority keywords should go toward the front to avoid being cut off. See photo below for reference:

amazon product page screenshot

As you can see, the listing has the brand, quantity and a good product description. In your bullets, you’ll want to include additional product features and benefits. For example, you can include materials, dimensions, and benefits. In the description, you can get a little bit more creative by creating more of a story of how the product can be used to solve a customer’s problem and why yours is better than the rest.

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Not Optimizing Images

Yes, your product images have to abide by Amazon requirements, but these optimizations will take your listings a step above the competition. By skipping these minor changes, you may be losing the potential to get more revenue from your listings.

First, consider adding silhouettes, when possible, to help customers figure out the size and fit of your products—especially helpful when selling jewelry. This will help you avoid returns due to misunderstandings. Some products may look too small or too big in pictures; silhouettes will help shoppers visualize the product better to make a well-informed decision.

silhouette model wearing gold bracelet

Another useful tip to help the customer visualize the product is to add measurements to the images. See image below for reference:

amazon image selection screenshot

In addition, try to have multiple images that showcase your product from different angles. Last, always remember to follow Amazon’s basic image requirements, such as having a white background and their cropping ratios.

Customer Service Mistakes

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Not Responding to Customer Questions

Amazon insists that merchants must reply within 24 hours (including weekends and holidays) to customer questions. Failing to do so continuously can potentially affect the status of your account.

Unfortunately, there is no auto-reply feature available through Amazon, but some merchants use auto-reply features in their own email accounts. However, note that autoresponders are not counted as replies by Amazon’s standards. Therefore, you will still be responsible for replying to a customer’s inquiry within the 24-hour period.

The autoresponder helps the customer know the message has been received to provide the customer the peace of mind of knowing their message will be eventually read.

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Not Addressing Bad Reviews

Customer feedback is one of the most important components in a rock star product listing. It can definitely make or break your Amazon store since the platform itself uses it as a determining factor for listing visibility. In addition, shoppers do read feedback to compare different listings and choose the best ones.

Amazon’s Performance Targets states that “the number of negative feedback entries should be less than 5% of the total feedback entries received. If your negative feedback rate is greater than the 5% performance target, you may want to review your business practices and adjust to the demands of customers.”

As sellers, we dream of getting the perfect customer feedback rating, but, unfortunately, that may not always be the case. In many unforeseen circumstances, your packages may be late, arrive damaged, or have other imperfections or misunderstandings that may cause a bad review.

customer feedback quote

Fortunately, responding to a bad feedback can turn a sour customer into a loyal one if done right. Did the product break? Offer to send a new one. The product didn’t meet the customer’s expectations? Offer a return. Most of the time these people just want to be heard. Other potential customers will see your replies and regain trust in your store, knowing that you’re willing to make it better if something bad happens.

Shipping Mistakes

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Not Offering Attractive Shipping Options and Not Considering Shipping Costs

Amazon has revolutionized shipping options, making free and fast shipping a new standard in the industry. So much so, that stores like Walmart and Target are advertising their own 2-day shipping options to be able to compete with the giant.

Since fast and free are the expectations for Amazon shoppers, your store can’t stay behind. Consider absorbing the shipping price in your product’s price to be able to offer an appealing free shipping option. There are also other promotions, such as getting money off, that you can offer as incentives for purchasing. FBA can also help you offer free and faster shipping.

If you must charge for shipping, make sure you’re properly adding shipping rates to your cost to ensure that selling the product can still be profitable. Some experienced sellers recommend adding a bit more to shipping than what Amazon estimates because it’s usually too low. Use these calculators to help you do the math.

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Stickerless SKUs for FBA

When using Fulfillment by Amazon, or FBA, Amazon enforces that each product sent should be labeled appropriately. This can become very tedious if you sell a vast number of products and have no one helping you to accomplish this task.

Aware of this inconvenience, Amazon offers a commingled stickerless option for sellers. This means that all the products you send would be commingled or mixed together with the same product from different sellers. Therefore, if someone orders a pair of lookalike Apple headphones from your store, the Amazon Fulfillment crew would just go to the “Apple lookalike bin” and select any product, regardless whether it’s from your store or not.

sku scanner graphic

As you can imagine, these stickerless products can represent various issues. One negative result is that some of the products in the commingled inventory may be counterfeit or damaged. So, if Amazon randomly selects any of those bad products and sends it to your customer, you’ll end up getting a bad review for no reason.

To prevent this bad experience from happening, it’s recommended to have Amazon label each of your products for a nominal fee. It will provide you the peace of mind of knowing that you have more control over your inventory and how it gets distributed. So, why would anyone choose the commingled inventory option? Amazon suggests it allows for faster shipping and more affordable costs for the buyer. However, it is best to have Amazon label products and avoid the risk.

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Repackage Unsellable Customer Returns

If you’re an FBA seller, Amazon is in charge of your customer returns. This is a great benefit because it saves sellers the hassles of addressing any product or shipping difficulties. However, the issue arises when a customer returns a package that has been damaged.

If you’re selling a branded product, and Amazon has to repackage the product with a generic box, customers can get the feeling that the product has been used or is counterfeit. In turn, this dissatisfaction can cause more returns, and, even worse, bad reviews.

This feature is enabled by default to all FBA sellers. Therefore, to avoid any issues, simply turn off the feature. Handling repackaging can help you prevent customer complaints regarding packaging and will help your products look their best.


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