The authentic buyer’s guide to Amazon automation
Apr 4, 2020

The authentic buyer’s guide to Amazon automation

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Why, how and with what apps

Every online retailers’ dream is to grow a successful business, and while it’s not the reality for some (some products just won’t sell), it has been and can be attainable for many. Since its inception 25 years ago, Amazon has evolved to become the largest online marketplace in the United States.

Amazon’s customer base by far exceeds that of its competitors, with 12 marketplaces worldwide generating US$280.52 billion in 2019, up 20.5% from 2018. With 5 million sellers worldwide, it’s no wonder you’re considering – or have chosen – Amazon as your marketplace of choice. However, that’s not to say all merchants end up running successful online businesses.

The smart e-commerce retailers know that to scale a business as quickly and as effectively as possible, third-party automation software is key. There are many reasons why budding entrepreneurs flock to the doors of Amazon’s marketplaces every day, but it’s the simple action of automating your business operations that will have you banging down Jeff Bezos’ virtual door.

Table of contents:

  • Amazon – your online marketplace of choice
  • Why automate your Amazon business
  • App recommendations plus reviews

Amazon – your online marketplace of choice

If you want to get your products in front of as many people as possible, then it’s obvious why you would choose to do business on Amazon. But taking advantage of Amazon’s potential customer numbers isn’t the only reason you should consider selling on one of its many marketplaces.

Launching a business that sells through Amazon is relatively straightforward. The online marketplace has a fantastic reputation – people know and love to shop on Amazon. It’s also reportedly one of the most trusted brands in the world – with 100 million households worldwide willing to pay $99 per year for Amazon Prime. To put that into perspective, the US only has some 126 million households.

If you manage your own online store on a different e-commerce platform like Shopify, Amazon can be a great way to drive traffic to your store. You won’t ever pay a listing fee, only a seller’s fee. Its other notable feature is that every listing on Amazon must look the same, ensuring the focus is on product quality – giving smaller businesses a fighting chance against big corporates.

Like any online marketplace or e-commerce platform, Amazon has its flaws. But, if selling on Amazon suits your business, there are several levers you can pull (or should we say, add-ons you can integrate) to help you work less, sell more.

Amazon has several different Amazon-focused add-ons you can use to automate your business. There are lots of third-party solutions available too.

Why automate your Amazon business

Even though Amazon makes starting an online business easy and breezy, running a business can be anything but that. A typical day for any Amazon seller (big or small) can quickly overfill with menial, time-consuming, manual tasks that keep the business running, but don’t really add any value or move it forward. As your business grows, things can quickly get out of control.

Why spend your time treading water, when you could swim? The beauty of automation is it eliminates the need for manual intervention by moving data from one system to another for you. Imagine not having to do that work yourself? How much more time – and money – you’d have to focus on growing your business even bigger!

There are certain tasks where automation is a no-brainer. They can be grouped into the following categories: operations management, accounting, marketing and sales, and customer feedback.

Which areas of business should you automate?

Automation will make your life easier, yes, but what doesn’t make life easier is trawling through hundreds of potential automation tools, looking for the right solution – especially if you don’t know what you’re looking for! With integrations galore available, from social media marketing to managing inventory and everything in between – here’s a list of business areas we recommend automating.

Operations management

  • Fulfilment and shipping
  • Payments
  • Returns

Accounting

  • Cloud-based accounting system
  • Accounting integrator

Marketing, sales and customer feedback

  • Pay-per-click advertising
  • Customer feedback
  • Workflow automation
  • Social media marketing
  • Email management and marketing
  • Sales channels – Shopify

App recommendations – with reviews from real-life businesses

First things first, Amazon Seller Central is an intuitive web interface that enables both individuals and businesses to sell their products and inventory on Amazon.com. An Amazon Seller Central account is mandatory and is how you integrate the tools below to help automate your business.

Now on to our top picks – a bunch of Amazon add-ons and apps for automating your business that come highly recommended from other Amazon merchants just like you.

Fulfilment and shipping

Amazon FBA (Fulfilment by Amazon): Amazon has one of the most advanced fulfilment networks in the world. With FBA, you store your products in Amazon’s fulfilment centres, and when a customer makes a purchase, they pick, pack, and ship on your behalf.

FBA handles customer service and returns for your Amazon orders. Their fulfilment centres are built with your inventory in mind, and there’s no minimum for the number of products you send. You’re charged for storage space and the fulfilled orders as you go.

FBA’s specialised services can help you grow your business without new investments in capital or staffing.

  • Sell from your own or third-party e-commerce sites.
  • FBA Small and Light can help you reduce the cost of fulfilling orders for low-cost, small, and lightweight FBA inventory.
  • FBA Subscribe & Save makes it possible for you to offer discounts on eligible FBA products for repeat customers.

Customer review from Element Jewellery: Shipping through Amazon really gave me my freedom back. Now I just send my inventory to Amazon and let the warehouse manage the rest. I only need to work in front of the computer for a few hours a week, where it used to be 60 hours a week.

For those who decide not to use Amazon FBA, here are shipping and returns software recommendations:

ShipRush: with integrations to over 80 business systems, including leading enterprise resource planning (ERP), e-commerce and supply-chain platforms, the ShipRush platform helps customers streamline their supply chain and reduce transportation costs by automatically importing orders, comparing carrier rates, printing shipping labels for all major carriers, and tracking through final delivery.

Customer review from Wizard Distribution: By automating fulfilment with ShipRush, we’re now easily processing 30 to 40 packages per day and over 1,000 per month and we’re accomplishing this with two people, instead of six. It’s been a boon to customer service, and it has given us a path to a sustainable and profitable home-based business.

ReadyReturns: offers “Amazon-like” returns for your online store. It ensures the right returns policy is on your site and returns are being handled correctly and in a predictable way.

Amazon Pay: offers a secure checkout experience backed by Amazon’s technology, innovation, and robust risk management services. It’s a fast and easy payment option that works seamlessly with your site, is optimised for mobile so shoppers can check out right from their device, and helps merchants address the top reasons for cart abandonment.

Customer review from Vacatia: Filling out payment forms on phones is cumbersome and often frustrating, especially if the guest makes a typing error. Amazon Pay streamlines our payment by replacing eight form fields with as few as two taps. It’s absolutely delightful.

Feedvisor: a comprehensive solution that maximizes growth by helping you understand, benchmark, and monitor your performance and profitability. The A-driven software harnesses the power of machine learning, crunching millions of data points to automatically adjust your pricing, optimizing it for competitiveness and profitability.

Customer review from Enterprise Health & Beauty Reseller: We saw straight away that Feedvisor was pricing up and generating a higher profit. We were making more money and didn’t have to do anything.

Zapier: connect your apps and automate workflows – Zapier moves information between your web apps automatically, so you can focus on your most important work. Link your web apps with a few clicks, so they can share data, pass info with workflows called Zaps, build processes faster and get more done – no code required.

Customer review from Sitepoint: Zapier quietly works in the background. My team is now using the process to be more productive without even knowing it.

Accounting

A2X for Amazon: A2Xwill automatically fetch your latest Amazon settlement transactions and post summarised transactions to your accounting system, enabling accurate reconciliation of your Amazon settlements every time you get paid.

This app will save you hours each month so you can focus on growing your business. It’s trusted by over 1000 Amazon sellers and leading accounting firms to deliver Amazon financial data you can rely on to build your business.

A2X won the Industry Specific App of the Year award at the Xero Americas Awards 2018 and was named a finalist for the Emerging App of the Year Award in 2019.

With over 200 e-commerce accountant partners across the world, A2X for Amazon is adding significant value by automating accounting for Amazon merchants and e-commerce specialist accountants.

Customer review from iQual Tech: What easily took two days before – running reports, calculating it all up, creating invoices and bills, contouring them off, reconciling them – now I can do seven European marketplaces worth of invoices for a quarter in an hour. No chance I would’ve done that any other way.

Xero: Save time on admin with Xero – it’s online accounting software that automates everyday tasks. Log in to the Xero accounting system for up-to-date financials, anytime, anywhere. View and share interactive reports and budgets, all in one place on a customisable dashboard.

Customer review from P. J. Brogden Contracting Ltd: “With Xero, I can work quicker and it means I don’t have to spend the hours in the office that I used to,” says Cheryl. “And it means I can spend quality time with the grandchildren, especially as they’re little still and I just love it.”

QuickBooks: QuickBooks Online lets you see how your business is doing instantly. Work from anywhere on multiple devices, send invoices on-the-go and instantly see how your business is performing with customizable reports and dashboards – among many other features.

Customer review from Ash Read: Before QuickBooks, I dreaded the accounting side of my business. Now I can get everything done in minutes and spend time doing what I love.

Marketing and sales

Advertise on Amazon: increase visibility, reach more shoppers and multiply sales on Amazon by advertising in all your eligible marketplaces. Ads appear right where customers will see them, such as the first page of search results or product detail pages. You place bids on keywords or products, and if your ad is relevant and your bid wins, your ad gets displayed to shoppers.

Take advantage of three different advertising solutions to help automate and maximise performance:

  • Sponsored Products are ads for individual product listings on Amazon. They appear on search results pages and product detail pages, helping drive sales and product visibility (cost-per-click).
  • Sponsored Brands showcase your brand and product portfolio. Featuring your brand logo, a custom headline, and up to 3 of your products, these ads appear in search results (cost-per-click).
  • Stores are custom multipage shopping destinations for individual brands that let you showcase your brand story and product offerings. They require no website experience to use (free).

FeedbackExpress: allows you to set up automated emails for customers who purchased from your Amazon store. You can configure three types of messages: customer service email, request for seller feedback, and request for product reviews. It’ll also help you act on negative feedback by sending you notifications through SMS and email whenever you receive negative reviews or ratings.

Customer review from Flip Those Books: Since using FeedbackExpress, my Amazon feedback rating has gone from 92% to 99%.

Hootsuite: manage all your social media in one place and keep your social presence active 24/7 by automatically scheduling hundreds of social media posts at once, across your social accounts. Track your performance and gain meaningful insights about your customers and campaign content with customisable, easy-to-create reports.

Customer review from Amway: Launching a global, social-first brand experience like Artistry Studio was an incredibly huge effort for Amway. As we continue to lead with social when going to market, we need to understand what is working and what is not working. Hootsuite is a big part of the process in effectively figuring that out.

MailChimp: bring your audience data, marketing channels, and insights together so you can reach your goals faster. With Mailchimp, you can promote your business across email, social, landing pages, postcards, and more — all from a single platform.

Customer review from Simply Gum: With Mailchimp, we can see what messaging worked for email, what worked for ads, and very easily apply those learnings because everything is in one place.

Shopify: expand your business with the Shopify integration for Amazon, which makes it easier than ever to list your products on the world’s largest marketplace and get next-level brand visibility.

Customer review from Rival Gear: We have been using this Amazon integration for 3 years with over 2000+ listings created through this app. We have had no issues since we have been using it.

Hit your business goals quicker with automation

Everyone’s searching for the secret to e-commerce success. Without a doubt, one of the many keys that open that door is automation. Amazon is a fantastic online marketplace that easily integrates with other e-commerce platforms like Shopify, essentially placing your small business on the world stage. Good automation tools will eliminate the need for manual data entry and administration, and whether you decide to invest in one or all of the automation tools, they’ll help you focus on what’s most important – hitting your business goals.


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