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Seven Quick Tips to Increase eBay & Amazon Sales Now

The eBay & Amazon Seller's News ~ May 2018 ~ Volume 19, Issue No. 9

Tips, Tools, News and Wholesale Resources for eBay and Amazon Sellers
by: Skip McGrath

In This Issue:

Musings from and about eBay, Amazon and The World Wide Web

  1. Seven Quick Tips to Increase eBay & Amazon Sales Now
  2. Protecting Yourself from Dishonest Customers
  3. Tips to Take Good Photos for your eBay & Amazon listings
  4. Get Your Listings Found - Amazon Title Tips
  5. SEO for Amazon? How to Optimize your Product Listing
  6. New Wholesale Sources for eBay and Amazon Sellers

"Only those who will risk going too far, can possibly find out how far one can go." ~ T.S. Eliot


Final Sale on two of my popular books

I've been selling online since 1999. I've sold on eBay, sold on Amazon, and made money with affiliate marketing. In short, I've made a living working from home by selling things online. I've written about it all. The result is that I'm currently maintaining and updating over a dozen books about how to make money online. That's a lot of books! So I've decided to retire two of them: The Virtual Peddler and How to Make a Living Working from Home .

They were both written to introduce people to the concept of selling online and they've got a lot of great information. Make Money from Home contains seven home business plans. The Virtual Peddler tells you how to make money selling used and vintage items.

I have reduced the price of both books to $9.97. That price will run through May 15th, and after that the books will no longer be available. So get these great introductions to online selling before they're gone.

Note: These are not How too sell books. If you want to learn how to sell on eBay or Amazon, I suggest you look at The Complete eBay Marketing System or The Complete Amazon Marketing System . (Please don't buy both books because there is some duplication in them).

Last week Amazon released some facts about Prime membership. In a letter to shareholders, Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, said that Amazon has more than 100 million paid Prime members. 100 Million is a great reason to use FBA. In further news, Amazon announced they are raising the annual Prime membership rate from $99 to $119. I hope that price increase doesn't scare off members.

Amazon announced, starting April 18, 2018, and for a limited time, you can remove your FBA inventory for free. Of course it comes with a catch.

If you remove inventory during this promotion you will not be able to send us more units of the ASINs you remove until either:

  • August 1, 2018, when these restrictions will be lifted - or,
  • When your inventory level for the removed ASINs falls below our projection of your sales for the next eight weeks based on your average sales rate for the removed ASINs during the preceding 90 days

If you are having problems with reports or actions in Seller Central, you are not alone. Amazon had a major outage on Seller Central a while ago. Although they got the site working again, there are several seller functions that are still glichy.

eBay will keep using PayPal until 2023. eBay & PayPal signed an agreement whereby, eBay will keep accepting PayPal through June of 2023.

The deal keeps PayPal as an optional payment on the new payments system with Adyen (A Netherlands company similar to PayPal -but better at international payments). The PayPal payment button stays in place along with features including buyer protection against fraud and the fraud detection system. PayPal and eBay's original contract was set to expire in 2020.

It's Meltables time again. starting next week (May 15th) orders for meltable inventory will not be fulfilled. Meltable grocery and health and personal care products will be accepted at our fulfillment centers again starting October 1, 2018.

Removal orders for this inventory must be submitted before June 1, 2018. If a removal order is not submitted before that date, your meltable inventory will be disposed of.

"Meltable" refers to heat-sensitive products that are eaten or swallowed, including chocolate, gummies, and probiotics.

eBay finally has some decent financial news. eBay's revenue for the first quarter ending March 31, was $2.6 billion. That is an increase of 12% on a US Dollar basis. The growth was primarily driven by gross merchandise volume (also known as total sales) of $23.6 billion, which was up 13%. Devin Wenig, President and CEO said: "In Q1 we had good growth and made further progress with our multi-year effort to transform our customer experience and sharpen the eBay brand…"

These numbers were no where near Amazon's sales growth, which was up 43% to $51.0 Billion. Amazon's profits more than doubled over the same quarter last year, growing from $724 Million to $1.6 Billion.

Amazon Prime Day is not that far off, so start planning now. This year, Amazon will hold their annual Prime Day on July 9th. There are steps you can take to prepare. First, try and win the buy box on as many products as you can. If someone is using an automatic repricer against a listing, there isn't much you can do. But do your best on other products to adjust your price so you get in the buy box. The best tactic is to get up really early in the morning of Prime Day, lower your prices, and hope your competitors are slow to match you.

Lowering your price will reduce your margins, but the dramatically increased sales that happen on Prime Day will make up for that.

The other key is inventory. Make sure you have enough stock on hand, not only for Prime day, but enough that you are not out of stock the day after.

Lets get started with this month’s in-depth articles:


1. Seven Quick Tips to Increase eBay & Amazon Sales Now

These are general tips that can be used on both eBay & Amazon. And, some of them can help sales on your website or Shopify.

  1. Everything is seasonal. We usually think of seasonal items as those related to Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall such as clothing and accessories. One of my main product lines are kitchen products. My sales are fairly steady year round except for May through August when they always slow down. This could be nothing more than folks are outside more during these months. But I have found I need to add products from other categories during these months if I want to keep my sales volume high.

  2. Convert more products to FBA. I find that as an FBA seller, my sales do better and I am in the buy box even when I am not the lowest price including shipping. Note: I use FBA to ship products I sell on other channels.

  3. Keep sending inventory into Amazon and keep your eBay inventory positive. Amazon will not say this is true, but I have noticed when I increase my shipment rate into FBA and have more products that are fully stocked, my buy box percentage increases. As for eBay, I have noticed items where I have plenty of stock tend to get higher search position.

  4. Review & Update Your Keywords. Anytime item sales slow down, the first thing I do is check my keywords. Keywords change. A keyword phrase that worked well last year, may not still be working today. Take a hard look at products you launched before the Christmas selling season. Whenever I look at keywords that worked well in November/December, they are always different by March or April.

  5. Variety. This sort of relates to the first point about seasonality. I always get my best results when I carry a wide variety of merchandise. That way, if one category slows down, I still have others that are doing well.

  6. Increase your SKU count. If you increase the number of different products you sell (SKUs), your sales will increase automatically. It's not exactly double, but it's close. When I had 400 SKUs, my sales averaged about $30,000/month. But at 1000 SKUS, my sales were closer to $55,000 month.

  7. Check Pricing Constantly. I am not a big fan of Re-pricing services (although they do work). I prefer to check and adjust my pricing manually. This is easy to do from your Manage Inventory Page where you can sort by price. Look at the image below and you can see products where I have the lowest price and others where I do not.

List of prices on Amazon

Click here for a larger image


2. Protecting Yourself from Dishonest Customers

You ship a beautiful collectible plate to an Amazon or eBay buyer. The buyer claims there was something wrong with it, demand their money back and when the return arrives, instead of the plate, you open the box and find a rock inside.

Or, you ship the plate, which you packed carefully, and the buyer claims it arrived broken. But, what really happened is the plate arrived intact. The buyer looked at the plate and didn't like it for some reason (or maybe found a cheaper one from another seller), so they just smash the plate, put the pieces back in the box, and return it for a refund.

Another, albeit less costly example, happens on Amazon FBA all to frequently. Savvy buyers have learned that if they claim an item is defective, that Amazon will pay the return shipping. Of course Amazon charges that to you.

I could go on, but if buyer fraud hasn't happened to you, you have probably heard about other similar scams.

So what to do? In the case of eBay, they will give you some protection, but the burden of proof is on you. It's a lot of extra work, and there is no way you can do this on everything you sell, but on expensive items I take a photo of the item in the box before I seal it up. This way, if a buyer returns something different, you can send the photo to eBay to help make your case.

As for something arriving broken, before I do the refund, I ask to buyer to send me images of the box the item arrived in. This way I can make an insurance claim. (Note: If you are going to insure items, use a third party insurer such as ShipSurance. They are cheaper and pay claims faster).

Amazon tends to be less supportive to sellers who experience buyer fraud, but you should still report it. It is unlikely Amazon will do anything, but they do keep records. If they get too many seller complaints on a buyer, they will often cancel their buying account.

For Amazon Seller Fulfilled Prime orders and Amazon prepaid returns, the Seller Assurance for e-Commerce Transactions (SAFE-T) process allows you to file a claim for reimbursement when Amazon issues a refund to a customer. Now there's a single page to keep track of all your claims, where you can check claims awaiting response from you, those that are resolved, and those currently under investigation. Here is the SAFE-T Information page . (Must be logged into Seller Central to view this page).

As for eBay, both eBay and PayPal offer some seller protection. but they both have very strict rules to follow. Be sure and read the rules, understand and follow them if you want the protection.


3. Tips to Take Good Photos for your eBay & Amazon listings

Good images sell! Manufacturers spend big money on great product shots. That's because high-quality images work. They help our decision making and speed up the purchasing process. Excellent product photos add credibility and encourage a desire to own a product. This is especially true on eBay, Amazon or a website. (Note: There are buyers on eBay & Amazon who only look at images and never bother to read the description).

The need to take your own photos is increasing as brands crack down on intellectual property. If you grab an image from a brand holder's website, it is most likely copyrighted. Brands rarely give permission to use an image if you are not an authorized reseller. So, if you purchase an item from a liquidator, or a store (RA), you will need to take your own product photo.

Shooting good photos take some practice -but not years of it. Mostly it comes down to good practices like the ones mentioned below.

One trick is using natural window light (indirect -not sunlight, and a plain (preferably white) background). This will give you inexpensive, yet high-quality product photos. Window light is soft and flattering and does not cause harsh reflections or shadows. And, never use a flash!

If you want to make this easier still, look into a Light-tent to use with your SmartPhone or camera. A good size tent for most products is 24 to 30 inches. Here is a link to some budget light tents .

For larger products, use a seamless background (Available on Amazon)

In addition to those, here are some other tips to take good product photos:

  • Get close to your product. There is nothing worse than a large photo with a tiny image inside. In fact, Amazon image policy is the product must take up 80% of the photo area.
  • Example product image not zoomed in enough

    Example of not getting close to your product

  • Shoot the product at eye level -not from above or below
  • Shoot the small details as well as the full product. This is especially important to show close-up detail or any maker's marks. This is easy if your camera has a Macro (close-up) function
  • Always use a tripod. Phone cameras and most digital cameras have slow shutter speeds making it difficult to get sharp photos while handholding. A tripod will guarantee a sharp photo every time
  • Another option is just take the photo and send it to a company such as Retail Studio Effect who will clean up your photo and make it Amazon or eBay compliant


4. Get Your Listings Found - Amazon Title Tips

The search engines on both eBay and Amazon are strongly biased towards the title. Yes, they look for keywords in other places, but the title carries the most weight.

The title limit on eBay is 80 characters, including spaces. Unlike Amazon, eBay looks at the entire title. This means that titles that take up most of the character spaces (75 or more characters) will result in more eyeballs on your listing -and in greater sales. Another good practice (on all sites, eBay, Etsy, Amazon, etc.) is to avoid the word New, and standard abbreviations such as NWT, NIB, KT, BIN and so on because they take up character space and are rarely searched.

eBay Title Do's

eBay Title Don'ts

  • Us close to the 80-character title limit as practical
  • Use a keyword tool to find good searchable keywords
  • The more searchable keywords in your title, the better your results will be
  • Capitalize the first letter of each word except words such as, in, and, for, with and so on.
  • Subtitles work. They are not searchable, but they do improve conversions
  • Don't use Abbreviations, NWT, NIB, etc.
  • Don't use special characters such as: ! * $ ? or ®, ©, ™ as the search engine ignores them
  • Avoid Goofy characters such as SAVE $$$, L@@K
  • Do not us the Brand name in your title (put it in the item specifics instead)
  • Don't use the word New in your title

Title limits on Amazon vary by category. Amazon used to enforce a 50-character limit but now goes up to 80 for most categories and up to 250 for a few others. To find the limit for your category, select an item from the Manage Inventory Page in Seller Central and click the Edit button on the right side of the page. When the listing opens, select the Vital Info tab and click on the i-symbol for Information. A popup up will display the character limit for the item. See screenshot below:

Image of a popup with title limits on Amazon

Here are some other Do's and Don'ts for Amazon titles:



  • Capitalize the first letter of each word (see exceptions under Don't)
  • Use numerals (2 instead of two)
  • Spell out measurements (inches instead of ")
  • Keep it short, but include critical information
  • Try to put important searchable key words in the first 4 to 5 words
  • Follow Amazon category title character limits
  • Do not use ALL CAPS
  • Do not capitalize:

    • Conjunctions (and, or, for)
    • Articles (the, a, an)
    • Prepositions with fewer than five letters (in, on, over, with, etc.)
  • Do not include promotional messages such as sale or (use Manage Promotions on the Advertising link to include messaging)
  • Do not use the brand name in the title (it's already in the brand name field)
  • Do not use your merchant name for Brand or Manufacturer information, unless your product is Private Label
  • Do not include symbols (such as ! * $ ?) or special characters (such as ®, ©, ™) in your listings
  • Do not include key product features, product descriptions, or possible product uses

Remember - in order to sell something online, buyers have to find it first. Use these tips to move your listing from page 14 to the first or second page of search results


5. SEO for Amazon? How to Optimize your Product Listing

This is a guest post by Chris Hickman. Chris is the Founder and CEO at Adficient He has 15 years of experience in search marketing and conversion optimization. In 2006, he founded GetBackonGoogle, helping businesses and websites suspended in Adwords to Get Back on Google.

Whether you are someone who is just getting started selling on Amazon, or are a seasoned seller looking for ways to increase your sales and visibility, you need to understand how A9 works. A9 is the name of the search algorithm used by Amazon to match potential buyers with products.

Amazon knows that people go to their website intending to buy an item, so all aspects of their website are geared towards maximum spending per customer. This starts when the customer enters what they are looking for in the search bar. In the seconds it takes to load the search results, the A9 algorithm sifts through its catalog of items to determine the "most relevant" items to the user.

A9 determines what appears on that coveted first page of results, and in what order based on keywords, reviews, and ratings. Keywords are single words, or words used in a combination, to indicate the relevance of the product to the search. The more varied and specific your keywords are, the more searches your product will appear on. Once your product is chosen, its position on the page is then determined by the number and frequency of positive ratings and reviews.

People are more willing to buy a product if others had a positive experience. So the more keywords that match the search and the positive reviews and ratings you have, the higher you will be ranked.

Optimizing For A9 Through Ads

If you are someone who already sells but does not see as much traffic as you hoped, invest in advertising to increase visibility. Amazon offers three types of advertising. For a sponsored product, if your item matches the search, regardless of where your product would normally fall on the list, you are guaranteed a spot on the first page. A headline advertisement appears in the space between the search engine and the results. Finally, if you use a product display ad, your item will appear to the side on the description page of a related product as a suggestion. If you choose this option, the highly rated and reviewed items will most likely to appear at the top of the search results.

What determines placement in Amazon ads? Unlike Google AdWords, Amazon is more interested in CTS than CTR. CTS is Amazon's main conversion rate metric. The more your page converts, the better your ads will place. CTS, or Click to Sales, is the ratio of people who see your product to the amount who purchase. CTR or Click Through Rate, is the ratio of people who see an advertisement and click to visit the page.

Improving Your Page

How your page is constructed will greatly affect how consumers and Amazon view your product. The title of your page is the first interaction a customer will have with your product so it needs to give a lot of information without overwhelming the consumer. Start with the brand name, if there is one, then include product line, and product type. ( Note: Chris and I disagree on this. Amazon has a brand name field - Skip ). If necessary, add additional keywords to differentiate your listing from similar ones. These can include materials, color, and size.

However, beware "keyword stuffing," attempting to use as many keywords in the title of your page. It can be overwhelming to a buyer and the algorithm punishes sellers who do this with lower listings. Put in enough for your title to differentiate your products, but no more. Any keywords you are unable to put in the title can go in the description.

Next, you want to de-clutter the product description. Bulleted lists are a clean and effective way to communicate information. Make sure they are no longer than one sentence and all of the bullets can fit on one page. While this section elaborates on the features and benefits of your product, do not overwhelm the buyer with keywords. If you have an item with a warranty, include it as your last bullet point.

Pictures of your product are essential to its sale. Customers like to know what they are buying ahead of time. Images should be at least 1000 x 1000 or larger to allow them to zoom in. Having a plain or white background helps to emphasize detail. Amazon only accepts images using the TIF, JPG, PNG or GIF format with flattened layers.

Whether you are setting up your first item or revamping an old page remember, be precise and accurate in your description, avoid keyword stuffing, and use Amazon ads to your advantage and you will be selling like a pro in no time. Happy selling!


6. New Wholesale Sources for eBay and Amazon Sellers

Remember, some of these are retail websites, or wholesale sites that require you to register to see wholesale pricing. If you do not see a link to wholesale information, use the Contact form to request it.

Chart Metalworks designs and sells nautical chart and map jewelry, coasters and bottle openers

Three4D Designs makes and sells a fashionable, flexible phone finger loop called the Phone Flipper to prevent expensive phone accidents.

U Brands is a company that designs and sells innovative stationery and home products

BraveHoods sells a line of hoodie t-shirts with empowering, positive messages.

Chooka makes rainproof boots designed and tested in the rainy Pacific Northwest.

Roman, Inc. is an exclusive distributor of more than 5,000 gifts and decorative accessories. They sell a large selection of Christmas decorations and inspirational, religious and special occasion gifts.

Q Squared NYC offers high quality melamine dinnerware that looks like porcelain or ceramic. They have both classic and unusual shapes.

Horizons Music specializes in out of print and hard to find CDs, LPs, cassettes, and 45s.

WD Music sells hard to find vintage guitar parts, pick guards, guitar parts and accessories

Mascorro Leather, Inc. is a U.S. manufacturer and seller of Made In The U.S.A. leather goods. Products include wallets, chain wallets, belts, handbags, and more.

B & F System, Inc. is a direct source for a wide range of products including cookware & cutlery, home and garden and sports and outdoors and the offer wholesale dropshipping.

Sercal is an Importer and wholesaler of Mexican blankets, Baja hoodies, serapes, ponchos, sombreros, jewelry, leather handbags and wallets.

See you again in two weeks.

Skip McGrath
The eBay & Amazon Seller's News

P.S. If you missed the last issue, click here to read it.

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