Has running your Amazon FBA business felt more like a tedious job than your own business? Or, do you wonder why so many of these tasks feel mundane and you'd be best off focusing on high-level tasks? Fortunately, Amazon automation exists, a solution that will make life a bit better.
Amazon automation, or outsourcing your day-to-day operational tasks, can help gain back invaluable time and capacity. Amazon automation can take several forms, with some methods being safer than others. In this article, we’ll discuss two areas where Amazon sellers can look to automate their businesses.
The first area is Amazon automation services, where sellers can pay to outsource their entire Amazon business operations to a third party service provider. This requires due diligence and a trust in the service provider, which isn't always a guarantee. Second, the area which we recommend, are tools that you as the seller can leverage together for DIY automations. Not only is this a safer route, but your experience can be better tailored to your needs and budget.
Let’s check out each of these areas of automation, and explore the pros and cons of each!
Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)
First and foremost, if you sell using the Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) service, your Amazon business is already more automated than you might think. With FBA, you are freed of any operational tasks beyond sending your inventory to Amazon (and managing your pricing, which can also be fully automated).
Also included in the FBA service is Amazon’s handling of payment processing, pick-and-pack, customer service, as well as returns/exchanges. Because Amazon takes over all fulfillment and delivery to the customer, they also absorb any negative ratings or feedback associated with the delivery and fulfillment process.
Once you have a product ready to be sold on Amazon, and send it to Amazon while utilizing Amazon’s Partnered Carrier program, your job is essentially complete, clearing massive headroom for you to continue to focus on growing your business. The beauty of FBA is that it leverages Amazon where Amazon performs best; delivering your products in lightning speed to your customers. In addition, FBA also cuts your task list dramatically, taking over as soon as your products are received.
Third-Party Prep Services
In addition to FBA, there are services called 3PL, or third-party logistics. Also known as prep centers, these fulfillment services offer to take even more off of your plate. When selling on Amazon via FBA, your inventory still needs to be prepped and shipped to Amazon by you, after you obtain the inventory. This is a big step in the process of selling, and requires time, labor, materials, and a space to do it in. Not only can this process consume time and capacity when starting, but can hinder your growth if you aren't prepared to handle large volumes.
This is where prep centers come into play, where you can cut out all of the above. In fact, you won't even need to look at your inventory that is processed thorugh a prep center. Typically charged by the unit, with minimum volume requirements, these prep center services offer a lot of value by managing the entire fulfillment process before it reaches Amazon.
Automating Pricing Management
Speaking of automating your Amazon business’s pricing management, welcome to the world of repricers. A price management tool such as Aura, also known as a price optimization tool or repricer, is a tool that can fully automate your business’s listing prices. Not only will a repricer manage your listings’ pricing, but it can also keep your pricing as competitive as it needs to be, around the clock.
Repricers are highly recommended for sellers as it clears the large task of pricing management off of your plate. Generally, we recommend investing in a repricer once you reach about $5000 per month in revenue, or if you have 20+ SKUs. At this point, it makes sense to outsource this task for improved efficiency, more competitive pricing, and a significant increase in sales.
Repricers work by “targeting” a certain, predefined competitor on a listing, and repricing while following their price changes. A common tactic that we recommend is targeting the Buy Box - regardless of the offer in it. By strategically repricing against the Buy Box offer, you can dramatically increase your odds of winning Buy Box share, which is imminent in boosting revenue. Amazon has specific factors that determine if an offer earns Buy Box share, with pricing being the highest weighted factor for doing so. In fact, 4 out of 5 sales on Amazon go directly through the Buy Box, making it the highest-value “target” for repricing tools.
If your business is experiencing growing pains with pricing management, I’d highly recommend trying out Aura’s 14-day free trial to see for yourself how a repricer will help your business grow.
When selling in any e-commerce space, it’s more than likely you will be contacted by customers with inquiries regarding your listings, or open orders. As with any field, keeping up with large volumes of email correspondence can be challenging; even more so when you have a business to run. Luckily, there are ways to automate the task of keeping up with and responding to emails in a timely and efficient manner.
Whether it’s utilizing email marketing campaigns or simply engaging in communication with customers, automating email responses is one of the best methods to streamline the entire communication process. One of the easiest ways to begin utilizing email automation can be found right in Seller Central, where you can create email templates for quick, efficient responses.
One of the biggest mistakes an e-commerce seller can make is jumping on listings blind, with no prior research or due diligence. Not only do you risk selling products at a loss, you can also face listing deactivation and end up with stranded inventory if Amazon deems your pricing to not be appropriate on a given listing. As important as listing and market research is selling online, it can be just as tedious and time-consuming, especially with a small team.
Fortunately, there is a plethora of tools available just for this purpose, to streamline research and make this once-tedious task much more efficient. Tools such as Keepa, CamelCamelCamel, and Tactical Arbitrage offer historical data on listings’ pricing, sales rank, as well as different price points for different offer types. This compilation of historical data and the ease of access via Google Chrome extensions is key to efficiently researching and automating listings’ pricing.
Automate the Rest!
Zapier is a wonderful tool that is centered around automation. With an abundance of supported integrations, Zapier essentially does all the "talking" between apps - allowing for high-performing workflows. Zapier works by integrating with all of your popular platforms and apps, over 3000 to be exact. Within Zapier, you are able to build workflows, called "Zaps." With Zaps, triggers are assigned that will lead to actions, taking any manual labor out of repetitive tasks. The use-cases for Zaps are nearly endless, with tremendous flexibility for automating tasks and workflows.
Zapier is offered in five tiers, with a free version offered with up to five Zaps and 100 tasks per month. Above the free tier are four more that offer flexibility and increasing output, with greater functionality, capping at the Company tier with unlimited Zaps and up to 2 million tasks per month.
Automation with Virtual Assistants (VAs)
Despite the abundance of tools available, certain tasks and processes simply require a human to complete. Fortunately, much of any remaining legwork can also be outsourced and placed on autopilot, thanks to VAs.
VAs, or Virtual Assistants, are exactly what the name implies; an assistant-for-hire that can handle and manage some of the more tedious day-to-day tasks. VAs can be a powerful addition to your arsenal, and can utilize many of the types of tools noted above. For best results, it is generally recommended to find a VA with experience working for other Amazon sellers, who would require minimal training. Some duties that can be assigned to VAs include product research and sourcing, listing creation, keyword and competitor analysis, communication with brands and customers, as well as ads and campaign management, and more.
The beauty of hiring a VA is the ability to bring on a real human without over staffing your team, and without the commitment of a full-time employee. VAs offer flexibility in duration and scope of duties, as well as many offering a commitment-free experience for when you just need a helping hand.
When it comes to Amazon automation techniques, there are multiple strategies that will take you there. One route is to try your luck with an automations service, but due diligence is required and recommended. To maintain stronger control and trust in your operations, utilizing automation tools is likely the best route for a more tailored approach to your Amazon FBA business.
The ability to take tasks and processes off of your plate and onto another can reap huge benefits. Not only will your time be conserved, but this will allow for a more scalable and profitable result. With more focus on growing your FBA business, enlisting the help of tools for an automated experience will be well worth the investment.