Originally published on February 3, 2017, updated February 13, 2020
Cats are a lot like Amazon shoppers. Bear with me, because I think you'll agree. They want what they want when they want it, they appreciate treats and praise, and you are constantly seeking their approval.
Therefore, if you want to be an awesome merchant on the Amazon marketplace, just treat your customers like you treat your cat.
Every morning before the sun rises, my cat Duncan starts jumping around on the furniture. You see, he knows that if he does that, it will wake up the dog. The dog will bark. The barking will wake me (or my poor husband) out of a sound slumber, and once we're awake, the cat will weave around our legs, meowing impatiently. Sounds cute, but it really isn't. Especially when it happens at 5AM.
So, project your mental image of my cat onto your customers on the Amazon marketplace. If they order something and it doesn't get there when they expect it to, they are going to let someone know. They'll do it via feedback, on your company's Facebook page or some other visible or audible way. And that's if they even know you're out of an item. If there are other sellers of the same item, when you don't have stock the sale will go to them. If you're the sole seller of an item, then you just don't have the stock your customers need.
One way we've found to combat Duncan's early morning breakfast orders is to pour a little bit of reserve kibble into a dish that is in a different place than his regular bowl. He finds that, and leaves us (and the poor dog) alone until at least 6AM. As a seller on the Amazon marketplace, you can do your own take on Duncan's distraction. One way is to keep reserve stock on hand at the Amazon FBA warehouse. That way, if there's a run on one of your items, you don't miss out on sales. RestockPro helps you do all that - it helps you manage your inventory so you never run out of stock, so you don't get a bunch of hungry, angry Duncans jumping on your furniture. So to speak. It also ensures that you don't buy more cat food than Duncan really needs.
My friend has a cat that won't do anything without an incentive. The cat's name is Archie, and he won't even get up off the couch unless you offer him a cat treat. His owner, who shall remain nameless, has to leave a trail of treats from his location at mealtime to his food bowl. Archie is unmovable on this topic, and has been since kittenhood. Customers on the Amazon marketplace aren't exactly like Archie, but they certainly appreciate incentives. Now, a caveat. Archie's owner might have complete autonomy to turn that cat into a living Garfield (in other words, really fat), but you are limited as to how you can "treat" your customers. You know you can't offer incentivized reviews. You know you can't give out free stuff in return for good feedback. So what can you do to motivate your own Archies?
Amazon, com, Inc. ("Amazon") offers plenty of opportunities to treat your customers with promotions. Of course, you always have to keep Amazon's promotion guidelines in mind, just like Archie's owner has to follow the directions on the pouch of cat treats. Amazon allows you to offer purchase discounts and BOGO offers in addition to external benefits, like when you get a free cat toy when you buy a three-pack of cat treats. Also, your promotion will only be displayed on the product detail page when you own the Buy Box. You're also responsible for the terms and conditions of your promotion, so make sure you lay it all out in a way your customers will understand. Just like the trail of cat treats to Archie's food bowl.
When I was younger, I had a 40-pound Maine Coon named Murray. He was so big that when he sat on my stomach, which was often, I'd get sleepy from the lack of oxygen. He loved it, however, when I scratched his nose and told him what a good cat he was. He'd purr and smile a little. Years later, I'm so glad I praised ol' Murray the way I did. He was a good guy. Your customers on the Amazon marketplace are also good. Without them, you'd be in trouble. So, to make sure they stay happy and smiling, you need to make sure they receive plenty of praise. As a seller, the best way you can do that is by offering awesome customer service.
From the quality of items you offer to the prep you do before you ship things into the FBA center, you have plenty of opportunities to be a really good seller. Responding to questions is very important, as buyers, like cats, hate to be ignored. Nothing would make Murray more likely to gleefully "water" an errant plastic bag on the floor than if I walked by and didn't acknowledge him. Your buyers don't want to be ignored either. Respond to any and all questions quickly and politely, and you'll have them purring like Murray.
Another cat I had (gee, I'm starting to sound like a crazy cat lady) was a white Persian named Gabby. One lazy afternoon I was watching a competitive cat show, and they stretched the cats out with their bellies sort of dangling. So, I tried it with Gabbers. She didn't seem to mind, and, in fact, let me drape her across my shoulders like a fuzzy white boa. Fast forward to the Murray years and, well, nope. Murray was not cool with the cat show stretch and subsequent boa impersonation. I have a scar from two stitches in my shoulder to show for it. Had I been smarter, I would have eased into that experiment, and sought the cat's approval first. Amazon customers also don't like things to happen without their permission.
A good example is how they react to emails from sellers. Our feedback automation tool, FeedbackFive, has helped thousands of sellers attain greater feedback ratings. We offer email campaigns you can custom tailor to certain types of customers, groups of customers or buyers of a particular SKU. You can send feedback solicitations, product review requests and you can get alerts when you get bad feedback, or an opt-out. See, the opt-out is the eCommerce equivalent of Murray's initial growl when I started to stretch him out like a cat in a cat show. Once a customer says they don't want to get emails, well, don't send any more emails. That's one reason why FeedbackFive is so great. If any customer opts out of one of your emails, we make sure they never receive an email from you again. You don't want to send communications they don't want. Like Murray. Best to avoid feedback stitches, if you get my drift.
A cute little antique store in the Forest Hill area of Richmond, Virginia had a buff-colored shop cat named Baby. Baby loved me. I'd be browsing through odds and ends and knick-knacks, and I'd hear this loud meowing from the end of the aisle. There would be Baby, yelling at me to come pet him. So, imagine my husband's surprise (since he's the self-proclaimed Cat Whisperer) when he visited the shop and Baby wanted nothing to do with him. He actually hissed at him, of all things. My husband was deeply offended, and I had to explain to him that you can't win every cat, every time. The same rule applies when it comes to buyers on the Amazon marketplace. No matter how hard you try, you can't win them all.
That's right, folks. Sometimes they will even leave you BAD FEEDBACK. Luckily, FeedbackFive sends you an alert when that happens, and you can address it immediately. Sometimes, the buyer will leave bad feedback that Amazon will remove because it doesn't comply with feedback standards. Other times, though, they leave you legit bad feedback, and it feels awful. Just like my husband felt when Baby didn't adore him. We have a great article on how to get bad feedback removed. Read it and understand that while you can't expect any love, you can, many times, resolve situations that result in bad feedback.
Obviously, Amazon shoppers aren't always like cats. Just most of the time. Or, at least, I'm pretty much always able to make a cat analogy.
Originally published on February 3, 2017, updated February 13, 2020
This post is accurate as of the date of publication. Some features and information may have changed due to product updates or Amazon policy changes.