Top 15 Biggest Mistakes to Avoid When Selling on Amazon

Are you a beginner Amazon seller or are you thinking about starting an Amazon business? Whatever the case, you must avoid doing these common mistakes.

There are mistakes you could be making on Amazon that could badly hurt your business.

While some of them can be fixed with no repercussion, there are mistakes you want to avoid when selling on Amazon because they can get your account banned, suspended or lead your business to failure.

We all make mistakes. But when they hurt your business, it's better to find a way to avoid them.

The best way to avoid making mistakes is to know beforehand what bullets to dodge. In this article, I'll bring to your attention the most common mistakes you want to avoid when selling on Amazon.

1. Not following the guidelines

The process of selling on Amazon is quite simple which makes most of the new sellers to jump right in without paying much attention to Amazon's policies.

This is probably the most encountered problem for far too many sellers.

Sellers wake up one day with their account suspended or, even worst, banned. Without having the slightest idea why. Most of the times, it could've been avoided just by reading the rules.

Amazon is quite brutal when it comes to its guidelines and can get you banned in no time.

It's crucial to obey Amazon's seller policies if you want to sell in their marketplace.

How to avoid it: Read the Amazon's policies before you do anything, and also take a look at the Frequently Asked Questions as it's a valuable resource to learn from.

2. Running out of money to keep it going

One mistake new sellers are making when starting selling on Amazon is that they don't take everything into consideration when calculating the required investment.

Having the money to buy the inventory and ship it away is not enough. Once the inventory is sold, you'll be needing to place another order to refill your stock. And you need to do it as quickly as possible because being out of stock will hurt your listing.

You should have some money put aside to order the second batch as it can take a couple of weeks for Amazon to transfer your money for the sales to the bank.

Moreover, there might be extra fees or unexpected costs which weren't foreseen. Better to be prepared for the unexpected so you can still move on with your business.

How to avoid it: When you calculate the investment requirements, make sure to put some money aside for unexpected expenses and for a future batch of goods.

3. Poor product research

When first starting selling on Amazon there are great chances that your first products won't be such a hit. This is normal as you are in the beginning and have lots of things to learn.

The problem is not that your first products are not the best, the problem is that they may fail tragically if you don't do enough research before choosing what to sell.

If all you look for in a product is its popularity and choose to ignore the competition, bad news – you won't make it.

Lots of failures of new Amazon sellers are due to the lack of research about the competition. Choosing a product with extreme competition, having over 1,000 reviews, will doom you to fail.

How to avoid it: The best way to deal with research is to invest in a tool to help you out. I know investing means money, but it also means success. Besides saving you a lot of time, a research tool will provide you with lots of insights like reviews, the BSR price, inventory level, estimated sales, and so on. You'll be able to make decisions based on data and facts rather than just guessing. Using a tool to collect data will make a significant change in your sales.

Screenshot of Jungle Scout‘s product research tool

4. Not managing your stock properly

One of the most common mistakes you could be making when starting selling on Amazon is not knowing how to manage your inventory and running out of stock when you should be selling.

Managing your stock is about making sure you have enough inventory to cover a 90 days period.

Even though you can extend your order processing time and delay until another inventory comes in, this could badly hurt your reputation. You'll have orders that are not fulfilled in time, affecting your seller ranking. Also, by having a 10-day order processing time instead of 2-3 day will badly affect your sales, too. Who waits for so long?

Do not forget that product availability also plays a huge role in search ranking. The more you run out of stock, the more decrease in ranking you'll see.

Not to say, overselling items, meaning having to tell a customer that you aren't able to fulfill his order because you don't have the product in stock, can get you penalized big time.

How to avoid it: Take into consideration how long does it take for your products to ship and how many items you expect to sell per day. Having these aspects in mind, you want to cover 90 days worth of inventory and make sure you don't run out of stock sooner than expected. You can take advantage of Amazon Inventory Management tools in order to track the stock levels. Here is a great resource to learn more about inventory management.

5. Too much stock in the beginning

You may be tempted to buy a big batch of products from starters because the more units you buy, the better the deal you get.

You won't believe how many sellers jump into buying tons of inventory because they felt like it'll sell, but managed to fill up their garage with frozen money that no marketing tactic can get back.

How to avoid it: Don't buy a garage full of inventory until you're sure about what you're doing. Buy small batches and see how they are doing. Once you figured out what sells and what doesn't, you can move on to bigger orders.

6. Focusing solely on a product

There's this strategy telling to focus all your energy on a single item that can bring in a huge number of sales per day.

Just because you are making 100 sales a day, it doesn't automatically mean you also make lots of money in profit. Usually, products that sell many units per day also bring in a small net profit per unit.

Another downside is that all your business will be relying on a single product. This is not clever. You can wake up one day and see that your product is not selling anymore. What then?

You can actually make a lot more profit by focusing on more products that are selling a couple of units per day but have a higher profit margin. By having more products you'll be having a continuous source of profit. Even if one of the products stops selling, you'll be having the other ones covering your business.

How to avoid it: Research the market and choose at least 2-3 products to start with.

7. Competing against Amazon

Trying to compete with Amazon is basically a dead end. It's the worst competitor you can choose from them all.

Amazon's products will always have higher rankings in search and better exposure over the platform because, well, it's their platform.

Also, you won't be able to compete on prices because Amazon has the highest margins. This means they can lower their prices more than you'll afford. Also, they'll always have higher stocks.

How to avoid it: Before deciding on what items to sell on Amazon, first make sure that Amazon doesn't also sell those products. Camel Camel Camel can help you out to find even the items Amazon used to provide but run out of stock.

8. Your item doesn't match the listing

When you list a product on Amazon, the product must be an exact match to the already filled listing. And when I say “exact”, I don't only mean having the same UPC.

The product must be the same color, size, shape, and so on. NO difference.

Many new sellers make this mistake when first uploading a product on Amazon. They don't look for everything to be exact. They see a listing that's almost the same as their product and either they don't see the difference, or they don't think a slightly small difference can affect them.

But it can. Badly.

Not only that your account may be suspended for not following the rules, but also the customers will receive a different product from the advertised one which will conclude with bad ratings.

How to avoid it: Pay close attention when listing a product and make sure there's no difference between your product and the one in the listing.

9. Incomplete product listings

Not giving enough thought when filling up a product's listing reflects poorly both on your brand and on your product ranking.

A well-presented listing with descriptive bullet points, detailed product description, and high-quality images showing all the product's features is extremely important. Your listing should answer all the questions a customer may have about your product. The more details, the greatest the chance to score sales.

Another reason to have a thorough product listing is that you'll have many keywords to rank for in search. In order to generate sales, your listing should pop up as high in search results as possible when someone is searching for a query related to your product. If you don't have a complete listing, customers won't find your product.

Moreover, having incorrect data on the product's listing can backfire quickly. The customer makes a purchase, the item is not how advertised, and the result is a refund and a bad review. Not good.

How to avoid it: Give optimizing your listing enough time and thought. Use the bullet points cleverly and fill in as many information about the product as possible. And, do not forget: research related keywords and use them in your copy.

This product listing didn't take advantage of the bullet points and also the title could be richer in descriptive keywords.

10. Product titles that go over the guidelines

It's not uncommon for new sellers to not familiarize themselves with the rules of composing a title. A title that doesn't follow Amazon's policies will hurt your listing even if it seems it has advantages in the moment.

One common mistake is to use promotional expressions like “The best price”, “30% off”, and so on. I know you may think this will get customers' attention but Amazon frowns upon it. And when Amazon frowns, your account is not safe.

Another mistake is to use formatting elements such as:

  • HTML codes
  • Symbols ($*&!)

How to avoid it: Don't let yourself tempted to use promotions in the title. Keep your title at 100 characters (max), have your product brand first thing in the title, and try to add as many keywords as possible while keeping relevant.

11. Delaying customer inquiries

When selling on Amazon, you don't have the option to choose your working hours as it happens on other platforms.

You have to respond to customer inquiries in 24 hours even if it's weekend, holiday season, or Durin's day is approaching and you must cross the Middle-Earth. This is stated in Amazon's terms that you agree on when registering to sell on their marketplace.

Late response time brings in dings from Amazon. And too many dings can result in a suspended account.

How to avoid it: Make sure the email is checked every 24 hours even if it's weekend or you're on vacation. It only takes a couple of minutes to respond which is a small price to pay for your business's safety.

12. Overlooking customer feedback

Selling on Amazon requires reviews. Customer feedback is crucial for a successful Amazon business because of two reasons.

  1. It's one of the metrics taken into account by Amazon when deciding a product's ranking. And not just the quality of the reviews is important, it also matters how many reviews you get. You should receive feedback for 2-5% of the sales.
  2. Secondly, customers rely on feedback. Reading through feedback gives customers the validation that the product is worth purchasing.

How to avoid it: Try to get as many reviews and ratings as you can. The best way to get ratings and reviews is to ask for them. Get back with a follow-up asking for feedback after a purchase was made, but make sure not to ask specifically for “positive feedback” as it's against Amazon's rules. Also, when you receive negative feedback, talk to the customer, see what went wrong, and try to fix it.

13. Poor fulfillment service

Amazon's main concern is their customers' experience. They want customers to be satisfied with the orders and to come back for more.

What makes a customer satisfied with his purchase (besides the product's quality) is the fulfillment. A lot of Amazon's customers are prime users which means they get free shipping in 2-3 days. People want their products to be delivered quickly, they have no time to wait.

Having a shipping time of over 1 week will make customers find another vendor with a faster delivery, and will also make Amazon push your listing to the bottom of search results.

Also, never forget or delay to send the items in time! If you don't deliver the products as advertised, be prepared to receive negative reviews from unsatisfied customers.

How to avoid it: If you fulfill the orders yourself, make sure you can deliver the goods in 2-3 days and follow Amazon's shipping policies. If you can't do it yourself, it's better to take into consideration becoming an FBA seller. This will assure you won't encounter any difficulty with the shipping.

14. Losing money on advertising

Not many sales occur when you don't play paid advertising in your favor. Running proper campaigns is one of the skills you must acquire so you can successfully sell on Amazon.

If the campaigns are not correctly done, you may see holes in your pocket rather than improvement in sales.

  • Losing your daily budget too early in the day – If you have a small daily budget, your ads may run when your targeted audience is not even on the platform.
  • Combining more products in a single campaign – If all of your products run under a single campaign, there will be extremely hard for you to collect data for every product and see how it went.
  • Bidding the same amount of money on every keyword – Some keywords will do better than others and it's a waste of money to bid a high amount on the keywords that perform the worst.

How to avoid it: Make sure your campaigns are carefully organized so you can easily pull up data about the products. See which keywords get the best results and focus your budget to target those.

15. Not being aware of the latest features

Like in any industry, if you want to take the best actions for your business you need to know what's going on on the market.

Likewise with selling on Amazon. Things change, new features are introduced, and you don't want to be the seller who doesn't know what's happening.

Once in a while, Amazon makes changes from which sellers can benefit. Your competitors will be updated on the changes and will have an advantage ahead the rest who aren't. You want to keep yourself in the loop.

How to avoid it: Check Amazon news resources on a regular basis. You can look for publications that post everything that's going on in the Amazon marketplace and subscribe to their newsletters.

Do you make any of these Amazon selling mistakes?

Once you figured out what are the most common mistakes beginners make when selling on Amazon, is time to spot the flaws in your business.

Selling on Amazon requires paying extra attention to the guidelines, rules, and techniques that are not allowed. Not following the rules might have short-term advantages sometimes, but it'll eventually backfire badly.

In order to start a successful Amazon business that's sustainable over time, you have to consider the consequences of your actions.

Amazon's very strict about how third-party sellers run their businesses, especially about how the products are listed and how the fulfillment is handled. Everything that affects your customers' satisfaction will also hurt your business.

What mistakes have you made when selling on Amazon? Share with us your experience so we can help more sellers to avoid repeating the same mistakes.

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