Our Top 12 Articles of 2018: Trending, Popular and Controversial

Catch up on your reading with our pick of this year’s Web Retailer posts, which demystified topics, expanded horizons and got people talking.

Woman reading in front of fire

At this time of year, it’s good to take a step back and reflect on the months gone by.

We have selected 12 of the best articles from all those we published in 2018. In this roundup we:

  • Demystify Amazon’s Choice, Amazon Seller Central and Amazon Vendor Central.
  • Talk about the changes in the private labelling landscape across Amazon and eBay.
  • Provide a step-by-step guide on how to use Facebook Ads to target Amazon customers.
  • Delve into the murky underworld of Amazon’s dirty sellers and fake reviews.
  • Discuss eBay Promoted Listings and repricing tools for eBay.
  • Consider escaping the marketplace rat race completely, by starting a subscription box business.

So sit back, put up your feet and catch up on your festive reading.

1. Amazon’s Choice

Most likely, you will have seen the Amazon’s Choice badge starting to appear on certain products when browsing Amazon. The badge has steadily become more visible, with more and more products featuring the logo. But what does it really mean, and how does it work?

While no-one knows exactly how Amazon’s Choice works, and it remains somewhat of a mystery, there are a lot of clues out there. Here’s everything we’ve uncovered, including the factors involved in selecting products and how you might improve your chances of attaining that little badge.

Read Amazon’s Choice: What We Know About How It Works.

2. Amazon Seller Central

Seller Central is the hub of every Amazon seller’s business. It allows them to perform essential tasks such as listing and managing products, monitoring orders, setting up ad campaigns and downloading sales reports.

But it can be a source of great frustration, as there are certain functions that Seller Central doesn’t do well, or offer at all. We asked two agencies who work in Seller Central for hours every day, what they found most frustrating and which features they wish it had. Here’s what they told us.

Read 8 Ways Amazon Seller Central Drives Sellers Crazy.

3. Amazon Vendor Central

You can list your products for sale on Amazon either as a seller (also known as third-party or 3P) or as a vendor (first-party or 1P). The end result looks the same, but that’s where the similarities end. Amazon Vendor Central is a completely different concept to Seller Central. It’s crucial to understand the fundamental differences and not just compare each feature separately.

While a lot is written and said about Seller Central, information on Vendor Central can be harder to come by. There is some level of mystery surrounding exactly how it works. So, in this article, we have answered the most important questions that people have about Amazon’s vendor side.

Read Amazon Vendor Central: Everything You Need to Know.

4. Is private label selling on Amazon in decline?

Private labeling has long been seen as the golden child of business models for Amazon sellers. For a long time private labelers have had an open playing field to take advantage of the Amazon marketplace. However, a number of changes and challenges are making it increasingly difficult to prosper.

In this article we discuss the changes which have most affected the Amazon private label business model. So much has changed, is it still possible to succeed as a private label seller?

Read 5 Ways Amazon Private Label Selling is Under Attack.

5. The rise of private label selling on eBay

Traditionally, Amazon is the first venue that sellers think of when looking to develop and launch their own private label brands. But the Amazon marketplace has become a victim of its success, overrun with dozens of me-too listings in popular categories. Competition has become overwhelming for private label sellers, even downright dirty in some cases, and buyers have become wary of low-quality superficial brands.

Major changes are underway at eBay. They are implementing big technology changes, that make it much more attractive to brands and private label sellers. In this post, Anojan Abel, Founder of ShelfTrend, explains what has changed at eBay to create this new opportunity for private label sellers and brands, and how businesses can take advantage of these possibilities.

Read eBay is the New Frontier for Private Label Sellers.

6. Ultimate Amazon private label checklist

Knowing exactly how to find, research, and assess a potential private label product is the key that can unlock the door to Amazon riches. You’ll also need to know if that product is viable in the marketplace. Once you’ve sorted that out, you’ll be well on your way to a successful launch.

In this article, Chris Rawlings, CEO and Co-founder of Judolaunch has put together The Ultimate Amazon Private Label Checklist so that you won’t miss a step on your road to success with Amazon private label selling.

Read The Ultimate Amazon Private Label Checklist.

7. Using Facebook to target Amazon customers

When sellers start offering their own private label products on Amazon, their goal is usually to build an independent brand. They aim to use Amazon as a springboard and, in the future, make most of their sales through their own website.The problem is that a lot of the training programs and advice available to online sellers doesn’t explain HOW to grow your brand beyond Amazon. There is just a common notion that once your brand becomes “big enough” it will naturally happen. It doesn’t work that way.

Anthony Lee, COO of SixLeaf, describes some practical steps which really work to build your brand. You’ll find out how to leverage Amazon buyer data to find your customers on Facebook, and target them with Facebook advertising campaigns.

Read How to Make Amazon’s Customers Your Customers Using Facebook Ads.

8. Competitors’ dirty tricks

This post is by Mike Young, an online seller on Amazon and eBay based in London, England. His business lost 50% of its sales in one month, thanks to the black hat tactics of an “online marketing expert” hired by a competitor.

What started with a false claim of trademark infringement turned into policy warnings, a stream of fake negative reviews, and his suspension from selling on Amazon. In this post, he explains how his business was targeted, what tactics were used, and how he worked out who was behind the attacks.

Read A Competitor Destroyed My Amazon Selling Account. It Could Happen to Anyone.

9. Amazon’s fake review problem

Amazon has had a fake review problem for a long time. Up until late 2016, Amazon allowed sellers to give away products in return for a review. Back then, many sellers used product giveaways to increase their positive reviews. Then Amazon prohibited all incentivized reviews, and the problem swiftly went underground. Incentives continued to be offered, but away from the official discount code system, so Amazon couldn’t see the activity at all.

Fast forward to today, and a whole black market ecosystem has evolved. It’s focused on manipulating the Amazon reviews and search ranking systems, using a vast range of nefarious techniques. Amazon’s ban, ironically, has resulted in a fake review problem that makes the old behavior look quaint by comparison.

Read Amazon’s Fake Review Problem is Worse Than Ever. Here’s Why.

10. eBay Promoted Listings

eBay Promoted Listings is a pretty simple advertising scheme but despite its simplicity, there’s still a lot to think about. How do you choose which items to promote? How much should you pay? Should you promote them all the time or just sometimes? When should you adjust the amount you’re paying?

Here’s the top ten questions we hear from sellers about Promoted Listings, and how to make sure you get the most out of every extra penny you give to eBay.

Read eBay Promoted Listings: Your Top Ten Questions Answered.

11. The best eBay repricing tools

Competition is fierce and sellers need to continually update their prices to remain competitive. Many adjust them automatically using repricing tools, but this type of software is often associated just with Amazon. However, eBay repricing software has really come of age in recent times.

There are now several tools on the market which address the challenges of repricing on eBay, taking a number of different, innovative approaches to solve the key problems. We’ll take a look at four of them: Price Spectre, RepricerExpress, StreetPricer and Price Guard.

Read 4 eBay Repricing Tools: The Best Apps to Automate Your eBay Pricing.

12. How to start a subscription box business

Subscription boxes exist for a wide variety of products, from beauty and pet supplies to comics, food and drink. Customers can choose to receive a set selection of items each time, or have a surprise box, where the items are chosen for them.

We spoke to ecommerce entrepreneur Sophie Howard about the subscription box business. Sophie builds and sells her own brands, and is the founder of Aspiring Entrepreneurs, where she coaches online business owners. We talked about why subscription boxes are an attractive business model, how to leverage leading platforms Cratejoy and Amazon, and the unique challenges that subscription business owners have to overcome.

Read How to Start a Subscription Box Business Using Amazon and Cratejoy.

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