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on July 20, 2016 by Whitebox in Marketplaces

Does the Shoe Fit? 6 Challenges to Selling Apparel on Amazon

Selling on Amazon can be a great option for apparel, allowing you to expand your customer base beyond brick and mortar retailers. Plus, you’re doing a good deed helping out all those customers who hate shopping in stores. As is always the case with ecommerce, there are some niche issues that affect the success of apparel sales on Amazon.

 

In this blog, we’ll talk a little bit about the approval process and how to set yourself up for strong sales after your product launch. Even if you’ve already started selling your apparel, the second part of the blog may give you some insight into increasing those sales.

 

Part I: What to expect during the Pre-Screening Process

 

Before you even think about selling on Amazon, you’ll need to be sure you have a consistent process for selling. You may have noticed that our blogs talk a lot about preparation. Though we probably sound like broken records, we say it because it really does head off expensive mistakes down the link – trust me, we know from experience.

 

In the case of selling apparel on Amazon however, it’s even more critical. Clothing and shoes fall into the category of “restricted” on Amazon. This means that there are some basic criteria you need to meet in order to sell there.

 

First, you need to pay $39 a month to sell on Amazon (this is fairly obvious, but remember you’ll need to set up a seller account to apply). Second, you need to demonstrate consistency in some basic areas. To sell, your products will need to indicate that they have:

  • an order defect rate of less than 1%
  • a late shipment rate of less than 4%
  • a pre-fulfillment cancellation rate of less than 2.5% 

These criteria should not be too difficult to match, especially if you’re willing to make the move towards automation. And overall, these are numbers you would certainly need to meet to be in the running for the almighty Buy Box.

 

The pre-screening process also involves a series of questions, most of which have to do with your methods of selling, as well as, the authenticity of your items. You’ll need to demonstrate proof of purchase from manufacturers and also show Amazon your own store. A lot of this is put in place for your benefit: it both blocks counter-fitters from selling fake versions of your products, and demonstrates that you’ve got a reliable selling process in place.

 

Setting Up For Success

 

So… you’ve made it through Amazon’s pre-approval gauntlet. Congrats! But what now?

 

Well, like most things in ecommerce, there’s still more that you can do at this point to make your life easier. With apparel, it’s important to do as much as you can upfront in order to minimize inevitable returns. Here are some general rules of thumb:

  1. Register Your Brand

     

    Since it is likely that there will be many people selling products similar to yours, it’s vital that you obtain brand registry from Amazon for your product line. This means it will be easier to lock down product listings once you’re up and running.

     

  2. Take Thoughtful Photos

    Remember that with clothing, your customers are making an especially big leap. They aren’t able to feel the material in person, or try it on which means that including great photos is a necessity. Also, Amazon has somewhat strict criteria for your photos (white backgrounds, high resolution, etc.) that should be reviewed before having your products photographed for your listings.

  3. Create Thorough and Accurate Descriptions

    Similar to product photos, descriptions can make or break not only a sale, but customer satisfaction post-arrival. An accurate description, combined with high-res photos that match it, means customers are more likely to purchase your brand’s apparel items online. A thorough description of the pockets on your cargo shorts, for example, gives your product an edge over a similar product.

  4. Make Sure Sizes Match Barcodes

    Chances are, you’ve bought an inaccurately tagged item of clothing before. It is incredibly frustrating, and is something you want to avoid as much as possible. This means incorporating a system into your QC process that ensures tags match barcodes before a product is shipped out to Amazon.

  5. Keep It Clean

    Warehouses are dirty places, and no customer wants to receive a dusty pair of underwear. Fortunately, this is a simple and cheap issue to head off; most apparel sellers use a simple poly bag.

  6. Budget for Return Fees

    Amazon, like you, wants to save money wherever possible. What this means is that apparel has added return fees on Amazon (because it has a higher likelihood of returns due to sizing and fit). So, as you draw up your budget, be sure to include those fees for returned merchandise.  Ideally, returns will occur in less than 2% of your orders.


 

Though selling apparel on Amazon does present a unique set of challenges, it is worth the initial hassle to have your products available on the top online sales channel in the world.

 

At Whitebox, we sell a large variety of products, which means we’re used to dealing with unique challenges and helping steer our clients towards success.

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