Our most Frequently Asked Questions - and answers
Online Star Digital works with brands and small businesses to improve Amazon performance:
Amazon account setups and verifications
Ensuring brands are correctly registered on the Amazon platform
Product and brand launches
Product creation with images, content and appropriate keywords
Product listing optimisation and enhancement
Product changes and updates
Product checks, improvements and addition of any missing data
Enhanced Brand Content for product listings
Storefront builds with relevant keywords for branding on Amazon
Application of best practice to product listings and account management
Virtual Amazon Expertise
Amazon account management and troubleshooting
Amazon Sponsored Ads and Sponsored brands setup and management
Amazon sales trend and stats reporting
Merging reviews, reviews booster campaigns to Amazon buyers asking for reviews
Competitor analysis and insight
Insight into VAT compliance with Amazon
Shipment of and re-stocking of products with Amazon
Management of Fulfilled By Amazon metrics, stock levels and performance
Integration of Seller-Fulfilled Prime for Amazon
Launching into new markets on Amazon
Online Star provides cost-effective Amazon consultancy. We recognise that paying an agency thousands to get started or have content created isn’t financially viable for many brands or smaller businesses, so we provide cost-effective and affordable Amazon support as we are a small business ourselves. This provides frequent communication and visibility. We also speak foreign languages, have managed multi-million pound online marketing budgets and know our way around eCommerce and Amazon having sold directly ourselves on Amazon, Google, eBay, Facebook and others. Based in the UK, we have a high attention to detail, are highly literate and well-versed on the ins and outs of operating as a Seller on the Amazon platform.
We have a proven, phased and highly efficient approach to implementing Amazon product and brand improvements.
If our content is helpful and you’d like a chat to find out how we can help you, do get in touch!
Online Star is run by Duncan Barraclough, who has over 20 years of digital eCommerce experience, including being on the management team of Moneysupermarket.com and previous Head of Digital roles with a background in FMCG, Food and Drink and the travel industry. Duncan has launched products offline and online, as well as across Europe and in the US and Australia. As well as being a qualified English teacher, Duncan speaks German and French and, less relevantly for Amazon, is also a registered farmer! We bring this experience (farming aside) to our Amazon work and we believe that this gives us a real advantage in what we do.
We also work with selective agencies, trade associations, business groups and governmental bodies, providing Amazon consultancy, training and support. We frequently consult to large investment houses in the UK and the US as well as some of The Big Four.
It largely depends on the scope of work required. We work on either a per hour, monthly or project fee basis. However, we’re firm believers that if you pay cheap, you tend to pay twice – this is why we frequently find ourselves fixing issues and improving work which has previously been done by others.
We work with brands by recommendation or word of mouth. As online freelance platforms where people bid for work tend to be focussed far more on price than value, we do not necessarily believe that they provide the best quality. Our Amazon services provide competitive pricing and we always aim to provide high value in what we do.
The main focus of what we do is Amazon, but we also do website builds, help with social media and digital strategy and website improvements.
We are happy to benchmark any proposals or budgeting for running paid online advertising campaigns on Facebook, Google or Amazon. We’ve worked in agencies and with agencies, so we know a competitive price when we see one, and we’re always happy to provide a second opinion if you’re considering an agency for some digital work.
We do have contacts with a number of selected agencies who we would recommend and who specialise in areas which we don’t cover (e.g. graphic design, large recodes or migrations of websites, and some specialist Facebook and online marketing campaign setups). Feel free to get in touch for a chat.
It accounts for almost 60% of ALL eCommerce in the US now. In the UK and other markets, it’s not as significant, but it’s still growing – and rapidly. The expansion of Amazon’s paid membership programme of benefits, Amazon Prime, means that more and more people are buying from Amazon because if they already have a Prime membership, they will get discounts and free shipping on any additional products. This creates a very powerful influence on buyer behaviour.
Amazon represents a channel for presenting your brand/products, and it’s growing. It’s a similar question to ‘should I do social media?’. If customers or potential customers are active within the channel, your brand needs to have a presence.
You need product, the ability to handle orders and also dispatch to customers, and you need product IDs, images and barcodes. Those are the basics.
We have a vetted shortlist of recommended hauliers, storage and distribution houses and fulfilment operations and we are happy to provide recommendations.
FBA = Fulfillment By Amazon. You send stock in to Amazon, they store it, dispatch it to customers once they have ordered, and Amazon deal with most of the customer service-related issues. There is of course a cost to this, and your listings also gain a Prime badge which means that Amazon Prime members will be able to order your products from Amazon knowing they will get next-day delivery and not normally pay any shipping fees.
FBM = Fulfilled By Merchant. You list products on Amazon, but you take responsibility for processing the order and dispatching it to customers. You don’t get to feature the Prime badge and should have a robust shipping solution in place.
There is a third option – SFP, or Seller Fulfilled Prime. This is where you still show the Prime badge on your products on Amazon, offer next day shipping, but you store the stock and you are responsible for the order processing and customer service. Amazon has a very high service level for this third option, and it’s not for the faint-hearted!
A Vendor account enables you to send product into Amazon – they will sell it on your behalf, and you have reduced control over pricing and promotions. When you get paid for sales made is different to having a Seller account.
A Seller account enables you to sell directly – either sending product in for Amazon to ship to customers, or for you to ship directly to customers. A Seller account provides full control over inventory, pricing, promotions and content. You get paid more frequently for sales than with a Vendor account. Usually for smaller businesses, a Seller Central account is the most appropriate way to set up on Amazon.
You don’t need to have a trademark to sell on Amazon however without a trademark you do not have full access to all of the content possibilities which Amazon currently has to offer. Where possible, getting the brand/product trademarked is always advisable.
Yes, if possible. It’s worth viewing Amazon as a channel within the overall Digital Marketing landscape. In the same way that you would claim your Google My Business Listing (which if you haven’t done so, you should do!), you should look to register your brand within Amazon. This provides some element of protection and authority within Amazon for protecting your brand equity. Do note that in order to register the brand correctly on Amazon, you do need to be trademarked.
Absolutely. We don’t work on a commission per spend model, so we have no interest in you spending lots of money so that we can take our cut. Our approach is simple – to test and learn, using modest budgets and then applying learnings from data to optimise and refine.
Get in touch, we’re always happy to have a chat and find out more about your plans. When we look at product listings or brands on Amazon, in 9 out of 10 cases there are improvements to be made to Amazon product listings and how a brand is presented (unless they are brands we work with!). That’s what we do – improve and optimise.
Amazon reviews remain key for social proof and buyer validation pre-purchase. There are two facets to this – the first is obtaining reviews, the second is managing reviews.
To obtain reviews on a low sales volume, an initial manual contact with customers is advised. There are tools which we can advise of and assist with, which do help with automating this process, but all contact with Amazon customers needs to be handled in very specific ways in order to not fall foul of Amazon’s stringent buyer messaging requirements.
There are tools available which do provide some intel – as well as what is available once logged into the Amazon dashboard, there are third party tools which provide further information on trends, specific product performance and rankings, and we can provide more info on this.
With the majority of issues, perseverance is key. This is one of the things we help with – removing blockages and moving things forwards. We apply best practice and are well versed in navigating the Amazon maze.
There are ways to curtail this, and it largely depends on individual brands and which category those products sit within in Amazon.
In 2019, the German Tax Authority (BZSt) agreed with Amazon that all Amazon sellers would have to declare either tax exemption for Germany or register for German tax. This became enforceable on the Amazon platform in October 2019.
If you do not sell to Germany, then you don’t need a German tax certificate. However, if you are enrolled in Amazon’s Pan-European programme, you have no way to guarantee that your products won’t be stored in one of Amazon’s German Fulfillment Centres, so to be on the safe side in that case, you are best to obtain a German tax certificate.
In early 2020, a similar approach has been rolled out for France due to recent French tax legislation.
In short, no. We work with integrity and honesty and avoid working with brands where there could be a conflict of interest. If we are already working with a brand, we do not work with another brand in the same space without prior agreement all round.
As a business we deal with lots of people in lots of sectors at different stages in their personal and professional journeys, and we have the opportunity to be kind – so we jump at the chance to be. Since last year we have been allocating a number of hours each week to help people who need it – either small businesses in need of some advice, people who need support or a second opinion, or simply helping others along their way where we can. #bekind