There’s thousands of freedom builders all over the world using the Amazon FBA business model to fuel a better life for themselves. But how is it done?
Fear not – this easy to digest Step by step Amazon product launch checklist is going to walk you through the entire process. Every single nook and cranny that is involved with finding a product, through to launching it and starting to make money.
Things to do Before Launching a Product on Amazon
Step 1 – Finding Product Ideas
Your products business ain’t nothing without a product to sell. But how do you find out which products are going to make money?
You can’t just stick a finger in the air and hope the right idea will come to you on a whim.
This step is effectively the beginnings of your product research, which is the cornerstone of a successful Amazon business. Without strong research, you could risk a costly mistake, and no one wants that.
But before you can really start to drill down into product research, you need to identify a list of products.
What you need to do?
- To speed up the process, use a product research tool to scour the Amazon website for products that meet the criteria of having high demand, low competition and a selling price of 20 dollars/euros/pounds or more
- Keep a log of all of the suitable product ideas you find that meet the basic criteria in the spreadsheet.
- Keep doing this until you have lots of ideas, aim for at least 50 products or more!
Once you have a huge list of product ideas, it’s time to graduate to step 2 and drill down into some advanced criteria for each of those products.
Step 2 – Advanced Product Research
It was pretty fun searching for sweet product ideas right? It’s amazing what weird and wonderful things you often come up with. Some of the best products that make money are often the ones that you didn’t even know existed until you started some research.
Now it’s time to dive deeper into each of your ideas and find out which ones really stand out, based on even more criteria that will easily start to weed out those products that aren’t profitable enough, too difficult to manufacture, or simply too competitive.
This stage is probably the most important. So if you spend more than 20 hours finding the right product, please don’t feel like you are a failure. Getting it right and minimizing your risk of failure is better than moving forward without any solid data to backup your decisions.
What you Need to do?
- Go through each of your product ideas and fill out the resources spreadsheet with important information about each one.
- Keep going until you have a good idea of which of your initial list of product ideas are the most promising.
- Create a shortlist of around 5 products to investigate at the next stage.
Once you have done all of this, you will start to realize that many product ideas aren’t as good as they first seemed. This is OK. In fact this is great. This means you understand the criteria and have put any products that aren’t up for the task into the “no” pile.
Of course if you shortlist more than 5 products that’s fine too, you can save all of this data for later. But right now the best advice is to be as ruthless as possible.
If a product seems too competitive, or too difficult to source, and there are better ideas available, then put it to rest and stick with the ones that look fruitful.
Step 3 – Product Selection & Supplier Outreach
The time has come to finalize the research phase of the process. Right now, we need to do two things to identify which of your product ideas on your shortlist is going to be the one that you invest in, and launch.
Things to Remember
- Ensure there are plenty of suppliers on Alibaba that you could feasibly work with, by sending some initial emails to get some initial quotes and communications under your belt
- Profit calculations – which one of your ideas is going to generate the most profits, based on some early calculations of your manufacturing costs, shipping and fees, and the estimated sales for that product.
If you have never sourced products from China before, this will be the start of something new.
If you are just starting out and feel nervous about not being an established business yet, don’t sweat it. Chinese suppliers are extremely friendly and eager to do business with you, and you don’t ever have to tell them this is your first product. Just follow the guidance in these resources and you be pleasantly surprised at how many suppliers you can start communicating with.
All suppliers will speak in English in the next step, we will identify how to select the right supplier. For now, just focus on getting lots of quotes for your product ideas so that you can do your profit calculations.
Make a Decision!!!
Once you have done all of this, you should be armed with all the information you need to decide which product you are going to launch with.
As a general rule of thumb you want to use all of the data you have gathered make a decision that will be the most suitable for you and your business. But ultimately, the key determining factor should always be: which product will be most profitable?
Step 4 – Finding A Manufacturer In China
We are really cooking on gas here. Keep the momentum going, as we’re now entering the next phase of the process.
Now that you have decided on which product to launch, it’s time to drill down into finding the perfect supplier.
You will already have contacted some suppliers that make your product from step 3 and this is an excellent place to start
Things You Need to Do
- Put all of the suppliers you contacted so far into a spreadsheet.
- If required, send some initial outreach to some more suppliers, until you have a list of about 20 or more suppliers to work with
- Make sure to find out if each supplier is a manufacturer or a trading company. Manufacturers are usually best as it cuts out the middleman, which helps to keep costs down.
Tip: At this stage you have given a rough product specification (more on this in the next step), so just be wary that the prices quoted can go up if you start to make any other special requests.
As you build out a list of suppliers, you can start to make notes about them, such as how fast they respond, whether they are willing to work with you on the best price possible, how much they quoted for samples, and if they are a manufacturer or not.
Step 5 – Ordering Samples & Product Specifications
You have a verified product idea, and a list of viable suppliers on speed dial. It’s time to narrow down those suppliers down to the top 2-3 and order some samples.
You want your samples to be as close to the final product specification as possible. It’s always useful to get a good example of the quality and features of your product.
The resources in this step include some tips on how to research your competition and take a look at niche specific eCommerce sites outside of Amazon to get ideas.
You want your product listing to stand out on Amazon, so it’s time to figure out how you can make it so. It could be an additional feature, improved quality, different sizes, colors, perhaps even a bundle? One super easy way to get ideas for this is to read Amazon reviews, good and bad, to see what existing shoppers liked and did not like about your product idea. Whatever it is, make sure you lay out a detail specification for your suppliers, so they know what they are dealing with, and can supply accurate quotes.
What You need to do?
- Write down your full and final product spec using the template provided
- Research for required test certificates and start speaking with suppliers about these too
With a full product spec finalized, go back to your list of suppliers and narrow them down to the top 2-3 based on all of the information you have gathered. Then use the final spec to iron out any details and order samples from them.
Step 6 – Figure Out Your Tax & Legal Set Up
Sorry to break the bad news but some of the “boring business stuff” had to crop up eventually.
The good news is that this is not something you should be worried about or afraid of. Whether you are setting up to sell in the US, Europe or another marketplace, this is something all businesses of all natures have to go through.
The second piece of good news is that we’ve linked you to some really in depth resources above that help to understand how this works for you as an Amazon seller.
What You need to do?
- Figure out what you need to do for your specific situation, in terms of registering a company
- These resources are just an overview and a guide. If required, you should seek advice from a tax and legal professional or accountant
- Set up an Amazon Seller Central account if you haven’t already, you will need this very soon, so don’t delay
Many sellers start out without forming a company, like an LLC, which is something you can figure out later on down the line. It all depends on your situation, where you are based and where you are planning to sell.
Spend some time figuring this out now, before you get into the following tasks (which are much more fun, I promise).
Step 7 – Amazon Product Branding
It’s time to think about private label branding. As you have identified an existing product idea that has demand, now you need to carve your way in this niche market. In order to do this, you’re going to be creating your own Amazon product listing (more on this later) and your own product brand.
This is a good chance to get creative. Things to consider include your brand name, the design of your brand and logo or word marks, and also your packaging design and requirements.
Also included in the webinar and resources for this step is lots of information about barcodes – how to acquire a barcode in order to set up your product in Amazon Seller Central. In addition, there is some information about the Amazon Brand Registry, for which you will need a registered trademark to enter.
Brand Registry is very useful for sellers, it provides more protection against counterfeit products, and gives you access to extra Amazon marketing features. However, you will need a registered trademark which can take months to process.
The skinny: you do not need to be in the Brand Registry to launch. Just get started, and then work towards this later.
However, one thing you will want to do is ensure your product branding is suitable for a trademark, which includes a bit of research to ensure you don’t use a wordmark that is already taken.
Just a bit of extra work will save you some hassle down the line!
During the product Launch
Step 8 – Amazon Listing Optimization
Alright now we’ve got supplier negotiations ongoing, let’s get a head start on creating a great Amazon listing, and doing some keyword research.
Tip: By this point you will probably be spending an hour a day communicating with your supplier, examining samples and making a judgement call on which supplier to go with. Account for this in your time management, and start to build this in to your working week.
What you need to do
- Watch and read the resources above, to discover the anatomy of an Amazon product listing, and some copy writing tips for writing a killer product description. On top of that, you will get a full insight into the world of keyword research for Amazon, and some tools to get started.
- By the end of this step you should have a spreadsheet (see template) full of keywords relevant to your product, and have drafted out a product title, features and description.
- You can (and you should), tweak this copy for your listing later, but at least you have something to work with for your launch.
Step 9 – Importing From China
If you have never imported goods from China before, this can often be the most intimidating step. The thing is, when you ship manufactured goods from China by ocean, you actually put a lot of the difficult processes in the hands of a trustworthy Freight Forwarder.
So you really have nothing to worry about. Plus the resources above still go into some detail to explain how the process works, which gives you the education and insight you need to communicate effectively with a freight forwarder and your supplier.
What you need to do?
- Get quotes from a freight forwarder (feel free to ‘shop’ around) and build a relationship with your chosen company and set up an account.
- Once you have this relationship set up, you can usually request shipping quotes inside of their systems, and then their representatives will handle everything for you, and even contact your supplier.
- You won’t have to do much, other than provide a few details. The forwarder will handle shipping your goods to the port in the country of sale, navigate customs and move the goods from the port to Amazon’s fulfillment center.
Tip: If you are starting out with small amounts of inventory (that are not heavy), then you can air freight without having to use a Freight Forwarder, and have the goods sent straight to Amazon’s door. The shipping will be more expensive but for small orders, this is usually acceptable.
Step 10 – Supplier Agreements
Once you have reviewed all of your samples and decided on which supplier to move forward with, it’s time to order your inventory.
Take some time to celebrate your progress so far at this point, you earned it.
- Watch & read the resources above to understand how supplier agreements work with suppliers in China
- Use the template provided, or your own, to draw out the terms and conditions between you and your supplier
- Once you are both happy, everyone should sign this agreement and only then should you place your deposit for them to begin manufacturing the goods.
Tip: This is an agreement we have used for all of the case study products which has worked well. Suppliers in China tend to be very strict with rules and take these documents seriously. Having said that, if you did want to have a legal representative draw out a document for you, then this is certainly an option.
Step 11 – Product Photography
You know what is missing from that awesome product listing that you created earlier?
The Answer is Product Photography
It was covered a little back in the resources for step 8, but now we’re going to dive right into lots of tips for finding and briefing a professional, or taking some of your own product or lifestyle images.
In these resources you will discover what makes a product photograph, what the technical requirements are for Amazon, and how to get the job done.
Now that your inventory is being manufactured, you will soon be able to ask your supplier to send one of the first items to your photographer and/or yourself. In the meantime, better get planning.
- Find a photographer and draw out a detailed brief for them using the template in the resources spreadsheet
- Ensure you supplier knows they need to send a sample for photography
- If taking some of your own images, schedule this time in for as soon as you can get hold of the sample
It’s really important to launch your product with as many great photos as possible, so make sure you get this arranged in good time.
Tip: If you are on a budget, try to get your product photography paid for and taken by a pro. Then you could experiment with some lifestyle images yourself (using a modern smartphone if you do not have a camera).
Step 12 – The Launch Strategy
Wow, you made it. Well done on getting to your first product launch. Or, if you’ve done this before and are using this guide to revise your processes and get new tips, congrats on making it through the process once more.
These videos and blog posts lay out all of the tactics you can use to successfully launch your new product into the wild, on Amazon.
There are a few different strategies, and these resources help to identify which are the easiest and most cost and time efficient. Of course the decision is up to you, to make sure you tune in and get a full recap.
The main goal of your launch strategy is to get sales. This is because sales velocity and sales history are huge factors when it comes to Amazon determining how your listing ranks. And, the better it ranks, the more traffic you get, and the more sales you get.
When your product listing first goes live and you inventory lands at the fulfillment center, you are effectively at square one. But don’t worry, you’ve got this.
What You Need to Do
- You need to get sales velocity turning, and to do this you will likely be running some promotions during the first few weeks, and perhaps setting up some Amazon PPC (see final step)
- Reviews are super important on Amazon, as they provide social proof and increase your conversion rate… which means more sales. Make sure you set up some automated email campaigns using a tool like Jump Send, to provide great customer service and increase your chances of getting reviews
Tip: During launch, you need to be patient. It can take a few weeks for customers to redeem your promotions, for the sales to come in and especially for your rank to start to improve. Keep an eye on things but try not to fret too much, you need to allow a few weeks for things to take hold, and then assess your next steps.
Step 13 – Amazon Pay Per Click
This step was purposefully left until the end. As you discovered you can utilize Amazon PPC during your launch process, which can help to boost the visibility of your product on the first pages of the search results and increase sales.
It’s not usually a good enough strategy on it’s own, so it’s still advisable to follow the guidance from the previous step first and foremost.
Ultimately, you can either set up your PPC campaigns before/during launch, or later on down the line. But it’s advisable to do so at some point, as Amazon PPC is the most cost effective platform to advertise your new product.
It also has a relatively low barrier to entry, so don’t worry if you do not have any PPC advertising experience.
Benefits of Amazon PPC
- Relevancy – advertising within the Amazon website means you are only paying for clicks from people who are already on the Amazon website and looking to purchase. Minimize wasted spend.
- Cost effective – it’s cheaper than running PPC ads on other platforms like Google or Facebook
- Data – you get real insights and keyword data for keywords related to your product, which you can feed right back into your listing optimization
- Appear at the top – if you set up your PPC campaigns well, you can rely on it to help get your listing at the very top of the results more often and win more sales
- You decide – you set the maximum budgets, you can optimize your campaigns, you can switch PPC off and on when ever you need to!
What You Need to Do?
- Setup your campaigns following the advice in the resources
- Ensure to set aside time every week to monitor and optimize your campaigns
Tip: if PPC isn’t your thing, or your find it takes up time you’d rather spend on other tasks, it is possible to hire a freelancer or a virtual assistant (from Upwork, Fiverr etc.) to optimize your campaigns.
After Launching the Product
Step 14 : Know your Financials
You are going to want to know the health of your business finances. With so many moving parts, tracking your Amazon profit and loss can be a little daunting, even for experienced sellers. You’ve got to think about all of your upfront investments, like inventory, shipping and photography and your ongoing costs, like Amazon fees and marketing.
Throw in taxes or VAT, and it starts to get complicated.
Let’s cut to the chase, there’s two ways to do this:
- Manually – Definitely an option, but requires a lot of time crunching numbers and excel spreadsheets.
- Use a profit analytics tool like Fetcher to automate this for you and see all of your metrics in a nicely laid out dashboard.
Step 15 : Check How Your Business is Performing
- It’s important to know your profits
- You can quickly assess where you can cut down on costs and make your selling business leaner
- Keeping track of your marketing costs is important
- You need to keep track of your tax obligations
Step 16 : Optimize, Optimize , Optimize!!!!!
A product listing is never complete. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. The internet moves fast and eCommerce is no exception. What works when you launch may not work 6 months down the line.
Your pricing is always subject to change. Consumer trends change. Your competitors change.
The most effective way to get ahead is to optimize your listing, consistently. You can do this manually, but without data to back up your decisions it’s hard to know if you are improving matters or just making them worse.
Step 17 : Scale Your Business
Once you have a grip of your profit analytics and Amazon listing optimization, you’re really steaming ahead. At this point, it’s time to consider your options for scaling. Most sellers find the easiest and most effective way to do this is to launch more products. In some of our surveys we discovered that up to 10 products was the sweet spot. You can also launch in new marketplaces too.
Don’t forget, if you are launching, you are going through this checklist again. Keep it safe on your computer (or print it, if that is your thing), so you can reference back if you get stuck.
Thanks for reading, we hope you find this checklist useful now and in the future.