Let’s say you’re an industrial supplies manufacturer who’s been selling your products through traditional B2B channels for decades. Over the past year or so, though, sales have flattened. Maybe you’ve dipped your toe into selling on Amazon Business, but it’s just not performing the way you need it to. You're unsure how your company can take advantage of this online opportunity, especially without angering your long-term distributors or even your own internal sales team. Nothing that’s worked in the past seems to move the needle, and your long-term projections are bleak if things don’t change.
If so, you’re not alone. Many B2B manufacturers struggle with getting sales on Amazon, particularly when they first start. However, with some strategic moves tailored for business buyers, you can start tapping into the seemingly boundless B2B potential on the world's largest marketplace.
To help you get started, here are the five key steps to optimize your B2B sales on Amazon.
Step 1: Regain Control with Seller Central
When B2B manufacturers start selling on Amazon, they often choose to take the Vendor Central, or 1P, approach to selling. It makes sense, given that this approach most resembles what they’re used to: Selling products wholesale in bulk. Under 1P, manufacturers sell their products to Amazon, which then handles the entire sales process from start to finish, including fulfillment and customer service. That includes setting the price, presentation, and other aspects of product listings.
Too often, though, this approach leads to massive channel conflict, price erosion, angry distributors, and lower profits.
Instead, B2B manufacturers need to seize control by taking the Seller Central, or 3P, approach to Amazon. In this model, you act as a seller on Amazon, selling directly to B2B buyers. With Seller Central, you have complete ownership over your product catalog and brand story on Amazon. Seller Central gives you control over your business profile, product listings, images, pricing, promotions, and more.
Seller Central also provides access to powerful B2B features like bulk pricing, business user permissions, and volume discounts. Additionally, it gives you access to valuable selling tools like enhanced content, sponsored ads, and robust analytics.
With all these tools at your disposal, it is far easier to optimize your B2B sales on Amazon using Seller Central rather than relying on Amazon’s Vendor Central reps. None of the other steps listed below are even possible if you aren’t set up under Seller Central.
Need to learn more about moving from Vendor Central to Seller Central? Check out this article on shifting your approach from 1p to 3P.
Step 2: Hook Buyers Using Strategic SEO
Amazon has now become the default product search engine for most B2B buyers, with more than 60 percent of searches starting on Amazon. If your customers are searching for your products on Amazon, or you want to grab the attention of new buyers on the platform, it’s essential to have a smart Amazon SEO strategy tailored to how business purchasers browse and buy.
Like all SEO strategies, your Amazon approach needs to start with keyword research. You need to think like a buyer and start with the keywords they may use to look for your product. Use both branded and unbranded keywords, but also try using tools like Amazon's own keyword planner or SEMrush to find winning keywords around volume, competitiveness, and relevancy.
Next, you’ll want to optimize your listing copy. Incorporate your target B2B keywords into each product listing’s title, bullet point features, and description. Place important keywords at the beginning of the copy, which will boost visibility when buyers search those terms. Unlike optimization on a website, though, your headlines can still be keyword rich without having to worry about readability, as buyers will likely be looking for those same keywords. Just don’t go overboard—only use the top keywords for each product listing and keep it relevant!
You should also consider the categories in which your products are placed. This can have a huge impact on their visibility. Be sure to choose the most specific categories that align with your product and keywords. Proper categorization helps B2B buyers find you when they navigate to your industry's section.
Lastly, take a moment to enhance backend metadata in your product listing's backend. Adding relevant keywords to the search terms field will help Amazon's algorithm match your products to buyer searches.
Step 3: Wow Business Buyers with a Professional Experience
B2B buyers expect the same level of professionalism whether they’re buying on Amazon, an Ecommerce website, or even a brick-and-mortar location. Regardless of whether you’re handling customer service, or you’re leaving that to Amazon or another 3rd party, you need to ensure your business listings and support provide the seamless, customized service these corporate customers expect.
The first step to doing this is to try to make your products Prime-eligible. Amazon Prime is the most popular loyalty program in the world, with more than 200 million subscribers globally. Amazon Business Prime, the B2B counterpart to Amazon Prime, is also a popular choice that offers free shipping on qualified items, consolidated shipping, spend management, and other business tools.
The best way to have products qualified for Amazon Business Prime is to use Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA). FBA allows you to ship products to Amazon for warehousing and fulfillment. You can also optionally have Amazon manage returns and other customer service issues. It’s important to note that there are other ways to have products be Prime eligible, however, they are often complicated, and it can be easy to lose that status if there are ever any issues.
Step 4: Unlock Amazon's B2B Superpowers
Amazon offers several powerful features specifically for B2B buyers that can be leveraged to optimize B2B Ecommerce sales. These include custom pricing that is only visible to verified corporate buyers that include special discounted bulk rates. You can also enable tiered payments, accept orders by purchase orders, as well as set up credit terms. By turning on and optimizing these features, your Amazon listings will likely convert B2B buyers into long-term commercial customers.
Step 5: Amplify Your Reach
Advertising on Amazon is one of the most important tools you can use to grow your sales on Amazon, especially if you’re just starting. Amazon’s Seller Central's advertising tools work similarly to other digital advertising tools, such as Google AdWords, allowing you to bid for ad placements such as Sponsored Product listings. And just like those other tools, Amazon allows you to build campaigns targeted to key segments.
But don’t stop with Amazon’s tools. Be sure to take advantage of other off-site tools you have at your disposal, such as emailing your customers about your branded Amazon presence. While this might feel like cannibalizing other channels, a short-term visibility boost will result in more sales and reviews, which in turn can help your long-term organic visibility on the site.