Wondering why your books aren’t selling on Amazon? Good news: There’s only two reasons
Let’s say you have some inventory at the Amazon warehouse, and it’s not selling to your expectations.
Some common scenarios:
- You ship a bunch of books to Amazon, have big expectations, then check your “Orders” page, and… crickets.
- You were sure you’d make X amount in X number of days, and things fell far beneath expectations.
- You’re comparing your Amazon revenue against last year, and things are down. You have the same (or more) inventory, but sales aren’t increasing to scale.
All three of these things are very common. And there’s only two (major) reasons. Let’s give you a two-step diagnostic test to determine why your books aren’t selling.
What’s not to blame for your books not selling
Let’s eliminate some things Amazon sellers blame for their books not selling. Yes there’s more than two things that would cause your Amazon FBA inventory to not be selling, but these aren’t among them:
- Your Amazon feedback score.
- You condition description.
A lot of sellers blame these two things. And they do matter. But they barely affect your sales compared to the Big Two.
Things Amazon sellers blame for their books not selling
Here’s a few quotes you hear from Amazon sellers who are blaming the wrong things:
“People aren’t buying books anymore” – Absolutely not the case and there are no stats that back this up.
“Amazon changed the Buy Box” – Amazon has built such massive fulfillment warehouse infrastructure to sellers into their platform. If any change they made caused a dramatic drop in sales of FBA offers, Amazon would implode.
“Amazon prices have gone up after new fees and people aren’t buying.” Similar to the first one. Prices have gone up, but barely. And not enough to affect sales so much that you’d notice.
“I don’t have the Buy Box” – Amazon’s Buy Box can be significant, however it’s role in sales is greatly exaggerated and probably much less important in the Books category than other categories. Sales may go down when Amazon makes your offers ineligible for the Buy Box (usually temporarily), but it should never break a business.
Revisiting the 30/60 Rule
It’s possible you think you have a sales problem, when you really don’t. One way to confirm you have an issue with low sales is by using the “30/60 Rule.”
This is a rule I developed over years selling on Amazon to determine if I’m getting the sales I should, or if there’s an issue I need to address.
The 30/60 Rule sets out to answer two questions:
- How quickly should I expect to get my FBA inventory investment back?
- How quickly should my FBA inventory turn over?
We’re focused here on inventory turnover, and it tends to be especially accurate for that.
Here it the 30/60 Rule:
“You will at least double your investment in 30 days, and sell at least half your shipment in 60.”
You can build a whole Fulfillment by Amazon business around these projections, and the Rule will rarely fail.
So your first step in deciding if you have an inventory turnover problem is to see how well it currently aligns with The Rule. If you’re selling roughly half your shipment after 60 days, you probably don’t have an issue with your books not selling at all.
But if you do, These Two Things are the reason why…
The Two Reasons Your Books Aren’t Selling
Here they are:
- Low demand inventory (i.e. inventory with a poor Amazon Sales Rank)
- Poor pricing.
Let’s address both. (Spoiler alert: The second one is vastly more common).
#1 Low-demand inventory
If you ship in low-demand inventory, your books won’t sell as fast. Sounds ridiculously simple, yet Amazon sales rank is often dismissed by Amazon sellers as a merely academic distraction. You’ll hear things like:
“Well sure, lot of my inventory is poorly ranked, but still….”
Amazon sales rank is not a mere trivial fetishistic indulgence for mathematicians. It is literally the only thing that measures how regularly a book will sell on Amazon.
But here’s the thing: There is nothing wrong with shipping in low-demand inventory. It is in fact strongly encouraged (provided the profits are good and you won’t get killed on Amazon’s long term storage fees).
So the solution your books not selling on Amazon is not to stop shipping Amazon slower-selling inventory. The solution is to adjust your expectations to align with reality.
Amazon sales rank is a huge subject. But you must understand sales rank to be successful on Amazon.
The lower the demand of the inventory you ship to Amazon, the slower your books are going to sell. It’s not a bad thing, but it is a factual thing.
#2 Poor pricing and infrequent repricing
Two sides of the same coin that are major reasons your books aren’t selling: Pricing and repricing.
Here are two seemingly contradictory facts that are uncomfortable to admit:
- Always matching the lowest FBA price is not a winning FBA pricing strategy. Pricing higher than the lowest FBA offer much (or most) of the time is a winning FBA pricing strategy.
- If your book isn’t matched with the lowest FBA offer (or is not the lowest FBA offer), its the same as the book not being for sale at all.
What this means is: If you want to get the most money for your FBA inventory, you must practice a pricing strategy that inherently means your books won’t sell as fast.
Your job is not done when you ship your books to Amazon. Remember what I said about how if your Amazon inventory is not matched with the lowest FBA price, it’s the same as the item not being for sale at all?
This means that half (or more) of your inventory effectively wont’ be for sale even after it hits the FBA warehouse and goes live. Prices change fast. They even change between when you ship and when your books hit the FBA warehouse. They may even change before you get to the UPS store.
If you’re not repricing Amazon inventory regularly and often to optimize your FBA prices (not that does not always mean drop your prices), that means at any given time the majority of your Amazon inventory is effectively not for sale. And that means your books will not selling very fast.
Price smart and reprice often, and watch your FBA inventory turnover (and/or Amazon revenue) go way up.
The Two Reasons Your Books Aren’t Selling: A Recap
- Selling low-demand books.
- Poor pricing & repricing practices.
Even if you have a bad feedback score and your condition descriptions aren’t the best, these two things are 90+% of the reason your books aren’t selling on Amazon.