Selling on Amazon: The 3 Pedals of Success

Woman is working at warehouse for online store.

If it was easy to sell on Amazon, everyone would do it. But wait you say, “Everyone does sell on Amazon! There’s so much competition!” This leads you to believe then, that selling on Amazon is easy! The hard part of course is selling effectively on Amazon. 

There are so many variables in play that managing them all effectively is no small effort. You have to do them in the right order, at the right time, and expect about a million hiccups along the way with Amazon blindsiding you (we’ve all seen the “your labels are wrong, pay us to put them on”, “your inventory is stranded”, or of course “we can’t give you a reason why, but your beautiful variated detail page has been split into 7 different pages and there’s no way we can help you guess you’ll have to start all over again”). But at the core there’s a few simple things you can do to set yourself up for success. We’ll relate these to 3 pedals in a standard manual transmission car: clutch, brake, and accelerator. 


Maybe you’ve never driven a manual transmission car, maybe you have no idea what a clutch pedal does (we’ll assume everyone knows what the other two pedals do). Without using the clutch pedal however, those two pedals are worthless. You can stomp on the gas all day and not go anywhere. If you don’t have the core listing requirements down with Amazon, you could spend $100k a week on PPC campaigns and you won’t sell a single unit. 

So what are these pedals and how do you use them effectively? The clutch is the basics of the listing: everything you need in place before taking off on the journey. The brake pedal is operation: staying in stock and making sure customers have that Prime 2-day shipping badge. And the last pedal is the accelerator: the advertising portion of selling on Amazon. 


The clutch pedal is how you put the car in gear. If you want to actually go anywhere, you have to use this pedal. So what is the Amazon equivalent? The basic check boxes for a listing you have to check before putting effort into fulfillment and advertising. The nitty gritty listing setup. Catalog quality. Making sure the listing is ready for customers to see, and then make them think, “I should click add to cart.” 

Sure you’ve set up the listing with your product IDs, you’ve uploaded a picture or two, and have a title in there, but we’ve all seen product detail pages on Amazon that look so bare bones or like the photo came from a Nokia phone camera circa 2005 that don’t exactly instill confidence into customers. The best retail comparison for a great detail page is having the product on the shelf, price tag easy to see, at eye level so that customers don’t have to work too hard to make a purchase decision. What’s the Amazon equivalent? 

  • Descriptive, non confusing title (we want customers to know what they’re buying without reading a novel)
  • Product bullet points (so customers can get a feel for the product and answer any quick questions they have)
  • Photos, including lifestyle and informative graphics (the equivalent of a customer picking a product up from a shelf and looking it over)
  • A+ content (don’t you love when the store has a little endcap display with more information for you to look at? This all makes the listing look very professional and gives credibility)
  • Reviews, even though you have less control over this

Having all of the above isn’t an exhaustive list, but it sets the product up for success. With these boxes checked, you’re ready to put the car in gear.


Admittedly, the actual brakes on the car is not a 1:1 comparison because this pedal equivalent is the operations and inventory portion of the listing. Having inventory WILL NOT be pumping the brakes on your listing. But in a car, if you put it in gear and punch the accelerator, you’re going to have a bad time without a brake pedal. Conversely, you can have beautiful detail pages that drive conversion and great advertising driving eyeballs to that beautiful detail page, but without inventory it’s all for naught. 

While less “Amazon specific” than the other steps, there are some nuances to Amazon fulfillment, especially FBA or if you’re selling directly to Amazon (see our other blog post on FBA vs FBM vs Hybrid approach). The most important thing is that you don’t go out of stock, and that you forecast enough for peak times/promotions but don’t run into overstock fees or ageing inventory. Once you have detail pages ready for action and inventory ready to ship, you’re finally ready for some action. 


Everyone’s favorite pedal, because it’s the most fun. This is advertising, either PPC, programmatic, social, or other off site advertising levers you have available to you. You’ve got a great looking detail page and plenty of inventory ready for Amazon to ship to customers. Now it’s time to get some eyeballs on that page! 

Creating a PPC campaign and seeing the first sales get attributed to it is always an exciting time…as long as you’re ready for those customers you’re spending cash on to see your page. Without the first two steps you could be driving potential customers to your pages with no inventory to ship to them (“but don’t worry, it will be in stock soon!” — No customer wants to see that message if they’re ready to buy). Or, even worse, what if there’s plenty of inventory ready to ship and plenty of traffic but only a single image on the detail page? 

By making sure you’re using all 3 pedals together, and in the right order, you won’t have to worry about customers experiencing anything but an experience leaving them ready to write a 5-star review!


Ryan Forsythe

With hands-on experience working at Amazon, Ryan has done it all -- launching new products, running search campaigns, onboarding new brands, and growing multi-million dollar accounts. Ryan also has a passion for data and uncovering trends that impact your business. His experience will help take your business to the next level!