While becoming a top selling merchant on Amazon is a dream for many, it is not one great or unique strategy that sets any of them apart. It is a whole bunch of very small simple things that they all get right, every time, time after time.

We looked a little closer at the most recent top seller list released by Amazon to understand why everything they touch turns to GOLD.

1. All take Feedback very seriously

Now this is pretty obvious since the rating is based on the feedback scores generated over the last 12 months (to ensure that sellers of seasonal products do not have a disadvantage or advantage, as the case may be).

Every single one of these merchants that we got a chance to speak with had policies in place to ensure that no unfair review (one they felt they did not deserve) remained uncontested and proactive efforts were made to seek out feedback even though the response rate is not more than 5-10% of all customers.

It is important to understand that these ratings are factored into buy box decisions as well as your overall visibility on Amazon. And, most importantly, they play a crucial role in influencing customer purchase when products are similar. All other things being equal, you may even pay a few dollars more to a Top Merchant as against one with a lower rating.

2. Fulfilment by Amazon

The next factor we looked at was their shipment and fulfilment since this is possibly one area where a merchant has the least control and therefore there is a higher margin for error. While the exact percentage of FBA users from Top merchants was difficult to ascertain, a recent report - Amazon Sellers Survey 2016: The Results - mentions as many as 79% of the total sellers as using FBA for some or all of their sales.

Not only does FBA translate to higher trust for the buyer, it translates to lower costs (Since shipping = 0) and therefore a much higher probability of sitting on the buy box. Most importantly, outsourcing shipping not only allows for greater focus on managing the actual product page, it also means that the product experience and reviews are more in your control than ever. In case there is a mix up as regards shipment, these reviews can be easily removed from your page after clearing the matter with Amazon.

3. Repricing Software to stay in the Buy Box

The thing with getting reviews is that you have to drive purchase first. And to drive purchase you need to be cheaper (especially when you don’t have the reviews). One of the easiest ways to do this is to aim for the buy box.

Unfortunately, even after you have created a strategic price point lower than the rest, it is essential to stay abreast of what competitors are doing and keep tweaking prices to stay the lowest. (There are other people also reading this article, you know.) This is especially important if you are selling a generic category like phones or books for which there can be several sellers willing to outbid each other.

We discovered that several top merchants used some type of re-pricing software or tools that allowed them to re-price their listings in real time so that they remained the cheapest and by default owned the buy box.

4. All have a simple and flexible Returns Policy

Every single one of the top sellers on Amazon allowed returns within a stipulated period. Simple and easy with pick up facility from your doorstep at no extra cost or trouble. You don’t want it? Please send it right back – We will be happy to refund your money, no questions asked beyond selecting an item from a drop down menu of reasons, of course.

Most people who complain about a product are those that cannot return it or find it too much hassle to do. Because if you can and you do, there is usually nothing to complain about. Top sellers understand that allowing an unhappy customer to return a product is not a cost; it is a small insurance premium that prevents a bad review.

5. All showed great Inventory Management skills

We spoke to some of the merchants in the contact lists and found out that some of the biggest misses they faced in their early careers were due to running out of product while the next guy made the killing. Of course, it took them time to build the data (and confidence) and they have all invested effort to understand their sales cycles, restocking turnaround time and planning well in advance to ensure optimum levels of product stock throughout the year.

Not only is being understocked a big opportunity loss in terms of sales, it also creates a window of opportunity for other vendors who can then steal away your customers, not to mention the possibility of a drop in ranks. If you don’t have a product, you simply don’t have a listing or any kind of presence at all for that entire period.

Of course overstocking is not much better – it translates to losses relating to storage, need for dumping at low prices, and increased returns probability (and lower customer rating) due to older product packaging and manufacturing dates. The trick is to get it as close to optimum as possible.