Over the last 25 years Amazon has staked its claim to the title of “world’s favorite marketplace”. Whatever you may personally think of the company itself, it’s clear that the Bezos Empire is here to stay. In fact, in 2018 Amazon set new sales records topping $10 billion in profits for the fiscal year. Numbers like that are impossible to ignore, and the colossus shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Clearly, the firm has become (and intends to remain) the go-to online shopping destination for consumers across the country and around the globe.
While many retailers see Amazon as a threat, a growing number of small businesses have been able to take advantage of the company’s global reach to market their own unique line of products. Using Amazon’s ecommerce platform as an additional sales channel, independent retailers are able to extend the reach of their brand and give a much-needed boost to their own company’s bottom line.
Why You Should be Selling on Amazon
The latest research tells us that more than half of all product searches begin with Amazon. Chances are, if someone is interested in a product that you sell, that’s where they’re going to be looking. If you have an active Amazon Sellers Account, and if your products are properly listed, your merchandise will be front and center in the buyer’s search results. If, however, you don’t have an account you’re going to have to hope the buyer moves their search offsite to Google where you can hopefully capture their attention. It’s a big maybe, and one that can be avoided by becoming an Amazon Pro Seller.
It’s also worth noting that Amazon is an open marketplace. If you aren’t listing and selling your products there someone else may be. A third party seller can easily cut in, creating listings for your merchandise and making sales that rightfully belong to you. More troublesome still, that seller does not have your company’s best interests at heart. They may well be overpricing or misrepresenting your products, and their poor customer service may become entangled with your own company’s reputation.
Promoting Your Amazon Listings
Clearly you can see how advantageous it can be to sell your products on Amazon. The added reach gives you access to a growing customer base, and you become better positioned to establish your brand as a leader in your industry. You also have access to a new sales channel that can be used to drive more traffic to your primary ecommerce site, all while picking up a steady stream of sales.
Of course there’s more to selling on Amazon than simply listing your merchandise and waiting for the sales to come flooding in. You have to know how to promote your listings so they will catch the interest of potential buyers. So, lets take some time looking at best practices for promoting your Amazon product listings.
Check Out Your Competitors
Amazon is an extremely large marketplace, and your products will be pitted against some stiff competition. However, if you play your cards right that competition can actually help you fine-tune your own promotional strategies so that your product listings start to deliver the goods.
Here are a few points of interest to consider when reviewing your competitors listings:
- Customer Reviews – Amazon customers aren’t shy about speaking their minds, and scanning product reviews is a good way to get a feel for what consumers want in a product. Checking out the competition’s reviews can help you fine-tune your own product line, making changes in pricing, packaging and presentation that will appeal to potential buyers.
- Product Q&A Sessions – Many of Amazon’s product listings feature a Q&A section, and these can be extremely valuable when it comes to understanding what drives a final purchase. Look at what kind of questions are being asked, and consider what areas of concern or confusion seems to be of interest to consumers. This will help you craft more informative product listings of your own.
- Updated Product Information – If you find your competitors have updated their product listings with new images and new copy it may be time to do the same for your own stock. Listings need to appear to be fresh and active if they are to capture the consumer’s imagination.
- Price Fluctuations and Out-of-Stock Items – Monitoring your competitors’ listings helps you keep your own product line priced to sell. For example, if you find a competitive product is out-of-stock an advertising push can give you a boost in sales.
Optimizing Your Product Listings
Ecommerce shoppers have a short attention span, and if you don’t grab the buyer’s attention from the get-go you might just lose the sale. To that end product listings need to clear, concise, and informative. A muddled product description can easily cause a potential buyer to leave the page and return to their initial product search, ultimately making their final purchase from one of your competitors.
Simplicity is the key. To craft the most effective product descriptions consider the follow points:
- Titles – Product page titles need to be clear, concise and descriptive. Your title should clearly describe the item, mention your brand, and specify any secondary information (size, color, etc.) that will be of primary interest to the buyer.
- Bullet Points – Product listings need to fully describe the benefits and features of the merchandise on offer. Bullet points are a simple and effective way of conveying that information in an easily digestible format. Give special attention to post-sale support features such as warranties and customer service advantages. Remember to keep each bullet point short and on message. Users will be scrolling and skimming the content, and the longer the bullet point the more likely they will be to skip over it and move on to another product listing.
- Product Images – Pictures are a critical part of your listing, and it’s important to get them right first time. Main photos should clearly display the products in a well lit and color corrected image. Additional photos should display the merchandise from a variety of angles, illustrating any specific features that will be of special interest to buyers. For some products, such as furniture and home décor items, it is always a good idea to add an image of the product in situ, illustrating how it may appear in the buyer’s home.
For best results follow Amazon’s own product image guidelines to ensure product pages are clean and attractive.
- Product Descriptions – Beyond the images and bullet points you have a brief product description to deliver. This is, in effect, your sales pitch. Keep it short and to the point, and always craft your product descriptions with a professional tone. Remember, you want to catch the buyer’s interest and inspire confidence in your product so they will complete the sale.
- Regularly Check and Revise your Listings – Many Amazon sellers make the cardinal mistake of creating a product page and leaving it to stagnate on the vine. It is important to regular update your product listings with new photos and more effective copy. This is where monitoring your competitors comes in useful, as it can help you tweak your own listings for better performance.
Encourage Customer Feedback and Product Reviews
Online shoppers rely on product reviews and customer feedback to inform and guide their purchases. This is particularly true for Amazon shoppers. Product listings with little or no feedback are a turn-off for most buyers. In the absence of feedback most shoppers will return to their initial search and look for merchandise that has a substantial history of customer reviews.
Up until recently Amazon has allowed professional sellers to solicit product reviews in exchange for free merchandise. However, Amazon has revised their policies and that’s no longer an option for sellers. Still, there are constructive ways that you can solicit reviews for your products without running foul of Amazon’s restrictions.
As a professional seller you are allowed to send follow-up emails on all purchases in which you can request that customers leave feedback for their order. You may not offer anything in exchange for that feedback, but you can give the buyer a friendly reminder that a product review would be greatly appreciated. This is the most effective way to generate feedback for your product listings.
Take Advantage of Automated Product Pricing
Manually pricing and re-pricing all of your merchandise in order to remain competitive is time consuming. More over, it’s vastly ineffective. Most of your competitors are using automated re-pricing software to manage their active listings, and it’s unlikely you’ll be able to match them move for move no matter how diligent you and your staff are about updating your product pages.
Automated re-pricers allow you to set basic pricing parameters for all of your active products. Once a competitor’s price point falls within a predetermined amount the re-pricer adjusts your own product’s prices to remain competitive. This greatly maximizes sales potential, while freeing you and your staff from the drudgery of adjusting every product page by hand.
Running Sponsored Ads
Amazon Sponsored Product Ads is a pay-per-click advertising model that ‘s being made available to professional sellers, vendors, and publishers. The advertisements appear along side product searches and on product detail pages. Sponsored product ads make it easier for independent sellers to get their products in front of potential buyers. For sellers with a limited selling history it provides an opportunity to gain traction with customers and generate some much needed sales and feedback.
As with any advertising campaign Amazon’s sponsored product ads will require a financial investment on your part to get the ball rolling. But if you’re a new seller, or if you are introducing a new line of products, sponsored ads is a good way to gain a foothold with the browsing public.
Take Advantage of Amazon Promotional Campaigns
Finally, if you want to get the most out of your Amazon presence it is important to take advantage of the support that the channel offers its partnering sellers and vendors. For example, if you find yourself with overstock on specific items you can submit them to Amazon’s Lightening Deals promotion. This improves your chance of shifting units, while helping you to win over new customers.
Sellers can also enroll in the Amazon’s Early Review Program. This is especially helpful for new vendors who need to establish their product line on the platform. Periodically, Amazon will randomly select customers who leave product reviews and reward them with a gift card. While this doesn’t ensure that your product will receive a positive review, it does provide sellers with new products to get some much-needed feedback on their product pages.
If you’re an independent online retailer, Amazon offers a supplementary sales channel that can be an invaluable asset for growing your business. While it should never supplant your own ecommerce website, Amazon’s seller’s platform provides ample opportunities to reach new customers, move more product, and build brand recognition.
But there’s more to selling on Amazon than simply creating a product listing and waiting for the sales to pour in. You need to take time to carefully craft your product listings to maximize sales and enhance your company’s reputation. Concentrate on making your product pages clear and concise, keep your prices competitive, and establish yourself as a trustworthy and responsive seller. Revisit your product pages often, tweaking them as need to improve their placement in search results and to boost sales as needed. The time you spend focused on your Amazon product listings will pay dividends in the long run as you ultimately drive more sales and bring more customers into the fold.