April 30, 2019
Welcome to the World of Amazon
Whether you’re on Amazon today or planning to be, it’s important to have a checklist for success when establishing your businesses Amazon presence. Through working with clients across all product categories, we’ve recognized certain criteria that remain constant when conducting a successful Amazon launch: Strong Business Structure and Operations, Product Launch Marketing Strategy, Knowledge of the Amazon Ecosystem, and Realistic Expectations.
Make Sure Your Business is in Order
What does it mean to have your business in order?
Amazon’s unique marketplace comes with many nuances that change often. When a business decides to begin selling on Amazon, they need to ensure their organization is prepared to do so on all facets. Below are common issues many brands face when launching on Amazon.
Universal Product Codes (UPCs) are critical to your business’s success both on and off Amazon, as it’s how your product can be universally identified. In order to create a listing on Amazon, UPC codes are required.
A mistake we see is when a client is launching a new product and is looking to cut cost through purchasing “recycled” UPCs. These UPCs have a lifespan and may have an impact on your listings longterm success. We suggest purchasing UPCs through reputable sources, such as GS1, who have established themselves as the “go-to”.
Over the years, Amazon has continued to drive sellers towards offering a more personalized branded shopping experience to their customers. Through establishing brand registry, brands gain additional privileges such as video on Enhanced Brand Content pages and in branded storefronts. To become registered, the first step in the application process is to provide Amazon with a principal registered trademark of your brand name. It can take anywhere from 6-8 months to complete the trademark process so we highly would encourage any brand looking to launch on Amazon in the near future to start that process now.
In order to be successful on multiple fronts with Amazon, you’ll want to have your distribution network secure and ready for action. Having a streamlined inventory process flowing from your manufacturer to your business, along with any approved distributors – it is critical to communicate your Amazon plans to both parties.
Identifying predictable lead times with your manufacturer while simultaneously keeping enough inventory on hand for Amazon helps prevent the dreaded stock out from taking place. To prepare for this, we recommend performing market research and forecasting potential demand to ensure you have inventory for the upcoming orders.
Through performing market research, you will have a good understanding of which distributors of yours are currently selling on Amazon. The Buy Box is critical to your brands Amazon success, and having distributors also listing your products will be unwanted competition. The buy box is the familiar “Buy Now”, or “Add to Cart” button that you see on a product listing page, which accounts for over 85%-90% of all sales. Ensuring that you alert your distributors that you will be selling on the marketplace and, per a MAP or friendly notice, that they will no longer be allowed to sell on Amazon moving forward will help ensure your ownership of the Buy Box. Doing this ahead of launch helps ease the headache of losing the Buy Box, and proactively lets your distribution network know that you are taking ownership of this sales channel.
Strategy? Time to Execute
Now that you have your general business information ready for launch, you will need to make sure your catalog is as well. Prioritizing products for your initial launch and determining a thorough strategy and budget for advertising is key to your launch.
To maximize the benefits of FBA (fulfilled by Amazon), proper inventory planning and management is critical. Having too much inventory in FBA may result in excess storage fees; while too little and you risk killing your sales velocity and BSR. Making sure you have 30-45 days of coverage at a time ensures you could handle a spike in sales and not be dinged with storage fees. When preparing your inventory, it’s important to take into account your manufacturers’ lead times, your own warehouses’ shipping time, and Amazon’s FBA processing times. Typically, we see a processing time of 3-5 days once it arrives at their warehouse. All of these play an important role in how quickly your inventory is available for sales on Amazon.
Picking Your Catalog
Sure, you can throw your entire product catalog on Amazon and see what sells; or, you can take your best sellers for launch and create a strong sales velocity for your brand while you continue adding additional listing. Each brand is different, so it’s important to conduct a thorough market and competitor analysis to decide what products to lead with during your launch.
When it comes to managing your operations (shipping, inventory, planning, etc.) and marketing strategies, it is important to have a clear understanding of the opportunity and how your goals aline with your team’s capabilities.
Content is king as they say, and that especially holds true on Amazon. Ensuring that your product display pages include rich content with search engine optimized (SEO) high volume keywords can make the difference between 100’s of sales, and 10 in a month. Amazon’s content comes down to titles, bullets, and descriptions, all of which have their own character limits that you’ll want to maximize in order to be successful. Many brands come to Amazon with content from their own websites, and though it may be SEO optimized for Google search, it doesn’t always translate to being optimized for Amazon search. Some suggestions for preparing product display pages that are fully optimized for Amazon:
- Check out your competitors. Who is already succeeding on Amazon? What tools are they leveraging on their product display pages that are impacting traffic and conversions?
- Conduct keyword research. There are many tools on the market that can offer you insight into the search terms on Amazon that will be key to developing a listing with strong SEO.
- Refresh your product images. Product images play an integral role in developing a clear brand message and presence on Amazon. Ensure you have a variety of images for each product in your catalog. You’ll want to capture your product from multiple angles, and in-use so customers have a clear vision of just what they’re getting and how they’ll use it when they decide to purchase your product.
Develop Promotion/Advertising Plan
When you’re launching your brand on a marketplace with hundreds of millions of products, capturing a customer’s attention is a real and significant hurdle. Developing a plan to advertise and promote your products, prior to launch, is an important step in the process.
- Determine a budget. How much can you allocate to advertising and promotions in the first month of selling on Amazon? As a best practice during launch, we suggest inflating your ACoS to draw more traction towards your listing and brand.
- Take advantage of Amazon PPC. Organize advertising campaigns to get your products front and center in customer search results. PPC advertising is a key driver to a brands Amazon success.
- Leverage your existing customer base. Many brands understandably want to balance their Amazon presence with their existing brand site sales. Taking advantage of your existing customer can give you a running start on Amazon. Consider drawing your clientele to Amazon through outbound email campaigns, which will accelerate your BSR (Amazon likes it when you draw outside traffic to their platform).
- Promote on social media. Taking advantage of your followers is an excellent way to drive sales, especially when you’re offering a promotion. Consider letting your valued followers know that your products are now available on Amazon with 2-day shipping. You should also consider utilizing your social media audience for promotions. You can create customized codes specific to your social media platform to help track the results of each.
- Utilize coupons. Coupons are a great tool for driving sales and we have found them be very effective, even with a limited discount. The value of coupons in part is associated with the visibility, where they are displayed on the product page right next to the buy box, along with the general search page. We suggest this tool to clients who are looking to increase traffic and drive sales.
Understanding the Amazon Ecosystem
Understanding how Amazon functions is critical to your brands’ launch success. You can find this out as you go along or do your research ahead of time to get an idea of what you’re getting into. How do I get paid? When do I get paid? Where do I send my inventory? What do I need to do once it is there? How long do I have to respond to customer messages? The list goes on… and on… and on! Some of these answers are easier to explain than others, such as: you’ll receive a disbursement every two weeks into the bank account that you’ve provided to Amazon, or you have 24 hours to respond to customer messages. Other answers come with a bit more explanation, such as why is some of my inventory going to Ohio, and some going to Texas.
Having a trusted Amazon partner like aNine by your side will help answer all your questions and get your Amazon business started in the right direction.
Rule number one about understanding how Amazon works: this is Amazon’s world! What does that mean? The customer belongs to Amazon, and not you, the seller or vendor. That translates to a robust set of Terms of Service that every Seller or Vendor must abide if they want to continue to reap the rewards and privilege of selling on Amazon. The most experienced sellers will tell you to remain nimble and learn to work within Amazon’s rules. When a policy changes, change with it. When Amazon tells you that you’ll need to adapt and adjust, be prepared to do so. Understanding that Amazon is a customer-centric company, putting customers above all else, will help you frame your perspective and put you on a successful path for launch.
Setting Your Expectations
While the opportunities on Amazon are vast, success doesn’t happen overnight. Like all other aspects of your business, it takes time, effort, and discipline to build the momentum necessary for success on Amazon. New products and brands take time to rank on Amazon. Your products may or may not show on the first page the first days that they’re live, especially if you’re a new product or product category. With time, will come sales, and with sales will come product ranking.
We typically see great improvements in rank for launch products within 45 days of going live. You can either hit this out of the park with a structured launch strategy, or you can simply become just another seller. You will also want to be sure to put in the effort to monitor your data to look for places to improve. That may include adding keywords to improve conversion rates or consider a price reduction to be more competitive within the market. You will need to be disciplined with your account, ensuring you have inventory and your account health is in good standing.
So there you have it, your high-level overview of what is needed for a successful launch on Amazon. There are hundreds of scenarios and variables that can affect the path you take when launching on Amazon, based on your business and brand. Sticking to the above-mentioned steps will help make that path easier and lead to a more successful launch. The surefire way to ensure 100% success for an Amazon launch is to work with a trusted, respected, and experienced team of professionals like us, here at aNine. Feel free to reach out to us below with any questions and we’d be happy to get your brand capitalizing on Amazon.