Amazon Success Guide Step 1: Sourcing A Great Product At A Great Price

Let me first begin by saying just about every product available to sell on Amazon as a private label product is a GREAT product to source, so long as it fits into your business’s strategy, you have the resources, and it makes sense for you as an entrepreneur. So the difficult thing is not finding a product to source. Go to Amazon.com’s home page, and you’ll see plenty of sourceable widgets. The difficulty lies in finding a product to source that fits You and Your business.

In this article, it’s our goal to help you identify what makes a product great for you, so you can build the foundation for the level of success you are looking for!

 

Identifying What Private Label Success Looks Like To You

While we are largely going to try to help you identify how to choose products that fit your ideal success model, we are also going to be challenging your definition of success. We’ve seen many many sellers succeed, and unfortunately our fair share of sellers fail despite our efforts. With the experience and data we have, we’d like to help you avoid the pitfalls we’ve seen others make.

So what does success look like to you in the private label world? Are you looking to hit a couple of home runs with some high volume products that profit you $10,000+ per month each? Are you looking to source a variety of low volume products that when added up bring in a hefty profit each month?

This is a decision you will have to make for yourself. If you expect to profit $5,000/month on a single product, but get into a product market where the average sales price is $10 and the average sales volume among the top sellers is around 500 units per month, you will be severely disappointed. If you are looking to source 5 products that add up to a monthly profit of $5,000/month, then this very well may be a good choice. See how expectations and how you define success matters?

Obviously we would all like 100 products that profit us $20,000 per month, but so does everyone else, which means you are going to be competing with a ton of other sellers. So in order to appropriately define your definition of success, you also need to understand how plausible your ambitions are given your current resources both financially and time-wise. Do you have a big team? Do you have thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, a million+ to invest in your Amazon business?

Questions To Ask Yourself In Determining What A Successful Product Should Look Like

How Much Money Do I Want To Invest?

Do you have thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, a million+ to invest in your Amazon business? The amount of money you have to invest will determine how much inventory you can afford. This may influence the products you select based on their per unit cost. This also has an impact on how large of team you can build initially (if necessary). The quantity of inventory you are able to purchase also has an effect on the amount of promotional units you will be able to give, having major implications on your ranking strategy. 

How Large Is My Team? How Large Of A Team Do I Want To Build If Necessary?

Some sellers prefer to not grow any larger than themselves and a couple of VAs they hire hourly. Other sellers are willing and ready to build a massive infrastructure of warehouses and employees. Obviously this is not a question if you are just getting into the business, but for some later stage sellers this may be a barrier to growth if growing a large team is outside of your comfort zone.

What Kind Of Profit Margin Am I Looking For Per Product And Collectively?

Are you wanting to go deep on a few high volume products? Are you looking to go wide meaning going after a larger variety of low to mid volume products? There are pros and cons to each, and we’ll outline those down below!

In total are you just wanting to add a few thousand dollars to your bank account each month or are you looking to build a mammoth $1,000,000/month Amazon business?

How Many Products Am I Looking To Sell In the Next 3-6 Months?

For sellers just getting started, again, this is not a question you can answer accurately right now. It is also highly dependent on your capital. Some sellers are okay launching just a couple of products and reaping the benefits each month. They don’t want the added stress and pressure of continuously launching product after product. Keep in mind the amount of profit you are looking to make total. Going after a couple of products that may add $1,000 of net profit will not get you to your total goal of $5,000 if you are only wanting to sell two products in the next 3-6 months.

What Is My End Goal With This Business?

Is this going to be a lifestyle business for you or are you looking to maximize sales to shoot for an acquisition?

This may or may not have an effect on how you choose your products. For example, from our experience with Amazon business acquisitions in the private label world, companies are looking for strong brands. So selecting products that will allow you to build a cohesive brand will be important. With that said, Amazon businesses that are purchased solely for cashflow purposes do not typically put emphasis on having a unified brand(s). Either way, it is an important consideration in how you will position yourself for acquisition if that is your goal.

How Things Will Change With the New Amazon TOS Update

Post TOS update, from our perspective, sellers must be more precise in selecting a “good” product because the playing field has been leveled. Pre-update, it was very easy to give away a large amount of product in exchange for reviews. Doing so generated a competitive number of reviews and built a sales history that got that product ranking for each and every keyword that the seller selected.

So if you had a super competitive product, you were okay so long as you had the money to run enough promotional sales.

Post-TOS update, generating a competitive number of reviews becomes much more difficult. Generating reviews today rests solely on having a killer product that customers want to review and leveraging a killer email follow-up sequence to ask your customers to actually leave a review.

So how will this affect your decision making in selecting products to source?

You need to be drastically more concerned with the number of reviews page one and two competitors have. While there is some misinformation in the space around a “magic number of reviews” needed to generate organic sales, our data shows us that the key to selling well organically is having a “competitive” number of reviews relative to those listings you find yourself around.

What that means is, if the page one sellers have reviews that look like this RUN FAR AWAY!

 

 

 

Here is a screenshot from the same keyword, “vitamin c serum” that shows how important having a competitive number of reviews is. The listing ranked 6th has 10,000 reviews and is selling 3,000+ units per month. The next guy, although ranking really well for a very high level keyword, is only seeing 270 sales per month. At the 8th position they have a decent number of reviews, especially compared to the the 7th and 9th position, so they are seeing a moderate volume of sales. At position 9 the seller is hardly seeing any sales at all because they have 0 reviews! While there are multiple factors that come into play when a customer decides which product to ultimately buy, reviews and price typically have the most substantial effect.

 

Are Home Runs Dead?

The short answer is no. Not at all. If you have already been working on a home run type product (home run = high volume product), then definitely don’t give up. Depending on where you are at in the product launch cycle, you may need to adjust your strategy, but don’t worry, success is still a very attainable goal.

If you are just getting started with a home run and it is your first product on Amazon, beware. It is likely to be a long and costly battle depending on what the market looks like. It can be best to get started with a relatively simple product to understand the market, the processes, and the expected results.

Our suggestion for new sellers is to get into markets where a “competitive” number of reviews is below 500. Ideally you could find a product where page one sellers ranking between #3 – #12 have a sales volume of 500-1000 units/month and have around ~250-500 reviews. These products are much easier to break into the market with and allow you to learn a lot of the ins and outs of selling on Amazon without investing too much money.

 

Keys To Sourcing Great Products Regardless of The Amazon TOS Update

  • Find a quality product!
    • Reviews are king on Amazon! If you have a poor quality product you are going to find yourself with a product that continues to generate poor reviews. Before too long you end with a product noone wants to buy. There is nothing worse than having thousands of dollars in unsellable inventory.
    • Quality products can result in the sales boosting effects of word of mouth, positive reviews, and repeat customers (depending on the product of course).
  • Find a product at a great price!
    • If you are sourcing your product at a 25% higher cost than your competitor(s) for the same exact product, they will always be able to beat you on price. You can quickly lose to the competition on listing price, promotion capabilities, etc.
    • Product sourcing Guru Alan Basinger has a quote that I love! He says, “You have to win on the buy!” It is spot on. Alan has a logistics company that helps bring products into the US as well as sourcing directly from manufacturers in China.
    • Go to China directly! The Viral Launch CEO recently went to Yiwu with a group called SourceInAsia as a mentor and saw just how powerful working with manufacturers directly can be to negotiating quality product at a great price.
  • Find a product with great margin!
    • Margin is a huge consideration for product price. Make sure there is a great margin between the price at which you source and the price at which you sell is key! If you’re not making much money per item what is the point in selling? The other fear is if the market decides to start competing on price you want to make sure you are not priced out. We’ve seen this happen all too frequently over the last couple of months.
  • Watch Out For Name Brands
    • We’ve seen a couple of sellers get into products that are largely dominated by name brands. This is common in baby/children’s products. For example, sourcing crayons as a private label product can be insanely difficult because the first couple of pages are almost completely dominated by Crayola. Good luck competing with them.
    • Also be weary of sourcing a product where the main keyword(s) is also a brand’s name. Ex. “Yeti Mug”. It can be very difficult to outrank a brand if the main keyword is the search term. Amazon attributes a LOT of rank power to the brand’s name.
  • Consider product size, weight and durability!
    • Knowing how the size and weight of a product will affect shipping is crucial to estimating margin and expense. Work with your sourcing agent or manufacturer to understand the costs associated with shipping your product into the country, to your warehouse, and/or FBA.
    • You will also need to know what Amazon’s FBA fees associated with shipping will be. For that you can use Amazon’s FBA Revenue Calculator which will give you a good idea (don’t bank on the accuracy of the fees).
    • Durability is key to providing a good customer experience and avoiding customer returns. You may want to avoid easily damaged items.
  • Long-Term Brand Building Or Revenue Generation
    • Are you looking to build a long lasting brand or just looking to solely focus on increasing revenue (not that building a brand won’t help you generate revenue)? If you are looking to build a brand, make sure to choose products that will allow you to easily add products that make sense such as a yoga mat, and some yoga massage balls. The added benefit here is you can take advantage of bundling and upselling. It also saves you time and money by allowing you to pay to have one brand created (logos, label/package archetypes, etc.).
    • If you are looking to simply grow revenue you can be very selective in the products you decide to source. Meaning, if the numbers make sense, source it. Sellers who take this approach end up selling products as different as a eye cream and a pet bed.
    • Either approach is great so long as it aligns with your idea of success in running a private label business.
  • Make Sure Your Product Is Created With Customer Approved Materials
    • You don’t want to source a cream that is going to cause rashes.
    • If you say your product is organic/natural/paraben-free/etc. make sure that it is. If all of your competitors are able to make such claims, you will miss out if you cannot, but don’t lie to your customers. Trust me, they will find out if you are!

Tools To Use When Product Sourcing

Jungle Scout

The Viral Launch team uses the Jungle Scout Chrome plugin religiously when putting together launch strategies. This tool is great at allowing you to quickly analyze the most important stats of products that rank for a given search term without clicking into each listing (at least that’s how we use it). Jungle Scout also has the most accurate sales estimates overall I’ve seen.

When sourcing, Jungle Scout also allows you to easily compare how a style of product is selling better than others. For example, let’s say you are wanting to sell grill/cooking gloves (which I would advise against due to the amount of competition). You would want to know if you should invest in the type of gloves that have 5 fingers or the mittens that have one slot for your thumb and one for the rest of your fingers. Choosing incorrectly could have major implications.

We also use Jungle Scout to estimate the number of units we will need to give in promotions to achieve keyword ranking and to help give for reviews. With the TOS change these numbers will differ (which we will get into in a different section of this guide), but having an idea as to the number of units you will want to use for promotion are crucial to understanding the total costs associated with launching a product.

Greg at Jungle Scout has plenty of tutorials on how to effectively use the tool. We personally use the tool for a very limited scope of its total potential!

Project Sourcing Success (Name To Be Announced Later)

Viral Launch has seen too many sellers lose thousands of dollars by making bad sourcing decisions. By the end of October of this year we are planning on launching a new tool that will help you make more intelligent decisions around product sourcing. It will go wonderfully along with Jungle Scout or similar type tools.

If we can help our clients avoid bad sourcing decisions, we will gladly seize that opportunity!

 

Conclusion

It would take us many blog posts to effectively cover the entire ins and outs of product sourcing, and to be honest, we are not the best company to handle how to source end to end.

With that said, our extensive knowledge, data and experience in running over 11,000 product launches and working mega sellers doing 50-100 million a year in sales on Amazon, we do have plenty of beneficial tips and knowledge that can help you avoid some major pitfalls that can have serious repercussions.
At the end of the day, you need to make sure you are selecting products that appropriately align with your idea of success and your resources. What is a good product for the next guy may not be a good product for you.

 

If you have any questions, we will be happy to answer them in the comments! If you have any feedback, we would love to hear it as well!

Ultimate Amazon Private Label Guide to Success – Post Amazon TOS Update 2016

The Amazon space has changed and while we are still waiting for the dust to settle, there are some basic truths we do know like the fact that we CANNOT give products away at a discount. No more 80%+ review rates from discounted product sales. It’s going to change the fundamentals of how sellers can quickly get products up and selling. So the Viral Launch team is putting together a comprehensive Amazon private label guide to successfully launching products on Amazon with the new rules brought about by Amazon’s latest Terms of Service update. It’s epic and incredibly beneficial to all levels of experience on Amazon.

Spoiler Alert! Selling on Amazon Is NOT Over! It’s Not “Too Hard” Now. If That’s Your Mindset, Change It! Life As An Entrepreneur Has Its Challenges. It’s The Strong That Survive, And Together, We’ll Help You Thrive!

Each day we will feature a new step in the process of selling private label products on Amazon with specifics on how each step has been affected by the TOS change. We are super excited to help you navigate the process based on our extensive knowledge and experience in the space of running over 11,000 product launches and working with high level sellers selling between $50-$100 million per year on Amazon.

You can find our Ultimate Amazon Private Label Guide to Success landing page here. Each day we will add a new section and topic! Our first day we discuss product sourcing and how to make intelligent decisions when souring especially with the new market conditions following the TOS update. The page can be found here!

Are you excited about our guide? What topics would you like us to cover?

Always Moving Forward – Amazon TOS Change 2016

We all saw the writing on the wall didn’t we? Today marks yet another Amazon TOS change that set the private label world on fire and sent everyone into chaos. 24 hours later and it looks like things have largely subsided. While many of the industry’s leading review services have posted their interpretation of the rules and how they wish to proceed, I am still not completely convinced of their conclusion and I’ll explain it all.

So what does it mean for you as a seller? What does it mean for Viral Launch and its platform? What does it mean for the Amazon market in general? 

In this post we’ll cover the facts we know around the Terms of Service change, what this policy update means for you as a seller, what it means for the Viral Launch community, and what it means for the private label world as a whole. 

While we are not 100% sure, nor do I think we will ever be (Amazon can be pretty ambiguous with their terminology and can lack uniformity in how they enforce and interpret their rules), I do think we have a pretty good grasp on the impact this TOS change will have moving forward. We will continue to update this blog post with new information and case studies as they come up, but at the very least I wanted to comfort some nerves and hopefully add some peace to the frenzy that has ensued. 

Facts Around the TOS Change

So let’s begin with the actual content posted on Amazon. Firstly, the post that has caused the chaos. Thanks to our friend Chee Chew, VP of Customer Experience at Amazon, we have this “blog post”/“featured post” from mid-day EDT on Oct. 3rd: 

Customer reviews are one of the most valuable tools we offer customers for making informed purchase decisions, and we work hard to make sure they are doing their job. In just the past year, we’ve improved review ratings by introducing a machine learned algorithm that gives more weight to newer, more helpful reviews; applying stricter criteria to qualify for the Amazon verified purchase badge; and suspending, banning or suing thousands of individuals for attempting to manipulate reviews.

Our community guidelines have always prohibited compensation for reviews, with an exception – reviewers could post a review in exchange for a free or discounted product as long as they disclosed that fact. These so-called ‘incentivized reviews’ make up only a tiny fraction of the tens of millions of reviews on Amazon, and when done carefully, they can be helpful to customers by providing a foundation of reviews for new or less well-known products.

Today, we updated the community guidelines to prohibit incentivized reviews unless they are facilitated through the Amazon Vine program. We launched Vine several years ago to carefully facilitate these kinds of reviews and have been happy with feedback from customers and vendors. Here’s how Vine works: Amazon – not the vendor or seller – identifies and invites trusted and helpful reviewers on Amazon to post opinions about new and pre-release products; we do not incentivize positive star ratings, attempt to influence the content of reviews, or even require a review to be written; and we limit the total number of Vine reviews that we display for each product. Vine has important controls in place and has proven to be especially valuable for getting early reviews on new products that have not yet been able to generate enough sales to have significant numbers of organic reviews. We also have ideas for how to continue to make Vine an even more useful program going forward. Details on that as we have them.

The above changes will apply to product categories other than books. We will continue to allow the age-old practice of providing advance review copies of books.

Thank you.

– Chee Chew, VP, Customer Experience

The post can be found here

If you follow the link to the Community Guidelines as referred to by Mr. Chew, you’ll see some updated language. Previously, Amazon had very specific language regarding giving discounted or free products in exchange for a review and the stipulations around it such as making sure the product was offered before the review was left, etc. 

If you read the customer guidelines for yourself, you will now see the updated language which attempts to dispel any kind of hope that products can still be given away at a discount in exchange for a review with language such as: 

Promotions and Commercial Solicitations

In order to preserve the integrity of Community content, content and activities consisting of advertising, promotion, or solicitation (whether direct or indirect) is not allowed, including:

  • Creating, modifying, or posting content regarding your (or your relative’s, close friend’s, business associate’s, or employer’s) products or services.
  • Creating, modifying, or posting content regarding your competitors’ products or services.
  • Creating, modifying, or posting content in exchange for compensation of any kind (including free or discounted products) or on behalf of anyone else.
  • Offering compensation or requesting compensation (including free or discounted products) in exchange for creating, modifying, or posting content.

To answer all questions more definitively (well for the most part), we also have in the FAQ section of Seller Central these relevant FAQ’s. 

FAQ

Why are we making this change?

Please see our recent announcement.

Can I use third-party services to provide free or discounted products to reviewers? 

No. The policy applies regardless of whether you provide compensation to reviewers directly or through a third party.

When and how will this policy be enforced? 

The policy is effective immediately. If you continue to offer free or discounted products in exchange for a review, your Amazon privileges may be suspended or revoked.  

Can I continue to offer discounts and promotions to customers? 

Yes. You may continue to offer discounts and promotions as long as they are not offered in exchange for reviews. 

What constitutes a review “in exchange” for a free or discounted product?

We do not allow any benefit to be offered, requested, or provided in exchange for a review.

 

Looks pretty black and white, right? 

So according to this: As sellers you CANNOT give free or discounted products away to reviewers in exchange for compensation, BUT you CAN offer discounts and promotions to customers as long as they are, again, not offered in exchange for reviews.

The only way to know exactly how Amazon will choose to enforce these rules is time. Time enough to understand just how they distinguish promotional giveaways from a product awareness standpoint versus giveaways in exchange for reviews.

Mr. Chew mentions that all ‘incentivized’ reviews are prohibited unless they are run through their Amazon Vine Program. The Vine program is expensive, open only to Vendors, limits the number of products a brand can enter, and has a ceiling of around 100 units to give for a review depending on your product’s category. This is obviously a significant difference from what some sellers are used to, especially in competitive markets.  

He also mentions that there will be updates to the Vine program coming soon, but is not very specific as to what it will entail. Will they remove the Vendor requirement to join the program? 

TechCrunch also published an article giving a statement from an Amazon Spokesperson saying, “reviews that were received prior to the policy change are only being retroactively removed if they are excessive, and don’t comply with prior policy.” As well as, “if it [Amazon] finds anyone is attempting to manipulate reviews by tying reviews to discounted products, it will take action against them, starting today.”

What does “tying reviews to discounted products” mean exactly? To me it sounds like you better make sure that customers receiving a discount do not leave a review. Again what does “excessive” mean? 100? 1000? A function of the percentage of monthly organic sales? We’re left to chance to find out only once the line has been crossed.

Why I Have A Hard Time Trusting The Current Industry’s Interpretation of the Amazon Policy Update

My biggest apprehensions are two-fold: 

  1. How does Amazon know the intent of the seller handing out coupons? 
  2. And, just because now reviews won’t have the disclosure “I purchased at a discount in exchange…” in them, doesn’t mean that the reviews are now legitimately unbiased. If you pay $1 for something, you are going to be inevitably biased in how you review the product. So that would mean Amazon’s new TOS update served no purpose but to remove the disclosure from reviews essentially. Seems sneaky by Amazon to hide the fact from their buyers.

I am in no way advocating the behavior mentioned in this paragraph, but for example’s sake let’s say I run a promotion giving discounted products to customers without asking for reviews and 30% of them choose to leave a review of their own choice. That seems completely legitimate according to both Amazon’s terms and how review services are interpreting Amazon’s policy change. But, how does Amazon know whether or not you told the customer they were receiving the product in exchange for a review? If that is the case, then theoretically, a seller could still give thousands of products away at a discount in exchange for a review without getting in trouble just so long as the reviewers do not state in the review that they received the product at a discount in exchange for a review. 

Amazon cannot be in on every conversation on the internet to know whether a product was given in exchange for a review or not. To Amazon, a review left on a discounted product looks the same whether it was offered in exchange for a review or not (so long as the customer does not state the fact of course). So how are they able to enforce this rule if a seller coaches their own VIP list not to leave the disclosure in the review? They can’t!

This leaves two possibilities. 

  1. Amazon released this statement as a show of good faith to their large consumer audience. The holidays are coming up, so it is an important time for them to reassure buyers that reviews are still priority when making informed purchasing decisions. However, as I mentioned before, reviews from discounted purchases are likely still biased even under the new regulations. Although they may not be able to enforce it to the standards they speak of, they still want to publicly display their position.
  2. Amazon is not interpreting the terms the same as our industry leaders (and Viral Launch) and may start to enforce these new updates in ways that are likely unfavorable (suspensions, etc.). 

Why Amazon Will Not Suspend You For Getting Reviews From Promotional Sales

Again, this is all my interpretation and logical thought process on the information I’ve received. We are currently running 200+ launches a day and will have enough data to talk in definitives here soon.  

I have a hard time seeing Amazon punishing sellers who are running promotions that just so happen to also generate reviews. If that were the case, the door would be flung wide-open for competitors to use  “ghost-accounts” (accounts that have been well seasoned by sellers to appear legitimate to outside eyes) to post reviews to their competitor’s listings after purchasing. This would be hard to detect whether it was a legitimate customer or not and could be devastating. 

Another example: let’s say you run a 30% off holiday discount and a percentage of those buyers leave a review because they love your product. Is Amazon going to punish you? Seems unlikely.

What History Tells US About Amazon TOS Changes

For those who don’t recall Amazon’s, “the sky is falling announcement” back in August of 2015 we recap it here. There was just about as much chaos and concern caused by their latest TOS announcement, but how did affect us? What devastating impact did it have on us and our clients? LITERALLY NONE!! Sure it had an impact in terms of fear, etc. But it did not actually affect any of us. We saw not one complaint to our clients running white-hat honest businesses. 

So for better or worse, it eases my concerns as to the impact this change will have. From what we’ve covered already, I don’t see this as having too much of a real impact on the Viral Launch platform and our clients directly, but we’ll get into that more further along in this blog.

How This Affects You As A Seller

Are Review Services Dead?

So does this mean that review services with 80%+ review rates that were requiring their user bases to leave a review in order to get access to more products are dead? Yes. After reading Amazon’s TOS, I’m not sure how you can interpret it any differently. A few times they mention ‘incentivized reviews’ as being prohibited while explaining that ‘incentivized reviews’ are reviews posted in exchange for a free or discounted product. In Amazon’s FAQs (listed above), they very explicitly state that you cannot give products away at a discount in exchange for reviews.

The majority of review groups that have announced their interpretation of the policy change and how they will proceed will continue running promotions but are removing the requirement to leave a review post purchase. They will no longer hand out coupons with the agreement that the product is being given in exchange for a review. The services are now focusing on leveraging promotional sales to focus on “sales velocity”. 

If you sell in markets where a competitive number of reviews on page one is around 100 reviews, or even under 500 reviews, then this update doesn’t seem like it will have much of an impact on you. Sure it may slightly decrease the speed at which you can get a product up and selling at a high level organically, but with a little extra time, strategy, and work, you’ll get there just the same. 

If you sell in markets where a competitive number of reviews is in the thousands…it looks like you have your work cut out for you. Impossible? Not at all. More expensive and time consuming? I am afraid so. Making intelligent decisions on which products to source is now more crucial than ever! We have a new tool dropping by the end of the month to help you do just that! (Don’t worry we’re not trying to replace any current tool you’re using like Jungle Scout!)

The days of giving away thousands of products through review groups (Viral Launch is not a review service) to compete with page one sellers in a matter of a month or two are likely over. 

Adjustments To Make..

  • Make sure you do not have any “drip” campaigns running on review services (not Viral Launch) still giving products away in exchange for a review which you are currently subscribed to and cancel any campaigns that are supposed to kick off soon. 
  • Keep your eyes out for new information! Facebook groups are incredible news aggregators for Amazon news. I will also be updating this post with new information and case studies as they become available.
  • Be weary of rumors!! Oh goodness how rumors spread in this space. We actually have a whole blog series planned on busting common myths in this space so watch for those! But check your facts and even feel free to check with our free-of-cost Account Executives if you have a question regarding a rumor. Unfortunately we see a lot of sellers misled by “authorities” in the space that are sometimes misinformed themselves.
  • OPTIMIZE YOUR FEEDBACK SERVICE’S EMAIL FOLLOW-UP SEQUENCES!!! – I cannot stress enough how important having a highly optimized feedback service is! If the only way to generate reviews now is through organic sales, you better put everything you have into converting those organic sales into customer reviews!

Is The Gold Rush Of Amazon Private Label Over?

So overall what does this mean? Are we/sellers going to pack our bags and go home? Is the Amazon gold rush over? Are your chances of a self-sustaining Amazon lifestyle business over?

NOT AT ALL! And I really hope I don’t hear that from any of you. As entrepreneurs it’s our nature to overcome the obstacles we find before us! We can’t give up because the rules of the game we’re playing change. If that’s your mentality in life, you’ll never survive. You’ll never achieve your dreams of running a successful business no matter if you’re selling on Amazon or working in another industry. We have to fight for our success!

When changes arise in the market, we have to look at it as opportunity. Yeah, things are shaken up and may seem to be more difficult for you, but they are shaken up for everyone and just as difficult for your competitors as well. That means you have to figure out the new rules of the game, adjust with tact and move forward full steam ahead. If you hang on to the past, you’ll be left behind. 

I’m extremely confident that we’ll be able to successfully navigate the market after Amazon’s new policy update to launch products to success! We always will! And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the mindset of true entrepreneurs. I hope that you’ll ascribe to that way of thinking with me!

How This Affects the Viral Launch Platform

Short Answer: This has a very minimal affect on us and the effectiveness of our platform. For starters, we are so much more than a promotional giveaway platform now. We have also never been a review service. We have never required our users to leave reviews. Our focus in promotional giveaways has always been on providing a platform for sellers to help drive promotional sales targeted at improving keyword ranking, and we will continue to operate almost exactly the same! (Read below to see what change will be made)

Looking at Amazon’s FAQ…

Can I continue to offer discounts and promotions to customers? 

Yes. You may continue to offer discounts and promotions as long as they are not offered in exchange for reviews. 

It looks like everything is good to go for promotions to drive traffic and promotional sales which we all know help improve a product’s keyword ranking in search results.

We have completely removed all language around reviews on the Viral Launch buyer’s side. We never required or incentivized reviews as many of the review services did. We did however offer a kind reminder for coupon grabbers to leave a review on the products they purchased, but that has now been removed. Therefore, based on Amazon’s direct language, the Viral Launch platform should be compliant with Amazon’s new TOS update.

I have to say “should be”, because with any rule made by Amazon, they are ambiguous, or at the least, leave unanswered questions. 

Two of those unanswered questions: 

  1. By “…promotions to customers” are they referring to a specific set of people? 
    1. By “customers” are they referring to your past customers? 
    2. Amazon “customers” only? Meaning lightning deals, etc. 

I think I may be thinking too hard about it, but at the same time with how vague Amazon can be, I’d rather be safe than sorry. 

  1. How will Amazon determine whether or not the discount was offered in exchange for reviews? How do they know the intent of the coupon distributor?

My honest inclination is that they do not care so long as the reviewer is not posting in the review that they got the product at a discount in exchange for a review AND so long as you are not actually offering products in exchange for a review.

Questions I continue to ask:

  1. Are they looking at the buyer account of product’s purchased at a discount? Meaning if it is a buyer that frequently leaves a review on a discounted product, Amazon assumes it was given at a discount in exchange for a review? Seems grossly inaccurate and unlikely. 
  2. Are they looking at products that have reviews posted saying, “…purchased this product at a discount in exchange for my unbiased review”? Again seems grossly inaccurate, but more likely. If this is the case it’s likely just one method of identification. The largest issue here is if sellers coached reviewers not to leave the disclaimer, they could potentially rack up thousands of reviews very quickly still.
  3. Are they monitoring referrer traffic? Meaning, “did this purchase just come from reviewsite.com? Okay it must have been in exchange for a review.” This would be the worst case of the above mentioned because it would be incredibly inaccurate and would be devastating for a lot of sellers and service providers.

 

What If You Lower The Price Of A Product For A Couple Hours Then Run Traffic To The Product So Reviewers Can Buy For Low And Still Leave A Review?

We will absolutely not being doing this! This seems like review manipulation and we are not that type of company. This is the type of activity that seems to have a high probability of you ending up being sued, suspended, or banned from Amazon. Viral Launch will stay far away from this. 

Moving Forward

If all of the hype is exactly as it seems to be (no reviews left in exchange for a discount), we are going to be coaching our clients on a completely new launch strategy designed to help you succeed with a new set of parameters. For seasoned sellers with a solid review foundation, the launch strategy is unlikely to change. For sellers just bringing a product to market, depending on what that market looks like, we will put together an updated launch strategy which we will be covering later this week. Getting off the ground successfully without the ability to gain traction with initial reviews is going to change the name of the game, but it will be your ability to adapt that will help you beat out competitors trying to do the same thing. 

This is an opportunity for those of you who are focused on building a well rounded business to overcome those sellers who were spending money to take the shortcut. The Viral Launch arsenal is now more valuable than ever, allowing you to build an incredible private label business from the ground up. If you were looking to take shortcuts, you were already in trouble. Its time to double down and get ahead by doing everything better than your competitors.

We are working harder than ever to help optimize email follow-up campaigns to help increase the review rate driven by feedback services. We’ll keep you updated as we see advances. In the meantime, we highly suggest finding a feedback service that works well for you and optimizing it to drive as many reviews as possible from organic sales. 

To Summarize

I know this was about 10X longer than most posts, but I’m more of a skeptic and with the limited amount of data we’ve been able to gather over the last 24 hours, I want to make sure we do not mislead anyone. I also think it’s important to question and discuss the market we all work and thrive in to constantly increase our perspectives of it. It is only going to help to make you a better seller and entrepreneur in the space.

  • Viral Launch will continue to give coupons without incentivizing reviews as before, but will be coaching reviewers on Amazon’s new review policy guidelines.
  • We will continue to monitor the space to help enhance our perspective and hopefully reinforce our confidence in our interpretation by providing definitive data or cases. 
  • Optimize your feedback sequence! We’ve always pushed email follow-up sequences, but now is the time to leverage a feedback service with a killer email sequence to maximize the number of organic reviews you are able to drive.
  • Should go without saying, but don’t give products away for free or at a discount in exchange for a review.
  • Now more than ever, the key to success on Amazon is not a silver bullet. You need an arsenal to effectively attack every aspect of private label selling on Amazon. You need to focus on each element of your business to outsell your competitors.

At the end of the day, it’s our mission to help our clients achieve success. You can guarantee we will be vigilant in staying on top of this situation, but if history repeats itself (which it often does), then we are all pretty safe and know exactly what is going to happen moving forward. 

Our focus at Viral Launch is to be your launchpad to success, whether that entails promotional giveaways or simply coaching. We’re are an incredibly dynamic team of 15 with a large breadth of skills, experience, and knowledge in the Amazon space. This is our focus and we are here to help in anyway possible.

We would love to hear your thoughts, your perspective, and your interpretation of the update and our position on it in the comments! I’ll be open to talk as always!

Listing Dojo – The Best Way To Increase Profitability on Amazon

Thank you all for keeping up with the latest launch from the team at Viral Launch. Over the past couple days we’ve promised you something new and big that we’ve been working on. Something that will dramatically change the way you sell.

Well today is the day…..I would love to introduce to you, Listing Dojo. A listing optimization tool that allows you to train your listing to optimize for maximum profitability. Listing Dojo allows you to test nearly every element (title, price point, images, description) of your Amazon listing in order to determine which options make your listing the most money.

It’s sort of like a data driven crystal ball that shows you exactly what customers shopping for your product want. What price point will get the most sales? Which main image will drive the most clicks into my detail page and then drive conversions? What can I put in my title to lure in the most potential customers? Listing Dojo helps you answer each one of these questions definitively with hard cold data!

Like I mentioned yesterday in my blog post, the results have been incredible! Checkout this graph from a real user who tested four different price points. She spent no money and is seeing a net increase of over $6,000/month. This could be you!

 

Why Optimizing For Profitability Is So Important

Today when creating a listing, we create a listing that we intuitively feel is “good”, but we don’t KNOW how “good” it really is and what kind of impact is it’s actually on sales! Even if you’ve done an extensive amount of research, each product is perceived differently by potential customers. Without data to tell you exactly which variation is best, you can be leaving HUGE amounts of money on the table.

For example, you may set your widget’s price point to $19.99, but little do you know, changing your price to $19.95 could increase your sales by 10%. Or, actually increasing your price by $1.50 to $21.49 could increase sales by 50%! We’ve seen these kinds of results and it has surprised us.

Listing Dojo allows you to test any possible option for price, title, images and description and reports beautifully displayed stats back to you letting you know EXACTLY how each tested value affected your gross sales, net sales (accounting for returns, FBA fees, and the Amazon marketplace fee) page views, sessions, units ordered and total order items.

Listing Dojo will show precisely how to optimize your listing for maximum profitability!

 

Is This Only For New Sellers?

Absolutely not. This tool can be valuable for all sellers, new and seasoned.

For established products that are ranking and selling well: Your listing is already getting many impressions each day by potential customers in the search results. This allows you the perfect opportunity to test different price points, main images, and titles that may help you drive more of that traffic away from competitors and on to your listing. Just because you have used the same price, image, and title for the last few months and it has worked well for you, doesn’t mean that you aren’t still missing out on a ton of money. The worst part is how you will never know unless you have concrete data derived from actually testing what does and doesn’t work for your listing. You are already making money, so why not see just how much more money your listing can make without spending a dime.

For sellers just getting started: In order for Listing Dojo to work its magic and provide valuable data, your listing needs to have some amount of traffic in both search results and to your actual listing. It’s hard to know which cake people like best if nobody shows up to the party.  So if you’re not already ranking well for relevant keywords and you haven’t utilized sponsored ads, you’ll want to take care of that aspect first, and we would love to help you get there quickly.

If you have some decent traffic and organic sales, but are still trying to understand the market and how your product fits, Listing Dojo is perfect for helping you find the most profitable product detail page based on pure data.

How Does Listing Dojo Work?

The system is designed to be very intuitive and user friendly (we’re always open to feedback to help us create a better experience for you 🙂 ).

 Step 1 – Granting Listing Dojo Access to Your Account: In order for us to pull your product catalog, make updates to your listing, and pull sales reports, we need access through Amazon’s Marketplace Web Service (MWS). In order to pull click, session, units ordered, and total order items data, we need access to the business reports section of Seller Central. 

 Step 2 – Developing A Hypothesis: To begin, we suggest testing your price. It’s the simplest to test and can have one of the largest impacts. Come up with four different price points you would like to test. We suggest testing both above and below your current price.

 Step 3 – Create A Campaign: It’s time to put that hypothesis to the test. When in Listing Dojo, select the product you want to test, click on “Campaign”, and choose the element you wish to test first (price in this example). We suggest allowing each variation to test for a minimum of 7 days. Finally, press “Schedule Campaign”!

 

 Step 4 – Let Listing Dojo “Train” Your Listing: At midnight every 7 days (or however often you specify), we will programatically update your listing with the new test element. Each day at midnight, we will go and grab your updated data so you can continue to monitor the stats if you so choose.

  Step 5 – Increase Profits: We will send you an email report after testing each variation for its 7 day period so you can quickly and easily spot the profit optimizing opportunities.

 

Early Findings And Tips For Testing:

From our beta tests, we are see the most beneficial elements to test are your listing’s price and main image. These have had the largest impact on increasing/decreasing sessions and therefore have the greatest impact on sales. The entire image has shown to have a significant impact on conversion along with main image and price again as well.

    Price Point: We suggest testing at least four different price points. We like to try two options below what you are currently selling at, and two options above. If you space the price points out by $1 or $2 increments, you can later go back and test on a more granular level.

    Image Set: Your main image is the most important factor in your image set. Try testing different angles as well as with and without your product’s packaging. The goal is to catch your potential customer’s eye to get them to click into your listing. From there, test the order of your images. Test quantity of images. If you don’t have lifestyle images, test with a couple to see the benefit. I know of an amazing service that can help you with those images, wink wink 😉 (okay I’m done pitching, promise!)

   Title: Test a couple of titles to see just how you can improve conversion. Test more keyword heavy titles to understand how that may or may not affect conversions. Its all fair game here!

   Description: Test a couple of different description layouts and content options to see how you can leverage this section to effect conversions.

Over the coming week, we’ll be providing more information on how to get the most out of Listing Dojo along with a slew of tips and best practices for split testing!

 

Why We HAD To Launch Listing Dojo?

  1. It has high potential benefit at a super low cost to the sellers we work with. If we can help you see a significant increase in sales while putting in little effort and money on your part. You can bet we’re going to do it!
  2. We’re creating an insane amount of listings and photo sets, so we wanted to better understand how to optimize our client’s listings for maximum profitability! Again, data is the ONLY way to do just that.
  3. We see plenty of products that have less than optimal listings, and Listing Dojo can provide the data necessary to help optimize and improve their sales!

Why Is Variation Testing The Largest No-Brainer On Amazon?

Three main reasons:

  1. You spend no money to increase profitability on Amazon.
  2. The system is set and forget, allowing you to essentially increase profitability while you’re focused on other important tasks.  
  3. There is potentially BIG money you’re missing every day, money that can be captured by even the slightest tweaks to your listing.

 

So let’s get training! Let’s help you increase your listing’s profitability for FREE and start kicking butt on Amazon! Right now we are offering a 30-day free trial with no limit to the number of products you can test simultaneously. This is INSANELY valuable so for your own sake, please take advantage of it! 

Get Started Here!

Throughout the next week, we will be posting more information on how you can take advantage of Listing Dojo to increase profitability to the nth degree!
So what do you think? Please share your feedback in the comments as we are dying to hear your thoughts!

Increase Net Sales By Thousands on Amazon While Spending $0. Literally.

The headline definitely looks/sounds like click-bait, but its 100% true. I mentioned in the last blog post that we’re “pretty excited..the results have been blowing our minds”, I wasn’t joking. Some beta testers of our new tool are literally seeing increases in their monthly net sales of over $5,000/month on Amazon.

There are three main reasons I love this platform, which I’ll discuss below while trying to not give too much away.

    It’s Not A Spend Money To Make Money Platform

With Viral Launch promotions, the more units you give to improve your sales history the better the improvement in keyword ranking you’ll see. This creates a system in which the players with deeper pockets are able to rise above the competition leaving those with smaller budgets to have to fight with tact and can still leave them with the table scraps. Essentially, the more money you spend, the more money you can make.

One of the greatest facets of our new tool is you don’t have to have a big budget to increase your sales. Apart from the cost of using our new tool (beyond the free trial), you can see improvements in the thousands of dollars per month on your net sales spending $0! Its incredible! Black-hat? Grey-area? Magic? No, no, and no. Its completely white-hat and honestly a no-brainer once you see what it does exactly.

    Data For Days

We’re obsessed with knowing everything about selling private label on Amazon. We have to in order to properly help the sellers we work with kill it in the market. The only way to truly understand the marketplace is through vast amounts of data! We put out a blog post recently on how we’ve aggregated over 1,000,000,000 data points on Amazon largely around product launches and the immeasurable benefit that data has had for us. “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” With this new tool, we put crucial data in front of you that will help you to better understand what your customers are looking for and help you make the right decisions to increase profitability.

   Money, Money, Money

Everyone is selling on Amazon to make money. Whether its to supplement your income to help make ends meet, or you want the financial freedom so you can spend more time with family, free up time to travel, be you own boss, etc., you’re here to make money. This tool is designed to help you make more money, and potentially LOADS of it. From our beta tests, we’ve had multiple products see an increase of $5,000+ in net monthly sales. One beta test in a low volume market saw their sales triple! Again, they spent $0 dollars to achieve this. Its absolutely insane if you ask me!

These are just the main benefits of our platform. There are many more!

Know what it is? Have an idea? Post it in the comments, and if you get it right, we’ll give you an extra month’s access for free (if you’re a beta tester or its been mentioned to you, please don’t spoil it for everyone else 🙂 ). The unveiling is tomorrow! Stay tuned!

Continuing to Help Amazon Sellers Grow Their Profits and Businesses In New Ways

It has been approximately two months since we launched the new positioning of Viral Launch and it has been absolutely incredible! Instead of simply helping sellers get ranking, and leaving the rest up to them, we’ve been able to come along and help our clients through every crucial aspect of driving sales. Its been amazing, and extremely rewarding to be able to work and build some of the most successful brands/products on Amazon. The Viral Launch team and I get energized by being able to help our clients increase their sales, profits, and overall business on Amazon. And we’ve been able to do just that, to an even greater extent with all of our new services and capabilities. It has been incredibly beneficial to the sellers we have the pleasure of working alongside. With that said, its not enough. Its never enough. We’re always hungry to leverage our vast knowledge and data to spur growth in new ways and greater capacities.

So in our quest to help Amazon sellers grow their sales, their businesses and achieve their dreams of financial freedom and internet success we’ve built a powerful new tool completely separate from Viral Launch which happens to be launching…..in just two days!! (Wednesday the 28th)

“What exactly is this new “powerful” tool and how is it going to help you increase your sales and improve your business?” For the answer to that, you’ll have to check back in tomorrow for more info; this is just the teaser! 😉

On the edge of your seat? Let me know in the comments if you are as excited as we are!! (spoiler alert: we’re pretty excited considering we’ve been working on this for the last three months and the results have been blowing our minds.)

Talk tomorrow!

Amazon Keyword Ranking | Why Thousands Hit Page 1

Originally Posted: 8/4/2016

“Information is the oil of the 21st Century, and analytics is the combustion engine.” -Peter Sondergaard

Viral Launch was founded as a promotional Amazon product launching service. We built a massive list of discount hungry reviewers, created some software to automate the promotional process, and have been scaling ever since. The experience has been phenomenal.

Achieving Amazon Keyword Ranking

We’ve had the privilege of working with thousands of brands across every major category on Amazon. This has provided us with a tremendous amount of data and experience. It’s that data and experience that allows us to build better tools and services, stay ahead of algorithm shifts, as well as provide expert recommendations and coaching.

Throughout Launch Week we’ve provided discounts on our services that all play a crucial role in helping you build a successful Amazon business. Today we discuss a couple of aspects of the Viral Launch system that can help you achieve success in increasing your listing’s Amazon keyword ranking!

Our All-Knowing Program

As we’ve mentioned before, we track multiple keywords associated with every product that goes through our ranking platform. This has allowed us to create an incredible program, by which we are able to present it with a keyword a client wants to rank for, and it spits back the results of past launches targeting the same keyword. Essentially, our account executives can ask our all-knowing program, “Hey, what will it take to get a product ranking for this keyword?” in which the program spits back suggestions based on past launches. It’s amazing!

The program removes a lot of the guesswork (although our guesswork is generally spot-on), which has led to a lot of successful and satisfied customers! As we continue to build out this program, it will only become better equipped to provide more insights and make your launches even more effective!

Account Executives

Right now, one of the largest benefits to take advantage of is the FREE (for now) access to our account executives. The team has managed seller accounts, they’ve coached sellers, and observed thousands of products and launches. They have effectively, “seen it all” when it comes to the Amazon marketplace and are an immense help to the sellers they work with. They also have access to all the data we’ve generated from our over 9,000 product launches. That is insight only a very small amount of, if any, people in the world have access to.

Account Executives will help you:

  • Craft launch strategies
  • Analyze your products and market and provide suggestions accordingly.
  • Navigate both the Viral Launch & Amazon platforms
  • Be more successful!

Why do we offer our account executives for free? Because we want you to be successful. We want you to reach new heights whether it’s by using our platform or not. Our team increases your chances of success by offering their expertise when it comes to building a business on Amazon.

If you are interested in learning more specifically about how effective our launching service is and/or how it works. You can checkout a blog post of ours from May where we go a bit more in depth!

Today we have a one-time $50 off coupon for our industry-admired launching service as well as FREE access to our account executives.

To get setup with one of our team members, you can send an email with a brief note to launches@viral-launch.com!

Coupon: LAUNCHMYRANKING

Link: HERE!

We have one last day of our Launch Week coming to you on Monday! Don’t miss out!

Wishing you the best in all your entrepreneurial endeavors

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Amazon Listing Optimization | Drive Keyword Exposure & Sales

Originally Posted: 8/3/2016

“I still work hard to know my business. I’m continuously looking for ways to improve all my companies, and I’m always selling. Always.” – Mark Cuban

Over the last two years we’ve launched over 9,500 products and created hundreds of listings. We track multiple keywords for each listing we promote, which provides us with an incredible amount of data and insight! Here are the major keys to understanding how to optimize your listing for optimal success.

Drive Sales By Ranking For Everything

As we mentioned on a blog post (Product Launches More Effective Than Ever),Amazon’s A9 algorithm is highly (and usually exclusively) favoring the keywords contained in your listing. Sales are still king to achieving keyword ranking, but you must have the relevant keywords within your listing in order to achieve ranking for them.

There have been a number of instances in which a seller launching a product through our system, comes to us because they are not seeing their targeted keyword increasing in the search rankings. When we investigate, we discover they didn’t have one of the targeted keywords anywhere in their listing.

That sounds like a no brainer, but when you consider the fact that there are many possible search terms possibly related to your product, hitting each one can be a daunting task. Amazon is cracking down on listings not adhering to character limit specifications, making it even more difficult to hit all those possible search terms.

For example, if you don’t have the keyword “best” in your listing (preferably your title), then your listing may not show up when potential customers search “best grill gloves”, or “best gloves for grilling”, etc..

Word forms, tense, and pluralization all play a factor in how your product performs in search.

Placement also plays a factor. With that said, it is worth mentioning that our data, has shown a decrease in the degree to which Amazon weights the keyword placement.

The upside to the complexities of building an Amazon listing is that if your listing is well optimized, promotions and/or organic sales can help you rank for an insane number of keywords. 

Here is an example of a launch we ran for a customer in the mid-high competition supplement market targeting just one keyword. Because his listing was well optimized, you can see he was able to achieve keyword ranking for 10 competitive keywords!

If your listing is not well optimized, you’re missing out on the opportunity of ranking for many more keywords! That means you are also missing out on sales!

Optimize Content For Conversions

Once your product is ranking in search and customers are clicking on it, you have to be able to convince them to buy! What is the point in ranking if you are not able to drive sales?

Truly great listings are able to synergistically marry keywords with sales inducing language.

Your content has to be well poised to convince the potential customer that your product is exactly what they are wanting to buy.

After writing hundreds of listings, we’ve developed a series of best practices that help us create the best listings on Amazon. In our listing optimizations, not only do we provide the keyword driven and sales inducing content, but our branding expert also conducts a product presentation analysis that offers tremendous insight into how customers perceive your product and brand from an outsider’s perspective.

As Amazon becomes more and more competitive, you HAVE to do everything extremely well in order to compete let alone survive. We want you to prosper! So we’ve put together an extremely talented team that can help you go above and beyond your competitors and take your sales to a new level!

We would love to help improve your sales by increasing your listing’s potential keyword exposure and sellability, so we have a 50% off discount, but only for the next 24 hours!

Coupon: LAUNCHMYLISTING

Link: HERE!

We will be back tomorrow with another great deal!

Wishing you the best in all your entrepreneurial endeavors

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