As an Amazon seller you know first-hand how difficult getting product reviews can be; as well as how important they are to the success of your product. Reviews are the social proof that many shoppers ultimately base their purchasing decisions on. With feedback being so vital to a product’s performance, some sellers even resort to less-than-legitimate ways of generating reviews such crafty email follow-ups that contain manipulative messaging. Sellers may offer a free product in exchange for an “honest review” and some may even go so far as to buy product reviews through a third-party (these practices are against Amazon Terms of Service and could result in account suspension.)
Of course, not all sellers are violating ToS with email follow-ups that use these kinds of black-hat tactics. In the past, a legitimate email follow-up was arguably the best way to get real reviews from your customers. However, the rules around the type of language that is appropriate for email follow-ups changes frequently and staying on top of the current allowed verbiage is very difficult. Luckily, in Q4 of 2019, Amazon quietly released a feature within Seller Central that is disrupting this outdated method and offering much better results. Not to mention, this practice is 100% Amazon-sanctioned!
Amazon’s ‘Request a Review’ button
As some of you may have noticed, there is a new button located on your Order Details page within the Seller Central dashboard. You can find this by navigating to a completed order, clicking on “order details,” and then in the upper right-hand corner should be a button labeled “request a review.” This button will send an email, from Amazon, requesting feedback. See figure below.
Once this button is pressed, Amazon will prompt you with a few notifications as they send an email to the customer requesting a product review. The messaging is simple and straightforward allowing for quick feedback from the customer. The email customers receive allows them to simply leave a star rating (a 1-5 star rating with no written review) which greatly increases the likelihood of product feedback.
Reviews can only be requested on orders that are completed and can also only be requested once. This limits the amount of messages customers are receiving and prevents sellers from abusing this feature by spamming past buyers with emails. Shown below is an example of a product review email a customer might receive.
VL’s programmatic solution to requesting reviews
Since the “request a review” button is found within the orders details of each individual purchase, even medium-sized sellers would need to navigate hundreds of unique pages in order to request reviews for daily purchases. However, Viral Launch has automated this process with the release of Review Automation. As an add-on to the Market Intelligence chrome extension, VL subscribers will have the functionality of requesting reviews for all eligible orders with just a few clicks!
The first step is to grant permissions in order for the extension to function properly. From the “Manage Orders” page in Seller Central, click on the extension icon and follow the prompt to grant permissions. From there, you can begin requesting reviews in bulk for all of your eligible orders!
Click “request reviews” to have Amazon reach out to your customers on your behalf and request product feedback. Then just sit back and watch the reviews and ratings start flooding in!
With this new capability offered by Viral Launch, sellers are able to request reviews from individual orders without navigating into the order details for each. To simplify things even further, sellers can request reviews from all eligible orders within a specified date range! The extension will then denote which orders have a pending review request as to make sure sellers aren’t attempting to send more than one email.
What impact will Amazon’s ‘Request a Review’ button have on my business?
There are several ways this new feature will impact sellers. Converting sales into reviews has never been easier so it’s something everyone should be taking advantage of to help better their product’s positioning in the eyes of potential customers. Our take on the impacts of this update are as follows:
Email follow-ups will quickly become old news…
Review rates from email follow-ups have always been very low and relatively ineffective compared to the early results of Amazon’s new ‘Request a Review’ button.
New products will be able to build a solid review base much more quickly…
With review rates being up to 5x higher than traditional email-follow ups, new products will gain traction in their markets and become legitimate competitors.
Review counts for high-volume products will skyrocket…
While new products will find it easier to build an initial base of reviews, top sellers will see review numbers increasing at an exponential rate.
Average product star ratings will begin to improve…
Since feedback is often left when a shopper has a negative experience, the ease of leaving a 5-star review will balance out the average rating on less-than-stellar products.
A study done by Marketplace Pulse is reinforcing some of our theories around the impacts this new feature will have. Since September (when the ‘request a review’ button was added) the Amazon listing for Apple Airpods has increased its number of reviews from less than 3,000 at a 4.4 star rating to over 38,000 with a 4.6 star rating! Since peak Q4, this listing has been generating over 600 product ratings/day. Another interesting thing to note is that the majority of feedback left has been in the form of star ratings without a written review. The screenshot below comes from a Marketplace Pulse article analyzing the rate at which Apple Airpods have received reviews vs ratings. As illustrated, it’s easy to tell that shoppers are much more inclined to leave feedback on past purchases if the process is simplified down to just one click.
How can I get this awesome functionality?!?!
For those of you with a current Market Intelligence subscription, you can access this new review tool now at no extra fee. So log into Seller Central today and start building reviews at 5x the rate of your outdated email follow-up!
For anyone without an active Viral Launch subscription, don’t worry! For a limited time, we’re offering a subscription to Market Intelligence and Review Automation for only $10/month when you use coupon code REVIEWSPLEASE at checkout! This discounted offer will only be available through 3/7/2020 so click here to subscribe today!
TL;DR: If you’re a brand-registered Amazon seller, you may now have access to Amazon Brand Analytics in Seller Central. There are incredible insights hidden within this data… like real customer shopping behavior, competitor insights, and even the potential to estimate total clicks and conversions per keyword! You can use these insights to start making smarter decisions and real improvements today. With our new Data Science as a Service (DSaaS) model, Viral Launch will process your Brand Analytics data, return a detailed shopper insights report, and reveal the massive golden nuggets hidden within your Brand Analytics. Please note: You must sell on Amazon.com and have access to Brand Analytics to be eligible. Get your very own Shopper Insights report here.
One of my favorite things about data scientists is their ability to look at the world through a unique lens; a lens capable of transforming mildly interesting, yet disparate, information into incredible and profound insights. If you have ever struggled to understand the meaning of a piece of abstract art as others talk about how exquisite and meaningful the artwork is, or tried reading a restaurant menu written in a foreign language when visiting abroad, then you understand how possible it is for two people to see the exact same data, yet arrive at completely different conclusions.
Amazon’s Brand Analytics is the perfect example of data we all “know” could be valuable, yet we didn’t know exactly why it was valuable or what actions to take with this new found information.
Once our data science team got their hands on a Brand Analytics report for a client, an incredible world of mind-blowing insights began to unfold. After reading through this post, you’ll never look at your market’s keywords the same.
Brand Analytics is a free report available within Seller Central for sellers in Amazon’s Brand Registry program (it is still being rolled out to all accounts).
The data provided in Brand Analytics is interesting but alone is hardly actionable and quite clunky. As a results-driven company, our brilliant data science team is obsessed with deriving results-oriented insights from all things data. They were able to turn this interesting data into game changing insights that will change the way you look at keywords, allow you to better understand your market’s customers, and ultimately, make better decisions to drive more sales and profitability for your business!
There are four incredibly valuable insights the data science team was able to pull from Brand Analytics that the average seller would normally miss. We’ll get to those in just a moment.
Important Note: We could not share any specific information in this blog post to comply with Amazon’s Brand Analytics Terms and Conditions around confidentiality. All examples align very closely to the various insights we are able to develop from customer’s Brand Analytics reports. If you want to see the very detailed and specific insights, you can receive your own Brand Analytics Shopper Insights report here.
What’s Inside Brand Analytics?
Amazon’s Brand Analytics is available to 3P sellers that are enrolled in Amazon’s Brand Registry program. It is still being rolled out to all accounts, but if you do have access to this new report, it can be found by visiting this Brand Analytics link.
Here is a breakdown of each component in the Amazon Search Terms report.
Search Term: This is the keyword an Amazon shopper uses when looking for a product. The keyword can be an individual word such as “iphone” or a phrase such as “iphone Xs case for women”.
Search Frequency Rank (SFR): Search Frequency Rank is reminiscent of Amazon’s Best Seller Rank (BSR) in that it calculates the popularity of one keyword relative to keywords around it. This means that the keyword with a SFR of #3 is more popular during the given timeframe than a keyword with a SFR of #5. Amazon does not provide the number of searches for a particular keyword, but the relative rank is still very helpful!
#1 Clicked ASIN: This field is designated for the ASIN that received the most clicks from shoppers who searched this keyword. This field does not mean that the product was ranking in the first organic position.
#1 Product Title: This is the product title of the #1 clicked ASIN.
#1 Click Share: Amazon provides the percentage of total clicks that the #1 most clicked ASIN received. This percentage is calculated by looking at the total number of clicks after customers searched the given keyword. This does not indicate the total Click-Through Rate (CTR) of the ASIN. The Click Share is the percentage of total clicks that this ASIN saw for this keyword’s searches alone.
If 1,000 customers searched the keyword “fish oil”, and each of those customers clicked into two products (2,000 clicks total), and Product XYZ received 500 clicks from said customers, then the click share for Product XYZ for the search term “fish oil” would be 25% (500/2000).
#1 Conversion Share: Conversion Share is slightly different as it does not inherently represent the ASIN that received the most conversions for the given search term. It represents the percentage of total sales the #1 Clicked ASIN received for the given keyword.
If there are a total of 1,000 sales from customers who searched “fish oil,” and the #1 most clicked ASIN saw 100 of those sales, that #1 Conversion Share would be 10%. It is possible that the most clicked ASINs do not drive the most conversions for the given search term.
#2 & #3 Most Clicked: Amazon provides the #2 and #3 most clicked ASINs for each keyword including their Product Title, Click Share and Conversion Share.
4 Powerful Brand Analytics Insights
1. Customer Shopping Behavior: Heat Maps
Imagine having a heat map for every Amazon keyword to know exactly how customers are shopping. Imagine being able to answer questions like:
Does the first ranking product always get the most clicks? Most sales?
Does it vary by keyword?
Do I have to be ranking in the top 5 to see good sales volume? Top 15?
I’m ranking in position #7, why am I not seeing any sales?
How much market share can I take with sponsored ads alone?
While at face value it doesn’t appear as though the Brand Analytics report provides this type of insight, our data science team was able to combine a variety of data sources to produce possibly some of the most interesting and insightful data the Amazon seller community has ever seen. We’re calling this new data Shopper Insights.
Shopper Insight Heat Maps
Here is an example Shopper Insights Map for the keyword “gifts for men”. While we can’t share exact data, this is the type of map similar to keywords like “pajamas for kids”, “easter baskets”, and “women’s dresses” in which customers must do some shopping before making a purchasing decision.
As you can see, people are shopping all the way down to the 27th ranked product. We’ve also seen Shopper Insights Maps where customers are shopping much further down.
One of the first things you’ll notice is the 9th rank position on average is seeing a higher conversion share than the second and third rank positions.
You might be asking how/why the click share and conversion share do not add up to 100%, which is completely understandable. It all comes down to the way in which we build out these heat maps. There are two contributing factors: 1) keywords do not usually maintain a single ranking position throughout the entire week. 2) We show the weighted average click and conversion share at each rank position. What this heat map does not show is the number of weeks in which we found top ranking ASINs in each position. You can find more details on how we build these heat maps down below.
The map above becomes quite a bit more interesting when you look at it next to the heat map for another keyword like “toothpicks”. While we can’t share exact data, think of the keyword “toothpicks” alongside keywords like “AA batteries”, “iPhone charging cable”, (i.e. commodity products) in which there is little decision-making or style preference involved in the buying decision.
This map is telling us that, on average, the most trafficked products are consistently ranking between the first three organic positions. The color indicates the weighted average conversion share from customers searching “toothpicks” that purchase the products found ranking at each position. You will notice a blank space between positions #3 and #5 indicating that on average products ranking in the fourth positions have not driven many clicks.
This data is extremely valuable as it tells “toothpick” sellers that the vast majority of purchases occur within the first 6 ranked products. This means that if you wish to drive sales through this keyword, ranking in the top 10 alone is not going to cut it. You have to be ranking within the first six positions. And logically, this makes sense.
Toothpicks are toothpicks. How large of a selection do shoppers really need when purchasing commodity type products?
While “toothpicks” may be an obvious example where customers require little shopping, we’ve seen plenty of examples for style-heavy products like “stroller.” At first, you may think style plays a major role in buying decisions, but this market actually has very shallow sales depth. In this example, we see that a large amount of shopping is being done in just the top four ranking positions (with the second ranking position seeing the most action on average for this group).
The old strategy was to look at the sales estimates/BSR of the products showing in the organic rankings to determine sales depth. The problem is that sales/BSR show sales driven from all keywords. This doesn’t inherently indicate how customers are shopping for a specific keyword. Shopper Insights Maps completely solve this problem. Through this Brand Analytics data, combined over time, we are able to see the sales depth for that keyword and build a ranking strategy around it.
Here are a couple other heat maps to show you drastically they can vary:
Here is a market with good sales distribution as customers are shopping well into the first page of results.
Here is a market where customer’s are shopping to only the 5th result. (notice the “Low Data” message starting at thee 6th rank position)
Here is a market where the 5th rank position’s average conversion share is greater than the first rank position. The 7th rank position has the greatest average conversion share, however, there was only 1 of 12 weeks in which we found a top three most clicked ASIN indicating much less frequency at that position.
Here is a market in which there are strong sales all the way through the 25th position, however, it’s very important to pay attention to the number of weeks a top product was found in each position. This indicates there is a lot of volatility in the ranking results.
How do we build these Shopper Insights maps?
When working with a seller, we first compile their Brand Analytics reports from the past 90 days. Then, we look at the historical keyword rankings for the most-clicked ASINs per keyword along with the date range that those ASINs appeared.
Let’s take the week of 3/03/19 – 3/09/19 for the keyword “garlic press” (~220k searches/month) in which ASIN: XYZ was the #2 most clicked (2nd most click share). We then use our new reverse ASIN and competitor monitoring tool to identify where that ASIN was ranking during that given time period. This product spent most of the week ranking in the 1st organic ranking position, so we attribute the click share and conversion share to the #1 ranking position.
For the same week, the 3rd most clicked ASIN DEF, as you can see in the screenshot below, spent most of the week ranking between position 7 and 8 using our Competitor Intelligence tool.
And the #1 most clicked ASIN ABC spent the majority of the week ranking in the 3rd organic ranking position for the keyword “garlic press” so we have attributed their performance metrics to the third ranking position.
So after just one Brand Analytics weekly report, seeing just three ASINs, here is what our Shopper Insights heat map would look like.
As you can see the “Rank Position: 3” box is the darkest with the highest conversion share which was derived from the stats of the #1 most clicked ASIN in the week.
The “Rank Position: 1” box has the second highest conversion share and represents the stats of the #2 most clicked ASIN.
Representing the #3 most clicked ASIN, there are two boxes filled in “Rank Position: 7” and “Rank Position: 8”. Both boxes are filled in because the product spent a good portion of the week ranking in the #7 position as well as the #8 position.
Now, imagine building this report 11 more times for each of the 12 prior weeks of Brand Analytics reports for the keyword “garlic press”. The top clicked ASINs may change over time, and where the most clicked ASINs ranked in the search results will likely also change. The data science team layers on these 12 reports on a keyword basis to develop the final “heat map”
It’s important to note that the given depth is not total depth. Depth is key, and it is based on the most clicked products for each keyword. In most cases there are still clicks occurring outside of our Shopper Insight Maps (we only see those which correspond to the top 3 clicked ASINs). But, by looking at this data for keywords over time, especially their click/sales share percentages, you are able to develop a great understanding of how customers are shopping for each keyword.
How can you use Shopper Insight maps to drive more sales?
Understanding how customers are shopping for your keywords is powerful knowledge. Seeing how deep customers are shopping per keyword let’s you know exactly where you can and cannot rank to drive significant sales. This gives you more granular keyword insights to help you make better product research decisions. Imagine sourcing a product where customers consistently only shopped among the top three ranking products. That would mean you have to compete against the best of the best, or you might as well not be ranking at all. Or, imagine being able to find keywords you once thought were too competitive, but you can now see that customers are consistently shopping at easier-to-rank positions.
We used to determine sales depth by sales estimates, but these are not keyword specific. Shopper Insights gives you the granularity you need to make smarter keyword decisions!
We have decided to offer a new service where we will process your brand analytics reports with our internal data and algorithms built by data science team to give you these powerful insights. To complement our powerful Software as a Service, we are now introducing Data Science as a Service. You can head to our Brand Analytics Insights page to get your own reports which contain the Shopper Insights map and so much more!
Note: We will not be sharing Brand Analytics data, we will simply provide data science analysis to your Brand Analytics reports.
2. Competitor Insights (Manipulated Keywords and More)
The insights we’ve uncovered in Brand Analytics are extensive. There’s a lot to be learned about competitors and customer purchasing decisions. In our Brand Analytics Shopper Insights reports, we provide this analysis on each keyword market, so the value is significant to say the least.
There are a slew of seller activities that violate Amazon’s Terms of Service (TOS) used to game various aspects of selling on Amazon. From review manipulation tactics to tactics used to game the keyword rankings.
One such tactic shared by Efficient Era is bots which run searches, click into the target product, and perform specific behaviors. This results in a lift in keyword ranking for the product EVEN without a purchase. This is a tactic we DO NOT advise using (it should go without saying that we do not advise using any of these tactics). Every so often, this tactic fades in and out of effectiveness. With Brand Analytics we can easily identify if certain products/sellers are using this technique to try to boost keyword rankings.
The three indicators that there is manipulation for a keyword is:
0.00% conversion share
the product is not ranking in the top two pages or running sponsored ads
Significant click share (e.g. > 60% clicks share to a single ASIN)
There are a number of highly-searched keywords such as “iphone charger” in which we estimate the search volume in to be near 1,000,000 searches per month, however, we find the #2 and #3 most clicked ASINs both received 0.00% conversion share! No way!
Reason #1: The fact that the products with the second and third most clicks have 0.00% of sales is a big indication of manipulation. However, it is possible to have clicks but no sales if customers are purchasing a variation of the clicked ASIN. For example, if customers click on product XYZ, but end up purchasing variation ABC, then XYZ will record the clicks, but not the sales.
Reason #2: These products are not ranking organically in the top few pages. In fact, these products are not ranking in the top 100 results! Nor are these products running sponsored ads. If these products are so buried in the results but are receiving assumedly tens of thousands of clicks, then something unnatural is happening here.
It is apparent to us that these products are being manipulated to try to boost the overall keyword ranking without spending money to drive sales. It’s now easy to detect when competitors are trying to manipulate the search results so you can report them to Amazon thanks to Brand Analytics. Is this happening to some of your keywords?
Sponsored Ad Rank Impact
Ever wondered how large of an impact sponsored ads have on your market? For some product markets, it appears as though sponsored ads help to drive a significant portion of traffic. But for others, it appears as though customers pay less attention to sponsored ads, meaning they do not drive significant market share.
Here is an example of a product that was the #3rd most clicked ASIN receiving more than 10% Click Share. However, the product never ranked higher than position #10 organically for the given keyword. But, this product did consistently rank in the first sponsored ad position throughout the given timeframe. This means that through sponsored ads alone, the product was able to drive more market share than products ranking organically.
As you can see, the product was able to take more than 10% of the clicks for the market without ranking above the 10th position organically.
Should You Run Sponsored Ads if You’re Ranking Well Organically?
A big question among successful sellers is whether or not you should run sponsored ads for a keyword if you are organically ranking in the top one or two positions? With Brand Analytics you might be able to answer that question!
We found multiple instances in which customer’s ASINs, that were organically ranking in top positions, drove greater conversion share when they also ran sponsored ads in the first or second ad position. Weeks in which the ASINs were not being advertised, the ASINs saw a smaller conversion share.
Imagine knowing which of your keywords saw customers interacting heavily with sponsored ads, allowing you to drive significant market share without having to rank organically. Want to know how impactful Sponsored Ads can be in driving market share for your product market?
Note: It is not possible to detect sponsored ad impact if the top ranking products are also the top ranking sponsored results.
Review Count, Review Rating Impact
For some keywords, you can see that there is a strong relationship between conversion share and review rating. Let me explain. For some product markets, shoppers are more sensitive to review ratings than in other markets. This is wildly insightful! In the past, there was no way to drill this deep into how customers are making buying decisions on a keyword basis. This is another data point that should absolutely impact your decisions, like whether or not to jump into a product market or whether or not a keyword is worth trying to rank for.
Here is an example keyword market where review rating appears to have an impact on conversion rate.
The larger the circle, the higher the conversion share. The higher up in the chart, the higher/better the review rating. The fact that the products taking more market share (the larger circles) are consistently the products with the higher review rating (displaying higher in the chart) points to a strong relationship.
Here is an example of a keyword market in which there is no consistent relationship.
As you can see, there are plenty of instances in which products with better review ratings (circles showing higher on the chart) in this market take a greater share of the sales (larger circles). This indicates that there are factors other than review rating as the largest drivers of sales.
Want to see the relationship between conversion share and review rating for your main keywords? Check out our Shopper Insights report.
Giveaway Detection: What really drives keyword ranking?
We’ve always believed that the largest driver of keyword rankings is the number of orders a product receives. While I still believe this is true, after looking at some of our data science team’s charts, it’s hard to not feel like the primary metric is relative conversion share. We see a number of instances in which a product showing around position 150 organically sees a significant percentage of the conversion share and then a corresponding significant increase in the organic keyword rankings.
The highlighted product has a significant percentage of the conversions (~80%) and jumps from ranking in position 204 to position 5. The product was not running sponsored ads during this period, which makes it apparent that the seller was using some sort of promotion to drive a significant share of the keyword’s sales while ranking so low in the results.
Want to get a notification when a competitor runs a promotion to boost ranking? You can setup product notifications for competitors with our new Competitor Intelligence tool.
3. Validation for Search Volume Estimates
For Google and Amazon, keyword search volume estimates have been around for many years. Google provideds estimated search volume numbers via their Google Keyword Planner. In the Amazon ecosystem, sellers have had to rely on third party tools to estimate the search volume and importance of keywords. Brand Analytics answers some of the questions that sellers have around keywords.
Search volume answers three questions
What words are important for my product
How important is each keyword
How do I prioritize one keyword over the next
The beauty of Brand Analytics is the ability to know relatively that Keyword A is more important than Keyword B thanks to Search Frequency Rank. However, the question still remains, exactly how important is each keyword. If Keyword A has 1,000,000 searches/month or 1,000 searches/month, it may significantly impact your keyword and PPC strategy.
While third-party search volume estimates, are just that, estimates, one major benefit Brand Analytics offers sellers is the ability to judge the accuracy of various third-party keyword tools against Brand Analytics. While no tool is going to be perfect, hopefully BA can help you bridge the gap.
4. Estimate Total Clicks and Sales Per Keyword!
While Amazon sales estimates are cool, we’ve always dreamed of having estimated sales per keyword. The problem has been the lack of a quality data source to indicate the amount of sales being driven through each keyword. Through Brand Analytics, in the right scenario, you can actually estimate the total number of clicks and sales on a keyword basis for your market.
If an ASIN for a specific keyword and date range is:
Not ranking well organically (e.g. not ranking in the top 15 positions)
Is running aggressive sponsored ads (i.e. displaying in the first two ad positions)
And has a top 3 click share (#1, #2, or #3)
The seller is able to visit their sponsored products campaign and see how many clicks they received for the target keyword during the given timeframe. Once the seller has the number of clicks, they can divide that by the click share percentage found in Brand Analytics for that keyword.
So for example, let’s say ASIN XYZ was the 3rd most clicked product for the keyword “grill brush” during the first week of March, driving 11.27% click share. Throughout the week, ASIN XYZ ranked organically in the 17th position on average, but it consistently held the 1st ad position. This means it is unlikely that many clicks came from organic ranking. Most clicks were likely driven from the sponsored ad results. When looking at the search term report, the sponsored ads for ASIN XYZ drove a total of 2,000 clicks during the first week of March.
If 2,000 clicks is approximately 11.27% (2000 / .1127), then there are approximately 17,746 organic clicks for the week for that keyword. (We would assume click share does not take into account clicks from Product Pages, but we could be wrong).
The same could be done for estimating the number of sales/conversions keyword by looking at the number of PPC salees for the keyword divided by the product’s conversion share percentage.
Super cool, right? Let me know what you think in the comments!
We’ve discussed A LOT in this post. If you take nothing else away, I hope we’ve helped to open your eyes to the fact that there is a wealth of information contained within your Brand Analytics reports. Hopefully you better understand the importance of analyzing your keyword markets at a more granular level to truly discern how customers are shopping for your product. For some keywords, there’s no point in fighting for the first organic rank position because significant clicks and sales are happening in the top 15 results. Whereas for other words, if you are not ranking in the top 3, then you might as well not be ranking at all.
Let us know in the comments if you’re interested in a webinar or additional blog posts walking through some of these items and more in additional detail. We’d love to hear your thoughts and questions!
This has been a major step by Amazon to help provide the seller community with insights into real customer shopping behavior. While there are a lot of insights we uncovered in this post, I imagine our brilliant seller community will be able to identify even more. The only stipulation is that it takes a bit of massaging and combining the data with other metrics (e.g. rank position, sponsored ad rank, etc.) to truly extract the value out of these reports.
There is an incredible amount of actionable insights locked within Brand Analytics to help you make better decisions to improve your sales, market share, and more.
That’s why we are offering our new service to process your Brand Analytics to provide you with an in depth report on your most important keywords. Our Shopper Insights report will give you the data and actionable insights you need to make better sourcing, keyword research, advertising, and ranking decisions.
We’ve all been there. You look around and notice you have somehow collected enough books to open a mini library. There’s old textbooks you’ll never use, books that were given to you as gifts, and the stack of books you keep saying “one day” to. No? Just us? That’s fine. The point is, sometimes you find yourself with a stash of books, and you don’t know what to do with them. You could donate them, but sometimes those books cost a small fortune. And you don’t want to lose out on all that cash you spent on that geology textbook you didn’t even use (Sorry, college professors). So, what do you do with them?
Solution: Sell Used Books on Amazon
If you’re looking to get into the Amazon selling game, selling your new or used books is a great place to start. There’s no risk of spending a small fortune sourcing a product that may or may not sell and no need to worry about manufacturing or importing costs.
And if you’re already in the Amazon selling game, adding books to your inventory is a no-brainer if you’re looking to make a few extra bucks here and there.
How to Sell Used Books on Amazon – Getting Started
First things first, you’ll need a stash of books to sell, and you’ll need an Amazon seller account to access your dashboard, Seller Central. Amazon offers two types for you to choose from: Individual Seller or Professional Seller
Individual Seller: $0.99 per sale closing fee, NO monthly subscription
Professional Seller: $39.99 monthly subscription fee, NO per sale closing fee
If you’re unsure which option is right for you, consider how many books you are wanting to sell per month. Amazon allows a maximum of 40 items per month on an Individual seller account. If you are planning on selling more than 40 books, or you are planning on selling books in addition to other products totaling more than 40, you will want to opt for a Professional seller account.
Listing Information – What You Need to Know
Once your Seller Account is all set up and ready to go, gather the appropriate information about your books. This allows you to have all your information readily available when it comes time to actually list them on Amazon. Whether you just make sure you know where the information is located in each book or you write it down so it’s all in one place, here is the information to gather:
What’s an ISBN and where can I find it?
ISBN is an International Standard Book Number. They always consist of 13 digits and are assigned to each edition and variation of a book. It can be found on the book’s barcode.
How do I know what the book condition is?
When selling pre-owned books on Amazon, you are required to list the book’s condition. This is applicable to hardcover and paperback books. Your books can be one of six types of conditions:
Used – Like New
Used – Very Good
Used – Good
Used – Acceptable
Used – Unacceptable
Books categorized as Unacceptable are not sold on Amazon. This includes books that are sale of advance reading copies, including uncorrected proofs, of in-print or not-yet-published books.
Listing Books to Sell on Amazon
Once you have all the information, you’re ready to list your books for sale. When it comes to actually listing books, Amazon is by far the easiest platform to use. Creating a listing for your book can take as little as one minute.
When starting a listing, there are three different options for you to choose from:
“Sell Your Stuff” and enter the Title or ISBN number
Search for the book as if you were wanting to buy it and click “Start Selling”
List a New Title if no results come up for the ISBN you’re wanting to sell
Sell My Stuff
Go into your Seller Central and find the “Sell Your Stuff” tab. Type in the title or the ISBN number and search. Make sure your category is set to “Books.”
Click “Start Selling” and begin your listing.
Go to the Amazon homepage and use the search bar to find the book you are looking to sell. Once you find it, go to the listing detail page.
Click “Sell on Amazon” on the right side of the screen to begin your listing.
On the rare occasion the above two options don’t work, Amazon will provide you with the option to create a brand new listing.
This will happen when you search for an ISBN and no results come up, meaning there is no existing listing for that book. Amazon will then direct you to begin a new listing.
For a new listing, you will need to provide the following:
Setting the Price – What’s the best price to sell my books for on Amazon?
When listing your book, Amazon shows you how many other offers for the same book are being sold and what price range the books are selling within.
This is super convenient and helpful, as it will allow you to determine your price point. If you’re a new seller listing a single copy of a book, you should list it as the lowest price in the price range. This will boost the chances of a quick sale.
For some books, it might make more sense to list in the higher price range. This could be for current edition textbooks, first edition novels, or special edition books.
Shipping and Costs
Once you input all the required information and click “Save,” your listing will go live on Amazon and will be ready for potential buyers to search for.
You will need to decide on your shipping method: FBM vs FBA.
FBM – Fulfilled by Merchant
If you’re only selling a handful of books, this might be the option for you. Because you already have the books, you just keep them in your house until someone buys them. No additional storage fees! Once a book is sold, you are responsible for boxing it up, labeling, and shipping it out. Shipping costs can be calculated into your initial price point.
FBA – Fulfilled by Amazon If you’re selling more than 40 books, multiple copies of a book, or you don’t want to have to worry about shipping, FBA is a great option. For extra fees, you ship your inventory to an Amazon Fulfillment Center and they take care of the rest when an order is placed.
Make sure you fully research the pros and cons of FBA and FBM before deciding. Deciding on a fulfillment method is important as additional steps and fees may apply.
The Pay Out
Getting paid is arguably the best part about selling on Amazon. If you already set up your seller account and have everything approved, you probably remember Amazon requesting your bank information.
Amazon will directly deposit payments into your account every two weeks. Each deposit can take up to 5 business days and Amazon will send you a notification when the payment is sent.
Other Ways to Sell Books
If you’re looking to sell books that aren’t pre-owned or used, there are definitely options. Amazon offers 5 book selling portals for you to sell from if you wish. These portals are for selling e-books, audio books, and even self-published books. But that’s a blog for another day!
While Amazon is now the second largest ecommerce platform in terms of sales, it actually got its humble beginning as an online bookstore in 1994. It all began inside of Jeff Bezos’ rented garage in Bellevue, Washington!
Jeff Bezos chose books due to the high demand of literature worldwide and their low price point. This still stands true today so selling used books on Amazon is a smart move to make some extra pocket change and relieve your overcrowded bookshelves.
Join Amazon Seller Coach, Cameron, as he discusses the effects of video on Amazon listings with special guest Kyle Goguen of Pawstruck, an experienced Amazon seller. Kyle shares insights gained from testing out video on his own products, and together they speculate about the future of video on Amazon.
After implementing new videos, over the course of two months, Pawstruck experienced 53% increase in revenue, 34% increase in conversions, 32% more transactions, and 15% higher average order values. Read more about the brand’s success with video here.
If you haven’t already, look into Amazon Brand Registry and register your brand for access to exclusive features as Amazon continues to roll them out.
To get a stellar video done for your listing, check out Video Review Labs and tell them that Viral Launch sent you for a special rate.
Hey, guys, what’s up? We have Kyle with us today. Kyle has been a seller on Amazon for a little while. Kyle, can you just say hello and intro yourself a little bit?
Hey, everyone. Yeah, Kyle from Pawstruck.com. I’ve been selling on Amazon – I think it’s been two-and-a-half, three years now, and prior to that launched the company in 2014. We sell on our own website, obviously Amazon, eBay and a few other channels. But as of late we’ve been focusing a lot on Amazon.
Okay. So I actually – I always love asking people, sellers this when we bring them on and when I’m talking to them, but from your perspective how much has Amazon changed? How much has the Amazon game changed since when you first started?
Yeah, so you figure it’s only been a couple years, but things have changed drastically since I started. I would say in the beginning I didn’t really know what I was doing on Amazon, to say the least. And then it’s like as soon as you learn new strategies on how to launch products and promote products, it all seems to change, which I think is a good and bad thing. It definitely pays off for people who stay on top of the latest trends and strategies. Kind of sets yourself apart from the competition. So I like it, and overall I think we set ourselves up well for growth here in 2018 and in the future.
Yeah, that’s really good. And that actually kind of leads into something that we’re talking about today. So our topic today is all about video and video on Amazon. And this is something that’s – video on Amazon is something that’s super interesting that not too many people are talking about right now. It did get some buzz a little back when the beta was first announced and when people first found out about it, that Amazon was bringing video to sellers on Seller Central. But we’re focusing on video today, and Kyle has been a user of video on Amazon. He’s been – and correct me if I’m wrong, but you were part of the beta. I’m not actually quite sure how soon you were able to get in with video. How long have you had video on Amazon?
I don’t remember the exact date, but it’s got to be – I would say over a year, at least. I was in the Amazon Exclusives program, and that’s how I initially got access to it through some contacts I made through that program. And since then I’ve actually left Exclusives, but I still have access to some of the tools, which include video.
Gotcha. But so baseline you’ve really had some decent time to see how to work with video on Amazon, see what it’s done for you, right?
Okay. So first question, first question for you, for all of our viewers; how – just generally speaking, how has video affected your listings?
Sure. So I guess the first thing I want to go through is all the places that we currently are using video, just to explain that for the listeners, and then I’ll let them know what I think it’s done for our sales and listings. So the first place we have it on a listing would be in the thumbnails. You’ll see it kind of right next to the photos. I’m sure everyone’s seen that before. It’s got a play button, and when you click on it it will play a video just in place of where the main image is. That’s one place. The second place we have it is about halfway down the page. You’ll see video under a related video short section. So we also use that. And the third place we upload video is on our Amazon storefront, which is fairly new, and we’ve got kind of a whole, almost like our own website within Amazon built out. And on each of those pages we’ve used video to show off our products in use. So on – I guess when you’re asking how has it affected our listing, it’s a tough question to answer.
I know, I know, I know.
Yeah, like most things on Amazon, they don’t give you a whole lot of data, which is too bad. You wish you had access to it, but it makes sense that they wouldn’t want to share it with the sellers.
So I can’t tell you how many people have viewed videos, how long they watch our videos or anything like that. And unfortunately when I did upload the videos, you know, we were making a lot of changes to our listings, so I wasn’t even really able to say like A/B test, you know, conversion rate before a video or post videos because we changed so much it really wouldn’t be a fair way of measuring success. So I basically just have to give you my gut feeling.
And my gut tells me that it’s definitely helped. Our conversion rates based on my research and talking to other sellers are equal if not much higher than other sellers or people in my industry. So I definitely think it can’t hurt you. It can only help you if you do it the right way.
So these three locations for videos – so you said in the thumbnails and kind of halfway down the listings and then on your Amazon storefront. Is there one – are all of these videos in each of these places the same, or have you created unique content for each of them?
So for us we had our videos done kind of all in bulk, so product videos, for example, they would shoot just one single product video, and we would upload the same video in all the places. So we didn’t customize it necessarily, but you absolutely could, depending on your needs. You can – it’s not like they’re all connected together, I guess. You upload them separately, so they can have different versions if you felt like one was better.
Okay, so you basically have the ability to customize putting a unique video at the top in the thumbnails, for example, or like a unique video halfway down?
Yeah, absolutely. And my gut also tells me that the video at the top I would assume gets a lot more views than the one halfway down the page. It kind of gets lost in all the other product recommendations and reviews and everything down there. But since we have the ability to do it, we upload it there, too, and so more people can see the video.
Sure. And that seems consistent with the, I mean just photos in general and thumbnail photos and EBC all in kind of the same way. With your videos that you’ve implemented have you found any customers giving feedback, or have you gotten any direct feedback from customers that have bought your products or looked at your videos?
Yeah, all the time. So we definitely try to interact with our customers as much as possible. We send out automatic emails after every purchase and every delivery and shipment. We definitely get a lot of responses that reference our videos.
So we sell dog products, and so our videos show, you know, dogs chewing our products or using it. So a lot of times we’ll get comments about how adorable or cute the videos were, or how helpful they were, or maybe just a follow-up question, something that we didn’t clarify in the video. They’ll mention that they watched the video and they had a question about X, Y, and Z. We also see it in our reviews. A lot of times people will reference the videos on the listings for whatever reason. So we definitely know people are watching them. We don’t know how many.
Do you think – right, unfortunately. Do you think there’s a little bit of a wow factor when it comes to videos on listings because it’s still – honestly it’s beginning to get standardized kind of, but it’s still pretty new? Do you think people still have that wow factor when they watch videos?
Yeah, I would think so. I would think it’s definitely a way to set yourself apart from your competitors and other listings if you have video and it’s well done and they don’t. That’s a great way to set yourself apart, especially if you have a really high priced product, or something really technical, or one like ours that requires a high level of trust to purchase. I think video can be a way of kind of earning that trust or really showing people why they should trust you to spend that kind of money on a product because sometimes photos don’t do a product justice.
Or people don’t want to take the time to read a description to understand how it works or what it does. So our products are pretty simple. We don’t do any how-to videos, but I could definitely see where a how-to video would be helpful for a technical product in setting yourself apart.
That’s good. So technically speaking, I mean again you’ve had experience in setting up videos with your listings. Is it easy to do? Is it just easy to upload like an MP4 into Amazon and just like oh, there it is straight into my listing, or is it kind of complicated?
It is pretty basic. Assuming that you have a normal video file and that your video is compliant with Amazon’s requirements – so definitely look into that. Like I’m sure you can’t – you know I couldn’t run videos saying like go shop on Pawstruck.com. You know, so you have to make sure your video actually complies with Amazon’s terms of services for videos. But assuming you do all the right things there it is just a matter of hitting the upload button and entering, you know, a title and so on. So it’s pretty basic.
Interesting. Well, that’s good to know. So as a whole – again, just generally speaking video is a little bit newer, and it was in beta. Again, it was in a beta program that you had to get accepted into, and it kind of got rolled out to people that were brand registered. And now it’s beginning to have more of a mass adoption with sellers that are brand registered. Do you think that video specifically is something that sellers should be putting their time and energy into right now?
Yeah, absolutely, especially if you have an off-Amazon presence in any way. If you’re running any sort of off-Amazon advertising campaigns, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, something like that, or you have your own website, it definitely makes sense because the money you invest in video is obviously going to help you on Amazon, but you can also repurpose a lot of those videos. So something I haven’t really mentioned yet, but from our videos we have dogs using our products, and we are able to take high res screenshots or screen captures from various frames. So we’re able to get photos of the dogs using the product. And we use those photos as our secondary images on the product. So it’s kind of serving as both a video and a way to generate really good, high-quality photos.
And we’ve also had the company that we use to produce the videos make shorter versions that are used for advertisements. So you can repurpose the videos in a different way, maybe to optimize for Facebook ads, for example, or Instagram. So you can get a lot of use out of them, and that helps a little bit with that upfront cost that I’m sure you’ll have to pay.
Gotcha. So you talked a little bit about focusing off of Amazon. Have you found really good – I mean you’re able to – people generally are able to track attrition, I guess, or if people convert better outside of Amazon just because you can track, I don’t know, consumers a little bit better on something like Instagram or Facebook. Have you found really good conversions from using these videos on something like Facebook, or YouTube or Instagram?
So we use those videos on our ads, and they’ve been pretty successful, but I wouldn’t really be able to compare them to anything else we’ve done previously because these are the only videos we’ve had. But one thing I can do – maybe we can put it in the show notes or [somewhere 0:20:09.1] because I don’t know off the top of my head, but on our website we definitely saw a huge conversion boost once we added our videos to our product pages. So I can look that information up, and maybe we can throw that in the show notes what exactly happened because that we were able to A/B test, which was really great. And we have all the information, obviously, how many people are viewing it and all of that.
Gotcha. Okay, and so we talked briefly about this, but I think it’s something that people should know. It was – we mentioned it just a little before, but I want to reiterate that this video thing was available only to people in beta, like an invite basically. But now seemingly it is starting to get rolled out to everyone that is a part of the brand registry program. And so just for everyone that’s looking to get into video, it would be a good idea if you aren’t brand registered yet to just get brand registered. And brand registry involves a lot more outside of video. It involves a lot of different things. And potentially being brand registered just kind of opens the door for being able to be invited to things quicker or earlier than other people that aren’t brand registered. Seemingly Amazon takes preference to people that are brand registered. And I’m not sure if you could touch into that a little bit. Have you seen – in your time being brand registered have you seen early rollouts or just other things, including video, that have benefited you?
Yeah, so I was part of the beta rollout of brand registry 2.0 so I was able to get in there pretty early and talk to some of the people on Amazon’s brand registry team and give them feedback as they built out the program and everything, and it’s definitely an emphasis of Amazon moving forward. For brand owners they want people to be brand registered, and they’re going to continue to build out features that are specific to those in that program. So like you already mentioned, any seller that has the ability to be brand registered who is not brand registered at this point in time, I absolutely recommend getting registered even if you don’t plan on doing video soon or ever. It doesn’t really matter. There’s just so much that the program offers, and there’s going to be some feature at some point in time that you’re going to want that you won’t be able to get unless you’re in the program. And I have a lot of colleagues and friends who are Amazon sellers who some of which are unable to get brand registered, and it definitely hurts. And they have a lot more issues with counterfeiters and people who are hijacking their listings, and they can’t really do a lot from a protection standpoint. And a lot of those people were in the original brand registry program and just because of some changes aren’t able to get in 2.0 at this point in time, and they really wish they could.
Yeah, so taking a look at – talking a little bit about brand registry, or taking that even further, what do you think Amazon is going to do next for listings in general? And we’re talking about video, which was a pretty big deal, honestly, to add to your repertoire of things available on your listing. What do you think Amazon is going to do next?
Sure. So when talking about product listings in particular, I think the next thing they’re going to do is build in some sort of augmented reality option for listings, probably on mobile I would assume. And the reason I kind of bring that up is because every time I talk to, you know, family members or friends about shopping on Amazon the one thing they always bring up as a negative – basically the only thing they can bring up as a negative is that they wish sometimes they could go to the store because they want to touch and feel the product. And a lot of times it has to do with apparel specifically, which makes sense, and Amazon is doing a lot of things to combat that with their fast shipping and return policies and even video, right? So being able to see the product kind of in use really helps the customer understand what they’re buying. So I think if you’re able to work in some sort of augmented reality into a listing that could take it even a step further. So, for example, if you wanted to buy some T-shirt, you’re unsure how it looks. It looks on a model. It’s like well you don’t really know how it’s going to fit on you. Or it’s on a white background that’s really hard to tell, but with augmented reality they have the possibility of, you know, you basically turning the camera on yourself kind of like a selfie and the T-shirt or clothing being put onto your body to see what it’s actually going to look like when you receive it. So my guess is they’re going to do creative stuff like that. I think that’s coming to e-commerce in general. People are going to keep innovating, basically removing that barrier or that one hiccup that makes some people want to shop in-store versus online.
Sure. That makes sense to me. I mean there was an article put out not too long ago about how Amazon owns, I think it was about seven clothing brands on Amazon specifically and how Amazon is moving further or deeper into the fashion market. We also have that fashion camera. It’s a camera that helps you pick out clothes, basically. So seemingly I would totally agree with you. I think that’s an argument that people have for classic retail stores, right, is that you can go and you can touch and feel everything. And so for them to implement technology like that would be huge for the space. I could definitely see that happening. What does the inclusion of video tell you about what Amazon is moving towards with their overall website experience and aesthetic? You touched on this a little bit with the idea of that VR AR idea. But do you think that is going to carry through to their website as a whole?
Yeah, I think so. I think video is just kind of an indication that they want to really show customers what they’re buying before they’re buying it. And like I said before, like photo can only take you – photos can only take you so far. So I think they’re – I’m sure they’re going to add video all over the place, or some of these new technologies, even maybe into somehow in, you know, search results or somewhere else maybe. I think it’s something that they’re definitely focused on doing. You see like if you go through your Facebook feed these days it’s almost – to me, at least, it’s like 95% video is what people are sharing. So I think Amazon understands that. I mean I think that’s part of why they rolled out the related video shorts portion to listings. They’re trying to compete with YouTube influencers and product reviewers. They want that ecosystem on their own website. So I think they’re going to continue to encourage video and other types of content. I mean they’ve already done it with enhanced brand content. I think they’re going to allow brand owners to really build out their brand on Amazon.
So with the storefront and video content, enhanced brand content, really nice photos, and I even think on listings they’ll – right now you only see really big brands, but you see the brand name. Instead of it being text you see a logo there for some of the really big brands. My guess is that they’re going to roll that out to people who are brand registered, that that might be something they’re going to have for everyone because it seems to me that Amazon wants people to build out their brand on Amazon, and that’s something they can set them apart from Walmart, Jet, other places like that is all the sellers are taking the time to build out a brand presence on Amazon. They’re probably not doing that on other platforms. So they can kind of really separate themselves there.
Well, one final thing for you. And Kyle, I want to thank you so much for taking time out of your day just to be here and talking to us about video and what’s next potentially for Amazon when it comes to creatives and everything in between. For our listeners, what piece of advice, what one thing do you think that our listeners should focus on? We’re getting close to the new year right now, so what do you think that sellers should focus on at the beginning of next quarter, and what are you going to focus on at the beginning of the new year?
Okay, so the first one, first piece of advice I’d have is kind of a trick that I’ve been using that I forgot to mention earlier, so I’ll take this opportunity to mention it. So with video what we’ve also done is in our follow-up email sequences that go to customers, we let them know that they can click a link to go watch videos to learn more about the product that they purchased, and where we’re sending them is to a page on our Amazon storefront. So that is within terms of service since we’re sending them within Amazon’s own website. So it’s just a great way to get people to see your own videos if they haven’t already. It also gives the opportunity to cross-sell some other products within that video or maybe on the same page. And I think a really great use, which we don’t do because we don’t need to, but like I said with a technical product if you have a how-to video and you have it on your storefront and you send people there, you’re going to prevent all kinds of negative reviews, or returns or questions. You can send them there and explain exactly how a product should be used. That’s just going to be a great customer experience and help kind of your whole product overall. So I recommend doing that if you’ve got video already and aren’t doing that right now.
And for I guess your second question was what we as a company are focusing on the beginning of next year. So the main thing we’re going to be doing is just really ramping up product development. So we’re going to be trying to launch between two and four new products every month and really kind of set up a system where we are constantly finding, launching and kind of adding products to our catalog in a very consistent way and successful way because right now we’ve kind of done it piecemeal as things come up. So I really want to get more focused on that and set up the systems that will allow us to kind of scale that process.
Sure. Well, hey, that’s good to hear, and that’s good advice. Kyle, you’ve been awesome. You’re in such a good spot, and you’ve had such great opportunity really to know video, number one, but get a lot of good and early experience with a lot of these things that honestly not a lot of sellers have had experience with. So thank you so much for sharing your own experiences with us and for giving your advice. It’s been awesome.
Yeah, of course. I’m happy to do it. Thanks for having me.
As an Amazon seller, you’re undoubtedly familiar with coupons. But this new feature isn’t your ordinary promotional code. Under the Advertising tab in Seller Central, you will now see a Coupons page. You can now create digital coupons in Amazon Seller Central and offer discounts on a single product or set of products.
Digital Coupons Quick Facts
Location: Coupons show up on detail pages, search results, the gold box deals page and even a separate landing page just for coupons. Eligible customers will see an orange badge displaying the discount next to the selling price.
Claims: Customers can claim the discount through the coupon clipping function. All they have to do is clip the coupon, and savings are applied to eligible products when they check out.
Discount: Coupons can be Percentage Off or Money Off. Either way, the discount must be between 5% and 80% off your lowest price in the last 30 days.
Targeting: You have the option to target specific customers by selecting one of five customer segments: Amazon Prime members, Amazon Student members, Amazon Mom members, customers who have viewed certain ASINs, and customers who have purchased certain ASINs. Or, you can target All customers.
Fees/Eligibility: Each coupon redemption is $0.60. You do not have to be brand registered to access Coupons.
Budget: Set your maximum budget for each coupon. The coupon will be deactivated when it reaches 100% utilization. The budget you set will be a combination of the USD equivalent to the discount you are offering and the redemption fees.
What Are Coupons in Amazon Seller Central?
Here’s how Amazon explains Coupons in Amazon Seller Central:
“Simply put, digital coupons are coupons similar to those you find in brick and mortar stores. You can use them to discount a flat dollar or percent off an eligible single product or eligible families of products. Coupons can be a powerful, simple, and easy to use tool for promoting your products.
Coupons will show up throughout Amazon.com, including detail pages, search results, the gold box deals page and even a separate landing page just for coupons. The savings are instantly applied so coupons can help drive customer acquisition and sales by giving customers a reason to buy now. And they’re really simple for customers to use. All they have to do is clip the coupon, and savings are applied to eligible products when they check out, eliminating the need for loyalty cards, promotional codes, and opt-ins.
Getting started is easy. Just choose your products, enter how much of a discount you want, and set your budget. Give your coupon a title, and schedule how long you’d like the coupon to run. If you want, you can even choose to limit the audience of your coupon to a specified customer segment, such as Prime customers, as made available through the Seller Central tool. Find coupons under the advertising tab in Seller Central.”
Note: you can only see Coupons when actually logged into your account using your login. You cannot see the page option under the Advertising tab if you’re accessing the seller account via shared Seller Central settings.
How to Set Up a Listing Coupon
Coupon setup is fairly straightforward. Let’s walk through how to submit your coupon(s) inside of Seller Central.
Add your products to your coupon. You can feature up to 50 products in one coupon. While adding multiple products, selecting within the same sub-category/product group will help provide a better customer experience.
Set discount amount and budget. You can offer percentage or money off discounts. Amazon requires the discount to be between 5% and 80% of your lowest price for the product in the last 30 day. The budget you set will be utilized as customers redeem your coupon, and Amazon will deactivate your coupon when your budget is fully utilized. The budget is shared among these two costs: USD equivalent of the discount you are offering and redemption fees ($0.60 for every redemption).
Schedule and target your coupon. You can set a duration for your coupon between 1-90 days. The earliest start date will be three days from today. You have the option to choose to limit the audience of your coupon to one of six customer segments: All customers, Amazon Prime members, Amazon Student members, Amazon Mom members, Customers who have viewed certain ASINs, and customers who have purchased certain ASINs.
Monitor performance. You can monitor and track the performance of your coupon in real time within the Seller Central Coupon page under “Running” coupons.
Are the New Coupons Good for Amazon Sellers?
Our short answer: yes and no.
Yes, because the early adopters who schedule their coupons now will likely see an increase in clicks and conversions initially. Because Amazon is making it easy to find and apply the coupon, these sellers will likely benefit.
Yes, because for sellers willing to take a profit cut and pay the extra $0.60 per sale, they may have a competitive edge over their competitors who cannot afford to run coupons often.
Yes, because you can use the targeting feature to give a bigger discount to those who have viewed or bought other items in your brand or in your competitors’ brands. This provides a pretty cool opportunity to capture traffic that you otherwise may not have!
No, because in the long term, with this feature being widely available to the masses, there is not much exclusivity. The Best Seller badge is special because not everyone has one. But imagine if almost all products had a Best Seller badge … then customers would ignore it completely. Sure, the actual discount can differ between products with these new coupons, but the same principle can apply here. We will be interested to see how many sellers end up using the new coupons and to what magnitude.
No, because coupons have the potential to create price wars and crush margins. If your product’s sale price is currently $20 and you set your widely-available coupon to $2, you’re making $2 less per product (not to mention the extra $0.60 you’re paying Amazon for the sale). At scale, that will add up. And now, between sellers, there is an added competitive component. While you’re offering $2 off your $20 product, your competitor may be offering $3 off their $20 product. Of course, you could choose to just up your selling price to compensate for the discount. At this point, we’re not sure yet whether or not the coupon shows up on a Sponsored Ad. If it does not, charging a higher price to offset the coupon discount will have a negative impact on your sponsored ads performance.
We believe, in the long term, larger sellers will probably benefit most from coupons and smaller sellers may be left behind a bit here. Larger sellers may have the room in their margins to offer these discounts, whereas smaller sellers may need to be more conscious of the profit they are making on each individual item.
Overall, coupons may be worth testing out, and we absolutely think that you should jump ahead of the curve and take advantage of them! You never know, it could turn out to be an awesome opportunity to set yourself apart from others in your market. In our opinion, much like sponsored ads, it will come down to whether or not you are willing to take the profit cut on these purchases. We are excited to see how sellers get inventive with these.
How will you use these coupons? Let us know in the comments below!
Now Available: Digital Coupons in Amazon Seller Central
*Update: Amazon is currently rolling out this new feature. Headline Search Ads are currently only available for registered brands through Brand Registry 1.0 and Brand Registry 2.0.
Headline Search Ads are no longer just for Amazon vendors… they are available in Seller Central.
What are Headline Search Ads?
Amazon defines Headline Search Ads as “keyword targeted cost-per-click ads that allow brands to promote 3 or more products and drive traffic to a brand page or to a custom landing page on Amazon.”
Here’s how they work:
A seller chooses which 3+ products will be advertised.
Editable creative elements include ad headlines and size/order of product images.
Ads are set up with a bid, budget, and target keywords.
Banner ads are displayed above Amazon search results.
A seller can specify where an ad click will lead to: a custom landing page on Amazon or the brand’s Amazon Store.
Headline Search Ads in Seller Central
Before, Headline Search Ads were only available to all approved Amazon Marketing Services (commonly referred to as “AMS”) accounts. To be eligible for AMS, a seller had to be included in one of the following groups:
Now, Search Ads are available to brands through Seller Central.
To locate Headline Search Ads, go to Seller Central > Advertising > Campaign Manager.
Amazon describes Headline Search Ads in Seller Central as “A new way to advertise your brands. Build a custom ad that has a prominent placement in search results and drives shoppers to pages that showcase a collection of your products.”
What Does This Mean for Sellers?
Amazon Headline Search Ads just got a lot more accessible and a lot less profitable.
Vendors were part of an exclusive group with access to a profitable competitive advantage. Now, that advantage is available to the masses.
With more competition and more sellers bidding on keywords, bids will go up and profitability will go down. But, that’s not to say you shouldn’t try them out and see if running Headline Search Ads is beneficial for your brand.
While Headline Search Ads aren’t a necessary component to a successful Amazon strategy, they will be a great opportunity to drive increased visibility and traffic, similar to Sponsored Products ads.
Amazon has been steadily making changes and adding features recently, especially for their Brand Registry program, including Amazon Stores for registered brands and the Amazon Early Reviewer Program. It’s important for sellers to stay in the know in order to take advantage of every opportunity to dominate their markets.
Viral Launch is committed to keeping you informed and knowledgeable about what each change means for you.
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I’d like to first stipulate that I am obviously biased party in this discussion seeing that I own and operate Viral Launch. I also don’t claim to understand or know definitively what Amazon’s intentions were. I simply want to lay out all of the information and observations we’ve made around the latest change and how they fit into our perspective of the marketplace. I’m becoming increasingly frustrated with the amount of misinformation in the space. A lot of which is spread by “gurus” and service providers. I want to provide this stipulation so no one wrongfully misconstrues this as a pure factual post.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way 🙂 I feel like I can speak a little more freely about my interpretations, so let’s jump into it!
From a High Level
Overall, I am assuming that Amazon’s latest update to the promotion creation process was made with good intentions for the community, however, I think there was a slight oversight as to the entirety of its ramifications. I am expecting Amazon to make another change in the near future that will allow merchants to better protect their inventory when running promotions.
Amazon is big, very big, and with such a large platform there are a ton of complexities. There are a variety of internal departments all with their core functions and responsibilities. Sometimes one department can make a decision based on their understanding and knowledge of a situation, without getting a larger holistic view with the help of other departments. This happens all the time in government (an even larger complex organization built of many departments). Lawmakers will enact a law designed to solve a problem for a select group of people, and without realizing the entirety of the law’s impact, they end up creating new issues for other groups. A quick example would be a recent update to labor laws dictating when it is/isn’t okay to pay employees as salary versus hourly with special emphasis on overtime pay. The intention of the lawmakers was to protect salary workers making under a given pay threshold (let’s say it’s $45,000/year) from being taken advantage of because they make the same amount no matter how many hours they work in a week. On paper, it sounds great, and I’m sure for some it worked well. The problem that arose quite often is that salary workers making just under the pay threshold (ex. $40,000/year) had to become hourly workers and a lot of them took hefty pay cuts or they had to work more hours to achieve the same pay. I know it’s a bit of a tangent, but it helps to illustrate the law of unintended consequences.
Could this have been intentional? Of course. Is Amazon too large and sophisticated to make a “mistake”? That is a great question that I simply do not have enough experience/data to make a more confidence assumption either way. Either way, here is the data we’ve collected that has lead us to our current conclusion.
Why do we think this was an oversight on Amazon’s end? Three main reasons:
1. It Doesn’t Make Sense For The Average Seller
Without the ability to limit the number of units a coupon may be redeemed for, there is no way to protect a seller’s inventory. If I were to create a 50% off coupon and post to a FB group, SlickDeals, or my brand’s personal fan group, one customer could completely wipe my inventory with a single claim code. It’s ludicrous. For those unaware, one purchase for 100 units provides the same amount of keyword ranking power as one sale of one unit. On top of that, considering opportunity costs, you would be losing out on an incredible amount of money.
Sure you are able to protect your inventory with a Multi-Channel Fulfillment Order, but in nearly all circumstances in which a seller provides a coupon to a customer, allowing one customer the ability to grab the entire available inventory would ruin the campaign.
This is not exclusively within the context of running promotions to build sales history in order to improve keyword ranking. These thoughts are within the context of any kind of promotion. There are many reasons why a seller may want to provide a discount code to their customers such as improving brand loyalty, spreading awareness of new products, contests, etc.
No matter the intention of the promotion, without the ability to protect inventory, promotions in their current capacity simply do not make sense.
Promotions/discounts have been a vital tool to sales since the concept of sales existed (probably a fact 🙂 ). Ecommerce without discounts is unnatural and can quickly create a stagnant and stale market due to the significant increase in the barrier to entry for new sellers. Amazon has thrived due to the open competition. As competition becomes stifled, it will be very interesting to see how the market progresses.
So why don’t you just lower the price? Lowering your price is certainly a viable option, but it has its own limitations and drawbacks. To quickly explain, depending on the item, if you drop your price too much you’ll find your product categorized as an add-on item, which can be terrible for organic sales conversions. Amazon can also create limitations to how quickly you can increase your price after a significant drop. For those running Lightning Deals you can quickly find yourself trapped, or your deal canceled as Lightning Deals will play off of your product’s lowest price over a certain time period (30 days I believe, but I’ve heard longer as well).
2. Correspondences With Amazon Seller Support
Based on a few different interactions with Seller Support regarding the new promotion creation process, we were given a few pieces of information that seem to support our conclusions. I understand that you typically want to take what Seller Support says with a grain of salt. Many times Seller Support is not very knowledgable or in tune with what’s going on, but some of Seller Support actually seemed to be well aware of the recent change and appeared to have a bit of interesting information for us.
Main pieces of information:
This letter from Amazon Seller Support explains that the coupon creation update is something Amazon’s Business Team is testing over the holidays.
On a phone call with a well informed Seller Support member, the representative told us that the change was driven largely due to some tax consequences that came with shipping products that are set to 100% off or free. As most have noticed, Amazon no longer allows us to create 100% off promotions, so whether or not this checks out is beyond me. I will not try to act like I know how taxes work for Amazon. I can only imagine the army of CPAs, accountants, lawyers, etc. they have to deal with all of the intricacies and complexities. The representative also mentioned that they were surprised by the removal of dollar off promotions, because he had seen such success with the previous promotion set up, and he expected that the current setup would not last very long.
3. Language Within Seller Central
This dialog box is available when creating promotions. As you can see from the language used, Amazon appears to be under the impression that you can still protect your inventory with the use of the Single-Use claim codes, which we know to be false. While it is possible that the developers simply forgot to update this field, I’m curious if that is the case because they made sure to update the language on the main Promotions page under the Money Off option to only mention “percentage discount”. With the latest update, single-use claim codes also do not have quantity limits. If Amazon were unconcerned with providing quantity limits for sellers, I wouldn’t expect to still find this language.
What’s Going to Happen?
As I mentioned, I’m not quite sure what will happen. Based on my data, it seems like this is a temporary change that will have an Amazon-created solution sometime soon. Based on the Seller Support email shown above, the more sellers that complain the more likely the situation will be remedied. I would imagine there are quite a lot of complaints as this can be a significant risk at nearly any percent off . I’m imagining this update will be remedied soon.
Could I be wrong? Completely, so please don’t take this as fact. I’m simply sharing our perspective and how we expect things to play out.
What do you think? Based on the information and data you’ve collected, what are you expecting the outcome to be?