Attention all Amazon sellers and those interested in starting their own online business!
Amazon is hosting Amazon Accelerate, a free-to-attend virtual summit taking place from September 1–3. Amazon boasts the conference as the “biggest-ever U.S. event dedicated to seller success.”
Sellers can expect to discover insights, strategies, and techniques from experts to help their small business thrive.
The biggest name in e-commerce has set two unique agendas; one for current sellers, another for those just starting or interested in selling on Amazon. More than 60 sessions hosted by Amazon pros covering all aspects of the platform are currently scheduled throughout the three-day event.
Packed with helpful resources, conversations with successful sellers, and educational walkthroughs covering nearly all aspects of selling on Amazon, this summit is a MUST-ATTEND for anyone serious about getting started on Amazon or taking their existing online business to the next level.
“Amazon is deeply invested in empowering small businesses, and this is an important time for us to come together and learn from each other as we navigate new economic realities,” said Jeff Wilke, CEO worldwide consumer at Amazon.
Third-party sellers make up 50% of all sales on Amazon, and it appears the company realizes the health of its small businesses is a catalyst for their success.
“It’s our good fortune at Amazon to partner with a large, vibrant community of sellers,” Wilke said. “Accelerate will help small businesses find new ways to grow and expand while also creating new connections.”
Wilke is one of four featured Amazon Accelerate speakers and will kick off the event with a fireside chat. Fellow speakers include Dharmesh Mehta, Amazon’s vice president of worldwide customer trust and partner support, Devesh Mishra, VP of Worldwide Supply Chain, and Amazon fashion group leader Christine Beauchamp.
Sellers can expect content centered around what’s new and the latest in online selling tools, programs, and services. Timely information about how to adapt and prepare for a successful holiday season is anticipated to be provided, along with a Build Your Business Toolkit.
Don’t miss out on the Amazon Accelerate summit! Sign up and confirm your virtual seat here to be a part of the seller spectacle. You can create your schedule ahead of time with their Agenda Builder once signed up.
If you’re unable to join the action live, don’t fret! All keynotes and breakout sessions will be available on-demand for registered attendees the day after they air through September 30th. At that point, the materials will be migrated to Seller University.
For additional resources on how to get your Amazon business off the ground or take your existing one to the stratosphere, subscribe to our YouTube channel, where we have content for every step of your Amazon journey!
We’ll be covering the event, so come back next week as we’ll be summarizing and breaking down all the big happenings from the seller summit!
Industry projections suggest the shift in consumer spending is more of a flash point than a temporary flash-in-the-pan.
With so many encouraging signs and a promising trajectory, it’s no wonder starting your own online business continually ranks among the top ways for aspiring entrepreneurs to start their empire and design their own path to financial freedom.
The outlook for e-commerce is already bullish, but don’t be surprised if 2020 outpaces projections as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The ongoing pandemic has wreaked havoc on many industries, and traditional retail has been one of the sectors hit the hardest.
Retailers and department stores reliant on brick-and-mortar retail such as Neiman Marcus and JCPenney have filed for bankruptcy, while many others in the sector also find themselves on the ropes. For in-person retail, it’s just the latest blow for an industry running out of margin for error.
Does this mean people have stopped spending? Not at all. The pandemic hasn’t shifted if people will spend their money, but how they will spend it. Instead of heading out to stores and malls, consumers are staying inside and buying online.
On July 30th, Amazon reported $88.9 billion in revenue, up from $63.4 billion in Q2 2019. The e-commerce behemoth is only growing more powerful as e-commerce continues to pick up momentum making FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) selling an extremely profitable business opportunity with the right resources and strategy.
As retailers who have relied upon traditional retail flock to Amazon, e-commerce will only strengthen their advantages and continue to take a larger piece of the retail pie. But will the arrival of major first-party sellers take a chunk away from third-party sellers?
So far, the answer has been an overwhelming no, as sales from 3P sellers continue to grow year-after-year.
“Our 3P sellers, who are largely comprised of small and medium-sized businesses, also stepped up to help make more selection available for customers. And as a result, these small and medium-sized businesses have seen significant growth in their sales. Our third-party seller services revenue grew faster than online stores revenue in Q2, with strong growth in both fulfillment by Amazon and merchant fulfilled or MFN seller sales. Third-party units continue to represent more than half of overall unit volume, helped by improved quarter-over-quarter growth in active sellers.” — Brian Olsavsky, CFO of Amazon
The demand from customers on Amazon has never been higher, with over 150 million Amazon Prime subscribers built into the customer base. For years, the biggest barrier for an e-commerce breakthrough was product availability and customer convenience.
Amazon has grown to an international powerhouse thanks to its platform designed to make the process of buying and selling online easy for those on both sides. On the seller side, Amazon has opened the doors for aspiring entrepreneurs by leveling the playing field with massive warehouses for storage and their state-of-the-art two-day Prime shipping logistical program.
These assets are enormous advantages that have simplified or entirely erased areas of concern for those with entrepreneurial ambitions, allowing them to spend their time and energy on finding the right product and maximizing their opportunities for success in the marketplace.
While the light to jump into the e-commerce game is as green as ever, it won’t stay green forever.
Every day, hour, and minute of experience you have on Amazon is valuable for growing your brand and maximizing your profits, and others will surely be entering the marketplace as the industry continues to grow.
Fortune favors the bold and the informed
At Viral Launch, we understand starting your online business can be an exciting, but intimidating leap. That’s why we at Viral Launch have made it our goal to provide everything you need to have the data and strategy to succeed. If you haven’t already, sign up for a Viral Launch account today and gain access to your free trial to see all the powerful insights you can glean from our vast amount of Amazon data. With Viral Launch’s Product Discovery and Market Intelligence tools, you can scout the market to find winning products that align with your resources and goals.
There’s likely to be no better time than right now to get your online business off the ground and be your own boss! Amazon’s seller-friendly platform, Viral Launch’s powerful data and invaluable insights, and an emerging market are the perfect storm for your entrepreneurial success!
Amazon states the change has been made to “help customers learn more about the businesses of a seller and the products that they are selling. We are making this change to ensure there is a consistent baseline of seller information to help customers make informed shopping decisions.”
The change is the latest in a series of moves to increase accountability and deter the sales of counterfeit or unsafe goods on their platform.
For third-party sellers, this is significant as many don’t operate from a traditional office location. Seller Central requires an address when registering for an account, and it’s common for third-party sellers to post their home address.
All sellers, but especially third-party sellers, should take a few minutes to make sure their account is set up to their liking for this impending change.
While this change is new for the US Amazon marketplace, it’s consistent with practices for international markets such as Europe, Japan, and Mexico.
This screenshot, taken from a Seller Profile page on Amazon.co.uk, is an example of what to expect for American sellers beginning September 1st.
The address will be available to be seen by any shoppers, but customers would have to do a bit of digging to find it. Your business name and address will only be displayed on your Seller Profile page, which for most sellers generates sparse traffic.
To find this page, a customer would have to click on the seller name in the Buy Box or under the Additional Sellers if an item has more than one seller available.
At the point of purchase, customers can view Seller Profiles by selecting their name in the Buy Box, or by selecting a seller’s name after viewing other sellers for that listing.
If you sell from home but don’t want your home address listed, you may be interested in registering for a PO Box or setting up an alternative such as a UPS Mailbox to maintain personal privacy.
Seller Central added in the advance notice that customers remain advised to use Buyer-Seller Messaging to communicate electronically, so an influx of mail to your business address is extremely unlikely. Still, it would only make sense that sellers may be interested in establishing a line of demarcation from public and private information such as a home address to avoid any potential complications.
To ensure your information is up to date and what you want publicly displayed, Amazon recommends taking the following steps:
1. Login to your Amazon seller account.
2. In the Settings menu at the top right corner of Seller Central, click Account Info to view the Seller Account Information page.
3. In the Business Information section, click the links for the information that you want to view.
4. To change your business name, click Display Name and to change the address, click Business Address. Enter the new information or edit the current information.
5. Once completed, click Submit to save.
Be sure to stay posted on the latest Amazon updates by monitoring the Announcements section of Seller Central and checking our blog for those updates and how they affect you!
Prime Day is right around the corner, and in true Amazon fashion, they’ve rolled out a brand new feature just in the nick of time.
As an Amazon seller, you’re probably quite used to visiting the Advertising tab in Seller Central. For US accounts, you’ll now see sub-tab called Prime-Exclusive Discounts. This is a new way to offer a discount on your products exclusively to Prime members. These discounts can be offered all year long, and they’ve been unveiled just in time for Prime Day (which has been rumored to be July 15th, 2019). But hurry up… the deadline to run these new discounts on Prime Day is July 5th!
Prime Day will provide sellers with an incredible opportunity to jolt their sales. We even put together a step-by-step guide to help you prepare. Now is the time to take action, and Prime Exclusive Discounts are an easy opportunity for you to set your product apart from the pack… or at least to make sure you’re not left behind if everyone else sets them up too.
What are Prime-Exclusive Discounts?
Prime-Exclusive Discounts are offered on Prime-eligible products sold through FBA, which are only available to Prime members. These products will show strikethrough pricing plus a savings message in the search results and in the buy box.
Amazon is giving sellers like you the ability to create Prime-Exclusive Discounts specifically for their upcoming holiday: Prime Day. You can do this by checking the corresponding box during setup. On Prime Day, these discounts will even include an extra badge that reads “Prime Day Deals” in the search results and on the detail page.
What are the requirements for Prime-Exclusive Discounts?
Many Amazon.com products are going to be eligible for Prime-Exclusive Discounts, and they are free to create. In order to set one up, your product must meet the following criteria:
Prime shipping eligible in all regions in the US
No rating or 3+ stars
The discount must be 10%-80% off of your listed price. For a Prime Day discount, it must be 20%-80% off
The discount must be the lowest price in the past 30 days
How do I set up a Prime-Exclusive Discount?
The process for creating Prime-Exclusive discounts is quite manual, but it only takes a few minutes. Don’t forget: the deadline for Prime Day discounts is July 5th, so take action now before it’s too late!
1. Find the discounts in Seller Central
Sign into Seller Central and navigate to the Advertising tab. Inside, you’ll find the option for Prime Exclusive Discounts. To get started, click “Create Discount.”
2. Name your discount
A name is required, and it will be used internally for your reference. Give the discount a name that corresponds to the product(s) you’re setting it up for so that, in the future, you can look back and quickly recognize what the discount was for.
3. Decide whether or not to run the discount on Prime Day
From what we can tell, you cannot uncheck the box labeled, “Is this a Prime Day discount?” So for now, it seems the Prime-Exclusive Discounts are being initially rolled out for Prime Day specifically. We assume that, in the future, you will be able to set a timeframe and date range for these deals. (If you’re seeing something different, please let us know in the comments below!)
4. Upload your product template
This part is a little bit manual, but don’t let it scare you away. It’s pretty easy to set up. Click the “view upload template” link, and it will download a spreadsheet for you to read through and fill out. There are three tabs:
Instructions: Learn how to use your Price Loader Template. This is pretty straightforward, but read through it so that you’re fully informed.
Data Definitions: Get specific instructions on what exactly to put into each field.
PrimePriceLoader Template: Enter your discount information, including SKU, amount off vs. percentage off, price discount, minimum discounted price, and the action (whether you’re adding, editing, or deleting the discount).
Don’t worry about deleting or renaming any tabs. If you do, it will cause an error. Simply fill out the information, save the Excel document, and upload the file. In the next step, you will find out if your inputs are valid.
5. Validate products
Here, you can make sure you’ve filled out the template correctly, along with seeing any issues that may make your product ineligible. If there are issues, the status will show why. You can edit the Discount Type, Prime Discount, and Minimum Price to resolve the problem. From here, you can add more products or Submit the Discounts. Next, you’ll be taken back to the main page where you can view discount details along with the status of each deal. Amazon states that if your start date is today, then the discount may take up to 120 minutes to go live.
Do Prime-Exclusive Discounts overlap with other deals?
Yes, they do overlap! Regular promotions or coupons will stack on top of these Prime-Exclusive Discounts. Please review your products carefully before scheduling to prevent customers combining them for significant discounts. And keep in mind that if you are running a Lightning Deal during the Prime Exclusive Discount, it will impact the maximum Deal Price of your Lightning Deal.
What do you think about Prime-Exclusive Discounts?
Prime-Exclusive Discounts are brand new, so we’re not sure how they will impact conversions. Some sellers are frustrated, calling this another way for Amazon to make money while sellers dig into already-slim margins. Others are hopeful this will help set their products apart.
What’s our suggestion? Well, we know that shoppers will be flocking to Amazon in mid-July during Prime Day, hungry for the best deals on products across all categories. And honestly, the more you can appeal to these shoppers, the better. So, our suggestion is to try these out. The volume here will hopefully make up for the cost (of course, this depends on your market, your conversion rate, and your visibility). If your margins are already pretty thin, consider raising your price and then discounting it to appeal to the discount-nature of Prime Day. The extra badge on your listing should help draw some meaningful attention to your product (especially if you missed the Lightning Deal deadline). And since you cannot set these up for Prime Day after July 5th, schedule them now and keep an eye on your clicks and conversions during the holiday.
To make sure you’re fully prepared for Prime Day, check out our free guide: How to Jolt Sales for Prime Day 2019. We’re excited to see the results for those of you that take action on these new discounts, and we can’t wait to hear of the successes that Prime Day brings.
We’re interested… what do you think of these new Prime-Exclusive Discounts? Will you be using them in your strategy?
This week, Casey Gauss and R&D specialist, Andrew Field, dive into some updates for Amazon dynamic bidding & bid adjustments.They also discuss a new Amazon PPC hack, discovered by Viral Launch’s R&D team. You won’t want to miss this!
For brands and entrepreneurs selling on Amazon, 2018 was a whirlwind of change with increases in competition, old success tactics becoming obsolete, new Amazon programs, and so much more. If history is any indicator, then we can expect even more of these changes in the new year. But what sorts of changes should we expect? How will these changes impact your Amazon business? And what steps should you be taking to prepare for these changes to best get ahead of the competition?
Here at Viral Launch, through helping drive more than $7 billion dollars in Amazon sales, we’re equipped with a vast amount of insight and data. This experience working with thousands of brands (from small private label sellers, to $100m+ 3rd party sellers and world renowned Fortune 100 brands) has enabled us to predict some of the biggest things to come in 2019. And we want to share them with you so that you can prepare for what’s ahead this year.
Not only that, but we teamed up with more than twenty 7, 8, and 9 figure sellers and Amazon thought leaders to get their unique perspectives on what to expect and how to prepare for success in the coming year. So, here are 11 predictions for Amazon in 2019 to inform your business decision making, formulated by Viral Launch and informed by top industry experts.
1. Major Brands Get Smart About Amazon Organic Ranking & Sales
We are predicting there will be more major brands that get smart about Amazon success tactics, putting even more pressure on Amazon sellers!
The reason third-party sellers (the small private label sellers) have had the opportunity to become ecommerce giants (we have a couple private label customers and personal friends that surpassed $100m on Amazon in 2018) is because when Amazon changed the ecommerce game, they changed the necessary tactics that drive success.
In a lot of ways, the primary tactics used in traditional retail – such as paying for shelf space, good in-person packaging, and branding – gave way to lower prices, organic keyword ranking, and pay per click/direct response advertising.
Amazon third-party sellers have been able to drive massive success because their only chance of driving sales among such established players was to become students of the new paradigms of retail success tactics. These sellers have worked diligently to understand the key drivers of Amazon organic keyword ranking and conversions, which has led to significantly greater visibility than their household name competitors.
Major brands continue to use deprecated success techniques, leaving the door wide open for third party sellers to reap the benefits of their Amazon expertise. Major brands typically only pay attention to Amazon PPC as their most impactful lever of driving sales. However, in general, only 15-40% of a product’s sales potential comes from Amazon advertising, while the remaining 60-85% can be found in the organic search results. It’s within this uncontested 60-85% space that third-party sellers have thrived and grown.
We are seeing more of these larger brands realize that there is far more potential beyond just Amazon advertising sales. They are beginning to hire successful Amazon sellers and/or software providers as consultants in order to help them become experts, much like successful third-party sellers. This is causing them to shift their focus from the 15-40% of sales potential to 100% of sales potential.
2. Amazon PPC Becomes Less Profitable But More Important
We are predicting that advertising on Amazon will see an increase in efficiency, significant increases in cost, and a significant increase in importance to success for brands on Amazon.
As Amazon increases their dominance in ecommerce and retail, brands are forced to move more of their budget to Amazon advertising. Significantly increased demand, combined with inefficient spend of untrained brands, will absolutely result in increased CPCs (cost-per-clicks). We’ve been observing this trend for quite some time in many markets, but we expect it to increase in velocity and ubiquity. It’s hard to go more than a week without seeing a new post in the media about Amazon’s advertising platform. With that said, we do think that while costs will increase, efficiency will improve.
Viral Launch still sees significant inefficiencies in general Amazon advertising campaign management, largely due to the limitations of Amazon’s in-house advertising tools and programs as well as a lack of sophisticated ad management and automation alternatives. However, we expect new tools/improved sophistication and functionality in Amazon advertising tools and programs will allow for an improvement in advertising spend efficiency. We also expect Amazon to continue improving their ad targeting technology with new programs and tools which will help brands improve overall spend efficiency.
Additionally, we believe that advertising on Amazon is and will continue to be increasingly more important to being competitive on Amazon. With more ad placements per page, we expect advertising to continue increasing the share of an individual product’s sales potential versus organic sales potential. Advertising can also be an important tool in affecting organic sales. Brands that have been using purely organic traffic to build their business will be forced to become experts at Amazon advertising in order to remain ahead of the competition.
3. The Reign of Building Brands Off Amazon
We are predicting that more Amazon sellers will focus on building brands off of Amazon as the effort/reward ratio continues to improve relative to the ratio of focusing solely on Amazon.
Up until 2018, Viral Launch has been a major advocate for focusing on Amazon and delaying true brand building until you crossed the $10m mark on Amazon. While we had obviously seen a few brands build success using a multi-channel strategy (selling outside of just Amazon), it was extremely rare. Much more frequently, sellers hit 7 and 8 figures ($10,000,000+) while focused almost exclusivelyon selling on Amazon. Opportunity cost is a powerful metric for optimal decision making, and for the vast majority of sellers, the opportunity cost was too high when focusing off of Amazon. The reason was because selling on Amazon still presented a lot of low hanging fruit and provided revenue growth rates you could hardly ever reach anywhere else.
As selling on Amazon has become increasingly competitive, we feel that the scales of opportunity cost are shifting to point to true brand building as the greater opportunity. Now don’t get me wrong, there are more people spending more money than ever on Amazon. The opportunity is greater than ever, but the cost and effort of seizing the opportunity is also greater than ever (in most markets).
4. Successful Brands Will Continue to Grow Significantly
We are predicting successful sellers/brands will see unparalleled sales volume on Amazon!
While it’s true that selling on Amazon has become more difficult than ever, there are more people spending more money on Amazon than ever before. This trend will continue into 2019, meaning those brands that are able to achieve/maintain top organic ranking positions, as well as perform well in advertising, will see sales volumes at unparalleled levels. The stakes are higher than ever! It truly is an exciting time to be selling successfully on Amazon.
5. Fewer New Entrepreneurs Begin Selling On Amazon
We are predicting fewer new Amazon seller accounts will be created in 2019.
According to Marketplace Pulse there were 1,200,000 Amazon seller accounts created in 2018 (a good portion never saw a sale). We are expecting new account creation to slow down quite a bit.
There are three primary reasons we expect this to happen.
Reason 1) Increased Barrier to Entry: the cost and complexity of driving success on Amazon has increased. While we still believe there is a massive amount of opportunity on Amazon still (see Amazon Product Research in 2019), the opportunity generally requires larger budgets and more complex strategy.
Reason 2) Market Fatigue: There are only so many aspiring entrepreneurs and mom and pop shops that are interested in selling on Amazon. We are predicting that the interest peaked in these two demographics in 2018.
Reason 3) While we are not economists or fortune tellers, the possibility of a global/US based financial downturn is looming. In the event of a financial downturn, we expect people to have less “free cash” available to start an Amazon FBA business.
6. Major Changes in Reviews and Rankings
In 2019, we think Amazon will continue to improve the security/integrity around many systems/processes including their coveted reviews.
While we have been expecting Amazon to make a major systemic change to their review system, we are guessing (and hoping) that 2019 is the year we see this change come to fruition. In 2018 we have seen some review changes, specifically around review locks, in which receiving too many reviews will trigger Amazon to put a lock on new review activity.
We expect many unforeseen changes to take place, however our greatest hope/prediction is for Amazon to change the review system to a LinkedIn-style review cap presented on search results. By this, we mean that on search results pages, we expect Amazon to begin showing review quantities over 1,000 reviews as 1,000+ (or some similar number). You can check out our Amazon review podcast covering why we think this is necessary to protecting the quality of products purchased and the integrity of Amazon’s review platform for more on that topic.
In short, sellers are incentivized to achieve the highest review quantity relative to their competitors. A higher review quantity indicates greater popularity to potential buyers. If a product has been selling for 10 years on Amazon, it has a distinct advantage over new, and potentially better, products that have not had as long to generate reviews. Let’s say Product A has been on Amazon for 5 years, has a 4.4 star rating, and 6,000 reviews. While Product B has been on Amazon for 6 months, has a 4.8 star rating with 1,000 reviews and a price point $1.00 cheaper than Product A. While most may think Product B is a better product at a better value, there is very little hope of Product B gaining the sales necessary to acquire the reviews to outperform Product A. Product A could allow the quality of their product to decrease because they have such a large review quantity built up that it will be very difficult for others to catch up. It creates a stale market favoring age over quality and value. Limiting to 1,000 reviews shown in the decision process would allow customers to know that a statistically significant number of other customers have purchased/reviewed the product so that review rating must be legitimate.
While we do not have many specific predictions we feel comfortable sharing, we do expect there to be rather significant shake ups in the key drivers of Amazon’s organic keyword ranking algorithm. As in the past, having access to significant amounts of data around key ranking factors/metrics while constantly testing will be the key to staying ahead of any algorithmic changes. Fortunately, Viral Launch has been able to stay abreast of any changes thanks to our wealth of data and brilliant R&D team.
7. Facebook Begins It’s Path of Becoming The Second Largest Ecommerce Site
We are predicting Facebook begins making big moves in ecommerce by subsidizing sales through their platform for merchants to sell direct through their platform.
For the last couple of years, we’ve consistently considered Facebook to be the entity with the greatest potential to challenge Amazon in the world of retail. We’ve lost quite a bit of hope in Walmart and Google over the years. If you think through the core building blocks to a successful ecommerce platform, attention, data, trust, and web/mobile capabilities/technology are top of the list. With more than a purported 2 billion monthly active users, unparalleled data around it’s users, and significant web and mobile technology, Facebook is more than well equipped to help brands sell their goods directly through their platform at a massive scale.
I’m not talking about Facebook’s peer-to-peer marketplace. I’m expecting a full fledged Amazon competitor, and we’re beginning to see the early stages. In some instances, Facebook is reimbursing merchants $5 for each product sold to cover the cost of shipping with no additional marketplace fees, making Facebook a cheaper place to move product already. We’re expecting Facebook to start making some big moves in the e-commerce world in 2019.
8. International Markets are the New Gold Rush
We are predicting a substantial movement of third-party Amazon.com sellers in offering their products and brands on Amazon’s international marketplaces in 2019.
Selling on Amazon.com (the US marketplace) still poses massive opportunity if played right, but there is no denying that it is certainly more difficult to grasp that opportunity than ever. We expect the real mad rush for low hanging-fruit sales (Amazon “gold”) will come in Amazon’s international marketplaces. Viral Launch has been a strong advocate of sellers expanding internationally for the last two years, which is why we invested in hiring domestic listing optimization specialists in each country containing a major Amazon marketplace, as well as expanding our tools to work internationally. We have seen success after success with minimal effort and marketing budget in Amazon’s international markets over the last couple of years (check out this incredible story of two 21 year olds achieving 8 figures on Amazon in 2 years, while selling internationally).
As creating and expanding a profitable and high-growth Amazon business becomes more difficult to achieve on Amazon.com, we think 2019 will finally be the year that third-party sellers look to international markets in droves! Selling internationally certainly has some drawbacks, but in general, Amazon advertising is significantly cheaper, driving organic keyword ranking is significantly easier, and growing top line revenue are all much less competitive relative to Amazon.com. Experienced Amazon.com sellers are able to use their learned success tactics and easily apply them to their brands in International markets.
9. Seller Fulfilled Prime Comes Into Vogue
We are not denying the importance of 1-hour and same day delivery, but we predict we will see a significant amount of sellers over the $1m mark moving to a hybrid fulfillment model.
Over the last 6-9 months, we’ve started to observe a trend in larger/more experienced Amazon third-party sellers moving to the Seller Fulfilled Prime (SFP) model using a combination of their own warehouses and 3rd Party Logistics providers (3PLs). The most compelling reason to move from fulfilling through Amazon’s FBA program to a self-regulated SFP model is cost savings.
We are not seeing only sellers with large items such as furniture moving to SFP, but sellers with products of all weights and dimensions. A customer of ours, selling more than $40m/year on Amazon, claims moving to the Seller Fulfilled Prime model has been his single best investment yet!
The second most common reason sellers are taking up SFP is to support fulfillment for other ecommerce channels that may not allow using Amazon’s Multi-Channel Fulfillment program. Having a dedicated 3PL network allows sellers cheaper fulfillment and greater channel flexibility.
10. More Amazon-Owned Brands
We are predicting there will be a significant increase in the number of Amazon owned (not “sold by Amazon”) in 2019.
We have seen a significant push from Amazon in their own private label brands, and we expect to see this trend continue into 2019. Amazon now has over 80 of their own private label brands, and those brands are receiving better placement than ever (Amazon’s “Our Brands” section now shows above organic results for many search terms).
Amazon kicked off a new program near the end of 2018 called their Accelerator Program, which essentially stands as a partnership between third-parties and Amazon to establish new Amazon-owned brands using existing product performance data. This presents the potential for the number of Amazon owned brands to sky rocket! It will be very interesting to see how this progresses in the new year.
The largest threat to Amazon’s private label brands is likely the government presiding over the country in which each marketplace operates. For example, India has banned Amazon from selling any of its own products on Amazon.in.
11. Less Ads Showing on Page 1 of Search Results
We are predicting Amazon reduces the Amount of clutter in Amazon search results which distracts shoppers from the organic search results.
This is not a common opinion, and we’ll admit that there is a decent amount of logic/data pointing to an extremely high probability that this prediction does not come true, however, when we really try to get in the mind of Amazon and Jeff Bezos, this feels right! I (Casey Gauss) want to walk you through my logic on this one.
As I think through what has made Jeff and Amazon so successful, it’s been their relentless focus on the customer experience (think lower prices, faster shipping, return policy, etc.).
In my opinion, in 2018, the actual shopping experience for customers suffered at the expense of Amazon’s advertising revenue and the promotion of their owned products. There are two contributing factors to what I believe is a lower quality shopping experience.
(One key point to understanding my thoughts below is the difference between “organic results” and “sponsored results”. “Organic results” are the items presented to a customer after typing in a given search term that are showing in the results out of merit. Organic results have been selected by Amazon’s A9 ranking algorithm based on performance factors such as conversion rate, number of units sold, etc. “Sponsored results” are items showing with a “sponsored” denotation, and are showing in the results because merchants have paid for the placement. Theoretically, organic results are the best selling products for a given keyword which is why they are showing in the results. The products most likely to best satisfy the customer’s request. While Sponsored results are artificially placed based on how much the merchant is willing to spend.)
1) Overwhelming Information in Results: In general, our data shows that anywhere between 60-85% of a product’s sales potential come from placement in the organic search results. This means the majority of customers’ shopping experience consists of inputting search terms in the search bar (e.g. “fish oil supplement”), sifting through the results, and purchasing a product. In 2018, we saw an increase in the amount of information being shown on the results page which can be confusing, overwhelming, and a barrier to purchasing the products showing organically (the most likely to satisfy the customer’s request based on real buyer behavior).
The shopping experience is overwhelmed with information and creates a barrier to the shopper arriving at the best performing products based on real data from hundreds to millions of real customers. I feel this direct and indirect inhibition to the best customer experience does not align with Amazon’s mission and what has allowed them to be so successful to date.
2) More Sales Through Amazon Ads: There are more advertising placements on Amazon than ever before. Paid media sales are increasing their market share versus organic sales. When customers are purchasing artificially placed products (products presented through ads versus showing based on performance), the probability of the sponsored product being as high quality as an organically ranked product is low. By more sales being driven through advertising, Amazon is selling less of the proven and theoretically higher quality “organic results” to customers for the sake of driving more advertising revenue. More ad sales = more pay to play, versus quality & value to play.
Now, I don’t think that Amazon has nefarious intentions with advertising. They haven’t set out to create a lower quality shopping experience so they can make a few billion dollars more per year. My assumption (with almost no inside Amazon insight) is that this is a classic case of competition priorities between departments (i.e. the Amazon advertising business units are focused on maximizing their top line, without much focus on the overall customer experience).
Either way, I’m predicting that someone in Amazon, perhaps Mr. Bezos himself, will realize that there has been a slight deviation from the company’s overall focus, and will begin to peel back some of the excessive ad placement.
12. Amazon Significantly Outpaces Other Retailers in an Economic Downturn
We are predicting Amazon significantly outpaces competitors if/when there is a downturn in the US economy.
While we are not economists or fortune tellers, there seems a high probability that there will be an economic downturn of some degree at some point in the near future. If the next economic downturn occurs within 2019, we are predicting Amazon will outperform other retailers significantly. With unbeatable low prices, convenience for working families, and an incredibly large catalog of low priced necessities, we expect Amazon to be the go to store when budgets and time are tight.
Amazon changes the way they are indexing and ranking products, which means sellers have to be smart about their sourcing decisions.
As you’ve probably noticed, there was plenty of overlap between Viral Launch’s predictions and those of the included industry experts and thought leaders. I’m not sure if it is fair to say that this indicates the prediction is more likely to come true, but it does indicate that there is likely more data pointing to that assumption.
An underlying commonality throughout these predictions was increased competition, focusing on building traffic off of Amazon, and adapting your Amazon success strategies. There is certainly the opportunity to look at this with a negative outlook on the future, but please do not forget that Amazon is continuing to grow it’s ecommerce footprint significantly.
As the opportunity for incredible degrees of success continue to grow, so does the difficulty of achieving that opportunity. Instead of playing the victim to increased competition and “unfair” changes, the truly successful adapt with the times, play the long game, and focus on solutions.
I want to encourage you to focus on the solutions. How will you diversify your Amazon business? What strategies will you use to guarantee you and your team are staying ahead of the lastest success tactics? How can you drive sales, reviews, and keyword ranking in this new landscape?
While there are many components that comprise a winning strategy for the future, Viral Launch is focused on giving you the data, automation, and thought leadership around topics like driving sales, keyword ranking, and product selection. Now, it’s up to you to use these to stay ahead of the curve and continue growing exponentially on the world’s largest marketplace!
Luckily, we are here to give you a quick refresher on the important policies and regulations to help keep your account safe. We have compiled an overview of Amazon Terms of Service, including code of conduct, selling policies and prohibited actions to jog your memory and help you avoid any questionable tactics.
Let’s get started!
Seller Code of Conduct
Amazon strives to provide a safe and trustworthy online marketplace for millions of customers across the globe. They require sellers to adhere by a strict code of conduct to ensure shoppers trust their purchases and continue to return to the site. This code of conduct also protects you as a seller in that it keeps your competitors from using unfair tactics to outsell you and other rule-following sellers.
If Amazon discovers that you have violated their Code of Conduct, they typically take quick action. This can include suspending your seller privileges and/or removing you from the entire Amazon Marketplace.
Amazon Selling Policies
In order to protect consumers, Amazon has rules and requirements on what types of products can be sold on their site. Be sure you are not planning to sell any questionable items on the marketplace. Amazon does not allow you to list products that:
Amazon prohibits certain actions by sellers in order to protect both sellers themselves and shoppers. The site does its best to keep the playing field level for all sellers, so any action that gives you an unfair advantage over your competitors is not permitted. Chances are if you are worried whether a tactic you are considering using may be against the rules, it probably is. Here is a quick recap of some prohibited actions:
1. Diverting traffic from Amazon
Sellers are not permitted to use any sort of language or web links that push traffic away from the Amazon website. This includes any advertisements, special offers or calls to action that encourage shoppers to leave the site.
2. Unauthorized business names
All business names must accurately identify the seller, must not mislead shoppers and must be a name that the seller is permitted to use (i.e. it cannot be a brand or trademarked name that you do not have appropriate permission to use). Business names cannot contain an email suffix (i.e. .com, .biz, .net, etc.).
3. Inappropriate email communications
Sellers are not allowed to send any unsolicited emails to customers other than those needed for order fulfillment or customer service. Marketing emails to customers are not permitted.
4. Improper use of customer phone numbers
Customer phone numbers are provided to sellers who fulfill their own orders so they are able to comply with carrier label requirements. These phone numbers must be handled in accordance with Amazon’s customer personal information policy, which can be found in the Seller Agreement.
5. Multiple seller accounts
Sellers are not permitted to operate and maintain multiple seller accounts. If you have a legitimate business need for multiple accounts, you can apply for an exception by visiting the Contact Us section of your seller account. Click on Selling on Amazon, then select Your Account, then Other Account Issues. You must provide an explanation of your need for multiple accounts in your submission.
6. Misuse of the Amazon seller service
Sellers that upload excessive amounts of data repeatedly or use the service in an excessive or unreasonable way may face restricted or blocked access to product feeds or any other function they are misusing. Amazon decides what constitutes this misuse at their own discretion.
7. Misuse of ratings, feedbacks or reviews
Sellers are strictly prohibited from engaging in any action that may manipulate ratings, feedback, or reviews. This includes offering incentives to customers for their reviews or ratings, posting feedback to your own account, etc. You are allowed to ask for reviews in a neutral manner, but you are not allowed to ask for positive reviews. Sellers must also comply with Amazon’s Community Guidelines when dealing with customer reviews.
8. Misuse of sales rank
Sellers are prohibited from engaging in actions that manipulate sales rank. This includes soliciting or knowingly accepting fake orders, placing orders for your own products or providing compensation to shoppers for buying your products. Sellers are also not allowed to make claims about their sales rank in their product information.
9. Misuse of search and browse
Any attempt to manipulate the Search and Browse experience of shoppers is prohibited. This includes artificially stimulating customer traffic through internet bots, etc., providing misleading catalog information about your product, or adding product identifiers to hidden keyword attributes. Follow Amazon’s guide to properly optimize listings in order to write your listing in compliance with Amazon’s rules.
10. Misuse of product customization
Those products that are listed as being customizable must be able to deliver on this claim. Any attempt to manipulate custom functionality in a manner which bypasses existing Amazon policies or misrepresents customized products is prohibited.
Know the Rules, Follow the Rules
Amazon does not take violations of their terms of service lightly. At best, you may get flagged and temporarily suspended. At worst, you could be banned completely by the online retailer, stopping your cash flow and dashing all hopes of future sales.
Though it may be tempting at times to try questionable tactics to boost sales, it is not worth the risk. You may see some of your competitors breaking the rules to get ahead, and while they may not get caught immediately, Amazon almost always catches up to sellers who are abusing their terms of service.
Amazon Sales Tax has always created a HUGE debate among Amazon Sellers. Who’s responsible for collecting? Where should you collect? What’s happening now? What’s happening in the future?
This is one HUGE aspect of your business that you need to get right. Today, we’re bringing Scott Peterson onto the show. Scott has an incredibly impressive involvement with Sales Tax, and is also a part of Avalara. He’s here to break down what Sellers need to know now, and what Sellers need to know for the future.
Take notes. You don’t want to miss what Scott has to say.
Shipping, Importing and Freight Forwarding is perhaps one of THE most confusing, yet essential, aspects to selling on Amazon. There are a LOT of changes happening in the Amazon space right now. Policy changes, Tariffs, Q4, Q1… and we’re breaking it ALL down in this two-part series.
I’m bringing Michael from Flexport onto the show – you’ll learn what Flexport’s all about in the intro of the topic discussion, just know that Flexport is on TOP of the Freight Forwarding and Shipping Logistics game, AND is focused on innovating in the Amazon space. They’re incredible at what they do, and have incredible perspective for what’s going on right now.
This week, which is part 2, we’ll be touching on general best practices and some solid Q4 / Q1 strategy. Pay attention here everyone, there’s a LOT to digest, but this information is ESSENTIAL.
As an Amazon seller, your main goal is to get your product in front of as many buyers as possible. But with competition high, where do you even start? Thankfully, there are several Amazon advertising tools designed to help sellers promote their products.
From sponsored ads and video ads to storefronts and more, sellers have plenty of options for how to advertise their Amazon products and brands. In this guide, we’ll cover what each of these advertising options are and how you can use them for your business. But first, let’s discuss a big change Amazon recently made to its advertising platform.
What’s in a Name? Amazon Advertising Rebrand
Come with me on a journey through time and space to August 2018. It was a different, more confusing time in the Amazon ecosystem. Back then, Amazon sellers looking to advertise their products had to wade through three different marketing channels and decide which one was best for their business. Amazon offered AMG (Amazon Media Group), AMS (Amazon Marketing Services) and AAP (Amazon Advertising Platform) as their three marketing pillars.
However, the disjointed nature of having multiple advertising platforms was seen as unnecessarily confusing to a lot of sellers. Many people found it hard to decipher where you needed to go to run the types of ads you wanted with so many different acronyms and platforms.
In September 2018, Amazon began phasing out the three-headed monster of AMG, AMS and AAP, opting rather to combine them all into one advertising platform. Now anything that has to do with advertising on Amazon falls under the umbrella of Amazon Advertising.
Head over to Amazon Advertising if you’re looking for any of these services or features:
To make sure you understand all the options at your fingertips, let’s dive into each one.
Sponsored Product Ads
In short, Sponsored Ads are pay-per-click advertisements that allow brands to promote their products with keyword-targeted ads. As you’ve shopped on Amazon before, you’ve likely seen these ads. These appear with a small “Sponsored” tag after you’ve typed in a related keyword. Sponsored Product ads can show up at the top or within search results and on product detail pages. They will also appear on mobile and tablet browsers, as well as apps. As an example, when searching “garlic press,” I was given these Sponsored Ads:
How Much do Sponsored Product Ads Cost?
As previously mentioned, these types of ads use a cost-per-click, auction-based pricing model. This means you are bidding against other sellers to get that spot within search results. You set the maximum amount you are willing to pay when a shopper clicks on your ad. The more competitive your bid is, the better chance it has to be displayed.
As you can see in the image below, this is what the Sponsored Ads user interface looks like. In the first column, you can enter your bid for the ad. To help sellers choose the right bid, Amazon will provide you with a suggested price range. As you’re getting started, bid within or just slightly over the suggested amount. You can always adjust from there if you are not getting desired results from your campaign.
Once you’ve got campaigns ready to go, you can also set your budget: the maximum daily amount you’re willing to spend over a calendar month.
Ready to Start Building Your First Campaign?
Check out this webinar from Amazon:
Now that you have a basic understanding of what Sponsored Products are, let’s move onto the next advertising option.
Formerly known as Headline Search Ads, Sponsored Brands are keyword-targeted ads that allow brands to have a custom headline and logo within their ad. Brands use these advertisements to drive shoppers to a custom landing page or their Amazon Store. These ads show up on the left side of search results and at the top and bottom of the page. They can also appear on both desktop and mobile browsers, as well as the Amazon app.
Who is Eligible for Sponsored Brands?
Only third party products that are enrolled in Brand Registry are eligible to utilize Sponsored Brands. The products must also be new and fall into one of the categories below.
Note: Adult products, used products, and refurbished products are not eligible for the Sponsored Brands program.
How Much Do Sponsored Brands Cost?
Similar to Sponsored Product Ads, Sponsored Brands use a cost-per-click, auction-based pricing model. You set the maximum amount you’re willing to pay when a shopper clicks your ad. The more competitive your bid is, the more likely it is that your ad will be displayed.
While there are a lot of similarities with Sponsored Product Ads, the daily budget works a little bit different for Sponsored Brands. You set the maximum daily amount you’re willing to spend on ads, but it does not roll over to the next day. This is unlike Sponsored Product Ads, which uses an average for the month.
Like sponsored ads, Display Ads also use a pay-per-click model. However, there are some differences. While sponsored ads are keyword targeted, Display Ads allow you to target your ad based on shopper interest or a specific product. Display Ads can appear in a number of places for both desktop and mobile users, including:
Below search results
Customer review pages
Top of the offer listing page
This image shows a Display Ad appearing directly under the checkout options on the right side of the page.
In addition to the areas listed above, these ads may also appear in Amazon merchandising emails.
Want some more information about Display Ads?
Check out this video from Amazon:
Video Ads are a great way for advertisers to really tell their brand story and engage customers in a unique way. These ads show up in brand-safe environments via trusted channels like Amazon, IMDb or on exclusive Amazon devices like Fire TV or Fire tablet, as well as across many third-party sites and apps. As you can see below, videos are showing up on the bottom of a webpage as well as on a smartphone.
One major point to remember about video ads is they require a budget of $35,000 or more in the United States. These are typically going to be utilized by sellers or brands that have bigger advertising budgets.
Stores allow sellers to create their own website within Amazon with its own branded URL. This is a great way to showcase your brand story and product portfolio in a curated customer destination while providing a place to drive advertisements to. They don’t require any coding skills to set up and, as you can see below, provide a multi-page shopping experience.
Known formerly as Amazon Advertising Platform (AAP), Amazon DSP is a demand-side platform. This allows sellers to programmatically reach audiences on Amazon sites as well as through publishing partners and third-party exchanges. Unlike other advertising options where the main goal is to have a direct impact on sales, the main goal of DSP campaigns are to build brand and product awareness. This is more for companies that understand the nature of brand advertising and are already running display ads on other platforms.
The Measurement tools of Amazon Advertising allow sellers to see how their campaigns are performing. Here are some of the most important terms to understand:
Impression: An impression is generated every time your ad is displayed.
Click: A click is generated when a user clicks or taps your ad.
Click-through rate: Click-through rate is the number of clicks your ad generates divided by the number of times your ad is displayed (impressions).
Detail page view: A detail page view, or DPV, occurs when a customer visits one of your brand’s product detail pages after clicking your ad.
Total sales: Sum of sales attributed to your campaign. A sale is attributed to your campaign each time a customer clicks your ad and purchases your products within 14 days. It takes 3 days after your first click for this data to begin showing in your report.
ACOS: The average advertising cost of sales (ACOS) is the amount you’ve spent on a campaign divided by the total sales attributed to your ad.
In this section of Amazon Advertising, sellers are able to run many different reports to check how their campaigns are performing.
Advertising on Amazon: Find What Works for You
While standing out on Amazon can be difficult, these days sellers have plenty of tools to advertise their products. However, running Sponsored or Display Ads or utilizing any of the other marketing strategies won’t automatically ensure success.
A lot of the Amazon game (advertising included), comes down to good old fashioned research along with trial and error.
If you’re going to jump into running Sponsored Ad campaigns for your product, you need to be fully aware of what you’re willing to spend on your advertising campaign as a whole so you can properly set bids and your budget. It also might behoove you to start with a wider net of keywords, let the campaign run, and then pick out a few of the keywords that perform the best.
The point here is, you need to figure out what strategy and advertising options work for you and your goals. If something isn’t working, take note and adjust accordingly before moving forward.
Here at Viral Launch, we want to provide you with all the information you need to become a successful Amazon seller. For more on Amazon selling strategies, we encourage you to subscribe to our blog, check out our Youtube channel, and listen to our Follow the Data podcast.