Dispelling Myths: Diversification (Follow the Data Ep. 5)


Follow the Data Episode 5: Diversification

Selling your product on Amazon alone is a bad business model. Or is it? Join Viral Launch CEO Casey Gauss and Amazon Seller Coach Cameron Yoder as they discuss whether diversifying your business efforts across multiple ecommerce platforms is really worth it.

Follow the Data Show Notes

  • Amazon is the go-to online retailer today, and Prime shipping is a huge incentive for shoppers. According to RetailWire, “The average Prime program participant spends $1,300 per year,” and Prime membership is only increasing, which means the potential for third-party sellers continues to grow.
  • Check out this recap of 2016 Amazon third-party sales. With 2017 shaping up to be an even bigger year, there’s no denying that Amazon offers third-party sellers a sales opportunity like no other online retailer.
  • Another great recap from last year is this infographic by Visual Capitalist, depicting online market share.
  • Take a look at these Viral Launch Case Studies for a few examples of sellers who decided to double down on their Amazon businesses and saw huge results
  • Don’t forget to check out our redesign of Market Intelligence. With a brand new look, a built-in FBA calculator, and the most accurate sales estimates in the galaxy, Market Intelligence has everything you need to streamline your sourcing process. Check it out at viral-launch.com/newMI
  • Want to be on the show? Leave us a voicemail at (317) 721-6590


Podcast Transcript

Casey Gauss:                      

Approximately 55% of online shoppers start their product search on Amazon.  As an online retailer you know Amazon is the place to be.


Cameron Yoder:              

But is selling strictly on Amazon the most profitable approach?  I’m Cameron Yoder.


Casey Gauss:                      

And I’m Casey Gauss, your host for Follow the Data: Your Journey to Amazon FBA Success.  In this show we leverage the data we’ve accumulated at Viral Launch from over 20,000 product launches and our experience working with 5,500 brands to help you understand the big picture when it comes to selling on Amazon, and most importantly, the best practices for success as an Amazon seller.


Cameron Yoder:              

The first four inaugural episodes of Follow the Data are all part of our Dispelling Myths series in which we explore topics that have garnered a lot of conversation among the Amazon seller community but until recently have not been proven or disproven using factual evidence.


Casey Gauss:                      

We’ll talk about why these Amazon theories make sense and what the data is saying about what’s actually happening.


Cameron Yoder:

Today we’re talking about diversification.  Now there’s this conversation happening among sellers, whether to focus solely on Amazon or whether to diversify and sell on other platforms.  We’ve heard a lot of people talk about this at conferences.  For example, some sellers are listing their products on eBay or Walmart, Shopify, BigCommerce, Squarespace or other big names  that others are talking about. But this is the conversation today.  The conversation is whether it’s worth it or not. Casey, you’re passionate about this.  Take it away.


Casey Gauss:                      

Yeah, so I mean it’s pretty much like public knowledge at this point that – or general consensus:  Okay, I need to diversify away from Amazon as soon as possible because Amazon is going to ruin my business.  And I totally get it, right.  So everybody assumes it is like okay, I have a business on Amazon.  I have to diversify right away.  And there’s just a lot of issues with that.  So basically – but I get it, right.


Cameron Yoder:              

But why do people think that right away?


Casey Gauss:                      

Yeah, yeah


Cameron Yoder:              

Why is that?


Casey Gauss:                      

I mean it totally makes sense.  At the end of the day if you are amazing at Google PPC and/or Facebook ads and this is just a talent that you have, then it completely makes sense.


Cameron Yoder:              



Casey Gauss:                      

And I totally get it, right.  So the area of seller that we see this happen the most are the guys that are doing, you know, they hit that million dollar a year mark, or maybe the 1 to like 3, maybe 1 to $5 million a year mark, and then they really, really want to protect what they have.


Cameron Yoder:              

You’re saying diversify – like those are a lot of people that you see consider diversifying?


Casey Gauss:                      

Yeah, yeah, yeah.  So once they get to this mark they’re like wow, I really want to protect what I have, and so what is the biggest threat?  Well, the biggest threat is that I’m on the Amazon platform.  I don’t control the customer, which is a totally valid consideration, right?  Those are definitely – I totally see where you’re coming from.  But there’s a few issues with that.  


So what I typically see happen is that those sellers that try to begin diversifying – one, they’re paying all this money for these courses teaching you how to diversify, which generally don’t work.  But the thing is that people forget what got them to that 1 to $5 million a year mark, and what got them to that 1 to $5 million a year mark is launching more products on Amazon and/or really just figuring out that launch process on Amazon.  If you’re doing, you know, $2 million a year, you know how to launch products on Amazon.  And so how do you go to $4 million?  How do you go to $10 million?  Well, you just launch more products through that same exact process you’ve already established.  The answer is not to go and diversify.  Anyways, so –


Cameron Yoder:              

Well do you think having – do you think having a presence on these other platforms does contribute to extending your – as other people would say – brand reach?


Casey Gauss:                      

Yeah, so I think that you should have at the very least a Shopify store.  I think that you should go and have – you should have somebody on your team go and list your products on these other platforms.  I mean just by happenstance, you know, if you are the only vitamin C serum – which isn’t the case – but if you’re the only vitamin C serum on Walmart, yeah, you’re going to get some traffic.


Cameron Yoder:              



Casey Gauss:                      

Right?  But you – I don’t think that you should be consid — spending a considerable amount of time on these other platforms.  But again, we’ll get into that –


Cameron Yoder:              



Casey Gauss:                      

– in a minute.  So basically at the high level people want to protect what they have.  I totally get it.  There’s a lot of gurus that are pushing for people to diversify.  We’ll get into that in a minute.  But again, you know, if this guru that is, you know, absolutely killing it is telling you that they’re doing this or that you should be doing this, no, you know I totally understand why you think that.  And again, logically it makes sense.  Okay, I’ve had this success on Amazon.  People like my brand or whatever.  Brand is in quotes.  Then like I will be able to go and replicate this in these other platforms.  And the answer is just no.  It just doesn’t happen that way.  So, yeah.


Cameron Yoder:              

Let’s take a look at – so one main aspect of what other people are saying in this argument for diversifying is that a seller can control the buyer experience more, right?  So in Amazon – you touched on this at the beginning, but when a seller is on Amazon the control of the buyer experience is not – it’s not that much.  You can’t control it as much as you would in your own website, for example.  So people, again, are saying, right – and correct me if I’m wrong – but people are saying that oh, my argument for diversifying is that I can control my buyer experience.


Casey Gauss:                      

Yeah, and I totally get what you’re saying, but my answer to that is, for how many people, right?  Oh yeah, you can go and control the conversation for 100 new customers a day.


Cameron Yoder:              



Casey Gauss:                      

But I’m going to go sell 5000 units a month on Amazon, right?


Cameron Yoder:              



Casey Gauss:

The problem is yeah, you get to control the buyer experience, but for how many people?


Cameron Yoder:              



Casey Gauss:                      

You know what I mean?  Like sure you can have control of 100 people a month that are coming and visiting your Shopify store or that you’re paying an insane amount of money to get to your Shopify store or wherever.  But I’m going to be on Amazon selling 5000 units a month while you’re selling 100 units a month on Shopify.  We’ve seen, you know, we’ve seen this happen so many times where basically sellers, they’re doing really well on Amazon.  Again, these are the guys doing that 1 to 5 million, sometimes a little bit more, but then they try to diversify.  They try to get into retail, or they try to push heavily into Shopify, and they spend all of their time or a good portion of their time not growing their Amazon business.  And so what happens is yeah, maybe you grow revenue by 5% or something, but what we see happen a lot of times is in the meantime their Amazon business starts to lose traction.  It starts to lose market share. They get out of tune with what’s working.  And they’re just, you know, out of touch.  And so competitors just start to pass them by.


So yeah, they started making a little bit extra money on their Shopify store or whatever, but they’ve really started to lose out on their Amazon business.  They are trying to avoid the very situation they end up creating, which is they are trying to protect their sales for the long-term by diversifying, and calculating opportunity costs they lose out on sales in the long term.


Cameron Yoder:              

Right.  Other arguments that people have, which I think there is kind of one main answer and you already touched on it to all of these, a couple reasons that sellers opt into listing on different platforms, there’s a pretty comprehensive list.  One is a lower barrier to entry.  So again, Walmart is an example.  Walmart has a much lower barrier to entry than Amazon.  There’s less competition. There’s no monthly fees or startup fees, lower listing or product fees, and you own your own storefront, right?  But, but like you said, I feel like all of these arguments can be honestly just like crushed with the fact that all of the traffic is on Amazon.


Casey Gauss:                      

Yeah, okay.  Lower product fees, okay, yeah.  I’ll pay – versus paying let’s say it costs $5 to ship my widget and sell on Amazon.  But it only costs $1 to sell on Walmart.  No, that’s great, but you’re still only selling 100 units.  And so –


Cameron Yoder:              

But dude, you don’t have a $35 monthly fee.


Casey Gauss:                      

Those things just don’t make sense.  So really I mean we’ve worked with over 5500 brands.  I have really good relationships with guys that are doing 100 million a month.  Whoa.


Cameron Yoder:              

Holy –


Casey Gauss:                      

100 million a month would be insane.


Cameron Yoder:              

I’d like to meet them.


Casey Gauss:                      

Yeah, me too.  100 million a year, 50 million a year, guys that are doing – plenty of guys that are doing around 20 million a year, and everybody in between, right?  And the thing is is I do not know – I’m not aware of any seller that has successfully taken their success on Amazon and then brought or built a considerable revenue stream outside of Amazon from their private label business.  Like it just absolutely doesn’t make sense.  These guys that have a major $35 million brand, it’s the third-largest brand in their category, in the top-level category: I’m talking cell phones and accessories or beauty or health and household.  Like these guys have the third-largest brand by volume, and their sales on their website, they’re spending – they have a huge team, and they’re spending a good amount of money trying to drive those sales on their website.  And they’re just not seeing the volume.


So what – you know I have some friends that they do 50 million a year, and they tried pushing on their website, and they realized it just didn’t work.  And they saw a dip in revenue when this happened like two years ago.  And now they’ve just doubled down on Amazon because they know exactly how to launch products when it comes to Amazon.  So they just doubled down on that.  


The opportunity is on Amazon, and if you are spending, you know, a week – let’s just say a day.  You’re spending a day out of your week trying to build these other sales channels.  Well that’s a day a week that you’re not building your Amazon business.  And so for every dollar, you know – these are arbitrary numbers, but it’s something like for every dollar you spend building your Amazon business you get $10 back, let’s just say.  But for every dollar you spend building your Shopify business you’re getting like $1.50 back.  Maybe you’re getting $2.00, but probably not.  You know, net net across your Amazon sales in everything you’re seeing maybe $1.05, or you’re seeing $0.95 out of that dollar spent.


And so, you know, I do think that you should diversify.  Like I said at the beginning, you know, if you have the team or you have the skill set – if you have the skill set to drive an insane amount of Facebook ads or whatever, yeah, definitely check out that model.  But you still need to run the math and calculate: Do I make so much more money when I’m spending that same amount of time and that same amount of money pushing my Amazon brand?  Well, then do that.  You know, like – and again –


Cameron Yoder:              

Keep on going


Casey Gauss:                      

So the other argument for diversifying is everybody’s afraid of getting banned from the Amazon platform, and now their revenue stream dries up.  That’s what these guys that are selling $1 million, $5 million a year, that’s what they’re so afraid of.  And the thing is is we’ve worked with 5500 brands, right, and we know of a lot more, of course, right?  I only know – we only know of one brand that has actually gotten banned from the platform, and these guys were asking for it.  Like these guys had gotten suspended so many times.  They just kept doing, you know, whatever it was that was getting them suspended, and they were pushing the envelope in every direction.  And you know, eventually Amazon said no, we don’t trust you guys to reinstate you because you’re just going to keep doing this stuff.  You guys are banned.  You guys are not able to sell on the Amazon platform.


And so at the end of the day, again, thousands and thousands of brands – we’ve definitely seen people get suspended, but they get pushed right back up.  And so I don’t know how legit that fear of getting banned is.  I understand why you’re afraid, of course.  I totally get it.  But at the end of the day, how likely is it to happen?  Well, according to our sample size –


Cameron Yoder:              

Not very.


Casey Gauss:                      

– one in 5500, which is pretty low. I would like to think that it’s more. And again, the thing is is sure, you can go spend a ton of time trying to diversify.  But in reality will you be successful at it?  You know, I really doubt it.  The data just does not show us in the 5500 brands that we have worked with. That it is likely that you can take your Amazon success and turn it into external success.


Cameron Yoder:              

I like to relate, I like to relate this subject to – and Casey, you’ve heard this before – I like to relate this, the idea of diversifying, to the gold rush, right, like the classic American gold rush where once people heard that there was a ton of gold in one place they all rushed to it, right?  I feel like Amazon is that source of gold right now. More and more people are starting to hear about it, and not that – I mean there was a limited amount of gold, right, and not that Amazon is going to run out or go out of business or anything, but the game is changing as time goes on.


Casey Gauss:                      

And it’s getting more difficult.


Cameron Yoder:              

And it is getting – it is.  It is.  The gold has not run out yet at all.  If you see this huge mine of gold that you know is there, it’s Amazon, then why would you go to another gold mine, like Walmart or Etsy, that you can’t see the gold?  Like sure there’s some benefit there, and there will be benefit in the future. I think, just in terms of taking advantage of the moment, that’s the best thing.


Casey Gauss:                      

Yeah, you know, I think maybe if you have that 1 to $5 million brand and you have a team, then maybe you can hire somebody that’s great at customer acquisition or digital advertising or whatever.  And they can try to build those sales, and you know, they can be compensated accordingly.  And you can have them focus on that, but what you need to be focused on is on what you know how to do really well, and that is selling on Amazon.


Cameron Yoder:              

Right, right.  And opportunity cost, right?


Casey Gauss:                      



Cameron Yoder:              

Like it’s going to cost something.  If you choose to focus on another platform, it’s going to cost time


Casey Gauss:                      

Yeah, and again, every minute that you’re spent focused outside of Amazon, a competitor is focused on Amazon, and they’re just going to steal that opportunity or that potential from you down the road.  But I think that people are really underestimating the value of the Amazon business right now.


Cameron Yoder:              

Yeah, I agree.


Casey Gauss:                      

I think that time will show us that your brand is actually more valuable than you think.  And again, going back to Cam’s comment of reviews being the currency, like this is the way to go.  Yeah.


Cameron Yoder:              

It is.


Casey Gauss:                      

So basically to sum everything up, Amazon is huge right now.  It’s still growing.  It’s supposed to be growing an insane amount. They’re just snagging such a big portion of the e-commerce sales.


Cameron Yoder:              

Remember.  Remember what got you here, right?


Casey Gauss:                      



Cameron Yoder:              

Remember what got you here and triple down on it.


Casey Gauss:                      

Right.  Yeah.  So yeah, basically at the end of the day we don’t know anybody—doesn’t matter if they’re doing 100 million a year, 50 million a year—it doesn’t matter. We don’t know anybody that has successfully gone and diversified.  Does it mean it’s not possible?  No, it’s definitely possible.  But that’s not what’s happening.  That’s not where you should be focusing.  You need to be focusing on building your Amazon business.  Are we biased in saying that?  Yes.  Is it the truth?  Is that what the data is saying? Yes.


Cameron Yoder:              



Casey Gauss:                      

Does it make logical sense?  No, not really, but it’s the truth.


Cameron Yoder:              

Well hey, that is all for this week.  Thank you so much for joining us on Follow the Data.  For more reliable information about what’s really happening on Amazon subscribe to the podcast and check out the Viral Launch blog at Viral-Launch.com


Casey Gauss:                      

And don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you like the podcast.  We really appreciate your feedback.  We love, love honest feedback.  We love to hear what your thoughts are.  And if you enjoyed the podcast and want other people to hear it, please share.  Reviews also help other people to understand how good or terrible of a job we’re doing.


Cameron Yoder:              

We’ll link to all of the information and sources that we referenced in this episode in today’s blog post.  Check out the blog and subscribe to our email list to stay up-to-date on all the latest Amazon updates and best practices.


Casey Gauss:                      

Want to be featured on the show?  Leave us a voicemail and tell us your thoughts on today’s episode, or ask us any of your Amazon questions.  Our number is 317-721-6590.  Join us next week when we dispel the myth of suspension.  Until then, remember, the data is out there.

Cameron Yoder:

Hey! I wanted to let you know about a webinar that Casey and I hosted last night where we made an exciting announcement. We’ve updated our product research tool, Market Intelligence, with a brand new look, easier navigation, and a built-in FBA calculator. If you missed us last night, you can find our announcement and our walkthrough of the tool on our YouTube channel. The calculator feature is super slick, essentially calculating how much it costs to break into a market showing you upfront costs, month expenses, monthly profit, and total profitability.


Market Intelligence offers sellers the most accurate sales estimates in the galaxy and up to 2 years of historic sales data so you can see big market trends like price and overall sales. With the newly integrated FBA calculator, this latest version of Market Intelligence really does have everything that you need to research your next product. Visiti viral-launch.com/newMI to check it out and to start your free trial.

5 Reasons To Start Selling on Amazon Europe

5 Reasons to Start Selling on Amazon Europe

“Going global.” We’ve all heard it right? Maybe one of the biggest buzz phrases in today’s technological world, especially for those in e-commerce.

Although Amazon US is without a doubt the largest, most profitable Amazon market, there is still a wealth of opportunity to be had on Amazon’s international sites, especially in Europe. Below are the top 5 reasons why you should be considering internationalization to Amazon Europe:


1. Expand Your Sales Potential

For starters, expanding into other Amazon marketplaces, namely the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain, puts you in front of more consumers. Simple as that. In fact, it puts you in front of potentially 230 million more consumers.

While there are additional costs associated with selling internationally, the doubling in customer exposure and potential increase in sales is undoubtedly worth the price.

Since Brexit, Amazon UK sales have actually increased, and retail sales overall in European markets are on the rise, whereas US retail sales growth has been declining in recent years (more on that later). And, the average UK online shopper actually spends more annually than the average US online shopper, while German online shoppers are only marginally behind the US.


2. Smaller Markets = Less Competition

Another positive of Amazon Europe is smaller markets. You might be asking, doesn’t that mean fewer consumers? While all 5 European markets combined have about the same consumer base as the US alone, the undeniable benefit of each country’s smaller market is fewer sellers.

Of the approximate 2 million active Amazon sellers worldwide, only around 200,000 are in Europe, meaning you will have significantly less competition for the products you sell in each market.

Sellers should consider if their product is one that will sell well in each market. Due to cultural differences and expectations, an item that might be a high seller in the US may not translate as well in Germany or Spain. Or, your product may be called something completely different in another market. For example, in the US, we say “oven mitts,” but in the UK, they say “oven gloves.” So do your market research before you list, but if it’s right for the market, the potential to thrive and make it to page 1 is much easier than in the US.


3. Grow as the Markets Grow

As mentioned earlier, the European online sales market has seen significant growth in recent years. Western Europe has seen a steady average of 12% growth in online retail sales from 2012 to 2017, and Southern Europe has an average of 18% growth each year. The US, on the other hand, has seen a decline in growth in the last 5 years, from 14.8% in 2013 to 12.8% in early 2017.

Sellers have the potential to enter in now as the market across Europe is quickly expanding, allowing their products and their brand to grow as the markets grow. For example, review quantities are extremely low compared to the US.

Back when reviews were this low on Amazon.com, many sellers were able to get into the market early, generate tons of reviews over time, claim market share, and heighten the barrier to entry for new products. As the Europe market continues to grow, market competition will increase, so it’s a perfect opportunity to start building your reviews now. Basically, get in early, before everyone else does.


4. Many Sellers are Afraid of Internationalization

While potentially very profitable, internationalization is a daunting prospect for many US sellers. There are language and cultural barriers, market variations, differences in consumer expectations, extra shipping costs and local taxes, exchange rates, customer service barriers and local regulations.

These factors can seem extremely intimidating, but Amazon is working to mitigate challenges, making it easier for sellers to cross the ocean into Europe, even going as far as allowing certain sellers to apply for an Amazon account manager who can help with European expansions.

Since many are still avoiding the jump across the pond, sellers willing to take the chance have the opportunity to establish their brand and product now, solidifying a buyer base before other sellers land on the market.


5. Amazon is Seeking to Grow International Markets

In efforts to encourage sellers to go global, Amazon has significantly boosted their EU marketplace services in the last several years. While you do not have to be an FBA seller to sell internationally, Amazon makes the process incredibly streamlined if you are.

Anyone can sell across all 5 EU marketplaces under one single seller account, but non-FBA sellers must handle their own shipping and customer service. If you sell internationally as an FBA seller, you can send your products to an Amazon EU fulfilment center for storage and shipping, your products are Prime eligible, and you have access to each of Amazon’s language-specific 24/7 customer service platforms. Sounds like a pretty good gig if you ask me…


Need Help With International Launches?

Whether you’re looking to grow into just the UK market, or you’re interested in all 5 Amazon Europe marketplaces, the rewards have great potential if you have a product that will resonate culturally.

Lucky for you, Viral Launch is already offering product launches in Canada, the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. And, they’re discounted (for now, anyways)! So when you’re ready to cross the pond, Viral Launch is ready to get you ranking and launch you to Amazon Europe success!

Bonus: Market Intelligence, Viral Launch’s Amazon product research tool is now available for international markets! You can validate your Amazon Europe product ideas, see accurate sales estimates, and understand market trends in the US, UK, Germany, Canada, Japan, France, Italy, Spain, India, Mexico, and China. Start researching today, both for the US market and internationally, with the most sophisticated Amazon product research tool available!


Launch My Product!

See International Launch Pricing


Selling in Amazon Europe? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

How to Make an Amazon Store: Brand Registry 2.0

The newest feature of Brand Registry 2.0 has arrived: Amazon Stores. Here, Viral Launch will explain how to make an Amazon Store and take advantage of the new Brand Registry updates .

Amazon is constantly introducing benefits to their Brand Registry program: trademark/copyright protection, Enhanced Brand Content, and now the ability to create Amazon Stores.

What are Amazon Stores?

According to Amazon, Amazon Stores is a free self-service product that allows brands to create single or multi-page Stores to showcase their brand value and product selection. Features of Amazon Stores include:

  • Own a unique Amazon web address (amazon.com/your-brand)
  • Create multiple pages to showcase your product catalog
  • Start with pre-made mobile and desktop layouts
  • Receive traffic from Amazon search and detail pages

Each Amazon Store page is made up of a header, footer, and content tiles in between.

How do you set up an Amazon Store?

To access Amazon Stores, login to your Seller Central account and click Storefronts > Manage Stores.

If your brand is enrolled in Amazon Brand Registry, you’ll see a “Create Store” button. If your brand is not enrolled, you will see a “Register a brand.” button, as only registered brand owners are eligible to create Stores.

If your brand is registered, you’ll head to the Store setup page. First, you’ll add your brand’s logo and then select your page template. There are four template options:

  1. Marquee: designed to act as a brand or sub-brand gateway page.
  2. Highlight: showcase related products and related content.
  3. Product Grid: display large number of products.
  4. Blank: customize your own layout.

With a template selected, you can edit everything in the Amazon Store builder. Amazon outlines the Amazon Store Builder this way:

  1. Page Manager: used to create, select, move, and delete pages from the Amazon store.
  2. Preview Window: provides a live view of the current page. It can also be used to select a tile to edit in the Tile Manager.
  3. Tile Manager: used to add, edit, move, and delete tiles from the Amazon store. Tiles options include product, text, video, and image.
  4. Status Bar: provides the current moderation status of the Amazon Store (not submitted, in progress, approved, or failed) and displays any error messages.”

As you’re editing, you can preview your Amazon Store to see what it will look like. Once you’re happy with your Store, you can “Submit for publishing.” The review and approval process may take several days, and you cannot edit your draft during the moderation process. To avoid a Store rejection, follow the Amazon Store Brand Guidelines.

For a more detailed breakdown of Amazon Stores, brand guidelines, and how they work, check out the Amazon Stores User Guide.

For inspiration, check out Amazon Basics’ Store, which is a great example of Amazon Stores in action.

What does this mean for sellers?

Amazon’s main priority is its customers. It always has been, and it always will be. Let’s be honest… the overall aesthetic and UI/UX of Amazon isn’t the best in the world. So it’s no surprise that the company is rolling out features that will enhance the shopping experience.

Honestly at this point, we’re not sure how Amazon Stores will affect the overall shopping experience. Right now, a shopper finds what they are looking for by typing in a search term, looking through results, and selecting a product that fits their needs.

However, it would make sense that Amazon is setting up for an additional way to drive traffic through these storefronts in order to make the shopping experience more enjoyable. After all, Amazon does advertise that Amazon Stores will “build a new shopping experience.” Here at Viral Launch, we are just really interested to see how brands building Amazon storefronts will change the Amazon shopping experience.

Is Amazon taking a note from Macy’s by including branded sections located throughout the store? In case you haven’t noticed, Amazon has been actively making changes to the shopping experience already. When searching keywords such as mens watches or womens shoes, Amazon no longer shows search results directly.

Will Amazon start to identify “trusted” or “popular” brands for particular product markets, such as a search for vitamin c serum resulting in a few popular brands plus a few search results? We’re interested to see.

This could be Amazon’s way of weeding out sellers who aren’t serious about their business and rewarding those who are. After all, Amazon is a better place for consumers when their merchants are serious about providing a good product from a good brand.

For this reason, take advantage of Amazon Brand Registry, if you’ve been reluctant to pull the trigger thus far. Along with the brand protection, brand support, and access to EBC, the program allows for Amazon Stores, which could become increasingly valuable as Amazon continues to evolve.


Amazon Store Brand Guidelines

Amazon Stores User Guide

Example of an Amazon Storefront

Enroll in Amazon Brand Registry

What do you think of this new feature for Brand Registered sellers? We’d love to hear your thoughts and questions in the comments below!

Selling on Amazon: The 3 Keys to Success

You’ve heard the crazy success stories, like how one ambitious seller made $40k in his first 30 days selling on Amazon. Perhaps you have a mortgage to pay, a family to feed, or student loans to pay off. Or maybe you’re looking to invest in something that will take your income to the next level. Or you might be trying to build a brand you can eventually sell for 7 or 8 figures. Whatever position you’re in, you are wondering how to sell on Amazon.

You’ll find loads of information out there on different podcasts, blog posts, webinars, and tutorial videos. Yet one of the most common issues that arise with sellers is: I don’t know where to start. It’s easy to get lost in all of the information about how to sell on Amazon.

We’re here to break it down into three easy steps. Whether you’re looking at selling retail arbitrage or private-label, how to sell on Amazon can be simplified into three keys to success: start with a great product, set up your listing to rank and convert, and get your product in front of the client.

How to Sell on Amazon Key #1: Start with Sourcing a Great Product

What makes a great Amazon product? That’s a loaded question, but thanks for asking. I’m happy to walk you through it.

First, I’ll define a bad Amazon product. Perhaps that’s easier. There are exceptions to these universal truths, but generally speaking…

A bad Amazon product market is one that has:

  • Extremely low sales. You likely don’t want to get into a product market that is averaging monthly sales in the low double digits year-round.
  • A sales/review ratio of 1 or less. You have to have a competitive amount of reviews to sell well among the top sellers because of social proof. Shoppers trust the opinions of other shoppers, and the more (good) opinions you have, the better. With a decent review strategy, a seller could expect to see roughly around 6 reviews for every 100 sales. For a product market seeing 1,000 monthly sales with 1,000 average reviews (a review ratio of 1), it would take over 16,000 sales to reach 1,000 reviews. I’d suggest staying far away from this market. At 1,000 sales/month, that would take around 16 months to achieve. Avoid these types of markets and get into one with an easier barrier to entry. Note: Markets with a ratio of 1 or less may make sense if it is a natural extension of your brand. With that said, generally only the elite sellers with deep pockets are able to make these markets work.
  • No popular search terms on Amazon. In most cases, inventions aren’t great for Amazon. The benefit of selling on Amazon is the ability to jump in front of traffic that is already there. If customers are not already searching for terms most relevant to your product, the likelihood of high volume sales is slim. If no one knows what your brand new product is, or even how to search for it, then Amazon is likely not the platform for you.
  • Extremely low margins. Unless you have the capacity to move an insane amount of inventory, stay away from products where you’ll make less than $1 per sale. This is especially true in markets where there isn’t a ton of demand.

A great product to you may be a not-so-great product for me. It all depends on your goals. For instance, I might think 20 sales/day for a product sounds great, where you might want 40+. I might want to dominate a smaller niche, where you might want to try to compete with big, established sellers in a larger market. To define a good product to sell on Amazon, you must take your expectations and goals into account. However, there are some things that apply to all good Amazon products.

Generally, a good Amazon product market has:

  • Sales that align with your goals. I won’t give hard numbers here, but you’ll just want to ensure that the product you source sees monthly sales that align with your goals. Those numbers will widely vary from seller to seller, and that’s totally ok. To understand what kind of sales you can expect, look at how the market has performed historically, as well as how it’s performing now in context. Does the product sell consistently? Is the market increasing in popularity? Are sales declining? These are all questions to consider when looking to source a product.
  • A high sales/review ratio. This means the product market has more sales than reviews. Reviews are generally the greatest barrier to entry for a market. The lower that barrier compared to sales potential, the better. We generally consider an average market ratio of 3 or more to be desirable. If you can find a ratio of 5-10, then you may have struck a gold mine.
  • Room for improvement. There are many markets on Amazon with subpar listings: novice label and packaging design, amateur photos, sloppy copy, and low review ratings. These are great opportunities to source a high-quality product with an outstanding listing. There’s so much potential to position yourself as the best option on the market.
  • Healthy margins. Of course, you want to make money on each sale. We typically don’t recommend sourcing any product with less than a 30-40% expected profit margin. This leaves room for unexpected costs or price competition in the market.

To determine if a product market is a good fit for you, you’ll want to evaluate the product’s estimated monthly sales, both historical and present, sales/review ratio, average review quantity, average price trend, best selling period, sales pattern, and more. To aid you in your product research, we’ve come out with an extensive tool to show you all the data you need when making sourcing decisions.

Check out Market Intelligence, our Amazon product research tool, to see which product may be a good fit for you.

How to Sell on Amazon Key #2: Set Up Your Listing to Rank and Convert

Now you’ve got a great product. You’re off to a good start. But a great product isn’t enough. You could have the best product in the whole world, but if you don’t have an awesome Amazon listing to show it off, you might as well have no product at all. There are two different types of conversion rates: click conversions and on-page conversions. Click conversions refer to how many shoppers click on the listing when they see it in search results. On-page conversions refer to how many people buy your product when they’re on your listing.

In a perfect world, every single time someone saw your listing, they’d purchase the product. In the real world, we want to get as close to that perfect world as possible. There are a couple of key listing elements that you’ll want to master for optimum conversions. Your photos, price, reviews, and copy all play a major role in a shopper’s decision to buy or not buy.

Master your photos.

Product photos are perhaps the most important element of a listing when it comes to both click and on-page conversions. The key to great Amazon photos is having professional photos that tell a story, build an emotional connection with the shopper, and accentuate all the product features. If your photos look unprofessional, rushed, and non-representational of the product, a shopper is not likely to click or purchase. A buyer doesn’t want to feel like they’re getting the product from some amateur in their garage. However, with the same product and aesthetically-pleasing, descriptive photos, a shopper is much more inclined to buy. Good photos communicate high quality. Take a look at the photos below. If the listings are very similar (price, information, reviews, etc.) and photos are the only varying aspect, which product would you choose?


Compete with your price.

Price is a very important factor for click through rate. Shoppers are unlikely to click on your listing from the search results page if your price is too high, which will be detrimental to your click conversions. Again, place yourself in the shopper’s shoes. If most iPhone chargers on page one are around the $7.99 mark, it’s unlikely that you’ll click on one that is $15.99. It’s important to make sure that your price is comparable to surrounding listings to achieve the most clicks possible.

Rack up your reviews.

Ever since Amazon’s policy update regarding giving products in exchange for reviews, reviews are harder to come by. But, reviews still remain the #1 factor on Amazon for social proof. Think about it: when you’re shopping on Amazon, and there are two similar products, one with around 10 reviews and one with over 2,000 reviews, which one are you more likely to consider buying?

While the number of reviews isn’t actually an indication of sales or even quality, it helps shoppers to understand that other people have bought the product. They can then be more confident in their decision to buy the product, since many others have bought it and given it a good rating. For this reason, you’ll want to work hard to gather as many reviews as possible right from the start. Here are some tips to getting initial reviews:

  • Implement a killer email follow-up sequence. To make sure that you are capitalizing on every sale and gathering as many reviews as possible, you’ll want to send out follow-up emails asking for reviews and feedback. Keep in mind that tons of Amazon sellers are doing this exact same thing, so keep the copy short and to-the point, making it easy for the reader to find the call-to-action. Typically, we recommend sending an email seeking a review 5 days after delivery, and then another email seeking seller feedback 6 days after delivery. The industry average for reviews is about 1%, which seems a bit low, doesn’t it? Viral Launch’s Review Booster sees about a 5% review return on the email copy, and if you’re interested in receiving further guidance or getting copy for your sequence, check out our Review Booster service.
  • Run sponsored ads. Conversions likely won’t be great with a low quantity of reviews, but sponsored ads are a great way to drive some initial sales. New products typically get more sessions, but few sales may also mean fewer impressions. Basically, sponsored ads can be hit or miss. But, it’s generally worth losing a bit of money up front to drive initial sales.
  • Start with a low price. We suggest listing your product at about break even, or as low as you feel comfortable, to help get initial sales. But, just be careful here to not become an add-on item or start a price war with competitors.
  • Drive external traffic. This can be a more expensive option, but external traffic has the potential to help with gathering initial reviews. Having a customer list can be leveraged for initial sales to drive reviews. Driving external traffic is also a great way to increase keyword ranking, as Amazon rewards those who bring in new customers from outside markets.

Optimize your copy.

Copy is INCREDIBLY important for indexing and keyword ranking, but it also serves to describe your product to a shopper. What exactly is the shopper getting? What makes your product unique? What are its special features? How do you use it, and what can you use it for? These questions all need to be answered through your title, bullet points, and description. If the listing doesn’t fully explain the product, you risk losing out on buyers who want to know exactly what they’re buying. While photos should accurately portray your product, the copy should back it up by explaining what a photo cannot.

With great photos, a good price, a competitive number of reviews, and sales-inducing copy, your listing will be set up to convince a shopper to buy your product. Now, it’s time to get in front of those shoppers!

How to Sell on Amazon Key #3: Get Your Product in Front of the Shopper

So you have a great product. You have an awesome listing that’s going to convince a shopper to buy it. Now, you need to become visible. The cool part about Amazon is that you don’t have to find the buyers. They’re already shopping on the site for your product (assuming you followed Key #1!). But now, the buyers have to find you.

This can be done through ranking on page one for the important keywords (or customer search terms) associated with your product. Think about it this way… You need a new charging cable for your phone, so you head to Amazon and type “iPhone charger” into the search bar. You head right to Page 14 of the search results and buy the 7th product from the top. Wrong. You’ll probably look through the first – and maybe the second page. But you likely won’t get any further than that because you find what you’re looking for on page one.

As a seller, it’s important to understand this buyer behavior. The products that rank are the products that sell (so long as they’ve got great listings. Don’t forget Key #2). The largest factor for ranking on Amazon is sales. The goal is to get as many eyes on the listing as possible. You need to drive sales in order to rank for high-volume keywords associated with your product.

From the beginning, you may see a couple organic sales each day, simply by indexing (showing up somewhere) across all related keywords. You can increase these daily sales by running Sponsored Ads. Another great way to kick-start your product’s visibility is to run a promotion. With Viral Launch, you can run a discounted giveaway that will target a specific keyword and increase the product’s rank, putting you in a perfect position to be found by shoppers who are searching for your product. The sales from that promotion will also be funneled through the words in your title, giving each of those keywords a ranking boost (which, again, is why Key #2 was so important. Optimize your title!).

After a strategic Viral Launch promotion, you’ll be ranking on page one for a main keyword and visible for many other related keywords with thousands and thousands of eyes on your listing. And now, you’ve got a great product, you’ve got a listing that converts, and you’re easily found by shoppers. You’ve just mastered how to sell on Amazon.

How to Sell on Amazon: Tangible Next Steps

Now that you’ve got an overview of how to sell on Amazon, it’s time to go for it. You can make excuses because it’s easy to do. Not enough time, not enough resources, not enough information. Or, you can start. And you can do it with the help of industry experts.

1. Set your expectations and goals. How much money are you wanting to spend up front? What are your monthly sales goals? Are you in this for the long run, and do you want to possibly expand to more products in the future? How much time do you want to dedicate to this Amazon business? What is your capacity to run day-to-day operations? Knowing your expectations and goals will be important as you move forward with determining your course.

2. Start your product research. Remember, it’s crucial to start out with a product that is going to set you up for success. Research possible product markets that you may be interested in. Look at the current top sellers; how are they performing now, and how have they performed in the past? Know how many sales you could expect if you were selling among the top sellers; is this range within your sales goals? Check out the market as a whole: is it on the rise or declining? Know the product’s best selling period; is it seasonal or year-round? Look into how difficult the barrier to entry will be for the product market; will you have to gather thousands of reviews to be competitive? Understand what your profit margin will be; will it be within your goal range? For answers to all of these questions and more, check out Viral Launch’s Sourcing Tool. You’ll find the real-time and historical data, trends, and information that you need to research potential product markets…all at your fingertips.

3. Reach out to suppliers. Check out different sourcing sites to find one that you like. If you’re a newbie, look into Alibaba, which is easy to navigate and popular among Amazon sellers. Reach out to potential suppliers through the internal messaging platform on the site to get a feel for the total expected cost, including unit and shipping costs. If you are sourcing on Alibaba, we recommend filtering results to Trade Assurance, Gold Supplier, and Assessed Suppliers only. That way, you know you’re dealing with suppliers who are established and reputable. You can filter for these results by checking the Supplier Types on Alibaba search results. Send them a brief message, showing interest in their product and inquiring about pricing and item information.

4. Connect with a seller coach. Send a message to launches@viral-launch.com to work with an expert Amazon coach free of charge. They’ll communicate how to sell on Amazon by walking you through the next steps in your individual journey, offering tailored assistance, and helping to validate or invalidate your product idea(s). From conception, our seller coaches will help you to source, launch, and dominate on Amazon.


Selling on Amazon seems daunting. It’s a leap. But we believe in you. When wondering how to sell on Amazon, it really comes down to sourcing a great product, having a listing that converts, and being easily found by shoppers.

Viral Launch offers software and services for every step of your Amazon journey. We’ve helped launch hundreds of successful Amazon businesses. Not only do we know what we’re talking about, but we’ve got the data and experience to back it up. Our seller coaches would love to help you get started and can answer any upfront questions that you may have about how to sell on Amazon. No more excuses. It’s time to claim your market share of the largest e-commerce platform in the world!

Did you enjoy our post about how to sell on Amazon? We’d love to hear from you. Leave your comments below!

How to sell on Amazon: The 3 Keys to Success

Another Minor Amazon Policy Update Targeting Non-Verified Reviews

From September of this year forward, we have seen an unprecedented number of Amazon policy changes. Some changes have had major repercussions such as the TOS update posted on October 3rd of this year, and some updates have had minor impact such as the requirement of a customer account to have spent $50 in order to be eligible to leave a review. Posted the weekend of the 18th, we have yet another update, which from our perspective, should be chalked up as a minor change.

What Is The Policy Change

Over the weekend, Amazon updated their customer’s Community Guidelines, specifically under the section “Additional Guidelines for Customer Reviews”.

The new statement reads:

Customers can submit 5 non-Amazon Verified Purchase reviews each week, starting on Sundays.”

Just below that bullet is a statement that reads:

When we find unusually high numbers of reviews for a product posted in a short period of time, we may restrict reviews of these Amazon Verified Purchase reviews.”

I am not sure if the second statement is new or how long it has been there, but I find it a bit peculiar which I explain down below.

What It Means For Your And Your Business Moving Forward

A month and a half later and there still seems to be plenty of debate as to whether or not it is okay for reviews to be solicited/left on purchases made at a discount. In a blog post published a week or so after the TOS update of October 3rd banning the practice of giving products away at a discount, we stated that Amazon’s legal department had said specifically that reviews received from promotional sales were within Amazon’s Terms of Service. Naturally, there were still many skeptics, which I completely understand. However, with this update I imagine the air will be cleared.

In my opinion the most significant aspect of this change is simply that it serves as public proof that Amazon is accepting of unverified reviews. It seems as though there is no further room for debate as to whether or not soliciting honest feedback from discounted purchasers is within TOS. While we have known this for a few reasons, there were a lot of rumors floating about in various groups that receiving un-verified purchase reviews could result in a suspension from Amazon, or worse. If you have read some of my other posts, you know of my disdain for misleading rumors. I’m glad Amazon has disproven yet another.


How will this limit the number of reviews you are able to obtain from running promotions? I’m not quite sure the answer to this and I am even a bit confused.

There are two known limitations given by Amazon (from the customer’s perspective) when it comes to the quantity of reviews a seller is able to receive. The first limitation states that each customer is able to leave just five non-Amazon Verified Purchase reviews each week. While we are not allowed to track review rates from the promotions being run through Viral Launch, we know simply from what our seller’s report that the review rates are low. There is little expectation that this will have any measurable negative impact on the value of promotions as the previous benefit from receiving reviews was marginal.  

The next bullet point also talks about limiting reviews, but it is odd because it is referring specifically to limiting Verified Purchase reviews not non-Amazon Verified Purchase reviews. I am pretty well connected and well aware of a lot of things going on in the space. I am not, however, currently aware of any common methods of quickly driving inauthentic Amazon Verified Purchase reviews (not that I want to partake, it is my job to know however). Obviously I am not aware of everything going on, but I am curious if this will have an impact on sellers that are great at running external traffic to drive high volumes of sales and that also have a great feedback funnel (just wait until you see what we’re launching to help you with both of these aspects 😉 ). It will be interesting to see what Amazon means specifically with the phrases  “unusually high” and “in a short period of time”.  I would hate for sellers to be limited in their ability to generate authentic verified purchase reviews knowing just how valuable each and every review is in this day and age.

All in all, this new Amazon policy update is a great thing in my opinion! There is a lot of blackhat and underhanded activity going on in the marketplace that most sellers are not aware of. The more Amazon reigns in those activities, the greater your chances will be at succeeding so long as you focus on executing all aspects of your private label business well. This is a blow to dishonest sellers accumulating reviews from dishonest practices. I think Amazon deserves a “thanks” here. 🙂

As always, we’re here to help you succeed in everything you do. Let us know how/if we can be of any help in your journey to achieving success.

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Importance of Amazon Product Categories in Search Results

Now more than ever, it is extremely important to have every single aspect of your listing in prime condition: stunning photos, optimized copy, beautiful product labeling, competitive reviews, etc. But there is one simple thing that some sellers are overlooking that has cost some sellers serious amounts of money in lost sales. It’s extremely important and a fairly quick fix: Product Category.

I know, that shiny Best Seller Badge is highly sought after, and it is relatively easy to come by with some obscure, irrelevant sub-categories. If you’re selling Vitamin C Serum and place it into the a smaller unrelated category, you won’t have to sell nearly as many units to get a Best Seller Badge as you would if you categorized it correctly into Skin Care. Loophole right? Unfortunately for sellers, no.

The Importance of Amazon Product Categories

It’s crucial that you set your product category correctly, and I’ll explain why. When searching “vitamin c serum” on Amazon, even when searching under “All Departments”, you’ll notice that just under the search bar, Amazon forces the search into a specific category. In this instance, I’m seeing just over 5300 results for: Beauty & Personal Care : Skin Care : “vitamin c serum”

Amazon positions itself in a way that is going to best benefit a shopper. If I’m a shopper searching for a “vitamin c serum,” Amazon shows me only what is relevant to the product that I’m searching for. Through Amazon’s algorithm, this means that only results categorized down to the subcategory “Skin Care” are going to be shown. And this makes total sense. Why would I be looking for anything outside of a Skin Care with a search for “vitamin c serum?”

As a shopper, I do have the option to choose “Show results instead in ‘All Departments,’” but I cannot imagine that many shoppers are doing so. As an Amazon seller, you know your product, your keywords, your listing, and your competition inside and out. Buyers, on the other hand, are trusting that Amazon is showing the best products for what they’re looking for. Having said that, it’s unlikely that a shopper would click “All Departments,” especially if they’re able to find what they’re looking for on page one. (Note: Mobile Amazon automatically shows results for All Departments)

These forced search results make it extremely important that your product is categorized correctly. Yes, you may have a Best Seller Badge through mis-categorizing your product. But that doesn’t matter if your product isn’t even showing up when a shopper searches for the biggest keyword associated with your product! If you put your product in some obscure category hoping to trick shoppers into thinking that you’re a top seller for your category, Amazon is onto you, and they aren’t having it. Shoppers will be searching for what you’re selling, but your product will be hidden by Amazon’s algorithms.

How Placing Your Product in The Wrong Category Causes A Loss In Sales

Here at Viral Launch, we want to see you be as successful as possible with your Private Label products. Among other things, it is a must to correctly categorize your product. This is even more important while you’re running a promotion because all of those giveaway sales are being attributed to the given search term in the context of the category the product falls under. If your sales are not being attributed to the proper category, you simply won’t show up when the average customer runs a search.  Make sure that your product is in the right category before running a launch. Switching it afterward means it’s already too late as the sales have already attributed keyword ranking power to the given keyword within the wrong category.

When choosing a keyword to target with a Viral Launch promotion, be sure that the keyword’s search results line up with your product category. If not, change your category, or make sure you’ve chosen a keyword that lines up with your product. You can place your item into a more specific category than the forced search result, just make sure that it’s in the most specific category of search results shown for that keyword search.

Big Takeaway: Categorize your product correctly, and your customers will be able to find and buy your product! If you don’t, no matter how hard you push keyword ranking, you’ll find your product ranking in the wrong category and will see very few sales!

Hopefully this tip helps you to understand why Amazon product categories are so important and how it can have a tremendous effect on your visibility. We love to see you succeed as we navigate the Amazon together. Happy selling!

Amazon Product Review Guidelines: FTC on Discounted Orders

We are back with more information surrounding Amazon’s latest TOS update regarding Amazon product review guidelines. I really don’t intend on “milking” this subject, but there is simply so much misinformation/rumors, it’s crazy. This misinformation leads to poor decisions and more misinformation, so I would like to do my best to clear up everything as quickly as possible. The team and I have had a good number of questions/comments around the FTC’s guidelines for reviews on products purchased at a discount.

While I am not a lawyer, it seems pretty clear to me that reviews left on discounted purchases DO NOT require a disclosure statement to be left. Below, I break things down a bit further with quotes from the FTC.gov website, specifically pages around Endorsements.

As always, I do not expect you to believe me simply because I’ve said it. I am obviously a biased party here, so I have included links and quotes to help you make informed decisions and interpretations for yourself (but again, it seems pretty clear to me)!

Logical Breakdown

At the heart of it all, the FTC is concerned with reviews that are left by experts/bloggers/reviewers/etc. who were provided some type of compensation for the review. The intention of promotional services is simply offering discounts on Amazon products, period. Whether or not those buyers happen to leave a review is beyond our concern. Obviously we hope they leave a review for your sake, but it is beyond our company’s scope. To comply with Amazon’s TOS, we simply cannot track whether or not a buyer leaves a review. This is also not to get confused with email follow-up services, which are completely separate.

Think about popular deals websites like Slickdeals or RetailMeNot. Do you find any kind of language on their sites that let you know, “If you use one of the many coupons you find on our site and chose to leave a review, you must use a disclosure or else you will be violating the FTC’s guidelines.”? No, you do not. Nor do you see stipulations when reviewing products on other websites (ex. Walmart.com) that require a disclosure on products purchased with a discount code.

So simply by omission, I can assume that a disclosure is not required if you did indeed purchase/select the product yourself. The only reason this was ever a thing on Amazon is two-fold, 1) Amazon’s terms required it, and 2) when products were given away in exchange for a review, the FTC saw this as an endorsement which then warranted a disclosure statement.

If the product was given in exchange for a review, you were provided some form of compensation before or after, or you have some type of connection to the company, then the reviewer HAS to leave a disclosure allowing the reader to know the given circumstances.

Viral Launch is not giving products in exchange for a review. We are not providing compensation to buyers to leave reviews, nor do our buyers have connections with you as a seller/marketer. Therefore, there is no need for buyers of discounted products on Viral Launch to leave a disclosure statement.

Quotes From the FTC

This one seals the deal in my mind. On a very clear and concise page that covers common questions around endorsements on the FTC’s website, we find this question under the headline: “WHEN DOES THE FTC ACT APPLY TO ENDORSEMENTS?“.

For the sake of our topic, replace the word “blogger” and “blog” with “reviewer” and “review”. (The highlighting/bolding is my emphasis.)

“I’m a blogger. I heard that every time I mention a product on my blog, I have to say whether I got it for free or paid for it myself. Is that true?”

No. If you mention a product you paid for yourself, there isn’t an issue. Nor is it an issue if you get the product for free because a store is giving out free samples to its customers.

The FTC is only concerned about endorsements that are made on behalf of a sponsoring advertiser. For example, an endorsement would be covered by the FTC Act if an advertiser – or someone working for an advertiser – pays you or gives you something of value to mention a product. If you receive free products or other perks with the expectation that you’ll promote or discuss the advertiser’s products in your blog, you’re covered. Bloggers who are part of network marketing programs where they sign up to receive free product samples in exchange for writing about them also are covered.

As you can see, it is pretty clear that there is no need for a disclosure if the buyer/reviewer pays for the item. There is also no need to provide a disclosure if the product is given for free, so long as it is not given with compensation or in exchange for a review.

Hopefully, that makes you feel comfortable with the fact that the FTC does not require a review to contain a disclosure statement if the reviewer purchased the product at a discount from sites like Viral Launch.

As further examples, I’ve included a couple other quotes from different pages on the FTC’s website.

If you visit this link here, you will be taken to the U.S. Government Publishing Office discussing “GUIDES CONCERNING USE OF ENDORSEMENTS AND TESTIMONIALS IN ADVERTISING”. This is a bit harder to understand and has the traditional lawyer speak that you may expect. Going through all of their given examples under the headline “Consumer endorsements” and “Disclosure of material connections”, you will find only examples where compensation is provided either before or after the fact. There are no examples provided in which a customer purchases the product at a discount and is required to leave a disclosure.

On a page labeled “THE FTC’S ENDORSEMENT GUIDES: BEING UP-FRONT WITH CONSUMERS”, we find these two quotes.

Quote 1:

“… marketers who are compensated to promote or review a product should disclose it.”

Quote 2:

“The Endorsement Guides also state that if there is a connection between the endorser and the marketer of a product that would affect how people evaluate the endorsement, it should be disclosed.”

These both show that only when compensation is provided or the product is given in exchange for a review is the disclosure statement needed.

Using Follow-up Services

Is it within Amazon’s terms of service to solicit a review after a customer has purchased a product? YES. As I mentioned in our previous blog post, we have confirmation from Amazon’s legal department that following up with a buyer asking for a review is completely within Amazon’s TOS so long as it is done correctly. How do you follow-up correctly? That is another post in itself, but briefly, do not incentivize, require, or manipulate the review/reviewer in any way.

One thing that I want to point out is the fact that you should NOT tell reviewers that they cannot leave the disclosure statement in their review. By telling a reviewer they cannot leave the disclosure, in my mind, you are manipulating the content of the review by telling the reviewer what it can/cannot contain.

Our approach to this situation is to inform the buyer that Amazon’s TOS is no longer requiring the disclosure statement, “I purchased this product at a discount in exchange….”. We also let them know that the product was not given in exchange for their review and that they may choose whether or not they decide to review it.

It is simply a question of semantics, but can be critical when adhering to the Amazon product review guidelines and update to their TOS.

Conclusion: Amazon product review guidelines

Hopefully this brief discussion on the FTC’s rules clear up any rumors and/or misinformation that has been floating around. As always, it’s our goal to help you make the most informed decisions possible when it comes to operating and growing your Amazon business.

Overall, it looks like this is further proof that a major intention of Amazon’s latest policy update was simply to rid reviews of the disclosure statement so as to improve the perceived integrity of their review platform to consumers.

If you have any other questions, curious about rumors, or anything of the sort, please post them in the comments down below so I can address them for you!

As always, I wish you the best in growing your Amazon business!

An Update on the Update – Clarification on the Amazon TOS Update 2016

In my original post, I posed a lot of questions around how exactly Amazon would interpret and enforce their latest TOS update moving forward. As is too common in this space, we’ve heard an insane amount of rumors. Be careful what you believe and guard who you trust. Thanks to a friend of mine with direct contact to Amazon’s legal department, we have some much appreciated clarification. I’ll update this post in the next couple of days with a link to a post by this friend where he will give exacts from the conversations he has had directly with Amazon’s legal department.

To many, the clarification mentioned below was already common assumption. Personally, I prefer to speak on the facts and make decisions based on data, which we simply did not have just 24 hours after the TOS change was posted.

So what is the clarification? What is the information directly from Amazon’s legal department? 


The two largest takeaways are:


  1. It is okay for 3rd party websites to distribute discounted claim codes on behalf of Amazon merchants.
  2. It is okay for merchants to follow-up with the discounted buyers asking for a review, so long as they abide by all other review policies and stipulations (ex. Don’t ask for only a positive review, do not force the customer to leave a review, do not monitor whether or not they were able to leave a review, etc.)


What does this mean? Well, for Viral Launch specifically, we will continue to operate as we have for the last year or so. Fortunately, we had the foresight to position ourselves away from the review group model, which has had incredible benefits for our customers. Largely the only change we had to make post TOS Update is the removal of all language from the site around “reviews”.

What does this mean for you as a seller? Hopefully this helps to ease concerns and increase confidence in the fact that Amazon allows you to run promotions and to ask customers for reviews after purchasing your products at a discount. Hopefully this helps to convince you that the private label world is not dead. That there is still plenty of hope in a bright future moving forward!

As history has shown and as time progressed, we have come to find out that another TOS update did not have such severe an impact as we initially expected. With that said, the landscape has definitely changed, and depending on your previous launch strategy, launching a product has become quite a bit more difficult. As we’ve always preached, you need to do all things GREAT in order to outsell your competition (and sometimes even survive), now more than ever! If you find yourself having a difficult time getting ahead of the competition, launching a product, or even maintaining sales, look around to see just how well you are executing every aspect of your private label business.

So all in all, the dust seems to have settled for the most part and we are all free to go on our merry way, building scaleable private label businesses on the world’s largest commerce platform! Sounds like a great time to be an entrepreneur to me! 🙂

Side Note: With all of this, I feel like this news has definitely confirmed the suspicions I posed in our initial blog post regarding what net affect this would actually have on the market and what Amazon’s true intentions are (you can read them in here).
As always, we will keep you updated as new word comes out and we wish you and your business the best!!

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