The March 14, 2019 Silicon Slopes Consumer Chapter event held an expert panel discussion on what to do before spending money on Amazon advertising. As with previous events, this was rich in content and tips for anyone selling or considering selling on Amazon.
The panel was made up of four Amazon experts, three of which who were former Amazon employees:
- Brad Moss, CEO at Product Labs
- Garrett Bluhm, VP of Ecommerce & Marketplace Strategy at Pattern
- Josh Robbins, COO at Rags
- Pete Andrews, Director of Insights at Edge by Ascential
This panel came with rich information coming at the audience like a full-powered firehose.
Seller Central vs. Vendor Central
Here were the key differences outlined:
|Seller Central||Vendor Central|
|Seller owns the inventory||Amazon owns the inventory|
|Best for smaller brands who want to control all aspects of their product||Best for large brands who are accustomed to selling large quantities of product through retail|
One comment was that many brands try to straddle both, but Amazon doesn’t like this and is trying to limit being in both.
FBA vs. MFN
Next was a discussion on fulfillment with the two options being Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) or Merchant Fulfilled Network (MFN). Here is a quick comparison:
|Amazon acts as distributor||Seller must distribute (direct or via 3rd party)|
|Prime eligible||Rarely Prime eligible|
|Higher price||Generally cheaper|
|Not good for:
· Oversized items
· Hazmat products
· Custom print items
The biggest takeaway was that FBA makes products Prime eligible which will result in high sales. This is definitely worth a cost-benefit analysis.
Amazon Brand Registry
The Amazon Brand Registry is used to help brands protect their brand and intellectual property. Key points here were:
- Must have a registered trademark to be in the Amazon Brand Registry
- Register early because the process takes time
- Once registered, brands can request takedown of counterfeit listings
- Big problem for many brands
- Allows control of brand representation
Content and Keywords
This discussion focused on the importance of listing content and use of keywords. Again, there was a blitz of insights:
- Roughly 90% of sales on Amazon go through search versus browsing
- Key focus is the listing title, bullets, and images
- Must use a different approach than Google keywords – terms should focus on product attributes versus question style
- There are many tools that can help understand and optimize
- As a strategy
- Index for important terms
- Optimize for high performing terms
- Don’t skimp on quality content, take time to create a great listing
- Titles should always start with the brand
- Amazon only indexes the first 100 characters so get the important keywords there
- 60% of searches are mobile and the image is the biggest impact there
Product Reviews and Seller Rating
There is a lot of discussion on product reviews. Key points:
- The number of reviews is more important than the stars
- 21 reviews minimum is a target
- If the reviews are below 4 stars, sales will be impacted
- Don’t manipulate or game reviews as Amazon will penalize you
- 1% review rate is typical
- Listen to customer feedback – it matters
For seller ratings, they typically focus on the seller experience so sellers can request that Amazon drops product reviews to keep the rating up. Seller ratings are more important to Amazon than for customer sales.
The buy box is where you buy the product from. The biggest recommendation was to eliminate other resellers of your product, so you don’t have to compete on price. The only caveat is if you are the sole provider, you must be able to fulfill, or it will hurt sales as Amazon doesn’t want items out of stock.
Images, Enhanced Brand Content, & Brand Stores
We live in a visual world so there was a lot of recommendations on using images:
- Use all 9 images
- Have at least 1 image for
- Product description
- Lifestyle image of the product in use
- 360 images can be helpful for some products
- Video is helpful for complex products
- Always use high resolution imagery so buyers can zoom in on details
- A great example here was a vitamin company that had a low-resolution image of the ingredients. Once replaced with a high resolution, sales increased as buyers could determine what was in the product.
When I returned from the meeting, I was asked what my biggest takeaway was. This session was rich in insights coming fast and furious and there were many great points, but my number one takeaway is this: brands must own their Amazon presence. It’s the biggest marketplace and should be treated with the same level of focus as one’s own website store. I look forward to part 2 next month where the meeting will cover Digital Advertising on Amazon.