Amazon Marketplace is an essential tool for today’s brands and online sellers in an increasingly complex ecommerce environment. What’s known as the world’s leading marketplace, is also one of the most powerful advertising channels and product search engines. But to make the most of it, where do you start? Here’s everything you need to know in order to leverage Amazon to its full potential.
It’s hard to remember a time when Amazon wasn’t the go-to place for online shopping. Now, as one of the most trafficked websites in the world and with an active user base of over 310 million, Amazon is much more than just “that big online marketplace.”
While there was a time when people would just use Amazon to purchase products, it certainly isn’t the case today. According to a late 2017 consumer survey conducted by Survata, Amazon now accounts for nearly 50% of initial product searches. What does this mean?
For brands and online retailers, this shift in consumer behavior means that just listing products on Amazon marketplace is no longer enough to stay afloat in its competitive environment. Rather, a strategic mixture of both product listings and advertising is needed to leverage Amazon to its full potential.
Due to the broad nature of Amazon, as both an online marketplace and an advertising channel, we have quite a bit to cover. Here’s a handy list of everything we’ll discuss:
Selling on Amazon is not black and white – meaning, it’s not as simple as just listing your products and gaining sales. In order to understand how to sell on Amazon, let’s examine each piece of the “selling on Amazon” puzzle.
Amazon marketplace is an ecommerce channel that allows brands, manufacturers, and online retailers of any size to list products on Amazon. As one of the most crowded online marketplaces in the world, it is a competitive selling environment, but also provides valuable revenue-driving opportunities for participating sellers and vendors.
Essentially, anyone with a physical product can sell on Amazon. However, how you sell on Amazon depends on your business model and goals. That said, there are two main pathways to you can take to list your products on Amazon:
Wondering which “Central” is best for your business? Let’s take a closer look at both.
Amazon Vendor Central was specifically created for brands and manufacturers to sell their products, in bulk, to Amazon. From there, Amazon lists the products as their own, managing the pricing, storing, shipping, and customer service. Therefore, Amazon vendors, also known as first-party sellers, do not sell directly to the consumer, rather taking a bit more of a hands-off approach – while still making sales. First-party Amazon sellers reap many benefits from using Amazon Vendor Central, but of course, there are also a few drawbacks. For instance, while they definitely see an increased revenue overall, Amazon usually pays a lower than market price per item – as is typical in wholesale. However, it may not be everyone’s cup of tea to have zero control over the market price of your products. Moreover, Amazon Vendor Central gives manufacturers access to Amazon A+ Content, which integrates multimedia into the Product Detail Page in an effort to convert more shoppers. Visit this post for a complete list of Amazon Vendor Central of pros and cons.
On the other end of the spectrum exists Amazon Seller Central, the home to third-party Amazon sellers (brands and online retailers) who sell on Amazon marketplace itself. These sellers list their own products on Amazon and remain in control of the pricing, fulfillment method, and product content (as long as the item doesn’t already exist on Amazon). If you decide to sell on Amazon through Seller Central, you’ll also need to choose between three different order fulfillment methods. Since Amazon has set new delivery speed standards across the globe and takes shipping very seriously, these three options are worth looking into in more detail.
While the option “Fulfilment by Amazon” is already set in stone in Amazon Vendor Central, Sellers have a bit more freedom to select the option best fit for their business. Here are the three options, along with what you need to consider with each:
Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA): This is one of the preferred methods by Amazon for retailers and brands, and will actually work in your favor when it comes to Amazon SEO. This method automatically ships with Amazon Prime.
You ship your items in bulk to Amazon —> Amazon stores your products in one of their many Amazon Fulfilment Centers —> Once a shopper orders your product, Amazon takes care of the packing, shipping, tracking, and shipping-related customer service on your behalf.
Seller Fulfilled Prime (SFP): Another preferred method is when the seller handles the shipping themselves but does so according to the standards of Amazon Prime. To qualify for this method, you must have a cancellation rate of less than 1% as well as have shipped 99% of your orders on-time. To see which sellers meet the requirements, Amazon sellers must complete a trial period held by Amazon themselves.
Seller successfully completes SFP trial period —> Once a shopper orders your product, you take care of packing, shipping, and tracking according to the standards of Amazon Prime.
Self-shipment: Essentially, this method allows you to ship at your own pace. For large brands and online retailers, this fulfillment option is not recommended. It may also negatively affect your ability to rank in search and win the Amazon Buy Box. Shopper orders your product —> You handle the packing and shipping at your own pace (must be within the time frame you advertise).
Although many factors go into whether or not your product sells well on Amazon, among the most important is the way in which it’s presented. This is where the Product Detail Page comes in. Once a shopper clicks on your listing either on Amazon’s search engine results page (SERP) or through category search, they land on the details page. A Product Detail Page is essentially your chance to inform and convince shoppers that they need to buy your product now. In it, you have plenty of opportunities to share compelling, informative, complete, and rich product information. The details page is fuelled by your Amazon product feed, so your Amazon product data needs to be top-quality in order for it convince shoppers to buy. Here are the key elements of an Amazon Product Detail Page:
Because it has no shortage of buyers or sellers, Amazon product feed rules and requirements are notorious for being quite strict. With many category-dependant attributes and specs, it can be difficult to know what you should and should not include in your Amazon product feed. Because of this, the higher the quality and quantity of your Amazon product data, the better. That said, here are the mandatory fields your Amazon product feed must include, regardless of which category:
As this is only a glimpse into the rules and requirements, Amazon product feed customization and maintenance can prove time-consuming, especially for sellers with hundreds of thousands of products. But there are ways to speed the process up. Find out what an online marketing agency did to list 15000 products on Amazon within just 24 hours.
If your product has many different variations (sizes, colors, etc.), you will also need to incorporate the parent/child product relationship structure into your Amazon product feed.
It’s important to note that all products also require an ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number). If a seller has already listed the same version of one of your products on Amazon, it will already have an ASIN, and you’ll need to locate it. If your product doesn’t already exist on Amazon, the marketplace will create a new, unique ASIN for it.
Along the same line as ASINs, Amazon only allows for one Products Details Page per unique product. So what does this mean for sellers who aren’t the first to list a specific product? In this case, any secondary sellers are to add their products to the relevant already existing product listing. This means there could be hundreds of sellers all sharing a product listing – which brings us to the importance of Amazon SEO.
At the end of the day, Amazon is a product search engine, which means product visibility is all about ranking well on the search engine results page. But what about those hundreds of sellers all sharing a listing – who makes the sale? This is where product buyability comes in. Here’s an overview of each part of Amazon SEO:
So what determines product relevance and how you rank as a seller? Quite a few things actually have a great impact on this variable. To read the full list and learn how you can leverage your Amazon product feed for Amazon SEO, check out this post. By now we’ve covered the basics of what you need to know in order to sell on Amazon marketplace: the Centrals, Amazon SEO, and Amazon product data feed requirements. But as we touched on in the beginning, just selling on Amazon marketplace is no longer enough. Even if you’ve leveraged your Amazon product feed for Amazon SEO, made use of the right keywords, and optimized your Amazon product data, you could still lack product visibility due to tough competition. So what else can you do? The answer is to make use of the variety of ad formats available to sellers with products on Amazon.
Advertising on Amazon used to come with many different acronyms like AMS, AMG, and AAP. However, after realizing how complex it was for advertisers, Amazon unified all three systems into the simply 'Amazon Advertising.' Amazon's ad portfolio includes everything from product display ads to programmatic ad buying functionality. However, before anything else, it's recommended to start with it's self-serve PPC search ads, which are similar to Google Search Ads.
Amazon Sponsored Products, also known as Amazon Product Ads or simply Search Ads, are the easiest way to promote individual product listings. These ads appear on the Amazon search results page among organic listings.
Here is what an Amazon Sponsored Product Ad looks like:
Sponsored Products is essentially promoting your already listed product, which means it is fuelled by your Amazon product data. In order to maximize your revenue potential with Sponsored Product ads, you need to ensure that your Amazon Product data is top quality.
As a PPC based ad format, you only need to pay once someone has clicked on your ad. To avoid wasted clicks and thus wasted spend, make sure your Amazon product titles, hero images, and prices are clean, up-to-date, and easy to comprehend. The easiest way to do this is by optimizing your Amazon product data and with Amazon integration.
Amazon Sponsored Product Ads work on keyword-based targeting. That is, you define the relevant search terms in which the ad should target. The more granular the keywords, the higher relevancy each click is likely to have. While using broad keywords will target a larger audience, the ad won’t be as relevant to as many shoppers.
The auction-style model of Amazon Sponsored Products means that the higher your bid, the better chance the ad has of appearing on the results page of a shopper’s search. Of course, the product relevance also plays a major role in the discoverability of the ad (e.g. a hat will never rank under a search for kitchen appliances).
Amazon Marketing Service recommends starting with a daily budget of no less than $1 / day.
Once a user clicks on your ad, they are redirected to either your Product Detail Page or to your Amazon Store. But what is an Amazon Store?
An Amazon Store is brand-based “shop” where registered brand owners can showcase their own products and create their own shopping experience for Amazon Shoppers. The Amazon Store is complete with a customizable URL.
Similar to Amazon Sponsored Products, Sponsored Brands use keyword-based targeting.
The minimum bid for a single click is $0.10 (which varies slightly by country), while the minimum budget for an entire campaign is $100 and $1 for daily budgets.
Product Display Ads can appear across the Product Detail Pages of competitors or complementary products (i.e. a seller’s phone case could be promoted on an iPhone’s product page).
Here is an example of an Amazon Product Display ad on the Product Detail Page of a Sony digital camera:
Product Display Ads are quite different from both Sponsored Product and Headline Search Ads. Here, you have two targeting options. You can choose to either target specific products or target related categories. Essentially, it lets you target by consumer interest or product, rather than keyword.
Product Display Ads operate on the same pricing format as the previous two formats, an auction-based, cost-per-click model. The minimum bid for a single click is $0.02 (varies slightly based on country), while the minimum budget for the entire campaign is $100 and $1.00 daily.
Now that we’ve covered how to sell and advertise your products on Amazon, it’s time we highlight the necessity of high-quality product feeds. In order to stand out from the crowd and maximize your revenue potential, your Amazon product feed needs to be top-notch. Remember, your success on Amazon can only be as good as the product feed you provide. So where does Amazon integration come in? One of the most efficient ways to ensure high-quality Amazon product data is through Amazon integration. Find a product feed management software capable of the task, and you can save a ton of time, all while creating the perfect Amazon product feed. Amazon integration allows you to create a single, perfectly-tailored Amazon product feed. By merging all of your Amazon product data into one master feed, you can effectively cleanse and standardize your data in bulk. This way, you can rest easy knowing your Amazon product feed is current, consistent, and complete. For more info, help, and tips check out our suggested reading on the topic below.