Welcome to our 5th and final entry in our Accelerator Series, where we've been discussing the opportunity to sell products on Amazon. To finish our series, we'll look at the value of long-term Brand Development efforts and how companies are able to build upon their success selling on Amazon. If this is the first you've seen our series, be sure to check out how Amazon might be a fit for your business and our other posts:
The Amazon Marketplace Opportunity
Amazon Accelerator Series Part 1: How to Sell on Amazon.com
Amazon Accelerator Series Part 2: The Product Page
Amazon Accelerator Series Part 3: Supply Chain Management
Amazon Accelerator Series Part 4: Marketing Tactics and Strategy
Thousands of companies have found that by selling on Amazon.com they are able to grow their business. Once a company has realized success with a few products on Amazon, there are a number of steps to take to further capitalize on the Amazon Marketplace. There are three business development areas to focus on for continued success with Amazon: Sustain Growth, Develop Products,and Expand Markets.
It takes a concerted effort to be successful on Amazon. Once a company has found a profitable niche to sell their items, they should do everything possible to sustain momentum and build upon that early success. Companies should focus their initial efforts on aggressively expanding their pay-per-click (PPC) advertising in order to find additional profitable search terms. By experimenting with various terms and testing effectiveness, the best keywords can be identified. This iterative process means that a company's products will show up more often and will lead to increased sales. The broader the base of profitable search terms, the better a company's products will perform.
These same search terms also help create a barrier-to-entry to fend off competitors with similar products. By using pay-per-click promotions, a company can impede their competitors' ability to have similar visibility for the same search terms. This is due to the fact that Amazon only allows a certain number of ads per search. This way a company can prioritize highly valuable search terms and promote their products' success.
Once a company builds out a majority of their search terms, they can also begin conducting A/B tests on their product page to experiment with the performance of different content. To do this, a company would define a testing period, often a full calendar week, and change one content piece for that testing period. Then, after tallying the sales results, page visits, and conversion rate, the company would use the better performing content piece and test against another variation of the content for a second week. And so on and so forth, continuing to experiment and revise to develop more effective content for the desired results.
One of the first A/B tests we recommend is on the main product image. This image appears on search results pages and has a dramatic impact on whether customers click on a company's product. By changing the image to a variation, companies can gain confidence that they are using the best image variation possible. Another recommended A/B test is the product title.
Both of these tests should be influenced by customer questions and reviews, especially negative reviews, since customers who have had a negative experience with a product may expose a weakness in the content or description of the product. All of these techniques are meant to develop over time and should prompt companies to stay attentive to their successful products as first priority before moving on to new products or sales channels.
Companies should also begin considering how they can expand their product line to reach more customers. It is in most companies' best interest to have as many products available to customers as possible as long as they are selling well. That being said, once a company finds that a certain product or group of products sells well, they should look to find complementary products to broaden their sales platform. Take for example a company selling kitchen utensils. If they are successful selling a stainless steel mixing spoon, then they might consider selling a stainless steel spatula or whisk. Not only does Amazon automatically do some cross promotion as an upsell tactic in their —Frequently Bought Together— section, but the second product also broadens the customer base a company can sell to. Now this company isn't just limited to the people who need a new stainless steel mixing spoon, but now spatulas and one day a whisk, knife set, and mixing bowls.
The key to this new Product Development phase, is for companies to stay focused on the points of differentiation that led to their early success. Using the previous example, if the company is a stainless steel manufacturer, and produces excellent kitchenware, the alternate product from the first stainless steel mixing spoon is not a plastic spatula or silicon ice cube tray. Companies should start to diversify with what they know and only once they exhaust those opportunities should they venture into brand new product lines. The selling features of the products that brought a company success should be foundational to the larger product development effort.
After a company has built out their paid advertising, run extensive A/B testing on their product listings, and begun developing new products for the Amazon marketplace, they should start to consider alternate sales methods for their products. One of the hidden gems of working with Amazon.com and their fulfillment network, is a resource called Multi-Channel Fulfillment. This service allows companies to sell inventory that is stored in the Amazon Fulfillment Network through other channels and still utilize the Amazon warehouses as a third party logistics provider. This means that if a company branches out and begins selling their products on ebay.com, jet.com, newegg.com, or even their own website, they can ship the product directly to the customer using the same fulfillment network they already use for their Amazon sales.
This fulfillment method not only reduces logistics overhead of managing two fulfillment systems, but Amazon also doesn't charge their commission for sales through other channels and only charges for the fulfillment. That means that while Amazon.com may be a company's largest marketplace by volume, selling through their own website or another marketplace can be their most profitable option, all without building a redundant fulfillment network. As we have discussed throughout this series, working with Amazon is about efficiently scaling to maximize growth.
At GRAYBOX we believe in a balanced and deliberate approach to helping businesses grow. We know that Amazon.com presents as many challenges as it does opportunities, but it is our goal to provide guidance and help answer questions so companies feel confident in their future success. If you have additional questions about Amazon or other online marketplaces please don't hesitate to contact us.