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Selling on Amazon...Getting Started

  Matthew Helming     Mar 14, 2018

If you are reading this you have made the decision to Sell on Amazon (or another online marketplace). Great!

Now, let’s pause for a bit...

Taking your brand to Amazon needs to be as carefully considered and executed as any other sales channel would be.

Too often we run into brands with unrealistic expectations that Amazon or the other larger marketplaces are simple software integrations with instantaneous selling activity to follow...not so goldilocks...

While the ubiquity of the cloud and technology solutions available to sellers out there provides us a never-before seen level of capability - there is still the challenge of utilizing it all effectively while employing a sound strategy - thus a careful and considered approach is critical.

Let us be clear - we are huge fans of online marketplaces and we have built a business to help brands and businesses leverage them! With that said we also spend our days talking to many different businesses helping them manage the process of listing, managing, and succeeding, in the online marketplace - and that often includes helping them think through all facets of their business as they position themselves for online marketplace selling - operationally and strategically.

This post will lay out a few of the larger issues to contemplate when moving on to the online marketplace - Amazon in particular.

Let’s start with the following issues - each will get their own follow on post:


  1. LIST- how do you get your products to the marketplace and manage selling your products there?
  2. OPTIMIZE - are your listings built and positioned to sell?
  3. ADVERTISE - How are you promoting your brand on the marketplace?

LISTING

Listing your products on Amazon encompasses several challenges.

Where are your product listings currently?

How are you getting them to Amazon?

Do you employ an ecommerce cart/platform to run your business?

Or do you maintain product listings offline in an inventory file?

Are you loading them in to Seller Central via an inventory file template (using Loader) which you continually manage and update manually? Or are you using a third party solution for any part of this?

Before we tackle the quality or completeness of your product listings let’s touch on integrations - a solution or system that has positioned your business for effectively selling into multiple channels.

We all begin this conversation with Amazon as a marketplace destination, but we must keep an eye toward selling into ALL relevant marketplaces eventually. Being on a platform that positions your business for integration with marketplaces is crucial if you want to get to those marketplaces effectively. Said more plainly - does your eCommerce platform have a robust API that allows for either its own or a third party solution to help with getting your product listings to your desired marketplace? It is far more effective to be on a platform that supports use of its own or third party technologies via robust APIs. All platforms are NOT created equal...

Do you have a listing solution that allows for dynamic updating of your product catalogue and product listing copy and content? Is it tied to your online store or some other management system?

Listing often prompts a business to take a hard look at its inventory tracking, fulfillment format, and order processing.

OPTIMIZATION

This is the process of asking, “Are your product listings even READY for Amazon?” If your product listing were ‘ported’ from your eCommerce store on Shopify to Amazon right now - how it would it do in search rankings on the marketplace? Does it describe your product and represent it in an “optimized” fashion? How are your product images, product descriptions, and titles and bullets? Do you even have all of those components? You will have to in order to sell on Amazon.

What’s “optimized” you say?

Optimization is thrown around a lot as a term so let’s unpack it a little.

Said succinctly:

Optimized product listings are (crucial) the starting point for maximizing both organic search ranking results AND paid search results.

Optimized listings attract more traffic, both organic and on sponsored listing and ad spend is more efficient with higher conversion, at lower cost.

Product listing creation takes time and knowledge to execute effectively.

Product Title - Have you constructed a title that includes all relevant information for both search and description of the product? Does it use all of the real estate allowed (character count)?

Product Description - How does it read vs how does it rank? Does your product description contain all the relevant information to convey value to your customer? Is it long enough? Does it contain content (keywords) that are relevant to your promotional advertising campaigns?

Imagery - We cannot stress enough the importance of imagery. Imagery sells. Shoppers browse for less and less time, more and more so on mobile, and the importance of numerous quality images AND appropriate images which display the product in ways the customer will want for evaluation, are...you guessed it...crucial.

Search Relevance = ranking = sales. From product title to description - are you creating listings within your ecommerce platform that are positioning your product listing for promotion and advertising - for ranking!!

Circling back a bit to listing - it’s all tied together…

Source of Truth - Catchy phrase right? How are you managing your product information - listings, inventory, etc? What we mean here and often advise, is manage your product listings in a location, a central ‘truth’, which you can then think about integrating to your sales destination of choice - be it marketplaces, comparison shopping engines, or social. Often this is not the case. Before you can launch, you have to be prepared. A central location for management of product information provides consistency. Easier said than done...we know...

Optimizing data for online selling can serve all channels/destinations.

ADVERTISE

To sell on the online marketplace you must employ an advertising plan. Legacy channels such as social and paid search have dominated the digital advertising landscape and mindshare of brand owners. Online marketplaces, in particular Amazon, are rapidly increasing in importance and relevance. Brands have to fight for eyeballs here and it's a competitive and constantly shifting landscape.  

Even for those brands that have already landed on Amazon and addressed some of the issues we have covered - advertising is often an area where businesses need help.

The fly-wheel effect brands seek - higher rankings leading to increased exposure and to higher sales - needs to get started and advertising is one of the components necessary.

Increase sales, decrease ACoS (Amazon Cost of Sales).

As many would already profess to know it isn’t as simple as spend to get sales. Effective campaign management comprised of targeting, adjustment, and reduction of inefficient spend, is vital to launch and success.

Despite marketplace advertising’s importance, it is still a crude tool with significantly less targeting capability than its social or broader paid search outlet cousins. There are some tried and true rules that can help you to manage these campaigns, but a lot of execution is down to test and iterate. There are some exciting technologies bringing FAR more capability to this arena and brand managers MUST understand the capability at their disposal to compete effectively.

Each of these 3 larger issues we have discussed play off of one another and combine to drive success and sales. Advertising effectiveness can often be the dipstick or symptom for the merchant or brand’s positioning on the rest of the issues we have covered. For example poor listing quality, absent optimization, provides for a poor place from which to begin advertising as your advertising dollars are even less effective - or said differently - results are MORE expensive or unachievable.

Make sure you are thinking through these issues and have a strategy for executing so you can succeed on marketplaces like Amazon.

Channeled is a full-service agency and brand partner, focused on strategy, integration technology linking eCommerce stores or other “sources of product data truth” to marketplaces, and optimization.  We also have solutions for synchronization of inventory and orders as well as programmatic ad optimization designed to drive profitable sales.

We help our clients to craft a strategy and then execute it for online marketplaces, incorporating brand goals, maturity, competition, and budget, utilizing Amazon’s sponsored advertising and headline search advertising product for registered brands.

Talk to us. Let’s launch. Let’s grow.

  Amazon Amazon launch Listing optimization Advertise Selling Sponosred products

Matthew Helming

Written by Matthew Helming

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