No matter what you think of Amazon personally, the importance of the online retailer’s selling platform is hard to deny. Amazon’s ability to help your brand reach a broad audience nationally and even globally is unrivaled. In fact, brands you may have never seen before on the physical shelf are establishing themselves every day on the platform and reaching 7 and 8-figure sales faster than what has ever been possible.
But if you’re expecting overnight sales increases the moment your items go online, think again. With over 6 million competing sellers, winning the shopper's attention is really tough. In order to grow profitably, you'll need to implement solid portfolio, marketing, and sales strategies. The road to success is difficult but it doesn't need to be long!
Here are six steps that you can take to improve your Amazon sales in 45 days or less...
1. Adopt a "Test & Learn" Mentality
Believe it or not, the biggest enabler to your growth is mindset. If you've spent any time at all in consumer goods, you've likely been trained to believe that all the important decisions are made before launch. That's because when you get an item on the shelf at Walmart or at Kroger, you have very limited ability to make significant changes to the product and packaging. You may have to wait a full year before you can go out with a new iteration of your offering.
On Amazon, though, especially as a marketplace seller, you can make changes much more quickly and with very little fuss relatively speaking. "Big" changes like item additions and deletions are much easier. "Small" changes like marketing content and pricing are a simpler still. For this reason, it's in your best interest to experiment - powerful A/B testing, pricing automation, and other testing capabilities can help you to do it scientifically. If you can squeeze a couple of points of growth out of every single test, you'll soon be on your way to world domination.
2. Optimize Your Packaging & Counts
The problem may not be HOW you're selling but instead WHAT you're selling. First, consider how you can use bundling to deliver better consumer value and more efficient fulfillment. If your item sells for <$15, you'll almost certainly want to consider multi-packs to hit that sweet spot. Also consider putting complementary items together. Sets, variety packs, and solution packs all do very well on Amazon. They stand out and they make shopping easier when done right.
Before you go out with any new packs, make sure you've got the basics right. Amazon has specific requirements that govern all types of products: items sold in boxes and bags, items sold individually and in sets, items with various levels of shelf stability, and more. Make sure that you're in compliance or you'll face problems later.
While you're making product changes, get your imagery right too - remember that a picture is worth a thousand words. Along with the product title and price, the Main Product Image is what will drive shoppers to explore your item more closely. Don't settle for ordinary images - keep trying until you've made your brand sparkle and shine.
3. Make Sure the Price Is Right
On Amazon, the right pricing can help you in several ways - as with any channel, it will impact consumer demand but it will also influence your keyword rankings! If that isn't enough, that added sales velocity will also lead to more reviews further perpetuating the sales cycle. Then, of course, there's the "buy box" - if you have other resellers and you're not priced right, you may be giving up margin to third parties every day.
If you're in launch mode, investment in price could very well be your best marketing lever. This doesn't have to be delivered by "shelf" price adjustments - Amazon offers a range of powerful promotional tools including Lightning Deals, Coupons, Discount Codes, "Social Media Landing Pages," and more. These can be used to target your pricing offer to important audiences and important time periods (like Prime Day for example).
4. Be Smarter With PPC
Pay-per-click advertising (PPC) on Amazon is a tried-and-true method for accelerating sales and capturing traffic from related product searches. This allows you to rise to the top of search results with "sponsored products" and "sponsored brands" (which act like banner ads on the site). The problem is that this, too, is very expensive and unless you're "smarter" than your competition, this can become a money pit and destroy your ROI.
The first step to smarter PPC is having a clear target for your overall spend. Usually, this is somewhere between 10-20% of gross sales. With this target, you'll be able to determine a maximum available CPC (cost / click) which will be important as you set up your campaigns.
Then you'll need great keyword research. Brands tend to get this wrong - this isn't about finding the most popular terms necessarily. Your methodology needs to balance keyword volume (# searches), relevance, and competitiveness (the number of other items competing for that term). We've written a guide to efficient Amazon PPC, specifically "sponsored products," that can get you started.
Over time, PPC may become less central as your organic page ranking improves and your Amazon traffic continues to grow. Don’t think for a second, though, you can “set and forget” your PPC campaigns. The competitive landscape and shopper behavior are changing all the time - make sure you continually monitor your performance and make it a point to refresh your strategy and campaigns on a regular basis. Automation tools can help (let us know if you'd like to discuss).
5. Make Social Media Work
At this stage, you’ve optimized your content, priced your item to win, and set up some marketing. There’s another key tactic to increase discoverability to your listing - Social Media Promotion. Increasingly, social media is the new front page of online retail: As Instagram and other platforms develop better options for promoting products and driving referral traffic, consumers are turning to their social feeds not just to interact with friends, but also to buy.
How do you do it? The first and most obvious way is to link relevant ads to your Amazon store or item pages. You may ask why you'd every do this when you have a perfectly good website, right? Well there's a clear answer to that question - Amazon item pages tend to convert sales at a rate that's 4-5 times higher than brand-owned websites. As you build your social strategy, make sure you're paying close attention to your targeting - in addition to your brand's existing criteria, for example, consider refining your Facebook audience to people who are interested in Amazon.com as a way to home in on potential shoppers.
6. Drive The Repeat
It costs a lot to acquire a shopper and if you don't get them to buy again, you're leaving money on the table. There are plenty of ways, if you're creative, that you can encourage that repeat purchase with your Amazon shopper. One of the most common ways is to provide discount codes either on an in-pack insert or delivered by email followup if you're a marketplace seller. Great customer service will also help as will a magnificent packaging experience - make them feel like they've bought something really special (because they have). Amazon's PPC also now allows you to retarget shoppers who have visited your item pages - this will also help.
The eCommerce landscape including Amazon is complex and difficult to navigate. You can't let this complexity paralyze you, though - in order to grow, you need to be aggressive in expanding your customer base and battling your competitors each and every day. The areas above represent are foundational to getting it right but these are only a starting point.
Learn much more in our detailed Marketer's Guide to Winning on Amazon - check it out!