In a recent Forbes article talking about using Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) as a winning strategy, ecommerce expert Michelle Evans said it best, “The benefits [of using Amazon] are leveraging Amazon’s reputation, lowering shipping expenses and freeing up storage space. But it comes with some steep costs margin reductions, inventory reconciliation challenges and rising fees charged by Amazon.”
What else can be done to help shift some of that heavy lifting once your facilities and resources are no longer adequate to sustain growth?
Finding a hybrid 3PL resource that is an expert in all things Amazon is a start. But winning on Amazon means finding a logistics resource that knows all of the rules, and is either a Gold Star Amazon seller or, like M. Block, has key partnerships with companies that are.
To get you started on your path to upping the ante with Amazon, here are a few points to help you elevate:
1. Be Like Jeff
One of M. Block’s manufacturing start-up clients, Ira Antelis, is a prominent commercial music producer. In the 90s, Ira wrote the famous Gatorade jingle about Michael Jordan called “Be Like Mike.” At age 58, based on his own health needs, he became an entrepreneur, inventing a natural blood pressure beverage, called 120/Life. In order to get your company thinking the right way on Amazon, simlply borrow the theme of Ira’s famous jingle. In the book Be Like Amazon: Even a Lemonade Stand Can Do It, by highly successful Amazon marketer Bryan Eisenberg, he says,“Today, Amazon wants to show their customers’ products and vendors who can be like Amazon.”
Factors such as customer service, product quality, speed-to-ship and handle returns are all part of the algorithm. The following four pillars of Amazon success are featured in his book:
- Customer Centric – Focus on the Customer Experience
- Culture of Innovation – Find new ways to add value for the customer
- Corporate Agility – Speed of Execution
- Continuous Improvement – Be better today than you were yesterday
2. Choose Your Categories with Care
Whether you are on your way to the top of Amazon rankings or heading to be lost in the muck, depends heavily on choosing the right category. Amazon has many categories, and it’s critical to be placed in the correct one, for sales success and for the listing accuracy. As the saying goes, “The best place to hide a dead body is on Page 2 of Amazon search results,” which means category strategy needs to be a fundamental component of your ranking and visibility.
Using the earlier blood pressure product as an example, if the product is placed in a category that does not apply to it, Amazon could pull the listing. 120/Life is a beverage, so the most obvious category would be Food & Grocery. But the competition there is fierce, and it’s not a place shoppers typically go for health products. For this product, the Home & Health category offers a wider range of categories.
Example questions to ask yourself:
- Could this be considered what Amazon says is a Super Food?
- Could it be considered an alternative homeopathic product?
- What would it take to consider this a supplement?
This is the same thought process M. Block and Sons navigates on a daily basis, not just for start-ups but for our established clients like; P&G, Keurig, Oral-B, Braun, and Kraft Foods, who are always looking to chisel out every possible category edge.
3. Quality at Every Step
M. Block & Sons already partners with some of the top Amazon sellers. The owner of one of the top Gold Sellers, LaPrima Shops, is obsessed with quality, not unlike Mr. Bezos himself. Getting granular, the owner recommends all-out 24/7 focus on the following:
- Attractive Imagery
- Multiple Intuitive Images
- Informative & Concise Titles
- Well Defined Descriptive Bullets
- SEO Optimized Content
- Detailed Sales Analysis
Each of the above disciplines impacts your sales metrics and rankings. Pay close attention to them as you execute your winning Amazon strategy.
4. Win the Buy Box
The Buy Box refers to the white box on the right side of the Amazon product detail page, where shoppers add products to their cart. 82% of Amazon’s sales go through this Buy Box, and the percentage is even higher for mobile purchases.
According to Eyal Lanxner, the CTO of Feedvisor, “Thanks to stiff competition and Amazon’s customer-obsessed approach, only businesses with excellent sales metrics get to be here.”
To give your store a presence in the buy box, you’ll be competing with other Amazon 3rd Party Sellers and depending on the category, sometimes Amazon itself! Clearly you want to throw a great deal of expertise toward this tiny piece of real estate that can play a huge role in your Amazon success.
Evan goes on to say, “Understanding the way Amazon’s algorithms function will allow you to work toward increasing your performance on relevant variables, ultimately increasing your chances of winning the Buy Box and beating the competition.”
Amazon wants to give shoppers the best value, so they weigh low prices with high seller metrics. What makes it difficult is that it’s up to you to find the balance. There isn’t one magic metric, but many deciding factors for the battle for the box.
5. A+ Enhanced Content
If you’re an Amazon 3rd Party Seller and your store store seems to be on the path to success, you might be looking for a way to create exponential improvement in performance, and so it may be time to take a close look at creating enhanced content. Enhanced Brand Content is the part of an Amazon listing which allows those sellers which have Brand Ownership to control listing layout and add extra text and media to Amazon listings. Curating and cultivating all of this takes time, creative resources and meticulous retail strategies, but the return can be extremely beneficial to you product. Partnering with someone who knows the ins and outs of enhanced brand content can sometimes put a brand owner out of reach from anyone else trying to enter that product’s Buy Box.
Conclusion – Net Net: Amazon Rewards Quality
As seen in one element after the other, quality wins on Amazon.
So if you’re ready to find partners and vendors to start Shifting the Heavy Lifting, make sure to find leaders that bring stellar quality and proven expertise to your company’s Amazon performance. – P.L.