26 May I’ve Got 99 Problems and Amazon Ain’t One
By Yoji Cole, Vendo Business Development Manager Being Vendo’s business development manager, I talk daily with CEOs of national and global brands about their problems with Amazon. It’s as though I’m lost in a loop of “99 Problems,” the song that catapulted the American wordsmith Sean Carter, whose nom de plume is Jay-Z, into our daily vernacular. If Jay-Z were the CEO of a brand Vendo works with we could have finished his signature lyric, “I got 99 problems…” with, “but Amazon ain’t one,” because here at Vendo, we solve Amazon problems on an hourly basis, 24-7-365. So, what are the main problems causing CEOs to pull out their hair? The No. 1 problem is control and the other problems lend to a lack of brand control. Control can mean different things to different CEOs: Do they want to control their price? Do they want to control their brand presentation? Do they want to control their customer’s experience? Do they want to control their sales growth? Do they want all four controlled and more? The CEOs that typically win on Amazon do want complete control. They know Amazon is as much a marketing arm as it is a transactional arm, while those that only consider it transactional, strain for control and often give up. Control begins with your price and that means controlling who sells your product off Amazon. Ensure that your distribution and retail relationships off Amazon cannot sell your product on Amazon. So, we recommend brands have their off-Amazon distributors and retailers agree in writing to not sell on Amazon. Then, on Amazon, brands must make sure they are the only seller on their product listings, or that they only permit one or two sellers and enlist Vendo to eliminate all other third-party sellers that appear. Once a brand is controlling its price and sellers, it then owns its Amazon presence and the brand is free to create a revenue generating business. So, this is when we dive into brand presentation – where the science of keyword optimization meets creativity. Amazon product listings essentially work as individual websites, but instead of responding to internet searches they respond to Amazon customer searches. The problem is that while keyword optimization of a website is common practice, too many brands neglect to properly keyword optimize their Amazon product listings – both on the front end in the places you see (title, bullet points, etc.) and on the back end, which like for a website you don’t see, but doing so ensures the website responds organically to certain searches and ignores certain searches. Brands often forget that Amazon and digital marketing in general, are visual mediums. Amazon product listings allow brands to use many different visuals (product photos, lifestyle photos, enhanced brand content/product descriptions) that demonstrate people enjoying the brand, videos so customers can watch the brand at work, or video testimonials from real people praising the product’s virtues. Moreover, Amazon provides brands with a branded store page that is designed to work as a mini-brand-website, to which the brand may drive traffic. Amazon realizes digital marketing is a visual medium and it knows that fully optimized product listings command customer attention longer and convert at a higher rate than product listings sans all the features. The reward for fully built out product listings is often a higher rank on Amazon pages and with higher ranks often come higher conversions. Product rank is extremely important on Amazon, just as organic rank is important on Google. Another feature that can affect rank is product reviews and review response. Controlling the customer experience can help brands rank higher. Amazon customers that have great product experiences write positive reviews, while those that do not, don’t. Review response, not only helps establish a brand’s voice, telling customers how a brand positively handles negative reviews, but guess what? Yes, Amazon identifies brands that commit to review response and customer communication and doing so regularly has been known to positively impact rank. All the strategies above, when done consistently and properly, are proven to help brands sell more on Amazon. While this list is not a comprehensive list, it is a good start. Visit Vendo’s Experts Corner for more insight into how you may sell more on Amazon and get rid of one of your 99 problems.