Amazon “Blue Light Specials!”
It is not enough to simply have your products listed on Amazon anymore. You have to do more than just be a Seller with excellent reviews and ratings. To be an effective and successful digital merchant, one must learn the intricacies of how to best position your products in front of your targeted consumers. As a Seller, you can no longer wait for your goods to be found by the digital shopper…….now it is imperative that you place your products directly in front of customers. This makes it incumbent upon you the Seller to learn to work within the Amazon system to effectively “target” market your goods.
One of the most effective ways to successfully sell your products on the digital marketplace is to make sure your products are listed in the coveted “Buy Box.” As Adam Kirsch of Volusion has pointed out, “…. $56 BILLION of Amazon’s $62 BILLION in sales happen in the Buy Box.” For that reason, it is important to understand how it works.
Amazon actually allows merchants to compete for the honor of being listed in the “Buy Box.” It is this location on a products “detail page,” where customers can begin the process of adding items to their shopping carts. One of the key features of the Amazon platform is that multiple sellers can offer the same product, but, becoming the featured Seller who “wins” the “Buy Box,” is very difficult. In fact, it is unlikely that the average Seller’s website will ever be ranked high enough to simply “earn” the “featured seller’s” listing through organic effort. However, even if you never win the “Buy Box,” listing, it is still important to understand how it works and thus, how different parts of your site are “weighted” by Amazons algorithms.
Many of the interpretive “ranking” points that Amazon evaluates, reflects standard ecommerce best-business practices. Therefore, it is for those reasons a Seller should be adhering to those business standards anyway. However, it helps to know exactly what those ranking “triggers,” are for Amazon so you can work to hit them with your digital marketing efforts.
The Fantastic 4
Below are some of the main factors that dictate where a merchant will appear in the “offers,” list:
- Competitive Pricing – This is not just limited to the actual product cost, but the associated shipping costs as well.
- Competing Offers – Generally speaking, the more Sellers there are with a product, the more challenging it will be to climb to the top spot.
- Merchant History – Merchants who have a long, positive selling history on Amazon will be placed higher than merchants that do not in the merchant listings.
- Seller Reviews – Online merchant reviews that are positive in nature will help to not just drive up your sales…..but will also help to drive your merchant status up the rankings as well.
While the above are four of the main rating triggers Amazon uses, as a general rule the Seller should work to ensure that any sales placed through Amazon are processed and delivered as smoothly as possible. That means delivering your product in a timely manner and keeping your customers informed throughout the transaction.
As Mr. Kirsch says, “….start by selling a low-competition item to boost your selling ranking, then you should try offering a very competitive price on a popular product.” This will initially increase the probability that your offering will be ranked higher for the more competitive products……then by incorporating a popular but competitively priced product you will draw in bargain shoppers and increase your selling rank! He suggests you check out Amazon’s “Most Wished For,” list to see the most popular items by industry if you need some guidance or inspiration.
Kirsch also suggests that Sellers should consider the FBA program as well. Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA) is a program where you ship your products to one of several Amazon fulfillment centers to be inventoried so that when a customer purchases one of your products from your company…..Amazon will ship the purchase to the consumer on your behalf. This arrangement allows you to focus on other aspects of running your business while Amazon takes care of your shipping and customer service.
Other benefits of this arrangement include extending the reach of your products to Amazon Prime members…..and thus helping your business (potentially) win the “Buy Box,” ranking! Mr. Kirsch recommends that digital merchants consider the FBA program with Amazon. However, we would suggest that you take the time to research the pros and cons of this program as many merchants have discovered that the FBA program has many shortcomings that undercut the profitability of merchants using that product fulfillment pipeline.
The Interesting 5!
Once you have a basic understanding of the rules for listing products on Amazon, it becomes clear on why you should associate one of your products with an identical product already listed in the Amazon catalog. Since a product is only allowed to be listed once on Amazon, the only way your (identical) product has a chance to be seen is for it to be associated with an already existing detail page.
Is also important to note that Amazon doesn’t allow new merchants to their site to offer certain specialized shipping methods (like two-day shipping) until they qualify for such offerings. These options will only be earned by the merchant establishing a history of reliable shipping options using less expedited types of shipping.
Just as importantly, as a merchant you must never solicit or pay for Seller Account reviews. If you are caught participating in this type of behavior Amazon will suspend your account. There are other options you can explore that will help you to generate positive reviews yet not run afoul of Amazon’s rules. However, the easiest way to secure excellent reviews……is to simply provide excellent value with your transactions!
Without a doubt, there are certain policies that you as a Seller need to familiarize yourself with if you wish to be successful on Amazon. If you don’t spend at least a cursory amount of time learning what these policies mean for your company, then you will find out the hard way when you accidentally violate some of them. It is always better to learn about such rules/ procedures so you can work within them than finding out what the penalties are after you violate them. Below are the five main policies you should familiarize yourself with:
- Selling Policies
- Shipping Policies
- Policies and Agreements
- Product Detail Page Rules
- Prohibited Seller Activities and Actions
Mr. Kirsch offers the following advice to Amazon Sellers who are still learning the ropes on how to advance your sales volume on this digital website. First, know your business. In other words, decide what type of product categories you want to sell. Do you want to sell discounted, low-priced, basic products or do you want to sell premium grade products that offer quality over price? Once you make those types of decisions, educate yourself on the targeted consumers who shop for those types of products so you can effectively communicate with them.
Second, commit yourself to exceeding your customers’ expectations with regard to customer service and product value. It is imperative that you recognize that with more Sellers competing for consumer’s dollars, your company must offer products and services that separate you from your competitors. While “price,” may be “king” when it comes to securing your initial transaction with a customer. It is your customer service and shipping capabilities that will return that consumer for additional transactions.
Finally, a digital merchant must figure out how to put their value based products in front of their targeted customer. There is a reason that big box, brick and mortar retailers have “blue light specials,” in their stores. If you can’t catch your customer’s attention……you can’t show them your goods. It is up to you to figure out how to initialize that digital “blue light special,” on your site!