The Amazon Marketplace was initially created for resellers but recently there’s been a shift moving more towards brands. Amazon’s embracing that.
“One of the great things about the Marketplace for brands is it breaks down that traditional retail relationship,” says former Amazonian Peter Kearns.
Peter’s job at Amazon was to find holes in the Amazon catalog and then find sellers to fill those holes. Now Peter’s the Vice President of Client Solutions for 180Commerce.
There’s a growing number of companies that are launching on Amazon as part of their go-to market strategy instead of going after brick and mortar first. Brands can start selling on Amazon and immediately have access to Amazon’s customers. They don’t have to hit a certain sales point or purchase shelf space in brick and mortar which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“In many ways breaking down those barriers, brands have a much faster direct to consumer strategy that they can employ,” Peter says.
One example is General Mills. The company famous for making iconic brands like Cheerios, decided to launch a new concept, oatmeal that you can cook in a Keurig, and they launched it on Amazon first.
Amazon has recognized that more brands are using the Marketplace and they’ve created several tools to help brands grow. In this episode, we’re going to be talking about three of those tools the Early Reviewer Program, Amazon Insights and Transparency.
Early Reviewer Program
The Early Reviewer Program is different from the Amazon Vine Program. Amazon Vine is a review program for Amazon Vendors and right now it is being beta tested for merchants. If all goes well, the Vine program should be rolling out for all sellers soon.
The Early Reviewer Program is for brands to get reviews on products that have five reviews or less. There are a couple requirements to participate in the program. Your product has to be able to sell for at least $15 and you have to have the product Brand Registered.
The program encourages people who’ve already purchased your product to leave a review The reviewers are picked by Amazon and they are compensated by Amazon with an Amazon gift card for their review.
Any reviews are good but these are the type of reviews that you really want on your product.
“You’ve got to get reviews on your product,” says Peter, “First of all they’re going to be verified purchases, so that’s really, really important and the performance of an ASIN with a review is significantly higher than those with no reviews.”
This program is trying to solve the problem of getting the first initial reviews. You do have to pay to be in the program. It’s $60 per parent SKU or single SKU to enroll your product. The program lasts either one year or until you have five reviews. Once you have five reviews Amazon will no longer ask people who have bought your product to review it.
Getting reviews organically can be done, but it can also be a long process.
“The problem with organic reviews is one and a half to two percent of all sales generate a review,” says Peter, “So if your product isn’t selling thousands of units you’re going to be sitting with single digit reviews for quite a while unless you’re using social media, Sponsored Products that sort of stuff.”
Right now is the time you want to be building up your reviews, September and October, leading into the Holidays.
The Early Reviewer Program can be found inside Seller Central, just look under the Advertising tab.
Amazon Insights is a new tool that allows brand owners to ask Amazon customers questions about both your products and your competitors.
“It literally does exactly what it says it does; it gives the brand owner insight into the shopping behavior of the customer,” Peter says.
“There’s no better data than actually knowing what went into the thought process of your customer and why they chose to purchase your product,” Peter says.
The information that you can get from Amazon insights is going to cost you but you only pay for the responses you get. Depending on your questions, it can get quite expensive. Sellers have to request a quote before creating the questionnaire, so you can see that potential cost up front.
“In my personal opinion I think this is invaluable; I think it’s worth its weight in gold,” Peter says.
Any market research you do is going to cost you but the information can also be vital to growing your brand. Market research from customers that have shopped your product and your competitor’s products is going to give you a lot of information, including information about why customers bought your competitor’s product instead of yours.
Amazon Insights is one of the most important things Amazon has ever created for brands.
“Now they’re giving you the ability to interact with the customers to help with product development which, way to go Amazon that’s a really great thing,” says Peter, “If there’s anyone from Amazon that’s listening and they’re on that team I’ll give you a high five because I love that because it’s really it’s a win for Amazon.”
Amazon Insights is obviously huge when it comes to product development but it can give you a lot of information about the demographics of shoppers. That’s information you can take off Amazon to advertise your products on places like Facebook or Google Adwords.
Amazon Insights is available through Seller Central, but it’s not easy to find. Here’s a link so you can access it: https://sellercentral.amazon.com/insights/intake/new
Transparency is also a new Amazon tool but this tool is non-branded. Amazon created Transparency to help give customers confidence about the products they’re buying. It starts at the manufacturer level where a code is placed on a product. That code allows the product to be traced. If products registered in Transparency are sent to Amazon Fulfilment Centers, Amazon will only accept products with the code on it. Any products without the code will be considered counterfeit.
We did a whole episode on Transparency recently. You can listen to it here: http://keywordpodcast.com/ep-034-keyword-podcast-what-is-transparency/
“It really gives you the ability to understand where your inventory is going and how quick and easy to quickly identify any counterfeits,” Peter says.
If you have products that have constant counterfeit problems, you want to look into Transparency.
Amazon has a section on listing pages dedicated to Transparency. If you search for “Amazon Elements Baby Wipes” on Amazon, it will give you an idea of what Transparency looks like on a listing page.
Right now Amazon is slowly building out Transparency and getting brands involved. There will be a bigger emphasis on it in 2018.
In 2018, we also expect that Amazon will continue to focus on creating tools for brand owners to help them on the Marketplace.
If you’re interested in getting involved with the Transparency program early, reach out to Peter. You can find him at http://180commerce.com/