How do you deal with increased competition on an ever changing marketplace?
For many sellers, low barriers to entry are what brought them to Amazon in the first place. Anyone can sell anything on the everything store, right?!
This has resulted in many sellers with little to no knowledge of e-commerce or marketing, the proliferation of “gurus” making money on promises of passive income, and a marketplace fraught with counterfeit and fake reviews.
But if 2016 has taught us anything, it’s that you can no longer set and forget your Amazon business. Amazon is tightening up their marketplace by taking down questionable sellers first and asking questions later. Their actions almost always find in favor of brands.
Which is great news for brand owners!
We asked 6 experts for their top tips and predictions for Private Label sellers. Are you ready to take your Amazon business to the next level?
I think that Amazon sellers will need to be simultaneously more creative and more numbers-oriented. There are now more sellers, often peddling similar products. So how are you going to differentiate yourself from the masses? It starts with identifying the opportunity (I think that this stage, product research, is where success is won or lost). Once you have the opportunity, you have to be creative in your product positioning, copywriting, listing optimization, and more. In short, sellers will have to analyze the data available to choose the right product or niche, and execute on selling it with some panache!
Greg Mercer, Jungle Scout
In 2016, private label sellers saw risk rise dramatically on Amazon: closed FBA listings, buy boxes disabled, lost control of listing content (to Amazon Retail), and — for some — account suspensions. Good sellers saw a significant portion of their carefully cared-for products hurt in one way or another. In 2017, the bad news is these risks will rise as Amazon struggles with their huge scale. The good news is the Brand Registry / Brand Builder programs will expand this year to establish more trust and communication up-front with private-label sellers. This will avoid false positives which consume Amazon Support resources and hurt both sellers and customers.
Bernie Thompson, Efficient Era
Amazon’s incentivized review policy changes are going to force new brands to compete on price, quality and velocity. I think we’ll see huge races to the bottom to drive product ranking. This will be great for consumers but will be challenging for brands that don’t have cash to play this game. This coupled with increasing logistical complexity, product safety monitoring, and increasingly detailed policy restrictions is going to make starting a new brand or product harder and harder. Existing sellers will have shrinking margins and need to build better systems to support these changes.
Robert Wray, Whitebox
If you’re only focussed on increasing sales on Amazon, you’re building a sandcastle on someone else’s beach, easily washed away by changing tides. It’s time to get your house in order. Look to building your brand by paying attention to your operations and marketing rather than trying to find loopholes on Amazon’s tightening marketplace. That’s what will separate successful e-commerce businesses from short lived Amazon side gigs.
Leah McHugh, Amazon Appeal online course
Private label sellers will need to have remedies in place for the irritating problem of “Used Sold as New” complaints from buyers. FBA frequently classifies returned items as “resellable inventory” even when they have been opened, or even used. If that item is bought as “new” and sellers only sell new products, they could still be stung by a second buyer receiving the item and complaining about its condition. Draft language for correspondence to Amazon that covers your Quality Control procedures and reflects any new operational improvements you’ve made to ensure due diligence occurs before items arrive at FBA. Are you randomly selecting units to open and inspect their condition? Have you reviewed the viability and quality of your packaging? Remember, any box that looks used or worn will result in these kinds of complaints, even if it’s just from shelf wear. No seller wants to deal with repeated Used Sold as New complaints or warnings when they only sell items that are listed as “new,” but it’s best to be prepared in case Amazon sends a “Resellable” item out on your behalf. At least until the point where FBA ends this practice, that is.
Chris McCabe, Amazon Appeal online course