Season 1, Episode 145

Navigating Prime Day with Andrew Morgans

During high-stakes events like Prime Day, preparation and strategy are essential for success. In this episode, Chris McCabe and Andrew Morgans of Marknology delve into the complexities of navigating Prime Day, from effective listing optimization to risk mitigation. Andrew shares his insights on proactive preparation, ensuring compliance, and managing expectations.

Show Notes

Transcript

[00:00:00] Chris: Hey, everybody. Welcome back to Seller Performance Solutions. I’m with Drew Morgans of Marknology. Drew, how are you?

[00:00:08] Andrew: Good, and it’s good to be back.

[00:00:11] Chris: Great having you back. Always great talking to you. Great seeing you in Hawaii. You weren’t around for me breaking my finger, I think.

[00:00:17] Andrew: Was going to ask like how the spill is going, like, are you able to type, like, where are you at with it?

[00:00:23] Chris: You know, I learned how to type without the very important middle finger. I use it for other stuff instead.

[00:00:30] Andrew: You’re crazy. I’m sure our listeners don’t know, but like you went on a hike by yourself, I think a big one, and had a little spill or something, but you already do crazy things when you’re not behind the computer, Chris.

[00:00:45] Chris: I can be a little crazy. There were other people in the vicinity. They were just more capable and competent than I was, so they were quicker to the summit and back. So I had to summit by myself.

[00:00:56] Andrew: Those rocks are super sharp, I don’t know if they’re like considered volcanic rocks or what, the reef there, like whatever you could be hiking, but some of it’s really sharp.

[00:01:03] Chris: Lots of mud, yeah, lots of ropes, lots of mud. I should connect this to the agony that some people experience around Prime Day, somehow.

[00:01:13] Andrew: Well, this is what you have to do to let it, let the stress out sometimes around the Amazon space, you know, it can be, stressful. So when we’re having fun, we gotta have a lot of fun, but no Hawaii, the BDSS conference was, was awesome.

[00:01:26] Chris: Yeah, there’s, this is my hand over hand climbing metaphor for prime day. This will be my sloppy segue. Do you work with people who freak out over prime day? Like we’re not going to sell enough. Our competition’s going to come up with tips and tricks and crazy stuff that’s going to kick our butts.

[00:01:47] Chris: Is there like a freak out element to it? Or is Prime Day so ingrained now that they’re kind of like, Oh, it’s that part of the year. Let’s get the ads set. Let’s get the initiatives on the marketing side set. How is the experience as an agency owner?

[00:02:00] Andrew: Well, that’s a good question, Chris. I think it’s actually a little bit of a mixed bag.

[00:02:04] Andrew: As an agency now and experienced agency, we’re definitely putting out information ahead of prime day better than we did in the past. So we’re educating more, we’re giving suggestions on what deals can be or what type of assets they should be sending us if they want to participate.

[00:02:20] Andrew: So we do a little bit better job of just what Amazon sends out of educating our customers, and we’re talking to them weekly or bi weekly, depending on kind of what plan they’re with.

[00:02:28] Andrew: That’s definitely something that account managers are wanting to bring up. At the same time, I would say, if a client has been selling on Amazon for several years, It seems like they are less stressed out by prime day than a new seller, than a newer brand.

[00:02:41] Andrew: They just know the hype. They’re like, are we taking advantage of it? What can this be? so kind of like if you have a seasoned seller, I feel like they’re less stressed about it or they’re more prepared. They’re like, let’s do something. But they’re not like we have to go crazy in.

[00:02:53] Andrew: And then I’d say there’s this like, almost every year coming down to the wire, there’s like a couple of brands that won’t have listened to us for the weeks leading up to prime day. And then getting right down to the wire, they’re wanting to add some deals or something like that. And I think it’s really just about next question.

[00:03:08] Chris: Yeah.

[00:03:09] Andrew: Yeah. There’s always a few that are like, Oh, we want to do something big for prime day. And we do the best we can, but it’s really just trying to not every category, in my opinion, and every product type, you know, basically because it comes down to margins and things like that.

[00:03:25] Andrew: Not every product type is an amazing fit for prime day. So, it’s really a selection of brands that are a great fit and some that are just barely participating.

[00:03:33] Chris: Oh, so some of them are kind of a poor fit for it, but they think they’re a great fit. And you have to have that conversation with them.

[00:03:38] Chris: That sounds awkward.

[00:03:40] Andrew: It is. And it’s just trying to be realistic with them about expectations. If they don’t have a significant discount on their products. They’re not offering a real deal, so to speak. And if they don’t have the margin to be able to do that. And so they’re like, let’s just do a 10 percent deal or a 15 percent deal or something like that.

[00:03:56] Andrew: It’s not going to have any real effect. And you might just be losing margin on sales. You were already going to get. So unless it’s just really a product that they can discount strongly, and they have a good amount of stock in all of those things, then it’s kind of like better to just save your margin and back off those few days.

[00:04:11] Chris: Right, right. Are there people trying to make up for lost time, like they haven’t sold as much this year as they thought they would for whatever reason, and now they’re like, we got to double down. We’ll increase our budget. We’ll do whatever you want us to do. Or are there people less, I mean, I’m sure it’s a mixture, but are there people like more conservative about it?

[00:04:31] Chris: Because they don’t want to spend as much because they haven’t sold as much this year.

[00:04:34] Andrew: I think it’s a mixed bag. I’m glad you asked that too, because I was going to say that’s when we kind of get into trouble or some of these stressful situations is when sales have been poor for a lot of the year, and then they’re trying to get so much out of prime day and trying to really milk it, let’s remember that prime day was a holiday created by Amazon because it’s a slow time of year.

[00:04:54] Andrew: So in general, sales can be slow around this time. They’re trying to create some hype around it. And there are ways to win here. You know, if you have product you’re trying to sell as part of a variation that might help something out. At the same time, if a brand’s doing okay and margins are okay.

[00:05:09] Andrew: I wouldn’t say that they’re crushing it or anything like that, but they might back off a prime day. They’re saying, Hey, we’re happy with what we’ve got going on. It’s not the gross point, but let’s not sacrifice a lot of margin for no reason. If they don’t see an opportunity.

[00:05:22] Chris: That’s true, right?

[00:05:22] Chris: Because of all the new fees and everything, everyone’s motivated to sell through inventory as fast as possible. So maybe if they see that for the first five months of the year, whatnot, they’ve sold through their inventory extremely quickly. Why would they start discounting it heavily just because of this, right?

[00:05:39] Andrew: And there’s certain products that I don’t think people are like, I’m going to Amazon to buy this, to get a deal on prime day. I know that any brand and any product can have prime day deals, but in general, I think people are kind of looking for these certain type of items, and so if you have let’s say everyday items that people are going to come back and buy, let’s say you’re selling toothpaste and people are going to come by toothpaste year round, whether it’s prime day or not, you’re not having to convince them to buy this gift midsummer or something like that, you know?

[00:06:05] Chris: Yeah. Well, I mean, this is their version of Christmas in July, right? It’s not a hundred percent new retailers tried this off and on over decades before. So I suppose, is that part of the marketing strategy to not necessarily Christmas, but the idea of like, it’s the holidays, but it’s warm outside.

[00:06:25] Chris: Does that play into some of the creative stuff you guys are doing? Everyone knows what prime day is now. We don’t have to do that.

[00:06:32] Andrew: Yeah. I think it’s changed a lot, right. In the last 10 years from when it first came out, it really was an amazing holiday, like just like for sellers to be able to take advantage of it.

[00:06:40] Andrew: And then it became so many brands jumping on it that you really need a significant discount to kind of stand out from, from the other deals. If You’re doing a mediocre deal, it’s just a wash. You’re not getting listed on anything. You’re not really getting seen.

[00:06:51] Andrew: You’re just kind of giving up margin. So even to a couple of years back, they shut down because we had so much traffic. So I think it comes back again to like, what type of product, like, is this one that we can really take advantage of? Like if you’re selling swimming rafts for the pool or something like you could crush it right around now, Christmas in July type of stuff.

[00:07:11] Andrew: If you have that type of product. But to just discount products that no one’s caring about, like you don’t see a lot of lift, like in general, we are telling brands to participate in prime day, but it’s not a general statement. Like, if they can have a significant discount to their product, we’re going to say, yeah, let’s do it and see if we can get some momentum because as an Amazon seller, you’re always looking for momentum, I think, and prime day is an opportunity for that.

[00:07:35] Andrew: It’s just not a one size fits all.

[00:07:37] Chris: Yeah. What we see on our side sometimes is people don’t feel prepared enough. They don’t feel like their listing is as good as it could be. And so they go nuts on listing optimization. And sometimes they start inserting certain keywords or playing with the detail page in ways that might get it suspended because they just didn’t understand that they were taking that risk.

[00:07:58] Chris: And then they come to us for reinstatement help. So have you had to have those kinds of conversations like, well, it sounds like you want to do X, Y, Z. That could result in a listing takedown. So you won’t be optimizing anything or improving anything or selling anything, potentially. You’re just creating risk.

[00:08:15] Chris: Do you have to explain that to people or do you need like the risk assessment people like us to kind of come in and be the bearers of bad tidings?

[00:08:22] Andrew: Well, a little bit of both too, right? For the most part, I would think we have trust with our clients and they’re listening to us when we’re like, guys, We’re we’re in selling season.

[00:08:30] Andrew: Let’s not let’s not tinker , with what we’re trying to do. There are like, for me, with the existing accounts, that seems to go pretty well. \ we’ve got that trust with them. We’re doing it, let’s say we onboarded a brand starting in May or June and they’re trying to get their products up and get them ready.

[00:08:46] Andrew: And they’re like prime days up here, we need to take advantage of it. Like let’s push, push, push. That can be where we get into some of those, like, that gray area where we don’t have crazy trust with them yet. We’re new. They’re wanting to push the envelope to get some things done before prime day.

[00:08:59] Andrew: You know, we know what can potentially happen if that listing goes down during those big days, so yeah there have been a couple of times where I’m like, Chris, can you be the bearer of bad news or back me up on this. But in general, as long as we’re setting expectations with them and letting them know, Hey, this is what the cost could be.

[00:09:16] Andrew: The opportunity cost even of doing things. I think one of the things about my knowledge is we try to stay really true to terms of service and, and pretty white hat and, and keep things above table, so to speak. So we’re doing our best to mitigate those problems before we get there.

[00:09:30] Andrew: But yeah, whether they’re the ones getting themselves into trouble or they simply have an ASIN and coming into prime day, still suspended. Those are both scenarios that are very real.

[00:09:40] Chris: Yeah. And of course, we’re putting together tons of content for people in terms of your ASINs down, heading into prime day. What’s the emergency response, rapid response for that.

[00:09:51] Andrew: Chris, I have a question for you. I would flip the script a little bit on the podcast, but how much of like, Listing suppression or listings being taken down or deactivation happens around this time in regards to like sabotage, just a competitor knowing they can take their product down for a couple of days in it being enough to kind of like miss that window.

[00:10:10] Andrew: Like, is that something that happens, you know, semi frequently?

[00:10:13] Chris: I would, I would say still most of it right now is sort of the stress testing month, like let’s screw with these people a little bit and see if they notice. Or if it succeeds and their listing goes down, let’s see how long it takes them to get their listing reinstated.

[00:10:27] Chris: If it’s a day or two, okay, maybe it’s not worth going through this again when it’s Prime Day. If it’s a week or two weeks, then maybe it’s really worth trying to go after them right before Prime Day. Most of the attacks happen on Prime Day Eve or like the night before that. Middle of the night stuff is that’s common every week.

[00:10:45] Chris: We see that on Friday nights, Saturday nights, but yeah, I mean, most of it’s in July, the June period is more like let’s mess with some backend keywords and see if anyone notices or see if it gets the listing taken down. Or do they just overwrite whatever contributions we make on the ASIN side and get it fixed with their flat files before anything really substantial happens, before we even make any money out of it because people like that are looking for bang for their buck. It’s not worth their time. They’ll focus their energy someplace else. I mean, unless they’re just dead set on attacking you and only you, they’re probably looking around at different categories, different brands, different sellers, so they’re looking for a soft target, right?

[00:11:30] Chris: If you can fix stuff quickly, they’re less likely to spend time, effort and energy on, on you, which is good news for you and probably they wouldn’t really come back, unless they come back in Q4 and try to mess with you again.

[00:11:42] Andrew: There’s like, we’re going to take on someone that we can, we can, we can make this last, this impact last.

[00:11:47] Chris: Right. They’re looking to bully somebody, if it’s somebody that’s gonna punch them in the mouth, they’re not going to go for that but also I think one important thing about Prime Day is it’s a great time either just getting appeals that you may need on paper or even just strategies in place or ideas in place.

[00:12:06] Chris: It’s a good practice run for what you might have to do in Q4 in case you get attacked, or even if it’s not an attack, I mean, Amazon can randomly take an ASIN down due to screwy automation or just technical errors or just a mistake. Right. And it’s great to have at least some content, maybe not the exact blueprint, but at least some kind of an outline ready.

[00:12:30] Chris: So that you can have a rapid response in place to resolve it quickly.

[00:12:35] Andrew: What are some of those, putting you on the spot here, but what are some of those, maybe they don’t have an appeal prewritten or done, but they’re just selling products. So they’re not to that point where they’ve been suspended, but product documentation, like those types of things, what are the things that they should have ready, at least for their top selling ASINs, like going into a hot season like that.

[00:12:53] Chris: Definitely have your compliance documentation handy, which you should all the time anyway.

[00:12:57] Chris: If it’s something where you got testing done at an ISO certified lab, you have that handy and you know that the lab is going to be iSO certified and acceptable. That’s one example. If it’s electronics, other types of compliance and testing paperwork, but for most people, it’s the invoices, right?

[00:13:15] Chris: Make sure your manufacturer is quickly and easily verifiable and they’ve got like a website just in case there’s a random inauthentic complaint or somebody is challenging the authenticity of your products. Well, obviously they’re authentic. You are the brand, but instead of getting caught in the weeds and back and forth with seller support, you’ve got all the paperwork they want ready to go so that if for some reason they write back and say, this isn’t enough.

[00:13:39] Chris: You can call account health and say, we are the brand. We had all the paperwork handy. We sent it to you all within hours. What exactly is missing? Right. Get some answers from account health. So you can at least quickly hurdle over those first initial obstacles on the basic level, the first rung of the ladder.

[00:13:57] Chris: And skip up the food chain to kind of like starting to email from the primary email on your account to senior management or executive level people. We know what you guys thought happened here. We already addressed it. No one’s reading it. What are you going to do for us now? So at least you can get, cause you know, managers are, are their direct reports.

[00:14:17] Chris: Somebody manager level is reviewing that. They might not review it well every time. But your odds are way better than just emailing it to the seller performance queues or to my former team’s queues, or they’re like, you know, support. It’s not that every call to account health is worth it. I know they take you in circles sometimes, but I mean, I know you’ve dealt with this yourself.

[00:14:36] Andrew: Yeah, and I was thinking just like what might be helpful for some of the listeners to is, in addition to just like having your paperwork together, like, well, what does that mean? Well, just having it organized and ready to go in case you have to reach out to someone like Chris and say, help me with these ASIN suspensions on the agency side, like what we’re doing.

[00:14:53] Andrew: Are you thinking of us like the seller or working with the seller is, we have software in place where we have alerts on our top selling listings, so if something happens, they go down, we lose the buy box, content changes. We’re getting alerts that that’s happening. During prime day, we also have like, almost like a double schedule happening with our team where we’re like physically checking accounts and top selling listings to make sure ads are deploying to make sure listings aren’t being taken down because depending on what you’re selling, depending on what size brand you are, , a few hours difference can be the difference in having a successful prime day or not if you’re moving a lot of volume during prime day.

[00:15:28] Andrew: So, it’s just extra eyeballs. , it’s not the weekend to just like shut your computer and not look at it. It’s definitely a time to be, be vigilant.

[00:15:37] Chris: Be engaged. I’d imagine your strategies have changed a little bit with the advent of some of the AI flags that Amazon’s implemented, right? So you’re looking for certain stuff and maybe trying to stay away from certain AI triggers when you’re optimizing their listings.

[00:15:53] Andrew: Yeah. And like, you know, this is like, I guess, like you would say in June, like the stress testing, any kind of changes we’re trying to do or anything aggressive, we’re trying to have those things done quite a bit before we even put in for our prime day deals.

[00:16:05] Andrew: So we’re not trying to make changes down to the wire, down to the wire changes might be like trying to get a deal to go through or a discount or a sale. But definitely not like listing optimization changes. There’s a belief and I mean, pretty sure it’s in place that just like during around some of those big traffic days, like Amazon’s catalog is not, is not updating the way it should, like they’re not processing it.

[00:16:27] Andrew: There’s different cues happening. It’s a slower cue. So like, you’re not going to get the support you normally get. You’re not going to get like the catalog features. It just seems like everything’s slower. Like they slow all that down. So in. Understand that that’s the case. Like probably a week before and a week after we’re not touching anything.

[00:16:43] Andrew: And I think even maybe further out than a week out, right?

[00:16:45] Andrew: Yeah, that’s the biggest problem of having to do ASIN appeals is everything slows down. They’ve got way too many people appealing way too many times for account reinstatement and ASIN reinstatement. Um, and people like another thing we haven’t talked about is people are all over their SAS core reps in this time to trying to fix last minute stuff, asking questions, their SAS core reps are probably not as available as they would like to be, or should be because they’re helping other sellers they work with.

[00:17:14] Andrew: Putting out fires and helping them resolve problems. So everyone wants their attention at once, you know, Um, it’s probably like being a parent with 12 kids or something like that. Everyone’s fighting for your attention at the same time. Um, and so there’s strain within internal teams on the Amazon side too.

[00:17:34] Andrew: Not everyone comes back with a great answer within 24 hours. And if you push them and we’re accustomed to pushing people to come back with answers. If you push them too quickly on the wrong stuff, they might come back with an answer fast, just to get rid of you, but it’s not a good quality. Answer. That’s the other risk.

[00:17:51] Andrew: So the best way to deal with it is to not deal with it at all, which is just good preparation. And obviously you want to be ready if it happens, but what can you do ahead of time to just, you know, dot your I’s and cross your T’s.

[00:18:03] Chris: For sure. Any any last ideas or tips for our viewers before we check out?

[00:18:09] Andrew: Yeah, I think it’s like, it’s a simple basics, but not, not understanding, you know, Who all is listening, but for me, it’s, um, you know, having your inventory, like a double, triple check of your inventory, making sure you’re stocked to the point where you, what happens if you are, have a very successful prime day and plan for that.

[00:18:26] Andrew: Um, you know, it seems like kind of elementary, but having FBM, if you don’t have that, maybe it’s a little late right now going down to the wire, but you know, making sure that that’s plugged in, making sure your warehouse knows that it’s prime day. Simple communication, just because they’re, they’re in the warehouse, they’re working around your business.

[00:18:42] Andrew: Doesn’t know that they know exactly that Tuesday is going to be a heavy day or Wednesday is going to be a heavy day. So just, um, if you have your own small warehouse team, bring them lunch, bring them, you know, uh, you know, bring in donuts. Uh, bring in Gatorades, like, you know, kind of treating them. Like they’re very important when it comes down to these big sales days.

[00:19:03] Andrew: Um, and giving them a little bit of extra TLC, a little extra communication, a little extra support, um, because like your success depends on them. So set them up for success from letting your, you know, If you have, if you’re working with an agency, they should be, you know, they should be on point, like checking all these things.

[00:19:19] Andrew: But if you’re working with your own internal team, communicating to them, not just that you’ve set up the deals, but Hey guys, we’re coming into these days that I I’m expecting you to double check, triple check the listings. Um, you know, make sure stuff like, you know, Actually go to Amazon, search for our product, make sure it’s showing up.

[00:19:34] Andrew: And it’s like, it’s, it’s indexing, um, you know, make sure the warehouse team knows what’s going on. Um, and then also set some benchmarks. If you guys use software, or even if you don’t set some benchmarks before prime day, so you can see how successful your prime day was and then set some benchmarks after maybe you did 25 percent last year and this year you’re doing 15%, like try to track the differences, um, whether it’s successful or not, a lot of the data that you get and the feedback you get from, from This prime day can help you for the next one or help you in Q4.

[00:20:02] Andrew: So I think a lot of times you’re prepping for it, prepping for it, prepping for it. No one takes the time really to even just kind of document and take notice of where they are so that they can come back later after the craziness is done and kind of evaluate how successful or unsuccessful it was.

[00:20:18] Chris: Awesome stuff. Well said. Well,

[00:20:22] Andrew: you know, it’s um, you know, for the season seller prime day is, it’s, it’s back, right? It’s, it’s, you know, you’re 10, you’re 11, you’re 12, depending on where people are, they’ve, they’ve done this, they’ve seen this for the new seller can be intimidating. So, um, you know, just set yourself up for success by, by over preparing.

[00:20:39] Andrew: And, and I think you’ll be fine.

[00:20:41] Chris: And words of wisdom from Drew Morgans at Marknology, where can people reach you?

[00:20:47] Andrew: Yeah. on LinkedIn, Andrew Morgans with an S. Otherwise it’s, it’s marknology.com. I love interacting with people on social media, especially if you’re passionate about the e commerce and Amazon space, would love to talk to anybody.

[00:21:01] Chris: Cool. All right. Well, wishing you and your clients wonderful success on prime day. And thanks again for joining us for this episode. It’s been great having you back.

[00:21:10] Andrew: Thanks, Chris.

Hosts & Guests

Andrew Morgans

Chris McCabe

 

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