Amazon is big and only getting bigger. In fact, half of all online purchases in the US are now made on just this single platform compared to the rest of the web, and globally Amazon is seeing close to 200 million unique visitors each month. With such an overwhelming number of people shopping on Amazon, odds are your customers are among them. However, when searching for your brand on Amazon, what are your customers finding? Do they come across your brand, but only a handful of products, or less than flattering images of your products? Or even worse do they not find your brand at all, but rather your competition? I feel these questions suggest the more important reasons to be on Amazon is not just pure sales growth (although that is definitely a large byproduct if done well) but rather increasing awareness of your brand and the full selection of products you sell.
Of course, I do understand some of the hesitation brands have about jumping head first into using Amazon as a big piece of their sales strategy. There is no denying the platform encourages price cutting and will allow anyone to represent your brand with little supervision resulting in nightmarish listings containing inaccurate descriptions and terrible images of your product. However, I believe because Amazon left to its own devices has a great potential to hurt your brand, savvy brands must make significant investments there. The truth is your customers want to buy on Amazon, in fact, half of all online product search now begins there, so brands also should make an attempt to meet their customers where they want to shop. If your brand chooses to ignore Amazon mostly likely the rest of your market is not, so when the millions of people who search for your products on Amazon every day don’t find you, but instead find your competition, this could have drastic effects on your overall market share both online and throughout brick and mortar.
If you agree incorporating Amazon into your overall sales strategy is important for your brand then how should one go about it? I believe it boils down to 2 primary tasks:
Control who sells on Amazon – An important point to understand is that if no effort is taken to enforce who is allowed to sell on Amazon, then by the platform’s design, anyone and everyone who has access to your product will try and sell there. This leads to duplicate listings being uploaded by unknown retailers and pricing that is constantly subject to massive discounting. If your brand relies heavily on price as a tool to promote its premium branding, then attempting to control price on Amazon without limiting who can sell on the platform could be nearly impossible and very detrimental to the brand. If Amazon distribution is left unsupervised for any length of time, it can sometimes take years to reign in the network and gain back control.
Increase organic search ranking – Amazon is continuously adding more and more tools for brands to use in an effort to increase search ranking. Those brands who are able to best utilize advertising, brand registry, and can optimize their catalog most effectively will have a great advantage over their competition on the platform.
It is important to understand however that these two functions must both be addressed if any positive results are to be realized. If you only focus on managing distribution and enforcing who sells on Amazon, but don’t invest any effort into ensuring your products are ranking high in search then you will be left with listings priced correctly and free of duplicates, but no one will be able to find them and convert. Conversely if you focus primarily on increasing search ranking but neglect reigning in your network of Amazon sellers you can end up wasting large amounts of effort enforcing pricing and fixing poor listings created by rogue sellers.
I believe because of Amazon’s scale and reach it has the potential to greatly boost your brand awareness at a rate much faster than what has traditionally been possible. No other single retail website gets as much traffic as Amazon, so by just having attractive looking listings appear when your brand is searched can lead to a plethora of benefits. In addition, if you happen to be one of the first brands in your market niche to invest heavily into Amazon then when customers search for you competitors’ brands all they will find is your brand instead! For many brands the idea of having Amazon be an integral part of their sales strategy is a scary one, but let that simply be a fear your competitors have, and rather have your brand embrace the fact that Amazon is here and your customers love it. Seize that opportunity by approaching Amazon in an intelligent way, meet your customers where they want to shop online and reap the benefits.