As we’ve said before, winning on Amazon takes more than a great product. The bustling and highly competitive Marketplace calls for Amazon-specific sales and marketing strategies. Success requires a deep understanding of the platform and long-term commitment to the process.
Here are eight of the most common mistakes sellers make while working to grow their brands on Amazon - and how you can avoid them.
1. Skimping on category research.
Depending on the complexity of your catalog, setting up a Seller account on Amazon could potentially call for hundreds of hours of hard work. Before you invest those resources, be sure that you thoroughly understand your category viability and consumer demand for your product.
Investigate the value of your product category, and get to know your competitors. What are they doing well and what are they leaving on the table? If you find that you are entering a heavily saturated category, failing to communicate where your brand adds unique value is a recipe for disaster.
2. Not utilizing FBA.
If it’s possible for your products, Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) is almost always a better strategy than merchant fulfillment.
It’s about more than the coveted Prime Badge. Sellers who attempt to bypass fees by using self-fulfillment quickly discover that adhering to Amazon’s stringent standard of customer service and world-class logistics has them scrambling to meet shipping deadlines and respond to buyers at all hours of the day and night, including weekends and holidays.
Failing to meet expectations can result in account violations. Rack up too many complaints, and Amazon will respond by suppressing your products in the search rankings – quickly costing your business much more than if you had invested in Amazon Fulfillment from the beginning.
3. Failing to invest in advertising.
Brands that are new to the Marketplace lack the sales history and customer reviews needed for high search rankings, and will therefore start at the bottom rung of relevancy on the platform.
As you work to establish your business on Amazon, plan to level the playing field by paying for placement and visibility. Neglect Amazon advertising and you will most likely languish in obscurity, no matter how fantastic your products are.
The good news? As your products gain traction over time, your organic search ranking will improve and your advertising costs should decrease. This is called “the flywheel effect.” It takes a lot of energy and effort to get the wheel turning, but once you achieve the required velocity, it becomes much more self-sustaining.
4. Underestimating the process.
If you want to succeed on Amazon, you must be willing to make a serious investment in your account health. Don’t be caught off guard by the amount of time and effort nurturing your account requires, especially early on.
One of the best ways to help your account grow in the beginning is to remain diligent and patient. You'll need to get into a routine of consistently monitoring all your KPIs, reviewing and responding to performance notifications within the required service level agreement, and keeping an eye to the horizon so you don’t miss out on opportunities as they arise. If you aren't diligent and agile, you may quickly find yourself under water.
5. Not doing your homework.
Be aware that Amazon’s list of restricted products is quite extensive, and sellers who stock those items are subject to additional regulations.
Any potentially hazardous items, or products that go on your skin or in your body may need approval from an appropriate regulatory agency before they hit the Marketplace. Ensure that you can feasibly bring your business into compliance with Amazon’s rules before setting up your account.
6. Failing to protect your brand.
Come to the Marketplace with your trademarks in order, or risk losing ground to knock-off products and unauthorized duplicates.
Eligible sellers can enroll in Amazon’s Brand Registry and claim official ownership of their brand and products. However, to be protected in the brand registry, your business must already have a pending or registered trademark with the USPTO.
7. Going international without doing your due diligence.
Amazon Global opens up a world of opportunity, but sellers should be aware that restrictions and regulations vary from one country to the next.
Without a thorough understanding of what is required in the international marketplace, it’s easy to fail to meet expectations and violate seller policies. Make sure the value of your products translates to other regions of the globe, and that your products are legally compliant and eligible for international shipping. Finally, be prepared to offer the same standard of customer service to a worldwide audience.
8. Losing track of administrative control.
As you set up your account in Seller Central, it’s important to remember account access will always be associated with the original credentials. In other words, if an employee or outside agency registers your Amazon account in their name, it won’t be possible to change the account holder in the future.
Because the only way to remove an account holder’s access is to start over completely, be mindful of how you set up your credentials and who has access to them. A quality Amazon consulting agency will always ensure that your business retains ownership of your account.