Digital marketplaces have expanded dramatically over the past few years, catering to the demand of online shoppers. Given that Amazon is one of the leading online retailers, more and more brands are looking for ways to enhance their business. However, the impact of COVID-19 is causing major disruptions in supply chains, especially in ecommerce and retail. It’s worth it to look into trends we expect to be in play in the 2021 holiday season.
Thankfully, brands can evolve with the changing consumer behaviors by developing a comprehensive Amazon ecommerce strategy.
Expect Customers to Begin Their Holiday Shopping Early
Prime Day, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday are some of the top days for Amazon orders, meaning that brands should already be expecting a surge in traffic this Q4. But, as consumers change their behavior, brands on Amazon must adjust. Back in late 2020, a conflation of global supply chain issues caused many brands and retailers to be under-stocked and unable to fulfill customer demand for purchases.
Now, a year later, not only are several of those issues still prevalent but there are also new hazards to manage. Supply chains have been even further disrupted by shortages of air freight capacity and shipping containers, along with materials like plastics. Labor shortages have also caused major backlogs throughout the entire system.
Because of this, shoppers not only have developed a fear of their desired products being out of stock but have also been given warnings about shipping costs increasing during the holidays. Thus, we expect customers to shop much earlier in the year in order to ship items before costs increase. Brands need to plan ahead to optimize results and reduce risks.
Analyze Past Year’s Holiday Season Performance
If your brand has been established for over a year, looking at your past performance can prove helpful when planning ahead. Remember that 2020 was an anomaly due to COVID playing a major role in consumer behavior. While there’s still an expectation that online shopping traffic will be high, be sure to analyze any older data you may have to identify trends observed over time.
When analyzing your past performance, look at popular selling items, along with what keywords and ad strategies you used. This information, coupled with conversion data from previous seasons, will help to inform you on what worked well and what needs improvement.
Use this data to make projections for the current year. Then, once this holiday season has passed, evaluate your final sales numbers compared to your predictions. Ultimately, the more data you record following each holiday season, the more you can improve your brand’s holiday performance year over year.
Run PPC Campaigns Ahead of Time
A great PPC campaign is rarely ever built overnight. Developing a solid Amazon PPC strategy will most likely require a decent amount of time to fine-tune bid strategies and keywords, so make sure you start early. The longer you let your campaign run, the more traffic and sales you’ll likely generate, which will ultimately affect your organic results within Amazon over time.
Pro Tip: If you’re dreading the process of testing every variable, services such as Ideoclick’s Pulse Advertising will pull together Amazon siloed data to provide a comprehensive view of what’s working, what isn’t, and why.
Starting your PPC campaigns earlier allows you to A/B test different components to fine-tune moving forward. With A/B testing, it’s all about letting the data speak for itself. This is why it’s important that you cast aside any assumptions and test everything, including your title, images, image order, product title and description, bullet points, and price.
Amazon has the largest database of online shoppers across hundreds of retail categories. Amazon Demand-Side Platform (DSP) is a great way for brands to programmatically reach relevant audiences, using highly targeted display ads, both on and off Amazon. This is done through the usage of third-party exchanges and publishing partners.
Furthermore, one of the easiest ways to help consumers associate your products with the holidays is by adding seasonal themes in your PPC ad content. This can be done by tweaking your ad copy, targeting holiday keywords, or revamping Sponsored Brand ads with holiday-themed images. Once you’ve established the mental “hook” between the holiday season and your products, your brand will be that much more relevant.
Focus on the Amazon Buy Box
In 2020 Amazon reached over $386 billion in net revenue sales, with over $320 billion coming through the Amazon Buy Box. So, understanding how the Buy Box works and how you can win a share of it is imparative.
What is the Buy Box?
Many sellers sell the same product. For the best shopping experience, Amazon picks the one it deems the best option to occupy the buy box — the white box on the right of the product detail page. When a customer selects “Add to Cart,” or “Buy Now” the seller who has that particular Buy Box will get the final sale. This is why ensuring your brand has all the essentials in place from the very beginning is crucial for success.
In 2020 Amazon reached over $386 billion in net revenue sales, with over $320 billion coming through the Amazon Buy Box. So, understanding how the Buy Box works and how you can win a share of it is imperative.
Buy Box Eligibility
Amazon built its Buy Box algorithm on the following eligibility requirements:
- Professional Seller – The Buy Box is exclusive to Amazon Professional Sellers. These are brands that sell at least 40 items per month and subscribe to Amazon’s Professional Seller service.
- Strong performance metrics – These are metrics that focus on your customer service. In short, be sure you provide customers with a user-friendly experience.
- New product – Amazon eliminates all used products from the Buy Box. This helps ensure that shoppers receive high-quality and undamaged products.
- In-stock consistency – If you don’t have your items in stock, the Buy Box will typically rotate to another seller. The only exception is when products are listed as “back-ordered” with a note on the product page.
Quick Note: Given the nature of the current supply chain issues, your brand needs to be extremely proactive about keeping items in stock. This not only means strategically planning well ahead of time but optimizing your operational compliance. You can check your Buy Box eligibility within Amazon Seller Central.
How the Buy Box Algorithm Works
The Buy Box algorithm analyzes every offer sellers provide and then evaluates them based on several performance-based requirements:
- Product Price – There are two prices on Amazon, the price of your listed item and the landed price, which includes shipping. While lower prices increase your chances of winning a share of the Buy Box, if your seller performance is better than your competition, you might be able to raise your price and still get a share.
- Order fulfillment – Fulfillment is possibly the most important variable considered by Amazon, so be sure to use either Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) or Seller-Fulfilled Prime (SFP).
- Shipping time – Amazon needs to provide shoppers with the best experience possible. Thus, the amount of time brands take to ship an item has a high impact on winning the Buy Box. Consider providing an option for expedited shipping to increase your chances.
- Shipping accuracy – In order to protect your eligibility, you should provide valid tracking numbers for 95% of shipped packages. Anything less could negatively affect your chances to win.
- Order defect rate – Amazon monitors your short and long-term ODR, which
ecompasses the previous four months. Be sure you maintain an ODR of less than one percent.
- Customer feedback – Your feedback rating includes all feedback scores received over the previous 30, 90, and 365 days. The most recent feedback will have the greatest impact. The faster you respond to customers, the more your chances to win will increase. For best results, you want a feedback score of at least 90 percent.
Optimize Your Product Listings
1. Develop a Keyword Strategy
As opposed to traditional retail shelves, which follow a category-based structure, the shopping journey on Amazon was designed to be search-based. Thus, developing a keyword strategy is a must.
One rule of thumb is to never include your own brand name or a competitor’s brand name in your keyword list. This is because those searching with your brand name will find and purchase your products regardless, and those searching with a competitor’s name almost never convert and you’ll waste your budget trying to flip a proven behavior. Instead, it’s more important to consider how your customers talk and think about your product. What keywords (besides your brand name) would they type into Amazon’s search box to find you?
Once you have your initial list, narrow it down or edit your contenders by considering keywords you can actually win. Highly specific, long-tail keywords are typically less competitive and thus less expensive, allowing you to get the most out of your budget while still driving sales.
Pro Tip: Utilizing a third-party expert to narrow your list down to six to ten winnable keywords is a great way brands can streamline their bidding strategies.
For example, a brand that sells organic skincare products should use terms such as “organic hydrating face cream ” or “lavender face mask for women” as opposed to generic, more competitive terms like “face cream” or “face mask.”
Also, consider the season. Is your product a great gift for moms? How about a handy stocking stuffer? Are you doing special gift sets? For example, “Skincare gift sets for women” can gain your brand an edge over “skincare”l its more generic keyword counterpart.
Once your keyword list has been narrowed down to six to ten winnable keywords, make sure you include them on your product detail pages, more specifically, in the product title.
2. Maximize Your Product Title and Description
Constructing an Effective Listing Title
Your listing title is the most valuable component of Amazon product listings. While there’s been a lot of speculation surrounding whether you should incorporate your brand name in the title, we actually advise against it. This is because your products are discoverable to shoppers even if your brand name is not included in the title.
The secret to an effective title is the way in which it’s structured. Both keyword order and keyword choice can dramatically impact your product’s sales and rank on Amazon.
The secret to an effective title is the way in which it’s structured. Both keyword order and keyword choice can dramatically impact your product’s sales and rank on Amazon. This is because the character amount is limited, so the absolute most relevant keywords need to be placed at the forefront of your listings.
Here are some more ways you can optimize your product titles:
- Only include the most important information
- Address common concerns amongst your target audience
- Use keywords with both high (but winnable) search volume and relevance
- Keep mobile optimization in mind. Amazon recommends a max length of 80 characters so the full title is displayed on mobile devices.
3. Creating Meaningful Description Content
Descriptions are an opportunity to appeal in more detail to your audience’s pain points, showcase product benefits, and incorporate any pertinent information not included in the title. Be sure you’re making full use of the character count, bullet points, and descriptions. Also, don’t forget to include any relevant high-ranking keywords when needed.
Here are some more ways you can optimize your product descriptions:
- Begin each point with a product benefit
- Incorporate content on what makes your brand unique
- Include accurate product dimensions
- Use correct grammar, punctuation, and complete sentences
Amazon provides an A+ Content feature for brands looking to change the product descriptions of branded ASINs. This tool allows you to uniquely highlight product features and your brand story which can help result in higher conversion rates, increased sales, and improved traffic.
4. Perfect Your Product Images
Providing customers with a variety of high-quality and unique images will directly affect your click-through rate (CTR). Product listings with below-average images not only discredit the true value of your product but the value of your brand as a whole.
When choosing product images for your listings, consider the following:
- Ensure all images are high-resolution
- Provide several different product angles
- Show the product in use
- Include a photo of ingredients and packaging
- Demonstrate its size and scale
Here’s a comprehensive list of Amazon’s product image requirements.
Gain a Competitive Edge This Holiday Season
The Q4 season is one of the most exciting times of the year for brands on Amazon. As more people continue to jump onto the online shopping bandwagon, the opportunities to generate sales online are abundant. Ultimately, while this time can be stressful for even the most established brands on Amazon, having the right Amazon ecommerce strategy in place ensures you’re starting the holiday rush primed and prepared for success.
Ideoclick is your eCommerce growth partner. Our Amazon experts and proprietary technology can help get your brand seen this holiday season. How ready are you? Contact us for a complimentary Operational Readiness Report.