Private Label Product: Competition on Amazon

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Selling private label on Amazon has its rewards. But what if you could build a scalable PL sales model with only a couple of software tools and a few tweaks? Learn how to outsmart your competition on Amazon today.
Last week, we started talking about selling private label on Amazon. More specifically, we discussed sourcing for PL sellers. We also briefly talked about ways to defend your brand on Amazon. This week, let’s see what it takes to find and outsmart your competition on Amazon.

The PL Seller’s Competitors

1. Amazon PL Brands and Exclusives

Type “Amazon Brand” into your Amazon.com search box. Or click here to see the dedicated Amazon UK Private Label page. TJI research claims there are 135 such PL brands and 330 Amazon Exclusives or Own Brands. And the number keeps rising suddenly every Q1 and Q3, so right after the sales season.

As it streams shopping data from sales, Amazon can spot “unmet market needs” better than any seller. And what better time to learn about market trends than Prime Day or the winter holidays? And all the while, it’s promoting its existing PL Brands in the Top Rated section of a query result.

Top rated Amazon PL

Example of Top Rated Amazon PL offers

Analyst Keith Anderson of Profitero claims Amazon’s own PL strategy focuses on big market trends like sustainability and eco-friendliness. Being able to tap into these market needs led to last year’s PL sales. They were estimated at $7.5 billion. And analysts believe this figure will more than triple by 2022.

2. Top Search Results

But PL sellers don’t compete with Amazon only. They also face off with Amazon’s recommendations. The most eye-catching products are the ones with badges, such as Best Sellers, Amazon’s Choice, and BOGOF items. And some BOGOF badges are very similar to the ones Amazon uses.

Best Seller, Amazon Choice

Top query result featuring Best Seller, Amazon’s Choice, and BOGOF item

3. Other PL Sellers

Aside from Amazon’s own offers and other top search results, you should keep an eye out for paid ads. Headline Search Ads and Sponsored Products feature not only on the search result page, but also on your product page, and all over a buyer’s home page. Of course, it’s always a good idea to use the tools in our competitive analysis post to pin-point your main competitors too.

How To Stay Competitive on Amazon

Now that you have a pretty good idea of how to find and sort your competition on Amazon, how do you set yourself apart and keep your edge? You can promote your products using social media, paid Amazon ads, and the Amazon Vine Program. But only after you tick these boxes:

1. Optimize Your Listing

To outrank other PL sellers, you also need perfect listings. It all starts with finding good keywords for your SEO strategy and writing high-converting copy. You’ll find plenty of listing optimization tips and best practices on our blog.

You should also have engaging photos. The Amazon Imaging or Product Photography may be of help. If you’d also like to upload a compelling video, first check the Video Shorts page for inspiration.

Before anything goes live, you should carry out some A/B or Split testing first using special software. This enables you to run two tests for similar listings simultaneously and see which changes are the most effective.

2. Price it Right

You need smart tools to keep an eye on your sales and other PL sellers. With Sellery, you can keep tabs on the competition, designate the products you want to compete with, and reprice in tandem.

It’s a customizable “set it and forget it” kind of tool, and the only one that reprices in real-time. It can spot market changes and counteract their effect, so that sales and profits stay up. Simply look up some keywords and let Sellery know what product or PL seller you’d like to compete with.

Sellery competition

Designating and monitoring competitors with Sellery

One thing to keep in mind is that the higher your search rank, the more you sell on Amazon. But your search rank depends on your sales velocity. If you’re new to Amazon, you may need to bid more on PPC campaigns and sell at a loss for a while, just to build up that sales volume.

3. Keep Metrics Up

If you’ve registered your own brand, you’re probably not that bothered about the Buy Box. But the same performance metrics that increase Buy Box percentage for third-party sellers will drive sales for you, raise your IPI, and reduce your storage fees. So, take a few minutes to read up on them.

4. Rehash and Rewind

Amazon likes to mix it up and see what catches on. Take its Happy Belly trail mixes, for example. But two can play at that game. Repromote your product with new variations, product bundles, or with frustration-free packaging.

You may not compete with Amazon or other PL sellers for these new ASINS; at least not at first. But you can still use Amazon’s price as reference. Or check the top selected products page to find new potential competitors.

5. Build a Website

If you don’t already have a website of your own to help sell your product, don’t waste any time building one. Whether you’ve registered your brand on Amazon or not, there’s no reason to sell exclusively on Amazon. Unless you signed up for Own Brands, of course.

As more and more people sign up to Own Brands, Amazon’s brand family grows. So, more PL sellers will go toe-to-toe with Amazon. To outlast your competitors, you need a strategy for scalable sales. But you can’t have it if Amazon is your only sales channel and source of income.

In the meantime, make sure your customer service can cope with a rise in queries as sales pick up, without compromising on quality of service. Luckily, the Voice of the Customer dashboard can help pinpoint buyer issues in a flash.

That’s it for today, but please follow our blog for our next post in the series, where we’ll go into a bit more detail about pricing and advertising for private label on Amazon. Until then, stay tuned for our Prime Day Prep post with last-minute tips to boost your PL sales.

Melanie

Melanie takes an active interest in all things Amazon. She keeps an eye on the latest developments and keeps Amazon sellers up to speed

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ASIN Crackdown – Bad Product Titles Beware

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With all this talk of an ASIN crackdown on Amazon, it’s easy to overreact. But there’s no reason to push the panic button. Amazon is simply shushing loud and obnoxious product titles. Here’s how to fix ASIN violations and protect your listings.

With only weeks to Prime Day 2019, Amazon is cracking down on listings with bad product titles. The announcement has had mixed reactions. Some sellers welcome the ASIN crackdown, while others think it’s a heavy-handed approach. 

Posted on the Seller Forums, the notice says Amazon’s research found a link between poor customer experience and bad titles. So, Amazon is giving sellers an ultimatum: clean up your act by July 22, 2019, or your listings will fall off the radar.

ASIN Crackdown

Seller Forums post announcing ASIN crackdown

But there isn’t a consensus among sellers over what an ASIN violation is. Those who resort to “keyword spam” are the most troubled by this change. They believe using keywords in titles makes a great deal of difference to the product’s visibility. They fear their sales will suffer.

And sellers who comply are also puzzled. Those who sell books, for instance, have no control over their product titles. Also, third-party sellers who add their offer to a pre-existing listing can’t change the title. So, Amazon suppressing listings left, right, and center is their worst nightmare.

ASIN Crackdown 2

Screenshot of moderator post explaining common title issues

Luckily, Amazon soon clarified, as seen above. And it’s not all doom and gloom. The ASIN crackdown will only apply to a selection of product titles. Anything with over 200 characters, non-readable symbols, promotional keywords, or no real information about the product is an ASIN violation.

The FBA Product Title Requirements page spells it out. You should capitalize the first letter of each word, except for conjunctions and prepositions less than 5 letters long. Emojis, abbreviations for units of measurement (e.g. ’ for foot or ” for inch), and virtually all characters outside the English alphabet (e.g. -, &, ©) are not allowed.

The Dos and Don’ts of Amazon product titles

So, all non-compliant sellers will see their titles suppressed from search results starting July 22. Some will be able to review any ASIN violation using the “Suppressed” tab on their Inventory page in Seller Central. The rest will simply notice a sharp drop in sales.

You may not have time to check your listings before Prime Day. But as soon as you have a moment, update your product pages. A sales slump coupled with Prime Day returns and refunds could spell disaster for your business, especially with the Q3 IPI evaluation period starting mid-August.  

If you find it challenging, reach out to other sellers on the forum and let people know. For instance, one seller there claims their private label listings are locked. To make any changes, they need to open a case with Amazon. That’s clearly something Amazon should look into.

Are you having a hard time spotting your ASIN violations and fixing your product titles? We’d love to hear your take on this, the challenges you face, and your workaround. Just drop us a line below, and we’ll do our best to help raise awareness.

Melanie

Melanie takes an active interest in all things Amazon. She keeps an eye on the latest developments and keeps Amazon sellers up to speed

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Private Label Product: Sourcing

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Private label is big business on Amazon. If sourcing for Amazon isn’t your forte, but you’d like to sell PL products, give this a quick read. Our new series takes you through the basics of private label, starting with Amazon inventory sourcing.

Over a million new merchants signed up to sell on Amazon in the past year alone. With competition growing, many e-tailers – including Amazon – are turning to private label. And with all the advantages of Brand Registry, it should come as no surprise.

There’s been a shift from conventional to own-brand business on Amazon. But the scale of it is anyone’s guess. While we wait for Deloitte’s new private label report, there are a few trends to take away from the latest survey:

  • Vendor selection – quality assurance is raising standards for retailers, as well as buyers.
  • Sourcing tech – retailers invest more in advanced technology for PL sourcing.
  • Vendor consolidation – they partner up with only the most resourceful manufacturers.
  • Reshoring – retailers try to reduce the sourcing footprint to strengthen their brand.

So, private label sellers are focusing on ways to improve sourcing. The goal? To change quality perception. They’re no longer interested in cheap, generic, white label goods. They’re taking a long-term approach to selling on Amazon.

White label and private label are two different things. A private label product is exclusive to the retailer. It may be changed and enhanced at any time. A white label product is generic and sold to a variety of retailers. They simply rebrand it and pass it on to the end-user.

Sellers on Amazon often mistake one for the other. And they try to claim a generic item is a PL product. But private labelling on Amazon can only really work if the product is new, unique, innovative, and yours alone.

An item can be eligible to become a PL product on Amazon if it doesn’t have a UPC. If the manufacturer already gave it one, then it’s their brand. You can still sell it on Amazon by assigning it a FNSKU code. But you’d need to use the manufacturer’s branding.

If it’s never been branded or assigned a UPC, then it can be listed on Amazon. And the brand can be registered on the Brand Registry. But not before you register your trademark, which takes time. Even standard text trademarks, without graphics, can take up to a year for the USPTO to acknowledge.

Once you’re accepted, you can weed out unwanted competitors. But the wording on the packaging and the claims made on the listing need to be lawful. And your patent, QC, and advertising must comply with trading regulations. If you’re not sure they do, ask a private label lawyer for advice.

Ultimately, registering your brand can help protect it on Amazon, as seen above. But it won’t stop copy-cats from selling fakes on other websites. Registering your trademark and your brand is a necessity, not a magic bullet.

You don’t need us telling you what you should or shouldn’t sell on Amazon. But a good PL product should have low sales rank, high-ranking keywords, few reviews, and a reasonable asking price. And to be worth sourcing for Amazon, it should also be light, durable, and non-seasonal.

Software tools can help you find good PL products and narrow down your shortlist. Start with Profit Bandit and work your way through our list of tools for analyzing your competition. You can also find Amazon inventory sourcing tips on seller forums and online directories like WebRetailer.

Now that you know what to sell on Amazon, there’s still the small matter of the supplier. Quality, factory direct price, and defect rate are important. But if you’re sourcing for Amazon, you should also be able to count on raw material availability and prompt deliveries.

Finding the right manufacturer isn’t without its share of difficulties. If you’re thinking of offshoring, there are a few things to bear in mind. It’s not unusual to come across these challenges when you’re sourcing for Amazon from abroad:

  • Price fluctuations due to raw material shortages.
  • Inadequate intellectual property and payment protection.
  • Lengthy customs clearances and unexpected shipping costs.
  • The language barrier and time-zone difference.
  • Subpar manufacturing and labor standards.

It may take weeks to find a supplier that’s right for you. When you’re ready to put some time and effort into your research, start checking things off this to-do list:

  • Scout. Buy similar products locally. Check the packaging to find out who manufactured them. Carry out some basic research about these companies and the countries they operate in.
  • Network. Check B2B social sites like LinkedIn and join PL groups.
  • Market. Attend trade shows and speak to manufacturers directly. Only give your business card to people you’re really interested in working with.
  • Websurf. Browse e-commerce guides (e.g. ecommerceCEO’s). Check manufacturing directories (ThomasNet, Maker’s Row, Alibaba, and IndiaMart) for specialized PL suppliers.
  • RfQ. Find websites like Global Sources that allow you to submit a request for quotes and then select the best candidates.
  • Check FB. Look up their customer reviews and how they handle disputes.
  • Outsource. If you don’t think you can find reliable suppliers by yourself, look for companies that can do it for you. Some procurement outsourcing companies can also handle contracts, transactions, tracking, and compliance issues on your behalf.
  • Contact. Draw the supplier shortlist and start contacting them to check bulk shipping costs and turnaround time. If you’re satisfied with the reply, request samples.

At the risk of repeating ourselves, we have one more thing to add before we sign off. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Multi-channel fulfillment is the golden rule of online retail. Your PL product should be available for sale on multiple websites and venues.

That’s our cue, folks. Don’t forget to follow our blog for more private label tips on budgeting, pricing, and promoting PL products on Amazon. And while you’re here, check out our Prime Day Prep series for insight into sourcing for Amazon sales.

Melanie

Melanie takes an active interest in all things Amazon. She keeps an eye on the latest developments and keeps Amazon sellers up to speed

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Product Title Keyword Strategies for New Products on Amazon

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Product Title Keyword Strategies for New Products on Amazon

Mastering your Product Title Keywords is essential to any seller who would like to launch a new product on Amazon. In our last two posts we’ve tried to build comprehensive guidelines on the type of ads available on Amazon and how to set them up, as well as an intro into Enhanced Brand Content. We’re closing this series on Amazon PPC with an insight into Product Title Keyword Strategies.

You’ve done your product preparation. You’re confident you have a product that’s going to blow the socks off of your target audience on Amazon. But a few questions still remain.

Things like:

  • What product titles will help your listing get discovered?
  • How should you approach research for title keywords?
  • How should you format your product titles to optimize listings for search?

In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about getting started with product titles keywords for an Amazon Private Label product launch. If you master product title keyword optimization for your listings, you can help your products get discovered and purchased more often. Let’s stick to the basics, but learn how to do them well.

Let’s start with some basics around product title keywords for products sold on Amazon.

First, determine which keywords are most important in fetching the right customers for your product. It all starts with your product page’s title.

Put your most relevant keywords first

Nielsen data shows that most online customers scan listings from left to right. If you’re selling oven mitts, don’t create a listing for “Durable Heat-Resistant Kitchen Accessory Oven Mitts.” The customer might end up confused about whether you’re selling generic kitchen accessories or simply oven mitts. Start with the most important keywords first, then elaborate from there.

Include features in the title

Customers often search for distinguishing product features, or at the very least, they scan for them. “Oven Mitts” may tell a user what to expect on your product page, but “X-Brand Oven Mitts – Heat-Resistant Silicone, Extra Long” is far more descriptive and includes more feature-related keywords.

According to Wordstream, you should stick to typing in your titles in the following order:

Brand Name>Product>Key features>Size>Color>Quantity.

Using that format, you might expect to create a product title like “X-Brand Oven Mitts – Silicone Lined, Extra Long, Black/Blue, Set of 2.”

Of course, it also helps to know which features to highlight, and how. For more insights on this specific topic, try our Amazon Private Label Solutions to get a sense of where your product fits in the marketplace, or read our post on Amazon product optimization to get the best possible results.

As you work on optimizing your product title keyword strategy, be sure to also familiarize yourself with Amazon’s A9 algorithm. This is the search engine that drives traffic on Amazon.

Toss aside your preconceptions about what makes good SEO and consider Amazon as a unique platform: it’s focused on generating sales. Amazon’s primary interest is in selling efficiency, AKA connecting a customer with the product they’re most likely to buy.

That means your optimization for Amazon’s search queries should focus on two primary factors: relevance and performance.

You’ll optimize for relevance using the best keyword practices mentioned here. Just keep in mind that performance also matters when Amazon decides which product to place highest for a specific keyword.

That means any improvement you make to the product page itself will also have an impact on whether your product shows up in the search for a particular keyword. This includes:

  • Improvements in the product description
  • Uploading video and high-quality images of the product
  • High-quality reviews

There are also a few direct factors that you might not optimize for via text, but will still impact your results with A9:

  • Whether your item is in stock
  • Price; as undercutting other products by too much can adversely affect quality perception

Keep these factors in mind as you build out your product titles and overall keyword strategy.

Now, some best practices around Amazon keyword optimization.

Optimize with the buyer in mind. If you’re selling a fleece blanket, raw keyword stuffing is going to throw off the buyer experience. Remember our example of “X-Brand Oven Mitts – Silicone Lined, Extra Long, Black/Blue, Set of 2”? That’s simple, to the point, and includes a wide range of unique keywords that are still relevant to what a customer might be searching for. If you were to stuff more keywords in, you would only make it more difficult to read, which decreases click-through rate and potentially hurts your product performance.

Incorporate as many unique keywords as you can. Because Amazon treats the entire field as a coherent set of keywords, it doesn’t matter if one keyword is placed next to another or not. For example, a search for “facial makeup” will still yield results such as “Facial Moisturizer and Makeup Kit,” even though the two words aren’t directly next to each other.

Use the product title as well as the brand name. You won’t get penalized for an overly wordy title, so be sure to include as much relevant detail in your title as possible. Someone searching for your brand or your product should be able to find you on Amazon based on your title construction alone.

Write to your target market. If you find yourself stretching for more detail to include in your title, you might include a few choice keywords from your target market as well. “Shorts for Men,” for example, is an example of a unique key phrase that might draw a larger search audience without disrupting the clarity of your title.

Since you’re competing with other products and vying for a higher purchase rate, one of the best ways to optimize the keywords in your titles is to avoid the same mistakes your competition is making, such as:

  • Repeating keywords. If you’re selling a fleece blanket, don’t stuff the title with repeated keywords. “Green Fleece Blanket, Blue Fleece Blanket, Red Fleece Blanket” might sound like it will cast a wide net on Amazon searches, but it will only hurt your title’s clarity and potentially harm your ability to generate a higher CTR.
  • Lacking detail. Strive for a happy medium. Include the elements we listed, such as brand name, product type, size, and specifics about the product. You may even choose to include more detail like what types of products your product can fit.
  • Utilizing irrelevant keywords. Try a few searches yourself to get a sense of which keywords the top-selling items are using. Don’t just focus on the most important keywords; look at the “long-tail” inclusions that might contribute as well.

It may take some adjusting over time, but eventually, you’ll get a sense of how to build a product listing title that will serve your market and satisfy Amazon’s requirements.

If you stick to some basic principles and best practices around keyword optimization for the titles of your listings, you’ll have Amazon product listings that perform well in search and are discovered (and bought) more often.

What are the roadblocks you’ve encountered when you wanted to launch your Amazon private label product? Leave us a comment below or contact us today and our Private Label Solutions experts will get in touch.

Kaleigh More

Kaleigh Moore is a freelance writer specializing in technology and software.

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How to Launch a New Product to Sell on Amazon

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How to Launch a New Product

Amazon can be a minefield for sellers who don’t do their research. Even more so for private label retailers and brand owners. If you developed a product and you’re thinking about listing it on Amazon, here are a few things you should know.

Selling your own product on Amazon is no mean feat. So, if you want to start off on the right foot, you need to adopt a very broad perspective. But before you think about all the aspects involved in this new business plan, you’ll need a few practical pointers.

If you’re not listing a Handmade product, and you can’t sign up to Amazon Launchpad or the Amazon Storefronts platform, then being a third-party seller is your only option. At least until you become eligible for a Vendor account.

How do you go about it? A mindmap is a good place to start. But before you can begin to connect the dots, you need research and practice. Here’s how you can launch your product on Amazon:

Before you go on investing any resources in your Amazon shop, be sure to read Amazon condition guidelines and the updated restricted products list. They can help you see if your product falls in a ‘gated’ category or if you need to take extra care listing, storing, or shipping them.

Note: These official help pages are for sellers operating on the US venue. Pages for other venues are easy to find online.

Before you launch, have a look at the list of Amazon selling fees. If you can find a product from the same category and roughly the same size, you can use the Amazon FBA Revenue Calculator to estimate your margin. Enter your costs, including purchase price, labor, storage, and packaging material. The calculator will show your fulfillment costs with both the merchant fulfilled network (MFN) and fulfillment by Amazon (FBA).

The screenshot below shows a comparison of margins as a table and graph. Note that the storage fee figure quoted for Amazon fulfillment is a monthly fee. Secondly, the Selling on Amazon fee of $39.99/month for Professional sellers or $0.99/item for Individual sellers has not been added. Also, think about shipping costs for individual packages sent to MFN customers. Would they cost more or less than the pallets sent to Amazon fulfillment centers via FBA?

FBA Calculator

FBA Revenue Calculator screenshot

Assuming you’ve already signed up for a seller account, you can start listing right away. As explained in this Amazon Seller University tutorial, there are several ways to list something on Amazon:

  • Uploading a file (Inventory Loader) with listing information for existing products
  • Uploading new listing information in bulk using the File Upload Template
  • Using software tools like SellerEngine Plus
  • Adding a single new product to the catalog with the Add a Product Tool
  • Matching existing products with the Add a Product Tool and the ‘Sell on Amazon’ button

The Add a Product Tool is probably your best option. If so, then Amazon Seller University tutorial below can show you how to add your product to the catalog in a matter of minutes. Before you begin, check out our Private Label listing FAQs and listing optimization tips to avoid suspension issues down the line. Also, be sure to read up on product variations if your product comes in a variety of colorways, textures, finishes, etc.

Once your product is launched and you checked the listing for typos or other errors, start advertising. Sellers who sign up for Sponsored Products, Amazon’s pay-per-click campaigns, sometimes receive free clicks. Also, consider offering quantity discounts with voucher campaigns.

Another option is to invest in the new Amazon Moments program. It involves paying Amazon money to advertise your product to buyers with the promise of an incentive. When buyers fulfill a goal, Amazon gives them credit using the money you put into the program.  

If you have an active registered trademark, then you can also sign up for Brand Registry when you become eligible. If you’re a new seller, it may take some time to build the sales momentum and reputation. But once you sign up, you can personalize and have more control over your listings.

As a brand owner, you’re now able to oversee product authenticity yourself. Under Project Zero, Amazon requires you to use special serial numbers for all the products sold on the venue. The program gives you access to a self-service tool that deletes counterfeit listings.

That’s a wrap for today, but we’d love to hear your comments and questions below. Have you had difficulties listing your own items? Whether you do private label or you sell handmade goods, any insights you can share with our readers on how to launch a new product and sell on Amazon would be greatly appreciated.

Melanie

Melanie takes an active interest in all things Amazon. She keeps an eye on the latest developments and keeps Amazon sellers up to speed.

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