Author Archives: Prabhat S

Amazon Amazon Strategies

#BrightonSEO talk: Amazon Advertising Campaigns without Targeting Any Keywords

So, it was another exciting #BrightonSEO with 4,000 digital marketers all in one place! I have been attending this conference for the last 4 years or so and every time I learn something new. I can understand a lot of blood and sweat must have gone into organising a conference of this size, so hats off to all the #BrightonSEO team, I have felt welcome every time.    

If you have never attended BrightonSEO before, you can get super early bird ticket here for the April 2020 conference https://www.brightonseo.com/ 

 

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I had the privilege of presenting this year with wonderful friends, Danny and Katherine, on the topic “Amazon  Advertising without Keywords”. Having extensive experience working with Amazon Advertising over the past few years, Amazon’s Advertising without keywords has certainly been an interesting one. It has enabled me, as an advertiser and agency, to target competing products and complementary products to increase my market share, while helping me to defend myself by targeting my own products. When I  was a little stuck with Amazon Germany Keyword ads it helped me to generate incremental sales.  

Check out these slides below to see how it works and if you have any questions please feel free to get in touch. 

 

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Amazon Amazon Training

Amazon Vendor Central: Costs & Challenges

Recently, news about Amazon pushing Vendors towards Seller Central took many by surprise; but there are a few sellers that are already working with both Vendor and Seller Central. Rather than expanding on speculation, it is the right time to re-think whether to continue with Vendor only or use a hybrid strategy for your business. 

One of the important factors to consider when deciding is the fee structure. A Vendor sells at a wholesale price and there are additional fees with Vendor agreements which include: 

  • MDF/COOP Terms: 10.0% of Net Receipts (i.e. total Receipts fewer returns and taxes) based on Cost Price.  COOP Fees are charged as a way to get back some of their operating costs. Most vendors are required to pay the Market Development Fund (MDF). Usually, there is no clear explanation of how these marketing costs are handled. 
  • 2% Damage Allowance – Allowance applicable instead of returning damaged goods to the vendor
  • 1.0% Markdown – This is related to a claim for reducing the price 
  • Chargebacks include mislabeling, improper packing, late arrival, late PO acceptance etc. There is a lot of evidence of incorrect fees charged by Amazon and they need to be contested with Amazon, which can be a time-consuming process.

By comparison, the main Seller Central fees include:

  • Referral fee – charged as a percentage of the retail price, or at least the price paid by a customer less any discounts. The percentage depends on the category (15% for most categories).
  • Fulfilled By Amazon (FBA) – includes pick and pack fee, and monthly storage fee, depending on product size and weight. Full details >>

Getting the figures correct is often difficult, and more often than not sellers may not actually know if they’re making money. We tend to see the money coming in at the time and forget about fees. 

Recently, we spoke with many Vendor sellers who raised lots of serious questions, which you can find below with our answers.

Some of the common issues raised by Vendors in our contacts were: 

#1 Moving between Vendor and FBA – potential pros and cons?

Pros:

a/ Increased profit – you sell at retail price

b/ Price control – you can sell at a price of your choice 

c/ Inventory control – send stock in a small number 

d/ Faster payment of 15 days

e/ Don’t have to wait for Amazon to generate PO during product launch

f/ Reduced time wastage in dealing with chargebacks

Con:

a/ Sales volume is less as is it B2C

b/ Support team required to communicate with customers

#2 Amazon Vendor direct fulfilment – how to get this to work smoothly

It is a lot of work to process orders one by one via the Vendor Central platform, so the best way to solve this is to take advantage of an EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) integrator that allows sellers to process orders in bulk, print shipping labels in bulk etc. If you use a system like Logicbroker they can connect with your ship station to enable easy processing of orders.

Other solution providers are:

#3 Amazon Vendor – Is it possible to limit the number of fulfilment centres serviced to reduce costs? (Amazon support understandably say no)

No.

 

#4 Seller Support is rubbish they often get back to you with queries you always have to answer amazon messages promptly. Also, we haven’t done Vendor Central as our carrier was cancelled – lost sales!

Amazon Vendor has a different level of support system in place. Most of the Vendors don’t have Amazon’s direct support and is usually managed via their case log system. If you prefer to have a direct email contact you’d have to pay an annual fee which is generally affordable for high sellers only.

#5. Amazon Vendor – Frustration-free packaging – Does it really HAVE to be certified if we know it meets requirements?

Certification is part of the process. Please find out more about the process and certification here. 

 

#6. 3P vendors adding poor content and the lack of support from Amazon to remove or update

This is a very common issue we see every day. The best way to work around these issues is to register your brand with Amazon and ask Amazon to gate your brand so if anyone tries to list your product they would need approval. 

Another way to proactively check changes is via the tool https://getreviewbox.com/ which alerts you when there are content changes. Once we have a list it makes it a bit easier to contact support systematically. 

You may have realised by now Amazon is a complex platform and brands need to understand the full ecosystem of Amazon to get the best out of it. Our vendor session gives you an overall understanding of managing the account and its advertising opportunities. It is a practical session, allowing members of your team to create a clear Amazon Growth Plan. 

Find out more about this training session available to Amazon Vendors based in midlands and throughout the UK. 

 

 

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Amazon SEO checklist for marketers

Amazon isn’t just a shopping platform, but a search engine also for product research, with 56% of shoppers starting their shopping journey on Amazon. This makes it important to ensure your product listings are well optimised on Amazon.

This is where Amazon SEO and listing optimisation helps.

Just simply uploading content isn’t going to get you far. Amazon is just like Google, content needs to be optimised. The Amazon SEO and listing optimisation process involves a step by step method to create highly engaging, keyword-focused content. 

Check out the checklist below to ensure you have completed all steps to having fully optimised content:

Use this checklist to edit your content:   

  • Create content for the consumer rather than a search engine. Invest time on how the product would benefit the buyer and any USPs.
  • Follow the strict Amazon Style Guidelines, if Amazon enforces these you want to ensure you won’t get penalised.
  • Product titles: Include information about the product, USPs, whilst including SEO keywords – Stay within Amazon’s recommended limits.
  • Bullet Points: stay within Amazon’s limits and include features that help customers make that purchase decision almost instantly.
  • Product Description: elaborate more on the key product features, and make it more of a story, talk about the brand too. This is an additional opportunity for your keywords to rank. Use simple HTML code to separate paragraph, bold or bullet point. A free HTML tool will be handy here.
  • More Detail Information: Fill in as much relevant information as possible – features, materials, audience. These are all indexed!
  • Main Image: Images need to be 1000x1000px with a white background for the main image. The main image should be of the product only and no models, except for clothing. Use a free tool to remove the background.
  • Additional images: Use the text on images to explain more about the product as on this example. This helps mobile customers make a purchase decision without scrolling through the content.  Include lifestyle images. 
  • A+ pages / Enhanced Content: This is available for registered brands with a Seller Central or Vendor Central account. Text here is not currently indexed but has been found to improve conversion rate. Check out different A+ modules here.
  • Keywords: 250 bytes are allowed here, use this space to add additional keywords which are not present in any other part of the content.
  • For English 1 byte = 1 character but non-English characters (ä, ü, ö, é, etc) = 2 or more bytes.  Amazon does not allow more than 250 bytes anyway so you’d automatically avoid adding more than the limits allowed.  Check out this byte calculator tool.
  • Avoid repetition: No need to repeat words, e.g. ‘table for dining room kitchen’ instead of ‘table for the dining room table for a kitchen’
  • Include only singular or plural.
  • Compound words are  automatically indexed ie. flipchart vs flip chart; hi-waist vs hi waist

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Amazon Amazon Strategies

New to Brand Metrics – What does this tell us about our new customers?

New to Brand metrics are available for both Seller Central and Vendor Central users. New to Brand data tells us information about the amount of new customers advertising is converting.

It is an interesting metric for all brands and we will talk in detail about these metrics below.  

What is it?

NTB metrics tell us if Amazon is an acquisition channel.  These metrics show us how many customers are new to our brands on Amazon.

Below are NTB metrics: 

  • Percentage of orders NTB—The percentage of total orders that are new-to-brand orders.
  • Percentage of sales NTB—The percentage of total sales (in local currency) that are new-to-brand sales.
  • NTB orders—The number of first-time orders for products within the brand over a one-year lookback window.
  • NTB sales—the total sales (in local currency) of new-to-brand orders.

NTB is calculated based on the last 12 months of a shopper’s purchase history. The orders are NTB if they have not bought within 12 months from their first purchase. 

Where are they?

1.  Once you are in campaign manager, go to customise columns as shown below:

2. Just type in NTB to see all metrics and select them to display:

3. You will see NTB metrics now 

Strategy A – increase your NTB  

  • To get more sales, consider targeting high volume search terms for your ads. 
  • Bid high enough to get placement 

When implementing the above, your cost of conversion is likely to be higher but, as we are expecting these customers to come back and make additional purchases, it is worth the investment.

As seen in the example below, your NTB typically ranges from 80% or more, which just goes to show how most of your sales are coming from new customers.

 Strategy B – leverage your brand awareness

With this strategy, we would target branded keywords. 

It is also a defensive campaign, to ensure your competitors do not appear at the top of search results for your brand name.

Below is a typical example where a competing product is bidding for our brand “symprove” via Sponsored Brand Campaigns. Of course, we want to avoid this the best we can to avoid losing sales to competitors.

Additionally, Sponsored Brand Campaigns are known to appear in google text ads too, so it is in our best interest to bid for our own brand terms. 

 

Branded campaigns also have a lower ACoS and higher conversion rate, and you will find your NTB ranges between 30 – 80%.

So, both of these strategies can help boost your sales 

  • Acquisition of new customers
  • Acquisition brand loyal customers

You can also take a third strategy by targeting competing product brand names where ACoS may be higher but you are getting additional new customers.

Most of the latest developments with Amazon is new and exciting compared to Google. As a brand, it is important to know which products are regularly bought by repeat buyers and by new buyers. You can then focus more on getting new customers on a regular basis with a set budget. 

Questions? Please book a call and we can discuss more. 

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Amazon Events

Amazon Seller Conference in Manchester, 17th October 2019

 

After a successful conference in May, Online Seller UK has organised another #AmafestUK in Manchester. It is a full day conference for Amazon Seller Central and Vendor Central Users. 

When: 17th October 2019 

Time: 0930 – 1700 

Where: UKFast Campus, Birley Fields, Manchester, M15 5QJ

Whether you’re trading on Amazon already or not, this event is right for you.  You will learn from world-class Amazon experts and meet new suppliers within the industry. 

Previously this conference was attended by over 200 sellers, and the feedback was great. In October, there will be 15+ speakers with practical and insightful talks on how to grow your Amazon Seller Central and Vendor Central sales. Check out the full speaker line up here >> https://amafestuk.com/schedule/

There are limited free tickets left and once they are gone, tickets will be £50.00 + VAT.

Grab your ticket here >>   https://amafestuk.com/

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Amazon Shipping Settings Changes

 

For a long time, Amazon has only given sellers the option for the same shipping charges to all parts of the UK. This was particularly painful for businesses selling heavy items, for example, furniture including sofas. As a result of this, sellers have in the past cancelled orders which resulted in negative penalty points from Amazon for order cancellation, or they take the hit by paying hefty shipping charges. For example, a customer in Northern Ireland would be getting free delivery and the seller had to take on the shipping charge of £35.00.

Amazon now has a solution for this!

DPD Tariffs

The good news! 

The good news! Amazon listened to the problems and you can now update the template to change shipping prices as needed. This applies to FBM listings only and FBA will continue to provide free delivery throughout the UK.  

Which regions are included in this change?

The shipping charges can be changed to the addresses in Inverness (incl. Scottish Highlands) and offshore locations Shetland Islands, Outer Hebrides, Kirkwall, Northern Ireland, Channel Islands and Isle of Man. 

However, you cannot exclude shipping to any location and charges must be the same for all addresses within England, Wales and Scotland (excluding the regions detailed above). 

How can I update my shipping template?

Simply make changes via Seller Central via Settings > Shipping Settings.

In the past, it has been common practice to:   

  • Cancel orders to certain regions to avoid extortionate shipping charges
  • Include shipping information in bullet points either barring the delivery or asking for an additional cost as seen below. 

 

Here’s one example of a new shipping template

Check out the example below to see how this works. You can also find out more following the official Amazon  guide >>

Although we now have the option to add additional costs, it is still best to keep shipping free where possible, as one Retail study suggests that 9 out of 10 consumers say free shipping is the number one incentive to shop online more.

 

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Amazon Strategies

Amazon UK Early Reviewer Program FAQs

Some time ago we wrote about Amazon’s Early Reviewer Program in the US, and it was a successful programme for several of our clients, as seen from the screenshot below. Now that it is available in the UK, retailers should take advantage of it to increase and gain more “authentic” reviews.  

This programme in itself shows how important reviews are to buyers to encourage conversion, and we all know that with the more conversions we get the higher the ranking of our products. Check out some of Amazon’s Early Reviewer Program FAQs below.

 

Which SKUs are eligible to be enrolled in this program?

SKU must = £15.00 and have fewer than 5 reviews. With products of less retail prices, we suggest using multibuy variations to reach the threshold retail price.

Is it available in the UK?

Yes but your UK reviews are shown in other EU platforms too. This is provided that they share the same ASIN. 

Am I guaranteed a 5 * reviews?

No, it is not guaranteed 5 *, you will get an honest review.

What’s an incentive for the reviews?

Reviewers get an Amazon gift card after the review is sent. 

Is it max 5 reviews that Amazon help with?

Amazon will continue to request customer reviews for a year or until you have 5 reviews.

How much does it cost? Am I paying per review?

£60.00 for each SKU. If you have a parent listing then you will just enrol one product. The charge applies as soon as you start getting 1 review.

So, based on the US account, the program is successful and will definitely help you get those early reviews. We hope to see this roll out to other EU platforms too. 

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Take a look at your Amazon Account Health Today

Selling on Amazon has been a successful venture for many sellers, whether that be private label sellers or resellers. With a rise in sales, it brings enormous responsibility to maintain good customer service and account health. Both of these can take up a lot of time, and ignoring these or letting them slow can lead to losing the privilege of selling on Amazon. In this blog, we are going to run through a quick overview of Amazon Account Health, giving tips on how to keep all of your metrics within the targets.

Let’s see what each of these means…

CUSTOMER SERVICE PERFORMANCE

Order Defect Rate (ODR) – With a target of less than 1%, this is a really difficult metric to manage.

This includes any negative feedback given by customers about the service given an A to Z claims against you allowing Amazon to send a full refund to the buyer.

Amazon automatically emails customers asking them to share their experience of buying on Amazon, which also gives them the opportunity to have their say about the seller.

This metric works with % of total orders in the last 60 days, which means even 1 negative feedback can make this metric drop below the target; so, it is best to keep on top of this.

If you see signs of an unhappy customer, get it sorted immediately. Tools like Xsellco Feedback can help you keep track of feedback and help you improve them.

Another part of ODR is A to Z claims which acts as a guarantee to Amazon customers allowing them to claim money back on transactions they are not happy with. Customers don’t really understand how fatal this can be for a seller, but to avoid claims like this we really recommend trying to understand the nature of the complaint. It is best to refund orders and avoid this situation in most cases.

DELIVERY PERFORMANCE

With a target of 4%, late dispatch is a lot more manageable compared to ODR. This metric is triggered if you dispatch an order later than the promised date of dispatch. If there is no handling time, your orders received must be dispatched the next day.

Your delivery time includes your handling time + more, as seen below.

If you are not confident in dispatch time,  it is best to add handling time by a day or 2 to give you some wiggle room. It is always best to do this rather than to not dispatch on time.

We have also seen many cases, especially during busy periods like Christmas, where sellers have forgotten to dispatch on Amazon, even though they have actually dispatched the product. This is commonly due to staff errors or third-party errors. In this case, customers will receive products on time, however, your metrics will still be affected because you have not dispatched it on Amazon; and Amazon will take this as a late dispatch.

Pre-fulfilment cancellation generally occurs due to overselling of the item. You can easily avoid this by updating stock on time and if you are too busy, use a third party software like Pentymarkets to manage stock automatically.

If you prefer to DIY via CSV, use Qty and Price template file as seen here (login required). It is very easy to use and updates do not take very long.

Another common reason for cancellation is due to orders going out to Jersey or Gurnesday or Scottish highlands or NI.  Cost of shipping to these regions are often very high and Amazon does not allow sellers to increase the price of shipping to these destinations or bar shipping to these destinations, unlike eBay. This is often a big problem for sellers of large items like sofas, for example.

Very often we see sellers trying to prevent this by adding a contact number in their content, but as this is against Amazon’s listing policy it could cause issues. Some examples are below:

 

PRODUCT POLICY COMPLIANCE

The target here is “0”, however, it is not very clear in this area when the account will be suspended; so it is always best to avoid this issue altogether.

 

IP Complaints can occur if you use a competing brand name on listings; this can be within the hidden search term are found in the backend of Seller Central. The screenshot at the very top of this post and just above shows the account getting IP complaints because of the use of competitor brand names in content.  Both accounts are active but listings were removed.

Product Authenticity Complaints can easily happen when products are sent without the original packaging or if the product does not match the image or description of the product. You can avoid this by sending the product in the original packaging and any documents that come with the original packaging.

Listing Policy Violations can happen if your product description is misleading or content is not accurate.

 

To conclude…

Amazon’s metric method allows them to keep seller performance in the interest of customers and ensures all sellers are at the same level, whether you are a new private label seller or a top brand.

Another key metric Amazon is hot on is email response time. Amazon expects you to reply to all emails within a 24-hour window, which includes weekends. If you don’t hit this target, Amazon will warn you and suggest there may be a chance you’ll lose the privilege of selling on Amazon. The most common time this becomes an issue is during busy periods like Christmas when there are staff shortages.

If you’re struggling with Account Health, and you think you may be at risk of losing the privilege to sell on Amazon, you can outsource this to an experienced agent based in the UK and USA, leaving you to focus on generating and improving sales

ZonSupport starts as low as $5.00 a day, but costs vary depending on the level of service you want.

Find out more here — ZonSupport

 

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A to Z Guide to Amazon Adverting

Amazon undoubtedly has disrupted retail and has often raised the bar to reach customer expectation. Sunday deliveries were not usual until Amazon started to deliver on Sundays, Next delivery was not normal and it has become normal now with Amazon’s Prime delivery.  

Amazon is now set to disrupt advertising, where Google and Facebook are dominant players. We are already seeing this, with some brands shifting up to 60% of Google search budgets to Amazon. No wonder digital agencies are jumping into this.

If you are thinking of digging deep into Amazon Advertising, check out our  Amazon Advertising and SEO training at #BrightonSEO  

For any Amazon seller to succeed on Amazon it is important that we know the whole ecosystem of Amazon. In fact, successful advertisers can be the seller themselves because they understand how Amazon actually works.

Amazon advertising is a unique opportunity that was not available10 years ago when I first started working with Amazon sellers. We must understand how the buy box works, how reviews work, how Amazon FBA works to succeed. Sometimes, it is best not to work with typical KPIs like ROI, because Amazon Advertising is a great way to raise your brand awareness which in itself is a positive outcome.

In this simple guide, I have focused more on Sponsored Product Ads, giving practical tips and information that can be implemented immediately to help grow your sales. In the second phase, I will be writing more about Sponsored Brands and Product Display Ads. Happy reading!

Get A to Z Guide to Amazon Advertising >>

Amazon Advertising Guide - Prabhat Shah

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Amazon Vendor Training and Consultancy

According to recently published research, 59% of millennials ‘always’ or ‘often’ start their online shopping journey on Amazon, with 1 in 5 16-36-year-olds always heading to Amazon when looking to make an online purchase.

With such a significant amount of shoppers shopping on Amazon, it is a huge missed opportunity if your products aren’t available on Amazon, and this applies to all categories and product types. We can even buy fresh flowers on Amazon now! This just goes to show how eager Amazon is to increase its available categories and products. There is an opportunity for everyone, whatever the product! 

Very recently I had the opportunity to provide a bespoke Amazon Vendor Central training day in Sheffield for a business selling kitchen tools. They had new recruits in the business to manage their Amazon Vendor Account, who were keen to learn more. We spent the day discussing the best possible way to increase sales via Amazon Advertising and how to successfully build a brand on Amazon.  Some of the key areas we discussed were:

–          Amazon Search Engine Optimisation (SEO),

–          Amazon Advertising best practices and research processes,

–          Amazon Stores and A + Content.

It was a practical session, providing each member of the team with practical tips and ideas that they could go away and confidently implement with their new knowledge. We also spent some time piecing together an Amazon Growth Plan, which outlines a process on how to implement what had been learning during the days training and to help give direction to the business.

Whether you are an experienced Amazon Vendor Central Seller, or you have been invited by Amazon to join their Vendor Programme, our onsite training session helps you to get the best out of the Amazon Vendor Central platform.

I am based in Loughborough and will easily commute to Sheffield, Derby, Leicester and Nottingham.

Find out more about Amazon Vendor Training

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