We live in the age of the Internet of Things, and more businesses than ever sell their products online today. Staying competitive isn't as simple as just posting your items for sale on Amazon, eBay or any other site.
If you want to have any hope of competing with Amazon sellers who’ve been honing their ecommerce business models for years, you'll need to put just as much work into your own strategies.
Follow the tips listed below to increase your brand recognition and to not only keep pace with other big, reputable sellers but to move well ahead of your direct competition.
1. Position Your Brand as a Resource
When you've put thousands of hours into promoting and building your brand, your brand becomes something more than just a shop; it becomes something that customers rely on in their daily lives, whether that's the product you provide or the information you offer.
This even applies to Amazon. Despite the fact that 78% of searches are unbranded on Amazon, your brand-building efforts are what will distinguish you from just another no-name brand on Amazon and provide for success outside of Amazon.
Remember that Amazon is a tool for brand expansion, not the end-all-be-all for your business. Use A+ content, Amazon Posts, product packaging and other strategies to draw attention to your brand name. Think about this as an attempt to change your buyer's mindset from "I purchased this product from Amazon" to "I purchased this product from [your brand] off Amazon.”
Additionally, it's worth mentioning that off-Amazon promotion is still necessary. Even though Amazon may be your most profitable stream of revenue right now, it isn't itself a strong business strategy, since Amazon may cut your sales at any moment.
Also, keep in mind that promoting your brand will increase customer awareness around your products, too. If buyers come to you for information or something else of value, chances are that they'll eventually come to purchase one of your products as well.
2. Showcase Positive Reviews
Every ecommerce business under the sun has experienced both positive and negative reviews. What makes the top 1% of Amazon sellers stand out from the competition is the way they get the most out of their positive reviews, including those they earn on Amazon and from other sites.
Additionally, it's always a good idea to do whatever you can to resolve low Amazon reviews. Some customers may revise bad reviews if the reason for the poor review is taken care of.
For example, promptly responding to customer questions, using flexible return policies, tapping feedback software or improving ship times can inspire five-star reviews.
3. Know Your Suppliers
Unless you create your product from start to finish, it's essential for the success of all ecommerce business models to master communication with their suppliers. Your relationship with your suppliers shouldn't end with a transactional relationship. Instead, it should be a symbiotic, collaborative partnership.
At a bare minimum, you should be ready to work with your suppliers when you expect business growth, you plan to release new products or any of your supply-related needs change; that's just common courtesy. However, consider prioritizing the success of your suppliers, too.
Your relationships should be viewed as an alliance between you and your vendors, where both parties cooperate to enhance the buyer-supplier relationship. After all, if both your company and your suppliers experience success, the results are often mutually beneficial.
The most effective relationships are defined by two-way communication with shared objectives to improve upon and value; assess performance; and establish a platform for conflict settlement.
Nonetheless, relying on a small number of suppliers can lead to supplier dependency. Under these circumstances, a supplier can raise prices and impose particular conditions that may be unprofitable, so it’s important to build a formal policy that limits how much business your team can give one supplier.
Having an alternative supplier(s) provides stability, as well as power and positional advantage. For example, you do not need to struggle to negotiate the terms of the contracts or to convince one supplier that the quality of his products is not up to standards. Be it your sales channels or suppliers, you never want to put all your eggs in one basket.
4. Outperform Your Competitors
If you want to stand out from the hundreds of thousands of other vendors on Amazon (and other third parties like eBay and Walmart, too), you’ll need to understand that sometimes, details are extremely important.
When your competitor ranks above your product on a site like Amazon, it means that you are losing money and customers. The solution is to achieve higher visibility by analyzing competitors based on their features, numbers of orders, price, reviews and ratings.
What you can also do is target competitive keywords using Amazon Sponsored Ads to outrank other brands on search results pages and generate new sales based on the keywords that are bringing traffic to your competitors.
A good idea is to set pricing alerts to monitor your competitors’ pricing strategies and to use long-tail keywords to increase conversions. Incorporate long-tail and short-tail keywords into your product listing to boost your organic competitiveness, in addition to your paid position.
Another key to success is to invest more time and energy into your customer experience. While this might not change your sales numbers overnight, if you offer a high-quality, unique product and put your customers' needs first, you're automatically building your brand's reputation at the same time.
There are many ways to make your customers' buying experience stand out, such as with hard-to-beat prices, extended warranties or responsive and gracious customer service. However, because Amazon already offers lots of products at low prices, it may be smarter to take a different angle and promote your company's quality instead.
5. Maximize Product Descriptions
One of the most important things you'll need to address is the description behind each product. A successful product description isn't something that you create once, then never manage again. It's a living, breathing concept that should evolve as your product and your customer base do.
For example, consider creating comprehensive usage videos and brand awareness videos to embed into your Amazon listings with the help of Amazon Live. Amazon Live helps you reach a wide audience and streams live videos on select Amazon product pages and, at times, Amazon’s homepage.
You can explain and show off how your products work, look and feel while also promoting special deals that only viewers can benefit from. A video not only provides a 3D understanding of your product that photos cannot achieve, but it can help to answer common questions that your customers have. More and more Amazon listings utilize this strategy every day, so it's essential to get on board before you're left behind.
6. Diversify Your Catalog
When your product sells well, it's common sense to use that product's popularity to bring customers to your other products (think: kits and bundles). However, don't forget to analyze the performance of your best-selling products to influence any future ecommerce business models you create.
In this constantly evolving marketplace, you've got to stay flexible. There’s no way around the fact that competition and products pop up every day, which poses a threat to your stability. If you devote all your resources to a handful of products, you may be missing out on other growth opportunities.
Think of it this way: if your bestsellers suddenly fail to convert, you will have huge problems. Diversification protects you from this potential disaster and forces you to step outside of what works for you and find new strategies that will work equally well. It helps you stay relevant in an increasingly crowded market.
Ask yourself questions like the following:
- What made this product stand out from other similar products on the market?
- What do customers like most about this product?
- What can I take from the success of this product and apply it to others?
It's not always easy to predict how your customers will act, no matter how well you know them. This makes it doubly important to try new things, evaluate what works best and use the winners to help guide your future strategies.
7. Connect with Influencers
In recent years, influencers have taken the world by storm, primarily through sites like Amazon. In most cases, an influencer is a high-visibility individual who will offer their thoughts on your product in return for free samples or access to it. However, you don’t need to spend tons of money on finding influencers or on posts crafted by them.
One way to easily discover influencers is to find websites that offer directories of influencers. Influenex is one free platform that helps you find and analyze YouTube influencers. Alternatively, to discover influencers in your niche, you can visit popular social media platforms and search for keywords or hashtags related to your niche.
In order to spend less money, you can collaborate with micro-influencers. The marketing power of micro-influencers cannot be overstated. Around 82% of people who receive a recommendation from a micro-influencer are likely to buy the product, according to Jonah Berger, author of the bestselling book “Contagious: Why Things Catch On.”
Micro-influencers tend to be more approachable and relatable to their audience. They’re more likely to interact with followers too, so their posts about a product may engage viewers who have an intent to buy.
You can also focus on PR or work with bloggers to get products on “top gifts” lists. Send them a sample of your product in exchange for a few photos or an unbiased review. You can then share the pictures on social media for credibility and extra momentum.
An additional solution would be to create a giveaway or contest to engage influencers. This is a good way to collect several posts rather than just a single post in one go. You can tap into multiple audiences through multiple influencers at once through a far-reaching campaign.
Growing your Amazon business into a true brand will take grit and a strong action plan. But by following these seven tips, you can build a solid foundation for your business and propel your growth, both in the immediate and long-term future.