Amazon has come a long way from its humble beginnings as an online bookstore back in 1994. In the first three fiscal quarters of 2020, the e-commerce giant generated over US$260 billion in revenue(CNBC.com). Their projections of the final quarter of 2020 is as high as US$121 billion in revenue.
Every day, thousands of new sellers throw their hat into the online marketplace, striving to get a share of the pie. In January 2020, Amazon Prime reported having more than 150 million paying members across the world (CNBC.com).
If you’re planning to sign up with Amazon as a seller or have been on board a while but are struggling to stay profitable, this whitepaper is your practical guide to understanding how the online store works. Read on and learn how to beat your competition and achieve maximum sales.
Ranking on Amazon: How the A9 Search Algorithm Works
Amazon performs like other search engines. Running on its own trademarked A9 algorithm, it ranks products listed in its database, as it processes search queries submitted by its users.
In order to succeed on Amazon, every seller needs to understand how the algorithm works and how it decides product rankings and thus, impacts sales. Performing as an iterative search formula, Amazon A9 determines relevance, based on the shopper’s search query, the keywords they use, and past traffic. Next, it matches the findings against sellers’ listings, and then, displays results based on the match.
Because of the algorithm’s proprietary nature, we can only guess at what really makes Amazon A9 tick, but four factors are likely to impact search ranking:
- Sales Velocity. This is a measure of a specific seller’s monthly transaction count and the corresponding dollar amounts. Amazon compares the sales velocity between competitors and gives the better-performing product a higher ranking.
- Text Relevance. This examines whether your product’s title and description are relevant to the keywords that the shopper uses to search. The closer the match, the higher the ranking.
- Price. Products that offer the best value, based on the listed price, tend to rank higher. However, listings that give Amazon a better margin may also be favored to a certain extent.
- Product availability. If a certain product is out of stock, that will automatically drive down the ranking, and it would be extremely hard to gain it back. The best advice we can give you – monitor your stocks closely and don’t allow them to run out of stock.
5 Ways to Beat the Competition on Amazon
With more and more sellers and products flooding the site daily, you need to find ways to stand above the competition. Increase your chances of success by adding these five strategies to your Amazon sales toolbox.
#1 Follow the Rules of Amazon SEO
If you’re familiar with how SEO works on Google, Bing, and other search engines, you’ll find that Amazon is no different. And the key to good SEO always starts with properly optimised content.
Follow these three steps to make your product listings SEO-friendly and thus, rank higher on searches.
1. Optimise your listing content. This must be your top priority from Day 1. Write product titles and descriptions that are both informative and persuasive. Wherever possible, use short and specific bullet points, in order to increase the readability of your product listings. Keep your paragraphs within three lines, to display better on mobile devices.
2. Do your keyword research. What terms do your target shoppers use to find your products? Insert these keywords into your product titles and descriptions and be consistent once you find a winning formula.
There are several ways to find relevant keywords on Amazon. For example, notice that if you start typing in your search terms, its autocomplete or autosuggest feature will recommend long-tail keywords that might be relevant to your search. See if some of these terms and phrases will work for you.
Look at your competitors’ listings. Especially if their products show up first in the search results, see how their keywords compare with yours and A/B test your content accordingly.
Read through the customer reviews on both your listings and those of your competitors. Do any keywords stand out? Are many of them using certain phrases that you don’t normally use to refer to your products?
Finally, there are third-party keyword research and suggestion tools designed specifically for Amazon that you might want to try. Use these in combination with the previous techniques, to make your content more readable and your products more findable.
3. Keep your content updated. Product content on Amazon or any other marketplace is not something you set and forget. Customer needs change all the time, while competitors are working steadily to rank above you. Are your keywords outdated? Did you introduce new features to your product but forgot to add them to your listings? Keep your content fresh and well-maintained, to make sure your ranking is always moving up and not down.
#2 Promote via Amazon Advertising
If you haven’t invested in an Amazon ad campaign, it’s time you considered it.
Started in 2012 on the global site, the Amazon Advertising platform is a built-in way for you to drive more potential buyers to your listings and increase your overall marketplace exposure.
Amazon Advertising offers several self-service options via :
Sponsored Products appear in search results and product pages using your target keywords.
Sponsored Brands allow you to target keywords and also display your logo and products, for greater brand exposure in search results.
Display Product Ads allow you to advertise on your or your competitors’ listings. Drive conversions through targeted custom messaging.
Store setup lets you have your own shop front for free, where you can add images and videos to capture the attention of shoppers.
By promoting your products via Amazon Advertising, you can gain an overview and detailed insights into your traffic. You pay nothing up front, because Amazon PPC (pay per click) operates like an auction. If you’ve advertised on Google Ads (formerly AdWords), you already have a good idea how it works.
PPC advertising warrants its own detailed discussion and is the subject of a separate whitepaper, but suffice it to say that it is a must-have tool in your Amazon strategy and in fact, in your overall SEO roadmap.
#3 Price Your Products the Smart Way
The A9 algorithm might have made pricing decisions more complex, but here’s a smart tip: Look at your competing sellers.
This does not mean a price war. It’s a fallacy that customers always go for the product with the Best Seller tag; sure, it’s a consideration, but not the only factor. In fact, undercutting competitors might do more damage than good to your brand image, as it may give customers the perception of poor quality or lack of value.
Instead, use an automated repricing tool to analyse and compare prices of your competitors, and make an informed decision based on the results. This simulates the behaviour of shoppers, as they scroll down product after product, while trying to make a decision.
Add to this your own pricing criteria, like the type of fulfillment entailed and maybe even shopper feedback and ratings. The outcome: prices that are market-based, data-driven, and competitive, driven by an intelligent strategy.
#4 Customer Reviews: Manage Your Brand Reputation
Amazon reviews, which are displayed in your listings, work as shorthand for your target buyers. Seeing multiple 5-star ratings with positive feedback from authentic and verified customers help increase the confidence and willingness of prospective buyers to purchase from you.
Reviews help your SEO, too. The more positive feedback you get, the higher your average score. The more stellar your reviews, the greater your chances of making a sale and thus, appearing on top of search results, based on the A9 algorithm strategy.
Go the extra mile to encourage your customers to submit feedback, short of offering incentives, which is a banned practice on the site. Simply stay in touch with your customers, even after the sale, encouraging them to return and leave their feedback.
On the off chance that you do get a poor review, don’t let it hurt your image, sales, and overall standing. Find out why the customer is dissatisfied and then, take every step to ensure that they come away still feeling positive about your brand, even if it means losing some money in the process.
#5 Bundle Your Products
If you followed the previous steps, you should find your offerings ranking higher in search results.
Boost your conversion rate and turn more of your leads into customers.
- Bundle select items into “packs of two” or “buy one, get another for less”.
- Add on free accessories to your bigger-ticket items.
- Tie up your bestsellers with some of your slow-moving products.
Tactics like these signal to your customers that they’re getting more bang for their buck. Plus, product bundles get their own unique Amazon Standard Identification Number (ASIN), making it difficult for your competitors to replicate.
Ready to outperform your competitors on Amazon?
In this white paper, we shared tips on how the Amazon marketplace works. Follow the steps in this guide to outsmart your competitors, so you can get ahead and stay profitable as an Amazon seller.
At Digital Excellence, we look at your overall sales performance, but our focus is on your bottom line. Have a chat with one of our top-rated Amazon Consultants, who can help guarantee your visibility, raise your brand profile, and automate your marketing processes.