Even though Amazon has long been the most relevant B2C marketplace in the western world, many manufacturers still do not have an overview of their brands on Amazon’s numerous online marketplaces.
The companies cannot be blamed for this, because Amazon does not yet provide sufficient tools for market and brand screening – at the same time, the fields of sales logic, marketing and competition are becoming more complex.
This article is your starting point as manufacturer to ask the right questions and develop a roadmap to actively or passively manage or monitor your brands on Amazon.
Why do we know what requirements, opportunities and hurdles you will face? In recent years, we have successfully advised well-known brands of all sizes and categories on opportunities and hurdles, developed market analyses, configured accounts, launched brands and products, optimised product data and managed advertising campaigns with our leading Amazon agency MOVESELL GmbH – approx. 150 brands and 100 million euros in sales volume. As a first mover for Amazon consulting, we were able to develop the state of the art analysis software ROPT® based on the customer’s needs.
The marketplace principle is quite simple: any retailer who has legally purchased your products can sell them on Amazon. For the time being, it doesn’t matter whether they purchased the products directly from you or from wholesalers, whether they only offer a fraction in small quantities or the entire range – and they don’t have to ask for your permission as a manufacturer. In contrast to ebay, on Amazon there is only one product page per product to which sellers attach themselves.
Customers can order from any seller with an active offer, but Amazon always highlights one seller in particular at product level by placing it in the so-called buybox. Customers then automatically buy from this seller if they do not manually select another one. The buybox is automated and dynamically controlled by Amazon; as a rule, it is occupied by the seller with the best offer (price, delivery time, reliability).
Important tip: You can also monitor and control your brand presence and product pages on Amazon without being active on Amazon as a manufacturer, i.e. even without a seller account. Many brands are unaware of this possibility, but it is quite simple and also desired by Amazon. Contact us and ask for the „Brand Manager account“.
As a manufacturer or brand owner, you can become an active seller via two different models:
Seller: Use Amazon as a marketplace, sell directly to customers, own logistics (FBM) or Amazon logistics (FBA), marketing can be managed independently, Amazon is remunerated via sales commission.
Vendor: Use Amazon as a retailer, manufacturer is a supplier and sells to Amazon, Amazon sells to customers, own logistics (dropshipping) or Amazon logistics (FBA / container), marketing can be controlled independently, Amazon is remunerated via margins from purchasing and sales.
Even if you as a manufacturer have not yet consciously engaged with Amazon, often part of your range is already listed on Amazon. The listings have usually been made by retailers. So it is quite possible that older versions or collections of your products can also be found.
Many manufacturers unfortunately make it too easy for themselves when analysing: they enter their brand name and/or product name in the Amazon search slot, note the number of results and take a random look at the products on the first search results pages. Unfortunately, this is a big mistake and leads to a distorted and subjective perception about the quantity and quality of your own brand presence. Also, tapping into the 2-3 most important search terms for your brand is not effective.
Why? A few examples:
Amazon search results have become very multi-layered. Even for exact brand or product searches, the Amazon ranking algorithm suggests products of similar brands or products that contain text excerpts of your search in the product data.
You will mainly find products that are in stock via the search. Therefore, products that are in high demand but are currently out of stock or have been deliberately discontinued by retailers are missing.
Products are sometimes assigned to the wrong brands or the brand has been entered in different spellings at Amazon. This happens, for example, when retailers initiate product synchronisations via merchandise management systems or e-commerce ERP. The visibility of your products is only partly defined by brand and product searches – the largest share is made up of generic search terms (keywords) without brand names, for example “toaster black”. For each product category, several hundred or thousand different keyword combinations are relevant, each of which has its own order of search results (product rankings). The more specific search terms, usually somewhat longer, such as “stainless steel toaster with bun attachment” are also very relevant in total.
Note: These approaches also solve few of the problems listed above and require a lot of time.
Products are listed on marketplaces by default using the EAN (European Article Number). Manufacturers usually have an EAN list that contains all products. Based on this list, ROPT® Market Scan can locate all products listed on Amazon within a few hours and enrich them with valuable data such as availability, retailer structure, price, ratings and product data quality. The automation works for all Amazon EU marketplaces (Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden, Poland). Alternatively, an ASIN list can also be used as input.
A listed product can only be purchased if there are active offers from any retailers, Amazon or you as the manufacturer. To check manually, you must go to each product page individually and see whether the respective product can be purchased directly or pre-ordered. Products or product variants that are not available cannot usually be found via the Amazon search – i.e. they are hidden because other products are more relevant. If you know the ASIN, you can also find unavailable products via this direct link: amazon.de/dp/ASIN. If there is more than one active seller, you will see this on the product page via the link “New and used (x) from”. The link leads to the seller list with all offers.
Tip: Click on a dealer who sells your products. You will then land on the Amazon imprint of the seller and can call up a brand list of the seller via the links “Seller Shop” or “Products”. Then click on your brand and you will see all the products that this seller is currently selling from your brand.
If you have a very small assortment, you can quickly check the availability of your products this way. With larger assortments, this is very time-consuming or hardly possible, as this check should take place regularly at best.
For an efficient and complete overview, we recommend our ROPT® Market Scan – within a few hours, the tool automatically checks the availability for all listed products of your brand and saves all active retailers with a link to the Amazon imprint at product level.
Regardless of your current activity as a manufacturer with regard to Amazon, exchange or cooperation with selected retailers is advisable.
Approach known wholesalers and retailers who buy goods directly from you. Some companies will already sell through Amazon – but possibly without a particular focus on your goods. By approaching them on an equal footing, the seriousness for a steady listing with sufficient stock can be noticeably increased.
On Amazon, you can find active merchants of your brand via the seller list mentioned earlier. To see which and how many products of your brand are offered by a merchant, navigate to their seller profile, then to the “storefront” and then click on your brand in the brand list. On this page you can also see if the retailer specialises in individual product categories and, if applicable, also lists direct competitors. Unfortunately, you have to do this manually for each product or retailer.
The automated alternative: The ROPT® Market Scan collects all available retailer names of your brand at product level, including a link to contact details (Amazon seller imprint).
Not all retailers are the same. Even if a retailer sells large quantities of your products at first glance or is very present, it can be counterproductive for your brand building on Amazon – for example, if the desired price level is destroyed.
The following criteria help you to evaluate retailers:
The merchant structure on Amazon (active merchants, prices, shipping model) is very dynamic. Researching the above data requires time and experience. The ROPT® Market Scan is already worthwhile from an assortment size of 30 products and makes valuable statements on the following areas, among others: Listed products, available products, best-selling products, price level, number of active retailers, retailers sorted by relevance, product quality score (evaluates the attractiveness of the product page), number and average of product reviews.
The ROPT® Market Scan can be performed at any time and as often as desired.
First, a brief explanation of what “product data” on Amazon actually means and includes.
1. Mandatory content:
This data is at least necessary for a product to be listed, e.g. the main image and the product title.
2. Basic content:
This includes images (up to 7), product title, bullet points, product description and search terms (not visible to visitors).
3. Technical details:
Depending on the product category, specific technical properties can be defined, e.g. collar size, material and compatibility.
4. Variant conformity:
Many products are available in different versions (variants), e.g. in different sizes for clothing or in different containers for lining. On Amazon, we speak of so-called “parent products”, to which “child products” (variants) are subordinate. A correct and complete allocation has a considerable influence on the customer’s buying behaviour.
5. Category conformity:
Each product must be assigned to a main category and at least one sub-category. The assignment can have a strong impact on the visibility and placement of the product in customer searches (keyword searches).
6. Enhanced content:
Especially visually, the product page can be enhanced with so-called A+ content as well as videos and thus made more attractive.
However, not all content is the same. Amazon has strict guidelines regarding the structure, length and content of the individual elements of a product page. For example, product titles in the apparel/fashion category may only be 80 bytes long, in other categories it is 200 bytes. However, you can prepare well for these rules, as Amazon communicates all specifications transparently. Sources include the official Amazon Retail Readiness Factors and the category-specific style guides. These explain how a product page should optimally look so that it is as appealing and helpful as possible for visitors – and thus indirectly become more visible, e.g. because the product can be found better via search.
Simply put, the design of a product page always pursues two goals:
The product is displayed as high as possible in the search results for as many relevant search terms as possible (measurement e.g. via keyword rankings).
The product is appealing and correctly described so that as many product visitors as possible become buyers (measurement e.g. via the conversion rate).
Two possible, further goals that correlate with 1) and 2):
3) Brand image/reputation:
The experience on a product page can be positive, e.g. through attractive images and correct product data, but also negative, e.g. through missing or incorrect information or outdated images. This affects the brand experience and thus the brand image. Not all of your customers buy on Amazon, yet Amazon is always an important touchpoint in the customer journey, partly because most product searches start on Amazon. Amazon product pages rank very high in Google searches, i.e. when researching products, most potential customers land on Amazon intentionally or unintentionally and take a look at your products.
4) Advertising Readiness:
Amazon offers many different advertising formats that can have a very big leverage on the market shares of brands and products. The quality of product pages is critical to the reach and profitability of advertising campaigns. For example, an ad for the keyword “toaster black” cannot be played if these two words are missing in the product texts.
It is slowly becoming clear: Amazon Content & SEO is a big topic. But time, staff and budget are usually limited, so not all product pages can be perfectly optimised.
So how do I put the right focus and achieve as much as possible with as little effort as possible? We recommend that every brand define its own standards and measure content quality using a simple traffic light system with the stages green, yellow and red. Red would usually mean the content is so bad that visitors will have a negative brand experience and the product will be virtually invisible on Amazon.
But the manual evaluation of product pages is time-consuming and must be repeated regularly. A useful support is the ROPT® Market Scan, which automatically calculates the so-called PQS (Product Quality Score)
for each product. By grading from 0 (worst) to 100 (best), you can immediately set the right product focus for optimisation. By the way, the PQS can also be calculated for competitors and may provide information on why competitor products generate more sales. You can compare yourself objectively with other brands and up- or down-lift the SEO status becomes visible.
If you want to save even more time and optimise your product data based on Amazon guidelines and expert knowledge, simply use the ROPT® PQS Analysis. This not only outputs the score, but also provides concrete optimisation tips for each product page element at product level. The tips can then be worked through without prior experience. For example, ROPT® even detects whether the maximum allowed number of bytes of the fifth bullet point has been exceeded…manually, the check for each product would take forever, although this is an extremely important factor for the ranking of the keywords.
If you want to measure the content quality on Amazon not only on a point-in-time basis, you can simply use the ROPT® Marketing Suite, as the PQS is automatically calculated and visualised here for all products on a daily basis. This way you can see exactly which marketing measures of your agency, your freelancer or your in-house SEO department have which effects. The PQS can then also be combined with other key figures such as sales, units, conversion rate, advertising sales and advertising profitability (ACoS/ROAS,CPO) and evaluated in a graph – this is unique!
Now you have a good basic knowledge to assess the relevance of Amazon content and to consider how and with whom you can improve the experience of your brand on Amazon.
Amazon customers can submit two different types of ratings (reviews):
1) Product ratings, the content of which may only address satisfaction with the product (quality, promise, benefits, appearance, price)
2) Seller ratings, the content of which may only address satisfaction with the retailer (shipping, packaging, customer service).
For you as a brand manufacturer, only the product ratings are relevant at first. They have a decisive influence on the trust in your products and thus have an impact on the conversion rate (proportion of interested parties who become buyers).
There are many avoidable negative product reviews that are directly related to the product page and not to the product itself. Here are a few examples that illustrate the relevance of Amazon content and why it is so important to cooperate with retailers and/or provide up-to-date, complete and appealing product data:
The following key figures will help you to analyse the Amazon reviews of your brand:
Manual collection is very tedious and time-consuming. We recommend the ROPT® Market Scan to automatically collect these metrics for each product. If you use the ROPT® Marketing Suite, all key figures are collected daily and visualised via a dashboard. This way you have an overview of your brand health, recognise positive and negative trends early on and can take action in time.
If you are already selling as a Seller or Vendor on Amazon, you can view your sales figures directly via Seller Central or Vendor Central. If you are not yet active or your products have so far only been sold by third-party merchants, you generally have no insight into the Amazon sales of your brand.
1) Merchants may provide information about how well which products are doing on Amazon.
2) Market shares and relative sales rankings can be determined
via the visibility of products (keyword rankings) and Amazon Sales Ranks (BSR). You will find the Amazon Sales Rank on each product page a little further down next to the category names. Each product receives a sales rank for the main category and sub-category, which is updated hourly based on sales and thus provides information about the relative sales ranking. A product with Sales Rank 1 achieves the most sales in the respective main category or subcategory. However, you don’t know how many units less another product with Sales Rank 2 sells – you only know that less than Sales Rank 1 and more than Sales Rank 3. So the distances between Sales Ranks are not definable.
So the Sales Rank helps to understand which products of your assortment are doing best on Amazon so far and which are rather unimportant – quite often the relative sales rankings are surprising for many manufacturers because there is a different distribution in the stationary trade, in the online shop or on other marketplaces.
Amazon displays the top 100 products in each category on a separate page. You can access this page by clicking on the respective category name on the product page. Regularly analysing this page is worthwhile, as it allows you to find the most popular products and brands and understand which competitors you are competing with for Amazon market share.
But beware: the Sales Ranks are very dynamic and only show a snapshot. Depending on availability, price, promotion and seasonality, Sales Ranks can change significantly on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
The ROPT® Market Scan determines the Sales Ranks for each product (main category and sub-category). Then simply sort the products by Sales Rank and you will get a good impression of the Amazon relevance of the products within your brand.
If you use the ROPT® Marketing Suite, the Sales Rank for each product is saved daily. Via a trend dashboard, you can analyse the Best Seller Rank and immediately see whether your sales remain stable compared to the competition or whether you are improving or worsening. This is particularly helpful because sales on Amazon are always based on certain “natural” fluctuations based on the buying behaviour of customers, i.e. they are never constant and you can thus immediately see, for example, whether sudden drops in sales are your fault, e.g. due to problems with content and advertising, or whether they are natural fluctuations because the competition is also selling less (sales drop, but sales rank remains constant).
The structure and rules of the country-specific Amazon marketplaces are basically the same. This means that the analysis options presented work on all marketplaces. However, it is not sufficient to look only at Amazon.de (Germany), for example, to be able to make a statement about availability, product data quality and retailers on Amazon.es (Spain). It is possible that reviews of identical products are automatically synchronised across several marketplaces, but all other criteria can vary greatly. So you have no choice but to scan each marketplace in turn.
Alternatively, you can use the ROPT® Market Scan, which can scan all European Amazon marketplaces simultaneously. This gives you an overview of the marketplaces Amazon.de (Germany), Amazon.es (Spain), Amazon.it (Italy), Amazon.se (Sweden), Amazon.nl (Netherlands), Amazon.co.uk (United Kingdom) and Amazon.fr with just one click and you can easily compare availability, rating, data quality as well as merchant and price structure.
The setup is very simple and done in a few minutes. We are happy to provide personal support.
Whether one-time analysis, self-service use of the Marketing Suite or as a managed service – we have the right solution for every brand.
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