Consumers compare your products side-by-side with powerhouse brands before making the decision to buy. Frankly, so should you. Only when you understand what you are up against in your own aisle will you be able to elevate your listing above your Amazon competitors
A competitive analysis unearths what your competition is best at, where they have weaknesses, and what you can do to soar above the rest. This process of analyzing your own brand and comparing your results to your competitors will help you capitalize on your own unique value proposition and implement valuable changes to your listings.
Who Are Your Amazon Competitors?
Amazon is its own ecosystem, and it should be treated as such. You may have an idea already of who your top competitors are, but do Amazon shoppers agree?
Consumers have decades of browsing experience walking into brick-and-mortar stores and down the aisles, looking at the options, and making a decision based on the information presented to them. The Amazon shopping experience is shockingly similar.
Products presented near your listings are like products displayed side-by-side on a shelf. The shelf here is the search engine results page (SERP) for your target keyword phrases (KWP), and those products that appear when you type in your KWP are your direct competitors.
Identifying the Right Amazon Competitors
While you will compete on some level with all the products on your shelf, not all of them are going to be direct competition. Here are a few tips to focus your efforts and narrow down your most direct competition:
- Ignore giant brands. You’ll waste time and ad spend attempting to take down a goliath.
- Identify the strengths and weaknesses of your brand, then identify those of your competitors.
- Find who is doing incrementally better or worse than your brand to identify opportunities.
Perform a competitive analysis on your own brand first, looking at your business as if it were a competitor to see where you stand. Only then will you be able to identify with accuracy the opportunities you’re most poised to seize.
At the end of this post is a link to the ebook, How to Conduct an Amazon Competitor Analysis, for quantifying your competitiveness and that of the brands you sell against. We encourage you to read this guide, then put the worksheet into action. Using these steps will help you climb the SERP ladder.
Step #1 – Determine Your Keywords
There is a fine art to keyword research, as we explore in our blog on the topic. To conduct competitive research, you don’t need a list of 100 relevant keywords, just the top 2-4 terms. Any attempt to be everywhere at once will spread you too thin, making you a jack of all trades, but a master of none. Instead, focus your competitive efforts where they’re likely to do the most good.
Step #2 – Get to Know Your SERP
Take note of the following as you examine the SERP for competitors matching each KWP:
- How relevant are their products to yours? For example, “highlighter” could be makeup or office supplies. Check the SERP to make sure you’re placing your product in the correct aisle and on the shelf containing the most relevant products.
- Which brands paid to be on this SERP and which ones are here organically? Do they overlap?
- Paid ads – These brands are putting a higher investment to their Amazon business and often take the most effort to overcome.
- Organic results – The higher the organic rating, the better combination of review quality and quantity, SEO optimization, product history, and seller account health. The highest organic results correlate with the most successful listings associated with that keyword.
- Both paid and organic placement – These brands have a large, vested interest in this keyword and have put time, effort, and marketing dollars into securing as much market share as possible.
- What are the star ratings and number of reviews for each product?
- Low number of reviews – Either a new product or one with very slow sales velocity.
- High number of reviews – An established sales history on Amazon with a strong enough impression of the product for customers to leave reviews.
- Low star ratings – There are issues with this product or the listing, leaving customers unhappy. We will discuss later how to investigate these to learn from their errors to improve your own listings.
- High star ratings – This brand is doing something right! See step #5 in this guide to learn how to action this information.
Step #3 – Explore Product Listings
There is a lot to explore on the product listing and lots to consider. As we’ve discussed in our blog post, How to Create Fully Optimized Listings, there are several components to a great listing. If you know what goes into a great listing, then you know what to look for to see which of your competitors is most vulnerable.
Step #4 – Understanding the Buy Box
A full explanation of the buy box and all of its components is a whole blogs-worth of information, but when you’re reviewing a competitor’s listing, there are a few things to keep in mind that will give you a better idea of what you’re up against:
Suppressed Buy Boxes – Amazon is looking to show the most relevant products that will give the customer the best experience. In the buy box, that means the best price and the quickest shipping.
Competition Within the Listing – Several sellers means a potentially popular product with lots of vested interest in its success. Look for this section just below the buy box where it will say “New (#),” or “New and Used (#).” Clicking on this section will show you how many sellers are on the listing and their buy box information.
Stock Levels – Low stock levels indicate a potential to be out of stock and not appearing on the SERP, affecting the listing’s rank. High stock levels mean this listing will be present and competing for a while.
Fulfillment Type – Amazon’s algorithm favors products fulfilled via FBA (fulfilled by Amazon) over products fulfilled via FBM (fulfilled by merchant). FBA sellers usually have faster shipping and are eligible for Prime Discounts, giving them an advantage over FBM and making them tougher competition.
Amazon Retail – Competing against products where Amazon is listed as both the manufacturer and the seller is immensely difficult. Amazon gets first dibs on the market. If you are selling products that are in direct competition with Amazon, you will be competing with everyone else for whatever scraps remain.
Pricing – Just because your product isn’t the cheapest on the SERP doesn’t mean your product won’t sell. Consumers are looking at overall value more than just cost. The number and quality of reviews, differences in features, and even the values held by your brand convince buyers of the greater value of a more expensive product.
Step #5 – Examine Reviews
The reviews and ratings section is arguably your most powerful tool to understand your customers. In reviews, your target audience can reveal the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors.
Use reviews to identify additional keywords and search terms your customers use to find similar products, and look for areas where your competition has fallen short. Pay special attention to incorrect listing information, shortcomings of the product that were not explicitly explained in the listing, and differences between the ordered vs. received products.
Step #6 – Explore the Brand Store
Brand Stores are growing in popularity thanks to Amazon’s increased focus on them.
The presence of a competitor’s Brand Store means they have Brand Registry and access to all the resources it affords. But just because they have it, doesn’t mean they’re using it to its full potential. Explore their Brand Store to get a better understanding of how much effort and expertise competitors are putting into their Amazon business. Analyze these factors when determining whether or not to compete against this brand:
- Easy to Shop Customers who arrive here interested in one listing may find it easy to purchase multiple items and develop a loyalty to this brand.
- Multiple Tabs If their Brand Store has at least 4 tabs and they have 5+ products selling across those tabs, they are potentially eligible to implement Sponsored Brand advertising campaigns, making them an even tougher competitor. You’d have to invest in quality Sponsored Brand ads to compete on the same level.
- Imagery and Video Imagery should be consistent (but not identical) with product listings. There are many opportunities for compelling imagery across Amazon, but there are only two places video can be used: In the product listing gallery and in your Brand Store. If your competition is not utilizing imagery and video to tell their story and provide context and instruction, they’re leaving the door wide open for competitors.
- SEO’ed for Google Brand Stores don’t appear on the SERP organically (yet). The closest you’ll get is a Sponsored Brand ad. Instead, the store is a great way to reach beyond Amazon and drive off-Amazon traffic. Do a Google keyword research or search the types of questions shoppers ask about your category to determine if their store is likely to show up on the SERP.
- Consistent with the Brand’s Website? Consistency builds trust. Customers who are used to shopping a brand’s website will feel more at ease arriving at a Brand Store that feels and shops in a similar manner. Amazon’s platform has design limitations that prevent an exact match, but a true competitor will put in an effort for a cohesive experience across all sales platforms.
Step #7 – Off-Amazon Research (Optional Deep-Dive)
If you have completed all the steps up to this point, you have a thorough understanding of your competition on the Amazon marketplace. But, to get a truly holistic view of a brand, you must understand everywhere they are selling, how well they are doing it, and why they’re there.
Things to keep track of when researching brands off Amazon:
- How many sales channels are they using? Which channels?
- Is their pricing consistent?
- Is branding consistent?
- Is variation selection consistent?
How Often Should You Perform a Competitor Analysis?
Just like most aspects of selling on Amazon, analyzing your Amazon competitors is a moving target that evolves as all parties shift focuses, gain skills, and discover new best practices. An Amazon competitor analysis should therefore be an iterative process, executed every quarter.
The biggest lesson to learn from your competitive analysis is this: on Amazon, you are never selling in a bubble. Even if you are first to market, the chances of things staying that way for long are slim. Staying ahead of the curve and understanding the growth of your category and competitors gives you a roadmap for what needs to be done to become the top seller on Amazon.
Download our free eBook, How to Perform an Amazon Competitive Analysis, to access the competitive analysis worksheet.
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