Competition among Amazon sellers may become more intense as Amazon escalates enforcement of their Marketplace Fair Pricing PolicyWhere once sellers faced rolled Buy Boxes, they now risk seller account suspensions or even account shutdowns. 

Pricing Flags Now Impact Seller Account Health 

Amazon recently changed their system so that products flagged as being priced too high will now appear under “Account Health Issues” instead of “Pricing Alerts” within Seller Central. This change is noteworthy because seller accounts are much more readily suspended by Amazon for having account health issues than for pricing alerts. In other words, Amazon is becoming more stringent in their enforcement of products they deem overpriced.  

Rolled Buy Boxes and Account Suspensions 

Before this update, Amazon typically removed the Buy Box from the product detail page. Sometimes referred to as a “rolled” Buy Box, this practice replaces the “Add to Cart” and “Buy Now” buttons with a “See All Buying Options” button. Rolling the Buy Box effectively requires shoppers to click at least once more before they can buy. While small, this disruption in the typical Amazon shopping experience (and the plethora of similar competitor offerings) is enough that sales can take a significant hit when the Buy Box is rolled. 

Amazon Recommends New Prices 

Products flagged by Amazon as being priced too high will display a suggested minimum price and maximum price in Seller Central. These prices would effectively serve as the thresholds for any sellers using Amazon repricer tools. Amazon also suggests what price to set for the product currently, which in some cases undercuts the price currently featured in the Buy Box. 

How Does Amazon Determine if Products are Overpriced? 

Amazon’s Fair Pricing Policy states that they will penalize sellers for pricing practices that harm customer trust, which includes suspending or terminating selling privileges. Amazon states one such harmful practice is “setting a price on a product or service that is significantly higher than recent prices offered on or off Amazon.” 

While this policy sounds reasonably straightforward, Kaspien has seen Amazon suppress listings offering a product for $31 when another seller in the listing offers it for $29. At this time, it is unclear if this degree of severity is widespread or limited.  

Ultimately, this update in enforcement practices is a win for consumers, but a complication for Amazon sellers, especially for those with already tight margins.  

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Category Landscape 

The Sports & Outdoors category experienced tremendous growth in 2020. As the pandemic forced gyms to close and social gatherings became smaller and less frequent, consumers invested in home gyms and outdoor recreation. Kaspien’s data shows Amazon sales in the Sports & Outdoors category grew 80% year-over-year! 

While category sales are expected to grow at humbler rates in 2021, consumer buying behavior has permanently shifted. More consumers are comfortable exercising away from the gym, at-home equipment providers like Peloton are encouraging the shift, and outdoor enthusiasts new and old have taken advantage of Amazon to supply their adventure gear. 

This shifting landscape presents immense opportunities for brands in the Sports & Outdoors category. Historically, many of these brands have treated Amazon as a secondary sales channel, and it’s under-optimized as a result. 2020 made ecommerce a more important sales channel, and thoswho optimize their Amazon channel and integrate it into their overall brand strategy first will be best positioned to increase their market share in the coming years. 

COVID-19’s Impact 

The Sports & Outdoors category on Amazon saw significant sales growth year-on-year spurred by the global pandemic. When health clubs closed, consumers brought the gym home. When social gatherings became limited, more consumers spent their leisure time (and money) on outdoor recreation. 

As demonstrated by the next three graphs, COVID-19 drove significant sales growth for multiple product types in this category, from sports to defense to survival gear. 

 Even outside of Amazon, we saw examples of at-home Sports & Fitness booming, with Peloton taking the spotlight. Peloton’s earnings show total revenue reach $1.8 billion in 2020, a 100% increase year-on-year, and their subscription revenue reached $121.2 million, a 99% increase year-on-year.  

According to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), the fitness industry lost $20 billion in 2020. At least 8 national gym networks filed for bankruptcy in 2020. 

The Outdoor Recreation industry fared far better, with the NPD Group reporting strong growth in  multiple outdoor activities: 

  • Dollar sales of bicycles increased 63% in June 2020 versus the same time the previous year. 
  • Dollar sales of paddle sports increased 56% in June 2020 versus the same time the previous year. 
  • Dollar sales of golf equipment increased 51% in June 2020 versus the same time the previous year. 
  • Dollar sales of camping equipment increased 31% in June 2020 versus the same time the previous year. 

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Shopper Psychographics 

Three Tiers of Shoppers 

Products in the Sports & Outdoors category vary greatly in quality and price, which results in multiple, distinct audiencesAs such, it’s helpful to think of Sports & Outdoors shoppers as three tiers: Entry level, middle, and luxury.  

Entry level shoppers are those trying out a new activity for the first time and have not yet established brand loyalty. They seek the best deal, as they need to validate their interest before spending more dollars.  

Middle level shoppers have an established interest in the Sports & Outdoors category. They’ve found brands and products they like, but balance that interest with a fixed budget. They are knowledgeable about some technical details for their given product interest. 

Luxury level shoppers have a strong interest in the Sports & Outdoors category and demonstrate a mixture of brand loyalty and experimentation. They have preferred brands, but if an innovative new product is released, they may be willing to try it. These shoppers tend to be (or think they are) very knowledgeable about their area of interest and are willing to pay for premium products. 

For brands selling in this space, it’s important to identify which tier your products aim to appease. These tiers are very basic and shoppers can fluctuate between them over time and for different products. However, they can be expanded upon to build marketing personas for your brand, making them even more actionable. 

Improvement & Recreation 

While shoppers in this category vary greatly in their product knowledge and budget, they do share an important commonality: an interest in competition, self-improvement, and recreation. 

The products in this category, whether it’s dumbbells, basketballs, or tents, all relate to at least one of the three interests and oftentimes all three. Shoppers want to get better at something and enjoy that task (or the results of it!). The brands that speak to all three interests in their marketing and branding will be best positioned to engage their target audience. 

Loyalty Increases with Technicality 

Brand loyalty in this space will differ due to a number of factors, including the shopper tiers, but one of the most telling factors is product technicality. Shoppers are more likely to patronize the same brand for products that are complex or require compatibility. Simple, more generic products like elastic bands or weights, tend to have lower brand loyalty as the differentiating factors are more limited. 

That said, shoppers will readily depart from a brand if an innovative new product breaks into the market or the brand has a limited product catalog. 

Community Engagement 

Both Sports & Fitness brands and Outdoor Recreation brands have a history of cultivating engaged communities. In some aspects, this can be traced back to category shoppers’ interest in competition, self-improvement, and recreation.  

Ambitions around sports, fitness, hiking, climbing, etc. are readily fueled by a sense of community, motivating each other through camaraderie and rivalry. Many of these activities also require dedicated practice and skill, which leads to specialized knowledge that is shared through tips and training. 

Brands in this space can and should actively contribute to community building to earn brand loyalty and support growth.  

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There are many reasons to rebrand on AmazonYou may just need a fresh coat of paint to better engage contemporary shoppersOr perhaps your brand has outgrown its original form, and you need a new name and/or look to represent that metamorphosis. 

Whatever your reason, rebranding should be not be taken lightly – we should know, we rebranded in September 2020, and we’ve helped numerous CPG brands successfully rebrand over the years. It’s a big deal and takes a lot of work to do it well. So, in this post, we’ll share our learnings from these efforts and recommend best practices for a successful rebrand on Amazon.  

Why are You Rebranding? 

The first question you should answer is, why are you rebranding? Does your brand need a makeover to come into the modern era, or are you repositioning yourself in the market with a new mission and value proposition?  

Your answer to this question will guide the nature and extent of your rebrand, which brings us to our next question: are you completely or partially rebranding? 

Complete or Partial Rebranding 

A complete rebrand involves a new name, logo, packaging, and brand voice. A partial rebrand includes updating only some of those elements, typically just product packaging and/or logo. Most brands only partially rebrand, as they have built credibility around their brand name. 

The extent of your rebrand also influences how much attention you should purposely draw to it. If the adjustments are subtle, there’s little cause to bring attention to them unless you’re trying to drum up publicityThis will require work from your team, so you have to determine if any publicity gains are worth the costs of labor. If you show the new packaging or logo to a customer and they don’t immediately notice a difference, then it’s probably not worth an “all hands on deck” PR push. 

If the adjustments are significant, then you should take a very calculated and proactive approach to announcing the update. This is big news, and it could create a headwind or a tailwind for your business depending on how well you execute it. Do it well, and customers and investors will be excited. Do it poorly, and customers are more likely to be caught off guard by the rebrand and suspicious about product authenticity. 

Rebranding Marketing Strategy 

Research & Filing Paperwork 

The first step for rebranding is research. If changing your name, verify that the new name is available for a trademark and the web domain is available. Note that getting a trademarked approved by the US Patent and Trademark Office typically takes at least 6 months. A trademark is required for Amazon Brand Registry, which is a huge perk, but it’s best practice to have a trademark regardless 

Keep It Secret, Keep It Safe 

The key to a successful rebrand is making a big splash all at once. You want the news to spread quickly and pervasively. To achieve that, you need to control when the news breaks. Leaking the rebrand before you have all your ducks in a row can leech away excitement from the big reveal 

You should of course let key stakeholders know (if they’re not already involved in the process), and you may run rebranding ideas by significant partners to get a trusted external opinion.  

When we rebranded, we shared the idea and eventually our new name with a select group of partners early to source external feedback. It can be easy to create an echo chamber when working with only internal parties, so don’t neglect this step. Just be mindful about who’s in the know. 

Preparation is Everything 

To maximize awareness and minimize confusion, you should launch your rebrand across all channels simultaneously, including your website, social media, newsletterand Amazon. If your product packaging is changing, you also need to time your rebrand launch with the sell through of old inventory and the receipt of new inventory at all fulfillment centers. This can be very tricky to do without the aid of an accurate inventory forecasting tool. 

Here are all the pieces we recommend having prepared in advance: 

  • Forecasted receival date of rebranded inventory at fulfillment centers 
  • New images and videos in all required sizes for all channels 
  • Updated copy, images, and A+ Content ready to implement with the rebrand 
  • Banner or popup for your website announcing the rebrand 
  • Email to share the announcement with subscribers 
  • Email to any website or platform that displays your old branding with a request to update 
  • Social media posts to share the announcement with followers 
  • Press release, if appropriate, to spread the word 

Amazon Brand Registry and Trademarks 

If you acquire a new trademark as part of your rebrand, you should update your brand name on Amazon first, as this process can take months. As we’ve described, the success of a rebrand is largely dependent on its uniformity. Rebranding elsewhere while Amazon features your old branding for months can create confusion and erode customer trust in product authenticity. 

Fortunately, you can register a new brand to the same Amazon Brand Registry account. To do so, register the new approved trademark with Amazon, then update your content accordingly. 

Required Documentation for Amazon to Change Brand Name for ASINs 

  • GS1 certificate for each UPC  
  • Proof that the new product packaging is authentic (typically, linking to a photo on your website that shows the new product packaging suffices) 
  • Link to a photo on your website showing the product with the UPC code for the given ASIN 

Announcing Your Rebrand 

When the big day finally arrives, work with your team to update images, logos, and text on your website, social media, and Amazon channel. Post about the rebrand on your social media, email your newsletter subscribers to announce the new look, and add a banner or popup to your homepage to immediately inform visitors of the rebrand. On Amazon, make sure to update every location featuring branding, including product listings, A+ Content, and Brand Stores. 

Preemptively dispel customer confusion by explicitly calling out the rebrand in the listing’s bullets and media gallery. We recommend including an image in the listing that shows old and new branding sidebyside to show shoppers that both products are authentic.  

Customers are more likely to be confused and question product authenticity if the product they receive differs in appearance from the images on the product listing. If customers believe they have received inauthentic product, they are more likely to return the product and leave negative reviews that can deter other potential buyers.  

Once you have sold through the inventory with the old branding, you can remove the images of the old branding.  

Measuring the Success of an Amazon Rebrand 

Partial Rebrand 

If you’ve only done a partial rebrand, success can be assessed by reviewing sales, number and quality of customer reviews, listing bounce rates, and ad performance.  

If any of them suffer a drop in performance, it could indicate that shoppers are not aware of the rebrand and thus not clicking ads, not buying product, or leaving poor reviews. If all of these metrics remain strong, you’ve done your work well. It’s worth noting that Amazon is a dynamic, live environment, so other factors outside of the rebrand could certainly influence performance as well. 

Complete Rebrand 

If you implemented a complete rebrand, you’ll assess success through a more holistic view. Compare product rank, listing traffic, sessions, conversion rate, sales, reviews, and marketing performance from comparable time periods before and after the rebrand.  

You can also use keyword tracking tools to see how organic searches on Google and Amazon for your old name compare to your new name. Naturally, searches for the old name will far exceed those for your new name for at least several months as you rebuild brand name recognition. 

The timeline for a complete rebrand is far longer than that of a partial rebrand, and it’s quite possible you won’t see the full the success of your efforts for 6-12 months. 

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According to Amazon, 69% of customer searches on Amazon don’t include a brand nameThat means that most shoppers are still in the consideration phase and have not yet decided which product to buy. Of the shoppers that do use branded search terms, 25% do so for multiple brands while shopping, indicating that they have narrowed their list but are still in the consideration phase. 

Amazon advertising is a powerful tool for reaching and winning these shoppers. Amazon advertising includes multiple ad types, and each serves a purpose in your Amazon marketing strategy. In this post, we’re going to focus on just two: Sponsored Brand Ads and Sponsored Brand Videos. 

What are Sponsored Brand Ads? 

Sponsored Brand Ads are cost-per-click (CPC) banner ads that help generate brand awareness and heighten engagement. Sponsored Brand Ads appear at the top, middle, and bottom of the search results page. Like Sponsored Products, Sponsored Brands appear for seller-selected keywords.  

While Sponsored Product Ads are known for being the highest converting ad type on Amazon, Kaspien has seen very promising results from Sponsored Brand Ads. On average, our Sponsored Brand Ads have a 14% conversion rate and a 7:1 return on ad spend (ROAS). 

Amazon Sponsored Brand Ad Strategy 

If Sponsored Brand Ads yield such strong results, why do Sponsored Product Ads still get the most attention? Even at Kaspien, we regularly recommend Sponsored Product Ads first, Sponsored Brand Ads second. 

It comes down to difficulty. Every search engine results page (SERP) offers multiple ad placements for Sponsored Product Ads, but only one Sponsored Brand Ad can appear at the top of the SERP. When Sponsored Brand Ads are the first thing that shoppers see on the SERP, and there’s only one placement available, you can see how this ad type becomes highly competitive.  

Given the challenge and the potential, what are the best ways to use Sponsored Brand Ads?  

Promote Best Performing Products 

 Amazon’s algorithm favors products with high conversion rates for Sponsored Brand Ad placements. That fact, combined with the intense competitiveness of the ad type, means you’ll see the greatest success when you run Sponsored Brand Ads for products with low rank and high sales velocity.  

Define Your Goals 

What if you are launching a new product or expanding your brand to Amazon? Should you never use a Sponsored Brand Ad?  

Not necessarily; it depends on your goals. If you want to drive conversions, you should promote your best performing products. In this case, you should bid on branded-keywords. This will place your ad in front of shoppers already interested in your brand and help pull them over the finish line. 

If your goal is to build awareness for your brand or product, then Sponsored Brand Ads can certainly support, but they’ll do so with a lower conversion rate. In this instance, you should bid on non-branded keywords. This will place your ad in front of shoppers still in the consideration phase.  

Pair New Products with Established Products 

If launching a new product, pair it with two established products in a Sponsored Brand Ad to help it generate traction quicker. The established products will help the banner ad win placements, creating more visibility for the new product. 

Target Repeat Buyers 

Generally, we recommend bidding on branded keywords because they have a higher ROAS. This is especially true in categories that have higher rates of brand loyal shoppers, such as the Pet Supplies category or Baby category.  

In these categories, shoppers highly value brands that they deem trustworthy. Because the product will be used by a loved one and safety is paramount, shoppers research their options. Once they find a brand that they like, they can skip the research step and return to the trusted brand. When this happens, shoppers use branded search terms, and that’s where your Sponsored Brand Ads can step in to meet them. 

Promote Multiple Product Lines 

Because Sponsored Brand Ads display three products, you can use them to display the breadth of your product offerings. This strategy can be particularly helpful in categories where shoppers expect to be able to purchase multiple product types from one brand, such as Electronics or Baby 

Direct Shoppers to Your Amazon Store 

In the same vein as above, we also recommend pointing your Sponsored Brand Ads to your Amazon brand store. This enables you to show all your product offerings in a branded digital storefront, removed from the competition of the SERP. 

What are Amazon Sponsored Brand Videos? 

Similar to Sponsored Brand Ads, Sponsored Brand Videos are CPC ads on Amazon that generate brand awareness and support conversions. These ads appear on the SERP for desktop and mobileAccording to a survey by Wyzowl, 68% of consumers prefer to learn about products or services through video.  

At Kaspien, we’ve seen very promising results from Sponsored Brand Videos, with our ads delivering an average advertising cost of sale (ACOS) of 9%. Amazon also reports that some advertisers see 55% lower CPC’s for Sponsored Brand Videos compared to Sponsored Brand Ads, which can be attributed to lower competition for the ad type. 

Currently, Sponsored Brand Videos can direct shoppers only to the product page, but Amazon notes that advertisers will be able to point shoppers to Brand Stores soon. 

Amazon Sponsored Brand Video Strategy 

Sponsored Brand Video strategy differs in several ways from Sponsored Brand Ads. You should still pick a top performing product if you want the highest ROAS, but if you have the budget, you can also use Sponsored Brand Videos to catapult new products to success.  

Use Sponsored Brand Videos in Competitive Niches 

Sponsored Brand Videos add clarity, excitement, and a wow factor to products, which makes them an ideal marketing lever for a competitive niche. 

Pair Sponsored Brand Videos with Coupons

As you can see in the screenshot above, the coupon tag is visible in Sponsored Brand Video ads. Pairing sponsored ads with Amazon coupons is a great way to increase visibility and add an even greater incentive to click! 

Build Awareness 

Amazon notes that CPC can be significantly lower for Sponsored Brand Videos compared to Sponsored Brand Ads. As such, you can afford to focus on building brand awareness, bidding on non-branded keywords to widen your audience. 

Reuse Videos on Other Channels 

If you go through the time and money needed to create a high-quality video, get as much mileage out of it as you can. Reuse the video in your product listing, social media, Google advertising (including YouTube), and your direct website. 

Sponsored Brand Video Selection 

If you’re asking yourself, “What video should I pick?” you’re not alone! Best practices for video selection may differ by category, but generally, videos should be informational, promote key product features, establish an emotional appeal, and be simple enough that the main ideas can be understood without audio. We also highly suggest including text overlay, enabling you to fully engage shoppers even with their device on mute. 

Example of a Sponsored Brand Video 

In the below example from Arava, a girl uses their tear stain wipes on her own eyes before taking a separate wipe to use on her dog. This demonstrates that the product is safe and gentle enough to trust on your pet’s skin. Best yet, viewers can understand this product feature without turning on audio. 

Amazon Sponsored Brand Video Requirements 

What You’ll Need 

  • Video Title(s) 
  • Video image thumbnail 
  • List of ASIN(s) to apply (300 max) 
  • What your customers should know about the product (in less than 60 characters) 

Sponsored Brand Video Do’s and Don’ts 

Amazon recommends the following do’s and don’ts for Sponsored Brand Videos: 

Do 

  • Keep the video 15-30 seconds 
  • Showcase the advertised ASIN in the first few seconds 
  • Add an end card 

Don’t 

  • Have black or white frames at the start or end fo the video 
  • Use star ratings or reviews in the video 
  • Use Amazon branding elements 
  • End the video abruptly 
  • Have black bars on any side of the video 
  • Show URL links 

Sponsored Brand Video Requirements 

  • Aspect ratio: 16:9 aspect 
  • Dimensions: 1280 x 720px, 1920 x 1080px or 3840 x 2160px 
  • FPS: 23.976, 24, 25, 29.97, 29.98, or 30 
  • Bit Rate: 1 Mbps or higher 
  • Codec: H.264 or H.265 
  • Length: 6-45 seconds (15-30 seconds is recommended) 
  • File Size: 500 MB or smaller 
  • Format: MP4 or MOV file (480p or higher recommended) 
  • Main or baseline profile 
  • Progressive scan type 
  • Only 1 video stream 

Sponsored Brand Audio Requirements 

  • Sample Rate: 44.1 kHz or higher 
  • Codec: PCM, AAC or MP3 
  • Bit Rate: 96 kbps or higher 
  • Stereo or mono format 
  • Only 1 audio stream 

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SEO is an ever-evolving part of the Amazon selling experience. Keeping content updated, engaging, keyword optimized, and compliant can be quite a balancing act. Amazon is always seeking to improve customer experience, and that includes updating content guidelines. Recentlythere’s been a change in attitude toward all caps text in bullet points and HTML in product descriptions.  

In this post, we’ll break down this recent change and why implementing these recommendations can help improve your listing compliance. 

Experiments in Style: Two-Tiered Bullet Points and Amazon SEO Optimization 

If you’re a frequent shopper on Amazon, you’ve definitely seen “Two Tiered” bullet points in product listings. “Two-Tiered” bullet points are popular choice for many sellers and are formatted like so:  

Each bullet starts with a hook in ALL CAPS to garner attention, followed by copy in sentence case that expands on the hook. 

Tests Indicated Shoppers Like “Two Tier” Formatting 

Kaspien has run many tests surrounding the efficacy of two tiered bullet points, but every result was inconclusive. In June of 2019, wsurveyed Amazon shoppers to dig in deeper into the “why” behind this formatting practiceWe found that 56% of our sample preferred a key feature format that began with ALL CAPS, and then continued in normal sentence case 

Because the majority prefer this style, we deduced that this formatting structure ia positive user experience benefitThe ALL CAPS provides the quick facts, then the trailing sentence gives more details if the shopper desires to continue reading. 

The ALL CAPS strategy really started to take off a few years ago, and Amazon SEO leaders latched onto this strategyAmazon sellers, agencies, and strategists began implementing this format in their listings to better catch buyers’ eyes. 

Amazon Bans ALL CAPS  

Unfortunately, Amazon changed their outlook on listings that contain all caps in the bullet points, notifying sellers that having all caps in the bullet structure is no longer recommended and can result in listing suppressions.  

Updating listings to reflect this change will ensure that the listings are not removed from the site for non-compliance. We believe Amazon changed their policy to present a more uniform content experience for consumers. Per Amazon’s advice, Kaspien is updating bullet points to remove any all-caps text to ensure that we meet compliance standards.  

Product Description Breakdown: New HTML Recommendations for Amazon Listings 

Product descriptions on Amazon represent an important piece of SEO territory that can be used to improve SERP (Search Engine Result Placement) for products. A robust description can be the deciding factor in a buyer’s decision, so it’s critical to include as much relevant information as possible while maintaining shopper engagement.  

Amazon product descriptions appear on the site as a plain block text that’s tucked below the fold and above the product detail section, making it easy to miss. Many Amazon content creators use HTML in their description text to help break up text blocks. Common examples of HTML formatting include creating lists and adding bold and italic text to differentiate the content. 

Amazon is now notifying sellers to remove all HTML text from the product description except for simple line breaks: <br>. Line breaks are arguably the most important HTML formatting in the product description. You can still create lists with line breaks – and of course, paragraph breaks help make lengthy text more digestible.  

We believe Amazon made this change to alleviate some of the pressure on their servers when loading a listing detail page and – similar to the changes with bullet points – promote consistent formatting to shoppers 

Moving forward, Kaspien is implementing these content updates across product listings to ensure that we meet all style and compliance guidelines. We recommend that sellers start removing HTML from product descriptions and update their bullet points to reflect Amazon’s change in listing content strategy 

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On March 18, 2021, Walmart removed requirements for sellers on its platform to have a US address or business tax identification. As a result, sellers based outside of the US can now sell on Walmart.com, assuming they receive approval 

Unlike Amazon, Walmart’s online marketplace is gated; sellers need approval from Walmart before they can start selling on the platform. Walmart will maintain these vetting procedures for new US and foreign sellers to continue to protect its marketplace from counterfeits and other undesirable goods. 

How This News Affects Sellers 

Prior to this policy update, foreign sellers could sell on the Walmart marketplace, but they were required to have a physical presence in the US, which greatly limited the number of foreign sellers able to apply to Walmart. The policy update positions Walmart to more aggressively compete with Amazon for ecommerce market share. 

Amazon has allowed non-US based sellers to operate on its US marketplace for years. In 2020, 48% of sellers on Amazon.com were from outside the US, the vast majority of whom are based out of China. Now that Walmart has opened its doors to foreign sellers, Walmart may experience a similar diversification, though it will surely take time 

Requirements for Chinese Sellers

Walmart announced the news to Chinese sellers at a conference in China on March 25th. According to Marketplace Pulse, sellers must meet the following requirements to sell on Walmart.com:

  • Valid Chinese business license
  • 1+ year of selling experience in North American marketplaces
  • Good store ratings
  • Must use Walmart Fulfillment Services

Marketplace Pulse reports that nearly one hundred China-based sellers have joined the Walmart Marketplace since the policy update.

The Future of the Walmart Marketplace

The increase in sellers means the marketplace will likely become more competitive. Product selection, prices, and advertising costs will all be affected. It’s worth noting that many foreign sellers interested in Walmart likely already have an Amazon presence. As they expand to Walmart, they will have to coordinate Walmart pricing and branding strategy with Amazon. This may lessen the impact to product pricing on Walmart. 

In the fiscal year ending January 31st, 2021, Walmart’s ecommerce sales grew 79% year-over-year (YOY)Total US sales increased 8.6% YOY and international sales grew 1% YOY. 

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The Importance of Amazon Supply Chain Management 

Inventory issues can tie up your Amazon sales, harm short-term and long-term marketing performance, and erode profitability, all of which makes inventory management a critical piece of a healthy Amazon business.

Kaspien’s supply chain network spans 9 countries across 3 continents and includes access to warehouses, distributors, freight carriers, product prep facilities, and marketplaces. Our logistical infrastructure is supported by data analytics from over billion data points processed daily and machine learning algorithmsOur retail partners benefit from our enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, warehouse management system (WMS), listing tools, and other integrations.

To put it shortly, we know a thing or two about optimizing the Amazon supply chain. In this post, we’ll share a little bit about what goes into managing Amazon logistics successfully.

Managing the Amazon Supply Chain Effectively 

Managing Amazon inventory effectively requires a combination of proactive and reactive strategies, leveraging tools that are directly related and adjacent to supply chain management. There’s a lot to unpack, so let’s dive into some of the most important pieces.

Accurate Inventory Forecasting

Accurate inventory forecasting is essential because it protects brands from running out of stock without severely overstocking. Amazon’s fulfillment centers charge storage fees and fulfillment fees. When manufacturers ship too much inventory into FBA centers, inventory stagnates, driving up storage costs that erode profitability. 

When brands send in too little inventory, they run out of stock. In addition to losing sales, out-of-stocks have other implications as well: 

  • Marketing performance suffers. When a product is out-of-stock, product rank deteriorates. Because product rank influences both organic and paid marketing performance, running out of stock harms sales, even after inventory is replenished. 
  • Market share decreases. Shoppers turn to competitors when a product is out of stock. This compounds the impact to product rank, with competitors improving rank while your rank deteriorates. As a result, competitors are well positioned to seize and retain market share. 

At Kaspien, we combine historical data from $1 billion retail sales, proprietary algorithms, and human expertise to ensure optimal inventory coverage.  

Maintain Inventory Control with Distributors 

Too many brands have learned the hard way that allowing anyone to sell their product can erode their brand integrity in both digital and physical spaces. Any seller carrying a brand’s product can list their inventory under the brand’s listing on Amazon. Once in the listing, the seller has free rein over listing content, including text and images. These can lead to inaccurate and low-quality content that tarnishes your hard-earned brand image.  

To protect against this, brands should (re-)negotiate contracts with their distributors that limit to whom they can sell product. By maintaining an active relationship with trusted authorized sellers, brands retain inventory control and through it, control over their brand’s online representation. Brands currently facing difficulties with unauthorized sellers can leverage our price & seller tracking software or take more aggressive steps through unauthorized seller removal. 

Brands should also enroll in Amazon’s Brand Registry program, which grants them access to additional marketing and brand protection tools, including specifying which sellers have approval to edit listing content. 

Prepare Products Compliantly for Amazon’s Fulfillment Centers 

Over 85% of top Amazon sellers use Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), and with good reason. Products fulfilled through FBA are able to offer Prime shipping, which can be 2-day, 1-day, or same-day depending on location. Fast shipping speed is one of the most important factors for online shoppers, and FBA provides sellers with the infrastructure to provide it. 

Of course, Amazon’s FBA centers have specific and stringent product preparation requirementsFailing to satisfy these requirements can result in inventory being refused, returned, or repackagedThis is a simple, yet essential step for selling successfully on Amazon. 

If your brand lacks the capability to prep products compliantly, there are many FBA product prep providers able to assist. Kaspien offers such product prep services as well for FBA, WFS, and DTC.  

Keep Inventory Moving 

Amazon marketing is another key ingredient for maintaining healthy inventory. Marketing helps keep inventory moving, which grows sales, minimizes storage fees, and reduces unsellable inventory. Amazon advertising is the go-to tool for driving sales, but Amazon DSPcoupons, and Deals are all exceedingly useful tools for moving large amounts of inventory quickly.  

Remove Unsellable Inventory 

Speaking of unsellable inventory, it’s really not great for your account’s health. Unsellable inventory includes product that has been damaged, expired, or is otherwise unable to be sold. Unsellable inventory is a greater issue for products that are fragile, seasonal, or have a short shelf life.  

To maintain inventory health and reduce storage fees, it’s best practice to proactively remove unsellable inventory. When an inventory removal order is requested, Amazon processes and ships the specified inventory within 14 business days, though this can extend to 30 business days during peak shopping seasons. 

These practices are reactionary. Leveraging previously mentioned tools, like inventory forecasting and Amazon marketing, can greatly help to minimize unsellable inventory in the first place. 

Amazon has penalized sellers for exploiting removal orders to send product to customers and influencers. Penalties include accounts being blocked from requesting removals in the future and even account suspensions. 

Identify Inventory Reconciliation Cases 

Amazon’s fulfillment centers regularly mishandle inventory without reimbursing sellers. While Amazon catches many of these errors and automatically reimburses sellers, they don’t catch all of them. Sellers who don’t want to lose money unfairly to Amazon’s mistakes have to manually identify and file inventory reconciliation cases. 

You may think these errors are few and far between, but they quickly add up. On average, our inventory reconciliation softwareChannel Auditor, reimburses FBA sellers 2% of topline channel sales. Especially for sellers moving a large inventory, 2% of topline sales is no small figure.  

As such, inventory reconciliation for FBA is absolutely essential for sellers looking to maximize their Amazon channel profitability and optimize their inventory management. 

Diversify Fulfillment Solutions 

We’ve talked a great deal about FBA so far, but another critical piece of managing inventory effectively is having supplementary fulfillment solutions.  

In early 2020, thousands of sellers were caught off guard when FBA buckled under the strain of the surge in online sales. Amazon restricted non-essential categories from shipping inventory into FBA, and the great titan Amazon was proven to not be indominable.  

Sellers learned then the importance of having other fulfillment solutions. Those capable of fulfilling orders through Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM) or dropship were able to continue to meet consumer demand, while those who depended entirely on FBA were scrambling to find new solutions. 

Similarly, sellers who use “just-in-time” inventory were also put at risk. While the practice minimizes fees and thereby maximizes profits, it left such sellers exceedingly vulnerable in what proved to be a surprisingly fragile supply chain. Holding larger storage volumes would have helped shield them from the worst of the disruption, as would having back-up fulfillment solutions. 

Diversification is a long-proven tactic for risk mitigation, and it applies just as readily to ecommerce fulfillment as anywhere else. 

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I’m excited to announce that Kaspien has raised $13.5MM in equity funding from the public markets through Aegis Capital. This fundraising round comes at a pivotal point in our journey as Kaspien transitions from our “Growth” phase into our “Scale” phase. 

As CEO of a missiondriven company, I like to start my conversations with our mission statement, which is to optimize and grow brands on today’s leading online marketplaces, such as Amazon and WalmartThis funding takes us one step closer to that mission.  

Here is how Kaspien intends to deploy the newly raised funds to fuel our growth:  

1. Continue to Invest in Kaspien’s Marketplace Growth Technology Platform  

Omnichannel Distribution Infrastructure 

The future of eCommerce is digitally native brands managed through an omnichannel approach across multiple distribution channels – marketplaces such as Amazon, Walmart, Target, etc., online shops through platforms such as Shopify and WooCommerce, and brick and mortar. I look forward to the day where brands are managed in a centralized manner across various distribution channels, as opposed to the manual aggregation of performance from multiple channels.  

Although there are advantages to be gained simply by diversifying, there are even greater performance gains found in holistically managing inventory across multiple ecommerce sales channels. Why keep inventory at Walmart that’s not selling when you might run out of stock on Amazon? 

Global eCommerce Expansion 

Secondly, the future of eCommerce is global. More international brands are seeing demand for their products in the US and vice versa. The distribution problem extends beyond multiple marketplaces. Instead, it should really be called “Global Distribution Channels Online and Offline.” This is true omnichannel.   

Supply Chain Diversification 

Finally, this diversification extends beyond demand generation channels. The future of eCommerce is supply chain diversification through multiple warehousing and logistics solutions. COVID reminded the world of eCommerce that putting all your eggs in one basket is never a good idea. Amazon might restrict you, your carrier might be backlogged, a manufacturing facility might close due to a COVID case, etc. You need to be able to seamlessly shift between Amazon’s warehouses, to 3PLs, to potentially your own warehouse to keep up with the pace of demand. The future of eCommerce is managing supply demand in as real-time as possible, across distribution channels, and on a global scale 

Kaspien’s Technology Platform 

All that I’ve mentioned above is almost impossible to do (especially at scale), without the backbone of a strong technology infrastructure that utilizes the power of data, prescriptive insightsautomation, and artificial intelligence to efficiently manage the entire value chainDeciding which products to sell, managing demand through ad management tools, managing a diversified supply chain, recovering lost dollars from Amazon, managing pricing and unauthorized sellers – all of it requires a strong technology infrastructure that fuels growth and efficient operations, thereby giving you an edge in a fragmented and competitive market.  

That’s where Kaspien comes in. Kaspien’s Marketplace Growth Platform of software and techenabled services is built to help brands scale. Our platform  powered by data, insights, artificial intelligence, and automation – provides all the applications needed to run a marketplace business in a onestop shop. More importantly, it is vertically integrated across the entire value chain and fully extensible to multiple service providers, providing the only solution needed to build a global omnichannel business.  

Our platform also lends itself to network effects. The more brands we have on the platform, the more data and insights we collect; the more data and insights we collect, the more services, marketplaces, and service providers we can onboard; the more we do that, the more brands come onto the platform, and the flywheel continues, benefiting all our customers.

big part of our investment will be continuing to fuel this growth platform, making it more automated, more intelligent, and utilizing data and insights to both optimize and grow our customers’ presence on multiple marketplaces globally.  

2. Expand to a New Business Model: Brand Acquisition 

The beauty of running Kaspien’s various businesses on top of our Marketplace Growth Platform is that it gives us the economies of scale required to build next generation brands on marketplaces. Our strategy of diversification across various business models empowers us to capture more GMV and better leverage our assets for profitable and efficient growth. In 2020, we introduced three business models that sit on top of our marketplace growth platform. 

Retail as a Service: In this model, Kaspien buys inventory and sells it on marketplaces, such as Amazon, Walmart, and eBay, as a third-party seller. Additionally, we support dropship integrations with various suppliers and distributors, as well as incubate our own brands. At the end of fiscal year 2019, Kaspien had a total of 6 incubated brands: JumpOff Jo, Brilliant Bee, Big Betty, Domestic Corner, Coy Beauty, and Keto the Great 

Agency as a Service: In this model, Kaspien serves as an extension of a partner’s eCommerce team, providing full service and managed services for inventory management, marketing management, creative services, brand control, tax, compliance, and other marketplace growth services. Kaspien charges a subscription fee and receives a percentage of the revenue generated. 

Software as a Service: In this model, Kaspien provides partners access to software through its platform of proprietary technology to empower partners to self-manage their marketplace channel. Kaspien charges a subscription fee and receives a percentage of the transaction. 

Today, we’re excited to announce the fourth pillar of our strategy – brand acquisitions, once again utilizing our platform of software and techenabled services. As part of brand acquisitions, Kaspien will deploy capital to buy brands and grow them via the Kaspien platform. 

Brand Acquisition FAQs 

What’s in it for brands? 

  • We work with brands throughout their lifecycle, including helping founders exit via our brand acquisition arm. 
  • Founders/employees get to participate in the upside of a liquid stock through a public company.  
  • Employees get a new home with a company that is partner-obsessed 

What’s in it for Kaspien?

  • We make better margins when we work directly with manufacturers.  
  • We expand our selection through more SKUs and exclusivity.  
  • We acquire capabilities that we currently don’t have (e.g., new marketplaces). 

 Why is Kaspien well-positioned to acquire brands?  

  • We are Operations First. We have the tech. We have the services. We know how to optimize and grow brands on marketplaces.  
  • We are Already Working with 1,000+ Brands. We already have a pipeline. We can look into our own portfolio and bring them inhouse, thereby controlling the entire supply chain. Brands would prefer to work with someone already managing their operations. 
  • We are a Public Company with a Liquid Stock. Brand owners/employees can get access to a liquid stock and share in the upside of the business. 

3. Grow Our Subscriptions Business Even Faster, Organically and Inorganically   

In 2020, we operationalized our Subscriptions business, which includes our Agency, Managed Services, and Software segments. 2021 is about fueling that business. We’ll be adding more resources to grow the topline of the business, increasing the lifetime value of our customers while also continuing to reduce the cost to acquire new ones. In addition, we’ll acquire other service providers that complement our value proposition to brand partners.  

We’re excited about this new phase of Kaspien’s growth, and we look forward to sharing our results as we continue down this journey of optimizing and growing brands on today’s leading online marketplaces. Welcome to “Scale. 

Sincerely,  

Kunal 
CEO, Kaspien

We are proud to announce that Day Parting is now available in our Amazon campaign management software, AdManager. Day Parting enables Amazon advertisers to schedule pay-per-click (PPC) ads to run only during the days and times that deliver the best resultsThe Day Parting feature also displays performance results for multiple key metrics broken out by day and time, helping guide users’ strategy.  

AdManager is one of the only Amazon ad management applications available to offer Day Parting. Amazon’s native advertising console lacks the ability to segment performance metrics and schedule ads by time. 

Through Day Parting, advertisers can grow sales while minimizing ACOS, maximizing their Amazon marketing profitability. By displaying multiple metrics by day and time, users have the information they need to support various goals. For example, if focused on growing brand awareness, users can set ads to run during times when impressions are highest. If focused on reducing costs, users can run ads during the time that ACOS is lowestWhatever your goals, Day Parting provides the data insights needed to achieve them.

Promising Early Results from Day Parting

Six weeks since implementing Day Parting for our partners’ Amazon advertising campaigns, ACoS has decreased by 40%! This translates to an additional $6 return on every ad dollar spent – a very material impact!

We expect AdManager to drive continual improvements as it constantly intakes and acts upon Day Parting data to refine optimizations.

Kaspien Delivers Results through AdManager

Day Parting is just the latest of ongoing enhancements to AdManager. As a tech-enabled marketplace optimization platform, Kaspien is a firm believer in continual iterations. The Amazon marketplace continues to evolve, and sellers’ tools must evolve with it to meet new challenges and seize new opportunities.  

In 2020, Kaspien used AdManager to drive extraordinary results for our brand partners. 

  • 55% avg. increase in ad sales YOY  
  • 39% avg. increase in ad orders YOY 
  • 41% avg. decrease in ACOS YOY 
  • 6% avg. ACOS on over $90M ad revenue 

AdManager is available as a self-service software or as part of our Amazon advertising managed service. AdManager is provided complementary to our Retail and Agency partners’ ad campaigns. 

Why Use Day Parting for Amazon PPC? 

One of the first questions we hear asked about Day Parting is, “Why would I turn off ads? Even if the people that click the ad do not convert after clicking, the click still indicates interest. Maybe they’ll come back another day to purchase. Furthermore, the failure to convert may be attributed to poor targeting rather than time of day.” 

We understand that viewpoint. There’s logic to it. But we created and strategically use Day Parting because empirical evidence – not hypotheticals – proves that Day Parting makes Amazon ads more effective. To briefly elaborate, here are three data-backed reasons to use Day Parting:

#1 – The data shows that clicks late at night or early in the morning produce fewer sales at a higher ACOS than clicks during business hours or in the early evening.  

#2 – Second, more clicks without a purchase can ultimately reduce campaign relevancy and decrease performance over time.  

#3 – Lastly, if a brand is having trouble keeping campaigns active all day due to budget constraints, it’s much more beneficial to run ads during times when shoppers are more likely to convert to maximize their ad dollars. 

Each brand should assess the impact of Day Parting for themselves. Some may find they prefer to run ads without it. But based on what we’ve seen for our partners’ ad campaigns, we expect that most brands will enjoy better results when using Day Parting. 

How AdManager Enhances Amazon Advertising Performance 

In addition to Day Parting, AdManager offers many other competitive features for Amazon advertising. 

Dynamic Bid Optimizations 

Unlock the transformative power of tiered bid optimizations. Create custom bid management rules that can bid up or down daily at the keyword level based on any combination of performance metrics. 

Search Term Optimization 

AdManager automatically identifies and adds high-converting search terms as keywords to your campaign to ensure continued relevancy and sales. It also automatically identifies and negates poor-performing terms to minimize wasted ad spend. 

Search Term Optimization

Profitability Enhancing Budget Optimization 

Make sure your most profitable campaigns are always running. AdManager lets you set custom rules that automatically increase daily budget for high-performing campaigns if they run low, so your most profitable campaigns never turn off. 

Budget Optimization

Out of Budget Table 

AdManager also includes an Out-of-Budget table, which shows you when campaigns ran out of budget, how often they run out of budget, and the ideal budget for each campaign. 

Out of Budget Table

Campaign-Agnostic Keyword Management 

Save time and streamline campaign management using the centralized keywords table, which enables users to manage keywords across their entire portfolio in one place. 

Automated “4 Campaign Build” Creation 

Maximize data insights and improve performance using our proven “4 Campaign Build” architecture. When creating a new campaign, you can select our “4 Campaign Build” to automatically create three manual campaigns (one per match type) and one automatic campaign. 

4 Campaign Build Ad Architecture

Try AdManager for Free for 30 Days 

Try AdManager’s self-service option through a free 30-day trial, no strings attached. If you’d prefer to have Kaspien’s marketing experts manage your Amazon advertising, reach out to us here. 

Sign Up for a Free Trial


Amazon is never idle, but after a global pandemic, the ecommerce leviathan is experiencing one of its most intense growth phases yet.  

Snapshot: The State of Amazon 

  • 38% Growth 
    in annual net sales 
  • 66% Growth 
    in annual advertising revenue 
  • 1.3M 
    sellers joined Amazon in 2020 
  • 19 Countries  
    with Amazon marketplaces 
  • $3 Billion  
    invested in Amazon brand acquirers as of March 2021 
  • “S-Team” Changes 
    Jeff Bezos, Jeff Wilke, and Jeff Blackburn exit their roles 

Like what you’re seeing? Download the complete State of Amazon: 2021 Report. 

Key Updates from 2020 

Amazon Sales Soar  

Ecommerce sales reached between 14% and 21% penetration of all retail sales in 2020. US ecommerce sales grew to nearly $800 billion in 2020, accelerating ecommerce growth by over 2 years. 

Amazon was a major winner in this ecommerce growth, reporting annual net sales of $386.1 billion in 2020. Amazon’s annual net sales grew 38% year-on-year, a massive figure for a company of Amazon’s size.  

As the ecommerce titan grows, having a brand presence on Amazon is becoming less of an option and more of a necessity for brands who want to remain competitive.  

Amazon’s Competitors Ride the 2020 Wave 

Amazon’s fulfillment issues in late spring and early summer allowed competitors to secure a stronger foothold in the space, which doesn’t seem to be slowing down. WalmartTargetShopify, and more posted double-digit and triple-digit growth in 2020. Amazon still dwarfs all of its domestic ecommerce competitors, but 2021 may present the greatest challenge to its dominance seen in the last decade. 

In a survey, Kaspien found that 43% of respondents ranked Target.com as the online marketplace that they are most interested in expanding to within the next 1-2 years, followed by Walmart at 41%.  

Read our breakdown: Walmart vs Amazon 

Walmart vs Amazon: How the two companies compare

Amazon’s Share of Ecommerce Shrinks? 

Competitors’ success may have eroded Amazon’s market share in US ecommerce. According to Digital Commerce 360, Amazon’s market share diminished from 44% in 2019 to 31% in 2020. However, eMarketer reports contradicting numbers, estimating Amazon’s market share grew from 37% in 2019 to 39% in 2020. 

Whatever the reality, Amazon’s subscription service retains a comfortable lead ahead of competitors’ subscription services. A January survey by PYMNTS shows that 64% of respondents have Prime memberships, while only 21% have Walmart+ memberships. 

Amazon is irrefutably the dominant marketplace in the US, but the reduction in market share indicates that other online marketplaces are gaining steam. Brands would be wise to plan for an omnichannel approach to ecommerce for the coming years. 

Amazon Facing Antitrust Scrutiny 

Even before the global pandemic, Amazon was facing increased scrutiny from regulatory bodies. On March 2, 2020, the SHOP SAFE Act was introduced to Congress and referred to the US House Committee on the Judiciary. The act would hold Amazon and other online marketplaces accountable for counterfeits sold on their platforms.  

Jeff Bezos also testified before Congress in July of 2020, and Amazon submitted written answers to follow-up questions in September. In October, the committee published a 450-page report with their findings from a 16–month antitrust investigation recommending antitrust actions be taken. 2021 may see some of those actions introduced to Congress.  

Jeff Bezos Passes the Reins 

In addition to potential legislation, the year will also witness several major changes in Amazon leadership. Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos stated that he will step down from his role to become the Executive Chair in Q3 2021. He will be replaced by Andy Jassy, the CEO of Amazon Web Services (AWS). Jassy has been with Amazon since 1997. 

Jeff Wilke, CEO of Amazon Worldwide Consumer, also announced he would retire in Q1 2021. Wilke was replaced by Dave Clark, who has a background in operations. A third Jeff on Amazon’s senior leadership team announced his departure in February 2021. Jeff Blackburn, who served at Amazon for over 20 years, is leaving the company.  

As reported by Geekwire, Blackburn’s and Wilke’s departures will enable new CEO Andy Jassy to reshape more of the Amazon leadership team. 

Third-Party Seller Services Grow 

These changes in senior leadership suggest that Amazon will shift its focus to expanding and improving its platform instead of growing its direct retail relationships with brands. Expanding its platform would increase its value proposition for third-party sellers and advertisers operating on its marketplace, which generated $300 billion of Amazon’s $490 billion GMV in 2020, according to Marketplace Pulse 

If this is the case, all but the largest brands will be expected to sell on Amazon as their own seller or through third-party sellers. This shift has been trending for some time, with third-party seller services growing 57% year-on-year in 2020. 

Amazon also acquired a Shopify competitor called Selz in January 2021. Like Shopify, Selz serves as a central hub through which sellers can manage multiple ecommerce sales channels. Amazon’s acquisition of Selz, especially after Shopify’s stellar performance in 2020, demonstrates Amazon’s continued investment in enabling brands to represent themselves on the marketplace. 

Interested in the Unabridged Report?

Download the complete State of Amazon: 2021 Report!

Amazon Expands Advertising Services 

Amazon’s advertising revenue has been one of its fastest growing segments for the last several years. In just Q4 2020, ad revenue grew 64% year-on-year, reaching $7.95 billion! Amazon also continually expands its advertising capabilities, releasing new features and ad types to Seller Central in recent years. 

Brand Acquirers Raise $3 Billion 

Over $1 billion were invested in companies focused on buying and growing brands on Amazon in 2020. By March 2021, total funding in this space was over $3 billion. Thrasio, Perch, and Heyday practically became household names in the ecommerce industry. Taliesen Hollywood, founder of Hahnbecktold Digital Commerce 360 that brand acquirers typically pay 2.5 to 4.5 times a brand’s EBITDA. 

Consolidation is a natural part of business lifecycle in emerging industries, and it seems Amazon has finally reached that stage. The impact of brand acquirers is yet to be seen. How many will be able to successfully grow brands? Will their immense funding translate into brands becoming share leaders? How many will flounder? 

International Marketplaces 

Amazon’s international net sales grew to $104 billion in 2020, up from $75 billion in 2019. Amazon currently has 19 active marketplaces, having launched Amazon Netherlands and Amazon Sweden in 2020 and Amazon Poland in 2021. Latin America also drew much attention, growing ecommerce sales by 37% in 2020. However, the biggest winner in the region has been the online marketplace MercadoLibreaccording to Euromonitor. 

Amazon advertising also saw strong growth in international marketplaces. In 2020, Kaspien drove strong year-on-year growth in advertising sales in multiple marketplaces, including:

  • US: 55% increase YOY  
  • CA: 201% increase YOY
  • UK: 1,434% increase YOY

Winning Categories 

Certain product categories saw particularly strong sales growth in 2020 as the global pandemic influenced buying decisions. Online grocery sales soared, with eMarketer reporting 2020 sales reached $89.22 billion, an increase of $30.86 billion.  

Online grocery sales are expected to continue to climb, with estimates predicting online grocery sales will reach nearly $130 billion by 2023, accounting for nearly 10% of total grocery sales in the US. Euromonitor forecasts higher growth than eMarketer, predicting that food and drink ecommerce will expand by 8% in 2021. 

Kaspien also saw other categories benefit from the wild year. In particular, Pet Supplies, Sports & Outdoors, and Toys & Games each grew substantially. All of these categories involve entertainment and recreation, suggesting shoppers looked for respite from an exhausting year. 

Download the Complete State of Amazon Report 

We’ve only scratched the surface. Download our State of Amazon: 2021 Report to learn about other significant changes in 2020, as well as insights into what 2021 will bring. 


Amazon Ends Early Reviewer Program

Amazon Early Reviewer Program No Longer Accepting Applicants 

On March 10, 2021, Amazon Seller Support noticed sellers that the Early Reviewer Program (ERP) will no longer accept new ASINs into the program as of March 10, 2021 and that Amazon will discontinue the service completely on April 25, 2021. 

Amazon’s Notification to Sellers 

Transcribed

Hello from Amazon Selling Partner Support,  

“We understand your concern regarding the Amazon Early Reviewer Program. 

Amazon continuously innovates to improve the shopping and selling experience. Over the past several years, we have made numerous improvements to encourage purchasers to review products on Amazon. These initiatives, such as One Tap Reviews and Global Review Sharing have proven more effective in generating reviews than the Early Reviewer Program. 

Accordingly, as of March 10, 2021, we will no longer allow new enrollments in the Early Reviewer Program, and will stop offering the service to sellers currently enrolled in the program on April 25, 2021.” 

Amazon added the same message to their Early Reviewer Program FAQ page. 

Will Sellers be Refunded? 

Amazon states they will return sellers’ program fees “within three (3) months after the closure date, for any active enrollments with more than 1 review and not completed by April 25, 2021.” 

Will New Reviews Incur Charges? 

For sellers concerned about being charged for new product reviews after April 25th, Amazon states, “You will not be charged the program fee for reviews published after Early Reviewer Program closure date of April 25, 2021.” 

Why Did Amazon End the Early Reviewer Program? 

Amazon’s official reason for ending the Early Reviewer Program is that other review generating initiatives are more effective, such as One Tap Reviews and Global Review Sharing.  

Other potential factors may include the $60/ASIN fee was not financially justifiable, the amount of time it took for the Early Reviewer Program to generate reviews, and critiques that Amazon was biasing reviews by offering a small Amazon credit 

There are concerns that the retirement of the Early Reviewer Program will contribute to more black hat tactics for review generation on Amazon. 

This isn’t the first Amazon program to get the ax. In 2019, Amazon retired the Amazon Giveaways program. Similar the the Early Reviewer Program, Amazon Giveaways was a popular service among sellers and shoppers, but internal factors led the company to discontinue it anyway.

Other Ways to Generate Amazon Reviews 

Post-Purchase Emails 

On November, Amazon introduced a policy update that expressly permits sellers to email consumers through Amazon Seller Messaging after they’ve purchased your product, asking for a non-biased review. We’ve seen this approach to be a highly effective method to accumulate more, honest reviews that help products climb the search results page, all while remaining compliant with Amazon’s policies. 

Leverage Social Media & Websites 

While reviews on Amazon are ideal, many shoppers still use social media and direct websites to inform their buying decisions. Brands can use social media to engage their community, which helps motivate repeat buyers to leave reviews on Amazon. Brands can also quote reviews from Amazon and social media on their direct website to engage shoppers conducting research outside of the marketplace.

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Turn SEO into a Measurable Revenue Generator

Search engine optimization is an essential ingredient for success on Amazon. The problem? Attributing revenue to SEO can be tricky, and as a result, SEO doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. 

We’re hosting a new webinar about measuring how SEO impacts Amazon revenue. This is a must-watch for marketing leaders interested in Amazon.  

The webinar will be held on March 23rd at 10am PT / 1pm ET. 

5 Reasons to Attend our Amazon SEO Webinar 

1 – Learn How Much to Budget for SEO 

SEO efforts don’t require an ad budget, but that doesn’t mean it’s free. In this webinar, we’ll explain how to build an SEO team for the Amazon marketplace, including how much of your marketing budget should be devoted to SEO and critical hires. 

2 – Learn How to Measure Key SEO Metrics 

Good decisions rely on good reporting. We’ll share how to structure your metrics for reporting so you can track, measure, and act upon the most meaningful KPIs. 

3 – Industry Experts are Hosting 

Two of Kaspien’s best are hosting the webinar. In her 6 years at Kaspien, Jennifer Johnston has been pivotal in Kaspien’s mastery of SEO on the Amazon marketplace, helping build the team from the ground up. In her current role as Digital Marketing Specialist, Jenn provides marketing support of all types for critical initiatives. 

Autumn has an MBA from Gonzaga University and a background in small business consulting and digital marketing. Drawing on over 5 years of experience in traditional and ecommerce SEO, Autumn leads Kaspien’s SEO Team in servicing Kaspien’s partner brands.  

 

4 – Review Test Results and Case Studies 

Our SEO team has optimized tens of thousands of listings and conducted countless tests to determine which features have the greatest impact on product placement and conversions. In this webinar, we’ll share some of our findings, including examples of how enacting SEO best practices tangibly impacts Amazon revenue.  

5 – You’ll Get a Free Copy of our Whitepaper, The Ultimate Guide to Creating Amazon Listings 

In addition to tactical advice in the webinar, you’ll also receive a free copy of our popular whitepaper, The Ultimate Guide to Creating Amazon Listings. Authored by one of our hosts, Jenn Johnston, the whitepaper shares tips on how to write listing content for both the Amazon algorithm and the consumer, best practices backed by our tests, and a step-by-step guide to uploading listing content. 

Register for the Webinar 

Date: March 23rd at 10am PT / 1pm ET 

Duration: 60 minutes