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. 

Download the Unabridged Guide

Download the free eBook, The Amazon Seller’s Guide to the Sports & Outdoors Category.

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.  

Download the Full Guide 

Want the unabridged guide? Download the free eBook to learn even more about selling in the Sports & Outdoors category, including marketplace regulations, tailored marketing strategies, example marketing budgets, and case studies. 


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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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 

Trust and reliability underpin the Baby category on Amazon. Shoppers buying items for children need to be able to depend on the product’s safety, and that’s non-negotiable. This fact permeates the category, shaping strategy for everything from brand protection to marketing.  

Amazon Category Overview: Baby Products 

A Secure Category 

Amazon is frequently criticized for the prevalence of counterfeit products sold on its platform. Fortunately, the Baby category largely avoids this challenge. Because these products are intended for young children, brands must meet many legal and marketplace requirements before they can sell baby products.  

Likewise, this category also doesn’t see many counterfeit products. Because safety is a huge factor in the buying decision for baby products, shoppers are willing to pay more to get a higher quality product. As such, counterfeits struggle to gain a foothold. 

Established Players 

The Baby category is dominated by large, established brands that have years of credibility in both physical and digital retailers. These brands often have a controlling presence across most subcategories in Baby, which is somewhat uncommon on Amazon. We can attribute this trait, at least in part, to brand loyalty.  

Consumer behavior in this category is driven by trust and protectiveness. Once a shopper finds a brand they like, it makes sense that they would want to go to that brand for other baby products. This has enabled and incent baby brands to broaden their product catalogs.  

This landscape may be daunting for new brands trying to break into the market, and rightfully so. One silver lining is that, because there are a few larger players rather than many smaller players, the cost-per-click for Amazon ads tends to be lower than in other categories. 

Amazon’s First-Party Presence 

Amazon has a strong first-party retailer presence in the Baby category, but this is starting to change. The pandemic placed an unprecedented strain on Amazon’s operations, exposing weaknesses in their logistics model. Many brands ran out of stock as consumer demand rose unexpectedly, manufacturing paused, and supply lines were restricted. We saw this result in a small exodus of baby brands seeking alternatives to their Amazon 1P relationship. 

Nevertheless, many major brands in this category still retail through Amazon, including household names like Huggies, Pampers, and Aquaphor. 

Rules & Regulations 

Appropriately, the Baby category is one of the four most restricted categories on Amazon (followed by Beauty, Health & Personal Care, and Grocery). Before entering the Amazon marketplace, brands should collect their Child Product Certificates and safety testing certificates because Amazon will require copies.   

Relevant Regulatory Bodies 

The Baby category includes many types of products, including toys, apparel, food, cleaning supplies, car seats, and more. With this broad spectrum, the category is overseen primarily by three regulatory agencies: 

  • Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC): The CPSC specifically regulates children’s products and consumer electronics safety. 
  • Food & Drug Administration (FDA): The FDA oversees regulations for drugs, biological products, medical devices, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation. 
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA): The NHTSA provides regulations for car seats. 

Some products will fall into multiple categories and may be overseen by other regulatory agencies as a result. As such, it is imperative that brands identify which standards are mandatory for their product on Amazon. 

Restricted Products 

Most products that are approved for sale in the US are also allowed on Amazon. However, some products are restricted on Amazon due to safety risks, such as: 

  • Amber teething necklaces and other beaded teething necklaces 
  • Homeopathic teething tablets 
  • Certain infant sleep positioners and inclined sleep products, including hammocks  
  • Fetal dopplers 
  • Drop-side cribs 

Before selling on Amazon, review Amazon’s list of restricted products to ensure that your product is permitted on the marketplace. 

Determining Your Regulations  

To determine the regulatory requirements for your product, you should research each federal agency’s purview and determine which your product falls under.  

You should also have your product tested in a reputable lab. There are many domestic and foreign laboratories that are accredited with different federal agencies, so brands can shop around for the best prices and services. Accredited labs for baby products include CTT, BV Labs, and Intertek. 

If you utilize a testing lab, they will often provide a regulatory analysis that can help determine all the compliance requirements for a certain product or category of products.   

Shoppers in the Baby Category 

Brands selling in the Baby category on Amazon are really selling to two audiences: an adult and a child. Both of their criteria must be met in order to capture a sale. 

Selling to Adults 

Adult shoppers in the Baby category, typically parents or family members of the recipient, are motivated by love, protectiveness, and pride; they want items that are safe, enjoyable, and demonstrate their care for the recipient. These desires are reflected in the importance of product quality to parents. 

In an Attest survey of 1,000 parents called, “Consumer Trends: Childrens Products and How to Advertise to Parents, highest quality was found to be the single most important factor in parents’ buying decision when shopping for children’s products. The survey also found that the number one reason parents would start buying from a new baby brand is if it offered better quality than their current brand. 

Finding the highest quality item requires research, so adult shoppers in this category will likely review multiple listings before making their decision. As such, you should strive to make their research as easy as possible by speaking to the quality of your product in the text, images, and videos in your listings.  

Selling to Children 

Though it may seem obvious for this category, brands must also remember that they are selling to children. A child may have developed their own tastes, with preferences for particular colors, patterns, icons, etc.  

If the child is old enough, they may actively help pick out the item with their parent. Even when the child is not actively selecting the item, shoppers buying baby products often try to consider the child’s early preferences when making their buying decision. 

How to account for this will vary by the product type. If selling a toy or game, include images (and ideally a video) showing children playing with it, which will help children and parents determine if it’s age appropriate. If selling clothing or bedding, include close up photos of the pattern for the child to engage with 

Lasting Brand Loyalty 

Shoppers seek out not just products they can trust, but also brands they can trust. Once they have found a brand that they like and trust, it makes sense to return to it for future purchases (assuming that the brand offers the product they need).  

As such, baby brands must deal with two factors: They need to win the shopper first, and they need an expansive enough product catalog that the shopper can return to them for future needs. If the brand has a narrower catalog, shoppers are forced to return to the research phase. If they find a new brand that they can trust and it offers a larger catalog, the first brand just lost a repeat customer. 

Learn More in Our Free eBook 

This post is only scratching the surface. We wrote a complete eBook covering more requirements and a dozen marketing strategies specifically for the Baby category on Amazon. 


2020 accelerated the adoption of ecommerce. Companies that are obsessed with customer experience are among the most successful, with Amazon being a prime example. This is true for brands selling on Amazon as well: with more choices than ever before for both products and marketplaces, online shoppers have high expectations for product selection, shipping speed, listing content, price, and more. 

Many of the trends that emerged in 2020 and persist into 2021 can be traced back to how well customer expectations are met. 

Kaspien’s CEO, GM of Retail, and VP of Business Development sat down for a roundtable discussion of how 2020 changed the ecommerce landscape and what’s likely to come in the year ahead. You can watch their conversation below or keep reading for a summary. 

Trends & Predictions for Ecommerce in 2021 

Ecommerce Growth Rates Will Slow 

With all its turbulence, 2020 did bring strong tailwinds for ecommerce. As that turbulence gradually subsides, so too will the tailwinds. We expect that US ecommerce sales will continue to grow throughout 2021, albeit at slower rates than seen in 2020. 

Greater Fulfillment Diversification 

2020 exposed the surprising fragility of ecommerce fulfillment networks, with FBA taking the spotlight. A sudden spike in demand for certain goods led Amazon to temporarily restrict entire categories from shipping new inventory into FBA. Amazon also temporarily prioritized Fulfilled by Merchant (FBM) orders over Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) orders. Impacted brands that lacked alternative fulfillment methods were left out to dry.  

Many brands learned the hard way not to be dependent on only one fulfillment strategy. This lesson will likely persist into 2021, with brands diversifying their fulfillment strategies through FBM, dropship, and third-party logistics providers.  

This situation also led to the emergence of local fulfillment providers who stepped in to fill the excess demand. It will be interesting to see if these local fulfillment providers maintain a foothold as larger networks restabilize (Amazon increased warehousing space by 50% in 2020). 

In a similar vein, many brands saw shoppers trying to buy products in different quantities than their standard unit sizes. We expect that more brands will cater to their audience by updating their product preparation capabilities to allow for more options. 

Omnichannel will Become More Important 

COVID-19 showed that Amazon FBA is not impervious. Delivery times were delayed by weeks on Amazon in late spring and early summer, and shoppers turned to other marketplaces to fill the gaps. Capitalizing on Amazon’s stumble, Walmart, Target, Shopify, and more experienced strong growth in ecommerce sales in 2020. 

Modern commerce is a game of meeting shoppers where they are at. As more shoppers use more marketplaces, the most successful brands will be those that are there to meet their target audience, regardless of platform. 

Brand Representation Matters More 

With more brands, more sellers, and more marketplaces to choose from, shoppers have a plethora of options. To win them over in 2021, brands need to make strong, positive first impressions. The best way to do that is through high-quality copy, images, and videos that help shoppers understand important product details, like color, size, ease of use, etc. 

If shoppers cannot easily understand such details when they are unable to inspect products in person, they’ll seek another product. It’s also critical that brands provide a consistent experience no matter where shoppers encounter their products, as inconsistency can lead to confusion or doubts about authenticity, resulting in lost sales. This includes consistent branding across direct websites, social media, and marketplaces. 

Retention Strategies will Grow 

Because shoppers have more choice, the cost-of-acquisition will continue to increase. To counteract rising customer acquisition costs, brands will develop more robust retention strategies to keep customers in the family. This will include dedicated efforts for retargeting campaigns, customer newsletters, nurturing engaged social media communities, and more. 

Amazon coupons function the same way as traditional brick & mortar coupons. The seller offers a percentage or dollar amount off, and shoppers can clip and redeem coupons to activate the discount. On Amazon, sellers can choose to target specific audiences with coupons, but generally there’s little incentive to do so.  

At face value, that’s the short of it, but in this post, we’re going to dig a little deeper into this popular Amazon tool. We’ll look at how well Amazon coupons work and best practices for leveraging them on and off the marketplace.  

How Effective are Amazon Coupons? 

Amazon Coupons are a highly effective marketing tool, increasing product visibility and sales velocity. In 2020, Kaspien ran 200 coupons, managing $70,000 in coupon spend, generating $385,000 in attributable sales. That equates to a 18% advertising cost of sale (ACOS) or 5.5 return on ad spend (ROAS). There’s good reason that coupons have endured in retail for so long and successfully expanded into ecommerce. 

Benefits of Amazon Coupons 

First and foremost, Amazon coupons drive sales. According to Amazon, coupons increase sales by 12%. This is likely due to the coupon “tag” that appears on the product listing and on the search results page when you run a coupon. The tag is visually eye catching, and the discount pulls them into the consideration phase. 

In addition to driving sales, coupons also indirectly support product rank improvement. Like any type of paid marketing on Amazon, higher sales indicates to Amazon’s algorithm that shoppers like the product. Since Amazon is a customer-centric platform, the algorithm will rank the product better. This increases the product’s visibility and organic sales, creating a cyclical effect. Coupons are but one piece of the Amazon marketing flywheel, but a helpful one.  

How Much Do Amazon Coupons Cost? 

Coupons are affordable. They cost $0.60/redemption + the discount, and they require a minimum budget of $100. Products with a coupon will display a coupon “tag” on the search results page and in the listing. They will also appear on the Coupon page, which is one of the highest trafficked pages on Amazon. 

How to Create Amazon Coupons 

In Seller Central, select “Advertising” in the main nav bar, then click “Coupons.” In the upper right, click the “Create a new coupon” button.  

From here, you can follow the onscreen instructions. You can add up to 200 ASINs to a coupon. We recommend grouping ASINs by product line. For example, you could include all the color variations for a blanket, but you wouldn’t necessarily include blanks and baby bottles on the same coupon. This helps with reporting in the future.  

Once you select the ASINs, you choose the discount type: Money off or percentage off. As we mentioned above, we typically recommend using money off. The one use case for percentage off is when you include products that have different price points on the same coupon 

You also have the choice to limit coupons to 1 redemption per customer. We typically don’t limit the redemptions because we want to drive as many sales as possible.  

When it comes to budget, coupons require a minimum budget of $100. Do note that you can always add more budget, but you can never take budget away.  

The final step before reviewing is scheduling your coupon. You can schedule coupons in advance, and you can always cancel coupons before their end date.  

Amazon Now Allows Sellers to Create Coupons in Bulk
New Feature as of April 2021

In early 2021, Amazon launched a new feature for Amazon coupons that allows Amazon sellers to create coupons in bulk. Prior to this update, sellers had to manually select each ASIN individually that they wished to include on a given coupon. The new feature is a huge quality-of-life improvement and an enormous time saver for sellers that manage large product catalogs.

You’ll now notice a “Create in bulk” button on the main coupons dashboard.

Once you click the “Create in bulk button,” you’ll be taken to a new page that allows sellers to download the template excel file. You’ll then upload that completed file that allows up to 200 parent ASINs or 8,000 child ASINs to be bulk uploaded to the coupon.

The template excel file fields are below.

 

What’s the Best Way to Use Amazon Coupons? 

Kaspien has conducted numerous tests to determine the most effective ways to deploy coupons. Here are some of our more interesting learnings. 

Best Sellers or Slow Movers? 

We’ve found that offering a lower discount on a high-volume item performs better than a large discount on slow-moving items. This finding indicates that coupons are a pleasant bonus, but not influential enough to change the buying decision for many shoppers.  

Coupons & Sponsored Product Ads 

We’ve also tested how coupons compare to Amazon Sponsored Product Ads. We found that coupons tend to have a lower return on investment than Sponsored Product Ads. However, Sponsored Product Ads typically require a larger budget than coupons (we typically recommend $500/month at the very minimum), so coupons are still a useful tool for sellers with tighter marketing budgets.  

In general, we recommend focusing your marketing budget on Amazon advertising, and using coupons to promote seasonal sales events. 

Use Alongside Sponsored Ads

Coupon tags are visible in Amazon sponsored ads. For brands with the budget to do so, we recommend running coupons for the same ASINs for which you’re running Amazon advertising. The ad increases the product’s visibility, and the coupon tag catches the eye and incents shoppers to click.

Dollar Off or Percentage Off? 

Our marketing experts have also tested the performance difference between percentage off vs dollar off coupons. Our results suggest that dollar-off coupons are generally more effective, perhaps because a simple dollar-off figure is easier to mentally calculate.  

When is the Best time to Use Amazon Coupons? 

Coupons are quite effective during holidays and other sales evens. Shoppers are accustomed to looking for deals during such times, and coupons, especially when they offer more substantial discounts, check that box.  

Some Categories are Sensitive 

Coupons are generally fine to use for most product categories on Amazon, but some categories need to practice a little caution. Categories where quality and safety are especially prioritized by shoppers, such as the Baby category, can become wary of coupons if they appear too frequently, as they lead shoppers to question why a product is always offered at a discount. Is it legitimate? Is it low quality so the seller has to compensate by lowering the price? As such, brands in applicable categories should time coupons with holidays or other sales events to dispel any questions about why a discount is being offered. 

What Are Amazon Coupon Codes? 

Coupon codes are created for use in off-Amazon promotions intended to drive offsite shoppers back to Amazon. You can create coupon codes for specific sales channels or pair them with influencers. For example, you might share a coupon code on your brand’s Facebook page, “Save $5 when you use the code GOODBYE2020.” Whenever that code is redeemed, you can attribute the source to your Facebook page.  

At Kaspien, we recommend creating unique coupon codes for each influencer you partner with, helping you track attribution from each partner.  

Amazon Coupons vs Prime Exclusive Discounts 

You may have heard of Prime Exclusive Discounts, a program that Amazon launched in June 2019. As the name suggests, Prime Exclusive Discounts are seller-funded discounts visible and accessible only to Amazon Prime members.  

From a shoppers’ perspective, coupons and Prime Exclusive Discounts are quite similar, the only difference being their exclusivity. That said, exclusivity is a tried-and-true marketing tactic. Consumers like to feel special, and knowing that they are among a privileged few (take that with a grain of salt – there are over 150MM Prime subscribers) with access to a deal can boost engagement rates. 

From a seller’s perspective, Prime Exclusive Discounts do not come with a $0.60/redemption fee, so you enjoy small savings with this tool. Prime Exclusive Discounts also have more stringent requirements for which ASINs are eligible for the program. 

We do not see a notable difference in performance between Amazon coupons and Prime Exclusive Discounts. Furthermore, coupons, at least at the moment, are much easier to create, as Prime Exclusive Discounts require sellers to download and fill out an Excel spreadsheet, then upload it back into Seller Central. As such, we recommend brands focus on coupons for the time being, but keep Prime Exclusive Discounts on your radar. 

Learn More about Amazon Marketing Services 

We have a growing library of resources about Amazon marketing services, including other blog posts, whitepapers, eBooks, podcasts, and more. Subscribe to our weekly blog to never miss a beat! 


The Role of Amazon Advertising 

If you sell on Amazon, you need to utilize Amazon advertising. In today’s era, Amazon has too many sellers and too many products for you to expect success without investing in marketing. But, don’t think of Amazon advertising as an obligation; it’s an opportunity.  

Kaspien grew Amazon advertising sales 55% year-on-year in 2020 while simultaneously dropping our advertising cost of sale (ACOS) 41% year-on-year. When you’re an expert at Amazon advertising, it shows in your top line and bottom line. But to become an expert, you must master the basics.  

That’s exactly what we aim to cover in this post. Let’s get to it.  

How Does Amazon Advertising Work? 

Most Amazon ad types, including Sponsored Product Ads, Sponsored Brand Ads, and some Sponsored Display Ads are cost-per-click (CPC) ads based on an auction system. Advertisers select the highest amount of money they are willing to pay for an ad placement for a specific word or phrase, called a “keyword”.  

When a shopper enters a search query that contains the keyword, an auction occurs. Amazon’s system looks at all bids for that keyword, then, using a combination of factors that Amazon keeps secret, Amazon selects the winner of the auction. The winner’s ad is placed in front of the shopper.  

Cost-Per-Click Pricing Model 

If the shopper clicks on the ad, the advertiser is charged. If the shopper doesn’t click on the ad, the advertiser is not charged. Amazon charges only $0.01 higher than the next highest bid, so if advertiser A sets their maximum bid as $5 and advertiser B set their maximum bid as $0.98, Amazon would charge advertiser A only $0.99. This may lead one to think it’s always best to set an absurdly high bid to ensure you always win the placement.  

In reality, this would result in your ad placing far too frequently, driving up your advertising costs and rapidly burning through your budget. If you allocated $500 per month, you could easily spend that in a day with such a strategy. Additionally, this approach is also prone to placing ads in front of too broad an audience, resulting in poor conversion rates. 

Amazon Advertising Summary 

To summarize, Amazon advertising occurs in five steps: 

  1. Advertisers select the keywords they want to bid on, and how high they are willing to bid for each keyword 
  2. Shoppers input a search query in the search bar 
  3. Amazon identifies which keywords are in the shopper’s search query, then reviews all bids for that keyword 
  4. Using a semi-secret list of factors, Amazon’s system selects the winning bid, and that ad places on the search results page 
  5. The winning advertiser is charged only if a shopper clicks on the ad 

 

Two Key Factors: Bids and Search Terms 

When we look at Amazon advertising in this way, we see there are two critical factors for advertisers: bids and search terms. Both have sweet spots, and undershooting or overshooting these sweet spots results in poor marketing performance. 

This has led to a great deal of time and attention being devoted to bid optimizations and search term optimizations, both in the form of strategies and the development of software that can automate the time-intensive processes. 

Bid Optimization for Amazon Advertising 

Bid optimization is the act of increasing or decreasing bids for specific keywords in order to strike a balance between frequency of ad placement and marketing budget. If ads place too frequently, you quickly run of budget. If ads place too infrequently, you sacrifice product visibility and sales, limiting your market share.  

Staying in the sweet spot requires constant attention, as Amazon is a dynamic marketplace. New competitors are constantly appearing, existing competitors regularly revise their strategies, peak seasons come and go, and consumer demand can surge or plummet unexpectedly due to unforeseeable external factors (like a pandemic, cough cough).  

As such, advertisers do not have the luxury of a “set it and forget it” approach, at least not those that care about strong marketing results. (If you have an agency or freelancer managing your Amazon ads, make sure they are actively managing your bids. If they are not, you’re paying for a mediocre service. Learn more here: How to Tell If Your Amazon Advertiser is Worth Their Salt.) 

Search Term Optimization for Amazon Advertising 

Search term optimization is the act of adding or removing keywords to an ad campaign based on the keyword’s performance and/or shopper search queries. To understand search term optimization, let’s make sure we have a mutual understanding of a few key terms: 

  • Search term: The word or phrases that a shopper types into the search bar on Amazon 
  • Keyword: The word or phrase that an advertiser bids on in an Amazon advertising auctionA search term must contain a keyword in order for an ad to bid on it.  

Search term optimization is critical because it determines whether your ads place in front of the shoppers who are most likely to buy your product.  

So how does it work? 

Advertisers can identify keywords that they want to bid on in a few ways: 

  • Common sense – What terms would you use to find a similar product to what you’re advertising? 
  • Competitor research – What words or phrases are competitor products focusing on in their listing title, bullet points, and product description? 
  • Customer reviews – What words are customers using to describe your product or competitors’ products in customer reviews?  
  • Seller Central – Amazon sellers can download search term reports from Seller Central to see a list of search terms that their listing placed for organically. 
  • Third-party keyword research tools – There are several credible services for keyword research, such as Jungle Scout, Helium 10, and Merchant Words. 

Like bid optimizations, search term optimizations are not a “one and done” act. Advertisers should regularly review performance and make changes as needed. This ongoing process is what advertisers are typically referring to when they say “search term optimization.”  

Match Types for Amazon Advertising 

Before we go further into how to conduct search term optimization, we need to define a few more terms. On Amazon, advertisers can place keywords into three buckets, called “match types.” Each match type should be used a little differently than the others. Understanding how to use these match types is a critical part of search term optimization. 

Broad Match 

When a keyword is set for broad match, your ad will bid on any search query that contains the keyword, regardless of whether there are other words before or after the keyword. Your ad will also bid even if the keyword is in a different order. For example, if your keyword is “phone case,” your ad would bid for search query of “case for phone.”  

Broad match keywords help place your products in front of new shoppers with a general interest, increasing product visibility. 

Phrase Match 

When a keyword is set for phrase match, your ad will bid on a search query if it contains the keyword in the same order as you set it. The ad will still bid if other words precede or follow your keyword, but the search query itself must include the keyword in the correct order. So, if your keyword is “phone case,” your ad would not bid if a shopper searched “case for phone,” but it would bid if a shopper searched “black phone case” or “phone case for iPhone.” 

Phrase match keywords help place ads in front of slightly more targeted shoppers but is still geared towards increasing product visibility. 

Exact Match 

When a keyword is set for exact match, your ad will bid on a search query if it contains only the keyword in the same order as you set and has no other words in the query. The search term and keyword must match exactly. 

Exact match keywords place ads in front of highly targeted shoppers who are more likely to convert. However, they will not do a whole lot for increasing product visibility to a larger audience. 

Automatic Campaigns 

“But wait, you said there are only three match types!” I did, and there are. But match types can only be selected when running manual campaigns on Amazon. Amazon also offers a second campaign type: automatic campaigns.  

Automatic campaigns are run by Amazon’s instead of an advertiser. These campaigns can be used to identify new search terms that should be added as keywords to your manual campaigns, making them an essential ingredient for Amazon advertising success. 

As you can see, each match type fills a different role and use case. Advertisers are wise to make use of all three match types; focusing only on broad match or only on exact match would limit an ad campaign’s efficacy. Likewise, advertisers should make use of automatic and manual campaigns. 

How to Make Search Term Optimizations  

With this understanding of match types, we can finally get to search term optimization. To get started, Amazon advertisers need to identify which of their current keywords are performing great, average, and poorly. They should also identify which search terms they should add to their campaigns as keywords. 

Search Term Migration 

Search terms that the product consistently ranks for should be added as keywords. These terms can be identified using the methods mentioned above and through automatic campaigns. Depending on the specificity of the search term, they may be added as broad, phrase, or exact match keywords. 

Keyword Migration 

Keywords that are performing great in broad or phrase match types should be migrated to exact match. This results in your most-relevant ads being placed in front of the most relevant shoppers. Plus, by migrating these keywords into exact match, you have more control over bid optimizations for these star keywords. 

Some broad match keywords that perform well may still be a little too broad (pun intended) to migrate directly into exact match, so instead, you can migrate them into phrase match. 

When you migrate a keyword from one match type to another, always remember to negate the keyword from the previous match type so you’re not bidding against yourself.  

Keyword Negation 

Key words that are performing poorly should be flagged as “Negative Keywords,” or keywords that your ads are set to not bid on. Negative keywords can be very helpful when your keyword may involve multiple product types, and only one product type is relevant.  

For example, if selling a lavender oil product, you may bid on “lavender oil.” However, if you found that your ad was placing for lavender candles, you could flag “candle” as a negative keyword so that your ad would never place for a shopper that was specifically interested in candles. 

Negating keywords helps ensure that you’re not wasting ad spend on irrelevant placements. It’s a key practice for using a marketing budget efficiently.  

Campaign Architecture Enables Optimizations 

Both bid optimizations and search term optimizations are made much easier to identify and manage when you construct your campaigns in a certain way. 

In general, we recommend creating four campaigns: 

  1. Broad Match Campaign 
  2. Phrase Match Campaign 
  3. Exact Match Campaign 
  4. Automatic Campaign 

 

Each campaign can contain multiple ad groups. In general, we recommend including only one product per ad group. Amazon provides reporting at the ad group level, so this architecture enables you to see ad performance at a product-level, including insights that inform bid and search term optimizations. 

Next Steps 

If this sounds like a lot, well, it is. You can absolutely manage your Amazon ad campaigns using only Seller Central, but this is really only usable for sellers with a small product catalog. As you scale, you’ll need to find ways to automate much of this process. That’s why Amazon advertising agencies and Amazon advertising software exists.  

Kaspien offers self-service software for Amazon ad campaign management, with the option to hire our experts to manage campaigns for you if you don’t want to take the process in house. 

If you’d like to learn more about Amazon advertising, check out our free eBook!

Amazon Advertising eBook 

Amazon Electronics Category Overview

The Electronics category is one of the largest, most competitive, and most mature categories on Amazon. Amazon itself has a dominant presence, both as a first-party retailer (1P) and in a private label capacity, with Amazon Echo, Alexa, Kindle, and Fire TVs being just a few of their offerings in Electronics.  

But, Amazon isn’t the only established player in this space. Major brands like AppleSony, and many others have large catalogs on Amazon. The Electronics category also sees a surplus of copycat and knockoff products, as there are plenty of factories that will happily produce the same product for two brands and apply a different sticker to each.  

Even with these challenges, there have been tremendous success stories. Brands like Anker and 1More both established much of their initial business on Amazon and have grown into major players on and off the channel. But selling in this category is difficult; brands need to be ready to hit the ground running. It’s a marathon sprint, and the race has already started. 

Overview 

Amazon 1P Dominates Electronics Sales 

Amazon has a strong first-party (1P) presence in the Electronics category, accounting for 43% of the total sales in Consumer Electronics, according to Amazon’s responses to the US House Committee on the Judiciary’s Questions for the Record 

 Amazon’s dominance in this category is partly owed to Electronics brands themselves, many of whom choose to partner with Amazon 1P as their wholesale online retailer. We can see this played out on Prime Day in 2020. A Rolling Stones poll found that on Prime Day, the top selling products were: 

  1. Apple AirPods with Charging Case (sold by Amazon) 
  2. Bose Solo 5 TV Soundbar (sold by Amazon) 
  3. YI 1080p HD Wireless Home Security Camera 
  4. VANKYO LEISURE 3 Mini Projector 
  5. Echo Show 5 (sold by Amazon) 
  6. Amazon Smart Plug (sold by Amazon) 
  7. Back Bay Wireless Bluetooth Shower Speaker 
  8. 23andMe Health + Ancestry Service 
  9. Pure Clean Automatic Vacuum Cleaner (sold by Amazon) 
  10. YOSUDA Indoor Cycling Bike 

 

During Prime Day 2020, Amazon 1P accounted for half of the top ten selling products. Eight of the top ten selling products were from the Electronics category, including the top seven products. Digital Commerce 360 estimates that Amazon saw over $10.4 billion in sales on Prime Day 2020, and that Amazon claimed 65% of those sales. 

Amazon’s Prime Day sales demonstrate Amazon’s control in the Electronics category, as well as the enormous interest in purchasing Electronics on Amazon. Shoppers have learned they can find nearly all their Electronic wants and needs on Amazon, making it a key market for Electronics brands and sellers.  

The Electronics Category is Saturated 

Of course, when there’s so much value up for grabs, everyone wants a piece. The Electronics category is not just saturated; it’s among the most saturated categories on Amazon. It is one of the most-purchased-from categories, one of the most competitive with ads and pricing, and rife with knockoffs and counterfeit products. There are literally tens of thousands of purchasing options for headphones alone, making it into its own sub-category. 

Brands entering the Electronics category have a difficult road ahead. For new brands, rising about the clamoring crowd of lookalike products is incredibly challenging in most established sub-categories, such as headphones, speakers, and mics. However, there are strong opportunities in emerging technologies, such as “smart home” products. 

The saturation of the Electronics category is, of course, a long time in the making. Electronics sellers have been on Amazon for many years, maturing into one of the most experienced categories on Amazon. Which brings us to our next point… 

One of the Most Mature Categories 

The Electronics category is one of the most mature categories on Amazon. What exactly does that mean?  

By maturity, we mean that the sellers operating in this category tend to have an above-average understanding of what goes into selling on Amazon. They understand the competitive landscape, Amazon’s dialectic role friend and rival, the necessity and value of marketing, how to marry their brick and mortar and ecommerce strategies, etc. When the category is so saturated, sellers have had to learn to adapt or fail. 

This maturation is leading the category into the next phase of its lifecycle, where major players are reclaiming the landscape. As mentioned, Amazon dominates much of the category by retailing products from leading brands and creating its own low-cost private label products. In 2020, Amazon’s retail sales account for 97% of their sales in the Electronics category, while private label accounts for just 3%.  

Despite its small share, you shouldn’t write off Amazon’s private label. AmazonBasics is a growing threat in the landscape, as AmazonBasics often develops their own versions of successful items on the market at a much cheaper price.  

This practice landed Amazon in hot water in 2020, when the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law of the Committee of the Judiciary published a report that claims Amazon uses private third-party information to inform its private label decisions. 

However, Amazon isn’t the only one taking a larger market share. Major brands like Bose, TLC, and Sony are taking more ownership of their Amazon channels as they realize the opportunities of this marketplace. If the trend continues, the Electronics category may shift to consist of several dominant brands in established sub-categories, while they and new brands continue to fight for market share in emerging sub-categories. 

Learn More 

There are many challenges in the Electronics category: seller saturation, competitive ads and pricing, direct competition with Amazon 1P, knockoffs, counterfeits, quality control, safety testing and certifications, and more. It’s a lot for any brand to handle on their own. 

Fortunately, we’ve got the resources to help. Download our free Amazon Seller’s Guide to the Electronics Category to learn even more about the category landscape, shopper psychographics, and category-specific marketing strategies. 

Download the Amazon Electronics Category Guide


Walmart vs Amazon: How the two companies compare

Amazon has long dominated online marketplaces in the US. However, in 2020, Walmart launched a series of initiatives that would borrow from Amazon’s learnings to bring Walmart into a competitive position, such as Walmart Fulfillment Services and a subscription service, Walmart+ (Walmart Plus) 

The success of these initiatives immediately underwent a trial by fire as the coronavirus pandemic swept the US. Amidst quarantines and dramatic swings in consumer buying behaviors, Walmart’s online segment has conducted itself admirably.  

So, in this post, we’re taking a closer look at how Walmart Marketplace compares to the great leviathan of US ecommerce. 

Walmart vs Amazon – History 

Amazon’s History 

Amazon was founded as an online book seller on July 5, 1994. The company went public just under three years later in 1997then expanded into music and DVDs in 1998.  

Amazon as we know it today, with millions of third-party sellers selling alongside Amazon on its platform, began in 1999, when Amazon launched its third-party seller marketplace. Amazon Web Services, or AWS, joined the fray in 2003.  

2005 brought the introduction of Amazon Prime. From there on out, Amazon continued to grow into the behemoth we know today. The last 15 years have been filled with acquisitions and ventures into all types of industries, including mobile phones, robotics systems, the Washington Post, Twitch video game streaming service, Whole Foods, the creation of Echo and Alexa, prescription medication, and more.  

This article contains a thorough summary of Amazon’s major milestones over the years. 

Walmart’s History 

Walmart is far older than Amazon, founded in 1962. The company went public in 1970.  

The next 30 years saw rapid growth in physical store locations, but it wasn’t until 2000, just five years after Amazon launched, that Walmart launched online stores. Likewise, it wasn’t until 2009 that Walmart launched a third-party seller marketplace, 10 years after Amazon.  

However, Walmart beat Amazon to the online grocery game, starting online grocery pickup in 2015.  

Walmart acquired Jet.com in 2016, a move that would ultimately teach Walmart many lessons about ecommerce, but not drive any immediate, significant growth. 

Walmart launched TwoDay Delivery in 2017 to compete with Amazon’s 2-day shipping, then NextDay Delivery in 2019. 

Though Walmart had been making progress in developing its online marketplace, it wasn’t until 2020 that their online marketplace really began to capture brands’ attention as a high-opportunity ecommerce marketplace 

In February 2020, Walmart launched Walmart Fulfillment Services. In September 2020, they launched Walmart+, a subscriptions service with exclusive benefits, similar in theory to Amazon Prime, but each offering a different set of perks enabled by their unique positions. 

Walmart vs Amazon – Size 

Ecommerce Share 

Amazon currently controls roughly 38% of the United States ecommerce retail market, according to eMarketer. On the other hand, Walmart only controls approximately 8% of the ecommerce retail market.  

Amazon has over 95 million monthly unique website visitors in the US, while Walmart.com has over 100 million monthly unique visitors. 

Physical Locations 

It should come as little surprise that Walmart’s physical locations vastly outnumber Amazon’s, given each company’s history. Walmart has 5,353 US stores as of July 2020, while Amazon ha589 physical stores as of August 2020. 

International Presence 

Amazon has marketplaces in 16 countries, while Walmart has its online marketplace available in 10 countries and physical stores in 27 countries 

Walmart vs Amazon – Customers 

How do Walmart shoppers differ from Amazon shoppers?  

The answer? Not a whole lot. According to Walmart, Walmart’s and Amazon’s customer demographics are nearly identical when viewed by generations or by income levels. 

Walmart’s VP of Walmart Fulfillment Services delved into more Walmart vs Amazon myth busting in our co-hosted webinar. You can watch it for free on-demand. 

Walmart Fulfillment Services (WFS) vs Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) 

Speaking of Walmart Fulfillment Services (WFS), let’s take a look at how it compares to Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA). 

For the moment, WFS and FBA share many similarities. Both services allow third-party vendors to ship their product at a fulfillment center, where the product is stored until purchased, then fulfilled. Both will: 

  • Pick, sort, pack, ship, and track products 
  • Handle shipping, returns, and refunds  
  • Provide 2-day shipping 
  • Provide same-day shipping in select areas 

One big difference is that Walmart.com allows for item pickup at any of its stores, while Amazon only has a few stores that do online pickup. 

WFS vs FBA eBook & Webinar

We offer a comprehensive breakdown of WFS vs FBA in our free eBook. If you’re interested in learning more about WFS, watch our on-demand WFS webinar that we co-hosted with Walmart’s VP of WFS. 

Walmart Fulfillment Services vs Amazon FBA

Walmart vs Amazon – Marketing Services

In terms of marketing, Amazon and Walmart.com are very similar, but Amazon has many more options to choose from.  

Amazon Marketing Services 

Amazon marketing products available to sellers include:  

Walmart Marketing Services 

Extensive right? In contrast, Walmart offers a limited selection of marketing products for sellers, including:  

This difference in selection is not surprising though. Amazon has been focused on ecommerce for 25 years, while Walmart has only really made ecommerce a heavy focus in the last five years. Over time, Walmart Marketplace will develop new marketing services to match Amazon’s list. 

For the time being, online sellers will see far greater returns from marketing dollars invested into Amazon marketing than in Walmart marketing. Amazon’s services offer greater control over audience targeting and more data insights, which, in turn, yield higher profitability. 

Walmart Plus vs Amazon Prime 

Until recently, Walmart did not have a competitor to Amazon Prime, Amazon’s premium paid subscription service. In July 2020, Walmart announced Walmart+, its own premium paid subscription service. These subscriptions are very similar as both give you access to perks and benefits like two-day shipping and one-day shipping on a host of products.   

Walmart Plus vs Amazon Prime

Walmart Plus Member Benefits 

  • Free 2-day shipping 
  • Early access to deals 
  • Express delivery for groceries and select goods 
  • Fuel discounts at Walmart gas stations 
  • Scan & Go service in Walmart stores 
  • Walmart dropped its minimum $35 purchase requirement for 2-day shipping in December 2020 
  • Planned Walmart Plus credit card 
  • Planned Walmart Plus entertainment package 

Amazon Prime Member Benefits 

  • Free 2-day shipping 
  • Early access to deals 
  • Express delivery for groceries and select goods 
  • Prime video 
  • Free video games 
  • Free access to Amazon library 
  • Ad-free Amazon Music 

Amazon Prime costs $119/year, while Walmart Plus costs $98/year. Amazon Prime has 126 million members in the US as of October 2020, so Walmart has a lot of catching up to do. 

Walmart vs Amazon – Challenges 

Counterfeit Products Plague Amazon 

Amazon has the ignominious reputation of being rife with counterfeits and unauthorized sellers. In January 2020, the United States Department of Homeland Security released a report detailing counterfeiting on the Amazon marketplace platform. The company has been slow to face the issues but has been making some strides.  

Unlike Amazon, Walmart.com is a gated marketplace, which has helped mitigate the risk of counterfeits and unauthorized sellers. 

Amazon Accused of Stealing Third-Party Data 

Another problem facing Amazon is the accusations of stealing data from businesses that use its marketplace or Amazon Web Services (AWS). Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, testified before United States Congress about these allegations on July 29, 2020, and Amazon provided written answers on September 4, 2020 to the committee’s follow-up questions. 

Walmart is Playing Catch Up 

Walmart Marketplace’s greatest hurdle is that it is starting so far behind Amazon in the ecommerce game. However, Walmart has an extensive infrastructure, capital, and the benefits of learning from Amazon’s successes and failures. As we touched on regarding marketing, Walmart is still well behind Amazon, but they have made admirable progress this year with the launch of Walmart Fulfillment Services and Walmart Plus.  

Walmart vs Amazon – Ecommerce Growth 

As anyone can see, there are pros and cons for both Amazon and Walmart. Amazon may be the giant in the ecommerce space, but that means they have a large target on their back. Both Amazon and Walmart have seen tremendous growth in 2020: 

Walmart Ecommerce Quarterly Net Sales Growth 

  • Q1 2020: 74% year-over-year 
  • Q2 2020: 97% year-over-year 
  • Q3 2020: 79% year-over-year 

Amazon Quarterly Net Sales Growth 

  • Q1 2020: 26% year-over-year 
  • Q2 2020: 40% year-over-year 
  • Q3 2020: 37% year-over-year 

Clearly, both companies’ offer huge growth potential. In general, we recommend prioritizing Amazon over Walmart because the sales potential is, currently, so much greater on Amazon. However, Walmart is growing rapidly, and you would be wise to try to get on Walmart sooner rather than later so you can grow with it. 

Want to learn about selling on Walmart.com? Check out our free eBook!

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WFS: Walmart’s Gamble to Challenge Amazon FBA