Website Optimization and Amazon SEO

It is no secret that in the world of ecommerce, search engine optimization (SEO) is extremely important. It’s often the deciding factor in whether or not your content reaches the right audience (an audience that will convert), so optimizing for search engines is vital.  

While putting efforts into SEO is important, it can be hard to attribute revenue to SEO initiatives. As a result, marketers may struggle to get necessary SEO resources approved. Budget, time, and people are all essential in creating a successful SEO strategy.  

So, how can you demonstrably prove that SEO is worth that investment? That’s what we’re here to unpack. But first, let’s compare how SEO on Amazon differs from traditional SEO.  

So How Does Google SEO Differ from Amazon SEO?  

It starts with search intent.   

On a traditional engine – like Google or Bing – users are largely research-focused. They are looking for answers to broad topics, like what kind of dog toys are good for large breeds or what is the best vitamin C skincare serum. In this area, user focus is on finding specific products from a wide variety of options.  

Conversely, users searching on Amazon are largely product-focused with an intent to purchase. These individuals have already done the research into which products they are looking for and are merely trying to find them on Amazon.   

Due to this difference in search intent, it is necessary for companies to adjust their verbiage when writing for their website vs their Amazon listing.  

Website Optimization for Google 

A company’s website should be optimized for the research stage of a consumer’s purchasing journey. People use Google when they have questions, not necessarily when they’re looking to buy. So, companies should ensure the content within the site is informative and helpful, allowing consumers a better insight into how the company fulfills their needs.  

To increase the likelihood of users finding their website, companies should research and identify relevant, long-tail keywords. To incorporate these keywords into their website, companies can publish blog posts, provide FAQ sections, and include keywords in headers, meta content, and image alt text.  

By providing consumers answers they are looking for, companies are better able to highlight why their product or service matches consumer needs.   

Amazon Listing Optimization 

On the flip side of SEO, a company’s Amazon listing should optimize for product-specific searches because that’s how consumers utilize the search engine. Instead of answering questions and focusing on long-tail keywords, like they would on their website, companies should craft their Amazon listing to optimize for more product-focused and shorter keyword searches.  

Identify keywords that customers may be searching for, then incorporate them into the Amazon listing’s title, bullet points, and product description. While it is important to optimize for the Amazon algorithm, it is also important to curate content in a way that is audience friendly. If a listing is designed purely for the algorithm, the writing may come across as unnatural, deterring shoppers from purchasing a product. Learn more in our post, “Writing for the Amazon Algorithm.”

Bonus tip: A+ Content is not indexed by Amazon’s search engine, but it is indexed by Google. When creating A+ Content, research discovery keywords for Google as well.

How to Identify Keywords for Ecommerce SEO

For both traditional and Amazon SEO tactics, it is extremely important to do keyword research prior to drafting the copy. The keywords used in both search engines are likely similar, but their differences can significantly impact each of their success.  

Google SEO and Amazon SEO Tools

To put forth the best content on these pages, companies should utilize various research tools to get a grasp on what exactly users are searching. Helpful tools for identifying trending searches include SEMRushMoz, and Buzzsumo. For Amazon, JungleScoutHelium 10, and MerchantWords are also helpful keyword research tools. Curating content around the words identified from these sources will allow the company to best optimize for each search engine. 

How to Measure Ecommerce SEO Success  

So, once the changes are made, how does one measure SEO success?  

Calculating Website SEO Success 

Determining the success of an SEO initiative can be difficult, but it can be done. For brands with websites, success can be determined by looking at site metrics. These include: 

  • The bounce rate 
  • Number of pages viewed 
  • Average time on site 
  • Other performance figures 

Comparing these rates to the rates before the SEO changes can be helpful in attributing success to the optimization work put in.  

The success of SEO tactics can also be determined through revenue calculation. To calculate a company’s return on investment from search engine optimization work, one can begin by calculating the monthly website revenues. To do so, multiply the industry’s average conversion rate by the monthly organic search traffic and then by the average dollar sale amount. These three metrics multiplied together will estimate the dollar amount attributed to a company’s SEO efforts.  

Average Conversion Rate x Organic Search Traffic x Average Sale Amount = SEO-attributed revenue 

To then get the return on investment, a company subtracts the fixed and variable costs for the SEO work done from the monthly website revenue. The fixed costs likely include costs from SEO tool subscriptions and maintenance agency services while variable costs include costs attributed to SEO-specific labor and content writing.   

SEO-attributed revenue – costs (labor, tech, etc.) = Return on Investment 

Calculating Amazon SEO Success 

Amazon has its own specific metrics that can be utilized when determining SEO success. The first of these metrics, discoverability, refers to how easily a consumer can find a product. Key metrics to determine this include a product’s sessions as well as the search engine results page (SERP) placement. Sessions are given to a company through Amazon’s Business Report and the SERP can be measured manually or through a third-party tool. Success is determined by these two metrics through their rates; the higher the rate, the higher the revenue is expected to follow.   

Another metric to measure Amazon SEO success is a product’s buyability. Buyability refers to how persuasive a product’s listing is at convincing consumers to convert. This is measured by a product’s sales and adjusted conversion rate.  

Amazon’s conversion rate – the unit session percentage – was flawed in its approach to measure product-specific conversions, so Kaspien solved this issue. We created our own adjusted conversion rate in order to look at specific product’s conversions, rather than conversions of related products. To calculate the adjusted conversion rate, multiply the listing’s overall sessions by the buy box percentage. Once this is figured out, divide that number by the listing’s units ordered.  

(listing sessions x Buy Box percentage) / units ordered = listing conversion rate 

A/B Testing is Essential to Validating Ecommerce SEO 

How does a company know an SEO change is going to work before completing an entire change?   

Here at Kaspien, we set out to determine which practices on websites produced the best results and higher conversions. Through a set of A/B testing, we found that simplicity is key. The easier a website is to navigate, the happier customers are, and the more likely they are to purchase from the website. Through this test, we also uncovered that the messaging, product placement, and pricing all play major roles in a customer’s decision whether or not to purchase on a company’s website.   

Before switching up a website completely, we suggest running some A/B tests as well to determine if a change would be beneficial or not in a company’s success. To do this, change one portion of the website – whether that be placement of certain products on the page or reworking the listings in a section. Once this is done, track the conversions to see if the change made a difference in site revenue.  

To determine how well these tactics worked, compare the results from the original site layout to the updated site through the metrics provided above. Doing so will allow a company to successfully determine whether or not certain changes are necessary to boost sales and overall product revenue.   

Ecommerce SEO is Essential & Deserves Resources 

Increasing the scope of company SEO tactics can greatly impact profitability and consumer recognition. SEO’s impact on discoverability and buyability are generally well recognized, but notoriously tricky to quantify. However, learning how to measure and estimate material impact is essential for getting your SEO efforts the resources they deserve.  

For more information on this topic, watch our on-demand webinar, “How to Turn SEO into a Measurable Revenue Generator.”

Learn More About Ecommerce SEO Strategy

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Amazon Demand Side Platform (DSP) Advertising

As Amazon becomes more crowded and traditional Amazon advertising becomes more expensive, leading brands are seeking ways to distinguish themselves. One such method is programmatic advertising. In Amazon’s case, this is the Amazon Demand Side Platform or Amazon DSP. 

What is Programmatic Advertising? 

Programmatic advertising simply means using automation – a program, if you will – to buy and sell ads. 

What is Amazon Demand Side Platform (DSP) Advertising? 

Amazon DSP is a platform that allows brands to programmatically buy display, video, and audio ads that appear across Amazon’s vast media network.  

The greatest value add of Amazon DSP is that it allows advertisers to tap into Amazon’s first-party data. As a shopper on Amazon, every search, view, click, purchase, and review is tracked. This data tracking extends to Amazon’s myriad properties, from their websites and apps (more on that below) to their consumer devices, like Fire TV and Amazon Echo.  

In short, Amazon has a wealth of data about how, what, when, and potentially why consumers buy what they buy. While keeping the data anonymous, Amazon DSP allows advertisers to use it for marketing their products. 

Do You Have to Sell on Amazon to Use DSP Advertising? 

Brands are not required to sell products on Amazon to utilize Amazon DSP. They can use DSP to direct shoppers to their direct website, for example.  

As of August 2021, Amazon DSP is available in the following countries: 

  • Australia 
  • Brazil 
  • Canada 
  • France 
  • Germany 
  • India 
  • Italy 
  • Japan 
  • Mexico 
  • The Netherlands 
  • Saudi Arabia 
  • Singapore (coming soon) 
  • Spain 
  • The United Arab Emirates 
  • The United Kingdom 
  • The United States 

Where do Amazon DSP Ads Appear? 

Amazon DSP ads can appear on: 

  • Amazon, including on the homepage, Amazon Live page, product detail page, all reviews page, search page, deals page, and thank you page 
  • Amazon owned websites, such as Audible, Buy Office Mojo, Goodreads, IMDb, ShopBop, Twitch.tv, and Zappos
  • Amazon owned apps 
  • Amazon devices, such as the Amazon Echo, Fire TV, Fire table, and Kindle 
  • Affiliate websites and apps in Amazon’s network 

Amazon Ad Specs

Amazon’s ad sizes and policies can be found here. This page includes ad specs for Amazon DSP, audio ads, Fire TV, IMDb, Twitch, and a dozen other options.

Targeting Options in Amazon DSP 

Unlike traditional Amazon ads that target specific keywords or ASINs within the Amazon marketplace, Amazon DSP ads use Amazon’s first-party customer data to retarget consumers based on demographics, location, interests, categories they previously browsed, previous product views, previous purchases, device type, and more. 

Specifically, audience targeting is broken out into six options:  

In-Market  

Shoppers who have demonstrated high intent to buy within your product subcategory within the past 30 days. 

Lifestyle 

Shoppers whose search history and previous purchases relate to a particular lifestyle, such as pet owners or outdoor enthusiasts. 

Contextual  

Shoppers who have recently browsed for products similar to your offerings. 

Remarketing 

Shoppers who previously searched for, viewed, or purchased your or a competitor’s product. 

Audience Lookalike 

Shoppers who resemble the demographics and buying behavior of your previous customers. 

Advertiser Audiences 

Lists that the advertiser provides. 

What Ad Types are Available in Amazon DSP? 

There are four ad types available currently in Amazon DSP. 

1 – Static Ads 

Like the name suggests, static ads do not have dynamic elements. These ads feature a simple image and call-to-action. They can direct shoppers to an Amazon product listing, Amazon Brand Store, or your direct website. 

homepage ad placement

2 – Dynamic Ads 

Dynamic ads are just that – dynamic. The content within the ad is automatically optimized based on the audience. For example, if Amazon has observed a purchasing behavior wherein a shopper is more likely to read customer reviews before purchasing a product, they can serve an ad displaying a customer review.  

product detail page ad placement

Dynamic ads can only direct to an Amazon product listing page, so this is not a viable option if you use DSP to promote your direct website. 

3 – Video Ads 

Convenient that the names for each ad type is self-explanatory, right? Video ads display videos on and off Amazon, and they can direct to your products on Amazon or your direct website. 

Source: Amazon

4 – Over-The-Top (OTT) 

Okay, this is a slightly less descriptive name. OTT ads are full screen video ads that display on TV sources. Like a typical television commercial, these ads are not clickable. Instead, their purpose is to create awareness and incite shoppers to take action in a separate medium. 

Fire TV ad placement
Source: Amazon

What does Amazon DSP Cost? 

Amazon DSP requires a minimum total ad budget of $35,000. This minimum budget varies by country. The minimum required ad spend can also be lowered by partnering with an agency that manages a considerably larger monthly ad budget (typically achieved by managing ad spend for multiple clients). 

What is the Difference Between Amazon DSP and Sponsored Display Ads? 

Amazon also offers Sponsored Display Ads, which share some similarities with Amazon DSP. One of the biggest differences is costs: Amazon DSP comes with a minimum budget of $35,000, while Sponsored Display Ads are a pay-per-click (PPC) ad type just like Sponsored Product Ads and Sponsored Brand Ads. The other big difference is that Sponsored Display Ads are self-service, while Amazon DSP requires management (more on that below).

Amazon Sponsored Display Ads

Sponsored Display Ads target shoppers based on previous engaged with designated ASINs rather than by keywords. These ads can appear on and off the Amazon marketplace. Sponsored Display Ads blur the lines between the Awareness and Consideration stages of the buyer’s journey, inciting interest in shoppers both off and on Amazon. They are a potent tool for retargeting, though they lack the audience targeting and ad placements of DSP. 

How to Start Using Amazon DSP Advertising 

If you want to launch an Amazon DSP ad campaign, you have two options: self-service or managed-service. 

Managed-Service 

Under this option, Amazon will manage your DSP ad campaigns for you. The Amazon team provides data, consulting, and an advertising plan (more on that below). To access this option, you must commit at least $35,000 in ad spend. 

Self-Service  

If you’re able to spend at least $100K per month on DSP, you can access the self-service option. In this model, Amazon does not manage your DSP campaigns, but the name itself is a little misleading, as you still have to work through an authorized agency. The benefits of this model is that, through your Amazon agency, you can exercise greater and more direct control over your DSP campaigns than if an Amazon account manager ran your campaign. 

Can Kaspien Manage My Amazon DSP Advertising? 

We can! Kaspien has run multiple DSP campaigns successfully for our partner brands. If you’re interested in learning more, please reach out to your account manager or get in touch with us through our contact form. 

What to Expect from Your Amazon DSP Plan 

When you decide to launch an Amazon DSP ad campaign, an Amazon account manager will be assigned to you (or your agency, if you have an agency manage it for you). The Amazon DSP team will use Amazon’s exclusive first-party data to prepare a report that includes: 

Category & Brand Insights 

This section may include common concerns for your product category, trends on when shoppers are most active in this category, data related to branded searches, repeat purchase rates, which ad types your top competitors use, and percentage of competitors who run advertising. 

Advertising Plan 

This section features a detailed DSP advertising plan based on that data, which also includes the opportunity size. The opportunity size may factor in the number of shoppers who have visited your product category, the number of shoppers who visited products similar to yours but not purchased, the number shoppers who visited your product but not purchased, and the number of shoppers who bought your product. Target for customer acquisition and/or average revenue per customer needed in order to hit growth goals.  

Recommended Budget to Achieve Designated Goals 

The recommended budget is based on the goals you provided and the data/trends the Amazon team discovered in their review. The recommended budget may be broken out by quarters and key holidays/sales events. 

Amazon DSP Advertising Case Study 

Background 

Strider is a leading kids’ toy company known for their revolutionary bikes. We’ve partnered since 2018, steadily growing their Amazon sales. Amid the chaos of 2020, we launched one of our most ambitious Amazon DSP campaigns yet. 

Our Strategy 

We set two goals for the DSP campaign: Increase new customer acquisition and improve conversion rates for shoppers already familiar with Strider. 

To support these goals, we targeted shoppers who had viewed Strider’s or competitors’ listings but not converted. We also used dynamic display ads, which show shoppers the Strider product most relevant to their previous browsing history. The ads appeared on Amazon.com, Amazon devices, Amazon-owned sites like IMDB.com, and affiliate websites and apps. 

Our Results 

Amazon DSP Advertising Case Study

  • 2,159 units sold 
  • $244,000 total sales 
  • 4.9 ROAS (compared to the 3.0 ROAS Amazon projected in their plan) 
  • 188,000 unique shoppers reached 
  • 5.9 million impressions 

The campaign successfully brought more shoppers over the finish line and into the Strider family, with 66% of orders coming from shoppers who had previously viewed Strider products, and 84% coming from shoppers who had not previously purchased Strider products on Amazon. The first-time buyers will likely continue to buy from Strider for years to come. 

Learn More about Amazon Advertising Strategies

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Myth-busting the Amazon A10 Algorithm

In late 2019, the Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon had changed its A9 algorithm to favor its own brands. By mid 2020, Amazon-focused businesses, including software providers, Amazon agencies, and third-party sellers, started posting articles about an “A10” Amazon algorithm, although they described different changes than the WSJ article. Blog posts about the A10 algorithm have continually popped up ever since, describing how factors that affect product rank have been changed to carry more or less weight than before.

The trouble is, not one of those blog posts cites a primary source to back up their claims that Amazon actually did unleash a new algorithm. In fact, many of these posts simply parrot one another, without providing any data to back up their claims.  

So, we’re setting out to do some myth-busting. We’ve reviewed internal data to try to confirm or deny – based on Kaspien’s experience – claims about significant changes to the Amazon algorithm. 

Myth-Busting Claims Made about the Amazon A10 Algorithm 

Every commentor agrees that, if Amazon has been updating their algorithm, they have done so through a series of updates, rather than launching a brand-new algorithm all at once. These series of updates could be laying the groundwork for a new algorithm, or they could be simple fine-tuning of an already remarkable machine.  

Below are the common claims being made about the algorithm update, as well as what Kaspien’s data shows to confirm or refute the claims. 

Shopper Searches Now Matter More in the Amazon A10 Algorithm

The Claim 

It is understood that Amazon’s algorithm looks at many factors to determine product rank, including ratings, reviews, seller rating, sales velocity, fulfillment method, inventory amounts, pricing, and many more. One of the most important factors is keyword relevancy. 

Keyword relevancy simply means, how relevant does Amazon think your product is to a given search query? This is determined by the keywords incorporated into a product listing. 

Some claim that under the A10 algorithm, keyword relevancy has been given more weight, with the goal of showing consumers what they want to see, rather than what sellers want them to see. 

Kaspien’s data shows… 

Plausible. Keyword relevancy has always been important for success on Amazon, and Amazon has built its empire by being customer obsessed. It wouldn’t be surprising if Amazon tweaked its algorithm to favor customer queries more.  

However, this claim is difficult to confirm or refute because, as you will see later, other ranking factors, such as ads and fulfillment models, have not become less important. Furthermore, Marketplace Pulse notes that for years, Amazon has steadily replaced algorithmically generated recommendations on the search results page with ad placements. That Amazon would expand advertising then reduce its importance seems counter-intuitive.  

On that note, let’s take a look at our next claim. 

Amazon Advertising has Less Impact under the A10 Algorithm

The Claim 

Native Amazon ads, such as Sponsored Product Ads and Sponsored Brand Ads, now carry less importance for product rank under A10 than A9. Like the previous claim, the explanation is that Amazon is trying to show shoppers what they want to see by weighting other ranking factors higher. 

Kaspien’s data shows…  

Busted. Amazon advertising remains a key driver for increased traffic, click through rate, conversion rate, and sales velocity, all of which are important ranking factors. Amazon ad costs are rising, but this is due to sellers increasing their ad budgets after many pulled back ad spend in 2020. 

This is reflected in Kaspien’s performance metrics. Comparing 2020 to 2021 year-to-date, we see that conversion rate and click-through-rate have both improved, while advertising cost of sale (ACOS) rose from 8.04% to 8.53% and cost-per-click (CPC) rose from $0.31 to $0.38. If advertising seems to be having less of an impact now, it’s because the rise in competition necessitates more sophisticated strategies. 

We can also look to Prime Day 2021 to demonstrate the continued importance of Amazon advertising. Kaspien saw booked orders grow by 25% year-over-year, while our advertising revenues increased around 70% and impressions were up 40%, clearly demonstrating the impact of ads for channel growth.  

Last but not least, let’s look at how Amazon itself is approaching advertising. In 2020, Amazon’s advertising revenue exceeded $21 billion, growing 66% year-over-year. Amazon has a vested interest in making ads a desirable offering on their platform, and they do that by maintaining their value to sellers. 

Build Highly Profitable Amazon Advertising Campaigns

Campaign profitability is dependent on campaign insights; if you cannot measure performance, you cannot improve it. So, how do you make sure you get the depth and breadth of insights needed? It all starts with campaign architecture. We’ve a whole (and free) eBook all about it.



 

Off-Amazon Marketing has More Weight

The Claim 

Amazon’s A10 algorithm greatly favors products that receive traffic from off-site. This would mean that Google Ads and social media advertising would play a much more important role in product rank on Amazon. 

If true, this update to the algorithm is a frankly clever tactic by Amazon to grow their market share: they have significantly increased the incentive for sellers to actively promote their marketplace on other platforms. The existence of Amazon Attribution and the recent launch of the Brand Referral Bonus program lend some credence to this claim. 

Kaspien’s data shows…  

Plausible. The aforementioned WSJ article published in December 2019, and blog posts about the A10 algorithm became increasingly common starting around May 2020. If these blogs caught onto A10 shortly after its launch, we would expect to see products that were being promoted through off-site channels – such as Facebook or Google – to see an immediate improvement in product rank around the same time (assuming the brands had large enough audiences to send a notable amount of traffic).  

Unfortunately, that’s a rather difficult assessment to make given the fact we had a global pandemic that drastically altered consumer buying behavior during this same time period. Supply chain issues, inventory shortages, a surge in online shopping, and more means there are simply too many concurrent variables to definitively say whether or not off-Amazon marketing has more weight. 

All that said, even if off-Amazon marketing doesn’t have more influence on Amazon that it used to, it still has meaningful influence on Amazon, as it has for some years. Anytime you can direct more shoppers to your Amazon listing, regardless of source, it will impact your product rank. Learn more about using social media to drive traffic to Amazon. 

Seller Authority Matters More in the A10 Algorithm

The Claim 

“Seller authority” consists of many factors, including the seller’s age, number of ratings, average rating, product return rate, return handling efficiencies, product catalog size, and product catalog diversity. The idea is that these factors are key indicators of how much value a seller adds to the Amazon customer experience. To reflect that, sellers with higher seller authority are more likely to win the Buy Box than newer/smaller sellers, all other things being equal.  

These factors were considered under the A9 algorithm, but the A10 algorithm allegedly increased the influence these factors have on a product’s organic placement on the SERP. Once more, this claim is based on the idea that Amazon wants to improve the customer experience. 

Kaspien’s data shows…  

Plausible. Kaspien is one of the oldest third-party sellers on Amazon (founded in 2008). If this claim is true, then products sold by Kaspien should benefit. When we look at the data, we see that Kaspien and most of our partners have grown substantially YOY, but how much of that growth is attributable to seller authority is a hard thing to isolate.  

We ran marketing for many of our brands, and we have dedicated account managers providing strategic guidance. There was also a global pandemic, which drove more shoppers to buy online than ever before. The truth of the matter is that seller authority never exists as a variable in isolation, so it’s nigh impossible to quantify how much impact it has on its own. 

FBA has Less Weight / FBM has More Weight 

The Claim 

Since early 2020, Amazon has repeatedly restricted inventory quantity limits at FBA centers and raised the inventory performance index (IPI) requirements, making it challenging for brands to maintain sufficient inventory levels at FBA. As of July 2021, sellers are permitted 55 days of inventory coverage at FBA, including lead time.  

Some have claimed that, because of this turbulence, Amazon’s algorithm is now no longer favoring FBA orders over FBM orders. 

Kaspien’s data shows…  

Busted. Reviewing orders from January-July 2021, we see no change in the ratio of FBA orders compared to FBM orders. If there was any favoritism in 2020, it is no longer present.  

FBA vs FBM Orders in 2021

So, why might others have made this claim? Well, because Amazon FBA has been so turbulent, larger sellers have been forced to invest in more FBM options. As a result, FBM orders have risen, but not disproportionately to FBA orders. Learn more about the benefits of diversified fulfillment strategies for Amazon.

Other Variables that Affect Product Rank in the Amazon A10 Algorithm

The above list covers only claims about factors that had allegedly changed in Amazon’s A10 algorithm. There are many variables that can affect product rank, including: 

  • Keyword relevancy 
  • Keyword density 
  • Listing traffic 
  • Price 
  • Sales velocity 
  • Conversion rate 
  • Discounts 
  • Inventory coverage 
  • Customer reviews 
  • Average star ratings 
  • Answered questions 
  • Seller rating 
  • Number of returns and return ratings 
  • Product margin 
  • Fulfillment model 
  • Shipping speed 
  • Prime eligibility 

How to Improve Product Rank in the Amazon A10 Algorithm 

To improve organic product rank, focus on the following tactics: 

  • Write product listings with both consumers and the algorithm in mind. This means strategic keyword usage, while maintaining a compelling value proposition that will excite shoppers.  
  • Set clear and accurate expectations through images and text. Miss-set expectations are a leading cause for negative customer reviews, and positive reviews are key for good rank. 
  • Speaking of reviews, try these 5 Amazon-compliant review generation strategies to get some more. 
  • Increase listing traffic. The above tactics improve organic traffic. Use social media advertising to drive additional traffic to Amazon. 
  • Sales velocity is a leading factor in rank, so you need to sell more. How? In addition to the above, use Amazon adsDSP, and Amazon coupons to boost sales. 
  • Shoppers cannot buy if you don’t have inventory stocked. Make sure you maintain complete coverage through FBA and FBM hybrid solutions. 
  • Price competitively. Amazon’s value proposition to consumers is that it offers the largest product selection at the lowest prices. Therefore, competitive pricing is an important ranking factor. 
  • Maintain inventory coverage. Stocking out removes your listing from the search results page, and product rank atrophies as a result. This creates a domino effect: If product rank goes down, marketing performance and sales velocity also go down and take time to recover. 

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Amazon announces Brand Referral Bonus program

What is the Brand Referral Bonus Program? 

On July 15, 2021, Amazon announced the Brand Referral Bonus program. According to Amazon, the program allows participating sellers to “earn a bonus averaging 10% of product sales driven by your non-Amazon marketing efforts.” The bonus is credited to Amazon sellers through their referral fees.  

Why Should Sellers Join the Brand Referral Bonus Program? 

Amazon lists three reasons why sellers might consider joining the Brand Referral Bonus program:  

  1. Amazon claims joining the program will “improve the efficiency of your non-Amazon marketing and advertising campaigns” that drive off-site traffic to Amazon.  
  2. The credit to referral fees saves sellers money. 
  3. Shoppers who buy additional products within 14 days of clicking the non-Amazon ad also contribute to the bonus/referral credit.   
Brand Referral Bonus program
Retrieved July 15, 2021

Why is Amazon Launching this Program?  

According to Amazon, this program is simply a continuation in their “effort to help brands succeed.” That may be true, but there’s also something in this for Amazon: market share. Katie Capka, Inbound Marketing Manager at Kaspien, commented on the announcement:

We’ve seen a trend of Amazon introducing services for sellers, like the Brand Referral Bonus Program, that reward sellers for sending off-Amazon traffic back to Amazon. This directly aligns with Amazon’s strategy to capture as much of the ecommerce market share as possible. If Amazon is a key piece of your brand’s strategy, you should keep services that provide you more insights and compensation – in this case, from external traffic – on your radar.

Let’s unpack that a bit more.

Ecommerce Competition is Rising 

More companies are breaking into the digital space to vie for consumers’ dollars. Shopify exploded in 2020. Target, Walmart, and eBay each grew their online sales in double or even triple digits. Google has announced integrations with Shopify and BigCommerce. Facebook has announced intentions to grow its ecommerce services. 

Amazon normally charges sellers a 15% referral fee for sales made on its platform. Shopify, in contrast, charges 2.9% + $0.30 processing fee. The Amazon Referral Bonus program brings Amazon into closer competition with Shopify. However, as Marketplace Pulse notes, “the Brand Referral Bonus program is mostly going to benefit Amazon. If not for the simple reason that the second time the shopper orders the brand’s product on Amazon, the brand will be back to paying the full 15% fee.”

Consumers Go to Amazon to Buy 

All of these companies’ U.S. ecommerce market share are but a small fraction of Amazon’s. But, they’re growing, and growing aggressively. Furthermore, Amazon has long-held a reputation for being a place where consumers go to buy products, but not necessarily where shoppers go to engage with brands.  

A Branded Experience on Amazon 

Amazon seems to be trying to revise that narrative. The addition of A+ ContentAmazon Brand Stores (which are now much easier to discover organically than they once were, thank goodness), Amazon AttributionAmazon AffiliatesAmazon AssociatesAmazon LiveAmazon Posts, the Manage Your Customer Engagement tool for direct D2C emails, and now the Brand Referral Bonus program – all of these are aimed at creating a branded experience within the Amazon marketplace.  

By making Amazon a place where shoppers can engage with brands in a relational as well as transactional manner, Amazon increases its value proposition and directly combats D2C competitors like Shopify and BigCommerce. 

Which Brings Us Back to Market Share 

By increasing its value proposition, Amazon positions itself to retain and expand its market share. While promoting Amazon product detail pages via social media advertising and influencer marketing is a proven tactic for growing Amazon sales (we’ve been offering these services since 2017), the benefit was simply more brand awareness and more sales.  

This program is the most explicit way that Amazon has ever incentivized sellers to direct off-Amazon consumers to Amazon listings. 

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D2C email marketing via Amazon's Manage Your Customer Engagement Tool

What is the Manage Your Customer Engagement Tool? 

In April 2021, Amazon unveiled a new marketing tool for brands enrolled in Amazon Brand Registry called “Manage Your Customer Engagement.” This tool allows brand owners or their authorized sellers to directly message shoppers who “follow” the brand on Amazon.  

How does Amazon’s Customer Engagement Tool Work? 

When Amazon launched their social media-esque Amazon Posts, they added a “Follow” button to Amazon Brand Stores and to the posts themselves. Shoppers who follow a brand are automatically notified whenever the brand publishes a new Amazon Post.  

Combat Wipes Brand Store Showing Posts

The Manage Your Customer Engagement tool adds another way that brands can engage their followers, this time through direct messages through Amazon’s messaging platform.  

How Does it Work Exactly? 

Shoppers must choose to follow a brand before they can be emailed. Sellers do not gain access to any identifying consumer data; they can only see the number of shoppers that will be emailed when schedule an email campaign.  

To set up an email campaign, sellers must add: 

  • A high resolution brand logo 
  • The new product they wish to promote 
  • A delivery window 

Besides the above, emails currently offer next to no customization options. Once a campaign has been prepared, Amazon reviews it for approval. Amazon notes that approvals can take up to 72 hours, so schedule your email several days in advance. Once approved, the emails will be sent to followers during the 5-day delivery window through Amazon Messaging. 

After an email has been sent, sellers can see only a few performance metrics: total reach, open rate, click through rate, and opt-outs. They cannot see which shoppers took which actions or whether anyone purchased the featured product. 

Eligibility Requirements for Manage Your Customer Engagement 

To utilize this tool, brands must: 

  • be enrolled in Amazon Brand Registry 
  • have an Amazon Brand Store 
  • sell on the U.S. marketplace (non-U.S. Amazon marketplaces do not offer this feature currently) 
  • The product must have been on Amazon for less than 6-months 

Amazon Email Marketing Expands Amazon’s Venture into Traditional D2C Marketing 

While the Manage Your Customer Engagement tool is still only a pilot, it represents Amazon’s latest foray into more traditional direct to consumer (D2C) marketing.  

In recent years, Amazon has added Demand Side Platform, or Amazon DSP, which allows sellers to target shoppers based on demographic information, location, and interests. Amazon also added ad placements on Twitch, a massive live streaming network, which targets viewers based on their interests.  

In July 2021, Amazon launched the Brand Referral Bonus program, which offers brands a credit of up to 10% product sales driven by non-Amazon marketing efforts. This program is a clear demonstration of Amazon’s attempt to increase market share by incentivizing brands to promote Amazon listings on external channels.

Brand Referral Bonus program

Such targeting capabilities have long been used by social media platforms and search engines, but Amazon has traditionally focused on product-interest and keyword targeting. Over time, Amazon seems increasingly interested in monetizing its first-party consumer data through new advertising tools, while maintaining satisfactory privacy over consumer data. 

Kaspien’s Preliminary Test Results 

We tested the new tool over a one-month period to promote a new product for one of our partners. 

Key Metrics 

  • Followers: 1,700 
  • Reach: 545 
  • Open Rate: 21.47% 
  • Click-Through Rate: 0.92% 
  • Clicks: 5 
  • Unsubscribes: 1 

Campaign Learnings 

  • Sales are not attributed in metrics  
  • We tracked sales manually, and identified a 29% sales lift for the ASIN while the campaign was running 
  • Cannot assume that all followers will be “reached” with campaign 
  • Only 32% of their followers were reached 
  • Campaigns have limited customization; customization options include: 
  • Product ASIN – must be “buyable” and “new” within the last 6 months 
  • Logo selection – 3:1 aspect ratio required, PNG preferred type 
  • Header Preview – Either a dark or light background 
  • Campaign Delivery Window – M-F date range 
  • There is no A/B testing at this time 
  • There are no segmentation/targeting options offered at this time 

Should You Use Manage Your Customer Engagement? 

If you’re already brand registered, have a Brand Store, and are launching a new product, there is no reason not to leverage this tool.  

  • It’s free and requires low effort 
  • It boosts product visibility 
  • It can encourage brand loyalty 
  • It bypasses competitor ads by going straight to the shopper 

There is a caveat, of course. For this tool to have any material impact, you need a large number of followers. To acquire followers, we recommend using Amazon Posts and encouraging your social media followers to also follow you on Amazon to get notified of your latest products and deals. If you’re curious, read our blog post about using social media to drive Amazon sales. 

Learn More about Amazon Marketing Services 

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Amazon Sponsored Products Overview

Amazon is becoming increasingly saturated and competitive, and so too is the importance of Amazon advertising. There are a variety of ways companies can advertise on Amazon, including Sponsored Product Ads, Sponsored Brand AdsSponsored Brand Video AdsSponsored Display Ads, and Amazon Demand Side Platform (DSP). Each plays an important role in a brand’s Amazon success. 

Kaspien’s Digital Marketing Manager, Jeremy Rossow, stressed the importance of Amazon ads: 

Having a sponsored ads strategy on Amazon has become an absolute necessity for brands to be successful on the platform. Brands should view advertising in the same way they view inventory management and listing optimization: it’s a must for continued sales and growth on Amazon.

When starting your advertising campaign, determining which types of ads would be the most beneficial for you can be confusing. Generally, Sponsored Product Ads are a great place to start. 

What are Amazon Sponsored Product Ads? 

Amazon’s Sponsored Product Ads are likely a familiar sight to those who frequent the marketplace. These types of ads appear in many places throughout the SERP (nine times to be exact) and look like regular listings. The only difference between these listings and non-sponsored listings is that these have the word “Sponsored” located near the lower left corner of the product photo.  

Amazon Sponsored Product Example

The resemblance to a normal listing can decrease buyer hesitation. Sometimes, consumers are hesitant to engage with advertisements as they can seem ingenuine or forced. A study done by the American Association of Advertising Agencies showed that 96% of consumers don’t trust advertisers — which also means they don’t trust the ads they produce. 

However, this study was not specific to Amazon, and that’s important. When consumers are going about their daily lives, it makes sense that receiving an ad can be intrusive. But, when consumers are on Amazon, they are looking to buy, or at the very least considering a purchase for the future. That shift in headspace is key, and a big reason why Sponsored Product Ads perform so well. In the last twelve months, Kaspien’s Sponsored Product Ads have averaged an 11% conversion rate! 

How Amazon Sponsored Product Ads Work  

Sponsored Product Ads work in a similar fashion to other forms of advertising on Amazon: They run on Amazon’s PPC (pay-per-click) model. This allows brands to pay only for the ads that are clicked on, which is extremely beneficial for companies as they are not paying for ad campaigns that are unsuccessful in boosting recognition or revenue. 

Sponsored Product Ads also work on an auction model. Sellers bid on specific keywords, telling Amazon that if a shopper searches “____,” they are willing to pay X dollars or cents for their ad to appear on the SERP.  

When setting up their campaign, sellers specify the greatest amount they would be willing to pay to be featured as a Sponsored Product for the specified keyword. As various sellers bid on keywords, Amazon assesses the bids in order to determine who wins the auction. Amazon’s algorithm considers product rank, product ratings, customer reviews, product relevancy, and various other attributes to make the decision. Amazon charges the winner of the auction only $0.01 more than the second highest bidder. For example, if the highest bidder bid $1.00 and the second highest bid $0.55, the winner would only pay $0.56.  

What are Good Performance Metrics for Sponsored Product Ads? 

When implementing a Sponsored Product Ad campaign, it is important to keep your ideal metrics in mind. Key performance indicators include: 

Click-through-Rate (CTR) 

The CTR is an extremely important KPI, as it measures your ad’s effectiveness with the target audience. To calculate, divide the number of ad clicks by the impressions that it received on the SERP (clicks/impressions). If your CTR is low, it indicates that your ad is either targeting a non-ideal audience or the audience is not intrigued enough by your product.  

To improve CTR, you may need to adjust which keywords you’re targeting and/or update your listing title and image, since the title and image appear in the ad. Finally, you may need to consider pricing and reviews. If your product is priced too high or has few or poor reviews, that can also impact CTR. 

Conversion Rate (CR)

Conversion rate measures your listing’s ability to attract Amazon users and convert them into customers. This metric is measured by dividing the number of orders you received by the number of clicks your listing got (orders/clicks). The result indicates how well your listing is optimized for converting shoppers who clicked your ad.  

To increase your conversion rate, it may be a good idea to review your listing copy, work to increase positive reviews, alter your optimized keywords, or review your competitor tactics and respond appropriately. All these changes can make a big difference in your ability to convert more shoppers. 

Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)

Return on ad spend shows how much revenue you received from an ad campaign vs how much you spent. It can be calculated by dividing your ad revenue by the ad spend (ad revenue/ad spend).  

If your ROAS is not where you would like it to be, you may not be taking full advantage of the opportunities presented to you. To increase your ROAS, take advantage of Amazon promotions, optimize for less competitive keywords, or use exact match bids. 

Advertising Cost of Sale (ACOS)

Advertising Cost of Sale measures how much you spent on advertising to obtain your product revenue. ACOS is the inverse of ROAS, though ACOS is used more often in the industry. This metric is calculated by dividing the amount you spent on advertising by the revenue you received from product sales. As a good rule of thumb, you will want your ACoS to be around 15-20%, though lower is better. 

If your ACOS is too high, it suggests that your ads are not targeting ideal shoppers and/or, similar to conversion rate, that your listing is not optimized to convert shoppers after they click into your listing. Amazon ad costs are rising in 2021, but we’ve written a blog post about key ways to reduce Amazon ad costs without sacrificing sales.

Kaspien’s Advertising Performance Metrics

At Kaspien, our average 2020 metrics across all product categories included a CTR of 0.42%, a Conversion Rate of 10.48%, ROAS of 12.43, and an ACOS of 8.04%. Our digital marketing efforts boost total sales by 30% on average. If you are looking for help to increase your Amazon advertising performance, feel free to contact us! 

Amazon Sponsored Product Ads Best Practices

Set Competitive Bids  

For keywords that are long-tail and specific to your product, set aggressive and competitive bids. This will allow you to have a better chance against your competitors and will boost your chances of being featured. For keywords that are broader and more generic, we recommend you still bid, but at a lower value, as you’ll reach a broader and potentially less relevant audience with these keywords.  

Keep a Close Eye on Trends  

Shopper habits and trends ebb and flow easily, so it is vital to stay ahead of these trends and notice them as they are happening. Keep a close eye on trending keywords and adjust your ads and listing as needed. Just be careful not to make edits too frequently, as doing so means there isn’t enough time to collect data on how your previous edits impacted performance. 

Do not “Set It and Forget It”  

Shopper habits change, as do competitors’ ad strategies. Because of this, merely setting bids and leaving them will not work. Amazon is a dynamic and ever-shifting marketplace, so in order to maximize advertising profitability, you must regularly manage and optimize your ad campaigns.   

Using these fundamentals leads to results like this (read the full JumpOff Jo case study here):

Amazon Advertising Performance Graph

Learn the Best Way to Structure Ad Campaigns

Download the free eBook: Architecting Amazon Sponsored Ad Campaigns.

Amazon ad architecture eBook

Requirements for Amazon Sponsored Product Ads 

Comply with Amazon’s General Guidelines 

To create Sponsored Product Ads, sellers must comply with a list of guidelines and requirements set out by Amazon. Fortunately, these guidelines are quite easy to meet. They include: 

  • Content must be suitable for a general audience 
  • Content must accurately depict advertised product with correct information 
  • Only advertise products you have the right to advertise as you are the registered seller or brand itself  

Amazon also has a list of prohibited content for Sponsored Product Ads. This content is restricted for a variety of reasons, from trademarks to the glorification of harmful activities. Some of this prohibited content includes: 

  • Amazon Trademarked products or services 
  • Content that promotes drug use 
  • Culturally inappropriate content  
  • Content that promotes dangerous activities  

Amazon also prohibits certain types of photos and videos to be used within their Sponsored Product Ads. These visuals include: 

  • Content of weapons that are threatening, gruesome, directed, or associated with a minor  
  • Visible intimate body parts  
  • Sexual content 

For a full list of Amazon Sponsored Product Ads prohibited content, hop over to their website for the full list! 

If you are looking for a place to start your Amazon Advertising campaign, then Sponsored Products are likely an advantageous option for you and your company. They are a great option and prove to be beneficial to companies of all sizes! 

Learn More about Amazon Advertising  

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Example images of Amazon Posts in a mobile phone

It is no secret that social media has become well integrated into every portion of our lives. We have channels for our personal lives, professional lives, and now we have another channel for our lives as consumers: Amazon Posts.  

What are Amazon Posts? 

Amazon Posts are a social-media style outlet that brings the type of content we are accustomed to seeing on social channels to the Amazon marketplace. Amazon launched the beta version of Amazon Posts in October 2019, and the feature is still in its beta trial. Brands can create posts that have an Instagram-style feel to them but are posted directly to the Amazon platform. This feature is available to U.S. brands enrolled in Brand Registry and their designated agents, such as a third-party seller or Amazon agency.  

Where do Amazon Posts Appear? 

Your Amazon Brand Store

For most product categories, Amazon Posts are available to view on the company’s Amazon Brand Store. This addition is located at the far right of the Brand Store menu. Here, shoppers can also choose to “Follow” the brand, staying up-to-date every time the brand shares a new Post. 

Combat Wipes Brand Store Showing Posts

When shoppers follow your brand, you can also use Amazon’s “Manage Your Customer Engagement” tool to directly email shoppers whenever you launch a new product or promotion.

Once you publish an Amazon Post, it appears on your brand’s “Posts” feed as well as four other locations, which is determined by the Amazon algorithm. The places that the posts can appear include: 

Your product’s brand listing  

Within your listing, Amazon Posts lie between “Customers who bought this item also bought” and “Customer Questions.” This location allows consumers who are interested in your listing to learn more about the specific product, other products in your lines, and your brand as a whole.  

Competitor listings 

Similar to the post placement on your product listing, your Amazon Post can land on related brand’s listings. This is a benefit to you, as your products are showcased against theirs, but it also works vice-versa, as competitor posts can land on your listings.  

Related post feed 

Your post can also land on the related post feed, which highlights various products related to your own. Products in this feed get placed on the specific page through a tagging process where the A9 Algorithm links similar products to each other. The related post feed can be found by clicking on the three dots in the upper right corner of the post then clicking on “See more like this.” 

Combat Wipes Amazon Post Example

The Related Posts Feed benefits shoppers and brands, as shoppers can view various items they may be interested in while the brands enjoy increased exposure. 

Category-based feed 

The final place where your post can be featured is on the category-based feed. When you publish your post, Amazon places category tags at the bottom of the post that are custom to your product. The specific tag determines the category-based feed your post can end up on. This feed is like the Related Post feed, but it includes a broader array of products. To view this feed, click on one of the category tags at the bottom of a post. The link will then take you to the feed featuring products within the specified category. 

Combat Wipes Amazon Post Category Based Feed

How Amazon Posts Compare to Other Social Media Platforms 

While Amazon Posts are similar in fashion to other social media platforms, they are also quite different. Most notably, on traditional sites, the main goal of the network is to create connections between users. This connection fuels engagement, which is one of the primary performance indicators that both brands and individuals measure when determining success.  

Amazon Posts, rather than being used to drive engagement, are used to help with consumer conversions. Posts allow brands to showcase more of who they are and what their products are with the hope of increasing revenue.  

If you’re curious about blending social media marketing and Amazon, check out our blog post about leveraging social media marketing to drive traffic to Amazon. 

Why Brands Should Utilize Amazon Posts 

Brands should take advantage of Amazon Posts for a variety of reasons, including: 

Amazon Posts are a new way to market your products 

Because Amazon Posts are a relatively new addition to the Amazon marketplace, they are a great way to stay competitive. Being an early adopter of this service can allow you to stand out among your competition. Also, because Amazon Posts is new and not yet competitive, it provides the opportunity for your posts to be more easily accessible to Amazon users. The market saturation is low, which means that you have a great chance of being highlighted. 

Opportunity to cross-sell products  

Because Amazon Posts can appear in numerous locations on Amazon, using Amazon Posts also helps you cross-sell your products. While this can also happen on other places within the listing, Amazon Posts is yet another advantageous space for you to highlight your various products.  

Increased brand and product awareness  

As Amazon Posts are displayed in a variety of places, they increase your likelihood to be discovered by new consumers. These new consumers may not have been looking for your products specifically, but they found them through Posts.  

Amazon Posts Best Practices & Recommendations 

Repurpose your social media content  

Let’s be real; creating content can be time-consuming and difficult. We recommend taking posts that you have already shared on other platforms — e.g., Instagram, Facebook, Twitter — and repurposing them for Amazon Posts. Not only will this save you time and energy, but it will also ensure your brand is consistent across numerous social channels.  

Keep your captions short & sweet 

When your Amazon Post publishes, only the first two lines are shown by default. Because of this, it is extremely important to say what is necessary and do it quickly. This can be accomplished through short captions or by using the first two lines as a header, then going into greater detail later in the post. You do have 2,200 characters to work with, but brevity is a virtue.  

Utilize lifestyle photos 

Depending on the product, it may be hard to understand how it’s used. By highlighting various uses or showing the product being used in real life, you help consumers understand what they should expect. Lifestyle photos also allow consumers to place themselves within the context of the post. If the person in the photo seems to be enjoying the product, they’ll probably enjoy the product too.  

Share your Story  

Humanizing your company is a great way to market your products. Showing consumers your company values and mission while also highlighting stories can grant you the opportunity to connect with them on a deeper level. These deeper connections allow for stronger relationships and bonds, thus creating a more loyal customer base. 

Get posting & do it often  

As is with all social channels, consistency is key. Consistently utilizing Amazon Posts to share content with your audience allows your content to be found more easily. Because Amazon Posts is in its early stage and is not being widely utilized, there is even more of a reason to start posting.  

Post quality content  

When you do decide to start posting, only post high-quality content. Lower quality photos or captions can negatively reflect on the quality of your brand and products, which is the last thing you want to happen. If your post is the first way a consumer encounters your brand, you want to make a good first impression. 

Learn About More Amazon Marketing Tools 

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Amazon Product Lifecycle Management

Growing your Amazon business effectively and profitably is tough enough without worrying about losing cash cow ASINs as they go end of life. This is a challenge every one of our consumer electronics (CE) clients faces. The CE industry is built around regular, iterative product replacement cycles. To manage those challenges and turn them into growth, you must always have parallel plans to maximize the impact of your cash cow product as it gradually retires, while setting the stage for a replacement that is just as successful. 

In this post, I’ll explain several considerations and tactics for effective product lifecycle management on Amazon.  

What Role Does Your Product Play? 

Before you can plan a replacement strategy, you first need to define what role the old product was playing in the market and how to fill that gap with a new product. You can start that process by answering these questions: 

  • Who is buying the old product, and what are their needs that could be met with a new product? 
  • Which of your current products or bundles are selling particularly well? Why? How do they differ in components, price, and value proposition from similar products or bundles? 
  • Do you need to slot in at a similar price point, or can you serve the same customer with a better overall value at a higher price? Successfully increasing the average selling price (ASP) is a great way to reduce transition revenue gaps as the new ASIN is getting up to speed. 
  • Has the competitive environment changed? Are there new threats or opportunities you can address through a new product? 
  • How long can the product live an extended life on Amazon – we find some products can add months or even years successfully on Amazon. 

Understanding Your Customer is Essential 

Ultimately, you need to understand why your customers are so fond of the product. What were their likes and dislikes throughout the out of box and user experience? This is critical for any product transition strategy. In particular with Amazon product lifecycle management, it will significantly impact how you market the new product, what your content will say about the product, and how and where you position it in your brand store. Customer insight research can and should be done a number of ways, including: 

  • Pre- and Post-purchase surveys – there are many different ways to easily survey your customer base or consumers in general – use them! The most successful brands have proactive strategies to regularly engage in consumer survey research throughout the year. 
  • In-app engagement and behavior mapping (for app-based products) – data from app usage is a treasure trove of insights if used properly.  
  • Reading through and understanding customer reviews – doing this in a manual fashion is important. As your business scales, use of AI-based review aggregation and analysis tools can be extremely useful. 
  • Analyzing returns and reasons for them. 

Focus on Inventory Management 

One key lesson we have learned in the tumultuous months since March 2020 is just how valuable the in-stock position can be at Amazon and elsewhere in the retail channel. On Amazon, it is all about understanding your sales velocity to the day and making sure your inventory management can absorb a spike in demand. 

  • Commit to consistently having sufficient stock on hand. 
  • Overstock best sellers to ensure you never stock out. 
  • Establish a backup plan to adapt when Amazon changes its maximums or stops taking orders due to external factors. 
  • Manage the process of forecasting the drawdown of inventory of the old ASIN, including promotional pricing approach, to ensure you move through the inventory, but you do not gap out before the new and improved replacement ASIN not only arrives on the scene but is gathering momentum. 

Create Momentum by Mastering Launch 101 Tactics 

Making a new ASIN successful on Amazon is not rocket science. It requires patience and a near maniacal focus on the details. 

1 – Prepare Creative Assets in Advance 

First impressions matter, so make sure you’re ready to put your best foot forward at launch. That goes double for Amazon, where shoppers cannot physically inspect a product before purchase.  

Prepare high-quality studio and lifestyle images, product demonstration videos, and any helpful graphics (such as a comparison chart showing how the new product is superior to the old product) before you activate the product detail page.  

2 – Prepare Listing Content in Advance 

Just as visuals matter, so too does the copy on the product listing. Conduct keyword research using search term reports from Amazon and third-party tools like JungleScout or SEMRush, and review competitor listings and customer reviews from the old product. Integrate your findings into the new product listing’s title, bullet points, product description, and keywords for your Amazon ads. Learn more about this process in this post, “How to Create Fully Optimized Amazon Listings.

3 – Consider Variation Listings 

Of course, there may be cases where you don’t create an entirely new product detail page. In some cases, your new product may be similar enough to the old product that you can create a variation listing. In this case, conducting a keyword audit is still a good idea in case the landscape changed or new product features create new keyword opportunities. 

4 – Prepare to Launch Review Generation Programs 

Customer reviews are incredibly important, as they function as social proof about a product’s quality and value proposition. Leverage Amazon-compliant tools for review generation, such as Amazon Vine, Early Reviewer programs, Buyer-Seller Messaging, product inserts, and Amazon’s Request a Review feature. You can learn more about such tools in this blog post. 

5 – Spotlight the New Product in Your Brand Store 

Amazon Brand Stores are highly customizable digital storefronts on the Amazon marketplace. When launching a new product, you can place it front and center on your Brand Store’s home page to maximize its visibility. If you are constantly adding new products to your catalog, you can even include a “New Arrivals” page in your Brand Store to help shoppers discover your offerings and encourage them to check in periodically.  

Amazon also released a new tool called “Manage Your Customer Engagement,” which among other things, allows shoppers to “follow” your Brand Store in order to hear about new products or deals.  

6 – Launch Amazon Ads 

Speaking of Brand Stores, one way you can direct shoppers to them is through Sponsored Brand Ads and Sponsored Brand Videos. Sponsored Brand Ads can be especially useful when launching a new product, as this banner ad includes three products. You can include two established products alongside the new product, effectively letting the new product ride the coat tails of the established products. When shoppers click the ad, you can direct them to your Brand Store or to the respective product listing.  

In addition to Sponsored Brand Ads, you should always run Sponsored Product Ads. These are the highest converting ad type on Amazon, making them a must whenever you want to boost sales velocity. These ads resemble normal listings on the search results page, save for a small “Sponsored” label below the image. 

7 – Attract Additional Traffic from Off Amazon 

Amazon has steadily rolled out updates to its algorithm since early 2020, leading to talk that the “A10 algorithm” is being released incrementally or these updates are leading up to a formal launch. Among other things, A10 is alleged to favor listings that receive external traffic. This means that social media ads can be a powerful tool for boosting not only sales, but also product rank on Amazon. Additionally, social media is a great way to build awareness about new products. Shoppers won’t come to Amazon seeking the latest and greatest iteration if they don’t know that it has been released.  

Get Help Managing Product Transitions 

Product transitions are an annual ritual in the consumer electronics space. Done properly, they will propel a brand’s growth trajectory both on and off Amazon. If you need help growing your electronics brand on Amazon, including launching new products, Levin Consulting partners with Kaspien to provide expertise for consumer electronics and consumer technology brands. Reach out if you’d like to discuss your business needs. 

Learn More about Amazon Business Strategy 

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Amazon A+ Content

It’s no secret that there are tricks of the trade when it comes to boosting your Amazon listing and increasing its conversions. One of those tricks is implementing Amazon A+ Content.  

Amazon claims that implementing A+ Content into a listing can improve conversion rates by 5% but internally, we have seen even greater returns. Kaspien performed an internal study that showed a 12% growth in orders for one of our partners that added A+ Content into their listing! They also saw a 7% growth in overall sessions and a 10% increase in conversions. 

OK but What is Amazon A+ Content? 

Amazon A+ Content – previously known as Enhanced Brand Content in Seller Central – offers an opportunity for brands to give consumers a better idea of who they are and what they have to offer. A+ Content is supplementary material that can be found underneath a product’s Amazon listing, allowing brand registered sellers and vendors increased space to share more info about their products and brand. It’s designed and provided by the brand themselves (or their seller), which allows for increased branding opportunities and improved discoverability.  

Amazon A+ Content is a free tool offered to sellers, adding yet another reason why brands should utilize it. (Fun fact: A+ Content used to cost $600 for brands retailing through Vendor Central). While this additional content does not increase a product’s SERP ranking, it does help persuade shoppers to buy. As seen in our study, the more info provided to consumers, the more they are likely to trust your brand, and the more likely they are to convert. Also, although A+ Content is not indexed by Amazon’s algorithm, it is indexed by Google. It gives more context to the listing, allowing Google’s algorithm to better match user searches to the products they are looking for. 

A tablet displaying an A+ Content page on Amazon

 

How to Create A+ Content  

First off, to create A+ Content, you must be either Brand Registered or have a Vendor Central account on Amazon. Once this essential step is complete, just head to your Seller Central account and you’re ready to follow these steps: 

  1. Click the “A+ Content” tab in the Advertising menu. From there, to create the content you want, click “Start Creating A+ Content” and choose your desired content.  
    • Available content includes an Enhanced Product Description, which provides more details on product details while offering the ability to answer questions customers may have.  
  2. Name the content you are creating, following the provided cues to design your desired A+ Content.  
  3. Add in your images and captions. During this stage of the process, you can click “Preview” at any point to see what it looks like on both desktop and mobile.  
    • Notes:  
      • To add photos, you need to first add them to the Creative Assets Library. This holds content from other initiatives like Sponsored Brands and other A+ Content you may have created in the past.  
      • You must include image alt-text keywords. This text does not appear within the traditional A+ Content but does give context to those with screen reader apps. When writing the alt-text, think of simple sentences like “Child floating on pool noodle in the water.” 
  4. Add desired and applicable ASINs to the content through the ASINs management portion.  
  5. Create language variations. Language variations copies your created content and ASINs so you can use them as translated content.  
    • Not everyone shopping on your listing is going to be speaking your native language, so to address this you must create numerous variations of the A+ Content.  
  6. Click “Review & Submit”, look over your created A+ Content, and when satisfied click “Submit for Approval”.  
    • Your content may take up to 7 business days to either receive approval or be sent back for necessary changes to be made.  
    • After approval, it can take up to 24 hours to be applied to the specified ASINs. 

Requirements for Creating Amazon A+ Content  

In order to create A+ Content, there are a couple of must-haves: 

You must be Brand Registered or have a Vendor Central account

A+ Content has been designed to increase customer conversion so that the people who visit the listing are more likely to make a purchase.  

You must have high-quality assets

It is absolutely necessary to include high-quality images and graphics on the page. A+ Content is designed to give shoppers more information about the brand and provide additional resources in order to increase their conversion rate. By providing less than high-quality materials, a brand risks being perceived as lower quality by consumers, which is the last thing they want to do.  

So, How do You Provide Consumers the Content They Want? 

Make it exciting! Create graphics that are eye-catching and aesthetically pleasing so that the shopper pays attention and retains the info provided. Nobody wants to read content that is boring and difficult to follow, so make sure you compose your A+ Content in a way that is captivating for consumers.  

Best Practices for Amazon A+ Content 

When designing your A+ Content, some best practices to keep in the forefront of your mind are: 

Craft Comparison Charts 

Comparison Charts are particularly helpful when you have products with slight variances. Highlighting the differences between products helps consumers better understand what each product offers. This prepares shoppers to make more informed purchasing decisions, which is advantageous to both the consumer and your brand. When customers make confident, informed buying decisions, they are more likely to be satisfied with the product and your company.

Another benefit of the Comparison Chart is the ability to cross-sell other products that they may be interested in. These may be products that complimentary to the one the consumer is already viewing or products from your other lines.  

A+ Content Page

Highlight Your Competitive Differences 

How are you different than your competitors? What makes your brand and your products unique? Highlight these things! It’s important to show customers how you are exceptional and how you will benefit them. While doing this, you must avoid directly criticizing your competitors as Amazon will penalize this practice.  

Keep it Simple  

Your A+ Content should be to the point and simple. Instead of writing long sections, try including pictures, graphics, and succinct sentences. This will keep your audience informed and engaged at the same time.  

Proofread, Proofread, Proofread! 

Bypassing any possible grammatical and/or informational errors is vital in sustaining your brand’s authority. Not only will Amazon not publish your content if it has these errors, but you want to make sure you are putting your best foot forward with your customers. As Amazon is an extremely saturated marketplace, it is essential to make the best impression to customers visiting your page. Mitigating errors within your listing helps with product conversion. 

Tell Your Brand’s Story 

Personifying your brand and highlighting your “why” through storytelling creates a much stronger first impression with your base than straightforward, black-and-white information. This can be accomplished by featuring your founders and their stories and/or explaining why your brand exists and the beliefs that fuel it. From here, consumers are more likely to have created an emotional bond to your company, increasing their likelihood to convert.  

Highlight Brand Safety & Reliability 

Another promising A+ strategy is sharing safety and reliability stats pertaining to your product. Using this extra space to share your product’s superiority and dependability in comparison to its competition further differentiates your products. Amazon market saturation can be a tough space for sellers to navigate, so using the A+ Content to separate your product can be advantageous. 

Learn More About Amazon Marketing Strategies 

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Amazon Product Review Comments Disabled

Update: In June 2021, Amazon started allowing sellers with Brand Registry to send direct, templated messages to buyers that left a critical review. To learn more about this update and its implications, check out this blog post.

In December 2020, Amazon announced that it was disabling product review comments, the feature that allowed shoppers and sellers to post text replies to product reviews. As a co-founder of SellerSmile, an e-commerce customer service agency, commenting on reviews was a vital opportunity to build the brands we represented. 

Despite losing the ability to comment, there’s still extraordinary value stored in the details of your reviews. That’s why we developed a simple, four-step approach to convert Amazon product reviews into insights: 1) collect, 2) categorize, 3) report, and 4) improve.  

I’d like to share that approach so you can apply it to your own brand, but first, a brief overview of product reviews on Amazon leading up to this change. 

Growing Concerns About Product Reviews 

Around 2015, the “private label” selling strategy was one of the best and biggest trends on Amazon. Instead of re-selling another brand’s products, sellers everywhere were creating their own products, brands, and intellectual property, and using FBA for distribution. 

Since the number and average rating of reviews were highly correlated with the success of an FBA product on Amazon, this created an environment where sellers would go to great lengths to outcompete one another to the highest rating with the most reviews. 

Starting in 2016, the authenticity and legitimacy of product reviews on Amazon became subject of greater attention and scrutiny. Amazon banned seller-incentivized reviews and released Amazon Vine and the Early Reviewer Program (now discontinued). Both of these programs were intended to offer sellers a legitimate way to gain their first authentic reviews on new products. 

Review Management Before Comments were Disabled 

When we started SellerSmile in 2017, we strove to embody Amazon’s first Leadership Principle, “Customer Obsession” in all of our services. For example, we’d complete the following tasks, nearly every day, for each listing:  

  • Search for new product reviews and post a customized, assistive comment 
  • Search for the reviewer’s order to reach out in a direct message to offer a resolution 
  • Record the number and location of review comments. 

Using the comment feature according to Amazon’s Community Guidelines, we could offer helpful public support, boosting our brand’s perceived helpfulness, which would increase shopper trust.

If we could assist a customer with a swift resolution, the reviewer might modify or even remove their negative review altogether. When that happened, we felt justified in all of our efforts. 

Amazon Disables “Comment” Feature on Product Reviews 

In December 2020, from the Customer Reviews dashboard inside Seller Central, Amazon revealed they were removing comments from reviews,  

“Please note that commenting on reviews has been disabled. There were many gaps in the comments feature as it existed, it was subject to abuse, and it did not provide sufficient value to our customers. In order to innovate faster and provide a great shopping experience, we are retiring this feature to make way for future innovation for customers in our store.”  

This change was especially surprising since Amazon had recently launched Customer Reviews on the Brand Dashboard, which conveniently aggregated reviews into a feed, encouraging sellers enrolled in Brand Registry to manage and reply to them from inside Seller Central. 

How to Manage Product Reviews Without Commenting 

Every day, people share true and vivid experiences they have with the brands they choose, in the form of public product reviews. Sellers can tap into this feedback to validate assumptions about their products and practices.  

Follow these four steps to manage your Amazon product reviews: 

Step 1) Collect  

Decide how you’ll record and store your product review data. We use the built-in reporting Help Scout offers, but the easiest way to start is with a simple spreadsheet, such as an Excel or Google spreadsheet. 

How to find your most recent Amazon product reviews:  

  1. Navigate to one of your Amazon listings 
  2. Find the “Customer Reviews” section 
  3. Sort by “Most recent” in the list picker 
  4. Record each new review as a new entry in your records 

 

Will you monitor your full catalog or a limited list of products? Some sellers manage catalogs of millions of ASINs while most work with far fewer. In either case, a smaller fraction of products tends to receive a larger share of sales and reviews.  

Step 2) Categorize 

Record the ASIN, rating, and marketplace of each review. Assign one or more “categories” (see below) that describe the main theme or topic of the review and record notable reviewer comments. These entries will allow you to create helpful reports in Step 3. 

We recommend tracking at least these five data points for each review:   

  1. ASIN and/or SKU 
  2. Star rating (e.g., 1 to 5) 
  3. Marketplace (e.g., US, CA, UK, DE, etc.) 
  4. Category  
    1. Damaged 
    2. Defect 
    3. Listing content 
    4. Missing items 
    5. Order processing 
    6. Other/miscellaneous 
    7. Product availability 
    8. Product inquiry/FAQ 
    9. Quality 
    10. Safety issue 
    11. Sizing 
    12. Shipping/fulfillment 
    13. No response needed/SPAM 
    14. Feedback 
  5. Notable comment (Text paraphrase, keyword, or snippet of the review) 

 

Step 3) Report 

Create charts, graphs, and tables that visualize the information. A few useful reports include: 

  • Marketplaces. Show reviews by marketplace over time to see where more marketing efforts may be needed. 
  • Categories. Create a pie chart of the review categories you see each month then compare to see trends and changes over time.  
  • Top Sellers. Show all the review details of your best-selling products (ratings, marketplaces, categories, etc.). 

See our Sample Customer Service Report as a visual example of the review reports you might create.  

Step 4) Improve 

Read your reports periodically, looking for patterns, anomalies, and anything else confusing or fascinating. Is a certain category or issue recurring?  

The best place to start is in the negative reviews. Brainstorm, then implement and measure tests that would prevent those poor experiences from happening in the first place. When you see signs of joy and satisfaction, understand why and make a plan to deliver that positivity with greater consistency.  

Examples of common insights from product reviews:  

  • Ways to improve existing products 
  • Which new products to introduce next 
  • What information to include in the listing images, bullets, title, FAQ, keywords, etc. 
  • When to make a change to product packaging 
  • Where in the customer journey do pain points exist 

As you monitor your reviews over time, you might see the content and ratings shift in response to the changes you make in your business. By enhancing awareness of the content in the reviews, we can more readily see the root causes of both negative and positive experiences surrounding a brand. Harnessing this knowledge can lead to brilliant and repeatable successes.  

Why We Miss Review Commenting 

Customer Communication 

Sometimes, when an Amazon customer requires assistance the first and only place they go to is the reviews page to share their experience with the community. We used to meet customers there, offering comments as assistance or informing them how to contact us directly for a resolution. Today, there may be an even greater advantage in designing easy-to-use products, since your support team’s ability to educate customers in the reviews has been reduced. 

Safety Issues 

Rarely, Amazon reviewers will publish descriptions and images of injuries or harm that a product has caused them. Examples include allergic reactions, cuts, bruises, burns, or safety complaints. In cases like these, the reviewer may require immediate, white-glove support, but with commenting gone, the only chance for the seller to reach out to the customer has been taken away. 

Reputation Defense 

Product reviews used to be more like a forum, an open room with many voices and threaded responses. Now, it feels more like a public wall with privileged access for reviewers only. As stewards of our clients’ brands, we feel like we have the responsibility to contribute to conversations about them, wherever they occur. 

The Future of Reviews and Customer Service on Amazon 

We’ve seen a wider trend of limiting access to Amazon’s customers. We know that they’re working to “make way for future innovation…”, but that might mean less freedom of expression for brands trying to make a special connection. 

We recommend a multi-channel approach so unforeseen changes to Amazon’s features or guidelines are less disruptive to your business plan. 

SellerSmile is a team of experts in e-commerce customer service. Schedule a call and let’s discuss how we can help improve your store’s product reviews to win more of the hearts and minds of your customers. 

Amazon Ads are getting more expensive

Amazon Ads are Getting More Expensive 

On June 9, 2021, Marketplace Pulse published an analysis of Amazon advertising in 2020 and 2021. They found that the average cost-per-click (CPC) is up 50% year-over-year and up 30% since the start of the year. Likewise, the average advertising cost of sale (ACOS) up 36% year-over-year and up 20% since the start of the year. 

Average CPC Reported by Marketplace Pulse 

  • 2020 Average: $0.85 
  • January 2021: $0.93 
  • June 2021: $1.20 

Average ACOS Reported by Marketplace Pulse 

  • 2020 Average: 22% 
  • January 2021: 25% 
  • June 2021: 30% 

In their report, Marketplace Pulse notes that advertising costs are rising as a result of more brands advertising on the platform while the amount of ad real estate has remained relatively unchanged. Additionally, established brands and brand acquirers are investing larger advertising budgets into Amazon, further driving up CPC costs. 

The report has a sobering conclusion: As Amazon advertising gains more prominence, customer acquisition costs (CAC) will only continue to rise. 

How Kaspien’s Ad Performance Compares 

To succeed in this landscape, you need a cost-effective ad strategy – which Kaspien has. Just take a look at how our ad campaigns stack up to those reported by Marketplace Pulse. We think it paints a pretty compelling picture: 

Marketplace Pulse vs Kaspien metrics for 2020 

  • Avg. CPC: $0.85 vs Kaspien $0.31 
  • Avg. ACOS: 22% vs Kaspien’s 8% 

Marketplace Pulse Metrics vs Kaspien metrics for 2021 YTD 

  • Avg. CPC: $1.20 vs Kaspien’s $0.42 
  • Avg. ACOS: 30% vs Kaspien’s 11% 

How Does Kaspien Achieve Lower Amazon Ad Costs? 

We achieve results like this thanks to our proprietary advertising software, AdManager. We use it when we manage Sponsored Product and Sponsored Brand campaigns for our Retail and Agency partners, and it’s also available as SaaS. AdManager deploys best-in-class software features to drive incredible results. Here are just a few highlights:  

Day Parting 

Schedule your ads to run during the days and times that deliver the most sales for the best cost. Users can also view performance results for multiple key metrics. After implementing Day Parting, we see ACOS improve 40%. 

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. 

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. 

Through features like these, AdManager improves our partners’ ACOS by up to 50% and boosts total Amazon sales by 30% on average! 

Expertly Crafted Campaign Architecture 

While AdManager is our not-so-secret weapon, a tool is only as good as the person using it. In studies conducted over the last five years, Kaspien’s advertising experts have repeatedly validated the following tactics as best practices for campaign architecture. 

One Product Per Ad Group 

Campaign architecture determines what data is visible to advertisers, which directly impacts their ability to optimize campaigns. As such, it’s important to provide advertisers the clearest data possible.  

The best way to do that is to limit campaigns to one product per ad group because the most critical factors that impact campaign performance live at the product-level, such as price, margin, rank, keywords, target advertising cost of sale (ACOS), ideal cost-per-click (CPC), and inventory levels. 

One Product Per Match Type 

In a similar vein, we also recommend building Amazon campaigns with one product per match type. This model further helps advertisers use data insights to drive optimizations. 

One Product Per Match Type

Through this design, you enjoy the following benefits: 

  • Accounts for each product’s margin and price 
  • If a product runs out of stock, the ads stop running, preventing wasted ad spend 
  • Can see which search terms converted for each product, enabling better keyword optimization 
  • Can negate search terms from Broad Match or Phrase Match types when adding the search terms as Exact Match keywords, improving relevancy and cost-efficiency 

4-Campaign Build for Amazon Ads

Combining one product per ad group and one product per match type, we get a campaign architecture that looks something like this: 

4-Campaign Build

In the 4-Campaign build, advertisers can harvest search terms from Automatic, Broad Match, and Phrase Match campaigns to create keywords for Exact Match campaigns. This enables continual keyword generation, improving campaign relevancy. When using the 4-Campaign build, it’s important to remember to negate search terms in Automatic, Broad Match, or Phrase Match campaigns after adding them as keywords in Exact Match campaigns. If you don’t, you’ll split relevancy across campaigns. 

With more precise data at the campaign and product levels, you have a clearer picture at both the macro and micro scale. With a clearer picture, you can make smarter strategic decisions, which in turn yield better results. 

Of course, it would be foolish to say that this 4-Campaign build is a one size fits all. We’ve seen it be highly effective for brands across the spectrum, but there will always be exceptions. Depending on your goals and if you have variation listings, you may need to modify the 4-Campaign build. 

Want the Unabridged Guide?

Download the free eBook: Architecting Amazon Sponsored Ad Campaigns.

Amazon ad architecture eBook

 

Make Your Amazon Ads More Cost-Effective 

We’ll end with two facts: Amazon advertising is getting more expensive, and Amazon advertising will remain an important part of growing your brand online.  

Once you’ve reconciled those facts, the next step is taking steps to minimize your ad costs without sacrificing performance. For that, you need better tools and better strategies. Kaspien can help with both: we can manage your advertising campaigns for you or you can use AdManager yourself. 

Learn More about Amazon Marketing Services  

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Toys & Games strategy

If there’s one thing people will always have an appetite for, it’s entertainment. 2020 saw that appetite grow even stronger as COVID-19 forced millions to adapt to virtual learning, remote work, and social distancing.  

Whether it was to alleviate boredom, reduce anxiety, or just have fun, the Toys & Games category on Amazon boomed in the historic year. Nearly every major Toys & Games brand also experienced notable growth in 2020, including Lego, Hasbro, and Mattel. In 2021, the global Toys & Games industry is expected to surpass $330 billion in revenue. 

It wasn’t just multibillion-dollar brands that grew either. Kaspien partners with hundreds of Toys & Games brands of all sizes. In 2020, we saw Amazon sales increase 30% year-over-year. Ad costs were also down, with our advertising cost of sale (ACOS) decreasing 29% year-over-year.  

As we move through 2021, the Toys & Games category continues to enjoy strong performance. Comparing January through April 2021 to 2020, Kaspien’s partners in the Toys & Games have grown Amazon sales by 18%, on average. Even with Amazon’s strong category presence and the ubiquity of the top toy brands, the constant desire for fresh entertainment means new opportunities for growth continue to emerge for brands of all sizes. 

Category Landscape 

One of the Largest Categories 

Amazon has one of the largest selections of toys in the world, making it a popular destination for shoppers and sellers alike. As a result, brands operating in the Toys & Games category face tough competition, including household name brands like Lego, Hasbro, and Mattel. To succeed in this space, brands need dedicated Amazon expertise, whether they hire for that internally or acquire it through a partnership. 

Toys and Games brand logos

High Competition, but Niches Create Opportunity 

While Toys & Games as a whole is a saturated category, there are dozens of subcategories and niches that offer ample opportunity. Toys & Games can differ immensely by factors such as price, complexity, target age range, target gender, genre, trends, type, and more. Products and marketing aren’t competing with each other at a category level, but on a niche level.  

Amazon Retail (1P) has a Strong Presence 

Speaking of larger brands, Amazon Retail (Amazon first party or 1P) partners with many of the biggest players in this space. According to documents provided by Amazon to the U.S. Congress, Amazon Retail holds 9% of toy listings on Amazon while capturing 42% of toy sales on the marketplace. Over 99% of Amazon Retail’s toy sales come from brands sold through Amazon Retail, rather than Amazon’s private label brands. 

Toys represents Amazon’s second largest category presence by share of listings, coming in after books. Toys also represent Amazon’s third largest category presence by share of sales, coming in after books and consumer electronics. 

Toys and Games Share of Sales

Amazon’s large presence in this space can make it challenging to capture top placements when selling in the same subcategory. If you are considering launching a new product in the Toys & Games category, it’s worth researching if you’ll be competing with Amazon Retail. 

An Abundance of Digitally Native Brands 

The Toys & Games category is also home to many digitally native brands. Over 26,000 games have been funded through Kickstarter, raising over $233.8 million. The success of digitally native brands in this space can be at least partially attributed to shoppers’ hunger for new experiences. While some games endure literal centuries, such as the Game of Life (whose origins date back to 1860) or Monopoly (tracing back to 1903), they are the exceptions to the norm, especially in an age of near instantaneous global communication.  

Toys and Games Kickstarter

For brands in this industry, this reality is both a blessing and a curse. New opportunities constantly present themselves, but so too do new competitors.  

Copycats & Counterfeits Abound 

Just as the hunger for something new makes Toys & Games fertile ground for digitally native brands, it also makes it prime hunting territory for copycats. It’s easy to metaphorically (or literally) slap a new coat of paint on a toy or game, then market it as something new. This also makes the category vulnerable to counterfeits. The Department of Homeland Security’s 2020 report on counterfeits listed Toys as the 9th most common counterfeit product seized in 2018. 

COVID-19 Impact on Toys & Games 

On the consumer side, COVID-19 led more shoppers to invest in at-home entertainment. Many children shifted to online school while some parents also shifted to working remotely. Having both child and parent at home during the work week quickly highlighted the need for having entertainment options that didn’t require adult assistance.  

On the seller side, nearly every brand faced delays in manufacturing and supply shortages, especially those dependent on supplies and production from overseas. In the Toys & Games industry, that represents a significant portion of the field, as China dominates production for this industry. In 2019, China led global toy exports, exporting nearly $63 billion worth of toys, including 80% of US imports. 

Rules & Regulations 

Along with the Baby and Health & Personal Care categories, Toys & Games is one of the most regulated categories on Amazon. At Kaspien, we highly recommend working with a specialist to help when launching new products in this space, as failing to prepare the required documents in advance or submitting information incorrectly can delay or interrupt sales for weeks to months. 

Toys & Games eBook cover

Download the eBook to Read this Section 


Shopper Psychographics 

Shoppers Search by Many Variables 

Toys & Games is an incredibly diverse product category. To make it easier to find the products for the end user, shoppers often narrow their search by multiple factors, including but not limited to: 

  • Product type 
  • Age 
  • Sex 
  • Price 
  • Complexity 
  • Material quality / durability 
  • Indoor/Outdoor 
  • Game duration 
  • Number of players 

Toys and Games Searches

Low Brand Loyalty 

When it comes to games, shoppers demonstrate little brand loyalty. By the time they go to Amazon, they are interested in buying either a particular game or a particular type of game. Who the creator is matters less than finding something with the right combination of age range, gender, duration, genre, number of players, and price. The exception to this rule is when shoppers seek expansion packs to games they already own.  

For example, one of our partners runs Sponsored Brand Ads. Over the ads’ lifetime, 86.5% of attributable orders have been new-to-brand. Now, Sponsored Brand Ads are known to attract new-to-brand customers, but even so, the metric is indicative of the low brand loyalty seen among board game shoppers. 

Toys, on the other hand, are a mixed bag. Many toy brands create product lines of complimentary toys to boost brand loyalty. For example, a line of superhero toys is incomplete without buying each hero. The same is true of any movie, show, or comic that features multiple characters. In this case, shoppers care less about the brand selling the toy and more about the product line the toy is part of. For sellers, this affects their marketing strategies.  

The general exception to the rule of low brand loyalty is when safety or education is involved. Since children (and adults, for that matter) learn in different ways, parents may be more apt to buy from the same game company if they find an educational game that works well for their child. Likewise, in the case of outdoors toys that could risk a serious injury if misused or broken, parents may pay more mind to the brands they patronize. 

JumpOff Jo Science Kit

Gifts for Friends and Family 

Many shoppers in this category are purchasing gifts for their children, their children’s friends, family members, and so on. The gift should demonstrate their care for the recipient, so these shoppers care greatly about the product’s safety and quality. This assessment is most often made by reading other customer reviews. If the product has few reviews or low ratings, shoppers are far less likely to take the risk of getting an unsafe or low-quality product. 

Children Make Wish Lists Too 

Adults aren’t the only ones adding products to Amazon wish lists. It is becoming increasingly common for children to browse Amazon and add products to their Amazon list, especially in preparation for birthdays and holidays. When optimizing listing content, sellers should keep in mind that they are marketing to two audiences. 

Online & In Store are Equally Important 

According to Statista, 29% of consumers state they prefer to buy toys entirely or mainly online. Another 40% of consumers stated they are equally willing to buy toys online as they are in stores. That puts the percentage of shoppers who prefer to buy online at roughly the same size as those who prefer to buy in stores, meaning that Toys & Games brands cannot afford to ignore either sales channel.  

Conclusion 

This is only a small taste of what our eBook has to offer. Download the free eBook to learn how to actionize this information about the category landscape and shopper psychographics.  

Kaspien is a proven expert in this field. Since 2008, we ‘ve served over 400 Toys & Games brands. In 2020, we delivered the following results for our partners in this category: 

  • 42% avg. increase in orders YOY 
  • 4.5% avg. ACOS  
  • 29% avg. decrease in ACOS YOY 
  • 50% increase in ad sales YOY 

Download the eBook