While Black Friday may be famous for kicking off the holiday shopping season and attracting flocks of consumers to brick-and-mortar retailers, Cyber Monday has certainly made its presence known in the online shopping community.
Just last year, Cyber Monday online sales increased 19.4%, pushing the average order value up from $180.03 in 2009 to $194.89 in 2010, according to an IBM Coremetrics report.
This year, many retailers are anticipating an even higher increase in sales. So, for all of us looking to make the most out of this opportunity, it is time (or never too late) to start preparing.
My advice to you: get your products listed on e-commerce sites like Amazon.com, if you haven’t already.
As many of you know, Amazon is arguably the most popular e-commerce site in the world. Thus, it provides the perfect platform for retailers to place their products in front of tens of millions users.
However, like all good things, Amazon has its drawbacks.
For instance, Amazon’s high user level means an even higher level of competition amongst its sellers. Simply uploading your inventory onto Amazon’s catalog will not give you the results you are looking for.
Instead, your products will never get seen and you will not achieve an increase in sales. For the best results, you must learn how to fully optimize your product listings for Amazon.com.
Here are some of the optimization practices that I have found to be most beneficial to improving performance on Amazon.
Amazon.com has a strange (and at times, frustrating) algorithm, in which customer reviews seem to play a large role. Products with reviews add credibility to the seller and are often placed higher up on Amazon’s search page, meaning more exposure.
Encourage customer reviews by reaching out to consistent and recent consumers. Politely ask them to post a review about the product on Amazon.com – what they liked about it, how it worked, would they purchase it again, etc.
Create Parent/Child Relationships
Another drawback to Amazon.com is that the catalog is flooded with sellers who create separate product detail pages for products that are essentially the same – differing only by size or color. Some sellers believe that creating separate product detail pages for related products will increase their visibility. However, in my opinion, it greatly deters from the user experience.
Customers do not want to sort through ten different detail pages of the same product in order to find the size or color they are looking for. I recommend making parent/child relationships between products (Amazon provides detailed instructions on how to do this).
These relationships allow related products to be grouped together on a single detail page. This helps reduce the number of search results and helps customers more easily view and compare the different sizing and color options that are available for a product – creating a much friendlier user experience.
Here is an example of an EmpireCovers.com item listed with a parent/child relationship on Amazon:
As you can see, our v-hull boat covers come in a variety of sizes and styles. Opposed to having a listing for the Premium V-Hull Boat Cover: Size 12’ to 14’ Long, 5.6’ Wide and a separate listing for the Standard V-Hull Boat Cover: 17’ to 19’ Long, 8.5’ Wide, all of our v-hull covers are listed on the same detail page, with varying size and style options.
As a result, the consumer can choose a premium, standard or deluxe style cover and can choose these covers in the proper size that is needed to fit the boat.
Choose Strong, Relevant Keywords
Amazon’s search relevancy is based on the information that is provided in product feeds, specifically in the Search Terms, Title, Brand, Manufacturer, MPN, and UPC fields.
In the Search Terms fields, sellers are given the opportunity to provide 5 key terms or phrases. More often than not, sellers choose words that already appear in their Title, Brand and Manufacturer fields. This is not necessary. Amazon’s system automatically includes Title, Brand and Manufacturer when determining search relevancy.
Instead, come up with new and inventive words that relate to the product at hand.
If you are struggling to come up with search terms, contact Amazon Seller Support and ask for suggestions. Or, if your company has a Google Adwords account, use the Keyword Tool to see what the most commonly searched words are for your product. You can then apply these words or phrases to your Amazon search terms – this practice is based on the notion that Amazon’s search pattern will likely be the same or similar to Google’s.
Include Rich Product Descriptions
This should speak for itself. Today, online consumers are much more tech savvy and detail oriented. If a consumer is not given an accurate and detailed description of what they are purchasing, they will not buy it. Make sure your descriptions are clear, accurate and typo free.
Be Prepared For Competitive Pricing
If you are not willing to lower pricing on Amazon.com by at least 10%, then you are probably using the wrong e-commerce site. Amazon.com users are bargain hungry, looking for the best products for the lowest prices.
Getting marked as a low price seller (a.k.a getting that beautiful green check next to your price listings on your inventory page) typically means getting more exposure on the Amazon search page.
Another important aspect of achieving selling success on Amazon is to strive to win the buy box.
A seller must compete for the buy box when he or she is selling a product that is already listed on the Amazon catalog – again, this is because Amazon does not want to flood the catalog with numerous detail pages of the same products.
The seller who offers the product for the lowest price will generally win the buy box and will thus, win the sale. However, this can mean being forced to cut your prices by 20% or more.
I suggest monitoring your Buy Box % on a day-to-day basis via your Amazon business report, located under the “Report Tab” on your merchant account home page.
Make Use Of The Amazon Selling Coach
Finally, all Amazon pro-merchant sellers are given access to the Amazon Selling Coach.
Here, sellers are given tips on how to best maximize their performance. These tips are targeted specifically for the individual seller and are displayed in the order that Amazon feels will be most helpful.
The Selling Coach will point out missing product images, product descriptions and features and other critical information. This is a great way to make sure that none of the products in your inventory are incomplete or lacking.
Amazon’s Seller Central also has great Seller Forums which include a seller support blog, discussions and success stories. I highly suggest reading these in order to maximize your seller performance.
Although we are still relatively new to the Amazon market, I hope that you have found our tips to be both helpful and practical. With Cyber Monday and the holiday season right around corner, it is crucial to get your products listed on as many e-commerce sites as possible and I believe that Amazon is a great place to start.
Special thanks to Claire Salmons, an employee at Empirecovers.com who works on product feeds and Amazon, who helped write and research the article.