As an Amazon Vendor, you’re up against some pretty stiff competition. Unless you’re lucky enough to be selling a completely unique, niche product, chances are that you’ll be competing with hundreds - sometimes even thousands - of other Amazon vendors; for example, if you’re selling an iPhone case, you’ll be up against over 20 pages of similar product. All of this means that, if you’re not successfully optimising your Amazon product listings, they’ll simply get lost in the crowd.
Seller vs Vendor
To begin with, let’s untangle the difference between an Amazon Seller and an Amazon Vendor as this can cause considerable confusion for Amazon newbies. As an Amazon Seller, you’ll be operating through the Seller Central Portal and you’ll own the products in your inventory until they are sold and are in the sticky mitts of your customers. When you become an Amazon Seller, you can choose to store, pack and ship your products yourself, which is known as Fulfilment By Merchant (FBM) or, you can opt to pay Amazon to do this for you through an Amazon Fulfilment Centre - this is known as Fulfilment By Amazon (FBA). While FBM is usually the most cost effective option, FBA does most of the legwork for you; leaving you free to focus on product sourcing and optimisation.
Having said that, there are some important benefits to becoming an Amazon Vendor. We’re shortly going to be talking about optimisation of product listings and Amazon Vendors do have the advantage of having a direct relationship with Amazon. This is perhaps not as simple as it looks, but it does give vendors a direct line to Amazon that sellers don’t have. Vendors also get better support and Amazon's sophisticated brand control.
10 to thrive
Before we move onto the reasons for optimising your product listings, it's important to understand the various pieces of technical wizardry that come together to determine the online visibility of your listings.
The main factor here is the Amazon A10 product ranking algorithm. While many people will glaze over at the mention of algorithms, this is a really important part of your Amazon business.
Similar in some ways to search engine algorithms used by the Gods of Google, A10 is the system used by Amazon to rank product results - which means that this bit of kit will decide where your listing will appear in relation to other, similar products. The A10 algorithm was created with one goal in mind - to increase sales and send more cash into Amazon’s coffers. For this reason, the system is set up to incorporate sales-centric factors such as price, availability, text match and sales history in order to maximise the chance of a sale.
Every single time that somebody performs a search on Amazon, an army of ranking tools come into play and these cover the code and content of a listing (known as on-page signals) and external factors (off page signals). These factors work together to try to find the best possible product to match the customer search. While we’ve talked about the things that the A10 algorithm does, there are also a couple of things that it doesn’t do:
Out of the picture
The algorithm does not assess imagery when working its magic. While photographs are one of the most important aspects of listing optimisation, these play no part in A10 ranking your listing.
The A10 algorithm doesn’t concern itself with search intent. This is because Amazon is, primarily, a selling site and, so, the assumption is that anybody who is searching on the site is looking to make a purchase.
Coming up through the ranks
As an Amazon Vendor, your job is to make sure that your product listing ranks as high as possible on Amazon’s site - ideally on pages one and two. This rarely happens by itself, which is where product listing optimisation comes in. This is, essentially, the art of using a number of tools to ensure that your product listing is as visible as it possibly can be.
You’ll need to bear in mind the fact that Amazon is pretty self-centred and will almost always give top ranking to those products which sell the most and, therefore, make the most money for Amazon. This does follow that, regardless of the quality of on-page optimisation, a product which is of superior quality and price will automatically be ranked high. This means that, if your product isn’t a best seller, your success or failure will rely on the effectiveness of your optimisation efforts.
So, you’ve spent a ton of time researching the best products to sell and sourcing them at the best price - surely that’s enough? Nope. As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, however great your product is, it’s incredibly unlikely that it’s going to be the only kid on the block. At any given time, there are tens of millions of products listed on Amazon worldwide and the laws of probability say that a great many of these will be in direct competition to yours. There are a few good reasons for optimising your product listings and, here they are:
When selling on Amazon, you need to think of your business from the perspective of the customer. This means taking a long, hard look at each point on the customer journey and making sure that it’s appealing enough and straightforward enough to take the customer by the hand and lead them from your product listing all the way through to the checkout.
Click through rate
Optimising your product listing is the single most effective way of improving your click through rate. For the uninitiated, this is the number of times that customers spot your listing (called ‘glances’ in Amazon parlance) during their search and then click the link to see your product .
When your product listing is optimised for the entire customer journey, you’ll see an upturn in your conversion rate which, in plain speak, means the number of customers who check out your product listing and then go on to make a purchase.
But, SEO is just about using loads of keywords, right?
Unfortunately not. While this may have been the case in the early days of search engine optimisation, these days, there’s much more to it. Although keywords and phrases certainly play a part in on-page optimisation, in 2021, Amazon SEO starts with the product itself and touches on every single point on the customer journey. The fact is that, 19 out of 20 Amazon product listings are not optimised correctly or sufficiently and, for a seller, this means countless missed opportunities. This is a direct contributing factor in 95% of new businesses failing within the first five years of trading. When listing products on Amazon, new users tend to make one or all of three mistakes:
- Assuming that a product will sell by itself once listed on the Amazon site
- Failing to properly perform price research and comparisons
- Failure to pay enough attention to optimisation and branding
The last two in particular are not exclusive to new Amazon sellers - time and time again, I see experienced users making the same mistakes and then wondering why their products aren’t selling.
It may seem like optimising your product listings is a gargantuan job - and sometimes it is. However, in many cases, all that’s required is a few tweaks to transform a listing from a miss to a hit and start it sailing up Amazon’s ranking.
Spoilt for choice
If you’ve scooted around an Amazon blog or two, you’ve no doubt come across the term ‘Amazon’s Choice’. This is, in a nutshell, Amazon’s badge of honour for product listings which basically serves as a recommendation to customers searching for particular products.
Unfortunately, for mere mortals - or ordinary Amazon sellers - getting your hands on an Amazon’s Choice badge is far from easy and, can usually only be acquired by hiring a professional Amazon agency to help supersize your Amazon business.
As we’ve demonstrated in this article, success as an Amazon Seller or Vendor relies on the visibility of a product listing. Amazon’s A10 algorithm measures this on sales and performance. A lot of sellers often get into a negative cycle where they’re working on all the wrong things and are wasting time and opportunity while other sellers climb the Amazon ladder of success.
Optimising your product listings on Amazon is by no means easy - in fact, it often takes a lof of time and effort to get to grips with this complex but essential activity. If you’re just starting out as an Amazon Seller or Vendor or have product listings which simply aren’t working, its always recommended that you hire the services of a professional Amazon agency to help set you on the right path. Most sellers find that, for a small investment, the benefits of tapping into the experience and expertise of a professional is an absolute game changer for their Amazon business.