Today’s post will be a little bit different. I want to talk about everything I’ve learned from 2017 on Amazon.
What didn’t work.
My thoughts on Amazon in 2017.
What I plan to do in 2018.
1. Sponsored Products
I can’t imagine selling on Amazon without PPC campaigns, and 2017 was a year where I saw great results with Sponsored Products.
2017 isn’t over yet, and I am still calculating how many sales I should attribute to Sponsored Products, but I estimate the number should be something around 25% at least.
PPC might be dead elsewhere, but on Amazon, it’s often a necessity. This is true especially for small private labelers like me.
2. Enhanced Brand Content
I wrote about Brand Registry before, so you can visit that link to learn more.
I made some mistakes along the way, like trademarking products that didn’t sell in the end, but overall Enhanced Brand Content has been great.
Once I started, I almost instantly saw increased conversions and sales for some of the products.
3. Amazon UK
I failed in Germany (more about it later), but Amazon UK has been ok so far. It’s not as good as Amazon US, but I have some sales, and I can see a potential for growth there.
There are two things I learned about Amazon UK:
- It’s much less competitive than the Amazon US.
- The market is much smaller.
What didn’t’ work:
1. Headline Search Ads
Headline Search Ads are great to increase your brand awareness, and I see many big brands on Amazon using them to promote themselves.
I even helped some companies launch HSA campaigns, and guess what? They worked for them.
It’s just that HSA are not for me. Why? There are so many factors to consider that I don’t even want to get into them. I am not a big brand. I don’t need to build awareness or deep connection with my customers.
I need sales and low ACOs. HSA are not for me. Period.
2. Amazon Canada
I can’t even remember why I thought that Amazon Canada was a good idea.
I got some sales, but they weren’t worth the time and effort I put into entering the new marketplace. And what’s even worse, I got my first, and only, A-Z claim.
The Buyer obviously tried to get the product for free, and I fought back. I sent countless emails to the buyer, then she fought back with the A-Z claim. More emails, this time to Seller Support and… as you can guess, I lost.
It gets even funnier. The guy from Amazon support told me I am right, and he understands my frustration, but the policy is policy.
I refunded the item and let the Buyer keep it. As a reward, I got negative feedback.
I don’t sell on Amazon Canada anymore.
3. Amazon Germany
Another stupid idea, and the thing I regret the most, was listing my products on Amazon Germany.
I spent hours translating my listings and labels. Then hours making sure that everything is tip-top. Since you must provide customer support in the local language, I considered hiring someone with fluent German. Good, I didn’t…
I did my market research, but I was too optimistic. Or maybe I made some mistakes during the launching process. Who knows? The point is, after 6 months I had no sales. Zero. Null. Nothing. I closed my German store.
My thoughts on Amazon in 2017:
1. Selling on Amazon is getting easier, and that’s why it’s actually harder
Thanks to FBA, seller tools, climate changes, and thousands of other factors, it’s now easier than ever to start selling on Amazon. It means that more people try to be Amazon sellers and compete with you.
In the past, it took weeks to do a proper market research. Then, it was a bit problematic to find a supplier. But Chinese manufacturers learned how to use the Internet, and recently many great sourcing companies have sprung up like mushrooms. Plus, some smart people came up with tools to help you do the market research part.
Nowadays I can use BigTracker (yes, I am shamelessly endorsing it, and I hope you can give it a try) and see what is selling in seconds. I am not the only one who can do that. You can do it, too, and so can your competition.
It get’s even harder because many Chinese wholesalers are entering Amazon with prices they usually offered to people like you and me, Amazon sellers.
As you can see, on the one hand, it’s easier than ever to enter Amazon, on the other, it’s harder to stay there because of the competition.
This brings us to the next point.
2. Amazon is more than just a Private Label paradise
For many sellers, private label business is like the Holy Grail of Amazon. I understand that, I have my own brands, but Amazon is much more than that.
Retail arbitrage and online arbitrage are still great ways to make money on Amazon. They are no inferior, they are just different.
And since competition in PL is getting more severe it might be actually a good idea to keep your arbitrage business going.
3. Some niches are over saturated already
There are some niches on Amazon that have been oversaturated for years, but people still enter them and then they are surprised they failed.
The list is long, but I love to rant about supplements and phone cases. Those 2 niches are EXTREMELY competitive and oversaturated. People don’t need another Vitamin D or yet another iPhone case.
Unless you have something remarkable, look at Elysium Health as an example, don’t even try.
That said, in many categories, all you need to do is come up with a similar item, make your listing better (photos and copy), price it lower and you are good to go.
My plans for 2018:
1. Reinvest money
Here and there you can stumble upon advice like “you should reinvest your Q4 earnings”. The idea is excellent, but I plan to reinvest all my revenue from 2017.
My situation is special, though. Amazon is not my only source of income, and I can easily use all the money I earned to expand my portfolio or try new things. I don’t risk anything by doing that.
2. Try to launch new products
And since I don’t risk anything the thing I will most likely do is launching some new products. I am not afraid to experiment, and I’m sure some most of them will fail.
But there might be that one product that will hit the jackpot.
3. Diversify my portfolio
If I were a financial guru, I would say I plan to diversify my portfolio. But I am no guru, and I don’t mean my assets or products. I plan to get some of my products from Amazon and open an online store. Diversify platform-wise.
Selling your stuff only on Amazon is dangerous. You never know when, and what for, you will get suspended. I know people who went to sleep doing thousands of dollars and woke up to infamous “We are writing to let you know we have removed your selling privileges” email and almost bankrupt.
They are still on Amazon, their businesses are fine, they moved on.
But I don’t want to dance with Seller Performance. If one day my account gets suspended
I want to have some way to keep selling my stuff.
That’s it when it comes to 2017. I learned a lot, and because of that, I can say it’s been a fun year. I have a feeling that 2018 will be somehow better, sales-wise, but things will keep getting harder. We will see…
P.S. What did YOU see work (or NOT work) in 2017? Leave a comment below!
Jacob is a coffee addict, Amazon seller, and content manager at BQool, in that order. With 8+ years of experience in eCommerce, he is trying to share his passion for Sales and Marketing with others. You can usually find him with a cup of coffee surrounded by a pile of books.