Amazon is a truly gargantuan marketplace with millions of products and hundreds of thousands of sellers all competing to make sales and capture market share. According to the Seattle Times there are more than 2 million sellers registered on Amazon’s marketplace. It’s a vibrant, living ecommerce ecosystem that is full of opportunity.
Being one of the biggest and baddest marketplaces around comes with great advantages for Amazon, which often enjoys pride of place in Google’s organic search results, regularly capturing multiple results on the first page. With Amazon gobbling up more and more of Google’s organic product searches, it is becoming inevitable that most small businesses are going to need to migrate at least some of their stock over to this platform. (If you’re not already an Amazon seller it’s free, quick and easy to sign up at Amazon Seller Central.)
Many of the leading ecommerce site builders now offer built-in or plug-in support to allow online store owners to sell their goods via their own store and simultaneously via Amazon. And that’s a good thing, because once you’re able to sell on Amazon there are a lot of tips and tricks you can use to sell more and earn more.
1. Source the best products.
We all intuitively understand that for any given product types there are a variety of brands that offer a range of quality, service and pricing. You can pay $10 for a watch or $10 000, depending on what you’re after.
As a seller, knowing how to select the right products to stock and sell is vital to your success. But, it’s not always straightforward. In fact, the difference between success and failure can sometimes come down to which variation of a specific product you decide to stock.
Take the PS4, for example. It’s a hugely popular electronic product that should have no problems attracting buyers, right? Ars Technica reported that the PS4 is selling twice as well as the Xbox One -- something they could have visually corroborated with an accurate Amazon sales chart.
But, is there a specific make or model that sells better than others?
Actually, there is.
Here’s a chart of the sales ranks of three different versions of the PS4 (a sales rank of 1 is the best-selling item in its category, so the lower the sales rank, the more the product is selling).
It’s clear to see that the PlayStation Slim and Uncharted game bundle (displayed in red) is selling significantly better than the Call of Duty bundle (displayed in blue), which in turn is outselling the Call of Duty (but not slim) bundle (displayed in yellow).
The difference in sales is huge. But these are, essentially, the same product.
This hopefully demonstrates how important it is to research the items you want to source for your own store. By tracking their sales and price performance over time, combined with research into their customer reviews and ratings you should be able to source better stock and sell more.
2. Spy on competitors.
Once you are selling it becomes important to understand how your own products compete with other items. In particular, what you really want to know is:
- When competing products are selling well
- Why they are selling well
Imagine a situation in which you have a product that is happily generating one or two sales a day. Great. There’s a bit of cash coming in. No reason to be unhappy with that.
Except, what if I told you the nearest competing product started selling five or six units an hour as of this morning? Would you still be happy with one or two sales a day, or would you want to know why the other product started selling more?
Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to get this information by setting a sales rank alert. Remember that the Amazon sales rank gets closer and closer to 1 the more sales it makes. So, if the sales rank suddenly breaks out of its normal range of between say, 3000-5000, and shatters the 1000 mark, it has clearly started selling more than usual. A sales rank alert can notify you of this in virtual real time.
Keeping with our earlier PS4 example, let’s pretend that we want to keep an eye out on how Xbox and Nintendo Wii’s were selling. We could look at their normal sales rank range and decide to set an alert if the rank drops by, say, 30 percent (or whatever amount you would consider significant).
Not long after, we receive an email alert notifying us that the Wii has started selling well. Armed with this information, it’s time to investigate what has potentially led to these sales. A good way to do this is to scan recent Google results and social media, like Twitter and Facebook. If the competition has had a review on a blog, or been featured in an article on a leading media site, you can quickly find out about it.
Here’s the great part: Once you have identified what led to the increase in sales, add it to your own marketing playbook. A blogger that has reviewed a close competitor might be interested in reviewing your product. A reporter who has covered a competitor might also be interested in a follow-up article that talks about you. It’s a fantastic way to do in-depth research for an influencer marketing strategy that needs to identify people and organizations that can drive sales. Influencer marketing is growing in popularity as more and more evidence surfaces to show that it is an effective driver of engagement and returns for marketers.
Whatever it is, the fact that it worked well for a competing product means that it will most likely work well for you, too. This can help focus marketing and promotional efforts and help generate a far better ROI.
3. Track prices.
Amazon sellers are probably quite familiar with Amazon’s pricing tools that aim to help automate the laborious task of keeping prices competitive. For example, you are able to automatically adjust prices to always be the lowest price offer in order to capture the "Buy Now" box.
But, automation is not always the answer. It may be that sometimes you need to be the lowest and sometimes you want to raise prices. In fact, it may be that you wish to price items based on the price of a competitor. In this case, it is vital to track prices using an accurate, hourly price tracker. Many free price trackers only collect one or two data points each day and so don’t capture much (if any) of the volatility in Amazon prices.
Here’s the price chart for the PS4 Slim Uncharted bundle over the course of a week:
As you can see the price jumps up and drops very frequently and often these changes are extremely short-lived. So short-lived, in fact, that it requires price drop alerts (and price increase alerts, depending on what you’re after) to be sent out via email as soon as the changes are picked up.
Being able to monitor price changes as and when they happen means that you are armed with competitive information that most other sellers aren’t, giving you an edge in terms of pricing strategy decisions. Understanding the price behavior of any product allows you to make quick decisions about how to structure your own prices in order to maximize sales and returns.
4. Share visually compelling data-driven charts.
It’s one thing to tell people your products are the best. It’s another thing to actually demonstrate it with hard data. Marketers, bloggers and journos can use this type of comparison data to back up their assertions or to add easy to understand charts to enhance their product reviews.
From a seller’s perspective, being able to show that your product is selling better than close competitors is a powerful marketing strategy. For example, the following chart shows how a random selection of some of the best-selling entrepreneur books performed over the course of a week.
Rich Dad Poor Dad is clearly outselling The Lean Startup and Think and Grow Rich. If I were the author or publisher of this book, I would be:
- Sharing this with bloggers and journos to use in their articles
- Sharing the chart in my own blog post
- Tweeting about my sales stats
- Sharing the chart on Facebook or LinkedIn
It’s powerful evidence that, for entrepreneurs wanting to buy a book, Rich Dad Poor Dad is a great choice. It’s easy to do the same thing for your own products -- even if you are not selling as much as the competition, there’s nothing stopping you sharing a chart showing an increase in sales, or some other interesting sales-related stat.
If you’re thinking of making the leap onto Amazon, remember that the top website builders all offer plug-in Amazon integration that can help to manage and control inventory and stock from one place.
What other sales hacks do you use to increase your Amazon sales?