In 1954, Robert Frost was asked the question, “What is the most important thing you learned in life?” he was 80 years old. He had lived through the Spanish American War, WWI, the Spanish Influenza, the Great Depression, and WWII, and his answer was, “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life. It goes on.”
It Goes On.
So with that in mind, how should we be reacting to the Covid-19 in 2020?
First, a little about the author: my name is Sprigley Allan, and for the last 10+ years, I have been helping companies around the world to maximize their exposure and sales online. I am 32 years old and I am currently considered one of the higher risk individuals due to chronic respiratory problems. So this is very real for me. This article is not a marketing gimmick or a push for extra visibility. This article is an honest effort to help fellow entrepreneurs. I can speak for everyone at Prime Guidance when I say that we care, we want to help, and we will be here throughout this challenge.
I am going to be focusing on how to get through the next couple weeks/months from both, a business and a personal perspective. So let’s start with the obvious…. WHAT IS GOING ON WITH AMAZON?
Fulfillment by Amazon and the Coronavirus (FBA vs. FBM)
One of our team members at Prime Guidance is named Matt Kubancik. Matt has extensive experience in e-commerce as a seller and as a co-founder of SkuVault is a certified logistical guru. I asked him about his opinion of the evolving FBA situation with Amazon,
Sprigley: “Hey, Matt, what are your thoughts on the whole FBA situation?”
Matt: “In my experience, you can be a lot more profitable selling on
Amazon, when using FBM. This situation has brought to light the importance of fulfillment in our e-commerce businesses. Many sellers have become completely reliant on Amazon as both a marketplace and as their fulfillment solution.”
Sprigley: “I know that I am guilty of this 🤦. I have been using Amazon to fulfill my Shopify store orders as well. Now that I know it is important to have multiple fulfillment solutions, what would your advice be?”
Matt: “I would recommend looking into a few different companies to set up a more robust order fulfillment solution. Some examples are Deliverr, ShipStation, and SkuVault. Many sellers don’t realize that there is a 1%-5% shrink rate when using Amazon to fulfill orders. This comes from Amazon losing inventory, damaging inventory, mishandling returns, etc…”
Sprigley: “Absolutely, we have been helping clients re-coup those mistakes for years. What about the shipping companies themselves? I am thinking they must be trying to encourage companies to fulfill directly.”
Matt: “All the major players like FedEx, DHL, and UPS offer different programs for small businesses. FedEx has its TechAwards program where they will send you a gift card for you to use to buy label printers, shipping supplies, and it can even be used for software such as SkuVault or ShipStation.”
Current status, as of March 30th, is that all the companies Matt specifically mentioned are still running at full capacity. Setting up a 3PL and the order management system to go with it is not a quick and easy task. Please feel free to reach out to us if you are working on this process and have questions.
Let us all remember why we signed up for FBA in the first place. Amazon tells us that the average product sees a ~50% increase in sales when they transition from FBM to FBA. With that being said, we are not advocating giving up on FBA, but instead having multiple options available for fulfillment moving forward.
Amazon Rankings and Product Launches During CoronaVirus
By far, the most common question I am getting from clients and other sellers is, “How does this situation affect my product rankings and product launches?”. So let’s split this question into two main parts.
- Amazon Ranking – Simple answer is that there is no simple answer. As most of the people reading this article know, ranking a product on Amazon is a demanding and challenging process. Once you achieve your ranking, you want to keep it! One of the most significant impacts on your rank is the consistent availability of your product. Don’t stock out! Take a look at your advertising campaigns and promotional calendar and make sure you are not pushing more sales when you may stock out on that product. If you do stock out, close the listing so that when you are back in stock, you have a better chance of regaining the Amazon BSR (Amazon Best Seller Rank) from before.
Product Launches – This is
somewhat of a passion for me. I have launched more than a thousand products on
Amazon over the last few years. When the Corona Virus started to become a real
issue, many sellers decided to postpone their product launches. Initially, I
thought that made sense as well. However, I had a friend who desperately needed
to launch a product; he had already bought the inventory and had the launch
process underway. Over the next few days (March 16 – 18) he had the most
successful launch I have been a part of in months. We discovered substantial
discounts on top of funnel traffic from both Facebook and Instagram. Not to
mention that as more and more people are being obligated to stay home, we are
seeing record amounts of time being spent online. Average daily in-home data
usage is up across the board. Here is a quote from comscore “Comparing the
same Sunday/Monday/Tuesday in March year-over-year, we can see that mobile
phone data usage grew by more than 50 percent! Gaming consoles (+48%), smart
speakers (+44%), streaming boxes/sticks (+38%) and connected TVs (+37%) all saw
significant upticks in data usage.” All of this translates to a product
launch gold rush. It is arguably one of the best times to launch a product in
recent history. There is a lot more to discuss on this topic, and we continue
to release more information in the coming weeks.
Amazon & Walmart Advertising During CoronaVirus
This topic has been… interesting. I have been advertising online since 2002 and have never seen that kind of rapid movement that we see now. Below I have listed out some basic pointers:
- Do not overreact – The advertising algorithms were not designed with moments like this in mind. For me, it seems like Prime Day and Q4 rolled into one with no warning. Many sellers are panicking and making sweeping changes to their campaigns, which they will most likely regret as things normalize. My advice to clients has been to keep a close eye on the campaigns and to make sure they are not overspending. However, they also need to make sure that they are not running out of budget. Since some of your competitors have decided to shut off their ads, your CPC’s might be going down, and some of the most valuable keywords that were previously out of your budget may be worth trying again.
- Defend Your Brand – If you decide to pull back on some advertising, keep your eye on your branded campaigns. Especially if you are stocking out on popular items or if your competitors are aggressive. Now is not a time to give up branded SERPS to competitors.
- Amazon Advertising Changes – Before CoronaVirus, Amazon advertisers were already reeling from all the updates to Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands. There was the launch of Sponsored Brand Videos, Sponsored Display, changes to Advertising. Amazon and much much more. If you are looking for a useful resource on the recent changes, here is the link to Amazon’s advertising FAQ’s, https://amzn.to/3awXM4d.
These are a few useful pointers, but if you would like to dive deeper into your advertising efforts on both Walmart and Amazon, please contact us directly.
What Should My Team Be Working On?
This is a question I am getting multiple times a day. As business owners, we all feel responsible for taking care of our team members. I was recently on a call with Ezra Firestone from SmartMarketer.com, and he gave a phenomenal response to this question. He said that his team is working on improving the sites UX and polishing some of their more precise email flows.
He is taking this time to knock out some to-do’s that did not reach the top of the priority list before. Mostly, he is finding ways to keep his team busy during an otherwise scary time. Mark Cuban was just on CNBC, saying that how companies respond to coronavirus will define their ‘brand for decades’. I believe this is true both for our consumers and our team members. One of the tasks most of my clients are working on now is filing the top of the funnel. As we all know, that can be a very time-consuming process. As of now, most Americans are sitting on extra time, so let’s find ways of using it productively instead of just waiting for normalcy to return.
Finding The Positive
Ok, enough of the doom and gloom. What are some of the positive things we can be focusing on right now?
- People are hanging Christmas Lights & Flags to share solidarity and good cheer all over America.
- Corporate Goodness
- Burger King is offering 2 free kid meals with orders over their App through April 6th.
- Disney donated all their extra food to local charities when they closed down their parks.
- Adobe is offering Creative Cloud FREE for 60 days!
- Video Conferencing
- For many of us, we have been using video conferencing for years. While we are in isolation, keep in mind that this can be used for fun too. I have friends who are holding poker games with their teams over Zoom!
- Free At-Home Workouts
- Peloton – They have extended the Free Trial on their app to 90 days.
- Corepower – They are providing weekly collections of classes for Free.
- Check Your Library – Many public libraries have access to premium at-home workouts that are free for library cardholders. For example, my library has free access to Aaptiv, which has over 2,500 recorded exercises available.
We are committed to being there for our clients, friends, family, and industry. These are unsettling times, but they will pass. Here are some last ways to help those in need that we borrowed from Groovelife:
- Check on your neighbors by downloading the app Next Door and see if you can meet any needs for those unable to leave their houses.
- Donate to your local charities and organizations to help send aid to those who have need.
- Buy from your locally owned businesses. Whether it’s takeout, merch, or gift cards, this will support them and also their employees!
- Check-in on your friends and family. Stay positive and spread encouragement to those who need it!
Contact Prime Guidance for a free analysis of your business and learn how we can help!
Author | Sprigley Allen, Senior Consultant
If you could tap into one of the fastest-growing and biggest potential in Amazon… would you do it? What if you did not have to source new products and suppliers to make this happen? Amazon Business is the opportunity you’ve been looking for. Over the past two years, the Amazon B2B program has quietly grown from 1 Billion to over 10 billion. This is just their start.
It is easy as a brand or seller to overlook programs that are right in front of us because we do not have the insight with what is important to Amazon’s internal goals. The Amazon Business programs present the greatest opportunities to grow your sales on Amazon today and over the next 5-7 years.
What Is Amazon Business?
It is the same platform that customers are accustomed to with a separate entry and additional business features and products. It is a filter that companies can use to buy products from other businesses with the same confidence and easy-to-use experience they are already used to. Companies that purchase products with an Amazon Business account can benefit from bulk quantity discounts, tools for managing accounts like Guided Buyer Blocking and Spend Visibility Policy Adherence Dashboards, and the ability to request quotes for bulk buys. What makes the Amazon Business platform exciting for your growth is not just these features but the marketplace growth potentials.
The numbers according to Amazon:
55% of Fortune 100 companies buy
PLUS 50% of the largest 100 US Hospital Systems
PLUS 40% of the top 100 largest local governments.
Why Does Amazon Business Matter To Your Business?
B2B buyers embrace digital-first purchasing. Businesses shop the same way that they shop as consumers. A new generation of customers are comfortable shopping online and skipping the trips to retail locations. According to Amazon, they are connecting millions of business customers and sellers worldwide. Amazon Business serves sole proprietors to large enterprises with tens of thousands of employees on a single account. We serve millions of businesses worldwide, including hospitals, universities, Fortune 50 companies, government agencies, daycares, restaurants, and more. Seller certifications for your business like local, minority or women-owned businesses can help you find more customers in the business markets who need your products. Think of Amazon Business as the introduction to small businesses and government buyer. Do you sell internationally? Amazon Business is live in Canada, United States, Germany, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain, Japan, and India. Amazon business will keep growing and you need to be part of this growth.
How Do I Get Started In Amazon Business?
Sign up for an Amazon Business Selling Account. The suite of tools will enable you to reach millions of business customers using the trusted Amazon experience. This program is free to existing Professional Sellers.
Create a Business Profile. Tell your unique story. Add your quality certifications and diversity credentials for customer viewing to help you stand out from the crowd. Adding certifications enables Amazon business customers to search and filter for small and diverse sellers.
Set up your products. The simple listing tools can be used to add your entire catalog. The Enhanced content features for business offer the ability to display additional product information to your customers. There is NO LIMIT to the categories that can participate.
B2B Central. These links will help you understand, manage and grow your Amazon Business Sales.
Use Pricing Wisely – Discount pricing does not need to break the bank. Consider setting your first level business discounts as natural case packs of your products to reduce your costs in processing and shipping.
Negotiated Pricing – Do you have customers who are buying on a standard discount price list that are small and could benefit from utilizing the Amazon portals? You can set these for your customers and let Amazon Business handle these sales for you with “Negotiated Pricing”.
Respond to Business Quote Requests – Set quantity discounts by the response to dates to increase your chances of winning the initial and future sales. This price discount will be available to all business customers.
Create Business – Only offers that are exclusive to Amazon Business customers and are not seen by the typical Amazon consumer.
What do you have to lose? Amazon Business is good for your business, so get involved in this opportunity today.
The Prime Guidance Team can help you and your team develop a strategy for Amazon Business. Contact Prime Guidance today or speak to your Consultant for the great sales opportunity available with Amazon Business.
According to Fulfillment by Amazon, the Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has been greatly impacting Amazon customers, sellers, and employees.
Since people are staying in their homes trying to prevent the COVID-19 from spreading any further, online shopping has increased dramatically leaving household items low in quantity or completely out of stock. Due to this dilemma, Amazon has chosen to temporarily prioritize household items such as staples, medical supplies, and other high demand products that have been entering their fulfillment centers in order to quickly obtain, restock, and deliver products to customers as fast as possible.
Amazon says that for any other products than these, they have temporarily disabled FBA shipments and they are taking a similar approach with retail vendors as well. This will be in effect until April 5th 2020. Amazon will communicate when they resume their regular operations. Any shipments created before March 17th 2020 will be received at Fulfillment centers. You can learn more about this on this Help page. It’s also important to note that Selling Partner Support does not presently have any further guidance.
Amazon understands how this change might impact our businesses and says how they most certainly did not take this decision lightly. They are working as hard as they can to increase capacity and are trying to quickly hire 100,000 new full and part-time positions at fulfillment centers across the US. They thank their Amazon customers, sellers, and employees for their understanding and patience as they prioritize the above products in response to COVID-19.
What Actions Could You Take?
- Consider increasing quantities on any pending orders by up to 5% without penalty
- Ensure that you have a back-up means of fulfilling inventory, such as your own warehouse or 3PL to do fulfillment. We advise all clients to create a duplicate SKU for each ASIN, one is used for FBA and one is merchant fulfilled or SFP. This is allowed by Amazon and is a good tactic to ensure sales momentum is not impacted greatly when you run out of stock in FBA. You should also be exploring alternative fulfillment to diversify into other channels such as Walmart, eBay and other marketplaces as a means of diversifying your sales revenue through multiple channels
- Consider adjusting your prices to maintain a run rate that does not run out of stock, but be careful not to increase prices too drastic or Amazon may suspend your buy box eligibility due to price gouging concerns
- If you have a regular cadence of planned inventory allocations to Amazon, you will want to account for this impact by increasing future shipments as needed
- Many sellers are seeing decreased sales of non-essential product sales recently, so you may find that additional inventory is not needed and this may be good to keep inventory balances in check
If you have questions about selling on Amazon, optimizing your listings and advertising campaigns to peak performance, please contact Prime Guidance for a free account consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Author | Claudia Yates, Marketing Specialist
Video Engagement Metrics:
Videos have always increased conversion rates on Amazon in Seller Central but now Amazon is finally revealing the metrics to support it. As of February 26, 2020, the viewership metrics for your videos are now available for viewing in the Video Management Library. Amazon sellers are able to track your views and review your engagement data in order to create influential content towards customer purchases.
Starting on March 15, 2020, Amazon will start requiring a long-term storage fee for inventory clean up. For further details, see FBA long-term storage fees. According to Amazon, “If you remove units of an ASIN that would be subject to long-term storage fees at the next inventory cleanup date, you won’t be able to send us more units of that ASIN for three months after that date. The exception is your inventory of that ASIN falls below our projection of its sales for the next eight weeks”
Adapting for Growth
Large companies like Amazon and Google have constantly been making changes in how users interact with their platforms. As users continue to choose mobile over desktop, these companies must adapt. Google is making the desktop search results more and more like the mobile experience because of this shift of consumers migrating from desktop to mobile. The year of 2015 was the first year that mobile usage passed desktop usage.
This is important because, as advertisers and marketers, we need to adapt to the large shift that is occurring. People will always choose convenience over everything else and this is why Amazon is so successful with their large assortment and fast deliveries. Customers are now purchasing through Alexa’s and Google homes which means if you are not the #1 result, you will not capture sales through voice-activated purchases. This is why the brand is so important now.
Saying “Hey Alexa, order me soap”
is a lot different from …
“Hey Alexa, order me Dove Soap”
That brand name in the mix made an enormous difference because Amazon can pick who wins the “order me soap” but the customer decides when they say order me “dove soap”. The key to winning future sales is by increasing your brand awareness and consumer following. First, there was a huge shift from desktop to mobile, but now purchasing has been shifting toward voice searches, especially through voice-activated devices. Make sure your business thrives from these changes. Brand is more important than it ever. Grow your brand, Grow your business.
If you have questions about selling on Amazon, optimizing your listings and advertising campaigns to peak performance, please contact Prime Guidance for a free account consultation at email@example.com.
Author | Victor Dwyer, Marketing Specialist