• Accurately listed with relevant content
  • Consistently in stock
  • Priced reasonably
  • Receiving continued traffic

This appears straightforward, but can be difficult to actually achieve and maintain without understanding how Amazon works to prioritize its search results and optimize the customer experience.

When Amazon first started integrating third party sellers, the goal was to increase selection for the customer. The more selection that a customer has, the better experience that they have. The better customer experience that is provided, the more traffic Amazon receives, and the more traffic that is received, the more sellers are needed to supply the demand. This process is known as the Amazon flywheel, and is a simplified way of understanding how Amazon operates and serves its central goal: growth.

We’ve narrowed down the top 5 beginner mistakes that can stand in the way of your growth, and how to avoid them for accelerated success that starts you off ahead of the competition.

Mistake #1: Believing that Amazon is your partner.

Amazon does not see itself as your partner, so it is vital that you do not see it as such, either. Amazon is simply a platform for you to achieve your own success. Learning to leverage the platform is much more valuable than taking its algorithm changes, limitations, and policies personally.

When you understand Amazon as a platform as opposed to a business partner, it becomes much easier to carve an efficiently data-driven route to success. People can be unpredictable, whereas the algorithms that power Amazon are predictable. You can learn how they work and use them to your advantage.

Mistake #2: Setting up your ASIN incorrectly or inefficiently.

 Amazon works by extracting data from your listings. If you do not provide enough data to feed the search engine with valuable information, it will pass over your listing in favor of one which does.

ASIN setup is one rare instance in which slower is better— it pays off to take your time with this step and do it right the first time. Use up all of the space that you are given and tailor this content to satisfy the search engine as well as the end customer.

Your title and bullet points are indexed for search, so this is where you will incorporate high-performing keywords. Always keep your customers at the forefront of your mind during this step to avoid “keyword stuffing,” the conversion-killing practice of forfeiting readability in favor of a long, ugly string of keywords.

Your product description is not indexed for search, but acts as extra real estate for you to highlight all the features and benefits of your product. You can expand upon ideas introduced in your brief bullet points and use more sensory language to paint a vivid picture for the customer. This space is your extra leverage to improve conversions. Read more about how to fine-tune your words in our guide to copywriting.

If it applies to your inventory, always use variation listings where possible. Variation listings are a powerful tool that many sellers don’t think to use right away as they set up shop. These listings involve grouping similar items— usually the same products with different colors, patterns, sizes, or flavors— into a single listing.

Not only does this provide an easier browsing experience for the customer, but it allows your lower-selling varieties to share the visibility, reviews, and sales rank of your highest-selling one.

This is an example of a variation listing, in which the variation is color:

Fill out everything that you can in the backend: target audience, intended uses, all 250 characters’ worth of keywords. The more data you can provide for Amazon’s search engine, the better. Amazon will always favor a listing that is bursting with information over one that is lacking in any way. The fewer blank fields, the better.

Mistake #3: ASIN is not in stock.

Inconsistent stock levels result in spikes and dips in sales, rather than the consistent growth that we should all be aiming for. Plus, Amazon suppresses out-of-stock listings, which can make your page rank incredibly difficult to recover once your stock is restored. No stock means no sale for you and no data for Amazon— so, Amazon does not value these listings at all.

Using Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) is an excellent safeguard against this possibility. Not only does this protect your consistent in-stock status, but it builds data. Even as your stock runs low and you may be fulfilling fewer purchase orders, the data will be preserved and continue to serve your growth.

Mistake #4: ASIN is not receiving traffic.

Coming to grips with how traffic works on Amazon is the first step to driving traffic to your own products, so that you don’t suffer from stagnant listings.
An interlocking system of inputs decides which Amazon listings receive exposure. The inputs are the things that matter to Amazon, and the outputs consist of everything that helps drive traffic and sales within the Amazon network.

The inputs are the following:

  • Glance views: Each time that a customer views a detail page accounts for one glance view.
  • Purchases: Amazon weighs purchases against glance views to gauge customer demand for a product.
  • Searches/keywords: Glances and purchases are both combined with the searches that got a customer onto a particular page. This allows Amazon to determine the relevance of your product to various keywords.

The inputs all work together to offer the customer the most relevant products in response to their queries. It works the same way across all categories of products, because nothing about the process has to do with what is being sold: it is all based on data.

The only thing that Amazon cares about is this data measuring customer behavior. The data that Amazon extracts about what customers search for, look at, and buy is only attached to a SKU— not a brand. This is because SKU data is measurable and relatable: Amazon can track a SKU and directly compare it to another SKU.

This is not to say that branding is not important, as well. A cohesive brand experience works wonders in improving conversions. However, a new seller needs to focus on exposure and visibility first, which means catering to the Amazon algorithm first in order to even reach the customer’s eyes.

Mistake #5: Poor performance metrics.

One area in which the customer must be prioritized is your performance metrics, Amazon’s mechanism for measuring customer satisfaction. A simple way to think about it is this: the algorithm matters more than the customer, until the customer is upset. A dissatisfied customer is, in the eyes of the company that aspires to be “the most customer-centric company on earth,” a major issue. They keep an eye on your cancellations, late versus on-time shipments and delivery, returns, and more to ensure the optimal customer experience.

Your account health is significantly impacted by your performance metrics. Remember that customer experience is an integral element of the Amazon flywheel, and act accordingly. Stay in Amazon’s good graces by adopting their customer-first mentality.

Being aware of these 5 beginner mistakes is the first step to avoiding them. The main takeaway is to pay attention to the details: although the concept of selling on Amazon is straightforward, getting results requires a combination of careful management and technical expertise. Stay sharp in these areas, and you’ll start off already ahead of the competition.

 

Source: Hammer, Chelle. “Nailing the Details by Avoiding 5 of the Biggest Seller Mistakes.” Prosper Show, 12 April 2017, Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nevada. Conference Presentation.