How to Source Your Products From Europe
This is a guest post from Oliver Allmoslechner. Oliver is the co-founder and CEO of Wonnda, a cutting-edge digital B2B marketplace that connects brands and B2B buyers with a comprehensive range of suppliers and manufacturers, predominantly in Europe. With years of experience in the tech and consumer goods industry, Oliver’s vision has been to make Wonnda a go-to platform for sourcing activities and supplier management. Launched in 2022, the company has flourished and already earned a reputation as “The Alibaba for Europe.” Australia-native Oliver has lived in Belgium, Portugal, the U.S. and, for the past few years, Berlin, where Wonnda is headquartered. He’s a hobby chef and passionate skier and loves enabling SMBs through the power of technology.
Diversifying your supply chain is a must for a business to thrive. European manufacturers offer quality products, reliability, and a touch of prestige that can elevate any brand to new heights. Whether you’re a U.S.-based, Canadian, or even a European eCommerce company, you can manage your product sourcing from European manufacturers effectively by taking the right steps. This guide will help you find the right supplier or manufacturer in Europe for your brand and walk you through the sourcing process.
Why you should source your products from Europe
One of the standout benefits of sourcing from European manufacturers, especially those within the European Union (EU), is the stringent regulatory environment that ensures ethical and sustainable practices. The factories and suppliers there are subject to regular audits that examine everything from environmental impact to labor conditions. The EU has strong laws against child labor, so you can feel confident your supply chain remains ethical.
Additionally, there’s a strong focus on providing fair wages and safe working conditions for employees. European manufacturers often lead the way in sustainable practices as well by incorporating eco-friendly materials and energy-efficient methods into their production processes. Other advantages include:
- Quality and craftsmanship: European manufacturers are renowned for their commitment to quality and craftsmanship. Whether it’s Italian leather, German engineering, or French fashion, products made in Europe often abide by high standards.
- Trade agreements: The U.S. has robust trade agreements with many European countries, which can make transactions smoother and potentially more cost-effective.
- Brand prestige: European products are often associated with prestige, which can be a powerful tool for brand differentiation. The “Made in Europe” label is not only proof of quality but also gives your brand additional recognition.
These features both offer peace of mind and can be a significant selling point for your customer base that values ethical and sustainable business practices.
What kind of products can be manufactured in Europe?
Europe has a wide variety of options for consumer goods that can add value and variety to your eCommerce store. For instance:
- High-end fashion and accessories from countries like Italy and France, which are renowned for their style and craftsmanship
- Beauty and skincare products from France, Eastern Europe, and Germany
- For those in the food and beverage industry, specialty foods like Italian olive oil or Belgian chocolates can set your offerings apart
- Home decor and furnishings from Scandinavian countries like Sweden and Denmark are increasingly popular for their minimalist, functional design
- In the health and wellness category, consider sourcing herbal teas from the UK or natural skincare products from Greece
Each of these categories presents a lucrative opportunity to sell premium, unique products that can set your eCommerce store apart from competitors.
How to find European manufacturers for your products
You have a few options to begin your search for a European manufacturer, including B2B marketplaces, industry trade shows, and B2B directories.
B2B marketplaces like Wonnda.com
Many B2B directories exist, but only a few platforms orchestrate the whole sourcing process. One example of a fully digital B2B sourcing marketplace is Wonnda, which was built for consumer brands that want to source high-quality products from verified manufacturers.
More than 90% of Wonnda’s manufacturing partners and suppliers are located in Europe, and brands from all around the world can start sourcing their products via one central platform that offers a fully digital end-to-end solution. The advantage of digital platforms like Wonnda is the integrated workflow tools, which facilitate everything from scheduling meetings to placing orders.
Industry trade shows
Europe hosts some of the world’s leading trade shows across various industries. Visiting these events can uncover insights into what suppliers have to offer and provide networking opportunities.
Websites such as Kompass or Yellow Pages can also be a useful resource for identifying potential manufacturing partners in Europe.
What to consider when sourcing your products from Europe
You need to iron out certain details prior to contracting with European suppliers. Drawing up an air-tight plan will smooth the path forward for your expansion. Flesh out the following elements before you start to source items from Europe.
Type of supplier
Determine what type of supplier you need, as there’s a big difference between buying wholesale or having customized products. Your options include:
- Wholesale supplier: These suppliers sell products in bulk quantities at discounted rates and are ideal for businesses that want to resell products as-is without customization. The primary advantage is the cost-effectiveness they offer due to bulk purchasing, lower minimum order quantities, and fast lead times.
- White label supplier: These suppliers provide generic products that you can brand and resell. It allows for quicker market entry with a lower up-front investment, as product development is already taken care of. It’s beneficial if you want to extend your product range without the complications of design and development.
- Private label manufacturer: This type is similar to white label but with the added benefit of customization. You can tailor existing products to better align with your brand identity. It’s a good fit for businesses looking to offer unique products without the headache of starting from scratch.
- Contract manufacturer: This type of supplier handles the entire manufacturing process, from raw materials to the finished product, based on your specifications. It’s ideal for businesses that have a strong vision for their product and require a high degree of customization and quality control.
Typically, contract manufacturers either produce a product, which was already developed by your brand, or help you develop one from scratch. Be aware, contract manufacturing combined with custom development is the most complex option, and you need to order higher quantities of products.
- Sourcing agency: Sourcing agencies do the legwork of finding suitable manufacturers for you. They usually have strong networks and can negotiate terms on your behalf. While you’ll have to pay a fee or commission, the advantage is their expertise in ensuring a fit between your needs and the manufacturers’ capabilities.
A manufacturer must hold appropriate certifications. These documents are proof of their adherence to industry standards and regulations, which can vary from sector to sector. They also ensure the products you’re sourcing are compliant with both European and U.S. standards.
For instance, if you’re in the food industry, certifications like the ISO 22000 or HACCP are crucial. For textiles, you may want to look for OEKO-TEX or GOTS certifications. These qualifications not only assure quality but also protect you legally.
MOQ (minimum order quantity)
It’s imperative to understand a manufacturer’s minimum order quantity (MOQ) before diving into a partnership. MOQs dictate the lowest amount of a certain item that a supplier is willing to produce in a single order. This is particularly important for businesses just starting out and so may not have the volume to meet high minimums.
Negotiating MOQ can also impact pricing, as suppliers often offer discounts for bulk purchases. So, align MOQ requirements with your sales forecasts and budget considerations to create a mutually beneficial partnership.
Learn the lead times involved in production and shipping, especially when sourcing internationally. This is the total time it takes from placing an order to receiving the finished product. Factors such as the item’s complexity, shipping distance, customs procedures, and seasonal variations can significantly impact lead times. Longer time frames may necessitate more substantial inventory holding, which in turn affects cash flow. Proper planning and ongoing communication with your supplier can mitigate these risks.
Securing favorable payment terms is pivotal in international sourcing, as they have a direct impact on your cash flow and profitability. Traditional options include letters of credit, which offer a layer of security to both parties, and bank transfers. Some suppliers may even accept digital payment solutions like PayPal for smaller transactions.
However, consider factors like currency exchange rates, transaction fees, and the reliability of the financial institutions involved. Always negotiate terms that offer a balance of risk and opportunity for both parties.
Making contact and requesting samples
Once you’ve identified a shortlist of manufacturers, the next step is to make contact. Initial conversations should be aimed at understanding whether the manufacturer can meet your specifications and timelines. Once comfortable, you can request samples.
Closing the deal and managing the relationship
Now that you’ve found your ideal match, you can move forward with your international partnership. Although drawing up the contract requires detailed attention from you and your legal team, you also need to stay on top of your manufacturer to ensure a fruitful relationship. Take time to oversee:
- Legalities: Consult with legal advisors to draft or review contracts. Make sure to cover all your bases, including intellectual property rights, payment terms, and contingency plans for any potential hiccups in the supply chain.
- Project management tools: Platforms that offer end-to-end solutions like Wonnda not only help you find a supplier but also manage the project post-connection. These platforms allow you to schedule meetings, invite team members, and facilitate transactions all in one place.
- Quality control: Implement a robust quality control process. This usually involves pre-shipment inspections and regular audits to ensure the product meets your specifications.
Wrapping up — Source products from Europe for reliable quality
Sourcing from Europe can seem daunting at first, but the benefits far outweigh the challenges. Lay out your needs, research and compare candidates, and craft air-tight contracts that protect your business for a lucrative partnership.
Expanding to Europe for sourcing can help your business enjoy reliable supply, and develop a more profitable and sustainable relationship with European manufacturers.
A Guide to Expanding Your Amazon Business Into New Markets
This is a guest post from Jenny Longmuir. Jenny is a copywriter at taxually.com, a company that specializes in VAT compliance technology. She has over 10 years of experience in content creation for a number of industries.
Expanding your Amazon business into new markets is a strategic move that opens up fresh opportunities for growth and increased profitability. As one of the world’s largest eCommerce platforms, Amazon offers sellers the chance to reach a global consumer base. Although branching out may seem daunting, the benefits outweigh the challenges — when you take the right steps. Let’s dive in and learn how Amazon sellers can lay the foundation for a lucrative market expansion.
The benefits of expansion
You face many unknowns when expanding your Amazon business into new markets. But when you consider the many benefits of this undertaking, it’s a no-brainer. Here are some of the main advantages of expansion.
Entering new markets can give you a competitive advantage over other sellers who have yet to expand beyond their home market. For example, Amazon’s U.S. market is by far the largest, accounting for 69.3% of the company’s revenue. However, it’s also the most competitive, which is a good reason to seek out different opportunities.
Early movers in new markets often benefit from lower competition and higher visibility. It’s also a chance for your products to become more prominent in search results, and you may be able to secure prime positions in product categories that are less saturated.
To gain a competitive edge, capitalize on Amazon’s advertising tools, such as Sponsored Products and Amazon Advertising. They can target specific keywords and demographics to reach your desired audience in new markets.
Access to a wider customer base
The most obvious reason to branch out your Amazon business is the opportunity to tap into a broader consumer base. Different regions and countries have diverse demographics, buyer preferences, and purchasing power. By expanding, you can reach customers who may not have access to your products within their local markets.
Amazon’s global presence enables you to list your products on international marketplaces easily, such as Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, or Amazon Japan. This exposes your offerings to millions of potential customers who actively seek the products you offer.
Diversification and risk reduction
Diversifying your market presence can reduce the risk associated with relying solely on one marketplace or region. Economic downturns, changes in consumer behavior, or policy shifts in one market can significantly impact your business if you’re too dependent on it. Expanding into new markets provides a buffer against such risks, as growth in one region may offset a downturn in another.
By spreading your business across multiple markets, you can minimize the impact of market-specific challenges and ensure a more stable revenue stream. Diversification is an important strategy to help your business weather unexpected storms.
Different regions experience different peak shopping seasons and holidays throughout the year. By expanding into new markets, you can take advantage of those fresh opportunities. For example, if you sell seasonal products like swimwear or winter jackets, expanding into markets with opposite seasons can keep your sales consistent year-round.
Amazon makes it relatively easy to adapt your product listings and marketing strategies to align with local holidays and seasons, helping you maximize sales during peak times.
Greater brand visibility and recognition
Expanding into new markets enhances your brand’s visibility and recognition on a global scale. As customers from various regions discover your products, your brand gains credibility and trust. This, in turn, can lead to increased sales in your existing markets as well, since customers are more likely to buy from a brand they perceive as reputable and international.
Amazon’s fulfillment network, Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), can improve your shipping times and customer satisfaction in new markets, further bolstering your brand’s global reputation.
Economies of scale
Expanding into new markets can lead to economies of scale, which translates to cost savings and greater profitability. As your business grows and you increase your sales volume, you may be able to negotiate better terms with suppliers, achieve lower shipping costs through bulk shipments, and optimize your inventory management.
Also, by consolidating your operations across markets, you can streamline administrative tasks and reduce overhead expenses. That increased efficiency then frees up resources that can be reinvested into further market expansion or used to upgrade other aspects of your business.
Branching out challenges
Expect a variety of challenges when expanding into new markets. With careful consideration and some strategic planning though, your business can overcome them and enjoy smooth sailing.
Here are a few of the most common challenges you’re likely to come across when expanding into a new market.
Market research and localization
One of the primary challenges of entering a new market is understanding its unique dynamics and consumer preferences. Conduct thorough market research to identify the demand for your products, analyze competition, and tailor your offerings to local tastes and preferences.
You could also consider hiring local experts or agencies to assist with localization efforts. Use Amazon’s market-specific tools to gain insights into local trends and buyer behaviors.
Regulatory and compliance hurdles
Different countries have varying regulations, tax requirements, and import/export laws that can complicate your expansion efforts. Navigating these legal hurdles can be a daunting task, and non-compliance can result in penalties or even the suspension of your Amazon account. That’s why it’s important to consult with tax experts or regulatory specialists who are familiar with the specific requirements of your target market.
Shipping and logistical challenges
Efficient logistics and reliable shipping are essential for a successful international expansion; shipping costs, transit times, and customs procedures can significantly impact your business’s bottom line and customer satisfaction.
Partner with reputable logistics providers and explore Amazon’s Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) program, which can handle shipping and customer service in multiple countries.
Currency exchange and payment processing
Dealing with multiple currencies and payment methods can be a headache for international sellers. Exchange rate fluctuations can affect your profit margins, and not all payment methods used in your target market may be compatible with your business model.
Work with financial institutions that offer currency exchange services with favorable rates. Also, look into Amazon’s currency conversion services and adapt your payment methods to suit the preferences of your target market.
Cultural and communication barriers
Effective communication with customers and local partners is essential for building both trust and a strong brand reputation. However, language barriers, cultural differences, and time zone variations can hinder your ability to connect with your new audience.
Invest in multilingual customer support and ensure your communication is culturally sensitive. Adopt translation tools and consider hiring local staff or freelancers who can assist with linguistic and cultural nuances.
Checklist for a successful Amazon business expansion
Once you’re ready to expand your Amazon business internationally, it’s time to put together your game plan. Here’s a checklist to follow that’ll help your expansion start off right and guide you toward success.
Conduct in-depth market research
Before you take the plunge into a new market, conduct thorough market research. You need to understand local demand, consumer preferences, and competition to make informed decisions. Focus on:
- Local trends: Analyze market trends, cultural preferences, and seasonal variations that could impact your product or niche.
- Competitor analysis: Study your potential competitors in the new market. Identify their strengths and weaknesses, pricing strategies, and customer reviews.
- Logistics and shipping: Learn the logistics of shipping to the new market. Take into account shipping costs, delivery times, and potential customs issues.
Adapt your listings and content
To succeed in a new market, it’s imperative to adapt your product listings and content to cater to local preferences and languages. Here are some tips to pay attention to:
- Localization: Translate your product listings into the local language. Also, ensure your content is culturally sensitive and resonates with the target audience.
- Pricing: Adjust your pricing strategy to remain competitive in the new market. Consider factors like currency exchange rates, local pricing norms, and shipping costs.
- Keyword research: Research keywords in the local language to optimize your listings for search visibility.
- Product descriptions and images: Customize your product descriptions and images to appeal to the local audience. Highlight features and benefits that are particularly relevant to them.
Optimize for global shipping and fulfillment
Obviously, expanding your Amazon business internationally involves shipping products across borders. To ensure a smooth process, take into consideration the following aspects:
- Fulfillment options: Look into using Amazon’s Global Fulfillment network (FBA) to simplify international shipping and improve delivery times.
- Shipping partners: Partner with reliable international shipping carriers and negotiate competitive rates to keep shipping costs in check.
- Customer support: Offer multilingual customer support to address inquiries and issues from customers in the new market promptly.
Understand taxation and regulatory requirements
Adhering to the tax and regulatory laws in a new market is essential to avoid legal issues and financial setbacks. Different countries and regions have varying tax structures, import/export regulations, and compliance requirements, so do your homework on:
- Taxation: Research and understand the local tax laws, including sales tax, value-added tax (VAT), and income tax. Determine your tax obligations as a foreign seller and ensure you’re compliant with local tax authorities.
- Import and customs duties: Be aware of import duties and customs regulations that may apply to your products. Failure to comply with these regulations can lead to delays and additional costs.
- Product compliance: Verify that your products meet local safety and regulatory standards. Some products may require certifications or permits to be sold in certain markets.
- Legal structure: Consider the most suitable legal structure for your business in the new market. Depending on the country, options may include setting up a local entity or operating as a foreign business.
Monitor and adjust your strategy
The eCommerce landscape is constantly evolving, and what works in one market may fail in another. Regularly monitor your sales, customer feedback, and market trends to adapt your strategy accordingly:
- Sales data: Keep a close eye on your sales data to identify patterns and adjust your inventory levels and pricing strategies.
- Customer feedback: Listen to buyer feedback and reviews to address any product or service issues promptly.
- Market trends: Stay up to date on market trends and adjust your product offerings and marketing strategies accordingly.
Wrapping up — Launch your Amazon business on the global stage
Expanding your Amazon business into new markets is a challenging but rewarding endeavor. By conducting thorough research, staying compliant with local regulations, optimizing logistics, and managing finances wisely, you can overcome the obstacles and set your business up for success in international markets.
With careful planning and the right strategies in place, your Amazon business can thrive around the world, reaching a global customer base and unlocking new growth opportunities.
Harnessing the Power of Product Reviews: Strategies for Building Credibility and Trust
This is a guest post from Rick Wong. Rick is the founder of SellerMetrics, an Amazon PPC Software. Having worked in some of the world’s largest financial institutions in Canada, he ventured into Amazon selling in 2017 and sold his Amazon business four years later.
In the evolving eCommerce landscape, customer reviews have become the lifeblood of success on the Amazon marketplace.
It’s a common scenario: A potential buyer scans through your product listing, their decision hanging in the balance, and then they stumble on those golden stars — the reviews.
These representations of buyer feedback wield the power to make or break a sale and either catapult your product to the top or bury it in the depths of Amazon’s results pages. This article will explain the influential power of consumer reviews and offer strategies to gather positive feedback, handle negative opinions, and incorporate both into your product strategy.
The significance of customer reviews in eCommerce
Customer reviews have transformed into a cornerstone of trust in the digital marketplace. They’re virtual word-of-mouth recommendations that guide hesitant buyers toward confident purchases.
In the cutthroat world of online selling, positive customer reviews act as your personal cheerleaders, vouching for your products’ quality and reliability.
The impact of product reviews on Amazon
On Amazon, reviews reign supreme. They both influence buyers as well as your product’s visibility in Amazon’s search results.
That’s right — reviews are a ranking factor. Amazon’s A9 algorithm, the gatekeeper of product discoverability, keeps a close watch on the quantity and quality of your product reviews and adjusts their position in the search results accordingly.
With so many vendors competing for customers’ attention, it’s your credibility that makes you stand out and convinces people to buy your product instead of the numerous others lining the digital shelves. So, you need to improve the reviews you gather and solidify the confidence your clients have in your company.
The dynamics of customer reviews on Amazon
Before delving into the nitty-gritty of generating and managing customer reviews, it’s crucial to grasp the mechanics of Amazon’s review system. Understanding how Amazon collects, displays, and utilizes consumer feedback can give you a strategic advantage in navigating the platform’s intricate terrain.
How customer feedback drives sales
Whether praising or critical, customer feedback has a direct impact on purchasing decisions. Positive reviews serve as compelling social proof, nudging hesitant buyers toward making a purchase, while constructive feedback provides valuable insights for product improvements.
The quantity, caliber, and recentness of reviews also influence the search ranking of your product. That’s why you need consistently positive reviews to increase your product’s visibility on Amazon as well as acquire consumer trust.
Techniques for encouraging authentic customer feedback
Making a sale is only one aspect of creating an outstanding client experience; you also need to foster long-term connections. Excellent customer service is one way to accomplish this. It lays the groundwork for building a loyal client base that’s more likely to post favorable evaluations of your products.
Going the extra mile in addressing customer concerns, ensuring timely delivery, and offering personalized support can significantly influence buyers’ willingness to share their experiences with your brand.
How to implement strategies for soliciting genuine reviews
Encouraging customer reviews requires a delicate balance between assertiveness and authenticity. With the right strategies, you can successfully prompt consumers to share their experiences without feeling coerced.
Here are two key tactics:
- Email follow-up and customer engagement: A well-timed and personalized follow-up email after a purchase not only shows your appreciation but also provides an easy avenue for customers to share their feedback.
- Incentivize honest reviews responsibly: While incentivizing customers to leave reviews can be a powerful motivator, it’s crucial to do so ethically. Consider offering loyalty rewards, exclusive discounts, or early access to new products as a token of appreciation for their honest feedback. However, ensure these incentives don’t compromise the integrity of the reviews and maintain transparency throughout the process.
Integrate these strategies into your customer engagement to garner more authentic and valuable buyer feedback as well as bolster your brand’s credibility and trust on the Amazon platform.
Manage negative reviews
Negative reviews can seem like stumbling blocks to success. However, they present an opportunity to showcase your commitment to customer satisfaction. Addressing negative feedback promptly is crucial for demonstrating your attentiveness and dedication to resolving buyer concerns.
Strategies for handling negative reviews professionally
Deftly managing negative reviews can transform a seemingly detrimental situation into a chance to showcase your brand’s integrity and customer-centric approach. Capitalizing on that opportunity requires you to:
- Respond with empathy and solutions: Craft empathetic responses to negative reviews, acknowledging the customer’s experience and expressing genuine concern. Offering practical solutions or proposing steps to rectify the issue demonstrates your commitment to their satisfaction and your willingness to go the extra mile to ensure a positive outcome.
- Proactively resolve complaints: Beyond a public response to negative feedback, reach out to customers privately to address their concerns. This is a powerful way to turn a dissatisfied buyer into a loyal advocate. By taking the initiative to resolve issues through tangible solutions, you not only salvage the consumer relationship but also display your brand’s dedication to excellent customer service.
Leverage social proof
Social proof can convince potential clients of your legitimacy and instill trust in your products. Shoppers place significant weight on word-of-mouth recommendations, so it’s imperative to collect social proof in a variety of forms to sway potential customers’ purchasing decisions.
Incorporate positive reviews into your marketing strategy
Positive customer reviews are valuable endorsements for your business that can significantly amplify your reputation and sales.
You can leverage them by featuring customer testimonials on product descriptions, in advertising campaigns, and on social media. That transparency can enhance your brand’s credibility and influence potential buyers at various touch points along their consumer journey.
Showcase testimonials and user-generated content
Display user-generated content (UGC) and consumer testimonials beyond your product pages as well to strengthen the authenticity of your business. Highlight customer success stories and experiences in case studies, social media posts, and dedicated testimonial pages to increase trust and create a sense of community around your brand.
Emphasize the positive experiences of your customers and inspire dependability around your brand. The persuasive power of social proof is an asset to your brand’s credibility and helps build trust among consumers.
Build credibility and trust for your brand
The long-term success of your brand depends on developing and upholding credibility and trust.
Let’s examine a few powerful tactics for enhancing your brand’s reputation and creating unshakeable consumer loyalty.
Consistently deliver high-quality goods and services
The foundation of a reputable and trustworthy brand is consistency. To establish yourself as a dependable option for clients, you must guarantee a continuous level of quality in your products and services, from the original transaction to post-purchase assistance.
That means creating a seamless path to purchase, ensuring fast and reliable fulfillment while keeping items in top condition, and providing educational materials that make it easy for buyers to learn about and use your products.
Building trust and exceeding customer expectations consistently results in a devoted consumer base that promotes your business.
Create a brand image based on customer satisfaction
Go above and beyond buyer expectations to show your sincere dedication to customer satisfaction.
If you aren’t already, you should personalize your communications — that includes standard outreach as well as tailored recommendations, follow-ups based on past purchase behavior, and other customized touch points.
One example of a brand that does this well is Chewy, whose personal and empathetic customer service was lauded on social media when a buyer posted about their dog passing away and receiving flowers from the company.
Emphasizing customer satisfaction should be one of your brand’s key values so you leave a favorable impression on your target market and secure their trust.
Implement long-term strategies for continuous positive reviews
To ensure a steady stream of positive reviews and maintain a stellar reputation on Amazon, adopt long-term strategies that prioritize continuous improvement and customer-centric approaches.
We’ve broken down some key techniques to encourage sustained positive reviews and expand your brand’s presence on the marketplace.
Regularly improve product quality and customer experience
Elevating your product quality and enhancing the overall customer experience should be an ongoing priority.
Show your commitment to supplying top-notch products and unmatched buyer happiness by continually looking for ways to improve your products and simplify the purchasing process for your clients.
If you operate in a space that regularly releases new technological upgrades, you should release new models with the latest technology applied. For example, a portable wifi device that can roam on 4G should release new models that pick up 5G.
Another common example of this is video game updates. A game can receive multiple updates after its initial release that fix bugs and improve gameplay, as well as add new stories and levels to unlock.
Besides encouraging favorable evaluations, aiming for excellence in both product quality and the buyer experience also cultivates consumer loyalty, in turn placing your company as a reliable market leader.
Monitor and analyze review trends
Stay on top of review trends to identify areas for improvement and refine your strategies.
Paying close attention to customer feedback, sentiments, and emerging patterns can provide valuable insights into the strengths and weaknesses of your products and services.
Then, leverage that information to improve your offerings and address recurring concerns. This demonstrates your responsiveness to customer needs and fosters a culture of continuous enhancement and innovation within your brand.
Incorporate customer feedback into product development
Integrate consumer feedback into your product development process to develop offerings that resonate with your target audience.
Actively solicit buyer suggestions, preferences, and pain points and incorporate them into your product roadmap both to cultivate a sense of inclusivity and build products that directly address consumer needs and preferences.
When you involve your customers in the development process and strengthen your relationships with them, you boost the likelihood of receiving positive reviews that reflect your offering’s ability to satisfy their needs.
By prioritizing continuous improvement, monitoring review trends, and integrating buyer opinions into your product development, you’ll trigger a cycle of sustained positive feedback, solidify your brand’s position in the competitive Amazon marketplace, and, ultimately, foster long-term success.
Wrapping up — Product reviews support future success
The ability to generate authentic and positive product reviews is a major asset that guides seller success on the Amazon marketplace. You’ll be well positioned not only to thrive but also leave a lasting impression on shoppers by putting the tactics and insights discussed in this guide into practice.
Remember, the foundation of your eCommerce success is your dedication to excellence and driving consumer happiness.
Using Preorders to Boost Customer Interest & Sales
This is a guest post from Jeff Campbell. Jeff is a digital marketing veteran, eCommerce entrepreneur, and professor at Wake Forest University. His strategic vision and operational approach have yielded multiple successful business acquisitions and exits. Jeff co-founded aiCommerce in 2020 and is responsible for its strategic vision, client services, P&L management, revenue growth, talent development and the overall success of business operations. aiCommerce is an eCommerce brand owner and global digital marketing agency with a focus on marketplaces such as Amazon, Walmart, and Target.
In eCommerce, staying ahead of the competition and capturing customer interest is a challenging but vital task. One effective strategy that can help you not only generate buzz but also boost interest and sales is the introduction of preorders on your DTC website. Preorders allow you to build anticipation for your products, engage with your audience, and secure sales before items are available on the market.
In this guide, we’ll explore how eCommerce brands can utilize preorders to their advantage, offering tips and strategies to harness the full potential of this powerful sales tactic from its development through post-preorder success.
Start by choosing products that are likely to generate significant interest and demand among your target audience. The more demand a product has, the more likely a presale will see success. To identify high-demand products, conduct market research or surveys to gauge interest or need for a given product.
Once you’ve settled on a concept, ensure your chosen product is not only appealing but also unique and valuable. Items that satisfy a need in the lives of consumers are more compelling and thus likely garner higher sales. High-quality products with unique features or benefits tend to attract more preorders.
Why preorders matter
Introducing preorders into your business model can bring multiple benefits, including:
- Generate excitement: Preorders create a sense of excitement and anticipation among your audience. Customers like the idea of being the first to own a product, especially if it’s something many people desire. By offering them the chance to be the first to receive a new release, you generate buzz around your brand that can increase interest and sales.
- Secure sales in advance: As the name implies, you can secure sales before a product is officially launched. Preorder buzz typically lasts about one week on average, with almost 30% of preorder sales made on the first day of a presale. This can provide your eCommerce business with essential cash flow and insights into demand, helping you manage inventory more effectively.
- Gather customer data: Preorders provide an opportunity to collect valuable customer data, including email addresses, customer behavior, and preferences. Analyzing preorder data like conversion rates and customer demographics can inform your marketing and product development strategies. That information can then be used for future marketing efforts and to build stronger relationships with your audience.
- Test product viability: Launching a product through preorders can help you gauge its viability in the market. If you receive a significant number of preorders, it indicates strong demand. Conversely, if preorders are slow, you may need to rethink your product strategy and adjust to avoid a major loss.
- Competitive advantage: In the saturated eCommerce landscape, preorders can give your brand a competitive edge. Being one of the first to offer an exciting new product helps you stand out and capture market share before competitors catch up.
Preparing for successful preorders
Follow this step-by-step walkthrough to maximize your preorder strategy:
1) Build hype with teasers
Before launching a preorder campaign, start building anticipation through teasers. Post on social media, leverage email marketing, and showcase sneak peeks of the new release to pique interest in your upcoming product.
2) Set a clear launch date
Announce a specific launch date for your preorder campaign. Having a deadline creates a sense of urgency and encourages potential customers to act quickly. Publish the release date on social media and your website and post timely reminders as the day draws closer.
3) Dedicate a landing page
Create a dedicated landing page on your website where customers can learn more about the product, see teasers, and sign up for preorder notifications. You can also include a countdown timer here to induce excitement.
4) Offer exclusive incentives
Encourage preorders by offering exclusive incentives. This could include discounts, early access, limited-edition extras, or bundles. When customers feel important to a brand, they feel inclined to buy, with 84% of consumers asserting they’re more likely to shop from brands that offer personalized experiences. The more attractive the offer, the more likely customers will commit to preordering.
5) Prepare adequate inventory
Ensure you have enough inventory to meet the demand your preorder campaign generates. Overcommitting to preorders without the ability to fulfill them can diminish your customer experience and damage your brand’s reputation.
6) Streamline the checkout process
Make the preorder process as seamless as possible. Minimize the steps involved, offer multiple payment options, and provide clear instructions to prevent cart abandonment. Consider a guest checkout option as well so buyers can reach the finish line more quickly.
Marketing your preorder campaign
Once you’ve built your campaign, you’re ready to launch it. For maximum visibility, leverage these marketing channels and strategies.
Capitalize on the power of social media to promote your preorder campaign. These platforms are highly influential, with 71% of customers more likely to make a purchase due to social media recommendations. In 2023 alone, it’s predicted almost $1.3 billion eCommerce sales will take place on social media platforms.
With the increasing popularity of social commerce, now is the perfect time to invest in your brand’s growth on these channels. Share engaging content like product images, videos, and customer testimonials to capture attention and drive traffic to your website.
Build compelling email campaigns to target your existing consumer base and subscribers. Although it may seem old-fashioned, eCommerce brands that utilize email marketing see an average return on investment (ROI) of 122%. You can boost your sales and customer interest by incorporating eye-catching visuals and personalized messaging that highlights the benefits of preordering.
Since over half (61%) of consumers trust the opinions of influencers, embracing this marketing tactic can make a huge difference in your sales. Influencers can create authentic content that showcases your product and encourages their followers to preorder. Look for influencers in your niche to reach a wider audience.
Paid advertising on platforms like Google Ads and Facebook Ads targets your ideal customer. Also, use retargeting campaigns to reach potential buyers who’ve shown an interest in your product. Retargeting ads boast a 400% increase in engagement rates compared to regular ads, proving customers do take notice and interact with retargeting efforts. This will keep your brand top of mind as people regularly see your advertisements and promotions, in turn increasing the likelihood of a sale.
Optimize your website and product pages for SEO to increase organic traffic. Include relevant keywords in product descriptions and meta tags to improve visibility in search results. Keeping your site optimized will also produce a smoother shopping experience, making it more enticing for customers to become repeat buyers. Also, ensure your site can accommodate mobile devices, as mobile shopping is expected to account for 43.4% of all eCommerce sales in 2023.
Managing preorders effectively
Because you’re collecting purchases in advance, it’s crucial to stay on top of preorders so nothing falls through the cracks. To oversee them properly, be sure to:
- Communicate transparently: Maintain open and transparent communication with your customers throughout the preorder process. Regularly update buyers on production, shipping, and delivery timelines.
- Provide ready access to customer support: Offer exceptional customer support to address inquiries and concerns promptly. A positive customer service experience can greatly enhance your brand’s reputation.
- Manage expectations: Set realistic expectations for delivery dates. Underpromise and overdeliver to ensure customer satisfaction. This avoids disappointing customers who then leave negative reviews, resulting in fewer sales. Inform customers of any delays and offer solutions or compensation as needed.
- Monitor inventory: Keep a close eye on your inventory levels to avoid overselling. The last thing you want to do is sell out before a product is even available. That’s a surefire way to upset customers and earn negative brand reviews. Implement inventory management software to track preorder quantities and available stock accurately.
Continue to drive success post-preorders
Your work isn’t finished once your preorder campaign ends. Besides actually fulfilling orders, there are other actions you should take to cultivate stronger ties with your buyers and attract potential customers to your new release:
- Collect feedback: After fulfilling preorders, gather feedback from customers to gauge their satisfaction and gather insights for improvement. Showing you care about their feedback and enjoyment encourages customers to become repeat buyers and recommend your brand to others.
- Nurture customer relationships: Continue to engage with consumers who participated in the preorder campaign to keep them coming back. Offer exclusive discounts, early access to future products, or loyalty rewards to foster long-term relationships. Buyers are more likely to interact with and purchase from brands that provide benefits they don’t receive from other competitors.
- Analyze metrics: Evaluate the performance of your preorder campaign by analyzing metrics such as conversion rates, customer acquisition cost, and ROI. Use these insights to refine your future preorder strategies. Over time, you’ll find the right combination of tactics to enjoy continued preorder success.
- Continue to promote: Once the product officially launches, continue your marketing efforts to reach customers who didn’t participate in the preorder but are still interested in the new release. Retargeting those leads could provide a boost in sales.
Wrapping up — Get ahead of the sales game with preorders
Preorders are a powerful tool for eCommerce brands to generate excitement, secure sales, and gather valuable customer data. They’re a win-win for both your brand and your consumers, who enjoy the exclusivity of being “first in line.”
Remember that successful preorder campaigns require careful planning, transparency, and a commitment to delivering an exceptional customer experience. When executed effectively, preorders can help your brand thrive in the competitive eCommerce landscape while building strong, lasting relationships with your audience. By following the tips and strategies outlined in this comprehensive guide, you can harness the full potential of this sales tactic to propel your business to new heights. With the right approach, preorders can become a cornerstone of your multi-channel eCommerce success story.
How to Choose an Inventory Management System for Shopify Plus
This is a guest post from Alex Senn. Alex is the CEO of SKUSavvy, a modern warehouse management system built for brands on Shopify looking to scale their operations and efficiently manage the end-to-end inventory and fulfillment process. With an industry first-of-its-kind 3D warehouse map built into the system, users can find inventory faster, make storage a breeze, and have the fastest visually guided pick paths for the most efficient pick, pack, and ship process. Set up a SKUSavvy account and enjoy 50 orders free each month.
Whether you run a small online store or a large-scale eCommerce business, managing inventory efficiently is critical to maintain smooth operations. If you’re on Shopify Plus, Shopify’s enterprise solution to eCommerce, integrating with an inventory management system can be a game-changer.
The journey for a Shopify Plus brand commonly starts with a gradual rise, followed by a sudden exponential spike.
Then problems arise.
Orders are late, inaccurate, or just wrong, the warehouse becomes a mess, purchasing new inventory turns into a shot in the dark, and inventory controls go out the window. Inventory becomes a nightmare with spreadsheets, multiple apps, and haphazard purchasing that falls into disarray. To avoid these hassles, we’ll explore how to unite Shopify Plus with an inventory management system and streamline your business operations.
The importance of inventory management
Inventory management is more than knowing how many products you have in stock; it’s a crucial business function that significantly influences your Shopify Plus store’s success and customer satisfaction. It’s important for a number of reasons, which we explain below.
Well-managed inventory translates to smoother operations overall. When you know exactly what’s in stock and where, it’s easier to process orders, manage shipments, and handle customer inquiries. For Shopify Plus merchants, where the scale and volume of transactions can be considerably high, this is an essential asset.
When a customer sees an item out of stock, it’s likely a sale lost. Worse, consistent stockouts harm your brand reputation, as customers may perceive you as unreliable. With Shopify Plus stores catering to a larger customer base, these stockouts can result in significant lost revenue and weaken your customer lifetime value.
Overstocking not only ties up your capital in unsold goods but also increases storage costs and the risk of holding obsolete inventory. For high-end or seasonal products, this can be especially detrimental. With Shopify Plus’ advanced features like flash sales or conditional promotions, it’s imperative to find the right inventory balance to prevent excessive leftover stock.
Improved customer experience
A seamless shopping experience is crucial for customer retention and loyalty. When inventory is managed effectively, buyers receive their orders on time, encounter fewer issues with product availability, and enjoy a hassle-free shopping journey. This is also beneficial for your customer experience team because they’ll have fewer problems to deal with from unsatisfied consumers.
Shopify Plus stores can handle a vast amount of transactional data. By integrating this with effective inventory management, you can uncover insights into product performance, identify bestsellers, understand seasonal demand fluctuations, and predict future trends. This empowers you to make informed decisions regarding procurement, promotions, and pricing.
Additionally, incorporating an inventory system alongside your Shopify Plus store will enable even more transparency into stock on hand, shipping costs, packaging and relationships between your customer and requirements for stock.
Efficient inventory management can reduce holding costs, decrease waste (especially for perishable items), and optimize storage and fulfillment. For Shopify Plus merchants, that can translate into substantial cost savings given the scale of their operations.
As your Shopify Plus store grows, the complexities related to inventory multiply. Proper inventory management systems and practices ensure that, as you scale, you’re equipped to handle larger product assortments, increased order volumes, and storage locations across one or more countries where your customers are most prevalent, if desired.
Choosing the right Shopify Plus inventory system
If you keep track of inventory through spreadsheets or piece together multiple apps, you need to find a better management system for the job. The sheer volume and complexity of managing a large eCommerce operation necessitates a system that can cope with your specific needs. Though it takes time and patience to find your fit, that investment will save you lots of headache down the road. Here are a few keys to look for when evaluating potential systems.
Compatibility with Shopify Plus
Your first consideration should be how seamlessly the inventory system integrates with Shopify Plus. Look for systems that have established partnerships with Shopify or a proven track record of compatibility. This ensures smoother data flow and cuts down on glitches. At a minimum, it should accommodate:
- Orders, customers, inventory, locations
- Order updates and product updates
- Order edits
- Order tracking
- Barcodes, SKUs, variants, harmonized codes
- Customer address updates
- Customer communication
Features and functionality
What do you need from your inventory system? Some merchants require robust multi-location support, while others might prioritize back order management or automated reordering. List your essential features and use this to filter potential systems. It’s quicker to approach a vendor with a list of requirements and let them tell you whether or not their platform will support that functionality. Taking the time to determine your list of must-have, want-to-have, and nice-to-have elements will save a ton of time in your selection process.
For a full list of features you should look for in a new system, read this guide to Shopify inventory management.
Ease of use
A system may be feature-rich, but if it’s not user-friendly, it can become a bottleneck in your operations. Seek out options with intuitive interfaces, mobile support, clear dashboards, and straightforward processes. That’ll speed up training and reduce operational errors. Further, your chosen system should include support documentation and guides, YouTube videos, chat, or Slack availability to facilitate easier onboarding.
As your business grows, so will your inventory management needs, so the system you choose should be able to scale with you. It needs to handle an increase in locations, product SKUs, order volumes, and integrations with other tools or platforms. Determine the company’s ability to handle your specific order volumes. A system is only as good as its infrastructure, so, if your order volume will significantly outpace other clients using that system, it may not be the right solution.
While it’s essential to have a robust system, you also need to be mindful of your budget. Compare the pricing models of different systems. Some may offer a flat monthly fee, while others will charge based on transaction volume or the number of products. Search for a balance between cost and features. It’s also worthwhile to ask if a company offers any incentives or discounts.
Support and training
Readily available customer support can be a lifesaver, especially during the initial setup or when troubleshooting issues. Opt for systems with a reputation for excellent customer service. Additionally, see if they provide training resources, webinars, or guides to bring your team up to speed.
Beyond Shopify Plus, you might also use other tools for your ERP, CRM, accounting, or marketing platforms. Your inventory system should ideally integrate with these tools to provide a holistic ecosystem where data flows seamlessly between platforms. Shopify offers a number of apps to help you make these connections and unify order channels or other data at a single access point.
Reviews and testimonials
Lastly, look at reviews from other Shopify Plus store owners. Their experiences reveal real-world performance, potential issues, and the quality of customer support. Look at a variety of sources for different feedback across storefronts of all types and gain a comprehensive review.
Tip: Use SKUSavvy to create a visual 3D map of your warehouse throughout key processes.
Understanding workflows between Shopify Plus and inventory management systems
To produce a fine-tuned workflow between Shopify Plus and your chosen inventory management system, you need to understand what data should be input within each system so both work cohesively:
- Order info: Initially, data entry would predominantly occur in the inventory management system, encompassing product details, stock levels, and supplier information. Shopify Plus, meanwhile, would generally be the source of truth for order data, capturing real-time information about customer orders, preferences, and feedback.
- Errors: It’s imperative to establish clear protocols for addressing errors; for instance, discrepancies in stock levels should ideally be rectified within the inventory management system, whereas order errors need attention within Shopify Plus. Some systems will communicate one or more data elements in both directions, so educate your team on the proper way to deal with each of these to prevent confusion.
- Shipment info: Order updates, including status changes and tracking information, should be synchronized across both platforms to facilitate transparent communication with customers and your team on each. Personnel wise, grant access to both systems judiciously. Warehouse staff would primarily require comprehensive access to the inventory system, while customer service teams would benefit from extensive permissions in Shopify Plus to manage orders and customer interactions proficiently. A select group of individuals should have access to both, acting as liaisons to ensure data consistency and operational harmony.
Here’s a common workflow setup for Shopify and your warehouse and inventory management system.
1. New product information
Tasks and Responsibilities:
- Product Manager:
- Create product listings with detailed descriptions, images, and pricing in Shopify
- Set up categories and tags to facilitate easy navigation on the storefront
- Manage automations and new product uploads into Shopify
- Auto-tag products and creating bundles
Tasks and Responsibilities:
- Sales Team:
- Monitor new orders in Shopify and confirming their accuracy
- Set up new automation workflows and auto-tagging for special orders
- Communicate with the customer service team to handle special requests or custom orders
- Customer Service Team:
- Assist customers with order-related queries
- Process returns and exchanges through the Shopify interface
- Make order edits and process customer shipping address changes
System: Warehouse management system (WMS)
Tasks and Responsibilities:
- Inventory Manager:
- Manage and update product stock levels in SKUSavvy
- Conduct regular inventory audits to ensure accuracy in stock data
- Set up reorder points and minimum stock levels to prevent stockouts
- Allocate inventory from POs to bin locations
- Create new POs and ensure accuracy of inbound receipts
4. Bin locations
Tasks and Responsibilities:
- Warehouse Staff:
- Organize and manage bin locations within WMS to optimize the storage space
- Regularly update the bin locations in the system as products are moved or rearranged
Tasks and Responsibilities:
- Shipping Coordinator:
- Coordinate with carriers and manage shipping labels through WMS (uploaded to Shopify upon fulfillment)
- Handle any updates on shipment tracking information to keep customers informed about the status of their orders
- Manage shipping costs and negotiate rates
- Understand fulfillment workflow and help optimize pick and pack
- Keep tabs on unfulfilled orders and status
Tasks and Responsibilities:
- Warehouse Manager:
- Plan and execute cross-docking strategies within SKUSavvy to minimize storage time and costs as well as allocation of inventory across multiple locations
- Coordinate with the shipping department to ensure timely shipment of cross-docked products
- Allocate inbound inventory and pick-and-pack of outbound cross-dock
Employee management strategies with Shopify Plus
Workforce allocation within a large inventory management software system is a strategic process. It involves assigning distinct roles and responsibilities to team members while safeguarding access and optimizing system utilization.
In this complex ecosystem, various roles, such as administrators, warehouse managers, and order pickers, are crucial to maintain seamless operations. The high number of moving parts makes it essential to protect access and prevent unauthorized actions by granting permissions based on job functions.
Effective use of the system is contingent upon ensuring each employee’s tasks align with their role and expertise. Develop clear workflows that specify which tasks each role should engage in to yield efficiency and consistency. Equally vital is comprehensive employee training on the inventory system with an in-house expert or from the company that sold you the system.
When employees are well versed and have a sense of ownership in their roles, no steps are skipped during warehouse tasks. In this collaborative approach, every team member becomes an integral part of the inventory management process, contributing to its success and accuracy.
Consider implementing the following strategies when delegating tasks across these systems:
- Role-based access: Customize permissions based on roles. Employees should only have access to the sections of the system that pertain to their job responsibilities.
- Training and development: Conduct regular training sessions so employees are proficient in both systems. This should include troubleshooting common issues and understanding the interplay between Shopify and the WMS.
- Collaborative communication: Encourage open communication between teams to foster collaboration and address any discrepancies or issues promptly.
- Performance monitoring: Implement KPIs and performance metrics to monitor employee performance and identify areas for improvement.
Wrapping up — Shopify Plus can elevate your inventory system
Fine-tuned inventory management contributes to streamlined operations, the prevention of stockouts and overstocking, improved customer experiences, data-driven decision-making, cost efficiency, and scalability. However, you need an inventory system that seamlessly integrates with Shopify Plus to unite all of those processes. Consider factors like compatibility, features, ease of use, scalability, cost implications, support, and integration capabilities when making your decision.
Harmonious operations require cohesion in the workflows between Shopify Plus and the inventory management system. That entails clear protocols for data entry, error resolution, and synchronized updates, as well as training employees in both systems and providing access based on their roles and expertise. By implementing the strategies outlined in this article, Shopify Plus stores can harness the full potential of their eCommerce operations to deliver exceptional customer experiences and achieve sustainable growth.
Unlocking A Successful Brand Launch: 12 Key Considerations to Start Right
This is a guest post from Squadhelp.
Launching or rebranding your small business is both thrilling and daunting. To set it on the path to success requires carefully considering multiple aspects of branding, from positioning and competitive analysis to cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence. We’ve collected 12 essential logistical aspects for small and new business owners that can unlock their brand potential and help their venture thrive.
1) Brand positioning and competitive analysis
Understanding your brand’s specific place in the market is paramount to its success. To carve out your own place, you need to:
- Find your niche: To distinguish yourself in an oversaturated market, identify a niche that aligns with your brand’s unique selling proposition (USP) and values.
- Conduct a competitor analysis: When researching competitors, conduct extensive research to identify gaps and areas where your brand can stand out in the marketplace. This identifies trends, customer preferences, and any possible opportunities in your market.
Outline actionable steps to establish your brand’s positioning, which entails formulating an unambiguous value proposition, pinpointing who your target audience is, and developing a compelling brand narrative.
2) Leveraging artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence (AI) can revolutionize your branding strategies, from customer insights to personalized marketing, through the following advantages:
- Powerful insights: AI tools can uncover rich information on customer behaviors, preferences, and trends. You can harness that data to inform your decision-making processes, optimize your marketing campaigns more efficiently, and personalize customer experiences more seamlessly.
- Personalization: AI-backed personalization enables brands to deliver tailored content and recommendations to individual customers, driving engagement and increasing conversions.
- Implementation tips: To incorporate AI into your branding efforts successfully, begin by collecting customer data and investing in AI-powered marketing platforms. Then, continuously assess and adapt your strategies based on the insights gained for your tools.
3) User-generated content
Leverage customer reviews and social proof to establish trust and credibility for your brand. They offer genuine insights that foster trust between prospective customers and your business. Prompt buyers to write testimonials, share their experiences on popular social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram, and engage in contests or campaigns that incentivize content submission through contest prizes.
Showcasing user-generated content prominently on your website and in your marketing materials enhances both its credibility and your brand’s standing with potential clients.
4) Amazon Advertising tactics
Amazon is a vast marketplace, so knowing how to navigate it effectively can increase brand awareness.
Take advantage of Amazon Advertising options like Sponsored Products, Sponsored Brands, and the Amazon DSP (Demand-Side Platform) to target specific audiences while boosting product visibility. You can also explore successful brands that have successfully employed Amazon Advertising to expand their presence on the platform.
5) Subscription boxes
The subscription box sector is a rich opportunity to build a loyal customer base. This type of offering brings several benefits, including recurring revenue, customer retention, and predictable sales.
If you opt for this route, be sure to weave your brand identity into your subscription box to produce a memorable unboxing experience that subscribers will be eager to share on social media.
Subscription boxes offer a stable stream of revenue, and as you deliver value and enhance customer experiences, you’ll build a loyal consumer base.
6) Omnichannel branding
To increase brand recognition across various sales channels and reach a broader target market, consider the following tactics:
- Multi-channel and omnichannel selling: Omnichannel strategies aim to integrate and ensure consistent communications and sales strategies across all channels, providing a seamless experience and continuity for customers.
- Consistency: Strive for unification across physical stores, websites, social media, and other platforms that reinforce brand identity and enhance the customer experience. This strengthens your brand identity while improving the consumer journey.
- Implementing omnichannel: To manage multiple sales channels successfully, invest in integrated software solutions and establish an inventory management system with one unified view of inventory levels.
7) Expanding your brand story
Crafting an engaging narrative that speaks directly to your customers can set your brand apart. Storytelling allows your brand to establish an emotional bond with buyers by communicating your values and the issues it solves in an entertaining way. Your brand story should express these messages effectively to foster customer engagement.
Develop a narrative that captures your brand’s authenticity while appealing to its target audience. Use storytelling channels such as videos, blogs, and social media to share it far and wide. Additionally, explore various mediums to convey your brand narrative and tailor the approach according to what resonates most with your target audience.
8) Influencer partnerships
Social media influencers open another avenue to expand your brand awareness by reaching a broader and more engaged audience. They authentically promote your product or service while sharing reviews and providing testimonials to vouch for them, which builds trust and credibility for your name.
Look for personalities who align with your brand values and appeal to your target demographic. Conduct extensive research and carefully select influencers who display an authentic affinity with your brand, creating original content for their followers that resonates well.
9) Direct-to-consumer (DTC) marketing trends
DTC models allow brands to engage customers directly and manage their relationships more effectively. With DTC, you enjoy full data ownership, increased profit margins, and better consumer experiences.
Take an in-depth look at developing and scaling DTC brands, from setting up an eCommerce website and personalized marketing initiatives to optimizing the customer journey.
10) Launch with impact
Your launch is integral to brand growth, so it should generate buzz among your target demographic. Stay on top of your marketing campaigns and product availability during planning. Create excitement through teasers, exclusive previews, and countdowns.
Timing is also important. You want to launch your brand at a time that maximizes visibility and aligns with market trends, so perform market research to determine the opportune moment.
The work doesn’t end at the launch though; you need to maintain momentum beyond as well. Keep customers excited by fulfilling brand promises, engaging them directly, and continuously improving products or services.
11) Effective brand sustainability
Consumers today are becoming increasingly environmentally aware, so make sustainability a core component of your brand identity. Look into adopting eco-friendly practices when designing, sourcing, and packaging your product or service.
Also, consider supporting initiatives committed to positive change through your brand. Highlighting your eco-friendly efforts is an effective way to attract like-minded customers and build long-term trust.
12) Data-driven decision-making
Inform and optimize your branding strategies using your brand data. Start by establishing robust data collection systems to gather customer insights, track marketing performance, and monitor brand perception. You should also invest in tools and platforms that interpret data effectively to gain actionable insights from it.
Then, leverage the data-driven insights you glean to fine-tune your branding, marketing, and product strategies over time and ensure your brand remains relevant and competitive.
Wrapping up — Grow your brand with confidence
Establishing and expanding a brand in any sector takes careful thought and strategic planning. Understanding brand positioning nuances, tapping the power of emerging technologies like AI, and engaging customers through user-generated content or influencer partnerships are all vital steps that move you closer to success. Staying on top of trends like DTC or subscription box branding while remaining present across various sales channels will allow your brand to reach wider audiences more efficiently and build a loyal consumer base more rapidly.
To realize your brand’s full potential, you need adaptability, creativity, and an in-depth knowledge of customer preferences, which change with every new customer or competitor interaction. By closely following these 12 considerations, small and new business owners can navigate their unique competitive landscapes to establish brands that resonate deeply with target audiences while realizing long-term success and sustainable growth.
How to reduce Amazon returns
This is a guest post from Isaac Hadriye, President & CEO of OnSite Support.
Providing a smooth buyer’s journey is an arduous task for Amazon sellers, and returns only add to the complexity. They can result in lost revenue, especially if you can’t resell the item. This is particularly problematic for merchants who sell products with low profit margins. You also have to contend with additional costs like return shipping expenses and Amazon’s refund fees, which can quickly add up and hurt your bottom line.
Through internal research, we found it takes three new sales to make up for each order that’s returned, and with average eCommerce return rates ranging from 20% to 30%, Amazon merchants face potentially huge revenue loss. Preventing returns in the first place is your best defense, as it helps you preserve inventory and maintain a healthy store reputation. We’ll walk you through specific strategies that can turn these minuses into lucrative pluses.
How to minimize returns for your Amazon store
To limit the number of returns you receive on the marketplace, adopt a comprehensive approach consisting of the following tactics.
Include accurate product descriptions and images
One of the most common reasons for returns on Amazon is inaccurate product descriptions and misleading images.
As a buyer, there’s nothing worse than receiving something in the mail and realizing it’s completely different from what you expected. If the discrepancy between what’s on your product listing and what the customer holds in their hand is too great, they’ll likely return it.
Each product listing should be detailed and accurate, with all relevant information clearly laid out, including its uses, dimensions, color, material, technical specifications, compatibility with other products, and even limitations. Also, feature high-quality images and videos from multiple angles to set realistic expectations for customers.
If your item comes in various versions, highlight any differences between each option. If you sell clothes, include a size guide so customers can measure themselves and make the right selection — clothes that don’t fit are certain to be sent back.
Remember, with online shopping, customers are unable to see or feel the item before they buy, so you have to make it as easy as possible for them to understand what they’re buying.
Create engaging videos
People are more likely to purchase if they can see a video of the product in use. Static images are helpful, but being able to show how a product works with movement gives a better idea of what they’re buying. Cover multiple angles and use cases so the customer has all the information they need to make a decision.
Display a clear and easy-to-understand return policy
It may be counterintuitive, but having an easy, no-hassle returns policy goes a long way toward reducing returns because it establishes customers’ trust in you from the start. Customers may avoid you if they know stringent requirements limit their ability to return items. Having a “free returns” option, however, lets them know you care about making them happy.
Concretely outline your return policy on your product listings, including the time frame, the product conditions required for a return to be accepted, and the refund process.
Provide excellent customer service
Lackluster customer service virtually guarantees you’ll experience more returns. Make sure you address every complaint quickly and efficiently. People want to feel their concerns matter, so actively listen to their issues and keep consumers informed of the actions you take. That white-glove service can change their minds before they pull the trigger. Beyond preventing returns, the quality of your customer service can also turn a negative experience into a positive one and thus reinforce brand loyalty.
Provide better technical and quality support by establishing an open, well-structured communication channel with your customers. This allows you to drill down into each buyer’s specific issue and take corrective measures. Sometimes, returns are due to incomplete or inaccurate product information, while in other cases, consumers may require a replacement due to defects, or outright refuse to accept orders if the packaging is damaged. Clear communication is imperative to identify these problems and remedy them correctly.
Another key component of satisfactory customer service is having robust product support for Amazon. Onsite can build a customized landing page for your business where customers can go directly from their order page and find all kinds of resources to help them troubleshoot their purchase letting them hopefully sort their issue before having to return anything.
“Get product support” button directly on Amazon orders
Conduct quality control checks
One of the most effective ways to prevent returns is to perform quality control checks on products before they’re shipped to customers. This entails inspecting for defects, ensuring items are properly packaged, and verifying they meet the specifications outlined in the product listing.
If you use FBA, you can book inspections to make sure everything meets the program’s requirements and that the quality of your fulfillment operation — including both incoming and outgoing shipments — is up to a high standard.
For the incoming shipments, you can verify that what you receive matches what you ordered in terms of product and quantity, as well as check that all inventory has the correct barcode, packaging, and labeling before they arrive at FBA facilities.
From there, you can carry out quality control checks that’ll look at the units themselves and, among other things, inspect that:
- Your products are in good working condition and not damaged or malfunctioning
- Your items are all visually consistent, without blemishes, marks, or inconsistencies
- The size and weight of the items are correct
- All documentation is correct and everything is compliant with local laws and regulations
Be sure to complete additional tests as well like internal checks, color, smell, and even drop tests.
The thoroughness of this process also requires you to maintain good communication with your supplier. Any concerns with the quality of the product or the packaging should be brought up with them as quickly as possible to prevent future stock from having similar issues.
Invest in efficient fulfillment
The less time between someone hitting the “Buy” button and them receiving their item, the better — both for them and your business. For example, if the order takes too long to arrive or is delayed, the customer could decide they’re better off simply going to a physical store and returning your product whenever it arrives.
If you don’t use FBA to fulfill your orders, make sure your third-party provider is reliable. If tardiness becomes a pattern, you could see customers leave you for more efficient sellers.
Use high-quality packaging materials
The more money an item costs, the more upset a customer will be if it arrives in poor condition. So, make sure both product and shipment packaging are sturdy and reliable to protect items from damage during transit.
Look into high-grade bubble wrap, boxes, etc., and consider eco-friendly options to reduce your carbon footprint and appeal to environmentally conscious shoppers. If you find you’re receiving too many returns of a certain item, experiment with different price points if your margin allows.
Monitor customer reviews
Analyze customer reviews to identify any issues triggering returns. You can track feedback on Amazon, social media platforms, and other online forums.
Take charge of managing your customer experience and resolve any issues that arise. Poor communication is often the root cause of both unnecessary returns and poor reviews. So, attend to grievances promptly and effectively to ensure a satisfying experience overall and promote positivity.
Although you can’t completely stop bad reviews, you can at least keep track of them. Rather than ignoring them — which will only cause them to fester and drive away potential new customers — respond to negative feedback as soon as it arises. Remember, everyone will see how you react, so be positive, helpful, and, if need be, apologetic. Clearly convey that you’ll do everything you can to fix the problem. In this way, you can turn a poor opinion of your company into an opportunity for refinement and growth.
Review the data and spot trends
No matter how proactive your efforts, you’ll inevitably receive returns. When something is sent back, one of the most important things to do is find out why. Ask for (and actively review) feedback from customers — their opinions are your best indication of how your products perform in the real world.
Also, keep track of returns data to find any trends affecting your business. Are the returns coming from a particular geographic area? Is it during a specific time of year? Are they more likely to be returned if they’re bundles?
If you can identify the patterns, you can break the return cycle.
Introducing OnSite Support for eCommerce sellers
OnSite Support works directly with Amazon to bring their Product Lifecycle Support (PLS) program to marketplace sellers. Merchants enrolled in this program can display the Get Product Support button on their Amazon customers’ order page, which solicits direct assistance for buyers on the verge of returning a product.
This attentive support significantly reduces returns and negative reviews: Since launching the program, Amazon tracked over 350,000 monthly clicks on the Get Product Support buttons from frustrated buyers. They also reported they were able to avoid returns in approximately 68% of those cases.
Currently, only brands that participate in Amazon’s Brand Registry are allowed to join the Product Lifecycle Support program. To join the Brand Registry, you have to have a trademark or a pending trademark.
Wrapping up — Take a detailed approach to limit returns on Amazon
Slashing unnecessary returns can be a game changer for your bottom line. Refunds eat away at your brand’s profit, and it only takes a few returns to earn a negative ROI from a product launch.
Combine the strategies outlined in this article to cultivate smoother business operations and more satisfied customers. In turn, that improved experience will bring down the number of returns you receive and garner more positive customer feedback.
How and Why to Outsource Your Amazon seller account
This is a guest post from Minhas M, an SPCTEK Amazon consultant with several years of experience in the eCommerce industry. Minhas has helped numerous businesses achieve success on the Amazon marketplace. With a passion for technology and a deep understanding of the platform’s complex algorithms, he has built a reputation as a go-to expert for businesses looking to increase their sales and visibility on Amazon.
Running a successful Amazon seller account requires dedication, expertise, and careful management. However, as your business grows, overseeing all aspects of your account can become overwhelming. At that point, it may be worth your time and money to hire a professional agency. In this article, I’ll explain why outsourcing the management of your Amazon seller account is a smart move, which tasks to pass off, and what to look for when choosing a service provider.
Why outsource your Amazon seller account?
To run an Amazon seller account effectively, you have to devote significant effort, especially as your store expands. By outsourcing the process though, you enjoy several benefits, including:
Saved time: Outsourcing tasks such as product listing, inventory management, order fulfillment, and customer service frees up time to focus on core business activities. You can concentrate on product development, sourcing, and expanding your brand while a third party handles the day-to-day operations.
Scalability: A professional service will ensure your account management scales alongside your business. These providers have the necessary infrastructure, technology, and resources to handle a large volume of products, orders, and customer inquiries, providing a seamless experience for your buyers.
Enhanced product listing optimization: Optimizing product listings for maximum visibility and conversions is critical to secure sales on Amazon. Hiring experts for this task will ensure your listings are well crafted, keyword-rich, and appealing to shoppers.
More efficient order fulfillment: Efficient order fulfillment is essential to meet customer expectations. Outsourcing the process to fulfillment centers or logistics providers can streamline operations, reduce shipping costs, and ensure timely delivery to maintain customer satisfaction and a positive business reputation.
Professional customer service: Exceptional customer service contributes greatly to a positive reputation on Amazon. When you let professionals take over, you can feel confident that all customer inquiries are addressed promptly and respectfully. These providers are trained in Amazon-specific queries, which enables them to resolve issues quickly and maintain high customer satisfaction.
Robust reporting and analytics: Professional service providers often have robust reporting and analytics tools to monitor and analyze your Amazon account’s performance. They yield valuable data on sales, consumer behavior, advertising effectiveness, and inventory management. Leveraging these analytics can help you make data-driven decisions and optimize your strategies for improved results.
Amazon account management elements to outsource
While every business has unique needs, there are some common aspects of Amazon account management that you should consider outsourcing.
Product listing optimization
If your Amazon product listings struggle to generate sales, it’s time to refine and hone them. Hiring a service to optimize your product listings ensures they’re keyword-rich, well structured, and appealing to potential customers. Expert service providers can conduct thorough keyword research, write compelling product descriptions, and strengthen titles, bullet points, and back-end search terms, resulting in improved search rankings and increased sales.
Efficiently managed inventory is vital to avoid stockouts and maintain a positive customer experience. Outsourcing inventory management allows you to optimize stock levels, track inventory performance, and implement effective replenishment strategies. Service providers can set up inventory management systems, forecast demand, and ensure seamless integration with your supply chain to reduce the risk of inventory-related issues.
Outsourcing order fulfillment to specialized fulfillment centers or third-party logistics providers ensures fast, accurate, and cost-effective order processing and shipping. These services have the infrastructure and expertise to handle picking, packing, shipping, and tracking so you’re assured every order reaches its destination on time and in pristine condition.
Professional customer service companies provide prompt and efficient handling of customer inquiries, order issues, and returns. Those with expertise in Amazon-related customer support can handle a high volume of inquiries, offer multi-channel assistance, and ensure timely resolution to problems.
Running successful advertising campaigns on Amazon requires expertise in campaign setup, optimization, and analysis. Outsourcing your advertising efforts to experienced professionals can help you maximize your return on investment (ROI). They can develop and manage targeted campaigns, optimize keyword bidding, and monitor performance to ensure your ad spend generates the desired results, ultimately boosting visibility and sales.
Building a positive review profile is crucial for establishing trust and credibility with potential customers. By handing off review management to service providers, you can monitor and respond to reviews with prompt and professional customer engagement. These third-party services can help you implement strategies to increase positive reviews, address negative feedback, and maintain a favorable reputation on the platform.
Account health and performance monitoring
Monitoring your account’s health and performance metrics is essential for uncovering areas in need of improvement and mitigating risks. Outsourced professionals will regularly review your account, identify issues, such as policy violations or performance discrepancies, and provide actionable insights to optimize performance. This proactive approach helps you maintain a healthy account and minimizes the possibility of suspension or penalties.
Competitor research and analysis
To stay competitive on Amazon, it’s crucial to understand your competitors’ strategies and market dynamics. Specialized agencies can provide valuable insights into pricing trends, product assortment, marketing tactics, and customer preferences. These insights enable you to fine-tune your strategies and differentiate your offerings to gain a competitive edge.
Expanding your business to international Amazon marketplaces can be a complex endeavor. However, partnering with experts who are familiar with different regions’ regulations, cultural nuances, and customer preferences can streamline the process. These professionals can assist with product translation, localization, market research, and compliance.
What to look for in a service provider
When selecting a professional agency to outsource your Amazon seller account, consider the following factors:
- Experience and track record: Look for providers with a proven history of working with Amazon sellers and delivering tangible results. Assess their client portfolio, read testimonials, and check case studies to gauge their expertise and success in managing Amazon accounts. An experienced provider will have a deep understanding of the platform’s intricacies and be equipped to handle various challenges that may arise.
- Range of services: Verify that the service offerings align with your specific needs. Choose a provider that offers a comprehensive suite of services to cover all aspects of account management. This ensures seamless integration and consistent performance across your Amazon business.
- Communication and transparency: Your chosen provider must maintain clear and open lines of communication. They should provide regular updates on the progress and performance of your account, be responsive to your inquiries and concerns, and designate a point of contact for you. Transparent reporting is also essential to track key metrics, assess the effectiveness of strategies, and make informed decisions.
- Expertise in your niche or category: Different product categories have unique challenges and require specialized knowledge. Potential partners should have a demonstrated understanding of the nuances of selling within your category and be able to provide valuable insights and recommendations. Familiarity with your niche’s market dynamics, customer preferences, and competition allows them to tailor strategies and optimize performance.
- Pricing structure and ROI: Evaluate the value a service provides compared to the cost. While price is an important factor, focus on the provider’s ability to deliver a positive ROI for your business. Assess their pricing models (i.e., a flat fee, percentage of sales, a combination) and consider the level of expertise, range of services, and expected outcomes when determining their overall value proposition. Look for providers who demonstrate measurable results.
Hiring a professional agency to run your Amazon seller account offers numerous advantages, including access to platform expertise, time savings, scalability, and enhanced efficiency. Careful consideration of which aspects to outsource, coupled with a meticulous selection process for a service provider, will help you unlock the full potential of your Amazon seller account and drive sustainable growth for your business.
Fortifying Your Cargo Against Cybersecurity Threats in 2023
This is a guest post from David L. Buss. David is CEO of DB Schenker North America, a 150-year-old leading global freight forwarder and 3PL provider. He’s responsible for all P&L aspects in the North American region, which comprises over 7,000 employees located throughout 39 forwarding locations and 55 logistics centers.
Over the past few years, cybersecurity has become an increasingly significant concern for businesses across all industries. Organizations whose operations rely heavily on digital systems face graver consequences from cybercrime as technology evolves. This issue is predicted to continue its upward trend well into 2023 and beyond.
Cargo transport businesses in particular have become vulnerable to cyberattacks, because the shipping industry depends on digital systems to track and process cargo. That makes this sector an attractive target for online thieves.
Now more than ever, it’s crucial for businesses to take proactive measures against cyberattacks on their cargo and other transportation systems to safeguard their operations’ integrity.
How cargo system vulnerabilities can lead to cyberattacks
From improved operational efficiency to enhanced security, advancements in technology have brought numerous benefits to the cargo transportation industry.
Unfortunately, it’s also raised the risk of cyberattacks.
Cybercriminals are constantly on the lookout for operational vulnerabilities to exploit. Whether it’s hacking into cargo databases or intercepting communications between cargo ships, there are numerous ways hackers can attack cargo systems, with two of the most common being:
- Software vulnerabilities: Attackers take advantage of weak points in the software that manages cargo transportation to access systems and extract sensitive information or disrupt operations. These vulnerabilities are often due to outdated software, unpatched systems, or weak passwords.
- Phishing schemes: Phishing involves tricking unsuspecting users into divulging sensitive information, such as login credentials or personal information, by posing as a legitimate website or service. In the cargo transportation industry, these attacks can leak confidential information about shipments or even result in rerouting shipments to different locations.
Due to increasing technological integrations in cargo transportation, companies must be aware of the weak points in their systems and take appropriate measures to defend against cyberattacks.
10 Expert-recommended strategies for protecting cargo from cyber threats
Given the number of connected devices in a business, the growth of data-driven operations, and companies’ reliance on software and networks, cargo system weaknesses constitute a significant concern. The rise of cyber threats has made it essential for companies to adopt practices to secure their cargo.
I’ve outlined 10 expert-recommended strategies to prevent or mitigate cyberattacks and keep your cargo safe.
1. Regularly update software
Like personal computers and mobile devices, cargo systems must have up-to-date software.
Outdated applications, firmware, and operating systems are more vulnerable to cyberattacks. So, it’s essential to implement an automated patching process to ensure updates are applied quickly. Regularly doing so hinders digital thieves from exploiting vulnerabilities in a system.
You should also remove software that’s no longer supported, as it receives no new patches and so is more prone to attacks.
2. Implement strong access controls
Access controls are the mechanisms that limit authorization to sensitive systems, applications, and data. Robust access controls are critical for securing cargo from cyber threats. As such, your business should implement least-privilege strategies, meaning users and accounts only have the minimum required permissions. You can also use multifactor authentication and other advanced tactics to restrict access to the right individuals.
Be mindful of insider threats as well, which are one of the leading causes of cyberattacks. Strong access controls help stop insider threats in their tracks by limiting users’ access to sensitive information. Regularly review and update your access control mechanisms to maintain their efficacy.
3. Conduct risk assessments
Prevention is your strongest defense, so schedule periodic risk assessments internally and with your 3PL fulfillment partners. Risk assessments identify vulnerabilities and provide actionable insights to protect against cyber threats.
Your company should also develop a risk management plan that includes ongoing monitoring of risk factors and the implementation of appropriate countermeasures.
Risk assessments must take into account various scenarios and potential attack vectors. Focus on pinpointing your most critical assets and prioritizing security to avoid emerging threats and tighten your safety practices.
4. Train employees
Educate your employees on how to identify and respond to cyber threats. They should clearly understand their role and responsibility in protecting cargo from digital attackers. Consider introducing a training program that teaches employees about common attacks, how to recognize potential threats, and how to report incidents.
5. Encrypt sensitive data
Encryption is a mandatory strategy to protect sensitive information from online threats. Verify that all sensitive data is encrypted when stored and transmitted. To secure that information, you can adopt industry-standard encryption mechanisms like AES or RSA.
Thanks to encryption, even if an attacker can access your data, they’ll be unable to read it without the appropriate decryption key. As such, you need to manage and store decryption keys securely.
6. Establish incident response plans
An incident response plan details a set of actions to perform during a security breach or cyberattack. It should be explicit and outline the roles and responsibilities of personnel involved in the response, including senior management, IT staff, and external stakeholders such as law enforcement agencies. Test the procedure to ensure it works and covers all bases.
A robust incident response plan should include the following elements:
- Identification of all assets within the IT infrastructure
- A procedure for prioritizing incidents based on severity level
- A clear communication outline that identifies all stakeholders involved and how communication will flow during the incident
- Secure data backups to restore operations to normal after a successful attack
- Guidelines for training and preparing employees to detect cyber threats and follow the incident response plan
Proper training of all personnel is essential to ensure the plan’s effectiveness. Run regular drills and training sessions to keep everyone updated on the latest procedures and best practices for handling online incidents.
7. Monitor and audit systems
To identify potential vulnerabilities and cyber threats, regularly monitor and audit your IT systems. This includes logging activities on the network and system, monitoring access attempts to critical systems, and reviewing reports from security software. Continuous monitoring helps detect any unusual activity, such as changes to system files, unauthorized access attempts, and new malware infections.
Auditing system configurations and software changes are vital as well to configure your system and apply up-to-date software patches. It helps isolate system issues, detect security gaps, and provide corrective measures.
8. Employ network segmentation
Network segmentation is the process of dividing more extensive networks into smaller, more secure subnetworks, or segments. Each segment is generally isolated from the others, with its own network device and security protocols. That individual security limits the potential damage of a successful cyberattack since hackers can only access a small portion of the overall system.
Employing network segmentation ensures any unauthorized access to sensitive data can’t spread throughout the entire network. Separating the network also makes it easier to isolate any further compromises and quarantine the impacted systems. This approach simplifies the identification of unusual activities in the network and helps determine how to protect sensitive data.
9. Maintain physical security
While cybersecurity is a significant concern, physical security is equally important in protecting cargo. To guarantee the physical safety of a cargo system, you must store all cargo safely, track access strictly, and secure equipment and the site itself.
You can adopt several measures to maintain physical security, such as:
- Establishing security policies for cargo storage and movement
- Employing strict identification procedures for visitors, employees, contractors, and suppliers
- Setting access controls that restrict entry to authorized personnel only, as well as area redundancy
- Monitoring the supply chain constantly
- Reviewing and updating security protocols to account for evolving threats
10. Collaborate with industry partners
Industry-wide partnerships enable cargo operators to swap experiences, best practices, and resources to tackle data security problems in their niche. They can also uncover shared vulnerabilities, develop workable security solutions, and detect slow or emerging attacks.
Your collaborations may entail exchanging visibility on threat intelligence, cooperating on security research projects, and calling for mutual defensive measures. The information transmitted in these partnerships is invaluable for identifying imminent threats and taking appropriate steps to mitigate the impact on your cargo operations.
Wrapping up — Keep your shipments safe by implementing the right security protocols
Maintaining secure cargo requires a multi-faceted approach that includes network segmentation, physical security measures, and strategic industry partnerships. By taking the necessary steps to protect your shipments from cyber threats, you can minimize the risk of data breaches and ensure their safety.
How to perform Amazon product research in 2023
This is a guest post from Jordi Ordoñez. Jordi is an Amazon seller consultant who has written and participated in La Vanguardia, Shopify, Prestashop, Radio Nacional de España, Capital Radio, El Español, Revista Emprendedores, Brainsins, Marketing4ecommerce, eCommerce-news.es, SEMRush and other media. He provides Amazon training at The Valley, Foxize, EOI, Esic and other business schools.
For Amazon sellers, it’s essential to conduct thorough product research before releasing a new item or even launching variations of your existing lines. The marketplace competition is fierce: Merchants face white hat and black hat sellers, plus Amazon Retail and Amazon white brands — sometimes all four in the same niche!
Without proper research, it’s challenging to find a lucrative product and matching supplier. To add to the complexity, you need to analyze your niche as a whole for useful industry insights. Thankfully, powerful tools like Helium 10 and Jungle Scout are available to simplify this undertaking. They’re designed to identify what works and what doesn’t, streamlining the product research process for you.
Along with explaining the value for your store, I’ll walk you through how to conduct Amazon product research and show how each tool works.
The importance of product research
To avoid running a generic Amazon seller profile, you need to conduct exhaustive product research. Anyone can find an item using Jungle Scout, source it on Alibaba, and start selling it on Amazon. That includes your competitors and even the item manufacturer, who almost always offers a better product and pricing by cutting out the middle man.
So, you need to uncover a more competitive option, and the only way is to dig deep into product research (hence the need for robust tools). This extends to your suppliers as well; a typical manufacturer that appeals to the masses might not be your best bet. You should also consider less mainstream options like Tmall, 1688, Spocket, HyperSKU, DH Gate, Made-in-china, and trades and fairs.
Based on my experience, I’ve pinpointed the characteristics of a great product, which I’ve broken down below.
You can find great manufacturers in many countries like Turkey, Poland, Mexico, Hungary, India, or Pakistan, to name a few. I personally love sourcing from countries that are connected to my own by road and train so I have at least two alternatives to freight shipping to ensure prompt delivery. After all, if the product performs great on Amazon, you don’t want to wait three or four weeks to refill it.
Let’s say you analyze the market, settle on a great idea and manufacturer, and build your product. You’ll want to protect your idea so the same manufacturer or other clients don’t steal or copy it, so go for patentable ideas.
The right product for Amazon FBA is a $25–$30 tier product that’s small and shippable in two days. However, if you opt for high-ticket products, that means fewer competitors and bigger profits. Think outside of the box when it comes to product research.
A product should be able to grow and diversify. After all, it’s easier to launch a new variation than an entire product.
Finally, try to find products that can expand to other categories or subcategories, or even beyond Amazon. If you sell a sports item, for example, look to sell it on Walmart, Decathlon, Sprinter, Tradeinn, and other online marketplaces.
What is Helium 10?
Helium 10 is a powerful suite of tools designed for Amazon sellers. It provides a range of features to help you optimize your eCommerce business, including product and keyword research, listing optimization, and much more. Helium 10’s product research tool is particularly useful for finding profitable items to sell on Amazon. As an Amazon seller myself, I use both Helium 10 Black Box and Xray, which is a Helium 10 Chrome Extension.
What is Jungle Scout?
Jungle Scout is another popular tool designed for Amazon sellers, with a focus on product and keyword research. Their tool provides detailed information about items like sales data, pricing, and reviews to help you find profitable products that meet your criteria.
Both Helium 10 and Jungle Scout’s tools contain millions of products on their databases, but the key to finding great ones is how you analyze the data.
A step-by-step guide to Amazon product research
Step 1: Define your product criteria
Before you start your product research, you must define your product criteria, including product category, price range, sales volume, competition level, and the like. These help you narrow your search to find products that meet your requirements. I myself prefer to stick to categories I already know or products I have experience with. Avoid categories like:
- Promotional categories: The ones that have 50% or more of their products discounted
- Amazon Retail populated categories: Unless you have a strong brand or a different USP, selling something like coffee, which has lots of established brands under Amazon Retail plus Happy Belly and Solimo (Amazon’s own brands), is a bad idea
- Chinese sellers populated categories: Low pricing and margins, listing hijacking risks
Step 2: Use Helium 10’s Black Box tool
Once you’ve defined your product criteria, you can use Helium 10’s Black Box tool to search for products that meet your requirements. (I prefer to start my journey using Black Box and Xray, then move to Jungle Scout.)
Black Box is a powerful tool that allows you to filter products based on a range of criteria, including product category, sales volume, and price range. It also provides data on factors like estimated monthly revenue, review count, and ratings.
The filters I like to apply are:
- High growth products
- Low rating products
- New products skyrocketing sales
- Large/Oversized products with no SFP
You can learn more about using Helium 10’s filters strategically in this article I wrote.
Consider other markets as well. According to Jungle Scout’s “State of the Amazon Seller 2022” report, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Australia, and Japan are Amazon’s fastest-growing marketplaces.
Of course, always look for new ideas and angles in product research. Helium 10 has some great posts on how to find keywords with a high search volume and a low number of indexed competitors quickly, or how to use their tools for competitor analysis.
Step 3: Analyze product data using Jungle Scout
After you’ve listed potential products with Helium 10’s Black Box tool, you can turn to Jungle Scout to analyze the data further. Jungle Scout provides sales data, pricing, reviews, and other critical product information. That can help you identify items with high demand and low competition. Jungle Scout’s database is 475 million products long and growing, so you’re all but guaranteed to find a lucrative investment.
The keyword research tool is also great to help you calculate margins based on the products’ related keywords cost per click (e.g., broad match, exact match keywords) so you gain a more detailed look at your potential profit and loss.
Step 4: Validate your product ideas using Helium 10’s Xray tool
Now that you’ve identified potential products using Jungle Scout, you can embrace Helium 10’s Xray tool to validate your ideas’ profitability. Xray uncovers data on factors like sales volume, revenue, and competition level and allows you to analyze the keywords being used for top-ranking products in your category.
I like to look for:
- % of Amazon Retail listings in the niche
- % of Amazon Brands in the niche
- % of popular/known brands in the niche
- % of Chinese sellers in the niche (nearly half of the top third-party sellers on Amazon are based in China)
- If my competitors use lots of variations
- Daily Sales Velocity to rank on page 1
- If there are any products with only a few reviews on page 1 (this implies I can generate sales without having lots of reviews and rank on page 1)
Other elements you need to check manually include:
- The number of sponsored products on pages 1 and 2
- The presence of any sponsored brand videos
- If your competitors use A+ pages
- If your competitors use discounts
Helium 10’s Chrome Extension is also useful to download, as it reveals ASIN per ASIN and the 5,000 main reviews on your competitors so you can explore bad reviews to pinpoint product weaknesses.
Step 5: Finalize your product selection
After analyzing your data using Helium 10 and Jungle Scout, you should have a strong list of potential products that meet your criteria. It’s essential to evaluate each of them carefully and choose the one that fulfills your requirements. Consider factors like profit margins, competition level, and demand when making your final selection.
To search existing products and their popularity, Helium 10’s Xray has an “Alibaba Suppliers” feature that checks for items on Alibaba, while Jungle Scout boasts its own supplier database. You can also use the free Aliprice Chrome Extension to reverse look up product images on Alibaba, Tmall, Aliexpress, JD, 1688, and other Asian Marketplaces.
You need to introduce new products regularly to keep your store’s catalog fresh and your profit margins healthy. Performing Amazon product research with Helium 10 and Jungle Scout is an efficient way to find lucrative items to sell on Amazon.
Define your product criteria and learn your niche to build a list of options. Then, narrow it down through manual research using Helium 10’s Black Box tool or Xray extension, as well as Jungle Scout’s product database.
Remember to evaluate each candidate carefully and select the product that offers the best profitability and has both low competition and high demand. By relying on these tools, you’re sure to find your next Amazon bestseller.