Amazon has transformed every corner of commerce. It has changed the way companies interact with their customer base, altered the way consumers shop, and reinvented the supply chain for the modern era. However, new brands unfamiliar with these particular waters can feel like outsiders looking in, and the thought of navigating through Amazon's dynamic platform can be intimidating.
For that reason, Oculus360 (O360) has some useful insights for new brands making their way onto Amazon, a combination of best practices and case studies to smooth the transition and help quickly leverage the many benefits the powerful and ubiquitous platform offers. As you'll see, conducting business on Amazon requires a nuanced approach to understand a demanding audience and tailor both your products and message to them. In fact, the opinions, observations, and reviews provided by that very audience, and processed by O360s AI-driven platform, are critical resources for engaging a demanding consumer base.
Amazon Levels the Playing Field
Due to a unique set of benefits that would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to accomplish by other means, taking full advantage of Amazon's extraordinary reach is a rare opportunity for most businesses, no matter the size, to leverage the strengths of a true market powerhouse for their own marketing and sales.
When it comes to the supply chain, Amazon has already done the work for you. Even if you have the immense capital needed to roll out same-day deliveries and a coast-to-coast footprint, leveraging Amazon's logistics network provides the immediacy demanded of anxious customers in the digital age without the risk of these investments.
With the possible exception of an old-fashioned mall – as well as the overhead that comes with it – there aren’t many opportunities for smaller to medium sized businesses to offer their products alongside the biggest brands in the world. Amazon breaks down those entry barriers for companies, now offering a half billion different items for consumers to wade through. This, of course, also screams for the need to speak to audiences on a personalized level so new companies can compete with established brands and, thus, differentiate their products from the competition.
The Customer Journey
Amazon might have a massive platform and infrastructure that offers companies unique selling opportunities, but it's not particularly personable or tailored for an engaging customer experience. Companies can leverage the utility offered by the platform while creating a personalized shopping experience through social media, email campaigns, and other branding opportunities that work in conjunction with Amazon sales platform but outside of its borders.
Consumers can now shop directly from their smartphone while sitting on their living room couch or on the morning train, ordering items from Amazon and expecting them to be sitting on their doorstep within a few days, and in some case in a few hours. Those consumers have increasingly high expectations so, short of developing a massive logistics network, utilizing Amazon's robust infrastructure to meet those sky-high expectations can go a long way in engaging an audience that’s otherwise difficult to identify and attract.
Competing With Specific Tools
Many of the benefits Amazon provides companies serve as hurdles to overcome as well. However, a number of these hurdles, including the sheer volume of competition and challenge in creating emotional bonds with the customer base, are only perceived hurdles that in reality can present opportunities. In fact, any business can effectively compete on the Amazon platform thanks to a handful of specific strengths and tools afforded to every company, from the smallest mom-and-pop shop to the largest brands in the world.
With O360’s AI-powered platform, companies have such a tool available, transforming consumer commentary into a far deeper understanding of occasions of use, demographics, psychographics, and the wants and needs driving purchasing decisions. As you’ll see, such information yields an agility that enables optimized listing placements within Amazon and more effective ad spend.
Think of the traditional product rollout and accompanying marketing campaign for a moment. In the past, companies might have spent years fine-tuning a message to develop a level of distinction within the marketplace relative to competitors in the customer's eye, all to best ensure a successful launch. Amazon is changing this particular paradigm, where consumers reward agile companies that are able to fill in gaps within the marketplace or even the product lines of larger, established brands.
This is a particular area where consumer insights can provide tremendous efficiencies by, in effect, steering a company's product merchandising and messages with the guidance culled from consumer commentary and ratings within the Amazon platform itself as well other top online retailers. Put differently, the O360 platform models based on consumer commentary can work in conjunction with or even replace more traditional marketing campaigns by identifying, analyzing, and transforming authentic customer insights into product design and messaging guidance that directly corresponds with the consumer's affinities. This informed agility allows even the smallest of companies to leverage Amazon’s robust repository of consumer commentary and effectively compete with much larger competitors.
Amazon’s marketplace is far more transactional in nature than more traditional sales channels, rewarding a company's ability to closely match consumer-specific needs and wants rather than brand building or loyalty. Therefore, businesses that can best utilize product titles, bullet points, descriptions, keywords, and imaging will naturally produce optimal listings.
Once again, rather than more traditional approaches to developing merchandising content, consumer commentary can provide a keen sense of direction when constructing bullet points, keywords, and images to connect with the audience and maximize conversions. O360's platform is particularly adept with this dynamic when companies utilize our AI-based platform to sift through the seemingly endless streams of consumer commentary to help them identify the needles in the big data haystack.
Over 70% of all Amazon consumers begin with an unbranded, general product search. Companies that understand the nuanced information derived from customer feedback and commentary, using the right technologies, can play a critical role in ultimately producing the best listings for their products, aligned to what is most important to those customers.
Likewise, a precisely curated campaign that works in conjunction with listings can form a formidable one-two punch for Amazon retailers. Again utilizing commentary from product reviews and discussions on Amazon and other top online retailers, the combination of effective listings with a targeted digital marketing campaign and social media push can provide companies a cost-efficient but extremely effective approach to a comprehensive sales strategy. Granted, such a strategy doesn't necessarily fall in line with traditional notions of marketing and sales but, then again, there's nothing particularly traditional about Amazon's platform in the first place.
Amazon’s advertising platform might not be as robust as Google’s Display Network or some of the other digital ad platforms, but it can provide specific usefulness to brands appealing to the transactional nature of the customer base. Amazon’s environment isn’t specifically designed to build brand recognition or establish a loyal following. Successful Amazon brands pursue those ideals through other channels while concentrating their Amazon efforts on the specific transactional needs and expectations of the Amazon user.
Once again, that typical user isn’t primarily interested in window shopping or aimlessly browsing through the different products and product types. Instead, they arrive at the platform with a specific purpose, proceed through the funnel with product search that usually relies on generic keywords rather than a particular brand name, and peruse the listings to identify the closest match to their needs as determined by the product content and descriptions, and, of course, product ratings and consumer commentary as well.
Companies are best served using the Amazon ad platform to highlight product characteristics and benefits rather than develop their brand, using keyword searches to trigger the ideal placements of their ads. Remember, the specific attributes of the products found through a search carry the most weight with most Amazon users and, thus, should be of particular concern for Amazon retailer. Efficient ad spend on the Amazon platform, propelled by insights derived from consumer commentary to target particular attributes, wants and needs, and occasions of use, aims at appealing to the transactions rather than a more broad-based, brand-oriented appeal.
Amazon Success Stories
Despite an overwhelming number of businesses and products all trying to engage the same customer base, a handful of success stories stand out from the crowd. A few companies have made the most of the Amazon platform and found startup success by leveraging its unique benefits and following a deliberate, well-informed strategy.
A fledgling beauty brand before finding success on Amazon’s platform, InstaNatural recognized white space or voids within the marketplace, with Amazon’s tremendous reach providing them the opportunity to satisfy an underserved portion of the audience. After identifying those voids and being cognizant of the audience’s needs, InstaNatural used insights garnered from Amazon’s feedback and commentary channels to design products that would specifically address that white space, realizing significant and rapid growth thanks to their honed efforts.
O360’s platform is particularly well-suited for such instances, able to identify any white space in the marketplace by combing through consumer reviews and commentary to find what customers are looking for or even complaining about relative to products in the market. Similar to InstaNatural, companies can use the insights provided by O360’s platform to identify voids within the marketplace and develop products and messaging that will address those needs.
A technology designed to help pet owners stay connected with puppies when they’re away from home, Furbo was a startup with global appeal but a relatively narrow target audience. Amazon’s platform was a natural fit for their needs, extending their reach around the world without the enormous expenditures in time, capital, and effort to accomplish the same tasks through other channels.
Once up and running on Amazon’s platform, Furbo leveraged the spotlight provided by the annual Prime Day event, as well as word of mouth on Amazon’s commentary channels, to quickly spread product awareness. Their product-specific strategy worked well, eventually leading Furbo to move headquarters from Taiwan to Bellevue, WA, simply to be closer to Amazon’s own headquarters.
Let O360 Lead the Way
As evidenced by our recent work on the women’s fashion vertical within Amazon and other top online retailers, O360 can identify subtleties in consumer feedback and commentary to steer messaging and product design. By sifting through the thousands, sometimes millions, of instances of consumer discussions, O360 can provide brands specific guidance on what the customer base is looking for, a particularly powerful solution given the limited marketing tools native to Amazon’s platform.
O360 also helps companies maximize the benefits of targeting particular occasions of use, just as we did within the women’s fashion industry. As detailed more in the work linked to above, O360 was able to differentiate between the needs and wants for women’s attire at both wedding and bachelorette party occasions. These are obviously related occasions, but, as revealed by the insights from O360’s platform, they require different messaging and product attributes to maximize engagement. Of course, O360 can provide the same benefits for any company and industry selling through Amazon to equal effect.
With nearly 95% of consumers now looking through ratings and reviews before making a purchase and 75% placing more significance on review than ratings, consumer commentary has a significant impact on digital commerce. Such dynamics are even more prevalent on Amazon, where consumers often rely on commentary from fellow customers to help them decide between the countless products available and make a purchase. Simply put, O360 helps guide companies through the vast Amazon environment, identifying consumer data that would otherwise go unnoticed or slip through the cracks to better tailor their products and messaging to the customers’ needs.
Amazon presents companies a tremendous opportunity to significantly expand reach, but only those businesses that strategize around the platform’s strengths and concentrate their approach on the transactional needs of the customer will realize maximum impact. Those needs are sitting there, waiting to be discovered and mined through consumer commentary on Amazon and other leading online channels as long as companies utilize the most effective tools. O360’s platform is just such a solution, giving companies of all shapes and sizes the ability to better understand the needs of their target audience, maximize engagement with those segments through a personalized approach, and find the conversions they crave.