According to Nielsen, consumer packaged goods represented $1 in every $3 spent online in 2019. That same year, Amazon represented 39% of the CPG e-commerce market, placing them as the largest online seller of that category in the US. CPG is one of the fastest-growing product categories on Amazon and other online marketplaces, leaving tons of opportunity on the table. To take advantage of that opportunity, CPG brands, and consumables brands in particular, need to ensure they’re presenting their products in a way that works best for the digital shelf.
Consumables operate differently on online marketplaces than other product categories. Amazon has strict listing guidelines around ingredients, nutrition facts, and product details. Shoppers are attracted to different callouts and product feature points. And images place more emphasis on ingredients and packaging count instead of product design.
Consumables on Amazon aren’t as straightforward as hard goods, but following certain best practices can make things easier on brands.
Think Digital First
If you’re a well-established consumables brand, chances are most of your products are designed for brick and mortar, not online marketplaces. E-commerce requires brands to think differently in regards to pack size and pricing.
Back in December 2018, The Wall Street Journal reported on Amazon’s push for some CPG brands to rethink their products for the digital shelf. Why the push? Because of what Amazon referred to as “CRaP.” “CRaP” is an internal acronym Amazon uses to describe products that “Can’t Realize a Profit” — typically products that sell for less than they cost to ship. Due to low unit pricing and higher shipping costs, “CRaP” is a common issue in the CPG category. If Amazon can’t make a profit on a CPG brand, that brand could be in for a warning letter or even suspended listings.
For established brands, re-imagining products specifically with online marketplaces in mind is an essential first step for succeeding on Amazon. This process can be costly, but so is missing out on the buying power of Amazon shoppers.
Use High-Quality Images
Consumers approach consumables products on Amazon with a heightened sense of scrutiny. Because shoppers intend to consume the products they’re buying, it makes sense that they would want to ensure the brand they’re buying from is authentic. High-quality images give listings an air of authenticity and help earn a shopper’s trust.
Brands should only include clear images that avoid any chance of misrepresentation. Shoppers can easily misunderstand serving count and supplement facts if a brand doesn’t include the necessary photos for every product size. This is an easy mistake that can result in high return rates and customer complaints.
Aside from best practices, brands need to meet Amazon’s requirements for CPG photography:
- The primary image must be of the product container — bottle, tub, etc — isolated on a white background
- The second image must clearly show the product’s ingredient/supplement facts
Accurately Represent Products in Feature Points
If used appropriately, feature points offer brands the best opportunity to differentiate their product. Callouts like vegan, gluten-free, and organic can all help brands appeal to ingredient-minded shoppers, but the priority should always be on accurate representation. Brands should also be familiar with Amazon’s guidelines for dietary supplements.
Here are some common guidelines brands run into trouble with:
- Detail pages must not state that the products cure, mitigate, treat, or prevent a disease in humans, unless that statement is approved by the FDA
- Detail pages must not include disease names in the keywords
- Detail pages must not make inauthentic claims, such as falsely claiming FDA approval
These guidelines are a fine line for brands to walk. In the case of vitamins and supplements, products may have a benefit that brands will need to highlight delicately. Clinical study results and intended benefits are all fine to list in product features, as long as it’s done carefully.
Efficient Strategy for Handling Customer Feedback
Complaints are a common occurrence for consumables brands on Amazon. Every time a customer returns a consumables product, they’re given an opportunity to provide feedback. Maybe the product resulted in an undesirable side effect, such as a stomach ache. Or maybe the product didn’t do what the consumer expected.
If a product receives too much negative feedback, Amazon could suspend the listing. While suspended, sales are put to a halt, which is obviously bad news for a brand. Without an active listing, inventory sits stagnant. Getting products back up and running quickly is critical, but it’s equally important to revisit customer feedback and evaluate whether or not there is an issue with the inventory or the product itself. After that’s been done, having a strategy in place ahead of time is key to ensuring products are reinstated in a timely and efficient manner.
CPG is one of the fastest-growing product categories on Amazon, and there’s lots of opportunity for consumables brands that are willing to follow guidelines and best practices. In order for consumables brands to succeed on Amazon, they should:
- Have a digital-first approach. E-commerce requires brands to think differently in regards to pack size and pricing. Re-imagining products specifically with online marketplaces in mind is an essential first step for succeeding on Amazon.
- Have high-quality images. High-quality images give listings an air of authenticity and help earn a shopper’s trust. Brands should only include clear images that avoid any chance of misrepresentation.
- Have accurate feature points. Feature points are a great place to differentiate products and appeal to shoppers, but the priority should always be on making accurate, truthful claims. Clinical study results and intended benefits are all fine to list in product features, as long as it’s done carefully.
- Have an efficient strategy for handling feedback. Complaints are a common occurrence for CPG brands on Amazon. If a product receives too much negative feedback, Amazon could suspend the listing. Getting product listings reinstated and selling is critical, but it’s equally important to revisit customer feedback and evaluate whether or not there is an issue with the inventory or the product itself.