Retail readiness in general starts with a great product that’s ready for the shelf. Retail readiness on Amazon is a step beyond that— you already have a great product and an established brand identity that resonates with your audience. Now, it’s time to tackle the digital shelf.
It’s tempting to jump right into listing creation, but that would be a mistake. Actually being successful on e-commerce and Amazon takes careful planning and a strong foundation.
State Your Goals, Make A Plan
Take a good hard look at your brand and ask this question: what are you hoping to get out of Amazon? Will it be a primary revenue driver? Are you just keeping up with the Joneses? Or are you trying to protect your brick and mortar relationships? Whatever the answer, understanding what you want out of Amazon is the first step to making it happen.
Now that you have an idea of what you want, it’s time to make a plan. Consider your financials and decide which products in your catalog make the most sense for an online marketplace. Set an ambitious (but realistic) sales target. Define your product category as it relates to Amazon specifically.
Research the Competitive Landscape
You already know your brick and mortar competitors like the back of your hand. Most of them will carry over to Amazon, but there will also be lots of new faces to get acquainted with. Not everyone in your category with a similar product is a competitor. It’s critical to understand your true competition — brands with similarities including price point, target audience, and standard of quality.
Take a brand like Hydroflask, for instance. Water bottles come in all shapes, sizes, use cases, and of course, price points. Does that mean every water bottle brand is a true competitor to Hydroflask? As a premium insulated water bottle company, Hydroflask might not want to focus their efforts on a brand like Nalgene, for instance. While both are premium, household brands, customers buy the two products for vastly different reasons. A brand like YETI, on the other hand, makes comparably-priced bottles that tout similar features and brand missions — making them closer to a true Hydroflask competitor.
Evaluate Your Distribution Channels
Most likely, your brand is already on Amazon. Anyone with access to your brand’s inventory can create a seller account, and that can quickly become a problem. Sellers on Amazon aren’t obligated to follow marketing guidelines or minimum advertised pricing (MAP) guidelines, which is why it’s so common to find cheaper prices on the marketplace than what’s being offered via brick and mortar.
There isn’t a tried and true way to stop unfamiliar sellers from selling inventory they already have. Instead, brands should set aside time to dig deep into their distribution, identify how those sellers are obtaining that inventory, and take steps to prevent further issues.
Implement Brand Protection Strategies
If unauthorized sellers are an issue, there are several steps you will need to take. The first step is setting a solid foundation. Brands should have an unauthorized seller policy, an internet authorization policy, and a MAP policy posted publicly on their website.
Amazon brand protection is an ongoing process that requires daily monitoring for violations and effective management of Amazon Brand Registry. This can be done in-house, but it takes a large number of resources to do effectively, which is why many brands choose to outsource this work to a retail or brand protection partner.
To learn more about brand protection, read our Amazon Brand Protection: Control is a Choice for Brands article.
Unify Your Catalog
Setting up an organized and unified catalog sets your brand and shoppers up for success. A huge piece of catalog organization involves properly relating parent and child Amazon Standard Identification Numbers (ASINs).
A parent ASIN is the product, and then a child ASIN is any variation of that product (color, size, etc). That sounds easy to do, but Amazon’s process for making listing changes makes it a bit more complicated.
Sellers on Amazon share listings, meaning that for every listing there will be multiple sellers. Anyone on that listing can suggest changes, but not every change will be accepted. Suggested changes go through a hierarchy: Amazon, Amazon Brand Registry, and everyone else.
Brands should assess their current catalog situation and then put a plan in place for consolidation.
To learn more about catalog organization, read our article on Building and Managing the Perfect Amazon Catalog.
Give Listings the Right Content
Content is the tip of the Amazon iceberg. Distribution, brand protection, catalog organization — all of these things are critical and work together to support your brand on the marketplace. But content is the only part that a shopper interacts with directly, so it needs to be a top priority. During this stage, don’t worry about recreating all your digital assets — simply work with what your brand already has. It’s critical that the right content is on the right listing — a surprisingly common error on Amazon.
Product photos, titles, feature points, and A+ Content all work together to provide shoppers with the information they need to make a purchase decision. Each one of these listing features should be used to inform, educate, and persuade shoppers.
Aside from customer interaction, content also influences search ranking through Amazon’s A9 algorithm. After getting retail ready, brands can invest in developing content made specifically for the digital shelf.
To learn more about leveraging content on Amazon, read our Content is the Conversation article.
Retail readiness on Amazon isn’t as simple as jumping in and creating listings. Amazon is a unique sales channel that requires careful planning. Goals, distribution, competitors, catalog, content — all of these elements need to be approached from a strategic mindset.
Now you’re ready to Scale Smart – the next step in our three-part series.
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