The (Ecommerce) Corner Office

Using Amazon to build an ecommerce brand

I love Amazon, both as a consumer and as a seller. There isn’t a more effective place to launch a brand and learn about consumer behavior than the Amazon marketplace.

In this post, I’m going to cut to the chase and tell you why you will love it, too, especially if you are a budding Amazon entrepreneur.

Let me preface by saying that I don’t sell any other brands other than those I own or control. That is the only way I sell on Amazon. It’s the best way to do it.

Like most ecommerce sellers, I was hesitant to embrace Amazon when I began many years ago with a skin care line. My sales were acceptable via my own website. I looked at the marketplace as another revenue channel. I didn’t really work it and didn’t pay much attention to building it.

Then, in 2012, I got into the shaving business with 800razors.com. I put the items on Amazon and, again, thought of it as another revenue channel. That’s when I met a very successful seller who changed my entire way of thinking. And the dollars quickly followed.

The revelation

Once I began to think about Amazon as a customer acquisition tool rather than another selling channel is when I harnessed the power to grow a brand.

Fifty-two percent of all product searches begin on Amazon. Combine that with the fact that in Q4 2016, almost 60 percent of all ecommerce sales occurred on Amazon. Now consider that 82 percent of the items sold on Amazon are from third party sellers.

What does that tell you?

Amazon is where the customers are.

When you use Amazon as a customer acquisition tool and brand awareness builder, you will be able to focus your product sets and marketing around this concept and start competing with the big dogs.

Amazon is far from a mere revenue channel. It’s a brand-building machine.

So how do you use Amazon to build your brand? It’s easy: Don’t compete with your own site.

For 800razors.com, I only sold sets of cartridges and handles. I did not sell replacement cartridges. I wanted the customers to be exposed to the product on Amazon, but once they liked it, I wanted them to come to my website for the replacement cartridges.

Customers didn’t need or want a handle with every purchase of cartridges, so they would go to our site for replacements. I was fully within Amazon’s guidelines as I did not market to its customers. Instead I forced shoppers to a different behavior. Once they purchased from my site, they were my customers.

I did the same approach with shave creams, soaps, and aftershave. I always sold these on Amazon in sets with razors. If the consumers liked it, they had to go to our website to replenish.

Amazon ads build awareness

Amazon’s sponsored ads are similar to AdWords in that they are keyword-driven. I used sponsored ads aggressively to target any company selling a razor because the click cost was so much cheaper than paid search.

If you searched “Gillette” or “Schick” on Amazon, I wanted you to see my razors. It wasn’t about the conversion as much as it was brand awareness. The more those consumers saw my brand, the more familiar it would become.

Amazon and SEO value

Once you begin to drive your products sales on Amazon and they start to show up high in Amazon’s search rankings, you will likely notice that those Amazon items will also show up in Google organic search for your big keywords.

While I’m driving customers to Amazon from those organic listings, I am also showing potential consumers that my products are sold in multiple places — including Amazon, which consumers trust. Plus, if you did your job correctly on Amazon, you should have good customer reviews — those little stars mean a lot to an undecided shopper.

Every ecommerce merchant that I speak to has concerns about selling on Amazon. I can certainly understand. But much of this is driven from myth.

  • Myth 1: “Amazon will kick you off for no reason.”

No, it won’t. The foundation of the marketplace is third-party sellers. As long as you are within the Amazon guidelines and not doing anything underhanded or illegal, you have nothing to worry about.

  • Myth 2: “When I get big enough, Amazon will take my business.”

How exactly will Amazon take your brand away? Amazon’s staff may ask you to become a vendor versus a marketplace seller. But that is a strategic decision you can make.

  • Myth 3: “Amazon is totally different than an ecommerce store.”

No, it isn’t. It is an ecommerce store with its own, built-in search, which is keyword-driven, similar to Google. Yes, there are nuances to it, but it is ecommerce through and through.

Selling on Amazon is a decision based around strategy and control. There are many ways to list and sell on Amazon to accomplish your end goal of selling more and adding satisfied customers. You have to determine the best method that fits with your brand strategy. Then you reap your well-earned rewards.

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