7 Ways Professional Amazon 3rd Party Sellers Can Add Value to a Brand

All day, every day, I look at brands on Amazon and all too often I see the same thing over and over; the current Amazon sellers aren’t doing a damn thing to add any value to the brand whose products they are selling.

In fact, in many cases, these sellers are nothing more than parasites that are collectively sucking value from your brand, and slowing destroying the equity that you (the brand owner) have worked so hard to create.

It’s no wonder that may brands today don’t want to increase the number of people selling their products on Amazon.

How to Increase Your Revenue on Amazon

When it comes to maximizing conversions and sales, there are 3 parts of your product listing that you absolutely must get right:

  • Pictures
  • Bullet points
  • Product reviews

In addition to the 3 points above, there are also a number of other ways that professional 3rd party sellers can add value to your brand.

Turn Your Images Into Sell Sheets

When it comes to maximizing a products listing’s conversion ratio and increasing sales, there is nothing more powerful than having high-quality pictures that provide buyers with all the relevant information they need to make a purchase decision.

Here is an example of a product that has very high quality images – images which provide value with key pieces of information.

In other words, instead of just showing the product, these images have become sell sheets for this particular product.

krause-sink-sell-sheet

Now take a look at your brand’s product listings and ask yourself if there are key pieces of information that your potential customers would want to know, and if there is, why haven’t the Amazon sellers you are currently working with added it?

Bullet Points to Sell Benefits

Most often when I am looking at a product listing, the bullet points are far too short and talk only about a product features. This is the wrong way to create bullet points.

As you can see in the example below, there is a fair amount of available real estate in this area, and the bullet points should be focused not on features, but instead on the benefits that the product will give a customer.

krause-bullet_points

Automatically Generate More Product Reviews

Product reviews have a dramatic impact on how well, or how poorly, a product sells. According to Amazon’s data, 2 to 3% of customers that purchase a product will take the time to leave a product review.

If you look at the number of reviews that you have and they are less than 2 to 3% of the sales volume for this product, the sellers on this product listing have not bothered to implement an automatic review gathering system.

amz-product-review

Generating organic reviews automatically is very easy to do. Ideally, every one of your sellers will set up an email autoresponder system to ask all buyers for a product review. However, in all likelihood, few – if any – of the sellers on your product listing will have taking the time to do this, because they aren’t interested in investing the resources needed. Instead, they are only interested in helping themselves and to win the sale, they often resort to the easiest option available to them; and that is to cut the price.

As a result, the total number of product reviews (and your sales volume) will be far lower than it otherwise would be if such a review generation system were put in place.

Respond to Negative Reviews

Removing a negative product review is nearly impossible to do, so instead of ignoring them, professional 3rd party sellers like TLK will publicly respond to each review and in doing so, demonstrate to other potential customers that customer service is a priority for your brand!

If your current crop of 3rd party sellers aren’t responding to negative reviews, your brand is suffering as a result.

Other Benefits a 3rd Party Seller Can Offer

If you have a relationship with a 3rd party seller, you should expect them to add additional value beyond optimizing product listings. Here are a few more things you can expect from your 3rd party seller.

Report & Identify MAP Violators

If your company has a MAP policy, chances are you are already familiar with the frustration that comes from seeing your product selling on Amazon below MAP because every time this happens all your other retail partners are quick to (loudly) voice their complaints.

stop_doing

Controlling MAP on Amazon is not easy. One of the major challenges in controlling MAP on Amazon is simply identifying who all the unauthorized sellers are.

If you are working with a professional 3rd party seller, this is one area where you should expect them to add a great deal of value to your relationship because it is in that 3rd party seller’s best interest to do their utmost to help you to identify all of the sellers who are selling your product below MAP.

Increase Visibility Using Keyword Research

Today 40% of product research on the Internet starts on Amazon. As a result, one of the major keys to maximizing product visibility on Amazon lies in having a thorough understanding of all of the search terms the buyers might use to find your product and then optimizing your listing to show up for as many of these search terms as possible.

keyword-research-header

When I am looking at products on Amazon, time and time again it is painfully obvious that none of the current sellers for a given product have put any serious effort into keyword research and optimization.

For example, if your product title doesn’t contain the main keyword people would use to find that product, you are definitely not going to rank very well in the Amazons search results – and sales will suffer significantly as a result.

This is yet another area where a professional 3rd party seller can add a great deal of value to their relationship with you, and when they do, you should immediately see a lift in organic sales.

Drive Revenue with PPC Advertising Campaigns

If the products you sell face a high level of competition for exposure in the Amazon search results, creating and managing effective PPC advertising campaigns is a very powerful tool for increasing the exposure, discovering profitable long-tail keywords, and increasing long term sales.

seo-ppc

When you have multiple sellers on each one of your product listings, it is unlikely that any of them is putting the effort necessary into these types of promotional campaigns – and your sales are suffering as a result.

On Amazon, SEO & PPC work hand in hand to achieve greater product exposure, and they are a powerful combination if used correctly.

Once again this is an area where a professional 3rd party seller with PPC campaign management experience can add significant value to their relationship with you.

Inventory Management

If your products are in a competitive niche, running out of inventory is the kiss of death in terms of sales velocity, sales rank, and product visibility.

When you have multiple sellers on each one of your product listings, it’s highly unlikely that they are providing you with a coordinated sales forecast, and as a result, you have to cross your fingers that they’ll all do a good job of inventory management to keep all your products in stock at all times.

This is yet another area where a professional 3rd party seller can add significant value to your brand; especially if you are considering reducing the number of unauthorized sellers or eliminating them all together to go with a single exclusive 3rd party seller so you can control MAP pricing.

Going with an Exclusive 3rd Party Seller

Deciding to give a single seller exclusivity for one (or all) of your products is a decision that can solve a great deal of the problems that most brands face on Amazon.

With a single seller representing your brand, you can expect them to help you to:

  • Control MAP pricing & eliminate the race to the bottom
  • Help to identify and eliminate unauthorized sellers
  • Get more product reviews
  • Ensure your listings are fully optimized (pictures, sales copy, keyword targeting) for maximum product visibility
  • Provide you with detailed reports on the performance of the Amazon channel
  • Ensure consistent customer service levels
  • Work closely with you as your partner and add as much of the value described in this post as possible

Conclusion

If you haven’t had much in the way of an Amazon eCommerce strategy up to this point, you are probably leaving a great deal of money on the table.

Rather than ignoring requests from new sellers to sell your products on Amazon, perhaps a more effective strategy involves investing the time to better understand how a professional 3rd party seller can add value to their relationship with your brand in ways that your current crop of 3rd party sellers aren’t doing – or don’t know how to do.

About TLK Sourcing

TLK Sourcing a digital retail agency with significant expertise in the Amazon marketplace and unlike typical marketing agencies who will charge you thousands of dollars in fees, we earn our income by purchasing your products wholesale and then reselling them - thereby ensuring that our interests are 100% aligned with yours.

Discover how to stop unauthorized online sellers from violating your MAP policy

tlkcta

Why Having Fewer 3rd Party Sellers Will Increase Sales

If your brand relies on 3rd party sellers to sell your products on Amazon, it’s critical to understand how the number of sellers on any given product listing will impact sales, pricing, customer service, and brand equity in general.

Generally speaking, the larger the number of sellers, the less control your brand will have over pricing, content, promotions, advertising, and customer service.

The Negative Impact of Multiple Sellers

Whenever I talk to brands that sell their products on the Amazon marketplace, they are often surprised to learn that having more sellers on each product listing is a bad thing. Many mistakenly assume that having more sellers will somehow increase exposure – and therefore increase sales.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Consider the following…

Demand is Not a Function of the Number of Sellers

Amazon is nothing more than a consumer product search engine, and as such, the number of sellers of your product has zero impact on the number of times a given search term(s) is typed into Amazon’s search box.

Instead, demand is driven entirely by consumer’s search actions.

number_of_sellers1

So if having more sellers doesn’t increase sales volume, what does it do?

The Race to the Bottom on Price

The more sellers you have competing for the buy box, the faster these sellers are going to start creating a race to the bottom on price, violating MAP pricing policies and pissing off your offline retailer partners in the process.

With just one or two sellers, there is no need to compete for the buy box, and therefore, there is no reason to deviate from MAP pricing – and that means fatter margins for you because they won’t be asking for wholesale discounts in order to compete in the race to the bottom.

Fewer Sellers Leads to Increased Ad Spend

In the image above, you’ll notice that in the pie chart on the left, each slice of the pie is quite small; whereas over on the right, two sellers are splitting the pie 50/50.

In which case do you think sellers have more money available to spend on advertising your product?

Obviously not the one of the left!

If you want to increase your product’s market share, ensure you have as few sellers as possible and ensure that the ones you do have are committed to investing a portion of their profits into advertising your product.

Having too many sellers guarantees that each seller will not have enough profit to justify creating ad campaigns – and your product’s market share will stagnate, or possibly even decrease.

No Listing Ownership / Optimization

How well your Amazon product listings are optimized will influence both how well your products rank in Amazon’s search results as well as how well potential buyers convert once they do find your product pages.

With multiple sellers on any given product listing, no one seller has any ‘ownership’ or incentive to put time and resources into optimizing the product listing to its fullest.

listing-optimization-challenge

To illustrate, consider a very simple example. If each product listing is a pie, and each slice is a seller, why would a seller bother making a larger pie if they are only getting one slice?

Whereas, if the seller’s ‘slice’ is, in fact, the entire pie, the seller has serious incentive to do everything they can to make the biggest pie possible.

listing-optimization-single-seller

In other words, by having just one seller who owns the buy box, that one seller is every bit as motivated as you are to do everything possible to maximize sales.

No Control of Your Promotions

If you have multiple sellers on each product listing, how are you going to control and coordinate all the promotions you’d like to run on Black Friday, Prime day, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, etc…?

With multiple sellers, the reality is that you can’t control what they are all going to do, and in all likelihood they aren’t going to coordinate with each other, thereby resulting in a complete lack of any cohesive promotional strategy.

nascar-wreck

With just one seller on each of your products listings, product promotions can be strategically planned in advance. Then when it comes time to run the promotion, the mutually created plan is executed and results are measured; thereby giving you the much-needed data to make better decisions about future promotions.

Inconsistent Customer Service Levels

When consumers purchase your products on Amazon and they have a problem or a question, they are going to contact the seller via email.

bad_customer_service

They key thing to remember is that these consumers won’t necessarily realize that they aren’t communicating with your brand, so if the customer service they receive is below expectations, they are going to blame your brand!

With multiple sellers on a product listing, it will be nearly impossible for you to ensure a consistently positive customer experience. Instead, your brand reputation will be the result of the collective experience that thousands of customers have with companies. You have very little control over this experience, and will not be able to build the trusted relationship you would expect to have with just one or two authorized sellers.

With a single trusted seller on each product listing, you can rest assured that customer service levels are going to be exactly where they need to be to build the brand equity you need to maximize the growth of your company.

Conclusion

The more sellers you have on your product listings, the less control you are going to have – which, over the long term, can negatively impact your brand, cause a price war, impair customer service, and aggravate your brick & mortar retail partners.

So instead of letting just anyone sell your products on Amazon, you’d be far better off to find a preferred 3rd party seller, grant them exclusivity – once they have proven themselves worthy, of course – and then work with them to systematically remove all the unauthorized sellers that are currently on your product listings.

You, your brick & mortar retail partners, and your end-customers will all be happier as a result.

About TLK Sourcing

TLK Sourcing a digital retail agency with significant expertise in the Amazon marketplace and unlike typical marketing agencies who will charge you thousands of dollars in fees, we earn our income by purchasing your products wholesale and then reselling them - thereby ensuring that our interests are 100% aligned with yours.

Discover how to stop unauthorized online sellers from violating your MAP policy

tlkcta

Three-Step Approach to Stopping Unauthorized Online Sales

This post originally appeared here and was written by Whitney Gibson, and Jordan Cohen on June 30

Unauthorized sales of products on third-party websites like eBay is significantly impacting many businesses.

Woman using laptop computer, holding credit card, close-up

In short, we recommend a three-step program for addressing these unauthorized sellers as follows, with more details listed below.

First, a company should revise its policies, procedures and agreements to: 1) support legal claims against third-party unauthorized sellers, and 2) differentiate its products from those sold by unauthorized sellers.

Second, a company should implement a graduated enforcement system. The purpose of this system is to eliminate authorized sellers through the integration of monitoring technology, investigation, and enforcement tactics.

Third, we recommend implementing a communications strategy that: 1) demonstrates to authorized distributors that the company is protecting them (providing measureable results from the enforcement system); and 2) demonstrates that products sold by unauthorized sellers are unreliable and often do not come with certain services and benefits or do not have the quality controls that the company has established.

Creating a Foundation for Legal Claims Against Third-Party Unauthorized Sellers

Our recommended first step for companies is working with counsel to review existing distributor agreements, procedures and practices.  The goal is to provide the best support possible for the enforcement program, described in step two.

Under what is known as the First Sale Doctrine, once a trademark owner (“the company”) sells a product, the buyer ordinarily can resell the product without infringing the owner’s mark.  However, the First Sale Doctrine does not apply when a reseller sells a trademarked good that is materially different from the company’s genuine goods.

Case law has established a few important principles relating to material differences. This includes that: 1) the threshold of materiality is considered “low”; 2) only a single material difference is necessary to give rise to a trademark infringement claim; and 3) material differences do not have to be “physical” differences.

Courts have also held that trademark owners have the right to control the quality of their products. Thus, unauthorized sellers who do not follow a company’s quality controls can also commit trademark infringement, assuming the quality controls are not “pretextual” and that the company is actually enforcing them.  Quality controls can include certain packaging, tracking codes, pre-sale consultations or storage instructions, among others.

Many companies already have strong policies, procedures and agreements established. It is just a matter of tweaking them to maximize protection against unauthorized sellers on eBay and other websites.

The Graduated Unauthorized Seller Enforcement System

Once a company’s policies, procedures and agreements are adequately in place, it is time to roll out a graduated enforcement system aimed at efficiently and effectively reducing the numbers of unauthorized sellers.

online-seller-enforcement-system-infographic_4c-11x17-0116

Our suggested model begins with a monitoring company finding all unauthorized sellers. Among other things, a monitoring company can rank these sellers from high- to low-volume, based on the number of client products and total products each reseller is selling.

Cease and desist letters are usually sufficient for most unauthorized sellers. However, a more aggressive enforcement approach might be necessary for sellers offering a significant number of products.

After reviewing the data from the initial monitoring report, it is ultimately up to the company who to target through the enforcement system.  But because both eBay allow for the private messaging of their online sellers, this can be a low cost vehicle for sending a large number of cease and desist letters online (“eC&Ds”).

A strongly-worded letter from an outside law firm is often most effective in approaching the highest volume sellers, which might include a detailed explanation of the illegality of the seller’s activity and why the First Sale Doctrine would not apply; an explanation that courts in the company’s state will have jurisdiction over the seller; and relevant case law, including citations to prior cases in which large damages have been awarded against unauthorized sellers.

The company itself might also choose to send additional eC&Ds to low volume sellers.

After the letters are sent, the company and its enforcement team should track which sellers comply with their demands. Then, cyber investigators can investigate the identities of any sellers who do not remove the products from eBay.

Once these identities are obtained, the outside law firm can send actual cease and desist letters to the unauthorized sellers’ physical addresses, effectively communicating that: 1) the company knows who they are and where they are and, 2) should they keep engaging in unauthorized sales, that the company will pursue them legally.

This whole process can be repeated on a monthly basis, incorporating any new sellers that pop up each month.  If necessary, for any sellers still online after the previous month, the attorneys can utilize additional legal tactics to put further pressure on those sellers.

Depending on the situation, this can entail sending draft complaints to the sellers; obtaining temporary restraining orders to freeze online sellers’ PayPal accounts; obtaining injunctions to order online sellers to cease selling the products; obtaining injunctions ordering the transfer of the sellers’ website domains to the client; serving subpoenas to identify still unknown sellers; obtaining court orders that can be used to de-index unauthorized sellers’ e-commerce websites from Google; filing lawsuits and negotiating with the sellers; or preparing and executing settlement agreements.

Above is an illustration of how we often structure our own graduated enforcement program. For more on this program, check out our recent white paper.

Communications Strategy

For some companies, depending on their model and distributor network, it can be effective to communicate to the authorized distributors the impact of the enforcement program.

It is helpful to educate (or remind) distributors that the company has an aggressive enforcement program. Specifically, the company can show them the data reflecting the number of unauthorized sellers eliminated from eBay (or elsewhere) and are no longer harming the business and threatening the authorized distribution channels.

For more information, contact Vorys’ Illegal Online Seller Enforcement team at  877.545.6905. Read more about the practice at http://www.vorys.com/services-648.html and follow Whitney on Twitter (@WhitneyCGibson).

About TLK Sourcing

TLK Sourcing a digital retail agency with significant expertise in the Amazon marketplace and unlike typical marketing agencies who will charge you thousands of dollars in fees, we earn our income by purchasing your products wholesale and then reselling them - thereby ensuring that our interests are 100% aligned with yours.

Discover how to stop unauthorized online sellers from violating your MAP policy

tlkcta