Thursday January 17, 2019

Do You Need an Amazon Store?

amazon stores

Back in May of 2018, Amazon announced that more than one million small businesses in the U.S. sell their products on the online retailer’s platform.

That’s a lot of businesses — many of which likely sell similar products — competing against each other.

If you rely on Amazon to sell product, this raises the question: how do you stand apart? Along with maintaining detailed, regularly updated product listings, running ads on Amazon and receiving positive reviews, Amazon also offers customizable “Stores” which allow you to more directly speak to why consumers should purchase your product — in theory, at least.

Is an Amazon Store something you should invest your time in? Let’s take a look. 

What is it?

An Amazon Store is essentially a landing page on Amazon which allows you to go into more detail on your brand and what makes your products worth purchasing. 

Unlike regular Amazon product listings which can be rather limiting, with an Amazon Store you can really show off your brand.

Click here to view a Store we built for a client that manufactures grinding wheels and other abrasives.

Essentially these Stores allow you to highlight key products all on one centralized page while supporting your brand with images, copy and video. Through your Store you can guide your customer’s Amazon experience right to your products.

For the client I mentioned above, we were able to highlight products they wanted to focus on, as shown below, while also adding in more branding and product-specific video content.  

amazon store

As Amazon notes on their introductory blog post, once a Store has been set up (and approved by Amazon), you can then promote your new page through headline search ads on Amazon, links on your product pages and through your own marketing efforts like social and email.

You also have access to reporting tools through the Store Builder, which allow you to measure and optimize your Store design to increase total visitors or views. 

The analytics Amazon gives you access to also allow you to assess the efficacy of your campaigns and track how much of an impact your Store is having on sales.

Amazon provides access to the following analytics: 

  • Views/Visitor: Average number of unique pages viewed by a daily visitor to your Store
  • Daily visitors: Total unique users or devices that viewed one or more pages on your Store in a single day
  • Views: Number of page views during this time period, including repeat views
  • Sales: Estimated total sales generated by Store visitors within 14 days of their last visit
  • Units sold: Estimated total units purchased by Store visitors within 14 days of their last visit 

How Do You Make One?

Stores are built through two different interfaces, depending upon your association with Amazon. If you’re an Amazon seller (you’ve registered with Amazon as a third party and handle the fulfillment of your products yourself), you’ll create your Store via the Seller Central portal you’re already familiar with. 

If you’re an Amazon vendor (you’ve been invited by Amazon to sell directly to them), then you’ll set one up via the advertising console — not through the Vendor Central portal.  

Once you go through your correct portal, the actual process of creating a Store is pretty simple.  

As you can see in the image below, the building process is essentially just adding “tiles” (text boxes, images, videos, etc.) to your page and then dragging each tile where you’d like it.

Amazon store

This allows you to create a highly customizable Store. You can even write your own code if you want, but Amazon does provide pre-made templates on the left to help jumpstart the process.

Each of these templates is built around a specific goal. For example, the “product highlight” template is mainly built around highlighting one flagship product, while the “product grid” template allows you to show off a wide range of items from your catalog. 

All you have to do is select the ASIN for the product you’d like in each box — Amazon will then pull the product information including price, product image and whether it is Prime eligible.  You can then edit any description copy to make it more applicable for your page. 

Here’s a good example of what the before and after for a product tile looks like:

amazon store Once you’re happy with the design of your page, you can submit it for review to Amazon. As long as you don’t have incredibly unsubstantiated claims, i.e. “This is the best (item) ever!”, your page should be published after a brief period.

If you’d like to review the fine print on what Amazon will accept or not, you can click here. As a general rule, follow standard website building best practices like clear product titles and descriptions, high-res images and clear, direct CTAs. 

Does it Work?

At this point, you may be wondering if you really need this. You already have your own website after all, likely with links on your product pages to buy items directly on Amazon anyway.

Can a Store really boost your sales that much? 

Unfortunately, the answer isn’t a straightforward one. Amazon hasn’t released any data on the performance of Storefront pages overall, which makes sense. These pages aren’t maintained by Amazon, so their performance is really in the hands of the vendors themselves. 

Amazon has made a big push recently to highlight small and medium-sized businesses via their Store portal, likely driving more traffic to the Stores they focus on, but the question remains: is anyone seeing higher returns from this?

This might be the wrong question to be asking. As you’ve likely noticed, Amazon has become the dominant online marketplace in recent years (and arguably the dominant retailer in general). Just take a look at this chart provided by TechCrunch

 amazon stores

To put it simply, Amazon commands the online retail market, while also accounting for 5% of all retail sales overall. And these numbers are increasing year after year, too — in 2017, Amazon commanded 43% of all e-commerce sales, compared to 49% in mid 2018.  

Consumers are more comfortable than ever with opening their phones, searching for an item they need on Amazon and making a purchase. Which is all to say that Amazon isn’t going anywhere.

In a space where competing on tactics is a smart strategy, just having your products listed on the site likely won’t be good enough. Your competitors are looking for any extra edge they can get, so why shouldn’t you too?

Controlling Your Brand

The main reason to spend the time building your Amazon Store all comes down to branding.

If you’ve previously worked on Amazon’s backend to maintain your inventory and product listings, you know how cumbersome and somewhat limiting the site can be. While your products can feature some extra branding toward the lower portion of your product page, you’re pretty restricted when it comes to showing off what makes your company and products unique.

Your best bet to accomplish this is through customer reviews, but if you’re just listing on Amazon for the first time, then it might take a bit to build a sizable enough backlog of positive reviews to make a difference.

Plus, there’s the issue of how your other product lines will be seen. The client I previously mentioned is a manufacturer of abrasives used in grinding and cutting metal. They have a wide product catalog with many varied uses.

Someone who searched for “grinding wheels” on Amazon and came across one of the products may not easily discover that they also offer cutting wheels and a whole range of other abrasives — information that the consumer would likely find useful.

An Amazon Store allows you to show off your catalog in a more visually appealing manner that matches up with your brand — rather than trying to shove any bits of branding Amazon allows in on product pages.

And while customers might come to your website to research your products, odds are you’re redirecting them to Amazon or another e-commerce site to make purchases.

Having a Store in place removes that extra click. In marketing emails, you can send links directly to your Store, making it easy for customers to make purchases, for example.

Example Stores 

If you’re still feeling a little lost as to what a great Amazon Store looks like, here are a couple examples to help you visualize.

This is Amazon’s own Amazon Basics Store:

amazon stores 

This is a very simple and clean store, with the main goal being to move viewers through to the next level of Amazon’s many products.

This store for Natrol, a manufacturer of vitamins, minerals and supplements, highlights one specific product while also providing tons of great supplementary content like videos, product information and imagery:

 Amazon stores Amazon stores

As you can see, there’s a ton of variety to be found in Amazon Stores. It’s really just up to you to figure out which Store configuration works best for you.

Worth the Effort 

To put it simply, if your business depends upon Amazon sales at all, or if you’re increasing your focus on Amazon, building and maintaining an Amazon Store page is a no-brainer.

(Click here to see how you can optimize your product pages on Amazon — a key part of a successful Amazon strategy.) 

While Amazon Stores are still in their infancy, Amazon has shown every indication that they plan on committing to increasing the visibility of these pages. Plus, as an article in AdWeek noted, “Amazon has huge authority among search engines. That could mean an Amazon Store could potentially outrank a brand’s own online store, which generates higher margins and lifetime value.” 

There’s no reason not to get your own Store setup. If you’d like to learn more about our experience with Amazon Stores and how we can help you enhance your Amazon presence overall, contact us today.

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