We weren’t able to fly to Las Vegas and see each other in person for the annual Prosper Show, but we still had an amazing time at Prosper Virtual Show, learning from colleagues and connecting with Amazon sellers at all stages in their business journeys.
The convention kicked off with an inspiring keynote by Jon Picoult, who demonstrated how a great customer experience inspires loyalty, which leads to more revenue (and less expense). Jon reminded us that “With every interaction, you win or lose share” so every interaction, from the first ad, to the packaging a product arrives in, to the response to a return request, is an opportunity to delight the customer.
That keynote was followed by two days jam-packed with educational events on topics like advertising and Amazon policy enforcement.
Over the full show, five themes emerged. Here’s what we’re taking away from Prosper Virtual Show 2020.
Takeaways from Prosper Virtual Show 2020
- Coronavirus impacted sellers
- Bad actors on Amazon have ramped up Amazon’s enforcement
- Brand-building opportunities on Amazon are growing
- Sellers need to consider marketplaces beyond Amazon
- Amazon sellers are resilient
#1 Coronavirus Impacted Sellers
This has been a strange year for all of us. Some Amazon sellers were positioned to make unprecedented sales because they had the products people have needed during the pandemic. Other businesses have suffered because of problems the pandemic caused across every aspect of a business. No matter what our circumstances, we’ve all had to adjust.
Pandemic-related problems specific to Amazon included:
- changes in shopper search and purchase behavior
- supply chain challenges
- Amazon only receiving products at their warehouses they deemed essential
- a surge in counterfeit activity, especially around masks and other related health products
- Prime Day getting pushed out from its usual summer timing to a period very close to Cyber Week.
Get the 2020 Amazon Prime Day Report to help you plan advertising for Cyber Week
#2 Bad Actors on Amazon Have Ramped up Amazon’s Enforcement
If it’s not enough to keep up with one’s own business — sourcing, selling, delivering — now a savvy Amazon business owner needs to be on the lookout for counterfeiters and other bad actors as well as Amazon’s efforts to counteract these problems. At the start of the conference, our host James Thomson called attention to a number of issues relevant to 2020 including counterfeiters, brand registry issues, and product compliance issues.
In a session moderated by Peter Kearns of Blue Wheel Media, Cynthia Stine of Egrowth Partners and Chris McCabe of eCommerce Chris talked about spikes they’ve seen in black hat activity on Amazon. This has resulted in increased seller scrutiny from Amazon and increased suspensions.
Sellers need to be ready to respond immediately to bad actors. See a bunch of weirdly positive reviews all show up at once on your listing? Report even that to get ahead of any problems. And be ready to respond to any mark against you from Amazon, because one policy violation could balloon into an account suspension.
We recommend consulting with an expert if you’re not completely sure about the best course of action when you get a suspension or think you see bad actors interfering with your business on Amazon. This can help keep the problem from spiraling out of control.
#3 Brand-Building Opportunities on Amazon Are Growing
Five years ago, as an Amazon seller you might not have thought much about ads, but Amazon has expanded the available ad programs, making the ad space both more rich and more competitive. You need to have a well thought-out advertising strategy that conforms to your business plans and enables you to meet your goals.
Amazon sellers need to master the basics of Sponsored Products campaign structure, keyword research, and optimal bidding – potentially aided by an AI tool like Teikametrics Flywheel. However, they also need to consider investing in engaging brand-building ad formats higher in the funnel than their competitors may already be leveraging.
Sponsored Brands are available to sellers who are Brand Registered with Amazon, and are easily managed from within Seller Central, making them a good next step after Sponsored Products. Amazon is leaning into media-rich brand-building programs, so learn also about Amazon Stores, Sponsored Display, Amazon DSP, as well as social products Amazon Live and Amazon Posts.
#4 Sellers Need to Consider Marketplaces Beyond Amazon
The unpredictability of Amazon during the pandemic has shown many business owners that they need to consider diversification across many aspects of their business. That way they can’t be shut down entirely by a malfunction of one cog in the machine.
It may be time to consider options beyond Amazon FBA. One means of diversification is to add FBM as a backup to FBA. Another is to expand to other marketplaces. Walmart represents a great opportunity for sellers to reach new audiences and mitigate the risk of selling only on one platform.
It’s important to learn ways in which Walmart differs from Amazon. You can’t just copy/paste your Amazon business into Walmart. With the right changes, as Jason Magee said in the “Key Differences Between Selling and Advertising on Amazon vs Walmart” session, selling on Walmart in addition to Amazon can help “to keep you afloat” in uncertain times.
#5 Amazon Sellers are Resilient
Amazon sellers are smart, creative, and resilient. We love attending this show to learn, connect, and to offer our expertise whether you’re just starting to research setting up your business, or need a partner to manage your ads because business is booming. As Liz Fickenscher said in the “Mindset” session with Yoni Mazor, “We want to help people be successful in ecommerce!”
Much of what we thought we knew about Amazon in February has changed since then. That makes it especially important to find ways to connect with each other to understand everything that’s changing and how we all can thrive. Events like Prosper do this for us and we hope that our weekly webinars also offer this for you.
Hopefully next year at the conference we’ll get to see you in person. But we’ve learned this year we’re ready to roll with whatever changes we might not see coming. One way or another, see you at Prosper 2021!