Amazon is an ever-changing force and it seems they received an unprecedented amount of attention in the news in 2016. From research stating that the marketplace now commands 55% of online product searches to their first commercial drone delivery, it seems their reach and growth won’t be slowed anytime soon.
This is great news for consumer brands selling on Amazon – if they are willing to evolve with the changes to the platform. Brands that can adapt quickly and implement the newest strategies will benefit most from Amazon’s exponential growth.
Here are three changes to Amazon that will have a big effect on consumer brands in 2017:
1) Increased Brand Gating
This is great news for any brands dealing with the frustration of counterfeiters. In August, Amazon began making strides to protect their brands and fight illegitimate 3rd party sellers. They began by requiring some brand-carrying resellers to:
- Pay up to $1500 per brand
- Provide invoices from manufacturers showing purchase of 30 items within the last 90 days
- Written permission from the brand to sell their products
This is another positive move to provide a better experience for Amazon’s brands, as well as the end consumer.
Amazon says “We are constantly innovating on behalf of our customers and working with regulators, third party experts, vendors, and sellers to improve the ways we detect and prevent illegal and unsafe products from reaching our marketplace.”
2) The End of Incentivized Reviews
Eliciting reviews from customers in exchange for free or heavily-discounted products is now a strategy of the past. In October, Amazon updated their community guidelines to prohibit incentivized reviews unless facilitated through the Amazon Vine program (only accessible by Vendors).
This is a natural evolution in Amazon’s journey to provide consumers with an unmatched marketplace experience. Amazon’s VP, Customer Experience Chee Chew said “In just the past year, we’ve improved review ratings by introducing a machine learned algorithm that gives more weight to newer, more helpful reviews; applying stricter criteria to qualify for the Amazon verified purchase badge; and suspending, banning or suing thousands of individuals for attempting to manipulate reviews.”
As great as this is for the consumer, the update will inevitably make it more difficult for legitimate brands on Seller Central to launch new products and break into the top spots of the search engine results page.
In an attempt to level the playing field, Amazon is introducing the Early Reviewers Program for users of Seller Central, which “encourages customers who have already purchased a product to share their authentic experience about that product, regardless of whether it is a 1-star or 5-star review.” The biggest difference between this and Vendor Central’s Vine program is that consumers won’t know whether the product they purchased is eligible for the Early Reviewers program – hopefully eliminating any bias the customer inherently has when purchasing a product because of the discount.
3) A+ Page for 3P Sellers with Brand Registry
In November, Amazon started offering Enhanced Brand Content (EBC), Seller Central’s version of the A+ Page, to third parties that have obtained Brand Registry.
For those unfamiliar with the idea of enhanced content on Amazon, the A+ Page and EBC are sections of the product detail page below the description that act as a custom web page. This will allow 3P brand owners to tell the consumer a unique story through imagery, text placements and other custom modules.
On top of adding that branded feel, the benefits of the Enhanced Brand Content include:
- Higher conversion rates
- Increased search traffic
- Answering FAQs and reducing returns
- Showing off your alternative and/or complimentary products
This is a great addition for brands using Seller Central. EBC will allow 3P brand owners to play on the same level as 1Ps and differentiate themselves from competitors not utilizing this tool.
How Can Brands Get Ahead in 2017?
All in all, Amazon made a lot of positive moves in 2016 that are empowering brands on Amazon (1Ps and 3Ps).
So, what can a brand owner do in 2017 to get that leg up over the competition? Stay up-to-date on Amazon’s ongoing changes and be quick to adapt. If you’re able to adopt the newest tools and tactics, like Enhanced Brand Content , you will reap both short and long term results.
To stay on top of Amazon’s latest changes to Vendor and Seller Central, periodically check back to the Marketplace Strategy blog.