What We Learned From Amazon in Q1 and What We Expect to See Later This Year

We would like to thank everyone who tuned in to this week’s webinar. It was an hour packed with insight from our strategists on some new developments at Amazon in Q1 2019, and what we expect to see throughout the year.  For those who couldn’t make it, here we highlight stand-out takeaways that Ashley Long, Lead Amazon Advertising Strategist, and Sam Jennings, Co-Founder & Lead Client Strategist shared with registrants.

Platform Updates

Seller Central

  • Voice of the Customer (VOC)

This update is specific to Seller Central and is a beta test that helps sellers visualize a customer’s experience with their catalog. VOC helps sellers meet Amazon’s high customer service standards by providing them with post-sale data. For the first time ever, Amazon will provide data beyond what the seller can interpret from returns, reviews, and buyer messages.

Important Metrics Included in VOC:

NCX Rate: This shows how many orders from your total sales, from a specific ASIN, lead to negative customer reports. This metric helps to quantify the health of each ASIN in the eyes of the consumer.

CX Health: This metric compares NCX Rates against ASINs from competitive listings.

  • Amazon Live 

 This new ‘channel’ can be used by both Vendors and Sellers. Using Amazon Live, Vendors and Sellers are able to showcase their products in a format comparable to QVC or HSN. Beneath the video stream, there is a carousel of featured products that viewers can add directly to their cart. This time, Amazon is putting control into the hands of brands when it comes to live-streaming. Instead of Amazon focusing on a single category or using dedicated hosts, brands can promote any product themselves.

Vendor Central

For a few weeks during Q1, Amazon made a lot of Vendor Central account owners rightfully nervous through a series of surprises:

1. Direct Fulfillment Account Suspensions

In late February to early March, Vendors received communication from Amazon informing them they were being shut down temporarily for business and inventory management.

2. Vendors Missing POs

The Monday after Direct Fulfillment Accounts were suspended, thousands of vendors did not receive their weekly purchase orders. The only clear trend in a variety of unofficial communications from Amazon encouraged vendors to consider a move to the Seller Central platform.

3. Brand Registry Note

Following the missed purchase orders, Amazon sent out a communication to many of these vendors stating its preference that brands pursue Brand Registry.

4. POs Resume

Although there was a scare for several weeks, everything seems to have returned to business as usual.

  • Protect Your Brand with Project Zero 

Counterfeit products have been a significant challenge over the last few years for brands who sell on Amazon. In the past, some brands have even removed themselves from Amazon entirely because they haven’t been able to protect their customers from counterfeit items.  Now brands can self-serve with Project Zero once they apply and make it through the waitlist. Instead of having to report a counterfeit product to Amazon and wait for action to be taken, Project Zero allows brands to remove counterfeit products themselves.

Advertising Updates

  • ‘New-to-Brand’ Metrics

These are metrics for ad-attributed purchases made by a consumer purchasing from a brand for the first time within 12 months. These metrics are available for display, video, and Sponsored Brand ads.

The specific metrics provided include:

  • Number of Orders
  • Percent of orders
  • Sales
  • Percent of sales

This is a fantastic new metric that allows brands to estimate the cost of acquiring new customers.

  • New Bidding and Targeting

For ASINs and categories, Q1 was a time for enhancing manual targeting opportunities. There are now more options to target and optimize bidding and placement for Sponsored Product Ads. Automatic targeting improvements also have been rolled out to give brands greater visibility into performance.

  • New DSP Audience Insights reports include:
    • Temporal Insights Report
    • Order Frequency Report
    • Audience Overlap Report

Industry Updates

  • Amazon Private Labels vs. Brands

Amazon’s Private Label (PL) brands account for one percent of all Amazon’s revenue, and it takes them only three months to roll out a new PL brand. Amazon is still a level playing field because 70 percent of searches on Amazon come from non-brand keywords. This means that brands have the power to control their destiny through a strong strategy.

  • A Shift in Focus

Amazon has shifted its focus from top-line revenue to profitability on a SKU-by-SKU basis. It’s being more discerning about the products sold through Vendor Central and putting more resources towards the third-party landscape.

  • Aiding Customer Research

Amazon is expanding its efforts to provide educational content for consumers to influence off-Amazon search engine results. For example, half of shoppers in the United States start on Amazon and use it for their product searches.

Q2 Lookahead

Here’s a quick rundown of what we expect to see in Amazon’s near future:

  • Enhancements to Amazon Business and Sponsored Brand targeting
  • Potential removal of Product Display Ad (PDA) targeting
  • DSP / Over-the-Top (OTT) inventory expansion
  • More cross-platform and off-Amazon beta tests
  • A focus on Brand Stores and building visibility through Google SEO
  • Other major online marketplaces continuing to roll out their pay-per-click ad platforms

We encourage you to join us next time for the chance to have some of your questions answered. Meanwhile, keep an eye on our social channels to register for exciting webinars coming up.

Watch this week’s webinar here.

Hannah West

Hannah West