Amazon – winning loyal customers on the world’s biggest marketplace

From books to electronics, and now just about everything else, Amazon has become a vital sales channel for millions of businesses around the world operating in just about every sector. The food and drink industry is no exception, with brands selling everything from tofu to toffee vodka.

Christian Skelton
Written by Christian Skelton
Client Director

On top of the almost endless variety of products, there are now over 15 million Amazon Prime members in the UK, dwarfing other online retailers such as Ocado, all with access to Amazon’s free next-day delivery services.

Yes, there are tonnes of benefits of adding your products to Amazon, sadly listing them is the easy part, breaking into bestseller lists and winning loyal customers is an entirely different kettle of fish!

For example, of the 220,000 active sellers on Amazon UK, it is suggested that less than 1% achieve more than $1 million (£763k) in sales. Amazon is a prime example of the power law; in essence, Amazon bestsellers tend to stay bestsellers!

Yet, just because a small number of businesses own a large portion of Amazon total sales, it doesn’t mean you can’t be successful. Amazon is the perfect proving ground for aspiring food and drink brands, offering a unique opportunity to go head to head with supermarket brands.

However, there are several vital considerations you need to think about if your products are going to become successful perennial sellers:

  • Pricing
  • Photography
  • Messaging

Let’s look at these three points in greater detail.

Pricing

Price your products for Amazon. We can’t stress this enough. Do not fall into the trap of many sellers that list their food and drink products inline with their retail price lists. Amazon is not your website; they charge seller fees, fulfilment fees, monthly account fees and more. There’s also your costs for getting stock to Amazon.

Amazon pricing is hard for food and drinks brands. Pricing a £3 jar of mayonnaise at £6 may seem ridiculous at first, but remember that your customers are usually Prime members that would prefer to pay £6 knowing they will receive their mayonnaise the following day, verses paying £3 + P&P and waiting a 3-5 days for it to arrive.

It’s also important to remember that if your product is priced too low, it may not qualify for Amazon Prime. This simple mistake can cost you dearly. We always advise our clients to make sure their products are just expensive enough to be eligible for Prime.

Photography

Amazon is a bit like a backstreet market. Products of all shapes and sizes, colours and formats; a mismatch of brands you’ve never heard of; all displayed in a higgidy-piggidy order that makes little or no sense to most consumers.

However, unlike most markets, or indeed, modern supermarkets, prospective customers can’t physically pick up and inspect your product, nor can they try in-store tasters. Getting noticed on Amazon relies heavily on product photography.

We covered this in detail in our recent article exploring the hidden potential of packshot photography, but it’s even more relevant on Amazon. Great Amazon product photography will convey the quality of your product, the humour and personality behind your brand; hint at the ingredients inside, and even provide context to your brand backstory.

Luckily for you, the inconsistent and generally poor quality of most product photography on Amazon offers those that invest in good quality shots a natural advantage. Product photography is an exceptional leveller, take the following example:

Of course, the visual appeal of your product photography does rely on the design of your packaging. If your packaging is mediocre, even brilliant photography won’t necessarily help. In that instance, Amazon and indeed any other online-only sales channels probably aren’t worth considering at this stage. We would always recommend that you focus on getting your product, your recipe and your packaging as good as possible before launching on any B2C platform. You don’t want to expose your brand to an avalanche of negative reviews.

Messaging

It goes without saying that your product messaging must resonate with your target audience. If you haven’t defined who this target audience is yet, we suggest you focus on this before launching on Amazon.

Your product messaging should be as informative and transparent as possible. As we’ve discussed already, your prospective customers can’t physically inspect or taste your product before purchase, so this is more important than ever and an opportunity to differentiate yourself from competitors. Have empathy with your customers and try to think of what would inspire them to purchase your product.

It’s also worth remembering that Amazon is a data business. The more data you give them, the better they will rank your product. At the very least, your product messaging should include your brand back storey, ethos, product USPs, ingredient information, nutritional and allergen information, country of origin and weights and measures. Amazon provides a framework for most of this technical data, and we suggest you populate as much as possible to increase your chances of ranking better than your competitors.

Summary

Amazon is a tough nut to crack. However, suppose you position your product for the right audience, at the right price point for Prime; with top-notch, transparent messaging and product photography. Then there’s nothing stopping you from carving out a good slice of your chosen Amazon category. Like most things in life, Amazon takes time to master and requires constant nurturing, but with effort comes reward.