In this Amazon Seller's Week in Review, Kiri Masters, our CEO and founder, shares her take on recent news highlights and what these could mean for brands selling on the Amazon marketplace.
1. Amazon’s Early Reviewer Program is here!
Following a hasty crackdown of ‘incentivized reviews’ in late 2016, we’ve been expecting Amazon to create some form of authorized program to encourage customers to write product reviews. Since most consumers seek out product reviews to aid in their purchase decisions, Amazon needs product reviews as much as brands do.
Late last week, Amazon finally threw open the doors for a new “Early Reviewer Program”, which is now available in Seller Central. Unlike the “Vine” review program, Amazon will be soliciting reviews from customers who have bought products enrolled in this program; not just a select group of customers. Brands pay a fee of $60 per parent product, which will get them up to 5 product reviews for that product. Customers who write reviews are rewarded with a $1-$3 Amazon credit.
The program is currently available only to US accounts which are enrolled in the Brand registry. We’ll be running a case study on this program on our blog, so sign up to our mailing list to get notified when that goes live.
2. Amazon features in Mary Meeker’s annual trends presentation.
At the forefront of trend analysis and predictions in the digital world is Mary Meeker, a partner at the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Her annual trend presentations have become legendary, and considered “the most highly anticipated slide deck in Silicon Valley”. Of course, Amazon made a couple of appearances in this year's deck.
Firstly, one finding was around Amazon’s burgeoning private labels. Amazon sells more batteries than brands like Duracell and Energizer, now owning more than 30% of the US market. And 15% of the US baby wipes market is also owned by Amazon, only second to Huggies and Pampers. Marketplace Pulse did a great write-up of this phenomenon and how Amazon has cut into the core business of many commodity products - even ones with very strong brand recognition.
Meeker also asserts that Amazon's Echo is the biggest threat to the iPhone. She put a graph of iPhone sales side-by-side with a sales estimate for the Echo, and the growth curve indicates that using voice as a way to navigate daily tasks is steadily gaining traction. This will inevitably include such tasks as buying products on Amazon.
3. Prime Day is 5 weeks away! (probably)
Amazon has not yet announced the date of Prime Day 2017, but we know that it will be in the second week of July. Last week I published a blog post about how to make the most of Prime Day in 2017, but there are some great charts and even more insights in this new article by One Click Retail. It includes tips for Vendors on calculating how much inventory is required to stay in stock; and what kind of discounts to offer buyers on the day.
4. Amazon patents parachute delivery
This week Amazon received a patent regarding which allows for a system “to enable the delivery of packages by [unpiloted] aerial vehicles (UAVs) or other aerial vehicles.”
This means that a parachute could drop your goods from a drone or other aerial vehicle. Since Amazon has invested so heavily in making urban delivery efficient - to the point that millions of items can now be delivered in 1 hour or less with Prime Now - it makes sense that this parachute delivery scheme could be used for efficient suburban and rural fulfillment.
5. Amazon hacks lead to increased security measures.
An article in Marketplace Pulse outlines an increasing trend in hacked Amazon seller accounts, where the fraudster changes the bank account deposit information in order to receive the Seller’s Amazon payment.
Combatting such security issues is the recent addition of Two-Factor Authentication to US Amazon Seller Central accounts. All Sellers must set this up by June 30, 2017. Users can use Amazon’s own verification system or a 3rd party verification system like Google’s Authenticator app.
My advice here is to never share your Amazon admin username and password (like any username and password, really)! If using a third party contractor, an agency like Bobsled Marketing, or even giving access to an internal employee, always create a limited access profile for them to use with their own email address. This profile should not have access to Tax or bank account information.
6. Walmart tests two innovative new ways to get products to customers.
Some Wal-Mart stores are getting a vending machine that dispenses online purchases - similar in concept to Amazon’s lockers. These towers are 16 feet tall. Customers scan their order bar code, the door slides open, and an arm fetches the customer’s package. It was first announced as a test phase in late 2016, and is now rolled out in several stores in the US.
Walmart is also testing a home delivery program where store associates drop off online orders to customers on their way home from work. It’s a voluntary thing - Associates get paid extra, the customer gets their delivery earlier, it seems like a win/win. The test is being conducted at a store in Arkansas and two others in New Jersey, and we’ll see where it goes.
7. Customers unsubscribe from retailer communications in droves.
New research reveals that 90% of UK consumers have unsubscribed from communications from retailers in the past 12 months, with nearly half attributing this to receiving too many messages from brands.
In the past few months, Amazon started allowing customers to opt out of communications from Sellers. Since many sellers started using post-purchase email sequences to prompt customers to write reviews, we’d expect to see more Amazon customers unsubscribing from communications. There is no hard data yet about what portion of customers have done this so far.
Let me know what Amazon has been doing lately that has you puzzled or excited. Until next week's round of Amazon Seller's Week in Review, join us in our private community for brand owners and Channel Managers on Facebook: Amazon Chanel Mastery for Brands. We share insider tips about e-commerce and selling on Amazon.