Is 2022 going to be the year you finally make the leap to selling on Amazon? If so… welcome to the jungle.
We're not saying that to frighten you off. In fact, far from it. Amazon shouldn't just be an eCommerce platform for your business. It should be your primary one.
But we're not the only ones who are Amazon advocates. So are over two-thirds of the U.S. population.
No two product launches are going to be alike. And there's no such thing as a successful product launch without taking preliminary factors into consideration prior to a full scale launch. Here's what you should consider first.
What to Consider in Your Pre-Product Launch Checklist
While you may have prioritized Amazon sales as a primary goal, you may not have considered your own pre-product launch.
A successful launch demands a preliminary checklist to ensure efficiency and reduce future product management errors and redundancies. A pre-launch checklist isn't necessarily defined by budget as much as scope.
You may have already set a product launch date. You may have a strategy in place for marketing campaigns. You may have conducted detailed market research. And you may even have a revolutionary product line.
But have you thought about your inventory? Have you considered logistic processes? How aligned are your ecommerce distribution channels? In short—is your business actually ready to launch?
ASINs, EANs, ISBNs and UPC Codes
Bar codes can sometimes be one of the more confusing parts of establishing a new business, particularly if you're predicting a high amount of global sales along with your domestic volume after your product launch.
Here's a rough overview of how they break down:
ASIN: Amazon Standard Identification Numbers. These are unique blocks of 10 digits used to identify and track sales. With the exception of books (which carry the same sequence as an ISBN), each code ASIN is automatically assigned for each product
EAN: The European Article Number can be either 12 or 13 digits which identify both the product and manufacturer
ISBN: An International Standard Book Number consisting of either 10 or 13 digits used solely to identify and track commercial book sales
UPC: In the US, a Universal Product Code is 12 digit commercial barcode which identifies non-book retail products
But why are these codes important? For retail purposes, products need to be identified quickly in order to expedite purchasing. But these codes don't just identify your product.
They track its sales. And they're necessary if you want to conduct retail sales anywhere, not just digitally.
Unfortunately, UPC codes (the most commonly used identifier) aren't automatically assigned—and they aren't free. In fact, they can cost you up to $3,500 in service fees depending on the amount needed. This has led to a black market of resellers offering to recycle codes at a much lower cost.
It's a scam, and one that can lead you into being barred from selling altogether. Save yourself the potential trouble. There's only one authorized source Amazon allows for UPC codes: GS1.
Brand identity should ideally be one of the key components of any business. But how much are you actually investing in it?
We don't just mean developing a branded experience. Any retailer will automatically need to distinguish themselves if they hope to survive in the marketplace—and selling on Amazon is no different.
In fact, with features such as A+ content, HD video and DSP programmatic advertising, Amazon's marketing tools have never made it easier for a business to highlight their product strength. But it's also never been more competitive.
Failing to trademark your name might seem like an oversight in a marketing strategy. But it's a common one. And without it, you don't just open yourself up to intellectual property theft. You fail to distinguish your business.
No matter how straightforward the name of your business might be, take the time to review the trademark process with the US Patent and Trademark Office prior to your launch. It doesn't just help you to distinguish your brand from competitors. It can help deflect any potential IP theft in the future.
Your Distribution Networks: Your Lifeline
eCommerce can present retailers with an even more critical dilemma than traditional brick and mortar storefronts: inventory management. More specifically, balancing both the supply from your manufacturers and the demand from your distribution networks.
You need a consistent production schedule. You need realistic sales projections. You need reliable distribution. And you need to understand the return on your own marketing efforts as well as your own sales and fulfillment channels.
For better or worse, Amazon's made its name on being a customer-centric platform. But not necessarily a seller-centric one. And if Amazon's customer support department can process countless hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of queries each day, surely your distribution networks should be able to align themselves with your objectives.
Let both your manufacturing and your distribution partners know you plan to sell on Amazon and that they're likely going to see a dramatic increase in demand—in many cases, greater than 70 percent for FBA sellers.
Your customers are the backbone of your business. And your distribution networks keep your business in the air. With a complete understanding of both, your eCommerce business can continue to soar to new heights.
Customer Personas and Your Target Audience
It's one of the first paradoxes any new-to-market brand faces during a product launch. How do you target customers if you don't have any existing customer feedback to rely on?
One answer is through developing a customer persona.
Customer personas help you understand your target audience at any stage of their customer journey on a personal level by creating a fictionalized representation of their segments. They can help you identify common traits, characteristics and demographics you would have otherwise overlooked, allowing insight into their motivations and their common ground.
While a full scale customer persona development process may require a certain amount of target audience research through surveys, interviews and analysis, it's a time consuming process which isn't necessarily cost effective for new brands. More importantly?
They don't always provide you with relevant target customer data. Traditional market research firms aren't just expensive. They're downright wasteful. Here at Color More Lines, we've developed surveys and chatbots designed to glean only the most relevant needs of customers, allowing you to develop a compelling customer persona using generalized data.
Practical Tips on Developing a Customer Persona
Directly engage with your social media followers to discover what particular pain points and unfulfilled needs they're experiencing
If you have an off-Amazon site, use form fields in your contact information form (e.g. age, location, gender and referrals) to gain barebones insight into the demographics of your prospective customers
Both free and paid analytics solutions can help you uncover both general demographic information as well as adjacent interests and trends for organic searches, web traffic and social media
Development of a "negative" customer persona excluding customer segments whose habits and values aren't necessarily aligned with your brand mission can help you refine your own target customer persona
Take the time to sift through positive reviews of your competitors to uncover particular strengths which can inform the core needs of your target audience
Can a Product Launch Measure Success on Amazon?
No two product launches are alike. And there's no exact ratio of successful launches to failures you can rely on. Each product, each category and each niche has different standards of performance. And those standards can sometimes be variable.
Some new products garner a successful enough buzz prior during pre launch only to find it wears off just as quickly as it began, while others only gain traction after several months of post launch feedback and sales.
That's because each new product and each new brand will always be a gamble. Some will be high risk, while others may require minimal investment altogether. Few people thought Amazon would have lasted more than six months in 1995. But it's 2022. How many other brands developed since then have fallen by the wayside?
There's no guarantee of a successful product launch. What you can guarantee is that your preliminary groundwork is adequately covered prior to your launch. The rest depends on two factors:
The quality of your service and the quality of your product.
Color More Lines provides both pre and post launch account management of new brands so you can focus on what really matters on Amazon: your product. Find out more at Color More Lines