In podcast #84, Tera talks to Amazon expert Michael Zhang, CEO and founder of Fenrici Brands. The lifestyle company, started in 2018, sells over 50 items exclusively on Amazon generating over $4 million in sales. Combining that success with his previous experience as VP of Ecommerce and Innovation at Lands’ End, Michael has added Amazon coaching and consulting to his business portfolio. In this episode, he and Tera discuss what it takes to sell well on Amazon.
Often, smaller companies are intimidated by Amazon, but Michael reassures what will set you up for success is no different than what you are used to in retail or other sales channels. Three key things he calls out:
- You need to be committed to selling on Amazon, which includes investing in advertising and promotion and spending regular time managing your account.
- You need to have confidence in your products, should know the unique problems your products solve and have clear messaging around your unique differentiator.
- You need to be prepared to manage your inventory and to have the cash flow to support stocking Amazon distribution centers with your products.
Once you make the commitment to sell on Amazon, it is important you set yourself up for the best launch possible. When it comes to fulfillment, Michael recommends setting your business up as FBA – Fulfilled by Amazon, which ensures you get the “Prime” badge. When it comes to positioning, a tip is to look at similar competitors and their product listings. By reading the 5-star reviews, you can see what customers like about those products and borrow words they are using to describe their experience to improve your listing. Similarly, by reading 1-star reviews, you can glean insights about what customers are missing in those competitor products and speak to those features or aspects of the experience within your listing.
Once you have launched on Amazon, it is important to drive traffic to your listing through advertising and promotion. Don’t be afraid to spend time experimenting with Amazon advertising. It is important to have a paid program, but you can start out small, as low as $5/day, and grow your spend. One paid option is Cost Per Click Ads. These ads help your products get placed at the top of search results. In addition, you can set up coupons, a special store for your product, lightning deals and more to increase traffic to your listings.
There are also many free ways to create a narrative around your brand, including writing posts and adding to the live stream on Amazon.com. As you build your Amazon business, don’t lose sight of the importance of building out your social media promotions and digital advertising to further your channel growth. Amazon notices when you drive traffic, and it is important to fully activate this channel once you’ve committed to it.
Ratings are an important contributor to your success on Amazon. Michael recommends new-to-Amazon businesses take advantage of the Early Reviewer program and encourages you to check the Amazon Vine program as well.
In their first month on Amazon, Michael’s company sold $100,000 in products. At the end of their first year, they reached $1 million in sales, and after three years in business, they surpassed $4 million. This illustrates that a committed and savvy entrepreneur who had the time and resources can certainly build their business on Amazon solo. But often food entrepreneurs are busy making their products and wearing many other hats to keep their business afloat. If that is the case, finding a third-party Amazon expert is a solid strategy. Michael says the best thing to look for in a partner is results: What can they do for you in 3 to 6 months?
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