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Introducing Amazon Posts

Amazon has been successful in making immense strides in growing their digital advertising platform. Currently ranking as the third largest digital advertising platform, behind Facebook & Google, Amazon continues to siphon away ad spend from their behemoth competitors.

Another industry Amazon has attempted to penetrate (but honestly, failed miserably) is social media. You may remember Amazon Spark, but it's more likely you never heard of it in the first place. Heralded as "the Instagram of Amazon," the Spark program targeted Prime members and was designed as an infinitely scrollable feed of shop-able stories and photos: imagine your Instagram feed, but everything is a clickable, buyable product.

After two years the Spark program was finally laid to rest in June 2019, and its bones were repurposed into the #FoundItonAmazon page, which caters solely to Women’s Fashion and Home Décor.

Fast-forward two months and Amazon has begun subtly promoting a new mobile-only program: Amazon Posts. Eerily familiar to the layout of an Instagram feed, these lifestyle-based images have that familiar square aspect ratio and description below.

So What Are "Amazon Posts"?

Amazon messages Posts as an opportunity to "use curated photos to inspire shoppers to engage with your brand and products on Amazon."

Each post is slotted into a carousel on product detail apges, directly above "Customer Questions," and links directly to the advertised product. Posts also include category tags, encouraging customers to explore and discover related products and brands.

Amazon messages that Posts will show up for related brands, category fees, and related posts, generating opportunities for product discovery, increased browsing activity, and most notably: shopping.

Where the Posts program differs from the Spark platform is that Amazon is not trying to camouflage a shopping feed beneath a layer of lifestyle, food, and travel photos. The Posts program is significantly more transparent and brand-centric, tailored specifically to businesses looking to generate awareness and connectivity between products in their assortment.

What's Amazon’s biggest selling point? It’s entirely free. There is no cost-per-click attribution, no merchandising fees, and no cost to participate in the program.

Are All Brands Eligible? How Does My Brand Qualify?

As with all Amazon programs, there are minimum eligibility requirements for brands to participate, however in this case, the bar is relatively low.

At the moment, the Beta program is available exclusively to Vendors, but the Posts team is hoping to expand eligibility to Sellers in the very near future. For Seller Central Administrators, there is already a toggle to enable "Posts" under "User Permissions," but this functionality has not yet been implemented.

Brands wishing to participate must also have an active Storefront and ensure their brand byline (the brand name hyperlink listed underneath product titles) appears correctly and links to the appropriate Storefront. Storefronts are available after successfully enrolling in Brand Registry and implementing brand name mapping for all enrolled products and brands.

Once a brand has been accepted into the Posts program, they will have complete access to the portal and will need to create a minimum of three posts before going live.

Weighing the Opportunity

While the Posts program is enticing with its no-cost model and attractive UI, brands need to consider whether this is program warrants the significant time investment required.

Benefits

The immediate benefit of the program is access to additional traffic metrics: brands can measure the impressions, clicks, and click-through rate (CTR) for every post and dissect performance with customizable timeframes.

While not specifically eluded to, it's apparent that brands can also replicate social media posts from other platforms and evaluate customer engagement. Using the same image and caption from a Pinterest or Instagram post, brands can tie-in the product ASIN and transform their content into a shop-able feed.

Finally, Posts aren’t deprecated after a specific time window, so generating relevant, evergreen content is much more approachable for businesses looking to test this awareness driver.

Drawbacks

A big detriment to the Posts program is the lack of sales attribution associated with each post: Amazon simply does not provide revenue metrics for this program.

Additionally, the traffic source is not provided: while brands can quantify total pageviews, they are unable to generate tags or identify the traffic channel of origin.

Brands seeking to submit gifs and/or videos will also be disappointed: this functionality is not currently available, but is on the Posts team's roadmap.

What Is the Future of Amazon Posts?

The Posts program is still very much in its infancy, and the team behind it is rapidly expanding the program's scope and functionality. With Q4 right around the corner, major changes are unlikely to be implemented before the end of the year, but the Beta will provide the development team valuable feedback and help fine-tune the program to maximize engagement.

Brands seeking a low-cost opportunity to drive brand or product awareness and gauge interest in their social media content could stand to benefit from the click-through metrics available for each post.

Every brand should consider testing Amazon’s newest foray into the social media world, but the biggest unanswered question still remains: how will customers engage with this content, if at all?


Curious to learn more about Amazon Posts or other programs? Want to know how to take your brand's marketing strategy to the next level? Our team of ex-Amazonians are here to help. Please reach out to us at info@getarmr.com

Amazon Ordering Behavior Changes

Over the last six months ARMR has collected several data points indicating Amazon would make significant reductions in their vendor pool, trimming thousands of vendors down to hundreds.

It seems as if that day has arrived. Some of you have did not receive expected purchase orders Monday (March 4), and threads on multiple vendor forums indicate thousands of other vendors also have not received purchase orders.

We have reached out to Amazon's support staff and received the following response:

"Please be informed that at this time, we are not placing any purchase orders on your products.

To preserve the customer experience, the featured offer will be disabled when the product is out of stock. We will notify you if we choose to place any purchase orders.
I apologize for the inconvenience that caused to you in this regard.
Kindly note that we put a lot of effort and time in getting this provision for our vendors, only with an intention to improve the services."

This is an abrupt shift in Amazon’s behavior and we believe that all or some of the below will happen. Please note that, while these claims are thus far unsubstantiated and speculative, these are our best-informed predictions:

  • This is a hard reset to push all vendors to Amazon’s new platform (yet to be announced) but what we think will be called “Amazon Seller” or “One Vendor”
  • This new platform will be announced in the coming two to four weeks
  • Amazon will introduce their version of a “consignment” relationship
    • A new form of selling on Amazon, where Amazon determines the end-retail price to the consumer, but you [the business] still own the inventory (as opposed to FBA where you determine the end-retail price and own the inventory)
    • If the above is true, this will be a relationship which we wish to avoid
    • Amazon may announce the new platform with “product orders” under the new consignment relationship following not far behind.
  • Amazon will follow up with purchase orders on a select subset of your catalog, seeking the highest demanded products through the new portal/One Vendor program
  • Amazon will further follow up with a bulk-buy offer (at a reduced wholesale cost they will dictate)

This change in purchasing behavior is going to require a significant change in our strategy. Over the next several weeks, our team will communicate and implement updated strategies, built around your business and taking into consideration the new dynamics of the marketplace and platform.

This shift increases the importance of Seller Central (3P and FBA), driving traffic to your detail pages from outside of the Amazon ecosystem (social media and influencers, Google AdWords, etc.), pricing, and high-quality content generation.

You hired us for exactly this situation—an existential crisis on your Amazon business—and we are here to do our job: right the ship and plot a new course into the future.

This shift will open new opportunities and close previously successful pathways. We will do our utmost to research these new opportunities and execute a strategy designed to maximize your revenue in this new marketplace.

Best regards,
Oscar

Oscar Barbarin
CEO
Have a question? Please reach out to us at info@getarmr.com

Shanghai Skyline

An Introduction to Chinese Cross-Border eCommerce: Part 1

Why China?

We all know that China is the world's most populous nation with the largest GDP of any nation and cultural roots dating back millennia. For the past 40 years, China's economy has remained one of the fastest-growing in the world and shows no sign of slowing down: as of last month, China's CCI is on track to reach a 10-year high1. In 2016, China's online retail sales reached US$752BN, with US$79BN driven by cross-border ecommerce sales—that is, ecommerce sales of products outside of China—and last year confirmed the same trend: cross-border ecommerce sales grew by 81% Y/Y with imports, specifically, skyrocketing by 116%.

The data is clear: China is engaging with the internet in a big way. Of today’s top 20 internet leaders, nine are in China (up from just two five years ago ) and China boasts the largest number of internet users in a single country—and they're not just messaging and gaming. In 2017, national online sales accounted for 19.6% of total retail sales, an increase of 32% compared to 2016 .

You may be thinking, "Don't get me wrong, that's all great! …but, what does that have to do with my business?" And you're right—in and of itself, this information probably means little, so let's put it in context.

China is the largest ecommerce market in the world, leading the future of ecommerce and mobile retail. Growth is driven by the penetration of mobile devices, the dominance of digital payment, constant innovations in social media, guerilla, and viral marketing, close engagement of internet celebrities and influencers, and of course, the hot competition between ecommerce start-ups, their investors, and established retailers companies.

The top leaders and innovators within the Chinese ecommerce space, Jack Ma (Founder & CEO, Alibaba), Qiangdong Liu (Founder & CEO, JD.com) and Lei Ding (Founder & CEO,NetEase [Kaola]), are actively recruiting and advocating for global brands to enter the Chinese market by launching products on their respective platforms—and you don't have to be publicly traded to do it.

What is driving cross-border ecommerce? As China's growing middle class is increasing exposed to foreign products via online/social media engagement, Chinese consumers are increasingly focused on affordable imported goods. Chinese consumer equate international goods with overall higher quality products and a significantly lower risk of counterfeiting: 61% of Chinese consumers cited guaranteed product quality as their reason for shopping internationally .

As a result of this consistently increasing demand, foreign/imported products are difficult to find (if available at all) and ridiculously expensive in Mainland China. Accordingly, Chinese consumers are turning to online retail sites, both foreign and domestic, to source overseas products, driving cross-border ecommerce.

What is Cross-Border eCommerce?

Taking a step back, cross-border ecommerce is online, direct-to-consumer sales by a foreign retailer, supplier, or manufacturer, without the need for a Chinese intermediary. How does this differ from a traditional, general import business or relationship?

Much like the US, distributors purchase product from overseas manufacturers in bulk, function as the importer of record (responsible for all taxes, fees, and regulatory compliance) before reselling to retailers. However, Chinese general import businesses must be operated by a Chinese distributor or trade agency with a designated import permit and the overall tax value for this combines import tax, value-added tax (VAT), and consumer sales tax—totaling 30%-100% of declared value, depending on the product category. For example, the overall tax for importing wine is about 60%.

With Chinese consumers' growing demand for more, cheaper, and faster access to high-quality international brands and products, a new business model has emerged: the cross-border ecommerce B2C business. The B2C model facilitates direct-to-consumer sales for international brands and manufacturers who would otherwise be unable to establish a Chinese presence or otherwise reach Chinese consumers.


I'll give you some time to digest all of that--check back later for the continuation of this series.

--Kelsey

Kelsey Ganes
Manager, Client Experience
Have a question? Please reach out to us at info@getarmr.com


Sources

  1. The Conference Board, Trading Economics/IECONOMICS Inc.
  2. CapIQ, CB Insights, Wall Street Journal, media reports. Market value data as of 5/29/18. The Wall Street Journey, Recode, TechCrunch, Reuters, and the Information articles detail the latest valuations for Ant Financial (4/18), Xiaomi (5/18), Uber (2/18), Didi Chuxing (12/17), Airbnb (3/17), Meituan-Dianping (10/17), and Toutiao (12/17).
  3. National Bureau of Statistics of China
  4. iResearch 2016/Ecommerce Foundation

Amazon Promotions: An Overview

As a customer, you may already be aware that Amazon has an incredible range of promotion types. From four-hour Lightning Deals to Subscribe & Save discounts, there are dozens of options and vehicles for offering a discount.

Before we begin, let's talk about Amazon Supported Deals. Programs like Deal of the Day and Lightning Deals enjoy the benefit of additional Amazon-sponsored merchandising across the site. These deals are automatically included in Today's Deals and category-specific deals stores and are often included in daily deals email campaigns (this is only guaranteed for Deals of the Day, sorry folks).

Restricted Promotions are deals which have a barrier to redemption: in short, customers must complete an additional action in order to receive the advertised discount. This additional action may be entering a promotional code at checkout, purchasing a certain number of units, or purchasing a specific combination of products.

Price Discount

Also known as Temporary Price Reduction (TPR)

Deal Duration: Up to 30 days.
Lead Time: Seller Central: Less than 24 hours (promotion must start tomorrow). Vendor Central: 4 weeks.
Restrictions: Minimum 5% discount off current price.

Multi-Buy Deals

Also known as BOGO, BXGY, BNXG%, BNXG%Y

Restricted Promotion: Customers must purchase a specified number or combination of products to receive the advertised discount. The key differentiating factor of multi-buy promotions is that customers must qualify for the discount by adding Qualifying Products (see below) to their cart before the discount is applied to their order at checkout.

Buy One Get What? Qualifying vs. Benefit Product Sets
The Qualifying Set is the selection of ASINs customers must purchase to qualify for the promotion. The Benefit Set is the selection of ASINs that the qualifying discount (or benefit) applies to.

Example 1:
Buy 1 or more units of Products A or B to get 50% off Product C, Products A and B are the Qualifying Product Set and Product C is the Benefit Product Set. A customer would need to purchase A or B to get 50% off their purchase of C. Sounds simple, right? If a customer buys 2 units of A, they would qualify for 50% off 2 units of C.

Most of the time, the Qualifying and Benefit product sets are the same.

Example 2:
Buy 3 or more units of Products D, E, or F and get 25% off all three units at checkout. If a customer buys any combination of 3, 4, or 5 units of either D, E, or F they would receive 25% off the first 3 products, but would not receive a discount on the 4th or 5th. If they purchase 6 units across D, E, or F, they would receive 25% off all 6 products in their cart, etc.

Discount Types

Buy X Get Y Free
Buy 1 or more Product X and get 1 Product Y free.

Buy N Get % Off
Buy specified number (N) of products in Product Set X and receive a discount at checkout. Ex: Buy 3 Apples, Get 15% Off.

Buy X Get % Off Y
Buy specified number of Products in Product Set X to receive a discount on products in Product Set Y. Ex: Buy 2 Apples, Get 50% Off an Orange.

Deal Duration: Up to 30 days.
Lead Time: Seller Central: 24 hours. Vendor Central: 4 weeks.
Restrictions: Minimum 5% discount off current price.

Discount Codes

Also known as Promotional or Claim Codes

Restricted Promotion: Customers must enter the discount code at checkout to receive the advertised discount.

Combinability: All multi-buy promotions are combinable with non-claim code promotions. Additional combinability restrictions can be added at setup.

Deal Duration: Up to 30 days.
Lead Time: Seller Central: 4 hours. Vendor Central: Minimum 2 weeks.

Group Claim Codes

Group or public discount codes can be used by anyone can redeem to receive the advertised discount. Group codes can be shared or advertised on social media and other marketing channels to drive awareness and subsequent sales.

Visibility: Group codes are displayed on product detail pages and visible to all customers.
Restrictions: Minimum 5% discount off current price.

Individual Claim Codes

Individual claim codes are just what they sound like: each claim code can only be redeemed by a single customer.

Visibility: This promotion type is not (and should not be) advertised on or off Amazon.
Restrictions: Seller Central only. Minimum 5% discount off current price. Individual codes are not published and cannot be shared; Sellers are responsible for messaging customers and delivering their individual discount codes.

Social Media Promo Code

Social media promo codes allow Sellers to offer a percentage discount. A landing page is automatically created with the list of eligible products and promotion details; the landing page exclusively features seller-specific offers, so customers do not need to locate your offer in the Buy Box. The landing page can be shared on social media or marketing channels such as paid search to direct customers and promote sales. Customers can then add items to their cart directly from the landing page and the discount will be automatically applied.

Codes default to single-use only but can be configured to allow multiple redemptions per customer account. Codes can also be configured to apply to a single product or multiple products.

Visibility: Promotion is not messaged on product detail pages.
Restrictions: Seller Central only. Minimum 15% discount off current price.

Coupons

Also known as Vendor-Powered Coupons (VPC)

Coupon discount can be setup as either percentage or dollars off. The budget you set will be utilized as customers redeem your coupon. We will deactivate your coupon when your budget is fully utilized. Targeting is available: limit availability/discoverability to a customer segment of your choice.

Restricted Promotion: Customers must clip the coupon to redeem the offer.
Deal Duration: 1-90 days.
Lead Time: Minimum 4 weeks.
Visibility: Amazon-Supported Deal. Search result badging. Available for Product Display Advertising. Targeting can be used to limit visibility.
Restrictions: Seller Central: Seller account rating must be at 3.5 stars or higher; discount must be between 5%-80% off the lowest price in the last 30 days.

Deal of the Day

Premier featured deal on Amazon. Deal cannot be inventory restricted; inventory must be available to fill all customer orders placed during deal period.

Deal Duration: 24 hours.
Lead Time: Minimum 4 weeks.
Visibility: Amazon-Supported Deal (see above). Search result badging. Available for Product Display Advertising.
Restrictions: Product must have minimum 3.5-star rating. Must be lowest price in trailing 365 days; cannot be run within 30 days following a Lightning Deal.

Lightning Deals

Also known as Category Specific Lightning Deals (CSLDs).

A Lightning Deal is a time- and quantity-limited promotional offer. For Seller-driven promotions, Amazon assesses an additional fee to participate in this program.

Deal Duration: 4-6 hours.
Lead Time: Minimum 4 weeks
Visibility: Amazon-Supported Deal (see above). Search result badging.
Restrictions: Product must have a minimum 3-star rating. Must be lowest price in trailing 90 days; cannot be run within 30 days following a Lightning Deal. For Apparel products, at least 65% of variations must be included in the product set. Seller Central: Must be a Professional Seller. Products must be recommended by Amazon; Sellers cannot submit products that have not been recommended for promotion. Products must be Prime eligible.

Best Deals

Also known as Savings & Sales.

Deal Duration: Up to 14 days.
Lead Time: Minimum 4 weeks.
Visibility: Amazon-Supported Deal (see above).
Restrictions: Minimum 20% discount off current price.

Free Shipping

A limited-time, free shipping offer for a subset of products. This promotion does not impact the Buy Box price.

Deal Duration: Up to 60 days.
Lead Time: 24 hours.
Visibility: Detail page messaging.
Restrictions: Seller Central only.

Subscribe & Save (SnS)

Subscribe & Save allows customers to schedule regular deliveries of products they purchase repeatedly using a subscription model.

Subscribe & Save customers select the product, quantity, and frequency of delivery. A 5% discount is applied per subscription. If a customer receives products from 5 or more subscriptions in a given month, they'll receive 10% or 15% off each subscription, depending on the product category. Additional information eligible product categories.

Combinability: Subscribe & Save discounts are combinable with other promotional offers, including Lightning Deals. Any coupons or promotions also apply to your Subscribe & Save-enrolled products. For example, if you run a promotion offering a 20% discount on a product that is available through Subscribe & Save, that discount will be added to existing subscriptions and will result in a total discount greater than 20% for subscriptions.

Deal Duration: Ongoing.
Lead Time: 4 weeks.
Visibility: Subscription enrollment and discounted pricing are integrated into the Buy Box.
Restrictions: Products must have an in-stock ratio of at least 85% for the trailing 30 days to be eligible for enrollment. Seller Central:  Seller account must be active for at least 90 days to be eligible for enrollment and have a 4.7-star rating or higher. Vendor Central: None.

Business-to-Business Pricing (B2B)
Business Price

A discounted price available to Amazon Business customers regardless of the quantity purchased. As an Amazon Business seller, you can create a Business Price on any of your offers.

Quantity Discount

Tiered discounts available to Amazon Business customers for high-volume purchases. As an Amazon Business seller, you can specify tiers for quantity pricing on your offers.

Deal Duration: Ongoing.
Lead Time: 24 hours.
Visibility: Available exclusively to business customers.
Restrictions: Seller Central only.