social media hashtag

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

CES 2018

Recapping CES 2018

Before we dive in, I'd like to take a moment on behalf of the entire ARMR team to to thank all of the incredible exhibitors we had the pleasure of meeting last week--we are deeply appreciative of your time and were, of course, enthralled by your products, vision, and earnest desire to change the world. We had the opportunity to meet and speak with some truly remarkable individuals and companies, pioneering what we're sure will soon be some of the most popular and influential tech and devices on the market. We were beyond impressed by the individuals and companies we spoke to and we can't wait to see how far each of you--and your products--will go.

CES 2018 in a Nutshell

Where previous years have been a showcase for groundbreaking, industry-changing technology, this year's show was noticeably different--and somewhat lackluster. Instead of a sea of booths boasting the latest tech, there was a profusion ancillary products; products whose sole purpose is to bridge the gap between existing products and augment established technologies to allow for better integration, broader application, or support "off-label" use-cases. From smart watches for every style and OS to VR headsets for a range of devices, industrial drones, and smart clothes which monitor and record your workout--products which expand on existing technologies to fill holes across industries and markets.

One of CES' key features is the opportunity to explore and interact with cutting-edge products in progress: the chance to play with prototypes and daydream about their potential use-cases and applications. This year seemed to take "in development" to an entirely new level and a large number of these products were unable to deliver: software issues, malfunctioning sensors, unexpected errors--the works. While many of these products demonstrated exceptional ingenuity, user-focused design, and genuine real-world applications--but it's difficult to be excited by a product that fails to live up to its own demo reel--and seemed to be lightyears from market-ready. 

There were also a surprising number of derivative products. Though this was especially prominent in the cell phone accessories and toys spaces, even wearable technology was rife with booth after booth of companies and products indistinguishable from one another.

Product Trends

Alexa & Google Home Compatibility

"Smart" technology and devices are becoming ubiquitous but compatibility and connected device "capacity" is a consistent challenge, but maybe not for long. Nearly every product we encountered proudly displayed Amazon Alexa and Google Home logos, trumpeting their compatibility with the two most prominent Virtual Assistants on the market--and it's about time. 

AR/VR

Unsurprisingly, the move towards Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality is accelerating rapidly. In tandem with AR/VR development, motion capture (MoCap) rigs are becoming increasingly refined and accessible to companies hoping to get into the world of AR/VR. Unfortunately, the industry as a whole has jumped into the deep end, investing in a fledgling technology that is still fighting to become mainstream.

The applications for AR/VR are seemingly endless, certainly far beyond entertainment media, consumer accessibility is a persistent problem. No one can deny that AR/VR is the wave of the future, but the systems and options currently on the market are still inaccessible to most consumers: AR/VR systems themselves remain expensive and unwieldy, in addition to relatively sophisticated (read: expensive) minimum system requirements for operation and more than a little know-how when it comes to setting up and installing the system itself--we're definitely not at "out of the box" setup quite yet. 

In addition to CES, there are over a dozen international conferences on AR/VR scattered across the globe this year--who knows what the industry will look like by this time next year.

HUD Units

Heads-up displays have been around for a while, in one form or another, but not like this. While there were more than a few cycling and snow sport helmets, there were a handful of dashboard units which project onto a vehicle's windshield--and beyond. From on-road navigation and destination/location indicators to fuel economy monitoring and speedometer display, these HUD units employ AR technology to help drivers keep their eyes on the road without sacrificing navigation or other essential information. Our favorite: Navion by WayRay

GPS Tracking

It seems like there's a GPS tracker for everything: pets, glasses, keys, wallets, children, water bottles, the development of gas in your digestive tract--no, really. But all trackers are not created equal: location accuracy, durability, and battery life can vary dramatically. Some companies have already distinguished themselves from the pack with additional features that go from "That's pretty cool" to "Holy smokes, Batman, I've gotta get me one of those!"

Wallet gets stolen? Report it as "lost" in the app and the next time someone opens your wallet, the built-in camera in the credit card-sized tracker will snap a photo of the trespasser and send it to your phone. Or, you know that your sunglasses are in the car, but still can't find them: some trackers ring, vibrate, or flash to help grab your attention. Our favorite: Orbit

Personal Environment

Overlapping beauty, medical, and home categories, we were surprised to see dozens--if not hundreds--of products dedicated to augmenting your personal environment. Misters and humidifiers, ionizers, air purifiers--now, there's a device for that, too. There was an especially mind-boggling array of personal misters, some outfitted to disperse essential oils for aromatherapy on-the-go. We're not entirely sure where this trend is heading, but if CES is any indicator, we'll be keeping our eye on the category.

Education & STEAM

Educational, and specifically STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Mathematics)-oriented, toys have been around for decades, but the variety of products emerging in this category is incredibly encouraging. While build-your-own-robots aren't new to the scene, we were thrilled to witness some fun and exciting innovations within this category: robots which help kids learn to code. We all know coding, software engineering and computer sciences are soon to be essential subjects in any curriculum, and some companies have already developed products that are perfect for the classroom.

Instead of just learning how to build a bot or use pictogram software to give it a few basic commands, these robots help students learn how to code from the ground up--and in variety of languages. Starting with the time-tested method of pictorial representation, as commands for the bot become increasingly complex, students are able to write code in variety of ways until they're ultimately comfortable working with code directly in languages like Swift, Python, and JavaScript. Our favorite: Root Robotics

We also saw a number of new-to-market products that address behavior and development: from toys that assist with behavioral correction or modification to RFID board games which track development through the child's response time, accuracy of placement, and complexity of engagement, there are products for teachers and educators, parents, counselors, and more.

--Kelsey

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