Inside Amazon Headquarters
Welcome to another Amazon Seller Podcast. Today we come to you live all the way from Gold Coast, Australia! And in this episode, we talk about the Transparency Program and Liran’s recent visit to Amazon headquarters!
We have recorded over 70 episodes of the Amazon Seller Podcast. In all that time we’ve never recorded all together in one place, except for now. This is pretty historic here in beautiful Gold Coast, Australia. We were actually just at the beach just a couple of hours ago. Andy, his son, AJ and I were in the waves. Liran, of course, was back at the guest house working like usual. But we enjoyed the sun even though it’s winter time here in Australia.
Later in the week Andy and Liran are going to be speaking at Retail Global. They are scheduled to speak here at an Amazon conference. As we have talked about before, this is actually the first year that Amazon is in Australia. They opened up their marketplace recently here. So we are going to be talking with various Australians about opening Amazon and even selling globally back in the states. Because now they don’t have to be limited just to the Australian marketplace.
Magic Image Service Prime Day Deal – $55
If you pay close attention during times like Prime Day, holidays, and during Q4, Christmas and Hanukkah, sellers will modify their listings to take advantage of the opportunity. So one way that you can do that is to have some specific images targeting the event. And with some special promotions.
Sometimes it’s hard to highlight that you’re running a sale for a product. Or that you have a special promotion for that day like, “buy 2 get 15% off”. But by using your images slots to advertise a special day makes a lot of sense.
We recommend along with special promotions to make images for it as well. So our Magic Image service is offering 2 custom images for $55. We will highlight Prime Day specials that you’re running. Those images should help you increase your conversions and get more sales during Prime Day.
Of course, we have our regular image service where we have the full set of the 7 images and EBC images as well as copywriting. But something you might want to think about is having some specific Prime Day promotions and also highlighting that in your in your images. Prime Day is going to be coming up soon. It was in July last year. So you can expect it to be in July again this year. And it did better than both Cyber Monday and Black Friday combined. So you want to make sure that you’re ready not only with your listings but also with having enough inventory in place to take advantage of the “made up” holiday by Amazon.
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Our Business Updates…
So one of the things, if you’ve been listening to our podcast you know that recently I acquired a warehouse. We have extra space so we’re working with other sellers on Amazon. We now have 4 other sellers that we are storing their product for them. Amazon recently began to raise their fees so it makes sense to utilize a third-party warehouse. We are not a fulfillment center but we will store pallets for sellers and this will save them about half as compared to what they would have to pay if they stored on Amazon. So that’s a cool piece, it’s like another revenue stream that I’ve been able to add in addition to my products selling on Amazon.
Also, I am looking at continuing to build out 2 of my brands. So I’ve been working on adding extra products to those brands. I have some anchor products that do really well for both of my two major brands. Now I want to branch out from those anchor products. I look at these additional products as potential doubles, triples, maybe even singles. But it will just build bigger brand-awareness to my major anchor products on those brands. It’s when you get some anchor products for your brands. Then you can branch off and create children from them. Which is gonna give you better brand awareness. I think at the end of the day it’s going to add more value to your brand.
And you know, Andy, as we talk this, I think that it makes a lot of sense to do that. Because there are more tools and more things available within Amazon to allow you to showcase your other products. So for example, as a brand registered seller, you can have a brand storefront. Which looks almost like a mini website. So if somebody clicks on your brand name when they’re on your one product, they now get to go to that page. Where they can see your other products and you can showcase them. As well as doing that with enhanced brand content where you can highlight your brand story.
One of the things that I found out on my recent visit to Amazon is that Amazon is going to come out with 6 new modules for EBC. Which will also allow you to have product comparisons of your own other products with clickable links to those listings. You’ve probably seen it on Amazon but not for third-party sellers. You’ve seen it with Amazon retail. It’s been available for vendors. What I’m seeing happening is that within Amazon they’re sort of now a one-up stream on retail which is the vendor side and 3P marketplace side.
I think that there’s going to be a lot more similarities going forward. As opposed to the past, where we’ve seen things like vendor have a lot of things that 3rd party marketplace didn’t have. Such as coupons and lightning deals and enhanced content which is A+ content. All those things have come over now to the Marketplace side. I think you’re going to continue to see things especially with Amazon shutting down Vendor Express. The only way to get into Vendor now is an invitation through seller central. So I think they wanna make more of those tools because more sellers are coming into the 3rd party marketplace who maybe who have otherwise gone with Vendor Express.
Liran’s Visit to Amazon Headquarters
Liran you already mentioned your trip to Amazon, though it was short, you did a lot of stuff while you were there. I know you did some stuff for your own brands while your there. Then you also took part in a meeting with some Amazon employees. And you’re a part of a fishbowl program.
There are some things you are not allowed to share with us because you signed an NDA. But share what you can with us and some of the stuff that you learned while you’re there.
Yeah, so I’m in a program called “Amazon Exclusives” which is basically a program that brands can apply to get into. And it means you have access to some special promotions and marketing. You do pay an additional percentage for it. It also means that your products are sold on Amazon.com only and your own website. In that program, there was what’s called a “brand-cafe” in Seattle. Which basically had brands from this exclusives program in a two-day or one and a half day training. People from different departments come in and talk about what’s happening in their specific area.
There was the head of the Exclusives Program. Also, there was somebody from AMG and display advertising. It is kind of like an invite-only in additional higher required minimum spent for some additional marketing. Like re-targeting off Amazon and even video ads that are starting to do pop up in, for certain keywords. As well as people from the “Deal of the Day” team, “Lightning Deal” team, Sponsored Products. A lot of different teams. For example, some product managers there are in fashion, and sports product management. They talked about what they see as some trends in those various categories.
It’s interesting whenever I go out to Seattle. And this was my second time at Amazon headquarters. I try to make the most of it. So I did set up meetings with various people that I have communicated with, through Email that work at Amazon. So I was able to meet with somebody from the Transparency Team. I was able to meet my ad account manager. My rep, and then some of the people that were speaking. And I was also able to be on a brand fishbowl.
What can we look forward to next in the Amazon space?
Some of the things that I can share that I found out was:
- Enhanced Brand Content will be adding 6 modules. There are already several modules. Then there’s also a customized version where you can create your own look and feel to how EBC is displayed. But 6 new modules will come out with some new features. My understanding is that maybe a video with enhanced brand content will be allowed. Which I think is amazing especially when you look at mobile and how prominent EBC is in mobile. It’s ahead of the bullets.
- Prime Day is just around the corner.
- Brand Fishbowl Feedback Session – The Brand Fishbowl gives feedback to Amazon from a brand owner’s perspective. This discussion was about some of the differences between the 1P and the 3P marketplace. And the good thing I could tell you is that because I participate in a lot of Facebook groups and things out there, I get feedback to Amazon. I communicate with them about the things that we care about. Like fake reviews, things like Amazon emailing out to customers to write seller feedback, instead of focusing on writing product reviews. Things like bringing the Vine Program to FBA sellers. I was able to participate in the Vine pilot program but that was like a one-time deal and I didn’t have access to it after that. I think a lot of sellers would welcome paying a fee to get those initial 30 reviews on a product.
Filming at Amazon Headquarters!
I also had a really fun opportunity to do some filming with Amazon! I posted some pictures on my Facebook page of filming with Amazon. They took some sellers that they wanted to highlight along with their story about how they got started. And also what they’re selling and their brands. I think that’s something that’s going to be featured on Amazon’s social media channels. They’re blogs and sort of various outlets that Amazon has access to. Sometime between Q3 and Q4 so that should be exciting once that comes out. It was a great experience.
I was also able to meet with a person in the Transparency Program which signing up for so we could talk a little bit about that. I think there’s a little bit of a backstory to why this program got started. This isn’t from Amazon but you know I feel like whenever there’s controversy or a negative publicity towards Amazon, Amazon does try to take action on it.
In 2016, you can google this, Birkenstock which is a big, huge brand that’s been around for 200 years. They sell really comfortable sandals. They’ve been in fashion, and back in fashion over the last few years. Birkenstock wrote a letter to all its vendors who they wholesale to and to its customers basically saying “we’re no longer selling our products on Amazon and we no longer trust the Amazon marketplace.” There are too many counterfeits and Amazon isn’t taking action on it. And this was a brand that had a lot of counterfeit sellers on it. Obviously, it’s affecting their reputation. And that was a big public story.
So what Amazon has come out with is a program called transparency.
And basically what the program is, is when you are listing a product on Amazon, you’re gonna be able to get codes from Amazon. Which you’re going to put either directly on your packaging or as a sticker on your packaging. And each individual unit for a product will have its unique code, kind of like a serial number.
You’ll be able to get these codes from Amazon. Then you’ll tell Amazon, I have a thousand of these codes on this product. Basically, when that product gets into Amazon’s distribution channel, Amazon receives it. When they scan it in, the employee will get this pop-up on their scanner that says “this is a transparency product”. They’re going to scan the transparency code on it. They’re going to get this little green check mark if that’s one of the codes that was distributed to the brand owner. If it’s not, it’s going to be put aside as defective. Then there’s going to be an investigation opened against the seller that sent that in.
Nathan: Explain to me who is gonna be able to get these codes? Only the brand owner? What if it’s a product for a major brand that has multiple people who are authorized to resell this product?
Liran: So basically what happens is the brand owner gets the code. The brand owner will then produce the product. Again either if they have a way to print their boxes in a way like serial numbers, they get printed with sort of a unique code on each one. If they have a way to do that, they’re gonna do it on the box if not they got to sticker each product. Then what is going to happen is they sell it to their distributors.
Nathan: So let’s say a big brand like Nike does this and rolls in this program. Only people who are authorized and able to get those codes will be able to sell Nike then?
No, because the program is not meant to police who is allowed to sell a product. Which means when you enter this program with Amazon, you’re required to have the codes on your products. And on all distribution channels meaning this won’t stop somebody. This won’t help a brand stop retail arbitrage, for example. Because if the brand is participating in the program, they have to also have this on their products. If I’m buying that product to send to Amazon at a profit then it’s already going to have a code on it. They’ll be scanned, and Nike will have gotten these codes from Amazon. Then Amazon will know that that’s a legitimate product.
So for a big brand like Nike, the benefit of joining is good. Because if a Chinese seller that’s making Nike’s in China, they don’t have the codes, then Amazon’s immediately going to get it and say “hey this doesn’t have codes on it”. Or if they make fake codes or whatever, Amazon will still be able to tell. So it will stop counterfeiting.
Interested in joining the Transparency Program?
Amazon right now is reaching out to brand registered sellers. They are reaching out to small to mid-sized brands, to get into the program. Because it’s a lot easier for a smaller brand to kinda sticker in, make changes to their supply chain faster and easier. Rather than a giant brand and you can have some time for when you turn it on, right?
Let’s say I want to participate in the program and I get codes, but I still have products on Amazon that don’t have the codes, you have to wait a minimum of 30 days. But you can wait 6 months until you actually turn around all that supply. So whatever’s already in Amazon will be okay and things get returned sometimes. If they don’t have the sticker, a return comes in, usually, it’s going to be okay but this will tremendously help against counterfeiting.
Yeah, and that’s counterfeit and even merchant fulfilled sellers. So Amazon is going to make them upload the codes before they can finish the listing. Or before they can list on a product. And if they don’t have the codes, they still won’t be able to jump on the listing. So this will prevent hijackers who do not have your legitimate product. I think this helps a lot of sellers.
We see a lot of these like, just-launched sellers that don’t have any product. Maybe they aren’t shipping. They’re trying to kind of scam the system. This will help against that, it’s not going to help somebody who buys their product on discount from jumping in your listing. It’s not going to help brands that want to sort of control things. Like retail arbitrage or anything else. But it will help counterfeiting. Amazon’s goal is really to ultimately sell this software or sell this system to every major retailer out there. Like Walmart and kinda have this adopted throughout the distribution of all products.
I got invited to the program, it’s a 6-month sort of free, and then after you’re gonna pay. I think it’s a great thing to do one, because if your listing is not gated, then somebody jumps on the listing. You know at least that they have your legitimate product. If maybe you offered a discount or something where you’re not gonna get a negative review because they’re sending somebody else’ product. They’re selling a generic that was made in a different factory, it’s not your product, not your packaging. Even if you’re brand registered, or even if you’re gated, you don’t know gating can stop at any point. So there’s a good opportunity to get into that.