In this series, we interview four Amazon experts – some are sellers themselves, others are former Amazon employees who got in the trenches and learned the laws of the land. All of them are willing to lend their expert advice to you, so that you can successfully grow your small online business into an empire. This week, we sit down Pat Petriello, Senior Marketplace Strategist at CPC Strategy, former professional seller on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, eBay, Buy.com and former member of Amazon Seller Service Team.
Pat Petriello has been there. As a veteran professional Amazon seller and former member of the Amazon Seller Service Team, Pat has been in the trenches with sellers. His time working for Amazon allowed him to see behind the curtain and learn more intimately how the behemoth of online shopping operates. Pat’s background as both an Amazon seller and service provider for these sellers is what makes him an invaluable resource for ecommerce retailers. He sold, saw and conquered – and now he’s sharing what he learned with us. Below is the transcript of our interview with Pat, and the sage wisdom he has to offer e-retailers today.
Could you please share a little about your background as an Amazon seller?
I’m a former professional seller in the wireless accessories space across multiple marketplaces including Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, eBay, and Rakuten (formerly Buy.com). I’ve personally gone through the experience of building each marketplace channel from the ground up through self-teaching, so I feel I can relate closely to many sellers dealing with the challenges of selling on Amazon. Over time, I was fortunate enough to be able to build a multi-million dollar revenue stream while leveraging FBA, Brand Registry, Sponsored Products, and other tools within the Amazon ecosystem. Getting in the weeds, diving deep, and truly understanding the interplay between the levers (inputs) and the performance (sales) of the Amazon Marketplace is what allowed me to consistently drive incremental growth.
What is your number one rule for Amazon sellers who want to improve sales?
The number one rule for an Amazon seller wanting to improve sales is to recognize that long-term success is the product of a comprehensive strategy, and there is no silver bullet or Amazon hack. There are sellers looking for an absolute key in the form of title structure, review generation, off-Amazon traffic generation, and so forth. The reality is that there is a tremendous amount of opportunity to be harnessed on Amazon by offering quality products at competitive prices, building a brand, taking advantage of FBA and Amazon’s suite of advertising tools (Sponsored Products, AMS, AMG), and offering high quality customer service.
What is something sellers can do to optimize their listings?
Sellers wanting to optimize their listings should put themselves in the shoes of a shopper and make certain to use channel specific strategies. What I mean by having a channel specific strategy is that while it might be convenient to re-purpose product titles, search terms, or descriptions from your ecommerce site and use it on Amazon, that content is not necessarily optimized for Amazon. On Amazon, titles, search terms, and bullet points are all indexed by Amazon for search when a shopper enters in search terms and should be tailored accordingly. From a conversion standpoint, they’ll want to have multiple, high resolution, zoom-able images in addition to rich product content so a shopper can have the confidence they are getting what they want.
And what’s your top rule for Amazon sellers who want to avoid an unexpected and accidental suspension?
This is a great question, especially this time of year when a lengthy suspension could mean significant lost revenue. In my experience, most sellers are suspended not because of intentional malicious behavior, but because they aren’t able to meet Amazon’s thresholds for seller performance. Stock-outs and overselling are one of the biggest causes of seller suspensions. A consistently poor order defect rate, cancellation rate, late shipment rate, on-time delivery rate, or customer response time can put a Seller’s account in danger of being suspended. Sellers need to keep a close eye on these metrics and make sure they are within Amazon’s thresholds.
So how can Amazon sellers market or advertise their stores, while abiding by Amazon policies (which prohibit directing traffic away from Amazon)?
Driving traffic to your Amazon storefront doesn’t add a tremendous amount of value, as the vast majority of product visibility on Amazon is a result of customer searches. As for advertising your products, Sponsored Products and AMS ads (Headline Search Ads and Product Display Ads) are very powerful tools to drive incremental sessions to your product detail pages.
What are your favorite tools you recommend to Amazon sellers? What did you use during your tenure as a seller?
Within the Amazon ecosystem, FBA will have a significant impact on a seller’s sales velocity and allows a seller to get in front of the Prime audience. Brand Registry will grant brand owners and manufacturers greater control of content on their detail pages, while the aforementioned Sponsored Products and AMS are powerful methods for increasing the rate at which a seller’s products will be found. As for external tools, I’ve seen great results with Feedback Genius for messaging buyers to get feedback, and JungleScout for product scouting. There are also some powerful tools out on the market for organic rank tracking.
What do you feel was the smartest business move you made while selling on Amazon? What is one thing you wished you did differently?
While selling on Amazon, the smartest move I made was a hybrid approach of FBM (fulfillment by Merchant) and FBA (fulfillment by Amazon). By making my most important and attractive products available through FBA, I was able to double the revenue of the Amazon channel. One thing I wish I had done differently was being more aggressive with Sponsored Products when it had been originally released a few years ago and before there were many advertisers leveraging it.
Tell us a little more about CPC Strategy. How does your team improve the businesses of Amazon sellers?
CPC Strategy serves as the strategic layer between a seller’s business and Amazon.com. We work to make sure our sellers’ products are being discovered and purchased at the highest rate possible. Our comprehensive approach covers product content optimization, FBA inventory allocation assessment and recommendations, ASIN level profitability analysis, new account setup, active and ongoing management of Sponsored Products and AMS, account and product level reporting, winning the buy box, combating unauthorized sellers, and a lot more. Our goal is to make sure that our sellers don’t just sell more, but are more profitable in the process. We work with sellers that are just launching on Amazon to those that are generating over $20MM on the Amazon Marketplace to make sure they are getting most out of the channel.
We’d like to thank Pat for taking the time to share his knowledge with us. We’re grateful for the opportunity to pick his brain and learn more about how to run a successful Amazon shop. With the holidays quickly approaching, maintaining stellar performance across all areas of operations, including inventory management on Amazon, will be crucial to winning as many sales as possible. To learn more about how Pat and CPC Strategy help Amazon sellers strategically grow their businesses, visit their site and follow them on Twitter and Facebook.