A Winning Strategy for Amazon Dominance

Sep 21, 2023 12:00 PM12:30 PM EST

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Key Discussion Takeaways:

As Amazon expands to become the largest online retailer, studies report that 61% of all product searches begin on its platform. With both online and offline sales influenced by Amazon, driving DTC traffic to the channel is critical in generating conversions. How can you monitor and optimize the buyer journey to boost performance on Amazon?

Consumers visit Amazon to evaluate potential brands and products for purchase, discovering new items in the process, so you must advertise strategically to capture their attention and drive conversions. When tracking the customer journey, the three key metrics that should be monitored and refined are impressions, click-through rates, and conversion rates. Acquiring impressions entails ranking organic keywords or implementing paid advertising across all channels. Click-through rates are influenced by price points, ratings and reviews, and images. The two forms of conversions involve creating written content to influence Amazon’s algorithm and leveraging visual experiences.

In this virtual event, join Aaron Conant as he welcomes Adam Eshenroder and Cody Thomas of Reach Brands to discuss how to dominate Amazon’s competitive landscape. Together, they describe strategies for eliminating brand threats, how to influence the customer journey, and Amazon’s role as the largest online retailer.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Amazon’s role as the largest retailer — and how the ecosystem is evolving
  • Managing the customer journey amid competition
  • Strategies for eliminating brand threats and dominating Amazon’s marketplace
  • The three core metrics for measuring customer path to purchase
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Event Partners

Reach Brands

Reach is a full service Amazon buyer that will help your brand remove all Amazon headaches, grow revenue and win more market share by improving your brand presence, distribution, sales optimization, and marketplace management.

Connect with Reach Brands

Guest Speakers

Aaron Conant LinkedIn

Co-Founder & Managing Director at BWG Connect

Aaron Conant is Co-Founder and Chief Digital Strategist at BWG Connect, a networking and knowledge sharing group of thousands of brands who collectively grow their digital knowledge base and collaborate on partner selection. Speaking 1x1 with over 1200 brands a year and hosting over 250 in-person and virtual events, he has a real time pulse on the newest trends, strategies and partners shaping growth in the digital space.

Adam Eshenroder LinkedIn

Chief Product Officer at Reach Brands

Adam Eshenroder is the Founder and Chief Product Officer at Reach Brands, a full-service Amazon management partner helping brands win market share, grow revenue, and regain control. As an expert third-party Amazon seller, he spent 10 years growing Amazon brands from scratch and adapting to an ever-changing marketplace. Before Reach, Adam held various roles at Adobe, including Senior Product Manager.

Cody Thomas LinkedIn

Director of Brand Partnerships at Reach Brands

Cody Thomas is the Director of Brand Partnerships at Reach Brands. As a strategic growth leader in sales and business development, he has secured multi-million-dollar contracts and generated recurring business with clients across multiple industries. Cody has experience leading regional sales teams and projects, identifying sales opportunities, and executing market strategies to initiate high-value results.

Event Moderator

Aaron Conant LinkedIn

Co-Founder & Managing Director at BWG Connect

Aaron Conant is Co-Founder and Chief Digital Strategist at BWG Connect, a networking and knowledge sharing group of thousands of brands who collectively grow their digital knowledge base and collaborate on partner selection. Speaking 1x1 with over 1200 brands a year and hosting over 250 in-person and virtual events, he has a real time pulse on the newest trends, strategies and partners shaping growth in the digital space.

Adam Eshenroder LinkedIn

Chief Product Officer at Reach Brands

Adam Eshenroder is the Founder and Chief Product Officer at Reach Brands, a full-service Amazon management partner helping brands win market share, grow revenue, and regain control. As an expert third-party Amazon seller, he spent 10 years growing Amazon brands from scratch and adapting to an ever-changing marketplace. Before Reach, Adam held various roles at Adobe, including Senior Product Manager.

Cody Thomas LinkedIn

Director of Brand Partnerships at Reach Brands

Cody Thomas is the Director of Brand Partnerships at Reach Brands. As a strategic growth leader in sales and business development, he has secured multi-million-dollar contracts and generated recurring business with clients across multiple industries. Cody has experience leading regional sales teams and projects, identifying sales opportunities, and executing market strategies to initiate high-value results.

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Aaron Conant

Co-Founder & Managing Director at BWG Connect

BWG Connect provides executive strategy & networking sessions that help brands from any industry with their overall business planning and execution.

Co-Founder & Managing Director Aaron Conant runs the group & connects with dozens of brand executives every week, always for free.

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Discussion Transcription

Aaron Conant 0:18

Happy Thursday everybody. My name is Aaron Conant, I'm the co founder Managing Director here at BWG Connect. We are a giant networking knowledge sharing group kick this off six years ago, I was on the brand side and just struggling to find other brands and organizations to talk to, to kind of walk through different pain points or topics that I was dealing with. And so kicked off a networking group, I spend my time talking to brands, a lot of people on the line today, I'd love to have a conversation with you. And that's how we stay on top of these trends and strategies. Also more than happy to kind of share across the board, what's working what's not, across multiple verticals, startup, the fortune 100 and anything from Amazon to DTC to international expansion. And look for a follow up email from us afterwards. We always want these to be educational informational, so don't hesitate to drop questions in the chat or the q&a. And we're trying to take this one normally, we end just a few minutes early, but we're gonna try and take this one right up to 1230. Just because it's 30 minutes instead of an hour that came out of a lot of requests from you guys. So thanks for that input. We're going to do 30 dinners between now and the end of the year. So if you're in a tier one city or at a major event, let us know we'll have you there with that. You know, this this topic of Amazon, the customer buying journey as a whole. As Amazon's got more and more complicated CPCs content, ratings, reviews, all this different stuff. You know, a lot of people, you know, still I mean, we're we're wandering through the ever changing platform of Amazon. And so I got connected with Adam and Cody and the team over at Reach Brands a while back from multiple brands and other partners who'd recommended them as great partners and Amazon strategist. And so I thought we'd have them on today to kind of walk through some of this stuff as a whole. Adam, I'll kind of kick it over to you. If you want to do an intro on yourself and Reach Brands. That would be awesome. And then we can kind of jump into slide deck as a whole is that that sounds good. Yeah, that's perfect. Hey,

Adam Eshenroder 2:17

Aaron, thanks for having us on. We were excited to be here and share some of the the things that we experience every day. My name is Adam Eshenroder, I'm one of the founding partners of Reach. I've been creating my own products and brands for about the last 10 years, had the unique opportunity of competing on on a very niche level against some of the biggest brands in the world, Fitbit, Apple and Garmin, competed against them. I beat them in niche categories on on different platforms, Amazon being the largest of those platforms. And now at reach, I have the privilege of helping world class brands have a phenomenal marketplace retail experience by helping brands get more eyeballs, more sales, and and I get to do all that but while writing them a check every month. It's a fun place to be in a fun space. Awesome. Hey, Cody, you

Aaron Conant 3:16

want to jump in brief intro on yourself? And then we'll get rollin with some content. Sounds good?

Cody Thomas 3:20

Yeah, I'll be I'll be quick. I had some technical difficulty there. But I'm here now my I'm on the sales. So I've got a ton of years of experience in retail sales, I understand. You know, expanding globally and internationally in the marketplace is so I've have over 20 years of experience launch products in over 42 different countries and on many platforms, eCommerce wise, so turn the time back over to you guys.

Aaron Conant 3:48

Yeah. Awesome. Well, just a reminder, drop questions in the chat or the q&a. But let's kind of jump into it. That I'm going to share your screen Do you want me to share mine?

Adam Eshenroder 3:57

I can share it. So when we when we when we talk about Amazon, we always we always focus on how has the landscape changed. And we all know that 2020 really changed the way we think about eCommerce when we think about Amazon. And specifically you know, how how do we manage that change? You know, in 2021 long, Amazon took over Walmart as the largest retailer and we all know that we all shop at Amazon. We we what we don't always think about is you know what? What role is Amazon playing now as largest retailer what has changed? We we buy from Amazon. But what we really need to think about is how how consumers behave on this platform is become the third largest search engine in the world. So We're not only shopping on Amazon, we are where we're beginning our product research there. We're validating brands, we're validating the products that we buy. Amazon is just playing a much, much larger role in the whole ecosystem. Amazon published that over 61% of all product searches begin on this platform. So we just need to start thinking about it a little differently. Yes, we have to, we have to think about the idea that people shop there, but we need to think about the idea that consumers are, are gathering their information and making decisions on this platform, specifically, the data show that both our online and offline sales are influenced by this channel by as much as 30%. And I think that's going to continue to grow in the future. One of the things that I actually see three things related to how the ecosystem is changing. And I think three of the most important changes that we're going to see over the over the short term is that one, external traffic is going to be more and more relevant and important to this channel. We know that Amazon has actually told us that. But if you think about how consumers just consume content, it becomes really easy to see that the better we get at driving traffic to this retailer, the the more we're going to be rewarded for that. And that's going to reflect across all of our channels.

Aaron Conant 6:43

Yeah, I mean, when we're talking about the customer buyer, journey, 100%, right. I mean, you see all these platforms, like it's interesting to see the switch that's been made where it used to be you used Amazon advertising to advertise to Amazon and drive traffic to detail pages, and you didn't use offsite traffic. But to your point, like, Amazon has come out and said, like, hey, we value off site traffic more. And if it's a search engine, and it increases search relevance, I now have a ton of brands. Like we were never talking about the customer journey before from DTC brands driving traffic to Amazon first, but now,

Adam Eshenroder 7:21

yeah, it's essential. Yeah, that's changing. Again, especially if we look at it in the lens of Amazon is, is where we go to find product information. It's where we go to validate the brands we buy, it's where we go to, to, to validate the products that we're looking at. And we're considering, and it's where we find new things. I mean, merchandising, if you think about it, merchandising is changing quite a bit. It used to be that we could go into a retailer and put up, you know, in caps and displays and really grab an audience's attention and build our brand that way. That's not how brands are built anymore. And Amazon is playing a bigger and bigger role in how we merchandise, how we should merchandise and how brands are being built. Along the lines of just like what what I see happening in terms of the future of this channel, is I believe that conversion, and efficiency efficiently managing ad spend, are going to be the two keys to really driving success, those who can really convert and know that customer journey are going to win and ultimately be king on this channel. And then and then the brands that really understand the role that advertising now plays and and how they can efficiently spend ad dollars. That's ultimately going to trump any any, you know, anything else that we can do, because this is a crowded marketplace. There are over 3000 people sellers joining the marketplace every day, Amazon published that last year, and that's Amazon globally. So the better we can be at really, you know, honing in on how the customer spends their time on the channel, and how we can deliver our products to them in an efficient way. We're going to that's the only way that we're going to be able to drowned out all of the competition that's that's on the platform.

Aaron Conant 9:20

Yeah, I mean, but that's a huge part of that customer journey as a whole right is the fact that you're trying to get to your customer, but there's unauthorized resellers. There's gray market goods, there's new brands coming in from China all the time. How do you how how do you think about that? I mean, you guys deal with a ton of brands, right? Like, how are you thinking about that from the standpoint like you're buying wholesale from these brands, and you're like the strategic third party reseller on Amazon. So you're handling all these issues like what are they that people have to think about when they're thinking about their customer coming to buy their product and there's all this noise and oh, by the way, you know, Amazon's main goal, you know, is to sell product as quickly as possible and get a profit. And it doesn't mean it has to be your product. It could be any of these resellers?

Adam Eshenroder 10:10

Yeah, that's right. I think I think what you mentioned about resellers is probably the number one thing that we see that that stifles or impedes a brand's ability to gain traction on, on the channel. And let me let me just illustrate that in maybe a way you haven't ever seen it. But you know, we all know that resellers are a problem for especially for for good, you know, big, recognizable brands. And unfortunately, Amazon has been against those brands from the very beginning. And the reason for that is they've created a marketplace, and they want the maximum number of eyeballs on that marketplace. So what they did was really brilliant, they created the buy box and said that and then open up their marketplace, for any seller who had any product, a legitimate product to sell on their platform. And what that Buy Box did was it Oh, and then they and then they said each product is sold on the platform has to have a unique product detail page. So it drove anybody that had product, like legitimate goods onto Amazon, because they knew they could move the goods because there's there are so many eyeballs there. And, and then those sellers competed for the single piece of real estate, which is the product detail page. And when they added the buy box, what they what they essentially did was they created a a, an auction for your your brand's goods that you're offering. And, you know, we know that, that that has created a pricing mess and tons of channel conflict across all of your your biggest retailers. But what I think often is overlooked, or maybe misunderstood, is that pricing is just one thing that gets affected by by resellers and by box and, and overseas manufacturers. What you lose when you don't have control of that Buy Box is you lose control of your content, you lose control, meaning like, you know, Amazon gives attribution rights to people who are selling your products, you lose your ability to advertise. So if you can't advertise, you can't be in front of the customer, you're essentially losing shelf space. And then you create an inconsistent customer experience. And why is that important? Ratings and reviews are one of the key principal reasons we buy products, we again, we're going to Amazon to discover new things, and to validate brands and the products we buy. And how do we do that we know that Amazon is is a is just a just a repository of of our consumers leaving feedback. So if we have an inability to create a a consistent customer experience, we one lose our ability to really engage the customer and give them a five star experience. And and then if we're not controlling those sales, we lose the ability to acquire ratings and reviews faster than our competitors. Yeah, I mean,

Aaron Conant 13:33

this one slide is where I think a lot of brands these five points right here, because what comes up a lot still is Hey, a sales the sale when you're talking to his traditional sales or right like why do we care? A sale was a sale. Right, and they're reselling on the platform. It goes beyond that, because they're thinking of Amazon as their traditional retailer. And they're not, they're not. And you need to think about it strategically differently. Not only it because customers are looking at it and using it differently, right, that you as a brand need to consider where they're going and how they're using it. So you can adjust differently to how you're viewing it. And that needs to be I mean that education has to flow upwards.

Adam Eshenroder 14:17

Yeah, you know, I mean, honestly, the the number one thing that that that I tell brands that, that we speak with, regardless of what the venue is, is you have to put every ounce of energy you can in controlling the resellers. You have to have strong policies you have to have, you know, hard lines. And if you can keep this channel to a single seller, either you internally or you have you know, a great partner that can manage this is the only way that you can win and we see it time and time again in in the best sellers in the category. Those that have A single seller mindset and control over the channel are those that are able to optimize their content fully display their content where and when they need to. And then create an amazing customer experience, which we know is really important. You like break

Aaron Conant 15:18

that out? Like when you're talking to brands? Like, are you breaking it out? Like, hey, number one, channel control? Number two, like in your mind? How do you guys view the laying out? I think about the customer journey, but the customer journey is just the end result of actions that we take to put in place to finally give them the best experience? Yeah, you guys. Yeah. So how do you think about that you write that down for like brands that you're working with?

Adam Eshenroder 15:47

That's a great question. We always start here, this is the foundation, if you don't have control here, the whole everything falls apart, then you think about, then you have to think about what is important to Amazon. I mean, look, they own the platform, they, they want ultimately to sell the most products of any place on the globe. And, and they do that by by one providing a massive catalog, and to providing that at a really great price point, which is you know, where you're at odds here, and then in three by selling more product. So, you know, what we think about is, you know, if you, so we always lay the foundation of control of resellers. And if you don't have the ability to do that, internally, you have to hire a firm that can help you do that. That's got to be number one. Number two, then is understand what fuels Amazon. And that is sales velocity. Amazon is going to go to a reward the products that sell the most with the best product page position. So how do you if you're a struggling brand, or late to the game, or, you know, trying to launch new products, you don't have sales velocity, which is the number one metric that fuels the Amazon algorithm. So the next really quick,

Aaron Conant 17:16

I think you're right, and people lose that fact that Amazon wants to put in front of you what you're most likely to buy right as quickly as possible to get you to convert as quickly as possible. And when you think about velocity, that's exactly what they're thinking about. So sometimes feel like I'm not winning the ad algorithm yet. That's, that's right. Because they don't think that people are going to buy clicking on that ad, they think, Hey, I'm going to show this product over here, and they're more likely to buy it. And so

Adam Eshenroder 17:43

that's, that's correct. So if you're a brand trying to break into a category, or you're, you're an established brand, and you see that you're losing momentum, and that happens, that happens all the time. I mean, again, 3000 sellers joining the marketplace every day, competition is just getting insane. And I do want to talk about that a little later, in terms of what what's required, from a, from a resource perspective to actually do this and be successful, because I think that's underestimated as well. But if we can't be the highest volume seller, the next most important thing is conversion. And again, like you said, Aaron, you mentioned that Amazon wants to just deliver the things that they know, the maximum number of people are going to resonate with and buy. And that's why no keyword Relevancy is really important. So you have to think conversion first. And, and conversion is a two part equation. So it's converting the Amazon consumer and we know that like that's, you know, as marketers, as brand owners, that's, that comes pretty intuitive to us. But we also have to understand that conversion is also a product of, of converting the algorithm, we have to tell Amazon what we're really relevant for, and we have to show that and so, that that's a factor of a bunch of different things in the equation we have here is you control your content are you so you control your distribution, so that you then can control your content, you make your product available, then you can you can get shelf space, then you get sales, that sort of thing, then you get reviews, then you get more sales, then you get more reviews and that conversion engine builds on it on itself and tell you have velocity that makes sense and then and then after after we focus on conversion. And I like to think of this you know, like conversion is really if you I like to break things down into their kernel, right. Conversion is is a is a product of having a clear message and and a clear path to purchase and we Even if we under optimize the product detail page, or don't have it laid out correctly, we create friction in that buying experience. And we not only create friction from like how you get to the product that you need, I mean, I think I think we grossly underestimate the value of having very clear variations and, and variation descriptions. Because if you create any friction on on this product detail page, the customer is going to go someplace else, they're making a decision in less than three minutes, if they get, and they know that there's hundreds of other items they could purchase within the category, we have to reduce all friction. And when it comes to a clear message, I must I'm a big subscriber to the late Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen's jobs to be done theory. And that is, and to me, this, this makes marketing as simple as it is it gets, it's we hire products to do a specific job for us. And in as much as we as as brand owners, and marketers can clearly show why, why they should hire our product over our competitors, we're going to win. It's like, I am not an Apple Watch user. I am a Garmin, I use the Garmin Phoenix watch. And I hired this product to do a very specific job for me. And that job is, you know, I I'm an endurance cyclist, I need something that can last a town a 10 hour ride. So I inquire this product because it does the job best for me. When I'm delivering that message i i better utilize that product detail page to deliver a message of benefit and clarity as to why I should hire that product over any other.

Aaron Conant 21:53

But yeah, I also think it's sometimes lost because there's still a lot that look at the keyword stuffing, right? Philosophy because I want to show up in search in the tough part about that is yeah, you may show up in search. But if you're not showing up in the right search based on the content that you have there, then when people click on it, if they don't convert, and this goes the same for the ad side, too, if you're creating ads are people click on it, and they go to a detail page where they don't convert. And they jump off because it's not actually what they were looking for. And this is the complexity that searches you know, the Amazon has changed its algorithm over time. Yeah, that's actually detrimental to the fact that now you're driving down your conversion rate. And as you drive down the conversion rate that's going back to you're converting the algorithm that Amazon will see when people click on this, when they search on this. And they click on this, they don't buy it. So push it down in organic search. Yeah. I mean, that's somebody I think that's sometimes lost, that's lost as well.

Adam Eshenroder 22:57

Yeah, you know, there's a place for keywords, I know, I know, we don't have a lot of time, I want to get into the customer Path to Purchase, because that to me, is what's doing the really, if I were to distill it down to three core metrics that have to be monitored, and improved. These are the three, these are the three. And it just follows the the intuitive path that we take when we make a purchase on this channel. And the first of those is impressions. So how are how are your impression counts. If you if you're if you don't have if you're not getting enough impressions, that you have to change that you have to advertise for more and more keywords. There are only two ways that we get impressions. One is we organically have sold enough products for a keyword or keyword phrase that Amazon has ranks us naturally. And you know that those days are harder and harder to come by. Because there's there's so much noise in in our categories. The second is paid advertising. This is a this is good. Going back to the one of the original points I made is, you know, the brands that can advertise very efficiently are going to win the day. I mean, this is an app, this is a pay to play platform. Now you get a lot more efficiencies when you when you play here than when we play on other social channels. But you have to be really good at paid advertising. And because if you can't be seen, you can't be purchased. And so impressions are, are the start of this journey and something that every brand has to manage. The next is click through. So there if you think about you know, we search for a product, we search by a term, and we get a detail page that's, you know, 16 items long are a search page that's 16 items long, how do we choose? There are really three things that influence our choice. It's our price point. So if you're not the best price, you can't rely on that. So ratings and reviews which if you don't have Have, you can't rely on that metric. So the main thing is that that main image, and your main image has to stand out, you have to it has to be bigger, it has to be brighter, it has to have, it has to demonstrate benefit, all on that that main search page. And if you do, then you have a chance at actually getting somebody to click on into your, into your product detail page. So click through is really important. And then And then the third is conversion rate. And as I mentioned, there's two forms of conversion, I look at converting the algorithm is what what is my written content? What do I have there that, you know, this goes back to what you've mentioned about keyword stuffing and, and how that's played a role. And it still has a role. But, you know, look at the product detail page, make it easy, by having clear variations, use the written content to influence the algorithm, and then use the visual experience to convert the consumer. So the visual experience is our price point, you know, run coupons, you know, focus on gaining more reviews faster than your competitor. And it's about outpacing your competitor not not necessarily about how many you have. And that's not to say having a lot of reviews isn't isn't one of the most important things you can do. But then look at your image stack. Your image stack is where we as consumers look for product information. It's where I'm going to find the details as to why I should hire the Garmin Phoenix watch over the Apple Watch. And that's where we love. So again, these are the three I think, most important metrics. And there's one other thing I'd like to add, I know we're kind of at time. So if you give me 30 More seconds, I think the something that really, really is under estimated, and that is the physical resources required to win on this channel. There are we've identified 128 Different factors or variables that you should be managing in order to manage this at the highest level. I mean, think about how many people you're competing against on the channel, hundreds 1000s in some categories, if you're aren't managing all of the important variables and metrics, at the highest level, everything from inventory management, to product page optimization and ratings and reviews, you are not going to have if you're not doing that at the highest level, which requires internal resources, or resources sufficient to manage at all. You're just not going to be competitive where you need to be. So yeah.

Aaron Conant 27:32

Well, you know what I think, Adam, I think next time we have to do a full hour. Yeah. And I know, like there's two big requests for like the 30 Minute ones. But I think in this case, we have to do a full hour. You know, some people asked if we'll be able to send this out afterwards. Yeah, Valerie's, like, I agree that I totally agree with you, Valerie, like that's, we're trying to manage the feedback like real time, but the next one for sure will be a full hour. And we'll get to yes, everybody's like, definitely the full hour.

Adam Eshenroder 28:01

So there's a look, there is so much behind all this, I'm happy to share this with with you with the audience. But really, we could break all of these down. And once once you figure out how to win on all three of these metrics, you could really do some some awesome, you know, policeman in your category, you can you can really win. It's awesome.

Aaron Conant 28:23

And I'm also thinking maybe we just do, maybe we can keep it 30 minutes, but we do one on impressions, one on click through one on conversion. We dropped them on the YouTube and just have a little you know, anybody can go catch up anytime if they missed the first one. And well, I encourage anybody have a follow up conversation with the team over at Reach. Adam and Cody are fantastic. Great partner support is the network and a lot of brands in it. Also look for a follow up email for me, I'd love to have a conversation with you understand what your pain points are more than happy to help anybody with partner selection. That's what I spent a lot of my time doing. That's Amazon to direct consumer and platform selection to international expansion. Don't ever hesitate if you're looking for any kind of recommendations in the digital space more than happy to share those. With that we're going to wrap up this, this webinar here. Thanks again. You guys were fantastic. And I think we should just go ahead and schedule the next one. Yeah, great. Thank you. already. Thanks so much.

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BWG Connect provides executive strategy & networking sessions that help brands from any industry with their overall business planning and execution. BWG has built an exclusive network of 125,000+ senior professionals and hosts over 2,000 virtual and in-person networking events on an annual basis.
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