Optimizing Fashion & Apparel Brands on Amazon

Tools, Best Practices, and Growth Hacks to a Holistic Strategy for Large Catalogs

Jun 1, 2022 12:00 PM1:00 PM EDT

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Key Discussion Takeaways

How can fashion and apparel brands grow on Amazon? What are the best ways to optimize your content, tools, and customer experience?

Brands can’t optimize everything at once, so it’s important to prioritize the biggest influences on sales conversions. From content and advertising to fulfillment options and tech stack requirements, there are specific hacks to help drive customers to your products and increase Amazon sales. 

In this virtual event, Aaron Conant is joined by Nicole Reich, Co-founder and VP of Sales and Marketing at Retail Bloom, to talk about best practices for fashion and apparel brands on Amazon. Nicole discusses search and advertising trends, her content optimization checklist, and how to manage the customer experience. She also shares Retail Bloom’s new tools to help brands drive growth. 

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

  • Nicole Reich talks about the top footwear and apparel search trends over the past couple of years
  • How 1P category sales have struggled recently compared to 3P sales
  • Nicole discusses advertising trends in the apparel and footwear categories
  • Content optimization best practices
  • Why product merges may be the most beneficial hack for improving conversions and ranking
  • How to measure the success of your brand store
  • Tips to enhance your customer experience and improve advertisements
  • Retail Bloom’s new tools to help brands manage sales and deliveries on the local level
  • Nicole’s tech stack recommendations
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Event Partners

Blue Wheel (Formerly Retail Bloom)

Retail Bloom recently merged with Blue Wheel to form one of the leading Omni-Channel Digital Commerce Agencies, with over $1 Billion under management across its clients.

Connect with Blue Wheel (Formerly Retail Bloom)

Guest Speakers

Nicole Reich LinkedIn

VP of Sales & Marketing at Blue Wheel (Formerly Retail Bloom)

Nicole Reich is the Chief Growth Officer at Blue Wheel, which merged with Retail Bloom to deliver end-to-end DTC, eCommerce, and marketplace solutions. Nicole strives to guide eCommerce success by working closely with manufacturers and partners and offering a full-service array of marketing solutions.

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.

Event Moderator

Nicole Reich LinkedIn

VP of Sales & Marketing at Blue Wheel (Formerly Retail Bloom)

Nicole Reich is the Chief Growth Officer at Blue Wheel, which merged with Retail Bloom to deliver end-to-end DTC, eCommerce, and marketplace solutions. Nicole strives to guide eCommerce success by working closely with manufacturers and partners and offering a full-service array of marketing solutions.

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.

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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 Wednesday, everybody. My name is Aaron Conant, I'm the co founder Managing Director here at BWG Connect where a networking knowledge sharing group with 1000s of brands, I spend the majority of my time talking with brands, listening to their pain points, helping them solve different strategy issues that are out there, I chat with somewhere between, you know, 2030 brands a week. And that's everything from Amazon to direct to consumer to drop shipping, whatever it might be. And it's from those conversations I'm having that we get the topics for the call center, it's also where we're able to identify who are the key players in the space. So the right people to be teaching the audience as a whole. And so as we get started here, always want to remind people this means we want this to be as educational informational as possible. So if you have any questions along the way, don't hesitate to drop into the chat, the q&a or you can always email me Aaron Aaron@bwgconnect.com. And we can answer questions anyway, they come in, and for the email, you can do it anytime. An hour after the call tomorrow, next week, something pops up, don't hesitate to shoot me a note. The other thing is we're doing a lot more in person events. So if you're in a tier one city, let us know as well. We're gonna do close to 100, small format dinners, usually 20 to 25 brands around the table, just having a great conversation on one of the newest topics that popped up. So let us know. We're also going to do close to I don't know 200, maybe 250 virtual events like this. A lot of the format's going forward, we're actually shrinking the timeframe down just know everybody's getting back to work full steam, and everybody's got, you know, less time to give for one of these. But still, thanks, everybody who dialed in today, because we kicked this off a lot of people asking questions of round fashion, apparel, footwear, you know, accessories around Amazon and growth and what's happened in this space? And how should we look at growth? How should we consider it? What we should we be doing on paid media, we just got some great friends, partners, supporters of the network over at Retail Bloom. They're working with a lot of fashion brands in the in the network as a whole, just come highly recommended across the board. And just asked to call to jump on today and kind of walk us through what's going on in this space. So again, you have any questions, don't hesitate to reach out, but you know, I'll kick it over to you, Nicole, if you want to do you know brief intro on yourself Retail Bloom, that'd be awesome. And as we go through this deck, I'm probably just gonna drop my camera. So I'm just sitting off to the side. So I'll kind of get over to you. Sounds good.

Nicole Reich 2:49

Awesome. Thanks, Aaron. Hi, everyone. As Aaron mentioned, I'm Nicole Reich, co founder of Retail Bloom, and I lead all of our marketing and sales efforts. Before I get the background on our agenda and a little bit about who we are, I just want to take a moment to say again how, for the first time, I guess to say how excited I am for this conversation. Though, we work in almost every category on Amazon today, we started out as a third party seller selling apparel and footwear across the outdoor catalog, medical post op garment, fashion accessories. So if I sound extra passionate in this call today, it's because I truly am. And it's it really stems from the success we've had with so many of our our partners in the space. This is the one industry where I get on calls with EECOM, leads, directors, marketing contacts, and people from all different types of types of titles in the apparel and footwear organization. And they all have similar challenges. And one of the main ones is just that the catalogs are so large, they change so often, that using tactics that may work for a catalog of 50 SKUs, like our friends in the grocery space just doesn't always cut it. And on top of that the resources needed in order to manage catalogs and a space sometimes takes an army not just a team of of one or two. So we'll get into the agenda right after our bit about Retail Bloom. But again, with this being more of a focus topic and a more intimate group. As Aaron said, please feel free to ask as many questions as possible. I swear I could talk about catalog and ad hacks for hours in this category. So we may not get to everything today. And if we don't I'd love to have additional conversations outside of this call. So with that very quickly background on us. Aaron and I have been doing these webinars like Aaron I think it's been like two and a half years now. So it's been a while yeah. Maybe I should just hand these slides off to you and you can do them. But high level we've got you know two pieces of our of our business model or marketplace services are on the left that's broken down in between our three piece services right where we are the seller whether At the rev share wholesale, the bottom portion, right we do inventory management and replenishment forecasting. We have warehouses in Metro Detroit as well as obviously leveraging FBA. But then on the top section is our managed services model where we help brands who have vendor central seller, central Walmart, seller, center, eBay, you know, we don't touch the inventory. But in those scenarios, we're creating tailored experiences to help them with brand protection, content management, customer service, expansion, advertising. And then reporting. A big piece of us as a third party seller is, you know, the importance of buybacks and the enforced importance of pricing integrity. Because of that, and as well as the other challenges that we've seen with some of our partners is that we've developed our brand protection services on the right, so helping with policy development, map, monitoring, enforcement, and then seller removal has been a big piece of our business, and honestly, really against damage from the footwear and apparel categories. Because unlike, again, smaller catalogues with 50 skews, it's really tough to monitor pricing across 1000s of retail space, online websites write with 1000s, of SKUs and UPC. So the brand protection piece, especially in this category has been really important for us and a big piece of our business. And then lastly, just again, on the left side, we are an approved Amazon agent, Walmart agent, eBay partner, I have some big news on the Amazon fulfillment as some alternative methods that some beta programs that they just released, Amazon did that I will be giving you an idea of later in the slides. So that was a quick piece there. But on the right side, we also leverage all of our software partners. So we are a our product is our people and our strategic recommendations as well as our execution. And especially in this category, we can't do that without scaling through our software partners. So those are on the right side, just the long list of some of our software partners. And for example, you know, when we partner with a brand in the apparel space, we may use helium 10. For SEO, we use those to buy for PIM tool, we use Track Street for map monitoring. So each software has its own focus. And we've developed training internally to help our employees learn those systems, and then obviously use them on behalf of the brand. 

So getting into the agenda today, there's two main section sections. The first one is just apparel and footwear category trends. And this is going to be one of the first times that I'm leveraging one of our new partners than their web to give us insights on category size, what's happening in the space, from a glance, view, perspective, conversion, and overall sales trends. So that'll be the first portion. And then the second portion was just a long laundry list of me trying to consolidate what I feel are some of the best practices that we've implemented for brands, specifically in footwear, apparel, and accessories. So some of them will be content optimization and hacks. Some of them will be advertising, the fulfillment option, which is just a new beta program that we are part of with the help of Amazon that I'll talk about. And then a little bit of a checklist of tech stack requirements. So if you aren't leveraging someone like us for software, here's the software activities that I would highly recommend to help you scale. After that, we'll do a summary. And then if we have any remaining questions that have time, we'll talk about them at that point. So Amazon clothing, shoes and jewelry trends. And that is the top category that most of the brands, hopefully on this call are underneath. So the first thing I want to show you and again, this is all provided by similar web is just on the top search trends that have been coming up in the last 12 months, and then how they've grown over the prior 12 months. So this data set in front of you outlines the top keywords, the top clicks, the year over year change. How often are these clicks happening from organic versus paid? And then who is owning the top? Click Share for that certain term from a brand perspective. So I thought that this is funny, but also if you have certain keywords that you're looking for, please let me know. I'd be happy to pull it out of SimilarWeb for you, but absolutely insane. Insane to me that the number one keyword in this category over the last 12 months is Crocs and it was up 31% versus last year. So kind of funny, you know, you can see 96% of those clicks are happening organically 4% of them are paid and then not surprising, right that crux is owning the share of all of those clicks. As we go down. Some of them I are very generic right? I try to keep them more generic. And what I find is that some are performing well overall, like bikinis Right? that I think makes sense more people are traveling this summer, they're out, they need those types of clothing items, right. The other thing I found is that if you look at the right side, and these columns, some of these brands we know very well, obviously, I believe, some of them might even be on this call, which is awesome. But others I am not super familiar with, right. And some of these brands are not traditionally known in the brick and mortar space, and what we consider either an emerging brand or an Amazon only brand. And I think for traditional brands that are probably on this call, it's a big opportunity to start to recognize that your top competitors, I'm putting these in quotes on Amazon aren't always necessarily those competitors, that you've seen other channels. Again, like speaking to a couple of these, not to say that they aren't great brands, but they're not those well known ones that were traditionally in malls or have their own retail spaces. So you know, bikini is lingerie, pretty underperforming, I would say when I look at the top brands in this space, because a lot of them I just don't know where I don't recognize. So good things to point out there. Women's sandals, right of 90%, not super surprising. flippers are down, which, again, that makes sense. Last year, we were spending a lot of time at home. This year, we're spending a lot of time going on vacations being outdoors. So these are only the top 15. There's 1000s and 1000s of keywords that similar web tracks in this category. I did want to summarise, we get a lot of questions about how often, you know should I be? How much should I be thinking about my clicks coming from organic versus paid? And just wanted to point out that if we take an average of organic versus paid for this entire category that the top high level one right, right now 89% of the clicks are coming from organic and 11% are coming from paid? Yeah,

Aaron Conant 12:08

that's really good. Do you think that's just in the fashion category? Because there's a huge push for paid media paid media paid media, right? And then I mean, 90% of its coming from organic? Yeah,

Nicole Reich 12:22

yeah, I have another like very, I'd bit of mind blowing stat and a second that I found last night. But yes, I do think that this category is a little abnormal. And if I were to pay, do this for maybe a subcategory or grocery, you may see that be a little bit more balanced.

Aaron Conant 12:39

And then So quick question. Is this based on a combination of search terms? Or is it just the one search term?

Nicole Reich 12:45

It's just the one so for example, if the keyword is crocs, shoes, that is not included? These are just very high level the the most generic and then you can see the click search. So yep,

Aaron Conant 12:58

yeah, just the other question is, are you able to do this with similar little similar web for, like, somebody jumps on with you afterwards, and just does a quick, you know, deep dive on their brand, you're able to kind of walk through and similar web one by one all the search different search terms that they see, you know, on their site that they're paying for right now to see what's working, what's not. And then? So that's one question. I'll kind of pause there. And then there's another one as well.

Nicole Reich 13:25

So the answer would be yes, we I vetted SimilarWeb, for the first three months of the year. Obviously, data analytics are a big piece of helping brands make decisions, right. And the biggest challenge that we've always seen in the past is that it's great, but it's only as great as the accuracy of it. Right? So I spent about three months comparing similar webs data to our real figures across all of our brands to get a sense of how accurate is it? Does it work, especially when it comes to sales estimates. And I'm, I'm pretty confident that data, I would say within 90%. Again, it's all directional. It's better than nothing, right? Amazon does not release these in real data. actuals, right. But I feel pretty confident in this data. And if we hop on a call after this for any of the brands on the on the call, I can get into the specifics of any of your subcategories that you want to do any additional brands that you're looking to look at. I have a couple of other slides that are very broad top like, again, top category, but we can dig into the specifics on a call after this. Yes.

Aaron Conant 14:28

So a couple more question. One says the core how is this category defined again?

Nicole Reich 14:33

Yep. So if we think about the the category nodes on Amazon, right, if you're just looking from a search perspective, there's clothing, shoes and jewelry, there's outdoor, there's Heldens households, right? This level is at that highest category, the most broad category which is clothing, shoes and jewelry.

Aaron Conant 14:54

Awesome, and the next one are you then using the search term? So then identify the competitors. Because that is another thing. I think it was a it was a great point, which is, you know, the traditional competition we see in brick and mortar has drastically changed. I should say that hasn't changed, but it's drastically different from what we see on the retail outlets as a whole, including Amazon. So are you using this to then identify? So I look at this and if I am not dearfoams, and slippers is a keyword now I'm targeting dearfoams As opposed to, you know, another major? Yes. Men's slippers brands.

Nicole Reich 15:36

Yeah, that was a little bit of a loaded question, Aaron. But yes, we are using similar web data and other digital share software platforms to monitor all their brands, other competitors to give our partners hey, here's what the landscape looks like today. Here's what we're estimating your competitors conversion, glands views, potentially what they're paying in what terms they're they're spending dollars on from a PPC, PPC perspective, and then using that data to make our recommendations.

Aaron Conant 16:08

Awesome. Love it. I mean, we're, it's this next level is what's required now on Amazon to win, right? It's just going to love it. So

Nicole Reich 16:18

cool. Okay, so I have like, I'm, I have two my drops in this. And there are one of them is on this wine. And this was I pulled these Yes, last night. And what this gives you is that for the sales coming from one P chips and sold by Amazon, this gives you an idea of total sales at that top level category, right by month, and then the year over year growth changes. So over the last 18 months, for one piece sales in this category, very broad, right, they've done about 15 point 1 billion. And as an example, looking in March of 2021, you can see that the growth was tremendous data, right, march 2020. Everything obviously dropped off as it relates to demand specially in the parallel we have a tonne of challenges, right, everyone was home. So you can see in 2021, how big that growth was because March 2020, performs so poorly, right? So you can as the year continues on, the growth starts to I guess, you know, level out, we take a dip in January of 2021. And then on average in the one piece space, if we were to just look at 2022 for the first part of the year, this category for Amazon one p is only up about 3%. Year over year. So for January, February, March and April on the one P side, comparing 2022 to 2021. The one P business is only about up 3% on the Yeah, because it's super

Aaron Conant 17:58

no super relevant point, right, cuz everybody right now is trying to explain to executive teams what's going on? Yeah, right. And why are we growing? Why are we but if you're at 4% growth, you're beaten it by 33%? The average? Yes, I mean, these are like the different stories that have to be told that brands are struggling with why are we up 10%? Well, nobody's up 10%.

Nicole Reich 18:23

Yeah, especially on the one psi, but this is where like the bit of the mic drop is. And I was very surprised by this. If we look at the three P's space for apparel, and footwear and accessories is top category, right? Over the last 18 months, three P sales have done 47 billion. So it's about three times the size of the one P business for this category. And if you look at the growth for January, February, March and April, year, over year, on a three P side, they're growing 28%. So I have just a couple of considerations to just, you know, it's not as black and white, right? Things are always there's always considerations, right? The category as a whole is growing still maybe not as much as last year, right? Obviously in 2020, late 2020 2021 that start to kind of plateau of that. But the other thing that's happening is there might be a shift from one p two, three p, right. And especially in apparel that makes so much sense to me, because the one P team for a long time in 2020 2021 they weren't picking up the full catalog, right? And on top of that, their their forecasting patterns or purchasing patterns were kind of weird. So brands in the space were like, Hey, how do we make sure that we have the whole catalog live? How do we make sure that we stay in stock, right? An alternative to that is obviously the three P option. Also, and it's not in here, but if you think about Zappos being a third party seller, which is also part of Amazon, they control or are part of obviously a huge piece of the footwear business. They're also considered three P. So just some interesting things to think about that if I, if we had these two slides for any other category on Amazon, like grocery specifically, I think these numbers would look a lot different. And I do think that as brands, you were a part of that story, making the decision to say, yes, I want to be one P Yes, it has pros and benefits, but also there's benefits to being on the third party side. And when I have 1000s of UPCS, I can't just rely on Amazon one P to purchase all of those right? How do I leverage other third party sellers? How do I leverage my own seller account so that I can, you know, work through skews that maybe are more seasonal, especially on the fashion side, when things are coming in and out every month? On the one piece I that's that's tough to do, effectively. So leveraging a third party seller or your own seller account has been able to give brands in this space, the ability to diversify their catalog and who sells what so this was pretty crazy that I thought would be worth noting for you guys today. The also

Aaron Conant 21:03

on you know, the third party side, you know, having do being able to do your own drop shipping, I think what you're saying is there's been an influx of call them digital age three PL cells that are able to drop ship, right? In meet seller fulfilled prime guidelines, even though they're not handing out that batch necessarily anymore. You can upload all of yours and still say hey, it ships in one to two days. Yeah, leveraging your your entire catalog. So question comes in, is a video going to be sent out after the meeting? So yeah, there'll be we usually kick it over for editing really quick on the front end and back end. But you know, more than happy to get anybody who wants a copy a recording or if the deck available, more than happy to put you in touch with Nicole and the team there to make sure you get it. So

Nicole Reich 21:55

cool. Okay, we're already 25 minutes in and I have a lot of other great things to share. So I'm gonna skip by skip past these just for anyone on the call, this slide deck will be going out the recording will be going out. So you'll be able to get this but just as similar on conversion right now, for conversion and product views. This is not split up between one p and three P, this is just the category as a whole. I think one thing to point out is that as a whole views are down product views are down or relatively flat, especially in January, February, March, April. Aaron to your point, this is a really good slide of if your conversion is consistent, you've got to expect that your business is going to be relatively flat because product views in this space are flat this year. However, conversion in this space has gone up significantly. So even those eyeballs are flat year over year for the first part of 2022 Compared to 2021. Apparel, footwear brands are getting better about providing the right content, the right advertising so that they're fully optimizing all of those eyeballs once they get to their product listings, right. So we see that in our conversion going up 29% For the first half of this year versus last year. So just wanted to quickly point out those two. And then lastly, touching on some advertising trends. This is from our partner pack view. Four for sponsored product ads and sponsored brands, they are monitoring by quarter click through rate cost per click, conversion cost per acquisition roll ads, right and some big ones that I just wanted to call out is that the click through rate has improved. Again, brands getting better at who they're targeting and with what content. Amazon is giving brands the ability to provide more creative elements, right, which I'll show you in a little bit with sponsored brands sponsored display sponsored video. And then the conversion has decreased for sponsored brands, which I thought was pretty surprising. However, especially in apparel and footwear, when I look at the brand stores that are not making potentially Amazon a priority on a monthly basis, a lot of times I go to the store pages and they were updated in q4 of 2020. And then all those products are sold out discontinued. So then brands are still setting up these sponsored brand campaigns to drive traffic to the store that is not optimized. And I think that's one of the reasons. Again, this is my own my own assumptions. That that's why our conversion has decreased for sponsor brands, because you can still promote whatever products you want through those sponsored brand campaigns and direct it to the store. And those products may or not, may or may not be in stock. So again, you you'll get all of this and I want to just summarise the trends right so our three P businesses about 76% of this category conversion or is up product views are down or relatively felt flat And then just some things to think about that organic search still makes up 89% of clicks. So that was the trends. piece of it. Again, if you have certain categories that you'd like me to look into certain competitors, let me know happy to get on a call after this. So now we're getting into the bit of the more tactical, so I've lumped in all of our best practices for large SKU counts, right? That could be apparel, footwear, accessories, even sometimes in the outdoor space, where it's not necessarily footwear, or apparel, but they just have massive catalogs with a lot of different variations, right? All of these best practices would apply, hopefully. And I'll start by some of those common challenges and questions that I get from the brands that I talked to in the space, and I'm just listing them off. And my goal is, by the end of these probably 10 slides, you've got a better idea of how to answer them. So big one hour ad 20 is closer to 95. Five on Amazon, meaning very few skews drive a significant amount of my business on Amazon, how do I diversify my sales into new products versus the old legacy products that have been on Amazon for years? The second one, what's the best way to prioritize content optimizations for hundreds of styles and colors? Right? On the apparel and footwear side? We all want imagery we all want. You know video, we all want a plus pages. But when you've got hundreds of styles, how do you start to develop a plan to actually execute it instead of just talking about it? Why should it be sold FBM or dropship? Or what should be FBA and shipped by one piece? So talking a little bit more about like merchandising, who's going to carry what product? How do we make sure we're still providing the best customer experience from a delivery standpoint, but also making sure that we're not just throwing a bunch of inventory into FBA or or owned by Amazon that's never gonna sell? What's the best way to launch new styles that are varying in search? I talked about it a little bit on the ad 20. We'll talk about that. And then lastly, you know, our Amazon units per order is significantly less than our units per order on our DTC website, I get that a lot where you are able to provide on your website, free delivery app for any orders over $50, for example, right? And that encourages customers to then buy two by three on Amazon, the customer always has free shipping, and it's always in today most of the time. So how do we incentivize those customers to buy just more than one thing, right, increase their their cart? 

So speaking to the content optimization question first, typically what we start with is part one, which is more planning, and then part two, which is execution. So if you are just, if you don't have a plan in place of what you want to optimize why you want to optimize it, it is very hard to get all of your internal teams on board with giving you the assets you need. Ensuring that once you optimize them, they are in stock, ensuring that the pricing integrity is enforced across all channels, right so that you don't do all this work just to see suppressed by box. So that first part one is a big piece of just what we almost consider consulting or digging into what is going on with a brand. How do we help the teams internally understand what they need to do? And the way that we do that is through a scorecard which I'll show you in a second and a competitive analysis. And at the end of that analysis, we are presenting by month, this is what we need to be doing. For content optimizations. month one, we are optimizing 20 parents, I need a big long checklist of all these things we spoke before I optimize those 20 parents, right. So part one, again, planning, making sure you have everything you need, making sure you understand which products are going to be in stock, what assets you need. And then part two, which takes just as long if not longer is actually making those edits from Amazon. A lot of times for apparel, there's a lot of third party sellers, which what we just thought was great, but also at the same time, all of those third party sellers can influence what is live from the front end. So it takes years honestly for very large catalogs to ensure that after we do part one, that content those optimizations are actually live from the front end. So scorecard, part one again, start with product availability and profitability. Start to segment your catalog by evergreen products, seasonal products and discontinued products. If you have a product that is going to go out of stock or a style or a line that's going out of stock in six months, don't waste your time optimizing it because by the time it's live from the front end, nothing's gonna be there to be sold right? For those evergreen products, think your top 20 styles making that up whatever it might be. That's where you're going to be focus a lot of your time, that's where you're going to focus on imagery, video, a plus pages, getting those updated often, right, and then those seasonal products are the ones that complement those where they might not fully be optimized. But those are the products that we can use when we develop branded campaigns, right where you might, you know, it's not ever going to be a huge portion of your business. But right now they're buried on page 12. And when we can focus on those seasonal products for sponsored product ads, at least those customers who already know your brand are already loyal, are seeing something different instead of just the core offering. And then the other part is search, arrange your products from highest margin to lowest, I don't want to get into profitability a whole time because we had a discussion about that probably a month and a half ago. But just consider that right. Don't advertise on crap out SKUs or lower low margin products. Don't spend a ton of time optimizing products that have a low retail value, because that isn't going to be worth it if it ends up taking off. On the fundamental side of the product, detail pages, right? This is a bit of a checklist. So think about your variations, how do you want to merge your products together, which is one of the most impactful things that we do and I'll show you that in a second, ensure you are in the right category. This happens a lot in the outdoor apparel space. So for example, if you have running socks, that could go in outdoor, or that could go in fashion, right? If you put it in outdoor, you're paying 15% referral fee instead of 17% referral fee in the apparel category. However, maybe all of your competitors are at apparel and clothing. And you're gonna be left on an island and outdoor and not have the search, right? So make sure you're doing that competitor analysis to understand which top level categories should be should I be in? And then what should my subcategories be because it's very important for organic search that your product is in the right category. And that changes a lot Amazon will put you in one category. That doesn't make sense. Or maybe someone who, you know, created the UPC is five years ago put you in the wrong category. And that significantly influences again, your your ranking on Amazon.

Aaron Conant 32:15

Really quick. No, there's other times where your competitors move your node, especially if you're on a third party site.

Nicole Reich 32:23

So, yes,

Aaron Conant 32:24

that happens as well, everybody

Nicole Reich 32:27

that's in the cart, too, right? Like that's why you need an army and software to make sure that everything stays correct. Because just because you've updated at one time or you post push one file doesn't mean that it's going to be there two days later. So that's part of the maintenance piece, and always monitoring, copy titles, bullets, SEO, right, we talked about that. We won't get into that a plus content, obviously, imagery, video, brand story, and then Amazon reviews. So that's a little bit of a checklist that goes into this kind of PDP fundamentals that before you dig into the details, put a plan in place, what are what do I want to be optimising by month? Get all of your resources internally that you need, and then start to implement that plan. Amazon store, right, make sure your brand names are linked correctly. Make sure you are organizing them, think about what you are going to have in stock and then plan your store refreshes as we call them right around that timeline. And then think about it in this way from top to bottom. You can't do everything all at once. Right? So what are the things that are going to make the biggest difference for conversion for sales, product merges. That has been, I think, our biggest hack, I would guess and it's once you see the results, it's kind of a no brainer. But sometimes we forget about it. After that optimizing the titles, I talked about the importance of Amazon store, especially if you're investing in PPC, if you're investing significantly into sponsored brands, but you're only optimizing your store once a year. That's a that's a big red flag, right? Make sure that's part of your plan on a quarterly basis, how often are you going to be updating it, then move on to imagery, video product bullets, the reason that we put them in this direction from top to bottom is that a lot of the times the brands will have the images, they're just not live. A lot of times the brands know that video is important, but they're waiting on teams internally to develop them, right? So you can do other things while you're waiting on those assets to be created or leveraging someone like us to help you create those videos. So beyond that we put product bullets after SEO kind of towards the bottom, mostly because people don't read the bullets, right? Like yes, they're great for SEO, but they're going to look at that alternate imagery and that text those text overlay images, more often on mobile than they are scrolling down to read the bullet and then beyond that Are April's pages and brandstory.

Aaron Conant 35:03

It's pretty interesting over time how that's changed to write, especially, I think the video platforms have really pushed the, the product bullet points down, or they used to be so much, you know, focus on the bullet points in the a plus detail pages and, you know, all the content that was wrapped up into there. And I think you nailed it. It's imagery and video now, you know, converts it three times. Yeah. That is. So next question that comes in is product description important for SEO as well.

Nicole Reich 35:40

So product descriptions are now trumped by eight plus pages, especially on the three P side, right. We use them for SEO, we put product descriptions in our product, bullets, pocket. So SEO, and the titles are still very important. I would have to dig into a little bit about how effective they are. Very rarely do we run case studies on Yeah, we updated the back end product descriptions and we saw a huge increase. That's my anecdotal, I guess, context on that question. Okay, thinking about merges. So I have one of our brands NYDJ, they are on the women's denim category. And before we started working with them, they had a style called the Sherry Right. And within the sharing model, or I guess style, there was the sherry slim jeans, there was the sherry crop, there was the sherry flair, right. And because of that they had all of these different parents or parent, you know, style product, detail pages in one product detail page for each Sheree fill in the blank. And with that, you can see I mean, obviously, the images aren't there. And the bullets aren't there, which is something that we fixed as well, but you only have really two variations. And then you only had 340 ratings, which is actually pretty phenomenal. But NYDJ is a very well known brand and been on the platform for a long time. However, they had problems with new sherried colors coming out new Sherry styles coming out that were then getting buried, right. So what we did is we took all of those shares styles that we knew were going to be ongoing, more of our evergreen. And we merge those together, so that you can see all of those thumbnails here. And then with that, you can see that those are views basically went up overnight. So especially in footwear and apparel, you don't want it to be overwhelming, where you just merge everything. But there is a lots of opportunity to look at your catalog as a whole, and start to decide how you want to merge like products. Another example in the footwear space, maybe you have a 1.0 and 20 22.0. And in 2021 3.0 and 2022, you can start to merge those styles as new children on existing parents. And what does that look like? So we get a lot of, I guess, questions around this type of approach. So we start to provide case studies or use cases. And what you can see here is there's two pages on this of different rounds that we've set up, where our rounds is our completely content optimization schedule, right, based on our plan one. And when we make those merges, and then do content and a plus, you can see this is their ranking on Amazon, how in the lower the ranking right, the better the more it's moving. You can see as soon as we merge all those products, how much better that ranking is, when you see these gaps right here where it spikes up. A lot of the times what's happening is that those variations are then getting blown apart by other third party sellers. So what we've been able to do is on on lots of brands, and apparel and footwear show them, here's what it looks like when all of your other styles were not merged. Here's what it looks like once they merge back together. And then when we have again, those big gaps like this, we can point to the importance of helping them understand that they've got to encourage their third party sellers to first be authorized, and then second link to our ASINs versus push their own content, because that's where you get a lot of this where things blow apart and then sales drop off ranking drops off sessions conversion drop off.

Aaron Conant 39:41

That's really awesome.

Nicole Reich 39:43

Cool. All right, brand store best practices, just some high level things. On Ariat or across all of our brands. We're making it a big push to encourage shoppers to follow the store because it's the best way to a I retarget them afterwards, send them out emails, which I'll talk about in a second. But driving traffic to the store, we typically find dunwell has a higher conversion rate has a higher ao v. And that's why it's so important that these get updated often, right? If you think about someone who loves your brand, walking in your brick and mortar store, one of your retailers, they're coming in every couple of months to see what you have. If we don't show them what those new products are on the store. They're all buried. So we need to make it easier, easier for customers to see everything refreshed, right, and be tracking what your revenue is your your door sales to your total sales, organic versus paid. These are all KPIs that you are allowed to measure within the Amazon store module on the back end to measure success here. So again, add the follow page up here, this has been worked really well for us refresh this quarterly at a minimum, make sure that on all the sub tabs, you're leading with the add to cart thumbnails, or widgets, not the custom graphics, what we do is on the homepage, make it very brand driven video imagery, whatever it might be. But if you were to click on any of these and drill down to any of their subcategories, it's, it's a very quick call to action Add to Cart now. So just make it easy. Again, Amazon, at the end of the day is a shopping plant platform of purchasing platform because so Amazon customers want to be able to add to cart quickly. So

Aaron Conant 41:37

really quick, the question comes in, is there are material differences between the variations? Just wondering if there are material differences between the variations? Sneaker 1.0 versus sneaker 2.0? How do you overcome displaying those variations on a single detail page without getting any pushback from Amazon?

Nicole Reich 41:54

Yeah, good question. So one of the challenges that we always have, and you see these bullets right here, especially on the one P side. Aaron, am I frozen? Nope, you're good. Okay, oh, I just heard a storm. So hopefully I don't lose Wi Fi. But those sub bullets in the background, they can be edited at the child level is what I would say it is tough, it takes a lot of work. It's worth it. But you can change the material at a child's level. And it does take some effort and opening tickets. But you can do that in the product upload sheets. Brand store, we talked about that just a year over year growth trends for that area of store that I just showed you. So we in our quarterly business reviews, our annual business reviews, we were super proud to present the area over 12 months, you know, we increase their sales by 54%. increase their visitors by 56% and orders by 60%. So just wanted to point that out that from a case study perspective, it's worked really well for us. I mentioned that follow button, right. And once you get those followers, you can email them and this is a new way that Amazon has given you within Terms of Service, the ability to contact your customers. So if they follow you through a post or through their store, you can set up these campaigns to say, Hey, these are recommended for you you bought you know the sweater last year, you can now buy our new boots or check them out. So just different ways to expose new product lines. What we don't recommend is that if someone bought a core evergreen product, we don't want to target them with another evergreen products, right? With loyal customers. We want to target them with seasonal products that are coming out new launches, again, trying to get customers to those listings that have less traffic or fewer reviews. On the post side, just for us, the more often you post, the better. We say as a rule of thumb, if you have social media posts on Instagram or on Facebook, use that for your post cadence mimic everything that you're doing on social media on Amazon post, test it test different graphics, different imagery, different text at the bottom, sometimes we do coupon sometimes we don't, it's also given us a really good opportunity to test out new bundles and packs, again, increasing that units per order. And they don't give us a tonne of metrics on post sales. But we are able to, to compare click through rate of posts for sponsored product ads. And in this case, for Johnson Murphy over the last 12 months, our click through rate on posts were 600 times greater than our sponsored product ad post or click through rate. So just some background use case again to help you understand the importance of these three, three new tools that you can still leverage

Aaron Conant 44:58

makes you wonder how long before they charge All right, yeah,

Nicole Reich 45:01

I know, I hope not. It's coming just like Amazon, Vine and advertising, right. But for now it's free. Advertising, make sure you update your campaigns by seasons, the number of times I type in an apparel brand on Amazon. And then what they populate. What they show me is a product from two seasons ago, is very frequent, and definitely not a best practice. So just make sure that you are scheduling your advertising campaigns around your product release schedule, and then use E words accordingly. Wow, Aaron, can you hear that thunder?

Aaron Conant 45:40

Hopefully, no, no, we can listen.

Nicole Reich 45:44

A little wild. If you have black pants, for example, please make sure that you are bidding on that keyword serving black pants from the front end. A lot of times I see someone search for black pants, and then the brand serves a white pants. And it's just little things like that, again, that sometimes go miss because the catalogs are so big. And I would just again, make that a priority to refresh those consistently. Look at your keywords, look at SEO trends to help you set up those ad groups and those campaigns. Update your creative assets. And then I had mentioned this one, but use the branded terms as an opportunity to promote new product launches. So when you type in Johnson and Murphy, you see their new golf line, not their core product. But something that if you've shopped for men's traditional work shoes in the past for Johnson Murphy, you may now see hey, I love their work shoes, but now I can buy their their golf shoes, so just wanted to point that out as well. And then lastly, explore sponsor display campaigns for retargeting and brand awareness. DSP is pretty expensive, right? It has very specific KPIs or intentions. But what we found is that with our sponsor display campaigns, we have seen a pretty great ROI. And we've also seen really great new to brand metrics. So this is the ability to provide a little bit more creative, right lifestyle imagery, you can target on Amazon or off Amazon, the sponsor, display campaigns have worked really well for us for brands in his category or with products that have lots of variations. Okay, the last thing that I want to talk about is a new tool that we are partnering with Amazon. And you are able to apply if you'd like to it is invite only and after the applications they either approve you or deny you it's fairly new, and what local selling the tool is called Local, selling and buying online and pick up in store. So it is brand new, we are still testing it. We're partnering with Amazon over the last month or so to get some of our brands on board. But I wanted to talk about it in this context. Because when it comes to fulfillment options, it's tough with all of these views and all of these outliers. Right? So we still want to do dropship. We still want to keep our core products and FBA. But what do we do with sizes five 613 1415, that sometimes don't always make sense for FBA. This local selling option and here's the link to it right here gives sellers the ability to set up one to two day delivery options by region. And that is up to the seller that they then can be prime and still have the ability to leverage their own delivery trucks or three P carriers. They'll get that FBA prime badge. And that is a potential solution to getting the entire catalog live but not always putting all the products in FBA. Another thing that I want to point out is that sometimes for one P brands right, the retail the vendor manager will say a you know you can't have a third party seller account. In this scenario working with the seller central team, I do believe that you would be able to leverage some type of hybrid model and open up a seller account to set up these regional shipments so that you can do fulfilment by merchant with one to two day delivery with the prime batch. So that would be the top portion for local selling. It's just been rolled out in the last couple of months. And then the other one that is still in testing that I think is an awesome opportunity is buy online pick up in store. So in this one I'm going to use Express because I don't think they're on Amazon today. Right they've got store As in every mall across the country, they're not on Amazon, you know, there's always been this kind of conversation around, hey, can we, I don't want to be on Amazon because I don't want to take traffic away from my store. Well, this is a really good alternative. You can drive traffic on Amazon to your product listings. And when they purchase, they can go pick it up in the physical stores. And I, I believe this is a fairly new feature, especially on the seller side. So if you are interested in this, please let me know, I'd be happy to help you apply and get set up. Aaron, any questions on that piece?

Aaron Conant 50:40

No, there's not others that have come in, I think a lot of people are, you know, probably going to follow up with questions around, you know, the, you know, here we go. Reviews, what percent of orders are leaving them for your brands and best practice to increase?

Nicole Reich 50:56

Yeah. If we can get 5% of orders 5% of customers. So labor review, that's typically when we use a software called feedbackwhiz. It's like 100 bucks a month, and it will send automated emails out after purchase. I know that's a little bit more reactive, right, because you have to get the people there convert and then send out an email to ask for review. But reviews are very, a big topic for Amazon. And you have to be very careful about what you can and can't do or can and can't stay in those emails. It's against Terms of Service, for example, to say, a leave a review. And we'll give you a free product right so proactively basically, all you can do at this point is use Amazon vine, to offer out free products within Amazon's community for reviews. And then a more reactive approach is sending out those emails post purchase to encourage leaving a review and giving them additional resources to help them try on the product wash the product, right. So those that's the software that we use. This used review building used to be a huge piece of, you know, our strategy, but because the terms of service have changed so much. And because there were so many bad players out there trying to fake reviews, there's a lot of requirements around what we can and can't say, which has been hot, harder to build those.

Aaron Conant 52:27

And there's some new players that have popped up, they're kind of focused on that playing in the you know, your influencer, your affiliate space as a whole. So if anybody wants a list of those, you know, those few just shoot me an email, Aaron Aaron@bwgconnect.com. Just say, Hey, let me know about reviews more than happy. We'll probably do a call on that in the next few months, because that is a huge thing that people are focused on right now. Because like Nicole, like you're saying, there's been so many changes, and Vine is expensive, and everything else. I mean, we're getting right here to time. You know, I'm dropping in here, because people asked about recording. And this is our our media feed. So almost all the events that we do we drop into here. So if you roll through there, you can see any of the past events that we've done, just request a recording, we don't just post them live everywhere. We do too many events to do that. But just a simple email a, there's a connection tab in there to request it and more than happy to get you a fully edited version once it comes out. Also another note, there's a podcast that we kicked off a few months ago. That's kind of blowing up right now we're taking all the topics that we cover here, and we're dumping them into 30 minute segments. So you can on a weekly basis, just tune into the top things that are coming up. So encourage everybody take a look at the the podcast there. As for those we're not planning anything on those either out more than two months or so, just because we want to stay as relevant as possible. So those are near real time. You know, Nicole, more than happy to connect you with anybody after the call today. I'd encourage everybody you see how complicated this space to call the team over there are phenomenal. It's worth the follow up conversation. The cool kind of key takeaways in a summary here as we wrap

Nicole Reich 54:15

Yep. So first thing, develop a content optimization schedule by month right. Merge similar products to increase reviews and ranking update post stores and creative add assets frequently. It's not a set it and forget it approach. explore alternative shipping methods for outlying skews, pick up in store, right FBM dropship local selling please let me know I'd be happy to talk you through that new program. I think that's going to be a big piece of our strategy for this q3 q4. Create ad groups by product and keyword not just looping all of all of your products into one ad group that's not very effective. And then leverage technology which I didn't get to just For sake of time, but in the follow up slides here, I'm gonna flip back to it's just a quick checklist. If you're trying to do this all on your own, it's a lot of work, right? It takes the planning and it also takes software to scale. So regardless of the actual software tool that you have, I just provided a list of the things to think about, and how to help you scale and plan. So that was that I know I got a little worried there. I apologize for trying to go super quick. I really thought I was going to lose power, but I'm glad I didn't. And if there is anything I might have gone over too quickly. Or if you have any questions like Aaron said, I would love to connect with you guys afterwards, on any of the fulfillment piece, any of the similar web data. Again, super passionate about this category. We we have a tonne of experience here. And I always love learning from all of you. So thank you for for joining. And Aaron. I'll pass it back to you.

Aaron Conant 55:52

Yeah, thanks so much, Nicole. You're awesome. Thanks for being such a great friend and partner supporter, the network and all the brands that are in it. And just being open to share and answer as many questions as we can. I see some people are Jeff to jump in Matt. We don't have anything in Cincinnati, Ohio yet, but we've added a bunch of tier two cities on as well outside of the Boston New York, LA and Seattle and Dallas. We've hit Austin, Miami, Park City, Denver. So I'm sure that will be coming up soon. Thanks again to everybody who dialed in, look for a follow up email from us. I'd love to have a conversation with you pick your brain and what the biggest trends are that you're seeing more than happy to now share across the board. If you ever need help or recommendations on any service provider. That is Amazon to direct consumer to international expansion. Never hesitate to reach out. Always love having those conversations and more than happy to connect you with people across the board. You don't have to do a Google search anymore. Tune in the podcast. We'll have Nicole on for sure coming Nicole I should throw that at you. With that we're gonna wrap up everybody. Take care stay safe and look forward to having you at a future event. Thanks again. Alrighty, everybody already bye.

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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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