Amazon recently announced an entire blog dedicated to its “Amazon Stores” feature, which made us think it’s the right time to give this brand outpost more thought. Amazon Stores is an interesting concept in that advertisers, who are historically faceless and arguably commoditized on Amazon now have the opportunity and a dedicated space within this vast site to tell shoppers why their brand is one worth remembering.
At the surface, this seems like a fantastic, benevolent move by Amazon, and it’s a great opportunity for individual brands or even multi-brand retailers to tell their story to one of the largest shopping audiences in the world.
But it doesn’t come without effort, and there are real tradeoffs to consider.
Should I Set Up An Amazon Store?
If you aren’t currently selling your products on Amazon and you can barely wrangle the content on your website and your paid, owned, and earned channels, you should probably stop there until you get those aspects of your digital presence in a solid place.
If you feel like you do have a good grasp on your content already and want to use your resources to expand your brand name via Amazon, we definitely recommend looking into Amazon Stores. These multi-layered mini websites are free, self-controlled, and fairly easy to create. They roughly mirror the merchandising and positioning opportunity of a brand’s own site, and much like a good branded e-commerce site, they offer the ease of a streamlined online shopping experience.
Considerations and Guidance If You’re Going to Create an Amazon Store
You MUST Put Time and Thought Into It
If you decide to create an Amazon Store, it’s yet another place you have to build a thoughtful presence. And developing the right positioning and messaging for any specific channel takes time and effort.
This is not a place to copy and paste the masthead paragraph from your home page. Nor should you put an intern to the task of imagining what this new store should look like.
Many brand owners fall into the trap of thinking I must be on this platform just because it exists, even if I don’t have time to manage it. Think about social media. How many businesses have you seen create a Facebook page only to stop publishing for months on end? Oftentimes, these are businesses that shouldn’t even have a Facebook page in the first place. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want Facebook updates from my dentist. I go twice a year and that’s all the contact that I need.
The same thing applies to Amazon Stores. Just because everyone’s doing it, doesn’t mean you should jump on the bandwagon. Make sure it makes sense for your brand, that you already have enough products on Amazon to make this worthwhile, and that you have the bandwidth and resources to properly create your store.
As a marketer or business owner, there’s a lot to accomplish every single day. Adding more content creation and ongoing upkeep or governance into the mix could be more than your team can realistically handle right now. Or worse, you may stretch yourself too thin to get this new platform launched and let overall quality suffer. That’s certainly not a guarantee, but it’s a real consideration.
If creating an Amazon Store lines up with your business goals and it’s high on your priority list, consider doing the following before you set out:
- See if your competitors have Amazon Stores
- Research other brands’ stores. To determine if a brand has an Amazon store, go to https://www.amazon.com /brandname. For example, https://www.amazon.com/Guess/. Note: Currently, there isn’t a way to find these just by browsing
- Meet with your team and determine how many resources you will need
- Estimate how much time setting up and maintaining the store will take
- Evaluate whether you have the expertise to optimize this content for user experience and discoverability in-house, or if you’ll need an agency partner
Be realistic about what you can accomplish. Building a store may look simpler than it actually is. You don’t need to have any coding skills, but if you want to do it well, it’s not as straightforward as plugging in a few images and product descriptions.
Create Unique Content
Content and SEO 101: It’s important that you create unique content for your Amazon Store.
Beyond concerns about accidentally causing Amazon to outrank you for your own brand terms (more below) one of the big reasons unique content is a requirement here is that Amazon has certain rules for Brand Stores as well as individual products, and how they evaluate content.
In order to maintain consistency across a huge number of businesses clamoring to sell within their marketplace, Amazon imposes strict guidelines on what you say, how you say it, and where you say it. Just like any setup of an online marketplace, you have to think about strict page templates, unique fulfillment considerations, and any specific user guidelines.
According to an article on Digiday about the challenges of selling on Amazon, one marketer expressed the following concern:
“There are mixed feelings at the top whether we use it as a customer brand awareness platform. One thing is photography. To put a product on Amazon, we have to reshoot it specifically for them.”
At first glance, it may seem easy to upload a few product photos, but be cautious that you’ll need to build in extra time to do it within Amazon’s guidelines.
Duplicate Content and Amazon Stores
Another reason why you want to create unique content is to avoid duplicate content issues. If you’re a marketer strapped for time, it would be easy to take copy from your website and paste it into your Amazon Store, but this is a not a good idea.
Requisite PSA for folks reading this post who are totally unfamiliar with SEO: duplicate content is bad. To grossly oversimplify, if a search engine sees duplicate content on two or more sites it has to make a decision about which site to show in search results. Or worse, the search engine could perceive malicious intent from the duplicate content and actually penalize the site they perceive to be in the wrong. For more on this, here’s a great exploration of duplicate content considerations.
Chances are that you don’t have a higher domain authority than Amazon. This means that for any search (non-branded OR branded) there’s a risk that Google will show a link from Amazon, leaving you suddenly competing against yourself in the SERPs.
Think About Which Parts of Your Brand Story to Tell Fast-Moving Shoppers
If executed correctly, Amazon Stores allows you to tell your brand story in a way that you weren’t previously able to on the platform.
It also gives you the time and precious real-estate to tell your brand story in an otherwise transactional environment, and to provide those conversion points a little lower down the page. However, It’s important to think about what aspects of your story are actually going to hook consumers who are looking to purchase a product immediately.
For example, will your brand story tell users why your product is higher-quality or more reliable or will it tell a compelling personal story?
Let’s look at TOMS as an example:
Their backstory is a huge part of their brand and why people would buy their shoes vs. a competitor’s. Their Amazon Store allows them to both tell consumers what they’re about, as well as merchandising their products without rushing to get the conversion.
Again, notice that TOMS doesn’t just dive into the products right away. You have to scroll through some of their lifestyle and positioning imagery before you get to the individual products.
This isn’t a prescription, but it’s a good lesson. You need to think through what specific facets of your brand make sense to showcase in this specific channel.
What route you choose to go will likely depend on whether your brand is well-known and whether you have a truly compelling story behind it. Not everyone has such a feel good, purposeful marketing story as TOMS. But that’s okay. If your biggest differentiator is that you have high-quality products that far outlast your competitors’, then you should showcase that in your Amazon Store. Reading reviews that discuss product details such as durability and other parts of product quality is commonplace on Amazon, so telling a story with that angle could really work in your favor.
Before diving too deep into how you want to tell your story, we recommend starting at a few of the following places:
- Your products.
- Your competitors’ related products.
- Common questions.
Determine which products you want to highlight and include in your store
Look at your competitors and determine whether or not they have a store. If so, how are they writing about their products and their brand?
Determine what questions real shoppers are asking and then answer some of those questions in the copy in your Amazon Store. These questions indicate what customers care about
Pro-Tip: You MUST Properly Label and Organize Your Navigation
We advise most of our clients who sell on Amazon to not use a standard eCommerce navigation in their Amazon Store. You should avoid “Solutions” “Products,” “Wholesale,” etc. Amazon is singularly focused on selling products and your navigation should reflect that.
At Portent, we often talk about the importance of descriptive navigation. For example, if your site sells yoga gear, it’s better to label your navigation “yoga gear” than “products.” This not only helps with SEO, it makes for a richer, more intuitive user experience on your website.
Although we can’t claim to know whether navigational labels affect Amazon’s A9 search algorithm, it still makes for a better and more intuitive user experience.
This may be tough to visualize in writing. Let’s take a look at another example from Listerine:
Their navigational labels are clear and to the point, which makes it easy to browse. Users know exactly where they’ll land when they click on “Floss.”
Notice that their Amazon Store’s navigational labels are different than their website’s. For example, instead of having a label for “Products” or “Gums & Gum Disease,” they have labels such as “Classic Mouthwash” and “Extra Benefits Mouthwash,” which showcases the products and gets right to the point.
You can also use your navigation to push seasonal products.
Maybelline created a seasonal nav label for Halloween called “Halloween Looks.” From there, they were able to create an immersive online shopping experience that not only featured products, but step-by-step directions on how to do your makeup for Halloween.
However, it’s important that you update your navigation. At the initial time of writing this blog post, they still had the Halloween nav item up, some days after the relevant window had passed. Make sure that if you change your store seasonally, you don’t set it and forget it!
It’s impossible to ignore Amazon’s reach and the potential business you can bring in for your brand. However, that doesn’t mean that creating another brand outpost (an Amazon-based microsite with your own copy and content) is right for everyone. We hope you’ll carefully consider some of the points above about what it takes to get this brand outpost “right” before making a decision. And of course let us know if you decide to create an Amazon Store for your brand and want to share that experience in the comments.