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Amazon Strategies and Reviews

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Selling on Amazon is a great way to build trust with new customers. But where do you start? In the latest episode of the Ecwid E-commerce Show, Jesse and Rich dive deep with two seasoned Amazon experts and business owners from FeedbackWhiz to uncover the secrets to selling on Amazon.

Transcript

Jesse: Hey, what’s going on Richard? It’s Friday.

Richard: It’s the day again. I’m ready. Exciting day, as always.

Jesse: Podcast Friday and today we get to talk with an old friend and hopefully a new friend. It’s actually great to see people that we’ve known for many years as they’ve built their stores and their journey and even move on to new things.

Richard: So, yeah, and this guy’s one of the OG, I mean, we’ll say one of their names is Robby Stanley and he’s with Henson Wu and they’re from FeedbackWhiz. And Robby we’ve known for a long time. And when I say OG, I mean do you remember that he started selling PalmPilot parts.

Jesse: What’s a PalmPilot?

Richard: Exactly. This guy’s been around this for a long time…

Jesse: I did have one.

Richard: And he stuck with it. Right, so now he’s just bad of knowledge. This is going to be a good one if anything we’re going to have to pair him back to make sure we don’t go over our heads and everybody else’s head.

Jesse: Awesome. Alright, guys let’s bring him on. We got Henson Wu and Robby Stanley. How’s it going, guys?

Henson: How you guys doing? Thanks for having us. Yeah.

Jesse: Awesome. So you guys are with FeedbackWhiz. Actually, Henson why don’t you tell the audience a little bit about why you started FeedbackWhiz?

Henson: So FeedbackWhiz is a software for Amazon sellers and it’s basically an email automation tool to help sellers get more product reviews and manage your product reviews. How I started this business was that I used to sell on eBay and Amazon and I did that for you know 10-12 years and mostly eBay in the beginning. About five or six years ago I started selling on Amazon through a private label. My family has a clothing manufacturer wholesale and we decided to trial Amazon to launch private labels and that’s kind of how we started. How I started learning how to sell on Amazon and during that time there’s a lot of challenges, managing products, trying to get more reviews. How do you get products at the top, just so many things you have to do when you sell on Amazon and sometimes you just have to use some software to help you save your time. At that time actually I was working full time at a store for a hardware company so my background is actually hardware engineering. And my good friend Eric who is our co-founder and CTO here, he’s a software engineer and we partnered up together and started developing some software for it specifically. And through there we saw that we were able to build a pretty nice product and you know as we kept developing it, we saw that there’s a huge opportunity here. And after six-seven months we decided to quit our jobs and go full time with FeedbackWhiz, and we launched. It’s been about a little over a year. So we launched in Q4 of last year and we’ve done tremendously well. Our software has become extremely popular. We have eight-figure or seven-figure companies, major corporations all using our software right now to help them boost their brand on Amazon. So yeah that’s kind of about background.

Jesse: Awesome. Your coming up on the one year anniversary or maybe just had that, great entrepreneurial story. So I’m hoping you can help everybody that’s listening with their own entrepreneurial journey here. You guys are in Amazon all day, not all of our merchants are on Amazon always, right, so maybe we can help people out with what are the steps one, two, three, four would with getting going on Amazon?

Richard: And maybe even just a little bit before: why would they want to get on Amazon? They have their own e-commerce store now and we always hear the other side of the coin. Hey, you’re on Amazon and they’re taking fees and there’s a lot of people buying stuff there. But you could see why you would want to have your own store but the exact opposite in this case. They have their own store. Why would they want to do Amazon and then and then we’ll dive in a little bit deeper.

Rob: Hey, Rich, this is Rob. Hi Jesse. Thanks for the introduction. Let me go back on this because coming from the e-commerce world I can probably give some people listening to a little different perspective. I ran a website that basically sold parts they said for PalmPilots which eventually sold parts for iPhones. I was strictly just e-commerce, just selling through my e-commerce, had a little bit of dabbling into the eBay rule quite a few years back. And then of course as things grew I was able to jump more into the eBay rolled and then into the Amazon rolled in. And what kind of led me there, I was getting great sales through own website, so I can definitely relate to people out there that are maybe doing great with their website and their products are doing just fine in their site. They’re gone. Well, heck why do I sell on eBay or why do I sell on Amazon with all these fees and everything? You know you got it. You got to look at some of the backgrounds on why these companies are there and why people keep going to it. For instance, if I’m buying something or even my wife the first place she goes is Amazon to look for it. So there are some stats out there talking about how 60 percent of the United States used to go to Google and did a Google search to look up a product. Now 60 percent of the United States is going right to Amazon and typing in what they’re looking for when it comes to e-commerce shopping. So to me seeing this a few years back or even a little bit longer, I jumped on the eBay platform when people started kind of switching from looking on Google, looking on eBay. Now instead of looking on Google or eBay now, they’re going straight to Amazon. So my thought was “OK, the percentage and the fees are there. I just got to figure out how can I factor those in”. Can I maybe increase my price a little bit or become a good seller on there that will increase my sales which will offset the fees if I move in enough product. So that was part of the reason I jumped on to Amazon, because you need that kind of other platforms where people are going because you can spend a ton of money on the Internet with Google AdWords and things like that to drive people to your e-commerce site. But you got to also look at where are the people going to buy. Prior to Amazon people were going to eBay and I’m not saying they still aren’t but the majority of people now are going to Amazon. So there’s a couple of ways to offset some of that fee is increasing yourselves obviously that allow you to go buy more product, usually to allow you to decrease your cost on stuff you’re bringing it in, and then you can price point it right over on Amazon that you can still make pretty decent margins. Yeah, you might give up a little bit but you get that volume that’ll make it up.

Jesse: Yeah. But basically, you’re saying that’s where people are going. So you better be there.

Rob: Absolutely.

Richard: Yeah, I would imagine. I won’t go too deep on this, but I would imagine having a brand that not everybody else is selling would be one of the ways that you could make that margin back up to. You’re not selling the same thing as anybody else and driving the price down. Trying to be the lowest price to make sales but you actually have some sort of brand, a lot of these guys might not actually have that yet. But we have a few people have made their own products and done their own thing. So interesting.

Jesse: Actually, Robby there was one point you made there that I was curious about because you mentioned you might sell your products higher on Amazon than you do on your own e-commerce site. Is that what you currently do?

Rob: I actually sold my business just recently. My e-commerce business is sold. So I actually stepped out of that role and into the marketing world, FeedbackWhiz. But prior to that when I did currently have it, there were times we would after up that a little bit on eBay, our price are up a little bit on Amazon to help offset some of those fees. Realistically wise, we were making better margins on our website, direct sales. Versus Amazon, eBay which everybody has probably seen that. But you got to really factor in when you’re getting those direct sales what is your overhead. I mean if you’re paying for Google AdWords or let’s say you’re doing YouTube video marketing, you got to factor in their fees related to that. So really you might look at it and go “Oh, wow, I make a lot more when I sell something through my website.” But you’ve got to look at the other aspects of what it cost to get that person there. Like did you do a video, did you turn around and do a marketing on Facebook or something and you paid money. That factors into pushing those people directly to your website which actually means your margins weren’t as big as you thought. So whereas on over on Amazon you can sell thing there where you have a kind of a flat. Now I want a flat fee but you know what the fees are going to be.

Jesse: Sure. Sure. Yeah. I was glad you mentioned that because there are costs on both sides. I personally sell some stuff on Amazon and I sell it at a higher price on Amazon than I do on my own site. And I was wondering if I am I the only one, does Amazon know that I’m doing that? Or do they even care? So I’m glad to hear other people are doing that. It wasn’t just me.

Henson: I want to jump in real quick and comment on Robby, what he said. So the biggest advantage of selling Amazon really is you’re going to get that traffic versus your website. You just can do a quick comparison, if you can get your product to the first page on Amazon with the right keywords, you’re going to be instantly be making millions of dollars because everyone is going to be buying your product, because Amazon the game is really “can you get your product to page one?” like the first three searches and can you get a four-star or better review rating. If you get that, it’s pretty much like as a buyer, everyone’s is going to automatically just buy the product without even looking at the price or doing much research because the trust is there versus you selling on your website. People have to come here and look at your website, they don’t know your name. There is a little bit of uncertainty. Trust and certainty, that’s the big advantage of why you want to get your products on Amazon.

Rob: Everybody trusts Amazon.

Jesse: Yeah, for sure. You know you can return it. You know that you’re not going to get ripped off. I get it. Yeah, maybe you don’t make quite as much money but once you get to that first page, the money just rolls in magically of course. You just sit back and all my ties.

Rob: Let me know when that happens.

Richard: If it was only that easy.

Jesse: Yeah, it never quite is. Guys, we’ll hold how do we get to first page 1. How do we just get on Amazon? What are the basics for a new merchant? Maybe Ecwid merchants that might have products, already selling some stuff. How do they get on Amazon? What’s the process?

Henson: It really depends on what kind of product you sell because Amazon is actually pretty strict with a lot of products that are being sold. It depends on what you are selling, clothes, if you’re selling baby products, if you’re selling let’s say camping gear or there are different types of products that you can sell on Amazon and they all have different categories and different rules. So the first thing you want to do is you want to do some research on the product that you want to sell and make sure that it’s something that Amazon lets you do it. And if there’s no, for example, if you’re trying to sell knives or something like that, that’s considered a hazardous or hazmat category. Right. Those kinds of things become just more difficult to sell. You might want to try to sell something more towards maybe baby products. But even with baby products, there are restrictions on the product itself, is the material hazardous. There’re toys or battery restrictions. If you’re selling clothes they might say: “Hey, you need to have a website.” Really the beginning to get an Amazon is to do the research first, and then make sure that the product you’re selling is a quality product. Because once you get your product to the top one first page, there’s a lot of different strategies to get it to the top. The idea is you want to be able to build that organic traffic, meaning that the real customers that come and buy a product later on they want to be satisfied with the products. If you’re selling some cheap knockoff from China or something that might break after a couple months, those kind of products are not going to gain and you’re going to end up making some money in the beginning but in the long run, you’ll probably lose. So make sure that the product you’re trying to get there is something really good and do a lot of research. Best advice really is you don’t need to have a brand or start off with the brand right away. You can just go to like Walmart or Target and just buy any product that you think might sell well on Amazon and then you can just post it on Amazon. You can go through the system set up your account. They have this thing called FBA fulfilled by Amazon which is where Amazon takes care of your products, you ship it to Amazon. Amazon does all the customer service. They do all the shipping for you. Their platform is pretty complicated, not complicated but there’s a lot of different things going on. You really need to get familiar with how the whole process works. And once you get the idea of how they sell on Amazon then you can start looking into “Hey, I have a private label brand and I don’t want to launch.” Then you start doing other things like getting good pictures, good descriptions, just doing all the different tricks to pretty much help your product up. And one of the best things I usually like to do if I’m selling something, I like to buy my competitor’s product. So I’ll buy their product and get it in the mail, check it out, see what the product looks like, what kind of packaging they’re using. Look at what kind of email sequence they’re using to get reviews. Titles, description, pictures. You can basically look at some of the top Amazon. And then just build your brand based on how they’re doing it. That’s probably the best way for someone new to get started.

Rob: Yeah, for sure.

Jesse: I think that’s good advice for a lot of people. They’re thinking: “All right. I was able to sell some stuff online. I’ll just put this over to Amazon, it’ll be a piece of cake.” And I think I had some trouble going on Amazon the first time and it turns out it’s a little bit harder than just setting up a store in my opinion. There’s a lot of things to follow. You do need a UPC as well. That helped me up a little bit.

Rob: Let me let me jump in on that. So couple of things to just a back up slightly on that, I would recommend that they find one product that they have some pretty decent margin on, go in there and get the store set up and go through the process of getting a right title and description and just start with one product and see how it does. Don’t take your entire catalog and throw it on there. Maybe start with you know half a dozen or something. Just a couple to get going, so you get the process, understand it and yeah, you have to add UPC codes. If people aren’t familiar with UPC codes, google it. There are many ways to get UPC codes but you have to have UPC codes. If people don’t know what a UPC code is again please google it. It’ll give you a full description on what a UPC code is, you’re gonna need it. It basically identifies your product as being yours and will allow Amazon to basically say that this is your product. So you’re definitely going to need that.

Jesse: I mean that helped me up. A lot of people don’t necessarily have UPC if you have a few major on a product in your garage and you know there’s a little trick there. I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this legally here but you can buy UPCs on eBay.

Rob: You said it, not me.

Jesse: A birdie told me that you could do that but you will not find that on Amazon’s website that you should do that. So hint-hint.

Rob: Just a touch on what Henson said. Something slightly different if people are selling on eBay right now and haven’t started selling on Amazon. If they are slightly different, so don’t think that if you take your information on eBay or even on your store for your title description it’s not going to always instead translate over to the Amazon platform. So I’d also be careful. We’re starting to see a lot of this happening on eBay, for instance, a lot of the quality, the quality seems to be going down and I think that’s causing some problems whereas on Amazon the quality gets weeded out so to speak. People selling lower quality items on Amazon start getting weeded out pretty quickly. Just think about it from a buyer point of view. If you go to Amazon or even eBay you or even somebody’s website, there are people now that have their own reviews or customer feedback about the product on their own website. You’re there to read about how good is this product. What am I going to get for my money? And you’re going to do that same thing on Amazon. You’re going to go in there, they’re going to say: “I want to see this particular item, I want to see ones that all have three stars or higher”. And then you’re going to read the product reviews and see what issues people had. Now if the product’s not good quality, it’s going to show up really quickly and the star ratings going to be really low. So the advice I’d give is to make sure you have a good quality product, go in there, just do a few products as a trial run. Make sure got good titles and description and good photos and just give it a test run before you ramp up there. And then the other part is to make sure that you are communicating with your customers. That’s also another big key that people need to do on Amazon just like you do on your website. If somebody has a question and they email, you want to be responding to that.

Jesse: Of course you want to communicate with your customers, but when you sell on Amazon you don’t get the email. How do you go about communicating with them?

Henson: With Amazon they’re pretty strict with this entire marketing communication. They keep updating their seller terms of service, so you can’t really market through email. The e-mails are mass, so everyone gets a mass @Amazon.com. the only thing you can really do to is to ask them for product reviews or feedback. And if they have a product issue or some customer service issue, you can communicate with them about that but you can’t like exchange email addresses or put phone numbers or you can’t even link them to your own website outside Amazon because Amazon really wants to protect their own buyer database. These are the unfortunate things when you sell on Amazon as you just don’t have as much flexibility to market to these customers as if you would if you had your own website. Jesse, here’s a tip though.

Jesse: Yeah. I want the trick. I know there’s no email, I want to hack, how do we…

Henson: What you want to do is when you set up your Amazon account, make sure it matches your brand name. And hopefully, your brand name matches your website or e-commerce site. So keep it consistent. I don’t know if Jesse let me say this but before I sold my company DirectFix, we made sure we had the Twitter account with DirectFix. We had the YouTube account. Everywhere I created an account matched so that way if somebody on Amazon turns around and they look at your username which they will see. Or even when you go and put in your title as long as you have a trademark on your name, you can put your trademark name in the title and that actually helps quite a bit because now it protects your product. But people can look that up on the Internet. If you go and look up DirectFix probably first thing it’s going to come up is going to be my old website that I sold and all everything that branded around it. So there it is a little trick there. Now you can’t tell them to go contact you through there but if they look it up that’s that’s their own. They’re allowed to do that. They’re allowed to go search your name. So maybe that’s a little tip there is use your brand name or your company brand name and keep it consistent.

Richard: Yeah, makes sense. And what about you have their address, and good old-fashioned “Thank you” card or something. Do they say you can’t direct them back to your website or you could still do your little hack? It’s got the same name you just saying “Thank you” and they might want to look you up. Have you ever done anything with that?

Henson: Usually sellers don’t. What sellers usually do is they’ll have a product insert. When they do fulfill by Amazon deal, they make like a little card and they’ll package it inside their product. That’s where you could put a thank you note and then you could put there let’s say your company logo. But then sometimes what it is if you’re offering some kind of manufacturer warranty, then there might be a reason for them to actually go to your website because they need to get that warranty. You can put that kind of material inside your product insert. You just can’t write in anything like “Please, leave us a positive feedback” or “Please, leave us a positive review” or “Go to our website”. You can definitely put that stuff in there because it’s part of your product, part of your brand. Those are usually what sellers do. Now in terms of sending a little postcard afterward, I don’t know how effective that is. I think most sellers usually don’t do that. They usually just send emails, e-mails are usually more effective than snail mail.

Richard: Yeah, I was just more thinking since you have that address but you don’t have their email address right. Just more of a question. And I’m sure to some people probably take advantage if it’s a product that has certain feature sets that’s maybe more complicated than some others directing them to “Here’s a video on how to use it” or “Here’s how to set it up” or something might be kind of useful too.

Henson: Absolutely. So a lot of sellers what they do is as soon as the order ships out, they’ll have an automated message send out to the buyer and what you’ll have in there is a link to let’s say product tips, could be a PDF file. It could be a link on how to use the product or video link and then usually they’ll put like a little contact. Let’s say it says “When you receive your product if something’s wrong please contact us.” Right. And that way what you’re basically doing is you’re trying to prevent them from leaving you a negative review or negative feedback. Just kind of being proactive and letting them know that “the company’s here if you have any problems let us know right away.”

Jesse: Now Henson you mentioned send them a message. Let me dig into that a little bit more. So we don’t have their email but you can send them messages. How does that work? There’s this is through the Amazon back end?

Henson: Inside Amazon seller Central there’s a messaging platform and this is kind of like where you send emails and messages, or e-mails and messages are saying “This is where you can communicate with your customer.” But all the communication that you do is being tracked and logged by Amazon. Let’s say you’re using a third party software like FeedbackWhiz to send out emails. That email has to go through Amazon first and then it reaches the buyer. So if you try to play anything like funny in there or try to like market to them, Amazon does have a record. And if they wanted to come down and investigate you or shut you down, they can see everything. Their communication platform is just tied to their system and there is no way around it. You have to talk through their platform and then you can’t see the real email address of the buyer. And the buyer can’t see the seller’s email address either.

Jesse: Yeah. No, I think that’s important for people that haven’t sold on Amazon to realize that yes, there is a messaging but Amazon owns. So you can’t put your you are all in there. You can’t. You have to be careful because it is monitored by a robot probably. But it is monitored but it seems like maybe that’s the hack. How do you use that messaging platform to get what you need? It’s FeedbackWhiz here so I’m assuming there is a way to use that to try to encourage the behavior you want without breaking the rules.

Henson: Exactly, yeah. So the idea is really to draft or craft a very personalized message to the buyer and your buyer is your audience. You have to think outside the box a little bit and who’s your audience. If you’re selling a baby product, your audience could be mothers or women. Right. So your message might be more towards to them. Maybe you want to put a picture of a baby or a child or something. Something that grabbed their attention right away, because when they open the email you only have a few seconds to get their attention. And most sellers just send these blogs of globs of text. And people these days don’t have time. They don’t like reading it but if you break up your e-mail a little bit, maybe you put a little funny picture in there and put something personalized, something that captures your attention then they are more engaged to read your email. Then you know you can put links in there to ask them to leave you a product review and the whole game on Amazon is to get the most product reviews and the most positive property is right. You can set up an automated email sequence to send that out at a specific time. Let’s say you know five days after the products are delivered or one day after it’s shipped, depending on the product, of course. If you’re selling a cell phone case, they could probably slap it on a review right away but let’s say you’re selling vitamin supplements. There’s no reason to ask them to leave a review after two days. You’re not going to know if it’s good or not so you might want to wait 30 days. If you’re selling thousands of thousands of orders or different products, Amazon’s sellers’ central messaging system only allows you to manually send out emails. There is no way to say: “Hey, I want to send out all these emails for these orders, I want to have different templates enough for these products”. And that’s where our company comes in to help you guys set those kinds of things up so you can maximize your communication with your buyers and get as much product views as possible.

Jesse: Got it. So that’s awesome. Now if you were selling one or two products a week, you could manually type in these emails, cut and paste, and you could probably get some good feedback. But once you start getting to even twenty-five of those per week it’s going to be nearly impossible to handle. So I love the automation on that. Now, how about when people are… let’s say it’s the cell phone case. You sell a cell phone case, you want to send them an email after a couple of days. What would that email say? How do you encourage them to get a review without begging and breaking the rules with Amazon?

Henson: You just have to be a little creative. Of course, you probably want to do the thank you in the beginning. You want to put in the picture of the cell phone case, so they know what they’re reviewing first of all. It’s very important. With the manual e-mails through Amazon you can only type text, you can’t put pictures, you can’t put links, you can’t do any type of formatting. But Amazon does allow the third parties to integrate with their systems. Now you can actually use like HTML or e-mail. I’m sure everyone gets tons of marketing emails and their email box. Different pictures, different links. Based on what we’ve seen, the best strategy really is to keep things short and simple, get to the point. Don’t try type too much text. People just don’t have time these days to read. So just get to the point, throw a couple of pictures in there. Our system can actually let you add gifs. I don’t know if you guys know a website like Giphy.com where you can type in keywords like thank you. And there’s a picture of like Dwight from The Office or something you know something funny like that where you can use pictures as words rather than just typing the text. You can kind of break it down a little bit and just make it really personal. And then you can create nice looking buttons. So it can have “Leave a review”. Could be red or blue or whatever color you want. That way it’s right in their face. They know what you want if they feel like “Hey, I’m willing to leave a review”, they just click on it. It’ll take them directly to the page. They can leave a review. Just make it as simple as possible for the buyer too, because in the end really it’s their time. They have to spend the extra time to do you a favor. And if you’re not doing them a favor by making it easy for them, they’re just going to move on.

Jesse: I assume you cannot say “Leave me a review and I’ll send you five bucks”, right?

Henson: Absolutely not. Yes. There are Amazon’s terms of service page which they update actually quite frequently these days. There’s a lot of rules, huge things you can’t say and one of the most important things is trying not to use the word positive inside your email temple, because they specifically say “Don’t ever write ‘Please, leave me a positive review’, but you can say ‘Please, leave me a product review’ that’s fine. Just don’t use ‘Please, leave me a positive review’. The second you write that…

Jesse: Yeah, I guess there’s a robot that says: ‘All right, positive like this one, cancel, done.’

Rob: Jesse, on our platform we have actually built templates that we are always adjusting depending on the terms of service with Amazon, meaning their rules. You could always use our standard ones, you can make them fancier, you can make them not. We have one seller that uses our platform and literally, in his email, it says: ‘Leave me a product review, click on the kitten’ and he’s got a little picture of the kitten it says ‘I dare you.’ You know how many times you get people a click on the kitten which is just a link to go leave a review on Amazon. Little things like that. When you were saying just a back up slightly, Jesse you were saying some people only maybe sell a couple items a day let’s say. Those are still customers that may want to take a look at our software. Any time you can automate something for a small fee per month and not have to worry about it, it goes out. You can set up an email that says: ‘Hey, thanks for buying my item’ within a couple of days of them receiving it. We track that tracking on Amazon when the package was delivered and boom within 48 hours if you haven’t sat this way it can kick another email asking for a product review or again like Hensen said depending on the product you’re selling. So could you do these things manually? Yeah, I bought an item on Amazon a week ago and I got it in a couple days later, I get this email from the from the seller basically saying ‘Hey, would you leave me a product review?’ Didn’t even know what the product was. I bought like 7 items that week. It had no title, had no picture. I don’t even know what I was leaving a review about or who was contacting me. Just basic little things like that can make a difference of people clicking on or not. If it wasn’t for the fact that I clicked on it and found out what the product was, I probably would have deleted that in my email box. So anything you can do to give it a little more spice and spice it up a little bit and make it fun too. The more fun you make it, the more chance you have somebody clicking and going ‘Oh, that was cute. You know I’ll click on it.’

Jesse: It makes perfect sense. The automation makes sense and also the ability to send each email. You mentioned the kitten. Yeah. it’s the internet. Cats always work.

Rob: You don’t need to know each HTML by the way. We do have a lot of drag-and-drop type stuff in our email system. If anybody out there is listening and they’re like: ‘Oh, we don’t know a thing about HTML’ or ‘I know very little.’ That’s OK. We’ve got drag-and-drop, you drag it in, the way it looks is the way it will send. In fact, there’s even a secondary window that will be on the right-hand side that will show you exactly what the emails going to look like before you send it or the template you create.

Jesse: The word I heard was a template. I like that. So you can write, change a couple of words. you name it.

Richard: So I have a question for you guys. Earlier on we haven’t gone into how to move up the ranks yet but we talked about testing, getting a product on there, product or two, testing it out, see what’s going on. But we’ve also heard you guys mention sales velocity and at what point does that become a concern? If you test out the products in the beginning, does that mess with the sales velocity or is that just once you know what you’re doing? You have certain techniques, you apply for this velocities because these people already have an Ecwid store, and they’re now trying to decide ‘Should I go do this Amazon thing?’ I like what Jesse is talking about, I like what Robby and Henson are talking about, sounds like there’s a big marketplace there of which we all know we’ve all heard that name before. So two things. Does that mess with the sales velocity and does that matter if it does? Can you fix it later?

Henson: Yeah. One of the biggest challenge is how do you get your product to top. There is a thing that Amazon called the 8-9 algorithm which has different metrics where they look at to see how they determine what your product is ranked. So sales velocity is definitely one of the biggest things. The more volume you sell, the more the Amazon says ‘Hey, you know this product is legit, people are buying it. We should move it up.’ It becomes more popular. Recently in the last few years there were a lot of different ways you could do it. A lot of hat black stuff, people are paying people outside different like India, different countries to buy the product with fake accounts just to artificially boost the product up. Some people use launch services, they’ll give a heavy discount. And that way you’re basically giving away a product for a cost or even lower just to get the sales velocity up. Some people use friends and families members to buy their products. There’s a lot of different ways. It’s going to get a lot more challenging recently because Amazon has really cracked down especially on the black hat stuff there. Basically they can trap to see where the sales are coming from, who’s buying it, are they your friends, your family. And if they catch you doing that, they will shut you down. So it’s becoming more and more difficult to get the initial sales velocity. There’s a lot of difference. There’s other software out there that can help you. There’s software that can help you basically give out your product free. And that way you’re just giving it out, and you’re not asking for reviews which is not against terms of service. There’s nothing wrong with giving your product for free. The only problem is you need to have a pretty deep wallet.

Jesse: The problem is you gave away your product for free. It’s the problem.

Richard: It’s interesting you bring in that.

Henson: It just takes a little bit of market research and that’s why the market research initially is very important because you guys see who your competitors are. Are you competing with someone with 10000 reviews already? Are you even going to catch up to them? How much money is it going to cost you to get there? If you find a niche product where niche category has only one or two competitors, then there’s a lot of tools out there that can tell you what’s the general, how many sales are they getting a week. Then you can crunch the numbers to see if it makes sense. Maybe different categories have to train sales losses. If you’re selling cell phone cases, you might need to sell tens of thousands to get to page one. But let’s say you’re selling a ceramic bowl or something. Maybe you only need 100 sales. So every category has a different algorithm to get at the top, you just need do some research to figure out what’s the right product to sell and how much money it is going to take to get there.

Rob: Hey Rich, to jump on that question that you asked. I was reading this article and it was talking about Amazon and obviously the products being sold on it. And one of the things that brought up and I found this really interesting was that let’s say you get your product on there and you have zero reviews. OK. No product reviews, nobody’s reviewed your product. You just got it going. If you can get even just 1, 1 product review, one person to go and write a positive four or five-star product review, it will increase your sales by 10 percent over a person that has zero product reviews.

Richard: So one review. This is interesting, I apologize for jumping in but this goes hand in hand with what you guys were just talking about a second ago when I first asked the question. So you mentioned the giving away one. If one skew gets this velocity, say you gave away something but you have a higher skew on the back end and you just hope that they like it enough, maybe it works with that other product or something who knows that piece. But you almost treat this first product, the lower priced product, or the free product as almost like a loss leader. Does that help the ranking of your whole store or does that only help the ranking of that skew?

Rob: It’s actually just by that skew, each product is considered its own individual product so to speak. just because you sold 10000 of one and you haven’t sold any of another, they’re not going to be like ‘Oh, he sold 10000 of this one item so let’s move his other items up the list.’ It is item by item specific. So you definitely need to be concentrating on each item that you’re selling on there and trying to get product reviews on every single item that you’re selling to increase those sales and increase that sales volume.

Jesse: That’s good to know.

Richard: I’ve never searched by like I’m going to look for a certain store. I’ve always just looked for a product in Amazon.

Rob: Actually, I think about two years ago Amazon has launched her own PPC. So now you can actually pay Amazon to get your product to the top. Let’s say it’s a brand new product you just launched. You got a couple of reviews. You know the first reviews are crucial. You need to get like say five to seven reviews just off the bat. when you launch a new product. Try to find someone that’s not related to you, maybe some distant friend…

Jesse: Maybe somebody that does a podcast with you. I’m not saying I’ve ever done this before, Amazon if you listen.

Rob: It’s not that Amazon can’t connect with you. Get those five to seven reviews. And then you might want to start looking into maybe running a little bit of PPC where you’ll pay three dollars or two dollars a click. And then what happens is when someone searches the keyword of your product. Now if you look at Amazon right now. Sometimes when you start products, not all the products are just products that you search for, some of them were paid for. And that’s when you’ll get the exposure on page one or page two from Amazon directly. That way you’re going to get some customers to buy your product and then if they like your product, then they might start leaving your views. You get to do a little bit of everything to try to get your products at the top, it’s not just one mechanism.

Richard: You could see that would be a good way to probably prime the pump. Like you started doing a little bit of PPC. You had a friend or family review. Now you can maybe cut back a little. I mean who knows you have to check it out individually like you said all the algorithms are different for each category.

Jesse: Guys, I got a question on and it’s probably personal to me. If so. If you sold the average customer it sells 100 items, the same skew on Amazon. How many reviews should they expect out of 100? What percentage of people should leave a review?

Henson: That’s a really good question and a lot of people ask us and based on some of the research that we’ve seen in the last few years. Usually, it’s somewhere around 2 percent. If you’re lucky, you get 2 percent, so 2 out of 100 orders, people are going to leave you a review.

Jesse: And that’s 2 out of 100 if you basically do nothing.

Henson: If you do nothing, yes.

Richard: And that’s two out of a hundred, and it could be negative. It doesn’t have to be. That’s I’m sure including both positive and negative.

Henson: It’s actually worse because people are more inclined to leave negative reviews than positive because that’s what kind of drives people to leave reviews is they had a negative experience. So that’s why it is really important to have these follow up emails that go out to your customers as soon as your order goes out to try to prevent those negative reviews. And if you have a good sequence, go after the product’s been delivered. It’s going to get more reviews and we’ve seen customers go from 2 percent to 8 to 10 percent. If you can get to *8 to 10 percent, you’re doing really really well. And the more positive reviews you get, it’s going to squash those negative reviews down. And once you get to like 100 or 200 reviews, those negative reviews are going to have left some weight. So the idea is to try to get as many positive reviews as you can.

Richard: Yeah. I could see how this an automated way of doing it could really be helpful because it’s this customer journey and they just bought something and they’re excited so let’s forget the supplement for a second because we obviously would wait on that I totally understand why you would want to wait on something that’s probably not going to feel the results for 30 days or something. But almost every other thing the faster you could get something out to them maybe even before. Is there anything that you guys shoot out that ‘Hey, thanks for buying it.’ It’s not really asking for a review yet because you know it’s not there yet just to kind of keep them excited and keep them excited with your brand.

Henson: Rich, that varies on the seller. So you know the seller can set up the different templates and when they want to send them out. So we have kind of rules of thumb to follow but that’s up to them. Because like you said each product is different. I like to actually use exercise equipment as a good example instead of supplements. So it may be one of those things that you sell a piece of exercise equipment. They might use it within the first couple of days, it may take a week before they use it and they’ll start using it. They’re going to know pretty quickly whether they like it or not as soon as they start using it. But it may take them a few days of using it to really get a true kind of feel for it. So maybe the first day: ‘Oh, my arms are burning from using this thing.’ But their arms were going to burn no matter what they used and then like three or four days after that wore off and they’re like ‘Oh, this is a piece of equipment, the exercise with it is really good.’ You got to understand your space and what you’re selling and to understand where is that kind of sweet spot to hit them up. And obviously, anything that tells them that ‘Thank you for placing an order.’ Or ‘Here’s the next email.’ A day later ‘We’ve shipped your order. Thanks again for placing the order.’ Just keep them in the process. You’re in constant contact with them to say ‘Hey, I’m here. We’re here to help you. Thanks for ordering. Here it’s on the way. I noticed you got it. If you don’t like it go ahead and send it back.’ Or ‘I’m sorry if you had an issue, let me know’. That’s what I meant to say.

Richard: It was almost as if we talked about this and we did it. Do you get some sort of trigger in FeedbackWhiz that they’ve been delivered?

Henson: Yeah, we do. The way that all these third-party software has worked with Amazon is they get data from the API from Amazon which they send the information like the buyer’s information when a dealer has been shipped, what is going to be delivered, tracking numbers, names, their phone number or their address. So we have all that data and what we do is we take that data and help you set up triggers, so you can set up a trigger right when the product’s been shipped and then the trigger when it’s been delivered. You can even have one go out if it’s been returned. Let’s say they left the positive feedback and they didn’t give you a product review, then maybe those are the guys you want to ask for a review because they really left you a positive. So there’s seller feedback and there are product reviews for the people that are selling at Amazon. It’s another way for the buyer to review the feedback based on the experience, on the package, when it comes to your door, did it come on time? Was it packaged well? So it’s a different mechanism. But you can set up different triggers like that to send out. One thing Amazon is trying to kind of cut down on recently is trying to get sellers not to send out too many emails because you know people do get annoyed. A lot of sellers don’t realize, they want to get as many reviews. They try to spam these buyers with multiple emails or different messages and a lot of buyers just get annoyed and opt out. So the idea is to try to not send too many emails or maybe sending three e-mails is the maximum you want to send. Maybe one when it ships and then one after it’s been delivered, asking them for review. There may be one reminder after a few weeks. Something like that and if they don’t respond to that, the best thing might be just to move on and then hopefully you can get another buyer to leave a review instead.

Richard: Can you just communicate with them without asking for a review? Let’s say six months down the road: ‘Hey how’s everything been with your new workout equipment?’

Henson: Absolutely. You can always communicate with them anytime you want.

Jesse: That’s good. And I think part of that is, of course, you want to ask for a review hoping that it’s positive even though you can’t use that word. But I think part of the idea might be if somebody has an issue before they leave a one-star review you want to know about it. I mean that’s got to be part of that, the trick here.

Henson: Exactly. That’s when the first email goes out and we usually like to do is send them some information about the product. Let’s say Rob uses the treadmill. ‘This is how you assemble the treadmill. And these are five tips on how to keep your treadmill running for years and years.’ And then that’s something that they want to read about. And then after they read about it then you have a link that says ‘Hey, once you get your product if there’s anything wrong with the packaging, or your product is damaged. Please, contact us before taking action.’

Rob: So just keep it simple. Just ‘Please, contact us’, just have a link there so they know in the back of their mind ‘If something happens, I know how to communicate with the seller.’

Jesse: That’s got to prevent somebody from ‘This this was broken. I’m going to leave a one star’. Well, maybe it got broken during shipping and that one star really wasn’t deserved by the company, by you, so you can send a replacement. Do whatever you can to avoid that one-star review.

Henson: Yeah exactly. Yeah.

Richard: That’s a great point because I put some years on this planet and I can tell you in my experience I’ve almost had a better relationship with businesses where something went awry not necessarily catastrophe but something went awry and they fixed it. And then I was able to kind of look at them like ‘Oh, they back their products up, they listen to me, they care about what’s what I’m going through.’ And I sometimes have a better relationship with someone that I had an issue with and then they fixed that issue, then just never having an issue because you have no attachment you know. That’s a that’s a good point.

Rob: So Rich, what you were just talking about I mean we talked about earlier. We keep saying building a brand. What you just described some people might say: ‘Well, that’s just good customer service.’ Well, that’s actually building a brand. Good customer service is building a brand and having somebody having a positive experience with your product. That’s part of the brand. So if anybody was stumped on what we kind of meant by building a brand. Rich just described part of the process right there of building a brand.

Jesse: So sell good products, don’t sell a bunch of crap, deliver it, answer when people have a problem. These are just basic 101.

Richard: This sounds just like old school.

Henson: Yeah, we are old.

Richard: But automated.

Henson: Yeah, automated, just make it easier. The one thing I think I always remember running my e-commerce business was as a store owner. I just want to concentrate on making money, finding products, making money. So any time I could find a tool or a service that could turn around and automate everything that I do, not everything, but certain parts of my business that allowed me to just go back on concentrating, making money and finding products to make money with. Man, that was a winner to me.

Jesse: Yeah, makes perfect sense and the reason I was asking about the percentages I’ve probably sold 100 products on Amazon and if I don’t include somebody that wrote reviews sitting next to me, I got one other review.

Richard: Should I have muted my Alexa before we start?

Jesse: Had I known about you guys earlier I set up this automation and instead of getting one review, maybe I’m getting eight reviews. On that product and I’d be selling more and I’d be sitting on the hammock on the beach.

Rob: Sounds like we need to get Jesse on our free 30-day trial here.

Jesse: I like it. Where would I go for this free trial, Robbie?

Richard: Yeah, perfect time.

Rob: You could go to FeedbackWhiz.com. That’s F-E-E-D-B-A-C-K-W-H-I-Z. That was you got that right.

Richard: Yep, and we will definitely create the show. That’s awesome.

Rob: We’ll add it to the show, let’s have a link!

Jesse: We got it. Got it. Awesome. So Robbie Henson great having you on the show. Learning about Amazon secrets here and learning about how we can automate our process for feedbacks. Richard, what do you think any last thoughts here?

Richard: I’m just ready to get on there and start playing with it. I love the sound of this. Yes. I mean I love the idea of being able to add gifts and all these other things. I mean, this is the thing you do to keep it playful and lively and you know something that stands out. I’m in.

Jesse: Yeah, awesome two guys. Pleasure having you on the show. Hope we can learn more from you in the future.

Rob and Hensen: Thanks guys. Thanks, guys. Appreciate it.

Richard: Have a great weekend.

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Jesse is the Marketing Manager at Ecwid and has been in e-commerce and internet marketing since 2006. He has experience with PPC, SEO, conversion optimization and loves to work with entrepreneurs to make their dreams a reality.

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