Amazon is a jungle. This statement is not a more or less ingenious play on words, it is an absolute truth especially when it comes to competition.
If you want to have a chance of success, it is imperative that you do a good job of researching your competitors to understand exactly who they are and where they stand in the market. In fact, it is exactly what you would do in any other channel where you are going to sell. So, why not Amazon?
Throughout this post, I’m going to give you a procedure to keep track of the main aspects of the competition. I honestly do not know if it is the best, but I can assure you that it works because I have been using it for years, and I have been improving it little by little - adding and removing items from the list or weighting them in a different way (the Amazon ecosystem is alive and everything changes, although there are basics that always remain the same).
At what levels do we care about competition on Amazon?
The simplest answer is: "because they are stealing market share from us". In fact, not only is it the simplest, it is also the essence of everything we are about to discuss.
Amazon is, by definition, a closed universe with rules that can be very strict and a judge who does not hesitate to apply them rigorously (and not always in a totally objective manner).
As in other environments, the competitors against whom you are going to measure yourself on Amazon represent a threat based on a number of criteria that are directly related to each other:
- Price: this may be the main purchase driver in all forms of eCommerce. And on Amazon, with thousands of sellers and a public highly sensitive to supply and promotion, the one with the best price for the same product always has an advantage.
- Reputation: since social networks really exploded, the act of consumption has been greatly influenced by the ability to prescribe and peer-to-peer recommendation. This is what has been called "social proof" and at Amazon it is critical because of the effect it has on the customer, predisposing them positively to purchase. In fact, the platform itself values it as a ranking factor.
- Positioning: there is a basic maxim that says that if they can't find you, they won't be able to buy from you. Here the two previous concepts come together in a way, because the combination of price and reputation together with a good optimization of the listings, once passed through the Marketplace algorithm, is what makes your product appealing to customers
Checklist for competitor analysis on Amazon
Well, now that we have some guidelines to start from, it's time to make our competitor analysis checklist.
The way they structure their product cards, the words they use and even their product photos will tell you a lot about their strategy (or lack thereof).
There are several key elements in the configuration of a product listing that are revealing:
- Title: it should obviously have a logical structure that is recommended to include the brand, model and type of product. Observe to what extent they are descriptive and if they include keywords in it.
- Features: these bullet points synthesize (or should) the value proposition, the differential advantages that the competitor wants to use to be persuasive. They also usually include keywords to control.
- Description: here we have the most developed part of the file. Observe the sales arguments and the tone used to address the target audience. In fact, this is also the segmentation to which it is addressed.
- Images: in addition to their general quality, observe whether they have the brand incorporated in the packaging. It seems anecdotal but it tells you a lot about how serious that competitor is and its production capacity.
- A+ Content: are they standard chips or do they use enhanced or A+ content? In the latter case, carefully review videos and texts to identify strengths and weaknesses.
- Questions & Answers: this is a real detector of what the brand's buyers are interested in and, more importantly, to what extent you are or are not finding solutions to their needs.
- Reviews and ratings: quantitative and qualitative data that have a decisive influence on how competitive a rival is. In fact, Amazon's algorithm uses the quantity and quality of the reviews as ranking factors to decide the position in which a certain product appears in its search engine and also has a quality score that influences whether or not you get the buy box. The best tool I’ve found so far to analyze this is Zonguru’s Love / Hate tool which analyzes the reviews on a product and quickly finds and organizes the pros and cons found on the voice of the customer, so you can find weaknesses on your competitors.
This is an exercise that may take a bit of effort at first, but it is absolutely recommended that you do it. Moreover, if you want to make a really accurate analysis of your competitors on Amazon, it is best to try to have a reflection of the keyword research of each competitor and a global one.
Among all the elements of the previous point (titles, descriptions, reviews... ) you can easily find those words on which they put the focus, but there are other less manual ways that can also help you.
There are some browser extensions and applications that allow you to search via ASIN or keywords. If we use, for example, Sonar from Sellics, we can find a lot of valuable keyword suggestions.
To explain how it works, we typed the word body pillow in the browser search box and selected the US market. In a moment we have obtained up to 5009 alternatives. To see all the results you have to go through the checkout, but we have a sample of some of the most relevant ones like:
- Body pillow
- Body pillow cover
- Pregnancy body pillow
- Maternity body pillow
And others that do not derive directly, but represent concepts that we should work on in our own listing texts and advertising campaigns. In this case:
- Full body
- Pillow case
- Shaped body
- Foam body
From here we will get a complete picture of how they are working. Crossing this keyword research with our own we will know which are the words in common with which we are in conflict, those exclusively ours and those that they work and we do not.
Then we can get to work to optimize our listings for organic positioning and our advertising strategy.
Obviously you can't overlook this aspect. It is always important, on any platform or channel, but in the case of Amazon it is particularly critical. It directly influences our chances of reaching the coveted buy box.
Again the double track. We can make a manual control of the selected products and update a spreadsheet. I would not recommend this, obviously, because it is not very productive.
There are many tools to do it automatically and it will depend on what you ask for. There are repricing solutions capable of managing price updates based on the competitors' strategy.
If you do not want to invest excessively in it, you have other alternatives that can help you in an economical way although, logically, less autonomous. I am referring to browser extensions such as Keepa or CamelCamelCamel. They are installed in Google Chrome and add that layer of information with the recent history of prices and their oscillations.
In the case of Keepa, it also makes an estimate of the stock, which is another very good tool to analyze in detail the competitors you are facing. At a given moment it can be an important competitive advantage, especially in periods of strong seasonality when you could even lose the buy box of breaking stock.
I always keep an eye on my competitors’ listing quality scores but that’s not everything if you want to beat them on the organic rankings of course. I like to stay on top of my competitors by monitoring their pricings inside and outside Amazon (you can do that with tools such as Boardfy) and, especially, check their ranking drops so I can beat them on the organic side and, also, offer a better alternative when attacking their listings using Product Targeting Ads on Sponsored Products.
Another must to monitor is your competition’s stock. If they run out of stock or they’re about to, it’s time to attack them using Sponsored Products PAT and their branded keywords on Sponsored Brands / Products + the backend keywords.
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