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How to Move the Amazon Flywheel

Thankfully, understanding the Amazon flywheel and how to move it and keep it moving does not require an advanced knowledge of physics. In fact, we can understand the mechanics of it as a result of our own experiences moving in the world and with just a little knowledge of Newton’s First Law of Motion, which, simply put, states that unless acted on by an external force, a body at rest tends to stay at rest and a body in motion tends to stay in motion. Consider momentum and how much effort it can take to get a big wheel turning (or to stop it) and how the wheel seems to power itself once it does get turning.

That middle part, when a wheel is turning and it’s fast and smooth, can seem almost magical in its power, ease, flow, and both the use and conservation of energy. It’s positively elegant in both simplicity and sophistication.

The Amazon Flywheel (AKA Amazon’s Virtuous Cycle, AKA The Bezos Napkin Sketch)

The Amazon flywheel is an example of such a metaphoric object and the processes that start it and perpetuate it. Below is the now-famous visual of the Amazon Flywheel. It’s famous enough, simple enough, and familiar enough to not need much explanation.

In this article, I’ll break down not the components of the Amazon flywheel, but how you, as a seller, can (and must) work the mechanics of your own operation in order to reap the benefits of Amazon’s motion and power and growth. As a seller, you provide and turn some of the gears that are essential to the larger flywheel motion.

Understanding the Basic Tenets Guiding All Things Amazon

First you need to understand the tenets upon which the Amazon flywheel and Amazon success in general are based:

  1. First and foremost, the customer experience is everything. You know this, but just take a moment to remind yourself of it (the new policy changes to Amazon third-party seller returns and refunds serves as a great example). At the heart of everything that Amazon does is customer satisfaction and keeping customers happy and buying more and buying beyond what they thought they wanted, needed, or could even acquire through Amazon.
  2. Success begets success on Amazon . . . and is rewarded.
  1. On Amazon’s side, this relates to efficiencies and costs (Lower Costs -> Lower Prices -> Growth -> Lower Costs . . . repeat). We see this with Amazon’s cutting-edge logistics in fulfillment and delivery and how that lowers costs and prices allowing the company to invest more in technology and efficiencies and innovative products and exclusive offerings.
  2. On the seller side, this relates to selection and sales and profits, the latter of which Amazon gets a share (More Sales -> Better Rank -> Better Placement -> More Sales . . . repeat). Your success as a seller is integral to Amazon’s success as a marketplace and an organization.

Wheels Turning Wheels: The Seller’s Role in the Larger Flywheel

Now that we have our foundations, let’s explore the smaller parts at work and how when these things (the gears powering the larger flywheel) are in harmony and humming along, the result is smooth and fast and profitable.

The gist is as follows: If you provide compelling listings, you’ll get more conversions and sales. When you start selling more of a product, that product will rank better. When that product ranks better, it gets better placement. With better placement, a product sells more. When a product sells more, it ranks better . . . and the beat goes on. In the model, motion can be accelerated organically by good reviews and great customer service. It can also be accelerated artificially by a seller using things like Sponsored Products ads or Headline Search Ads or promotions. Feed the cycle and the cycle will repay you.

Below is a visual representation. For each component, I’ll add some very brief info and resources.

The Gears and How to Turn Them into Power and Profits

DISCOVERY: Simply put, this is the ability to show up in search results. Shoppers can’t buy what they can’t find. Help them find and buy your product by making it relevant to the Amazon A9 algorithm and thus search-friendly for shoppers. Remember that each required field is an opportunity to have your product found, and in turn, purchased.

  • Title: You only have 200 characters to use so use them wisely. Include brand name, what the product is and what it does and variations of those for which shoppers may be searching. Not sure you’re doing titles correctly, check out 5 Title Myths That Could Be Killing Your Amazon Traffic & Sales.
  • Bullet Points: Make them easy to read, formatted in a consistent fashion, and full of pertinent information. Go the extra mile and anticipate questions shoppers may have and answer those questions preemptively. If you stand by your product (and you should), include (and tout) a guarantee of some sort.
  • Keywords: Remember that you are peppering your entire listing with keywords that will be used throughout in the title, headline, bullets, description, and on the backend. Research which words matter to users and to Amazon’s algorithm and distribute those well and wisely.
    • So how do you find the best keywords?
      • Ask people to describe your product.
      • Do an Amazon search as well as searches on other ecommerce sites like Walmart, Ebay, and Target.
      • Do a reverse ASIN lookup using a tool like Scope (Grab your free Scope Basic Chrome extension here.)
      • Use the Search Term Report in Seller Central.
      • Read product reviews.
      • Read competitors’ listings.

 

TRAFFIC: Here we’re talking about clicks, plain and simple. You’re taking a shopper from having found your product and seen it to clicking on it for further info and possible purchase. Here’s how you drive traffic and cross that bridge from impression to click:

  • Advertising:
    • If you’re a wholesaler and brand owner (1P seller) on the Amazon Vendor Central or Vendor Express merchant platform, start using the tools available to you through Amazon Marketing Services (AMS). These include Product Display Ads, Headline Search Ads, and Sponsored Products.
    • If you’re a 3P seller on the Seller Central Platform, your Amazon Advertising options are limited to Sponsored Products Ads (available to all 3P sellers) and Headline Search Ads (only available to 3P brand owners).

Note: The pages linked to in the above section arrive at different destinations due to the differences between Vendor Central, Vendor Express, and Seller Central. Please use the links relevant to your Amazon selling platform.

 

CONVERSION: Now it’s all about sealing the deal. You’ve got a potential buyer on your detail page. Here are some tools to help you turn that click into a sale.

  • Detail Pages That Rock: A+ Content (for 1P vendors) and Enhanced Brand Content (for brand-owning 3P sellers) don’t just prettify product detail pages, they allow you to tell the story behind your brand and your product. These content-rich pages leave standard pages in the dust in terms of look and feel and delivering compelling communication.
  • Photos: Yes, yes, yes! Use them, and not just snaps of your product from various angles. Lifestyle snaps of people using your product speak volumes. Make sure that your images are clear, appropriate, and high-resolution.
  • Video: This is currently only available to vendors using A+ Content, but word on the street is that video will soon be available in Enhanced Brand Content. Now that would be a Q4 holiday gift to sellers.
  • Q&A: I already mentioned this as fodder for bullet points but I mention it in this section because answering questions (preemptively or in quick response as asked) not only provides crucial information to shoppers, it gives them the confidence to buy and it shows that you are an attentive seller).
  • Promotions: Run them well and you’ll sell more, in turn helping your ranking, which in turn helps your placement and turns the gear. Seller beware: promotions can go very wrong very quickly as Amazon itself found out.

 

REVIEWS: What buyers (especially buyers who have made verified purchases) say about your product matters as much, if not more, than anything you can say about it. Product reviews are a must. A product without reviews is a turnoff to any buyer because no one wants to be the first to take a chance. And don’t disregard your competitors’ reviews, those can provide you with valuable information.

  • How to Get Positive Reviews:
  • Remember that it’s Amazon so everything is about providing a great customer experience. Provide an awesome product at an excellent price and get it delivered fast and make right any wrongs (even if the customer is at fault). When you do these things well, you not only get good reviews, you get shares and your customers recommend your product (and brand) to their friends. Without these basics, you’ll find yourself not just without reviews (and without sales) but with negative reviews instead, which will get you in hot water with Amazon.
  • Follow up using a feedback-generating tool such as Feedback Genius and listen to what buyers are saying. Address their concerns and make the appropriate changes to your listings and processes.
  • Go Beyond Your Product: Check competitors’ reviews and look for any trouble spots that customers have experienced. Turn your competitors’ negatives (e.g., “product has weird rubbery smell that never goes away”) into your own positives by addressing these issues in your product listing information (“guaranteed to be odorless”).

Do Not Confuse Inertia with Complacency

If this all seems like a lot to do and manage, remember your physics and the flywheel model and that the hard part is setting it in motion. Once you do the heavy lifting there and set yourself up for success by attending to the above gears, kinetic energy kicks in and the wheel will keep spinning (barring changes to the circumstances). This being commerce, however, changes will indeed take place (and Amazon will indeed make changes often and without notice). Sellers cannot anticipate all of these or how the changes will affect the marketplace. That said, do your part to keep the flywheel spinning smoothly—keep your gears clean and well oiled, stay informed, seize opportunities, and be nimble when changes do kick in—and you’ll be rewarded for it.

AUTHOR BIO: Lena Liberman is a senior copywriter at Seller Labs. She has nearly 20 years of editorial experience, heavily concentrated in the fields of technology, publishing, and education. When not gathering information and writing about it, Lena can be found restoring vintage furniture or hiking with her dogs.

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