Season 1, Episode 47
Scale Your Brand Series: Amazon Review Strategies with EcomEngine
[00:00:07] Chris: Hi everybody. We’re here with EcomEngine today. I’m Christopher McCabe with Leah McHugh. We’re here with Becky and Colleen of EcomEngine to talk about growing brands and expanding your business, expanding your presence on Amazon specifically. EcomEngine is one of our wonderful sponsors for the Seller Velocity Conference, which will be in Bend, Oregon in late April, this year, 2022. How’s everybody doing today?
[00:00:32] Colleen: Yeah, it’s great to catch up with you.
[00:00:34] Chris: I know. Good to see you again. First time we’ve talked in 2022. January is typically the month, where everyone’s focused on what they’re going to do that year, maybe things will be doing better, things they’ll be doing differently. You guys are interacting with private label brands all the time talking improvements and what they can enhance. What kind of conversations have you been having the last, let’s say a few weeks or a few months on what their plans are for this year in terms of growth, expansion, and responsible development of their Amazon business.
[00:01:03] Becky: I think there’s a lot right now about just getting a plan in place for 2022, having a way to scale, especially your review strategy, having the right team in place to handle reviews. We recently did a case study with a company called Perfect Plants and they were named to the Inc 5,000 fastest growing companies list last year, which was really exciting. They’ve been using Feedback Five since I think 2018. So we were like, Hey, you know, how do you use feedback five? What’s going on? And they told us they really use our review monitoring feature. So they’re requesting reviews, they’ve got a really simple system set up with the request to review button, which we can automate so they’re not having to put a lot of thought into compliance, they’ve kind of automated the getting reviews, but then I think the piece that a lot of people don’t think about is what do you do with the reviews when you have them? So we talk about this a lot.
We recently did a webinar with empire flippers. And they were saying that when businesses are being valued, that’s one of the biggest things that buyers look at actually is what are customers saying about your products? How do people actually feel about this? And so if you don’t have someone on your team that’s going through monitoring those reviews, looking out for negatives, paying attention when there’s a customer service issue, or when there’s a listing issue and going back and trying to fix things, I think that’s where you can get into a lot of trouble so a lot of our sellers are just really trying to get all their processes in place for the year ahead and making sure that they have set up so they can just keep it repeating and move forward.
[00:02:27] Colleen: And I think just at the beginning of the year, you’re of course, planning ahead for the year, but you’re also doing a lot of look back on the previous year and so that’s where you’re looking at your sales from Q4 on your holiday orders, your refund rates, reviews that came in. So there’s a lot to look back on and a lot of learnings that then can help you make adjustments going forward.
[00:02:46] Leah: Yeah, it’s funny. I hear a lot of people talk about looking at reviews when they’re doing product research, like what people don’t like about another product, but we really don’t hear a lot of sellers talking about doing that with their own products and actually assessing what could be improved or what people really like and kind of building on that.
[00:03:02] Chris: I think it’s been a hot topic for the last month, at least. Is this every January, I feel like this January people have focused on. Just in the community, well, focused on like what you do to change product iterations or to improve something based on negative reviews.
I’ve read about it before, I’ve heard it discussed at Seller Velocity Conference before, but it seems like it’s a much hotter topic now just in terms of chatter and on Facebook groups and things like that, is that my imagination or would you agree?
[00:03:33] Becky: I would tend to agree. I think a lot of people had a lot of supply chain issues and a lot of manufacturer difficulties over the past couple of years. And as some of that starting to smooth out they’re revisiting what was going on, what they can do to improve in the future. But I also think Amazon is incredibly competitive and if you’re not paying attention to that kind of stuff and continually making those improvements, you’re just not going to rank high.
And then your product’s eventually not going to sell as well.
[00:03:59] Colleen: And with that, I guess it was about two years ago that Amazon rolled out the request a review button. But with that, they also had some guidelines that you could only request reviews up to 30 days after the delivery date. So this is really only the second holiday season that we’ve been through, where you have that 30 day window to ask for reviews. So in January they’re looking at, you know, probably the bulk of their sales were for the quarter right in December. So there’s just a little bit more of a sense of urgency to make sure that you’re requesting those reviews now that there’s only that 30 day timeframe.
[00:04:28] Chris: And Colleen from like a high level, because you’ve been in this business, how many years now? You’ve seen a lot.
[00:04:33] Colleen: Eight years here with EcomEngine.
Eight years. Right. From a high level, do you think that brands and Amazon business owners go kind of for trends every year when they reassess or do you think they’re actively scoping out their due diligence and looking for things they can improve or are they just looking like what their competitors are doing and seeing what the trends are for hot topics in the Amazon space and saying, oh yeah, we need to do that.
I think it’s more looking at what’s the most recent, very recent trends, recent reviews, because truly like reviews that are a year or two old are almost irrelevant. Other than the quantity of reviews, it certainly helps to have hundreds or thousands of reviews, but most consumers and buyers, they’re looking at the most recent reviews. A review that’s eight months or a year old is not going to hold as much weight as one that’s a few weeks old or two months old. So making sure that you always have recent reviews is very important. And obviously if there’s a recent review and you’re seeing a trend on recent reviews, that there’s a problem with the product that could have been like a new, new batch of that product that was manufactured, might be the same version or the same products so they didn’t have to change their ASIN in their listing, but something must’ve gotten tweaked on it that maybe they need to pull it from the shelf. So I think it’s always just the most recent trends when it comes to reviews and what their competition is doing.
[00:05:48] Leah: And in terms of this actually may be what you’ve already said, but in terms of like what you would recommend brands be doing for scaling this year, is there anything else that you think that brands should be doing or you’re seeing brands doing that’s working really well?
[00:06:01] Becky: You know, outside of the review space, definitely having inventory processes in place is also something that a lot of brands are paying a lot of attention to. And also in our recent webinar, when we were talking about valuation, we had Kahoot and they were talking about how if you don’t have a process for making sure that inventory gets to buyers, that’s really a big issue when someone’s looking to buy your business and so that’s continued to be an issue throughout, especially with COVID exacerbated that, but I think just as Amazon has pushed more and more one day shipping, same day shipping, people are looking to get items very fast. Now you’ve got Doordash, Doordash, will go to CVS for you and bring you band-aids in five minutes so Amazon’s trying to compete with that and with Walmart and with a lot of other really fast fulfillment options. And I think that brands really need to have a plan in place to be able to get their products to consumers, as soon as they can.
[00:06:54] Chris: Follow up question for Becky. I mean, but Colleen, you can chime in on this as well. Have you noticed that there’s a growing divide, possibly because there’s so much chatter about brands who want to sell, but a growing divide between established brands that have been around around for years and new ones that are smaller, that are starting to grow and maybe their perception of what Amazon is or what it could be, has been altered by this whole environment of sell a certain amount and then you can start looking for a buyer?
[00:07:19] Becky: Yeah, I think so. I think there are brands that are on Amazon because they see it as almost an necessity. We’ve worked with several brands that have been around for decades. And they’re like, well, we have to be on Amazon because everyone else is and we want to control our product. So we need to be on Amazon, we need to be brand registered, we need to pay attention to who’s on our listings. And then I think there are people that are, you know, they have an idea, they kind of want to try it out for a couple of years, they want to see how much money they can make and maybe they just want to flip, sell it, start another business and get out of there.
[00:07:53] Colleen: I think there’s a lot of misleading information out there that it’s like a get rich quick on Amazon. Like it is not that easy. You hear the stories of the, the FBA sellers that are selling their business and making tons of money, you know, in a short amount of time.
Even if you’re putting your business out there for sale, Empire Flippers even said like, you need to continue working up until that last minute, because if they start to see your inventory dropping, your sales dropping. You could lose a sale before the ink even gets on the paper to sign. So you need to just continue selling, but, um, back to Leah’s question about what brands are doing, I think they’re really more cautious and smarter about protecting their brand because there’s been so much fraudulent activity out there in the marketplace. So, Becky mentioned brand registry, I think that’s what a lot of newer brands are making sure that they’re registered as well as older brands that have been around for a long time that maybe just overlooked being registered. There’s just a lot of scammy activities. So making sure that you’re protecting yourself is important.
[00:08:48] Leah: Yeah. It’s always amazing. Large brands who come to us who haven’t been brand registered yet. They’re like, oh my God.
[00:08:55] Becky: Or they don’t understand like unauthorized resellers. We’ll get questions about that sometimes. And they’re like, why are all these people on my listing? What do I do about it? Oh, okay.
[00:09:06] Colleen: I mean, every new program that comes out from Amazon, it seems like you have to be brand registered. That’s usually one of the requirements. So if you want to have an option to be in some of these newer programs or to use vine or something, you need to make sure your brand registered.
[00:09:19] Chris: Right. And lock down your IP. I mean the Seller Velocity Conference is geared mostly towards advanced strategies, brands, content for brands that are doing at least 5 million up to 30 million is the window that we describe. So if you’re doing 5 million, then you’re already doing something right, I would say. You could be in a position to sell early, or you could develop it more or you could launch another brand, another product. That’s one of the things that we want to definitely make sure we talk to brands about in Bend this year, Is are you considering maybe not just focusing on talking to aggregators next week, but maybe launching another brand or increasing your revenue flow without thinking about a sale down the road, but just thinking about growing your company first. Any other tips, things that you see people doing that they shouldn’t be doing? I mean, aside from maybe the obvious, don’t hire a service without having any idea how they’re going to help you type stuff that Leah and I are always talking about.
Any last words of wisdom in terms of brands that are trying to grow this year?
[00:10:18] Colleen: I would just say, you mentioned some of the bigger sellers that you’re gonna be working with at Seller Velocity or bigger brands. And one thing is that people ask us all the time: well, are the bigger brands using the request review button feedback five, or are they using buyer-seller messaging?
So Becky and I just dove in this morning into that data and 65% of feedback five users that are enterprise level and above. What we would consider the bigger sellers, 65% of those are using the request to review button. So of course, buyer-seller messaging. It’s great to customize it, especially if you have a well-known logo or brand, you can certainly customize your message, but it’s a lot more risk, you have to make sure that what you’re saying is perfectly aligned with policies. And so I think more and more are going towards a request a review button to protect their brand, when those messages are being sent, especially if it’s a big company and you might have kind of a rotating door as to who that admin is that helps manage that or sends those emails and you can’t always retrain and trust that person to send, the exact words that you want to send. Whereas if it’s request a review button and you automate that with a tool like feedback five, it’s just set it and forget it. And you know you’re not going to get suspended for that.
[00:11:23] Leah: Do you guys find in terms of like how many people review based on buyer seller messaging versus request a review button, is there a large split in how many people actually labor a view with either of those tools?
[00:11:35] Colleen: We have not seen varying data, I guess we haven’t seen a trend sometimes we think we see a trend and then it goes the other way. It just depends on the company, the brand, the product. There’s so many factors that are involved. It’s hard for us to see that, but we have seen a pretty big increase in response rate for consumers responding to review requests. And I think that’s because it’s so easy to leave a rating. Unfortunately they’re not always leaving a review. You know, the optimized message that Amazon created in the request to review button is very mobile friendly. It’s very easy click on your stars and you move on with your day.
We’re seeing I think because it is so easy, we’re seeing higher response rates, but I know they’re not always leaving the comments and the review to explain why they gave it that review, which can be frustrating.
[00:12:19] Chris: For sure. For sure. First of all, thanks again for sponsoring Seller Velocity and we’re looking forward to your input regarding the conference, but also just meet ups here in Boston and the rest of the year. Your a reliable source of information on this entire topic. So thanks again for supporting us. And we look forward to talking to you again soon.
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