It’s no secret that Amazon is the most influential and disruptive retailer in the US, radically redefining the eCommerce landscape. And since Amazon.com has leapfrogged Google as the number one place we go to search for products, Amazon Stores may be a brand’s most valuable piece of digital real estate – bar none.
Sure, we all know that your direct-to-consumer (DTC) website gives you the greatest control over brand storytelling, merchandising, and the customer journey. Not to mention your margins are going to be way better on your own channels. But as Amazon continues its stratospheric rise, it provides trust, convenience, and access to a vast new customer base that you can activate through a variety of sophisticated marketing tools.
Price of Entry
At a minimum, brands must strive to build consistency between their DTC channels and Amazon stores (as well as the rest of their channel partners) to avoid confusing the online shopper who’s bouncing from one site to the next looking for the best deal on your products. But there’s a host of other reasons for building a Brand Store, and a variety of ways to test and learn from this increasingly important marketing and sales channel. But before we get started, you may be asking, what exactly is an Amazon Store?
Fitbit’s Amazon Brand Store, designed by Iron Creative.
Amazon Stores Explained
- Stores are free, multi-page micro-sites that live on the Amazon platform.
- They are prime real estate for promoting your brand story and products.
- They help shoppers discover your product portfolio and related products on Amazon.
- You can use drag-and-drop technology or predesigned templates to create a customized, multi-page Store – you don’t need to write a line of code.
- You get your own amazon.com web address and can drive shoppers to your Store with ads on Amazon and various marketing vehicles outside of Amazon – using your unique Amazon URL.
- But unlike your brand’s own DTC website, Amazon Stores are hard to find and are not the default destination for Amazon search results (a subject we’ve written about before). Amazon Stores are just one integral component of a broader Amazon marketing strategy. They need to be activated by a concerted marketing effort to provide positive ROI.
- You can use Amazon’s Stores Insights tool to understand your sales and traffic sources and to optimize ad campaigns.
- Who can create a Store? Stores are available for anyone enrolled in the Amazon Brand Registry, as well as vendors, and agencies. And while you don’t need to advertise on Amazon to create a Store, that would be a bit like hosting a party without inviting any guests. For a Store to be effective, you have to drive traffic to it.
Why You Need an Amazon Store
Scores of brands, both large and small, have woken up to the potential of Amazon to drive unparalleled growth in their businesses. For those brands, Stores have become an invaluable piece of digital real estate, establishing their credibility on the platform, and further legitimizing the platform in their customers’ eyes. If you are not effectively using Stores, you can bet your competitors are.
The platform represents a vast, untapped reserve of potential customers, people who would otherwise never visit your DTC website. These audiences can be effectively and efficiently reached through a host of advertising vehicles and can be one or two clicks away from a customizable brand experience.
For smaller brands, with limited marketing dollars, they often represent the best value for telling brand stories and converting sales. With its free-to-play model, Stores are a cost-effective tool to test and learn against a variety of messaging and design criteria. And as you drive more and more traffic to the Store, that data only grows in its significance.
Whether you’re new to the platform or looking to take your Amazon game to the next level, we’ve distilled our ten years of experience into this handy (okay, lengthy) 14 best practices for a better Amazon Store checklist.
Ray-Ban’s Amazon Brand Store, designed by Iron Creative.
Amazon Store Best Practices Checklist
- Tell your story: Make sure your Store articulates your brand’s value proposition and tells your story in a way that’s appropriate for the Amazon audience.
- Create continuity: Align your messaging with your DTC brand, and other media channels, to foster confidence and trust with shoppers as they comparison-shop across several domains.
- Navigation is crucial: It’ll be easier for your customers to discover the products they want if you understand their decision-making process, their needs, and their typical shopping journey. Map their goals to your navigation structure – and refine using Store Insights – to get them to their destination as seamlessly as possible.
- Curate the right shopping experience: At a minimum, organize your Store by different categories or sub-brands to display related types of content and products. Refine the experience by choosing from Amazon’s array of product listings or handpick from a variety of dynamic widgets that auto-populate different product displays – based on shopper insights, such as keyword searches, best-selling products, or recommendation history. Best of all, these widgets automatically update your Store pages when you add new listings.
- Attract and engage: use a variety of engaging content types to build your brand and differentiate from your competitors. Video, compelling photography, brand, and product overviews combine to produce attractive, engaging experiences. Use full-width images to create impact, but be strategic about where you feature them – such as your homepage or the top or bottom of your product category pages. Large images may be slow to load and can stand between your shoppers and the products they are looking for.
- Create custom content: While building synchronicity with your DTC channels is essential, the Amazon environment is sufficiently robust to be able to support custom marketing content, designed to attract existing and new customers. Don’t be afraid to test and learn with tailored new material for a potential new audience.
- Keep it fresh: Set aside time every month to align the Store with new product launches, seasonal events, and promotional calendars.
- Optimize for mobile and desktop: make sure your Store looks and performs just as well for mobile users as it does for those on desktop. Pay specific attention to the way image and product tiles reflow and make sure any image-based type is legible at small sizes.
- Be professional: it sounds redundant, but Amazon can be very particular about the Stores it chooses to approve. A variety of guidelines exists for the types of content you can feature, the way you design the Store, the way your navigation functions, and something Amazon refers to as “professionalism” – which includes inappropriate capitalization, inappropriate grammar, image resolution, and poor mobile cropping.
- Promote your Store on and off Amazon: Create a marketing strategy for your Store to drive brand awareness and engagement:
• Use Headline Search Ads (prominent ad placement above relevant search results) to market your Store to a qualified audience
• Link your Store in the brand byline on your product detail pages
Include your unique store URL on marketing activities off Amazon.com
• Share your Store with your social media networks (built-in social features make it easy for shoppers to share with their social networks as well)
- Create campaign synergy: Use custom landing pages to mirror your on and offsite brand creative. The goal is to amplify your brand, not dilute it, especially if you are driving new product awareness or looking to attract potential new customers.
- Continue the branded journey: Extend brand reach and increase sales with enhanced brand content on product display pages, and consider utilizing Amazon’s A+ and A+ Premium offerings. Be sure to test each product page to make sure you have sufficient inventory, and the products are displaying correctly before driving traffic to them. An inconsistent or broken user experience at the product display page can quickly undermine the hard work you’ve put into your Store strategy and quickly skew your sales data.
- Test and learn: develop a robust analytics strategy using Amazon’s Stores Insights tool – which provides information about your Store’s performance, including traffic and sales – and be sure to test and learn continually with your Store content.
- Use source tags effectively: source tags allow you to track the performance and behavior of a specific set of users you have driven to your Store: from ads, social media, blogs, etc. Effectively deploying source tags will allow you to add a layer sophistication to your analytics strategy and help you to refine your traffic-driving methodology over time.
Vogue Eyewear’s Amazon Brand Store, designed by Iron Creative.
A Little Help Can Go a Long Way
Through its comprehensive and ever-evolving advertising platform, Amazon can help brands find, attract, and engage millions of customers at every stage of their journey. While it has done an excellent job of developing a robust set of standalone tools that enable relative newcomers to build attractive and functional Stores, to get the most out of this sophisticated marketing environment, a little specialist help can go a long way.
With its advanced campaign and brand store reporting, brands can test and learn with the most robust data set in the world. But for newcomers or brands who have historically failed to optimize the platform, it can be daunting – retaining a specialist team can help to produce exponential results. That’s where an agency like Iron comes in. We developed the first-ever Amazon Store (for Levi’s) over ten years ago and have been building robust and integrated Stores ever since for some of the world’s best-known brands, including Fitbit, Ray-Ban, Vogue Eyewear, and Adidas.
Adidas Ultraboost 20 Amazon Brand Store Page, designed by Iron Creative.
Stores are now an essential part of most brands’ marketing mix – with many companies building out dedicated teams of marketers to capitalize on the opportunity. And while they are free to set up, they need to be actively managed and maintained, ideally by a specialist agency or team, to add real value. Companies succeed when they continually test brand and custom marketing content to determine the best drivers of sales and awareness with what is likely to be a new audience. And given the ongoing rise of Amazon and its dominance in product search, Stores may represent the most effective vehicle for getting your brand in front of your target audience in a way you control.
At IRON, we’ve been developing proven Amazon marketing strategies – driving sales and building brand equity – for almost ten years. Email us if you’d like to find out how we can help your business to grow at Amazon and beyond.