Boost sales, reduce ad spend – whatever your goal, an Amazon consultant may be the smarter way to achieve it. So how do you choose?
Getting a strong return from your Amazon Seller account takes both time and skill. Amazon consultants already have the skill. Not only that, but their time isn’t time you would otherwise be using to process orders, audit stock, manage other sales channels, update your CRM, or anything else your business needs doing.
Amazon is huge – over half of all product searches online start and finish there. Without being on Amazon, that means you give up all chance of securing those sales. And more than half of Amazon’s sales are made by Amazon Sellers.
That’s a huge industry. It’s only natural that this industry has a support economy all its own. You’ll be able to find experts on doing all sorts of business on Amazon, from product compliance to listing optimisation, from winning the Buy Box to managing your Sponsored Product Ads.
Of course, as with any support economy, there are good and bad investments. So how do you tell them apart?
First, you need to know what they do. It’s worth dividing them into two categories here.
Short Term Amazon Consultants
Appeal experts specialise in suspension cases. They can help you get listings unblocked or even persuade Amazon to reinstate your account. Usually, they’ll be brought in when a crisis is actually happening. Some will also provide account health analysis. You might hire one to audit your account and give you advice on improving it.
Of course, even these experts can’t help if your listings are unblocked because they’re firmly against Amazon’s rules.
Are you planning to launch your products for sale in other nations? Then an international specialist is a good idea. Translating and localising listings is important; handling potential tax questions is also important.
Add in the potential minefield of import regulations and you can see why an advisor to help you get prepared is important.
If you manufacture any items you sell, or if you have sole dealership rights or something similar, a qualified lawyer may be important. Trademark protection is a tricky business on Amazon, but it’s also one that’s vital to stay on top of. Make sure you select an actual lawyer. And make sure they have an appropriate specialisation! A contract lawyer you use for other parts of your business may not handle IP (Intellectual Property) well.
Long Term Amazon Consultants
Account Management Experts
You may also see these referred to as managed services or channel management. These are full-service groups, usually as agencies. With channel management, you don’t really handle any of the day-to-day aspects of your account.
Sometimes these services are provided by other Amazon Sellers, who effectively handle your stock and orders as if you were part of their business.
A variation of this service exists which runs your sales for a period of time while you learn the ropes.
Are your product listings optimised? Because of the way ASINs link identical products sold by different retailers, you don’t have as much freedom in your listings as you might on other platforms. That just makes it more important to optimise where you can.
Improving your conversion rate or your organic search performance makes for a better bottom line.
Ad Campaign Management
Most Amazon consultants in this area work as part of larger digital marketing agencies, though you also get specialists. They handle PPC ad management within Amazon – Sponsored Product Ads, Sponsored Brand Ads, and Product Display Ads.
Keep Up with the Competition
It’s a rare Amazon Seller who’s never used any of these consultants. There are a lot of different areas of expertise represented in the list above, and few companies have all of that to hand.
If all your competitors use consultants, can you afford not to? Maybe – if you have the expertise you need in-house.
Consultants and Start-Ups
Start-ups tend to be small teams working to get a company up and running. Many product-driven start-ups today have crowdfunding behind them, meaning they have deadlines in place. And product-driven start-ups are usually trying to finalise designs, set up production lines, etc.
These small teams don’t have time to manage sales channels they don’t have to. Amazon is too useful a channel to neglect, but it’s complex. It takes time to master.
Start-ups will often look for channel management services or, if they’re also intending to sell on other channels, ad campaign management. They might look for a digital marketing agency that can also handle Google Shopping. Trust in your agency is essential, so finding just one agency you can trust usually makes more sense.
Consultants and Established Amazon Sellers
Conventional retailers, selling products on Amazon which can be sold by other Sellers, face a tough challenge. Their listings will be the same as for their competitors because they’re linked by the same ASIN. So, they’re competing exclusively on Amazon’s metrics for winning the Buy Box. These include:
- Customer Service
- Time to Ship
- Time to Respond to Customer
(For more on this, watch for our upcoming Guide to Selling on Amazon in 2019)
Ad campaign managers offer a significant advantage over other companies when it comes to showing up for shoppers.
With a rise in dirty tactics on the part of some Sellers, retailers in competitive fields may need appeal experts too.
Consultants and Product Manufacturers/Name Brands
Name brands and significant manufacturers don’t have to worry so much about direct competition, though brand protection can be important. They may want legal services to protect their brand. Otherwise, ad campaign managers are a good call, especially if you use Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) or manage shipping internally.
Manufacturers who don’t handle shipping or sell elsewhere might prefer full channel management.
Matching with Your Consultant
What Do You Need?
Is a managed service right for you, or would you prefer to handle your own customer service? Different businesses find their peace of mind in different ways.
Figuring out exactly what your problems are has to be the first step. Do you want to pay a consultant to solve a problem you don’t have? Hire a specialist in your issue unless you’re struggling with too many things.
Can They Help You?
Businesses usually bring in experts to help with areas they don’t understand. This makes for a challenge – how do you know they’re good?
The best solution lies at the border between what they do and what you do. Ask them if they’ve worked with businesses in your market or close to it, and ask them how it worked.
Sure, you may not know enough to judge their Amazon knowledge. Get them talking about working with a business like yours and they have to show knowledge of your market. If that knowledge checks out, you can trust their Amazon knowledge the same way.
Next, ask for a plan for your own business. Try to get a picture of why they’re making the choices they are, and ask them what they expect for results.
Ask them what they’ll expect from you to help make that happen. This does two things. First, it takes away any excuse they might offer if they don’t achieve results. But second – much more importantly – it helps them to help you. You don’t want to be paying someone to do a job and preventing them from doing their best at the same time.
Is the Price Right?
How does your prospective consultant want to be paid? Are you paying for their time? For results? If they’re handling ad spend, do they charge a percentage of spend?
And whatever the price is, are you comfortable paying it?
The price has to be right before you go ahead. Selling thousands of products on Amazon is a bad thing if you make a loss on each sale.
Lastly, don’t forget to factor in implementation costs. Ad management and managed services are the exception, but everyone else is advisory; you’re going to need to implement their suggestions. That takes time and may cost money. Consider that as part of your price.
You use Amazon consultants to increase your success on Amazon. Always ask yourself how your consultant will help you do that – otherwise, you might be wasting money.