When it comes to selling online, a key concept to keep in mind is that you, the seller, are the “middleman” between your product and the customer.
There is nothing stopping a shopper from skipping over you, and from a statistical point of view, nearly all of them will (in 2018, the average US eCommerce website conversion rate was only 2.6%).
With the worldwide accessibility of the Internet, and the numerous outlets providing “direct to consumer” products – what is to say that your potential customers won’t just go straight to the manufacturer and buy from them instead?
A lot of consumers are doing just that and it’s undercutting many private label sellers.
As an eCommerce seller, you are in fact, a barrier between what people want and how they can get it!
It sounds counterintuitive to think this way, but in thinking about yourself as a barrier, you can then work on ways to “break down” (or improve) what you are doing to prevent people from buying from you.
So, how do you create these barriers?
- Product Offering
- Quality (perceived and actual)
- Value (perceived and actual)
- Brand trust
On Amazon, customers are more likely to go with a brand that is established and has positioned their products to add the most value possible in terms of quality, trust, and affordability.
This isn’t theory or speculation.
Amazon has divulged this information time and again to sellers through their news releases and marketing tool “beta tests” – ranging from repricing tools, to obvious “spikes” in traffic for sellers each time they get a positive verified review, to new sponsored advertising features.
How to Break Down the Selling Barriers
Fortunately, you can lower the barriers to selling your products by focusing on 5 tried and true principles of business.
- Sell products that people want, and know where they are.
Rather than try to bring people to your products, you should find products that people already need, want, and buy. While this might not be possible when introducing an entirely brand new product (as in, something you invented and patented yourself), if you’re sourcing a garlic press, for example, then you should not be struggling to sell it as long as you know where the people are who want to buy it.
- Know your numbers in terms of pricing
Pricing for profit isn’t your only objective. Ultimately it is the market and consumer that will determine what you can reasonably set the prices of your products.
Price too high, and you’ll be undercut by competitors that sell at volume and can dictate lower set price points. Price too low and you may not make a profit or devalue your brand.
Finding a balance between profit, market competitiveness, and consumer perception is a matter of testing your target market for price elasticity. That is to say, measuring how much raising or lowering the price has little impact on the demand for it.
- Deliver high-quality products and have that reflected in your product images and a product demonstration video
Image is everything and especially online where customers cannot hold, feel, and evaluate a product in person as they would in a brick and mortar retail store – customers will turn to your product images to make a critical assessment as to whether or not the product you’re selling matches what they are searching for.
Make sure you have professionally done images – high resolution, with a mixture of in-use, lifestyle, and infographic “explainer” images, as well as a product demonstration video.
- Add value to your products with added features and options
If you’re struggling to stand out from the other sellers that are offering similar products – a great way to add actual and perceived value is to either improve upon what is already on the market with an added feature or include an additional complementary item along with it (bundle).
Not only can you add perceived value to your product this way, but for just a little bit more in actual cost, you can increase your profit margins.
This same model is used by fast food restaurants every day. They will offer a burger for $5.99 but then they will ask you if you want to add fries and a Coke for an additional $1.50. The profit margin on the burger is only 25% but the profit margin on the fries and the Coke is around 75-100%.
- Build Brand Trust
I was having a conversation with a friend about her looking for new wireless earbuds for her kid on Amazon.
She mentioned that she saw that one of the first results on page one was some obscure and unknown brand that had over 7,000 5-star reviews.
She told me, “at first I was like -hey, this has over 7,000 5-star reviews, it must be a great pair of earbuds!”
Until she scanned down the page and started reading the reviews.
Almost all of them were fake and most of them weren’t even for the product being sold!
After more research, she decided to go with a brand she knew and trusted but had a review rating of 3.9 instead.
My friend’s mentality/thought process is not unlike many people shopping on Amazon right now.
Thanks to media attention – consumers are becoming more aware of the black-hat tactics being used by sellers to abuse the system and take advantage of Amazon’s inconsistent enforcement and oversight.
The unfortunate residual effect is that all sellers on Amazon now are looked at with more scrutiny – so even those of us that are legitimate and ethical sellers may not be seen as trustworthy!
One way to build brand trust and loyalty, while helping combat the blackhatters, hijackers, and scammers is for sellers to focus on building a true brand.
This means doing the following:
- List your products using UPC/EAN codes bought directly through GS1 https://www.gs1.org/
- Register your brand name with your country’s trademark registry office (USPTO.gov for the USA for example).
- Register your products/brand with Amazon’s Brand Registry service
- Retain legal counsel and have cease and desist letters drafted and ready to go to send to infringing parties
- Develop a strong brand presence outside of Amazon (your own “dotcom” brand website/storefront, social media pages, etc. – make sure you have a physical mailing address, and a toll-free 1-800 support number).
Eliminating as many barriers for your customers and making it as easy as possible to purchase your products with confidence should be every seller’s main focus.
You don’t have to be seen as a middleman – but a friendly bridge that connects your brand and products to what hopefully will become a tribe of repeat loyal customers in the future.