The Top 5 Frequently Asked Amazon Seller Questions w/ Viral Launch Coaches Brandon & AJ

The Top 5 Frequently Asked Amazon Seller Questions w/ Viral Launch Coaches Brandon & AJ

We aggregate a LOT of data here at Viral Launch. ‘Data’ can look like a couple different things – one of them being direct interaction with the Amazon Seller community. Viral Launch has a coaching team that interacts with & guides a LARGE number of Sellers every single day, and have a solid understanding of what’s happening in the Seller community as a result. Today, we break down some of the most recent commonly asked questions sellers have been asking with two of the coaches that have been in the middle of it all. 

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Podcast Transcript

AJ:

Consider the source.  Too often we see people come to us with a product that they’re looking to validate that they’ve found on some list somewhere, you know, or they have seen from a Kickstarter campaign.  If you’re finding a product based off of something that’s visible to everyone, everyone else is going to be looking for that product.

CAMERON YODER:

Hey, what’s up, everybody?  My name is Cameron.  I am cohost of the podcast, Follow the Data with Casey Gauss, and today we actually have kind of a different or, I don’t know, just more unique episode.  So at Viral Launch we have a pretty good opportunity to just be in touch with a lot of Amazon sellers.  We have a team of what we call coaches, and I’ll explain this later in the episode, but we have a full team of coaches who are in touch with sellers every single day, in tune with what’s going on in the Amazon space and what people are experiencing, frustrations they’re experiencing, everything in between and what they, what is working, what is not working.  There’s just a lot that our coaches are in tune with.  And so honestly it’s a pretty valuable resource just to bring them into the picture sometimes with content that we have. 

And today’s episode is that, or involves that.  So we actually asked the I asked the coaches to conglomerate a lot of information that’s going on in the Amazon space right now with Amazon sellers into the top five questions that Amazon sellers are asking right now, and it’s what they’re asking right now, and it’s also kind of what they’ve been asking.  So today I bring two coaches in, Brandon and AJ, to talk about the top five questions that they are hearing Amazon sellers ask.  And we go through the answers.  We talk through the answers to those questions.  So that is what today’s episode is.  That’s what it involves.  So enjoy the show.  If you have any questions – I always say this at the end, but if you have any questions on what we talked about or any comments, feel free to shoot us a direct message on Facebook.  We’ll get back to you.  Facebook is probably the easiest way for us to reach out to people.  Just shoot us a DM, any questions, any comments, any ideas, and I would love to hear from you.  So all right, enjoy the episode.

What’s up, everybody?  So I’m here with two of our coaches just to explain a little bit about Viral Launch.  At Viral Launch we have a team of coaches and/or I kind of call them consultants when I talk to other people about our team.  But I have two of our coaches here.  They’re awesome guys.  I have Brandon and AJ.  Brandon and AJ, what do you guys have to say about being here today?

AJ:

I’m stoked.

CAMERON YODER:

Wow, stoked.  Brandon?

BRANDON:

He said it.

CAMERON YODER:

He said it.  He said it.  Well, guys, so you’re coaches.  How would you describe – just to give the listeners some context here, where is your perspective coming from?  Tell us about coaching a little bit.

BRANDON:

I mean I think we pretty much spend all day looking at Amazon, and so through that we’re able to provide a lot of insight as to what we’re seeing in the markets, what we’re seeing in the markets relative to our services, as well as just different product trends and things like that.  So a lot of times outside of the data we’re able to provide perspective on, you know, maybe something – maybe a market looks really great, but at the same time we’ve seen a bunch of clients come to us in the last few weeks with product in that market.  And so it’s probably something to stay away from, whereas the data maybe wouldn’t pick up on that yet because it’s not registering as being oversaturated yet.  So there’s a lot of data, but there’s also a lot of kind of intellectual or analytical insights that play into our thought process and logic in kind of guiding and consulting our clients.

CAMERON YODER:

That’s exactly – that’s a really good way to put it.  It’s a really good mixture of data, handling data, but also being aware, having that human element of being aware of what’s in the market and how to respond to it.  And so that’s the perspective that AJ and Brandon are speaking from today, and so we’re actually going to go over kind of five really frequently asked questions from sellers that our coaches get, and we’re going to answer those questions and talk through those answers to those questions.  And so, all right, guys, let’s just kind of jump into the questions, the five questions here.  So question number one that a lot of sellers give to our coaches, that a lot of sellers are asking right now, from the perspective of a seller who is just starting on Amazon, what do I – the question is so I’ve just started on Amazon.  What do I do next?  I’ve just started selling my products on Amazon.  What do I do next?  What is like the proper timeline after I start selling?  Guys, what do you think?

BRANDON:

I mean, I think the major kind of chokepoint is review generation.  So once you have your product live on Amazon you’ve got to start kind of strategizing ways to get reviews.  There’s not a lot of easy ways, so really just making sure you have good email follow-up sequences in place, you’re providing really great customer service.  You also want to start exploring your PPC options, getting some strategies in place there to help get you a little bit of visibility from the get-go, and then making sure that your content is really well-optimized, that you’re priced to compete within the market, and so you’re really, you know, offering a good product at a good price that’s providing a lot of value to potential customers.

AJ:

Yeah, so I agree with Brandon there.  I mean I think a lot of it is dependent on the market that you’re in, as well.  So obviously reviews are going to be important regardless of the market.  But there are some markets that are just going to be crazy competitive and you’re going to need to do really well with review generation.  So something like a fat burner is going to require, you know, thousands of reviews to do well, whereas something that doesn’t really have a lot of ambiguity behind the results that you’re going to get, like batteries or whatever, you know, you might not really need a ton of reviews to be competitive off the – from the beginning.  So I think making sure that you make every decision within the context of your individual market is pretty important as well.

CAMERON YODER:

In terms of congruent steps, like so let’s say someone – well, let’s talk through the steps.  So I – see, for me to give some input here just on like the steps that a seller takes, step one typically is like establish your business, right?  Not everyone has to establish an LLC, but you can do that if you want, right?

AJ:

Yeah.

CAMERON YODER:

Establish a business.  Do product research.  Pick the right product.  You source that product, right?  Then you do – that’s like everything post.  After you have sourced the product and you start selling on Amazon, it’s like creatives, right?

AJ:

Yeah, yeah.

CAMERON YODER:

So photos –

BRANDON:

Photos, listing content –

CAMERON YODER:

Listing content.

BRANDON:

Enhanced brand content if you have that open to –

CAMERON YODER:

EBC.  Then start generating reviews?

AJ:

Yeah, I would say driving traffic to get reviews.  So they’re not just going to come on their own.  You’ve got to – once you’ve optimized your listing with all the creative stuff you’ve got to find a way to get some traffic to that listing, and that’s where PPC comes in play, external traffic.

CAMERON YODER:

So start generating reviews through traffic.  So that’s around this period of time, like in terms of the congruency stage of selling on Amazon.  That would be like you get your creatives in play, your photos, your listing, and you start generating reviews through something like PPC?

AJ:

Yeah, and I think that’s definitely one strategy.  A lot of people, you know, if you want to be more aggressive, they do start off with something like a giveaway right off the bat, even without the reviews.  There’s just the expectation there that the giveaway is going to get you on the first page presumably, but once you’re on Page 1 you’re going to need to supplement some organic sales with either another giveaway or a really aggressive PPC campaign or whatever.  You know, as you’re on Page 1 you have the visibility there, you can kind of take advantage of that and bring in some organic reviews that way as well.

CAMERON YODER:

What do most people – what do most sellers get wrong in the checklist, the Amazon checklist?

BRANDON:
I think one huge mistake is just not taking the time to develop the content.  I mean it’s pretty crowded on Amazon these days.  So you really need to make sure that you are selling your product as a higher-quality or with better wording, better imagery.  And you know, a lot of people are sourcing from similar if not the same places, so products can be virtually identical, and really differentiating yourself through sort of a value prop, through the presentation of the product is hugely beneficial.

AJ:

Yeah, I think a lot of people jump straight to, you know, they want to get ranking.  They want to get visibility, but the fact of the matter is if your listing is not in a position where it’s converting well once it has the visibility, you need to make sure that that step’s taken care of before you jump on some kind of crazy promotion.

CAMERON YODER:

There are a lot of steps that sellers miss.  Creatives is probably one of the most important ones that either sellers don’t focus enough on or put enough resources into.  Let’s go to question number two.  In terms of question number two that as lot of sellers are asking revolves around reviews.  So it’s kind of a series of questions, but number one, how do I get reviews?  Do I need reviews to launch a product?  And how many reviews do I need?  Let’s touch on the first one of that series of questions.  How do I get reviews?  How do sellers best get reviews?

BRANDON:

Yeah, so I mean there’s – especially now Amazon is extremely rough on cracking down on reviews that are coming from any sort of incentivized places.  They’re really doing their best to track Facebook groups, private Slack channels, private [subreddit 0:10:10.9] channels to really prevent any sort of incentivized reviews.  That’s not to say that your competition isn’t going to be pulling some shady business to get reviews, but it’s potentially a quick way to get shut down and have your business disrupted.  So within the terms of service there’s no way really to quickly generate reviews or a large volume of reviews. 

But that said, there are things that you can do to help kind of be proactive about it.  And so having the email follow up sequence in place is beneficial.  I know – you know, buyers are able to opt out of receiving those emails, but at the same time a lot of people don’t, and so just putting your best foot forward there can help get you something.  I mean I think additionally customer service is one really kind of underemphasized thing for getting reviews and helping to stave off negative reviews, just making sure you’re really proactive anytime somebody is reaching out to you, especially in those early phases of launching a product can help kind of get your footing on review basis. 

And then the other proactive thing that you can do is really just making sure you can get as much visibility as possible.  And so obviously you do that through PPC, and you know a lot of people are concerned about ACoS and spend on ads, but really in those beginning phases you just need to get your product in front of as many people as you can in order to drive the sales, which will in turn hopefully drive those reviews.

AJ:

Yeah, I would say along with that one other kind of quick win or option available to people, if you are brand registered you might look into the early reviewer program as well.

CAMERON YODER:

It’s a good way to get started.

AJ:

Yeah, it’s a good way to get started, and I don’t think there’s any exception, anything you can do outside of getting the visibility.  That’s honestly the biggest thing.

CAMERON YODER:

I think this is a top question that a lot of sellers ask for a reason, and it’s something that’s really hard for a lot of sellers to obtain.  Reviews are the currency of Amazon, and if you want to be completely white hat, it’s one of the hardest, most difficult things to do.  I really do think all of it stems back to having a quality product.  And again, you don’t have to have like the best product on Amazon, right, but if you just have a – if you have a bad product and you put your product in front of customers that are buying it, you’re going to get bad reviews, bad organic reviews.

BRANDON:

But along with that – and this is kind of jumping away from the review point for a second – but a lot of sellers also come to us with a product that is much higher price than a lot of other products on the market, and they try to make that quality argument.  And that is potentially a very valid argument, but it’s also potentially a hard sell, especially when you’re given a limited amount of text and imagery to really sell that point.  And so really understanding your market, understanding what the value of similar products are in your market is going to be crucial to being successful because if you’re really out of line on price point or, you know, even if you’re providing a much better quality of product in a market that has less, you know, quality products, overall it’s going to be harder to compete just because more people are going to buy a cheaper product than people that are willing to spend more money for a higher-quality in most cases.

CAMERON YODER:

It really is finding – it’s finding that balance between – maybe the correct phrase should be don’t have an awful product, right?

BRANDON:

Yeah.  I mean you obviously want one that doesn’t have any problems, but at the end of the day, you know, if you can spend an extra $5 to make something better, it may not be worth it as long as the initial product that you’re looking to source is going to be quality enough.

AJ:

Yeah, I think it comes down to, again, making decisions based off of your market.  So you know, in some markets creating a premium product might do you some good, but in other markets how many people really want a premium coffee mug or whatever?  You know, you have to make sure that all the decisions that you’re making are in the context of your market and the buyer behavior in that market.

CAMERON YODER:

So a question leading off of or into reviews a little bit more, do I need – the question is do I need reviews to run a launch?  A launch being, let’s just say in this case it could be a launch through Viral Launch, but also just like a promotion in general to increase keyword ranking.  Do I need reviews?  Let’s say you’re a seller; you just put your product on Amazon.  Do I need reviews to launch my product?

BRANDON:

I would say no, but with an asterisk.  So essentially you don’t need reviews to drive the ranking.  You can get the ranking on Page 1 with a brand-new product, no reviews given that you’re moving enough inventory in a narrow enough window of time so you’re getting good velocity.  But at the same time your ability to retain that ranking is typically at least semi-dependent on your reviews.  So you know, if you have the ability to, you know, one way or another to drive some reviews within a reasonable timeframe so you’re not sitting with no sales history for a long period of time, we typically would encourage you to try to get a couple reviews first.  Essentially – also you know you get a little bit of a honeymoon period when you launch a product that a lot of sellers talk about, and so it can be a little bit beneficial to ride that out and kind of see where you fall in ranking before you jump into running a launch right away.  But at the same time if you’re really struggling to get those reviews and you’re just not moving any product, the launch can be beneficial in getting you that visibility to help kind of jumpstart you a little bit.  So long story short, the promotion will help to drive ranking either way, but obviously at the end of the day when you’re looking at organic sales, having that review base is going to help to drive some of those.

AJ:

Yeah, I think that’s something that’s really important to reach out to a coach or some kind of consultant on as well because it can all just be really dependent on the product and its position in the market.  So if it’s a really seasonal market and there is a short window of time where you can even get sales, then yeah, by all means get the visibility right off the bat.  Take advantage of that increase in demand.  But you know, if there is some external factors that would lead us to believe that you would really need a very strong base of reviews to be competitive, then we’re going to kind of point you in that direction as well.

CAMERON YODER:

A lot of these questions are really market product dependent.  Like the question of do I need reviews to launch, really it does, it depends on how competitive your market is or if it’s seasonal or traditional.  Really if you’re launching into a really competitive market, then also maybe the number of reviews that you’ll need to start off initially if you start ranking will vary, right?

AJ:

Yeah, exactly.

CAMERON YODER:

You’ll need more – yeah, and more initial reviews to rank well.  So okay, this kind of leads into – actually maybe that answers the question of how many reviews do I need.  Is there a set number of reviews that customers need for their product?

BRANDON:

Absolutely not.  I mean there are some markets that have very, very low review barriers to entry.  I mean just off the top of my head, like you know particularly like adult products tend to be pretty low review because people don’t like to publicly review those.  But there are like newer markets and things like that that you know, if there’s a new product that’s kind of developed and it’s just sort of making its way on Amazon, a lot of times, you know, those reviews haven’t really caught up to those massive quantities that you see in like a lot of supplement markets and things like that.  So it’s really just dependent on the market.  I mean there are some products that you can compete very well right off the bat with no reviews just because your competition is all kind of on the same playing field.  Others, literally everyone on Page 1 has over 1000 reviews, and it’s going to be exceptionally hard to compete there without getting a large quantity of reviews in place.  And yeah, I mean seasonality plays into things as well because a lot of time seasonal products are kind of more flashes in the pan for sellers, and they ramp it up for a short period of time and then don’t really put much emphasis into it later.  So reviews can potentially count a little bit less there.  So it really just is a product by product, market by market kind of analysis on what you need to be competitive.

AJ:

Yeah, so like Brandon said, I think it’s based off of market maturity, so obviously markets where there have been several products live for several years, they’ve just had more time to aggregate those reviews.  But there can also be buyer behavior within each market.  Some things take a lot of social proof.  People are going to want to see a very large number of reviews to actually make the purchase whereas other things they might not need that because they know fully what they’re buying and there’s little to no doubt on how it will satisfy their goals or whatever.

CAMERON YODER:

Reviews are, no doubt, a really hot topic, a really important topic for sellers.  Anyone that’s beginning, or anyone that’s an advanced seller and selling a lot, reviews are going to be a topic for a while, and things are changing so it’s really important to get processes down now and soon so that you can start aggregating those reviews because things are changing, as we talked about in our last, or one of our recent episodes.  Okay, so kind of another question that a lot of sellers ask is how much inventory do I need for my product?  Now that is, again, the question is how much inventory do I need?  That is a very broad question, and of course the answer is it depends.  But guys, what do you have to say to people that are asking that question?

AJ:

Yeah, so I think that question is something that you’re always going to need to have some data to make that decision.  As with any of these that we’re coming up with it’s a market decision, but having the data available, some sales estimations available to see how the products are doing currently that are on Amazon can really help you project demand and lead you to get that initial inventory count that you’re looking for.  So there’s definitely not a one size fits all answer for that.  It’s really just more the things that you’re going to want to look at are how products are performing right now, if there’s any seasonality with them.  The best thing to do is really just look at comparable products to what yours will be when it is live and see how those are performing.  Take into consideration review counts, price, all that kind of stuff.

BRANDON:

Yeah, I mean there are markets where people are – the top sellers are selling 100 units a month or less.  I mean there are markets where people are selling 10,000 units a month.  So I mean it’s definitely optimistic to assume that you would immediately get to that point as well.  So there’s a lot that kind of goes into it, and you know thinking a little bit ahead of time about how aggressive you want to be out of the gate with things like promotions or just driving traffic, getting, you know, spending money to make money essentially.  If that’s kind of your endgame you really want to ramp up fast, then you’re probably going to want more inventory in stock.  If you’re looking to kind of let things develop organically over time, maybe you go a little bit more conservatively. 

And another big thing to factor in is what kind of the pricing tiers when you’re manufacturing are based on your inventory quantities because if there’s a huge jump in price it might be worth it to buy that little bit of extra inventory to make sure that you’re getting a better price and can sell it for a better price.  But additionally, like the time frames can be really wide, so if you’re sourcing domestically maybe you can get something in a week.  If you’re sourcing from China maybe it takes six weeks.  And so you’ve really got to look at market history and what people are doing now and kind of analyze the best and worst case scenarios there.  And it’s a really hard question to answer just because there is no right answer because there are so many variables at play with regards to how aggressive you’re going to be and what the market’s looking like, what predictably it’s going to look like. 

And so yeah, I mean, I think if you’re talking to a coach or somebody that has some expertise they might be able to steer you in the right direction, but ultimately it just kind of comes down to what you feel comfortable with a lot of times, as well.  But I will say that the biggest factor is you don’t want to run out of inventory if you can avoid it at all costs.  I mean there are even strategies around that so you can airship part of your shipment and then freight the rest by sea if you need to get product in quickly.  So there are options, but kind of knowing the timeframe that it’s going to take you to get your products in stock is really crucial into helping to develop that initial inventory order.

AJ:

Yeah, so taking into consideration lead time like that with new orders, it’s sometimes good to look at the number of units you would want to have on hand, but it’s also good to look at it as a how many units do I need for this period of time.  So instead of saying I have 500 units on hand, I have three months’ of sales on hand kind of thing.  So taking into consideration your lead time you’re able to forecast demand and see how many months of supply should I have on hand given that it takes me this much time to get a new order in.

CAMERON YODER:

I think, again, like you guys already said, this question is a really hard one to answer for individual sellers.  I think a lot of this comes down to asking yourself where you want to be in the market that you’re in.  Oftentimes – and also if like I think, Brandon, you said, whether you want to rank organically or whether you want to go for something like a launch because if you run a launch that is going to increase the number of units that you need right away.  Typically – I’m not going to put a number to it, but I was talking to a seller just at a conference last week, and he was asking me about how much inventory he should order if he wanted to do a launch.  And typically a good practice would be to take a look at sales data again, like something like Market Intelligence, right, looking at all the sales numbers, taking a look at the position you can expect yourself to be in realistically.  Maybe that’s like top 15, averaging out those units, maybe giving yourself two months of what that average is, and then increasing, increasing that by the amount of promotional units that you’ll need.  And again, the amount of promotional units that you’ll need will probably come from something like a consultant or a coach.  At least that’s what I would recommend.  But having a typically two months’ lead time for inventory is a good practice to have.  But again, the balance comes from – the balance comes from having enough inventory but also not spending all of your capital to have it all tied up in inventory if you have multiple products on the ocean or being manufactured at the same time.  If you have – if this is your first product you also want to be conscious of how much money you have. 

So can this question be answered indefinitely with specific percentages and numbers?  Not right now.  The answer is not right now.  But talking to – again, talking to someone who knows what they’re doing or can give you those numbers and has seen people succeed or fail, that is the answer to that question.  But the best thing we can talk about right now is best practices for inventory management and what to expect from data. 

So next, let’s go to the next question.  So a lot of sellers ask about – a lot of sellers ask our coaches about validating product ideas.  Basically they’ll come to coaches and say hey, is this a good idea?  Is this a good idea for a product to sell on Amazon?  And there is of course there are a lot – there is a lot that goes into validating a product and validating a market.  But guys, what our – what would you say are some of the most important criteria for determining whether a market is a good market to get into?

BRANDON:

My big starting point is always going to be looking at the average review quantity of listings on Page 1.  So ultimately you want to see something that has, you know, decent sales, something that you feel comfortable with, you know, and that’s different for everybody.  Maybe somebody is happy to sell 100 units a month.  Maybe somebody is looking for 1000+ a month.  But you also want to make sure that there isn’t a huge maturity of reviews on the listings on Page 1 because essentially if you’re moving into a market where everyone on Page 1 has 1000+ reviews it’s going to be really hard to compete.  So usually when I tell people when they’re starting out with a product finder tool like Product Discovery, set a threshold of like around a maximum of 100 reviews and a maximum sales quantity of – or sorry, a minimum sales quantity of around like 500 or so, and feel it out that way.  And you can always tweak those variables to kind of see how things develop or see what other data points you are finding with those results.  But that’s kind of the two most crucial things.  I mean getting more in depth definitely looking at market maturity is a thing because if the market is really mature it can be hard to enter.  If there is a lot of brand name products competing in the space it can be really hard to enter.  I mean if you’re launching your own toothpaste, for instance, you’re not going to be able to compete with Crest.  So you know, you’ve got to find those niches where there isn’t a lot of brand loyalty in place. 

Checking to see if Amazon is a really active seller in the category can be beneficial as well.  If they’re vending a lot of products, then it’s potentially another little, you know, monkey wrench in your ability to rank and compete well.  Yeah, so then beyond that I mean I think it’s just finding products that obviously you also have the margins on.  And so price point is really crucial.  And if something is selling for $20 but it’s going to cost you $15 to source it, it might not be a great idea.  If something is selling for $20 and it’s going to cost you $5 to source it, that’s probably a little bit better.  So you know, determining kind of what Amazon’s fees are going to be, what shipping is going to cost, what manufacturing is going to cost, that all plays into whether something is a good product as well. 

Then the last point that is potentially hard for an average seller to predict or analyze, but this is where we I think provide the best value is being able to validate it in the context of what is being seen as far as popularity of the product.  So a lot of times manufacturers make something for a seller, and then they push really hard to sell a version of that product to a bunch of other sellers to capitalize more on it.  And so you get a lot of sellers entering the market with basically the same or very similar products.  And additionally, you see trend markets that pop up and a bunch of people jump on board, like stuff from Kickstarter that people are able to clone.  I mean the biggest example we’ve seen in probably the last year is the fidget spinner craze.  So you know, for the first few people that were in the market, they made money hand over fist.  For everybody else that got in, they were screwed because they couldn’t get ranking on Page 1 and got stuck with tons of inventory, and it was just really, really volatile.  And so a lot of times people come to us with products that based on the data look great today, but the fact that we’re able to see that, you know, we’ve worked with 10 people in the last week with this product, it is a little bit of a predictor that, you know, maybe by the time you get this product to Amazon it’s going to be pretty oversaturated. 

AJ:

Yeah, I would say along with that, you know, consider the source.  Too often we see people come to us with a product that they’re looking to validate that they’ve found on some list somewhere, you know, or they have seen from a Kickstarter campaign.  If you’re finding a product based off of something that’s visible to everyone, everyone else is going to be looking for that product.  So consider the source.  Obviously, like Brandon said, reviews are huge.  That’s probably going to be the bulk of your research.  Digging a little deeper into the reviews, they can tell you a lot about the quality of the product as well.  If you have a market where a lot of products are very similar and you still think that you can differentiate in some way, a lot of times if you dig into the actual reviews themselves and look at commonalities, reasons why people left negative reviews, you may have been able to find a defect or flaw in a product design that your competition isn’t finding.  And obviously if you bring that product to the market and it’s in a better position to satisfy customers’ wants and needs without that flaw, then you can do well.  So I would say ultimately, like Brandon was saying, there is a ton of stuff that you can consider and just taking in as much as you can, having as many eyes on the product as you can is really just going to do so much for you in the long run.

CAMERON YODER:

I think the final question actually is a good lead-in kind of out of this one, or they relate together really well.  So we talked about finding a good product market, but also really, and this might share honestly a lot of the same things that we talked about or that we mentioned, but fifth question a lot of sellers ask is how can I tell right off the bat that a market is oversaturated?  How do I tell?  So maybe I know how to recognize a good market, but how do I recognize a bad market right away?

BRANDON:

I always think it’s easier to find a bad market, or to identify a bad market.  And it really just comes down to looking at, you know, everyone has massive quantities of reviews.  Sales are really volatile.  So you know, you see some people with huge, huge quantities of sales.  You know, one huge indicator is if you’re looking into like Market Intelligence, you have some people that are selling huge quantities, others that are selling next to nothing, especially when you get to like Page 2, Page 3, that can be a big kind of red flag because the sales are not being shared.  But in general I think a lot of sellers get very excited when they see massive sales quantities, and what is underappreciated there is the maturity of the products that are getting those sales.  And so a lot of times, you know, you look at that, but realistically you probably can’t compete at that level or at least at that level for a very long time.  And so I like to look for stuff that is going to be profitable.  So you know, you’re looking for stuff where the numbers aren’t insane on either end.  So sales are good, but maybe not like, you know, million-dollar month product kind of thing.  And you’re also looking for reviews that are very low as far as the quantity of them.  So I mean I think obviously that’s the biggest barrier to entry.  Those mature products benefited a lot from the previous incentivized review rush and all that.  And so it’s really hard to generate 1000 reviews legitimately today.  And so looking for markets that, you know, the best sellers don’t have that threshold really makes it a good market.  And so yeah, I mean I think the biggest indicator for me is always the review quantity.

AJ:

Yeah, I agree with Brandon.  So not so much on just the looking at the specific number of reviews, but the distribution of them.  So you know, if there are 10 sellers you’re analyzing, 10 products you’re analyzing and three of them have thousands of reviews, everyone else is at 10 or 15, stay away.  Same with sales.  If something is – if the distribution of sales is super wide, that’s probably a good indicator that they are really well-established products in that market.  They’re going to be very difficult to compete with.  At the same time, though, if you see a pretty flat distribution of sales and they’re spread across several products, several products have low review counts and there’s not a clear leader, you know there might be opportunity to make your product the leader.

CAMERON YODER:

I really do think when it comes to whether a good market is a good market or a bad market, there are indicators that we can tell listeners that set a standard.  At the same time, every seller is at a different spot in their seller journey.  Every seller has a different amount of resources, and a good market, quote unquote, for one person might be a bad market for another.  And so it’s really important to stipulate that you, as a seller, need to sit down – and we’ve said this on the podcast so many times – sit down and ask yourself what you’re capable of, how much you have to invest in an Amazon business and how much risk you are willing to take because your lens for a good product and a bad product will change depending on what you’re capable of doing.  At the same time there are those standards that we can set to say hey, you can see, you can spot a, quote unquote, good market from miles away or, quote unquote, bad market from miles away if you know the things that Brandon and AJ talked about.  I don’t know if you guys want to add anything else.

BRANDON:

Yeah, I mean I think that’s a great point as far as where you’re at in the seller journey really kind of depends on what you’re looking at for products as well.  I mean I think if a first-time seller was coming to me and their first product idea was going to be like a face cream, for instance, I would tell them to stay far away from it.  But if you’re a seller that has a really well-established beauty brand and you’re selling really well with a bunch of other products in a similar line, it might not be the same situation because you have a, you know, you have a clientele that is purchasing your products.  You probably have some customer lists that you can market to, things like that.  So you have a lot more resources at your disposal, and you have a brand name that’s recognizable that you can kind of fall back on a little bit so people, you know, there’s a little bit of quality assurance built into that as well.  So it’s a really kind of different scenario for somebody that has an established product line or something like that to move into a market that might be oversaturated for the first-time seller.

CAMERON YODER:

AJ, do you have anything to add?

AJ:

No, he said it.

CAMERON YODER:

Well, hey, I don’t know, guys, do you want to say anything to the listeners before we end everything here?

AJ:

I think just to reiterate the first point, you know we’re here for you.  We have the experience that a lot of people don’t necessarily have, and we can come at decisions with a unique perspective.  So I just encourage everyone to lean on someone, even if not us, someone like us that can purely give you advice that’s unbiased and not self-seeking.

CAMERON YODER:

Yeah.

BRANDON:

Yeah, I have two more points of advice that are kind of for the first-time sellers.  So the first one is when you are looking to source a product look for something that you’re maybe interested in, but something that you’re not necessarily in love with.  A lot of sellers that we encounter that may have really cool product ideas, but it’s something that they’re really, really passionate about.  So if you’re like a skateboarder or something and you’re really passionate about skateboarding, you launch a line of skateboard bearings or something like that, and it’s a huge passion project for you, but at the same time from like the capitalist mentality, when you have that emotional bond to a product it leads you to make worse decisions in a lot of instances because you try to make it work when it’s not working.  And so finding something that you maybe have a little bit of interest in but are not overly passionate about is good because if something is not working with it you are less emotionally invested and are able to kind of walk away. 

And so I always kind of tell people don’t necessarily think about what you love when you’re looking to sell something.  Look at what’s going to make you money and what’s going to give you kind of the best situation to succeed, and then as you get resources built out maybe you have more of a position to take a risk on something that you’re really, really passionate about and you can afford to lose some money on it.  But if it’s a first product, you know, stick to something that you aren’t super, you know, emotionally tied to. 

And then my final point is just to – a lot of times like research tools can be fantastic for helping you to find product ideas, but I also like to encourage people just to think.  I mean not in a bad way, but like I just think that there are a lot of really cool product ideas that are very kind of under thought of by your competition that you can stumble upon just by looking at what you use in your day-to-day life, what you would like to have, you know, just very simple things can be huge winners on Amazon purely because they’re so simple that your competition doesn’t thing to look at it.  And it’s not – you know, I like to stay away from the flashy stuff, you know, similar to kind of the fidget spinner thing.  You know there’s huge hype around it.  A bunch of people rushed into it.  You want to be going the opposite direction and looking for stuff that people use and use regularly, potentially use every day or reuse, you know, things that people are reordering regularly, but stuff that’s just common.  I mean the very basic common household things and stuff like that can sometimes be huge hits just because they’re not flashy.  And so thinking about things from that perspective outside of the research tools and then looking at the research once you have some of those ideas compiled can be a huge advantage to going about finding a first product to source as well.

CAMERON YODER:

I think that’s very well said.  I think that’s a very undervalued piece of advice in the Amazon community is simply to honestly take time to stop and think.  Just take a moment to think about it because honestly sellers right now tend to get lost in data, tend to get lost in tools, which are fantastic and really add to the experience, but also you have your mind and your experiences, which no one else has.  And so I think that’s extremely valuable.  Well, thank you both.  Thank you, AJ.  Thank you, Brandon, for coming on the show.  I really value your guys’ time and your guys’ input for sellers.

AJ:

Thanks, cam.

Brandon:

Thank you.

CAMERON YODER:

For sure. 

And honestly, that is it for today’s episode.  Thank you all so much for tuning in.  I had such a great time with AJ and Brandon, and we most likely will bring them in again.  Again, I asked them to conglomerate a lot of information, a lot of different questions that sellers are experiencing, and so we will probably use that as a resource, and we would love to also hear different questions from you because we just love hearing direct feedback from you.  So go to Facebook right now on your phone.  Look up – type in Viral Launch or speak text Viral Launch, whatever’s easiest and safest for you, and hit us up.  Just send us a message even if you’re not following us, but also you should follow us, and shoot us a direct message with just any questions you have on Amazon, anything you want answered, any thoughts on what we’re doing, on what’s going on in the Amazon space.  Really, it could be anything at all.  We’re going to Boost next week.  Next week will be the Boost event that we are attending.  So hit us up there.  We’ll be there with a pretty solid team.  We’d love to hear from you.  We’d love to meet you if we haven’t met you yet.  And as always, until next time, remember, the data is out there.

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