As Amazon announced today in its online virtual conference, Amazon Accelerate 2021, there are already more than 100,000 brands that have registered with Amazon since the beginning of this year.
Amazon claims that sales by brands were up 60% year over year for the 12 months ending June 30, 2021.
In the online event, Amazon announced a range of new tools, programs and services to help brands build relationships with customers and increase their sales and profitability.
The Opening Keynote session of Day 1 ofAmazon Accelerate 2021 was focused on starting a business, building and protecting your brand, and the announcement of new seller tools and features.
The Opening Keynote session of Day 2 of Amazon Accelerate 2021 was focused on scaling and growing your business and the announcement of new seller tools and services.
“Accelerating to the next level together” was perhaps the most repeated phrase of the event by the Vice President of WW Customer Trust & Partner Support of Amazon, Dharmesh Mehta. It seems that the giant retailer wants to highlight its fair role in ecommerce, despite the last congress accusations announced early this week.
Related Reading: Notes from Amazon’s Biggest Online Conference, Amazon Accelerate.
Amazon Accelerate 2021 Highlights:
- Last year, Amazon invested more than $18 billion in logistics, tools, services, programs, and teams to help sellers get started, build their brands, and leverage Amazon’s scale to reach more customers.
- Product Opportunity Explorer is a new tool that will help sellers to identify new products to sell on Amazon.
- Sellers will have access to a new dashboard, the Search Analytics Dashboard, that will provide the data to understand customers’ interests.
- In 2021, they updated some of their tools by including these new features: Amazon Brand Referral Bonus, Amazon Customer Engagement, A+ Story Cards and Customer Review Resolution.
- Amazon introduces sellers to a new program called Local Selling on Amazon.
- Sellers will have access to 4 new products and services: Marketplace Products Guidance, Global Listings tool, Global Inventory Viewer and Customer Service by Amazon (CSBA).
- Access to new features, A to Z guarantee expansion and Seller Central Partner Network.
- Amazon launches two new features aimed at helping sellers maintain good account health: Account Health Support Team and Account Health Assurance.
Day 1 of Amazon Accelerate 2021
Amazon Will Launch a Product Opportunity Explorer Tool to Help Sellers Identify New Products
Product Opportunity Explorer is Amazon’s latest tool that provides third-party sellers with insights to help them find new products and make better decisions when doing product launches.
They also say that this tool will help market the product faster and more efficiently.
Amazon is still testing the tool in a beta program and expanding it in 2022, but you can request advanced beta access by email. This new tool will be free of charge.
New Features Launched by Amazon in 2021
Here are the tools that were launched in 2021 for brands selling on Amazon. All of them have been mentioned at the conference:
- The Amazon Brand Referral Bonus launched in July 2021 gives sellers benefits when sending external traffic to their Amazon listings. When brands drive external traffic from their own websites to Amazon, they earn a bonus of, on average, 10% of the purchase price of the promoted product.
- The Amazon Customer Engagement tool. The beta version of the tool was launched in May and allows brands to easily launch email marketing campaigns to raise awareness of new products.
- The A+ Story Cards on the product page allow brands to show their brand story through pictures and help their customers connect with all their products.
- The Customer Review Resolution tool allows sellers to contact unhappy customers who have left a negative review. Through this tool, sellers can offer their customers support by offering them a refund if they are not satisfied with their purchase.
6 Existing Amazon Tools that Have Been Updated in 2021
Apart from the new features, they also mentioned the use of free tools, services and benefits that they offer to build a brand:
- Building an Amazon Store helps sellers differentiate their brands from their competitors, as well as build trust among customers.
- Brand Follow gives customers the opportunity to indicate their interest in a brand and receive notifications about new products or promotions. When shoppers follow you they will also be able to receive notifications about your brand’s channel.
- Manage Your Experiments was updated in February 2021. It’s a tool that allows eligible sellers to run A/B tests on their A+ content, product titles, and, as of 2021, their product images.
- The Virtual Bundles tool lets brand owners create virtual bundles composed of 2 to 5 products. This allows brand owners to offer bundles without packaging items together before sending them to Amazon's warehouses or changing FBA inbound inventory. Amazon claims that these bundles represent a 15% sales lift.
- Posts help brands to increase product visibility and brand engagement. This feature was released in October 2019 and to be eligible you need to sell in the US, register under Amazon Brand Registry and have an Amazon Storefront.
- A+ Content allows brand owners to describe their products better using images and videos.
These features are available to all brands registered in the Brand Registry and are selling on Amazon US. The only exception is the Amazon Customer Engagement Tool, which we will be able to test in a beta version in 2022.
Amazon Sellers will be Provided with Insights into Search Performance of Their Products
Amazon also announced a new tool, Search Analytics Dashboard, that will help sellers that are registered under the Brand Registry Program access insights from the search performance of their own products.
The Search Analytics Dashboard will be available in the US in early 2022. This tool will be free to Amazon sellers who are enrolled in the Amazon Brand Registry.
This tool will include two new dashboards:
- The Query Performance Dashboard shows your performance for search queries relevant to your brand and it tells you how often customers make these queries, how they engage with search results, and what your share is of that specific engagement.
- The Catalog Performance Dashboard tells you how your customers interact with your products throughout their shopping journey. You can have access to product metrics (impressions, clicks, card adds and purchases) to better understand your sales channel.
Amazon is Aware of How Restock Limits are Impacting Sellers
John Felton, Vice President of Global Delivery Services of Amazon, highlights one of the biggest problems third-party sellers have faced this year: Restock Limits.
Yes, the biggest issue for all ecommerce entrepreneurs this year has been logistics issues. In April 2021, sellers were blindsided by the announcement that restock limits are now calculated at the account level and by storage type. And let’s not mention that ocean freight rates are 100% higher than last year.
Amazon addresses the issue without actually reaching any solution.
However, they’ve boasted of having made a huge investment in many other areas of FBA, providing 350 new facilities and hiring 450,000 new employees.
Their future goal? Get rid of these limits.
So far, they announced the launch of two new programs that will help sellers to:
- Recover value on overstock and customer returns
- Avoid monthly and long term storage fees
- Improve your Inventory
FBA Liquidations Program (Available for US and EU5)
- Overstock and returns that cant be sold as new
- Amazon handles the entire process
- Receive the payment (5-10% of item value) in 60 days
FBA Grade and Resell Program (Available for the UK, EU4 and US by invite)
- Customer returns that cant be sold as new
- Sell on Amazon as used
- Amazon handles the processing, grading and listing
- You set the price and get paid when it sells
Amazon Counterfeit Crime Unit and How to Protect Your Brand
Despite ongoing efforts by brand sellers, some counterfeiters continue to evade detection. MaryBeth Westmoreland, Vice President of Brand Protection at Amazon, advise sellers on how to protect their brand by signing up for these Amazon programs:
How does Amazon plan to respond to this threat? Through a blueprint for a private and public sector partnership to stop counterfeits and calling for increased resources for law enforcement. We’ve yet to see the effectiveness of these measures though.
Day 2 of Amazon Accelerate 2021
Amazon’s Local Selling New Services
Pat Bigatel, Director of Local Selling, introduced sellers to a new program called Local Selling on Amazon. With this program, sellers can now engage local customers by offering:
- Local self-delivery.
- Buy online and pick up locations.
Some of the features of the buy online, pickup in-store service (BOPIS):
Sellers can offer same day pick up (customers that are close to your location):
- Customers can see two different tabs on the product page: “Add to Cart” or “pick-up in store”
- See store location and distance
- Customers will be able to see where and when to pick up their order
Some of the features of the local self-delivery service:
- Sellers define delivery zip codes for customers
- Sellers use their own vehicles to deliver packages
“Local Selling presents enormous opportunities to a large number of sellers who want to bring more product selection to their Amazon business, enabling many to expand their multichannel offerings by integrating their physical stores and delivery capabilities with their digital operations,” said Jim Adkins, Vice President of Recreational and Vocational Categories at Amazon.
Sellers can apply for Local Selling Service now as the program expands this year and during 2022.
Amazon Announces New Tools to Help Sellers Grow Their Export Sales
Sara Caleffi, Director of International Seller Growth at Amazon, announced the launch of four products and services:
- Marketplace Product Guidance: helps sellers identify which of their products they should offer internationally and determine other high-potential products they can add to their catalog in international stores.
- Global Listings tool: sellers can list their product’s information once and make it available across Amazon’s stores worldwide. This means sellers will no longer need to switch between Seller Central accounts for different countries, being able to view their listing on a globalized page. Sellers will be able to set country-level prices to stay competitive with the prices of each country. This tool will be available for all U.S. sellers in early 2022.
- Global Inventory Viewer: provides sellers with a global view of their FBA inventory in real-time and allows them to monitor inventory supply and demand across all stores. Available now for all U.S. sellers
- Customer Service by Amazon (CSBA): gives sellers who fulfill their own orders the option to have Amazon manage their customer inquiries, refunds, and returns on self-fulfilled orders.
– Customers have access to a live channel support
– Multi-language capability
– On-demand scalability
– Available now for all U.S. sellers
– This service can be free or given at a discounted rate depending on the seller’s customer contact volume
CSBA is currently an invite-only program but you can apply for the waitlist.
In Q4 of 2021, CSBA will be free for Amazon.com sellers who meet the Valid Tracking Rate and Amazon Prepaid Return Label requirements and maintain their contacts Pre Unit below 5%.
Amazon Claims to Support Sellers with a Personalized Plan to Remove Obstacles “Together”
Aisha Florida, Director, Product Management, Partner Support and Solutions, walk us through the existing support and services that they offer to Amazon sellers: education and help content, self-service capabilities, seller support, account health support and strategic account services.
In addition, they mentioned more programs, in their own words, “drive sellers growth and remove the obstacles” that some businesses face like:
- Amazon Blacks Business Accelerator (BBA program) launched in June of this year, where Amazon invested $150M and helps position black-owned businesses.
- Amazon Lending: financing solutions for small and medium-sized businesses selling on Amazon.
Finally, they announced the launch of two new services for sellers.
- A to Z guarantee expansion: Beginning September 1st of 2021, Amazon resolves and pays valid customers under $1,000. They won’t seek reimbursement from you or your insurer for those claims and they won’t impact your seller metrics.
- Seller Central Partner Network: One-stop-shop where sellers can access 6000 third-party services. With this tool, sellers can find solutions from software developers.
Amazon Launches Two New Features to Help Sellers Maintain Good Account Health
Dave Nadel, Director, Selling Partner Trust & Loyalty Amazon, came out with a hot topic, Account Health.
As a seller, you might know that negative seller feedback could jeopardize your entire Account Health as opposed to just individual product health and even puts you at risk of account suspension.
Amazon launches two new features aimed at helping sellers maintain good account health:
- In 2022, they will provide access to the Account Health Support Team on demand.
- Account Health Assurance connects dedicated specialties with high-performance sellers. It will be available in 2022 and is free to enroll.
Uncle Jassy Responds to the Last Congress Accusations
Recently, Congress and lawmakers asked Amazon to provide exculpatory evidence to corroborate the sworn testimony that several Amazon leaders provided to the antitrust subcommittee in 2020.
In the past years, Amazon has been the subject of some antitrust investigations but the big retailer claims it doesn’t use individual seller data for developing its own private label brands.
This explosive growth of the company has only raised the attention of sellers and legislators, some of whom believe it has become too big at the expense of third-party sellers.
But what does Andy Jassy think of the situation in Washington? In his own words, “consumers choose the marketplace for some reason. We need to be careful that we don’t have intended consequences.”
On October 19, two days before the virtual event, Amazon released its 2021 Amazon Small Business Empowerment Report, which detailed the features and benefits third-party sellers were able to enjoy on the platform.
According to Andy Jassy, the data that the report presents is “amazing”. In general “Amazon’s growth is pretty amazing, with 15% more sellers, 440,000 brands in the brands’ registry, 70,000 new incremental FBA users and we launched the Black and Business Accelerator Program where we dedicated 150$ for this program”.
Of course, sellers have removed their rose-colored glasses to read this report. Uncle Jassy didn’t mention how many sellers were unfairly suspended in order to protect customers from counterfeit products. Or even how they plan to handle buyer fraud that comes with automatically approved free returns.
Finally, the president and CEO of Amazon advised all sellers to prioritize customer experience and that sellers should try to be long-term oriented to build a sustainable business.
“Thank you for the partnership and building together a community. We care about a lot of sellers… We haven’t gotten everything right, but we keep working.”
What Amazon cares about first is its customer and based on this they dictate the seller's strategy.
So do you think Amazon really cares about third-party sellers? How long should sellers wait until Andy Jassy and their team get things right?