In this episode, Mike and Dave talk about our upcoming Software Poll, and the evolution of software tools in the ecommerce space.
They highlight the changes that they've personally seen in the Amazon software space over the past 4 years, including big valuations and the increase in competition. They also show how projects like these can give credibility to you and your niche and improve SEO rankings.
They discuss the categories of software tools, such as keyword and product research, PPC management, and reimbursement services. If you want to participate, go ahead to ecomcrew.com/softwarepoll
- Software tools provide a ton of value for running an Amazon business, especially for solo entrepreneurs.
- The Amazon software space has seen significant changes, including big exits and increased competition.
- Software polls can help create credibility and improve search engine rankings for businesses.
- 00:00 Introduction
- 00:30 Annual Software Episode
- 02:01 Importance of Software in Business
- 02:52 Changes in Amazon Software
- 04:09 Reliance on Software Tools
- 05:38 Big Exits in the Software Space
- 06:24 Impact of Big Money in the Industry
- 07:05 Enterprise Offerings and Chinese Market
- 08:28 Creating Credibility with Software Polls
- 10:24 Changes in Messaging and Product Launch Services
- 12:11 Messaging Features in Seller Central
- 13:18 Historical Data and Trend Lines
- 14:14 SEO Strategy and Content Creation
- 17:29 Applying the Strategy to Other Industries
- 18:42 Trend Lines and Historical Data
- 19:10 Categories of Software Tools
- 20:24 Repricing Tools for Private Label Sellers
As always, if you have any questions or anything that you need help with, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you're interested.
Full Audio Transcript
Mike Jackness (00:01.418)
Hey Dave, welcome back to the eComCrew podcast.
Thank you. How are you?
Mike Jackness (00:07.678)
I'm good, I'm good. I keep on mentioning this in the beginning of all these episodes, because it feels like this project that isn't stopping, but we're having this big project on our backyard, and there's like sawing and hammering and all kinds of loud noises that I'm hoping aren't coming through the microphone. But for the last couple episodes, it sounds like it's been okay, and they're on the tail end of the project now. We're on the home stretch.
Nice, nice. And so you have projects going on in your backyard. How about in your business? And on that note, what software tools are you using for the projects on your Amazon business?
Mike Jackness (00:35.874)
Hmm. Nice. Good segue. It is time for the annual software episode that we've been doing now for four years. It's pretty crazy actually that it's been that long. Interestingly, we just did the top episodes of 2023. And this episode along with the results episode were like one in three, which I think is crazy that people…
want to sit here and listen to this episode talking about the fact that we're about to do a software poll. So we're going to try to make it more interesting than that. But the big thing is go to ecomcrew.com slash software. What's the link Dave? I don't know. What do we pick? Software poll. Okay. We'll make that work. We are so prepared. ecomcrew.com slash software poll. This this helps us immensely. This helps the community immensely. We end up getting
Sure, self-report. We'll make the link after…
Mike Jackness (01:34.11)
a lot of responses. And basically what we wanna do is, is poll the community for what tools you're using in different categories. Software is a immensely important component to running our Amazon businesses and our e-commerce businesses. And knowing what your peers are doing is super important because the tendency is to spend a lot of time jumping from platform to platform.
Uh, or testing all these different things. And I think an episode like this really helps. And so I'm going to withhold from the bulging, the exact tools that I use until after the poll is done. Cause I don't want to muddy up the results, but I do want to talk a little bit about how software has been super important in our businesses. I'd love to talk today about, uh, using something like this to generate press and backlinks and attention.
for a business, I think that we can talk a little bit about how people can apply this to their business and whatever else might be on your mind.
Yeah, well, what I'm curious too about, so we've been doing this for four years now. What are some big changes that you've seen in Amazon software over the last four years since we first started this? And there's one or two that come to mind for me. And I'm curious how they jive with the ones that I have in mind.
Mike Jackness (02:48.502)
Mike Jackness (02:52.094)
Yeah, I mean, there's it's been an interesting space over the last four years because the biggest players in the space over that time have sold either outright, you know, a private equity firm or sold large portions of their business. And the numbers are huge, way bigger than we get in e commerce businesses themselves, software businesses, trade, you know, a multiple of revenue and big numbers, right.
That I think has inspired a lot of people to hop into the space. I think it's made it even more crowded because everyone wants to be the next one that sells for a hundred million dollars or whatever it might be. And so it's gotten even more crowded. There's even more competition. I think that it also, the differentiation is becoming less and less where when it first came out, everyone had like their hero thing, but then it gets kind of copied and replicated.
Ha ha ha. Yep.
Mike Jackness (03:49.43)
Um, and almost like products on Amazon. Interesting, right?
Almost like products on Amazon, where they're all the same, but just repackaged a little bit differently.
Mike Jackness (03:55.89)
Yep, 100%. Definitely have seen a lot of that. The only thing that I've seen over the last four years is my reliance on these tolls has increased. Yeah, for sure. Like I can't wake up, again, I'm gonna try to not name names because I wanna save that for the reveal episode. So I'll do my best to not slip, but there's one software toll in particular
You think so, eh? Interesting.
Mike Jackness (04:25.81)
I literally log into every single day. I mean, it just, I can't get away from it. And then there's another one that I'm using. I'm using it every single day, whether I log into it every day is a different story, but it's doing things for me on a daily basis.
Like, okay, so you don't have to name names. Everybody can probably figure it out, but I assume one's a PPC tool and one's like just a keyword tracking volume, tracking tool. Yeah.
Mike Jackness (04:47.518)
Yeah, exactly. And profit monitoring and stuff like that. So, you know, I find like those things are not replicatable by human manpower, right? It can't do it as well as reliably. It just can't. I mean, we've tried. And I find myself, it also just doesn't make sense, like, right? I mean, like some other company is spending all their time and energy making a tool.
That's like their expertise. They're constantly making it better. Where when trying to brute force it the way that we used to before that, uh, it's not our core, our core competency. And the reality is if we spend a couple hundred bucks a month on, on the proper tools, they're adding a lot of value to our business more so than, than what we're paying.
So a couple of things to go off on that. First one, you mentioned there's been a bunch of big exits in the software space. I can think of two. Can you think of Helium 10 and Jungle Scout have had massive exits? Are you aware of anybody else? I'm sure there have been, but those are the two biggies that I'm aware of. Yeah, yeah, yep.
Mike Jackness (05:53.346)
Mike Jackness (05:58.886)
I know there's been some big raises and the valuations have been quite high. But in terms of actually fully selling or selling a large portion, I'm not aware of that. But I don't know that we're privy of everything. I think that things happen.
No, no, I don't think so either. I was just actually curious if you were aware of any ones. And I think the fact that we kind of know about those ones is because probably we had close relationships with a couple of those people. And so we became a little bit more aware of that.
Mike Jackness (06:24.554)
Yeah, we were with both of those companies like from the very beginning, right? It's actually kind of crazy to see where things are coming. I was just at Helium 10's headquarters actually a couple of weeks ago. And it's just interesting to see how things have changed. Yeah, I mean, it's, I think it's good. I mean, I think it's good for the industry. I mean, having big money behind them, you know, hopefully creates better functionality, better features, get, you know, get some double down on things.
The downside to that is that with that kind of money in there, they're going to raise prices and extract as much money as possible. So that's just the thesis that they probably have for buying it to begin with.
Yeah, I'm trying to think of pricing, whether I have prices going up a lot or have they all come down because of all the increased competition. I don't know if I could say it's.
Mike Jackness (07:14.378)
I think the prices have gone up. I mean, as far as I am aware, I mean, like not dramatically. The only thing that they both done is really focus on enterprise level customers. And so, you know.
Yes, for sure. You see a lot of that nowadays, which makes sense. You know, you have your a hundred dollar software package for guys like me and you. And then the a hundred million dollar companies of the world, they have a whole different suite, which is kind of typical of the software companies. And I guess these Amazon SaaS companies are finally catching up and implementing those in their strategies. The other one I've noticed too, along with enterprise,
Mike Jackness (07:38.807)
offerings for all these companies is now, but most of the big software companies you go there, there's the English menu and then they have a Chinese menu. And most of them now are offering Chinese versions of their software, which completely makes sense because they are 70% of third-party sellers. So it totally makes sense. And I guess even the smaller SaaS companies have kind of caught on that, huh?
Maybe we should be targeting these Chinese sellers as well as English sellers. So I've definitely seen that a lot more with just there's an English version and there's a Chinese version of these companies.
Mike Jackness (08:22.326)
Mike Jackness (08:28.315)
Yeah, like I said, it makes a ton of sense. So, yeah, so I mean, I guess diving it, oh, you have something else. Okay.
Well, hold on, just before you go on to it, let me go back. I have a couple of points. So we talked about how these software companies have evolved over the last three or four years. Couple of categories though, which have totally gone away. Messaging, like I don't think messaging is really a thing through tools anymore. It used to be, you know, your feedback geniuses of the world.
that was a tool that you'd log into every day. And you'd look at your review sequence that you had going on. Maybe you had some other sequences going on. Us personally, we've turned off all our sequences. And I hate it because we had sequences that weren't even review sequences. They were helpful sequences about giving people like instructions for their product before they even get it so they can kind of prepare. We just don't do it anymore. Cause it's just not, number one, most of the messages get blocked. Number two, it's so easy to get your messaging abilities
Mike Jackness (09:06.443)
Mike Jackness (09:15.115)
blocked altogether by Amazon, that it's just not worth the effort. So that's been one that's gone away. The other one, obviously the big one has been quote unquote, product launch services, where, you know, you would give away a bunch of products for free just to boost your rankings and they are still around. And actually we still have a question on the poll about this, but maybe they haven't gone away completely, but they have definitely gone down a significant.
Mike Jackness (09:32.269)
percentage from where they were three or four years ago.
Mike Jackness (09:56.754)
Yeah, so one of the categories there, like the latter one here, the product watch one, I'm thrilled that it's gone, right? Like I'd like to see Amazon do a better job. No, no, I'm just saying like that it's been reduced, right? Like the category is kind of reduced or not as relevant as it used to be, I should say. I mean, I would like Amazon to do things to block more black hat tactics. I mean, and I just don't see this being anything but ranking manipulation and.
No, it's on there still, Mike. The category is, yeah.
Mike Jackness (10:24.562)
it isn't the best product winning kind of thing. And so, I don't know, like I'm not thoroughly upset that that's gone. I am really upset with Amazon and their stance on messaging and the ability to interact with your customer or their customer, depending on how you or they look at it. Okay, so yes, it's annoying, I would say, as an Amazon customer to be getting emails from every seller, begging you for a feedback. And so I'm not…
you know, too upset with that particular stance, but I am upset with the whole like, someone's trying to get help with the product and you want to help them and you can't interact with them a portion of it. So I wish they would do a better job with this. I mean, we just got a another one star review this week. You know, person was like, I bought a five pack of this thing. It clearly came repackaged. There was only four in the bag. I'm really pissed. It's a one star, you know, one star, whatever.
Mike Jackness (11:21.538)
there's like all kinds of things wrong with this. I mean, number one, there's 0% chance that we shipped it that way, right? I mean, like 100%, 0% chance, there's just no way that it left the factory used as a four pack in a Ziploc baggie, which is what the guy showed in a photo. So, you know, Amazon's screwing up by taking these products back and putting them back into circulation. So it's, you know, shame on them, but also…
shame on them for not letting us interact and make this person happy. Like they left a review. We should be able to respond to it in some way. It shouldn't even be something that people can opt out of, in my opinion. Like you should be able to try to make it right kind of thing. Um, you know, so I don't know. I mean, we, we still use the messaging. Um, one of the tools that we'll talk about, uh, we still have an online, we get dozens of emails a day, like this person's opted out, this person's opted out. Like you can't send the message or whatever, but it's the, just the default, uh, asking them for a feedback.
Mike Jackness (12:18.54)
message and not something else I've heard about that.
Yeah, are you just using it using the request review functionality within like your orders page? Yeah, yeah. And
Mike Jackness (12:24.926)
Yeah. Well, that's the toll, but that's what the software told. I mean, we don't do it manually. There's a software tool that does it.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, and I think everybody should be doing that, but even that is just a pre-canned message. It's no longer like a customized message. Like, hey, we're a small company and Mike's, can barely afford to pay the contractors to install his new pool in his backyard. Please leave us a five-star review.
Mike Jackness (12:44.318)
Yeah. First world problems in that backyard, man. Let me tell you.
Yeah. Um, on the messaging front though, uh, to be fair to Amazon too, they have rolled out a lot of messaging features over the last year within seller central. So now part of our guys is, uh, just SOPs for the week is to be sending customer engagement emails and, uh, brand tailored promotions. So we have an entire routine that they go through, uh, each week or each month, uh, to do these campaigns and to Amazon's credit, they have rolled those out. And
Are they as effective and as customized as we would like? No, but they have definitely made a movement there for allowing at least a little bit of marketing towards customers. If not customer support, which I agree with you, like obviously being able to help your customers would be a great thing to be able to do, but they have on the marketing and rolled out some new tools and functionality to be able to interact with them a little bit more than we used to a year or two ago.
Mike Jackness (13:45.106)
Mm hmm. Yeah, definitely. All right. So I was gonna mention earlier, I just like to always take this opportunity to talk about my SEO background a little bit. And, and the reason we came up with the poll to begin with, right, which is basically, you know, ecom crew is a content site at heart, we put out blog posts, we put out podcasts, we put out YouTube videos. I mean, it's a content information site, we have courses as well, obviously. And so you want to become more credible.
in this endeavor and also rank for more things from a search position. So I would encourage everybody that has got any search engine strategy to do stuff like this. The idea here is we're putting in a lot of work. This is one of these things where once a year we're kind of planting our flag on this particular project to get people to come respond to this software poll.
you want to be thinking about ways that you can benefit everybody. Like the benefit to us is that, you know, again, it makes us more recognizable in the industry. People link to this. People that are out there that are players link to this. People that win this award actually care about it, which is really neat because now we've been doing it long enough and people respect it enough that it matters. Is it winning a Grammy or an Oscar? Maybe not quite to that level, but people do respect the fact that they're getting this award. And so it's good for everybody. And so I would…
encourage you to think about how can you do this in any industry and put a piece of content like this together. It adds a lot of credibility to you, gets Google to take you more seriously, rank your content higher. You can again, give out awards and other things which get you in the industry to be just a bigger player. So something to think about again, if you want to go take the poll, which we highly encourage you to do, please go over to ecomcrew.com slash software poll.
To incentivize people, we are giving away an EcomCrew Premium annual subscription worth 2000 bucks to one random person. And we'll announce that on the episode announcing all the results, which is one of my favorite episodes of the year. And so everyone kind of wins with this. EcomCrew Premium, we've refreshed it for this year, includes a weekly webinar now that includes a tip of the week. And so we're going over something every week.
Mike Jackness (16:11.026)
actionable that you can do in your business. I think it adds a lot of value. Plus we have a bunch of pre-made courses over there. Again, $2,000 value. So go over to ecomcrew.com slash software poll to go enter that. And again, I would encourage you to think about how you can do something like this in your business, whether you really have an SEO strategy or not is a little immaterial. I mean, I think everyone should have some sort of SEO strategy, but again, it adds credibility and other things to your business.
for Tactical when we own Tactical.com, we would put out an annual list of the best 10 states to move to for prepping since we were a big prepper blog. And it just creates a lot of controversy because people are like, how come such and such state didn't make the list? Or how did you possibly rank this state number one when it should be this state? And so we have a criteria that we went through and ranked them to the best of our ability and it always creates a bunch of buzz. And so I miss doing that article every year.
But that's just an example of how you can do that for other industries. It's e-commerce fuel. Our buddy, Andrew Deere, over there does like the stay of the merchant thing every year. And so it's more of an e-commerce overall. Jungle Scout does this as well. And so for us, it's the software pull, but you can apply this to your industry the way that you see fit.
Well, the interesting thing is to now having done it four years is it's a lot more interesting because you can start to see trend lines over those four years. So, uh, for example, we do have a category this year for product launch services. And we've had that for four years and now being able to see over the four years, how many people actually selected that they don't use anything over those four years. And, you know, you can see that it's gone from 80% in year one that we did this three and a half years ago, uh, to.
Mike Jackness (17:39.371)
Mike Jackness (17:55.83)
some much smaller percentage last year, you can just see this trend line of it going down, down. And probably we're going to see that downward trajectory this year as well. Or who knows, maybe it goes up and then we get to try to explain that data. But now having four years of historical data, it definitely does make it a lot more interesting to see some trend lines that are developing in the software world. And not only for what software tools people aren't using, but also what software tools people are using. And even looking at the past,
three years of winners. You can see a couple names which were big two or three years ago which have kind of gone away and it's a lot more interesting when you do get that historical data. Ten years from now if we're doing this and hopefully we still are it'll be even more interesting.
Mike Jackness (18:42.874)
Absolutely. No, I completely agree. I mean, I love those data points. All right. So just quickly, I mean, I don't want to spend a lot of time on this is again, don't want to make the episode boring, but just quickly the categories, keyword and product research. One of these things where I just can't imagine not having a toll to help me with that. PPC management again, as Amazon makes PPC more and more complicated with more ad spots and
top of search modifiers and this, that on the other, I find that PPC management tool to be completely invaluable when you're bidding on hundreds of keywords per product and trying to get the most out of your PPC budget. I think that this is gonna be more and more necessary. Reimbursement services, I think that if you aren't taking advantage of one of these, if I could just smack people up beside the head and get them to do one thing, it would be this, cause you're just leaving free money on the table. I mean, Amazon is definitely
quote unquote stealing from you. And these reimbursement services are going to do a better job than you ever will. And then the remaining categories are more, depending on the type of business you have or how much you want to tiptoe into Black Hat or Grey Hat, you may or may not be using them. So the first one is product launches, as Dave said. And the other one is repricing tools. And repricing tools now has kind of got another player in that category with Prophecy, where it's not just repricing
you trying to get the buy box because you're one of seven people selling something. There's also repricing for private label sellers now, which I think is quite interesting and it's kind of created a whole new category. So we'll see how that performs there.
Yeah, yeah. And you're absolutely right. That repricing category probably does need to be broken out at some point, or at least differentiated within it to differentiate between the repricing for third party sellers or third party sellers who are competing for the buy box against other sellers. And typically, those are retail arbitrageurs who are competing for that buy box or people selling other brands products.
Myself and you, we're both private label sellers. So we kind of ignore that side of the market, but it is a massive side of the Amazon seller world, which we don't see a lot of personally, but it is a big percentage of Amazon sellers and repricing is for better or worse, a core feature of those businesses, because you need to have the buy box and you get the buy box essentially by undercutting your competitors. So repricing tools for a lot of sellers is just one of those core competencies that they need to have.
Mike Jackness (21:12.896)
But like you mentioned, now there is a whole other segment of repricing going on for private label sellers trying to maximize profit. I don't know if I would say this is a new category, like Prophecy is a new company. I don't think it's a new category because this has always been a thing. Like how do you get the best marginal price on your products and optimize profits? It's been around for a while. I don't think any of them have ever done a really good job of it. Hence why there's not a lot of…
Mike Jackness (21:45.262)
I mean, I'm not aware of anybody that does this evaluating profit and doing it for private label sellers. I mean, I think all the things that are out there are purely for people that are competing head to head with somebody. And so if there is something out there, I'm just not aware of it. But I do think it is a new category. Well, they did, but they're gone. So that's why I said there's no one out there doing it because Splitly is just, I don't know why they deprecated that software.
It's splitly not used to do it with pricing.
Mike Jackness (22:14.054)
because it was a Jungle Scout product. They had bought it from somebody, ran with it for a while, and then just turned it off. And so, even then, I don't think it did nearly as good of a job as Prophecy is doing.
Yeah, yeah. My concern always with any of these repricing tools and they do come along and they go is are they looking at the entire impact of that price and change? Now, yes, you reduce prices and maybe your volume goes up so much that even though you've decreased margins, your volumes increase so much that you've increased profits. Do they look at the long-term trend or are they accurately taking that into account? That's always my big concern with that because
Mike Jackness (22:39.448)
There are ways to tweak it and maximize it for the short term, but I analyze in the short term and the long term and that's really hard to measure. And I, we don't know the impact, you know, you reduce prices and all of a sudden your, your SEO shoots up for a week or for two weeks, but do you stay there? And that's a really complicated equation. I don't know if any tools are taking that accurately into account. And if they are taking an account, just
how accurate and reflective it actually is of that impact. So that's always been my concern. And I haven't tested prophecy. Uh, and I guess that would be the starting point is to see how effective it is, but always worries me a little bit giving pricing to somebody else to control.
Mike Jackness (23:38.174)
Yeah, I mean, without spending too much more time on this one subject, I mean, we have used it. I mean, they kind of advertise themselves as doing exactly what you're talking about. But yeah, I mean, it's only as good as that algorithm. And you know, who knows, it's kind of like a new drug that comes out or whatever it might be. And you don't know the true long term side effects of it. So yeah, I mean, it's certainly possible that there could be repercussions that you don't fully realize.
in the short term, that's for sure, that software might not be adjusting for quite yet. All right, so I don't want to drag this episode out to be longer than it really needs to be. So again, reminding people, go to ecomcrew.com slash software poll, ecomcrew.com slash software poll. One lucky winner will win an annual subscription to Ecomcrew Premium.
And we will be doing a results episode here in a few weeks, talking in great depth about who's won in each category. We'll be disclosing exactly what software that we're using this year. And spoiler alert, there has been some pretty big shakeups on my end for this. I'm not sure about Dave. So I'll find out about Dave in real time when we do that episode. But I think there'll be a lot of interesting developments this year. So again, please go over ecomcrew.com slash software a poll.
Any other last second thoughts or things you wanted to talk about before we sign off for this episode, Dave?
Not for me.
Mike Jackness (25:10.05)
Hmm. Dun dun dun. That's it. All right. So again, happy holidays, everybody. We're kind of coming to the end here of 2023, which I don't know, every year I keep on saying it's crazy how quickly the time goes by. But I feel like we were sitting here this time last year recording in this exact episode and it just seemed like I blinked my eyes and here we are again. So it's been quite an interesting year. We might even put out like a year in review episode this year just because it has been
a pretty big shake up this year, but we're still here doing eComCrew stuff and doing the software pull. So again, eComCrew.com slash software pull. And until the next episode, happy selling. We'll talk to you soon.