What does it take to launch your brand on Amazon and develop a winning Amazon strategy?
That’s the essential question we asked four experts from growing digital brands at this year’s AdDiego panel.
Here’s how Laura Geller, The Honest Co., Pop-A-Shot, and StackedSkincare launched on Amazon and what they’ve learned along the way.
We’re all at some stage of thinking about or already are selling on Amazon. The journey of taking that leap to selling on Amazon — and then becoming successful at it — is unique for each business. Here are the unique background stories on how these four individuals pioneered their brand’s success on Amazon.
– Pat Petriello, Head of Marketplace at CPC Strategy
Meet the Amazon Expert Panel:
Pamela Hemzi, VP of Ecommerce and Digital at Laura Geller
“Today’s ecommerce landscape is much different than it was ten or even five years ago. Everything is shifting and merging. Its omnichannel and the customer is at the very center — no matter what platform you’re on.”
Daquent Robinson, Director of Sales, eTail, at The Honest Company
“I’m really passionate about the retail space and originally started at Target. Once I got bit by the ecommerce bug, I started working with brands on Amazon before finally being hired to help engineer Honest’s Amazon strategy.”
Tony Stucker, Owner of Pop-A-Shot
“Pop a shot is about 40 years old. I bought the company two years ago. Growing on Amazon has been a steep learning curve for me, and I’m excited to share what I’ve learned.”
Kerry Benjamin, Founder and CEO at StackedSkincare
“I become an entrepreneur because of a very personal cause. I launched my skincare brand to promote healthy skin — and that journey involves learning how to sell and succeed on Amazon.”
How and why did you make the decision to sell on Amazon in the first place?
Tony: Before I purchased Pop-A-Shot, the brand wasn’t selling on Amazon. I discovered that other sellers on Amazon’s Marketplace were actually selling similar or knockoff products — arcade basketball games — using my keywords related to my brand name!
I thought to myself, if these people are selling generic versions of my product, why can’t I sell the official Pop-A-Shot game and succeed?
Pat: Basically you were seeing that there was already customer intent for a branded search that wasn’t being satisfied by the authentic brand itself.
Tony: Correct. I realized there was definitely a market there — which is when I decided to make the leap to Amazon.
Pam: I didn’t make any decision to bring Laura Geller onto Amazon — it was made before me. Amazon UK actually approached our brand in 2016 and said, “Do you know that Laura Geller products are making an X amount of dollars on Amazon UK?” Of course, I wasn’t aware of other distributors making that many sales off of our products on Amazon at the time.
So our team did their due diligence and decided that we wanted to launch on Amazon UK in January 2017 first.
After we launched on Amazon UK, we launched on Amazon US six months later. It was led by one person, self-taught, spending about $3,000 on AMS over a seven-month period.
When I took ownership of the business earlier this year, we looked at the opportunity to sell on Amazon Luxury Beauty which allows for brand gating so we could kick off unauthorized sellers — of which there were many for Laura Geller’s products.
There was a concern that we might lose or upset customers by doing this, so we chose three of the top resellers and decided to let them work with us.
Kerry: As a direct-to-consumer brand, we were very apprehensive about launching on Amazon because it’s really important for us to own the customer experience. There’s a lot of information and education on skincare that we present to the customer in a thoughtful way and it’s something we didn’t know we’d be able to replicate on Amazon.
As StackedSkincare received more press and public attention, we knew that we wanted to be on Amazon or else risk leaving money on the table (and customers without the care they needed.)
We knew that the majority of customers begin their journey on Amazon, so we needed to be there.
The second reason we decided to launch on Amazon is because we wanted to go international — we wanted to move into Canada, UK, and other regions.
Pat: You basically founded a new methodology of skincare, which could be its own category. Have you found Amazon to be an effective platform for education as well as demand capture?
Kerry: It’s been a challenge. We believe that our website delivers the very best learning experience for our customers — so it’s been a challenge to try to convey that same experience and message on Amazon.
Daquent: Prior to me coming to Honest, they were not selling on Amazon.
Our decision to go on Amazon was two-fold: our branded search terms were showing up for other sellers’ products, so we were leaving money on the table.
Unauthorized sellers were using noncompetitive pricing, terrible images, incomplete descriptions that didn’t reflect our brand — so we needed to take control of our own presence.
The second reason is accessibility — we wanted to reach as many customers as possible, so Amazon was a natural fit for us.
What’s your decision-making process for balancing your resources between your ecommerce website and Amazon?
Daquent: Honest Co. actually started as a direct-to-consumer brand on www.honest.com, so there was concern of cannibalization when launching on this other platform.
Since then, Amazon has become a major platform now to the point that our DTC website has become primarily a portal for education and content. We utilize Amazon for conversions.
Kerry: We aren’t using Amazon just for conversions. Customer experience is number one for us, so we see Amazon as an extension of our website rather than a separate channel for just conversions.
We work with a wholesale partner that helps manage our listings and optimize our presence on the Marketplace.
Working with a partner has helped us allocate time and resources to focus on our ecommerce website and maintain control of that customer experience.
Tony: Our process is still very new because we launched only two years ago, but basically follow the customer.
We distribute a proportionate amount of resources to both our website and Amazon channel according to where our customers are.
Do you see any relation between off-Amazon advertising and demand for your products on Amazon?
Pam: We saw this on QVC when we promoted our brand all-day on their channel for a new product. We saw an exponential spike in search and later that same spike in sales on Amazon.
Do you place Checkout by Amazon on your ecommerce websites?
Pam: We have this on our dashboard and plan on including Amazon Pay by Q4 of this year.
Tony: By using Amazon Checkout, a portion of your sale goes to Amazon. We want to keep the entire margin to ourselves, so we don’t offer Amazon Checkout on our website.
Kerry: We plan on offering Amazon Pay to all of our website customers in the near future.
Want to learn more about what it takes to launch — and succeed — on Amazon?