Over the last quarter-century, Amazon has transformed itself from an online bookseller into an e-commerce behemoth that’s reshaping retail economics. In 2018 alone, Amazon reported more than US$232 billion in revenue — a number that’s sure to jump once 2019’s final revenue figures are released. Those eye-popping returns mean the online seller accounts for nearly 50 percent of all e-commerce revenue.
With no slowdown in sight, manufacturers and brands alike must formulate an effective Amazon strategy if they want to find e-commerce success. With that in mind, here are three Amazon trends to track in 2020.
1. The Platform Will Become More Social
To keep users on the site longer and increase engagement, Amazon has been busy building a homegrown social network. Click on a profile photo above a user rating, and you’ll navigate to a profile page that compiles all the user’s reviews in one place. Within these profile pages, users can follow each other, curate wish lists and create posts. So far, Amazon has let this social community develop organically, but recently we’ve seen this social approach expand to brands.
Amazon last year launched a product it calls “Posts.” Currently in beta, this feature allows participating brands to create a curated feed of shoppable product posts. As with traditional social posts, creators have access to engagement metrics like views, clicks and click-through rates. By testing different content and calls to action, users can gain valuable information about what resonates with Amazon shoppers.
Because these posts include category tags, they also appear on competitor search pages, which can be a big boost for brand discovery. The more free exposure you can get on Amazon, the better, and early adopters already are seeing big traffic bumps. Amazon likely will continue expanding these social offerings in 2020, so posts could be an excellent opportunity for brands to get their feet wet while increasing engagement with Amazon shoppers.
2. More Support for Brands and Manufacturers
In 2020, companies will see Amazon ramp up its support for brands and manufacturers through better content tools and improved analytics.
Some brands and manufacturers historically have been hesitant about selling directly on Amazon due to competition from third-party sellers or counterfeiters. To address this issue, Amazon recently introduced its brand registry. This feature allows companies to establish themselves with Amazon and provides some brand protection controls.
As an additional benefit, registered brands can create store pages that serve as mini-websites within Amazon’s platform. These pages give brands increased control over their image on Amazon while providing shoppers with a more consistent brand experience. Registered brands also gain access to improved analytics tools for more in-depth insight into the customer journey on and off Amazon.
A+ Content Tools
Another way Amazon is encouraging activity is through its A+ Content Tools. This feature allows registered brands to create product listings with customized descriptions, enhanced images, and different text placement. Product posts created with A+ Content Tools stand out from other Amazon products and can lead to higher conversion rates, increased traffic and more sales.
These new toys won’t be very attractive unless brands can measure their ROI on the platform. Previously, users had no insight into how external ads drive buying decisions on Amazon. The online giant is trying to change that through a new tool called “Amazon Attribution.”
This feature allows advertisers to tag Facebook, Google and Microsoft ads with a code snippet that pulls information directly to an Amazon dashboard. Now advertisers can track effectiveness down to the keyword level, which adds an essential layer of insight into their campaigns.
Amazon also is working on improvements to its application programming interface (API), which will give companies the ability to make changes and report on campaigns at scale. An improved API will encourage technology partners and agencies to develop better products and services to help their clients compete within the Amazon ecosystem.
Because Amazon earns a percentage from every item sold on its site, the company is motivated to help brands and manufacturers find success. It’s likely that Amazon will continue to make the platform more friendly for large sellers throughout 2020.
Improved Advertising Tools
In addition to providing brands and manufactures with more support, Amazon will roll out improved advertising tools to help drive sales.
New Ad Types
These efforts begin with several new advertising options that tap into Amazon’s unique targeting abilities.
- Sponsored Display
Amazon’s sponsored display ads work primarily as a remarketing tool that utilizes the Amazon display network. Previously, access to this tool required a whopping $35,000 monthly minimum ad spend. However, Amazon recently debuted a slimmed-down version of display ads that users can access for as little as $35 per month.
As you might imagine, Amazon has tons of purchase data, so it’s easy to categorize people based on their purchases. Sponsored display ads utilize this valuable data and give users increased options around targeting. This product is ideal for new-to-market products that consumers aren’t aware of yet.
- Sponsored Brand Ads
Sponsored Brand Ads are Amazon’s version of banner ads. Just last month, Amazon rolled out more targeting capabilities and functionality, including the option to include video. This is part of Amazon’s effort to get more videos on their site because they know how much people like watching them.
- Amazon Live
Amazon also recently launched a product called “Amazon Live” ads, which are QVC-style video ads brands can produce themselves. I expect to see more variety of ad types and programs like Amazon Live debut on the platform in 2020.
Amazon is making much-needed improvements to its user interface (UI) to help advertisers better manage their efforts and assess campaign performance. These improvements include adding a “Change History” tab and bulk editing features, which provides more tools advertisers and agencies can use to impact sales performance.
Amazon knows that more data equals more sales. However, Amazon’s reporting capabilities left much to be desired. Currently, users can pull reports only over the last 60 days, which makes it impossible to compare year-over-year data.
Much to everyone’s delight, Amazon recently announced it would expand reporting on search query and campaign level reports up to 720 days, for greater insight into historical data and past trends. I expect to see Amazon continue building out its reporting capabilities to advertisers with greater insight into user behavior.
Amazon Isn’t Going Away, So it’s Time to Dive In
One thing’s for sure: Amazon’s sales will increase in 2020 — likely by double-digits. As the company continues dominating e-commerce sales while at the same time reshaping the entire retail sector, brands and manufacturers need to react.
That means using every available tool to make your products more searchable and attractive than those of the competition. That way, when Amazon releases its final 2020 revenue figures, you’ll have seen some eye-popping results of your own.