Home to nearly 40% of US online sales, Amazon has long been recognized as the undisputed king of ecommerce.
And, given the sheer magnitude of its inventory and the number of shoppers searching through it, the online retailer also reigns supreme as a search engine, second only to Google.
With 66% of consumers starting their product searches on Amazon, brands stand a pretty good chance of generating revenue on the platform.
But, here’s the catch: They need to make it to Amazon’s coveted first page of search rankings. And, to put in perspective just how coveted that page is: over two-thirds of shoppers never click past it.
So, who makes it to the top? That’s up to Amazon’s A9 algorithm, which sorts and ranks 350 million products based on everything from sales velocity and keyword relevance to fulfillment strategies and product availability.
In other words, to stand out and succeed on Amazon, it’s no longer enough to have a premium product with competitive pricing.
Instead, if brands are looking to convert potential customers (and steal conversions from competitors), they need to optimize their product listings for relevance and performance.
Because Amazon listings play such a critical role in a brand’s success, MuteSix, a part of Amazon’s Advertising Partner Network, now recommends full Amazon Account Management, so as to ensure brands like Healthy Spot and Aera are “retail ready” before setting up shop and scaling on Amazon, which, for the smart home fragrance brand translated to a 152% increase in total revenue.
In this article, we’ll cover a step-by-step breakdown of what it takes to build an effective Amazon listing, and how to keep it optimized for long-term success.
What is an Amazon listing?
At its most basic level, an Amazon listing, also known as a Product Detail Page (or PDP), is a landing page for each of the millions of items sold on Amazon.
It highlights all of the most pertinent information, including a product’s title, ratings from past purchasers, description, images, and pricing.
At first glance, Amazon’s product listings seem relatively straightforward. However, if you compare a few product listings side by side, you can start detecting best practices, typically on the highest-ranking products on Amazon’s search engine results page (SERP), which means the optimization works.
Why are Amazon listings important?
An Amazon listing is critical to the success of any brand with an Amazon store – whether they’re household names or new-to-market, premium-quality products or competitively priced, in-demand or limited-editions.
That’s because listing optimization is crucial to break through the noise on Amazon, where a whopping 72% of all shoppers come to casually research and purchase new products.
Amazon listings are important because, at the most basic level, they help brands:
- Increase the chances of appearing on the SERP
- Encourage shoppers to purchase a product
With a PDP being a brand’s one chance to win the hard-earned spending dollars of ready-to-shop customers, it’s not enough to just rattle off product features within the prescribed character count.
Instead, brands must create as memorable and personalized a shopping experience as possible, so as to not only acquire new customers, but convert and retain them.
The importance of being “retail ready”
Given the fierce competition on Amazon marketplace, a “set-it-and-forget-it” approach will not deliver optimal results, especially in more competitive shopping verticals and during major holiday promotional periods.
Before optimizing Amazon listings for clients, MuteSix takes a step back to consider if a brand is “retail ready.” That’s because a high-performing PDP is about more than just strong SEO, a premium product, or celebrity endorsements. It’s about the entire customer experience, from consideration to fulfillment.
In other words, a full-funnel Amazon business strategy entails having all the elements in place on the back end so that brands deliver on the front-end promises made on their PDPs.
Otherwise, their high sales volumes may clash with inventory shortages or shipping delays, earning brands nothing more than a negative review and another unhappy shopper.
To better maximize conversions and ongoing revenue, MuteSix acts as an extension of each brand’s ecommerce team to ensure brands have everything buttoned up, with the help of a premium omnifulfillment partner like ShipBob – including branding and both inventory and fulfillment strategies – before going live with their new listings and running paid campaigns.
Steve Staffan, founder and CEO of Brummell
The ultimate Amazon listing checklist
While there are many moving pieces when managing an Amazon listing, the MuteSix “retail ready” checklist includes:
- Product titles
- Bullet points
- Image gallery and videos
- Product description and back-end keywords
- A+ content
- Positive customer reviews
- Buy Box ownership
Now, we’ll dive deeper into how to optimize each of these elements when strategizing, preparing, and managing an Amazon listing.
When Amazon shoppers search for products, the first thing they see is the product title (or the heading above each product). These all-important headlines introduce the product in a very succinct yet strategic way so as to help hurried shoppers determine which products to click on versus scroll past.
For most categories, Amazon allows a product name length of up to 200 characters, with a minimum of 80 characters for mobile optimization.
Brands must establish the relevancy of their product to boost their ranking, and entice shoppers to select their product over that of neighboring competitors.
Considering that the product title must convey as much value about your product as possible, those 200 or fewer characters have to be chosen very carefully.
When selecting the words used in the product title, brands should consider user intent and provide just enough product information, such as brand, model, size, quantity, and color, to help shoppers determine if they want to click to learn more.
Brands should also include a high-volume and relevant keyword or phrase to rank for, based on Amazon keyword research of the product category, and include it in the first 80 characters of the product title if possible.
A few other tips to consider when optimizing product titles:
- Create consistent formulas across collections or product categories: brand name, collection name, product type, additional high-indexing keywords or search terms, and variation (color / scent / flavor / size / pack size, etc.).
- Avoid all caps; use title case.
- Use “and” not ampersands (&).
- Write numbers as numerals.
- Exclude price and quantity.
- Avoid promotional messages.
- Avoid symbols.
Amazon bullet points are a brief summary of the product’s benefits and features presented in a scannable manner (i.e., bullets). These points are used not only to highlight the basic features of the product, but also to celebrate how they will enrich the lives of their owners.
Given how many products populate Amazon within any given shopping vertical, bullet points are critical to capturing the short attention spans of shoppers.
As such, while they mainly contain your most important selling points, you want to make sure to stick to a 170-200 character count limit to avoid a block of copy that’s most likely never going to be read.
When writing bullets, keep them digestible and informative, and always consider the benefits first and the features second, while sprinkling in a few keywords here and there to help with discoverability. Below are a few additional tips for bullet points:
- Have the first word of each bullet start with a capital letter.
- If you’re a seller, utilize your 5 bullet points, and if you’re a vendor, take advantage of your allowed 10 bullet points.
- List 5 characteristics or features that celebrate the product’s benefits.
- Keep the bullets uniform in length, and not too short or long.
- Steer clear of promotional and pricing-based content.
- Avoid HTML and other kinds of coding.
Image gallery and videos
A captivating and compelling product title will entice shoppers to click and learn more, but ultimately the PDP’s images and videos will give at-home shoppers the opportunity to scrutinize the product from different angles before making a purchase – which is essential for ecommerce shopping.
Much like the words in a product title, the product images in your gallery should be carefully planned out and selected to squash as many customer objections as possible.
Amazon allows sellers to upload 9 images, but we recommend 5-7, each following the guidelines below:
- Feature close-up and clear shots of the images, ideally against a white background, or use a background removal tool if necessary.
- Avoid blurry or pixelated product photos, and keep products well-lit and in-focus during the photography phase.
- Keep the main product being sold easily recognizable, occupying 80% of the space provided.
- Alternate close-up shots of ingredients, infographics, and lifestyle use cases.
- Use only the JPEG (.jpg) file format when uploading images.
- Keep the resolution to 72 pixels per inch with a minimum size of 1,000 pixels (for the longest side).
Product description and back-end keywords
Surprisingly, the product description of an Amazon listing is one of the least viewed sections on the product page, as it’s often the most difficult to read and least visually appealing.
With limited formatting options available, sellers must feature a block of text, 500-700 characters (or a maximum of 1,900 characters) of which must help boost SEO and communicate everything about the product.
At MuteSix, we suggest opting for clear and concise descriptions that speak to a product’s benefits, making it distinct from that of competitors.
Avoid buzzwords, repetition, and unnecessary information, using the product description as a means to enhance your bullet points and feature a few keywords to help with SEO.
A+ content is a premium content feature that allows sellers to tell their brand story via enriched multimedia content, which includes comparison charts, high-quality images, and HD videos. According to Amazon, A+ content helps increase the overall sales of a product by 3–10% on average.
A+ content can replace the product description and create a more sophisticated and informative shopping experience. When creating A+ content, MuteSix recommends that brands use at least 500 words in text copy for rich SEO content.
A+ content’s boost in conversions is due in large part to the fact that shoppers want to know more about the products they’re purchasing, and A+ content (which goes well beyond the 1,900-character count of product descriptions) allows brands to tell their brand story and show their products in action with elevated static images and video content.
A more robust content offering than the standard product description, A+ content enables sellers to change the product description of their branded ASINs by using rich fonts, videos, and images.
With enriched multimedia content, sellers can enhance the user experience, leveraging competitor comparison charts, FAQ tables, high-quality images, HD videos, and more to ensure the buyer really understands the product before making a purchase. This not only boosts Amazon sales, but reduces returns and negative reviews.
Now available for both Vendor and Seller Central, A+ content allows a manufacturer or brand to display a full branded story with lifestyle images and text placements across multiple modules available.
The formula behind pricing is complex, considering that the cost is what the vast majority of Amazon shoppers look for when researching brands and products on Amazon.
Being competitively priced is essential on Amazon, because the A9 algorithm takes sales velocity and conversions into account — two aspects that are largely dependent on pricing.
However, while a steep discount may boost conversions, it won’t guarantee long-term revenue growth, nor a product listing appearing in search. That’s because the A9 algorithm also checks if a product has been priced appropriately, so it’s important that brands balance their pricing with how well their product has been represented.
Also, because Amazon’s margins eat into a high portion of revenue, some brands want to increase prices to counter the additional cost. While this may seem like a logical choice, it is not recommended that your Amazon pricing differ from that of other channels as it can impact your organic presence on Amazon.
So, at MuteSix, we recommend listing at MSRP or whatever you list on your website.
Positive customer reviews
Social proof goes a long way in the world of ecommerce, where at-home customers rely on the opinions of past purchasers before adding to cart – and Amazon is no exception.
The only difference, however, is how difficult Amazon has made it to amass these much-needed reviews and ratings, considering it has been illegal to incentivize shoppers to leave reviews since 2016.
Nevertheless, the impact that positive reviews have on a seller’s Amazon Listing cannot be stressed enough. Fortunately, there are a few legal (and encouraged) tactics for getting those reviews:
- Manually requesting reviews through Seller Central between 5-30 days after an order has been delivered, without any direct communication between the seller and buyer.
- Using the Amazon Vine Program, an invitation-only product review program managed by Amazon that rewards a select group of reviewers for their unbiased and non-incentivized reviews.
In terms of ratings, by eliminating written reviews, Amazon has made it much easier for customers to leave star ratings. However, even star ratings are a challenge on Amazon, where a complex weighted average algorithm is used rather than a simple average, taking into account factors such as how recent the rating or review is, as well as verified purchase status.
Most sellers do not know how to use their customer review section to improve their Amazon product listing, but fortunately, if they follow the above best practices they can meet the goal, which is 15 customer reviews with an average 3.5+ star rating.
Buy Box ownership
Perhaps the most coveted piece of real estate on an Amazon listing is the most obvious, and yet the most challenging, to claim: the Amazon Buy Box.
The Buy Box sits proudly on the right-hand side of the Amazon product detail page, and is used by customers to add items to their cart. While it may seem like every Amazon listing features one, this is hardly the case as not all sellers are eligible to win the Buy Box.
Given the stiff competition on Amazon, the platform makes sellers work hard to earn that badge of honor throughout any given day, stacking them against each other to determine who best represents a product, given many factors like performance and pricing.
If one seller is stronger than the rest, their percentage share of the Buy Box will be higher. For example, the top-ranking seller of a product could hold the Buy Box for 70% of the day, while the lower-ranking seller could hold it for the remaining 30% of the day.
Winning the Buy Box ensures that brands are receiving the credit for the sale, which increases the ASIN’s sales velocity and boosts its ranking. For Buy Box eligibility, Amazon takes into account the following factors:
- Inventory status
- Prime eligibility
- Lowest price
- Fastest shipping
We’ll explore inventory, which is perhaps one of the most critical components of a healthy Amazon account.
To consistently win the Buy Box and maintain search relevancy, a 95% in-stock rate is ideal for inventory management. There are several fulfillment methods available to sellers:
- Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA): Businesses can outsource order fulfillment (packing and shipping) to Amazon.
- Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM): Seller stores inventory and fulfills orders independently.
- Amazon Direct Fulfillment: Retail dropshipping for Amazon vendors.
- Vendor: Amazon owns inventory and fulfills orders.
To ensure the greatest degree of success on the fulfillment side, MuteSix partners with leading tech-enabled third-party logistics (3PL) providers like ShipBob to fulfill ecommerce orders for DTC brands.
ShipBob can fulfill FBM orders, offers automated FBA prep, has an industry-leading technology platform that helps with everything from automating inventory replenishment to visualizing your ideal fulfillment center locations.
Store inventory in any of ShipBob’s 30+ fulfillment centers across the US, Canada, the UK, mainland Europe, and Australia, and ShipBob will pick, pack, and ship each order as it’s placed to meet customer expectations. This keeps your transit times and shipping costs down, and enables you to execute an omnichannel fulfillment strategy.
With ShipBob’s fulfillment solutions, brands have saved 25% on shipping costs, reduced their order error rate by 35%, and sped up the fulfillment process by 116.7% – all of which can place a brand in higher esteem for Amazon, increasing the odds of them consistently winning the Buy Box.
“Most other companies like Amazon are structured in such a way that you don’t have flexibility — you’re just a small part of their business, so there’s no patience for you.
The amazing thing about ShipBob has not just been its flexibility and ability to customize, but also the support it’s given us whenever we’ve faced problems. Having support through ShipBob has really allowed us to capture growth well.”
Aaron Patterson, COO of The Adventure Challenge
Amazon listing housekeeping tips
Once you have an optimized Amazon listing that A9 deems worthy of being discovered, it’s important to regularly manage your listing to ensure it continues ranking, converting, and keeping customers satisfied. There are a couple of areas to consider when doing this:
Manage duplicate and third-party listings
Duplicate listings can cause organizational headaches, so sellers should use the Review Duplicates button for an Amazon Standard Identification Number (ASIN), which Amazon automatically creates with each listing.
In terms of third-party vendors, if they are selling a genuine product at a lower price than the MSRP, it can be next to impossible to remove them from selling on Amazon unless you take legal measures off platform.
One way to control this is to ensure your sales channels are acting in order. If there are any leaks in your distribution channel, meaning selling and distributing to sellers who are not following brand guidelines, it’s important to work on getting these issues resolved.
Another issue for sellers to keep their eye out for is third-party sellers purchasing in bulk during big blow-out sales, then selling all discontinued prices down the line.
Leverage the Parent-Child Variation feature
MuteSix encourages sellers to include color, size, flavor, and other variations within a single product listing. Variations are great for combining similar products in a catalog on a single product detail page, making it easier for customers to find the variation they’re looking for. It also helps boost conversions, reviews, and rankings for lower-performing items.
When you variate similar products, all of the individual reviews get combined under the new Parent ASIN, which bolsters the review counts as opposed to them being separated. For certain brands, that can mean the difference between hundreds of reviews and thousands.
Fine-tune based on Amazon’s A9 algorithm
Sellers should consistently reference Amazon Search Trend Reports to monitor how consumers are searching. Upon discovering highly searched keywords, try to update your listings with these to boost relevance and ranking.
Remember, to rank organically, you need to fuel the algorithm. So, in order to be “retail ready,” it is essential that all elements of your Amazon listing not only educate the consumer on your product, but also feature relevant and high-volume keywords to make it discoverable on Amazon.
It’s important to note, however, Amazon is a pay-to-play platform, and the algorithm will show your own product at a higher frequency if you have a high amount of reviews at a high-star rating and if your listing is getting a high volume of clicks and conversions.
So, MuteSix encourages brands to also consider investing in Sponsored Ads to expedite sustained growth.
Manage your active Amazon listings
Once your Amazon listings are up and running, brands should regularly manage their inventory using Universal Product Code (UPC) and ASIN tags in a spreadsheet.
In addition to tracking their own performance and optimizing advertising efforts accordingly, brands should also keep a close watch on similar sellers to ensure all aspects of their Amazon listing remain competitive and in-line with optimization practices, and to report hijacking and counterfeits, if necessary.
MuteSix can help with this and other marketplace and creative best practices to manage your Amazon’s account’s health, which include:
- Checking performance and listing quality often on the Amazon Listing Quality Dashboard.
- Optimizing product listings, including title, descriptions, key features, images, and more based on performance and trends.
- Improving your Best Seller Rank (BSR), which is updated hourly based on sales performance and trends.
- Collecting Reviews using Amazon’s “Request a Review,” and Amazon Vine Program.
- Enrolling in the Amazon Brand Registry to build your brand using features like A+ Content and protect it from fraud and abuse.
By improving the health of your Amazon account on the backend, under the management of an Amazon advertising agency like MuteSix and by partnering with shipping and fulfillment solutions like ShipBob, brands can create an optimal shopping experience that will satisfy not only the A9 algorithm but the customers who keep coming back to buy from them.
Inventory management and order fulfillment often cause headaches
On top of managing Amazon listings, order management and fulfillment are additional requirements that can be expensive and complex. If you use Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) , you’ll need to be sure to avoid Amazon penalties associated with failing to properly manage inventory.
Inventory Performance Index (IPI) is a metric Amazon monitors to assess a seller’s demand and inventory management. It’s based on the annual performance of four components: excess inventory, sell-through rate, stranded inventory, and in-stock inventory. Should your score be too low (for example, below 500), your products will show up much lower in search results, you may lose your Amazon Prime status, and your allotted FBA storage space may be reduced.
Many sellers use FBA to handle their inventory and order management, but what about non-Prime orders? A third-party fulfillment and logistics provider like ShipBob can pick, pack, and ship orders on behalf of a merchant who is selling items on Amazon.
Supercharge your Amazon listing sales with ShipBob
ShipBob is a fulfillment company that can fulfill all sorts of sales channels, including Amazon’s Fulfilled by Merchant (FBM) orders (as well as dozens of other retailers, ecommerce platforms, and more). ShipBob also has a warehouse management system (WMS) for brands that handle fulfillment in-house.
“Along with Chewy, we’re also fulfilling orders through Amazon, as they are the two biggest online pet sales channels in the US.
We utilize ShipBob’s EDI solution that is connected to our 3rd party EDI platform SPS Commerce for our Chewy orders, and when we don’t ship directly to Amazon, we rely on ShipBob’s direct integration with Amazon for FBA orders. We’re even exploring additional channels that ShipBob supports, such as Walmart.com.
Being an omnichannel brand is critical for us, so we can reach more pet lovers from more places. We’re glad that ShipBob helps us keep up with demand from all the places we reach our customers.”
Stephanie Lee, COO at PetLab
If you need help with fulfillment, get in touch with ShipBob today.
Amazon listing FAQs
Below are answers to common questions about Amazon listings.
What is Amazon Brand Registry?
Brand Registry is a program designed to help brand owners protect their intellectual property and product content on Amazon. It allows a brand to better control their product detail pages and gives them access to a number of different advertising, content, and optimization tools to grow their brand.
What is detail page control?
Detail Page Control is when a brand or manufacturer has creative control over their product detail pages including copy, images, and A+ content. Through brand registry, the brand would have direct influence over the content that gets displayed on Amazon.
Can I directly contact another Amazon seller about infringement?
Yes, any Amazon seller can contact another Amazon seller regarding copyright or IP infringement. Depending on the violation, it is recommended to go through your intellectual property lawyer who will typically send a cease and desist letter directly to the seller.