Follow Amazon’s advice as little as possible. Amazon will suggest restocking your Christmas-themed item in large quantities in January, for example. Nearly all their advice is based on basic algorithms and lacks any nuance or understanding of your actual business. They send relentless emails about launching advertising campaigns and upping bids and budgets. No serious seller actually bothers reading it, much less implementing it.
As a part of my interview series about “Five non-intuitive things you need to know to run a very successful Amazon business, I had the pleasure of interviewing Emily Wilcox.
Emily Wilcox is a co-founder and CEO at Elevate Growth Group (www.elevategrowthgroup.com) where she is responsible for helping clients crush their sales goals on Amazon. On a mission to drive e-commerce growth, she is focused on enhancing brand visibility and finding creative ways for clients to reach more customers.
Prior to founding Elevate, Emily gained experience in brand building, entrepreneurship, and the Amazon ecosystem as the co-founder of Fayfaire Clothing Co, selling over 1M dollars in baby apparel on Amazon.
Emily has been featured in CNET, the Detroit Free Press, and has spoken at many industry events, including the White Label Expo, LA Trade Connect, and the Southbay Entrepreneurial Center.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share with us the “backstory” about what brought you to this specific career path?
Absolutely! My husband and I launched a brand of baby clothing to Amazon after having been behind-the-scenes on several Amazon projects…the largest of which took an electronics accessories company from 300,000 dollars to 30M dollars in 18 months on Amazon. We saw the incredible power of the Amazon sales channel and knew we had to be part of it.
Can you explain to our readers why you are an authority about selling on Amazon.com?
After selling more than 1m dollars in baby clothing on Amazon, we began helping other brands who wanted to grow their sales on Amazon. Fast forward three years and we’ve been behind-the-scenes on more than 50 Amazon accounts, our team has managed more than 10m dollars in Amazon ad spend, and our clients have sold millions of units on the channel.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
We helped one of our clients become the category leader #1 Coffee & Tea gift on Amazon. A few months later, Chrissy Tiegan (wife of John Legend, 13.6m followers) tweeted about how she bought the tea on Amazon and absolutely LOVED it. It was incredible to witness our client get over 250k dollars in free PR and a massive sales spike….all because their product was easy to discover on Amazon.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
In the early days, we didn’t monitor Amazon’s site for trademark and copyright violations. So imagine our surprise, shock, horror, and fits of laughter when we discovered our humorous baby designs copy/pasted onto women’s underwear, men’s boxers, and slip-on boat shoes. I can’t imagine that Chinese seller actually moved any units given their poor understanding of what a design like “I Drink Until I Pass Out” with a baby bottle actually meant. Nevertheless, it was a good lesson in staying on top of intellectual property enforcement.
Are you working on any exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?
We’re working on a fun AI-powered chatbot called Rebound. You can send a quick text to Rebound and in under a second, you’ll get answers to things like “what are my sales today?”, “when’s my next payment?”, and more. Our chatbot will aggregate your sales across platforms like Amazon and Shopify too so you don’t have to login to two different dashboards and then use a spreadsheet or calculator to add them together. It’s helping modern entrepreneurs to get their key business metrics on the fly, from their pocket…so they can enjoy more entrepreneurial freedom. (check out rebound.ai to learn more)
Ok. Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. You are a seasoned Amazon expert. Can you share with our readers five, non intuitive, insider tips, in order to be as successful as possible on Amazon? Please share a story or example for each.
- Follow Amazon’s advice as little as possible. Amazon will suggest restocking your Christmas-themed item in large quantities in January, for example. Nearly all their advice is based on basic algorithms and lacks any nuance or understanding of your actual business. They send relentless emails about launching advertising campaigns and upping bids and budgets. No serious seller actually bothers reading it, much less implementing it.
- Use software to track your keyword rankings. 90% of brands I talk to don’t have this in place. Without this key data, you’re operating your business off gut feel and you’ll never understand your sales spikes and dips.
- Test off-channel traffic. It’s getting more and more expensive to pay for clicks on Amazon. Many brands are finding cheaper traffic on google, youtube, etc and driving those customers to Amazon.
- Establish yourself with a solid third-party logistics partner. You used to be able to use Amazon for all your warehousing and order fulfillment, but in 2020 we saw severe quantity restrictions introduced that made it nearly impossible to capitalize on sales spikes without going out-of-stock. Having back-up product available as “Fulfilled by Merchant” is more important than ever.
- Commit to being an ads nerd or hire help. To properly optimize your ad spend, you’ll need to be downloading your data monthly and throwing it into a pivot table that aggregates it with past month’s data. If you’re not doing that, you’re wasting ad dollars, guaranteed. So either learn to fall in love with ad data, or hire a trusted partner to manage your Amazon PPC for you.
Amazon sellers have a reputation for being great guerilla marketers. Do you use any clever and innovative marketing strategies that you think large legacy companies should consider adopting?
Large legacy companies are so far behind that implementing a guerilla strategy would be totally out of sequence for them. They seriously need to master the basics — properly structured product listings, keyword-rich listing copy, and strategic images that tell the story, evoke emotions, and answer customer questions.
Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Look inward. I see most eCom entrepreneurs obsessed with strategies, tactics, their competition, and marketplace trends. That can get you a certain level of success. And then you’ll find that it’s actually your own belief systems, inner child wounds, and money stories that need an upgrade before you can soar to new heights. When we go within and heal ourselves, the whole world will change for the better.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Lord, change no circumstance in my life, change me.” -Sister Gyanamata. When I learned that everything in my life and absent from my life was because I was either attracting or repelling it, it moved me from victim mentality to a place of autonomy and authority to change my own life.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
Sara Blakely! She built a product empire from scratch. She runs her business ethically, has fun, is a great mom, and still seems very down to Earth and relatable. It’s super inspiring to me as an ambitious woman, mother, and entrepreneur.
Thank you so much for these great insights. This was very enlightening!