Product Videos. Many brand owners understand that they need these and that they’re available for free with Brand Registry or with services like AMZ Product Video. The non-intuitive approach is how where they’re placed and how they’re shared with Amazon customers. Brand and sales videos should be placed at the top under the image block while assembly and un-boxing videos should go under Related Video Shorts. Sellers can then direct customers to these videos hosted on the Amazon platform by linking to them in their feedback emails or by using QR codes on product inserts that are scannable with the Amazon App.
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 Shannon Roddy. Shannon has worked with over 80 brands to setup their Amazon accounts and optimize and launch new products. 6+ years of Amazon consulting knowledge has helped launch over 23 #1 New Releases, 4 #1 Best Sellers and 25 Amazon Choice Products. He is the founder of Marketplace Seller Courses.
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?
I was running a successful web design company when my colleague Eric Kooymans asked me to assist him in cleaning up Amazon listings for an international apparel brand. There were no good resources online explaining how to take control of an existing ASIN, how to fix parent-child variation listings or remove unauthorized sellers. That single incident led to me to eventually create Marketplace Seller Courses which provides online courses, resources and tools for brand owners selling on Amazon.
Can you explain to our readers why you are an authority about selling on Amazon.com?
There are two primary things that drive me: problem solving and organizing information. Most brand owners selling on Amazon will encounter a problem and do whatever they can to solve it and move on as quickly as possible. Because we have courses that can benefit thousands of brand owners, we take a different approach and dive as deep into the problem as we possibly can in order to thoroughly understand it and incorporate and organize the information into our courses. In addition, I’ve had the opportunity to work with so many brand owners over the years that I get to learn something new and different from every single one. Every time a client asks a question it leads me on a new path of discovery. It’s made the journey both exciting and rewarding to help so many clients.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
I was working with a new product that had recently launched on Amazon and they had a video go viral on Facebook. We immediately sold out of our FBA inventory and switched to merchant fulfilled. Despite our efficiency and increasing our handling time we had troubling keeping up with the shipping demand and had to ultimately reach out to Seller Performance to explain the situation and ask them to keep our account active despite our late shipment rate. When we wrote Seller Performance we told them that we had increased sales by over 300,000% in one week. It was absolutely mind-blowing but they actually wrote back and agreed to keep our account active. That was a pretty cool experience.
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?
The funniest thing I remember happening was a client’s son was assisting with the Amazon flat file template. They sold supplements for adults and so when he filled out the template he marked them all as “adult” products. We had to explain that that wasn’t exactly what Amazon meant when it was requesting information for that field. The takeaway is, make sure you read and understand the definitions Amazon is using when requesting information. They often have their own terminology and it tends to be somewhat ambiguous.
Are you working on any exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Yes, we’re currently launching eComBootcamps in conjunction with eComEngine, the creators of FeedbackFive. These boot camps will be one day events hosted throughout the country focusing on specific niches of brand owners selling on Amazon and will be limited attendance. Our first event will be in Boulder, Colorado and focus on Food Brands selling on Amazon. This strategy will allow us to focus the content and resources so that it’s nearly 100% relevant to every single attendee. We plan to host 2–3 of these per year while bringing in the best and most innovative Amazon speakers in the country. It’s going to be a very exciting venture.
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.
- Registered Trademarks. This is one of the most critical but often overlooked aspect of success on Amazon because it provides not only brand protection but also increased sales opportunities available via Brand Registry. We took Table-Mate, an established 25 year old company from $0 to $1 million in Amazon sales in less than 15 months all because we had a registered trademark.
- GS1 UPC codes. There are lots of opportunities to buy reseller UPC codes or get UPC exemption from Amazon but the best way to create a listing and retain control of it is using a GS1 UPC code. I spoke with a company yesterday that created their listings using reseller UPC codes and Amazon wouldn’t allow them to fix them or merge them with the correct UPC listings.
- eCommerce Presence. Most established brands have an eCommerce presence, they just need to understand the power of using it to send targeted traffic to Amazon. When Kasandrinos Olive Oil launched they sent website visitors who were Amazon customers to their Amazon listings and blew up their sales overnight. They leveraged part of their audience to gain access to Amazon’s 300+ million customers.
- Social Media Presence. Social media is huge, but it’s not only a way to market directly to potential customers but also to make contact with and develop relationships with potential partners, affiliates and influencers. Starting those relationships can lead to huge opportunities to promote and launch both new and existing products on Amazon. It’s as simple as seeing who follows you, follow them back and start a dialogue with potential partners.
- Product Videos. Many brand owners understand that they need these and that they’re available for free with Brand Registry or with services like AMZ Product Video. The non-intuitive approach is how where they’re placed and how they’re shared with Amazon customers. Brand and sales videos should be placed at the top under the image block while assembly and un-boxing videos should go under Related Video Shorts. Sellers can then direct customers to these videos hosted on the Amazon platform by linking to them in their feedback emails or by using QR codes on product inserts that are scannable with the Amazon App.
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?
It has been interesting to watch the FBA phenomenon that has taken hold in the past few years. We’ve seen private labels outsell global brands on Amazon simply because they better understood how to leverage the platform. Our goals are to provide unique strategies that are completely in line with Amazon TOS that help brands and private labels leverage the opportunities available to them in order to launch and grow their businesses on Amazon. Two of the most incredible opportunities we use today are using influencers and Amazon affiliates (associates) to help drive targeted traffic to Amazon to effectively launch new products as well as increase sales of existing products in order to gain market share.
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. 🙂
If I can impact and influence business leaders to pursue excellence and innovation with integrity in their companies, it will have a ripple effect to every person who ends up working with or for their organization. That’s something that would really excite me and that I am deeply passionate about.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
It was from a documentary about Apple that I remember watching several years ago. Steve Jobs said, “Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact and that is everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that you’ll never be the same again.”
It took a long time to really believe that and come to a place where my confidence was developed enough to match my skillset and experience in order to truly step out and realize that I could make a difference. If something existed and it wasn’t the way I wanted it to be I could influence it. If something that I wanted didn’t exist I could actually go out and create it. I was no longer bound by life as was presented, I could actually go out and change and influence things. Steve Jobs was right, my life has never been the same.
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 🙂
Chris Sacca is my new favorite thought leader. I’ve found so many of his insights to be really helpful and he comes across as very down to earth and I appreciate that. I read that when the producers of Shark Tank were filming for his intro, Sacca proved problematic. He was a billionaire, but he didn’t look like one. Instead of a mansion he was living with his family in a 3 bedroom. Instead of a Porsche, he drove a Tesla and instead of an impressive corporate headquarters he worked from home to spend more time with his kids. I find at this current stage of life that I’m more attracted to people that I find fascinating who bring innovative approaches to business and life than people with lots of glitz and glamour.
Thank you so much for these great insights. This was very enlightening!
It’s been my pleasure.