E-commerce for Brands
What Levers “Move the Needle” on Amazon?
Shannon Roddy is the founder of the Amazon Brand Success Academy Course. He worked his way to success on Amazon after developing his own product a decade ago, and it was almost an accident how it first took off. There was nothing casual, however, about how deep he dove into Amazon strategy after that.
Shannon joined E-Commerce with Coffee?! to speak to host Nate Svoboda about which levers brands have to pull for success on the ultra-competitive e-marketplace.
As quickly as Amazon competition has grown, so has Shannon’s expertise. Since compiling his knowledge in his academy course, he’s skated ahead of the pack while laying the track for those who follow him.
As with all episodes of the show, Nate first asks Shannon about his relationship with coffee. It turns out Shannon wasn’t a coffee drinker until he had a kid — long nights, he said, changed his relationship with caffeine forever.
The interview then dives right into Amazon strategy. Unlike some high-profile Amazon gurus who preach their e-commerce “secrets” for instant success, Shannon started with his own failures by omission and is frank with listeners about the work that goes into success.
Investing More Than Money
Over the course of the interview, Shannon weaves through multiple strategies that brands need to learn about before taking their first steps in Amazon.
These strategies each carry heavy loads of to-dos, but Shannon explains them with powerful metaphors that bring it all into focus.
For example, Shannon starts by describing brands first launching to Amazon like launching a rocket. You build your rocket first, then you take aim. And only then do you take off.
“Do everything right, and do everything in order,” Shannon says. There are no shortcuts. If you only have a certain amount of time or money to invest, scale the number of products you work on, but never the required optimizations.
Shannon’s rocket simile mirrors the well-known Amazon Flywheel. The process goes:
“We have limited time, money, and energy,” Shannon reminds us. “The question is how to invest what resources we have.” That said, the real linchpin for Amazon success is to know how to scale your investment. Many brands first have the instinct to take on only one part of the Amazon Flywheel at a time if they’re short on resources.
According to Shannon, that’s why those brands fail.
Instead, give 100% of the strategy to as many products as you can at a time. If you have limited time, money, or energy, then simply don’t optimize, launch and analyze all your products at once.
In the interview, Shannon talks about what it is to give 100% of anything. “You don’t have to give something 100% of your time. You do have to give it 100% of the time it needs to be successful.” Amazon is no exception.
“If you don’t have 100% of the time Amazon strategy requires,” Shannon says, “hold off.” He assures brands that it isn’t worth it until you can give your Amazon strategy what it needs. “If you don’t commit the [time, money, and energy],” Shannon warns, “don’t even bother trying to sell there.”
That’s easier said than done, of course. “You have to do 128 things right [on Amazon], and you have to do them consistently,” Shannon admits.
Fortunately, brands can get started with his Amazon Brand Success Academy to make the process easier to follow.
Next up in the interview is where Shannon’s insights on the Amazon Flywheel and his own “Amazon Trifecta” come to an enlightening intersection.
The Amazon Trifecta
Shannon then gets into what he calls the “Amazon Trifecta,” or Deliverability + Buyability = Rankability. This is the equation he uses to strategize organic ranking for his own brands and for clients.
“Brands don’t know what they don’t know,” Shannon reminds us. He learned that the hard way when he started his own brand. The biggest hurdle today, Shannon feels, is how brands piecemeal their knowledge and strategies together. They get tips from multiple sources for each variable of the trifecta, but no number of tips or “secrets” pieced together create a solid foundation for a viable strategy.
In most cases, one trusted partner or source is selected to bring the trifecta to life in one coherent analysis.
Picking Your Partners
“Amazon strategy,” Shannon tells us, is a “combination of knowing best practices and [watching] policy changes.” There’s no silver bullet because success on Amazon requires a whole ecosystem of strategies.
For a look at exactly how many elements come into play, check out Shannon’s Complete Amazon Checklist.
Most brands have to look at partnering with independent contractors, consultants, or vendors to build that strategic ecosystem because they won’t have all the required talent in-house.
There are plenty of gurus out there, though, and they’re all vying for brands’ business. Which ones should they trust?
Shannon lays out specific red flags that brands should look for when vetting any “expert” or vendor. There’s no shortage of opinions on how to win on Amazon these days. Gimmicks like guarantees, Shannon says, allow brands to discard vendors who could expose them to unethical practices or unrealistic expectations.
Brands can become their own advocates, too, by staying up-to-date on Amazon’s policies. That way, if a vendor or consultant does propose something that goes against Amazon’s rules, brands don’t take on unnecessary risk.
Shannon’s Free Amazon Masterclass is a great place for brands to start to get educated.