Whether you’re just starting to research what product you want to sell on Amazon or have been selling for a while now, we’re pretty certain you want your products to succeed rather than fail.
After all, you’re investing valuable time and money, and would hate for it to all be for nothing.
While there are certainly many factors that go into determining how successful a product is, we want you to know some of the key pitfalls to avoid that are common among failed products.
So, without further ado, here are five (in no particular order) of the biggest reasons Amazon products fail.
Mistake #1: Offering a Product No One is Looking for on Amazon.
Amazon is the Google of online shopping, where many people start in their search for a product.
No exaggeration, Amazon is the world’s 3rd largest search engine, and as a seller you can optimize your listings with Amazon SEO just like you can optimize your website for Google SEO.
They rose to this status because they are very good at giving customers what they want.
Customers enter something in the search bar, and Amazon’s algorithms work to show them what they’re most likely looking for. That’s great for sellers, too, because it means they have a lot of potential customers.
The caveat, though, is that products don’t sell if people aren’t searching for them, no matter how good they are.
Even Amazon advertising is driven by the customer’s search, so it’s difficult if not impossible to advertise your product to people who aren’t already looking for it.
Avoid making the mistake of offering a product that gets too low of search volume to be worth it.
Before launching a product, do keyword research on your product market to be sure that there are enough potential customers searching for it.
You can utilize tools like Helium 10, ZonGuru, and Jungle Scout to see how many searches different keywords get per month, and to get a very accurate estimation of how many units a particular listing sells per month.
With enough data, you can almost guarantee that a product will sell when you launch it if you assess the opportunity properly.
Mistake #2: Trying to Compete Where You Don’t Have the Resources to Compete.
This mistake is the flipside of the previous one.
Instead of offering a product no one is looking for, this involves offering one that is getting a lot of search volume, but already has well established competitor products taking the lion’s share of sales.
Reviews don’t necessarily impact search results ranking beyond a certain degree, they do matter to customers and often serve as a tiebreaker in the purchasing decision.
A product with thousands of reviews that seems similar enough to your product will most often win.
Beware of trying to enter markets that already have 5+ products with over 1,000 reviews.
In such situations, customers tend to gravitate toward those leaders, and marketing is more expensive.
Of course, with the right differentiation and plan, you could potentially overcome barriers to entry.
Just be careful that you don’t put yourself up against competitors who are already well ahead and more resourceful than you.
As a seller, you want to find your sweet spot of the products you want to sell.
With data from other listings, you can estimate how many units per month you predict to sell to help determine how much you should initially order and when you’ll have to get a restock going.
Mistake #3: Having a Product that is Not Differentiated in Your Market.
Imagine you want to buy AA batteries from Amazon. What is it you really need? Do you want fancy designs? Should they glow in the dark? Most likely, you don’t care about those things and just need some batteries; plain and simple.
In fact, aside from the difference between rechargeable batteries and otherwise (and sizing), in the customer’s eyes there really isn’t much that makes one set of batteries different from another.
In this example, people are looking for utility, and will probably buy whatever gets the job done for the lowest price.
For sellers, competition becomes centered around whoever is offering the lowest price, meaning lower margins and potentially getting priced out of the market.
There are plenty of sellers in countries outside the U.S. (e.g. China) that can simply offer certain products at lower prices than American sellers can compete with.
To avoid competing on price and bringing in low margins, choose a product category where you can differentiate your product.
For example, people looking for clothes don’t just want utility and won’t gravitate to the cheapest option; they’ll shop around to find something that suits their taste.
Aside from choosing a high taste, low utility market, another way to differentiate is to go after a different part of the market.
For instance, rather than trying to reach the broadest market with the most competitors and lowest prices (and margins), consider going after the smaller but often just as profitable market segment of wealthier buyers who are willing to pay premiums for higher quality.
Serving your specific niche, branding, and innovation are your keys to success selling on Amazon.
Mistake #4: Lacking Product and/or Listing Quality
Make the algorithm happy and more people will see your listing. Make people happy and more people will buy your product, which gives you a ranking boost and increases potential word-of-mouth sales.
Failing to make either one “happy” will mean either that no one is seeing a great product, or that lots of people see a not-so-great product that gets bad reviews and quickly fades into obscurity.
To avoid that mistake, first make sure you have a quality product.
Business in general is all about meeting customer needs. Do your best to understand the needs your customer wants your product to meet, and make sure it does it well.
Beyond that most important step, you’ll also want to ensure that your listing is optimized for success. Amazon’s algorithm looks at elements of your listing such as title, bullet points, description, and more to determine what customer searches will result in your product being visible, and how high on the search page it is shown.
Once again, keyword research is vital to ensuring that your listing best matches what customers are really looking for, giving your product the highest chance of being seen by the most people.
Not only should you optimize the words in your listing, but your photos and video (video is only available to Brand Registered sellers) also.
Photos, in their ability to portray product quality and information, are the single biggest factor from a customer’s vantage point influencing what they purchase.
In summary, you want to have optimized listing words so that you get ranked highly in search results, great photos and detail in your listing so customers actually buy your product, and a great product that people are happy with and will leave good reviews for and buy again.
Mistake #5: Jumping into a Fad Market
As tempting as it can be to jump into a new market with massively increasing demand, don’t.
Many sellers get caught on the tail end of fad markets with tons of inventory that no one wants anymore.
The classic example of an Amazon fad market in recent history is fidget spinners. Sales grew exponentially, and a lot of money was made by the earliest players. But just as soon as it rose, demand plummeted back to earth and soon fizzled out.
Sellers with thousands of dollars in inventory couldn’t find buyers, even when lowering prices to sell at or below cost just to get rid of it. While it can pay to be among the earliest movers in a fad, making purchasing decisions in that kind of environment is risky, and effort put in won’t bring long-lasting results. Instead, focus on products in more stable markets where you’re confident demand will last.
If you are looking for some inspiration on coming up with your first product ideas, we have a post going over how to get started selecting products.
Selling on Amazon can be hard enough, don’t make it harder by making these mistakes. Spend the extra time upfront to do good keyword and market research, be careful which products you commit to, and invest in product quality. In doing so you’ll be more likely to enjoy successful products and watch all your hard work pay off!