Last week we debuted a new format for our Amazon Experts series, bringing some of our favourite marketplace specialists together for an hour-long masterclass.

The hot topic? Your Amazon success in 2024.

Featuring some of the biggest experts in Amazon, from Seller to Vendor; Ads to Account Management, our panel drilled down into the latest trends and the most effective strategies for the year ahead.

Sharing unmissable tips, tricks and best practices to guide you to better visibility and sales success on the marketplace, we covered themes including:

  • What we learned from 2023
  • What does Amazon success look like in 2024?
  • Is this the year of Hybrid on Amazon (and if it is, how can brands do it well?)
  • How can brands stand out against increasingly fierce competition this year?
  • What’s coming for Amazon Ads, and how will strategies change?
  • 20 quickfire tips for 2024 – 5 from each expert!

If you did miss the webinar, don’t worry.

We’ve pulled all those invaluable insights together here for you to digest at your leisure, so just read on for the full lowdown!

Prefer to watch? Just click this link to view the event on-demand

Who took part?

For a wonderfully rounded and knowledgeable panel whose expertise covers all bases, we paired a super-strong Venture Forge trio of:

  • Our CEO, Andy Banks
  • The brilliant Becca Woollin (Account Director); and 
  • The multi-Marketplace Awards-winning Ananda Etges (Senior Account Manager)

With two fantastic guest speakers from different Agencies:

  • Antonella (Nella) Argenziano, Head of Advertising at e-Comas; and
  • Ant Finch, Founder at Vendor Rocket

Let’s dig into their insider insights!

What we learned from 2023

Describing 2023 as “eventful”, “strong” and “chaotic”, the consensus of our panel was clear – the easy days of pandemic-era Amazon, where you could list almost any product and it would perform, are a thing of the past.

Now we’re seeing a period of quick-fire change, with new features and capabilities launched almost every week – from exciting Amazon Ads formats to intriguing social media partnerships.

A period where some promotional days work brilliantly, and others less so (looking at you, Black Friday).

One where the whole landscape is becoming more and more competitive, with all shapes and sizes of new-to-Amazon brands arriving on the scene.

And one where margins are likely to be squeezed by Amazon themselves, as inflation-driven profits ease off and they look to boost their own operating margins.

We’ve seen many brands begin to pivot to meet this new marketplace already, with Net PPM (Pure Profit Margin) a buzzword on many of our clients lips.

But the most important takeaway is that those looking for lazy success will likely be disappointed. 

As confirmed by Andy, “The easy days have gone. 

Now it’s about how you build a proper, viable, profitable Amazon business.”

So what does Amazon success look like in 2024?

“The main thing brands need to do to stay ahead is to leverage data analytics,” advises Amazon Ads expert Nella.

“You need to be able to harness the data that Amazon provides, like Amazon Marketing Cloud (AMC), to make better informed marketing and advertising decisions.”

For those brands without the internal resource to effectively manage their Amazon Ads, Nella recommends partnering with a good Agency – a suggestion we heartily endorse (and not purely for selfish reasons!).

A strategic partnership – especially for something as specialised and fast-paced as Amazon Ads – can work out far more cost-effective over the medium to longer term for brands.

Explore the pros and cons of an Agency partnership

Nella also highlights the importance of building your brand on Amazon.

Taking the time to establish your community and drive brand awareness are both crucial ways to differentiate your brand against growing competition.

For Account Management expert Ananda, exploring and making full use of video and cross-channel functionalities – like Amazon integration with social media platforms – will be key in 2024.

“Cross-channel media strategies are going to be huge,” agrees Becca, our brilliant Account Director.

“And data is key – not just new data, but current customer data too. 

If you’ve got B2C data? Using that to drive Amazon, and using Amazon to drive your B2C – these are two great strategies for 2024.”

Becca implores brands to revisit their Amazon “why” this year, going over the reasons you made the marketplace part of your strategy and asking whether it still makes sense for you.

If yes, great. 

But if not, now’s the time to make those serious calls to rework your business strategy and ensure your brand is where it needs to be for success.

Vendor guru Ant sees things becoming more pressurised in 2024, with brands needing to ask the big questions about whether their model is really right for them and drilling down into the detail of their accounts.

Expecting a more aggressive push on margins from Amazon over the coming months, he suggests brands assume a rigorous and ruthless approach to their catalogues, making sure every listing has a clear role and a reason for being on the marketplace.

And our CEO Andy agrees. 

Seeing that Amazon will only get their own growth this year through volume growth as inflation drops off, his prime insight for brands is that this is the year for pure focus.

“It’s about right product, right price, right margin offering. There’s no lazy way any more – you have to have a really good strategy.”

Time to revisit your Amazon strategy? Speak to our experts today

Those 2024 tips in a nutshell:

  • Make use of data analytics – Amazon Ads users should learn how to use Amazon Marketing Cloud (AMC)
  • Take time to build your brand on the marketplace
  • Explore and use new functionality, especially video
  • This is the year for cross-channel media strategies – look at new social media integrations following Amazon’s partnerships with Pinterest and Meta
  • Use your existing data to inform your Amazon strategy – and vice versa
  • Revisit your “why” for using Amazon and tweak as needed
  • Revisit your sales model and make sure it still works for you
  • Be ruthless with your catalogue, trimming where needed
  • Keep a laser focus – right product, right price, right margin, right strategy

Is this the year of Hybrid on Amazon?

First though, what is hybrid selling?

Fundamentally, there are two ways you can sell on Amazon.

The Vendor (or 1P) model is where brands sell to Amazon, and Amazon sells on to the consumer.

Traditionally, lots of larger brands operate a Vendor model, using Amazon as a distributor of product.

The Seller (or 3P) model is where brands sell directly to the consumer, using Amazon as their sales platform.

And hybrid? Hybrid is a mix of the two that can be configured to suit each individual brand.

Vendor vs Seller vs Hybrid

With Becca a firm champion of the Seller model and Ant an experienced hand at Vendor, we thought this was fated to be a talk of two sides!

But actually, both agree on the most important points.

Whether you go with one model or a mix of both is purely down to what your brand’s overall strategy is, and there’s no simple solution – no “this is what you should do because of X”, or “this is how hybrid should be done.”

Becca, after a year where Net PPM (Pure Profit Margin) has reigned supreme for our clients, sees hybrid as the future of the marketplace, especially for those with a history of B2B business with Amazon.

And having seen and experienced both sides himself, Vendor expert Ant urges brands to fully understand all their routes to market – Vendor and Seller each being one route – and look at them from a profitability perspective when deciding what configuration suits your brand best.

After all, there are pros and cons to each, and value to both.

Depending on your strategy and profit margins, Sellers might find that a Vendor relationship could make a big difference – and a smart hybrid of the two might unlock all the potential you need.

But only by properly weighing the benefits and negatives of each will you understand how best to use them to drive your success.

Don’t know where to start? Get in touch

Busting some Model Myths

Ant also explains how those relying on Vendor Managers and/or the Amazon Vendor Services team (AVS) to grow their businesses could have misunderstood how both services work.

Vendor Managers, as facilitators and escalators, only tend to get in contact when metrics aren’t performing as they should – so no news is good news!

And those paying a premium for AVS and expecting the team to deliver growth will be disappointed.

Instead, brands should think of AVS as a way to drive your internal metrics and open opportunities for growth that you can lean into.

But remember – the onus is on the brands to deliver.

While some might have heard that Amazon is pushing brands away from hybrid models, our experts say that’s not their experience.

“Amazon wants to make money, they don’t care where it comes from,” says Ant, and Becca agrees.

“We’ve seen no challenges from hybrid, more from brands pivoting quickly and completely from one to another. 

There’s effectively a brick wall between the two departments in Amazon. We’ve seen no clients that have transitioned and had issues.”

The Devil is in the Detail

So when it comes to deciding what’s best for your brand, the devil really is in the detail – and it’s not an immovable feast either, the Amazon landscape will undoubtedly keep evolving.

To make the best choice for you, you need to know your stuff and consider the options on a per brand, per product, per scenario basis, looking at your long-term strategic plan and Amazon ambitions.

But as far as Ant is concerned, 2024 is definitely the year that brands should “kill or cure” this question – for now, at least.

Need expert advice to pinpoint the best model for you? Get in touch today

Hybrid in the context of Multi or Cross-Channel strategies

The term “hybrid” can also refer to multi and cross-channel selling strategies, which is where brands integrate their various sales channels – website, social, Amazon – to forge a smooth and aligned path to purchase for consumers.

In this context, Becca is a strong advocate of powering sales and marketing strategies with data from each source – and sees huge potential in using Amazon as an acquisition tool for brands in 2024.

“We tried lots of things over the past year, driving traffic from B2C websites and vice versa,” explains Becca.

“But for me, the future of Amazon is in understanding your product range – and hybrid is the way to go in terms of having a different product set across Amazon and different categories and territories, so you’ve got the full width and breadth.”

Nella and Ananda agree.

“You need to understand what you’re using Amazon for. (You can) use it to put out product and generate volume and visibility, then use other platforms to generate profits.

Knowing what platforms you’re using for what reason is another great way to keep your P&L healthy through 2024,” explains Nella.

And Ananda is a huge advocate of seeing Amazon as part of an overall strategy – not necessarily the whole picture.

In 2024, she suggests viewing Amazon as part of the flow of your brand awareness, one that integrates with your other channels to speak to your potential and existing customers with its detailed product information, reviews and huge reach.

How can brands *really* differentiate themselves on Amazon in 2024?

With competition constantly growing, it’s key to stand out on the marketplace. But how?

“Content, content, content!

For Ananda, it comes down to two things.

It’s never too late in your journey to update your content. Really make sure your listing is fully optimised and then keep reviewing it,” she urges.

Her second point is to keep on top of your Amazon Ads, testing and refining, seeing what the competition is doing well and taking the best and making the most of new features and trends.

Content is high on Ant’s list too, and he adds an extra urgency.

“Stop with the annual refresh, update at least quarterly,” he suggests.

And theme your content to boost conversions

In an insight that we love, Ant recommends you theme your content updates to make your listings relevant to the current campaign or season – be that Christmas, Easter, Back to School or another.

“It can be a game-changer for brands on conversion.”

“Everyone can’t have the same look and feel.”

“Don’t be afraid to step away from what the market leaders are doing,” adds Becca – a key point to setting yourself apart.

Another crucial element is to refine your range, stripping it back to what works well and highlighting what makes yours better.

“Then use someone like Nella to compete and fight for that space once you’ve got a listing that looks like perfection.”

Perfect listings come before ads

“Music to my ears!” agrees Nella.

Ads are a super-important part of any brand’s strategy, taking up to 80% of the placement in search now.

But Ads experts agree that, though people often point first at paid activity when things need overhauling, successful ads need to come from listings that are already proven performers.

“Ads are very important – up to 80% of placement in search are ads now.”

But they shouldn’t begin until you’ve got a clear brand message that can be easily replicated across all platforms and communications.

“Many brands are advertising products that look poor,” agrees Ant.

“With a traditional retail hat on, you wouldn’t put a product with awful packaging into a store – don’t do it on Amazon.”

Community is key

You’ve got high quality products, you’re using ads, brand store and PDP to showcase why they’re better than the competition – what’s missing?

When it comes to ticking the boxes on your brand building, don’t overlook the importance of building a community of advocates across all your channels.

“There’s a time and a place for everything,” says Nella. “Build brand, build community – then make money.”

Look to exclusive products

Want to address Amazon’s “price follower strategy” and drive your profitability?

To differentiate your brand versus Retailers of your brand? Or help Amazon stand out as a channel in your multi-channel strategy?

These are all great scenarios for Amazon-exclusive products – why not think about how you might incorporate them into your strategy this year.

Choose your promotions wisely

It’s safe to say that Becca is not a fan of discounting! 

“Do them less. Or not at all,” she says in what is a conversation for another webinar…

But, used sparingly and chosen wisely, promotions could prove a good way to boost your brand’s sales.

How do you know which ones to pick?

“Find the ones that work best for you, the ones that give you the biggest uplift in volume on a regular basis,” suggests Ant.

When everyone else is doing nothing, you do something

Let’s end this section with this killer point from Ant – when the other brands fall quiet, that’s the best time for you to make some noise.

Dial up your activity with new promotions, new ads, new listings and take advantage of the silence to make a splash.

Want the help of our expert panel to differentiate your brand? Drop us a line today

What’s coming for Amazon Ads, and how will strategies change?

When we asked Nella what the biggest emerging Amazon Ads product will be, she didn’t hesitate to spotlight Amazon Marketing Cloud (AMC).

“It’s not strictly Ads related, but it will help inform Ads strategy,” she explains.

“Through AMC, you can build very specific audiences you want to reach. I think brands will be using it more and more.”

And again, data is key to building an effortless paid customer journey. 

By seeing which brand store pages are most successful and which sources are driving the most traffic, brands can identify the best path to purchase and build a PPC path with those blocks that guides traffic from one proven touchpoint to another.

Also on the horizon are the new ad types quickly dominating the list – sponsored ads and video ads chief among them.

And don’t forget the new vertical ads formats which are more mobile friendly.

“Thanks to these there are so many new things we can do – for example, video ads give us the ability to showcase products in a lifestyle setting,” says Nella. 

Our Expert Panel’s “Top 5” for 2024

If they have to boil it all down to five key things for 2024, what will our experts pick? Let’s explore…

Ananda Etges (Senior Account Manager, Venture Forge)

  • Video
  • Great content
  • Don’t overlook the importance of stock management
  • Great strategy
  • Amazon as part of your overall company flow, not as an isolated channel

Nella Argenziano (Head of Advertising, e-Comas)

  • Get up-to-date with the Amazon landscape, you can learn a lot by following experts on LinkedIn! 
  • Do what your competitors aren’t doing
  • Don’t neglect your other channels to be too dependent on Amazon’s opportunities
  • Test, test, test!
  • Speak to an Agency to help negotiate complicated Amazon requirements. Chances are they’ve faced your challenge before.

Becca Woollin (Account Director, Venture Forge)

  • Be agile, be prepared to flex – the Amazon landscape is changing all the time
  • Ask questions of your own goals and aims for Amazon – what are you using it for?
  • Re-strategise wherever you need, whenever that is 
  • Don’t be afraid to cull your range and get rid of what’s not working
  • Discount less. Or never!

Ant Finch (Founder, Vendor Rocket)

  • Have a really clear objective for Amazon thats aligned with key stakeholders and know what good looks like for your brand – build your strategy from that
  • Retail metrics are the health check you need
  • Seasonal content is a game-changer
  • Exclusive products – also a potential game-changer
  • Margin, margin, margin? Balance Amazon’s margin against your own

Another hour packed with Venture Forge value!

Phew! We think you’ll agree that’s another 60 minutes jam-packed with useful insight – and it didn’t even end there!

Check out the on-demand recording for more, including more of our experts’ solutions for a brand being undercut on Amazon by their retailers, and their take on Temu and Chinese competition…

And if it’s time to speak to any of our expert panel, click here to get in touch today!

Up next – one for the Vendors

Join us at 10am (GMT) on 22 February 2024 for an exclusive webinar designed specifically for Vendors.

Whether you’re new to the platform or looking to upgrade your current strategy, this hour will be packed with insights to help you transform your approach and succeed in the competitive world of Amazon!