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2020 has been a year of challenges, but many Amazon sellers had remained afloat and even achieved trememdous growth for their businesses. What is the trick behind their successes? Let Willy break it down for you in this episode. 

In this episode, Willy is going to cover:

  • What successful Amazon sellers did in 2020;

  • How to conduct and sustain product research in a period of uncertainty

  • The importance of pivoting your marketing approach to achieve growth for your business

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TRANSCRIPTION

In 2020, the fierce competition brought on by the huge influx of new Amazon sellers made getting successful at this trade seemed almost impossible. Yet some sellers not only kept their Amazon businesses afloat, they even achieved more growth than usual! How did they do it? In today’s podcast, let’s break down what these sellers did to succeed in 2020.

As we all knew, the past year – 2020 – had been a year of changes. For many of us, the outbreak of the Covid 19 forced us to adopt lifestyles and habits we would never have thought of before: work-from-home (WFH), online conferences, virtual learning, etc. Just think: how many of us had heard of or used the video conference tool Zoom before 2020? Yet Zoom is now just as popular as Whatsapp, which many of us Singaporeans used in our daily lives. It’s challenging to embrace these changes, but in unpredictable times like these, we have to adapt fast to survive. The same goes for Amazon eCommerce business owners – those who could adapt fast would emerge successful, while those who kept to their comfort zones would not see their businesses to the end of the year.

As an Amazon eCommerce seller who achieved about 30% growth in my own business in 2020, I will like to talk about the things I did to let my business sustain consistent growth despite the hard times. I shall categorize them in terms of three aspects – managing logistics, product research and marketing. Here’s a disclaimer: the strategies I am going to mention are not any random gimmicks. They have been used by my students, and some of them achieved even better results than me. I daresay these strategies are very much applicable to your own Amazon eCommerce businesses too, if you applied them properly. So if you are ready, let’s go!

In 2020, the first thing I did to maintain my Amazon business’s growth was to monitor the business's logistics closely. Way back in January 2020, I started contacting my Chinese suppliers, freight forwarders and preppers to review the sustainability of my product supply chains, and I started to order more stocks in preparation. Now, of course, I wasn’t expecting the world to go into lockdown then. I was merely following up with the news and I felt I had to prepare ahead for the worst. Back then, some suppliers even laughed at me for being too ‘kiasi’. But I remain firm – I told them if they don’t take my concerns seriously, I am going to change them. That nailed it in and they started to explore alternative ways of shipping out products as backup plans. The same goes for my freight forwarders and preppers. Hence, throughout the pandemic period, I was able to keep a relatively stable supply chain for my business. And this helped greatly for my business’s progression – I had a ready supply of products to sell to customers when other sellers were still struggling to get enough stocks!

Surprisingly, this was something many new and even experienced Amazon sellers neglected in 2020. Not managing this aspect well eventually led to the downfall of their businesses. My only guess is a lot of sellers were probably too caught up by the events happening around them, that they couldn’t think properly about what is most important for their businesses. That’s not to say I was super level-headed throughout that period though – I panicked when I heard of how serious the pandemic was, and I had my equal share of problems. But I had at least one less burden off my shoulders, and that allowed me to focus on the other weak links of my business. So moral of the story: you got to ensure your business’s supply chains remain effective no matter what. Do follow the news and make plans ahead!

Next, we come to the product research part. Product research is an extremely important part of sustaining growth for your Amazon business. In 2020, there were generally two approaches used by successful Amazon business owners when they did their product research. The first one will be to tag onto trends. This is something that many Amazon sellers like to do even before 2020, and doing this had allowed them to draw in huge amounts of profits. I will just give an example – some U.S. Amazon sellers began selling memorabilia of Donald Trump during the 2020 United States Presidential Election period. I know some of these sellers personally, and they told me that even though they are not fans of Donald Trump, it was too hard to let this opportunity pass by. To them, monetizing Donald Trump is like milking a cash cow – it gives back more than what they put in. For heavens’ sake, they can get such memorabilia at around 1 USD on websites like Alibaba, and when they sold it on Amazon, they would price it at 10-15 USD! Best thing? People are still willing to buy them! Meanwhile, a lot of Amazon sellers also sold other things like masks, hand sanitisers, antibacterial wipes, and they earned lots of profits from these products. 

So that’s for tagging on trends. I’d admit it’s a pretty good way to generate quick profits, but as forward-looking business owners, we should think ahead and prepare for times when these products are not so popular anymore. I don’t know about you, but for me, I will prefer to sell a product that can provide long-term, trickling sales consistently. So the second approach to use for product research in 2020 will be to look beyond the pandemic. Are there other things that people will want to continue buying even after the pandemic is over? For example, the pandemic forced many people to adopt WFH lifestyles. This is something that will probably stay on even after the pandemic is over. So, is there anything that can assist people in their WFH lifestyles? Perhaps a laptop stand to help them achieve better postures when doing work? Or maybe some will fancy back supports that they can use with their chairs. Other than that, since many people are spending more time in their houses, they would probably want to keep their houses clean and have more storage space. Storage equipment like cable boxes, table shelves, small drawers or organizers would probably help them get their belongings organized. And talk about getting their houses in shape – wouldn’t they need some simple-to-use, efficient cleaning equipment too?

And the list goes on. All the items I mentioned just now are products that people will buy to help them manage their lifestyles, and they are always in demand, so you don’t have to worry if they will ever become unsaleable. At the same time, there are lots of blogs and articles which talked about such products. For instance, I recently came across an article suggesting the ‘Top 21 Products For Work From Home and Learn From Home Life In 2021’. So, here comes your product ideas! Do your research diligently, and I am sure you will find that product to bring you consistent sales despite all circumstances.

Last but not least, we come to another essential part of managing an Amazon eCommerce business – marketing. In 2020, marketing takes a very interesting turn as people tackle the woes of trying to maintain their lives while being in a pandemic. Some people may argue that it’s hard to market your products when people are caught up by fear and anxiety: how will they have any mood to listen to you promoting your products? But that’s not true. It depends on the marketing approach you choose to take.

For one, I will change my marketing approach from buying paid ads to engaging influencers to promote my products. Here’s my explanation: in such uncertain times, people will want to feel that they are being listened to, that they are still interacting with other people. However, because of the lockdown, the only way to get this desire satisfied will be to create and share content on the web. That is why content-sharing apps and websites like Tiktok, Instagram, Facebook, etc, saw such significant growth in 2020. Similarly, at the receiving end of this content, followers will also feel comforted by seeing how others are managing their lives. Hence, as business owners, the best way to get your products noticed would be to engage influencers and get them to create contents about your products, then share it on such content-sharing apps. There will be a huge audience to listen to your products, and you don’t have to worry about spending a lot on Amazon paid ads too!

I will share what I did here: basically, my team and I reach out to influencers who may seem interested in my products and sent some samples to them. If they used the products and find them nice, I will see if we can strike up some collaboration. Most of the time, the influencers I reach out to were very happy – they were generally stressed out from the pandemic and the lockdown. But when my team and I approached them, they were thrilled to discover that we noticed them, and we are following their contents. My gesture became an acknowledgement of their hard work and it helps to relieve their stress. It diverts their attention from the trying times, clear their headspace and supports their mental stability. Meanwhile, when they talk about my products, their followers may comment about them, like their posts and subscribe to them, which gives them instant gratification too. It’s a win-win situation for us both– while the influencers get new ideas to create content about, I also get more traffic to my products.

You may want to ask further: ‘But Willy, I don’t want the influencers to talk about my products anyhow. I want to focus on specific selling points. Can I do that?’ Sure, you can! When collaborating with influencers, you can highlight some parts which you want the influencers to talk about. For me, I always request of my engaged influencers if they can share how my products can help them with their daily lives. I mean, you wouldn’t want your products to be recognised as white elephants, right? That’s almost as good as not marketing them! The best way to avoid this will be to show people how versatile your products are in everyday life. Especially during the pandemic – people will like to know that despite all the fears and uncertainty, life can still go on. Your influencers’ posts about your products should provide people comfort, and give them something to look forward to despite the difficult times.

And this brings me to one last point about marketing products in 2020 – you need to adjust your marketing tone to fit current affairs. I can’t emphasize this much enough – I have seen so many eCommerce business’s marketing attempts gone down the drain just because they are tone-deaf to what is happening in the world. Let me give you an example. In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic probably occupies the top of everyone’s minds. Yet some Amazon sellers were putting their products across to customers as if the pandemic is non-existent – like one Amazon seller was advertising his fidget spinner as “the most engaging toy for vacations in the summer of 2020”. That is not going to work obviously. How could people go for vacations when social distancing measures and lockdowns were put in place? That’s a downright insensitive message to send across at that time, and you wouldn’t want your marketing to go in that direction too.

A better marketing approach in 2020 is to pivot your content and show that your products can cater for life in the pandemic. For example, if you are selling electronics, you can draw out the point about how your products can suit both the home and office experience. If you are selling clothes, you may want to talk about how your clothes can cater for working remotely – is it comfortable like home-wear, but at the same time formal enough for you to attend online conferences? Another idea is to offer discounts for your products and mention that this is your way of supporting people in need during these demanding times. To make it even more fun, you can offer such discounts in the form of contests – say, for customers who got the most likes from posting photos or videos on social media showing how they used your products creatively during WFH, they can enjoy 40% or more discounts, while the rest of the contest participants gets to enjoy 20% discounts. This will help people divert their attention from the stresses of being in a lockdown, give them something to look forward to, and at the same time bring more recognition to your business. Isn’t it much better than trying to stuff messages like how your products provide the ‘best vacation feels’ down other people’s throats?

So with all these in mind – managing your logistics well, improving your product research and adapting better marketing approaches, I believe your Amazon eCommerce business will progress despite the challenging times. Hold on tight, work hard and you will definitely see the fruits of your hard work! 

See you in the next episode.

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Strategy Session With Our Office Today!

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