The Skai™ 5: Five Questions with Jake Hewlett on What It Takes to Succeed Today on Amazon

The pandemic-driven e-commerce market is scorching right now. As a result, brands are pouring money into the online channel—and one of the biggest beneficiaries of this increased investment is Retail Media advertising, which is up 55% year-over-year.

Brands are betting big on retailers like Amazon, and the increased sales and ad budgets are increasing the sophistication of how they run their programs. But, in this new era of Amazon, you can’t afford to sit back, especially when there are so many considerations and areas to focus on to drive success.

How will brands keep up the meteoric e-commerce momentum? What are the necessary components of a best-in-class Amazon program? What are the pitfalls and common mistakes—and how can they be avoided?

In today’s Skai 5, we discuss these topics and more with Tambo’s Managing Partner, Jake Hewlett.

5 Questions with Tambo’s Managing Partner, Jake Hewlett

Jake Hewlett has over 10 years of international experience in digital, and has held a number of different senior roles at leading agencies like Carat and iProspect as well as tech giant Google. Jake is now Managing Partner at Tambo, an e-commerce platform built on data and technology. In this role, Jake has experienced first hand the scale and opportunities available for brands on Amazon and oversees Tambo’s client teams, ensuring that they are growing on both Amazon as well as other online marketplaces.

It would seem that the most critical step to succeeding on Amazon would be to “put your best foot forward”—starting with the very best product to fit that marketplace. So how does Tambo help its clients figure out this puzzle?

Amazon offers brands a huge opportunity, but it’s often far more complicated to unlock than most expect. Tambo exists to help brands grow on Amazon and other marketplaces both in the UK & Internationally. More than just starting with the best product fit (although that is incredibly important), it’s about fully understanding how Amazon works and ensuring you do put your best foot forward from the very beginning. This is even more important than other channels because it can be challenging to recover if a brand launches poorly on Amazon.

Putting your best foot forward on Amazon comes down to being ‘Retail Ready.’ At Tambo, we help our brands understand the ‘Flywheel Effect’ on Amazon. Effectively, to ensure you give yourself the best chance to grow, five factors are fundamental to guaranteeing Retail Readiness on the platform:

  1. Availability. Are your products sufficiently stocked?
  2. Price. Are your products price-competitive?
  3. Quality. Are you effectively maintaining account health such as low order defect rates, low customer complaints, reliable order fulfillment, etc.?
  4. Popularity. Are you driving enough sales, ratings and reviews?
  5. Relevance. Do you offer high-quality content and product detail information relating to category & product search terms?

These five factors make up the Amazon wheel. Advertising then effectively spins this wheel by driving customers through the Retail Ready customer experience, creating the Flywheel effect. Partnering with Skai is all about ensuring that we can spin that wheel at Tambo faster and more effectively than anyone else in the market.

There’s an essential operational side to selling on Amazon that can be hard for brands to understand. What are some of those considerations, and where do many brands go wrong?

It’s pretty easy to lose money on Amazon. We’ve consulted for some brands who have been selling on Amazon for a while and discovered precisely that. Not fully understanding all the possible fees & associated costs that go into selling through the Amazon platform is the number one reason.

Some key considerations for brands before selling on Amazon include:

Fulfillment models. There are distinct differences between seller models depending on whether the brand fulfills orders directly or uses Amazon’s warehousing & fulfillment options, each with specific operations considerations. If your brand has been invited to be a vendor, it’s again important to understand whether you can meet the strict requirements from Amazon to respond to orders.

Profit & Loss analysis. In line with the above, different models work for different brands or even different products for the same brand. So do the upfront work to ensure you give yourself the best possible chance of delivering a healthy profit.

Education. It’s not the same as your other retailers. Amazon is its own beast, and it’s critical everyone from finance, operations, marketing and management understand the differences from the outset.

Resources. Make sure you have the necessary expertise to manage the Amazon process, either internally or externally. Amazon is a specialism right now, and it’s vital to resource appropriately.

In any marketplace, having a solid grasp of the competitive landscape can provide actionable insights that can benefit many aspects of the program—product design, options, product descriptions/images, and even ad copy. This can be tough for brands to get right, but how does Tambo bridge this gap?

With every brand we work with, the first phase of what we do with them is Strategy & Set Up. At the core of this phase is a detailed review of the competitive landscape and the brands’ category on Amazon, enabled by our proprietary technology and our partners. This phase typically will take about four weeks and is fundamental to our clients’ success selling on Amazon. It’s a reasonably involved process led by our Marketplace Managers & Consultancy Analysts.

This output is an audit of the competitive landscape, the category, the best-selling products, current advertising activity (if relevant), commercial analysis (pricing of competitors in the category), and clear strategy and recommendations for launch.

You identified that many brands vastly underestimate the impact of how their Product Detail Pages (PDPs) can make or break sales goals. So how does Tambo analyze and optimize PDPs for success?

We know that a typical customer journey will include 19 separate product page views on Amazon before making a purchase. This highlights the importance of ensuring that your PDP is best in class within your category.

In line with the above Strategy & Set-Up phase, at Tambo we ensure that we have a clear view of what best in class looks like together with a roadmap for optimisation to bring your PDP in line with that.

We then work on creating titles, bullet points and product descriptions that are fully SEO optimised. For the PDP images, A+ Content & Brand Store, our in-house content and design team will either adapt existing brand assets or create them from scratch.

Amazon Advertising is becoming more and more competitive. So what is Tambo’s unique approach to helping brands win using advertising when all of their competitors are already investing heavily as well?

Amazon Advertising is a specialism. We have a standalone advertising team, and there are specialists in Amazon Advertising specifically. We have the expertise to manage all performance media, with many team members coming from Paid Search & Paid Social backgrounds. Still, we choose to specialise in Amazon due to the differences in the algorithm.

The critical difference is that organic and paid are complementary. Driving better organic ranking performance on Amazon directly impacts delivering better paid advertising results and vice versa. It’s that flywheel effect again mentioned previously.

Consequently, understanding how to influence & improve the 5 factors of the flywheel are fundamental to driving the best possible advertising driven performance. For instance if you have strong relevance and healthy stock, you will likely be able to win more auctions at a lower CPC whereas the reverse would be true for a listing with poor stock and an uncompetitive price.

Our combination of depth of expertise in the Amazon platform together with market-leading technology, highlighted through our recent partnership with Skai, is what sets us apart. We have created our own Amazon Advertising 74 point audit, and we ensure all our brands are set up in line with best in class following that audit.

It’s also worth noting that whilst competition is higher than ever on Amazon, it’s still considerably lower than the other leading advertising platforms. As a result, Amazon Advertising is the single biggest opportunity to drive significant incremental sales growth within retail e-commerce right now.