When Should I Submit Changes to an Amazon Listing?

Does improving Amazon listings help your competitors? And why can a higher-priced seller still win the Buy Box? Matt has the answers.

Have a question for us? Send it to questions@webretailer.com. Readers’ Questions are in partnership with Emanaged and Online Seller Consulting.

Question

I have been selling on Amazon for 3 years, mainly cosmetics. I have a few questions about listings and the Buy Box. Lately some of my listings have been suppressed due to not having a photo, but these were usually existing listings which already had photos attached. Should I add a photo? If I’m not winning the Buy Box, would it just help my competitors?

When adding my offer to an existing listing, how important are my own keywords if the listing is already selling strongly? Is there any way at all to promote my listings other than Sponsored Products ads?

Finally, I created a new listing but another seller is now getting the Buy Box. We both have the same feedback rating, but his price is double mine. Why am I not winning the Buy Box? Apparently price is not the issue!

— Galit L., Israel

Surprised Man
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Answer

Hi Galit,

Can I interest you in some Sith Lord whale tongue oils perchance?

Those are some useful and common questions. This might actually be a short answer for once.

Editing Listings on Amazon

Well, think of it this way. If you are getting suppressed, you have no chance of selling this item or acquiring the Buy Box. Helping the competition or not, you don’t really have an option but to load an image so anyone might have a chance at selling some units.

That said, this might not be your true issue.

On Amazon, you have two essential directions on listings:

  • I need to create the data, because the item doesn’t exist.
  • I need to fact-check the data I am connecting to, because it exists already.

If you are connecting to an active live listing, it already has a photo. Right? In that case, you don’t need to send one.

If you are connecting to a listing with no picture, nobody can sell it right now. Someone needs to add an image for everyone to be able to sell it. Are you saying your competitor hasn’t pushed one up there? Someone has to bite the bullet. A game of Amazon ASIN-chicken will be about as fruitful as debating if the egg came first.

A game of Amazon ASIN-chicken will be about as fruitful as debating if the egg came first.

Besides, Buy Box ownership is about a lot of things. A lot of weight is on your price competitiveness, but also your service levels and account health. Data also has a part to play. While we have no solid verification of this, we have seen over the years that Buy Box ownership becomes more stable and reliable when the seller is sending robust good data to the listing.

You should build out those search terms. If you’re connecting to existing listings, its lower priority for now but still important to do eventually. If you are creating the listings, it’s critical.

I guess Galit, it’s all about knowing the details. Variables vary the analysis and the suggested action, varying my various loosely verifiable responses. I very much enjoyed writing that.

About that listing you created, but lost the Buy Box for… is the competition more competitive on service? (OK, I’ll stop now.) If they offer Prime with FBA, while you ship direct and take 7 days for estimated delivery, that likely is a factor.

When you create a listing with excellent data, but other sellers connect to it, you are helping them somewhat. But I wouldn’t look at it that way. If it is a concern for you, then your challenge is strategic and bigger picture.

Lets think about this for a minute. Amazon is a catalog. You’re either connecting to it, or creating it. Either way, you’re competing with other sellers.

The product details help this product be found by buyers. It helps convert them. Whoever has the Buy Box will get the lion’s share of orders. So far, I’m sure we agree.

If you are connecting or creating a listing, but cannot be as competitive on service levels, pricing and delivery… well, you might need to rethink if you even want to waste time on this listing. I hate to sound negative, but there isn’t a point if you can’t be competitive.

You can’t trick Amazon. You can’t trick the buyer either.

You can’t trick Amazon. Any short-term tactics like creation of a new listing ASIN with a new barcode will be short-lived, as Amazon will eventually find out and merge them. It’s against their policies too.

You can’t trick the buyer either. They will go for the best price and service combination. Amazon present them with the options, and they decide.

That’s all I mean about being strategic. Sometimes you have to take a step back and question if all the tricks and reworking in the world are simply a ticket to an early grave. The most successful online traders follow the market. They don’t try to force it.

If you are the brand owner or manufacturer of this product, you can establish control of the listing. First get your account brand approved. Then go through the brand gating process (it’s new), which will basically conclude in you being the sole seller of these items on Amazon. Once done, no one else will be allowed to sell these products. This is the only way you can enhance Amazon data without the risk of helping competitors at times.

But, as per above, if you aren’t the brand owner and can’t match the competition, your best bet is to think strategically about how you can avoid needing to.

Marketing Your Listings

You need Buy Box ownership, or a share of ownership, to enable Amazon PPC campaigns, so at least you cannot spend on clicks and promotions without being secure in the knowledge you’ll get the lion’s share of traffic. You wouldn’t want to have active PPC without ownership!

Some sellers use “deal” sites and other means to drive traffic to their Amazon listings. They will list and advertise their ASINs on these sites as “hot” and “limited” deals, which have their own unique traffic following them, and spur extra hits to the ASINs.

Admittedly, I do question this strategy. It can be useful for specific needs, but you are spending money to drive traffic to Amazon. That seems odd. Drive traffic to your own website, and avoid the Amazon 10-15% commission fee!

It’s not a bad tactic, don’t get me wrong. But it shouldn’t be a long-term strategy you adopt on all listings. If you are engaging this activity with more and more energy, get a website up and start moving traffic there.

Think Bigger

I guess the points I’m making here are to not focus on the tactical details only. Yes, you want the Buy Box. Yes, you want more traffic coming to the listing.

But are you going to be competitive long-term? Can you offer a better service from a delivery standpoint?

If you “own” this product legally, you can stop others from selling it. But if you “own” it, don’t fight a reseller on the marketplaces. Cut them off.

If you don’t “own” it and can never be competitive, maybe the tactical details don’t matter. Maybe you need to sell something else! Like Sith anti-aging whale tongue oils?

Have a question for us? Send it to questions@webretailer.com.

Surprised Man
Want to grow your Amazon business?
Automate pricing, request feedback and reviews, improve your marketing & SEO and a lot more. Amazon consultants help with difficult issues like suspension, or help grow your business. All in the Web Retailer directory.
View Amazon Selling Tools Now

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