The Web Retailer News Digest for October 22nd, 2021

Amazon has announced a new tool that provides data on search volume, sales history, and pricing trends, to help sellers find gaps in the market and create new products.

The “Product Opportunity Explorer” is in beta testing this year, then will be offered to all sellers over the course of 2022, at no charge.

Amazon has had great success in developing its own private label products, leveraging the detailed information it has on the marketplace and how millions of customers use it. Why is it now handing over mountains of valuable data to sellers?

And what does this mean for third-party product research tools like Jungle Scout, that have had this space all to themselves for many years?

Amazon launches its own product research tool

It’s not yet known exactly what data the Product Opportunity Explorer provides, but an Amazon spokesperson told The Verge that the tool will highlight product ideas that customers are searching for but not finding, and provide various sales metrics at a subcategory level. It won’t report on specific products or brands.

How does that compare with longstanding product research tools like Jungle Scout?

Based on what we know, it doesn’t really compare at all. While third-party tools have to estimate information like sales volume, Amazon has the real data at its fingertips. In contrast, the third-party tools will readily show everything they have at a product, brand or category level. Amazon is much less willing to provide granular access to its data.

Perhaps a bigger question is why Amazon is doing this. Couldn’t it just keep all this juicy market intelligence to itself, instead of giving it away for free?

To answer that question, bear in mind that Amazon is not known for product innovation, at least not besides its own electronics like the range of Echo smart speakers.

When it comes to more mundane areas, Amazon tends to copy products that are already out there (more on that later). It’s happy to let others experiment in categories like homewares, furniture and clothing, then come along with copycat versions when the best products have risen to the top.

The Product Opportunity Explorer will just help speed up that process.

Read more at Amazon.

New Amazon search performance reports are coming

Amazon is also upgrading Brand Analytics with new reports on how products are performing in the search results.

The Search Analytics Dashboard will be available in 2022, for sellers enrolled in Brand Registry. It will go beyond the existing Search Terms report, which provides search frequency rank, click share, and conversion share data.

The new feature will include the following:

  • Query Performance Dashboard, to help sellers understand the top search terms associated with their products.
  • Catalog Performance Dashboard, to help sellers identify conversion issues, and analyze the price competitiveness of their products.

Srikanth Thirumalai, Vice President of Search at Amazon, said:

The Search Analytics Dashboard will provide sellers with a wealth of anonymized data to better understand customers’ interests and shopping choices for their products. This information will help sellers optimize their listings, inform inventory planning, plan their product development roadmap, and grow their business both on and off Amazon.

Read more at Amazon.

Lawmakers accuse Amazon executives of lying

Last week, a special report by Reuters highlighted how Amazon in India directly copied competing products, then manipulated search results to ensure their own products’ success.

Reuters gained access to thousands of internal Amazon files, showing how the company’s private brands team operated in the country. Products were copied down to the exact measurements of shirts sold by rival brands.

Now five members of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee are questioning the testimony of Jeff Bezos and other Amazon executives before Congress in 2019 and 2020, in a letter to Amazon CEO Andy Jassy. The statements given to congress appear to directly contradict the evidence uncovered by Reuters.

Did Bezos and colleagues know what was going on in Amazon India? Did they deliberately cover it up? Or is the Reuters report a load of baloney?

In a statement to Reuters, Amazon said:

As Reuters hasn’t shared the documents or their provenance with us, we are unable to confirm the veracity or otherwise of the information and claims as stated. We believe these claims are factually incorrect and unsubstantiated.

Read more at Reuters and DC 360.

Also in the news

  • Amazon launches “Local Selling” in-store collection program. Amazon.
  • Amazon Growth Opportunities tool gathers selling recommendations. Amazon.
  • New requirements for food supplements on Amazon in the UK and EU. Amazon.
  • Poshmark buys sneaker authentication tech company. Bloomberg.
  • Etsy Christmas Sales hub opens 1st November. Etsy.
  • Amazon holiday hiring up 50% this year. Bloomberg.
  • Shopee to launch in Spain. Reuters.
  • Four indicted for defrauding Amazon’s textbook rental program. DOJ.

Webinars in the week ahead

For everyone

Various dates: Amazon advertising’s global webinar program rolls on with 20+ webinars scheduled, covering Sponsored Products, Sponsored Brands, reporting, optimization and tips. Amazon.

For US sellers

Various dates: Amazon Small Business Academy Pathways series. Amazon.

For UK sellers

October 26: Any questions before starting with FBA? Amazon.

October 27: Tips for managing your Global Selling account. Amazon.

And finally…

Lobbying group calls online marketplaces “The Counterfeit Silk Road”

The cold war between online marketplaces and conventional retailers continues this week, with The Buy Safe America Coalition (BSAC) publishing a report called The Counterfeit Silk Road – Impact of Counterfeit Consumer Products Smuggled into the United States.

BSAC, supported by brands including including Walgreens and Levi Strauss, says that its report shows how:

Counterfeit goods, most of which are being shipped directly to doorsteps from China, are flooding the U.S. market by way of third-party marketplaces that require little to no accountability to ensure the products they sell are legitimate, and more importantly, safe.

Amazon then swiftly put together its own whitepaper detailing how the company invested over $700 million and dedicated more than 10,000 employees to stopping counterfeit products and assorted “bad actors” in 2020 alone.

Apparently, counterfeit products make up 2.5 percent of world trade, equivalent to the gross domestic product of Belgium.

Right, Belgium. The home of fictional characters like Hercule Poirot, Tintin and Jean-Claude Van Damme. So that’s where all the fakes are coming from.

Read more at Bloomberg.


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