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Ten things we learned from Amazon at our May Quarterly Meeting
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This week’s IPG Quarterly Meeting (QM) played host to members of the Amazon UK books team, who treated the audience to a series of presentations revealing how we can all make the most of working with them. Here are some of the key things we learned on the night.

1 We need to nurture those leaf nodes

Amazon browse functionality is based on guiding customers through ever finer subject classifications to find what they’re looking for. Think tree, with the main subject code the trunk, moving along the branches to the leaves: the leaf nodes. If your metadata doesn’t offer the deepest possible subject code, their algorithm will make a guess on your behalf. Lesson learned.

2 It’s a Thema world

Amazon is using Thema as the basis of its own subject classification system, so, if you want the best match to help get you to that Amazon leaf node, Thema’s your best bet. However, they are still mapping from BIC codes–and conceded that, in a few cases, BIC’s finer coding still works best. For now.

3 Amazon ads are a big deal

We heard a lot about Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) and their range of (paid for) ad types which appear at key times on that customer journey, like search results, product and order review pages. Mastering the most effective use of these ads for up-selling, cross selling and boosting discoverability will definitely be important.

4 Author pages are also a big deal

There was also a big emphasis on author pages and the ‘follow author’ functionality that allows customers to keep tabs on what their favourite authors are up to. The idea that authors should claim and run their own pages was not universally popular with our audience, but you get the idea: think about how you can use author pages better, at least for your most prominent or prolific writers.

5 Vendor lead time (VLT) is a key order driver

It’s clear that two main considerations drive orders: cost (Amazon will always go to the cheapest source) and the famous VLT, the time between Amazon sending their PO and receipt of stock into their fulfilment centres (FCs). At the risk of stating the obvious, supply chain efficiency really matters to Amazon.

6 Their order forecast cycle runs on a weekly basis

Sales forecasts are made on a weekly basis (Sunday-Saturday). You can see demand forecast reports via the Vendor Central and Advantage portals as part of the Amazon Retail Analytics Basics (Reports > Amazon Retail Analytics Basic > Demand Forecast).

7 You can use ARA Basic reports to check for data defects

Identify problems with your metadata that might be getting in the way of sales by downloading reports from ARA Basics. Look for the ‘Products Missing Image’ or ‘Product Data Quality’ categories to get to the information you’ll need.

8 Linked editions and synchronized pub dates are crucial for Kindle sales

Make sure e-books are linked to any print edition. Publish on the same day–and make sure the e-book files are with Amazon in good time. The point about linking editions also holds true for new or superseded editions of the same book.

9 They want to help us manage exclusions better

The monthly automated exclusion reports by account, which list all exclusions, are designed to help resolve any issues.

10 Amazon really do want to hear from us

Whether through events like our QM or picking up trends via ‘Contact Us’ cases, the Amazon team emphasized that our feedback is important to them and they want to be as responsive as possible. Also, keep an eye out for the new ‘Request a call’ option when trying to resolve future issues.
We’re developing a range of Skills Hub resources to help members work as effectively as possible with Amazon. Look out for more details in the weekly IPG e-bulletin.

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