How to Re-launch a Product on Amazon
The number one question on most Amazon sellers’ minds is “how do you successfully launch a product?”
However, arguably the second most important question is “how do you RE-launch a product?”
Why is this?
There are many different reasons why a seller would want to relaunch a product. Product listings suffer a barrage of challenges over time. A listing might suffer due to a botched initial launch from amateur mistakes, or it could be due to a flood of competition, or an unexpected change from Amazon.
Whatever the reason, a seller’s livelihood is directly impacted by product sales, so it is understandable why this is an important topic. One thing to note, however, is that products on Amazon often have a “shelf life.” That means it is necessary for sellers to recognize whether a product has reached the end of its road, or a relaunch is all that is needed to revive revenues.
We’ll go over how the process of a re-launch works here.
First, Determine If Your Problem Is Ranking Or Conversions (Or Both)
Often times ranking and conversions are heavily related. A product loses rank, and then, only showing for long-tail keywords, or farther down on pages, conversions may also slip. So it can be hard to determine what happened first.
Even still, it is good to get a solid assessment of the current situation. Record where your product ranks for important keywords now compared to where they were. Watch keyword movement too over a period of days or weeks to ensure it wasn’t a glitch or very temporary change.
Likewise, pay attention to conversions (unit session percentage) as well as sessions. This data helps to get a fuller view of what could have gone wrong so you can more effectively troubleshoot.
Also, look at the rate of your listing’s decline. Did sales stop overnight? Or was it gradual? This is important to know as often they are symptoms of different issues.
Next, Examine the Competition
More often than not the biggest contributing factor to a decrease in performance for a product is competition. And this is no surprise considering the rapid growth in third-party sellers the Amazon platform is seeing.
While Amazon doesn’t share the number of sellers they have on their platform, estimates suggest that last year over a million new third party sellers jumped into the marketplaces worldwide, with around four hundred thousand of them going to Amazon.com.
Stats like these coupled with new browsing layouts that feature even more listings on page one means that buyers have more options than ever to choose from. On top of that, it also means that new and fresh products, ideas, brands, etc are also constantly circulating throughout search pages.
If the concept of the “honeymoon period” is to be believed, then newer items are also getting extra love when given the opportunity to be visible. All these factors combine and contribute to the decline of an older listing not offered by a major brand.
Not to mention many bigger brands are now catching on to the fact that Amazon is a viable sales channel, and therefore are starting to put effort into their selling strategy. A steep upgrade in listing quality in a niche can also sneak past us and damage our momentum.
So when attempting to determine the root cause of a listing’s unfortunate under-performance, take a look at your category and ask these questions:
- How many more listings are there for my main search terms?
- How many more listings are on page one?
- How many reviews do most page one listings have (compared to me)?
- What is the general quality of main images and titles on page one?
Check Your Main Category, Subcategory, Item-Type-Keyword
All too often a perfectly diligent seller works to build up their listing to decent sales, begins to achieve momentum, and then wakes up one day, mortified over the fact that their listing simply sank in rankings and sales overnight.
With luck, it was just an Amazon glitch and it corrects itself within a day or two. However, sometimes it persists. What’s worse, ranking and promotion efforts seem to not work at all. At this point, it feels like the listing is DEAD.
Ninety percent of the time when this happens it is actually because of a category change. It isn’t that the listing needs a relaunch, but that Amazon (or a shady competitor) has changed out the listings browse node, item-type-keyword or otherwise shifted it to a different category or subcategory.
The reason this is so damaging to a listing is because the subcategory is what determines keyword relevance, and relevance determines how easily a listing ranks for a keyword.
For example, let’s say you sell a can opener with a bottle opener attachment. Well, there is a subcategory just for manual can openers. Unfortunately, however, it does not view the key term “bottle opener” as relevant.
Now imagine if my subcategory moved to bottle opener. Then all of my can opener related keyword would no longer be relevant. I’d lose all my rankings almost immediately and my PPC likely would stop showing.
This also happens when competitors force your listing into the adult category. Relevance for just about everything disappears and all ads are shut off (since adult products cannot be featured in sponsored ads).
Is the Honeymoon Period Over?
Earlier you may have noticed I mentioned the “Honeymoon Period.” I also insinuated that it is something you may choose to believe or not. That is because no official explanation of the A9 algorithm’s inner workings has been released by Amazon and therefore the concept is merely a hypothesis.
Be that as it may, there is strong anecdotal evidence from the vast pool of shared data from sellers across the globe over the last five years that suggests it has some validity. So, moving forward, we are going to treat the Honeymoon Period as a fact.
I’ll never forget when I discovered the possibility that such a thing existed. It was 2015 and I was very early in my selling “career.” Whether or not Amazon showed “love” to newer listings was a hotly debated thing, for several different reasons. There wasn’t any conclusive data collected to support the idea at the time though.
Then, six months after I had started selling, six months after dominating my main keyword (a big, BIG keyword) I dropped a few spaces. I had been at position six for that entire time, and then suddenly I was position eleven!
This put me close to the top of the page, to close to the bottom. I was devastated. But most importantly, I was curious. Why did this happen?
And I started collecting others’ stories. They too experienced this. Around six months, and then a drop off of some kind. Over and over again I kept seeing it. That was when the idea of a “honeymoon period” first formed in my head.
At that time, it seemed obvious. The ranking algorithm compares benchmark periods of time. Daily, weekly, monthly, every 90 days, every 180 days, etc. Well, what if you hadn’t been selling that long?
The algorithm simply didn’t count the average sales over that period of time. So, if a newer listing had no value in the 180 day column, but an established seller did and that number wasn’t great (because a lot can happen in six months…bad days, competitor attacks, out-of-season, etc) then when compared, the older listing would have more to weigh it down.
This finding appeared to be prominent for many for a long time. Then, as with most things, due to algorithm changes as well as changes in seller behavior, it wasn’t so clear anymore.
Then something new was introduced; relevance.
Suddenly the effect of listing activity, promotion, and sales within the first couple weeks became much more pronounced. Was this the beginning of a new honeymoon period? In essence, yes….sort of.
See, when you create a new listing, relevance is essentially assigned to ALL your keywords until listing activity can show Amazon what is truly relevant, and how relevant it is. This means that it is much easier to rank for keywords (as well as get PPC impressions) regardless of how relevant they are in the very beginning of the listing, but over time relevance will remain strong for some keywords and drop for others.
So, which is which? What honeymoon period, if any, exists and affects listings today?
I think it is entirely possible that both forms still exist. In my own testing, and many other much more active sellers, the first few weeks of the life of a listing still seem to have a big sway on the ease with which one promotes it to the top.
This means that, if you have been doing lots of promotions, particularly in the form of discounts and coupons, and you’ve managed to rank your listings that way.
Then suddenly they are no longer hanging on to their rank, this could be because the honeymoon ran out and their poor organic sales history isn’t supporting their new rank positions.
This would mean that both poor sales history benchmarks are pulling the listings down, as well as loss of relevance due to poor organic conversions.
Which brings me to the next step in the troubleshooting process…
Look At Discount Promotion History
If you’ve only ever ranked after a deep discount promotion or sale, and get very few full priced organic (or even PPC) sales, then your listing could be in trouble.
It’s a hard pill to swallow, but this could just mean that the Amazon marketplace doesn’t want your product. Or at least, doesn’t want it at the price you are offering.
Conversion rate is very important in the complex relevance factor and if your listing lags behind competitors then visibility will suffer. Many things affect conversion rates, not just page position.
People also consider review rating, review number in comparison to competitors close in rank, price, main image, and likely loads of subconscious psychological factors unknown to them. This is why a quality product with a lot of thought put into its messaging is key.
OK! Now that you’ve gone through the “troubleshooting list” you are probably hoping I’ll finally answer the question…How do you RE launch a product?
In my experience, you have three options, all with various degrees of potency:
- Aggressive re-rank
- Restart with a new ASIN
We’ll go over each one now.
This is likely the least effective way to re-launch because it’s kind of hit or miss. That said, it is also the least expensive (or can be) and the easiest to implement.
Basically, this is just when you double down on your ranking efforts and put tremendous investment into promoting the listing. This includes full-priced promotions, low discount promotions, high discount promotions, outside traffic, heavy PPC, etc all running concurrently.
This method tends to work for many, so long as the product is quality, the review rating is decent and the listing is optimized. If you are able to re-rank for important converting key terms, you may revive the listing.
The downside is, if this doesn’t work, it can be hard to know when to pull the plug. That will increase total losses over time.
Restart with a New ASIN
This is a somewhat expensive and complex method. However, if you’ve been the subject of black hat attacks or sabotage that Amazon won’t move on, this may be the best option.
In order to restart with a new ASIN, you simply remove your inventory, then send it back in with a brand new listing and UPC. If you already have good reviews, you can send it in as a variation (and hopefully variations share reviews in your category).
This is, by far, the costliest option and will require tons of effort. However, sometimes a good product deserves a second chance.
Consider a re-brand like a facelift. Maybe the packaging or the branding wasn’t ever that well-received anyway, or maybe the latest crop of millennial shoppers isn’t big on your “look.” Whatever the reason, if your branding has gone stale, updating things can give you a fresh start, without having to find new suppliers.
To re-brand, you would do what you could to sell out of your current inventory, and then restock with a new look. This could be a new logo, new packaging, new labels, or a combination of all of these.
You could also decide to send in the newly re-branded batch as entirely new listings (but variations of the old style). That way you take advantage of a new listing AND a new look.
Of course, all of these methods presuppose that you have a high-quality product and an optimized listing. So make sure you have used all of the Helium 10 tools, such as Black Box, Magnet, and Cerebro, to identify the most potent keywords.
And pay attention to your competitors’ and your own customer reviews to identify the language used to speak to your audience. With decent copy and quality images, your listing is best positioned to perform.
If it ever loses steam, try these tactics out before deciding to bury it.