Amazon Grocery & Gourmet Foods: Launching Your Food Brand

by Liz Fickenscher, on May 23, 2019

In anticipation of the July 12th eComBootcamps: Food Brands on Amazon event in Boulder, CO, I asked Daniela Bolzmann of Mindfull Goods a few questions to get her valuable perspective on challenges and opportunities of launching products in the Amazon Grocery & Gourmet category. Here's what she had to say:

What are some particular challenges for food brands who are looking to launch on Amazon?

Standing out to gain early traction and trial is one of the #1 struggles I see. Most of the brands that come to us have tried to sell on Amazon and just haven't had any success, or they get stuck. My ethos is that boring brands don't get noticed. Brands that impact in some way always have something to say, and it's important to make sure that story is communicated both visually through your images and verbally through compelling copywriting on your Amazon listings.

Brand protection is an area that many brands struggle with on Amazon. Some brands don’t yet sell on Amazon but then find out that third-party sellers or even their own distributors are selling their product on Amazon without their permission. This can be risky for your brand reputation should sellers not include the correct product information or should they sell old or damaged product that results in negative reviews for your brand online.

Brand Registry is helping brands manage their listings but even still making updates and maintaining your listings can also be a huge time killer for brands. To apply for Brand Registry, the brand needs a registered and active trademark, so be sure to get that as soon as possible.

Cash flow is particularly challenging for early stage food brands, but some brands use Amazon as a financial vehicle. Amazon is distinct from other distribution channels in that you have the ability to drive sales and generate revenue almost immediately. Payouts are twice monthly, making it cash-flow friendly, and Amazon’s FBA fulfillment services allow you the added benefit of being able to ship direct to your own customers in a pinch.

Beyond Amazon, what pain points do food brands face in creating and propagating their brand for maximum exposure?

There is no shortage of ways that brands can gain exposure, but early on it's the shiny marketing channels that I see many brands struggle with.

Should you do influencer marketing, coupons, tastings, in store promotions, direct-to-consumer marketing or the next five things your investors tell you to do? They are all easy distractions when a brand doesn’t have a solid marketing plan.

Determine your goals and decide which marketing activities to invest and focus on. Then determine your budget and fill the gaps in the areas that your team is not skilled in.

The reason I advocate for Amazon making it onto most brand's marketing plans is because they they do much of the heavy lifting for you. They have built marketing engines for email newsletters, retargeting, coupons, deals, and they drive traffic with influencers, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, SEO. Why worry about building all these systems yourself when Amazon has already amassed a majority of online shoppers? Amazon shouldn’t be your only source of distribution and sales, but it’s a great place to start and get early adoption and traction.

What are some things you recommend brands selling Amazon grocery items do to be successful?

Amazon is a natural first step for many brands, but before you jump in, it’s important to answer these questions:

  • What bundle/pack sizes will you offer on Amazon?
  • Is your product packaged properly for eCommerce shipping and protected from damage?
  • How will your pricing and pack sizes affect your relationship with stores now or in the future?
  • What are the estimated Amazon fees for your pack sizes, and based on those what kind of margins and profit can you expect?
  • What is the growth potential, meaning what are the top sellers in your category generating monthly and how has that trended year over year?
  • What is the competitive landscape for your sub-category and how are you going to stand out on Amazon?
  • What will you do to push trial of your product and how will that affect your bottom line?
  • Do you understand the flywheel model that Amazon is built on? Do you have a growth strategy that feeds your product’s flywheel?

Why would a food brand-specific conference be helpful to brands either launching on Amazon, or looking to make their business more successful?

I’m a fan of collaboration over competition, and in working with many early stage brands across multiple categories I’ve seen how product-specific Amazon is. Things that work on one listing might not work at all on another. Most sellers are operating in silos so sharing insights within the same category could mean the difference in helping you gain a competitive edge and improve your rank quicker.

At eComBootcamps I'll be breaking down the branding fundamentals we use to launch food brands along with some of my favorite examples of brands that are taking every opportunity to stand out on Amazon to capture sales.

daniela-bolzmann-contentDaniela Bolzmann is a serial entrepreneur and Techstars graduate who develops high-growth launch strategies for startups. Her clients see tremendous success on the Amazon marketplace, and her company takes the hard work off the brand's plate so that the brand owner can make cash and chill. Mindfull Goods is a female-led, globally distributed team that invests profits back into the brands they support.

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