5 Cutting-Edge Amazon Trends for a Head Start in 2018
by Matt Ellis
Anyone who’s been selling on the Amazon marketplace for some time can attest one thing with certainty: the market never stays the same for long. Each year brings new technology and influences from outside eCommerce sites, not to mention new expectations and demands from the changing consumer culture.
To stay afloat, merchants must keep their fingers on the pulse of the Amazon marketplace: new advancements at Amazon.com, Inc. ("Amazon"), new trends among other vendors and new preferences from shoppers. And since these are always changing, staying abreast of Amazon trends can be a full-time job.
So, I thought I’d help you plan for the new year by scouting out the latest Amazon sales strategies for private label sellers and listing them below to save you some searching. I’ve compiled a list of 5 cutting-edge strategies (according to various eCommerce experts) to give you a head start in 2018.
1. More Precise Backend Keywords
In July 2017, Amazon changed the way they index their backend search keywords — the section of Seller Central where you set search keywords, which is invisible to shoppers. Amazon surreptitiously changed the indexing limit to a maximum of 250 characters; although you’re free to add as many as you want, only the first 250 characters are counted. They did this so secretly, in fact, that people are still debating whether or not it’s true.
The new limit has been confirmed, so for 2018, plan your backend keywords accordingly. Here are some ways you can make maximum impact with minimal characters:
- Use only spaces between keywords; avoid commas. A space is all you need for Amazon’s algorithm, so commas are a redundant waste of characters.
- Put your main keywords first and allow secondary keywords to overflow past the limit.
- Favor individual words over phrases, unless you’re employing a long tail SEO strategy.
Now more than ever you should test how effective each keyword is so you know which ones to prioritize. Empirical data might settle some disputes about which keywords to put at your helm.
2. Watch Trending Products Like a Hawk
For private label sellers and drop shippers, this is a mainstay strategy every year… but as competition continues to grow, staying on top of the hottest product trends will become even more crucial to success.
The trick is knowing how to keep current with product sales trends. Everyone has their own favorite method, and as long as it works, there’s no wrong answer. However, I thought I’d list a few of the more popular options to give you some ideas:
- Monitor Best Sellers: Sometimes it’s as easy as checking the Amazon Best Sellers page. Also take a peek at the best sellers on eBay, Alibaba, etc., to catch any breakthrough trends before they’ve landed on the Amazon marketplace.
- Watch Trends. If you don’t mind a bit of detective work, the Google Trends tool shows you what people are searching for, with filters for location and time, in addition to comparison features. You can enter a search term within your niche to see what comes up for Related searches.
- Listen to Influencers. Look to social media to show you what your target customers are talking about. By following a few key influencers, you can see what products they’re recommending.
While I suggest doing your own research particular to your niche, here’s a general list of 10 product categories on Amazon that seem likely to blow up this year.
3. Proactively Jump-Start Your Q&A Section
There’s one trend that’s always on the rise across every corner of the internet: direct interaction. Whether in social media, blogs, site chat windows or eCommerce support desks, having a back-and-forth conversation with your audience is becoming less of a luxury and more of a necessity.
You should always be responding to customer reviews — that’s not a 2018 strategy, that’s an always strategy. But to stay on top of the growing customer demand for interaction, you should also be utilizing your Questions and Answers section.
Many sellers have a mentality of sitting back and waiting for customers to ask a question, but with a little assertiveness you can do better. Customers are more likely to submit a question if they see others already using the Q&A section, so merchants should do their best to get the ball rolling.
Once a potential buyer has posted a couple questions here, it will show others how quickly you respond. It also increases the amount of screen space for the Q&A section on your product page to encourage shoppers to use it.
4. Micromanage Prices
As competition grows fiercer, Amazon sellers must always be on the lookout for any new advantage they can get their hands on. When you add new technology and software to the equation, strategies like micromanaging prices become easier and therefore more viable.
What I mean by “micromanaging prices” is constantly monitoring competitors’ prices and undercutting them every chance you get. After all, just because you’re unaware of your rivals’ prices doesn’t mean your shoppers are; and they’ll typically click on whatever item has the lower price tag.
The trouble with managing prices is it’s a lot of work. You have to keep eyes and ears on all of your competitors, and even then there are gaps when you’re sleeping or resting. Luckily, software like eComEngine's SmartPrice tool actually monitors your competitors for you and changes your prices automatically, handling this entire aspect so you don’t have to.
5. On-Page Optimization
Your actual product page itself could use some sprucing up for 2018. Every year, Amazon competitors raise the bar for what constitutes an ideal product page; if you’re still using the same format you’ve had for years, it will start to look noticeably outdated.
You can get more details on this in How to Optimize Amazon Product Pages, but for quick reference, here are the basic guidelines:
- Stellar Photos. Product images have a direct correlation to sales; buying online is full of doubt, but product photos help shoppers understand the physical properties of a product without actually touching it. Merchants should use high-quality images that show the product’s size, texture and functionality. Ideally these images will also suggest how to use the item.
- Use Keywords in Title. Your product title is vital for Amazon searches, so pay attention to the SEO. Amazon offers some template formulas for titles, customized by product category.
- Bulleted Lists. Having a bulleted list in your product description emphasizes the key selling points of your product in a way that’s easy to see, plus the entire page looks better aesthetically — large blocks of print tend to scare off shoppers.
- Backend Optimization. Even if customers never see it, your backend data helps Amazon better sort and index your products. To land your page on more search results, fill in each field and make sure your answers are relevant.
One final tip not mentioned in the first article is product videos. Including videos on your page invariably increases sales — especially for how-tos.
What do you think will change for Amazon in 2018? Have you noticed any up-and-coming trends I didn’t mention above? I want to hear your thoughts, so share your opinions below in the comments section now.
Originally published on January 18, 2018, updated August 7, 2019
This post is accurate as of the date of publication. Some features and information may have changed due to product updates or Amazon policy changes.