The 4 Ps of Marketing (from an Amazon Merchant's Perspective)

by Colleen Quattlebaum

Dust off your Marketing 101 book from college.

In this post, we're going to discuss something that you haven't probably thought about recently: The "Four Ps" of Marketing. In case you've forgotten, the four Ps include:

  • Product
  • Price
  • Promotion
  • Place

As with most things on this blog, we're going to look at this topic through the lens of an Amazon seller - since that's who we know best!

Students...please turn to Chapter four...(just kidding!)

Product

In the early days, Amazon merchants had far fewer product-related variables to consider. Don't get me wrong - sellers still had a ton of tough decisions to make. But most involved which products to source and how many units to stock. However, as Amazon.com, Inc. ("Amazon") continues to launch exciting new programs and listing opportunities, merchants subsequently have more choices to make.

For example, you've probably asked yourself at least one of these questions:

  • Should I develop my own private-label item?
  • Would creating a custom product bundle pay off?
  • Do I really need to maintain local inventory - or should I just send it all to Amazon?
  • Does expansion into the handmade niche make sense?
  • Can I somehow cash in on the Merch by Amazon program?
  • Will Amazon eventually start competing with me on this item?

These are all great questions to be asking. Unfortunately, there are no quick answers, as each one requires more than just a "gut feeling" to make a prudent decision. Luckily, you're in this for the long haul - which is good news. Developing the right product mix is arguably the most essential component of long-term Amazon success!

Pricing

Ah, pricing...

We all know that price is a key component to winning the Buy Box. And everyone loves to own the Buy Box - but, at what cost? Operating at razor-thin margins certainly isn't a sustainable business strategy. On the other hand, you've got to win your fair share of orders to stay in the game.

To find the right balance, merchants focus considerable time and resources into their pricing strategies. Many sellers utilize third-party (3P) repricing tools that integrate to their Seller Central accounts. Such platforms allow merchants to define pricing business rules and leverage the power of automation and artificial intelligence. In addition, Amazon recently came out with its own "Automate Pricing" feature, which offers basic repricing functionality for budget constrained sellers.

Clearly, pricing is a big focus for most sellers - especially for those who sell highly competitive products (such as well-known electronic brands). Private-label items and bundles tend to be less price sensitive, but that gets back to our previous discussion about product.

As you probably know all too well, price and product are closely intertwined on the Amazon marketplace. In fact, price wars often propel merchants into considering outside-the-box product strategies.

Promotion

By most accounts, Amazon is ranked among the fifteen most visited websites on the planet, and it's in the top five among web users in the United States. Going further, our friends over at Digital Commerce 360 recently ranked Amazon as the largest retailer in the United States.

Wow.

With all this being said, it stands to reason that simply selling on Amazon.com is, in and of itself, "promotion." Think about it - if you own the Buy Box for a popular item, you're arguably the most dominant seller of that SKU (at least for that specific moment). Pretty powerful stuff!

Amazon is also starting to open up additional promotional opportunities to 3P sellers. For example, the Amazon Marketing Services platform, which has been traditionally geared to Amazon vendors, now offers a few (albeit limited) opportunities for merchants. As we recently pointed out in this article, "...3P sellers can take advantage of Sponsored Product Ads. Amazon changed its policy in January 2016 to allow 3P merchants to use this type of ad." In August, Amazon also opened up Headline Search ads for brand registered 3P sellers.

Speaking of vendors, if you've taken the plunge into private labeling or kit building, you may hold a few extra promotional tricks up your sleeve. Since you'll be building your product detail pages from scratch and (hopefully) owning the Buy Box, you should have more control over certain promotional aspects. Clearly, Amazon SEO is a hot topic, which means you'll want to be comfortable optimizing detail pages and gathering product reviews.

And, of course, I'd be remiss if I failed to mention seller feedback's impact on a seller's promotional strategy. All things being equal, if two FBA merchants are competing for a share of the Buy Box, the feedback rating is usually the determining factor of who gets the sale.

Place

This one should be pretty straightforward, right? Not so much.

Granted, you're selling on the Amazon marketplace. You could certainly look at it that way. However, a merchant could also make a compelling case that there are many different "places" within the Amazon ecosystem, each one worthy of discussion. As we've already alluded to, such places might include:

  • Amazon Prime (via the FBA program)
  • Amazon Handmade
  • Amazon Business
  • Merch by Amazon
  • Kindle Direct Publishing
  • CreateSpace
  • ...and other Amazon-owned properties, such as Woot!

Drilling down further, each "category" or subcategory on Amazon could be viewed at its own "place." For example, a seller who has traditionally only sold jigsaw puzzles could certainly view the puzzle accessory and floor puzzle categories as adjacent opportunities for growth.

Looking at placement a slightly different way, it's worth noting that Amazon has very aggressive international expansion goals. Amazon currently has eleven marketplaces around the globe with no sign of slowing down. In addition, the innovative FBA Export program makes it incredibly easy for sellers to expand globally.

The 4Ps & Your Amazon Business

I hope this marketing refresher course has been beneficial to your Amazon business. Once we get past the upcoming busy season, I'd encourage you to make time and evaluate your Amazon marketing mix through this lens. In doing so, I'm sure you'll come up with at least one or two game changing ideas.

You always do!

Originally published on October 26, 2017, updated June 21, 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.

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