A New Amazon Store Platform is Here for Vendors
by David T. Griffith, on September 13, 2017
Have you been patiently waiting over the past year for a new and much improved Amazon brand store experience for your products? I am excited to tell you that Amazon.com, Inc. ("Amazon") released the beta version of their new store builder platform in mid-May.
This new self-service tool enables vendors and high-volume sellers to build and maintain their own brand stores living within the Amazon environment. I was fortunate enough for my brand to be selected as one of the beta testers, which allowed me to work with the platform, explore its capabilities and rout out bugs while providing critical feedback to the development team.
As you might know, brand stores are not new to Amazon. The previous store format was built and maintained internally by Amazon staff following the vendor’s input and assets. The designs followed predetermined templates with little flexibility. Updating the store was limited to a set number of times during the year based on the contractual agreement with Amazon.
In 2016 we learned Amazon had discontinued full support for these old storefronts with rumblings of a new platform in development, but nobody knew anything about its anticipated launch. Fortunately, our Strategic Vendor Services partner was able to continue maintaining our old store format on our behalf. The older page design remained intact, making the page look several years out-of-date, but we were at least able to keep content timely and relevant.
A New Approach
The new store builder completely revamps the process. To begin with, vendors are able to build and maintain the stores using a browser-based tool accessed through an Amazon portal. The new store builder allows for multiple pages with a robust navigation menu, something previous iterations never truly had. The old format made use of category links, which would send users to either a search results node or a curated node – an assortment page listing a specific group of ASINs – with no common header or navigation to feel like the customer was shopping within the store.
Design with Tiles
The new brand store layout is based on a tile or mosaic approach using modules. The majority of modules follow 1:1 (square) and 2:1 (rectangle equal to two squares side-by-side) ratios, enabling a consistent look and feel across all store pages. There are four functional types of modules:
1. Header Tile
This is one of the few modules that breaks out of the square tile ratio. The header displays a wide hero image with the brand logo overlaid on the left side and navigation menu running beneath it. The header is visible across all store pages.
2. Gallery Tile
This tile comes only in one shape, a wide rectangle expanding the full width of the store’s live area. It contains up to eight images or videos that a user can scroll through by clicking left and right arrows – essentially a carousel with image and video enlargement features.
3. Content Tiles
These tiles hold an assortment of content enabling you to design your pages to meet your needs. Content options include:
- A single image.
- A text block.
- Product tile, which include the primary image, title, price, and Prime eligibility.
- Product grid, which displays four to 100 of your listings based on either manually entered ASINs or by keyword search.
- An image and text block.
- A video block, available in only the 2:1 ratio enabling video to play from within the page layout.
4. Recommended Products & Best Sellers Tiles
Products from your assortment are displayed five at a time in a gallery format, much like you see now on product detail pages across the Amazon platform. The Recommended Products tile displays items from your assortment based on the customer’s search and shopping history. Best Sellers follows the same format showing your assortment’s best performing products.
Intuitive, Easy-to-Use Interface
A combination of drag-and-drop features and on-page automation simplify the store building process for non-designers. A page manager organizes page hierarchy and naming, which in turn automatically defines the navigation menu.
New pages can be created using one of three modular templates designed to showcase a single product, act as a landing page, or display an assortment. You can customize these templates or start with a blank page. Page previews are available in desktop and mobile formats while you are working.
Once complete, the store pages are submitted for quality review by Amazon and then published. If you’ve ever used the A+ content application in the Vendor Central platform, you will recognize some parallels.
On-the-Fly Changes, Anytime
One of the most notable benefits of this new platform is the ability to update the brand store at any time to showcase new product launches or time-sensitive promotions. No more waiting until the next quarter to make updates or scheduling changes to occur around end-of-year blackout periods. This alone makes your brand store a suitable click-through destination for an email and advertising campaign.
You Have to Use It
Numerous opportunities abound for brands to stand out in their categories using this new platform. Don’t be shy or brush it off because it’s free. Branding and promotion are integral parts of selling your products, so use your new store efficiently.