Originally published on June 5, 2018, updated January 23, 2020
A growing business is an exciting one, but also one that can take up more and more time that you may not have. As your Amazon business grows and you find yourself needing extra hands, you may have asked yourself whether it’s best to do the work in house or outsource to a freelancer or agency. While there is no one right answer for everyone, I’ll outline some of the common reasons many 3P Amazon sellers choose to outsource to an Amazon agency.
As the Amazon marketplace attracts more and more sellers, and as Amazon.com, Inc. ("Amazon") rolls out more and more tools for 3P sellers such as Storefront and EBC, you need to not only stay on top of changes but understand how to best leverage the new tools. I’ve seen Storefronts with poor designs resulting in poor conversion rates and Enhanced Brand Content that looks great on desktop but is unreadable on mobile. I’ve also seen product pages done by “experts” that use so much keyword stuffing that anyone reading the copy would not understand what the product is.
As you look for someone to optimize your product page, whether it’s copy and keywords, or images and EBC, ask them about their techniques and how they plan to optimize your product page. Make sure they are taking into account the full customer experience, including mobile optimization, and are not just relying on tricks and gimmicks to get keywords indexed.
Advertising has become a necessary part of selling on the Amazon marketplace. Sponsored Product ads have gotten much more competitive, with average cost per click increasing dramatically across categories. Headline Search ads are still relatively new and require different tactics than those used with Sponsored Products. And more ad platforms are likely in the works.
If you want to get the most out of your ad spend, you need to be very strategic in how you use these different platforms and how you set up your campaigns. Amazon advertising is also not a “set it and forget it” platform. It requires weekly review of all the data campaigns generate and optimization based on what the data tells you. We are seeing very clear performance differences between ads that are not being well set up and maintained and ads with a clear strategy and weekly maintenance. Just recently we took over an account that had not been managed well, and within 21 days we increased sales by 15%, increased conversion rate by 5%, dropped spend by 7% and ACoS by 20%.
If you are struggling with advertising, either with lack of time or knowledge, I would highly recommend hiring an expert in Amazon advertising. When vetting and agency or consultant, be sure that they have actual Amazon Sponsored Products experience. Beware of agencies that are primarily experts in other types of PPC advertising and are just getting into the Amazon ad market. Amazon has its own algorithms and needs different strategies and tactics then a platform like AdWords. Find someone who can explain what they are doing and why and who has a history of results with Amazon advertising.
If you have sold on Amazon for any length of time you are aware of how quickly Amazon can change and how little they sometimes share with sellers. Recent changes include the latest round of review manipulation crackdowns, updated storage and long term storage fees as well as the ability to upload videos to the product page video shorts section. Some of these changes were announced, others rolled out quietly. If you have not been able to stay up to date with the constant changes, considering hiring someone who not only will stay up to date but will also understand what kind of opportunity or threat the change poses to your business and how to best react.
When looking for someone to consult with or outsource to, make sure they are not only up to date with the latest policies but that they are committed complying with Amazon policies and will use only white hat tactics. Black or even grey hat tactics, that violate or use creative interpretations of Amazon terms of service, will only get your account into trouble and even suspended.
If you are just starting out as an Amazon seller there is a lot to learn. From FBA vs. SFP to dealing with seller support and figuring out how to do bulk uploads, there is a lot to managing this channel. For those who are do-it-yourselfers, there are a lot of blogs, webinars and courses out there to help you learn. For others who are short on time and would rather focus on building their business, hiring a consultant or agency to help you get started can be invaluable.
When looking for an expert to help, avoid anyone who promises a quick and easy path to a wildly successful Amazon business. While launching on Amazon was easy just a few years ago, it now takes a lot of strategy, marketing, money and even time to become successful. When speaking with sellers interested in hiring my firm, I am very clear regarding the type of investment that is needed to get launched on Amazon. If you are not willing to spend money on advertising, promotions, good copy and graphics, even an expert agency will not be able to do much for you. How much you need to spend will very much depend on what product niche you are in. Find someone who will give you an honest opinion on what it will take to help your particular product to succeed.
If you are actively growing a business and a brand, you likely would rather spend the majority of your time developing your business. This can leave you with little time to really master selling on Amazon and you would be better served outsourcing to someone with the experience and dedication to the Amazon channel. Focus on what you are good at and where your interests lie and hire out the rest. This is true for many business tasks including accounting, design, marketing, etc.
Create a list of what you want to keep in house vs outsource. Some clients we work with prefer to handle all their inventory monitoring themselves, and outsource just the advertising. Others don’t have the bandwidth to be closely monitoring their Amazon account and need an agency who can take care of the entire Amazon channel. They then rely on the agency to send regular updates on sales metrics, account health, inventory status, marketing efforts, etc. Find an agency that will take care of your specific needs and allow you to run your business in the most efficient way possible.
Whether you choose to outsource or manage your Amazon channel in house, the key to success is making sure whoever is tasked with managing Amazon operations and advertising is up to date on the latest policies, strategies and tactics. Also keep in mind that someone who is great at inventory forecasting and data analysis may not be great at customer service or marketing. Review all the different tasks it takes to manage your Amazon account and decide which ones your business model and staff are best suited for and which tasks it would be better to hire out.
As your business grows and you realize it’s time to expand, outsourcing is a great way to keep costs down and bring in specialized talent. Instead of creating internal accounting, marketing, HR and even Amazon departments, consider creating a network of service providers with the expertise and tools that will take your business to the next level.
Originally published on June 5, 2018, updated January 23, 2020
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.