Many FBA sellers reach a point where they’d like expand what they have on offer.
If you’ve done what you can to grow the sales of a “starter” product and figured out what works for your market, growing further will mean bringing on new products, perhaps developing a branded range for yourself.
One caveat we’d like to add here: bringing in new products should only happen once you’ve made a success of the first one. You want to be financially comfortable, preferably at the point where your first product can fund another one with its profits.
Of course, any additions to your current line should be made logically and thoughtfully, so what should FBA sellers consider when expanding their product offering?
What fits your current brand?
There are all sorts of strategies for doing well as a third party seller on Amazon, but one which tends to work universally is to build product ranges which will “fit” together under a brand which you have created.
It’s kind of the difference between being an “oddities” store or curio shop or a boutique specializing in a niche. On one hand, people might stumble in on the off-chance they’ll find something, on the other, they’ll make a deliberate choice to go to the boutique store because they know they specialize in the niche they are looking for.
Sure, some people have great success venturing into new categories and if you think you can do it, that’s great. Just be able to logically determine your reasons for doing so. Many people will choose a category related to what they’ve already got because it makes it so much easier to market universally and create a brand, including a separate website which you own.
For example, say you started out by selling yoga mats and blocks, it wouldn’t be a huge stretch (dicey pun intended) to expand into clothing, hair bands or related fitness equipment. The clothing might belong in a separate category to the mat, but you can market them together because they fit.
Sometimes store owners stumble when they fall victim to “shiny object syndrome”, where they chase the latest and greatest products because they think they can make sales. Maybe you can, but having an assortment of “odd” products can make your growth efforts disjointed. You have to develop separate messaging and marketing and you will probably either forego serious branding, or find yourself having to develop different brands.
This may be fine if you have the capacity to do so — many experienced sellers who are turning over large amounts in sales do operate more than one brand. However, if you’re relatively new and still looking to build up a range, you probably don’t have the same resources (such as hired help) to put sufficient energy into more than one brand.
What does a “good product” look like?
One of the first things to acknowledge here is that there really is no such thing as a product which will suddenly be your “golden ticket.” People have virtually driven themselves nuts trying to find “the one” — that product which will launch them to riches within a month and with minimal effort. It doesn’t exist. There is always effort and a good product is more often the result of careful, calculated decisions based on a set of criteria rather than a quest to find “one product to rule them all.”
We wrote a post a little while ago outlining what to look for when choosing FBA products and would stick with criteria outlined here on checking Amazon, size, price, lack of big brand names and durability. To add to this, here are a few more ideas on where you might find additional products which make sense for your brand:
- Check eBay for “just sold” and “hot listings.” These will often translate across to Amazon.
- Check in with niche websites in your category. What do they list on their front page? This tends to be the most popular items in a category.
- Check in with trend sites such as Trend Hunter or Springwise. (Be wise about spotting the difference between “trend” and “fad” however. Try to look for things which have the potential for longevity).
- Use Google Keyword Planner to check search volumes for queries relating to products in your category.
The ultimate question you always need to be able to answer for any product decision should be; “is this product in-demand with my target market?” (See how it’s much easier to answer that if you’ve picked a product niche to specialize in?).
Is there “too much” competition?
Firstly, it’s easy to get caught up in thoughts of needing to “dominate” a category, but the truth is you don’t need to be even close to number one for a product in order to be making decent sales and money on Amazon. Sometimes number 15 on the list might still be selling a couple of thousand units per month and making respectable profit.
Secondly, remember that competition can be good! Existing competition gives you clues to look for, rather than being the first to enter a new market. It means that you can estimate demand for a product before you decide to offer it and can analyze competition for any weaknesses you may be able to do better with.
Ok, so, what does “too much competition” mean? Is there such a thing? The answer here is going to be a resounding “yes, but…” Yes, but it depends on the category, there is no hard and fast rule across all products and yes, but it depends on your own preferred strategy for building out your product range.
For example, it’s a common strategy to pick something lower competition, perhaps with fewer daily sales so it’s easier to rank for your first product. This allows you to build up history more quickly and leverage off that to market any additional products, which may be more competitive. This is especially true for newbies who may not have much in the way of marketing spend available.
Once you’ve developed a brand and gained high seller feedback ratings, you may find it easier to enter those product markets with higher competition because you can cross-sell them under the brand you’ve already developed.
Assessing your competition
Here are a few pointers when assessing whether or not the competition for the product you are researching is within your preferences:
- Best Seller Rank – there are a lot of opinions on this, but there are many successful sellers who opt for below 2000 in their main category.
- Reviews – are there products on the first page of search results with less than 50 reviews? If everyone there has 200+ reviews, it’s a sign of high competition and you’re going to have a harder time ranking because you’re starting from scratch on reviews.
- Optimized listings – how many listings on that first page are well-optimized? How many could be much better? There may be an opportunity for you if you can produce a better listing.
- The offer – is there an opportunity for you to offer something better? For example, is your product made from better-quality materials, bundled with an accessory, or does it have a unique feature which improves it?
- Pricing – are other products which rank well priced ridiculously low? This could be a sign you don’t want to compete, unless you can offer something significantly better as above.
- FBA status – are other FBA sellers selling the product? If not, this may be an opportunity for you with the advantage of Prime shipping, however, look closely at the product first. Is there a good reason no other FBA seller has picked it up yet?
It’s possible for you to compete well, even in high-competition products if you offer something better in some way or simply can do better in terms of optimizing your listing. You should develop goals for yourself around what you need to achieve income-wise. This way you can make a choice based on what is likely to help you meet those goals. Sometimes being ranked at number twenty while selling 1000 units per month will be enough to make it worthwhile.
Are you ready to expand your product offering now? While it can be tempting to chase the “hottest” products in any category, a measured approach where you build a brand for yourself and can leverage the popularity of a current product is often an easier path to take.
Be able to finance product number two and beyond from the profits you are already making, particularly if you want to be sustainable for the long haul.
Lastly, we’d say don’t be afraid to make the tough calls when something isn’t working. If a product isn’t doing well, cut it sooner rather than later and examine any lessons learned. For every success story on Amazon, you will usually find a list of “experiments” behind them…