Contributors: Andrew Pearl (Profitero), John Phillips (Profitero), Christina Vail (Profitero), James Thomspon (Buy Box Experts), Sarah LaVallee (Channel Bakers), John Ghiorso (Orca Pacific)
In the first part of this series, we discussed how to plan and set benchmarks for tracking the launch of a new product. But what are steps you can take, before the product even hits the digital shelf, to ensure it is set up for success? We asked our Profitero eCommerce experts and partners.
The playbook for launching a successful new product online is not unlike the playbook you use to optimize sales for existing products. You are just taking all the right steps at the beginning of the process to ensure a fast sales ramp from the get-go.
Pre-launch product "retail-readiness" checklist
- Do all retailers have it?
- Do you have enough forecasted inventory to meet demand with promotions and marketing spend considered?
- Have you identified which keywords to win with?
- Do you have enough sponsored advertising budget set?
- Is the listing optimized with the right keywords?
- Is content up to category and retailer benchmarks? (# videos, images, enhanced content)
- Is the price right
- Have you set (MAP or RRP)?
- Do you have promotion plans in place?
- Do you have review / sampling campaigns set up
- Can you combine with another variant to leverage reviews from an existing product?
Your products only have seconds to shine at the digital shelf, so be sure they're retail-ready: in-stock and available, well-rated, with complete and compelling content that will convert browsers to buyers. -Keith Anderson, Profitero
In addition to getting a product "retail ready," here are a few tips and tricks for new product launches.
- Manage expectations with availability. Being out of stock can negatively impact your listing’s ability to gain momentum in the early stages. For Amazon, take advantage of programs like Amazon Born to Run, which gives vendors the opportunity to boost sales velocity for new products rather than having to wait for organic growth. It is also a way to work around Amazon’s ordering algorithm that relies on consumer demand to determine inventory quantities. If that is not possible, set expectations with supply chain operations that new products will likely experience a slow ramp, so produce accordingly. As demand increases, use signals like review velocity, out of stock rate and traffic to forecast future inventory needs in a real-time way.
- Become visible and stay visible. The simplest way to get brand new products in front of customers is to make use of back end keywords, use tools or reports that analyze keyword search frequencies and take advantage of search placement sponsorships and advertising campaigns. Another way to drive traffic to your product is to link social media posts and advertisements to your product page. You can use tools like Amazon Attribution to measure the success of driving organic traffic to your product.
“Feeding the flywheel to jumpstart a product can take time and investment. Share of voice is where you see if that investment is paying off in terms of momentum on the algorithm.”-John Ghiorso, Orca Pacific
- Build consumer trust with ratings and reviews. Directly after launch, prioritize setting up an Amazon Vine or email marketing campaign that asks or incentivizes customers to leave a review post-purchase. Research shows that reviews and review velocity have the greatest impact on new product sales and should therefore be used as an indicator of success. If it makes sense for a new product to benefit from existing reviews, such as from the same formula but a different size or variant, look into review syndication. Additionally, it is important to answer consumer questions as quickly as comprehensively as possible, since they can be trust indicators that make the buying decision easier for future customers.
- Develop best-in-class product content. A few pointers include:
- Looking at what the best-selling competition is doing and either mimic it or take it one step further.
- Anticipate the questions consumers may have and make sure the answers can be found within the feature bullets.
- Make sure images cover plenty of views and angles, highlight product differentiators or key features, and are high-quality and zoomable. The sweet spot is usually 4-6 photos.
- Use A+ content to help your brand stand out.
- Double-check that all text content is keyword-rich, but not stuffed, and formatted correctly.
Never stop researching! And use your findings from past product launches to inform future development strategies. A major part of product development is continuous testing and learning, therefore, you should create your own playbook and take learnings from every single launch to enhance it. In a space that is constantly evolving, it is more important to have a living playbook than to keep standard benchmarks that work across retailers or categories.
Feeding the flywheel to jumpstart a product can take time and investment. Share of voice is where you see if that investment is paying off in terms of momentum on the algorithm. -John Ghiorso, Orca Pacific
Finally, when it comes to launching a new product, it is important to understand that success will be incremental and that smaller efforts, like keyword optimization and consumer reviews can have a large impact on sales in the long run. Major overarching metrics, like sales, share, traffic and conversion, should be growing at a steady rate over time depending on your category and overall brand performance. So set realistic goals for your new product that align with benchmarks and increase as time goes on. Then, make sure you have the appropriate tools to measure those metrics.
For help with what KPIs and benchmarks to track for your new product launch, check out the first part of this series, "How to Launch a New Product Successfully, Part 1: Defining Benchmarks."