Preparing for September ’17: how Amazon product pages are different

by | Feb 2, 2017

In the big news about Amazon entering the Australian market, some of the details have been overlooked. A major consideration is the introduction of the Amazon marketplace, as a sales venue for third-party vendors – like eBay, but with a focus on new goods.

SPS has published posts about how to write about product descriptions. How to make them enticing for consumers, how to make item descriptions Google-approved, how important they are for purchase decisions and reducing cart abandonment. We’ve talked about item data from the supplier perspective and the retailer perspective, and sometimes even about the 3PL perspective.

But when you start selling your products on Amazon, it’s a whole different ballgame – and Australian sellers need to be prepared.

Amazon has established its own policies for product detail pages. With hundreds of millions – possibly billions – of product pages, it has to or soon the website’s appearance would morph into infinite variations, providing for a less than optimal customer experience. When you create a product detail page for Amazon, you agree to a variety of rules and restrictions, including but not limited to:

  1. Existing items. If the product you’re selling has been sold on Amazon before, your item description options are mostly limited to the information that has already been created. These existing product pages contain information gleaned from previous sellers and customers for the most accurate product details. Though some fields can be customised, consistent basic details when multiple sellers offer the same product make it easier for consumers to search for and compare what’s available. It is against Amazon rules to create a unique product page for a product that already exists.It is not clear exactly how this will be handled for making variation pages for Australia, but vendors will want to get in quick and put their own stamp on the Amazon Australia product pages.
  2. Restricted items. There are a variety of products and items that people aren’t allowed to sell on Amazon. Naturally, you’re not allowed to sell pets or other animals through Amazon, but you’re also not allowed to sell alcohol, tobacco, and a range of other products. Some things on the list, such as hoverboards, can be sold if you just provide additional info, verify their authenticity and provide contact information for your lawyer. Yikes! But I guess they really want their bases covered. Take a look at Amazon’s list of Restricted Products for more information.Some regulatory variation will append to this to adhere to Australian laws – notably, firearms. However the international ‘restricted items’ list is an excellent starting place for those considering whether Amazon will be a good fit for their business.
  3. Unique items. If the items you’re selling aren’t restricted, and they’ve never existed on the site before, you have the chance to set the tone for the product page. But depending on the category, there are certain style guides you may have to use to create the product page. Some of the rules are that there are character restrictions for the text, the images must comply with Amazon’s standards and listings can’t include HTML, DHTML, Java, scripts, or other types of executables. You can read the whole list of Amazon’s Product Detail Page Rules.
  4. Accuracy. Of course you want your Amazon product pages to be as accurate as possible so customers can be confident of what they are buying. The use of false product identification information, including UPC codes, is strictly prohibited and can get your item page pulled. Additionally, inaccurate details can cause dissatisfied customers to give your product or storefront a poor review, discouraging other shoppers from buying from you if you get enough poor marks.
  5. No cross-promotion. Though it’s a great idea to cross-promote your products, and we’ve recommended it before to offer ‘suggested items,’ Amazon doesn’t allow you to cross-promote multiple products on a single product page. This is offset through Amazon’s own process for cross-promoting, usually something like “Customers who bought this item also bought these products” or display products that are “Frequently Bought Together” or even show “Other products from this seller.”

When Amazon product pages are uniform in style, it can be easy for your items to blend in with the competition, but there are other ways to make your stand out or send traffic to your product pages. The best way for the optimal results is to have a unique product that no one else has, but barring that, optimising the page title, promoting through social media and becoming a niche market specialist are some of the ways for your Amazon store to be successful.

Though you’re restricted in your creativity for how you can create Amazon product pages, there is a trade-off for following the rules. First, your product pages are more accurate, which means when customers purchase the item, they’re more likely to keep it instead of return it. Second, there’s a lot of competitor data available to you with just a simple search, so you can see what other people are selling and get an idea for what’s popular. Third, with so much data on the competition, you may find you have room for price adjustments to win more sales. Keep in mind, though, Amazon does have restrictions on prices – setting a product for a considerably below-market price can trigger an “investigation” of sorts.

When listing your products on Amazon, there are some differences from listing on your own ecommerce site. As with all methods for selling online, there are pros and cons for listing on Amazon versus other marketplace choices – now is a good time to start thinking about it, in the months leading up to Amazon’s Australian market entry.

Sara Duane

Content Marketing Manager at SPS Commerce
Sara Duane is a content expert for the SPS Commerce marketing team. She provides valuable articles and important information about e-commerce, merchandising strategies, order fulfillment and other topics related to retail supply chain optimization.
Sara Duane