It happens to everyone. The product that just won’t sell.
Maybe it’s more than one product – maybe it’s an entire product line. Either way, there’s money tied up in that inventory and it needs to move!
While you could sit back hope something changes, taking a passive approach to marketplace sales won’t get your product out of the sales slump.
Your best course of action is to analyze the situation, figure out what the problem is and take action to get those sales rolling!
These seven steps will show you how.
Is the Problem Visibility or Conversion?
The first order of business is detemining if you have a visibility issue or a conversion issue.
- You have a visibility issue if shoppers can’t find your product in the marketplace. (Or if not enough shoppers are finding your product.)
- You have a conversion issue if shoppers are finding your product, but then decide not to buy
In some cases, you may have both.
Let’s start with visibility.
Are Enough Buyers Finding Your Products?
1. Know Where You Land In Search. Unfortunately, simply listing your product in a marketplace doesn’t guarantee a buyer will ever see it.
In fact, many products are “hidden” in search – either landing on page 23 with hundreds of products positioned ahead of them, or intentionally surpressed by the marketplace.
So the first order of business is to find out where you product shows up in search.
Now this is somewhat of a moving target, but you can gain a fairly good picture of where your product lands marketplace search by doing your own search test for your product.
Do a searching using several keyword phrases that your potential buyer would use to find your products.
Where do you land? Page 1, Page 5, Page 15?
2. SEO Your Product Pages. A primary reason a listing isn’t displayed in search is that the page is poorly optimized for the marketplace search engines.
Each marketplace has different set of variables that determine if a product will be found. (Make sure that you are familiar with any information your marketplace provides on requirements to get a listing found in search.)
However, you can control your listing visibility by:
- Writing keyword relevant product titles. Include the product model number, color, style, sizes etc.
- Putting the most important keywords first in the title. People and search engines read from left to write. Amazon has stated they look at the first keywords in the title and weigh them as the most important keywords. Your buyers read left to right also. Generally the BRAND of the product is the keyword you want to start the title with.
- Add features and benefits. In addition to giving the buyer the product specifications such as dimensions, functionality etc. Include product benefits.
I found this product on Amazon by searching for the problem “remove furniture stains”. It came up in search even though it’s not the name of the product.
Your customers will search for solutions to their problems as well.
3. Don’t Rely on the Marketplace to Bring You Traffic.
The marketplaces are crowded with millions of products. Buyers have hundreds of buying choices. Sellers are all competing in marketplace search.
If there are 145 offers on your Amazon page, it’s almost impossible to stand out unless you are driving external traffic to your offer.
Even if you’re the only seller on a product page, if that product is buried on page 225, you’re product isn’t going to sell.
If you want to give your product an advantage, you have to send traffic to your offer using:
- Google PPC
- Amazon Sponsored Products
- Content Marketing
They’re Coming to My Listings, Why Don’t They Buy?
Once a prospective customer has found your product, now your listing page needs to “covert” them into a buyer.
Let’s start with the lowest hanging fruit first.
4. Improve Poor Product Images. A poor image quality is the fastest way to turn the buyer off of the purchase.
- The defacto image quality for an ecommerce product, especially new consumer goods, is to use a white “floating” background.
- The product should be well lit and take up at least 85-90% of the image frame.
- Take multiple shots of the product. The more consumers can see the product, the more likely they are to buy from you.
If you’re listing against an existing Amazon page with a poor quality product, update the page with better images. Even if there are other sellers on the page, an improved product image will benefit product sales for everyone.
Products photographed on a bed, the floor (clean or otherwise), in front of a beige wall, or even on your body (unless you’re a professional model) will hurt your sales. Even if you’re product sells, a poorly photographed product will decrease the price. In many cases, your product won’t sell.
Here’s an example. Two of the same items. Brand new. The one on the right sold for $45. The one on the left was listed for $27 with free shipping and remains unsold.
Which one would you buy?
A good tool for creating a white background with a floating image is Remove the Background.
5. Give The Buyer Enough Information to Make a Decision. On the internet, a buyer can’t touch a product and see it up close. Unless they’ve seen it in a store, they need as much information about the product as possible.
This description for the Wenzel Alpine Dome Tent tells a customer everything they need to know
- 3-person, 3-pole pentadome tent with removable fly
- Shock-corded fiberglass frame for quick and easy setup
- Integrated mud mat with drainage strip to keep tent clean
- 2 mesh windows and D-style front door for ventilation
- Measures 8.5 x 4 x 8 feet (W x H x D); weighs 8 pounds
Lightweight, easy to set up, and versatile, the Wenzel Alpine three-person dome tent is a great choice for all types of camping and conditions. The Alpine includes such features as a three-pole pentadome design that creates a vestibule for gear storage and weather protection, a shock-corded fiberglass frame (with pole pockets) that sets up and disassembles quickly, and an integrated mud mat with a drainage strip to keep the tent clean. Campers will also appreciate the Weather Armor polyester fabric and sonic-sealed polyethylene tub-style floor, which are reliably rugged and resist leaks of all kinds. The closeable mesh windows and D-style front door, meanwhile, do a nice job of ventilating the tent and controlling morning moisture. Additional details include double-stitched seams, a gear loft for smaller items, a hanging pocket, and a duffel bag for storage.
- Base: 8.5 by 8 feet
- Center height: 48 inches
- Interior space: 49 square feet
- Sleeps: 3
- Windows 2
- Door: Dutch D-style
- Floor: Welded polyethylene
- Frame: Fiberglass
- Carrying weight: 8 pounds
Compare the description above to this scant description below for the same tent.
6. Find the Pricing Sweet Spot. Pricing is not the determining factor in whether or not they’ll buy from you, but it is a driving factor in increasing your sales.
You may be priced too high at the moment. If you’re introducing a new product into the Amazon Marketplace for example, and you’re the only person on the product page, lowering the price a bit until you make your first sale is a way to get that product on the map and get a boost in Amazon’s search.
The important thing about pricing is to have a strategy.
If your product is not selling and there are multiple sellers on the page (as with Amazon) or multiple sellers in search (ala eBay) and the ‘race to the bottom’ is happening right before your eyes, you don’t need to participate in it to make a sale.
If there are one or two sellers, a slight, adjustment may be all it takes to get things selling again.
Meanwhile driving traffic to your product listing.
That being said, not all product sales are salvageable…
Knowing When to Mark it Down, Move It Out… and Move On
7. Don’t hold on to a stale product. Sometimes, no matter how much you work to improve your product visibility and conversion, a product just won’t sell.
Not only does stale inventory tie up valuable inventory capital that could be reallocated towards better merchandise, you’ll also incur relisting fees, storage fees and put a huge psychological drain on yourself.
There’s no shame in making a bad sourcing decision.
Holding on to inventory that’s a dud, doesn’t have enough demand, or is over saturated with competitors – that’s something that never serves your business well.
Learn what you can from this sourcing experience, make note of what didn’t work and use that to source different inventory and do more product marketing next time around!