Episode 163

Advice from a Former Top 200 Seller on Amazon

Jason Boyce - Avenue 7 Media
June 9, 2021
SUBSCRIBE: iTunesStitcher

If you think the Amazon marketplace is wild right now, you should have seen it in 2003.  My guest today is Jason Boyce.  Jason is a former Top 200 Seller on Amazon - a spot he held for 10 years before selling his company.  Now he’s frequently interviewed and quoted in the media on all things Amazon.   He was recently interviewed for a PBS Frontline Documentary called Amazon Empire: The Rise and Reign of Jeff Bezos.  We discuss some hot takes on broader Amazon topics, plus dive into specific tips for sellers.  


Here’s a look at what we discuss:

  • How big is Amazon really…and why it’s actually BIGGER than you think
  • Amazon and antitrust and what it means for sellers
  • How little improvements to CTR and conversion rate create a compounding effect
  • Owning the digital shelf - what it means and what you should be focusing on
  • Controlling your brand.  How to proactively control and protect your brand
  • Lessons from Jason’s new book - The Amazon Jungle

Jason Boyce

Via LinkedIn

Via Twitter


Avenue7Media.com


“The Amazon Jungle” by Jason Boyce and Rick Cesari


Mentioned in this episode: 


eE 156 Rick Cesari


Amazon Seller Central


Joe Kaziukenas


Marketplace Pulse


James Thomson


Prosper Show


Amazon Empire


Jeff Wilke


The S-Team


Andy Jassy


Dave Clark


“Atomic Habits” by James Clear


Joe Hansen

Episode Transcript:

Brett:

Well, hello, and welcome to another edition of the eCommerce Evolution podcast. I'm your host Brett Curry, and today I am absolutely excited to welcome a very well-known guest, a guest that's just all over the media. You see him in documentaries, and interviewed on the news, and all kinds of other places.

Brett:

My guest today is Jason Boyce.

Brett:

Jason is the founder and CEO of the Avenue7Media. You'll hear more about that in a minute. Also, he was a top 200 seller on Amazon for over a decade. He also is the author of a new book with his co-author Rick Cesari. The name of the book is The Amazon Jungle. It's a fantastic read.

Brett:

Also, Jason was interviewed on a recent Amazon documentary, which is a must watch. We'll talk about that in a minute as well. We're going to dig into several things related to Amazon to better equip you to dominate on Amazon, and better understand it. And so with that quick intro, Jason, thanks for taking the time, man, and welcome to the show.

Jason Boyce:

Hey, thank you, Brett. It's great to be here. I feel like we're of like mind here. You've got this great agency, and I'm trying to build one. And so, it's always great to talk to colleagues.

Brett:

It is. It is, and it's been fun. We've been able to catch up a couple of times, and of course, your co-author, Rick, is an awesome ... He was on the podcast, maybe a couple years ago, talking branding and stuff. But yeah, you can tell you built your Amazon business the right way, building your agency the right way. It's fun to talk shop, for sure.

Jason Boyce:

Absolutely.

Brett:

So I think just as a great background, because I think as anyone that's deep into the Amazon game knows, that you were a top 200 seller for over a decade. That's a big deal. That's a huge deal. Can you walk us through the 90 second version of what you sold on Amazon, what that looked like, and why you got out of it?

Jason Boyce:

Yeah, sure. I actually started as an eCommerce direct to consumer website called SuperDuperHoops.com back in 2002 and-

Brett:

Now, I didn't ask you. Are you a hooper? Because I love basketball. Did you like-

Jason Boyce:

I played in high school. My brothers and I, who I founded the business together with, we're huge Laker fans here in LA.

Brett:

Nice.

Jason Boyce:

It was just a good fit for us, and we played a lot of pickup games. It was just a really fun fit for us. We were doing direct to consumer eCommerce, and we had connected with this company called Overture, who invented pay-per-click advertising.

Brett:

They sure did.

Jason Boyce:

They had a little office-

Brett:

They sure did.

Jason Boyce:

... in Pasadena and-

Brett:

Well, yeah, little known fact now, but Overture started the PPC game.

Jason Boyce:

That's right. And then, they were bought by Yahoo, and Google had to license the technology after a court battle, and perfected it into AdWords. And so, we were all over the search engines at the time. A year later, Amazon picked up the phone and called us, and said, "Hey, we want you to sell your products on our website."

Jason Boyce:

And I was like, "What are you talking about? You guys sell books." Because I had no idea that they were moving into the sports and outdoors category, which is where we spent a lot of our time. Later on moved into toys, and then also into some household categories, but mostly in the sports and outdoors category. Made every mistake you can make, Brett.

Brett:

Did you?

Jason Boyce:

And learned from them over the course of 17 years. Had an exit, and took a lot of those learnings, and the playbook that we lay out in the book The Amazon Jungle, with my co-author, Rick Cesari. And now, we fancy ourselves a champion for brands with Amazon, because you need a warrior to battle Amazon these days. We help brands. It's very similar to what you do at your agency ... double, triple, quadruple, or take off on the Amazon platform.

Brett:

Yeah, I love it, and you're right. You do need a warrior in your corner. And really, I like how you and Rick work together, because I think really the next evolution of successful Amazon sellers are going to be those that build a brand, that build an identity. And not just a, "I'm private labeling a product and creating a great listing on Amazon, and going to try to get rich with it."

Brett:

But, "I'm creating a brand that consumers resonate with, and that has a following, and that has value in the eyes of the consumer, and also value in the eyes of Amazon." That's going to be useful. You know Amazon inside and out, so it's a great tag team there, with you guys, for sure.

Jason Boyce:

Rick has forgotten more than I know about branding. He's built billion dollar brands with a B. I built eight figure brands on Amazon, but his tactics ... and we share a lot of them in the book. They tap into human nature and-

Brett:

Yeah, -

Jason Boyce:

... this science and psychology of selling, if you will. It doesn't matter if it's DirecTV ads, which is were Rick really cut his teeth and became famous. But whether you're selling online, direct to consumer, or on Amazon, a lot of those strategies still work because the human mind really hasn't changed much in the last, I don't know, millennium.

Brett:

Exactly, and likely won't. Some of the tools, and mechanisms, and channels, and platforms change a little bit. But at the core, human nature is the same, and a lot of the core branding principles are the same. It's just the way you execute that really has evolved. And so, let's just do this ... quick takeaways from the book. Who is the book for? And just a couple of highlights we may touch on as we go too, but I would love to hear that quick take.

Jason Boyce:

Sure, thanks. Really, the book boils down to ... There's two elements of the book, talking about what is this Amazon thing? How big is it? And then basically, we say ... The premise of the book is Amazon is not your friend. You have to be on Amazon, because that's where now, I think, 60 percent of the online market share is after COVID-

Jason Boyce:

And if you're going to be there, learn from my mistakes over nearly 20 years of iterating on the Amazon platform, and follow our strategy. And the strategy is, like you pointed out, Brett, the long game on Amazon is you have to have your own brand. You have to have great products. You have to be listening to the customer, and iterating on what they're saying, what they don't like about your product, and making it better.

Jason Boyce:

And then, we walk you through everything from coming up with a product idea, a branding strategy, and then all the technical basis for launching on Amazon. So if you're brand new, if you're an entrepreneur, solopreneur, and you want to start a product company, the book is great. If you are selling in brick and mortar retail, or through DRTV, and you want to learn more about a successful strategy on how to sell on Amazon, the book is great for that as well.

Jason Boyce:

I've got to tell you. One of the most surprising things for me, Brett, when I started with the agency and wrote the book was I didn't think that Amazon sellers who were doing seven figures could benefit from me because I figured they knew everything. I am amazed at how many of these sellers we've taken on, and doubled or tripled their revenue. Because to be honest, they're so busy.

Jason Boyce:

They have so many other parts to focus on with their business. So to have an agency like yours, or like mine, to come in there and really double down on best practices ... Existing Amazon sellers can really launch their business as well, with the help of an agency. It's been really quite a learning for me over the last two years, and been enjoying the heck out of it.

Brett:

Yeah, it's awesome. Maybe we can get into some of those mistakes that you see when you're working with other successful sellers. You were making mistakes back when they were brand new. You had to make mistakes because you were one of the first, but now people could and should learn from that. Actually, while we're on the subject, could you pick two or three? What are some of the biggest mistakes you see sellers making on the Amazon platform that can be fixed pretty quickly?

Jason Boyce:

Well, the first thing whether you're a small brand or a big brand, stay away from 1P. Stay away from the vendor central world if you can. There are some, definitely, reasonable use cases where it makes sense to be in 1P.

Jason Boyce:

For example, one might be if you're selling to Walmart, and you have no control over your retail price, and you don't care. Give that product through the vendor central platform. We clean up a lot of folks who are on 1P, but really shouldn't be, and move them over to 3P. It's a tricky dance to do that-

Brett:

.. that's right because Amazon can get pretty angry about that. They can -

Jason Boyce:

They can call you back.

Brett:

... domestic stuff.

Jason Boyce:

They can absolutely call you back, so you have to be really careful about how you do it. Just picking the right way to sell on Amazon is step one. And then second, not having a decent seller policy for your brand to make sure that you're the only one in your own buy box.

Jason Boyce:

That's really, really important because if you are selling wholesale to other sales channels or distributors, and then those guys have the ability to attach to your hard work and listing, not only are you going to lose sales and profits, but you don't get 100 percent access to the data needed to improve your listing. And so, channel controls ... Being on seller central, channel control is really important, and laying down a solid foundation so you can prevent folks from attaching to your listings. And then, I would say the third thing is these listings are ... You can't set it and forget it.

Brett:

Yeah, totally.

Jason Boyce:

I just talked to a potential client earlier this week. And they were like, "Yeah, we launched these things up. We're doing seven figures. We haven't done anything with it in three years." I'm like, "Oh, my God, we're going to triple your revenue. Let's get going." Because you have to constantly optimize.

Jason Boyce:

Optimize for SEO. You have to constantly optimize for merchandising, so that all these great feedback ... All the negative feedback that you're getting, or comments through the review system and the seller rating system can be put forward and upfront on your listing. So if you're doing that continually, then you'll have much more success, rather than just setting it and forgetting it.

Brett:

Yeah, it's such good advice, because I think some people can get lulled to sleep a little bit by success, or by what seems to be success. Like, "Hey, it's a seven figure channel. We're doing good. We're selling. We don't need to do anything else." When really, they don't understand that there's so much more that could be gained there.

Brett:

And if you build it, nurture it, optimize it, you're succeeding because Amazon is so huge. It is likely 60 percent of all eCommerce, by some estimates. But likely, you're not getting the share that you could be getting if you're doing all the things that you talk about.

Jason Boyce:

Yeah, and we also developed some proprietary software. We call it our Early Warning Detection System. Sometimes sellers just don't know when their listings have been taken down, and it's gotten worse in the last 24 to 36 months, really bad. And funny thing about eCommerce ... If you're not in stock, and your listing isn't live, you really can't sell anything.

Jason Boyce:

Sometimes we just take over that piece, and we're automatically increasing sales by 30, 40 percent. Because we're just giving better visibility to the client about, "Hey, you're out of stock. Do you know this?" "No, we didn't know we were out of stock over there." Or, "Your listing is down because of an NCX reason." Insert whatever reason you're down for.

Brett:

Yeah, when that product is not on the digital shelf, you won't make sales, obviously.

Jason Boyce:

That's right.

Brett:

So find out all the reasons why it could be removed, or blocked, or taken down off that digital shelf, and just get it there more frequently.

Jason Boyce:

Yep, absolutely.

Brett:

Yeah, amazing. So you talked about it in the first part of the book, and then something we talked about offline too, is how big is Amazon, really? I think this is interesting to understand. It's important to understand as sellers, or if we're just competing with Amazon. It's important to know.

Brett:

I think there's some myths about Amazon. There's still people that believe Amazon's not profitable. Amazon's only growing because they don't have to turn a profit, which is actually wildly inaccurate. Amazon is turning immense amounts of profit. And also, Amazon is much larger than they appear because of, really, some accounting rules. Do you want to walk us through? How big is Amazon really?

Jason Boyce:

Yeah, absolutely, so Amazon is a public company. Every quarter they have to make reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission about their revenue. The revenue that Amazon reports to the SEC does not include the total dollar value of goods sold through Amazon.com.

Jason Boyce:

For example, you or I, Brett, through our Seller Central account ... We make a $100 sale on Amazon. We're likely, depending on the category ... We're going to give $15 of that $100 to Amazon. And we're going to take the $100 of the sale. Amazon is not reporting the $100 sale that happened on their website. They're only reporting the $15 and-

Brett:

Right, that's the third party marketplace rules for ... The GAAP rules, the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. You can only report your take on that, which Amazon's 10, 15 percent, somewhere in there.

Jason Boyce:

EBay has been reporting GMV forever in their public documents, and others have as well. My personal opinion-

Brett:

GMV is Gross Merchandise Value. Is that -

Jason Boyce:

Gross Merchandise Value, so that's the $100 of that value sold. Amazon may say, "Well, that's not our sale." Well, when you're taking 45 cents of every dollar of that sale, then I think it should be recorded as a part of the sale.

Jason Boyce:

And I think regulators and investors would find that information incredibly helpful in their investment decisions, and the same with the regulatory side. Anyway, I think they should announce that. I've had the good fortune of meeting a lot of really smart analysts who can extrapolate what that GMV number is. The GMV for 2020 by the most recent estimate from my friend, Joe Kaziukenas at Marketplace Pulse, is that Amazon pumped 490 billion dollars of goods sold through their website last year and-

Brett:

Which is just insane ... And so, the breakdown in this ... You get the 1P, which Amazon does account for that fully. But then you've got the 3P, the third party marketplace where they're just counting their take rate, 10 to 15 percent, in that range. And now they're ... More than 50 percent is 3P now, correct? Do you know the breakdown there?

Jason Boyce:

Yeah, so if you breakdown that number according to Marketplace Joe, 300 billion of that 490 is third party sellers. Amazon retail was 190 in GMV. And so, three to two ratio, third party sales versus one party sales.

Jason Boyce:

Now look, there's some folks out there that say that Amazon's going to get rid of retail. They're not. You can't just give away 190 billion on your top line. They're not going to do that, but their third party marketplace, in my opinion, is the most important part of what makes Amazon tick.

Jason Boyce:

There's a lot of public stories that say, "Oh, AWS is the profitability. That's where the profits come from." You take that 300 billion and you pull out 15 percent of that. That's 45 billion dollars. And then later on another ... Let's say another 10 points for ad spend, right?

Brett:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jason Boyce:

Ad revenue has become a huge part of the third party seller. That's another 30 billion. That's 75 billion dollars ... I don't want to say pure profit, but very high margin-

Jason Boyce:

... profit dollars. AWS last year hit about 50 billion. Why is Amazon not telling that story? I don't think they want anybody to know that the third party marketplace is a cash cow. Number one, because it keeps competitors at bay, but I also don't think-

Brett:

It keeps regulators at bay, maybe, or it did.

Jason Boyce:

That's the second part. That's the second part. Well, until we started talking about it, until analysts started pushing this information out there. I think regulators are starting to get a good idea that they're massive. I've made this prediction, and so has Joe, that I think Amazon, in terms of GMV, will surpass Walmart's numbers, which is in the $520 billion range, but at a much slower growth rate overall ... that they will surpass Walmart as the largest US-based retailer in the world this year, 2021.

Brett:

Wow, but if you look at their percentage growth, and you look at that 490 billion GMV value, it's almost inevitable. It's going to be this year at some point-

Jason Boyce:

Absolutely.

Brett:

... which is just mind-boggling. Because there's still some people that believe, "Oh, well, Walmart is still way bigger than Amazon." Well, only if you're looking at the financial reports that have to be reported to the SEC, not if you look at GMV. And so-

Jason Boyce:

Yeah, look, Walmart's last stand is the grocery business. And they're innovating, and they're doing some really cool things there, but Amazon's coming. Amazon is a runaway train about to pass them on the tracks. It's just going to happen.

Brett:

And so, we alluded to the keeping regulators at bay, and the antitrust business that's coming up. I think Google was the first one to officially end up in antitrust court, but it's going to happen for Amazon. Do you have any thoughts or predictions around that? What should we be watching for related to antitrust and Amazon?

Jason Boyce:

Oh, wow, there was just a couple of announcements. The Biden administration ... Their names escape me right now. But they've brought in some really heavy hitters to be part of the FTC, and part of the Biden administration's team to take a look at big tech. Not just Amazon, and Amazon's clearly in their sights.

Jason Boyce:

But there's no question in my mind, and in my opinion, that Amazon has not one monopoly, but two. In the AWS space they have, according to Gartner, 50 percent market share. And we know from our analysts on the market place side, they own 62 percent, 60 percent of the online retail market share.

Jason Boyce:

They are so massive that they ... I mean, what company in history has ever had two monopolies at once? And Amazon does. I fully expect the Biden administration, the FTC to come hard, and the antitrust committees, the judiciary committees in both the House and the Senate to come after Amazon and the other big tech companies in a big way.

Jason Boyce:

Now, will they be successful? We'll see. I think with Ms. Khan, who was just announced as trying to be the head of the FTC ... has some very interesting ideas. But the antitrust laws themselves need to be updated before they take action. If that happens ... If they lay the foundation for new rules and laws in antitrust for the 21st Century, then absolutely these companies will be broken up.

Brett:

Yeah, and that would be the end result, right?

Jason Boyce:

Yeah.

Brett:

You'd see these companies broken up, where AWS is split out into its own business entity, and break ups like that with Google, and with other tech companies as well.

Jason Boyce:

Yeah, and the funny thing about Amazon ... If I'm Jeff Bezos, I don't care. Because if that happens, and AWS gets broken up, you're going to see a three times valuation increase. AWS is actually being constrained in its valuation because it's under the Amazon umbrella.

Jason Boyce:

I feel the same way about the Marketplace, and the advertising angle, even the fulfillment network. I think Amazon may be internally ... Again, this is just my opinion. I don't have hard evidence. I think they're preparing for the inevitable. Maybe not this year, maybe not next year, but five, 10 years down the road where these business units are already, technically, standing up on their own. But there's real potential for them to be broken up.

Brett:

Yeah, that totally makes sense. One thing that you and I were talking about a couple weeks ago that I think would be interesting to mention here is Jeff Bezos stepping down as CEO. People are like, "Oh, retirement ... going to buy a yacht and sail the world." He's the Chairman of the board. He's going to be very involved, so what do you think this move is really about?

Jason Boyce:

Yeah. No, I think this move is about Jeff Bezos wanting to play in some other spaces, but he hasn't left Amazon. Whatever Amazon looks like 10 years from now will be because of what Jeff Bezos is doing today, and as he steps into this less visible role as Chairman of the board. He likes to look at the future.He's going to push poor Andy Jassy into the hot seat in front of those House Judiciary Committees, so he can answer all those antitrust questions so he doesn't have to. And he's going to work on the fun stuff, and frankly, he's brilliant at it. I'm sure-

Brett:

Yeah, why wouldn't you? You'd rather ... If you were an Amazon shareholder, you want Bezos working on the next 10 years of Amazon, not answering questions before Congress.

Jason Boyce:

Absolutely, and his crystal ball is as good as anybody.

Brett:

Poor Andy Jassy.

Jason Boyce:

Yeah, poor Andy Jassy. Bezos' crystal ball is as good as anyone, and he's not going anywhere.

Brett:

Right, yeah, totally agree. I got to watch a documentary recently that you and our mutual friend, James Thompson from Buy Box Expert and also PROSPER Show ... a documentary that both of you guys recommended, and for whatever reason, I missed. You recommended it, and I watched it. And then, I'm like, "Oh, well, Jason's in this documentary," which was pretty awesome, and so was James. But talk about ... It's a Frontline documentary. Talk about ... The name is escaping me ... The Amazon Empire, I believe.

Jason Boyce:

Yep.

Brett:

Talk about the documentary. What's it about, and why were you in it?

Jason Boyce:

Oh, good question. I'm an old guy, so I've been in this game for a very long time. I was one of the few sellers who has always been willing to speak out against practices that Amazon takes that are bad news for sellers.

Jason Boyce:

I think they appreciated that, and again, I've just been around a long time. That's it. 2003, I was an Amazon seller. There aren't a lot of people who say that. And so, it was a really fascinating documentary. I thought they did a brilliant job, as always-

Brett:

Well done piece.

Jason Boyce:

... Frontline does.

Brett:

Yeah.

Jason Boyce:

To me, when I think of the documentary, the most interesting piece to me ... I don't know if this had anything to do with Jeff Wilke stepping down, who until just days ago was head of Global in the dotcom business. -

Brett:

Wilke was the heir apparent. Everyone believed Wilke was going to take over for Jeff Bezos when Jeff Bezos one day stepped down.

Jason Boyce:

I secretly wish he had, because he's got the consumer experience, and I'm from the consumer world. That's not to say that Andy Jassy doesn't have enough experience to do well, but I really was hoping that Jeff Wilke would take over that role. But announced late last year that he was stepping down, but there was this gotcha moment in The Amazon Empire where ... I tipped off the interviewers about this product safety issue that the Marketplace has. Section 230 of the Consumer Decency Act protects platforms like Facebook, like Amazon from liability from folks selling on their platform, or saying things on their platform and-

Brett:

Yeah, because they can say, "It's not my product. It's just my platform."

Jason Boyce:

That's right. Yeah, that's right. And so, Amazon didn't really have a massive incentive, especially as it rolls out the red carpet to China mainland factories to dump goods on its platforms at cheap prices, to require product safety. The interviewers, who were just brilliant, were given 30 minutes ... Not 30 minutes and one second, 30 minutes with each of the S-Team members that they interviewed for the documentary. And I had to-

Brett:

Just real quickly, because I've heard this term before. Inside the higher ups at Amazon are called the S-Team ... What is the S-Team?

Jason Boyce:

Gosh, it's ... I don't know what the S-Team stands for, to be honest with you. I've just -

Brett:

That's like the execs of the execs, right?

Jason Boyce:

That's right, the leaders-

Brett:

- top echelon of Amazon.

Jason Boyce:

... of the individual business units that make up Amazon.

Brett:

Right, okay.

Jason Boyce:

So Andy Jassy was head of AWS. He took it from zero to monopoly status, and he was in charge of that business unit. Jeff Wilke was in charge of Global. Gabe Clark was part of ... Now, he's a member. He's taken over for Jeff Wilke.

Jason Boyce:

He was on this team, and Head of Fulfillment and Delivery, and Warehousing, and Supply Chain. And so, these are the decision makers. These are the folks that set the strategy at Amazon.

Jason Boyce:

They're not doing the day to day operations, but they're developing, hiring the team, putting the message, and making Amazon work. That's this S-Team. The interviewers from Amazon Empire had 30 minutes that they literally shut down the cameras at 30 minutes and one second. And they had-

Brett:

I just got word it stands for Senior Team. I just -

Jason Boyce:

Oh, Senior Team. Well, I just learned something.

Brett:

... used a little tool called the Google and found it.

Jason Boyce:

Well, thank you for that, Brett. Now I know. Senior Team, okay, that makes perfect sense. I thought it would have been something goofier, but yeah, Senior Team makes perfect sense.

Jason Boyce:

And so, I was interviewed by The Amazon Empire folks two days after they had this round of interviews, and they did such a really good job. The one gotcha moment that sticks out ... And look, it's a fairly balanced view. Amazon is a victim of their own success.

Brett:

Right.

Jason Boyce:

They have done this better than anyone.

Brett:

They've done so ... They're so brilliant, and so amazing in so many ways. But yeah, they've also made mistakes, too.

Jason Boyce:

Yeah, but it's an American success story. Jeff Bezos is living the American dream, so it's really hard to knock them for what they have done in terms of the innovation scale. They're a remarkable company.

Jason Boyce:

But they also took a fair and balanced look, I felt, of the dark side. One of those is product safety. I just remember this painful moment in the interview with Jeff Wilke where Jeff Wilke basically admits that, "We're not requiring safety product sheets, safety testing for toys on the platform." And the interviewer says-

Brett:

That's scary.

Jason Boyce:

"How can you be customer obsessed if you're not making sure that the products you're selling on your Marketplace don't injure your customers?" And it was just a ... It was one of those moments. That's the one thing whenever I think of The Amazon Empire ... It wasn't the six hours that interviewed with them.

Jason Boyce:

It's that moment, but it's a great overview of the growing power of Amazon, how their success has been. And there's a lot of discussion about some folks that would hope for more from Amazon, the seller community, warehouse workers, delivery drivers, et cetera. It's definitely worth watching.

Brett:

It's worth watching. It's a great background. It does highlight some of the success, and Amazon is a great American success story. But it does highlight the dark side as well, so I think it's a must watch.

Brett:

Check it out, and you get to see Jason Boyce, again, interviewed on the doc. It's a great one. Fantastic, so let's talk more about sellers, and how they succeed now, and what things are going to look like here over the next few years. What are other recommendations you're making?

Brett:

You can highlight something from the book, or just something from the agency. What do sellers need to be focusing on in 2021 and into the next few years to really succeed? You may underscore something you've already mentioned, but I want to pose that question.

Jason Boyce:

We talked a little bit about some of the basics. I'm amazed at how many basics escape successful sellers. I mean, click through rate is a really important metric on Amazon.

Jason Boyce:

What are the two things that help you drive click through rate? Great main image ... Does your main image and does your product color stand out on the search results page? If the answer is yes, your click through rate is going to be terrific.

Jason Boyce:

If it's not, your click through rate is not going to be good, and you're going to lose traffic, and sales, and clicks. And then, the product title ... Not only is the product title important for SEO reasons ... I think you should have at least three of the highest volume, most relevant keywords in your product title. I'm amazed at how many don't.

Jason Boyce:

And you should duplicate that keyword in another area, bullet points, or description, or back in keywords, or subject matter. Just those right there are really, really important for success, but it doesn't replace making a great product. I hear these stories all the time. "This Amazon shopper left this review. They're so terrible. They're evil." They take a defensive stance instead of saying, "Thank you."

Brett:

It's the shopper that's dumb. The consumer doesn't know what they're talking about. It's not our product.

Jason Boyce:

They don't know what they're talking about. They didn't read the instruction manual. Well, you always should have to read the instruction manual, right?

Brett:

Yeah.

Jason Boyce:

So there's lots of that kind of ... I think it's a mistake if you're a product company to not say, "Thank you," every time you get a negative review, and to identify themes from other shoppers or customers of yourself. And build, and talk ... put that in front of your product manager. Say, "Hey, next time we bring this product in, we need to fix this problem because now we've got six shoppers who took time out of their day to tell us what they would prefer didn't happen with our product."

Jason Boyce:

That is really critical. That's something that Rick and I compared notes on. Part of Rick's massive success in the DRTV world with brands like the George Foreman Grill, OxiClean, and all these others, is he would pull together ... For the purposes of recording a testimonial to use in an infomercial, he would pull together real shoppers who paid real money for the product. And he would put them in a studio and ask them a series of questions, and by the time-

Brett:

- fantastic way to learn. Not only do you get these great videos, which we need for YouTube ads and other things, but man, you learn so much. Yeah, sorry, go ahead.

Jason Boyce:

Exactly. He said, "By the time I got to the sixth or seventh interview, I knew what was wrong with the product, and I knew what they loved about the product. And I ran with that, and I took the information that was wrong with the product back to the brand to say maybe before you spend $50 million on a TV ad campaign, you might want to fix this before it goes out there." And when he told me that, the lights went off in my head.

Jason Boyce:

I'm like, "My God, we've been doing that with reviews forever." Yeah, look, nobody wants to have someone tell them that their baby is ugly, but you've got to take that information because you can do something about it. We entered into that same process by reading. I personally read, for my brand at the time, Harvel ... It's been since rebranded under the new owner. But for my brand, Harvel, I read every single negative review over eight years. And-

Brett:

You have to -

Jason Boyce:

... whenever I got a theme, we fixed it. And then, you know what? At one point, we started getting four to five stars only. We didn't get any one stars anymore, because we were iterating on the product. Nothing replaces that.

Jason Boyce:

Once you get to that phase, the next phase is what can you do on the listing itself? Amazon has, I think, a limit, 1000 pixels is their minimum. We do 2500 pixels. We go way overboard.

Jason Boyce:

We want the equivalent of our imagery, and our branding for additional images, to appear like you're walking into ... A, you're seeing a beautiful premium brand in a high gloss magazine ad. Or, you're walking into a premium store with amazing lighting, with great product placements and settings. As opposed to what I see every day on an Amazon listing, which is the equivalent of walking into a brick and mortar store with light bulbs out on the neon sign.

Jason Boyce:

You walk in. The flickering fluorescent lights, some of which are out ... And you're walking the shelves, and half are empty. You don't get that warm fuzzy feeling, right?

Brett:

Right.

Jason Boyce:

So we try to-

Brett:

I was shopping ... Just for a quick anecdote, I was shopping for a product the other day. It was actually a pretty well-known brand. I clicked on their Amazon listing, and this was likely an anomaly for just this one product. But I get to the product detail page, and there was one picture.

Brett:

I can only see one angle of the product. I'm like, "What is this?" You want to be able to simulate what it would be like in a showroom. I want to pick this up, and look at it from all angles, and examine it, but it was one picture. I think there's a lot of successful brands that are still doing that with their Amazon listings, so that's to your point.

Jason Boyce:

That transition from a wholesale brand, sometimes a nationally known wholesale brand, to direct to consumer thought process is really difficult.

Brett:

It is.

Jason Boyce:

We've got a couple of really good clients that we're helping make that transition. In the old days, they would make a great product. They would give it to a retailer, and the retailer would do that.

Brett:

Right.

Jason Boyce:

But Amazon doesn't do that for you. Amazon is a DIY platform. You've got to do this stuff yourself, and you've got to know how to do it. And another lesson that I learned from Rick was features tell, and if it's-

Brett:

Yeah.

Jason Boyce:

At the end of the day ... We were talking about these images. At the end of the day, those additional images should be pushing the benefit of the product.

Brett:

Exactly.

Jason Boyce:

I use this example in the book, but when I first met Rick, we were selling ping-pong tables, and it looked like a factory spec sheet. It had one image. I did have a video, but it was an assembly video, to which Rick said, "Boy, that looks like work."

Brett:

You successfully convinced me not to buy this product. Thank you.

Jason Boyce:

That's right. I really don't want it. And so, I took some of ... I sat at Rick's feet, and learned how to do this. And we went from showing the dimensions and weight of the playing field and all this specifications to, "Bring friends and family together," as a marketing message. It's like, "That's what this table is for, for you to have special time with your family and your friends, and for you to build memories. That's what this product is for." Very few people care about the thickness of the legs, right?

Brett:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jason Boyce:

I see that everyday on Amazon, still. People are just throwing it up there. They're not sprinkling that pixie dust, the brand .. Making that connection for the end user, "This is what you get when you get my product."

Jason Boyce:

I think those are the biggest opportunities. Still, when we take a brand who's had some success on Amazon and we do these things for them, they double their revenue. They triple their revenue.

Brett:

Yeah.

Jason Boyce:

It's remarkable.

Brett:

That's not hyperbole, that's actual results.

Jason Boyce:

No, those are real numbers.

Brett:

You're doubling, tripling sales.

Jason Boyce:

Right.

Brett:

Yeah, and it makes sense. I think there's always been this impact. And I've mentioned this book a few times on the podcast, I think. But it's called Atomic Habits by James Clear. And he talks about the power, just in your personal life, of making one percent improvements every day.

Brett:

I'm going to get one percent better in a bunch of areas. Over the course of the year, if you do that, you're 37 times better because you're making just these little incremental improvements. The same thing can be said about your Amazon listing, or any area of your business.

Brett:

Hey, we're going to make little improvements to the product, and just like your product, where we're eventually going to get to where we only get four and five star reviews because we've listened to our customers. We've made improvements, and we're going to make little improvements on our listing over time. We're going to improve all these little areas. When you combine that together, it has a compounding effect, and it's pretty massive.

Jason Boyce:

I couldn't agree more. I love that book, and I love hearing the stories about how these professional athletes ... Half a percent improvement makes a difference, a one percent improvement. And that's exactly the process in product improvement.

Brett:

Yeah.

Jason Boyce:

That's exactly the process in listing improvement. And you've got all the-

Brett:

How can I improve my -

Jason Boyce:

... metrics you need to know.

Brett:

... by one percent? How can I improve my conversion rate by even one percent? Those things really add up. Yeah, sorry.

Jason Boyce:

No, absolutely, I couldn't agree with you more.

Brett:

Fantastic. Cool, well, let's talk a little bit about the agency then, Avenue7Media. And if I'm not mistaken, Avenue Seven is where the Amazon HQ is, right? In Seattle.

Jason Boyce:

7th Ave, that's day one, buddy.

Brett:

That's where the bio-dome thing is and stuff.

Jason Boyce:

You mean Jeff Bezos' glass balls. That's what I refer to them as, yes.

Brett:

That's exactly what ... Funny story, so a couple years ago my Amazon director, Chris Tyler ... He and I got to fly out to Amazon and spend time with the DSP team. We were one of the fastest growing agencies, and so we got invited out. Yeah, we heard that that's what it's called, Jeff Bezos' glass balls. It was hilarious. But yeah, what a cool area, and some fantastic food down there. It's a cool spot.

Jason Boyce:

Yeah, that whole area ... At last count, they had 45 high rise buildings in Seattle.

Brett:

Wow.

Jason Boyce:

I didn't say four to five. I said 45.

Brett:

45, yeah.

Jason Boyce:

That's insane. Now, they're taking over Bellevue, which is a sister city next to Seattle. It's just amazing. Now, they're going to do the same thing in Virginia. They're amazing.

Brett:

They're a monster, for sure.

Jason Boyce:

An amazing company ... yeah, a monster.

Brett:

Talk about the agency. Why did you form the agency? What do you guys do, specifically? Why should someone reach out to you? Let's chat about those things.

Jason Boyce:

Well, thank you for that opportunity. Avenue7Media ... I learned this a long time ago at the first PROSPER Show. You know the PROSPER Show for Amazon sellers-

Brett:

Absolutely, yeah. -

Jason Boyce:

... founded by our friend, James Thomson, and Joe Hanson. Light bulbs went off for me. I was on a couple panels. I didn't actually give a talk, but I was on a couple panels.

Jason Boyce:

And after the presentation, as if often the case at these trade shows, there's a line of 30 people asking questions like, "Hey, Jason, this is happening to me. What should I do?" And I was like, "Oh, yeah, three years ago that happened to me. Try this." And they were like, "Thank you."

Jason Boyce:

And then, the next person would come and say, "I'm having this problem." I'm like, "Oh, yeah, this happened to us six months ago. Try that." And they're like, "Oh, thank you."

Jason Boyce:

I got such massive feedback, even after I left the show, from people emailing me and saying, "Thank you so much for that tip. You've changed our life." Something occurred to me while I was in the midst of building my own big branding company. I really enjoyed that more.

Jason Boyce:

I enjoyed helping others battle Amazon, and succeed on Amazon, than I loved building my own brands. And so, I always knew when I left my previous company that I was going to start an agency. And that's whatI've done. I was a seller. I made every mistake you can imagine.

Brett:

Yeah.

Jason Boyce:

And I learned from it the hard way, losing and making my own money. And so, we just put all that together. A lot of those strategies are in the book, but we put all that together, and adopted those repeatable processes that we used over 17 years.

Jason Boyce:

And we've built this agency where we apply those lessons learned. We help with strategy, but we also are basically your fully outsourced Amazon department. I mean, you know this, Brett. In the old days, you could have an Amazon person. You could hire one person. I don't know, at a college, or high school, or whatever. Go figure out Amazon, and have success.

Brett:

Yeah, because nobody knew at that point.

Jason Boyce:

Nobody knew at that point, and those days are over.

Brett:

For sure.

Jason Boyce:

I've got seven different departments with experienced Amazon operators, team leads in each of those verticals, that are necessary for success on Amazon. You didn't have to do that 10 years ago, but you can't succeed without it. You have to have as many people to manage your Amazon business now as you do to have success on your eCommerce site.

Brett:

Yeah.

Jason Boyce:

And I think the number's growing. I think, ultimately, it will be more.

Brett:

It's not getting simpler. It's getting more complex.

Jason Boyce:

It's getting more complex by the month, and that's what we do. We simplify things and we say, "Look, you make great products brand. You give us your brand book. If you don't have one, we'll make one for you. Let us make you a brand on Amazon, and we'll help you grow." It's just been incredibly meaningful.

Jason Boyce:

Just one side story ... We took on a client a year ago. They had had six, seven different consultants, or Amazon guys over the years. I'd never seen an account or listings that were so screwed up. It took us nine months to clean them all up. And now, they're on a hockey stick growth trajectory.

Brett:

Man.

Jason Boyce:

There isn't any agency out there ... Maybe yours could. There isn't another agency out there that could have done this without blowing it all up and starting over.

Brett:

Yeah.

Jason Boyce:

We didn't want to lose the history, and we didn't want to lose the reviews. We figured out how to do it. So that's just incredibly meaningful, and that's what I love about the picks and shovel business, instead of the gold digging business.

Jason Boyce:

I really like where I'm at, and we get better every day, which is hard to say after you've been doing this for 20 years. But we do, and it's just really meaningful. I enjoy the heck out of it.

Brett:

Yeah, I love it, and I think there's a special ... It takes a special personality from a leader standpoint, and then you have to hire the right people to run a successful agency. But for some people ... I'm with you. I really enjoy helping great brands.

Brett:

I really enjoy the ... You also have to be a servant mindset to a certain degree, to help in these areas. And yeah, to your point, our agency's great at the ad side, and some of the strategy pieces. We're not a fully outsourced Amazon department to the point like yours is. But yeah, I have the same mindset. It's just fun to help great brands, and to see those turnaround stories for sure.

Jason Boyce:

Yeah, and look, for brands that have that Amazon team who are great, they don't need a fully outsourced department. So they come to you, and you rock the traffic for them, right? And the conversions ...

Brett:

Exactly, 100 percent. So let's talk about if someone's listening and they think, "Man, that's what I need, or I at least need to talk to Jason." How can they best reach out to Avenue7Media?

Jason Boyce:

Look, I'm going to give you my email address. It's-

Brett:

Oh, beautiful.

Jason Boyce:

Yeah, Jason@Avenue7Media.com. If you want, you can go to the website, Avenue7Media.com, and you can put inquiries through there as well. I'm on LinkedIn. Jason R Boyce on LinkedIn, and @JasBoyce, B-O-Y-C-E, on Twitter. I like to try to keep Amazon honest on Twitter and LinkedIn so-

Jason Boyce:

I'd love to have you follow and see what I'm thinking about Amazon. And yeah, if you're a brand and you're struggling, or even if you're having success, let's have a talk and we'll see if we can help you hit that next level.

Brett:

Awesome, love that. Jason, this has been tremendously fun. We'll have to do this again as more Amazon news and things come out, which is all the time. But we'll have to circle back up, because I know you've always got a really great inside perspective, and you know people on Amazon, which helps. We'll definitely have to do this again. Appreciate the time, man. This was awesome.

Jason Boyce:

Same here, Brett, thanks for having me. Great podcast ... I'm a listener. Keep up the good work.

Brett:

Awesome, we'll do. Hey, check out the book, The Amazon Jungle. Check out the documentary, The Amazon Empire. And with that, hey, we'd love to hear feedback from you. What would you like to hear more of on the podcast? What would you like to hear less of? And as always, until next time, thank you for listening.


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