How to Launch Products on Amazon in Times of Crisis

September 30, 2020
Written by Ken Zhou

The coronavirus pandemic has placed online sellers and marketers in analysis paralysis because of what is happening worldwide. In times like this, would it be wise to learn how to launch product on Amazon? Moreso, could a new product survive and sell amid the volatile and uncertain economic situation? Would it be a waste of time, effort, resources, and more importantly, capital?

Let us ease your worries and help you find out through this article. We will discuss what you should know about Amazon's current state, determine if it is feasible to launch a new product on Amazon at this time, and what is the best product launch strategy to implement in times of crisis like this.

What is the current state of Amazon during this pandemic?

Besides conducting a product study, keyword research, and competitor analysis, you should be updated on Amazon's current news and trends. Primarily, that we are dealing with an invisible and dangerous enemy, COVID-19, which has altered the consumer landscape forever. You should know the actions Amazon has taken in the past couple of months to handle the pandemic as it can affect how you sell and deliver your products.

Due to stay-at-home policies in some parts of the world, Amazon noticed a considerable spike in daily visitors from 5.18 million to 73.55 million between March 14 and March 17, which continues. This means more people are shopping online, and it should be good news for Amazon sellers. 

However, Amazon has had to adjust some regulations to accommodate the influx of online orders. One of the adjustments they enforced is to temporarily prioritize six categories: personal care and beauty items, household and health items, pet supplies, baby products, groceries, and scientific and industrial commodities. 

If your product doesn't belong in those categories, expect a delay in shipment since Amazon prioritizes essential products. 

Moreover, even though they haven't announced any fee suspension or freeze, Amazon temporarily disabled its Inventory Performance Index (IPI) and waived April's long-term storage fee for FBA sellers in the U.S., U.K., Italy, and France.

Lastly, it would help if you noted that Amazon is establishing inventory restrictions at its fulfillment centers to prepare for the holidays. This new policy will affect all third-party merchants who store their products at Amazon's U.S. warehouses.

This is the current situation of Amazon amid the pandemic that you should be aware of before launching a new product on Earth's busiest marketplace. 

Is it okay to push through with your Amazon product launch?

Whether there is a pandemic or not, starting a business in general (or in this case, selling on Amazon) is a risk. As a seller, you are aware of that, but the stakes are higher because of COVID-19. 

Because as we see how things are going on, some businesses have even filed for bankruptcy or liquidation such as Papyrus, Lucky's Market, Earth Fare, J. Crew, JCPenney, Lucky Brand Dungarees, and GNC to name a few. Please note that these brands have been in the market for years, but all it takes is a coronavirus outbreak to shut it down.  

Can your fledgling product survive the pressure of the pandemic? Maybe you should wait until the end of the year or next year in hopes the situation normalizes? It seems being conservative would be the safest and sanest option since there is still no definite deadline on how long the crisis will last. 

However, based on historical data, businesses that have chosen an aggressive and forward-thinking strategy outperformed companies that did otherwise. Another long-term study proved that it is better to increase and not decrease your marketing spend during an economic crisis. You should take a proactive approach because you will never be left behind when the economy gains strength again.

Moreover, more consumers are responsive to the marketing initiatives of brands nowadays. According to a survey conducted by the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A's) and real-time market research platform Suzy, 56% are interested to know how brands are helping their communities during the pandemic. The report also found out that 44% of the respondents aren't comfortable buying their non-essential items outside, and another 37% prefer to purchase items online than in brick-and-mortar stores.

Many also believe the pandemic will have a long-lasting effect on the psyche and outlook of buyers. In another COVID-19 study, 86% of Americans and 81% of Canadians agreed that the crisis would create a new normal and have a lasting impact on society. Some scientists predicted that we still need social distancing until 2022, which is a great deal of time to put on hold any forms of marketing, including product launches.

Hence, new Amazon sellers must be agile, aggressive, and innovative to launch a new product during the pandemic. Furthermore, as Charles Darwin said, "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one most adaptable to change." 

That being said, let’s discuss what should be included in your Amazon product launch checklist that can withstand an economic downturn.

Coronavirus Amazon product launch strategy

We have already defined pain points you may experience before your Amazon product launch. And from there, we will determine how to launch product on Amazon during unprecedented times.

Order fulfillment constraints

As mentioned above, shipping delays are more common nowadays due to the prioritization policy. While Amazon FBA operates in a limited capacity, you should consider Seller Fulfilled Prime, Direct Fulfillment Program (Dropshipping), or Fulfillment By Merchant (FBM) using a different fulfillment partner. Amazon also reiterates that sellers can still offer non-household staples or medical supplies through merchant-fulfilled channels.

Searching profitable products to sell

It is a no-brainer that essential products are a winner during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, you must expect a highly populated market with intense competition. Besides, consider products that people frequently use to work from home or in a homeschooling setup.

Utilize Amazon FBA launch services

If you plan to sell essential items, you should take advantage of Amazon FBA launch services like Subscribe & Save, Small and Light, and Multi-Channel Fulfillment. 

For example, Subscribe & Save, where you can offer repeat customers discounts, is also a way to strengthen customer retention even if your product is new. Since it is an essential item (i.e., coffee, tissue paper, hand sanitizer), customers will need to replenish their stock every one or two weeks, and this is possible through Subscribe & Save. By trying this, you are gaining loyal customers even after the pandemic has calmed down.

Launch to other sales channels

As the old adage says, "Don't put all your eggs in one basket." Besides selling on Amazon, explore other sales channels such as a2B Fulfillment, Deliverr, Floship, Fulfillment.com, Rakuten Super Logistics, Red Stag Fulfillment, and ShipMonk, according to DealNews

Besides, you should also put up your product's website and social media accounts to add credibility to your brand. Social media sites are also a significant advertising venue to introduce your new product. But don't forget to redirect your customers to your product listings on Amazon and other sales channels.

Show genuine empathy to your prospective customers

As we've stated above, consumers are happy to know how businesses help their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the time to show empathy and be sensitive, instead of being too salesy. People's emotions are running high now due to lockdown restrictions, financial difficulties, and isolation from their family and friends. 

Instead of advertising how great your product is, promote good deeds to build brand awareness. This is the new normal in the Amazon product launch strategy. Your tactics should transcend marketing to develop genuine goodness and boost long-term customer loyalty.

Wrapping up

We have to accept the sad truth that the world will never be the same after this pandemic. In that case, you should always consider how your strategies can adapt during and after the coronavirus by applying the Amazon product launch strategy above to jumpstart your online business. Besides worrying about sales, you should stay on top of Amazon's latest updates and show genuine empathy to your customers. Don't let the crisis paralyze you and your marketing efforts. Because in difficult times, only the fittest and adaptable could survive, whether in business or personal life.

Seller Interactive has a team of experienced Amazon experts willing to teach you how to launch products on Amazon and can even do it on your behalf. Please email us at [email protected] or [email protected] today.

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