Assessing the Amazon Selling Partner Summit: Chicago 2019
I recently attended the Chicago edition of the Amazon Selling Partner Summit, one of six sold-out events taking place in several cities around the U.S. this year. Amazon limits each event to 300 attendees or so, keeping the total to just 1,800 selling partners participating in these two-day conferences altogether. This summit, similar to the Amazon Boost with FBA events I’ve covered in the past, is really a dog-and-pony show for Amazon to showcase and tout its tools to sellers. After attending the Chicago event, and knowing that each event is limited in attendance, I thought that I’d provide a recap for those interested.
Let’s cut to what you really want to know: Was the 2019 Amazon Selling Partner Summit worthwhile?
As I’ve stated in the past, if you set your expectations correctly, attending any show is worthwhile. Amazon PR and Legal vet most of the content, so you’re not going to walk away with any insider information. I would guess that most of the information is available within the maze that is Seller Central Help, but the summit is a great way for visual learners to quickly amass lots of answers.
The expertise and sales-volume levels of the attendees were all over the place. I talked to some sellers who were just getting started and others who were experienced but attending their first show. The real value, as with most trade shows, is the conversation you have with other attendees.
The other thing you want to know: What nuggets did I get and which do I think are shareworthy?
Key question, and I’ll cover these in more depth over time, but here are a few big takeaways that indicate what’s important to Amazon and where it’s headed:
- Title Suppression: This was originally stated at 50 characters but is now updated to 200. Smart sellers know that 50-60 is still best practice.
- Email Solicitation: It’s totally okay to email and ask for reviews, but do not use conditional statements like, “If you liked it, leave a positive review; if you had a problem, contact me directly.” When asking for reviews, you need to be and stay Amazon ToS compliant.
- Amazon Business: This B2B marketplace is booming! Amazon Business could be a great opportunity if the fit is right. If your business seems like a good fit, check if you’re eligible and then get it set up correctly.
- Global: Let’s be real, the world is getting both bigger and smaller every day and economies are more interconnected than ever before. Amazon recognizes opportunities outside of the U.S (Germany and Japan are the two biggest marketplaces outside of the U.S.) Going global isn’t for all sellers, but check it out.
- Amazon Live: This is super cool, especially for sellers (or marketing people) who are into leveraging social media and video as a way to interact with buyers. This got my attention and I’ll be looking into it more.
- Amazon Advertising: It’s no secret that Amazon is coming in heavy when it comes to advertising. In fact, it’s now a major player (along with Google and Facebook) when it comes to ads. You know it’s important, and you know you need a tool beyond Amazon’s Campaign Manager (Try Ignite free for 30 days and see how quickly you can supercharge your ad campaigns). Beyond the knowns? Well, lots of Amazon Advertising tech is in beta. Keep your eyes open and be on the lookout for new features like targeting for B2B customers and more.
- Coupons: Make every day Prime Day! I’m kidding, of course. In all seriousness though, coupons are a great way to tag your product with a badge and to get attention (perfect for launch and cold starts). And hey, everybody loves to save and see those dollars subtract from their totals.
- Account Health: Amazon is taking this collection of dashboard metrics increasingly seriously and bulking it up with more analytics. Why? To mitigate sketchy sellers and black-hatters and counterfeiters. Familiarize yourself with the Account Health dashboard and learn how to interpret the numbers. Check it regularly and strive for a happy, healthy account. Doing so will help you avoid the dreaded surprise suspension.
- Taxes: States change their online sales-tax collection laws more frequently than most drivers change their oil. It’s fragmented and messy and confusing, but Amazon is working hard to get it somewhat under control. If you haven’t checked out the consolidated Amazon Marketplace Tax Collection FAQ, I suggest you do so quickly and make any necessary changes.
The biggest change from past years’ events of this type?
Amazon representatives are now answering questions live at the end of each session. In the past, Amazon never took questions or it required questions to be pre-approved. Not so at the 2019 Amazon Selling Partner Summit, and good for Amazon and for us. A little more transparency (and I don’t mean the new Transparency SKU program) shows some good will and willingness to be more available to sellers. So kudos there, Amazon. You took questions live and did a pretty good job of answering most of them.
And for the big theme . . .
Brands. And if this surprises you, I’ll be surprised. We’ve been telling you this for a while, but it grows ever clearer that Amazon is about brands—its brands, seller brands, Brand Registry, brand everything. Speaking of Brand Registry, most of the new features being released require BR and I don’t see this changing. So, don’t put a bird on it, put a ™ on it!
Weighing the Value of the Amazon Selling Partner Summit: The Scales of Jeffstice
- If you’re looking for a recap of what Amazon offers within Seller Central and how to use those resources, this is a show for you.
- If you’re looking to make some contacts at Amazon and to learn, this show is probably worth your time.
- If you’re looking for Amazon to provide you with any insights into how something works, this show is not going to meet your needs.
- If you’re looking for Amazon seller hacks or sneak peeks into Amazon, you will be sorely disappointed by this show.
- For me, I’ll be keeping this show on my list of events to attend. I’d advise that if Amazon is your primary marketplace, you should be present and pay attention to what Amazon reps are saying, as it’s an indication of where the company is going.
Getting out of your office and interacting with other Amazon sellers is a great way to drive your business. Here are some autumn events on the horizon.
- September 11-13, Champaign, IL: The Proven Conference: Now in its sixth year, this show is led by Jim Cockrum, host of the “Silent Sales Machine Radio” Podcast, and it has come to feel like a huge family reunion. The conference covers a host of topics focused on developing multiple streams of income. I’ll be speaking and I hope to see you here!
- September 18-20, Ft. Worth, TX: Brand Accelerator Live: Scott Voelker, the Amazing Seller himself, has been around the Amazon space with one of the most-successful Podcasts in our industry. He’s got a stellar lineup for this show, including Seller Labs’ Edward “PPC Ed” Ruffin talking about Amazon Advertising. Discount: Use this link to save $200 off general admission or VIP tickets. Hurry, that big discount expires at midnight on Monday, July 29.
- October 14-20, Delhi, India: India Sourcing Trip: This is the first time I’ve seen a trip devoted to sourcing in India, so that’s very cool. Trip hostess Meghla Bhardwaj is a seasoned veteran based out of Hong Kong with her roots in India. If you’re looking to diversify and get into something ahead of your competitors, this could be the trip for you. Discount: Email them and mention Seller Labs for $200 off.
- October 16-18, Elk Grove Village, IL: eComChicago: It’s Amazon-meets-eBay at this show in the Chicago suburbs. This show wraps value and content with a pretty bow and sells out every year so get your tickets now. Discount: Use code SELLERLABS to knock $20 off the $209 price.
- October 21-27, Guangzhou, China: Sourcing Summit: Big names Will Mitchell (StartupBros) and Dr. Ben (EComDocs) are amongst the mentors and speakers guiding this sourcing trip. These bros/pros know China and the Canton Fair, so you’re in good hands. The trip is more than just sourcing so expect plenty of education and extracurricular activities. UPDATE February 4, 2020: China’s Canton Fair has been suspended due to coronavirus concerns.
Jeff has more than 15 years of eCommerce experience. He is the Principal Evangelist of Advertising API at Amazon and a frequent keynote speaker at various business related conferences. He's widely regarded as an industry expert who is asked to share actionable intelligence on how Amazon works and how sellers can improve their business.