Where the Winners Are: Prosper Show Recap & Takeaways

Much time has passed since I last tangled with Las Vegas. However, this visit was different from the last 47 conference appearances in that I was eager to get going. That’s partially because I was on east-coast time, but also because I was attending my first Prosper Show with Seller Labs.

I’ve spent my entire career in high tech. But as a newcomer to the Amazon industry, I was excited to take in everything available, most importantly directly from interacting with attendees . . . and through sessions and discussions, and during my numerous walks of the exhibit hall floor . . . wow, there was a lot to take in. Too much for an in-event recap, at least for my overstimulated brain.

But upon reflection, is that surprising? Prosper attendees tend to be the top performers: the event promotes that a majority are in the top 1% of Amazon sellers. Clearly there’s an expectation of elevated content and advanced problem solving. Big business, big topics to address.

And the show did not disappoint. I came away with three primary themes from my discussions and reviews and meeting attendees.

1. Successful sellers look at the Amazon business as a whole operation, not just a channel.

I asked more than a few people to tell me their struggles and their goal for the show: ”What are you here to learn?” For many, it was how to wrangle the entirety of their Amazon channel and how the business was doing, there and only there.

Rather than a focused interest in better advertising or improved rank, or trying to figure out how to manage their advertising spends across multiple digital channels, the top 1% of Amazon sellers consider Amazon a microcosm with its own health metrics and its own operational model. They want to know how the Amazon business is doing, even if it’s only a part of their overall e-commerce operation.

I found this important, because as a student of the Amazon ecosystem and someone committed to driving growth for our customers, it upended an assumption I had. I now believe that truly successful Amazon entrepreneurs focus on the nuances of Amazon and they become experts here. They hone in on Amazon as a complete unique business and then optimize their listings and strategies for the channel. One key example: Amazon advertising.

2. Amazon has made advertising required. Almost.

We touched on this in our recent webinar, “Scale Your Amazon Business: Advertise Smarter Using Ignite” where we showed how more and more Amazon search results are filled with sponsored ads.

We’ve been conditioned to believe that advertising is the scourge of marketing, bombarded by stats claiming things like only 25% of digital ad spend reaches people or that 400+ million devices use ad blockers. But Amazon is its own landscape. In fact, the Prosper Show keynote presented a very different set of figures in which a majority of surveyed consumers didn’t notice ads at all, and a fifth even found them helpful.

Successful sellers I spoke to see Amazon Advertising for what it is: not just an opportunity but a series of strategic decisions that require purpose and intent: How do I make smart decisions about advertising—not just how do I get my products and my brand seen, but how do I avoid wasting money and free up more money to invest in successful campaigns?

3. Software is not always the solution.

Well, the answer to my question above leads to my third takeaway theme from Prosper. Nestled amongst the myriad software-and-solutions providers in the exhibit hall was a strong showing of consultancies of various types. The more I investigated, the more I learned that this was not the norm. So . . . what was happening?

More than one seller shared that full automation just doesn’t always work. In this rapidly changing Amazon ecosystem, the human touch is imperative once you reach a certain size (what that level is, however, is arguable). The point: automation streamlines, simplifies, and scales, but it doesn’t replace entirely. Care and feeding is necessary, and knowing when to call in an expert to help can be the difference between throwing money away into shelfware and achieving unprecedented growth.

Making Sense of My First Prosper Show

Like any conference, Prosper isn’t the guideline of industry practices, but instead a reflection of trends. And heading into Resonate, I’m excited to see what other themes I can uncover during the remaining events of the year.

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