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In a previous post, we explained how important it is for brands to customize the user experience on Amazon through strategic design. This post will help brands take their efforts a step further. We explain how and why strategic merchandising makes a difference. Continue reading to learn more about variations, merging duplicates, and maintaining your catalog.

Variations are the Key to Strategic Merchandising

One of the most important parts of strategic merchandising is providing shoppers a better experience through variations. They allow brands to combine related products into a single listing. For example, variations give shoppers the choice between different colors, sizes, or flavors of a product within the same listing.

A listing with variations includes a parent product, child products, and variation theme. 

Here are some quick definitions from Amazon

  • Parent Product - The Amazon catalog uses the parent listing to establish relationships between the child products. For example, if two shirts have the same parent, they are related and are considered child products.

  • Child Products - The child product is an ‘instance’ of the parent product. Each child varies in some way, for example, by size or by color.

  • Variation Themes - The variation theme defines how related products differ from each other. Depending on the category, variation themes also vary. For example, in the Clothing, Accessories & Luggage category, child products can differ by size or color, or package quantity; whereas child listings in Pet Supplies category can differ in flavor, scent, quantity, etc.

strategic merchandising

Provide Shoppers with More Options through Variations

The primary reason variations come into play is to create an efficient user experience for the customer. Variations give shoppers the option to find a full line of products within a single listing. This saves anyone looking for your product or those related to your product time searching through Amazon’s entire catalog and reduces the chance the consumer will search again and potentially end up with a competitor. As a result, a listing with more than one option usually results in higher engagement and sales. Therefore, variations are a win-win situation for both buyer and brand.

They also benefit listings because reviews from each separate variation come together to display as a single total. This is important because the number of reviews often influence a shopper’s purchase decision. A higher number of positive reviews for a product increases the chance a consumer will be comfortable enough to purchase the item.

Merge Duplicates to Decrease Clutter 

Diving deeper, brands need to pay extra attention to their listings to provide a better user experience. For example, third-party resellers can create new listings or variations to duplicate a product already offers. This allows them to gain sales of a product without having to compete for its Buy Box. For established brands and products, this creates a cluttered catalog, a more confused consumer, and likely, decreased sales.

Overall, duplicates create a confusing experience for the customer. Amazon encourages merging identical listings to create a cleaner and more user-friendly environment. 

Besides cleaning up the clutter on Amazon, there are several key benefits to duplicate merges and this form of strategic merchandising. Brands merge duplicates to protect their reputation because they’re susceptible to being counterfeit, expired, or faulty products. Staying on top of these listings will help brands avoid negative reviews and help prevent counterfeits from making it into the hands of consumers.

Like variations, reviews from duplicate listings also combine onto the single ASIN product level to display as one total. In turn, this can increase sales and the overall integrity of the listing if the reviews are generally positive. 

Lastly, merging duplicates absorbs sales velocity from the third party. Since Amazon’s search algorithm is driven by sales velocity, consolidated sales will push a listing higher within Amazon’s search rankings. 

Monitor Your Catalog to Stay in Control 

In addition to merging duplicates, it’s important to monitor your brand’s catalog to stay in control. When a brand maintains its catalog, it protects its listings from third parties try to direct sales away from its products. This requires extra attention to listings so they don't drop in the search results.

This additional effort allows brands to verify product listings are always correct and they continue to maintain a consistent brand presence. Listings break and fields change unexpectedly, requiring brands to address issues immediately. Without maintaining your catalog, brands may learn the hard way something needs fixing within your listing.

Keep your listings active and indexed with the proper catalog maintenance in place. Products can be suppressed for a number of reasons. For example, Amazon suppresses listings if they don’t meet the image, title, and description standards. Be proactive about what’s going on with your listings to keep your sales and search rank healthy.

Although customization opportunities on Amazon are limited, it’s possible to offer shoppers a better user experience than the competition. Brands can make a difference through both strategic design and strategic merchandising. It may require more technical work upfront and time to keep everything in line, but a happier customer is worth it. 

If your brand could use support in strategic merchandising or reaching its full potential on Amazon, schedule a free consultation.


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