Build Your Amazon Beauty Strategy

Contact Author Ethelbert Williams, Digital Commerce Consultant & Adjunct Lecturer, Northwestern University
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As e-commerce channels become a strategic imperative for many brands, Amazon is a platform that cannot be ignored, particularly in beauty (see How Amazon is Expanding its Beauty Care Reach). Therefore, many brands are looking to develop new capabilities for winning and ensuring a viable, healthy business within the fiercely competitive Amazon platform.

Last year’s Q4 holiday retail season promised to be strong across many regions, with several dynamics driving growth in the consumables sector, including mobile retail’s continued tipping point and an overall digital commerce explosion. Amazon accounted for about $2.5 billion in health and beauty sales last year, which represented a 47% increase compared to 2015, One Click Retail estimatesa.

The Race for Relevance

As brand leaders consider the omnichannel retail landscape, Amazon is a platform worth a closer look, given the channel’s continued dominance in all retail categories, especially the everyday beauty consumables.

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Beyond purchases, the platform has become a top destination for consumer beauty product research; therefore, staying top of mind on this platform is critical. According to data collected by BloomReachb, more than 55% of consumers researching products online start at Amazon, which continues a multiyear growth trend.

While branded, owned site experiences are still important, Amazon’s status as a top product discovery platform has caused a race to remain relevant among retailers, brands and distributors. As ROI around SEO and paid media strategies supporting owned e-commerce properties are trailing off, brands have an opportunity to recognize these shifts by prioritizing investment around growing their business at Amazon.

Further, through my experiences advising brands on their digital commerce strategies, I’ve recognized that purchase intent for shoppers at Amazon is far superior to other platforms. I’ve also found greater conversion rates at Amazon, with Prime customers presenting outstanding conversion opportunities for brands.

Deliver Content, Know Your Category

Investing time in strong brand content is critical. Your Amazon catalog listings must present robust product data to differentiate and perform well. Titles should be clear, descriptive and incorporate relevant product benefits. Include technical product data including size, weight and other critical factors. Leverage your full image galleries and include videos where possible.

From a capability standpoint, I’ve found it important to remain agile here. I’ve seen the most success with teams that structure this work by building internal capabilities around content development, brand design and e-commerce marketing talent, which better enables the brand to create stories within these new channels. The #1 job to be done is to support quality content, which is critical to winning in the Amazon marketplace and other e-tailers.

In addition, monitor your competition for ways you can differentiate and optimize your listing content. This includes staying on top of category pricing and keeping yours competitive.

Be sure to take advantage of enhanced brand-building features allowing you to present additional information such as your brand page, which can become a powerful piece of real estate.

Happy Shopper, Happy Brand

Positive, elevated customer engagement is a critical brand attribute, on par with the out-of-box and product experience. Strong, relevant engagement practices will captivate your shopper, optimize their experience and ultimately reward your brand.

Generating positive reviews remains the foundation of supporting strong rankings at Amazon. Orchestrate strategies to engage satisfied shoppers to leave positive reviews, and leverage marketplace solutions such as Amazon’s Early Reviewer Program to help generate reviews for your products. In addition, be aggressive in responding to any shopper feedback and prioritize these interactions when setting up your customer engagement playbook.

In-platform Marketing Tools

Amazon has a portfolio of paid media solutions that can boost your brand on the platform. These tools are powerful in helping to elevate your brand’s visibility and, ultimately, get you into the consumer’s shopping cart.

A range of Amazon paid media solutions include sponsored products, headline search ads and product display ads. In the future, it’s likely that Amazon will offer brands enhanced retargeting capabilities to fuel customer acquisition.

As you consider winning strategies at Amazon, an optimal mix of these marketing tools, in addition to building strong catalog listing data, will elevate your brand with online shoppers.

Strategies beyond Amazon

While growing your business at Amazon it’s important to consider other relevant channels as you build out an omnichannel retail strategy. In an upcoming article, I will explore how consumers shop and provide insights into winning on the Amazon platform as part of your brand’s broader omnichannel strategy. Having a clear point of view on the role of each digital commerce channel, as well as a data-driven mindset, will enable your brand growth online to rocket.



Ethelbert Williams (ethelbert.com; @tellnation) is a digital commerce consultant and adjunct lecturer, Northwestern University, has more than 17 years of global commercial leadership experience in consumer and B2B sectors. He has extensive experience leading marketing and sales strategies across direct-to-consumer ecommerce, pure play marketplaces and multi-channel retailers. Ethelbert previously drove go-to-market and channel expansion for the personal and facial cleansing category at Kimberly-Clark Corporation. He has held leadership roles at Procter & Gamble, L’Oreal and Unilever. Ethelbert is also an active investor and advisor to exceptional entrepreneurs. He holds a Bachelor of Science from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University where he is also an Adjunct Lecturer leading collaborative learning for digital marketing, media and innovation curriculum.