So your FBA business is on the decline — what can you do about it?
Like most things in the Amazon world, the answer is, “It depends.”
Before you start pulling levers and turning knobs, the first thing you should do is determine whether the decline is something you can actually do something about, or if it’s due to external forces out of your control.
Is It Your FBA Business or Something Else?
There are three broad causes to a decline in performance, only one of which you can really address: 1) seasonality, 2) an overall market decline, and 3) an unoptimized ASIN or ASINs.
Nobody buys Christmas ornaments in the summertime. Except for maybe eccentric rich people with weird hobbies.
If your business features products like these in your inventory lineup, then you know their demand ebbs and flows. You’re probably not here to be told that most people buy snow pants during the winter, so let’s move on.
2. The Market
Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how hard you work; if the market doesn’t want what you’re selling, you won’t be successful. Here are a few ways to see whether the market is giving you the cold shoulder:
- Compare your Best Sellers Rank (BSR) with your competitors using a Keepa graph. Are they both trending upwards? If so, then it’s a good sign that the market as a whole has decided it doesn’t want whatever product you and your competitors are selling. On the other hand, if your rank is dipping while your competitors’ is rising, then there’s an issue with one or more of your products.
- Use an Amazon keyword tool like Helium 10 to evaluate the search volume behind your target keywords. If search volume is going down, it’s (surprise, surprise) because fewer people are searching for the product you’re selling. Thus, you can blame the downturn on market sentiment. If search volume is increasing or staying the same, however, there’s something on your end that you can fix.
3. Your ASINs
If you’ve evaluated the above possibilities and concluded that they aren’t the culprit behind your performance decline, then it’s likely the case that your brand has an issue you can address.
This is good news. ecommerce is hard, and the forces that make or break a business aren’t always forces you can control. Often, however, you do have tools at your disposal to improve your FBA business’ performance. But before you can know which wrench to use, you have to know which pipe is broken.
Troubleshooting Issues With Your FBA Business
Have You Stocked Out?
If you’ve run out of inventory, you’ll obviously notice a rapid decline in sales. You’re likely keeping a close eye on your inventory levels, but it’s still possible that you could get knocked out by a large order on a thinly stocked ASIN or that a product variation has stocked out.
If you have stocked out, you’ll want to restock as soon as possible. While you wait for your resupply, you might want to consider setting this ASIN to be fulfilled by merchant (FBM) instead; since FBM ASINs are understood to take longer to ship, you may be able to recapture some revenue. The added delay of your replenishment may fall within your customer’s delivery window in this case.
Are You Suspended or Suppressed?
Any Amazon seller should keep an eye on their Account Health page to ensure that they’re in compliance with Amazon’s policies and are responding correctly when asked to make changes.
For example, if you’ve received multiple intellectual property complaints, Amazon may suspend the offending product. The only way to address this is to get the intellectual property owner to withdraw their complaints, which can be trickier to do the more complaints you rack up.
Similar policy violations will net you a suspension, but you could also get suspended without doing anything wrong. If your account gets hacked and Amazon starts to notice suspicious activity, they’ll suspend you proactively.
Sometimes Amazon won’t suspend a product, but will instead suppress it in search results. In this circumstance, your product still lives on Amazon, it’s just that nobody can find it when they type in your target keywords.
The best way to deal with suspensions and suppressions is to never get them in the first place by complying with Amazon’s policies. But if you do get suspended or suppressed anyhow, you’ll want to act as soon as you find out. Automated tools like SentryKit can help alert you to situations where time is of the essence like a suspension or suppression.
Is Your Pricing Strategy Off?
If your performance is declining and you’re seeing a decrease in the number of user sessions on your products, it could be the case that you need to adjust your pricing strategy.
You’ll want to check whether there are any new competitors in your product category that have set a price that undercuts yours. Additionally, your existing competitors could have changed their pricing or are offering aggressive coupons or deals.
There are a lot of levers you can pull to adjust your pricing strategy — too many to get into detail here! We recommend checking out our blog on the subject, Executing the Right Amazon Pricing Strategy for Your FBA Brand.
Are Your Advertising Campaigns Performing?
Ideally, you’ll be spending the same amount of pay-per-click (PPC) ad spend per day. If it drops significantly or stops, then your sales will drop correspondingly.
You’ll want to adjust your PPC spend over time, too. If certain campaigns are over-performing, double down on those bids. If they’re underperforming, you’ll want to reduce those bids.
Is Your Main Image/Product Listing Unappealing?
It isn’t possible to put together a perfect product listing, but you can get pretty close by following best practices and doing some experimentation.
First, see if a given product listing is seeing fewer sessions, fewer conversions, or both. Reduced sessions can be the result of an unappealing main image or product title. Check to see if your main image shows fewer features, uses more whitespace, features fewer colors, or differs in some way from your top competitors.
If you’re seeing fewer conversions, the problem likely lies within your product listing itself. Make sure you have seven images, a video showing the product in use, five bullet points, and Amazon’s A+ Content.
And if you can’t decide between one image or product description and another, try using consumer research tools like PickFu. These allow you to A/B test your product listing and evaluate which version performs better.
Prominent Negative Reviews
If you’ve got any major negative reviews showing in your product listing, you could be dissuading customers from making a purchase. In this case, your only real course of action is to address the cause of the issue.
It could be the case that you need to improve quality issues, explain how the product is used, use more representative photos, and so on. Ultimately, the only cure to a prominent negative review is to get more customers feeling happy about the product and more inclined to leave a positive review.
What If It’s None of the Above?
There are a lot of potential factors that could contribute to a decline in your FBA business performance, but the most common and significant ones are described above. If you don’t recognize any of these issues, then it might be time to face a hard truth: there just isn’t demand for your product.
Aiming to only launch evergreen products is a winning strategy, but it’s not guaranteed to be successful 100 percent of the time. It’s important to keep in mind that sometimes a trendy, short-lived product isn’t as easy to spot as it was in the case of, for example, fidget spinners. Some sellers might have bought a large inventory of weighted blankets, only to discover that public opinion has moved on and chunky knit blankets have become the market’s latest obsession.
Don’t be too hard on yourself if you find this to be the case — nobody nails product launches every time. And while the market might seem capricious at times, you can give your FBA business its best shot at success by following the advice in this article and in the rest of the D1 Brands blog.