So you’ve just started a business, had a good idea for a product (or you've had one going for a little while) and are looking for a bigger audience to sell to.
The internet’s largest marketplace seems like a good place to go, but before a few years ago setting up a selling business on Amazon was a bit trickier for a new startup, and you would get thrown in the deep end with the biggest players.
That changed significantly with the start of Amazon Launchpad, an initiative set up specifically to help startups get their products to market. What began as an invitation-only partnership with venture capital firms and startup accelerators ended up being a great win-win: new companies find an audience for relatively unknown products and gain exposure, while Amazon keeps its product base fresh with new offerings.
If there is one downside to Launchpad relative to the rest of Amazon, however, is awareness - many people don’t know what Launchpad is or that it even exists. A definite upside for shoppers is that you know on Launchpad you will avoid the mountain of counterfeit or low-quality goods that can be found on the rest of Amazon.
Who can join Launchpad?
Nowadays, most small or medium-sized companies are able to apply to join Launchpad for a modest fee, making it an attractive option for any business trying to make its mark. You will been to be the owner of the product brand for it to be eligible.
Generally speaking, Amazon will assess each application on a case-by-case basis against their criteria. They will be looking for innovative brands across any product category. It must have a unique selling point and an appealing brand story, with a view to grow on a global scale.
If you are already selling on Amazon you can still apply and get onto Launchpad, provided you check all the necessary boxes. To start off with, you will need to make a commitment of one full year, but after that you can stay on the programme for longer, subject to giving Amazon 30 days’ notice if you do choose to leave.
Amazon will charge an incremental referral fee of 5% for companies on Launchpad, as well as the standard category referral fees on each item sold.
If you’re on Launchpad, you have access to a number of tools not available once you outgrow it and have to go off on your own.
Amazon makes available a suite of services that include:
You will have access to video and customized brand content to reach more customers, as well as free translation services if you are active in other geographies. You will also receive support from Amazon to create and improve your advertising strategy.
Amazon provides you with the option to access its major promotional events and free deals. You will also be able to join its invitation-only PR and marketing initiatives.
You will get a placement on the New Releases section and on the Launchpad page. Yes, it is true that other Launchpad items will also get similar placements, but relative to other products on the site - for whom it is a difficult and time-intensive job to get that kind of placement - it’s a great start and should not be underestimated.
Beyond just how to get noticed, Amazon will also provide an onboarding manager that will help identify areas of opportunity for growth in your business. This can include improving your product detail pages and optimize facets of your offering. The onboarding team will help get your products listed and to fulfilment centers, ready to be shipped off.
You will also get access to online training, webinars, face-to-face workshops, networking sessions and more.
In addition to these, just because your product is on Launchpad does not mean that it will be fenced off from the rest of Amazon. They will be available through search page and can compete for PPC and the buy box just like any other product.
One of the problems faced by many companies that launch a new product, even an innovative one, is that it may launch with a bang and then interest may taper off as people lose interest - great innovators are not necessarily great marketers. Having access to a platform like Amazon’s, with the support that it offers, can go a long way to keep your product fresh and in people’s minds.
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