Many of the gurus slinging courses online will be more than happy to tell you that Amazon.com isn't saturated and it's all rainbows.
But for the vast majority of sellers starting now (following the system that has been taught for the past few years) Amazon absolutely is saturated and some niches are way over saturated.
This fact is about as undeniable as Trump's shitty wig - pretending otherwise wont get any of us anywhere fast.
But, that being said, I believe that, if you have half a brain, some imagination and a set of literal or figurative brass balls, you can still survive and flourish on Amazon - and that's what we're going to talk about to.
I'm not here to be the proverbial sunshine child of optimism - I'm just calling it how i see it.
So here's how to succeed now, or anytime, on Amazon
1) Find a product and make it better or market it better
There will always, always, always be room on Amazon (or any other platform) for a great product that gets the job done at the right price point.
An example would be the Rumble Roller or Trigger Points roller - They spent years in R&D and they made something awesome. Hundreds of private label sellers now sell, basically, rip off versions of them but I guarantee the original innovators are still making plenty of money and will continue to do so - because they built something good that people trust.
Another example is Frogglez - these are just a twist on swimming goggles for kids (the owner and the creator is a member in a few of the Private label seller groups). The guy behind it took the time to improve upon something and it was a hit with parents and kids and now he has a trusted brand.
2) Bundle things
When you see something selling well, take a second to look at 'frequently bought together' and right there is your bundle idea. If you can get both those products sourced and combined and make a margin while offering good value to the customer, do it!
Sell the peanut butter and jelly together!
Another advantage of this strategy is that, sourcing from two different factories is a pain in the ass, and thus, much harder for people to hijack and copy. AND you only pay one FBA fee. I just consolidate things with my sourcing guy and have him send everything over.
The caveat with bundling is that you need to be able to land the combo for maybe just a few dollars more that the single item, which usually isn't too hard as most single items, especially from private label sellers, are vastly overpriced anyway.
So for example, if seller A is selling peanut butter for $10 and you can bring in peanut butter and jelly (jam for my fellow Europeans) for $12-13 - you have a compelling offer that will be a better deal for most people.
3) Expand to different marketplaces
As Amazon.com gets more flooded by the day, quite of few of the gurus have started pushing amazon EU as the next golden frontier and offering you the 'special secrets' for a stupid amount of money.
This is the next thing they will be flogging to death until something else pops up.
But, as someone who primarily sells on Amazon EU, I'm telling you, it has all the sex appeal of Angela Merkel riding a mechanical bull on milf night at the local dive bar - and it's a fraction of the volume AND it has lots of VAT rules.
And yet, the competition is still very low and you can still build a steady sales stream - but it takes patience and time.
Or why not try Amazon Japan? From a tax perspective, it's way easier to get into than Europe and the Japanese sellers have the do next to zero optimisation on their listings. It's a playground full of small children and you are the private label Chuck Norris,
Go where others wont and do what they don't want to do.
4) Team up with an influencer
There are a lot of influential youtubers and other social media big boys and girls that have a big audience and yet, most have no real income strategy, apart from ads or affiliate stuff.
If you have the Amazon knowledge, why not pair up with one and release a brand version of a product for them? Think beauty bloggers, there are hundreds of types of products you could do (and they know the industry).
That way, you tap into a their massive slipstream of subscribers who trust them and would love their products. They are the face and you are the Amazon guy that gets to do all the grizzly shit in the engine room, but it's the perfect balance.
Innovate, do something different or think about things in a different way and make your own rules!
Now we've looked at some ways to stand out, let's look at what not to do:
Here's how not to launch post 2016
1) Don't just blindly follow the product formula
Yes, it's always good to start with fairly light stuff that is over $20 and has sub 500-300 reviews - but you have to use your brain a bit. Don't just focus on some Jungle Scout screen shot
If you see hundreds of identical products, don't blindly do that product with some crappy Ebook or something- you will get crushed in PPC and in spirit. It's time to say goodbye to the long-hanging fruit.
Differentiate it, bundle it or move on.
Oh, and don't start with some huge order on an untested product! (Read more on that here)
2) Don't sell supplements
I could rant about this for hours, but I'll just limit myself to saying, don't do it. The world doesn't need another vitamin C serum or garbage pre workout supplement that is just caffeine.
Unless you are a popular bodybuilder / influencer like Rich Piana, skip the supplements.
And that goes for all the other done to death products like phone cases, yoga mats, garlic presses, lemon zesters and so on.
3) Don't start with Shopify
I saw a guy in the forum the other day saying 'Amazon is getting pretty saturated, maybe I should just start with Shopify?'
A popular piece of advice these days is to build your own site and sell your products there, perhaps even pay another guru another $1000 dollars for a Shopify theme and the power juice traffic bullshit formula they're selling.
However, what they don't mention is, building a website (or getting a freelancer to do it), is the easy part. It's actually very inexpensive - but getting people to visit is HARD and EXPENSIVE!
If you think Amazon PPC clicks are expensive, go have a play with Google Adwords for 5 minutes.
So what I'm saying is, just putting up a Shopify site and expecting sales is silly, those days of easy ranking niche sites are loonnggg gone.
In 2016 your site needs to be great, offer amazing content and value to people and actually mean something to have a chance at good organic traffic and converting those people into sales.
Most private label sellers, myself included, have pretty average products on the whole and magically having a website selling your kitchen tool or chopping board set will do nothing for you.
By all means build a site when you have a successful, proven product, but don't let yourself be tricked into thinking it's anywhere close to easy growing that site. Starting with Amazon is the best way to go, hands down.
Selling a course on how to set up a Shopify store is easy, actually making money and getting visitors to that site can be a world of hurt.
4) Don't just think you can out optimise the other sellers
Don't worry guys, for just $400 these guys will tell you!
When the Amazing Selling Machine launched, it really was possible to do some solid optimisation and run laps around the competition. Not any more.
All the stuff you learn as part of the, generally overpriced courses (we can also thank ASM for setting that standard) is good information, but it's now the standard, not the exception. The bar has been raised.
The exception to this rule is certain niches, a chunk of the EU marketplaces (most sellers don't do a great job on their PPC too) and Japan where you can go hog wild (too bad the volume sucks ).
And now, with the new no incentive review rules, there will be no more Ryan Moran style 50 unit a day review giveaways, which IMO, is a great thing.
Private Label has become so popular that we, as sellers, have collectively managed to break Amazon's review system!
So that's where I'm going to wrap.
Amazon 100% is saturated with thousands of sellers all using the same tools and strategies but this is just market consolidation. It was always going to happen.
But it's not all doom and gloom! There's still plenty of opportunity, you just need to remember that it's about the long game, adding your own touch, doing something different, adapting and thriving!