Why Amazon Beauty Category is Tough to Crack (Plus Tips on How to Succeed)

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So you’ve devised the perfect formulation for your very own beauty product. You’ve worked with a manufacturer, nailed down the packaging, and launched a beautiful website. You’ve even gotten a great PR mention! Next up on your to-do list is launching your brand on Amazon.

After all you’ve done to get to this point, getting your beauty brand up and running on Amazon should be a piece of cake, right? If only it were that simple! 

Learn More: How to Start an eCommerce Beauty Brand 

When it comes to selling on Amazon, there are challenges all along the way. From the initial setup, to launching your first products on the site, to continuously growing your presence, it can sometimes seem that for every step forward you’re taking, you’re then taking two steps back. Sound familiar?

After working with countless clients to grow their business on Amazon and also launching our own in-house skin care brand, Park Perfection, on the marketplace, we’ve learned first hand all of the nuances of Amazon and what makes selling on this channel difficult for beauty brands. 

Related Blog: eCommerce Beauty Statistics & Trends
Related Service: Marketing for Beauty Brands 

The good news is that there are tons of success stories out there, and if you have a great product, with a little (or maybe a lot of) patience, you can be one of them. We’re going to walk you through some of the common roadblocks and difficulties our clients face when selling their beauty products on Amazon.

Need help growing your brand on Amazon? Contact The Media Captain!

Getting approved in the beauty category isn’t easy

First things first. If you want to sell on Amazon, you need to apply for approval in the beauty category. The beauty category in particular has strict guidelines since these are products that come in contact with your skin. In order to ensure the safety and well being of their customers, Amazon needs to be sure that the products you’re planning to sell on the platform are safe and legitimate. There are a lot (and I mean a LOT) of requirements from ensuring the product is new and unused, making sure the product’s packaging contains a list of ingredients, to ensuring the packaging doesn’t make specific claims unless they are FDA approved, plus many, many more. Make sure you do your due diligence to ensure your labels and packaging meet the FDA’s requirements prior to placing a large packaging order. You can also hire a company to review your packaging as well, which is definitely recommended before you put a lot of money into it.

When we were getting approval for Park Perfection on Amazon, not only did we need our packaging to meet all requirements, we also needed to provide purchase orders, COA’s (certificate of analysis), and a SDS (safety data sheet) from our manufacturer. Luckily, our lab was very easy to work with and was able to provide us with everything we needed.

You need sales history for sales to start coming in

You’ve gone through the approval process and now you’re (finally) waiting for the sales to start rolling in… Except it’s been weeks and nothing is happening. This is when you’ll likely start to realize that in order for Amazon’s algorithm to really start working its magic in your favor, you need some history in your account. Amazon wants to see that sales are coming through, that you’re shipping on time, packages are getting delivered and customers are happy. Until then, you may be hearing crickets instead of seeing dollar signs. Even if you’re running Amazon ads, that sales history in your account is really the only thing that’s going to start moving the needle.

How are you supposed to get sales when you’re first starting out without Amazon’s help? You’ll have to think creatively. If you already have traffic and sales coming in through your website, reach out to your current customers and ask them to help you out by making their next purchase on Amazon. Utilize your network of friends and family, who are undoubtedly dying to try your product anyway! 

With Park Perfection, as soon as we started getting some sales and reviews in our account, things started turning the corner for us. Our ads were suddenly doing well. Orders were rolling in. We just needed that little push in the beginning to get us over the hump. We sent an email out to all of our customers letting them know we were getting started on Amazon and asking them to place their orders there instead of on our website. This helped tremendously.

Reviews are key

I alluded to this above, but nothing made us turn the corner more than when positive reviews started coming in for Park Perfection. We did everything we could to drive consistent reviews of our products. The more reviews that came in, the more orders that came in too. 

According to Helium10, “Receiving positive product reviews can help sellers reach the top of Amazon’s organic search results. As more positive feedback comes in and a product listing is rewarded, the cycle starts for even more positive product reviews. Conversely, as positive feedback drops and negative product reviews pile up, a product listing’s rank can plummet.”

As tempting as it can be to take a shortcut here, make sure that all of the reviews coming in through your page are legitimate. Always play by Amazon’s rules and make sure to follow their guidelines. 

Learn More: How to Get More Reviews on Amazon

Competition is fierce

Beauty is one of the most popular categories on Amazon. In fact, according to Jungle Scout, beauty & personal care is the 2nd most popular category on Amazon (after home & kitchen) and 23% of sellers have products listed in this category.

This means that competition is fierce. There are likely thousands of other sellers selling similar products, so you need to make sure your products stand out. What are your unique selling propositions? What makes your products better or more special than other products out there? Make sure your Amazon listings spell this out.

For Park Perfection, our first product is an Instant Eye Lift. When looking on Amazon, you can see that there are tons of instant eye lift products available, and many of them are significantly cheaper than the one that we’re selling. So how have we made our product stand out?

First of all, we state loud and clear that our product is 2-in-1, meaning it has an amazing instant effect, but it also has great long-term benefits for the eye area. Most instant eye lift products work great in the short term, but they are actually so drying that they damage eyes in the long term.

Additionally, we take advantage of the space we’re allotted for photos to share great before and after images. These are extremely important so that prospective customers can see what our product actually does.

Maybe your product uses a unique ingredient, comes in recyclable packaging, is completely natural, or has been touted by a celebrity! Whatever your unique selling proposition is, make sure you identify it and highlight it all over the place on your product detail page.

Amazon fees can be steep

There are costs associated with selling on Amazon and these can come as a shock to merchants. The costs can include shipping your products to the Amazon fulfillment centers if you’re planning to go the FBA (fulfilled by Amazon) route (which we recommend). Amazon also charges fees for listing and selling your products.

If you have great margins on your products, the fees may not matter quite as much, however, if your margins aren’t great, these will surely dip into your profits even further. Make sure you do a profitability analysis to determine whether selling on Amazon with your given margins makes sense for your business. 

Brand Registry requires a trademark

According to Amazon, “Amazon Brand Registry helps you protect your intellectual property (IP), manage your listings, and grow your business.” Not only does the brand registry enable you to protect your brand from other unauthorized sellers, it also gives you access to features such as A+ content and video content on your product listings.

Sounds amazing, right? It is, but the only problem is that in order to qualify for Amazon’s brand registry, your brand needs to have a trademark, which can be costly and can take a while to get. 

It took us about 8 months to receive our trademark for Park Perfection, which we applied for solely for the purpose of the brand registry. In the end, we’re glad we did it, but as with many things on Amazon, the process wasn’t exactly easy.

Resellers are at a disadvantage

We’d be remiss to end this blog without mentioning our other in-house brand, DermWarehouse. Our eCommerce business sells 100+ brands of skin care products. When we first launched DW, we were so excited to start selling on Amazon. We ran into a lot of the same roadblocks as we did with Park Perfection in the beginning (this was good practice for us). 

What we didn’t consider, however, was that because we were a reseller, and not in control of our products’ pricing (we are subject to pricing requirements from all of our vendors), our listings received virtually no traction whatsoever. If we had a product we were selling for $100 and an unauthorized seller came in at $99.99, we had no chance – we couldn’t even spend money on advertising the products!

This was a pretty rude awakening for us, but also was the leading factor to us launching Park Perfection. We knew we needed our own brand so that we could have full control… and the rest is history!

In Closing

It’s easy to get very frustrated when dealing with Amazon. I know this from personal experience. I’ve been there. From getting approval to needing a sales history and reviews to dealing with the competition, it may seem like you’re running into roadblocks at every turn and that you’re set up to fail from the beginning.

It’s true that selling on Amazon in any category, let alone the beauty category, is no easy feat. However, if you do it right and stick with it, you may just very well find that you’ve gotten out what you’ve put in. 

And if you need some help, don’t hesitate to contact The Media Captain. We’ve led countless beauty brands through this process, and have even gone through it for ourselves. We can help you get over the hurdles and on your way to be a successful seller in the beauty category on Amazon!

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