Ashley Armstrong of Amaz Authority: Five Non-Intuitive Things You Need To Know To Run A Very Successful Amazon Business
High-Quality Images can Lower Your Return Rate — They sure can! If you do not present your product in a way that allows the customer to see themselves using it, they will not buy the product if they know it does not have all the features and benefits they are looking for. Which, in turn, will lower your dreaded return rate. Plus you can look into your return report and see the feedback customers leave as to why they are returning the item and make sure you clearly identify and answer that question not only in your listing but in all your images. The best way to make the customer feel like their shopping experience with you is more tangible is by using lifestyle photos of your product. Example: If you sell compression shorts for women that are made for different body sizes, have a picture of a size small model wearing the item, and a medium-size model, all the way to XXL. That way the shopper will see their body type and can visualize how the item will look on them before they buy.
As a part of my interview series about “Five non-intuitive things you need to know to run a very successful Amazon business, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ashley Armstrong aka ‘The Hidden Rules Expert’.
Ashley Armstrong, E-Commerce Expert, and Best Selling Author help sellers successfully navigate the in’s and out’s of Amazon to scale their businesses to 8-figures and beyond.
After building a 7-figure physical product business, Ashley went on to establish Amaz Authority, an eCommerce consulting firm that specializes in navigating Amazon’s ‘hidden rules’ of engagement. Her expertise has helped thousands of sellers properly position their product lines in order to increase sales, build a loyal customer base, and drive revenue. On average Ashley’s top clients see a 140% increase in sales in just 30 days.
Ashley has partnered with Amazon and Marketing guru, Dan Hollings, as well as companies like Viome, who have won awards like The Digital Health 150s Most Innovative Digital Health Startups of 2019, and Frost & Sullivan’s 2019 Company of the Year Award.
She has also consulted for influencers like Naveen Jain and Jeffrey Hollender and worked with experts including Joe Polish, Jason Fladlien, Philip Jepsen, Greg Mercer, Ori Firouz, Abdul Samad, and Chance Anthony. For her expertise, she has been featured in CBS, NBC, ABC, and FOX NEWS.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Ashley! Can you share with us the “backstory” about what brought you to this specific career path?
Like so many other women, I was a stay at home mom trying my best to support my family through a home-based business. Little did I know back then that the “Get Rich Quick” scheme most home-based businesses advertise was just that…a scheme. So I decided to focus on what I knew best at the time, which was my children, and proceeded to write 6 children’s books about my children…for my children.
It began with me wanting to leave something behind for my kids should I ever pass away, but with encouragement from friends and family, I took the leap and published them.
To my surprise, this earned me a bestseller!
I was new to the online world yet with a ton of research and the knowledge I gained from selling my books online, I decided to go back to the drawing board and focus on my true passion…creating and manufacturing products that I could now sell through eCommerce. I knew there was a huge success to be made online and since that point, I went from a home-based business that never supplied a consistent income, to building a 7 figure eCommerce business by simply learning everything I possibly could about the trillion-dollar platform, Amazon.
Can you explain to our readers why you are an authority about selling on Amazon.com?
Ever since I dove into the world of eCommerce almost a decade ago and grew my own business to 7 figures, I have had the opportunity to partner with one of the top Amazon and marketing gurus, Dan Hollings. His wisdom and experience has provided me with the expertise needed to successfully work with thousands of members through coaching, mentoring, program development, running webinars, software development, and support for Amazon sellers.
There are so many “trade secrets” the top sellers do not want to share with others, yet through a ton of research and my own trial and error, I have dug deep into the eCommerce world and worked with some of the top people in their fields to truly understand not only how it works, but why.
Knowing the ins and outs takes more than just knowing the numbers and stuffing a listing with keywords. You must know your market, understand your product, your audience and truly take advantage of the ever-evolving tips and tricks that allow you to consistently dominate your product category.
So many sellers start out with big dreams but have no idea how to implement them. My experience in growing my own eCommerce business and working with hundreds of private companies allows me the opportunity to share my knowledge and skills with others as there are billions of dollars to be made online…so why not share the wealth!
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
Unlike normal 9–5 jobs, my success on Amazon actually saved my family’s lives and our future. That may sound odd to hear that an online platform could actually save a life, but without the success of my eCommerce business, and the fact that it can be run from anywhere in the world, my family would have lost everything.
To explain further, while in Mexico, a devastating Category 5 hurricane destroyed the town we were staying in and took an unreal amount of lives. It was honestly one of the scariest moments I have ever lived through. We were forced to evacuate the country due to the devastation and for the next three months, our bed was the floor of family member’s homes.
Every day we were burdened with the knowledge that we may not have a place to return to, and although we knew all the possessions we had there may be lost, we were able to be comforted in the knowledge that we still had an income from my eCommerce success.
If we had owned a local brick and mortar store in the area, we would have lost it all. There would have been no way to feed and clothe our children after fleeing and there would have been no way to rebuild.
This solidified in my mind the fact that an online presence is not just convenient, it is essential for total security, especially in times of emergency.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I wouldn’t say funny, it’s more serious, however, a ton of lessons were learned that I would love to share to hopefully protect someone else in the future from the mistake I made.
When running your own business you often hire someone based on a referral. I was looking to hire a professional to work with me in growing my business as I strongly believe having experienced people around you always helps with ideas, goals and growth. Based on a referral alone, I hired a gentleman to work with me and at the time was excited to bring another member onto my team.
One month later, I and the person who referred me was out 60K with nothing to show for it. I was conned. My inexperience at the time and trusting nature did not see the warning signs and I did not do my own due diligence before hiring which left me with no proper recourse to recover the funds. So many lessons learned on how to successfully hire a new team member beginning with performing a background check.
Don’t stop there though, provide a test project for new hires so you can see their work in action. Get a written proposal with detailed milestones and due dates so you can always track KPI’s. Never make full payment in advance! Always drip payments out with each milestone so that if the person is not performing their duties, you are not out thousands. And most importantly, listen to your inner voice when you think something seems off and do not ignore it.
There are so many talented people in the world so be sure to take the time to ensure you are hiring someone who works with you and compliments your team. It is always better to invest in building out a full-time team/staff then hiring a single short-term contractor to fix an issue in many cases.
Are you working on any exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I am so excited to be launching a very helpful tool for all eCommerce sellers to increase their sales by 120% or more! I have watched so many sellers fail due to bland, boring product photos and I knew that I had the tools and experience to help them succeed.
That is why I am launching my new Drag and Drop Product Infographic Templates, that are designed to increase sales and conversion rates while decreasing buyer fatigue and product returns. I wanted to be able to help ALL sellers no matter how big or how small their eCommerce store was, so I designed my templates to be so simple to use that anyone can do it without having to hire graphic designers or agencies saving time and money!
The initial response for the templates has been outstanding! Without any previous experience or Photoshop skills, anyone can use them to create high-quality infographics that fully explain every detail and feature of their product which in turn helps them to engage their customers and increase their sales!
People remember 80% of what they see compared to only 20% of what they read so these templates can allow your eCommerce product photos to stand out from the competition so you can begin to dominate your product category!
Ok. Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. You are a seasoned Amazon expert. Can you share with our readers five, non-intuitive, insider tips, in order to be as successful as possible on Amazon? Please share a story or example for each.
- Your Images are Your Storefront — The large brick and mortar window displays that would draw customers into your store have gone digital and your digital storefront will either deter consumers or encourage them to click further. Audiences are more likely to enter your digital store after an engaging visual presentation compared to reading a product description or listening to a verbal presentation.
- Using Color — The use of color in sales and marketing has been proven to induce different effects depending on the color choices within the ad. The same goes for your infographics.
Colors have the power to trigger an emotional response in viewers, and when used correctly can actually sway your audience. Learning how color affects your audience can greatly increase your sales and Plutchik’s color wheel of emotions is a great place to begin to learn how color affects us emotionally. You will want to take this into your company’s branding colors as well!
3. Infographics are Your Hidden Salesmen — If you wish to purchase a car, a salesman is who you turn to for all the information. Your product infographic images do the exact same thing! Your viewers can instantly get all the important information they need about your product, including all the bells and whistles, in an engaging format they will actually remember because people remember 80% more when information is represented visually. What is a Product Infographic you ask? It’s a mix between a product images PLUS text to convey the most important things you want your customer to know.
4. Disqualify the competition — By clearly stating your differentiating factor over your competition, you can dominate your product category. You can easily filter that out by diving into your competitions negative reviews on their site, Amazon, eBay, and or their FB ad comments! You can state and visually show that your product does NOT do this or that. Or perhaps your product has that extra feature and it’s “shown here” with arrows pointing it out on the image. Use your images to prove your point as to why your product is better than your competitor! Do not assume your customer will already know, you have to tell them straight on.
5. High-Quality Images can Lower Your Return Rate — They sure can! If you do not present your product in a way that allows the customer to see themselves using it, they will not buy the product if they know it does not have all the features and benefits they are looking for. Which, in turn, will lower your dreaded return rate. Plus you can look into your return report and see the feedback customers leave as to why they are returning the item and make sure you clearly identify and answer that question not only in your listing but in all your images. The best way to make the customer feel like their shopping experience with you is more tangible is by using lifestyle photos of your product. Example: If you sell compression shorts for women that are made for different body sizes, have a picture of a size small model wearing the item, and a medium-size model, all the way to XXL. That way the shopper will see their body type and can visualize how the item will look on them before they buy.
Amazon sellers have a reputation for being great guerilla marketers. Do you use any clever and innovative marketing strategies that you think large legacy companies should consider adopting?
This one strategy would be ONE article by itself but I will provide a brief explanation here.
I help sellers generate more income by leveraging what they already have to dominate their category by creating virtual bundles from their existing FBA inventory. This strategy allows a seller to drastically increase their number of product listings to dominate over their competitor's listings, it grows their average order value without any extra inventory investment and zero risk to find the money they have been leaving on amazon’s table. This strategy works for sellers that have more than 2 complementary FBA products.
An example of how this works is, you sell a toothbrush via FBA and you sell toothpaste via FBA.
Traditionally if you wanted to bundle one toothbrush together with one toothpaste you would have to buy double the amount of inventory in advance, box them together and then ship them to Amazon.
That equals a much larger inventory investment, plus more inventory storage fees and risk of not knowing if customers even want that combination.
Our strategy and software allows you to create a listing on Amazon that sells the toothbrush and toothpaste together as a bundle without you having to box them together, and when a customer buys that bundle, our software tells Amazon to ship one toothpaste from your FBA inventory and one toothbrush from your FBA inventory to the buyer.
This strategy allows you to test 100’s of different product combinations before you spend a single penny on manufacturing them as a gift box. It also allows you to sell through your inventory faster especially if you have a product with an expiry date and it provides your customer with more options for an easier buying experience.
We have helped sellers uncover thousands of dollars of free money with this strategy. I have one account generating over $400,000 in a year’s time with this single strategy of leveraging the inventory they already had by creating different multi-packs and bundle combinations, providing more options to their customers on Amazon.
Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I would love to inspire a movement that educates the general consumer population of the fact that when shopping online they can, and do, support small mom and pop businesses.
Not all online sales go to big corporations. An example of this is, most Amazon shoppers think they are buying items directly from Amazon and with Amazon being a big corporation, they must be taking sales away from independent local stores.
Where in fact more than half of the items sold on Amazon’s stores worldwide are from independent businesses which equals 2.5 million active independent sellers and we should shine a light on that fact, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic and skyrocketing online sales.
If more consumers were aware that they can support the small mom and pop stores online, they may be more inclined to purchase items on larger platforms like Amazon.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I would refer to my mentors Chris Winfield and Jen Gottlieb’s favorite lesson we all should focus on.
HOPE — Help One Person Everyday
If we go into situations with a win, win mindset, and the intention to focus on helping one person every day, in regular life or in business, the universe will always provide for us.
This quote has been a constant reminder that in order to be successful in both life and business, you must also be willing to help others along the way. One person may be the difference between your own success and failure as they may one day be the key to a new opportunity, a new idea, or a new adventure. Every day is a gift and sharing that gift with others is what makes us whole and by helping one person every day, you make a change for the better in someone’s life and in your own.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)
Oh, this is a tough one to answer as I have encountered so many wonderfully talented people over the years that I would love to sit down with. In no particular order, I will start with Marie Forleo. She is an inspiration to many and I believe all female business owners can appreciate what she has been able to accomplish and the people that she attracts, especially since she began her career with simply a laptop and big dreams!
Then I must choose Russel Brunson. I was on his click funnel list when it was still just a piece of paper and he has done an amazing job fixing an industry-wide issue and grew it exponentially! His focus and talent are inspiring to all eCommerce sellers and it would be a delight to pick his brain over a cup of coffee!
Last but certainly not least, Gary Vaynerchuk because after all who doesn’t love Gary and his no-bull approach to life and business! His super-connector approach to business, truly caring about customers, and showing gratitude is everything all business owners and entrepreneurs should strive for!
Thank you so much for these great insights. This was very enlightening!