Let’s say you found a product on Amazon selling 27 times a day:
And then you wander over to Alibaba to see the same product for almost a third of the price:
So what am I thinking? Logically, if I buy from Alibaba and resell on Amazon, I should make a ton of money, right?
You would think, but here is what often happens:
- It will sell fast. You’ll see cash coming in so fast you could swim in it.
- And then abruptly, your sales stop. The sounds of cha-ching 💰 will be replaced with the sounds of chirp...chirp 🦗 as a tumbleweed rolls by.
- You go to your listing and—there's your problem. The "Add to Cart" button has magically disappeared.
What happened? A copycat has come in and hijacked your product. You took someone else’s product and now somebody has taken yours. So you try to undercut them by lowering your price, but then they undercut you until your profits are zilch. It’s a circle of madness that never seems to end. You fell victim to the "me too" syndrome.
Copycats are prevalent in Amazon stores (so much so that Amazon is actually fighting back).
You can get a massive amount of sales on Amazon without the headache of hijackers, copycats, and wannabes.
Here are three killer methods for building a product that makes customers ecstatic and make you potentially rich.
Method 1: Build a better solution to an existing problem
We’ve seen tons of examples of this in our everyday lives. We use a toothbrush to clean our teeth, prevent rot, and maintain a brilliant smile. How can you create a better version of that previously existing product?
How can you make better headphones? Bluetooth wireless. Still headphones, but without the hassle of cords—better.
Sometimes it's less innovative than that. It could be a longer-lasting battery or t-shirts without an itchy tag on the collar.
Here are two ways you can approach building a better solution:
A. Find out what people dislike most about a product.
Just read the top critical reviews of the top competitors. If you read just the first twenty critical reviews of each top competitor, you will have a ton of differentiation ideas. Amazon auto-sorts these from the best to the least ranking reviews. It's already sorted for you.
These are people who are actually using the product. By reading reviews you know what those people want.
B. Find the complaints not only mentioned most often but spread amongst the greatest number of your top competitors.
Otherwise, you might end up differentiating your product from just a couple of the top sellers. But you need your product to stand out from everyone.
Customers are looking at all of the listings—or at least the ones on the first page of Amazon results. If all your competitors have the same complaint in common, customers will go to the one that solves this in-common problem. Complaints spread out more evenly among your top competitors carry more weight and influence over the Amazon shopper than a lot of the same complaints on just a couple listings.
Pro-tip: Identify your top competitors by finding those listings with 12 to 15 sales per day minimum.
Now let's apply this:
Let’s say your product is a toothbrush, and the most frequent complaint from reviews in total is that the toothbrush handles are too long (so long that couples brushing their teeth at the same time keep accidentally poking each other in the eye.)
If you have 51 complaints about the toothbrush being too long on only 2 of the top listings, that’s a lot of complaints. But even if you have only 4 complaints on 10 of the top listings about the toothbrush being too rigid, even though this is a lower number of complaints, it is actually a more important problem to fix, because it is spread out.
How do I know when it's spread out evenly enough? I'll give you a little mathematical formula you can use:
Multiply the number of competitors with that complaint by the number of times the problem is mentioned.
There are 7 top competitors.
Competitor A has reviews complaining about the toothbrush being too long 30 times.
Competitor B has reviews complaining about the toothbrush being too long 21 times.
The other 5 competitors don't mention this as a problem.
51 complaints x 2 competitors with reviews complaining about it = 102 points.
Now, let's take another scenario:
Again there are 7 top competitors.
Competitor A has reviews complaining about the toothbrush's bristles being too rigid 8 times.
Competitor B has reviews complaining about the toothbrush's bristles being too rigid 8 times.
And the same is true for 4 more of your competitors (Let's say Competitors C, D, E, F). Thats 48 complaints from 6 companies (6x8 = 48).
The last competitor reviews (Competitor G) mention it 2 times.
48+2 = 50 complaints.
Now let's multiply the number of complaints by the number of competitor listings that have these complaints: 50x7 = 350 points.
In these cases you had 50 and 51 complaints. But the toothbrush bristles being too rigid scores as a much higher priority to fix because it is more evenly spread out.
So instead of inventing a brand new product, you can create a better version of the existing product: a soft-bristled toothbrush.
Method 2: Build a new solution to an existing problem
This takes longer and is much more expensive, but will differentiate you much more powerfully.
Example: an electric toothbrush. It fixes the same problem but does it in a completely new way (not just a better way).
You're using the exact same method you did in my last point—except you are not improving on a product, but building a new product.
How do I design a new product?
Better solutions to existing problems happen all of the time. Sometimes we can recognize a problem where no solution exists. These are truly unique ideas that handle a problem in a completely new way.
Here are five steps:
- Buy all the top competitor products and use them.
Experience the problem for yourself by using the top competitor products.
- Visualize a better product.
Get a whiteboard. Get the product out in front of you. Google the product and watch Youtube videos. You must embody the entire experience. Draw silly pictures on your whiteboard until you have a solution that you can visualize.
- Hire a product engineer to design the new product using 3D CAD (computer-aided design) drawings. You can find one on Fiverr, FreeeUP, or UpWork. Find one with good reviews that can communicate well.
- Get a prototype created. This is your first sample.
- Find a molding factory who can build the mold for you and then produce the product in mass quantities. Now you're ready to go to production.
I remember being unreasonably excited to ride an elevator/lift when I was a kid. The bright lights and strange sensation of ascending and descending through floors, not to mention all of the buttons.
Elevators were initially designed to hoist materials until about the late 1800s, when Elisha Graves Otis invented the “safety elevator” which was designed to hoist people. Nobody had ever seen anything like it before.
The elevator illustrates a new solution to an existing problem. Prior to passenger elevators, people had to climb multiple levels of stairs to get anywhere. Stairs are a valid solution, but sometimes we need something a little bit quicker and more comfortable. The elevator gives us all of that.
The elevator, like everything else, is a product. It was designed, built, and sold. It’s really no different than a product you can sell on Amazon. Inspiration can strike from anywhere.
Want a tool that makes organizing and prioritizing your competitor reviews much easier? Get the Product Evaluation tool!
Method 3: Build a new solution to a new problem.
Technically, you are making your potential buyers aware of a problem they did not know existed. You are making a market.
Example: Egyptians have been brushing their teeth since 3000 BCE. But in 1819, Levi Spear Parmly invented cleaning one's teeth with floss—a piece of string. That's not to say plaque getting into our gums wasn't a problem beforehand. It was just a problem to which people resigned themselves. We stopped realizing we had the problem.
Last year, the dental floss market size was valued at 490 million in the US alone when before it didn't exist.
People didn't say, "Oh, we need a smart phone." It never crossed our minds before Apple came out with the iPhone. Now, we can't do without one.
In method one, you improved your boat with better sails or oars.
In method two, you got a motorboat.
In method three, you switched out the ocean!
This step requires by far the most creativity. When it comes to your product, you are not just improving it...you are creating a whole new market!
How do I apply this and come up with a world-changing idea?
It depends where you take your computer and where you take your body.
Here are two places where you can find innovative ideas for creating that whole new market you are after:
Online interest groups
Innovation takes knowledge. Know what people want. Get your nerd on, and start digging deep. Facebook groups, Etsy products, Pinterest—all of these places showcase people with ideas and dreamers who know what they want. They just don’t have the resources or the stick-to-it-ness of the vision to make it happen.
Being an active member in a social community can yield amazing and unexpected results (read more about social media musts here).
This will require you to temporarily bypass classic Amazon research tools like AmazeOwl, Helium 10, Jungle Scout, and Viral Launch. They can only show you what is already on Amazon.
Start digging deep into the creatives out there. Someone else out there may have inspiration without the business mindset necessary to make dreams happen. You do.
Travel the world
Innovation takes experience. Go, get out there into the world! See what other cultures are doing. Observe what solutions they have discovered to problems you didn’t even know existed.
Shared umbrellas (or parasols) were a huge thing in China long before the USA had any shared products that people pay to borrow. Now metro areas have thriving shared scooter and shared bicycle markets. Some of the greatest companies were built by finding a solution discovered in another location and then reapplying that concept to a whole new market in their own country.
Don’t be afraid to take a concept and apply it to practice in your native country in a new radical way. Broaden your horizons and don’t be afraid to try things!
Exploring these three methods will put you on a path to finding a product that is unique and your own. Copycats and wannabes will have a hard time trying to access something they couldn’t find in the first place.
Be unique, be an individual, and go out there and find a product that will reflect that. Whether it’s a better solution to an existing problem, a new solution to an existing problem, or a new solution to a new problem, one or all of these methods can give you a framework to find what you need to be successful in your Amazon product endeavor.