Amazon Launchpad – is it for you?

Amazon Launchpad is a service that Amazon has now been running for a good few years, promoting entrepreneurs and brand owners with unique and innovative products. It’s particularly interested in certified Black-owned businesses, and climate pledge friendly businesses, and it represents a great move up from Kickstarter for businesses that used that site to get their first products launched.

You have to apply for Launchpad – it’s Amazon who makes the decision whether to accept your business or not. And it’s not available in all product areas yet; if you’re in health and personal care, home, grocery, toys or kitchen products, you may qualify.

As a guide, some products that have been successful on Launchpad are

•      Gravity Blankets – for those who like the comfort of a heavy blanket without the weight

•      Not Parent Approved – a game that’s like a kids’ version of Cards Against Humanity

•      Zip Top – sealable, stand-up silicone bags for kitchen storage

•      Urb-e – electric scooter

•      Recoup Fitness – massage rollers and compression sleeves filled with cooling gel.

To apply, you can be quite a sizable business; you need to have a Professional Seller account not more than 4 years old, and to have generated below $5m gross annual merchandise sales on Amazon. You also need at least a 3.5 star rating, at least 5 reviews, and to sell FBA with a Prime badge. This is ideal for businesses that are growing fast and that have a distinctive product.

Launchpad delivers two benefits. First of all, it increases discoverability, with marketing in a dedicated Launchpad micro-site – a sort of Amazon-inside-Amazon. Secondly, it offers some cool resources such as a dedicated Amazon representative, Premium A+ content, category focused emails to customers, and access to the Services Hub which can help find freelances and service businesses.

Premium A+ Content, by the way, includes images with hotspots that viewers can click on, carousels, and larger images; Amazon also provides support for optimizing the content for your brand, over and above what you get in Seller Central.

However, Launchpad costs. If you’re accepted, you have to commit for a minimum of 12 months, and Amazon gets a 5% premium on referral fees. That is, you pay Amazon’s 15%, then you pay another 5% as well.

So is it worth it? The jury is out. Amazon Launchpad doesn’t really have a high public profile, so you’re probably not accessing a customer base that wouldn’t have found you on the main site. And though if you get on to the Launchpad home page, you could become a big seller overnight, that’s something you have to apply for – it’s not a standard part of the program.

Some sellers say Premium A+ Content hasn’t really boosted their sales. Sellers who already have a design team or an experienced freelance working for them will see more benefit, since they’d be able to use the different resources more effectively. If you’re two people with a garage and a couple of laptops, you might be paying for resource you can’t use.

It’s also quite difficult to measure the benefit. If instead of going for Launchpad you just spent 5% of your sales on per per click advertising, you’d be able to check what was working, and focus your efforts accordingly, but you don’t get that kind of actionable information from Launchpad.

Probably the best thing you can do is to read up on Launchpad using Amazon’s site, and look at the aspects that would make the most difference to your business. If you find something you could really leverage, it could be a great deal, but you’ll need to make sure you do exploit the benefits to pay off that extra 5% drag on your profits.

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