8 Amazon Product Launch Failures and Costly Mistakes
Every Amazon Seller’s Nightmare – A Massive Product Launch Failure
You spend months researching your next product launch on Amazon, you check the sales rank, you scope out the competition, you fine-tune your keywords, and you discover the perfect factory to make your new item that will become a smashing success! You craft the perfect brand message, you produce killer photos of the product that everyone will love, you build some delightful packaging, and you finally put your money on the table to send 1,000 or 10,000 units into Amazon FBA. It’s time to watch all your hard work and hard-earned money start to work for you. You’re going to become the next Amazon millionaire.
Sales start to trickle in, and then they get bigger and bigger, YAY! Your sales numbers are growing and you’re on your way. Your new product launch is a HUGE SUCCESS!! Then, a few weeks later, you start getting notifications from Amazon that the customer is returning your item. Then another notification and another and another. A few weeks goes by and Amazon calls to warn you your ASIN is getting too many negative feedbacks and the ASIN may get suspended soon if you don’t change something.
Your Amazon seller account performance report is crashing. Your Amazon inventory score (IPI) is going the wrong direction. Sales volume for your other SKU’s are dropping as a result. It seems the whole Amazon world is crashing down on you.
What should you do?
a) Hope things turn around and do nothing.
b) Stop selling your new product that you spent countless hours and tons of money developing?
c) Destroy the item at Amazon and lose everything?
d) Do you liquidate it and move on?
This is your baby, you can’t give up on it so quickly…But you have everything at risk. The stress can be overwhelming.
“This is a common occurrence For Amazon sellers that we see every week.“
8 Amazon Product Launch Failures and Major Mistakes that Could Cost You Everything
- Packaging Mistakes
- Trademark Infringement
- Weight to Price Ratio
- Easily Damaged Items
- Oversized Item but Not Worth It
- Product Design Failure
- Product Quality of Parts
- Competitive Forces
Because we help 100’s of Amazon sellers with their customer returns and liquidations, we see a TON of mistake that Amazon sellers make with their product launch, and we wish to share some of the BIG MISTAKES that we’re seeing so you don’t make these same mistakes with your product launch.
Our goal is to help you not make these same mistakes.
Amazon Product Launch Mistake #1 – Packaging Mistakes
The packaging for this item was a DISASTER!!! Maybe the worst I’ve ever seen. There are 2 very important lessons to learn for this product launch failure. Let me show you.
The first lesson is how some things look good on email (or paper) but don’t work out as well in reality. The seller probably received photos of the product and packaging for inspection, and everything looked good, so they purchased 1,000’s of this item and sent them into Amazon FBA. It was an expensive packaging for this item with the thick tube, the clear plastic window, and the colorful print. Very quickly, things started to look bad. Customer complaints and a high customer return rate. Amazon FBA also decided to STOP the item because of a packaging failure.
If you watch our video, you’ll see the mistake in more detail. The end pieces of the tube were falling off. Not some of them, ALL OF THEM! When we received this item in for liquidation, it was a NIGHTMARE. Every package had the ends off and the product was falling out of the packaging. This is an example of a quality control mistake where some sort of inspection at the source would have discovered this mistake quickly and allowed it to be fixed at the source.
The second mistake that I discovered is something MOST SELLERS NEVER THINK OF. This is something that can relate to ALL items with a lighter weight like this one. The mistake is that the item is light and can ship for a low cost because it weighs under 1 pound. However, the packaging was heavy, and so with the product and the packaging together the item weighs over 1 pound and now the shipping cost of the item will almost double. Here’s a case where a few extra ounces can cost you $1,000’s from your bottom line.
With FBA doing the shipping for most sellers plus the fact that most Amazon sellers are not located in the USA, this is a very common mistake people make.
TIP: If your item weighs less than 1 pound and you can package your item to keep it under 1 pound, DO IT! Don’t double your shipping cost by adding a few extra ounces from your packaging.
One More Thing
If I could say one more thing about this example, I fear the seller spent more time, energy and money on the packaging of the item rather than on the actual item they were selling. You should spend more time and energy on your product than you do on your packaging. Please don’t make this same mistake!!
My Personal Experience with a Packaging Failure that was Costly to Learn
When I was selling a $400 item on Amazon in 2006 (many many of them each day), the factory would send me the item in a full color retail box with photos of the product and specifications. The box was nice. To ship the item to our customers, we had to pack the full color retail box into another brown box for shipping. We were paying for 2 boxes, 1 expensive retail box and 1 brown shipping box.
When I asked the factory what the extra cost of this box was and how much I could save if I changed to a brown box that protected the item in shipping. I was told the brown box is free, no extra charge. But the color box was $2.50 extra. Also, we reconfigured the way the items were arranged inside to make the box smaller and a square shape rather than a long narrow shape. More items could fit into a carton and we avoid oversize charges. Finally, with the new brown box as the main product box we didn’t need to pack the item into another brown box for shipping. Now we simply slap a label on the main box and out it goes. Less labor costs too.
One other thing that made this move a WIN, was because the colorful boxes require higher minimum runs than brown boxes do. I didn’t have to pay or buy a large quantity of colorful boxes in advance anymore. With the brown boxes, I added my trademarked LOGO and a few important details about the item. Now my logo was seen on every box as it shipped to the customer by UPS or USPS.
Here is a list of the Wins:
- I saved $2.50 / box. This goes directly to the bottom line.
- The carton box was oversized before and not oversized after the change.
- The brown box had our logo for shipping.
- Didn’t have to buy or stock 1,000 color boxes in advance.
- Went from 2 boxes to 1 box because we didn’t have to pack 1 box into another box for shipping.
- Less labor to ship. Just slap a shipping label on the product box and out it goes.
I was worried that the customers would complain how they spent $400 for a gift item and we sent it to them in a simple boring brown box. After many years of selling and shipping this same item, I never received a single complaint like this. My worries were false.
Amazon Product Launch Failure #2 – Trademark Research
This is a very popular item right now. Sales #’s and volumes are high. If you can get the Buy Box for this item, you have a HUGE WINNER! However…not so fast. There is a saying, “If you think you have a great idea, chances are 3 or more other people have already had your same idea.”
We’ve seen this mistake a few times within the past couple months. We currently have 3 companies sending us product to liquidate or repackage due to this expensive mistake. What’s even more concerning is this mistake can cost you a lawsuit or even worse losing everything. Don’t make this mistake!
My example is the Pop-It bubble pop fidget items. It’s a very popular item on Amazon and there are a TON of sellers right now. However, someone was a few steps ahead of you and they trademarked the words Pop It for this exact item. If you use the words “Pop It” on your packaging, your product title or your descriptions, I guaranteed you, this company will let you know that you VIOLATED their trademark.
Do your homework before you buy 1,000’s or 10,000’s of units of something. Do a 5-minute search for any trademarks at the patent and trademark office. Their website is www.uspto.gov. Don’t fall into this trap like many sellers do.
Amazon Product Launch Failure #3 – Weight to Price Ratio
This is another very common mistake that Amazon sellers make with their product launch. We see it often at Back-Track as well and get many liquidations because of it.
Items you should avoid selling on Amazon are items that are low cost but heavy. In many cases, you’ll find yourself with very low profits (most likely loses) or tons of inventory that will need to be liquidated. We’re in the liquidation business and mistakes like this keep us busy but I don’t want you to make this mistake please.
There is no magic weight to price ratios to avoid, but for example I talked earlier about items that weigh below 1 pound ship much cheaper than items above a pound, so this is an area to pay attention. If you’re selling a $10 item and it weighs over 1 pound, it will probably fail. $20 items weighing over 1 pound will leave you very little room for margin. You’re only path to success in this case is high-volume/low margin. Winning and keeping the Amazon Buy Box will be critical to your success in this case.
Amazon Product Launch Failure #4 – Easily Damaged Items
Fragile items can become a major pain if you don’t pay attention to this issue in advance of spending all your money on a container of product to send to Amazon FBA. While I believe there is a place for fragile items to be sold on Amazon, you must remember these items will be moved many times between start to finish and in many cases tossed, slid down a side with a heavy item right behind it, etc. I’ve personally gone through 100’s of rolls of FRAGILE stickers over the years but FRAGILE sticker doesn’t work anymore.
To sell fragile items on Amazon successfully, you’re going to need to spend more on packaging to protect it. This might break my rule in failure #1 above so be careful. If you’re spending more on packaging and shipping costs, be sure to sell an item with higher average selling price (ASP) so you can still have a profitable scenario. Keep room for competition too so you have room to adjust pricing and still win the Buy Box!
I have another example below where the product design was so bad, there is no amount of packaging to save this mistake.
Amazon Product Launch Failure #5 – Oversized but Not Worth It
Amazon changes the rules from time to time, all the time, ha! Shipping sizes and what is defined as “Oversized” by Amazon is one of them. With less available warehouse space, they have also raised a heavier hand if you break their oversized rules with penalty fees or even suspension if there are multiple events.
In this example, the seller didn’t break Amazon’s oversized rules or got penalized, however they crossed the line to a point the product launch was dead, and the stock needed to be liquidated. A very costly mistake indeed. Due to competitive forces, the item price fell as low as it could go selling between $10-15. The item is also just over 24” or 2’. Because the size was over 2’, Amazon FBA fees go up. This is where a few inches will cost the seller $1,000’s or the entire product line. This item could not be sold profitably on Amazon anymore and we’ve had requests to take in 10,000’s for liquidation from many sellers who made this same mistake…Unfortunately, we can’t liquidate this item online either without changing the packaging and size of the item.
Amazon Product Launch Failure #6 – Product Design Failure
This is a sad one to watch on the video. An example where the seller saw photos of the item on email but failed to get samples in advance to ordering 1,000’s of units. An inspection service would have discovered this mistake and saved the seller from liquidating the entire Amazon SKU at Back-Track. In this case, even we can’t save their lost profits because the item is simply badly designed.
The item shown in the video is a wall sign made of wood. At first glance, it looks like a nice item. And because it is a FRAGILE item, the seller used thick boxes and bubble wrap to protect the item. However, their effort and extra expense to protect the item failed.
The problem in this case is the item was designed to be too thin and so breakage is easy. The item is fragile but when the item is very thin and made from wood with a long design, almost 80% of customers are receiving a broken item. We tried to liquidate this item for the seller at Back-Track and we had the same result and had to turn it off. The only option for us now is to liquidate in bulk to a retail store or sell them in our own retail store (BuyBoxClub.com).
Amazon Product Launch Failure #7 – Product Quality Parts
Product quality can be a WIDE issue for your Amazon product design and launch. In this specific case, we are seeing this issue with 3-4 companies right now where products with hinges are having an issue where the lid and base do not line up correctly. You can see a good example of this in the video.
Products with hinges look good on paper and maybe look good during the initial inspection. But after the product bounces around on a container ship, on a semi-truck, along Amazon FBA conveyer belts and in a delivery truck, the hinges adjust and the product arrives to the customer with a bad lid placement.
In my example, I warn you to be very careful if your product has hinges on them. You should do many test shipments to see if you have good enough quality hinges before ordering 1,000’s of units to send to FBA. Your product may require more expensive or higher quality hinges to keep the item aligned after all that shipping. Inspection companies may or may not discover this issue for you at the source.
Amazon Product Launch Failure #8 – Competitive Forces
The final product launch failure is probably the BIGGEST reason products fail on Amazon. There are 100’s of companies and services available to help you fight this battle so you’re not fighting it alone.
However, keep in mind, the data you see today will change tomorrow. This is the mistake many new Amazon sellers make. They make decisions based on a snapshot in time with the data and don’t take into consideration that this is a moving target that moves very fast on Amazon. A product appears to be a WINNER today could have a ton of competition tomorrow. Most likely the data you see today is the BEST IT WILL BE and expect the data to be worse over time.
Tip: the data you see today will change tomorrow. You are shooting at a moving target!!
Competitive forces on Amazon come from many directions. It can be pricing pressure, it can be design pressure, it can be direct copy/paste sellers (Me Too) and it can be substitutes (products that solve the same need but are different).
Because there is soooo much data available to sellers today, if you’re seeing a HUGE OPPORTUNITY, so are many other sellers. This is why I recommend that you rely on brand and product differentiation as your competitive advantage rather than picking a one-hit-wonder that doesn’t last very long.
In my video example I talk about vanity mirrors having this issue because we received many pallets of liquidation from 3 different sellers within the same 2 weeks. It was obvious the competitive pressures were bursting for this particular item. But we see this same issue with other products every day.
Amazon is a rapidly moving beast and if you saddle up, be sure you’re ready for the wild ride! You must be ready to fight the fight, take your lumps, pull yourself back up from time to time and fight again.
There are a ton of reasons products fail on Amazon. I hope the examples I shared with your today are helpful, so you don’t repeat these same mistakes. Of course, there are many other reasons products fail on Amazon. Maybe we’ll do another video as we see more examples in the future.