Understanding what GDSN’s Integration with Amazon Means for Brands
Rob Gonzalez | April 4, 2018
Amazon began leveraging Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN) to receive product data directly last fall, though there have been some updates to the integration that have made the rounds recently.
What does this integration do? In short, Amazon’s integration with GDSN enables a brand to publish most - but not all - Amazon attributes via GDSN for refreshing existing ASINs; the latest update increases the total number of GS1 attributes that are mapped to Amazon’s on internal schema.
What automated content delivery enables a brand to do is create a tight digital optimization flywheel by lowering the time for new testable experiences to get online.
In the digital merchandising flywheel, you create an experience, you get it in front of consumers, you measure how it’s doing, you improve the experience, and you publish again. This test-and-learn cycle tends not to happen at all - or at least very rarely or with more effort than you’d like - unless a retailer enables frequent refreshes via automation.
Note, however, that new items must still be set up using the NIS sheets in Amazon Vendor Central, and some content such as A+ content and other media must be entered directly into Vendor Central as well.
Should you use GDSN connectivity to Amazon?
If you’re already using GDSN for publishing to other retailers like Kroger or Lowes, then there may be benefit (and typically no additional cost!) to also using GDSN for Amazon as well. However, before jumping in you should consider how your company is integrated with GDSN, and specifically what content you’re sending through GDSN. Typically the data a company sends through GDSN is not ecommerce-optimized (it often comes right from the ERP system), and in particular is not Amazon-optimized, so very well may conflict with what your Amazon team would like shown on the site. So should you include Amazon in your GDSN publications, you should ensure that your Amazon or digital marketing team has a means to impact what data is sent to Amazon over GDSN (for example, by giving them access to a system like Salsify that connects directly to the GDSN network), or you risk overwriting Amazon-optimized content with more standardized data, potentially yielding lower traffic and lower conversion.
Either way, automating content exchange via GDSN or any other mechanism is a great first step to empowering brands to optimize their product experiences on the digital shelf, and once in place it allows brands to focus further on optimizing the performance of their product experiences, rather than on the tedium of data entry.
Success on Amazon is an ongoing strategic initiative
Winning on Amazon is not set-it-and-forget-it. The point of automation is that it frees up your time and creative energy to figure out how to merchandise better and better every day. How do you get into the top 10 search results? Then the top 5? Then the top 3? How do you own voice search? Automation doesn’t solve this problem, but it frees you up to focus on solving it yourself.
So assuming you start using GDSN for some content refresh on Amazon, the question is: what should you focus on next? I would suggest establish a system that allows you to analyze your product performance on Amazon in order to inform future optimizations.
What should you test? A lot of these decisions may depend on your category, budget, and the current condition of your pages, but here are some places to start (none surprising to folks that live and breathe ecommerce):
- Add additional keyword description to your titles
- Include more product feature bullets
- Include images with lifestyle or size details
- Create images that speak to key features of your product
- Include A+ content, such as comparison charts or explainer videos
- Include long tail keywords in your product descriptions
Another sources for inspiration on what to test is the product detail pages that Amazon creates for its own private label products, which typically look awesome on Amazon. Look for patterns in what Amazon does for its pages as well as to the competitors in your product category that rank higher than you on generic terms. Amazon rewards conversion, so if a competitor is appearing higher in search, they are often also converting at a higher rate than you and other competitors.
Ultimately, even a perfect product detail page if left static will not be effective against other brand manufacturers and Amazon’s own private label brands. Brands who build best-selling pages on Amazon have developed ways to systematically monitor changes and then quickly take action to improve or adjust as needed. Achieving the coveted high search rank and high conversion rate requires you to compete on multiple fronts for every SKU you sell.