The best way to increase sales ranking on Amazon is to have best-in-class products that are well-rated and are consistently in stock. Executing well on the fundamentals is, by far, the best and most sustainable method.
But outside of the usual advertising/merchandising pitch, here are some suggestions.
1. Hack Product Search
Sales ranking usually works a little bit like a positive feedback loop. The better your product sells, the higher you appear in search results, which leads to more sales. Further, a product’s place in search results is computed per term, so even if your product is ranked, 1 in the Binders & Accessories category, that does not necessarily mean it will rank, 1 in search results for binder-related terms.
Given that, there’s a pretty straightforward way to hack sales rank. Determine what the highest-volume search terms are for your product. If you’re a large vendor with a strong working relationship with Amazon, ask your vendor manager for this information. It may also be available in Amazon Retail Analytics (ARA) if you have it enabled, though you may have to pay for ARA Premium. You can use Google Trends for web search data as a weak proxy if necessary.
Do a search on Amazon for your highest-volume term. Page through the results until you find your product and go to the detail page. Don’t click on anyone else’s product—I don’t know, but I’m guessing click through rate is also an input to product search ranking. Buy your product. Now do this over and over and over again.
That’s the core of it. How much sense this makes for you will depend on your product’s cost structure, your negotiated agreements with Amazon, your ability to put the products back into inventory, etc.
You have two options at this point. The first is to do this a huge amount on one day, resulting in a large boost in sales rank and probably landing you on the bestsellers list. The second option works if your current rank is deficient: rather than buy a ton of your product, buy enough to increase your ranking by a relatively significant amount, e.g., from 50,000 to 500. That will get you onto a Movers & Shakers list, which computes over 24 hours. Movers & Shakers aren’t as prominent as Bestsellers on the site, but they are actively merchandised, so you will get incremental exposure.
For extra credit, sign up for a Prime account and ship everything to a location where Amazon does not collect sales tax. (You will, of course, remit use tax on your own, right? Right? …)
2. Use Vendor Powered Coupons (VPCs)
Amazon’s equivalent of FSIs can be found at Amazon.com: Coupons. These can be a great promotional vehicle for several reasons. Self-Service. You can create VPCs yourself in vendor central. (I think you need to create them a month in advance of the go-live date, so the promo can be communicated to control buyers.) Complete control over your budget. You set a maximum budget, and the coupon turns off when the budget is exhausted, They’re cheap. You fully fund the discount and pay a low per-clip and per-redemption fee.
They’re popular. VPCs are popular with customers, so they’re passively merchandised around the site. They’re on the Gold Box. They’re on most category deal stores. They’re in email. You get all that exposure for free, even before you use your traffic drivers. They have their own “sales rank,” i.e., more popular coupons will show up higher in the list.
There are relatively few total coupons so that you can jump start exposure for products with zero sales velocity.
The only real downside right now is that the VPC discount does not pass through to buy box pricing logic, so it won’t help you win the buy box against third-party merchants and does not influence the price shown in search results.
3. Exploit Deal Communities
Have you heard of Slickdeals? It’s a forum community of hardcore deal shoppers who post and evaluate deals, and they are extremely good at finding the best stuff and combining discounts in ways you (and retailers) may not have expected. Any pricing error, any stackable promotions, any arbitrage opportunity—these guys will find it, combine it, and use it.
For example, I once ran a Buy 3 Get 1 Free promotion with a vendor, across hundreds of their products. Within hours of the promo going live, Slickdeals members had found out about it and figured out that you could combine B3G1 with the subscribe & save discount and a manufacturer’s mail-in rebate that I hadn’t even known was on the market, to get the product for something like 60% off the everyday price.
You can use make use of this if you’re willing to spend money, but I’ve given you the tools here to limit your exposure. Run a strong VPC on your products: the discount should be significant enough to make a hardcore deal shopper take notice. Limit your total budget such that a small of customers can claim the discount before the coupon shuts off. Then post to Slickdeals. If the discount was strong enough and the product good enough, you should see a quick, significant sales spike. That will move you up the ranks on the bestsellers and movers & shakers lists I mentioned earlier.
By the way, I mean it when I say the discount has to be crazy. Check out this deal from today’s front page. In case it isn’t clear, they have figured out how to not only get a product for free, they make $25 by buying it.