What you can learn from CommerceIQ’s approach to Amazon’s Selling Partner API
4 January 2022
Karthik Kolappan, Senior Director of Engineering at CommerceIQ
CommerceIQ is a leader of e-commerce decision management, which is the practice of using machine learning, analytics and automations to optimise online channel performance across supply chain, marketing and sales operations. Their machine learning and automation SaaS (software as a service) platform is used by brands to provide support at the moment of purchase by automatically responding in real time to changing variables across hundreds of products. We sat down with Karthik Kolappan, Senior Director of Engineering at CommerceIQ, to discuss how CommerceIQ’s approach to using the Selling Partner API helps their clients drive revenue and business growth.
What is the story of CommerceIQ?
Our founder and CEO, Guru Hariharan, spent many years at Amazon building software systems and services powering Amazon’s store. Convinced that applying software and automation was the only way forward for all retailers, Guru started Boomerang Commerce, a company that focused on dynamic pricing for traditional retailers looking to grow their digital presence. In June 2019, the company pivoted to helping brands succeed in online retail through machine learning and automation, and rebranded the company to CommerceIQ. While CommerceIQ originally focused on the Amazon channel in the United States, we have expanded our Amazon footprint internationally to include Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, France and India and have grown our advertising capabilities to support other retail websites.
In 2021, Amazon launched new APIs sharing retail, brand analytics and catalogue data for vendors. How have these new capabilities enabled you to better serve your customers?
Our customers are Fortune 500 consumer brands that sell to Amazon as vendors. Our clients are typically tasked with increasing their Amazon sales year over year, and therefore want to understand all of the drivers affecting overall sales. With Amazon’s new Selling Partner API, it is now possible to download sales, content and purchase order data among other information traditionally found in Vendor Central. CommerceIQ has built sophisticated ETL (extract, transform, load) processes to normalise and store this data on our platform, making it easier for our clients to understand what levers are driving sales. We’ve built a set of machine learning algorithms to identify exceptions and anomalous trends and dig into root cause analysis so we can help our clients develop long-term solutions. Thanks to the Selling Partner API, our customers now have all the information at their fingertips and have better insights into the levers that are leading to more incremental sales, greater profits and higher share of voice in Amazon’s store.
How does your organisation utilise the information and capabilities offered through the Selling Partner API to inform media planning and execution?
We leverage the search term frequency report to identify trending products on Amazon. Using the information from Amazon directly, we’re able to pinpoint search terms that are growing rapidly in volume so we can launch new advertising campaigns targeting those keywords. Our clients also use the information to guide innovation and product launches based on what consumers are looking for. If, for example, consumers are suddenly shopping for a new flavour or a new format of a certain type of product, we can highlight these trending keywords on CommerceIQ’s Market Insights dashboard and our clients will use this information to prioritise and shift ad spend. We’ve also developed automations to align sponsored ad promotions with ASINs that have strong inventory positions. We can promote alternative products when an ASIN is running low on inventory, and will resume advertising on that ASIN once inventory levels return to normal. These automations are constantly running for our clients, ensuring that every dollar spent is featuring an in-stock ASIN on Amazon.
How do you use the Selling Partner API and the Amazon Ads API together to support retail and advertising strategy?
Brands have always wanted to unify sales and advertising metrics from Amazon, but manual extraction of information from Vendor Central was previously a challenge. Now that the Seller Partner API is available, we’re ingesting both sales and advertising information through the Amazon Ads API and we’re connecting the information to create a common data lake. The combination of information and our proprietary algorithms allows our clients to run advertising strategies that are truly retail-aware. For example, our algorithms can automatically pause investment into ASINs with low weeks of cover or poor profitability and move advertising spend to different tactics and/or ASINs that will drive incremental sales. Everything is being monitored 24/7 and automations are happening at all hours of the day to maximise every dollar spent.
What are three tips you recommend to brands wanting to maximise the metrics available through the Selling Partner API to improve their brand presence on Amazon?
- Content: Content is a huge driver of conversion and brands spend a lot of time and energy to develop their content strategy on Amazon. But uploading content is not a set-it-and-forget-it task, there needs to be a consistent way of monitoring the content to make sure it is not changed. By using a combination of catalogue-items and listings-items APIs, brands can monitor content on product detail pages and get alerted if any unauthorized changes are made from third-party sellers. Making sure the content is in top-notch shape is a fundamental conversion driver when advertising a product: 5 bullet points, 6 images, 1-2 videos, A+ content and 100+ characters in the title.
- Search terms: With the brand analytics search term report from the Selling Partner API, brands can detect search terms with improving frequency rank which helps them understand changing consumer preferences and shopping behaviours. Having a better understanding of trending search terms can ensure that brands are updating content appropriately and bidding on relevant keywords to stay discoverable and top of mind to new shoppers researching the category. Analysing trending search terms can also be used by our clients to plan for innovation or new product launches based on what consumers are shopping for.
- Availability and forecasting: With the availability of forecasting information through vendor demand forecast report from the Selling Partner API, brands can monitor Amazon forecast and weeks of cover on a daily/weekly basis and be prepared to ship products as soon as purchase orders are issued. Having a high fill rate ensures consistent availability in Amazon’s store, one of the biggest drivers of sales performance. Although we’ve created automations to automatically turn off advertising spend on low-inventory ASINs, we’d prefer that our clients maintain a level of inventory at Amazon to maximise their sponsored ads campaign performance and the Selling Partner API gives our brands more visibility into forecasting.