Amazon Launchpad is a program designed to help startups bring new products to market on the Amazon marketplace.
Launchpad has technically been around since 2015 but it has undergone several name changes over the years.
For example, Amazon Launchpad started out as the Amazon Exclusives Program which was later renamed to Amazon Brand Incubator before finally settling down on its current name.
At a high level, Launchpad is designed to feel like KickStarter or IndieGogo (without the crowdfunding component) where Amazon helps “launch” unique and innovative product ideas.
This article will outline the details of Amazon Launchpad including its pros and cons based on an actual case study with my friend Chris Boerner who launched her brand Cielo Pill Holders on Amazon Exclusives.
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What Is Amazon Launchpad?
Amazon Launchpad is a special, application only program aimed at helping startups and small brands launch innovative products on Amazon.
As mentioned earlier, Amazon’s intention for Launchpad is to help obscure and unconventional products gain visibility on the Amazon platform.
In fact, Amazon signed on over 100 venture capital firms and startup accelerators to form a referral partnership. VCs refer high potential products and Amazon provides a “launchpad” to help jump start sales.
Essentially, Launchpad is designed to take small businesses with powerful stories and give them additional visibility on Amazon.
Amazon encourages all entrepreneurs and small businesses with unique and innovative products to apply. The definition of “unique and innovative” is under Amazon’s discretion but they prefer “Kickstarter” like products.
If you have a great product to sell, you must also meet these requirements.
- Must have a professional sellers account
- Must have listed products on Amazon for less than 4 years
- Must have generated less than $5 million in gross sales
- Must have at least 3.5 stars
- Must have at least 5 reviews
- Must be enrolled in Amazon FBA
All Launchpad participants get a dedicated Amazon account manager and premium benefits as outlined below.
Amazon Premium A+ Content
Premium A+ content is like regular A+ content on steroids. You get access to wide screen formatted content where you can incorporate videos, carousels, hero images and enhanced comparison tables to tell your brand story.
Here are the specific details regarding the difference between A+ and Premium A+ content.
- Premium A+ increases the total number of on page modules you can use from five to seven. There are also 16 additional on page elements to choose from when creating your content.
- Premium A+ allows you to use the entire width of the screen for your product page unlike A+ where content is limited to a narrow, fixed width column.
- Premium A+ allows you to embed full screen video to your listings so Amazon customers can see your products in their full glory.
- Premium A+ allows you to use animation on your page such as hover over features, clickable Q&A sections and improved comparison charts.
You also receive access to the Amazon Imaging Services Team to produce professional and high quality photography.
Normally, small businesses have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to have access to Premium A+ content, but you get it for free with Amazon Launchpad.
For an actual example of Premium A+ content, check out any of Samsung’s products on Amazon.
Amazon Brand Gating
Normally when you sell on Amazon, anyone can hop on and sell products under your listing. However, Launchpad members can prevent unauthorized sellers from selling your products. This is called brand gating.
Brand gating is typically only offered with Amazon Project Zero, which carries high eligibility requirements and requires you to specially label your products for serialization.
But Amazon Launchpad includes brand gating by default.
Increased Product Visibility
By enrolling in Launchpad, your product will also be placed on special Amazon Launchpad storefronts that reach hundreds of millions of customers worldwide. These are marketplaces that are completely separate from the standard Amazon storefront.
Buyers who are specifically looking for new arrivals and cool and unique “kickstarter like” products may browse this page which will bring additional visibility to your listings.
Amazon will also promote your products through social media, email and special placements on Amazon.com.
Free Weekly Lightning Deals
A lightning deal is a flash sale where your product is featured for several hours on the Amazon Deals page, which is one of Amazon’s highest trafficked pages.
Lightning deals help increase sales and exposure for your products. Normally, running a lightning deal will cost you $150 and your costs can go up depending on when you run your deal and the nature of your product.
But all Launchpad members get lightning deals for free and can run them once per week.
Dedicated Amazon Account Manager
Once you join the program, you will be assigned a dedicated Amazon representative who will help you with onboarding and Amazon support.
This is perhaps one of the greatest value adds with the Launchpad program because it’s extremely difficult to get a human to respond to you from Amazon.
How Much Does Amazon Launchpad Cost?
While the Amazon Launchpad program features are compelling, membership to this program comes at a heavy premium.
In addition to the standard 15% Amazon referral fee, Amazon charges an additional 5% premium to be a part of the program. At “Amazon’s discretion”, they may lower your referral fees to 3% once your gross sales exceed $1 million but it’s not guaranteed.
In addition, Amazon forces you to commit to Amazon Launchpad for 12 months.
While there’s no specific reason for this, Amazon states that a 12 month period will allow startups and brands to participate in all major Amazon selling events such as Prime Day and the holiday season.
Overall, you will be paying an 18-20% referral fee to Amazon in addition to your normal Amazon FBA fees. This is a HUGE premium!
What Happens When You Leave Amazon Launchpad?
Once you leave Amazon Launchpad, your products will no longer be featured on the Amazon Launchpad storefront. However, your Premium A+ content will still remain intact.
But here’s the kicker. If you need to modify the content in any way, you will have to switch back to regular A+ content through Vendor Central.
While standard A+ content is free, you’ll likely have to redesign your entire page because you won’t have access to the same features as before.
Is Amazon Launchpad Worth It?
In the Amazon seller community, Amazon Launchpad recognition is largely non-existent. Most people don’t know about Launchpad because its benefits have been largely underwhelming.
Launchpad sellers have complained that…
- Premium A+ content doesn’t move the needle.
- Amazon dedicated representatives are often slow to respond.
- Amazon’s Launchpad storefront delivers little or no sales.
- There’s little or no way to measure the effectiveness of the program.
In order to understand Amazon Launchpad better, I interviewed my friend Chris Boerner who launched her brand, Cielo Pill Holders, on Launchpad when it was called the Amazon Exclusives program.
Here’s her interview if you want to listen.
Overall, Chris had a very positive experience with Amazon Exclusives despite the hefty fees.
“So what made Amazon Exclusives worth it to me was the additional marketing and merchandising that they give you. It’s incredible that they’re constantly every month refreshing different collections of products that they are featuring for their community.
So you have a chance every month and Cielo is being featured right now as a stocking stuffer for example.
Every month your products can be showcased in these different tech gadgets or a gift for him, a gift for her, whatever areas to focus on. Amazon gives its home page extra marketing.”
However, Chris did mention that she did not quantitatively know whether the Premium A+ content made any difference to conversions.
It’s also worth nothing that because Chris joined when the program was in its infancy, Amazon featured her products in major ad campaigns and she was even featured on the Amazon mobile home page for a full day which exploded her sales.
Should You Join Amazon Launchpad?
The fact that Amazon is very selective of its Launchpad participants is a good thing and there’s no guarantee that you will get accepted.
However if you do make it in, Amazon will provide you with additional exposure for your brand which is their primary value proposition.
As mentioned earlier, Amazon prefers brands who are working with one of their VC partners or crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter or Indiegogo and they are looking for “unique and unconventional products” to stand behind.
Bottom line, your mileage with Launchpad will depend on your product, your brand story and the strength of your copy and design. There are no guarantees with any marketing program and it’s up to you to do your own legwork.
Premium A+ content is what you make of it as well as your ability to portray your product in a positive light. Amazon can only amplify your marketing efforts, not do the work for you.
The biggest consideration for the Amazon Launchpad program is the hefty 5% premium and the 1 year commitment. If you are willing to risk the revenue hit for an entire year for additional exposure and a dedicated Amazon rep, consider signing up.
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Steve Chou is a highly recognized influencer in the ecommerce space and has taught thousands of students how to effectively sell physical products online over at ProfitableOnlineStore.com.
His blog, MyWifeQuitHerJob.com, has been featured in Forbes, Inc, The New York Times, Entrepreneur and MSNBC.
He's also a contributing author for BigCommerce, Klaviyo, ManyChat, Printful, Privy, CXL, Ecommerce Fuel, GlockApps, Privy, Social Media Examiner, Web Designer Depot, Sumo and other leading business publications.
In addition, he runs a popular ecommerce podcast, My Wife Quit Her Job, which is a top 25 marketing show on all of Apple Podcasts.
To stay up to date with all of the latest ecommerce trends, Steve runs a 7 figure ecommerce store, BumblebeeLinens.com, with his wife and puts on an annual ecommerce conference called The Sellers Summit.
Steve carries both a bachelors and a masters degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University. Despite majoring in electrical engineering, he spent a good portion of his graduate education studying entrepreneurship and the mechanics of running small businesses.