Herschel’s Amazon Marketing Strategy: A Pragmatic Review

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In this article, we analyze Herschel’s marketing approach on Amazon.

Welcome back! We will be releasing a new series of posts in which we analyze brands operating within the Amazon.ca (Canadian) Marketplace. Here we’ll take a look at factors such as the market environment, competitors, SEO (content), advertising strategies, Storefront and actionable insights they could take, from our point of view (P.O.V.).

Disclaimer: We are not affiliated in any way with Herschel. We decided to analyze this brand as we are a big fan of their products. Our analysis is aimed at highlighting what we believe are areas for improvement. Lastly, all data published in this article is publicly available and retrievable with the right tools.

The Case of the Herschel Supply Company

The Herschel Supply Company, founded in 2009 in Vancouver, is a lifestyle brand widely known for their nostalgic looking, high-quality travel bags, and accessories. The growth of the brand over the past nine years has been steady, as the Google trend graph indicates below:

Ready to have a closer look at Herschel’s Amazon.ca presence? We’ve split this analysis into 6 main sections:

  1. Does Herschel sell directly on Amazon?
  2. The competition
  3. Herschel’s Amazon SEO
  4. Herschel’s advertising strategy
  5. Performance scorecard
  6. What we would do if we were Herschel

Does Herschel Sell Directly On Amazon.ca?

First off, let’s see how Herschel operates on Amazon Canada. This is what appears when one searches for “Herschel”:

Herschel ranks in 3rd position on Amazon’s A9 search engine for their brand keyword. If one were to click on the 3rd Herschel product listing, we’d be able to understand if Herschel is directly selling on Amazon directly as a Vendor (First-party seller) or if independent Sellers (Third-party sellers) are selling Herschel products on Amazon.

To find out if Herschel is selling on Amazon directly or if independent sellers are selling Herschel’s products, we take notice to this area of the product listing page (see image on right).

Pay close attention to the -Ships from and Sold by- area that is underlined:

(Ships from and sold by “Urban Surfer UK”)

This indicates that an independent seller is selling Herschel’s products.

If Herschel was selling directly on Amazon as a Vendor, it would read as follows, “Ships and Sold by Amazon.”

Digging further into independent seller pages, we could not find any official seller account from Herschel (Vendor and/or Registered Brand Seller). It is evident that those who sell Herschel’s products on Amazon.ca appear to be independent retailers and perhaps, even unauthorized distributors. The situation is completely different on Amazon.com, where Herschel operates as a Vendor.

Using Junglescout, we found some products, which in the past, were shipped and sold by Amazon. Mostly accessories (such as this one). This might be an indicator that Herschel has a Vendor account but is not actively using it.

What we can gather from all this information is that the distribution of Herschel products on Amazon.ca is currently monopolized by third-party sellers (see image below) who are capturing a sizable piece of Herschel’s revenues. This proposes an even larger problem for Herschel, their branding and brand reputation on Amazon, are currently in the hands of a bunch of third-party sellers. Why should this all matter? Well, despite the evident shift that retail is increasingly moving to digital marketplaces, more than 90% of all online product searches start on Amazon.

Therefore, large margins of growth could be achievable for Herschel if they enter the Amazon.ca marketplace as a Vendor or as a Registered Brand Seller. This would put Herschel in a superior position for facing their competitors. As a matter of fact, these existing sellers are rarely, if ever, able to provide the Prime shipping option to Amazon customers. If you try filter for “Prime” in the result pages, Herschel disappears from the listing, even for brand-related searches (see image below).

Moreover, considering that Amazon Prime is a popular program among young customers due to the 50% Student discount, taking advantage of this option can drastically improve Herschel’s market share within this marketplace.

Herschel’s Organic Visibility on Amazon.ca

The market for backpacks and travel bags is highly competitive on Amazon.ca. Numerous, lesser-known brands are optimizing their product listings and content on Amazon. As shown in the table below, Herschel’s competitors have highly competitive product pages. Moreover, almost all of them are also investing on paid advertising on Amazon.ca:

With this in mind, let’s have another look at the search results for “Herschel.”

The top three spots on the search page are occupied by Vaschy and KALIDI. Compared to the independent seller product listing page for the Herschel backpack, these competitors have far more advanced product listings and optimized content for Amazon’s A9 Algorithm. Here is a side-by-side comparison for further reference.

Herschel (top) Vs Vaschy (bottom). Guess who’s winning the SEO competition?

Herschel’s product pages are clearly under-optimized. Very few products have reviews and of them even have negative reviews (3 or less stars). When customers express negative concerns in the comments, the company does not (and cannot) respond, as it is not operating in this marketplace.

Moreover, other basic on-page SEO elements are not optimized such as the product title, bullet points and the description. As a result, competitors with “similar” designs (KALIDI, Tibes and Vaschy) oftentimes rank higher than Herschel in the organic results, even for brand searches. Factoring in that these competitor brands often offer prime shipping options and have better reviews, Herschel, once selling directly, can drastically improve their visibility and sales by optimizing their product pages.

Herschel’s Advertising Strategy

Optimization won’t simply suffice or muster off the competition. Optimization paired with an advertising strategy is considered to be much more effective. Referring to the search results image below, competitors are actively targeting generic and brand search terms. They are using all of the advertising instruments made available by Amazon, even those with higher branded value like the Sponsored Brand Ads (formerly known as Headline Search Ads).

Herschel could respond to competitors, protect their brand while improving their sales and brand awareness by combining Amazon Sponsored Ads with Amazon DSP. The latter is a demand-side platform that allows brands to programmatically reach audiences both on Amazon sites and apps, as well as through publishing partners and third-party exchanges. It works on the top-most part of the funnel, increasing awareness via programmatic display ads. Sponsored ads (formerly known as AMS) could help Herschel reach Amazon’s loyal customers as they research and discover products. Sponsored Ads appear on Amazon’s search results pages and relevant product pages, directing customers to the product detail page. In combination with Amazon DSP, these ads can transform highly targeted and profiled audiences into customers.

Pragmatic Performance Scorecard

The Pragmatic Performance Scorecard summarizes Herschel’s current positioning within Amazon Canada into 4 simple metrics:

If We Were Herschel…

Based on our findings, if in fact Herschel did have a Vendor account on Amazon.ca, we suggest for them to re-activate it and revamp it in order to take back sales revenue from the independent sellers, and to protect the brand from the entry of unauthorized re-sellers. This would require Herschel to register on Amazon’s Brand Registry to protect their brand reputation and curb counterfeit Herschel products off of the marketplace.

In order to appear towards the top of organic search results page within Amazon, Herschel should optimize their product pages and use A+ content to enhance their customers’ experience. On Amazon.com, Herschel already takes advantage of an Amazon Storefront page, therefore they should unify it to the Amazon.ca marketplace.

Regarding advertising on Amazon, they could invest the majority of the ad budget on Sponsored Ads and the rest for Amazon DSP. Throughout this entire process we always suggest to track, measure and optimize and improve. To recap, Herschel should:

  • Reactivate the Vendor account
  • Register the Brand on Amazon’s Brand Registry
  • Optimize product pages
  • Take advantage of A+ Content
  • Create an Amazon Storefront
  • Invest on Amazon Sponsored Ads
  • Use the remaining budget on Amazon DSP
  • TMOI: Track, Measure, Optimize, Improve


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