How to spy on your competitors failed products and learn from them

No joke. You can track down Amazon sellers to see all their failed products. With failure we mean the Amazon seller is not selling the product anymore. This can come from a bunch of reasons that we will discuss.

We can track down Amazon sellers with Google. We can enter in specific keywords about a competitor – yes we need a seller who we are spying on – and Google gives us back unavailable product pages from Amazon.

Just like here below

You might be like, how is this possible? The reason we are able to search unavailable listings on Google is because Amazon never deletes listings. The only way a listing could be deleted is if the algorithm or Amazon themselves did so. 

Amazon sellers are not able to delete listings or make them unavailable for search engines to crawl. 

Why spy on competitors failed products

Whenever we launch in a new market we want to understand everything about it first. We want to know:

  • Where customers are hanging out 
  • What products are recently launched in the market? 
  • Are listings FBA or FBM?
  • What the biggest Amazon sellers are in the space


And many more. 

All of the research we are doing before entering into a market is called market research. One of the many questions you must be asking yourself is how not to make your product a failure. 

What better way to understand a failed product than by looking at one. Most of the time, we can understand why products fail on Amazon. However, sometimes I see myself cluelessly looking at my screen going over a listing with 1000+ reviews that have stopped selling. I can make assumptions why the product might have failed or why the seller isn’t selling it anymore, but it’s still a guess. 

On the other side, with some unavailable product listings, I immediately understand what happened. From poor reviews to not having any reviews at all. 

How to spy on competitors failed Amazon FBA listings

Alright, let’s check a real-life example of an Amazon listing that has failed. 

We start our search on Amazon and find a niche with a competitor that we are looking to check on. Most of the time, I find that bigger Amazon sellers give me better results to learn from. 

For this example, I will look at the keyword “Bath Mat”.

Within the niche you want to take one competitor to take a closer look at. I take the first result, with the brand name Genteele. Once on the product page, copy the “Sold by” name. You will need the sold by name for the next step.

Now open up google and paste the copied “Sold by” name in the search bar and press enter. Here you want to press “settings” and then “advanced search”.

This is the result

If you are unfamiliar with google advanced search then I will open up your eyes towards a total new world. 

Google Advanced Search is a more detailed method of finding information on Google. It uses a variety of Google search operators that consists of special characters and commands – also known as “advanced operators” – that goes beyond a normal Google search.

You have a bunch of different ways you can use it. For example, you can search in a specific location, through images, through video, by news, by link, by price, by related, and much more. 


Read all about it here.

——–

Let’s further our search for unavailable listings on Amazon. What we want to do is two steps:

  1. Type “currently unavailable” in the exact word or phrase
  2. Type “amazon.com” into the site/domain section

Press advanced search.

Only 45 results! 

The 45 results are very relevant because we have used advanced search results. However, not every result on this page is what we are looking for. Some results are from competitors who rank for genteele. I bet they have entered genteele in their back-end search results.

Here is one of those examples

Like we can see, Northpoint isn’t the brand we were looking up, but it’s still in the same niche as them. 

So now we can evaluate why the brand isn’t selling the product anymore. First I check for how long they have been selling. 

The listing has been live since 2014 and did sell steadily throughout the years. I can see one dip which managed to fluguate the ranking for a long time. The second dip is when I believe they went unavailable. Or atleast out of stock, but why?

The price point of the product is low in my eyes. You can see they tried to get the price towards $20, but failed to hold it there. $16 is about what looked like their safe zone.

Looking broadly at the competition, I can definitely tell the price is below average. This might have caused them some trouble.

The reviews do look promising. For over 8 years they have been climbing and don’t in any way look bad. The last review was written at the start of 2019.

With Helium 10 review grabber, you can sort and export customer reviews from product listings to uncover customer insights, pain points, and product issues. I recommend taking a look at the X ray tool that supports the feature.

Looking at reviews is most of the time the best way to understand why a product has failed. 

With this listing, I’m unable to come up with an exact reason for why it stopped selling. This happens most of the time, but I’m guessing the reason it stopped selling is because of low margins from the start already and with more competition entering the market the margins started to disappear. Like we analyzed, they were unable to sell at $20. 

Sometimes you have really no clue why a product stopped selling. We can’t know everything that is happening behind the scenes. Other reasons for a brand dropping the product are:

  • Supplier relationship
  • Caseflow
  • Other opportunities


All three above reasons are aspects of a business we can’t figure out by looking at the inactive listing. So keep that in mind.

I suggest keeping a document up to date with all the reasons products have failed. At Least your thoughts about it. Doing this will not only give you a better understanding of your market but also understand what not to do. See it as an extra step in your market research.

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The key to success is patience, persistence, and obsessive attention to detail. 

━ Jef Bezos