First things first: Item Comparison and Alternate Purchase behavior is a mouthful to say and an eyeful to read.
Yes, it’s the topic of this article, but let’s condense it to something more palatable: ICAP.
Welcome to part three of a four-part mini-series all about Amazon Brand Analytics!
The goal of this series, like everything else we offer at Ad Badger, is to help you level up your Amazon PPC campaigns. Part one was all about Search Frequency Rank. Part two was all about the Market Basket Report. Part four, premiering next week, will be all about Demographics.
The previous articles were about complementary products, but this feature is about the opposite. ICAP is all about competing products.
Friendly reminder: The information in this article is only relevant to registered brands on Amazon. If you’d like access to this tool, apply for Amazon Brand Registry.
Let us begin…
What even is ICAP?
Amazon defines Item Comparison and Alternate Purchase behavior as a system to improve your competitive intelligence by gaining insight on products most frequently viewed together with yours in addition to the customers’ final choice after viewing your product.
ICAP is the e-commerce version of what happens in grocery stores when you pick up two of the same item, like a salt shaker, when you mentally size them up and choose one.
Perhaps you consider the price, the salt shaker’s heft, the packaging, or any other product detail, but you compared two items and purchased one but not the other product. That’s ICAP.
ICAP in your Amazon Brand Analytics report is split into two main areas. Item comparison is in one table on top and alternate purchases are listed below.
You will see your products and the products that were compared to it with a percentage of how often the two were compared. For the compared percentage Amazon calculates the number of times a product was viewed by customers within the same day.
You might see your own ASIN listed here with different variations too, like if customers looked at different colors or sizes of your product.
Please note: These reports show up to five ASINs, not three like other Amazon reports. This isn’t wildly important, but it’s a noteworthy Amazon inconsistency anyway.
Scroll further beneath that to find Alternate Purchase. According to Amazon, “the Alternate Purchase report shows Brand Owners which products Amazon customers (in aggregate) most frequently purchased on the same day they viewed, but did not purchase, the Brand Owners’ products. This allows Brand Owners to quickly see what products are most commonly purchased instead of their products to analyze product differentiation and portfolio mix opportunities.”
Like the Market Basket report, ICAP offers ASIN target research opportunities.
The percentage of alternate purchases is of the customers who purchased something else. For example, 50% doesn’t mean that half the people bought that other product; it means that of the people who did buy another product, half of them bought that product.
Amazon doesn’t say how often shoppers bought alternative products either. If you have 100 views of your product and one person one time buys another product, then the alternate purchase says 100% instead of 1%.
Knowing how often your product is viewed and to which products it is compared is useful, but before we offer a strategy for winning back customers who may have opted for your competitor, there are some red flags and question marks you should see first.
ICAP: Red flags and question marks
How valuable is ICAP? Well, it might be useless.
When we tested ICAP with one of the clients we manage, we saw that a black tea had hamburger meat listed as an alternative purchase.
Is hamburger meat a true competitor of black tea? Not likely. Green tea is more a competitor than a beef patty.
Is the ICAP fully accurate and relevant? We shrug.
Another hiccup regards low volume and how that impacts the data. An item that is out of stock or has low volume will have very high comparison rates.
Please also note that ICAP only works for products with many views. Otherwise, data is skewed.
For example, we have a food product seller client who had an 11% alternate purchase match with a sinus relief spray.
By this logic, there were shoppers who nearly bought, say, cereal but who then thought, “Never mind, my nose needs to leak less more than my belly needs to grumble less.” That is illogical.
While the ICAP doesn’t always display inaccurate information, its inaccuracy is unfortunate nonetheless.
When it is accurate, however, then ICAP is useful for optimizing your targeting. If you want to stop losing your customers to competitors, our ICAP strategy is a game-changer for your Amazon PPC campaigns.
Win Customers Back with Item Comparison and Alternate Purchase Behavior Reports
To get the most value from ICAP, study your competition and find a dangerous spot.
Analyze the products and ask yourself why someone might click on the other product instead of purchasing your product right away. What can you learn from your competition? Product differentiation is a thing, and you can learn from it.
Is your competition doing something better than you? Do they offer free shipping to Amazon Prime Members? Do they have superior customer service? Is
What is more compelling about their product image or product details? Do they have more reviews or higher ratings?
Once you’ve analyzed the differences, find the trouble spot.
If your comparison is around 3-5%, then you have trouble. This means your product offer is likely weak and that customers are readily shopping elsewhere.
Study your own product line as well. Is there a variation of a product that converts better? A different color or size, perhaps?
Use ICAP to find new keywords. Punch successful ASINs into search term brand analytics and inspect what the competition does differently. What’s different about their images or their pricing?
After studying the competition, evaluate the perceived value to the product price too.
ICAP offers product differentiation and portfolio mix opportunities. Seize those opportunities to win back consumers.
How to win back Customers:
Use ICAP, ASIN, and other reports made available by Amazon and also follow these tips:
- Optimize your product detail page to make it clear and thorough
- Make sure your customer service is up to par
- Honest ads: keep your advertising honest and compelling
- Use client’s email address to offer gift cards and coupons
- Free shipping is always great, even if it’s baked into the price.
ICAP: Know your competition better?
The Item Comparison and Alternate Purchase behavior report from Amazon’s Brand Analytics is most valuable for raising flags. Use ICAP in conjunction with the Brand Analytics’ Search Term report and your competition analysis.
The ICAP is a useful report for evaluating the competition and if this research is met with equal action and change in your Amazon campaigns, then yes, the ICAP helps win back customers.
- Item Comparison and Alternate Purchase behavior is a system to improve your competitive intelligence by gaining insight on products most frequently viewed together with yours in addition to the customers’ final choice after viewing your product.
- The compared percentage is determined by Amazon as the amount of times a product was viewed by customers within the same day.
- The Alternate Purchase report shows Brand Owners which products Amazon customers (in aggregate) most frequently purchased on the same day they viewed. This allows Brand Owners to quickly see what products are most commonly purchased instead of their products to analyze product differentiation and portfolio mix opportunities.
What do you think? Can you think of more uses and benefits of the ICAP? Do you agree or disagree with us?
Final question, and it’s a very important question. Be honest.
Do you like our new nickname for the report? Isn’t ICAP better than Item Comparison and Alternate Purchase Behavior?
Let’s make ICAP happen!
Discover Us on our PPC Den Podcast
If you enjoy supplementing your long reads with audio, we cover this topic on our podcast as well.
Listen to it in the episode below or find us on your favorite streaming platform, like Apple, Google, Spotify, and more!
- 02:20 Intro
- 07:00 What is Item Comparison and Alternate Purchase behavior?
- 08:42 Where to Access ICAP
- 17:30 Strategy: How to use ICAP
- 28:00 Takeaways and farewell
Watch Mike & Stephen on YouTube
If you enjoy supplementing your long reads with video, well, hot diggity dog, you’re in luck! We cover this topic on our YouTube channel too.
Watch it below and please don’t forget to ‘like’ and subscribe.