When we say that Abound is a curated marketplace, we mean it. Abound makers are selected through a rigorous process, and over 70% of applicants are rejected. If you’ve received a rejection from us, it’s not personal and it’s also not usually a comment on the quality of your products.
We’re looking for brands that are ready to be competitive with all other products in their category, and that means a very high bar has to be passed in many areas of your business. From packaging to brand website to social media presence, we want to see that you’re operating at a professional level. We encourage brands to reapply once they’ve adjusted for the points made in this article and waited at least 6 months.
1) We Want Brands With A Strong, Clear, Visual Aesthetic
Because everything on our site is done digitally, there are many parts of the traditional maker/retailer relationship that can’t be duplicated. This in turn effects how Abound selects makers. At a trade show or a farmers’ market, the retailer would be able to touch, see, taste, and smell your products. They’d get to see your smiling face and how much passion you’ve poured into your line.
None of those techniques are available in a digital situation, but makers do have a whole bundle of new techniques to replace them. We’re looking for makers who have incorporated an extremely strong visual aesthetic so that the care they have for their brand shines through even when maker and retailer aren’t meeting face to face.
While there’s no one exact thing we can point to that means a brand has a strong visual aesthetic, here are some of the things we look for:
- Within 5 seconds of looking at your Instagram, is it extremely clear what you’re selling?
- Within 5 seconds of looking at your website, is your messaging and product clear?
- Do your packaging, website, and social media all look related? Do they all use similar colors/moods/fonts/vibes?
- Are your visuals at a professional level? Do they look comparable in quality to other makers on Abound?
- Is your aesthetic interesting? Does it stand out? Would someone be drawn to it?
2) Are Other People Interested In What You’re Doing?
We are certainly not expecting all our makers to be social media influencers with tens of thousands of followers, but on the other hand, we do expect a reasonable presence for a successful brand. Abound isn’t the place for brand new makers to cut their teeth, we’re looking for people who have been around for a few years and established themselves in some way.
While we don’t have a cut-off or minimum number of followers, makers that are accepted to our platform have an average of 3,000 followers on Instagram. This number indicates to us that you have put the work into social media, a necessary part of understanding online sales.
Unfortunately, if after a few years in business, if other people aren’t interested in following you and checking out your product line, there’s a pretty good chance that our retailers won’t be interested either. Again, your product may be amazing, but if you can’t convince people of that through your product photos, then you won’t be able to convince our retailers through your product photos.
If you’re sure that people would love your product if they just tried it, then we encourage you to learn some marketing techniques to make that a reality. Again, 3,000 followers is not a rule. If you have a very niche product we may happily accept you with less than 1,000 followers. If you are in a highly competitive visual field like jewelry, we may expect you to have 5,000 or more followers. Health and Beauty is one of our most competitive fields, every day we receive 10 brands with over 10,000 followers applying. In those fields, if there’s not something really exceptional about your brand, Abound won’t be able to select you as a maker.
3) You Need To Be Different Than The Other Makers Already On Abound
It’s possible that you’re doing everything right, and that the reason we didn’t take you is because your brand would be too competitive with other makers already on our platform. Like mentioned earlier, we really are a curated marketplace. We don’t want our site to be overcrowded with a ton of brands all making similar items. We don’t want retailers to be overwhelmed and our brands to have no way to stand out.
We respect limiting competition and unfortunately that means turning down some great makers that are just too close to our existing ones. We hope you understand this is an inevitable downside of a move we’re making to respect brands we’re already in business with.
4) Do You Have A Professional Website Comparable To Leaders In The Market?
Again, nothing is wrong with having no website, or a very basic website. If you’re spending all your time on making sure your products and customer service are as good as possible, that’s great and it’s where most of our brands started. However, we’re looking for brands who have leveled up to the stage where they can still focus on those things while also cultivating a professional image.
Competition research is a great place to start. Find similar brands to yours and see what their websites look like. What do most Abound maker’s websites look like, and can you tell why we selected them? Use a critical eye when deciding if yours measures up and looks truly professional.
Do we take makers who only have an Etsy shop? Rarely, and when we do it’s because they have a very impressive number of sales. Do we take makers who don’t have any web presence? Very rarely, and when we do it’s because the brand has been around for decades, is hugely respected in their local area, and has a long track record of impressive retail sales.
5) Do You Have High Quality Photography And Packaging?
Photography and packaging is what retailers are basing their purchases off of. Half the brands that apply do not have a single professional level lifestyle photo, which causes an automatic rejection. We’ve written at length about our best practices for photography and packaging, so if you’d like specifics, check those articles out.
In short, does your packaging and product show the following things?
- Does it look like it’s made by someone who believes in and loves their products?
- Are the labels on even? Was it made with care?
- What does it look like compared to what’s already selling in that category?
6) Do You Have Pricing Parity? Are Your Prices The Same Everywhere?
A huge criteria for Abound selecting makers is price parity. Retailers are very aware of pricing parity, and so we don’t accept any brands who list their prices differently in different places on the internet. If your product costs $99 on your website, but only $79 on Amazon, we won’t accept you into our marketplace.
Why is this such a no-no? Retailers rely on their margins to make a living. Anything that hurts those margins makes it almost impossible for retailers to make a profit. While changing your prices can be a totally fine business model for you to participate in, it just isn’t compatible with Abound.
Here are some examples of price parity that cause us to reject brands:
- Different prices on different websites
- Using Groupon
- Close out sales where all your merchandise is deeply discounted