Do Amazon Marketplace sellers need outside help?

Discussion
Source: NetRush
Aug 10, 2017
Tom Ryan

With Amazon.com becoming the go-to place for online searches, third-party sellers continue to flock to its marketplace. At the same time, these sellers are looking for third-party help to sell more effectively on the platform.

Swiftwick, an athletic sock company based in Brentwood, TN, for example, recently hired Vancouver-based NetRush to help it optimize content, product selection and digital marketing on Amazon Marketplace.

“We view Amazon as a marketing platform and a place where new consumers can discover our brand and learn about our products,” said Swiftwick president, Chuck Smith. He added that NetRush would particularly help its goal “to grow the brand’s reach overall and not simply shift sales from one channel to another.”

AMZBlitz, a San Francisco-based firm started by former Amazon sellers, offers help with optimizing keyword search for third-party sellers to drive higher rankings, using multiple marketing channels to boost sales and visibility, perfect photos to lift rank and conversion, and get started with FBA (Fulfillment By Amazon). On its website, AMZBlitz promises, “We hold your hand for a few weeks after the promotion and make sure your products are on track to dominating your categories. Then we continue to send you tips and tricks on how to crush the competition.”

SPS Commerce, a provider of cloud-based supply chain management solutions, launched an expansion of its network in February to include Amazon Marketplace and help clients manage the rapidly changing order volumes required by online marketplaces.

The services come as a new bestseller, “The Amazon Marketplace Dilemma,” co-authored by James Thomson, the former head of Amazon Services, warns that many aspects of a brand selling on Amazon Marketplace are beyond a brand’s control.

Mr. Thompson, who is an advisory member of Buy Box Experts, which specializes in Amazon account management, said in a press release, “A brand, to sustain solid growth, requires constant nurturing by updating its marketing, refreshing its marketplace optimization, and keeping an eye out to protect the brand on Amazon.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How can third-party sellers better use Amazon Marketplace and similar services as marketing platforms for their businesses? Do you see search optimization, advertising, delivery or some other function as the biggest challenge for third-party sellers on the Amazon platform?

Braintrust
"Insofar as Amazon won’t offer third-party sellers lessons in marketing, sure — they do need a little help."
"If Amazon continues to cut costs and services to marketplace sellers, Amazon needs third party providers as much as the brands do."
"The lure is quickly increasing online sales via a turnkey platform. The danger is drowning in a sea of anonymity."

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12 Comments on "Do Amazon Marketplace sellers need outside help?"

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Ben Ball
BrainTrust

If you are not familiar with Amazon’s systems, having someone who is definitely familiar with them helps. This is especially true for small vendors. However, senior Amazon executives have suggested that they will want to deal directly with major manufacturers, no different than the large brick-and-mortar retailers do.

Liz Crawford
BrainTrust

Insofar as Amazon won’t offer third-party sellers lessons in marketing, sure — they do need a little help. This of course opens a new business opportunity for those savvy consultants … will a bigger consultant get into the game?

Lyle Bunn (Ph.D. Hon)
BrainTrust

All sellers that deal with large retailers benefit from expertise that fills the gap between the interests and capabilities of each partner. It is a return on time and investment issue, where the seller needs the best terms and the retailer wants the most from the relationship. Both the seller and the retailer are well-served by this intermediary expertise.

Chris Petersen, PhD.
BrainTrust

Amazon Marketplace has truly become a “siren” calling third-party sellers. The lure is quickly increasing online sales via a turnkey platform. The danger is drowning in a sea of anonymity.

Amazon offers amazing turn key services for third-party sellers that are very attractive for those without a platform or major web presence. The tremendous growth in Amazon web traffic and delivery capabilities are services that few third-party sellers can match themselves.

However, with millions of other sellers now offering millions of products on the Marketplace, there is no guarantee of sales or being discovered. If there’s one area where third-party sellers can benefit it is how to market and standout from the crowd on Marketplace. Mr. Thompson has it right: “[success] requires constant nurturing by updating its marketing.”

Third-party sellers also need assistance regarding how to protect their brands on Amazon Marketplace, but that’s worthy of a discussion topic on another day.

Phil Masiello
BrainTrust
There are two ways to approach selling on Amazon; as a reseller of existing products and brands or as a seller of your own brand. Each of these are different operating models with unique challenges. As a reseller, in order to be successful, you need to have some sort of supply chain advantage. Many resellers on the platform are either distributors or partners with distributors. The main issues resellers face is the fight for the buy box against the many other resellers who are carrying the same exact product as they are. If you have consistently low prices because of your supply chain advantage and can maintain a great seller performance metric, you will win the buy box a good portion of the time. But can you make a profit? That is the question. Resellers without a supply chain advantage play the online arbitrage game and their business is getting more difficult by the day. These sellers will also sell on eBay, Walmart Marketplace, Jet and a host of others. But Amazon makes up more than 70 percent of all marketplace sales for sellers. The other Amazon marketplace sellers are brands. If you own your brand then you can limit… Read more »
Art Suriano
BrainTrust

Marketing and advertising are important for any business selling a product. The Internet is no different, just the methods. It’s smart for third-party sellers to invest in better marketing and positioning because they only have a few seconds to attract a customer to their products online. However, the challenges remain the same. Today we are bombarded with endless TV commercials and radio ads, most that are completely ineffective. Search optimization is becoming just as challenging in terms of discovering what we hope will be the best way to lure customers. The goal is always to have your company or product stand out. The technology exists for third-party e-commerce sellers to reach customers, but it must also have the right creative that will get the attention of the internet shopper.

Naomi K. Shapiro
BrainTrust

Amazon Marketplace sellers must remember that they are working with — and against — Amazon, or, rather, Amazon is working with and against them. The Marketplace sellers need all the help they can get to do this balancing act.

Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

As I read this article it made me realize that Amazon may be best to help their third-party sellers be more successful. Sure, outside consultants can help Amazon. But, since Amazon created the platform, why not help retailers optimize it? This is a great opportunity for Amazon. If the third-party does better, Amazon does better. The rising tide lifts all boats.

Kiri Masters
BrainTrust

As a provider of such third-party services for brands selling on Amazon, I can vouch for sustained interest in our services as brands find less and less direct support from Amazon themselves. As other commenters pointed out, while Amazon wants to deal directly with the brand or manufacturer, they are increasingly automating services for sellers and creating barriers for having a dialogue with Amazon directly.

This is where third party providers can step in and help with a broad and deep understanding of the platform. If Amazon continues to cut costs and services to marketplace sellers, Amazon needs third party providers as much as the brands do.

Karl Wellman
Guest
10 days 22 hours ago
However, after 16 years as an Amazon Solution Provider for manufacturers, distributors, and merchants, we find that in all cases unless the company has a staff that is 100% focused on Amazon.com, everyone needs help. In practice, Amazon does not normally let you know when they’re going to make a right turn or a left turn. They simply do it. We think that having connections into people that work inside of Amazon, is a big plus. This is why we have nurtured our relationship with Amazon for a very long time, and can find ways to get things done through these relationships. We encourage all sellers who have a desire to work with Amazon to find a resource that actually has the practical experience to guide them. It is not that it’s necessary, it’s vital. And VET Them. No matter what you read, no matter what people tell you, you can find a place to work with Amazon, but leverage what they can provide to you in the best possible way for YOUR company. As an example, there is a particular product profile that Amazon is attracted to better than others, but what they told us 16 years ago that… Read more »
Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust

Third-party sellers on Amazon’s marketplace are challenges today in two primary areas — winning the buy box, and being discovered in search. Amazon’s not going to provide them the tools they need to optimize these areas so it makes sense for sellers to seek outside services. There are plenty of examples of sellers who have become more successful with this assistance. After all, Amazon is the platform for them to sell with, not the optimization machine that will match customers to their products for them. They are just providing access to customers.

Liz Adamson
Guest
4 days 23 hours ago

As anyone who has ever sold on Amazon has likely experienced, Amazon does not cater to a seller’s needs or watch out for their best interests. Because Amazon is totally customer centric, all sellers are expected to jump through whatever hoops Amazon deems necessary to keep the customer happy.

The frustrating part of this is that Amazon does not do a good job of communicating with sellers what those hoops are or how it will affect a seller’s business. Having outside help in the form of a consultant or agency who understand all of Amazon’s nuances can keep the experience from turning into a bad one and free up your internal resources to do what your company does best.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Insofar as Amazon won’t offer third-party sellers lessons in marketing, sure — they do need a little help."
"If Amazon continues to cut costs and services to marketplace sellers, Amazon needs third party providers as much as the brands do."
"The lure is quickly increasing online sales via a turnkey platform. The danger is drowning in a sea of anonymity."

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