What will greater access to Amazon’s customers mean for marketplace sellers?

Discussion
Photo: Amazon
Apr 26, 2021
Tom Ryan

Amazon.com recently launched a new tool, “Manage Your Customer Engagement (MYCE),” that allows some third-party sellers for the first time to market directly to the platform’s customers.

The program enables brands to send email campaigns to existing customers about new product launches. Launching new products is challenging on the platform as positioning is based on algorithms guided by past purchasing data.

Merchants can also offer promotions to “inspire repeat purchases” and drive brand loyalty. Key performance metrics are available to monitor engagement.

“Customers love to be first to learn about new products from their favorite brands,” Amazon said in a video introducing the program. “They feel even more appreciated when a brand shares promotions. And once they know and follow a brand, they’re more likely to become loyal and engaged repeat customers.”

The MYCE program marks a major change from Amazon’s long-time policy of restricting brands from soliciting customers directly, in part, to reduce spam abuse. Merchants have only been able to communicate directly with shoppers via a messaging feature on delivery issues, such as order status.

The tool has numerous conditions, however, including only being available to members of Brand Registry, a program launched in 2015 as a way to curb counterfeit listings that has been expanded to include content tools.

Campaigns are also only available to brands that have an Amazon Stores page with followers. The platform won’t be sharing customer contact information with brands. According to CNBC, Amazon, not the sellers, sends out the emails to the brand’s followers. It tells brands how many customers have opted in to receive the emails, but not their names or email addresses.

Finally, all campaigns are reviewed by Amazon’s “moderation team” for content.

The move comes following a period when more brands began selling on the Amazon platform during the pandemic despite concerns over access to customers. Amazon in recent years has introduced more brand building tools, such as Amazon Stores, Amazon Posts and the ability to add interactive videos on product listing pages to help brands stand out.

Amazon also faces competition for third-party sellers from platforms such as Shopify, WordPress and Adobe’s Magento that offer less restrictive engagement tools.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How much value does the “Manage Your Customer Engagement (MYCE)” tool offer brands selling on Amazon’s third-party marketplace? Are the conditions under the program too restrictive for third-party sellers or necessary safety measures for Amazon?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Amazon is a traffic magnet and MYCE can help to build and differentiate brands on this leading platform."
"I think brands will experiment with it, if nothing else to test promotions, but it’s a far cry from the brand control that DTC brands want."
"...the opportunity to sell on such a big powerhouse is too great to miss out on. This marks a good step for these sellers. But is it enough?"

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13 Comments on "What will greater access to Amazon’s customers mean for marketplace sellers?"


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Mark Ryski
BrainTrust

It’s a small step in the right direction, but only a small one. Brands need the ability to connect with their customers, and the restrictions imposed by Amazon are too restrictive. Amazon has been under pressure to be less restrictive, but they’re not going to give up control of the customer very soon or easily. I expect that the tension between Amazon and their marketplace partners will be an ongoing issue for the foreseeable future.

Suresh Chaganti
BrainTrust

Amazon has opened a little bit, but brands should remember that Amazon has all the rights to modify the program at will. There have been numerous instances of Facebook, Twitter, etc. restricting API access or modifying rules with little notice or regard to the businesses that have been relying on the access.

Ultimately Amazon will do what is good for its business – its customers come first. Brands come next.

Lisa Goller
BrainTrust

Amazon is a traffic magnet and MYCE can help to build and differentiate brands on this leading platform.

This new tool reflects customer-centric marketing practices like direct outreach, relevant content and exclusive promotions. MYCE also protects consumers’ privacy by screening for trustworthy brands and withholding shoppers’ personal data.

These safety measures are necessary to help consumers feel comfortable and valued by Amazon and its brand partners.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

We have written several times about the downside of being in the Amazon Marketplace. It seemed the ability for a retailer to connect with a customer was always at the head of the critique list. Here is a step in the right direction for all.

What has been implemented is a win for all parties. I suspect Amazon will expand the program and loosen some of the restriction and add others. I can think of several additions that would bring more revenue to Amazon and more reach to the marketplace members.

The reality is, for a marketplace member, Amazon gives them more reach than they can possibly get with any other alternative. It is in Amazon’s interest to make the marketplace members even more successful and they will.

Venky Ramesh
BrainTrust

It’s a smart move by Amazon to address the seller complaint of not having access to the customer data, while still retaining control. As a customer, I don’t want to start receiving individual emails from every brand that I have purchased on Amazon. So it works for me as well.

Rodger Buyvoets
BrainTrust

Removing the barrier many marketplace sellers have compared to DTC will be a shift, not only for the brands themselves, but for the customer experience. Let’s be honest, Amazon’s “experience” (despite the quick-wins like their one-click patent or personalization) isn’t the greatest. Even their webshop feels outdated, crowded, and non-conversational. I know that Amazon’s global algorithms are a problem for marketplace sellers, but the opportunity to sell on such a big powerhouse is too great to miss out on. This marks a good step for these sellers. But is it enough?

Rick Watson
BrainTrust

The big question here is, will Amazon open up a true third-party app ecosystem around customer engagement? I think the answer will be no, but it’s a big question. How would a large brand make use of these tools if there aren’t APIs to scale them with service providers? Sometimes Amazon only inches in the right direction begrudgingly.

Matthew Brogie
BrainTrust
12 days 20 hours ago

The MYCE program is a great move by Amazon as it provides a channel for sellers to drive more business through the platform. In a perfect [Amazon] world, sellers actually prefer to distribute their products through the platform, and find it economically beneficial to do so over other channels. Giving sellers the ability to communicate with their customers and create more “pull” for their products through the marketplace should make it more desirable for them. Seems like a strong two-way win, with some potential residual win left over for consumers.

Yogesh Kulkarni
BrainTrust

This doesn’t look different from a traditional retailer loyalty program in which brands are able to participate in a retailer’s program by primarily funding promotions for new trials and churn. Done the right way it is a win-win. And Amazon, just like other established retailers, is never going to give up control over its customer database and the way the customer experience is managed. Brands will get enough reporting so they can invest more in the Amazon channel. If Amazon wants to plays it, it can now open up a new avenue for making additional revenues out of brands too to support running these promos.

Xavier Lederer
BrainTrust

You are making a great point Yogesh! Right now the relationship between brands and their customers on Amazon is purely transactional. It will be interesting to see whether this change is sufficient to create some kind of conversation between brands and their customers — even though the initial MYCE setup seems to favor one-way conversations only.

Natalie Walkley
BrainTrust

One of Amazon’s greatest strengths as a marketplace is its sole ownership of data, customer information, and analytics. They seem to be willing to share a white-label version of it with sellers to drive more sales — which benefits both Amazon and sellers. I think brands will experiment with it, if nothing else to test promotions, but it’s a far cry from the brand control that DTC brands want.

Andrew Blatherwick
BrainTrust

This looks like Amazon has started to realize they need to protect their marketplace from other major operators opening up similar marketplaces and also larger sellers setting up their own sites. This is a major change for Amazon and was not a decision taken lightly, competition is making them understand they do not have it all their own way and need to treat their partners with respect.

Karen Wong
BrainTrust

I wouldn’t say it’s a step in the right direction as much as it’s an inch in the right direction. I’m simply glad there are still competitors in the market to keep them somewhat honest.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Amazon is a traffic magnet and MYCE can help to build and differentiate brands on this leading platform."
"I think brands will experiment with it, if nothing else to test promotions, but it’s a far cry from the brand control that DTC brands want."
"...the opportunity to sell on such a big powerhouse is too great to miss out on. This marks a good step for these sellers. But is it enough?"

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