amazon (26)

3294932462?profile=RESIZE_480x480Hard to believe it's been 4 years since Amazon announced Launchpad a custom program that helps start-ups “launch, market and distribute” new products on Amazon.  The program is really a re-skinned version of Amazon's Vendor Express, but it's goal is to let smaller manufacturers sell directly to Amazon.  The reason for the re-branding?  Simple - it's cooler and let's them position it as an option for business that were funded by Kickstarter, Circle up, or just an old fashion invention.

Their pitch is that you get to tap into Amazon's massive presence to quickly build your brand leveraging their platform to grow. They are correct - Amazon is the largest online retailer with over 1.4 billion sessions last Christmas.  A recent Forrester survey noted that 50% of American's search for product on Amazon regardless of whether or not they're going to buy on the site.

Any Company needs a presence there and Amazon is positioning Launchpad as the way to do it for start-ups. But is it worth it?   H

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untitled-2_35.pngAmazon took a dramatic step today help it quickly restock critical supplies.  Effective today all inbound FBA orders (except for groceries, household supplies and medical products) would be paused until April 5th.  In addition, Amazon has suspended all new purchase orders for all 1P customers, except for the same critical group of items.

This pause will impact brands across multiple categories; everything from clothing and office to sporting goods and electronics.  Grocery, base household supplies, and most medical products are unaffected.  

Yeoman considers this a smart move by Amazon.  We have seen a dramatic shift in consumables and grocery buying on the site, with some categories up 500% vs prior week.  Putting basics at the top of the list helps Amazon get products out to quickly and offset some of the stockouts that are being seen around the US.

"We understand this is a change to your business, and we did not take this decision lightly," Amazon said in its announcement, and said

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3978350727?profile=RESIZE_710xA recent Yeoman study of over 1,500 items sold on Amazon from a leading US manufacturer found a whopping 70% contained errors or did not follow Amazon’s best practice recommendations for providing product details. This study further showed the same level of inaccuracy on Google and Bing product searches. This is a maddening problem that plagues manufacturers in every industry. Once a product is “out there,” resellers, partners, distributors and reviewers end up shaping and revising the product details that your customers are going to use to make their purchase decision.

 

Products sold by Amazon definitely had better data quality, but less than 4% could be considered 'optimized' with the proven best practices for any item:

  • Descriptive title at least 50 characters long (including brand, purpose, color, and set/quantity info)
  • Multiple images of product
  • Bullet/summary list of product features
  • Complete description that includes product benefits, usage instructions, what's in the box, and
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3294931990?profile=RESIZE_320x320Yeoman is often asked by clients to help identify 'gaps' in their teams' abilities to be more digitally focused.  Most companies we work with often have great sales teams, a solid marketing group, and good business analysts but they still struggle with the best way to support their sales and distribution efforts online. 
 
Over the years, Yeoman has found most organizations have gaps in 3 key areas:
 

1. Online Product Merchandising:  The actual creation of product details online is often relegated to a junior buyer, marketing associate, (or worse) an intern. The thought of what product details will be often comes last and is rushed out as the product is shipping.  Big mistake.  Building up your internal content skills is one of the best ways to improve your overall footprint.  This includes everything from best practice titles, product details, images, specifications, categorization, etc.  This isn't a one time task; it needs to become part of someone's role for three reasons:

  • Optimi
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3565675286?profile=RESIZE_710xUpdate:  The long standing quesiton about whether or not Amazon will be happy collecting taxes on behave of 3rd party sellers is officially over. On January 1st, Amazon started collecting in 4 more states (HI, IL, MI, and WI)  Last October they added 9  (AZ, CA, CO, ME, MD, MA, NV, ND, TX, UT)

 

That brings the total to 38 states that Amazon collects and remits taxes for 3rd party sellers.  (39 if you include Washington, DC, plus there are 5 states that don't charge sales tax) The bulk of the other Marketplaces like Walmart and eBay have also complied with most of the rules, but not as fast as Amazon.  For Amazon, the logic is easy

  • They have a physical nexus in all 50 states already (so they pay taxes on items they sell direct)
  •  They already have an enterprise level merchant collection system that's been running for year
  • Walmart, EBay and other competing marketplaces are struggling to move as fast

 

That leaves 13 states a seller may have to collection sales tax in.  This broader quest

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Amazon Brand Registry - It's Working

In our recent blog post, Amazon Brand Registry: What You Need to Know Right Now, we covered some of the advantages of signing up for the new Amazon Brand Registry. Of course the main benefit of the brand registry is that once you prove your brand belongs to you, Amazon will help you protect it against counterfeiters and unauthorized resellers. Well, it's working.
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Remember that good old, predictable Christmas sales curve you’ve built your forecasting around for the last five to ten years? Amazon has changed it for good. If you’re not adjusting your planning, you’re kissing a good portion of potential holiday sales good-bye.
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Hard to believe it's almost Thanksgiving.  If you're like most manufacturers, there's a belief that your holiday die is cast; reseller orders are in, final pricing negotiated, market plans set, and budgets spent.  It's all up to the channel now right?  Wrong
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3294931451?profile=RESIZE_320x320Amazon had 900 million visits Christmas 2014,  1.3 Christmas 2015, and have regularly cracked the 1 billion visitor mark every month this year (as of May 2016). Let that number sink in. That’s 3x the population of the United States. The giant of retail, Wal-Mart only has 240 million visits a month. Target? 140 million. Grainger (for you B2B manufacturers)? 7 million. And Amazon visitors are buying. Amazon holiday sales will likely be up 20-25% over Q4 last year. That’s a decade of double digit YoY holiday sales growth (in case anyone’s counting :)  And its not just the US - we see this growth in UK, Europe, and Canada.

What's their secret?  They key for any manufacturer or publisher to understand, is that Amazon’s success IS NOT simply due to the products Amazon buys and sells online. That’s only one part of it.

They succeed because Amazon.com is really a system that pits 4 competing divisions against each other to drive overall sales - Amazon Supply, Amazon Merchant, Amazon Marketing

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The recovering economy may make many brands think the painful digital shift they’ve been undergoing in their channels will subside as traditional retail, wholesale, outside, and catalog sales get a lift with a stronger economy. They'd be wrong. While a stronger economy will help all sales, this recovery will likely see its biggest boost in digital channels – everything from direct sales and drop ships to social commerce and Amazon domination. There's plenty for a brand to do in 2018, but here are 5 trends you should be acting on now.
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Groupon may have started life as an online coupon site, but most of its growth and revenue is due to their discount goods business, which launched in 2011. Five years and nearly $2 billion USD in goods revenue later, the company is ready to take on the world of ecommerce mega giants like Amazon, eBay, Sears, Buy.com and Jet—just to name a few.
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Amazon has just rolled out the full version of Brand Central to all sellers in North America, but with very little fanfare and even less information. Yeoman has already enrolled several brands. Here's why this should be a priority for your team.
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3294932472?profile=RESIZE_320x320Black Friday and Cyber Monday are right around the corner, so it’s time for manufacturers to do a prep-double check.  Most manufacturers are thinking "my job is done, it's all up to retail and my partners".  Think again.  Today original manufacturers can make a major impact on holiday sales - regardless of whether you sell direct or not.

It’s not too late! There are still a few key things you can do to help boost holiday sales.

1. Make sure your main website is ready for prime time

A recent study found that 65% of shoppers visit a manufacturer's direct website to research a product prior to purchase. Your website needs to present your products in a clear, salable, format—whether you take sales or not.

This starts with polishing your product details. A full 70% of manufacturer sites we’ve studied have missing or inaccurate product information on the main site. This includes everything from inaccurate specs to missing images and even missing products. The time is NOW to do an audit and g

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Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone, so most manufacturers have 'checked out' on the holiday season.  If you walk around a manufacturer's or publisher's office this time of year, you wouldn't think it's the busiest time of the year. Most organizations are focused on 2016 budgets, new product plans, and 2016 forecasts, with the occasional glance at the POS reports. 

To quote one manufacturer: "all of our heavy activity is leading up to the holidays; our partners take it from there. We don't sell direct." That may have been true in years, past, but original manufacturers have a major impact on holiday sales - regardless of whether or not you sell direct.

A recent study of 5,000 shoppers found that 65% of have visited a manufacturer's website as part of researching a product over the last year. Not presenting your products in a clear, salable, format is just a mistake. Key things you can do this week to help sales include:

1. Polish the product details on your site:  Yeoman

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3294931537?profile=RESIZE_320x320Google has confirmed it - a Buy Button is “imminent.”  The button is expected to be rolled out on mobile devices, and will enable people who click on product ads in search results to buy those products without navigating to a third-party site.  The button, following similar moves by Facebook and Twitter, are a significant departure for the search giant, which has built its business based on ads that link to other websites.

"The rationale is to reduce friction for customers'" said Omid Kordestani, Google’s Chief Business Officer, "making it simpler to complete online purchases."  Trust us, there's another reason - Google is facing significant competition from Amazon and others when it comes to people searching for products and has been steadily moving to be more "direct."  Recent examples include:

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Amazon Tries for B2B Again

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If at first you don’t succeed try, try, again…

Amazon this week announced its "new" Amazon business. The service offers B2B level ecommerce to any qualified business. If that's sounds vaguely familiar it is. Amazonsupply.com was launched back in 2006 after the acquisition of smallparts.com. That was Amazon’s initial entrance into the world of B2B ecommerce.

Unfortunately, the specialty site never really gained traction as a true B2B site when compared to its primary competitors, Grainger, ULine, Global Industrial, etc.

To put these numbers in context, Amazon.com had 2.4 billion visits during this same time period. Therein lies the problem.

It's important to note that Amazon has been successful growing B2B sales, just not Amazonsupply.com. Industrial and Business categories have grown double digit for the last several years.  Yeoman's B2B clients have seen doubling and tripling of sales over the last 5 years.

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The reality is the sales of industrial and B2B goods are being done on Amazon.com n

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