Live Blogging from 2014 Catalyst Americas: Amazon Fireside Chat, Part I

March 12, 2014

Marketplaces ChannelAdvisor By ChannelAdvisor

Welcome to the live blog of ChannelAdvisor’s Catalyst 2014. We’ll be live blogging the general sessions to make sure Catalyst attendees don’t miss anything. Also, make sure you’re following hashtag #Catalyst2014 and @ChannelAdvisor on Twitter for all the latest.

Speakers: Scot Wingo, ChannelAdvisor CEO and Sebastian Gunningham, Sr. Vice President of Seller Services for Amazon Services

Part 2:

Scot: Give us some background on what you do.

Sebastian: First, congratulations to you and the team for taking ChannelAdvisor public. I’ve been at Amazon almost eight years. I run all the merchant business, fulfilment by Amazon, payments, front end of website.

Scot: As I noted in my keynote yesterday, our thesis is that marketplaces will eat the world. For the first time that I can recall, you put out a press release about how great the marketplace is doing.

Sebastian: It’s actually the second time we did that – the marketplace model, the world over, works well. We anticipate more in the future. We’ve expanded in many more countries and would love to be in 200 more. We love our hybrid first-party/third party system.

Scot: That press release noted that you experienced 65% year over year growth on your third-party marketplace. Retailers seem to have a black and white view: with 237 million active buyers, many want to be part of that. Others don’t know how to compete with that.

Sebastian: You’re not really competing with Amazon; you’re competing with the internet. The growth of the Amazon seller business has outpaced just about all retail growth I’ve seen. The marketplace business on its own is very successful in dealing with what the competition is thrown at them. It’s a great benefit to have first party and third party – everything Amazon comes up with to help customers will benefit sellers as well. The best way to compete with Amazon is to sell on our marketplace.

Scot: I also get asked about how retailers can contact Amazon, and how they wish they could pick up the phone to talk to someone.

Sebastian: We spend a lot of time trying to figure that out. We believe in self-service and building tools to make retailers self-sufficient. Retailers need to keep pushing on this. It can be hard for us to tell what’s urgent for you, so we have cycles through our engineering teams to let us know what’s critical, by accessing a button via Seller Central.

Scot: You opened up Gold Box to third parties last year. Do you have plans to expand that?

Sebastian: Yes, and the quesiton should be why we didn’t do it ten years earlier. The merchants who’ve participated in the deals of the day have experienced incredible success. 

Scot: Subscribe and Save is another one we’ve been seeing interest in.

Sebastian: Yes — this will allow you to have items delivered every certain number of days. This isn’t trivial to put together across a large merchant population.

Scot: You’ve added new catogories: wine, art — anything else that’s new? Maybe gifts?

Sebastian: We’d love to make it easier for merchants to offer a scalable gifting program. We’re very patient about categories and look at them long term, and what can build a loyal customer base. It’s gated, to make sure retailers fit what we’re trying to do.


Reminder for the Catalyst America’s social presence:
• Follow @ChannelAdvisor on Twitter as we’ll be tweeting out updates, reminders about sessions, networking events and more.
• Tag your social posts, Instagram pics with our show hashtag: #Catalyst2014 tabs on discussions, networking opportunities and more on the Catalyst app.
• Keep an eye on the ChannelAdvisor blogs where we’ll be live blogging the keynotes and main sessions at Catalyst.