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

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

Part 1:

Scot: How do you think about FBA at Amazon?

Sebastian: Prime is the best deal in shopping, we think. And we want to do more in the future. On the shipping side, the promise of Prime is a very accurate promise. The scale of the FBA promise means you can put more than one item in a box. The more items you have available, the greater the scale. We’re inventing a lot on the first-party side – and imagine a future with drones – and we can then open up those innovations to third-party sellers. The success is made with everyone voting with their feet. And different countries have different logistical issues. In Japan, storage is an issue, so we’ve helped with that. In Europe, sellers can store their products in multiple countries.

We’ve worked hard on getting the infrastructure working in Europe: and what we see working there, we would like to happen globally. I also commend the effort ChannelAdvisor is making to provide global support to sellers. Selling globally is complicated: You need to account for shipping, local customer service. There’s an opportunity to make this one-click, to provide easy shipping, and we’re excited about that. 85% of our units are under 5 pounds…

Scot: A lot of people said drones were a PR stunt, but we were pretty sure you were serious.

Sebastian: Yes, we’re working on it. I can’t say much, but we’re excited.

Scot: What else can you say on cross-border trade?

Sebastian: Take the simple-use case of products that can move across countries, and aren’t subject to import fees, etc. — consider media and how products like books move across the world. We have big business in China, Japan, US, Europe. I think sellers should jump in and begin to learn. Beware of potholes, but we’ve seen success in all directions. This is a theme for the future.

Scot: What about Russia?

Sebastian: We have a Kindle store there, which opened up the ability for us to go to more countries. We did this in Brazil, too. We’d love to do Russia, it’s just a matter of when. I wish we could say we’d be there tomorrow. 

Scot: Let’s talk about mobile: You’re the number one most-accessed e-commerce app.

Sebastian: There are four experiences: app and browser on tablet, and app and browser on mobile. There’s a different experience between a 7-inch screen and a phone screen. From a merchant perspective, you have to be on Amazon or another major player to have an app strategy and presence. I think these are the early days, too. We’ve been optimising our browswer experience for years, and that process on the small screen is only just beginning. 

There’s a big segment of customers who only know us through the app and will never go to the desktop browser.

Scot: Tell us about Flow.

Sebastian: It’s an app that’s constantly scanning, and will find products. If you’re in a store, it will ID the product then bring up the page on Amazon. It’s a continuous scan, and is a first step in an augmented reality of the shopping experience. We’ve had the recognition technology for some years now. If you fast-forward this a few years, the technology could be quite powerful. 

Scot: I have Google Glass, and Flow seems like it would be great for that.

Sebastian: There must be some shopping application for wearables. You could envision a wishlist app, or an app that keeps track of what you order each month.

Scot: You do a lot outside Amazon: Webstore, Checkout by Amazon. Are you trying to compete with Demandware with your Webstore? Who’s the right customer?

Sebastian: We try to take some of the technology we’ve built for ourselves and extend it. We built a trusted shopping experience and have brought that to a trusted payment experience. You owe it to yourself to try these products. If you like them, keep them. If you have a website, you should try to pay with Amazon. We’ll have a recurring-payment option coming soon. 

Product Ads take traffic to retailers’ site; it’s a great merchant experience, though we still have some work to do on the consumer side. We’re also trying to build a low-cost website program that we think is good for retailers who need to scale at a low cost, and who need trusted e-commerce functionality. 

Scot: We’re seeing many brands sell direct who never had before, especially given the slow-down in the brick-and-mortar world. These brands will come to us for help with navigating Amazon, wondering whether to do first-party or third-party. What’s your advice?

Sebastian: Try it all. Different customer segments are growing at different rates. If you’re a manufacturer, try FBA, try selling on our third-party marketplace. But this chaos that’s happening in the retail world will be happening for a while, among multiple marketplaces and channels. And that’s where ChannelAdvisor can be really helpful. If you want to be on the third-party marketplace, we encourage people to sell to our retailers, too. 

Scot: We’re just about out of time. Any last remarks? I know we’re all appreciative of Amazon and your services.

Sebastian: Thank you for being on the marketplace and for your patience with us at this scale. It’s an honour to come here and see all the merchants here. If you look at this business in the next few years, the trends all look great, and we should see some healthy growth. Amazon’s health is thanks to the work retailers 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.