Live blogging from Catalyst 2011 – Amazon Panel

April 5, 2011

ChannelAdvisor ChannelAdvisor By ChannelAdvisor

We are in day two of our annual Catalyst conference here at ChannelAdvisor and this morning we have an excellent panel around the topic of maximising Amazon sales.  Here are my notes from the panel.

The panel is:

  • Jennifer Artabane – ChannelAdvisor’s Amazon Product Manager
  • Todd Lusby – Secondipity (they sell used items)
  • Laura Kelleher – Recellular (they sell cell phones)
  • Brendan Kelleher – Under Armour (high performance sports apparel)

Topic 1 – ODR

After intros, the panel spent a fair amount of time talking about the importance of customer service in selling on Amazon.

 

Topic 2 – FBA

Laura@Recellular is using FBA heavily and they utilise it for SKUs where they believe they can have the buy box and enjoy access to Prime customers.

Under Armour and Secondipity not using FBA.

Jennifer asked if it would be part of their international strategy.  Secondipity has intl warehouses, so not a fit.  Under Armour has DCs in CA and UK, and can fullfill globally from US, so not being considered right now.

Recellular is very interested in leveraging FBA for intl sales (UK specifically).

 

Topic 3 – Amazon growth

Jennifer asked an open question about other ways the retailers are expanding on Amazon:

 

Laura@Recellular –

  • Looking to dramatically expand their number of SKUs
  • Looking at checkout by amazon (CBA) for their website as well

Secondipity –

  • Look at pricing on top SKUs and make sure they are always competitive
  • In key categories may sure they continue to grow and are super competitive

Jennifer follow-up: How are you determining those top categories

  • Look at top sales and it’s somewhat driven by their supply chain, what comes in through their sourcing channels

Also – how do you manage the multi-channel world?

  • we operate between the bumpers – on Amazon they get the newer, latest product, eBay is more for liquidation, etc.

 

Topic 3 – What to you focus on as far as Amazon is concerned?

  • Secondipity – we operate between the bumpers – on Amazon they get the newer, latest product, eBay is more for liquidation, etc.
  • Under Armour – we focus on depth and content, what are our best sellers, how can we get a very rich customer experience on Amazon
  • We change over seasonally, refreshing new products
  • We also look at what it will take to win the buy box, other channels we don’t have that focus.
  • Recellular – we love all our channels!  High velocity stuff goes to Amazon, slower stuff on eBay, tend to take a product-based approach. On Amazon, you can really see how the ASIN is doing (sales rank) is very helpful and allows us to respond quickly.

Topic 4 – used products

Question from the audience – I have used products and notice two of you are in that space and am surprised you are so successful, how do I get started?

  • Recellular – Worked with Amazon and was given a dedicated account manager – they recommend take our highest quality items and put that on there – it does great.
  • Secondipity – We have a similar approach, the Amazon buyer has much higher expectations than eBay so we put up your very best product and the rest goes to eBay.

 

Topic 5 – Tips on buy box

Audience question came in about the buy box.

Jennifer pointed out:

  • Pricing is a factor but so is…
  • Stock on hand, shipping times and …
  • Customer service ratings – you have to be a preferred merchant (takes 3-6 months and you have to have very strong ODRs)
  • Recellular – Amazon is working on a used buy box which is very exciting for that cateogry

Topic 6 – The amazon competitive question/concern

From audience – we’ve been selling on Amazon for 2-3yrs and

  • Under Armour – we are a manufacturer so have decided to focus on the 3P aspect vs. selling direct to Amazon
  • Recellular – We don’t really compete because we are
  • Secondipity – We compete some on TVs and we just do our best to beat them and highlight our differences

Topic 7 – The data/catalogueueue question

From audience – when we sell on Amazon the hard part is data – we put a new item up there and someone has put up the wrong picture for the product.  How can we get Amazon to clean that up?

  • Secondipity – very hard, hope someone else has ideas (laughs)  It only happens 1-2 times/month.  One thing we do is make sure we always upload our own image.
  • Recellular – We had a cell phone cat – someone had a cat in there and it was obviously confusing.  One thing we do that doesn’t scale, we look at the products on the iphone app which gives you a quick visual guide which is helpful.
  • Under Armour – No silver bullets.  We just make sure when we get a complaint we jump on it.

Topic 8 – Amazon and manufacturers

Audience – does Amazon give priority to the manufacturer for products/images, etc.

  • Under Armour – they don’t give us ‘priority’, but in our conversations, we go to them and say ‘we are the manufacturer this is wrong’ and they tend to listen.
  • Jennifer – each category has a category manager and they tend to set the rules and determine what’s going on there.  So it really depends by category.

That concludes the panel – great stuff!

 

SeekingAlpha Disclosure – I am long Amazon and Google, eBay is an investor in ChannelAdvisor where I am CEO.