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Selling on Amazon? Here’s what you need to know

Last month I presented at Kantar Retail’s Amazon Workshop in Amsterdam.

This full day session focused on vendor positioning in the context of Amazon, looking at—among other things—its disruptive business model and direction, channels, devices, and member reach to help vendors effectively sell through this retailer. We also had a guest speaker from Logitech to discuss team learnings about positioning for Amazon in Europe.

Throughout this session I was reminded how foreign many of the concerns and questions are to consumables suppliers’ traditional retail teams. This is an industry that is used to selling-in shelf placement and building relationships through category captaincy. With Amazon, that sounds quaint.

Seeing this gap, I wanted to share two fundamental points that resonated with those trying to understand their relationship with Amazon:

Amazon is a platform to sell through.  Amazon is a technology company that sells products. They offer a platform for vendors to reach their shoppers. This is fundamentally different position than traditional retailers, where vendors sell products into the stores, and the retailer manages the assortment presentation and positioning. One key consequence of this difference is that Amazon teams are expected to manage more the details—especially around supporting product visibility and presentation.

Interactions are interruptions.  To scale efficiently, Amazon aims to simplify and automate as much as possible.  Interactions slow down response times and make it harder to measure results. Vendor mangers are stretched thin, creating a structure than discourages relationship building. For suppliers, this means avoiding interruption of the algorithms and be judicious about how you spend time in vendor manager meetings.

As Amazon.ca begins to scale, getting the team’s orientation attuned from the start is important. Given than Amazon reapplies its platform across markets, seek ongoing learnings from company teams in Amazon’s more developed countries, such as the U.K. and the U.S., to provide a starting point to navigate the process.  At the same time, to effectively communicate with shoppers through Amazon it’s important to account for distinctive Canadian shopping behaviours, including their digital tendencies and the competitive landscape.

To further discuss Amazon and its impact in Canada, join us at Kantar Retail’s Canadian Forum in Toronto on September 14th, 2016. To learn more about Kantar Retail’s Canadian ShopperSpective insights, email me at RobinSherk@KantarRetail.com

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