COVID-19 has been a massive disruption for businesses and forced them to take a hard look at their workforce, finances, and the way they do business. The pandemic has exposed many businesses’ shortcomings in several ways, forced them to reevaluate how they do business. In late 2019 Forrester, in partnership with the National Retail Federation, penned The State Of Retailing that showed retailers found success finishing 2019 with a more significant number of brick and mortar stores – the current pandemic put a screeching halt in 2020. Omni-channel companies were scrambling to drive consumers to their online store but were overshadowed by online “category killers” like Amazon, Walmart, Target, etc. They provided a one-stop shopping experience for home-sheltered consumers; consumers could get everything from food, cleaners, soap, entertainment, toilet paper, etc.
This brings me to my question. Are your products on Amazon? Why not? If you haven’t loaded them onto Amazon, they are likely already there from distributors or third-party retail arbitragers listing your products. I have heard many different reasons why businesses have not approached Amazon or Walmart as a sales channel. How can they afford not to?
Brands get bastardized on Amazon and Walmart every day because manufacturers or brand owners choose not to do business with Amazon or do not have the expertise to manage these channels. Amazon and Walmart make the process seem simple but managing 50+ SKUs can be difficult. The cost is too great to only dabble in selling on Amazon without experts who can see the big picture.
Amazon and Walmart are different worlds, with their own set of rules and processes that would challenge rolling this function onto an in-house Brand Manager, Marketing Director, or trusting the company’s keys to an internal eBay expert. If you are a CEO, CFO, President, or Owner, you need to look at your company with both eyes and realize that the big box online etailers are the new future distribution model. If your business has survived the pandemic to read this, you watched consumers flocked to Amazon and Walmart to shop in the safety on their homes. Now that 2021 is upon us, why are you waiting?
Consumers have become wary of entering their credit cards on too many websites as internet fraud is commonplace. The alure to get everything they need at a fair price from Amazon or Walmart and not have to shop multiple websites is a huge draw. How does the average person keep up with all the log-ins and passwords for all the frequented websites? Shopping on a multitude of websites, its only a matter of time when one gets breached and your consumer information reaches the bowels of the “dark web”.
Manufacturers and distributors who survive the pandemic will prosper because they will have shored up a new distribution model called Amazon or Walmart, cutting out the middle man to selling on Amazon. Getting your product or having it managed on Amazon isn’t as painful as you might think with the right help.
First, a business owner needs to take a long hard look at your current distribution model, realize that you can’t do everything and look at whether current staffing permits you to manage a big box store like Amazon or Walmart in-house. Second, hire an Amazon expert to your staff or hire an Amazon agency to launch or manage your account. Again, Amazon is a world of its own with its own set of rules; most eCommerce agencies are staffing up on Amazon experts due to demand. Lastly, hire smart. Your average seller on the Amazon Marketplace is not an expert; understanding your brand comes with understanding what a brand is and the value it carries to a business. In reality, selling on Amazon and Walmart’s marketplace broadens your brand reach to a vast sales channel that requires serious management.
The pandemic has opened many eyes to the big box marketplaces, coupled with the evaluation of sourcing channels. If you endured the pandemic without Amazon or Walmart in your business model, you are luckier than most businesses and likely considering these sales channels for 2021. If your initiatives for the new year include Amazon or Walmart, the best advice is to hire smart. Hire a person or agency with proven methodologies of success in these marketplaces; Amazon and Walmart make it sound easy to launch, but then you are paying them for any missteps that may occur when you DIY.