Working with online retailers

If setting up your own online store doesn’t fit your strategy, then you need to work with online retailers. So how do you go about working with online retailers to get the most sales for your products online?

Online retailers

Most surveys show that online channels are the fastest growing of any retail channel. In some industries, online sales have overtaken traditional channels as the preferred place to shop. Air travel, books and music and consumer electronics are three such examples. Traditional retailers have either been pushed out of business or pushed to the sidelines by online retailers. 

Even for more mainstream industries like clothing and food, online sales are growing rapidly. There are very few traditional retailers who do not now have an online operation.  

New entrants to the market are increasingly competitive and are able to offer online shoppers alternative ways to access products. So how do you start working with online retailers?

Amazon logo on phone

Bricks and clicks (traditional) retailers 

If your product is sitting on a retailer’s shelf in a store already, the chances are they will already have your product listed on their online store. But you should always check. Check that they have actually listed your product and also that they have listed ALL of your products if you make a range of goods.

So assuming your product range is listed, you next need to check through the following list to ensure each items is being well represented

Product name

Are all the product names correctly spelled and in a uniform way that will make sense to the consumer? If your product comes in different sizes or colours are these included in the product name to make it easier for the consumer to know they are getting the right product?

Product Images

Is the picture of your product accurate and up-to-date? Hey you provided a high quality image that makes the product look appealing? Could you improve your image from plain white background to a ‘lifestyle’ shot? How many images will the retailer let you include on their website? Can you upload images direct to the retailer website, or do they ask you to go through a third party image library services portal? 

Product information

Do you have all the relevant information that a consumer might be looking for to help them make the decision? Does your product information cover the features and benefits of your product? Are there any mandatory or warning statements you need to include – e.g. if a food products, is there any allergy information to be included? 

Responsive

Have you checked how your product appears both on desktop and mobile devices as increasingly shoppers are using mobile for shopping.

If you have a good relationship with the retailer already, it’s likely you’ll also be able to influence how the category appears online. For example, how are products classified and which products are displayed when the consumer goes into the ‘online aisle’.

For more detail, check out our article on being a better online seller. 

Supermarket
Amazon logo on phone

So those can be costs BEFORE you even get to the ‘marketing tools’. If you want to be able to access A+ Content and Vine which will help create better product pages and generate faster reviews, then yes, more cost. Listing your products in Subscribe and Save and Events can be great for driving sales, but again come at a cost. If you want to work with the Amazon Marketing and Media services to run ads or improve your search position on Amazon, all those things come at a cost.

Amazon is undoubtedly an interesting retailer to consider when building your e-commerce plans due to their high reach. But we recommend you do some research into their offer and make sure you are happy with the selling costs before you commit to working with them as a vendor.

Amazon Vendors

There are many ‘pure players’ operating online stores but Amazon is the most well-known. Amazon operate a wide variety of businesses but in this section, we are focussing purely on their core amazon site. 

In the ‘vendor’ model, Amazon operates like any other retail channel for your product. They buy your products from you and sell them on Amazon. They will set the price your product is sold at. You are able to access the marketing tools that Amazon provide in order to improve the sales of your products. The checklist for making sure your products appear attractive on amazon.com is the same as for bricks and clicks. 

Amazon Cost of Selling

Where it gets challenging is in the range and cost of accessing those ‘marketing tools’ to drive your business. When selling through Amazon, EVERYTHING comes at a cost. Want access to sales data from Amazon (called ARAP – Amazon Retail Analytics Premium)? That comes at a % cost of your sales. If you want to have a dedicated account manager looking after your business (Called SVS – Strategic Vendor Services), this comes at an additional cost. 

 

Amazon Marketplace

If you are a smaller online business, your other option to consider is to become a marketplace seller. In this model, Amazon don’t ‘buy’ your product fromm you, they rent you space on their website for you to sell your own products.

In this case, since you are the retailer, you do have control over the pricing. However, you don’t have access to much of the marketing support that is available to vendors. 

You can also choose between one of two fulfilment models. “Fulfilled by Merchant”  where you manage all the orders and delivery yourself. Or “Fulfilled by Amazon” where you use Amazon’s supply chain set up for a % fee of the transaction. 

Which model you choose really depends on the nature of your business, how big you are and what your key priorities area. There’s no correct answer, and you need to evaluate the options to work out what is best for your business. But this can be easier way to start working with online retailers if you don’t mind giving up some of your margin.

Amazon box model

Working with Amazon

Amazon can be a challenging partner to work with. So much so, that we’ve written a whole article on the challenge of working with Amazon.

If you’d like help to work out where Amazon should fit in your e-commerce strategy or are looking for advice on how to engage with Amazon, we are happy to share our experience and knowledge as part of our e-commerce consulting services.

Three-brains and e-Commerce

We have worked on many e-Commerce projects and have good experience across strategy, working with retailers and building D2C stores. We know how to connect these expertise areas back into driving your brand marketing and growing your sales. 

If you want to know more about how we can support your e-Commerce to grow your business  through our coaching and consulting services, click the button below to send us a message.

We can coach you to reach the top of your competitive game.

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