- Molly Bryant
- On July 1, 2019
- amazon business
If there’s one thing the Windy City can offer me, it’s brief respite from the searing southern heat. But I knew things were about to heat up at IRCE @ RetailX last week.
It’s difficult to summarize an event of this size, not least because this year’s event combined 1) the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition (IRCE), the world’s largest e-commerce event, 2) GlobalShop, the world’s largest annual event for shopper-facing retail topics, and 3) RFID Journal LIVE! Retail, the world’s only RFID event dedicated specifically to retail. The event’s organizers touted more than 20,000 attendees and 1,200 exhibitors. To those figures, I would add probably millions and millions of breath mints consumed.
From our IRCE HQ, I was privy to loads of conversations with sellers, exhibitors, and members of the media. A few themes emerged and I want to share those with you in case you didn’t make the show.
1. Amazon Continues to Rule the Digital Retail Conversation
The convergence of these business events indicates a larger retail theme: brands are thinking more about how the digital and physical parts of their business should connect. But for now, the two segments continue to operate mostly separately, and on the digital side, the conversations revolved around marketplaces. Unsurprisingly, Amazon is the king there.
What did surprise me, though, is how so many brands are not yet fully using Amazon. These brands built their businesses through other means. Now they can’t ignore marketplace sales any longer. But it’s late and they’re making the leap into very crowded waters.
2. In This Crowded Marketplace, Advertising Is the Edge for an Amazon Business
“Our Amazon sales are flat this year. Last year we were the top position in searches, but this year we’re way below all of the Sponsored Ads. We have to fix it.” A seller told me exactly this.
As I mentioned in my recap of 2019’s Prosper Show, Amazon has all but made advertising required. And through various conversations with sellers (plus the growing number of companies entering the space as Amazon Ad experts all of a sudden), this is clearly an explosive part of today’s Amazon business behemoth.
The advice I shared with more than a few sellers is: Amazon Advertising is a necessity and a big commitment. Everyone needs to understand Amazon Advertising, at least at a beginner’s level. Learn enough to know if you think you can take it on yourself using a platform like Ignite, or if you need to outsource advertising to real experts.
Many sellers already struggle to make ads work profitably. PPC is complicated, and for a seller with even a handful of ASINs, it can feel like a full-time job just getting to the point of understanding where to start. Fortunately, we’ve got plenty of resources to help you make sense of this complex world. My favorite? Our recent white paper, Getting Started with Amazon Sponsored Ads.
3. Amazon Sellers Need More Data — About Buyers and Consumer Behavior
Just when I thought advertising was the topic for IRCE 2019, it hit me: I’d had dozens of conversations that seemed disparate, but in truth, there was a common denominator: data.
Yes, data. Not exactly the flashiest asset, but perhaps the most important. It can seem that there’s a dearth of data — and most importantly, of actionable data — available to Amazon sellers. A few of the conversations I had revolved around Amazon business profitability and the data that can truly move the sales needle (hello, Quantify!). Other sellers I spoke with lamented the difficulty of finding new markets and customers (this is a clear market-research workstream that Scope can help with).
The message was clear: people want more understanding of their businesses, their buyers, and the market itself in order to make better decisions about products, advertising, and all the daily challenges that face an Amazon business.
4. Amazon’s Not the Only Game in Town
Despite Amazon dominating sales as well as conversations, I expect to see more and more emerging marketplaces and cross-marketplace strategies to address these opportunities.
I’ll be keeping a close eye on these over the next year and keeping you updated. In the meantime, I’ll be focused on making sure our customers have all the data, advertising education, and tools they need to make the most of our current Amazon-dominated world.