- Lena R. Liberman
- On November 3, 2017
- 0 Comments
This week’s In Case You Missed It covers the usual suspects such as sales tax, advertising, and acquisition, but it’s also got a few surprises and seasonal tidbits. Let’s start with those.
- All Trick, No Treat: On Halloween morning, Amazon had a glitch and notified some sellers that they would be ineligible to sell toys this holiday season. It quickly sent retractions saying that the email was an error, but to say that many on the receiving end of that email were shaken would be more than fair. More at Amazon Gives Toy Sellers a Fright on Halloween.
- All Treat, No Trick: Merrily our Seller Labs Cares Toys for Tots campaign rolls along but we’re a long way from reaching our goal. First, a big thanks to all of the sellers who have already generously donated or otherwise participated. Second, there’s still time to pitch in and help make Christmas a happy time for kids who would otherwise go without toys. Here’s Seller Labs Founder Brandon Checketts with a special message for sellers.
- Black Friday Deals Update: And straight from the online giant’s mouth (or press release), we give you The Holiday Shopping Season Starts Now! Amazon Opens its Black Friday Deals Store Kicking Off More than 50 Days of Holiday Deals.
Advertising: So Much Happening, Such Little Clarity About What It All Means for an End Product or Platform
- Amazon Consolidates Its $1 Billion-Plus Global Media Buying Business With IPG Mediabrands: “The news comes as marketers and analysts increasingly see Amazon as the third wing of a new digital media trifecta led by Google and Facebook. Jeff Bezos’ company now brings in approximately $1.12 billion each year in ad sales, which is only a fraction of Google parent Alphabet’s $24 billion total and Facebook’s $9 billion haul. But according to recent research from Merkle, Sponsored Products Ads, which account for approximately 82 percent of Amazon’s total sales, grew more than 50 percent between the second and third quarters of 2017. The company’s most recent quarterly earnings call stated that its overall advertising business has grown 58 percent year over year.
- Did you know that “While Sponsored Product Ads have the lowest click-through rates, they perform best where it counts: sales. For the median advertiser, these ads – displayed on the right rail and amidst search results [Ed. note: right-rail ads are currently in flux) – return a more than 40% higher sales per click than Headline Search Ads and more than double the sales per click of Product Display Ads”? It’s true (but not so cut-and-dry). Find out the full deal at As Interest in Amazon Ads Grows, Advertisers Invest Mostly in Sponsored Product Ads. Even more interesting info, facts, and figures at On Amazon, Marketers Rely Most on Sponsored Product Ads: Keyword-Targeted Search Ads Dominate, But the Use of Display Ads Is Growing. And of course, our take on where Amazon might be headed in terms of advertising.
- I’m putting this one under the advertising header but it’s really about so much more. Sellers Are Protesting Against Amazon India’s Returns Policy by Pulling Back Ads. Think back to August 2017 when you found out about the changes to the FBA returns/refunds policy. Recall how at that time, so many sellers felt powerless to do anything about what they considered the latest “Amazon is crushing sellers to favor buyers, but what can we do about it? It’s Amazon.” Well, sellers in India see it differently and they are pushing back by withholding their ad spends. Interesting tactic but the article reports that “In another emailed statement, an Amazon India spokesperson added: ‘We have not seen any impact on our advertising business. There are just a handful of sellers who paused some of their campaigns for a day, out of tens of thousands of sellers and brands who leverage our advertising products. Moreover, our teams are already engaging with the concerned sellers to understand and address their issues.’” That’s a typical “everything is fine, nothing to see here” corporate response and it may be true. What I think is more interesting is to read the sellers’ actions (or the rumor of such) much like a strike where the real winners here could be the “defector sellers” who cross the picket line and proceed with their ads and win them with little-to-no competition and super-low bids.
Growth, Expansion, Acquisition (and Good Old Speculation About Such)
- An Amazon Coin? Amazon.com Registers Cryptocurrency Domain Names: It already owns AmazonBitcoin.com (redirects to Amazon.com) and just added AmazonEthereum.com, AmazonCryptocurrency.com, and AmazonCryptocurrencies.com (all three still generate DNS errors). How soon we’ll be paying for our Amazon purchases using Amazon currency is anyone’s guess, but it seems like it might be sooner rather than later.
- Amazon’s Potential Defense-Bill Windfall Spurs Industry Concern: No-bid government contracts? Sweetheart deals? Section 801 of the House version of The National Defense Authorization Act, which sets up online marketplaces where federal agencies can procure materials and supplies from contractors, would seem to heavily favor Amazon.
- As Amazon continues inching closer to being a pharmaceutical distributor, Healthcare Companies Are Taking Amazon Very Seriously and Pharma Execs Would Welcome Amazon into Drug Distribution, Say the Space is “Ripe for Disruption.”
The Grocery Gamble and Shake-Up
Those in the grocery game have been greatly affected by Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods and the cross-marketing in both WF stores and on Amazon.com. In order to ease some of the competitive burden placed upon online sellers (and to have a go at Walmart and Jet.com), “Amazon recently told businesses that sell non-perishable grocery items on Amazon.com that it was lowering the fee it charges them on items priced at $15 or less. Amazon previously charged 15 percent on all grocery items, but will now charge only 8 percent on the lower-priced goods for at least the next year.” More at Amazon Has Slashed Seller Fees to Try to Improve Its Grocery Selection Online: The Economics of Selling Low-Priced Packaged Goods Online Are Tough and What Whole Foods’ Plan to Hire 6,000 Says About Amazon’s Growth Plans.
Finally, What’s ICYMI Without Some Tax Talk?
The deadline for the Online Marketplace Seller Voluntary Disclosure Initiative came and went on November 1, but sales tax and the myriad ways in which states are handling it is a story that just won’t quit (nor do I expect it to anytime soon). More at Sales Tax Slice: What’s Next for States Seeking Revenue from Amazon Fulfillment Sales.