Smart brands know they need to stay in front of their customers, wherever their customers go. And in today’s world, that means being on Amazon.
However, being on Amazon isn’t a strategy itself; it’s a channel. It needs to be part of a more comprehensive go-to-market strategy that incorporates multiple approaches through a variety of channels.
Too often, however, B2B companies think about Amazon in a bubble, though it’s becoming more and more relevant to B2B firms. After all, Amazon's Business is the fastest-growing part of Amazon. And more than 60 percent of all product searches start on Amazon. It’s practically a juggernaut at this point, but there’s still a long way to go before it reaches its full potential. As such, B2B firms need to look at Amazon as an essential part of their sales channels.
But it’s not the only part.
It’s important to look at Amazon from a revenue perspective and brand and channel management perspective. Because what you do on there impacts other channels in terms of controlling marketing, pricing, managing channel conflict, etc.
So, how should Amazon fit into a sales channel strategy? Based on our experience, there are three ways you can look at it.
Think About Assortment
Product assortment is an essential aspect of running any Ecommerce operation. Some firms, especially manufacturers, find they need to rethink their approach to product assortment when it comes to Amazon. Many find that a smart strategy is to sell different products on Amazon than through other channels. This approach will essentially eliminate channel conflict, a key sticking point for B2B firms.
A great example of this is one of our clients, a billion-dollar furniture company. They created a line of products to specifically sell on Amazon. These items are designed for working from home; they’re easily and quickly shipped, while still staying true to the company’s brand promise of high-quality and value furniture.
By creating channel-appropriate products specifically to sell on Amazon, they can capture new customers without impacting their current resellers and distributors, who might be selling other product lines on Amazon (and elsewhere). It also allows them to have a brand presence on the platform, so they can capture traffic and sales when people shop specifically for their brand. The truth is that many customers already have a brand in mind they want to buy, and by having a presence on Amazon, B2B firms are ensuring that their products end up in customers’ hands instead of those from a competitor.
Operational and Time-to-Market Efficiencies
Amazon's amazing effect on businesses is that it helps make their go-to-market approaches on other channels more efficient. This is particularly true for B2B.
While that might sound counter-intuitive, Amazon has made enormous strides over the past few years to integrate Amazon Business with procurement systems and ERPs. As a result, Amazon is now integrated with more than 100 e-procurement systems. This means that listing products on Amazon also lists them in those procurement systems.
In other words, B2B buyers don’t even necessarily need to use the Amazon platform directly to buy products from the marketplace. Normally manufacturers have to list products on each e-procurement platform; but with Amazon, you’re integrating with all of them simultaneously through Amazon’s integrations, which can vastly accelerate your e-procurement coverage into ERPs systems.
Marketing and Visibility
As mentioned above, Amazon is now the world’s largest search engine for products. However, listing new products on Amazon can take some time to generate activity and interest. Amazon puts new accounts into “sandbox” which limits their visibility on the platform. Like climbing the search engine results pages on Google, firms need to take some steps to climb in Amazon’s search results.
One common best practice to achieve this is to send traffic from outside of Amazon to the site. Like some other tactics, this might seem counter-intuitive, especially if you are selling through other channels. But doing this can generate traffic, which turns into sales, reviews, and ultimately trust. In other words, it gives you some history on the platform and allows you to establish yourself as a legitimate seller. Once you start establishing a decent history on the platform, you can back off this and redirect traffic to other channels.
While this approach does not necessarily allow you to capture customer contact info for upsells or remarketing, you will develop brand awareness. And that can result in larger sales down the line where selling through other channels—particularly your website—adds a different value than what’s possible on Amazon. That might include more complex products that require advanced configurations or customizations. If your product stands on its own, you’re developing brand recognition. But you can add value outside of Amazon, where these customers will eventually find you.
Ultimately, it’s essential to understand how your different channels can work together to deliver the best results—both for your business and for your customers. It’s not always a direct line, but when put into a well-thought-out, strategic approach, brands can see even exponential growth across all sales channels.
Need help to strategize your Amazon approach? We can help! Enceiba is the only Amazon agency exclusively devoted to helping B2B manufacturers conquer the world’s largest online marketplace. Contact us to schedule your free Amazon assessment.