7 Critical Challenges for Omnichannel Brands in 2022

Oct 26, 2021 11:00 am12:00 PM EST

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Key Discussion Takeaways

Are you an Amazon seller who wants to reach your potential, but you’re unsure how? Understanding and measuring tools that work across the digital shelves and aggregator space to level up your sales has been a struggle — until now.

There’s an opportunity to gain the innovative edge and discover proven models to increase scalability, like enhanced content: product reviews, video, and images. So, how do you carry out these models to increase profitability?

In this virtual event, Aaron Conant sits down with Kiri Masters, Founder and CEO of Bobsled Marketing, to detail the scalability of enhanced content on multiple platforms. Kiri explains the correlation between great content and increased conversion rates, the impact of the supply chain problem and possible long-term effects, and why reviews are crucial for scaling and establishing life-long consumer relations.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

 

  • Kiri Masters talks about the supply chain pileup and the fallout from the clog
  • How to optimize your eCommerce profitability on Amazon
  • Kiri discusses the Amazon Branch Referral Bonus and the impact on social-based sales
  • How including video content in your ad platform can increase sales by 58%
  • Ways to drive down the cost and complexity of enhanced content marketing
  • Kiri details innovative ideas used to push for verified reviews and increase sales
  • What is the definition of the halo effect on ROI?
  • The rise of aggregators and data-oriented operations — and their effects on scalability
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Event Partners

Guest Speakers

Aaron Conant

Co-Founder & Managing Director at BWG Connect

Aaron Conant is Co-Founder and Chief Digital Strategist at BWG Connect, a networking and knowledge sharing group of thousands of brands who collectively grow their digital knowledge base and collaborate on partner selection. Speaking 1x1 with over 1200 brands a year and hosting over 250 in-person and virtual events, he has a real time pulse on the newest trends, strategies and partners shaping growth in the digital space.

Kiri Masters

Founder at Bobsled Marketing

Kiri Masters is an experienced guide for consumer brands on Amazon, Walmart, and Instacart. She is the Founder and CEO of Bobsled Marketing, a digital agency created to help consumer product brands grow and protect their marketplace channels. Their team is fully remote, consisting of 25 experts that serve over 60 brands.

Kiri also applies herself to other ventures outside of Bobsled Marketing. She is a contributor on Forbes.com, writing on retail companies and online markets, and has authored or co-authored at least three books. Kiri has a podcast of her own entitled the ECommerce BrainTrust. Each week she has some of the top leaders in consumer brands on to share their knowledge. Kiri is also featured on the RetailWire panel of retail experts and the winner of a Silver Stevie® Award for Young Female Entrepreneur of the Year.

Event Moderator

Aaron Conant

Co-Founder & Managing Director at BWG Connect

Aaron Conant is Co-Founder and Chief Digital Strategist at BWG Connect, a networking and knowledge sharing group of thousands of brands who collectively grow their digital knowledge base and collaborate on partner selection. Speaking 1x1 with over 1200 brands a year and hosting over 250 in-person and virtual events, he has a real time pulse on the newest trends, strategies and partners shaping growth in the digital space.

Kiri Masters

Founder at Bobsled Marketing

Kiri Masters is an experienced guide for consumer brands on Amazon, Walmart, and Instacart. She is the Founder and CEO of Bobsled Marketing, a digital agency created to help consumer product brands grow and protect their marketplace channels. Their team is fully remote, consisting of 25 experts that serve over 60 brands.

Kiri also applies herself to other ventures outside of Bobsled Marketing. She is a contributor on Forbes.com, writing on retail companies and online markets, and has authored or co-authored at least three books. Kiri has a podcast of her own entitled the ECommerce BrainTrust. Each week she has some of the top leaders in consumer brands on to share their knowledge. Kiri is also featured on the RetailWire panel of retail experts and the winner of a Silver Stevie® Award for Young Female Entrepreneur of the Year.

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Discussion Transcription

Aaron Conant 0:18

Happy Tuesday everybody. My name is Aaron Conant. I'm the co founder and managing director at BWG Connect. We're networking and knowledge sharing group of 1000s of brands to do exactly that we network and now chair together to stay on top of the newest trends, strategies, pain points, whatever it might be that shaping the digital landscape as a whole will host close to 240 virtual events like this, this year, looking to do probably just about that many virtual this next year. But also we're try adding close to 100 in person events. So if you're looking to do any, if you're a tier one city, and you want to attend these in person, this small format dinners with 15 to 20 brands, super fun information, I'll just you know, ping us on the website and let us know that you'd like to, you'd like to participate. I talk with 30 to 40 brands a week to stay on top of those trends. That's how we get the topics for these calls. It's also where we're asking everybody Hey, who's working for you and who's not. And with that, we get a really good shortlist of best in class service providers, those that come recommended from brands and the network as a whole. And that's how we get the experts for our calls. So at any point in time, if you ever are looking for any help in a digital space, don't hesitate to shoot us an email per time on the calendar, more than happy to connect with you that way. And it's actually how we met Kiri Masters who's on the line today from Bobsled Marketing. She's great friend partner supported the network and a bunch of brands in it. One last are a couple of housekeeping items before we kick it off. We want this to be as educational and informational as possible. So at any point in time, if you have a question is star five, the hands go up in the screen here and we can bring you into the conversation. It's easier though you can always email me questions Aaron aaron@bwgconnect.com. That's including an hour after the call tomorrow next week more than happy to get you answered, this is brand new the network, you know, approaching close to $10,000, we can probably get you an answer in 24 hours or less. The last thing is we're starting this three to four minutes after the hour. And just so you know, we're gonna wrap up with three to four minutes ago, give you plenty of time to get on to the next meeting without being late. With that I'm going to kick it off. You know, it's so you know, this, this title of a seven critical challenges for omnichannel brands in 2022. You know, is this idea that, you know, working in q4, we're getting to the point where if it's not in place right now, probably not going to be in place. So I have a lot of people looking forward thinking into 2022 What do we need to do? What are the things that are going to shape the landscape? What's popping up and curious, a great friend and supporter the network and just an all around a great supporter a lot of brands in it and so she's on a windy day to answers me kind of give us her insights but also give us answers many questions that we can throw out there. So you know, Kiri, kick it over to you. You want to do a brief intro on yourself and Bobsled and what you guys do that was awesome. And then we jump into the conversation.

Kiri Masters 3:04

Oh, good. Yeah, sounds great. Thanks. Thanks, Aaron. This is maybe like the fifth time I've joined one of these calls. So really glad to see some. Some clients and friends and colleagues show up and ask questions. So I would love to get questions. As Aaron mentioned on the call. For anyone who doesn't know me, I'm the founder of an agency called Bobsled marketing. We help midsize consumer brands to grow their sales on Amazon, Walmart and Instacart been around since 2015. And yeah, what I guess what we're known for being educators within the industry, really looking at the the problems and opportunities that particularly midsize consumer brands have. And looking at this landscape. And this journey ahead of us where there's so many changes coming down the pipe, new marketplaces, new ad platforms, new ways that people are actually shopping, transacting researching. So there's a I get really excited by these opportunities and challenges and all of the complexity and and trying to figure out a possible with this. So with that context, as Aaron mentioned, the topic that we are discussing today is seven challenges that omnichannel brands will face in 2020 foods. I put my fortune teller flash options trader hat on I really have been noodling on this for the last couple of months to think about, you know, when you're reflecting in a year's time on 2022, the year that was, what were the things that happened and maybe like turn As if I'm a practitioner within a brand trying to get ahead of those as much as possible.

Aaron Conant 5:05

Awesome. It's gonna be a fun conversation had a few more people join in. So if you have questions hit star five I handle up in the screen here or email them to me Aaron aaron@bwgconnect.com. So we kind of just kick it off, then what's the first one that you see is one of the critical challenges for 2022?

Kiri Masters 5:25

Yeah, so I'll start with the biggest one, which is around supply chain pain. This is something that we're just talking about. In the chit chat of the cold. How are the FBA Amazon FBA aggregators going to deal with supply chain pain differently? And the answer is that not no one's really immune from this because the supply chain issues are not just with the containers, but with trucking and warehousing, and just general general labor shortage. So yeah, I mean, one. Yeah, go ahead.

Aaron Conant 6:03

I agree from the standpoint of, we do a ton, you know, supply chain industry calls in what the general consensus is right now is 2023. before it starts to work its way out right at the current pace of them unloading everything. It's two to three months. If nothing else showed up to the port. There would be two to three months before everything got out. And things still keep showing up. But yeah, I mean, in the aggregator space right where they're buying the smaller brands that's rashy Ozaki COEs purchase that that one's Rasha was just valued at a billion, right? That idea that they're going to buy these guys up and accelerate them. It's kind of in you kind of see that on, on on hold, or,

Kiri Masters 6:44

yeah, would be question mark to see what actually happens. Because as we're talking about in the in the, the chit chat, the it depends on how freely the capital is falling for these aggregators. But you know, whether it's the timeline is 2023, or midway through 2022. I think what we're looking at here is, in a lot of cases, retailers and brands really trying to get ahead of supply chain issues and ordering potentially more inventory than they need. And that's certainly been the perspective of some of the ports. So the New York Times, paste about the Savannah, Georgia port. And that perspective was that part because the reason why it's taking five days to unload a container ship, as opposed to one today is that the retail is not pulling their inventory out of the port quickly enough is nowhere for it to go, that the warehouses and fulfillment centers are actually already full, so that there's some, not for all retailers and brands. For some of them. They're actually over ordering inventory. And so my point of view is that, whether it's mid point 2022, or 20.3, as you're saying, Aaron, we're going to be in an over inventory position, that inventory is going to need to be cleared. And so what does that look like we're going to have seen price inflation. For these products, people have gone back to work, they're not sitting around collecting stimulus checks anymore. And but they might also not get the use of paying more for products that they spent less on in the past. So I think we're going to need to save really significant clearance events at that like mid 2022 or 2023, depending on when that log jam is cleared. And and that's going to be, you know, potentially pretty dilutive. For a lot of a lot of brands, it's going to be if that login, please earlier sooner rather than later, we're going to have a pretty massive Prime Day 2022.

Aaron Conant 9:01

I mean, that is so price inflation. Now, will there be deflation on the back end? Is that much inventory? And just a quick question that comes in, which is, you know, did I know we're talking 2022? But are you seeing? So lower inventory availability? You know, that I have a lot of brands talking, you know, with me around, hey, we're not giving these big discounts this year. You know, we just we don't have the inventories, we're not sure. Are you seeing the same thing? I mean, you're, you're helping tons of brands onto your site. Okay.

Kiri Masters 9:32

Yeah, absolutely. What we're not so we're not recommending big price, discounts over the Black Friday, Cyber Monday period. That is, in general across our client base that's taking much less aggressive price cuts over that promotional period. super

Aaron Conant 9:55

interesting. Yeah. I mean, it's the same thing. Yeah,

Kiri Masters 9:58

go ahead. Yeah. And one other interesting piece is, in terms of raising prices, if you're of the viewpoint, which I am, that there's going to be some more inflation coming into price points across the board. Amazon hasn't, hasn't reflected those on the one P side, immediately. And so there was some, there was some analysis that came out a few weeks ago, which I think was her own profits here are showing a, the price point of these items on Amazon hasn't actually changed. And we're not seeing inflation. But this pulling from a pool of of one pay friends and presets, the prices of those one pay products at Amazon. So manufacturers have found it a little difficult to get those price increases over the line with Amazon, Amazon is usually the last pillar to fold with price increases. And so that's that's been just been challenging to get over the line, as well as as prices have gone up for raw materials. And then for manufacturers and then for brands, retailers. At each point in that chain. Each party may ate the cost for a while. But eventually, eventually they're going to pass that passing price on. And so I think across all retailers, we haven't seen that fully come home to roost yet, but we will

Aaron Conant 11:29

show I mean that that makes it another thing I know, we chatted a little bit before. Another one of these, you know, seven critical challenges is this, you know, he kind of raises the profitability paradox. You know, we'd love to hear your thoughts on that, because that's where a lot of people are at right now. Right? Yep. You know, you're at the spot where how do I make Amazon less margin diluted? We're looking back, you know, two years ago, he is a little bit his margin diluted, but it's only three to 5% of the overall pie. So but now it's 25 30%. It's like, Whoa, I would love to hear your thoughts on that as well.

Kiri Masters 12:01

Yeah, absolutely. If it's tiny profitability on a tiny division, you can ignore it. But if it's tiny profitability on the burgeoning division, it's time to freak out about that. And so this isn't a new problem. This is something that has been in discussion for the last 18 months. But what we're seeing is some slightly different sort of headwinds with the profitability drivers. So earlier this year, I worked with the digital shelf Institute on some research into profitability. In eCommerce, particularly for enterprise friends, and number of a number of things, things came out of that. So just to call out a few factors here, packaging, revisiting packaging design was one of the top three drivers of profitability. One of the brands that I spoke with changing from door optimize to eCommerce optimized, what another significant factor is the nature of your relationship with Amazon and looking at a vendor model versus a three P model. And there's different ways of of standing up a three P model. But is that going to be is that going to be more profitable for you, as well, within whichever sort of model of selling on or to Amazon you select, there's, there's also going to be nuances in that relationship as well. And on either side, staying on top of what Amazon is charging you and regularly auditing your fees. And what that looks like is is really critical. One quick example, that was saying Bobsled more in the last six months than we've seen in the last three years is on shortages and chargebacks for one payday lenders. So this could be a discrepancy on Amazon side, or in some cases, brands sort of getting getting a little waxed with the requirements. But basically, you get charged if you're not fulfilling the purchase order correctly. And you need to address that, that claim within 30 days otherwise, that ship sailed, you're not going to get that money back. One of our clients had over a million dollars in chargebacks in a period for example, and so cool, clawing back, that those fees can be pretty significant impact for a lot of brands, but you've got to be on top of it. We we we we've done that kind of reconciliation and quarterback those days, but you can only do it with the right documentation. And it has to be done within 30 days. So that that's an example on the one piece I there's many many more examples on the creepy side of different ways. Amazon might be Miss charging you but being on top of that relationship is a very significant driver of profit, profitability and Another one is obviously with cost per click in advertising, some data from from PAC view, actually, full q2 year on year, the cost per click of sponsored brand ads went up 10%. And year on year for q2, cost of sponsored product ads, which is the larger one of the two went up 38%. So we're not going to be thinking of inflation, but seeing inflation with CTCs on Amazon, that is not that's going in one direction. So I think these things are not going to come down. So it means it's harder to produce an ROI on Amazon, you need to have a strong strategy. And they revising that looking at new ad type new targeting types, to continue to get the same sort of return on adspend, as you were just a year ago,

Aaron Conant 15:59

you know, finding, you know, ad tech, it's funny conversations we had, you know, 18 months ago, two years ago, it was at this cusp of, you know, ad tech, you know, on Amazon, or an agency that used ad tech, you know, as you know, is a table stakes is getting there? And the answer was yes, we're pretty much there. And now it's we're fully there. If you don't have ad tech that's running your PPC, you're losing money. Or if you have an agency, you better check with your agency and see what they're using. Because there's, you know, probably four tools out there that are actually worth using, you know, kind of what I'm hearing from brands, the whole around, Hey, these are the top four that could be used for managing your ads on Amazon. It's funny, you mentioned how much they are up on Amazon and Google we have is where they're up, you know, 60% year over year. And so yeah, categories. Yeah, PPO costs, like 80%, year over year on Google. And I think a lot of that is by the iOS 14.5 updates, and what happened with Facebook. But anyway, so not directly, right, that is directly implicated on the Amazon side. But yeah, that kind of work. He recommended ad tech for sure to save money. I mean, we're talking about spending more money to save money.

Kiri Masters 17:12

Well, absolutely, yeah. And I own an agency. So I'm fully, you know, bias towards human strategy and direction and having having a human day looking at that data and interpreting it and charting a possible. But there's, there's a lot of things with advertising that adjust better off done by a machine, and it's just the volume of decisions to be made. And what gets done with that, and then just, you know, hands on keyboard capability like he can't through day parting with a human's like it would you get to get up at 4am and turn the ads on at that point, because that's what's an ad off at that point is you don't get a good return between the hours of four 4am and 6am not going to do that, and adjusting dates and things like that. So it's absolutely table stakes right now, even if you know, you're you're a believer in human insight and analysis, you need both. One of the things that I mentioned is like a big opportunity that I'm not sure it's fully, really on everyone's radar is the Amazon brand referral bonus program, which is a bit of a bit of a mouthful. But basically it's if you're sending pay

Aaron Conant 18:33

transaction, so just in case people are taking notes, it's the Amazon brand referral program,

Kiri Masters 18:39

Amazon branch referral bonus, bonus CRB. Yep, bonus. And the terminology of this is very interesting, I've had a chance to dig into why they said, bonus instead of rebate. But in my mind, it's a rebate. So if you're sending paid traffic to Amazon product, detail pages, or to your storefront, from social from Google for free, I believe, even from your email campaigns. You can, if you set up your tags correctly, and just do the initial setup of this, you can actually get a rebate through this program because Amazon wants external traffic, they want more impressions, and they you know, their growth is kind of slowing down. And so they see brands are actually sending traffic from social and you know, the paid traffic to Amazon. That's generally pretty highly qualified traffic and all of that. So they're giving a they're giving this rebate back to advertisers for but the sales that occur through those tagged links. So this is actually a way to get this rebate from Amazon. That's a really By on your fees. So this can if you're already pursuing this as a demand generation strategy, this is a total no brainer to just get, get this set up. It's a one time thing, we can do it as a one time project. But this is just a no brainer way to actually call back a bit more profitability. This is actually a strategy that you're already doing or exploring

Aaron Conant 20:27

to a one time project people can just reach out and do it. I probably know 15 brands, right? I mean, the reality is, if they're an item where they've got a direct consumer site, but maybe it's 10 to $14 item, you know, or, you know, traffic isn't there a lot of their paid search social drives actually to an Amazon detail page if you're doing that set up the tagging, get a referral. So it's affiliate fee almost, okay, cool.

Kiri Masters 20:50

Exactly. Yeah. It's like an affiliate they

Aaron Conant 20:53

love it. So we tackled kind of supply chain pain is one profitability, you know, that paradox there? You know, what's, we're not, we're not even halfway through, we got two out of the way. So we need to get to, you know, another one and a half year. Keep? What's next one of the seven?

Kiri Masters 21:12

Okay, so this next one, I think will be interesting is the content treadmill. So there was some some interesting research that came out from Prophet Taro. Earlier this year, I believe around what's the lift in sales, or conversions when you enhance the content on your product, detail pages on Amazon. And so this is always something that even for Bobsled as an agency, we know, we can see ads perform better when there's great content and conversion rate improves with great content. But we also didn't quantify exactly what that looks like if we add certain types of content. What does that look like across the board, it was more of a case by case basis to sort of prove the value of content. But Papa Terry did this great study of 4200 products and found the average sales, lift and conversion lift a different types of adding different types of content onto product pages. So this is a height doing like calling out because over the phone, because he can't really imagine it so well. But adding from one to three in terms of most impactful types of content, add adding videos was the most impactful that led to a sales lists of 58% and a conversion list of 19%. That's very compelling. Just adding more adding product videos to your product detail pages. Number two, a bit more Excel.

Aaron Conant 22:57

Nobody wants to hear that, by the way. I mean, they want to hear it hot. You're gonna have to go

Kiri Masters 23:02

and sit there. Ha. Yeah, completely. Everybody was

Aaron Conant 23:06

hoping you'd say was 2%. And they could justify not having it done. But

Kiri Masters 23:11

hey, listen, they do that I didn't say live video, live streaming. Didn't say last shaving. That's a whole new level. But yeah, I think adding videos, so product demo videos, didn't really go into detail of what type of video was like lifestyle, Product Demo, but adding videos number one, number two, adding more images. Very similar kind of lift actually. So they'll serve 45% Emotionally, so 11%. And then finally, at improving a plus or enhanced content. That's the sort of more dynamic product detail pages that you get on Amazon, you can add like comparison tables about the brand, how you brand story, malls that have imagery and things like that, that improve sales by 15% and conversion by 4%. So these are to your point, Aaron you said, adding videos, but that's really hard. This is the issue that we have, like now we can sort of specify what kind of sales and conversion list we can get from actually investing in that content. But actually getting the budget to do that, running that process. And then the clincher is actually uploading it to Amazon and Walmart and Instacart and you know, whichever other platforms you're looking at, and I'll be sort of political careful with how I phrases but the technology to actually syndicate all that content out is not as seamless as a lot of brands wanted space. At this stage, so when Amazon changes the requirements for product images, or the something on the back end for a specific category, that doesn't get updated in a product syndication tool right away. And so things just kind of things break a lot of the time. And this is why I call it the content treadmill. Because we understand how important enhanced content is, it has a tangible effect on sales, on conversion on row as, but actually getting that content and putting it off on the marketplace, is really challenging how to stay on top of very unsexy. But it's, and it's something that needs to be revisited fairly frequently, like, at least twice a year, in my opinion, this is this treadmill, like it's never really solved. And that's not what a lot of execs want to hear.

Aaron Conant 26:05

Yeah, I actually, Thursday, we're doing a dinner in Chicago on content, I would say it is probably the best because it's not just Amazon. It's not just the marketplaces, it's, you know, social media, it's paid media, it's, you know, whatever you're doing, it's being consumed at a faster rate than it's ever been consumed before, and people trying to grasp, hey, how do I, how do I produce content at scale? And know that there are some major players that have jumped in, you know, based on it, which is essentially, you know, what, powers, you know, CGI and movies now, right? You think about how realistic that looks? Well, they do the same thing with your product, but you don't have to have it, you know, actually, you know, do have multiple different photoshoots, you do one. And I know they do a lot with some of these do data analysis or image analysis like visit where they can kind of do it? I mean, the biggest thing is, hey, you should be a be testing, like, I barely have enough content to do what I have, like, how do I have ABCDEFG testing, I don't have that many assets. With these new tools out there, you're able to be a CGI, once it's built, spin the image, tilt the image, you know, swap in and out backgrounds a different anyways, it's, it's good, but it's a fraction, the cost you're paying, like for edits, you're not paying for a whole new photoshoot or asking your photography or your art team to go into Photoshop to edit a shadow or something like that. It's, it's great. Yeah,

Kiri Masters 27:34

I love that. And that's, that's one way to drive the cost and complexity of this down. And there's two pieces to it, I think that there is actually generating those assets themselves. And then the other piece is the process of syndicating it refreshing it. That side of things is, you know, there's been a lot of investment in that area. But it's still something that I hear from brands saying a major pain point. And this the way that we do it at Bobsled is typically natively through the Amazon platform, let's say because with an intermediary software, things are not always up to up to date with the product categories and things like that. So it's not yet we're still at that we're still at that point where the best solution but as an agency is to natively upload content through through Amazon. And that's it's not a situation that I still expected to be in in 2021.

Aaron Conant 28:41

I'd be interested to hear. So we talked about Amazon, but we're talking about all these other platforms, like how are you does that fall into your kind of challenges for next year? Because I tell you, from the brands I talked to which you know, will hit I'll probably hit 1500 this year. You know, here's the theme that I'm pulling is, I've got Amazon, I want to optimize Amazon, I want Amazon to work, I don't want it to go away. But right, like, I don't want it to keep doubling like I need. I need other options, whether it's Walmart or Target or it can be littered sometimes it's Wayfarer, eBay or direct consumer site. There's like what's next? Where can I go to pour money into to grow? Like in? How do you see that fitting into that one of the kinds of seven challenges you have as well? Yeah, well,

Kiri Masters 29:30

yeah. In terms of this content treadmill, this is this is the rub really is that Amazon has the most range in terms of enhance products, capabilities available to the largest number of merchants. And the other players have this just less they're by order of magnitude, less options, less levers to pull here. So for example, Walmart does To just in August, eliminated V O video and enhanced content, which is a complete 180 of what your Amazon is doing. And like both figures that I stated before in terms of enhanced content, actually improving sales and conversion like why would they do that? But I think it's a short, my, my understanding is that it's a short term move is Walmart's aligning that to tech platforms and merging them and it was something that needed to be the sacrifice at least short term to make that happen. So I don't think that that is like Walmart's never gonna have video and intense content, but they for the time being, they took it away. So that's just one challenge that brands are dealing with, is that okay, with with Walmart, we actually had to pay to syndicate content in his content to walmart.com. And then they just took it away. So that investment that I just made in hosting that content on wall is completely for the time being just gone away. And I think that that's what, that's the concern that a lot of brands have, and rightly should have is where is it? Where should I invest in in content? Because these other platforms have pretty? Yeah, it's not, it's not a sure thing, Amazon on the shore thing, but if we could have

Aaron Conant 31:31

a full conversation on why can't Walmart figure it out? Everybody's rooting for you? Why can't you figure it out, they want an alternative to, and even go to their ad platform, their ad tech, and you know, how the bidding works and the keywords and, and, and and it's just, it's frustrating. And, you know, that's where I have a lot of people then reberty, like, I want to go direct to consumer, I would say that's a huge push. You know, once they figured out, you know, drop shipping, way I can individually pick Pack Ship, I can drop ship, or I've got a digital a three PL that can do it for me, I'm going to fire up, you know, every different marketplace that's out there. And that's actually pushing a lot of people international as well. You've got some cool platforms, like a momento that's working with like a global lead for cross border shipping, and all of a sudden, you can list on any marketplace in the world and dropship anywhere.

Kiri Masters 32:26

It's, you know, it's crazy. I'll tell you something that Walmart is doing, which is, which is great. And due to overtime, another one of these challenges. Okay, so powering up product reviews. I'll start at the start here, product reviews. So improvement from 4.7 to 4.8 stars. So I like point one change in the star rating improves your conversion rate by 40.9%. So we all care about product reviews, that goes without saying, but I did it. I wrote a piece for Forbes a couple months ago about the product review ecosystem on Amazon and how it had changed over time, because I was getting confused myself about what happened about this program. What happened to that and just this timeline between 2017 When was October 2016, where Amazon stands, incentivized reviews through today, the number of programs that they've launched, taken away, stripped back change the rules. It's just it's very complex. Even someone like myself who follows a little bit like a hawk. So what we're left with today with Amazon is is very much a one strike in your out kind of policy where fuel is there's a whiff of a whiff of gray hat sort of review, manipulation, you're off. And so that at Bobsled, we've been very, very diligent in making sure all of our clients are aware of that and staying very clean in that regard. But what are we actually left with to in to grow the number of product reviews on Amazon? And the answer is not much. We've got vine, which is a paid program, pay to play and not, you know, not super scalable in growing the number of reviews quickly for product. So that's it's a very challenging catch 22 kind of situation on Amazon where you may not have you're going to struggle to grow sales without reviews, and you only get reviews with sales. So catch 22 pay to play with vine, that's all that we're left with. One bright spot is with Walmart, which actually has a review indication program with some of the reviews, the more popular some of the more popular review platforms like reviews.io and dot Poe, for example. And so if you have those review syndication app set up on your eCommerce store, your data sees that Walmart will actually syndicate them to walmart.com. So I found a Zarbee’s naturals, which is like a natural healthcare brand. They do like cough syrup and things like that. And some of their products actually have reviews on walmart.com that a native reviews where it says verified purchaser. And then they've also got syndicated reviews from zarbees.com. And it says underneath the review, written by a zarbees.com customer. So I think that this is actually very innovative and pretty clever on Walmart pot. Because if you can be keeper of the keys with a product review ecosystem, like if you've got a great product review ecosystem like Amazon, where people are in physically in stores, checking Amazon reviews, because they attract a trusted source of crowdsourcing, whether this product is good or not, then you become a destination for shoppers, because people want to read the reviews. So I think Walmart actually syndicating reviews from around from other sites is very, very smart. And might be sort of not not the single way that they that they throw Amazon Australian but but pretty clever. And for any brand that's already using those review applications on a day to day site. It's a no brainer. It's a quick setup in Seller Central, and do something you could do right now today to improve your cut through on walmart.com.

Aaron Conant 37:14

Yeah, really quick. We got a hand up on a shout out to David, David, all kind of unmute you here. If you want to jump in and brief intro on yourself. And then you know, comments or ask away if you have questions.

Kiri Masters 37:22

Yep. Sorry. Can you say that David? Yes. Yeah, sure.

Aaron Conant 37:26

Again, I just went on mute because they're, they're lawn mowing outside my you know, outside my window here. So I'm gonna drop on to you for a second to jump in.

David 37:34

Yeah, David GM of the, where that product company? I mean, quick question about this reviews. In the CPG. World on Amazon, particularly, most brands that are very successful piglet new bikes are doing some sort of product insert with with their products in order to incentivize reviews. I was just wondering if you guys have seen carriages seen any repercussions from doing that? Right? Like they? Oh, did you like the product? You know, we are reviewing this, and it's something that's inserted with the product?

Kiri Masters 38:12

And so just to listen, okay? Yeah, this is Amazon, he is aware of it, they do come down on it. So he's got examples that you want to send to me, send them to Aaron, or send them to myself. Because it's something that it's not allowed. And to the extent that you want to, you know, hold your competitors accountable. I'm happy to collect those examples and do what I can there. But it's not allowed that. And it depends very much on the exact wording of that product inset. There's ways to to phrase it so that you're not in breach of Amazon's rules, but basically, that you look up the Sella community guidelines, I believe they called to see what the what the phrasing is that but basically, it's that he can't direct an Amazon customer to another location and get people to stop shopping on a DVC site. And you can't incentivize reviews or requests only positive reviews. So that the nature of the language has evolved a little bit over time. But the way that a lot of those product inserts are written violate one of those two rules. One alternative that I might suggest is one brand one brands that I'm familiar with, actually has a like a sample product SKU. They're a CPG brand and they have like a Three SKU pack, that's a trial pack, very competitively priced, basically the equivalent of a sample that you might give away and through tracking their analytics on on Amazon to look at particularly with Seller Central, you can get drill drill into this kind of analytics, they can they've actually been able to establish a pretty strong lifetime value from customers who purchase this trial product. Who actually ended up buying the full size pack or even increase increasing this Subscribe and Save order volume. So I would I'd, I'd suggest that as a as a try eight this not that. Boys love

Aaron Conant 40:50

it into more than happy to connect you with Kiri afterwards and others as well. You have you know, any question that space you need any help across the board, they're great friends, partners, supporters to a ton of brands and networking just on Amazon, you know, as well as other marketplaces as well. So I'm kind of like going through the soil notes. Okay, so we've had content treadmill, these aren't going to be an order. Right. But that's one we talked about supply chain. We talked about profitability. We talked about additional channels and complexity that comes along with it. Product Reviews, that's five you know, what? The last two? Yeah,

Kiri Masters 41:32

lost to proving ROI within the halo effect. And the Dark Hole of FBA aggregators that are good for you.

Aaron Conant 41:45

I'm only gonna I want to go after the halo effect first, because this gives me flashbacks to, you know, old AMG with Amazon, you know, when I was on the brand side and preaching, oh, I know, you got you know, a 65 cent row as. But there's a halo effect that gives you $3. And I'm like, yeah, what does it really I want to hear proving ROI within the halo effects, because that's top of mind. And then you know, FDA aggregators that's topical, just because of that we I guess we touched on that just a tad with the billion dollar valuation for Sto. But we'd love to hear the proven ROI within the halo effect first.

Kiri Masters 42:28

Yeah. So this is this is a challenge. And there's there's I presenting the challenge at Ambleside and like a silver bullet. If I had a silver bullet for this, I would I would have that nine figure valuation, I think ours myself, but yeah, so the what, what the what the problem is, is that there is an observable halo effect of ratio media, and to the best stickers that I've seen on this, that from the digital shelf Institute, showing that brands and retailers have measured up to seven to $11 spent in store for every dollar spent online on retail media. So you spend $1 on Amazon, retail media, and your in store sales increase by seven to $11. That's some sort of hard mixed media, media modeling data. There's a lot of anecdotal stories about that. Pulling in both directions as well. So shoppers, shopper marketing dollars and initiatives corresponding with an increase in online sales, running a Facebook ad campaign today to see that and then yes, sales on Amazon jump up just so many examples here. But it's still it's increasingly hard to track. Walter, you know, the walls keep going up in the walled gardens. And so actually kind of proving what this dollar in retail media ad spend resulted in. I mean, on one hand, the news is good that it does have an effect beyond the channel that you're advertising in. But actually measuring what that is, from an incremental standpoint is is not easy. And begs the question of channels in, in, in general. So, if we understand this point, that there's Halo effects, then is the is the concept of other marketing channel somewhat irrelevant. And that's been a argument, like a philosophical argument that's been put forward is that we think about, we think that a business in terms of channels, because that's why we sell and that's why we advertise, but to a Sherpa without really thinking about channels, when they're going when they're navigating through their buyer journey of, of, of discovery, research, comparison, transaction and loyalty, they're not thinking about channels, not really, it's just a construct that we have within a company that's trying to make money.

Aaron Conant 45:22

So I agree. I mean, I think we've seen that over and over again, we just did a, you know, an event last week, and there's a guy Michael's a core was going through a YouTube channel, where you can you have to stop thinking of just Amazon, just Walmart, just Facebook, just a right to see, you know, just you, it all people live are immersed in all these different, you know, he calls them, you know, habitats and ecosystems, but they all come up right into, you know, how are you viewing your customer and the journey as a, as a company that's not isolated to a single channel?

Kiri Masters 45:56

Yes, exactly. And this is a philosophical shift that I think a lot of companies have a reckoning with is if if not channels, then what I mean, we have, we have to still find a way to figure out how we're going to spend more or less on advertising, there's, we can't just do that once. It does, as you said, the early days of AMJ, basically, with Amazon holding their hand out and saying, trust us, give us some more ad budget, trust us it will, it will work and it wasn't. didn't fly. And the way you've seen AMG evolve today is like it's very measurable to the extent that we've just noticed Amazon actually aligning DSP and PPC reporting side by side to shut to actually measure to very visibly measure the effect of DSP on sales.

Aaron Conant 47:01

And I think that going along with that is, you know, in 2020, there's kind of like an overall, you know, Paul passed everybody around how much you're spending, what the results are, that's drastically different, different in 2021, it is, we need to be held, you know, we're gonna hold you accountable for your digital dollars and where they're, what they're doing, and the performance that you're getting. And if you're asking for more, what works and what doesn't, and that's where it's just hard sometimes, because Amazon returns the dollar, Amazon returns $1. And they're only going all in I mean, I've talked to some people like their Amazon is hiring, like DSP ambassadors, right, that are going to be driving the prominence of DSP, like they did with AWS, like four or five years ago, there's going to be a major push for them getting more into the ad platform, because like you're saying, I think they're seeing, you know, you do get a return brands can see it, we just need to provide them better data. So, so we got three minutes for Dark Horse FBA aggregators. Would love to hear your thoughts there. We can do it in three minutes or less. I think we can. Yep,

Kiri Masters 48:13

I'll definitely okay. So the challenges here, these are savvy, data oriented operators, this is a ones and zeros game for a lot of these companies. And they are very much, you know, they're scaling up with, with technology and with with data is cold, hard facts to them. And so, from a, from a competitive standpoint, these companies are perhaps looking at your category in a different way to what what, what might be what might be typical. So not necessarily brand focused, but very clinical, very data oriented. And so that might present a challenge to some categories where it has been less of that. Number two, is hiring the best talent away from personal experience running an agency, big targets on our back from larger agencies, friends, and FBA activators in terms of them wanting to hire experience, or agency people. And I think that the aggregators there's some news article recently saying that that between the largest ones, they needed to hire 7000 people by the end of 2021, so they're coming for me. They're coming for your teams as well. So they they're, they're sucking up talent. So watch out

Aaron Conant 49:51

and they're playing with and they're playing with funny money. Right? I mean, exactly. In dollar valuation. Yes, like without a billion dollars. In assets, they are they're playing around with. It's almost like funny money right now. And it's super interesting. Like how, yeah, so how do you how do you hire 7000 talented people in pay a 25% premium, so they leave their current role was funny. There's only one way I can come

Kiri Masters 50:17

up with funny money. And the same goes for their advertising budgets as well. They deep pockets for advertising deep pockets for hiring. So competitive threats to brands on a couple of levels there.

Aaron Conant 50:29

Well, I see we're kind of right at time here. We did. We did Vegas are all seven, which is pretty impressive. And, you know, I do want to say a quick thank you for your time today. Kiri, thanks for being such a great friend and partner and supporter, the network and a ton of brands in it. Yeah, you know, follow up. Anybody want Oh, for sure. And if anybody wants to follow up conversation 100% worth putting time on the calendar with Kiri and her team. They needed that one time to set up this just talking about for the brand bonus, if you're driving traffic, they're more than happy to connect you with if you need any help with Amazon or, you know other marketplaces as well. More than happy to make that connection. It's worth your time for sure. And, you know, thanks again to everybody who dialed in today. Hope everybody has a fantastic Tuesday. Have a great week. Everybody take care, stay safe look forward to having you on to future events. If you're in Chicago. She was a note we're gonna be there Thursday and put together a small networking dinner. So, you know, Kiri any kind of key takeaways as we wrap up here.

Kiri Masters 51:27

Yeah, no, that's those. Those are the big challenges and I'm curious to see how the year unfolds. But yeah, I think I think we nailed it. Thanks for keeping me on track Aaron

Aaron Conant 51:38

friend. Alright, everybody, have a fantastic week. Look forward to having you at a future event. Thank you can everybody.

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