Ask Me Anything: Q&A on the State of Amazon for Brands

Nov 18, 2021 3:00 pm4:00 PM EST

Summary

We’re bringing you an Ask Me Anything focusing on all things Amazon. With several recent changes to the marketplace, we are opening up the discussion and invite you to bring your current brand challenges and top concerns to the forefront in an effort to find the best solutions on how to manage your brand on Amazon.

BWG Connect & Retail Bloom invite you to participate in an interactive discussion with your peers.

As always, there will be no sales pitches and there is no cost to join.

Discussion Topics

  • Challenges brands are facing in Amazon advertising, connecting with the marketplace consumer, and beating out increased competition
  • Questions about brand protection, rogue sellers, retail pricing visibility & policy enforcement
  • Key concerns with logistics, hybrid strategies, and how to best manage tight margins
  • Any other key topics of interest are welcome

Event Partners

Guest Speaker

Nicole Reich

Co-founder and VP of Sales and Marketing at Retail Bloom

Nicole Reich is the Co-founder and VP of Sales and Marketing at Retail Bloom, a third-party Marketplace Service Provider that offers all-inclusive services to help brands, retailers, and distributors drive sales on eCommerce marketplaces. Before Retail Bloom launched, Nicole was the National Account Manager for Aleva Stores, Retail Bloom’s parent company. Nicole received her bachelor’s degree in international business and marketing from Saginaw Valley State University.

Event Moderator

Aaron Conant

Co-Founder & Managing Director at BWG Connect

BWG Connect provides executive strategy & networking sessions that help brands from any industry with their overall business planning and execution. BWG has built an exclusive network of 125,000+ senior professionals and hosts over 2,000 virtual and in-person networking events on an annual basis.

Please enter your information below to request a copy of the post-event written summary or recording.

Event Information

Nov 18, 2021 3:00 pm - 4:00 PM EST

Event format

Roundtable Layout
Featuring 20+ executives, where everyone can contribute, ask questions and learn from peers
On-Topic Discussions
Q&A format, moderated by BWG Connect with group interaction throughout
Make Connections
Opportunities to network before and after

BRINGING TOGETHER INFLUENTIAL EXECUTIVES AND SENIOR PROFESSIONALS

What is BWG Connect?

BWG Connect provides executive strategy & networking sessions that help brands from any industry with their overall business planning and execution. BWG has built an exclusive network of 125,000+ senior professionals and hosts over 2,000 virtual and in-person networking events on an annual basis.

Key Discussion Takeaways

What are the overarching best practices for brands in the Amazon eCommerce space?

Retail Bloom’s last-minute holiday checklist can help brands prepare for the most impactful quarter of the year. The checklist covers topics including brand protection, content optimization, ops and customer service, warehouse and logistics, and advertising and promotions. Whatever questions you have surrounding the Amazon space, Nicole’s advice can set your brand up for success.

In this virtual event, Aaron Conant is joined by Nicole Reich, Co-founder and VP of Sales and Marketing at Retail Bloom, to answer all of your Amazon eCommerce questions. Nicole shares the best practices for sellers, important things you should know for 2022 eCommerce sales, and why you should always keep product selection, price, and customer experience top of mind.

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

  • Retail Bloom’s last-minute holiday checklist for brand protection
  • Optimizing content for the holiday season
  • Nicole Reich talks about ops and customer service best practices for Q4
  • How can you make sure your warehouse keeps up with the busy season?
  • Managing advertising and promotions to benefit your business
  • Nicole’s insight on 2022 trends and best practices for sellers
  • The importance of providing value and investing in the Amazon platform when trying to negotiate
  • Working through seller central versus vendor central, parent and child accounts, and 1P versus 3P marketplaces
  • The brands that are investing in DSP

Discussion Transcription

Aaron Conant 0:18

Happy Thursday everybody. My name is Aaron Conant. I'm the co founder Managing Director at BWG Connect we’re networking and knowledge sharing group of 1000s of brands will do exactly that we network knowledge share together to stay on top newest trends, strategies, pain points, you know, even partners that are working the best across the digital landscape as a whole. I'm going to host close to 240 of these events this year, we'll do close to 20 in person small format dinners next year, we're gonna do close to 100. So if you're in a tier one city should just note, you know, we were there, you know, probably good chance you're in tier one city, we'll be there next year, we'd love to have you on the list. I get the privilege of speaking to 30 Different brands every week to stay on top of trends. Those change week to week, we'd love to speak with anybody on the line today. If you have any questions in this space, you have pain points, that's where we get topics or calls. Also, if you need any help at this time of year with partner selection across the board, I spend a lot of my time doing that. You know, I'm asking everybody, Hey, not only what are your biggest pain points, what are you trying to solve for but also who's helping you solve those. And with that, we get a shortlist of the top recommended service providers through, you know, from the, you know, 1000s of brands in the network. That's how we get the topics for these calls. And it's actually also how we get the resident experts that we invite on here for events like this, which has asked me anything. And so that's the cool Retail Bloom been great friends partner support as a network for a long time now. Quick couple housekeeping items. We want this to be as educational and informational as possible. So at any point in time, you have a question drop into the chat, drop it into the q&a section, or email it to me Aaron aaron@bwgconnect.com. And for the email that can be an hour after the call tomorrow, next week, we got you know, enough brands in the network, we can get you an answer, usually in under a day. The other thing is, we started this at three to four minutes after the hour, and just you know, we're gonna wrap this up with three to four minutes to go on the hour as well, we're gonna give you plenty of time to get on to your next meeting without being late. And so with that, I want to kind of kick this off, it's a lot of times we do things that are very, very topical. But just in the conversations I've been having to spend, like getting peppered with, you know, random different things on Amazon, we've seen a huge trend, you know, as Amazon has exploded for a lot of brands, you know, it's it's exacerbated a lot of different issues that were there. And so it's just randomly getting picked, we thought, hey, why don't we we got some great friends, partners, Amazon experts over at Retail Bloom, we'll jump on a call. We'll ask everybody ahead of time, what are your questions, and then we'll just kind of rapid fire him. But if you have other questions along the way, drop in the chat or the q&a. Is that Yeah, Nicole, do you want to jump in brief intro on yourself Retail Bloom would be awesome. And then we can kind of like rattle off some of the questions people send in ahead of time. So I'm good.

Nicole Reich 3:00

Yeah. Awesome. So thank you, Aaron. This is our first I know, we've done I don't know, maybe 10 calls together. This is our first video one. So I have three screens. And I'm seeing you look at me, but I'm not looking at you. So yeah, we'll fix that for next time.

Aaron Conant 3:13

The fun part of eye contact in the in the Zoom world, right? Yeah, I want to

Nicole Reich 3:17

put it here. But I don't know if people will see it. So whatever fix for next time. Anyways, thank you for having me. I'm Nicole from Retail Bloom, VP of Sales and Marketing, co founder of the organization. So quick, brief overview. Aaron, can you see my screen right now? I just want to make sure Yeah, yeah. Cool. All right. So we have three core business models. On the left side our marketplace services. So one p three P brand protection content, customer service advertising DSP reporting, that is our managed services model. If you have a vendor account or a seller account that you're looking for help, we're fit there. Also, we have our three P model. So everything above but also become a customer of yours, placing orders. On the right side, I would say Aaron, as you mentioned before, we started our fastest growing services on the brand protection side, helping with policies, implementation enforcement, we've got really good software that we leverage through our partners as well as in house team to help manage that and be a little bit more of the human element behind getting those people cleaned up and removed. So that's quick overview. How agenda for today. I have two goals, one to answer all of your questions, there's been a tonne of them that have come through. That'll be kind of the second point. And then the first point, I've answered some of those questions already in what I would consider our last minute holiday checklist. So what we do every year at Retail Bloom after the holiday season, we all get together and we say what did we learn what went well? What did we mess up? Where do we go forward and how do we fix it for the next year so I've separated this by kind of department and my goal for everyone on the call. If you love this I hope that you download it handed out to the organization’s different department heads because it's kind of like a quick checklist. Worst case scenario, if you do these things, you'll be in a good spot next week and the week's upcoming

into December. That sounds good. Aaron. Sounds awesome.

Okay, so, um, I would guess, maybe 20 minutes ish. And then the rest of them will do questions, maybe 15. If I lived through this, why don't I do that

Aaron Conant 5:22

just a quick highlight is, you know, for people on the line today, you know, one of the reasons they come so highly recommended is a holistic view on Amazon. So not only are they handling one P helping brands with the one P side, but also helping brands on the three P side, and on the hybrid account, but they also are three P sellers of their own, right, where they work strategically with brands. And so I just throw that out there because they have this really cool holistic view. And you literally can ask anything, and if it's, you know, in those areas, and we'll get them answered. So, you know, don't don't hesitate, you know, just shoot over anything one p three P marketplace, brand protection, whatever it is. So, anyways, yeah, I'll kick it back over to you.

Nicole Reich 6:02

Cool. Oh, and then my last housekeeping when you get this deck, hopefully tomorrow, when we either Patrick will email to you or I will email it to you. There's a blog link at the bottom. And that either goes out to Amazon goes out to our outreach. So if there's a certain topic through today's webinar that you want more information on, the links at the bottom of the slides will help you with that. So quick checklist on brand protection. First. First thing we want to say is that if you think you're going to do enforcement over q4, make sure you have the policies in place to do it. So brands are getting savvy to set up these policies to say who can sell my products for what prices were. But sellers are also getting very savvy and sophisticated in the sense of Wait a minute, I know I'm allowed to sell that I'm allowed to sell this product. And if you're coming at me without the right policies in place, the brands are going to be in a tight spot from a legal perspective. So that is our first number one checklist item. But let's say that you do have promotional window, language and your policies to big things I loot together next week, before the promotional window. Let's assume that you have promotion window Black Friday through Cyber Monday, then all of your approved sellers, all of your retailers. Hey guys, here's a reminder, here's our MAP policy. This is the window, aka we're watching you, right. And then the day after that a promotional window and sending out another reminder that says, hey, hope it all worked out, well can't wait to hear about your success. By the way, the windows closed, you have to go up to the map. So just too many emails that we've sent out before and after holiday seasons that have really helped in monitoring, pricing. And then lastly, monitor those bad actors. So I bring this one up, because right now we're in this whole, you know, Grant protection is one of the number thing number one things that we talk about. And it's this eCommerce sales of who's approved who's not sales are saying, yes, they want to sell on Amazon, let's keep them there he calm saying, what's the value? Are they bad players. So during the holiday season, if you see some of these bad actors or sellers that maybe are teetering on the approved or not approved list, this is a good time to watch them and see what happens. And then you can collect some data to find the value of that partnership at the end of the holiday season. And then lastly, if you are looking for additional resources for brand protection, let's say that you want to invest in software or some of the services we provide check loss by box over the holiday season two, you could start to make the case of a if we would have had this in place, we probably would have seen this in upside. So that's my checklist for the brand protection piece.

Aaron Conant 8:40

Yeah, really quick on that on the brand protection, just, you know, something that that I've heard or I've seen, you know, over the past, you know, 18 months is a lot more people, you know, concerned with it as you know, the the bad actors, right, they're looking for the highest movers increase in sales. And so people who previously you know, didn't have issues with it started to have issues. Are you seeing brand protection? You know, are people getting a bigger grasp on it? Or is it still a major

issue? On so I

Nicole Reich 9:11

would say we've talked about this for years, because being on the three P side we knew how important it was for us to be protected as a third party seller. I would say the narrative is much isn't that different. But the demand for it on the brand side is is greater than it's ever been been. So our brand protection services have probably our fastest growing service that we provide. And we're constantly talking to brands about the best way to scale through software to remove sellers understand how to communicate between third party sellers, the sales team, the legal team, the Econ team. So as part of our brand protection product, I guess we're doing a lot of that consulting and then hand holding and then being the consultants make recommendations up front and then also the information Been on the back end. So that's kind of where we stand. But I would say that this is going to be a huge part of 2022. For sure. Awesome, awesome, cool. holiday checklist for content optimizations. First one to walk the store. So what we mean by that is in the brick and mortar retail space on the day of the holiday season, you would go through your store and just make sure it's organized right? Do I have the right product in the right place? Is my pricing correct. So when we say walk the store from an Amazon perspective, it's mostly a is my content set up correctly, are my product merges there, my reviews all of that in place the right way. So that's what walk the store means. The second one is that a lot of the times when you have a lot of sellers on the platform, people are making their own contract content contributions. So I would highly recommend increasing the amount of times that you are pushing a feed file for your master catalog. So if you have a PIM tool, if you push it once a week, and you know it's 100% accurate, push it daily, it'll help with any of those changes. Third, test exclusive holiday store pages so this is a big one that Amazon post and Amazon stores have been a big, big push for us this holiday q4 season. I love the new images that you can shop you can click the image or the product in the picture and go out to the product listing just make sure you're timing those accordingly and you have them set up to hit on next week and then also and after the Christmas season so as of January one you should have a whole refresh to post to stores maybe it's new year new me on January one but the language and the content is a lot different right now. So that would be the test exclusive holiday store section. And then like I said scheduling Amazon store and Amazon post now. So any questions on the checklist so far on the optimization piece? Aaron?

Aaron Conant 11:58

No, we've got a bunch pouring in so I think we we keep rolling through this holiday checklist and then we just pour through the Ask me anything. I love it.

Nicole Reich 12:06

Awesome. Okay, so ops and customer service. This is more on the seller side. So a lot of the questions we got that will answer at the end is more one p this is probably more three p monitor your suppressed inventory, make sure nothing goes inactive in Seller Central. Ensure your orders are uploading correctly and ensure your inventory and tracking is posting correctly back into Seller Central. This is a big one we're finding personally for us. We're monitoring this three times today just to make sure Seller Central is talking to our ERP ERP system so that we're not getting flagged the day after for late low late postings. And then to that point, monitoring your performance metric. Um, big one here. I don't know if anyone saw this. This came out about two weeks ago, Amazon is cracking down finally on black hat, black hat tactics. So any type of unfair practices as it relates to trying to manipulate the ratings or using certain software's that boost your organic ranking? Doing search find by all of that is a big no no, you will get shut down please stop doing it. That is not possible anymore. Oh my there's a bunch of questions. So

Aaron Conant 13:20

we might not gonna be fun.

Nicole Reich 13:22

Oh my gosh, okay. Warehouse in a warehouse and logistics. So big one that we're seeing from a logistic standpoint, a lot of questions around Oh, man, I'm going to have too many FBM orders, I'm going to have too many dropship orders. How do I make sure that my warehouse can keep up so in September, Amazon released for Seller Central that you can toggle your account, toggle the or toggle between different accounts. And then also you can set limits to how many orders you can get per day in that account. So let's say that your capacity in your warehouse is 1000 orders per day, you can set that limit in Seller Central and it will turn off your account afterwards or even potentially on the dropship side so that you don't get triggered on the performance metrics after consider delaying handling times and shipping windows. So Aaron back to your point earlier about all of the product that you're getting in late your dishwasher that's going to be coming in late. Last thing you want to do is disappoint customers. So if you already know you are going to push back product and you're not going to be able to get it on time. Let people know in advance. They're anticipating it. It's all about setting expectations. Right? So you actually cued me to say that when Aaron and sure all of you are MFN and FBM skews are listed and active. All of that inventory that is in your warehouse right now. Sometimes it gets on things sometimes you'll be sitting on inventory in your Seller Central account, it won't be live for sale. I would guess you're going to stock out FBA. Make sure you have that backup make sure that that inventory is live there from your ERP system. Wash your dropship orders And then we'll go to advertising and promotion. So Aaron, do you want to do a quick pause and have a we answer some questions?

Aaron Conant 15:07

Yeah, we can hear so I'll prop them up as they're related. We have brand registry and are exempt from listing skews with a UPC on one p. And so we've had ongoing issues with random sellers stealing our UPC, which can then break wreak havoc on our listings. Are there any disadvantages from submitting our listings without UPCS? Makes the listing process much easier? And if that's a hey, follow up afterwards? Because it's a very specific question.

Nicole Reich 15:39

Yeah. So there's way more benefits to UPC exemption than cons. I would say, long story short, no matter what you're gonna have to clean up third party sellers. So if you see three P sellers taking advantage of UPCS. That's a brand protection issue, not necessarily UPC exemption issue. So we can talk about that offline. But I would there's, I know from an operation standpoint, having UPC exemption that usually trumps figuring out UPC is in the catalog perspective on Amazon.

Aaron Conant 16:08

Yeah, so a couple more of come in around like brand protection, as long as you're there. What are the best practices to identify where unauthorized you know, seller source from, you know, most likely an authorized seller break point, right? Like, if it's not counterfeit, they're getting it from a legitimate source, right. So best practices identify where unauthorized sellers are getting their product from?

Nicole Reich 16:30

Yeah, so the way that we do it, I'm sorry, quick, quick plug here, because it really is the most the easiest way that I found so we have a seller site technology, basically it scans every seller, every product for your brand on Amazon or any marketplaces out there. At that time, we are then able to understand high level whatever seller info they have. So that's probably the first step to say, here's what's on the in the backend of Amazon about this seller, you're able to match that up to your customer. If you want to see DBAs. Or say that the seller name doesn't match within your system, there's some investigation tools that we have. But ultimately, and that seller site platform that we have, we can reach out to them. They tell us they have to prove to us with an invoice that they have legitimate inventory. And when they don't they get reported and removed. And when they do you're able to track down where the leak is. So that's been, I would say 90% effective for us of either the marketplace taking them down for us or us telling telling the vendor the brand where it's coming from.

Aaron Conant 17:31

Do you next one ramify here, do you recommend brands update their warranty policy to state that it only covers products from authorized resellers? Correct?

Nicole Reich 17:39

Yes. Yep. It's one of those material differences. That's a big one. Right? Okay.

Aaron Conant 17:45

Awesome. Do we want to jump into some one p three P questions. Yeah, you want to just jump into those do you want to keep going through.

Nicole Reich 17:53

Um, so I only have one other piece on advertising. Let's do that really quickly. And then we'll, we'll, we'll pop to that one. So checklists on advertising. And we got some questions beforehand. So coupons deals of the day and Lightning Deals, they seem to be going down and up, whatever Amazon would like to. So just heads up on that. If you do have Lightning Deals or coupons scheduled for next week, make sure you are monitoring those daily and make sure that those are still alive. If they go down, you have to open up a ticket depending one p or three P or talk to your vendor manager, or Category Manager to get those live again. So make sure you're looking at those, monitor your budgets and bids. This is a big thing that we talked about in the last call Aaron. So you know, we're seeing three to five times increase in ad spend next week. So make sure that you are increasing the bid so that you are still relevant, and it's serving. But as soon as those days are over, make sure you're decreasing them so you don't go over budget. Um, one other thing, this is a big one that connects logistics to advertising. So one of the things that we are thinking about is when we have to push back handling times, or our brands have to push back handling times, that's going to impact conversion. Maybe that happens in mid December versus next week. At that point, consider reducing your bids on the products that you know are going to be delayed, because you know that those aren't going to convert as much. So there's this whole relationship between what is out of stock, what is in stock, when you're going to be able to get the product to the customer, and know that obviously what's in stock and what will be delivered to the customer the quickest will convert the most so if you know you're not going to be able to meet both of those criteria, repurpose that budget for different areas of the business that are in stock FBA or one p and then this is a big one that we just quick insight advertising if you don't have a lot of campaigns set up right now, but you know that you have to advertise but you don't have enough time. Use the bulk of load tool. So there's the basic Excel spreadsheet instead of an auto campaign for each product. And that has been really, really great for us. Last Minute as we bring on brands right now that don't have enough time to build out a whole strategy, you'll get a lot of the traffic a lot of the spend in sales just from doing that simple exercise. So that's my, that's my checklist. I have some other ones we'll send this out after. But let's go back to the fire questions. And

Aaron Conant 20:16

yeah, awesome. Just to go byc. Can you share that data afterwards? Absolutely. Yeah. Okay. Awesome. So let's kind of go through these any tips for getting price increases with Amazon one P? Yep. So

Nicole Reich 20:31

my first thing is that if you have a vendor manager or Category Manager, I would say looking back to one of our our partners that does does some data and polling, they've been about 90% successful getting price increases accepted this year. So if you have a vendor manager, it is possible to do that they're either in the works are already accepted. If you don't have a vendor manager and your your vendor account is kind of running on autopilot, it's a lot tougher, and it's based on that net profit margin within your vendor central Amazon analytics. So again, another reason of why retail is so, so important. If your retail price is lower than what it should be, Amazon's going to be less likely to accept those price increases, because they know they can't make it up on the retail side. So if you have a vendor manager, let's talk there's different ways to get them to accept price increases. If you don't, I will tell you, it's challenging, and you got to upload a lot of different files. Oh,

Aaron Conant 21:31

just quick tangent on that. I know we got a bunch to get through. Oh, yeah. Yeah. 46 minutes later, 36 minutes left here. Yeah, so I'm gonna, I'm gonna extrapolate something. So if it's a lower if it's a net, you know, you know, profit margin there. And then if you resolve some of the unauthorized resellers in, the price can go up now, it's going to be a holistic program that Amazon can sell for more than does that get easier than to get it through? Is that mean? It's a holistic ecosystem? So if you're not getting it through, it's the classic well, okay, well, if you fix, you know, the supply chain, the the leakage over here and brand protection, maybe it helps, is that accurate?

Nicole Reich 22:11

Yes. Yep. So what's the as an example, yourself, you're a retail product is being sold on Amazon for $10. It's supposed to be selling for 15, you're selling it to Amazon for 750 or $5. For example, if they can't offset the price increase at the retail level, to some extent, they're going to be less likely to approve that price increase. So a lot of the times when we're seeing Amazon not accept those price increases, it's because the profit margin is so tight, and you're doing not so great, have a job of controlling the retail price to offset that margin. Okay, no,

Aaron Conant 22:48

it makes sense. I mean, it's, it's a huge issue right now, but So, it's not going through and you can it might be to step right, which is a, an authorized resellers, you know, get brand protection in place, and then go back and it can go up. Okay, so next one. Um, okay, so this is a key go over the process requirements for becoming a restricted brand on Amazon. There's lack of transparency from Amazon. And I'm not sure what it means by restrictive brand I know, in the beauty space, right? You can, you can be a luxe beauty or pro beauty. And Amazon does it naturally. The other one is if you're large, like Lego, right? But for everybody else, I don't know if there's a restricted brand.

Nicole Reich 23:31

So when I hear restricted brand, I either thing, they are dating them, like other three P sellers can't get on the listings. Or that's that's probably what they're really they're thinking of, um, a lot of the times when I see vendors get gated or brands get gated through vendor Central, they're making a case to say there's too much counterfeit going on, we need to control distribution. I'm making a big effort to cut off third party sellers and prove to you Amazon that'll help with price. Oh, okay. They're saying it's for sellers, restricted brand, not anyone become a seller as it's tapping into your listing. So the approval process for getting a seller central is getting more restricted. Yes. It's not impossible. But if this is related to the hybrid strategy, if you have a vendor manager and your tier one brand, yes, they are making it tougher for you to open a seller account. I can take that one offline too, because I have some potential ways to get around that.

Aaron Conant 24:35

Okay. Yeah. Awesome. Yeah, and the other one is, you know, it's really tough to have Amazon say nobody else was gonna say sell your brand, right? Nobody else is gonna sell it. They're not going to restrict it unless, I mean, in the end of the day, when you're removing to Amazon's not removing authorized resellers, you are right with a legal easy reason. Here's when we currently sell three P on Amazon, but we're considering C If we can switch over to one P, what pathways are currently open to going one p on Amazon, if any, and what issues might emerge by shifting over to one P that we don't currently face with three P. So this might also be another conversation, I'd love to hear this. But, you know, this is a perfect conversation, you know, like maybe an hour long for you to sit here, that'd be

Yeah,

Nicole Reich 25:22

I answered this one pretty quickly, I would say, if you're a seller and you're wanting to go one p, if a vendor manager hasn't reached out to you yet, it's a little tough to get their ear to qualify for the program. It's pretty invite only if you are able to get to a buyer who is interested in setting up a vendor Central account, then we can talk about the pros and cons of what to consider when doing that. But your first step is to get in front of a vendor manager to see if you qualify. Awesome,

Aaron Conant 25:52

love it. So here's a good one. It's on the one beside what and this came in ahead of time, I want to make sure we get to a bunch of these with people that share what insights can be shared on 2020 avions. You know, ask for Amazon, you know, so far. So what happened? You know, it's it seems like ABS now is almost like a year long process if you think it's forgotten, and then they bring it up in April. And so anyways,

Nicole Reich 26:15

yeah, so I would say one AVN seems there. They seem like they've been kicking off right now or in the upcoming weeks. So we don't have a tonne of data yet. But what I would say that we have seen already from hot topics would be standard Co Op increases, a lot of them are coming from freight. Any any way to standardize streamline to make the supply chain more affordable, that's what you should expect. They are also asking for an investment into the ESA s program which if you aren't already in it, it's basically like troubleshooting, you pay Amazon more money to help you with catalog. We work with them sometimes sometimes they're great, sometimes they don't work as well. The other thing is that they are asking this is mostly on the CPG side or grocery side, I would say they're asking for partition participation in different supply chain programs like vendor flex pilot program, full truckload direct import, basically anything to get the product quicker into their FCS or for you to do it yourself. So that's what I would expect going into those negotiations.

Aaron Conant 27:24

Yeah, I mean, even I heard that there's that supplier PAC hierarchy program that just kind of got put on hold. So if anybody's been part of that beta? No, it's you know, there's just kind of a stay on that right now. I think they're, they're realising the implications on vendors are are massive.

Nicole Reich 27:42

Vendor flex program. Yeah, well, when

Aaron Conant 27:45

I organize everything, you know, across the board of, you know, how stuff coming in and being received, whether it's the pallet level, or the case level, or the each level and inners. And I think they were trying it with some smaller brands, you know, well known, but still, you know, they weren't rolling out to the big boys just quite yet. And I think there's some toes getting stumped there. Here's one is it better to set up an item on vendor central with a lower price possible, with the lowest price possible. So Amazon can have the lowest retail while making their margin or give them a more competitive price and run a coupon promo, which would drive more

Nicole Reich 28:21

sales. So the

I'll tell you, the process works for us. Typically, when we create new products in vendor Central, we keep the purchase price high, knowing that Amazon is going to negotiate the co op over the next couple of years. That's the approach that we've always done. So for example, if your standard purchase price is $15, we would increase that purchase price, knowing that you'll have Co Op and knowing that you'll have enough margin to run the coupons, or deals of the day. Um, as it relates to sales, we've seen a lot of success from the promotions of coupons versus just or coupons or any type of promotion, versus just dropping the retail price. So I would leave with from my perspective, if anyone has seen anything differently, I would love to hear it. But I would lead with creating new products with higher purchase price, knowing that you'll do discounts on the backend.

Aaron Conant 29:17

Awesome. And thanks, everybody for sending over the questions. We'll keep getting to them here as we go. What are the most critical talked about potential new functions rule services that may emerge in 2022? Is I plan my business for the future?

Nicole Reich 29:34

Yeah, so the big things that we already touched on brand protection, if you're not doing it now, or thinking about it, please if it's not affecting you, if you don't have to press buy box if you don't have on authorized sellers, eventually, unless you've already been protected, or you've already said the policies. It's going to happen so you're kicking the can down the road. And the time is now to start talking about the brand protection piece. The second thing that we're seeing again, On any sketchy activity, any grey or black hat activities that you might be doing, even when even on the FDA side, if you are putting a card in the packages that direct traffic to your website or to another social media spot or something like that, please stop doing that they're cracking down on that. Other big things for 2022, again, supply chain anything to help get the product quicker, faster to the customer once they purchase. And then another big push on marketplace expansion or Amazon international expansion. So we're having a lot of discussions right now around, hey, I'm one pN amazon.com. But I want to be three P in Europe. What does that look like? So before I would go into expansion, I would start to think about what is the opportunity? And what are the resources you need to get to that country or to that market? And what is the expected return? Because one of the things we find is you invest a tonne of resources, for example, into Amazon Europe to know at the end of the day, you're only going to see a 10% lift. And it would have been best if you would have used your resources somewhere else. So when you're thinking about expansion, do the ROI analysis, first think about what the estimates are going to be on the upside and then go that's what I would say tips for 2022. is So really

Aaron Conant 31:21

quick. Are you are you taking a lot of brands like International is that you know, we had a couple questions coming in ahead of time around international expansion? You touched on a little bit there? Is that a major trend that you're seeing as well?

Nicole Reich 31:32

Yeah, yep. Um, yes. Because as vendors get more or seller's brands get more sophisticated amazon.com. They say, Okay, how do we replicate those same efforts in Europe and Canada, Mexico, Australia, whatever it might be. So yeah, that's definitely on our roadmap for 2022 to support the brands we work with there.

Aaron Conant 31:53

Do you have any updates on the the hybrid strategy? I know you touched on that just a little bit at the beginning? Any thoughts there? I know if you're really large, you know, it's unique sometimes. So I guess. And then other times, they're like, No way. And I know, there's people that had hybrid strategies, that's been, you know, had their third party marketplace shut off, right there and just said, Hey, you're too big, you know, you're all one P we'd love to hear your thoughts. Is there anything changing there? Is it still kind of up to Amazon to randomly decide?

So same,

Nicole Reich 32:25

since our last conversation, Aaron, what you just said is still all relevant, I will say that we are learning more about who Amazon is targeting and who they're not. So for example, if you have a vendor Central account, and it's on autopilot, or you don't have a vendor manager that you're talking to, I would say you are less likely of getting stopped at opening up your own seller account. That's one thing. If you talk to your vendor, manager, weekly, bi weekly, whatever it might be, those are the key accounts that Amazon is being a little bit more particular on this hybrid strategy. So that's the first thing I would say the second thing, a lot of it comes down to retail price. So what Amazon is finding is that sometimes brands are you know, maybe cutting off one p because of because they aren't following a MAP policy, right. So they go through a third party seller, and then what happens is that retail price goes up. And then Amazon isn't as competitive as other sites. So there's this balance between how big you are, who they who they consider a tier one, vendor or key account, right? And then also making sure that at the end of the day, Amazon has the best customer experience. So hopefully, that helps. But I would say just overall, if you don't have contacts with Amazon, but you haven't better Central account, you're probably in the clear and probably can witch or do a hybrid approach without a tonne of kicked back.

Aaron Conant 33:56

Awesome. Love it. So next question. As a vendor central seller over the past 15 years, how do I add products or change pricing? So they're not allowing us to do either?

Yep. Um,

Nicole Reich 34:10

so that goes back to the price increases, right? If they aren't being accepted, understand why you think that they would be saying no, if you don't have control of retail, that's probably your first step. Second, if you don't have access to a vendor manager again, and there's no communication to help you out to get them in increase, you either do it at better negotiation times which are coming up now. Or we've also created UPCs or duplicate products, like that's kind of a worst case scenario. Let's say that you have a your core business has never been accepted from a price increase perspective, but you know that you need that product on Amazon. We've kind of done a workaround by creating new up fees for the same product, tagging them to that parent Asin and then Amazon is accepting that price increase They're not allowing us to add new products. Feels like you might have some restrictions on the vendor central side.

Aaron Conant 35:07

In general, um, that's new, more than

happy to connect that one offline. Yeah, well, you're just you'd mentioned, you know, parent ASINs as a whole. And that's one of the questions that came in ahead of time. Right is is it possible to change apparent asin that recently an issue of third party seller on a listing with a different style when I pulled up the catalog, both styles styles have the same

parent? Yeah, um, what we find

Nicole Reich 35:32

is that oddly enough product merges parent Asin. Changing is actually easier on the seller central side. It's all kind of a pain. It's all will it work? Will it not work, but a lot of times, when that happens, we'll go through a seller central account, blow up the entire parent Athan, and then we're able to bring it back together with the correct target isa that you want. So long story short, yes, you are able to change pair events. However, in the short term, you have to end up losing sales, probably losing ranking to kick, kick off what you don't want, and then bring it back together and then do adspend behind it. So that's more of a technical question. It doesn't work all the time. But we've been pretty successful with that approach of blowing it apart, and then bringing it back together.

Aaron Conant 36:16

Awesome. Love it.

Love it still. This is fun, right? Rapid fire people are still sending in questions. How do you improve the pictures taken by one P for apparel category? So it must be Amazon grabbing the content and creating its own? Which is always fun, right? Yeah. It doesn't like them. Ignoring brand guidelines and doing whatever they

want. So so don't have them take pictures while

Nicole Reich 36:44

I while the time yeah, they're not good at it, right? And sometimes you like get the Zappos, this is more apparel and footwear, especially. So going back in time, right? Amazon, Zappos said, hey, we'll take the pictures for you, we'll put it up on Amazon, well, like you said, here, and they don't follow guidelines, the pictures aren't great wrinkles, bad angles, whatever it might be. So first thing is, is that have them stopped doing that if you can, because they will stop if you have the contact, right, and they can turn that off for you. But let's say that you don't have the contact and you can't have them take it off, then it is up to you to go through your vendor account and push a fee file with your own imagery. So that is what has to be down there.

Aaron Conant 37:27

Awesome. So a couple others that have come here. Any tips for negotiating the co op piece on one P? You know, is it even negotiable? I think everybody's seeing this kind of creep up?

I know. You know, they

try to mix it Okay, well, there's damage in this transportation. And then there's Co Op. And there's a weird blending of it. I always wanted to just carve it out and give them a hard this is our transportation number. This is our traditional damage number from all of our other retailers. Now let's talk apples to apples and

Co Op.

You know, is that Co Op? negotiable right now?

Yeah,

Nicole Reich 38:04

yes, for sure. Um, I again, it goes back to volume. Let's say that you're having just in general a hard time getting that that decrease? Well, first, what I would say is if they come back to you and say, hey, I want to increase all the cost by 3%. It isn't negotiable, depending on the size and the way that you're presenting the counter, I guess just like any kind of b2b relationship, the more that you can prove your investment in Amazon, or what you are doing to make the platform better for the customers what you're doing from making a catalog better. For example, maybe you're increasing more in adspend, those are the levers to pull to say, hey, you know, I don't want a 3% increase, I want a 1%. But I'm also going to be investing in x, y and z. So that's kind of the approach that I would take, think about other tools, other products that they have that you're investing in. And then also think back again to what is the best approach for the customer? What is the best customer experience? And if you can put those two together to make a case to say, this is why I don't want to accept the new Co Op. That's where I would start in negotiations. That's been that's been helpful.

Aaron Conant 39:13

Is there any way to discontinue products in Amazon and replace them with new products?

Nicole Reich 39:19

Yep. So at the parent law, so you can't change out UPC is for the most part, you can but it's, it's really, really tough. What I would say is as a product gets marked obsolete, create that new UPC and it's kind of your version 2.0 different color different whatever it might be, and take that child and put it on the parent for the existing parent Asin. So as the old one sells out, the new one is coming on as a new child and then it's still getting that history or ranking from all all the old history of the old products. Awesome.

Aaron Conant 39:55

Let's see here. Can you remove apparently seen without interfering? Product reviews on child ASINs.

Nicole Reich 40:04

That's a good one depends on the category. So some categories, the reviews are being tied to the parent Asin. So if that is the case, then no, the reviews, if you change the parent ease, then the reviews will go away. In most categories, though, the reviews are tied to the child. So when you blow something apart, and you bring it back all together, the reviews will be there.

Aaron Conant 40:27

Yeah, it's interesting that you bring that up. Because, you know, everybody, I should say, right, a lot of people think that, you know, the back end of Amazon was slowly built around a shell. And it was really built out in a tonne of different silos is they gave a bunch of different teams autonomy to build their different categories. And then it literally is category dependent, so people could see things. They hey, I can see this in beauty, but I can't do it. And, you know, and, and hard goods, Home Goods, whatever it might be. And it's, you know, Amazon had that, you know, the first the 3d Spin images that they were doing the spin images they put on what they launched that and like tools first. And the reason they launched it in tools versus that was the only back end that could accept the file type that was coming in. So yeah, it is it's not always your vendor manager who's just doesn't want to do it. It's literally when they're telling you we don't we can't operate that way. It won't work. It's it's it's a legit excuse. Next question that comes in. We are traditionally one p with Amazon, we usually create new products both on Seller Central and vendor central together just in case any item gets suppressed due to pricing on vendor Central. We've not been able to do this recently, as Amazon does not allow us to listen to items on Seller Central anymore. Do you see this with

other vendors? Yeah, yeah.

Nicole Reich 41:44

So you when you are creating UPC in seller, Central, you're getting the this brand is tied to a Amazon retail partnership, please talk to your vendor manager, that's usually the alert that's coming on the seller, central side.

Aaron Conant 42:00

workarounds. So, we have

Nicole Reich 42:03

tried to creating the UPC through a seller account that's not tied to the brand. So maybe an authorized third party seller or one of the accounts that we have, for example, that has been helpful. If that doesn't work, we ultimately have to create the UPC in vendor Central and mark them obsolete. But knowing that that has disadvantages as well, because sometimes vendors don't even want to create the UPC and that vendor account, right, because they don't want Amazon to start placing orders. Um, and then in that case, it that is you have two options either created through another seller account that's not tied to you, or created in vendor central knowing that you might get orders for that you have to deny.

Aaron Conant 42:44

Yeah, don't it's interesting as well, I know a lot of brands who tried to calm what you're saying, even if they create underneath a parent company, an internet company, right, that's its own LLC off to the side and they build it. Amazon sniffs it out, right? Every single time they do they connect the dots. So

Nicole Reich 43:04

if you if you are getting stuck with the Amazon vendor or Amazon retail code on the hybrid accounts, I think I saw I saw this on a previous account, the best thing to do I would say is talk to your vendor manager because they're clearly making you a key account for them. And they know that you have a hybrid strategy. So if you explain to them, Hey, this is what's happening. This is why we're doing it. A lot of the times there's certain reasons why you have that seller account, right, just like you described, and the vendor manager usually is like, Okay, I hate it, but I get it, right. So at the end of the day, again, it goes back to product selection, it goes back to price, customer experience. So, um, I would say the days are over of hiding behind that hybrid strategy.

Aaron Conant 43:51

Awesome. So

is there any downside was creating a new parent, reason for asking is that we have an orphaned child listing that we cannot reconnect to the parent.

Nicole Reich 44:03

You may lose the reviews depending on the category. But if you can't get them tied to the parent, I would create a new parents and then pull them to that target either through a twister file on the vendor side or a product key file on Seller Central. Look,

Aaron Conant 44:18

we started as a camping vendor, but now we're more of a home furniture vendor. How do we add the furniture home vendor? We do not have a buyer at Amazon.

Nicole Reich 44:27

Yeah, the vendor code. So you're looking for a new vendor code for that category? Have you probably a silly question, but have you asked your event the buyer for the category you're in to connect you with the buyer for that, that other category? I'm guessing that's probably yes. But that's probably the only way to really do it. Um, you could try to upload those new items through your current vendor code. I don't know if that takes all the time. We do not have contact anymore. Yeah, so you're not gonna Probably if you don't have contact with a buyer today, the chances of you getting one unless you see a big boost in sales are probably rare. So your options are then to create those agents through the vendor code that you have today, or to create a seller central and load them up there. Which you probably will be able to do without a tonne of pushback on the hybrid since you don't have a buyer anyways. Awesome.

Aaron Conant 45:24

This is so much fun. They like to ask if they're asking questions when I'm learning a ton. Yeah, awesome, cool. We were product with a product name trademark brand registry, they will only take trademark for brands and not products, is there a way to register product name treated registered product name trademarks.

Nicole Reich 45:42

Now, if you don't have a trademark for the brand or the product, you can't get it. Sorry, let me reverse that the only way to get a in the brand registry program is to have a track trademark for the brand. This happens a lot to us where there's a certain line that is like trademark name plus blah, blah, blah, that the vendor wants that brand name as a brand name up on Amazon, you can't do that if you don't have brand registry brand registry is only possible for brand names that are in that are approved with the trademark.

Aaron Conant 46:16

Is there a way to discontinue products in three P with new products if you have old sellers selling the old products?

That's it. So

So you have an older version of a product that other people are selling. And

can you discontinue that? No. So the only way to get

Nicole Reich 46:40

old product off Amazon is the either one p or three P is to have whoever has it, sell through it, or on the three P side enforce policies to say, Hey, you're no longer able to sell this product on Amazon, you have to take it down.

Aaron Conant 46:55

Yeah, that's a recession. Another brand protection one

I've seen is a couple case if you know it's a limited amount where the companies just buy the rest of it back.

Nicole Reich 47:04

Yep, our TVs, hey, we don't want it. You know, usually that triggers in RTV. A lot of the times

Aaron Conant 47:11

we recently moved from a seller central account to a vendor Central account, we set up a brand registry through Seller Central any experience transferring that brand registry over to the vendor Central

account. Yes. So within

Nicole Reich 47:24

brand registry, the same way that you got the brand registry, the seller account is the same way you'll get it to the vendor account. Um, a lot of the times it says it's accepted, but then it doesn't always work. If you just got the ability to open a vendor account. This is a great one to either leverage the buyer to help you or the ESA s group. If you don't have either of those tools as options, it's a lot of ticket opening because brand registry will say it's linked correctly a lot of times, but then you'll go into vendor Central and it's not. So it's just a lot of support tickets to say hey, we are the brand this is our brand registry. This is our vendor account, connect the two best practices make sure that all the email addresses are the same. And make sure you limit the number of email addresses that you are sending in brand registry. So whatever the primary email addresses on vendor Central is the email address that you need to use when you open a ticket within brand registry to extend it to the email address. That was very wordy. So if that didn't make sense to Aaron email, I'll put it in email for you.

Aaron Conant 48:30

Have you ever been able to get the new version available? So the new version available Twister added on an old one P offer that links to the newer version that is only offered through three P No,

Nicole Reich 48:46

we don't even see that newer version which is a lot. I if that is still out there. I would love to see it. I thought that it went away because sellers and vendors were taking advantage of it. And we're trying to upsell cross sell. Um, so I do not know if that is still happening. I'd have to dig into that a little bit.

Aaron Conant 49:07

Awesome. Are there

so we've been everybody keep dropping to the q&a or into the chat. Hopefully we've hit pretty much all of these I think I missed one actually. What would you consider a good row ass

had to go back for that one? I think I skipped over it earlier. Hey, Janice.

Nicole Reich 49:32

Depends on the category depends on your cost per click depends on your ad goals. Right? Um It depends on whether you're doing branded, non branded competitor. So there's this a slide that I have actually in the checklist that I will send out tomorrow, and it really depends on who you want to target with what keywords so, high level competitors Row ads is going to be your lowest generic keywords is going to be somewhere in the middle. And branded is going to be your best row ads, which makes sense people that know your brand or to search for it, they're going to convert people that are looking for your product, but not a particular brand will have a better it's somewhere in between. But if you're doing conquest or competitor campaigns, that row has is going to be

Aaron Conant 50:23

lower. So that one's a hard one.

What do you see happening with DSP Amazon seems to be having a huge push with DSP right now. I just know from you know, some of my friends and contacts, they're that they're they're building out like a DSP Ambassador program, they're staffing up like they did for Amazon Web Services. By that means putting a lot of oomph and they were they expect a lot out of it. Are you seeing, you know, DSP perform, you know, should people be budgeting for it? You know, how do you guys view it?

Yeah, um,

Nicole Reich 50:57

so one thing I will say is that we were investing a lot of our resources into, again, brand protection, one and then DSP two. So our advertising team and capabilities, this is a little bit of transparency. So we've always focused on the PPC side, mostly because the brands we work with have a limited budget anyways, so that there wasn't the ability to go up or funnel but as brands in invest more in advertising, we know DSP is a very good option, it's running a lot better than it had in the beginning. I would say it's here to stay. We also really like doing the sponsor display ads and pa t with DSP. So overall, I don't see that going away, I think it's will even be better, especially when you partner it with the Amazon attribution model. Because DSP, again, is higher level and sometimes you don't see that return right on Amazon, but you may see it other places, which is good.

Aaron Conant 51:52

What else on that

Nicole Reich 51:53

on the kind of think of how I would summarise the rest of the DSP. Oh, last thing, certain categories are investing in DSP more than others. So for example, CPG and grocery, I see them those brands in that space doing a lot in DSP, um, other ones like apparel, or footwear, or a lot of the stock brands we work with, I don't see them investing in DSP yet. So I think it just depends, but I guess if you are a very large brand, especially in DSP, in grocery CPG, everyone else is there, you should be continuing to invest efforts in a DSP.

Aaron Conant 52:32

And so I think the last one that we're gonna wrap it up here, what is the best way to escalate for a fix when your products parent child variation is broken.

So I think these are

Nicole Reich 52:41

all coming from the same person, I would love to connect with you. So if you are working with like an sh S, or even a seller, central sa s team, there's an escalation path where you submit a ticket, if it doesn't get responded, you follow up, you keep your notes, and then eventually you'll get to the Amazon captive team, the Amazon catalog, captive team, and they'll be able to help you. But you have to show them your kind of due diligence of opening up the tickets to support that you've tried all other resources, and it hasn't worked.

Aaron Conant 53:15

Awesome. Well, we're right at time here. How's that for the marathon session? Nicole, he did it. He did that was

Nicole Reich 53:21

I Okay, everyone on the call, I will send out the deck that was way faster than I thought it was we probably could have gone for another hour. But um, that holiday checklist, I highly highly recommend getting it tomorrow printing it out talking to your team's specially if you have a seller account. There's specific things that people should be logging in every day and checking. So just make sure that you're again, walking the store as we call it and doing your due diligence to make sure your products are live inventory is tracking.

Aaron Conant 53:54

And then just hold on for next

Nicole Reich 53:56

week. Right. I think that's all what we're doing. All right, that

Aaron Conant 54:01

that's awesome. And just you know, everybody on the line today, you need any kind of help whatsoever in the Amazon space. You know, the quality of Retail Bloom, great friends, partner support is the network 100% We're setting some time on the calendar, I know they're crushing it in the the brand protection space, if you need help with that, obviously, one p three P whatever it is, it's worth reaching out. They're highly recommended from a tonne of brands in the network. So worth the time spent there as well. And with that, we're going to wrap it up look for file email. For me, I would love to have a conversation with you as well. More than happy to kind of knowledge share across what I'm seeing with the 30 brands I'm talking with every week. But also anybody needs help with partner selection across the board at this time of year and that includes direct to consumer and drop shipping content is huge. You know, email marketing, SMS, you know, platform selection, international expansion, whatever it might be, don't don't hesitate to reach out. Always love had a great conversation and more than happy to make some recommendations from the brand of the network. You know, obviously in the Amazon space pinnacle in the team of Retail Bloom. And with that, we're gonna wrap it up. Hope everybody has a fantastic Thursday here a great rest of the week everybody, take care stay safe and if we don't connect again and before Thanksgiving, everybody have a happy Thanksgiving. Thanks so much.

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