While Amazon sales & advertising has become table stakes for a majority of growing brands and merchants, it certainly doesn't come without it's obstacles, challenges and hurdles.
We invite you to join us for a deep dive into Amazon's Most Pesky Issues and how leading brands are solving for them as well as preventing others as well.
BWG Connect & Orca Pacific 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.
Senior Account Manager
Olivia Caparelli is also an employee at Orca Pacific, serving as a Senior Account Manager. She has extensive experience in sales and eCommerce, having worked behind the scenes and with the public. Her last position was Assistant Buyer at Zulily, where she learned how to negotiate with accounts and vendors. She graduated from the University of Delaware with a bachelor’s in psychology.
Director, Business Management at Orca Pacific
Rob Antolin recently joined Orca Pacific as their Business Manager and is now the Director of Business Management. He has had a storied career, including a position as a Senior Vendor Manager at Amazon. He also worked at notable companies like Cision and the NHL. His specialties are in strategy, supply chain optimization, and management.
Director, Sales Operations at Orca Pacific
Andrew Lorence is the Sales Operation Lead at Orca Pacific, a company that helps eCommerce brands improve their customer’s experience on Amazon. He has more than 13 years of experience in managing accounts and projects. In the past three years, Andrew has moved up the ladder at Orca Pacific from Account Manager to Business Development Manager to his current role.
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.
In the past decade, there has been a sudden rush of Amazon experts to match the company’s incredible growth. They all promise to know Amazon like the back of their hands, but how many live up to that standard? Amazon is a profitable but challenging marketplace to sell through. They can be opaque in their practices and methods, making it hard to know how to deal with some issues. The only true Amazon experts are the ones who work with them day in and day out.
Aaron Conant hosts Andrew Lorence, Rob Antolin, and Olivia Caparelli of Orca Pacific to thoroughly answer some of the most pressing questions in Amazon today. The three cover a host of topics, including content updates, inventory fulfillment, cost increases, and more. They also touch on practical advice for Amazon strategy that is designed to help real eCommerce brands make the best decisions in difficult situations.
Aaron Conant 0:18
Happy Tuesday everybody. My name is Aaron Conant, Co-Founder and Managing Director of BWG Connect. We are a networking and knowledge sharing group of 1000s of brands who do exactly that we network and knowledge share together to stay on top of the newest trends, strategies, pain points, whatever it is, is shaping digital as a whole. I run point. And I talk with, you know, 30 to 40 brands a week to stay on top of the newest trends and strategies and also just kind of advice and networking knowledge here. So, at any point in time, if anybody would like to connect, don't ever hesitate to shoot me an email, put time on my calendar, I love the conversations, more than happy to give you kind of a global overview of what's happening across the digital landscape. That's everything from Amazon, to direct consumer to international expansion, eu and then to China. You know, as we kind of kick off the call today, we're starting three to four minutes after the hour. And just so everybody knows, we'd like to wrap these up with three to four minutes to go we want to make sure you get on to your next meeting without being late. The other thing is we want these to be as educational and informational as possible. If you have any questions along the way, hit star five, a handle go up on the screen here. We can unmute you and bring you into the conversation. The other thing is if you if you can't go off mute if you'd rather just send me an email Aaron, email@example.com And we can feel questions that way as well. That includes an hour after the call tomorrow next week, everyone says you need some answers, don't hesitate to shoot me an email, we've got a broad network of 1000s of brands, we can usually get you an answer in under a day. With that being said, I'm going to go ahead and kick off this conversation. Solving Amazon's most pesky issues. So as I noted talking with 30 plus brands a week, the same topics come up over and over again. That's how we get topics for these calls. Just Just pet a lot of questions that people get, I would say, solving some of the bigger issues and then you know, some maybe not but then there's these pesky issues that issues that show up over and over again. So we thought we'd just jump on a call and try to tackle and with that being said we've got some great friends and partners supporters of the network over at Orca Pacific just kind of ask them you know a massive Amazon agency that great friends and partners to a ton of brands the network managing a ton of business on Amazon one p three p you know Andrew, actually kick it over to you. We want to do a brief intro on yourself on Orca Pacific. That'd be awesome. I know. Yeah. So I have some people on the line with you today to help answer as many questions that come in. But Andrew, do you want to kind of do an intro on yourself in Orca, we can kind of kick off the call?
Andrew Lorence 2:46
Definitely. Yeah, for sure. Yeah, they'll appreciate you having us on here. I know, everyone's probably has their whole host of issues. And I wish we had a magic wand to fix those all on the call. But we can kind of talk through our strategy and how we approach each one of these items as well. So we'll try to get through as many as we can today, as questions come up and kind of conversations, but happy to continue these conversations, you know, after this call as well. So reach out there and reach out to our team was happy to have conversation here as well. So today on the phone, I'm Andrew Lorence, our director of sales and operations. I've been with Orca for about three and a half years, having a whole host of rules here, but talk with a lot of brands and manufacturers about issues that they're having and kind of picking out solutions here. In addition, we also have Rob, who's our Director of Business Management, and he came to us through Amazon. So he has a lot of great experience on the other side of these pesky issues as well. So he'll be a great resource on the call. In addition, we have Olivia, who's one of our senior account manager. So she works directly with our clients and brands. She's been here for a little over two years. And so she has a wide variety of clients and categories on Amazon. So she is dealing with these types of issues on a daily basis here as well. So happy to answer questions as he goes through. I know a lot of you have probably attended these calls in the past. But we'll give a quick little backstory on our agency just in case any of you are new. So as a quick recap, we've been working with Amazon and brands for about 13 years with a pretty healthy mix of vendor and Seller Central. So as we talk through these issues, we have the you know, kind of insight on both sides of the aisle there. We have about 60 team members. Here in the Seattle metro area, we're a couple blocks away from the Amazon campus. You know, we've built up relationships on the vendor, central side Seller Central side that are more kind of informal relationships with Amazon, we have a preferred relationship on the Amazon advertising side, which is a great lever to accelerate growth on the platform. And we really work with all major categories. So some of these issues that we talked through today might be specific to a category, but you know, usually what that means is that that might bleed into other categories or it might just be widespread. So we work with pretty much all major categories, all different sizes, though all the way from you know, starting out New on Amazon just launching. So those that are doing, you know, a couple million to 1050 100 plus million dollars. So wide variety of experience that we have and kind of knowing what brands are dealing with at each level. And the main way that we approach this is holistically. So looking at operations, content, advertising, the data behind all of that as well, in which each one of those areas, there's a whole host of different issues. But what we find with our holistic approach, it's really, you might have an issue with your operational side or your content, your advertising, but most likely it's it's also affecting or tying into those other areas of your business. So as we kind of approach these questions today, we'll make sure we kind of cover all aspects of those as well.
Aaron Conant 5:44
Awesome. So just a reminder, if you have questions along the way, hit star five and above in the screen, we can unmute you and bring you in, I want to tackle some that I'm getting from a ton of brands right now. In one is from a passkey issue, content updates and getting them to stick. This is something that's popped up over and over again, other things that you know, that just kind of set the tone for people who have moved out in that, you know, from the 30 plus conversations I'm having with brands in every category startup, the fortune 100 is around content updates, getting them to stick Brand Registry fulfillment during q4 warehouse space on both the you know, the seller and the vendor central side. Obviously, cost increases are a huge thing that have been popping up. And then you know, people are like, hey, I want to move from vendor to Seller Central is this right for me. So these are some common ones that I've just taken notes on, though, and make sure that we capture, but just so that people know. You know, if you have your own that you want to tackle his star five, and we can bring it in the conversation. But with that you want to where should we start? what's what's the one you want to tackle first? Is it fulfillment warehouse space seller vendor? is a content getting them to stick is it cost increases? I'll kind of kick it over to you, Andrew, since I threw a ton of stuff at you.
Andrew Lorence 7:04
Perfect. Yeah. And I think maybe we'll start with the person that you mentioned. And there'll be a lot of topics to cover today. So I think Rob can and Olivia can kind of cover some of the content update pieces, because that definitely is something that we've experienced in the last few years is continue to have issues with though, Rob, if you want to take that off. That'd be great.
Aaron Conant 7:24
Yeah, Rob, just brilliant.
Rob Antolin 7:26
Awesome. Perfect. Yeah. And what everyone's gonna hate to hear is that these content issues are widely pervasive on Amazon right now. And it really has been an uphill battle that a lot of brands are fighting the smallest brands, the largest brands possible on Amazon, and that is just a result of how Amazon's catalog systems work. So MLR, Amazon catalog systems, because of the one key review marketplace, have a lot of different contributions come in. Unfortunately, many of the people on this call are probably aware, as you become more successful on Amazon, you start to become a victim of your own success, and draw a lot of 3d attention, which means you're gonna have people one listing and competing against you on your own listings. But then they're also going to be competing, pursued competing part as to the content you're displaying as well. And what displays on that detail page is going to be completely dynamic based on a couple of things, including who is going to win the buy box. Amazon is really always trying to position Brand Registry is going to be that silver bullet for you as a brand owner to six content. But what we often find her or specific is well, in theory, that's how Brand Registry should work. And in practice, we don't always see that reflected. So with Amazon accepting content from so many different sources, one of the easier ways to have your content stick with Amazon is to have a one key relationship with Amazon. Because the way their catalog authority systems work is they tend to consider content submitted by the actual manufacturer or brand owner, especially with a one key relationship you have a much higher authority within their systems than a third party contribution there. With that being said, Amazon also does a lot of things to your content on its own, to things that have been rolled out on the content side from Amazon in the last three years. For a lot of our boton vendors and sellers is Amazon has rolled out an automated titling system, which means that in an effort to get a consistent customer experience across a category, the Amazon retail teams will tend to put together a formula pulling back and catalog data to standardize all of the titles across the catalog. And it usually works in terms of an example of this would be within a given category they would say the ideal way the Amazon retail teams decided they want content to shop is going to be branding plus product name plus product color. Plus case pack size plus potential unit of measure is that relevant within your viewing category. where that comes very frustrating for our, for our clients here at Orca is we work with them very closely to do SEO optimized titles and we find that Amazon overwrites them. Real Estate real estate, the way that you have to manage that is likely to be manually auditing your catalogs. Luckily, here at Orca Pacific, we do have some back end teams that do a lot of those heavy lift on behalf of our clients, and constantly setting, putting in your brand registry and contact us tickets to try and get those items updated. Additionally, if you do have access to a vendor manager, Amazon internal retail contribution is overall authority within Amazon systems. So there are times with some of our larger vendors where we work directly with the vendor manager to have them upload content on our behalf. On those detail pages.
Aaron Conant 10:55
It really quick Rob, I don't know if you're on a headset or not. But it's sometimes it's kind of going in and out of just a little bit. So you-
Rob Antolin 11:01
I know that I will switch to my actual phone and turn off my earbuds.
Aaron Conant 11:07
Okay. No, but I mean, we I think we've got like 99% of it, but it's just going in just a little bit. But is there is there a solve for this or is at the end of the day, the only solve is being vigilant and keeping an eye on it and having maybe a tool or something that's keeping track of it, or somebody helping you out to identify when it changes. So I come from the over the counter pharmaceutical space, right, and there's no changing on the back end, right? That mean the FDA step, we get in trouble and get our hand slapped? Is there only being vigilant with a tool or, or part of how we find it?
Rob Antolin 11:44
Right now is that vigilance and trying to manage via Amazon's back end teams is the best solution. And it is far from an ideal solution right now. So as part of our engagement with category teams, at Amazon that we really regularly speak to here at Orca Pacific, we are regularly calling out these issues to try and demonstrate to Amazon there's a critical mass here when it comes to issues like the automated titling system. And when it comes to when it comes to issues, like automated variations, which have also been rolled out recently and are causing a ton of headaches for a lot of Amazon centers, sellers and vendors.
Aaron Conant 12:18
Okay, so I want to I want to stay on this thesis a little bit. Oh, go ahead. Did you have something else? And do you want to jump in.
Andrew Lorence 12:23
Yeah, yeah, Aaron, I just wanted to mention, some of the pieces we've talked about is kind of bringing in tools and technology to track this. So that's something we utilize, we definitely recommend brands utilize something in this space as well, if you're not using, you know, an agency that's tracking it, but we do track those changes. So with any uploads that we make, obviously, we're going back and you know, making sure that it's sticking so we're double checking it. Unfortunately, it's more of a manual process on those. But then we can also track changes to content. So if we're seeing that a change is going in place, and we haven't updated, the change or the brand hasn't, that it's going in and understanding what was changed and then switching it back into what it's supposed to be. So the tools like that can really help with that. And then I think the other piece that both of you talked about a little bit as a Brand Registry aspect. So Amazon is leaning even more into Brand Registry as a necessity to manage that content. And so it's definitely been a struggle. Some clients that we work with don't have access to Brand Registry, they don't have those trademarks. And so if that's something that brands do not have, it's almost a requirement at this point to be able to make those those updates but also to have access to those, you know, things like a plus content and brand stores and such. So Brand Registry is super important. The other piece that I think we started seeing this last year, and Olivia Rob can can speak to this in practice if I'm wrong, but there was also some cases where when we were going into update content, it was almost a requirement to have some of those updates or requests going through the admin account upgrade registry as well. Though in some cases, we might be like a Registered Agent, but they were requiring even like a closer connection to the actual brand in terms of recommending or requesting those changes.
Aaron Conant 12:27
Crazy. Awesome. So I have a question that comes in. And this also, you know comes up in a lot of my conversations as well, is around shortages and chargebacks if anyone has any tips for expediting a shortage pay back, so that dumps us into the chargeback shortages, other issues with Amazon shipments as a whole.
Rob Antolin 14:38
Yeah, and charges shortages and chargebacks are things that we find our incredible pain points with our vendors, especially given that Amazon on the chargeback side specifically holds a hold of the vendors to a very high standard and we find that often our vendors are also getting punished for trying to be good partners as well. tying this back into you know those issues with global supply chain that affects everything from p o confirmation rates to other PL related chargebacks. We're seeing you know with FBA sorry with our retail one p, they pay vendors, they're getting chargebacks for late shipments because Amazon is pacing labor shortages in its axes and is having delays in processing inbound inventory. How we tend to work with our clients on the chargeback side is when we do have a vendor manager contract available to them. We're usually pulling in or reusing, actively negotiating for chargeback waivers in returns for things like marketing investments, or the threatening to pull back on advertising spend, given that you know, those dollars that you dedicate to chargebacks obviously need to come out from somewhere within your p&l as well. So we really tie into how these chargebacks are negatively affecting Amazon's business. And what are certain steps we need to take to get those chargebacks under control that may negatively impact Amazon at the end of the day, as a way to incentivize vendor manager, vendor manager approval of a potential chargeback waiver.
Aaron Conant 16:12
So really quick, and then we got a hand up, I want to jump out to it just reminder to others, if you have any questions in this space, just hit star five, and we can go out to you. So a big pain point, though is, you know, proof of delivery, right across the board like Amazon doesn't, you know, I just remember my days, right, they don't require a signature, the product gets dropped off, and all of a sudden, it disappears. And it's get a chargeback. And you know, people are trying to deal with it. Any thoughts specifically on that front?
Rob Antolin 16:41
One, making sure you guys are, are you are ruthlessly documenting everything at every step along the way of where these issues may be caused by Amazon is really a best practice. And then being really militant about following up and re cutting your contact us tickets is also going to be very important for dealing with chargebacks for dealing with shortages, anything like that, because it can be a little bit of roulette. Some of the feedback we've heard from our clients and what we're seeing internally is the Contact Us teams who do more, more focused on closing tickets as quickly as possible as opposed to actually reading the content of those tickets. So sometimes it can be a little bit of a lottery of are you going to get someone who is actually going to look into your issue and resolve it. Are you just gonna have someone who's sending you a form response and automatically closing that ticket right now.
Aaron Conant 17:30
What? Amazon's more interested in closing it than refunding money? No!
Rob Antolin 17:39
Yeah, it's weird how those perverse incentives might work out when it comes to putting put putting their teams on very tight SLA is I'm sure a lot of people who have read in the media that what some of the downstream impacts of that may be.
Aaron Conant 17:52
Yeah, I mean, but it's not I mean, it's not comforting to know anybody but you know, the old adage, misery loves company, maybe? Maybe it helps out to know that we're all in the same boat here. Carolyn, I see your hand is up. Thanks for hitting star five. Quick note to others. If you have a question, hit star five. You know, Dave wouldn't go out to you next. But Carol, you want to jump in? If you want to do a brief intro on yourself and the company? That'd be awesome. And then yeah, feel free to ask away.
Sure. Thanks, Aaron. My name is Carolyn alderney's. I'm the Vice President of customer relations in eCommerce and in flag makers. We make American flags since 1847. So I had a question on content from sorry from skipping back a subject. But we we are always frustrated when we get onto Amazon site. And we see that someone has been messing around with our content, we are brand registered. And we've been in discussions with Salsify to see about publishing our content weekly with them. We have you know, a couple 1100 items or so on their website. And it's really hard to keep track of all of them, and wanted to see if you saw any downside to pushing that data to them once a week or once a month just to try to minimize that.
Rob Antolin 19:14
I we do have some of our larger clients who do leverage Salsify as a tool to help try and manage their catalogs. Additionally, if you do have good relationships with other resellers on your account, or sorry, on your product detail pages, we often we often recommend to see if you could also have them upload your proper approved content as a brand owner as well so that Amazon has seen this content coming from multiple different sources to give it higher authority there. You know, one of the challenges with Amazon is always going to be that the winner of the buy box is dynamic. And that means that the content on the detail page can look different for myself as to Zoo at the exact same time. Just because we're located in different parts of the country and Amazon decides that it's going to be more profitable to sell them. In order to the end customer from the reseller who may have for instance inventory here in Seattle versus inventory base where you are, despite the fact that you may be positioning at the same cost.
That's interesting that it renders different content based on where you are located.
Rob Antolin 20:17
So it's not just based on what you're located It is based off the buy box winner as well. Right and the buy box is always a little bit of a black box. Amazon likes to do that intentionally but some of the things that go into that are going to be your price, your and your shipment speed to the end customer as well as how that affects Amazon's Amazon's margin at the end of the day. So the one t vendor you're presented with a metric called waltzed by box which is the percentage of the time that customer visits an Amazon Detail page in your in stock and the third party seller is winning the buy box over Amazon retail and in those situations what's usually happening is Amazon is feeding that sale to a third party seller because it is more profitable for Amazon to take that commission that straight commission they get on a third party sale than it would be to sell it as shipped and sold by Amazon.
Okay thank you.
Aaron Conant 21:09
Yeah i mean that's I mean it's super interesting I think you know, the other side of it is another string to pull there is the importance of you know, having a clean marketplace as a whole across the board right cleaning up the unauthorized resellers we actually just you know did a call on that yesterday because it's it's top of mind and Carolyn great to hear your voice and and thanks for jumping in there. Next we've got a couple more hands up. Dave I'll jump out to you first if you want to you want to jump in first and then market can see your next.
So I'm Dave drones director of eCommerce for Diesel Watches. I'm kind of jumping in on both I was gonna ask for add some commentary to the one comment there regarding the EEI in the vendor chargebacks and then also right after that with the salsify. I'll do the Salsify real quick. I don't know if this will help me Salsify, specifically with for Amazon as well as other several other retailers. In they have the ability on our site, just an FYI, we push our refresh our data every 48 hours. So literally anytime anything goes in or anything that's changes the content, the service, the search keywords, anything that we load into our Salsify upload, whether even digital analytics or graphics, whatever gets updated every 48 hours, they have the ability to push that. So someone's getting bumped out on yours or you're worried about somebody coming in and a three page if you're a one P and a three p jumping in and cutting over cross, they do it they just keep pounding it and refreshing it over and over. And for our site, it's literally knocked out 99.9% of any issues we have as well as any time we refresh anything. It takes place every 48 hours. So they worked really well and they do have the ability to do that. That was that on the other side for the vendor chargebacks I'm going to add a little bit here because we're gonna Amazon's made changes within their system within their API structure. And they change data point context in the background and they've done it wrong. I literally get a new di error message for every one of the 130 plus pios they place every single week. And then like everybody said you send the note in and all of a sudden your claim disappears and they just make it go away. Save your backup you get the chargebacks that come in and that just pound your vendor manager with it because you're not the only ones anything you do get a response back from them as far as the claim save the note I literally have a response from them going yes the issue is on Amazon side is a data point entry error on ours on our Ei we're working to correct it and then they deduct $20,000 so that's just bubbled through with it and really keep track of the different pieces with it. And then again just Lam your account manager as well as your legit your in stock manager with a going you guys need to get this paid back I literally just got $100,000 check recut because of this because this is on their side in the note.
Aaron Conant 24:20
Awesome. Love it. Love it. Thanks Dave for for jumping in. jumping out to the next one Mark. can see your hand is up. Thanks for jumping in and start five my other sister five will bring you in. Mark would love to have you jump in here.
Sure. Thanks for having me. It's more counting from TOMS footwear company. And it sounds like I should have been on the call yesterday when you're talking about unauthorized resellers because that was the main question I had was just the challenge we're having is obviously we have a one to two relationship. We also have handful of authorized dealers. And we also, obviously have unauthorized dealers. And we used to sell Tom's a segment in line, three novela issues with price matching from the one p side. And then they pushed us to give them a broader assortment and said, Oh, but we'll also help you clean up that three piece size. So you won't have issues with price matching. So I guess my my, my main question is this. I've used ORS Intel in the past, another brand, they helped us do the cease and desist type stuff, which is just like whack a mole. So I'm just wondering if anybody has any advice on that. As far as how you're handling price matching? Because they tell us they will NOT gate? Tom's product? They don't do it for footwear?
Aaron Conant 25:48
Yeah, I mean, I get it, this is there. And I can just jump in real quick and we can shoot you over the recording from yesterday or we can have a follow up conversation on it. I mean, we just had one on you know, it was was born easy control. You know, probably a lot of you heard them from our policy for but there's a way to do it. But you have to be done right? And if you don't do it right here and get hit with lawsuits from the third party resellers, you can't just go claim counterfeit, or not allowed to sell or anything like that. Because you know, there's major implications on that side as well. So anyways, I don't know.
Yeah, you know what, it's packaged on me over that recording from yesterday, I'll start with that, that would be fantastic.
Aaron Conant 26:31
Yeah, and just so everybody knows, we're trying to, you know, after these calls, just in the past few months here, we're trying to get as many of these recordings, whether it's a webinar or anything else up to our website, so you can just kind of check out the, you go to the, you know, bwgconnect.com and go to the events page. We're just turning the event landing page, so you can sign up for any upcoming ones, but then you can also just listen to any of the old ones that we have. We've done. So-
I'll do that. Yeah. Awesome. Awesome,
Aaron Conant 27:04
For sure. And thanks for jumping in Mark. Others if you have any questions, hit star five, and we can unmute you and bring you in. The next thing that I want to tackle that comes up, you know, on a routine basis is the storage space piece with with both on the one P and the three p side inventory as a whole. I mean, I saw an article where, you know, Amazon's like at the current pace they're building they're still like five years out from building all the storage space that brands would be asking them for. So you know, how do you see q4 shaping up as far as you know, inventory fulfillment as a whole.
Rob Antolin 27:45
So I will let Olivia start off by talking a little bit to the three p side and then I could speak and I'll hop in on the one beside afterwards. So Olivia, if you can take the initial three p storage building question that would be great.
Olivia Caparelli 27:57
Yeah, totally. So Hi, everybody. So I storage limits and restock limits. And three tea is something that most of my clients have an issue with or trouble with, it seems like the the standard restock limit versus the Oh sorry, the finish storage limit versus the restock limit don't seem to match up. So a lot of my clients will reach the restock limit, but have an unlimited amount of storage and they could possibly use. Obviously, going into q4, these issues have just maximized as most of my clients want to ship as much as they can into FBA. For holiday and for this q4 peak period, there is a possibility that you can have the restock limit for the amount of units you can have on hand at FDA increased. I've been successful a couple of times through cases just being very vigilant and cases following up making sure that these cases don't close. As we noted before, sometimes that they'll just close the case, you know, without really anybody even following up on it. So it's really important just to keep following up and ask for a specific amount of storage space that you want just a number that we throw out sometimes with about 50,000 or 10,000 depending on the amount of units that my client would like to send in. But we really prioritize these top sellers of the ones that we know we're going to sell like crazy during q4, trying to bulk of our inventory starting around like the end of August into September so that when we get into q4, the processing time for these shipments are going to start to get longer and longer. So we want to make sure we bulk up on inventory as soon as we can. So really increase these storage limits. It's just following up over and over again as I can some cases.
Aaron Conant 29:30
So following up over and over again but also being very specific and how much you're asking for not just asking for?
Olivia Caparelli 29:36
Exactly, yeah, just following up saying I want to increase in the stack Linux is not going to move the needle so you want to try and be as specific as possible to Amazon to try and get you know this inventory recycling to increase.
Aaron Conant 29:49
Awesome, love it and then I'm in the third party side. I mean on the first party side
Rob Antolin 29:54
And on the first party site largely what we've seen is a major pain point for a lot of our vendors this year is just much like The rest of the world Amazon is facing huge issues when it comes to staffing their warehouses and that's affected Amazon's POS up to one key partners. They've been coming in a lot lighter than we expect and a lot of cases partially because Amazon just simply doesn't have enough warehouses those goods to process all the inbound inventory. We've heard from the internal Amazon contacts that they've had as high of turnover as 150% in their warehouses over the past year, just given all the challenges with COVID causing a lot of burnout there. So a couple of ways you can work on addressing that is one if you do have the vendor manager contact or in stock manager contact, working with them to play stock up buys on key products to supplement with the automated ordering Amazon's already doing within their systems. You can also leverage important to run orders as well as another way to bring in additional inventory. With that being said we are seeing that some Born to Run orders are being walked by Amazon system. And I would expect that to even just increase as we move into q4 because generally when Amazon runs into a peak promotional period like a Prime Day or like a turkey five which is a period from Black Friday, Cyber Monday, they tend to run their FCS at 110 to 115% capacity which means they're literally leaving products as on the floor to try and have as much product available within their FCS so one of the best things you can do in these types of cases is to make sure if on the third party side you have an fbm offer set up so fulfilled by manufacturer or having dropship set up on the one key side so that you can still realize sales if you go out of stock and network with Amazon over the q4 period.
Aaron Conant 31:37
Yeah so oh yeah jumped in Andrew.
Andrew Lorence 31:42
Yeah, so as Rob was saying there the out of stock issues are one thing that we want to avoid at all costs. So that's where we are setting up the fbm offer that dropship offer basically if you're out of stock or you know have no inventory there is going to take a considerable amount of investment to get that relevancy built up so that that starts tying into the advertising and the cost and so that's definitely something you want to take a look at. I did hear back from one of our contacts over names on yesterday and just kind of a side note in all of this in terms of spending in FBA inventory is to get that in and sent in as soon as possible so they're saying basically mid October if they want those to be in there in time for kind of that that November shopping period so there will be delays we found this last year you know normally it might take two to three weeks to ship something in and have it received we're seeing anywhere from four to six weeks in the peak of q4 so keeping a very close eye on your inventory levels as soon as you have inventory you know limits available shipping that then restocking those as quickly as possible. The other thing that that my contact the other day mentioned is small parcel shipments will be the fastest for receipts so that's also something to think about as we get into the you know the middle of q4 if you're trying to get something in pretty quickly you might look at like a small personal shipment to get that received in quicker than those large shipments.
Aaron Conant 33:07
Super interesting right like trimming it down and doing a smaller shipment I love it and you know just what anybody needs you know any connections to some of these digital age three pls you know feel free to ping me we can well I'm sure we'll have an upcoming call on it but if you need a connection to somebody if you can't do the individual pick pack chip on your own you know shoot me a note on the side Aaron firstname.lastname@example.org because we have a few in the network that come highly recommended from brands but 100% worth having that as a bedroom because you're not going to begin the inventory and i don't think i mean that small parcel I hadn't heard that before that's awesome but you know the big chocolate we have a lot of people end up just having that trailer sitting in the parking lot somewhere in the Amazon I'm going to jump out we've got another hand up here Michelle thanks for hitting star five just want to jump in feel free to ask away.
Yeah on the logistics side we're everybody's following Okay, except for order pickup. We have pallets and pallets, hundreds of pallets just sitting around it while we keep rescheduling freight and getting re tendered any advice on how to get that stuff move in?
Rob Antolin 34:15
Yeah, so what you're going to want to do is be once again very militant in opening up contact us cases that are Amazon is going to require that documentation no matter what help prioritize your issues. But the second step being if you are a retail manage vendors then bringing that up to your vendor manager contact or your in stock teams there and be prepared to highlight all of the kinds of case ID information all the tickets you've got. And they can help prioritize shipments largely what we're seeing order pickup issues across the board with some of our clients actually have a client who is a a prepaid vendor with Amazon who has actually been sending in freight on their own dime because of the issues we're seeing with Amazon's pickups right now. This is one of the benefits of making sure you have all those cases and And highlighting that to a vendor manager in stock manager contact is Amazon does have contact at a much higher level with all of the major UPS or FedEx and is able to kind of work with them to help to help escalate major and acute issues. The other recommendation and best practices always to try and develop really good relationships with your local carriers as well. Is something Amazon's always going to suggest to you because Amazon likes to make their service their platform pay for play and self service in every way imaginable. And sometimes that even comes to getting Amazon to pick up your freight which is very, very frustrating for their clients.
Yes, it sounds like we're checking all the boxes. The one that we can't penetrate though is when it's Amazon Amazon's freight Amazon truck gets kicked gets tendered. How do we get around that one? There's no local warehouse to call there's no relationship to Bill it's just back into the void of ticketing.
Rob Antolin 35:56
Yeah, and is going back into that void of ticketing. You know, always one path available. If it is incredibly cute, and I really only recommend this to our clients as a nuclear option on his Amazon, you can email email@example.com that is the Jeff Bezos his email that email is monitored by a full support executive support team although Jeff does look at those emails every once in a while as well and usually those executive support teams when major issues come up we'll pick it up and try and find a contact for you at Amazon to actually scale the Get your issue resolved. But there's something that I recommend to our clients to use in very very limited circumstances because if it's something you overuse you're likely going to be getting ignored very quickly yeah yeah.
Aaron Conant 36:46
I don't know if I would pull that that shoe but it's a really quick though you know Robbie injury is this an instance where if you know direct fulfillment was set up, then it would just flow through and a drop shipping would be done and we wouldn't have to worry about it?
Rob Antolin 37:02
That would only happen if there if you have those items one sitting on your on your loading dock and Amazon is out of stock in network right so it's not direct to them it isn't necessarily a direct sell for Amazon not picking up product but directly filming will allow you to continue to sell products if those pickup delays by Amazon are calling out of stock issues. As always with a vendor manager when we're when we're talking to any vendor or in stock manager we really like to pull out or demonstrate what are the opportunity costs of some of the issues we're facing with Amazon so when it comes to pick up issues, we may say well we have all these items sitting on our we have all these items on open po right now including you know these six items which represent 30% of our sales last month and you currently have less than two weeks of cover so we're looking at it out of stock situation and an opportunity cost of x if this isn't dealt with quickly because at the end of the day one of Amazon's the guiding light there's always going to be free cash flow so anytime you can point how I know how Amazon is hurting themselves you're more likely to get a response from them.
Aaron Conant 38:08
Awesome, I mean at the end of the day you know Michelle thanks for jumping in there reminders others just hit star five we can bring you in you know it's it's better I guess kind of it's better that the the inventory is sitting on your dock and not sitting in a in a tractor trailers parked somewhere either parked in a loop trying to get into a fulfillment center actually parked in their parking lot not being unloaded. Yeah, awesome. So let's see other questions that are coming in a cost increases so who wants to give us the silver bullet for getting cost increases through
Rob Antolin 38:55
More than happy to speak without cost increases? This is actually what takes up the majority of my days here at Orca Pacific. And what I will say is right now right now you're-
Aaron Conant 39:05
You're not getting away from it, you thought you're getting away from it.
Rob Antolin 39:09
With this call and it still comes up I knew I wasn't unfortunately Aaron because this is a hot topic of conversation for everyone getting you know rising input costs and giving what a massive global freight market is with you know, shippers tending to one Not, not on our contracted rates and volumes we’re regularly hearing from our clients that are paying in excess of $20,000 a container. And we have seen some success especially with our larger vendors and our vendor or retail managed vendors in getting those cost increases into place. With many of our largest vendors we've gotten into cost increases year to date so far, one focusing earlier in year which is more so focused on raw material cost and more recently, we've been working with Amazon to implement temporary freight surcharges Amazon is well aware of spiking costs within the global freight market. And we know from our internal Amazon contracts is that Amazon has an incredibly high sensitivity around appeal rejection rates. So when having those conversations with your vendor manager and stock manager when they're asking you about why they're not getting inventory or why your P rejection rates are so high, the messaging that we are largely sharing back to them is inventory goes where the margin is. And many of our clients have much higher margin with other partners. And right now, we are also seeing that demand as far as stripping supply. So by the time that comes to the filling Amazon's order, they're so low with an allocation that they're just simply not allowed to inventory left to fill their demand. And we use that basis in that argument to try and have Amazon, just try and have Amazon implement cost increases on our behalf. And we've seen some good success there. When there isn't a vendor manager contact, that does become a little bit more difficult. And realistically, your best bet is to try and push through small cost increases, call it a route, tying it back into tariffs, raw material costs, or rising freight costs, but we find that getting those accepted is pretty hit or miss. And we're not we're not able to be nearly as successful in terms of getting the percentage of cost increases are the same percentage of cost increases, implemented as we are when working with vendor managers.
Aaron Conant 41:21
Awesome. Now great. You know, another issue that that's popped up pretty routinely here just have a couple questions coming in over email are, you know, the transition from vendor central to Seller Central, right. So we've seen this massive uptick in, you know, the size of Amazon on the balance sheet for for companies as a whole. With that it's come kind of this, you know, in a lot of cases with a lower profit margin. And so in this effort to really look at Amazon, and how do we make it more, you know, less margin diluted is probably the best way to put it, you know, hey, should I jump over to Seller Central? So is this still an option is what I get all the time, is it more profitable option, I'd like to do it, but don't know the implications. Any thoughts there?
Rob Antolin 42:11
So first off, Amazon's going to tell you that you can't do it. But that isn't necessarily true. You just have to be prepared to have conversations and willing to push back on category teams. Because if a Amazon category team notices that you are launched, that you're selling in both in 1pm, three p, they're going to pull out their policy, which is called Amazon standards for brands, which says that you have to sell to them in a one p partnership, where we work with our clients to push back there is highlighting how this is an anti competitive practice by Amazon. Given that they get to, they often don't like to accept class increases that they get given that their power within the marketplace. And given that they're generally unwilling to carry full selection for all of our clients. So if you are going to make that transition from one p two, three p, Amazon will probably notice eventually, especially if you're trying to use your third party, your third party platform to influence the pricing on Amazon's one t side. That being said, if you're really dedicated towards keeping it three pre presents up and running, Amazon is going to have a hard time playing whack a mole in terms of keeping you off the third party marketplace. Because I'm sure as many people on this call appreciate, it's hard enough for you when you're running a legitimate business to keep repeat bad actors off your listings as well. When it comes to margin and profitability, there are times where it is 100% more profitable to sell on a third party platform versus selling one p to Amazon. I do also like to warn our clients that you do see a little bit of a lower unit velocity when selling items via FBA versus on the one p platform. And that's because there still is a segment of Amazon's customer base that only prefers to buy items shipped and sold by Amazon. Our teams do regularly run those analysis as on behalf of our clients when they are considering making that transition from three p to one p or vice versa to say, here's what your all in cost look like on both basis on both bases. And does it make sense for you as a vendor, or that makes sense for you, the seller to transition from one p two, three p or vice versa?
Andrew Lorence 44:16
Yeah, and I'll jump in there as well. I think there's a couple other things to take into consideration. As that transition. I think this ties into a lot of the conversations we've had, you know, fulfillment, storage limits, and so you start running into some of those issues on the seller central side that you might not have on the vendor central side. The other thing is just that transition period, so it does take time to transition. In essence you need to sell through what you have on the vendor central side, then start uploading that on the seller central side and the time where hopefully you're not running out of thoughts. So timing that properly. You're still running advertising on those items that are through vendor Central. You will also have a gap in terms of money coming in from Amazon because they've already pre paid for those items on the vendor central side, Seller Central you don't get paid into All those items actually sell to the customer. So it there will be a transition period. And so just as a business, you have to kind of be prepared for that little dip in revenue that's coming in from Amazon. Because you will notice that or, you know, whatever that transition transition period might be, and depending on how much stock you have on the vendor central side, you also have to look at, like, what is that timing going to take place there, but it is something that we've we've taken part with a lot of brands and manufacturers, it comes up more and more often, especially some of these people on the vendor central side who don't have a vendor manager, they're facing issues of cost increases, they literally can't afford to sell items on Amazon anymore. So one of those options, obviously is going into the seller central side where they can control that pricing there as well.
Aaron Conant 45:46
Awesome, yeah. Love it. Are there other things that you guys see come up all the time, just reminder, if you have specific ones hit star five handled in the screen here, we can unmute you and bring you in other other like, you know, little Pesky Things about the Amazon that come up that you guys are solving for on a regular basis that that we didn't that didn't come up today. Or, or come up for you on a regular basis that you thought would come up?
Rob Antolin 46:14
100%. And I think one of those things would be end on chords. And I think Olivia could probably provide some interesting insight there as well. Given that I know she regularly deals with them. Olivia, would you be able to jump in on that one?
Olivia Caparelli 46:26
Yeah, I guess like Rob said, I get in on course, for pretty much all my clients every single day. There's issues with either every day, pretty much every day, at least one. Excuse me. The other issues with you know, with the catalog data doesn't exactly match what the items are being received by Amazon. And this is largely due to 3d contributions. So they could change a color name or a size name or something along those lines that don't exactly match what Amazon is pulling in from, from their catalog data. And again, this goes back to just channel management and trying to push our correct content through and being just vigilant with with monitoring that. But yeah, I think that the main objective here is just to really control your your content, and really keep it aligned with how it should be then when items get to Amazon, they are processed with no issues. And I think that's probably the biggest issue that my clients are facing now, especially on the apparel category side with just colors and sizes being swapped.
Aaron Conant 47:31
Awesome. So one more question that comes in is around New Item launch. best in class practices for launching new items on on Amazon. Yeah, I can. Yeah, I can help.
Rob Antolin 47:42
Olivia, go for it.
Olivia Caparelli 47:44
Yeah, sure. So yeah, I mean, the main objective here is to launch a new item that has to be retail ready, and just overall ready for a customer to do that detail page, you want it to look professional, you want it to look like it's from your brand. So multiple images, at least five to six on a video is possible. We want built out bullet points or built out titles. So it's not just you know, one liners for bullet points in the title, a built out description or a plus content with the more imagery, more product information that shows about your brand. And it does look much more professional and legit on site. When you have an A plus page you have a brand store built out. So that is number one priority is just to make sure those new products are retail ready for launch when those items are ready for customers to do.
Rob Antolin 48:31
And then just to add to what Olivia said there to supply chain is going to be so important on any new items set up. So once again, just I'm going to Bri pitch both fbm and dropship as being key to successful new item setup. Because generally if you were entering Amazon as a new seller, or if you are launching a new item on Amazon, you are not going to be able to get a ton of inventory into your instant fulfillment centers. And traditionally how that reflects on on Amazon is they kind of go into swinging back and forth between and just talking out of stock on a new product launch. So having the ability to fulfill direct to consumer is going to ensure that you can keep capturing those sales when you're out of stock with Amazon and will then lead to the ability for one Amazon placing higher pios on those items because you're able to you're able to capture more of that demand which was that product rent rent period, or the ability to pay for larger bt porn to run orders or more quickly get a raise within your your Amazon restock limit sees to allow you to get more product in because you cannot sell products on Amazon if you don't have a way to get it to the end customer either via FBA network filament or DTC options.
Olivia Caparelli 49:43
You want to also just make sure that you Sorry, make sure that you submit your items for buying so getting those review started quick, pretty easy to get some some three buying credits from your vendor manager if you ask and then you can get those reviews kicked off pretty quickly. You know, and Anybody on when you're shopping on Amazon, you can see that you wouldn't buy a product with no reviews or like a low star rating review. So you want to make sure you get those reviews up and running fast.
Aaron Conant 50:11
No love it, love it. And I see we're getting right to time here. So I do want to say a quick thank you, Rob Olivia Andrew for your time today. Thanks for letting us put you on the hot seat for the past hour. Again, anybody on the line today any follow up information you need help with Amazon, any aspect one p three p content consulting, whatever it might be. The team at Orca Pacific has been great friends and partners supporters of the network for since we kicked this off was four years ago now. So they're working with tons of different brands of demos every different vertical, so 100% worth a follow up conversation with them and their team. The time will spend if nothing else just to connect and kind of pick their brains and different topics across the board. And, you know, on that note, as well, we'd love to have a follow up conversation on our side. You know, we don't certainly think it'd BWG Connect. We're a networking group. But I do connect with 30 brands a week to kind of advise strategize, and then get the different pain points for different topics for call. So we'd love to have a conversation with anybody on the line today. That's anything from direct consumer to Amazon, but also, you know, if you're looking for any kind of service providers across the board, more than happy to connect with you on that got a shortlist from recommended from the brands in the network. With that, I think we're going to go ahead and wrap it up. Thanks again, Andrew, Olivia and Rob. hope everybody has a fantastic Tuesday. Great rest of the week. Everybody, take care, stay safe and look forward to having you at a future event. Alrighty, thanks again. Thanks, everybody. All right. We'll be in touch