If you still think Amazon.com is a B2C marketer it is time to update your perspective. Amazon sells, either directly or through their marketplace merchants, just about every B2B product category you can think of ….and is expanding their offering every month. Your merchandising and marketing team should be checking Amazon regularly for your top selling items/brands and you should be tracking this “mother of all retailers” as you would any other competitive marketplace. (Ideally, you are already selling on Amazon as a merchant too.)
You may not have noticed that a couple of months ago Amazon announced same day delivery service in seven major cities – Baltimore, Boston, Las Vegas, New York, Philly, Seattle and DC…..with Chicago, Indianapolis and Phoenix and probably many more to come. The additional S&H charges for Amazon Prime customers is only $5.99 and ranges from $14.49-$18.99 for non-Prime customers. They are also expanding their Saturday delivery services. For those B2B direct marketers who sell from stores or show rooms and/or sell with less delivery service, this Amazon offer is real competition and one you will want to watch/track closely. This is especially true for B2B retailers who have any seasonal business like business gifts as same day shipping appeals to all (less price sensitive! high margin!) shoppers who procrastinate in the face of a seasonal shopping deadline.
Amazon is a significant market force, the largest and fastest growing online retailer with explosive growth in many new product categories. In a presentation I gave at the fall NEMOA conference, I made reference to doing business with Amazon is like “sleeping with a polar bear in the Artic”. If you don’t, you will freeze to death. If you do, you risk being eaten. Being an Amazon merchant and selling significant volume on Amazon (a good thing, albeit at reduced margins) allows Amazon to see what your top selling items are and consider selling those items themselves, directly. Of course, they can get such competitive information elsewhere but one can’t help but think the more merchants they have on their marketplace, the better the complete picture is to them. If you are struggling with your Amazon selling strategy, please feel free to call me. It is complicated, in my view, and warrants a high level discussion of the strategic implications and choiceful tactics. In the meantime, never take your eyes off the polar bear.
Terence Jukes is president of B2B Direct Marketing Intelligence LLC, a strategic B2B direct marketing consultancy based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that services clients in the U.S., Canada, France, the U.K. and Germany. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (954) 383-5221 (direct line).Terence Jukes is president of B2B Direct Marketing Intelligence LLC, a strategic B2B direct marketing consultancy based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that services B2B catalog company clients in the U.S., Canada, France, the U.K. and Germany. You can reach him at tjukes @ b2bdmi.com or (954) 383-5221
Comments or questions are welcome.