Why Brands Are So Upset with Amazon


Amazon has become the elephant in the room for brands that haven’t figured out how to make it work for their business.

As a platform, it’s tricky.

For some, frustration stems from not seeing their native branding reflected in their product listings. Others struggle to manage their pricing, retailers, and inventory levels, and are seeing their sales pulled in different directions. There are brands who feel they’re being ripped off by charges and fees. Some even see the Amazon marketplace as the wrong venue for their products.

For many, all of the above applies, along with a handful of add-on frustrations.

Separating fact from fiction.

Let’s start by dispelling the myth that Amazon is not right for your brand.

Amazon is brand agnostic. What makes it a relevant marketplace are the people who shop there: millions and millions and millions of people across demographics.

Why? Because it’s efficient, safe, vetted by other customers, and full of options.

1010data recently reported that Consumer Packaged Goods grew by 42% in 2015, owing 20% of this to Amazon’s Subscribe and Save feature. Macquarie Research also reported that 51 cents of every dollar spent online last year ended up with Amazon. The numbers tell a story of potential. There’s no question of its potential.

So, if Amazon is that great, why is it so difficult to translate a brand’s identity and catalog into its alien dialect?

The problem is not Amazon.

One of the first questions we get from brands is, “Can you fix Amazon?”

This, more or less, always leads to the same starting place: a good look in the mirror.

You can tell a lot about a brand by looking at how it’s represented on Amazon. The platform will expose your flaws. All your content, your policies, processes, supply chain links, and your retail network is reflected in Amazon’s interface.

There are ways to make short-term cosmetic fixes, but to really “fix” Amazon requires internal changes within the organization. A virtual cleanse.

This process of self-betterment starts with 3 questions.

1. Who Are You Associated With?

Your retail network is an extension of your brand. The people and parties who sell your products add to the grand narrative of your brand’s story. If your products are marketed as “discount goods” and listed alongside inferior items, the general public will start to equate the two together. In other words, working with people who value your brand and invest in consumer perception should be a priority.

2. What Do You Want from Amazon?

You can do several things with Amazon outside of sales. It can be a potent source of knowledge (generating data) about your consumer base, an effective communication tool to speak to consumers, and a pathway to markets outside your current reach. Being educated is key to being effective.

It’s incredibly difficult to get ahead of changes on Amazon (which happen very regularly and rapidly), and into a position where those changes will positively impact your brand, without knowing what you want from the experience.

3. Who Do You Need to Make These Changes?

Picking up from the previous point, Amazon is not a tool that can be managed on the side or a project to be handed to your interns. If you’re not taking the platform seriously and strategizing proactively, you’ll always be reacting to the marketplace and playing catch-up.

If you’re unsure of how to make necessary changes to get your products under control on Amazon, seek help. The worst thing you can do is disengage and hope that the problem goes away. It’s not going anywhere soon.

Making the Change

From our standpoint, the common denominator among brands failing on the Amazon marketplace is failed expectations. As seamlessly as Amazon has infiltrated the social lexicon of digital commerce, brands that truly understand how to use this marketplace are a rarity.

As a retail channel, it’s more labor-intensive than traditional platforms. You have to get items on their shelves, manage returns, educate customers, and all the daily operational logistics. It’s fully self-service. You’re responsible for all of those things. If you’re lost and noticing a pattern that is hurting your brand, the sooner you reach out to people who can help, the easier (and less expensive) it will be to manage.

Amazon is not the boogeyman. If we go back to the numbers at the start of this post, there’s potential for brands to utilize the platform in a positive way that benefits all your channels. To grow. Thrive.

But it starts with self-reflection.