Who Fights Amazon? Weekly Loop #12

Weekly Loop #12

Who Fights Amazon?

As we’ve discussed in past issues, there is a growing backlash against Amazon as the conglomerate grows existing footholds and expands into new industries. This week, The New York Times published an article on a lawyer who’s working to prove that Amazon is in violation of antitrust laws and Bernie Sanders introduced a bill deigned to fight low wages paid by Amazon.

In recent times, antitrust laws have primarily looked out for consumers and since Amazon typically has very low prices, it’s been argued no antitrust laws are broken. That hasn’t always been the case, and it’s being argued that Amazon’s business practices are detrimental other businesses, thus hurting consumers through lack of innovation, product safety, etc.

A longtime critic of Amazon, Bernie Sanders, has expressed concerns about antitrust issues and this week, introduced a bill that seeks to fight companies like Amazon that page low wages to workers thatn still social benefits (food stamps, welfare, etc), while the company (and Jeff Bezos) reap massive profits. One Bloomberg economist has called it more of a marketing ploy than a real solution to any problem.

And continuing with Amazon, in the last few years, the picture of the average Marketplace seller has changed. Significantly more Amazon sellers sell their own brand(s) and are located in China than 5 years ago.

One place Amazon hasn’t seen substantial growth is in their Handmade category. While it has grown, Etsy still outpaces it in terms of GMV. The community of sellers is cited as a reason, though there are disgruntled sellers on Etsy, like all marketplaces. Moreover, the Etsy brand remains strong with both buyers and sellers.

Of course, like Amazon, putting Etsy in the middle of the transaction gives them a lot of power. We’re seeing various forces start to fight back against Amazon, yet consumers remain relatively quiet thus far.

The most impactful change would come from consumers deciding to forego the large marketplaces, for at least a portion of their sales. And ecommerce brands must give them a reason to ditch the marketplaces. Build an independent shop, build direct connections with customers, and build a thriving business.

GoodsLoop

GoodsLoop - HuckberryTake a look at an excellent standalone ecommerce shop for inspiration

Huckberry has been one of our favorite online shops for years. Most of the products they sell are not their own brand, yet the company has developed a strong brand of their own.

Early on, they partnered with the blog Art of Manliness to promote their shop to their existing audience of outdoor oriented men in their 20s and 30s. As a bootstrapped company, the founders looked for any possible way to work with well-known brands, sometimes placing bulk order after customers had shopped, while coming up with dropship terms for others.

Huckberry has mostly eschewed recommended email marketing advice, choosing to focus on longer emails in an almost magazine-like format. While this content marketing has seen a rise of late, Huckberry was one of the first. (By the way, for an extremely in-depth look at what Huckberry does right, from a business perspective, check out this report from Matthew Carroll. It was written in 2013 and is still worth a read.)

With 8 years in business, Huckberry now offers dozens off well-known brands across product categories such as home decor, outdoor, clothing, and others. The selection of brands, the curated product collections, and the imagery all go a long way to defining the shop – and it’s target customers.

Nearly all of the products on Huckberry are available on other sites. However, Huckberry gives customers a reason to come back and discover new brands and products, plus feel connected to a shop that’s a perfect fit – rather than conveniently carrying the right product.

Check out Huckberry to see what you can apply to your brand – or to pickup a special keepsake or men’s gift.

Recommended Links

Each week, we read and watch articles, blog posts, videos, infographics, books and more related to ecommerce. We share some of our favorites links on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

In our weekly updates, we pare the links down to our favorite seven links from the past week.

Have a suggestion of something to include? Get in touch.

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“Amazon has more revenue than Facebook, Google and Twitter put together, but it has largely escaped examination”

Amazon’s Antitrust Antagonist Has a Breakthrough Idea
David Streitfeld New York Times

“Her Yale Law Journal paper argued that monopoly regulators who focus on consumer prices are thinking too short-term. In Ms. Khan’s view, a company like Amazon — one that sells things, competes against others selling things, and owns the platform where the deals are done — has an inherent advantage that undermines fair competition.

“The long-term interests of consumers include product quality, variety and innovation — factors best promoted through both a robust competitive process and open markets,” she wrote.

The issue Ms. Khan’s article really brought to the fore is this: Do we trust Amazon, or any large company, to create our future? In think tanks and universities, the battle has been joined.”1

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“When asked if the company would sell into Amazon, she responded with an emphatic “no, no, no.””

Glossier CEO Emily Weiss on why the company won’t sell on Amazon
Sarah Perez eCommerce – TechCrunch

““E-commerce is 10% of global commerce – that’s nothing,” Weiss pointed out. “We are at the dawn of e-commerce, and this is one user experience,” she said, referring to Amazon.
Plus, Amazon’s user experience may not be the best fit for beauty and fashion products – even though Amazon is quickly ramping up in those areas with its own private labels, Amazon Fashion, Prime Wardrobe, beauty boxes, and other initiatives.
“I think it’s exciting that we are really at the dawn of  e-commerce, and that there’s going to be so many paradigms. What we’re focused on building is an emotional commerce experience which is focused on a breath of connection, and not a breath of product,” Weiss explained.”2

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“It seems like more of a marketing stunt — an attempt to erode the social status of big businesses”

Bernie Sanders Picks the Wrong Kind of Fight With Amazon
By
Noah Smith Bloomberg.com

“To many on the left, Amazon has become a symbol of American inequality, with its owners reaping unprecedented fortunes while its workers often are eligible for means-tested government benefits like food stamps. The median annual compensation of an Amazon worker in the U.S. is $34,123 — above the U.S. median personal income, which stood at a little more than $31,000 in 2016. And since personal income also counts government benefits, the typical Amazon worker is actually probably doing even better relative to the median. So Amazon is not actually too terrible on this score. But entry-level wages of $13 an hour and poor working conditions are not a good look for a company whose warehouse jobs are increasingly regarded as the future of work, and whose search for a location for its second headquarters has local governments scrambling obsequiously to please the online retail giant.”3

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“We found that in two years the number of sellers with one main brand has increased from 46% in 2016 to 58%”

The Changing Amazon Seller
Marketplace Pulse Marketplace Pulse

“The Amazon seller has changed a lot since 2000. But the rate of change has accelerated in the past five years. Growing competition, international participation, and Prime membership is making sellers readjust their strategy. In the end, the biggest change is probably the increasing sophistication among the top sellers. A trait hard to quantify, but immediately obvious when talking to any of the twenty-thousand sellers who have reached over $1,000,000 in sales.”4

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“Etsy is not only a catalog of handmade and vintage goods, it is also a community of people. That’s a moat Amazon will struggle to copy”

Etsy Remains Immune From Amazon Disruption
Marketplace Pulse Marketplace Pulse

“According to our research Etsy today has more than 55 million items from 1.2 million sellers for sale. Amazon Handmade has over a million from 16,500 sellers. In a year the number of sellers with products listed has increased by 200,000 on Etsy and only 3,000 on Amazon.”5

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“Take a stroll down their digital isles and note what these stores are getting right”

50+ Exceptional Online Stores Built on Shopify
Mark Hayes Shopify Blog – Company

“Today we’d like to introduce you to 50+ outstanding businesses built on Shopify. These online stores serve as great inspiration for all entrepreneurs who are looking to start their own venture.
Take a stroll down their digital isles and note what these stores are getting right: company logos, beautiful product photography, clearly defined navigational elements, simple user-friendly layout and convincing call-to-action buttons.”6

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“who really wants to be treated like just a collection of widgets for sale, without a human to discuss inventory, pricing or marketing issues?”

A Recent Shift From Amazon Retail Has Brands Scrambling. What’s Next for Sellers?
James Thomson Entrepreneur

“Many brands are going to find this shift frustrating; who really wants to be treated like just a collection of widgets for sale, without a human to discuss inventory, pricing or marketing issues? If Amazon Retail is basically marginalizing or breaking up with smaller brands, now is a highly suitable time for those brands to reflect and re-evaluate how they do business with the Amazon marketplace. Are there other effective ways to get their products to market on this channel? Are there other effective ways to promote and merchandise their products on this channel?”7

“86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience”

10 Ways to Improve the Customer Experience for Your Print-on-Demand Customers
Jonno KITE

“Customer experience is really important. 86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience, and it’s been suggested that, by 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. What’s more, 81% of companies who offer an ‘excellent customer experience’ outperform their competition, and 70% of buying experiences are based not on objective considerations like product quality, price or management of expectations – but simply on how a customer feels.”8

“But if you want more consistent Facebook traffic each and every month, focus on “how to” articles.”

We Analyzed 5,860,631,392 Articles From 64 Countries. Here’s What Facebook Loves!
Neil Patel Blog – Neil Patel

“Yes, it is hard to get traffic from Facebook. They do limit your reach compared to 4 or 5 years ago because they don’t want you driving people from Facebook off to your website. That and they want you to boost posts to increase your reach (and their revenue).
The longer people stay on Facebook the more money they make. That’s why they love video content.
But that doesn’t mean you still can’t do well. If you follow the data above it will give you the best shot of getting the most traffic from Facebook.”9

“Here is a list of sites to find free stock photos for commercial use.”

21 Sites for Free Stock Photos
Sig Ueland Practical Ecommerce

“There are small, curated collections as well as large stock-image search engines. Be sure to verify the licensing of any content before using.”10

Andrew @ EcomLoop
Are you looking to start or grow a standalone ecommerce shop? I help independent businesses achieve success on the Shopify and WooCommerce platforms. As the owner of multiple ecommerce businesses, I've had the opportunity to get experience with nearly every aspect of the ecommerce industry. I started EcomLoop to help other quality independent businesses using my knowledge and experience. To stay on top of new ecommerce developments, I publish The EcomLoop Weekly Loop, a blog and email newsletter with original thoughts and curated links to help independent businesses improve their businesses.