- Amazon narrows down the list of their potential locations for their second headquarters. Now we will see how much of their souls (and tax revenue) these cities are willing to sell to attract this flagship HQ. They might go to Canada and settle in Toronto, or pick a classic east coast big city like Boston or Philly. Also in contention are cities from Miami, to Atlanta, to LA and more. See the full list here.
- Amazon announced that more than 300,000 U.S.-based small and medium-sized businesses joined the Amazon Marketplace as sellers in 2017. While they didn’t specifically say, I’m guessing they are talking primarily about third party sellers here. Some are brand owners and some not. Half of the items sold on Amazon worldwide are from this group. Does this mean that the marketplace is saturated? Absolutely not. It does mean that all sellers need to become more professional and even better at solving customer problems. Those that are will continue to succeed.
- Walmart revealed their most popular items by state in 2017. Besides being highly entertaining it’s very informative. New Mexicans bought cat food and Lousianans bought root beer extract. The residents of Minnesota love their Flaming Hot Cheetos and those in the home of Amazon, Washington, can’t get enough vanilla frosting. Studying this peek into consumer demand is a great way to plan bundles and new products. Create a brownie mix bundle for Maine and a Watermelon Flavored Gum gift set for North Dakota! How many merch shirts will be made that say I heart vanilla frosting? How can this data help you grow your business?
- Walmart is also continuing to step up their game in their new desired role as a commerce leader in every way. They legally changed their name from Wal-Mart Stores to Walmart to reflect, as they state, their “growing presence as a retailer who serves customers no matter how they choose to shop”. This sounds great, as long as their customers don’t choose to shop in Sam’s Club which announced the closure of 63 clubs around the country. Only 12 of them will be converted to eCommerce fulfillment centers. Those that still have their jobs at Walmart are benefitting from an increase in the starting wage rate for all hourly associates in the U.S. to $11 in Feb with, a one-time cash bonus for some of up to $1,000. Walmart has a tremendous tactical advantage over Amazon due to their real estate holdings in densely populated areas and their large workforce which can be employed flexibly to help with everything from customer service to returns to deliveries. Competition is good for consumers and Walmart may be the only company large enough to offer serious competition to Amazon in the US. As sellers, it gives us more options as well.
- Target, not wanting to be left out, announced their plan to acquire Shipt, an Uber style delivery company. The price tag was a hefty $550 million dollars. They plan to offer same-day delivery services to customers at approximately half of Target stores by early 2018 and roll it out to all major markets by Q4 2018. Shipt suggests that contractors can make up to $25 an hour but must pay their own car and gas expenses. Once again, a company with no actual assets wins big. What can we all learn from this? Arbitrage opportunities between these big stores and Amazon will continue to diminish as shoppers can simply get products on their own shipped easily.
- Amazon is always developing new tech. They filed a patent for a fleet of robots that can be summoned in an airport, shopping mall or other public place.These cuties could ask a person to watch an ad on a video screen, take a survey, participate in an activity, buy some gum or pay a price for charging up their phone. It’s a good think that foot traffic at airports isn’t already crazy, I’m sure little money hungry robots zipping around will just make everything easier.
- From Seller Central, look for new coupon badges available in search for products with discounts. Customers will be able to easily see what promo you are offering which could increase sales. When setting up coupons, make sure to be careful. If the code is too generous, even if intended for just a few trusted buyers, it can go to less savory or simply to more buyers than you planned and can be financially devastating. Set promotions with care as part of an overall marketing plan.
- You can now check your seller central account via Alexa. Find out about your sales, customer communications and more! “Alexa, How’s my business doing”? Is the suggest query, unfortunately you can’t say “Alexa, relist my stranded inventory, file my return reimbursements and reschedule my payout to today!”.
How can small businesses benefit from knowing what these large commercial giants are doing? Besides staying informed, seeing the direction of the industry can help us pivot and respond. Additionally, these giants want to serve millions of customers which leaves a huge opportunity for us to serve smaller niches which are still quite lucrative. No large brand wants to sell 100 units a month of their product. But for a small business this can generate a meaningful revenue stream when combined with others. Our community, Scanner Society, as a trade organization for online sellers, is here to help us combine resources so we can have the leverage of larger companies and the flexibility and freedom of being a small and lean operations. Our annual membership costs less than attending 1 conference and easily provides the same amount of value if not much more.