Amazon Weekly News Digest - August 28

WITH BOBSLED MARKETING CEO KIRI MASTERS


KEY TAKEAWAYS

Amazon Under Fire on Dangerous Products

The WSJ conducted their own investigation into products sold on Amazon and found 4,100 of them not to carry federally-required warnings or otherwise deemed unsafe. Further, the investigation found already-banned products listed for sale.

By virtue of creating an open marketplace, Amazon has allowed shady operators to flourish on its platform. Time to clean up the mess and for Amazon to hold sellers more accountable for what they're selling.

At the same time, as an agency working with more than 50 brands across every category, we have experienced first-hand the mayhem that occurs when Amazon runs a machine-learning-led audit of products on its site. Beauty products suddenly are suspended and flagged as ‘hazardous materials’, with the brand having to scramble to produce an MSDS and any other documentation Amazon requires, in some days causing several days of lost sales while the situation is resolved.

Amazon likes to remove as much human intervention as possible across all of their divisions. But the cost of that goal is starting to add up.

Get Ready For Black Friday

Black Friday / Cyber Monday deals are live in Seller Central. It'll cost you a cool $1K to run a 7-day deal during this week. Submission deadline is in a month (Sep 27th). Also inventory must be received by Nov. 5th to be eligible for the deals. 

What does this mean for (SC) brands? Review how similar promotions have performed in the past (especially during Q4 or Prime Day). If you saw a significant halo effect of increased sales after the holiday, running a deal like this even with the $1k price tag can still be worth it. 

Spotted: Amazon Program Is Funding Discounts to Match Off-Amazon Deals

Spotted on one of our accounts last week by an eagle-eyed Bobsled Project Manager, Amazon created a promotion on a product page to mirror a "buy 2 get 5% off" discount running on Target.com. This was automatically applied with no permission granted by the brand to do so. After investigating, we confirmed with Amazon that this a discount funded by Amazon and offered on select products enrolled in “small and light” (an FBA program). This works similarly to the “Discounts funded by Amazon” program which was rolled out several years ago that didn’t get a whole lot of traction. What generally happened instead over the past couple of years is that Amazon suppressed the Buy Box in instances where a lower price was found elsewhere. 

Too early to say that this is a change in direction, but it could possibly be related to recent blowback that Amazon has received about the Buy-Box-suppression practice. 


MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE

  • Interview with Leo Trautwein, Acting CMO of Basic Research — ECommerce BrainTrust Podcast. This is an interview featured in my new book, Amazon For CMOs. Leo has extensive ecommerce leadership experience and a unique take on how to invest in innovation.  

  • Land of the Giants Podcast - Is Amazon Too Big? This episode provides insight from a small toy seller as well as execs from Birkenstock and Samsonite about their challenges with Amazon.