Episode 43 - How Insurgents Overtake Incumbents On Amazon With Sarah LaVallee




It’s been a pleasure to interview Sarah LaVallee, the VP of Ecommerce at Wandering Bear Coffee. She shared so many nuggets of wisdom in today's conversation and you're really going to love her advice for brands looking to take on giants in their own categories.

Before joining Wandering Bear Coffee, Sarah was the director of Ecommerce at the pet brand, I And Love And You. She led both brands strategically through an Ecommerce journey where thinking faster than your competitors is essential, as profitability is key for smaller, private companies.

Sarah's recent career challenges revolved around how insurgents take over incumbents, especially when it comes to leveraging Amazon as a platform. In today's episode, Sarah talks about the contrast between the brand experience with Wandering Bear Coffee and I And Love And You, particularly as it pertains to Amazon and marketplaces because she faced two very different objectives with each of the companies.

Sarah takes us on a very interesting journey, sharing the story of how she got into Ecommerce, her achievements along her career and her perspective on Amazon. Tune in to learn more about Sarah and hear her useful tips and advice.

Be like water. Always find another way.
— Sarah LaVallee


  • Sarah explains what was required to prove out the Ecommerce concept at I And Love And You, in year one.

  • The way that they really leaned into Ecommerce at I And Love And You, after the first year.

  • After leaning into Amazon, the business really started to accelerate, month over month.

  • How they found themselves coming up against some of the really big players.

  • I And Love And You went from a not even top fifty brand to a top twenty-five brand by the time Sarah left.

  • Why the pet industry was so difficult to take into the Ecommerce world.

  • The more they invested, and the bigger they grew within Amazon, the more people started to notice the brand. Hence, it started to become very costly for them to even defend their brand name.

  • Sarah discusses the tools and services that she made use of, to measure the pet space on Amazon, during her time at I And Love And You.

  • Why Profitero was such a great resource for Sarah during her time at I And Love And You.

  • Sarah explains how the office channel has really been a phenomenal springboard for the Wandering Bear Coffee brand.

  • Sarah explains her plan for getting Wandering Bear Coffee onto the commerce platform.

  • Sarah discusses planning an assortment around what's selling really well in stores, versus online.

  • Making sure your items are profitable is really important for Ecommerce.

  • Smaller brands have to be strategic very with their efforts, and they have to think of the long game, in terms of profitability.

  • Sarah shares her thoughts on Amazon's DSP.

  • It's really important to get the basics on your Ecommerce channel right.