Posts by MSnead

Fight the Amazon Fees

October 16th, 2018 Posted by Amazon, Brand Management 0 thoughts on “Fight the Amazon Fees”

Welcome to the fourth quarter where everything is amped up and your budgets don’t matter. Amazon’s recently redesigned long-term storage fees kicked off last September. Combined with the annual increase in monthly storage fees, it’s getting more challenging to leave your products in a fulfillment center. Sellers have to balance the right amount of inventory to keep their product in stock without costing them a fortune in fees.  With the heat turned up, some sellers have decided to take themselves out of the kitchen. Programs like Seller Fulfilled Prime, FBA Onsite and e-Fulfillment are making the reasons to keep your products at an Amazon fulfillment center obsolete.

Going Through Changes

In March Amazon declared that they would be changing a number of Inventory Storage Fees and Policies. First, monthly storage fees would be in increasing $0.05 across the board for items of all sizes. Then they said they would be changing the Long Term Storage Fees as well. There would now be a minimum long-term storage fee of $0.50 for any product over 365 days old at an Amazon Fulfillment Center. That means even the tiniest of items would cost at least $0.50 per until to store after 365 days.

But possibly the largest change was taking the long-term storage fees from semiannual to monthly. Starting September 15th, products over 180 days old would be charged some kind of long-term storage fee. Inconveniently, this plan was implemented after the last semiannual fee date and the month before the monthly storage fees triple for the fourth quarter. Avalanche found themselves in a pickle and began exploring options to relieve the financial stress of storing their products with Amazon.

Become Self Fulfilling

Amazon has a program called Seller Fulfilled Prime which allows sellers to get a prime badge while sending the products from their own warehouse. Sellers can enroll online through their existing account. They just have to provide their information and location, complete a trial, and then they can offer prime to the people around them.

Whether a customer has Amazon Prime or not, they’re more likely to purchase products from a Prime seller. The Prime badge holds a certain amount of trust and integrity. People know they can get what they want, within two days, without paying for shipping, and they know Amazon wouldn’t endorse anything less.

The main setback with classic Seller Fulfilled Prime is that you’re geographically limited. If you shop our products outside of a certain distance, our account no longer offers prime. Because we’re located on the east coast, we’re fortunately able to reach major cities like Philadelphia, Washington DC, and New York. However, we still cannot provide Prime to places like Los Angeles or Houston.

Keep it Close to Home

Avalanche has been working on their FBA Onsite game for about a year now, and the payoff is immense. Onsite gives us the ability to receive things in our own warehouse and list them for sale on Amazon while maintaining our Prime badge and listing us as Fulfilled by Amazon. Essentially, our warehouse has been turned into an Amazon Fulfillment Center. The more we’re able to store on our own campus, the less we have to pay in storage fees, and we can do it all while still maintaining the integrity of an FBA seller.

Because we don’t have to pay storage fees of any kind for Onsite products, it allows us to sell and ship oversized items that were once too expensive to send to Amazon. It’s also a great help for when Amazon is backed up on checking in products. If we check our inventory in on Onsite while it’s in transit to Amazon, we can cover potential out of stock days. This will be especially convenient come December when Amazon can no longer guarantee that your product will be checked in before Christmas.

Certainly, this isn’t without its own fees and complications. We have to have our warehouse and equipment inspected and regulated by Amazon, ensuring that we’re meeting all their requirements. There are still Onsite fees to be paid to Amazon, but whenever these fees are cheaper than sending it to Amazon, we keep the products on campus.

UPS Ups the Game

The most recent endeavor on which Avalanche is embarking is UPS’s new e-Fulfillment program. UPS has two fulfillment centers, one in California and one in Kentucky where sellers can now send their products. In these centers, sellers can store and ship their products through their account on Amazon under Seller Fulfilled Prime. They even fulfill to 15 different sales channels, expanding the customer base for sellers.

Because Avalanche is located on the east coast and the UPS warehouses are in Kentucky and California, it gives our account the ability to show Seller Fulfilled Prime nationwide. It also improves our rate of replenishment. While typically we stop ordering Halloween products from west coast companies at the beginning of October, we’re able to order well into the season and have them shipped directly to an e-Fulfillment center. This also helps out our own shipping department who have enough on their plate during the fourth quarter. UPS even guarantees that all products will be checked in within two days of receiving, which will be especially helpful come December 2nd when Amazon can’t guarantee a product will get checked in before Christmas.

The program is still in its very beginning stages, but Avalanche is already showing profits on a handful of products that they’ve sent in for e-Fulfillment. The more successful the program is and with the addition of new sellers, they could expand their fulfillment centers and may promise to be a convenient alternative to fulfillment by Amazon.

There’s Always an Answer

Amazon has been throwing curveballs our way since we’ve listed on their site in 2009. Sometimes we strike out and other times it’s a home run, but no matter what’s happening on the field, our team is always working to find new and innovative solutions. The change in storage fees may have been a setback, but it helped us explore and expand other avenues of sales, which could prove to be more lucrative than our previous approaches. We live each day like it’s the first and see every hurdle as an opportunity to learn and grow.

The Secrets to Expanding Your Brand

August 1st, 2018 Posted by Amazon, Brand Management 0 thoughts on “The Secrets to Expanding Your Brand”

Essential Online Presence

Amazon is the largest internet based retailer in the world. They have retail websites for 15 different countries and the ability to ship worldwide. With that kind of exposure, it only makes sense for retailers to have their products listed on the website. Brick and mortar appeals to local consumers and independent websites are great for brand presence and consistency, but for a retailer interested in volume, Amazon is the key.

Here’s the catch, Amazon can be a multifaceted and challenging experience requiring attention from a full-time team. For this reason, many brands and distributors partner with third-party retailers who dedicate their time to maintaining brand integrity and value product by product. This gives retailers the time work on their brand and product line on an intimate level while teams like Avalanche handle the Amazon storefront in a variety of ways.

Getting Your Products Noticed

Amazon has very specific algorithms for what products appear when you’re browsing. One of the factors is a product’s sales rank, based on the frequency with which that product is purchased in comparison to other products in that category. Items that are brand new to the marketplace will not have a sales rank yet, and items that are not properly managed can often time have a poor sales rank. Even if you’re selling the most useful or stylish item, your rank can keep you from getting anywhere.

Partnering with a business like Avalanche Industries will ensure that your product is seen. We have a whole team dedicated to just advertising your products. We run campaigns so when people search related products, regardless of previous sales volume or reviews, your product can appear at the top or bottom of the page. Sometimes a sponsored advertisement will appear on the actual page of a related product.

Perfecting the Production Process

Companies like Avalanche also get your products noticed with proper listing optimization. They employee in-house photographers, copywriters, videographers, and graphic artist to ensure that each product is displaying at its full potential. We shoot the product both in the studio and take it on location to get the full spectrum of uses and looks. When we sign an Exclusive Partner we generally optimize 10 to 20 listings upfront. That’s anywhere from $15,000 to $20,000 in complimentary production services that we offer our clients, showing our partnerships how seriously we take our relationship and our dedication to long-term success. With proper titling, keywording, and descriptions your product is searchable and enticing to consumers. The benefit of partnerships between brands and third-party retailers can pay for itself instantly with production services alone.

Our Lead Photographer, Chris Vendetta explains the importance of brand consistency, “As a consumer when I find a great product, then go to Amazon and I see poor images, iPhone box shots, I doubt what I am getting. I worry if it’s a knockoff. I worry it was used. Data shows that doubt on the consumer end will cost you sales long term.” With a production team, associates work with their brand and reps to identify what should be showcased about their brand as a whole, as well on the product level to ensure consumer-friendly consistency.

Maintaining Brand Integrity

Anyone who has optimized a listing on Amazon knows that the most painstaking tasks is getting your images, copywriting, or videos to show on the page. Once it shows, there’s no guarantee that it will continue to show, so essentially all of that production work was for naught. Third party retailers often have their own departments dedicated to maintaining the listing to show all of the production work.

Occasionally when information falls off a product or it receives a bad review, Amazon will take the listing down. These teams also catch any inactive or suppressed listings to fix them and get them up and running again for consumers to see. Avalanche has its own in-house proprietary software to catch any listing issues, so our teams can fix them immediately.

Shaped Up and Shipped Out

Amazon has a variety of packing, shipping, and labeling rules and regulations for a product to be considered sellable. Your brand’s packaging, no matter how creative or stylish, might not be up to code for Amazon. Third party sellers like Avalanche have fully equipped shipping departments where your products can be expertly prepped, packed, labeled, and shipped under all fulfillment standards.

Avalanche currently has a total of 58 full-time employees including a number of temporary and part-time employees. They are in teams or managers, preppers, shippers, receivers, and issues staff and work in three large industrial warehouses. With all efforts combined Avalanche ships about 350,000 units and over 300 pallets per month. Most retailers do not have the capacity to do all of the shipping and labeling while producing their own line of products, which is why partnering with a third party retail can immeasurably beneficial for a company.

All of the Opportunities with None of the Work

Third party retailers are the perfect option for companies that want all of the volume of listing on Amazon without any of the effort to maintain listings. Companies that partner with Avalanche can maintain their brick and mortar store and work on expanding their brand while third-party retailers like Avalanche handle their day to day business with Amazon. We take optimization and upkeep of your plate so you can focus on what you do best. It just takes one more pallet and one more invoice to send, allowing for maximum return on investment.

Amazon Prime Day: July 16 3PM EST

July 11th, 2018 Posted by Amazon 0 thoughts on “Amazon Prime Day: July 16 3PM EST”

Amazon, shoppers, and sellers are all gearing up for this year’s Amazon Prime Day. The 36-hour event starts on July 16 at 3 PM EST and is open exclusively to Prime members. There has been a lot of talk surrounding Prime Day with everything from speculating the best deals, to criticizing the available inventory and prices. In spite of any public opinions, Amazon is still projecting to break records after their 2017 Prime Day generated more revenue than either 2016’s Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

Bigger and Better

This will be Amazon’s third annual Prime Day, and they are touting it as the best one yet. Representatives from the company claim that there will be over one million deals, and with more deals, comes more variety. Amazon will be discounting items from every department from toys to electronics, hoping to have a promotion out there to please each shopper.

For those who are too eager to wait, the discounts have already begun. Amazon has Prime Countdown Deals of the Day with items up to eighty percent off the regular price listed right now. For items that are not yet discounted, but consumers wish to purchase, they can put them in their shopping list. If their product goes on sale on Prime Day, it will send a notification to the consumer, so they can buy it.

Time to Go Prime

As the name suggests, the deals and discounts are only open to Amazon Prime Members but don’t worry, it’s not too late to sign up. Prime Membership runs $119 for a year or $12.99 per month, but Amazon is really wonderful about free trials. You can start your 30-day trial just in time for Prime Day. Perks don’t just include Prime Day access, but also fast and free shipping, and a number of media options.

Among the current promotions for new Prime members are three months of unlimited Kindle for $1, four months of Amazon Music for $1, $2 movie rentals, and free PC games from Twitch. If the regular Prime benefits were not enough to convince shoppers, then unlimited books, music, movies, and video games for just a few dollars, should be.

All About Alexa

Marketing firms including EMarketer, Market Track, Profitero and Gartner L2 all reported that the best buys will be Alexa exclusive items. Products available only through an order on Alexa or Amazon Echo were discounted up to 33 percent off their everyday price last year. These items include mostly cleaning products and toiletries. Ryne Misso, Market Track’s marketing director said, “this may have been a push by Amazon to get more consumers used to buying their household goods — toilet paper, paper towels, hand soap, etc. — through their Alexa devices.”

Even though Amazon Alexas and Echos are incredibly popular, statistics show that only a small portion of users shop using their digital home assistants. Most Alexa requests are for listening to audio or asking questions. By discounting everyday necessities only on Alexa, Amazon creates a deal that users really can’t refuse, creating more familiarity with the Alexa shopping process, and hopefully increasing future sales.

Upping the Grocery Game

Since Amazon’s acquisition of the popular grocery chain, Whole Foods, they’ve been integrating their online sales platform with the supermarket to promote sales on both ends. Prime Day will be no different. Starting on July 11 and continuing until the end of Prime Day, Prime Members who spend $10.00 at Whole Foods will receive a $10.00 credit to spend on Amazon. Prime Members who have yet to shop at the store will be given an incentive to give it a shot before July 17th. New customers will get $10.00 off their order and an additional $10.00 to use at a later date.

In addition to the Prime Day credit, Whole Foods will be featuring deals of their own including seafood, produce, and other select seasonal items. To further incentivize and self-promote, Amazon is also offering 10% cash back for orders up to $400 at Whole Foods for anyone shopping with their Amazon Prime Rewards Visa card between July 11 and July 14. Like the Alexa based shopping discounts, Amazon using Whole Foods to create enticements that are too good to miss.

No Time Like the Present

Whether you’re looking for a good deal on digital home assistants or starting up your holiday shopping, Prime Day has become a can’t miss event. Make sure you get online, sign up for your Prime Membership, download the Amazon app and start adding items to your cart. Inventory on items is limited and deals are timed, so it’s important to act fast or you might miss the biggest online sales day of the year.

Avalanche Industries: Believing in Your Brands

June 28th, 2018 Posted by Amazon, MAP, Production 0 thoughts on “Avalanche Industries: Believing in Your Brands”

The Secret to Success

Avalanche Industries is one of the largest internet retailers. We started in the 1980s as a brick and mortar toy store, but with the internet boom in the 1990s we joined the eCommerce world and can now be found as a seller in every category on Amazon under our DBA Avalanche Brands. We stay true to our roots with our two brick and mortar stores in Bethany Beach, DE while maintaining a strong online presence through our Selbyville, DE team. Avalanche has a full buying team located in Selbyville, as well as New Orleans, LA. They scout the best products on the market in hopes of partnering with businesses to grow both their sales and our volume. Currently, we deal with 80,000 SKUs on Amazon, all of which is made possible by our fantastic team members, devoted exclusive partners, and our thousands of vendors. The secret to our long-term success is our belief in our brand and our clients’ brands.

Next Level Production Service

Avalanche is always taking everything a step further, and Production is no exception. Many third-party retailers do not offer listing optimization and those that do offer only the bare minimum. We set ourselves apart with over 2,000 square feet in studios, in-house, professional photographers, copywriters, graphic artists, and videographers with several years of experience, and top of the line photography, video, software, and recording equipment. We shoot the product both in the studio and take it on location to get the full spectrum of uses and looks. When we sign an Exclusive Partner we generally optimize 10 to 20 listings upfront. That’s anywhere from $15,000 to $30,000 in complimentary production services that we offer our clients to show them how serious we are about their brand and product. With their review and approval, we will go on to optimize their whole product line with complementary production services as stated in the Exclusive Partnership.

It’s Not Just Creativity, It’s Consistency

The value of production goes beyond making products look and sound great, but upholding the cohesion of the brand itself. You can have the best website or the most useful product on the market, but if your Amazon page does not match you’re going to lose sales. Our Lead Photographer, Chris Vendetta explains the importance of brand consistency, “As a consumer when I find a great product, then go to Amazon and I see poor images, iPhone box shots, I doubt what I am getting. I worry if it’s a knockoff. I worry it was used. Data shows that doubt on the consumer end will cost you sales long term.” Each Production Associate works with their brand and reps to identify what it is they want to showcase about their brand as a whole, as well on the product level to ensure consumer-friendly consistency.

Hard Work Means Nothing If It Doesn’t Show

Anyone who has optimized a listing on Amazon knows that the most painstaking tasks are getting your images, copywriting, or videos to show on the page. Once it shows, there’s no guarantee that it will continue to show, so essentially all of that production work was for naught. Half of the effort of the Production Team at Avalanche is utilized for their creative skills while the other focuses on maintaining the integrity of the listing. We even have an in-house program that will monitor when our images fall off a listing. I wouldn’t be surprised if Amazon was irritated with how many cases Avalanche submits to them each day to make sure that each of their Exclusive Partners have pristine listings for their products.

No One Buys Products They Can’t Find

One of the key parts of copywriting at Avalanche is keywording. Amazon uses the words in the title as search terms, but you can also add additional words on the back end of the product. Each of our Exclusive products has about 50 keywords in addition to the title saved on the backend to make sure products appear when relevant information is searched. Avalanche also employs a team to handle in-house advertising. Currently, we’re running over 6,000 active campaigns to advertise products. Sponsored product ads appear at the bottom and top of pages when you’re searching and sometimes on the sidebar of related product pages. We ensure that our clients have their merchandise seen as much as possible.

Holding Other Sellers to Higher Standards

In addition to production services, Avalanche also has their own software called MAPWatch. Maintaining brand consistency and integrity starts in pricing. Our software patrols the internet for your product and flags any seller who is discounting below your minimum advertised price. We can then notify our MAPWatch clients with the exact date, time, and name of the MAP violator. There are three different levels for clients depending on how in-depth they want their service. Not only do we value our clients and their products, but we make sure that other sellers and consumers do the same.

You’re Only as Good as Your Partners

At Avalanche we know that we are who we carry. The more successful we are with our sales, the more successful our clients can be. We take all of the work out of selling including optimization, listing monitoring, and fulfillment so that our partners can focus on the growth of their own brand in other ways. The bigger and better one of us gets, the bigger and better the other gets. We develop meaningful relationships with our clients on personal levels, some of whom we’ve known for several years now. Value isn’t just measured in numbers at Avalanche, it’s in the heart and soul of each brand and each client.


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