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In what the British Home Enhancement Trade Association (BHETA) described as “the best turnout ever” BHETA members positively flocked to the organisation’s January 23 forum to hear Ian Bradley, senior category leader for home living at Amazon update the BHETA membership on Amazon’s plans for the future and the new team in place to deliver them.  His vision of the brand’s role in retail overall was perhaps wider than some delegates had imagined it to be.

Ian’s presentation was entitled ‘Building Your Brand Online’ and he began by outlining the sales opportunity that Amazon now represented – second in size only to Walmart and predicting to overtake the American giant in 2016.  Within the context of the overall growth of ecommerce and Amazon’s solely online retail proposition, he described the brand “a salesperson’s dream – if you bring it to us, we want it all!” Quickly addressing any slightly wry smiles that might have crossed the faces of existing Amazon vendors in the 130-strong audience at this point, Ian apologised for any perceived lack of communications from his company in recent months, outlining changes and improvements, and using the occasion to introduce the new team and the new and much expanded structure going forward.

In terms of sales, the focus now, Ian explained was on engaging customers and building trust, offering the broadest ever selection of product, enabling informed purchase decisions, ensuring immediate product availability, next or same day free delivery and prices that always match but do not undercut the best prices evidenced elsewhere in the market.

Selling goods through Amazon was very far from being the sole benefit of trading with the brand, however.  “Amazon,” stated Ian “is a marketing opportunity as well as a sales opportunity.  Trading with Amazon is a chance to build your own brand online.”

With 66% of consumers researching their purchases online, whether or not they buy online and 92% of Amazon visitors reading the online reviews, trust in Amazon at the very least a source of information is clearly important in the market.  On the site itself there are numerous cross-selling and brand boosting opportunities as purchases of one type of item lead to suggestions of other items in the range or relevant to it.  The Amazon site is also a great means of direct communication with consumers.  It will carry the marketing material that vendors supply and provides an ideal contribution to SEO.  The marketing potential of the site is also evidenced by the opportunities for feedback and the credibility of the Amazon review panel in influencing purchase overall in the market.

If anything the marketing role of Amazon is set to improve in the plans for the future of the site.  Not only will there be a wider range of goods, but Ian outlined a greater emphasis on inspiration, on style themes and home solutions, as opposed to just research followed by supply of the product researched.

BHETA member reactions to the presentation were positive, albeit from a mix of perspectives.  There were existing vendors who were relieved to see new, enthusiastic faces backing Ian’s own enthusiasm for the role of Amazon in the market.  There were also prospective vendors now with a somewhat enlarged and enlightened perspective on the positive role that Amazon might perhaps play in their futures.

January 2013

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