Chris has successfully built out one of the biggest UK agencies which focuses on supporting vendors and sellers expand across global markets.
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In this episode we discuss:
[0:00:00] George Reid: Welcome to It's Always Day One. My name is George Reid, a former Amazonian turned Amazon consultant. Each week on the podcast, you're gonna hit industry experts. Brand owners on Amazon employees share their answers to the basic yet fundamental questions. You should be asking yourself about your Amazon business. Now, let's jump in. Hello, Chris. Thank you so much for joining me on. It's always Day one today. I want to give you a nice, warm welcome. It's nice to have another blow from the UK coming on and chatting to me. Do you want to give us a bit of a background about who you are? What you do, how you got into this playful world of Amazon that we both circle in these days?
[0:00:39] Chris Mole: Yeah, Absolutely. Thanks, George. Yeah. I'm Chris from Moles E. We are a full service Amazon agency that have been going for about 3.5 years now. So veterans of the Amazon Agency world Uh, yes. So we're a team of e think 50 or 55 people now mainly mainly based in the UK but we've also got teams based in Spain, Netherlands, Hong Kong, on e think, This week or e think later this week we're opening in Brazil. Hopefully, it'll be open by then on. Our strategy is very much toe. Have people on the ground in the countries where we're supporting brands purely because Amazon is one thing. And obviously we have to know how to do Amazon, uh, to be a job
[0:01:25] George Reid: that is your job. Yeah,
[0:01:27] Chris Mole: but it's, uh, in every market where Amazon operates. That is one of many retailers, distributors, marketing channels. So our belief is the companies that we need to understand the full market, not just the Amazon part, because I guess the Amazon portal itself doesn't really change apart from the languages as you move through each country. But the way that consumers shop. Amazon is not necessarily a dominant player in some of the countries. All of the crazy tax laws, compliance laws, etcetera sets our strategy. But we're definitely not the biggest Amazon agency in the world. But we're our goal is to have the best international spread.
[0:02:05] George Reid: I like that and it's interesting. So I'm obviously over here in Australia and lots of friends of mine are working at Amazon, and it's interesting because they've made quite a few cock ups themselves by dragging people over from the UK, Germany, Europe, America, all over the world to come help set up Australia. Andi. One of the things they didn't do that well was get many Australians in to begin with. So they as a result of this they just missed so many things. Even when he came down like seasons. They just kind of overlooked things. So it's very interesting your point there of Would you always send people there so you would send a little British bloke from Leeds over toe over to Brazil and going off you go boy, go on and see, see how he fares? Or would you look to kind of dio I want my local person there who truly understands it? Or is it that fine balance?
[0:02:57] Chris Mole: Definitely a local person who understands the market. Eso in Brazil, we've got a guy who's for the last 13 or 14 years he's been running big media agencies in in Latin America. Um, just because I would have no idea what you know, what the Brazilian market was, how consumers shop. You know what if the price driven, if their promotion driven, If their quality driven because it changes so often like you. Look at the you look at the number, the population in some of the some of the regions like Southeast Asia, etcetera on the opportunity looks enormous. And then you look at the the A S P in some of those countries, and you think, Well, it's definitely not enormous for Louis Vuitton. It's maybe enormous for a brand that's got a price play. So I guess that's the bit that slightly slows down in our international world domination plan. It's always about finding finding the right person to start it, because it's easy toe to kind of build up a team around someone. That's that's experience that has that knowledge. But yeah, wherever possible, even with like, people are doing Italian content. We try and have them based in Italy, because again, it's not just about writing in Italian, it's about knowing or if I'm going to buy that Ah, pots and pans kick. Oh, this is how I would stop for it rather than just literally translating the content.
[0:04:20] George Reid: Yeah, I've always thought about that. Like I hate the term translation when it comes to content because translating is taking an English sentence on just taking it word for word. Where was in theory an Italian person wouldn't write it in that way. They would reform at the sentence. They wouldn't use that terminology. How, then, even if you go back quite dig a little bit deeper into keywords? Well, they probably wouldn't have even search for those keywords. So it's absurd to just do that. Translation. And when Amazon a spitting out that will translate your content for free. Using our special algorithm and machine learning that some team of 83 people have built, it's still just absurd because not even a good customer experience. So, uh, goes against that primary leadership principle. But I think it z really clever to put boots on the ground down. It is not always achievable for everyone to do that. But even if you're looking just to conquer Europe, right and how much more challenging that is, just having someone in Germany and even if you know you're not hiring an agency, how would you advise someone to kind of go about that process of would you go? You speak to someone up, work and get a local persons to read over some bits like there any other ways around that before you hire an agency of going How when you get that local voice that local opinion
[0:05:39] Chris Mole: Yeah, it works. A good a good child. I guess I would probably probably keep things like keyword research in house if possible, because it z way see often like actually the English. The English terms have MAWR have higher search volume than the you know than the native terms in some cases, so it's not again. It's not just the case of these air. The English terms translate into German, and they will be the equivalent. Sometimes people, especially for products that kind of associated really closely with the brand. People search for the English terms. But yeah, definitely, uh, up work. I guess you get in the benefit of someone sat in that country. They can obviously speak the language. The challenge there is just making sure that someone that skilled enough toe write good copy because with Amazon, that is really that's really what it is. It's It's obviously key to get the key words in there, but it is you are selling to a customer.
[0:06:33] George Reid: Ample opportunity in Europe, and, ah, lack of professionalism from many European brands was the term he used lacking professionalism. I kind of the content was a port. Advertising was very amateur. Are you seeing that a lot as well, Like this ample opportunity and a lack of execution?
[0:06:51] Chris Mole: Yeah, I think I think people always have a preferred market. So ifit's. If it's a German brand, they'll they'll nail it in Germany, they kind of do it in the UK and then the rest of the markets will be Oh, yeah, that should be fine. E think that there's a There's a handful of clients that we started working with that have really got it. You know, they've got internal teams. They've got regional offices that they've kind of used for copy testing, all that kind of stuff. So definitely there are. There are companies that have on the ball, but I think there is a huge amount of opportunity there. Onda difficult thing, I guess, for companies, is when Amazon launches a new marketplace like Netherlands or Sweden. It's the cost of optimizing that content versus three income. It's going to generate because, like we know that Amazon until they fully launched advertising. It's not. It's hard to drive sales, especially in a market like Netherlands, where a lot of the business is probably moving from Germany because Amazon Germany was already such a big E Taylor in the Netherlands. So it is a difficult decision for brands. If they've got 1000 eighteen's, it probably doesn't make sense for them. Toe optimized 1000 Asians. It's probably a case of right. Let's pick our core 50 products optimize test the results. So it is a difficult decision. But in general, Germany and UK obviously are the ones that tend to be looked after the most because the size of the prize is bigger.
[0:08:20] George Reid: But what was also interesting? I saw a very good video of yours the other day talking about how you determine which markets go into next. And, you know, I've got a bathroom sellers before where, for some bizarre reason, it's pumped for them in Italy. Are they just They were just like why? So it is easy to assume you go. I'm gonna go to the biggest market. But that's not necessarily where you're brand is going to resonate best with eso. You were saying before about utilizing some of the reports available to see where products actually being sensitive. Even though people are buying from the UK sites to give you some inclination, Are there any other things that you would recommend to help people gauge demand for their brand in European marketplace? Is or any marketplace for that matter?
[0:09:09] Chris Mole: Yeah, I guess. Brand Analytics. I look at this. Look, a search terms. Are you lucky enough to be a brand that people are actually proactively looking for? Um like Like I said on the video, you refer to their using the seller Central Order Data Toe. Look at whether Amazon is already shipping product to different countries from the market that you're actively training on if you've got, I guess if you've got a global business anyway, in theory, you should have a good idea of where your brand is this strong on, then it's really a case of looking at, uh, if there's no if there's not a brand awareness already, it's looking at the category, and who else is in there? And is it first of all, is a big category using tools like Jungle Scout on Also, is anyone doing a good job already. Eso way talked about like the easiest thing is toe prioritize Germany and the UK and Europe because of the biggest markets. But actually markets are Italy and Spain in general are less competitive because less people are paying attention on. Then when when we started working with brands in in the Middle East, for example, Amazon in in Dubai, I think we were getting in a cost of like North Point, not 5% just because no one else is advertising. So even though the mark you know, the markets much smaller Andi, we'll see this in Brazil. One of our clients is selling in the UK and in Brazil, and they're doing almost the same revenue in both because the market so competitive in the UK, whereas in Brazil they're basically the only vendor in that category that are supplying properly. So it's it's really about seeing what what's already happening. If you're gonna launch a brand of vitamins or sports supplements in any country, it's gonna be hard. But if you've got a product that's maybe a bit more of a niche, there's there's gonna be opportunities on.
[0:11:04] George Reid: I think there's also the mindset as well, because it was the case in Australia. Like when should? When should I go? When should I launch on? Do you know when the advertising launched? I made that comment as well. You're never going to get clicks as cheap as you're going to get right now when the advertising starts, particularly in Australia. And the benefit of doing this is kind of your your building, your trenches, your securing that foot hole on Dr Heard many examples before of bigger brands going, we'll leave it. We'll leave it. We'll leave it. This is in Australia, where I've heard and spoken to the brands and they've gone. It was just easy for us to go by the brand rather than having to kind of uproot them out of that kind of niche there secured themselves in eso. There is that kind of mindset as well as we've got a bit of an opportunity here to secure a niche on another stream of income, and you've given a great example of with the Brazilian market again, we're fighting tooth and nail. Here in the UK are margins are getting squeezed as well day in, day out because they're all competing for that kind of bottom of the funnel. Where is over in Brazil were playing on our own marches? A healthier with building, a heavy kind of fortress and a motor? Guess to go for my regularly used term? Um, so do you regularly advised brands to be always looking at this? Or there's a fine balance right of Keep your eye on the prize. Focus on one thing. Do it well. Rather than going well, there's I don't even know how many marketplace there are. Now make sure you're having a little peek. All of them.
[0:12:45] Chris Mole: Yeah, eso Our client basis is kind of split into in the sense that the big global players will have an office in each in each country. So it's It's a slightly harder task than we have to go and speak Thio that brands Brazilian office or Singapore office or wherever it is. Um, on. Sometimes it's incredible. If, obviously, if we if we were gonna pitch as moles E and Amazon Agency toe a big brand in the UK, we're going to be one of many, many agencies trying to get their attention on, um, when we've done it with with brands in Brazil or Japan, for example. It's almost been like we're doing them a favor. Oh, my God, you could help
[0:13:26] George Reid: with. And here is your fee. By the way, here's your big fat feet way are doing your favor. Yeah, it's definitely your favor. Very
[0:13:36] Chris Mole: affordable. Judge. Yeah, it's interesting, just the difference in all of the market. So a regional office in Brazil maybe will. You know, they might have a national account manager that's looking after seven accounts, one of which is Amazon. Eso that's that's a much easier persuasion T. Tell them to look for support, whereas if it's a brand where maybe it's a UK company that handles the world, then, yeah, that's that's part of what we do. We're very proactive in advising on which countries maybe they should proceed with if they've got a distributor in Australia, for example, and that's relatively easy market to start with. Um uh, countries like Japan are quite hard to get stuck into, so it's a big opportunity. But if it's not the quickest opportunity, unless they already have some kind of existing business there, Yeah, that's that's definitely a big part of what we do because from our perspective, it's it's all incremental sales.
[0:14:34] George Reid: Andi on this ties nicely into my point. So one of the things I'm really focusing a lot on now, particularly the podcast, is helping brands achieved that sustainable success. And I think branching out from one locale to 2345 and onwards is certainly part of that. But is there any other things you would be doing right now or recommending, or are recommending and implementing toe help brands create sustainable success?
[0:15:00] Chris Mole: Yes, that's probably that word. Sustainable is the one we're here on most client calls now, where two years ago everyone's goal with Amazon was either to avoid it. That seems to have changed now, or thio grow it basically on now it's all about growing it sustainably on we. We often get called in a two brands to help them like, for example, negotiate or advise on their trading terms of Amazon that that wonderful time of the air every every 12 months on it and obviously we can We can help support and give ideas, but it's actually it's actually the 12 months leading up to that terms negotiation where the work needs to be done. Make think, getting in the head of the vendor manager and thinking what's going to cause them thio. Ask for another 5% or another 3% or another 10%. Things like Met ppm. Is it? Is it a catalog of 100 Asians? Is it to a sins that are bringing down your your entire Amazon profitability on often? It's also the same to Asians that the brand itself isn't making any money on. So by by culling those two Essenes, you actually might save yourself a huge amount of money in a terms negotiation. So, yeah, there's lots of ways charge backs the amount of money we see a brand's losing based on shipping it in the wrong bag or, you know, the wrong type of box. Eso probably probably 50% of what we do now for our brands is what we call that. You know, the glory bits, the content and advertising, but probably the other half is operational support. Maintaining their catalog, ensuring products are available and audible by Amazon, making sure lead times is set correctly. M accuses set correctly so that you're not building up shortage claims because that's really where Amazon will get you. It's relatively easy to be profitable trading to Amazon because you're agreeing a price and you're agreeing back in terms. But it's this all of the additional costs that come with it, that that can catch people out.
[0:17:05] George Reid: Do you think that? I've always said with the vendor model and I had metal. I'm not an expert on the vendor side of the business or be having a partner who is a senior brand manager. I probably should know more, but it's a bit of a joke, really. Um, but with with the vendor side of things, I always assumed many vendors, the vendors, largely because they couldn't nail the operational piece off. Being a seller on Are you seeing that a little bit? A lot. Where operationally, Some of these big vendors, they're just know the business isn't structured in a way that fuels were Amazon wants, and therefore there they struggle and always wrestling. It's always a bit of a gritty um, affair. Is that Is that a regular thing? You're saying?
[0:17:55] Chris Mole: Uh, yeah, definitely. Internally. With the brands its's, there's often a wrestle between the e commerce team and the logistics team or the warehouse team because it's what because I'm well, Amazon ask for is a lot more demanding than what someone like Jessica asked for because you know the shipments of split in lots of different places. But Amazon has, you know, it's created programs to solve this for brands, things like Vendor Flex, where Amazon literally set up a little warehouse within your warehouse. Drop shippers Well, so if you you know, if you want toe supply directly. So we've got a lot of our brands set up drop ship for key four because of the problems that we saw in March in April with the performance centers. Um and we're seeing it. We're seeing Amazon's canceling a lot of deals in a lot of December deals now in the UK trying to pull them into November. I think you know Amazon's gonna be under a huge amount of strain, its infrastructure when you think the growth that it would have achieved anyway, thank you for plus, yeah, it's kind of like semi locked down for a moment. Uh, you know, So it's it's having it's really having to push these programs. Thio. Give it more capacity. Andi push some of that demand onto the brand. But even though things like drop ship costs the brand more money because they're having to give Amazon their margin and pay for the shipping, um, it's also ensuring the products in stock. You know, as long as they can keep keep availability in their own warehouse, they're keeping the product in stock. And we know you know the detrimental impact that going out of stock on Amazon has. It's not just that you lose sales, but it's that you start to negate a lot of the work and investment that you put into advertising and content on things like Search Frank. So, yeah, I think Amazon's obviously understands that the challenges has got, but it's a least creating these programs to try and allow brands toe support Where possible.
[0:19:55] George Reid: On where do you see that vendor seller model going in the future? Do you? Do you think more brands will trying kind of do both? Will be it a little bit of a sketchy affair doing both? Do you think brands will push over to the seller side if they're not kind of doing those big numbers off 500 k plus a month. What do you kind of see? It evolving? Because the vendor, the vendor platforms frankly disgusting place to play in comparison to the seller platform. It's It's just gross you x. So for May I've always thought the discouraging brands to be vendors and encouraging to be sellers as much as possible, and that is a low point in the direction off they want. This many sellers is possible in a small number of top 1% brands. Where do you see that kind of relationship changing in the coming years?
[0:20:47] Chris Mole: Um, so I get for me, it comes down to two things. Price. Andi selection. So I don't believe that Amazon will ever want to fully hand over its It's supply base the seller central, because at that point it loses control of price. And that's kind of what Amazon is a little bit built its business on, along with customer service, etcetera. We'll sell essentially, obviously don't have the ability to match the market price, etcetera. Overtime customers will start to be like Oh, Amazon is not the cheapest, like a moment they assume it is, um, but I think on the moment, operating a hybrid model is, I guess, technically against the terms of service to have a vendor and seller account. But more and more, we're seeing brands have to transition, especially brands with big catalogs. Transition Some masons from vendor to sell a purely due to profitability. Um, because, you know, it's pretty difficult to get Amazon to accept the price increase on. But the point at the point where big brands that Amazon wants to be selling are saying, Well, we'll just take these products off Amazon like you'll know from your time. Amazon selection is one of the key KP eyes of the celebration of the vendor team. A soon as a soon as Amazon starts the risk its ability to have that ultimate selection, it's gonna have to either start toe play a bit nicer in price negotiations or or come up with some kind of model, like some kind of legal hybrid model or something. Because, you know, brands now are willing toe walk away from certain products. If it doesn't make money just like Amazon do on, that's ultimately hurting the selection that Amazon I've got.
[0:22:32] George Reid: I believe the term is called crap, for Amazon cannot realize a profit. I learned that I learned that just yesterday. But that being said, then what? What advice would you be giving two brands? They're they're going into these negotiations at the moment with With Amazon. How can you come out with the best possible arrangement? Um, for you and your business?
[0:22:55] Chris Mole: Yeah. So I guess I guess one thing you know what you're kind of absolute bottom line is, if e guess part of it is negotiating to try and save a bit of money. Part of it is, um, you literally can't afford to give any more than this amount. Onda. Sometimes it's the case that you just have toe give something to Amazon, and in that instance, it's it's about getting the best value from it. So with with things like the A. V s program when it launched or the SPS as it was originally e don't think any. I don't think anyone loves having having to pay for a navy s, but at least it's you're getting good value from that percentage where otherwise if it was just called MBf, you know, you're not you're not really getting anything, so at least so it's about you know, sometimes accepting right, we have to give them another 2% this year. What what's the value can we get from it? Is it better payment terms? Is it a t least try and find a purpose for that percentage rather than it just going based on to the bottom line? Um, our chief strategy officer is joined us from Amazon six months ago or so where he was a category leader. So he's definitely a lot better than I am a advising brands on on the negotiation process. But it is really about the period of time that leads up to the negotiation. You should really go into that negotiation knowing they're gonna hammer us this year because of that. Or, you know, we've got our ducks in a line. So there's no reason why they should be pushing us for more money
[0:24:29] George Reid: on Do you touched upon earlier on around about the glory bits on Amazon? So I'd like to kind of discuss that a little bit a little bit mawr on one of those. One of those peace would be about driving higher lifetime value from your customers or what you can do kind of encourage customers to come back. Um, do you think one content plays a big role in that? And two, Are there any other strategies that you're seeing work in particular or well, at getting customers come back to you? So that brand over and over again?
[0:25:00] Chris Mole: Yeah. So for any consumable product, Or I guess you in again in Vendor Central that in brand analytics Now you can get repeat purchase behavior so you can see on a weekly or monthly bye bye bye bye, ace in what? What level of revenue during that period was? Repeat. So you can start to get a good feel for where it might make sense to invest in things like subscribe and save, you know, to to encourage repeat behavior without having to rely on the customer remembering towards it again in terms of content, obviously. But using areas like a plus tau build some kind of nice brand message will give people, you know, a warm feeling towards the brand and might make them more likely toe look at other products. But probably I would say, if you're a brand that's got, you know, relatively large shop herbal range store pages, you know so effective when used. Um, sometimes it's the right thing to just make up a page that looks pretty. But I think where brands think of that store page is like This is a transactional website on Amazon, where I control the content. There's no competitive advertising, depending on what your You know what your product ranges like. You know, it's a great it's a great place to shop. If if your strategy is deals focus, you can have the landing page purely focused on deals. If it's about increasing the basket size, you can have. You know everything that you can't do on the product page. Basically, you can. You can dio in the store on, then direct traffic straight from from Sponsor Brand ad, where you can monitor new to brand metrics so you can see where it's incremental customers. You can obviously then measure repeat purchase behavior. Um, yeah, it's more and more important because a za Amazon advertising gets more competitive and as a result, the cost cart more and more we're trying. We're trying to show the clients we work with, um, the customer that that made that click has cost you ВЈ1.50 and you've sold ВЈ4 with the product. But actually, on average, with that product, every customer spend ВЈ64. So actually, I don't know if we need a new metric instead of a cost, but some kind of lifetime version of a cost that shows you're investing now in the organic placement in in product momentum in reviews. But it's light. On average, a customer that buys that product will go on to buy it three more times.
[0:27:31] George Reid: Yeah, that that's slowly become available. It's interesting you said that, like Go listen to the podcast that releasing technically tomorrow for our time are from Royal at Nozzle. I think you'll find it very interesting and the data very powerful about that. But once you have that strong understanding off the data available and you're able to visualize it, it does completely changed the game off the advertising, and you make such a good point there about that storefront and extension off your your A plus and you on your whole product page on what you can do. There is kind of customize that journey. The customer or prospect goes on. Lego always viewing earlier on. Do this brilliantly off people landing. There doesn't really matter how they get there, but they take them on a journey kind of a customer journey. They create an experience for them on day. As a result of that, you're kind of continuously able to deliver lots of different things. That product that customer could potentially by which in turn is going to drive higher basket size. You can introduce fund bundles. You can introduce special deals and on then after that, with regard to that delivery experience. What have you been seeing over the last year from some of the grounds that you're working with, which is working really well at helping them connect with the customers a little bit more, helping them doom or post purchase to pull that customer into the ecosystem? Are you seeing any great strategies in that space at the moment?
[0:29:05] Chris Mole: Um, I guess I guess the downside of Amazon is it is the ability to kind of market to the consumer post purchase on that. That's often the the battle we have. Sometimes with the Brands e Commerce team were where, suggesting they send their instagram traffic to Amazon, and they're suggesting otherwise. Uh, so I get, I guess those way. See, sometimes brands putting things like leaflets and information in the box. Obviously, you have to be very careful what you put in there and don't try and use it to drive reviews. But I guess I guess just having matching the customer experience in the product that they get a swell Aziz the product that they see on the screen. So if you're if you've spent, if you spent loads of time and money making your own plus incredible store page incredible and then they just get a battered brown box with no, you know, just with a product into bubble wrap, then that's probably a missed opportunity. Thio, continue that brand. Um, that's probably image along, but I know that I know that that z something that you've worked on a lot. So it be good. I know that you're asking the questions, but it be good to get your your feedback as well. On what? What kind of, uh, methods you've seen brands using?
[0:30:21] George Reid: Yeah, I think I think one of the key terms I've adopted over the last six months with this is invoking an emotion with that customer when the product is delivered. They've obviously got that expectation of how that products the first product experience is going to bay. But you've got many of the levers with your the unboxing experience. So the box itself is obviously a phenomenal opportunity to just make them connect with you. Your brand, your brand personality, a little bit on the corrugated brown box isn't the sexiest of things. You can do so much with that and for inspiration. With that, like we've just started as off Wednesday, this week on Amazon Creative Facebook Group Will will release some of this stuff but another good one where I'm not pitching myself here. Is Lumi on YouTube. L um I just put Lumi unboxing This play for little American Last Unbox is some of the best things great for inspiration on what you see, there is just what those subtle things brands are doing that make people just dio I like that. I don't know why I like it. I just like it and again with those product inserts. I've got the fridge test. Would you put it on the fridge? I've got so many of these little inserts scattered around the flat because I just like them and that's not just a loser. I don't get out much. They're just nice. They sit there. They look nice. I use a couple of bookmarks. I use a couple as coaster's because there's something about them that makes you not want to throw them away. I'm a big fan of throwing birthday cards away as soon as possible because I think they look junk. But the girl from a holding on for longer, like Why does she want to hold certain cards for longer? It's because they look pretty. They mean something to her. If you could do the same with your insert, the same with your box. Keep front of mind for that customer. That's what allows you to connect with them. And then maybe you have got the little kind of hashtag instagram. Whatever is on. That's how they connect of you. Maybe you have got the customer group on Facebook on. Do you got a little reference to or something like that where you're being a little bit cheeky? Maybe you have got the Here's a five step of how to consume the supplement bundle that you just put in a perfect way on. They go through to a landing page and you deliver more value on there is another big point. There is where how you delivering more value and obviously you pixel them. You try and obtain an email address. At that point, you try and send them somewhere and obtain additional touch point. Um, there is that gray area granted, but it is playing the game at the end of the day on, but it is a little bit more tricky for vendors. Don't get me wrong on depends. Some people are gonna really push their luck a little bit. But ultimately, I think if you're
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