Suppliers search for new channels outside of Amazon Business

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While Amazon.com Inc. is prioritizing delivery of what it deems essential items to its warehouses, SupplyKick is working with its partners selling on Amazon Business to tap other online sales channels to meet their customer’s needs in the meantime and, if possible, ramp up production of essential items.

SupplyKick, a provider of marketing and inventory management services for manufacturers selling on Amazon, is recommending such alternate selling channels as eBay.com, Walmart.com and Facebook Marketplace. It’s also recommending its clients to sell more on their own ecommerce sites.

Amazon announced on March 17 that, due to increased demand for certain goods during the coronavirus pandemic, it will only accept shipments of what it considers essential items at its warehouses until April 5. Amazon has designated six categories for essential items: baby products, health and household, beauty and personal care, groceries, industrial and scientific, and pet supplies. Non-essential items in stock will continue to be delivered while availability lasts.

Because of the non-essential designation, as of late March SupplyKick was dealing with difficulties in replenishing 80% of the stock it handles. If items go out of stock on the platform, SupplyKick won’t be able to ship items to Amazon warehouses in order to meet consumer demand until mid-April, says Chris Palmer, founder and CEO of SupplyKick.

“Sellers need to plan for the long haul,” he says. “We are helping our partners identify alternative channels and develop new selling strategies in the interim.”

SupplyKick is working with breweries and distilleries, for example, to produce and sell hand sanitizer. “Distilleries already have liquor licenses, alcohol on hand, and can quickly source the other ingredients, such as aloe vera gel, needed to produce hand sanitizer,” Palmer says. “Many breweries or distilleries are using the alcohol supplies they aren’t able to sell due to the closures of restaurants and bars.”

The company is also working with an automotive company retooling its manufacturing lines to produce medical and cleaning products in lieu of automotive products.

Helping its clients shift production to essential products can help them maintain sales through Amazon, sustain employment levels, and benefit others while traditional sales channels become more turbulent, Palmer says. SupplyKick partners with hundreds of brands, including Bumbo, Probonix, Blue Rhino, Dometic, and Friedrich Air.

“Most of these businesses have no background selling on Amazon,” Palmer says. “SupplyKick helps bring these essential products to customers on Amazon, while also complying with Amazon’s policies and complex terms of service.”

To help manufacturers succeed on Amazon Business, SupplyKick will set up an online store on behalf of a brand, purchase the inventory to be sold through the store, market it, and fulfill orders. The strategy accounts for more than 90% of SupplyKick’s business.

Not surprisingly, sales of essential products are exploding on Amazon. One SupplyKick partner, an organic cleaning brand, saw its Amazon traffic rise 165% over a 10-day period since after Amazon announced it was prioritizing delivery of essential items. Week-over-week sales are growing 50-70%, SupplyKick says. “This growth is now based on seasonality or other factors aside from the increased awareness around cleaners, sanitizers, etc.,” Palmer adds.

Since the spread of the coronavirus has moved rapidly across the United States, Palmer says the mood of most manufacturers and brands remains cautious, yet optimistic.

“We proactively reach out to our partners to see how they anticipated the coronavirus pandemic impacting their business, their supply chains, their manufacturing operations, and staffing,” Palmer says. “Our biggest challenge right now is the hold on our partners shipping to Amazon warehouses. Everything is changing on a daily basis, yet we are prepared as best we can be to stay nimble and adjust with the times.”

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