1. Black Friday? More like Black November…

Is Black Friday losing its importance to buyers?

After years of strong growth, the tendency for brands to stretch deals out way beyond the Black Friday/ Cyber Monday framework has watered the impact of the shopping event, some Industry experts believe.

By extending discounts over weeks or even the whole month, Black Friday becomes more of a Black November – another sale period rather than an eagerly anticipated and limited race for bargain buys.

Why has this happened?

It doesn’t take an expert to point the finger firmly at the post-pandemic retail slump and the cost of living crisis.

“The world has changed dramatically in the post-pandemic slump and like-for-like sales for online retailers look terrible,” said James Brooke, CEO of CMS platform Amplience.

Peak is being extended to push promotions out earlier, and I can see Black Friday being just a heightened period of trading rather than the much-anticipated and exciting shopping extravaganza it has been previously.

James Brooke, Amplience

Add in the distraction of the World Cup, the fact that many people bought large tech during the pandemic and scepticism about whether discounts are really what they seem and you have all the ingredients for a damp squib.

But… we definitely don’t think all is lost, especially given some figures we see rolling in from this year’s event.

Whether Black Friday continues to mark a massive rush to Amazon or morphs into a longer period of pre-Xmas bargain hunting, a considered roll-out of genuine offers will always hold strong appeal, especially to cash-strapped customers stretching their spending in the run-up to the festive season.

So if this year wasn’t all you hoped, maybe it’s time to tweak your strategy a little to account for Black Friday’s longer guise.

Want an expert eye on your planning? Get in touch with our team now.

2. Introducing Amazon’s new Fulfilment robot, Sparrow

Amazon has been rolling out innovative new robotic tech in a bid to streamline and speed up the fulfilment process and improve safety for its (human) employees.

Beginning in the first half of 2022 with robots “Robin” and “Cardinal” now automating around half of the fulfilment process, the newest addition to the robot team is Sparrow, whose job it will be to retrieve products from shelves and put them in boxes – a job currently tasked to pickers.

Amazon report that Sparrow is capable of recognising and handling up to 65% of all pre-packaged goods sold on Amazon.com – which is a huge amount of inventory, whichever way you look at it.

Whether Sparrow will serve as a help or a threat to millions of Amazon workers is a topic for another post.

Here, we’ll just focus on the potential benefits for Sellers:

  • The potential for a speedier, more streamlined FBA system
  • Warehouses operating more efficiently could mean they could cope with higher restock limits
  • Greater streamlining should hopefully mean faster delivery times to customers, with all the benefits that brings to Sellers

And the potential impacts:

  • We don’t yet know if there’s potential for damage to be caused by Sparrow’s robotic arm, though Amazon are training the robots to detect crushable items in packaging and reduce the force they use accordingly
  • We don’t yet know the potential for mistakes to be made through the process, so will be watching to see the levels of robot/human involvement in product identification

Sparrow is currently being trialled in Texas, with a broader rollout planned in 2023.

Watch this space!

3. Thinking of scaling your brand into Amazon Europe? Here are more good reasons for you

If you’ve been considering making a move into Amazon Europe, new figures showing how Amazon’s investment in growing SMEs is paying off might just tip the scales on your decision.

In 2021, SMEs across Amazon’s European region (that’s the eight EU member states (Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Sweden, Poland, Belgium), the UK and Turkey)…

  • Sold more than 2.2 billion products worldwide – that’s more than 4,200 products sold every minute, and a 65% increase on YOY sales volumes.
  • Earned over €14.5 billion in exports, creating 100,000 new jobs.
  • More than 50,000 SMEs exceeded €100,000 in sales through Amazon – a 25% YOY increase in the number of brands crossing that threshold.
  • Over 2,500 SMEs topped €1 million in sales for the first-time last year

And Amazon are continuing to invest in SME success, making 2023 a great year to put serious thought into expanding into new EU markets.

Recently, we covered expansion into new EU markets in one of our live (free!) webinars.

To recap on one of the key takeaways from that broadcast, here are 3 considerations when identifying the best EU markets for your brand:

  1. Pinpoint where you CAN sell, i.e. where your products are compliant and legal.
  2. Identify where there are people waiting to buy – look for product/market fit and assess latent demand to find the best markets for you.
  3. From a commerciality and profitability perspective, look for medium-volume and low-competition markets where you can build sustainable growth rather than jumping into a high-volume, high-competition market. The exception to this is if you have the (robust) budget and manpower needed to gain market share quickly.

Helpful? We hope so.

This is just a fraction of what we covered in the webinar, where we touched on all aspects of EU expansion – from strategy through taxation to legalities.

Not to mention our live Q&A section, a regular Venture Forge webinar feature, where can pose your own questions to our experts.

If you missed out this time, sign up to our email list to be the first to know when we next go live.

4. New Amazon Account Health Assurance service provides 1-2-1 support for At-Risk Accounts

Amazon have introduced a new level of peace of mind for at-risk accounts with a one-on-one “Account Health Assurance” support service.

Designed to help avoid suspensions, and the lengthy and human-free reinstatement process that follows, the new service is rolling out first in the US and Canada, with other countries to follow soon after.

Amazon say it formalises their “commitment to not deactivate a seller’s account as long as they work with us to resolve any issues”, and looks infinitely better than the current rigmarole of writing a detailed action plan and trying to communicate via automated messaging to get the account back online.

Created based on Seller feedback, the Account Health Assurance process will see a member of the Amazon team proactively reach out and work one-on-one with at-risk Sellers to help them get back to growing and building their business in the marketplace.

In the meantime, if you’re worried about the health of your account, our expert team can conduct a full health check for you to identify and sort any existing or potential issues – get in touch today to book yours.

Got questions about how to maximise this – or any of the opportunities above – for your brand?

Speak to our team of experts today.