Choosing whether to outsource or keep services in-house is an age-old conundrum for businesses as they scale, and driving your brand’s Amazon success is no exception.
For young and resource-constrained businesses, the choice is often clearer.
With limited expertise and a strong focus on growth, the vast knowledge gaps required for true success on Amazon make outsourcing to a specialist Agency a logical solution.
But, when your brand reaches a stage where recruiting an internal team is viable, the decision becomes more complex.
How do you balance the benefits of control, company culture and prompt response times offered by an in-house approach against the expertise, cost benefits, flexibility and scalability of partnering with a full-service Amazon agency?
Making the right choice is crucial, and requires careful consideration.
To help you navigate this tricky decision, here we explore the key factors that need to be taken into account.
By understanding these contingencies, you can confidently determine what offers the best path to marketplace success for your brand – an in-house approach, a collaboration with an expert Amazon agency, or even a blend of both.
Who knows their onions?
When it comes to who knows their stuff better, perhaps the key is in striking a balance.
After all, brands and their internal teams know their own business better than an external partner could – at least initially.
An internal team that’s embedded within the day-to-day business of the brand will naturally gain a deep understanding of the organisation’s structure, culture, brand and industry – and it’s likely they can work directly with other in-house colleagues to gain internal buy-in, response and approvals faster than external parties might.
On the flipside, for Agencies, Amazon is our world.
Amazon Agencies, especially full-service, Amazon-specific ones like Venture Forge, embrace the ethos of doing one thing, and doing it well.
Immersed every day in the marketplace, having all the best data and analysis tools and apps at our disposal, working across multiple brands, categories and challenges…
… it all combines to afford Agencies a more immediate, deeper and wider-ranging level of Amazon knowledge than an in-house team can gain working within the constraints of their own business and industry.
What does this highly specialised Amazon expertise bring for a brand? It means an Agency partner is positioned to identify and solve problems quickly, planning and implementing necessary changes fast and with maximum impact.
The best Amazon Agencies also have strong, strategic partnerships they can draw upon to help their brand clients with all aspects of their marketplace presence.
From partnerships with Amazon (like ours) to tried-and-tested relationships with specialist firms offering other crucial services (such as advice on cross-border tax, storage & logistics and packaging & waste compliance), a good Amazon Agency will have a solution at hand to any marketplace dilemma.
So it’s not a simple question of who knows their onions better, because each party knows their stuff.
It’s just that the type of knowledge is likely to fall into different camps.
Perhaps the right approach for you is a true partnership between an in-house team and an expert Amazon Agency – a collaborative option which gives you the best of both worlds.
What’s the most cost-effective option?
First, let’s debunk one mythical assumption we’ve seen made time and time again – a single in-house salary for an Amazon Manager and the cost of hiring an Agency are not directly comparable.
A successful Amazon strategy that’s geared for real growth is made up of a whole array of elements – Amazon Ads and PPC, listing optimisation, imagery, EBC/A+, reviews generation, stock management, fulfilment, pricing…
… Not to mention the costs of the software you need, from research and insight tools to reporting systems and advertising management software.
The truth is that few single people have the skills required to effectively deal with all the elements and challenges that Amazon can throw a brand’s way – comparing one person against a whole team is like comparing an acorn with an oak.
So, for big brands, the reality is that your choice lies between hiring a full team of people to manage your Amazon presence well, and hiring an expert Amazon Agency.
For a larger Amazon Account, you need people who can create and deliver strategies. You’ll need copywriters, data analysts, graphic designers, translators, advertising specialists and operations and logistics people.
And you’ll need access to the right tools and software to give them the data they need to be agile and responsive.
Where an Agency wins out is when a big brand needs all those people and tools at its disposal, but doesn’t need them full-time.
A good Agency offers all these specialisms and software in one cost as part of their overall service; a complete, fully supported Amazon team for a fraction of the cost of having it in-house.
For newer, smaller and challenger brands, the issue is often that they don’t need – or can’t afford – a full-time Amazon Manager, let alone a whole team.
Here, instead of simply neglecting the rapid, sustainable and exciting growth that the marketplace offers, smaller brands might find that an Agency is the perfect solution – bringing the heft of a specialised team and supporting software into the mix to drive their Amazon business forward.
What’s more time efficient?
If you’re starting from scratch, with the prospect of sourcing, recruiting and bedding in an entire Amazon team ahead of you – then, where time is of the essence, Agencies offer a significant advantage.
Because Agency teams are already in situ with everything they need to pick up and run, we can be mobilised quicker than recruiting internally – and good Agencies can typically scale up just as fast to respond to your changing requirements.
What happens when we scale?
When your business is just getting started on its Amazon journey, it’s unusual to have the need – or the resource – to justify a full-time in-house team.
But things may not always be that way!
As you grow, diligent pre-planning can result in the successful creation and expansion of an effective in-house team to meet your changing needs.
But again, where growth is swift and a quick response is needed, an Agency collaboration offers access to a scalable solution – one that can rapidly expand in line with the development of your business.
This in turn allows you to scale your Amazon operations seamlessly without the burden of hiring, training and embedding additional staff.
Outsourcing to a specialised Amazon Agency also means that your in-house team can free up their own precious time to focus fully on driving the other areas of your growth, efficiency and profitability – whether that’s streamlining operations, excelling at customer service or developing innovative new products.
Flexibility is key…
Yes, it absolutely is – because few business arenas are more dynamic than Amazon.
This means that your brand needs to stay agile and flexible at all times to keep one step ahead of the competition, nimbly adapting strategies and services to suit requirements which can pivot by the hour – even the minute!
Again, a perfectly assembled in-house team with the right blend of skills and a strong CPD ethos can help you achieve the versatility you need.
But, for those businesses without the resource to maintain a team that encompasses and constantly updates all Amazon skills and software, an Amazon Agency is a brilliant option.
Able to offer a whole range of services, from Amazon advertising through product listing optimisation to customer review management and often much more, partnering with an Agency means you can choose what best fits your needs and your budget.
This gives you the agility to adjust your strategy as you need to meet all the challenges Amazon can throw your way.
Time to make the call
As with all things in business, there’s no “one size fits all” answer to the debate between in-house vs Amazon Agency, and your decision will ultimately depend on your brand’s current position, growth trajectory, resources and ambitions.
But we hope that our exploration of the pros and cons of in-house vs Agency has helped you find the right solution for your unique needs.
Whether you’re leaning towards an internal team, a “best of both worlds” collaboration or seeking a strong and fulfilling partnership with a full-service Amazon Agency, our team of marketplace experts would be happy to help you come to a final conclusion.
Why not drop us a line with all your quandaries and queries and let’s explore your options in more detail!