Playing Our Hand in Vegas at the National Hardware Expo

Hinge Global consultants spoke with industry representatives at the Hardware Expo in Las Vegas, and here is what they had to say about Amazon.

By
Jennifer Haskell

The Las Vegas Convention Center was in full-swing with the National Hardware Expo as just under 3,000 exhibitors across 15 different categories displayed everything from weed-whackers to thermal coolers. Our Hinge marketplace consultants were there to meet new people as well as some familiar faces from the Orlando Pet Expo back in March.

While speaking with many of these vendors, our consultants remarked on a few recurring issues and frustrations expressed by exhibitors. Many of the frustrations were caused by a lack of understanding of the Amazon platform and the over-convenience customers experience using it. Hinge is here to address some of the assertions our consultants disclosed.

Vendor Central is Good Enough

Not surprisingly, Vendor Central is a subject that comes up a lot around these kind of high-volume conventions. We have discussed the differences between Vendor Central and Seller Central before, and now we would like to take a closer look at Vendor Central and how vendors could be leveraging their products more effectively.

The primary benefit for companies that sell on Vendor Central is the convenience of Amazon requesting Product Orders (PO’s) and handling everything else. It is easy to understand the appeal of this system; however, this gives you little control over your products. If Amazon wants to run a discount, they will. If they want to lower the prices throughout their entire catalog, they will. Hinge Consultant, B.J. Santiago talked about the Expo upon his return to Cincinnati and reported that many companies set a low bar for Amazon success. The majority of them believe that they are doing great on Amazon using Vendor Central but fail to understand the extent of their potential if given a custom marketing strategy.

This sentiment rings true from what we can observe in the listing content of many major vendors, reflecting a careless marketing strategy and likely a low return for the brand control they are sacrificing.

Getting Rid of Unauthorized Sellers Isn’t Worth the Effort

One complaint was the difficulty in getting rid of unauthorized sellers. One specific seller reported their struggle with 10+ unauthorized seller and the process of trying to get rid of them was so much work, they just gave up on the platform altogether. Though, the exhaustion of handling 3P’s is entirely understandable, ignoring the problem isn’t a solution, and the longer unauthorized 3P’s get away with selling on Amazon the greater the risk to brand integrity. The best way to protect your brand is by defending it on the Amazon platform.

Resistance to the Digital Boom

It is still a little surprising that big companies are resistant to the digital boom. Even with third party sellers undercutting their MAP or damaging their reputation, many seem to give up trying to manage (in some cases) an overwhelming number of unauthorized sellers. Perhaps this is the reason the first party vendors our consultants spoke to were more likely to entirely abandon the Amazon platform than target unauthorized 3P’s.

However, these concerns are easily managed by experts. The big issue seems to be a scarcity of ecommerce proficiency or competence within the departments handling their online marketplace presence. Hinge marketplace consultant, Michael Keenehan, observed that many vendors view Amazon as a hassle rather than an opportunity. In these moments, he tries to educate vendors about all Amazon offers and let them know improving their Amazon PDP’s is the best way to start winning their categories. When asked what Michael would say if all these vendors were here now, he commented:

“I would encourage them to explore all the options because many [vendors] are closing doors before they’ve learned anything about them.”

So, on behalf of Hinge, we would like to offer an open door to explore your options. Also, be sure to visit us in July when we visit the Food & Beverage Expo in Austin, Texas!

Get in touch with our Amazon experts, here.


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