questionsis amazon trying to drive small companies out of…

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(continued) but emphasized that it was "no for now" and is trying to urge their clients (like us) to buy more.

We had a company meeting about this on Friday. We're not sure how to feel about this. Should we be worried? Is there anything we can do? Should I be thinking about finding a new job?

At the same time, we are focusing on branding and website content in order to give our customers a reason to buy from us instead of on Amazon. Competing on price isn't enough—we know we have to excel in customer service, ease of shopping, navigation, brand loyalty, etc.

What do you think? This is all happening so fast. I'm not worried right now since I usually don't worry much but I feel like maybe I should be.

Also, my bosses, the owners of the company, know a few other small business owners who deal with different types of products and it's happening to them too.

I know Amazon has been hurting small business for years, but I didn't think it was so blatant and directed.

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I don't think it's relevant whether or not Amazon (or any big company you care to name) is trying to crush small businesses. The only thing that matters is whether they are managing to crush small businesses, whether it's intentional or merely collateral damage. Your bosses see the writing on the wall, and are responding to shift in the business ecology the only way that may work--by playing to their strengths which are the big company's weaknesses. Price will always favor the deep-pocketed megalocorp that can buy masses at discount and pass the savings on. So by earning a reputation as a personal, responsive, human small company, your company may grab and hold a loyal customer base among consumers for whom price is not the only consideration.

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@codex: Kind of like woot... until Amazon bought them. :-D

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I'd be worried. It sounds like your company is just a reseller, but you're making heavy use of other more popular resellers. Essentially you're paying your competitors to help you sell your product.

Amazon may not be the only one looking at how many units you're moving through them and thinking about whether it'd be more profitable for them to sell it directly.

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everything that @codex said. plus, it looks like the writing's on the wall for the state sales tax "discount" that amazon used to provide customers, as they've agreed to collect in states like california, nj, etc. without the sales tax advantage, there's more pressure on amazon to generate discounts by other means, including volume buying, which unfortunately squeezes out smaller retailers.

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@codex has it nailed. Your company can sink or swim here. Sometimes the small fish can't get out of the way of the big fish sometimes they can.

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@samstag: Most of our suppliers aren't resellers: they don't sell to the public and only sell wholesale in large quantities. We do the work of breaking up the quantities into smaller lots. Amazon thought we were the manufacturers because no one sells the exact same stuff we do (in the lot sizes, weights, mixes we put together). We have over 30,000 skus and counting.

Thanks for the feedback all. I think this is the beginning of the end for us. We just have to make sure we focus on setting ourselves apart and putting a human voice to our company.

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All of the above....
and in addition, I find the customer service at Amazon to exemplary. It is hard to beat good prices and good service.

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@thewronggrape: I meant "I don't think this is the beginning of the end..."

We know who are core customers are and we have to cater to them and offer a different experience than Amazon (or elsewhere). Maybe not better, but more personal and fun and sensitive to their needs.

It is tough though. I myself shop at Amazon for pretty much everything because of the prices—am a Wooter after all!

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The folks that made buggy whips had to find other things to do. It's the way of the world. Someday someone will eat Amazon's lunch too.

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Yes they are. I work for an online retailer that does a lot of business through amazon and they have recently changed their policies making it more difficult for sellers. It has already cost 7 people their jobs where I work.