135. Fix Your CRaP Items and Their Root Causes

AMAZON’S WAR ON CRaP

Amazon’s analytics can identity SKUs on which they Can’t Realize a Profit” (CRaP). Even with their improving, world’s best fulfillment and last-mile delivery costs, they can’t cover costs on items lower than $15 per pick/order.

AMZ’s fixes to date?  

  1. Bully vendors to bundle items or to do third-party shipping for AMZ’s orders.   
  2. Increase prices on small-dollar-pick items.
  3. Make items “add-on” status.
  4. Or, “Pantry Items” (a shipment goes when enough goods reach a total)  

Distributors get killed on small-dollar picks too. Distributors that invest in a cost-to-serve model at the line-item level typically discover that:

  1. Up to 70% of all line-item picks are losers.
  2. 65% of warehouse orders are losers.

Thank goodness there are a few highly-profitable SKUs (and direct-ship orders) to pay for losing items and losing customers; with still a residual that is the company’s overall operating profit!  

WHEN WILL AMZ’S PRIVATE-LABEL CLONES TARGET YOUR PROFIT-COW SKUs?

Amazon analytics also identifies popular items that have the most margin-dollars in the pick/order. Their private-label clones (or “Amazon Exclusive” resellers’) can sell for 50% less with great reviews and still be profitable. How? AMZ and its clone-friends are exploiting traditional channels’ high-cost service structure that is funded by cross-subsidy pricing of full-lines of products.

Cross-subsidized full-line pricing? Assume a product line has ten colors all priced “fairly” at the same per unit.  But, 2 SKUs are 80% of the sales and a few don’t sell at all. The killer clones will only come in the 1 or 2 best colors. You can raise prices on the non-sellers to cover their true, total supply-chain cost, but they don’t sell at the lower subsidized price.

High-Cost Structure? In most channels, there are sales reps for both factories and distributors. They were originally needed to push new products through channels and create final demand. Fast forward: what if 80%+ of all sales today are for commodities to repeat buyers? And, clone-availability news is digitally instant from AMZ? Rep overhead costs and channel-push-through costs are not built into the clone pricing at Amazon.  

WHAT TO DO?

Get the right analytics to: fix CRaP SKUs (and customers!) Be prepared to be more competitive on items that may be cloned. And, start rethinking overall business and selling models. Next-gen digital buyers want e-selling assistance only as needed.     l

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