98. “Your Margin is My Opportunity” (Jeff Bezos)

Why Are Your Margins Too High v AMZ’s?

Your margins must cover your channel cost structure which was built for bygone days. Most channel costs evolved (from WW2 on) to push true-new products to first-time buyers. Cold calls (requiring product-education) required both factory and distributor reps to create demand. Both sets of reps got paid roughly 5% of their respective sales. Today (70 years later), most channels still have two sets of reps costing about the same. What other elements of your push-channel costs will AMZ threaten?

2018 Legacy-Channel Challenges:                    

  1. The US consumer-society lifecycle is mature with too much global supply. Power has shifted to customers. And, AMZ owns the increasing numbers of Prime customers. Brands must go to where the eyeballs are and sell them the way they want to buy.
  2. 80%+ of distributor product sales are for equally-excellent commodities (no demos needed)
  3. 90% of sales are rebuys from experienced customers (fewer cold calls)
  4. The internet makes all product – information, availability and pricing – 24/7 available. As digital information grows, product knowledge help from local reps drop.
  5. Mark-ups for full-lines of SKUs create profit/loss cross-subsidies. Average-pick size and turns are ignored. Buy: a popular $500 piece of equipment at 20% margin and some fittings for $1 to $3 each at a 40% margin. The equipment’s $100 of gross profit covers: its activity costs; the losses on fittings; and residual company profit.
  6. Mark-ups covering bundled services are not customer-centric. Customers get an assigned rep whether they want them or not. If reps were unbundled for fees and customers got 5% rebates for buying on their own, what would happen? Without unbundling, Millennials will web-room you on the big-price, popular and most profitable items on AMZ for less. They will: check the $500 equipment price at AMZ. Sees savings of $X. Spot buy it. Then, order the little-dollar picks (net-profit losers) from the distributor.
  7. And, the Perfect Clones of most profitable items are increasing at AMZ. Clones – with great information content, reviews and prices – will steal share from top brands not there. Clones can skip channel development costs and go right to AMZ’s unlimited cyber-shelf space using Fulfillment by Amazon.
  8. Loyalty to – brands, distributors and reps – will continue to erode.

Unless What?

Factories and distributors share SKU profitability analytics to solve cross-subsidies and rethink their respective service bundles. And, factories get on AMZ to win the content management war against the clones. For more: contact me for a free, virtual, SKU analytics session.     bruce@merrifield.com

Leave a Reply