News & Insights
The Questions to Ask When Searching for an Amazon Partner
Most of our brand partners come to Amify from other Amazon service providers, unhappy with the service they have received. However, after hearing their stories, it’s clear that asking the right questions during their search could have helped companies avoid a terrible experience.
In some cases, these questions should have been asked of the prospective agency. In others, it’s a question the brand needs to answer to guide its search. Regardless, we wanted to share our insight on the inquiries that can make all the difference for brands trying to find an Amazon agency that is the right fit for their goals.
It’s all about alignment
The long-term success of an Amazon partnership hinges on how well the agency’s capabilities align with the brand’s expectations. Creating a solid foundation requires the following:
- Alignment on the services the brand needs to be successful on Amazon and the provider’s ability to provide them
- Alignment on quality, responsiveness, and ability of the provider to do what they say they can do
- Alignment on the realistic costs involved in running an Amazon business and the ability of the brand to pay for the desired level of quality
Let’s break each of these areas of emphasis down to the key questions to ask…
Alignment on the services the brand needs to be successful
The Amazon marketplace is an $800 billion business. The services needed by the largest companies on the platform vary drastically compared to smaller brands. Finding a provider that aligns with your brand’s business model, sales level and service requirements is crucial.
What Amazon business model does your provider focus on?
Amazon business providers typically split between those helping brands following a 1P model (selling products to Amazon) and those pursuing growth on the 3P marketplace (selling products on the Amazon marketplace). Therefore, picking a provider that focuses on your brand’s business model is best. If a provider says they do everything, you may find they are not good at either.
What services does the provider offer? And which ones will the brand need to handle internally?
To run an Amazon 3P business, a brand needs help with Amazon strategy, content, copywriting, SEO, PPC advertising, customer service, Seller Central management, inventory management, fulfillment, exception handling, pricing, assortment management, financial planning, and many other aspects. Most service providers only handle a few of these, requiring the brand to manage the rest internally. It’s easy for a brand to assume the partner will do it all, only to realize they are still responsible for most of the workload. We suggest that brands have a list of the functions necessary to run the Amazon business and have a clear owner for each. When comparing proposals from partners, it’s a common mistake to overlook the specific services offered and simply choose the lowest-priced provider. Only later does the brand realize that most of the tasks will still need to be done internally and for an additional cost.
What size businesses do you focus on?
The needs of a big Amazon seller are different from the needs of a small brand. Understanding if the provider aligns with your brand’s size is also important. Providers usually break down into those serving brands with less than $500k in annual sales, agencies specializing in mid-sized sellers with $500k-$2 million of annual sales, and partners targeting companies with more than $2 million in sales each year. Your brand should align with the size the provider focuses on to limit the risk of low-quality service, overly-high costs, or the possibility of not being a priority for the provider. If an agency claims to serve brands of all sizes, that may again mean they will take any client and perform poorly.
Alignment on quality, responsiveness, and ability of the provider to deliver
It is easy for firms to claim to be Amazon experts, but what differentiates most providers is their ability to deliver the quality level that a brand expects at a reasonable cost.
Can I meet the team I will be working with?
The number one reason we see brands leaving our competitors is a misalignment of the quality of the team they are working with. Providers often have a slick salesperson who can promise the world, but when the sale is closed, the brand is passed off to a junior employee with little experience managing accounts. By asking to meet the team upfront, a brand will quickly get to see if there is an alignment here.
How many employees does the provider have? Is the staff mostly employees or contractors?
Sometimes, a service provider consists of five people in a townhouse claiming to be Amazon experts. These smaller providers have difficulty providing the consistency and breadth of the service many brands require. Larger, established companies have learned from their mistakes with previous clients and can likely provide a higher quality of consistent service. In addition, understaffed providers that rely heavily on contractors usually have a hard time delivering consistent, high-quality work.
Who are some of the agency’s key customers?
A brand should look at the provider’s client roster to determine if they match up well in size and product category. If the brands that a prospective partner is currently working with have similarities to your business, the likelihood of success is much higher.
Alignment on costs involved to run an Amazon business and the ability of the brand to pay for the desired level of quality
Amazon claims it is easy to run a brand on its platform. In reality, it requires a lot of expertise in various areas ranging from graphic design and customer service to copywriting and advertising strategy. All of these specialties cost money and need to work together flawlessly. It is easy for a brand to underestimate how much work is involved and focus on price rather than quality. People with valuable Amazon experience are expensive to hire, and it’s important to remember you get what you pay for. A common rule of thumb is that it requires one employee for each $1 to $2 million of Amazon revenue.
Who do you want your head of Amazon to be? Offshore, junior employee, or seasoned director?
Is your brand a scrappy startup that hires a lot of offshore people? Or is your brand an established company with senior directors running its e-commerce divisions? In either case, your company needs a provider that employs teammates on an equivalent level. A damaging misalignment occurs when a brand that is accustomed to working with seasoned executives pays a low price for a lower tier of service. Amazon providers staff their teams using three primary models.
Offshore – The provider has a majority of its teams offshore. These models offer lower costs but sacrifice quality.
Junior staff- The provider mixes offshore teams with primarily junior staff in the United States. This mid-cost model offers a nice mix of higher quality and value.
Director-level staff – This model is made for established businesses that realize junior staff will not take them to the next phase of growth on Amazon. These companies are looking for quality over low cost.
Is your brand willing to make a long-term strategic investment in Amazon?
Amazon is a huge opportunity, but it is also very competitive. It will take a brand many months or years to reach its potential on Amazon. Brands that expect huge success in the short term will usually be disappointed by the results, regardless of which agency they choose.
Ask for Amify
Start a conversation with Amify to find out if our decade of experience helping Amazon sellers grow and extensive platform knowledge is the right fit for your brand. Take some time to read our case studies, and discover why our clients average 100% growth in the first year after partnering with us..