The future may hold far fewer and radically redesigned stores, analysts say.
Anytime Amazon.com Inc. CEO Jeff Bezos flexes his pinky many e-retailers wonder what he's up to, which is why Internet Retailer editors created a full day of sessions dedicated to the dominant company in North American e-retailing. IRCE's Amazon & Me Workshop takes place Tuesday, June 10.
Robert W. Baird & Co. analyst Colin Sebastian kicks off the workshop with a look at how Amazon is spending money on technology, marketing and other areas, and what it means. His views, which often give a strong kick to Internet Retailer's Amazon.com coverage, can help e-retailers understand what Amazon is thinking.
With Amazon saying the number of Amazon Marketplace sellers using Fulfillment by Amazon jumped 65% year over year in 2013, the "Selling on Amazon's Third Party Marketplace: What All E-Retailers Need to Know" session promises tips that could lead to more online sales for e-retailers selling on Amazon's growing shopping mall. The session takes on added importance because such e-commerce players as eBay Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Staples Inc. and Newegg Inc. are all beefing up their own online marketplaces, providing merchants with more selling options.
Among Amazon's greatest strengths is its growing fulfillment network—some 40 U.S. distribution centers and counting—which the e-retailer also uses to fulfill web orders for other retailers. That's why after lunch on Monday, I expect to be scribbling notes at the session "Fulfillment by Amazon: Making Sure It's Right for Your Operation." The session will cover a cutthroat area of e-commerce, says presenter Jon Greenwood, president of shoe and home goods retailer Virtual Exchanges.
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"The main challenge of being successful with FBA is monitoring competition, including Amazon," he says. "Your competitive advantage for being in FBA can disappear in seconds when your price is undercut by another seller. How you react will ultimately determine how successful FBA is for your business." After the presentation—he will be joined by Brandon Harden, owner of apparel retailer Seven Times Six—attendees should know enough to determine whether Fulfillment by Amazon makes sense for them, Greenwood says.
Given all the frustrations, fascinations, fears and freak-outs involving Amazon, I expect the workshop's last session will be standing room only. Sebastian, along with ChannelAdvisor Corp. CEO Scot Wingo and his product manager for marketplaces Gina DeFrank, will hold court in the Q&A-based session entitled "A Chance to Ask About Everything Else You Want to Know about Amazon." Folks, these three are among the world's top experts on all things Amazon, and although I cannot guarantee they will know what Bezos will do next, they surely can help you operate more profitably in an Amazon world.
Thad Rueter follows every move Amazon.com makes and interprets how those moves may impact everybody else. This will be Thad's fifth time covering IRCE.
Amazon Under the Hood: Where It's Investing Tuesday, June 10, 9:00-9:30 a.m.
Selling on Amazon's Third Party Marketplace: What All E-Retailers Need to Know Tuesday, June 10, 9:30-10:00 a.m.
Fulfillment by Amazon: Making Sure It's Right for Your Operation Tuesday, June 10, 1:15-2:00 p.m.
A Chance to Ask About Everything Else You Want to Know about Amazon Tuesday, June 10, 3:30-4:30 p.m.