The future of retail, and the people behind the scenes
There’s lots being said (still) about the decline of the high street. We’re not going to lament about how stores need to innovate; or whine (misguidedly) about how Amazon’s the cause of it all. Instead, we’re going to look beyond the store and see how the future of retail could affect the people behind the scenes.
The National Account Manager – traditionally a role responsible for meeting with retail buyers to negotiate product ranges, terms, promotions, store space and so on. As more and more online sales move to marketplaces like Amazon, eBay and Cdiscount, the role of a ‘sales person’ will evolve. Brands will be able to range the products they want themselves, and sales will be driven through collaboration with designers, copywriters, PPC marketeers and data analysts.
The Retail Buyer – like the National Account Manager, the retail buyer role is gradually starting to resemble that of Category Managers. Instead of making decisions on product ranging, in-store stocking decisions will be based on data – sell out, supplier scorecard, profitability, and consumer demand.
The Brands – Amazon are actively pushing factories in Asia to start developing their own brands and giving focus on product design. Western brands that currently source product from Asia will need to ensure that they are adding value, such as exclusive technology or designs, to avoid being outshined by the factories that are supplying them.
The Distributors – many brands currently supply retailers via a distributor. Retail buyers like this option as it allows them to buy multiple brands from one source, without having to set up hundreds of supplier accounts which are expensive to manage. As more business moves to marketplaces, where brands are encouraged to sign up with direct accounts and use the marketplaces own fulfilment options, what toll will this take on distributors? Retailers may also follow suit and develop systems to allow brands to self-manage their supply accounts, invoicing and stock holding. We are seeing larger distributors start to acquire value-add service providers like digital marketing agencies, in a bid to adapt their role in the retail world.
One thing is for sure – the retail market is changing fast. Retailers, brands and distributors all need to react quickly to ensure they have a place at the table. That’s what makes this industry so interesting!
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