Breaking News in Q4 in the E-Commerce Industry

Episode 47

In this episode, we will talk about the current events happening in the world of e-commerce. We will discuss probably the most significant news in the e-commerce world today. We will also talk about several news related to Amazon and share our insights about turning a famous video platform into an online shopping center. 

Let’s dive right into this episode and dig into the news articles Ken and I discussed to give you a better view of what’s in store for the e-commerce world. 

[00:01 – 06:25] Tech Giants in Trouble? 

  • We talk about the 451-paged report released by the United States House of Representatives on the competitive practices of Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple
  • We share our thoughts about the issues being thrown at Amazon, specifically on the experience of third-party sellers 
    • David shares a big brother-little brother analogy as he gave his insights about the report

[06:26 – 15:02] Happenings in the Amazon

  • David shares his suggestions to make the launching of Amazon Prime Day better next time.
  • Ken shares his thoughts on why Prime Day seems to be not a big deal this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • We discuss the new feature on the Seller Central mobile app
  • David talks about the customer experience being enhanced by the 2020 Extended Holiday Returns Policy
    • The Policy benefits Amazon but not third-party sellers 
  • Ken shares his thoughts about Amazon releasing webinars through their Amazon Small Business Academy

[15:03 – 19:50] Shopping on YouTube 

  • David talks about how YouTube can be transformed into an online shopping center
    • Ken shares his insights about how tags and meta-descriptions in YouTube videos can increase Google’s revenue
  • David shares his thoughts, hoping that YouTube will not lose its authenticity if this plan proceeds
  • Final words

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David 0:00
It’s good to see people getting together and taking on this gargantuan of a company in saying, Hey, we feel like we’re being treated unfairly.

Ken 0:09
So it’s our job as a third party seller to decrease that number. And to not rely as heavily on Amazon. Customers have a four month return window. That’s ridiculous like that benefits Amazon, but it does not benefit third party sellers.

Intro 0:24
Welcome, everyone, to the Firing The Man podcast, a show for anyone who wants to be their own boss. If you sit in a cubicle every day and know you were capable of more than join us, this show will help you build a business and grow your passive income streams in just a few short hours per day. And now your host serial entrepreneurs David Schomer and Ken Wilson.

David 0:48
Welcome everyone to the firing the man podcast on today’s episode, we take a look at some of the current events happening in the e commerce world. 2020 has been a whirlwind of a year for e commerce. Stay tuned to find out why. And what is changing on the horizon for e commerce. Ken, what’s going on?

Ken 1:06
David? I’m happy to be here.

David 1:08
Yeah, back in the back in the studio, what’s going on?

Ken 1:10
Yes, absolutely. And you know, these news update podcasts, we’re getting really good feedback from the audience that they like these. So I’m happy to bring more news and the address, bring the energy and deliver

David 1:23
for sure. What do we got first,

Ken 1:25
right out of the gate. This is an article that we got off a web retailer. And it’s probably the largest one of the show like it’s definitely dominates e commerce. And it’s likely one of the largest headlines of the year, the details of the US House of Representatives released a 451 page report into the competitive practices of Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple, and the podcast notes. And on the website, we have a link to the full report. So if you have nothing to do when you’re drinking your coffee, go download that and read it. But here’s the meat and potatoes, this is the good stuff here. Say Emma’s, you know, they’re not pulling any punches. Every solution you can imagine to restore competition is on the table. This is from Congress. According to the report, Amazon is engaged in just about every second, you can imagine the list includes using market power to push its own products, predatory pricing to eliminate competitors, bullying of third party sellers, no atrocious levels of seller support. I like that one, ever increasing fees, using seller data to source competing products, and much, much more. Amazon says the reports to ups just short of stealing candy from enfance. What are your thoughts? David,

David 2:35
you know, when I when I read this, I just took a deep breath. Because I have experienced every single one of these issues, I have had major issues with seller support, I’ve had my fees increase every year that I’ve been selling on Amazon, I’ve had Amazon basics, enter into the space that I’m selling. And I kind of feel like Amazon is like a cool older brother that takes you cool places and lets you have cool experiences, but also beats the shit out of you every so often. And I’m torn because I love I you know, Amazon’s been great for my business. But were they hard to deal with sometimes. And and so that’s kind of my big brother analogy. It’s good to see this coming out. And one reason is because third party sellers generally are a lot of solopreneurs. And so it’s good to see people getting together and taking on this gargantuan of a company and saying, Hey, we feel like we’re being treated unfairly. So I it’s good to see this in the news. It’s good to see this going in front of Congress.

Ken 3:41
I definitely agree. And you know, if you’ve been selling on the Amazon platform for for a few years, you’ve likely experienced all most of them, if not all of the the items we discussed. But yeah, it’s about time. I mean, you have it, you know, we’re not going to cast judgment. It’s not. We’re just here to discuss the news. But Congress has evidence of all of this happening. It’s not hearsay anymore. They brought evidence. they’ve, they’ve said, Hey, we caught you doing this. And now now, you know, for me kind of speculating at this, I guess depends on the maybe what government we have in the future of how they’re going to respond and what’s going to happen? We don’t know. You know, they’re talking about maybe splitting into two marketplaces, have Amazon sell their own stuff in one marketplace. And third part third party sellers and another. There’s a lot of a lot of things they can do. So it’ll be interesting to see. But I’m with you. I’m glad to see this happening. It’s about time, you know, somebody beat up the the bully the big brother. Right?

David 4:39
Exactly. And you know what I think one ancillary benefit of this is, as you see companies like Walmart, increasing their ecommerce presence, this is going to reinforce that, hey, you need to treat third party sellers fairly. And if you don’t, this is what can happen. And so I’m excited to see the the free markets play out over the next couple years. And I’m glad to see this in the news regardless of if it brings out any change. I think just calling this to everyone’s attention is going to benefit us. Amazon responded in their blog to this, that fringe notions on antitrust, would destroy small businesses into hurt consumers. So stay tuned for more information on this. We also pulled up a New York Times article that covered this story. And they noted that there’s 2.3 million third party sellers that do business on Amazon’s marketplace worldwide. And 37% of these people rely on Amazon as their sole source of income. And so this is, you know, you talk about multiplicity of $1 $1 goes into your pocket, and then it gets spent seven times over. There’s a lot of people that rely on Amazon. And when your account gets shut down, there are families that rely on Amazon and Amazon fees to put food on their table for their families. And so good to see this being called out, especially by a reputable news source like the New York Times.

Ken 6:03
Yeah, absolutely. It those numbers are pretty staggering. That’s something that I know you and I are working on as to you know that 37% of third party sellers solely rely on Amazon. And you know, when that happens, they have leverage over you. Right. So it’s our job as a third party seller to decrease that number. And to not rely as heavily on Amazon. So yeah, that’s great. Moving along, another massive announcement Prime Day 2020. Today, we’re taping this, I got to look at my watcher, it is October 15. So Prime Day was October 13. And 14th, a two day event this year, 2020 year, the pandemic, everything’s crazy. Everything’s different. So, you know, was it a success? Was it a last ditch effort? We think, David,

David 6:51
you know, I’m going to speak to this as a seller and a consumer as a seller, I saw probably a 15% uptick in sales. It wasn’t huge. Now, I didn’t run any huge promotions, I really didn’t do a lot to prep for Prime Day. And so I saw a little bit uptick, but it wasn’t huge. As a consumer, had I not been an Amazon seller, I don’t think I would have known that it was Prime Day. And you think like Black Friday, that’s the day after Thanksgiving. And in the Cyber Monday, I first there’s something about Thanksgiving that gets people in the mode of shopping. And Prime Day, it kind of happens at a random time, on a Monday and Tuesday. And so, you know, as a consumer, I didn’t buy anything, because it was Prime Day. In fact, I didn’t even get on and see if there are any Prime Day specials. And so I think Amazon could do a better job of kind of hyping this up, or prime date needs to happen, you know, several consecutive years in a row for people to know, hey, it’s Prime Day in for to resonate like a black friday does in commercial brick and mortar retail.

Ken 7:56
Yeah. You know, I agree. And as a seller, you know, one of my brands had maybe a 15 20% increase, and the other brand had about a doubled in sales for the for those days. So a great day. And, you know, I’ve asked around in some of my masterminds and other groups, and it was kind of mixed results. Some people sold less, some people 15 20% more, I heard of a one or two that sold 10 X. But you know, it wasn’t across the board. It was just it was very erratic. And you know, I’m with you. I buy a lot of stuff on Amazon and had not been a third party seller. The only other place that I saw an ad was a few days ago, I went to find find a show that someone recommended to me and I couldn’t find it on Netflix. So I went to my Amazon Prime account. And I saw an ad in there for Prime Day. That’s it like that. That’s the only place I seen it. So yeah, I don’t know, you know, maybe people obviously, a lot of people are struggling this year, you know, they don’t have the amount of money they usually do. So maybe you know, I don’t know if so it’s almost seems like Amazon just try to jackhammer this in there just to get it in there this year. You know,

David 9:03
definitely definitely. Our next news story relates to a new feed on the seller central mobile app. It’s called the newsfeed and I am honestly I probably am on the seller central app way too much. I like to jump on there periodically throughout the day, get a little dopamine hit, see how my sales are doing. And hopefully they’re doing well that’s when the dopamine hit comes in. Anyway, but I opened it up the other day, I saw a news feed app. And I at first was a little alarmed because usually, when I see like a notification at the bottom, it’s because one of my listings was suspended, or there’s some issue with my account. And that was not the case. And I was flipping through here and there’s a lot of great information. And one thing I like about this is it comes straight from the source. And so you know, you can get on YouTube. You can listen to podcasts like this, but you know, the news feed is coming straight from the horse’s mouth and I like that Have you what’s been your experience with it?

Ken 10:02
Yeah, absolutely. So I’d like to go back a little bit. And I think it kind of ties into our first story where Congress has kind of like, got their foot on Amazon’s neck, right. So I’ve seen a lot of stuff that Amazon is doing positively for third party sellers. They had a, I can’t remember what they called up that like the summit, this third party seller summit or something like that, like last month. I didn’t, I didn’t attend it. But I noticed that and I was like, that’s, that’s new. They’ve never done anything like that. And then like you, I, I checked my amazon seller central app, like last week or the week prior, and I noticed that yet, what’s this news? So I think it’s a great thing. And they’re just communicating better. Maybe it’s the same stuff. They’re just doing it in a different way. Maybe they’re reaching it. They’re trying, right. And I think it’s a great thing. We have a couple of the news stories from from the feed over the last few weeks. David, what’s the first one?

David 10:57
First 2020 extended holiday returns policy. So this is any order shipped between October 1 and December 31, is returnable until January 31. Now my key takeaways here are this is enhancing the customer experience, from the standpoint of they have a longer period of time to return their items, from a seller standpoint is kind of annoying. I mean, how many things do you need 30 days to figure out whether you want to return it or not. And I don’t know if you’ve had this, but I have a wearable product that I sell. And I’ve had people that I am positive, wear it for 30 days, and then they return it. And I cannot stand that. And so, you know, it’s kind of a double edged sword here. And you know, all the while if they’re if an item is sitting on somebody’s shelf at home, it’s producing zero cash flow, to the extent that it can be returned and put back into inventory, then it can be sellable again. And so this does put a small suck on your cash flow, if you have products that are returned frequently. What do you think?

Ken 12:04
Yeah, I agree. And I and I get some rent I get, you know, if you sell an Amazon, you probably get random returns that are just ridiculous. And that’s one thing that third party sellers is definitely dinging Amazon on is that they just take back whatever, you know, and, and this is definitely a knock to us as third party sellers that now, you know, customers have a four month return window. That’s ridiculous, like that benefits Amazon, but it does not benefit third party sellers. So obviously, I’m not for that. Yeah, it is what it is. And that’s the other thing where you know, they got if Amazon has leveraged than they have you. So the next one that I saw in there was their advertising Management Console, or their ads console. So if you’ve noticed, David, over the last several months, Amazon has been slowly migrating and updating their advertising platform. And just this past week, I’ve noticed that when you click on advertising, it takes you to an entire new website, an entire new section. So they’re slowly they’re probably in the middle of the migration. Now the transition. And now I’ve noticed that posts, Amazon posts, they’re in their attribution, that they’re starting to import more of their functions into this new portal for advertising. So is it good or bad, I don’t know, jury’s out on that one. But that’s where you’re gonna have to go to access your all your urine, all your ads, campaigns, reporting all that.

David 13:25
The next article is Amazon is going to start releasing live webinars through their Amazon Small Business Academy. And I really like this, and I’m probably gonna be sitting in on some of these webinars, you know, there are so many items in the terms of service where there’s gray area, you know, I’ll give an example of like the hero image having like, including, like, a logo or, or a box, or there’s just a lot of gray area. And I think going straight to the source in learning from Amazon, hey, what is expected through this Small Business Academy is going to be really helpful. I also think as they roll out new features, this is going to be a great place to learn, you know, use the example of like Amazon posts, there was not when that first rolled out, there were no podcasts to listen to about it. Until I think we were the first people to release a podcast on it. Very little information on YouTube. And it’ll be nice when they roll out new things, just to go straight to the source and learn about them. And so I’m looking forward to this. I do think this is going to put the squeeze on some people that earn an income from teaching courses on how to sell on Amazon. But I do think from a third party seller standpoint, it’s going to be better.

Ken 14:38
Yeah, definitely agree. And, you know, it can only help you know, it, they’re they’re trying, I would say but also, you have to consider that any of the information that you get from these Amazon driven webinars are going to be catered towards Amazon, you know, they’re not going to teach you you know, tips and tactics to make more profit on Amazon. They’re gonna say hey, here’s our new features. Go Spend money and use them or you know, or whatever.

David 15:03
Alright, the next news article is from Bloomberg titled Google plans to make YouTube a major shopping destination. Now, we’ve all heard of that kit that does toy reviews and makes millions of dollars on YouTube. And I think that is something that is done over and over and over again. In fact, when I’m looking for a product, I go to YouTube and see if people have posted any review videos. And so what YouTube is going to do is have people when they upload a video to start tagging products, and that’s going to interface with Google Shopping with the goal of eventually being able to buy products off of YouTube. Now, Ken, what do you think about this? Yeah, you know, it’s

Ken 15:42
interesting to see, a lot of different companies are making this push, you know, Google, they own YouTube, you know, Google shops, Google Shopping, they’re making a huge effort in there. Now, YouTube, you know, they’re wanting to add more product tags and more meta descriptions into their video platform to get more revenue. And I think it’s brilliant. And it’s a great way to increase the revenue, you know, and also, aside from that, another angle is if you can get the creators to start adding more product tags, and meta descriptions, and what’s in their videos, you have the creators do that YouTube doesn’t have to do anything to do that, right. And then YouTube can sell more ads, because they have these videos now that are tagged with these products. So then they advertise that on their ad platform and say, Hey, you know, if you want to try to sell this product, well, here’s another video that’s like it, you can advertise your product on there. So I think it’s brilliant. And I’ve seen a lot of it not only on YouTube, but I’ve seen it on Pinterest, and Facebook, you know, they’re pushing out these notifications, like, hey, update your shop, hey, fill out your product catalog, upload it, so we can, you know, identify it more, and we can advertise it. So I’ve personally been seeing a lot of push from, you know, Facebook, Google, Pinterest, Instagram, all of the, you know, they’re wanting us people that sell, you know, physical products to update our catalogs with with the relevant metadata and the tags and product identification. So they can advertise and they can expand more. And, yeah, I think you’ll see that push over, you know, the next six months, 12 months, 18 months, as everybody tries to penetrate more into e commerce.

David 17:24
The one thing that I hope doesn’t come of this is YouTube loses some authenticity. And I’ll give you an example. The other day, I was looking for a new table saw blade. And so I was looking at table saw blade reviews. And the videos that I watched, none of those people were selling table saw blades, they were just giving honest feedback on their experience with these various types of blades in different brands. And I think a lot of people go to YouTube to get that honest feedback from people that don’t have any skin in the game other than they want you to like their video. And so I think if people start selling on YouTube, there’s going to be some built in skepticism of Hey, is this this video is titled, best table saw blade of 2020? Is it because this person is just a big fan of this company? Or is this person a representative from the company that’s trying to sell me this blade? And so I always am wondering if if someone’s been honest with me or if I’m just being advertised to. And my hope is that that doesn’t happen on YouTube. But we’ll have to see how this plays out.

Ken 18:30
Yeah, it’ll definitely be interesting to see how it plays out. So we are at the end of the news episode, David, I wanted to thank the audience sent. We had the downloads of any of the documents that we talked about on the website on the podcast post. And also, you know, go to the About Us page on our website and leave us a voice message if you’d like to show and what else you want us to produce.

David 18:54
Thank you everyone for tuning in to today’s Firing The Man Podcast. If you like this episode, head on over to www.firingtheman.com And check out our resource library for exclusive firing demand discounts on popular e commerce subscription services that is www.firingtheman.com/resource. You can also find a comprehensive library of over 50 books books that Ken and I have read in the last few years that have made a meaningful impact on our business, or that head on over to www.firingtheman.com/library. Lastly, check us out on social media at Firing The Man on YouTube at Firing The Man for exclusive content. This is David Schomer and Ken Wilson. We’re out

Transcribed by https://otter.ai