Speakers from eBay, Amazon and TikTok all had advice for sellers and retailers trading through their channels on how to navigate a highly challenging retail environment.
eBay UK general manager Murray Lambell told the keynote session at the first ChannelX World that it was a “dire trading environment,” and one in which UK shoppers feel “more depressed or less confident than they’ve ever done since we’ve had records – since the 70s.” From the experience of working in Germany as well as the UK, he said he had found that British people were also feeling much less confident than German shoppers.
Amazon EU marketplace director Shauli Ziv agreed, saying: “We know it’s a difficult time to operate. And we really appreciate what you guys are doing to keep your business going and going after new growth opportunities. We’re here to help.”
We’ve gathered together some of the key pieces of advice that Lambell, Shauli and Patrick Nommensen, senior director of ecommerce operations at TikTok, had for retailers and sellers using their channels.
Some categories – such as home and gardens – are still feeling the effects of Covid-19. The market data, says Lambell, suggests that having spent time on making their homes and gardens beautiful, shoppers are now more cautious in the wake of the pandemic. However, the refurbished business is “incredibly strong”. Meanwhile, he adds: “In times of distress those small purchases make a big difference. So make-up does incredibly well, and so do fashion items.” Vintage furniture and refurbished technology are also doing well, says Lambell.
eBay’s last year launched a working capital programme following its own research that suggested 70% of businesses had been declined access for capital. Now it has lent more than £70m to UK businesses. “Those businesses are now growing at around 25%,” says Lambell. “That’s faster than very similar businesses who chose not to take out that capital at that time.”
Use mobile effectively
Mobile is the channel of choice for digital savvy shoppers, says TikTok’s Nommensen, which makes it important for retailers and sellers to think about how to use the channel. “In markets like the UK, already more than 60% of sales come from mobile,” says Nommensen. “That’s not changing. That’s one key component to social commerce. Creators are the second one – and creators enable brans to talk directly to audiences that already exist. Creators allow these brands to access new audiences through creators who have fostered a really hyper engaged community, based on authenticity and trust.” He adds: “Live streaming in particular is really pushing the boundaries of what consumers can expect from commerce, and also what brands can offer to the consumer.”
“Customer obsession is the essence of operations,” says Amazon’s Shauli Ziv. He says that no matter how good the technology, it has to give customers what they need. “If we weren’t meeting the needs of customers, we’d have no right to exist,” he says.
He adds: “We firmly believe that, you know, even 20 or 30 years from today, customers are not going to ask us to have a smaller selection that’s less available. You know, with higher prices and slower speeds, that’s never going to be true. So what we do is we obsess about those inputs to measure how fast we are representative we are, how big our selection is.”
Value is important in challenging times, says Ziv. Events such as this week’s Prime early access sale were designed to offer that value to shoppers – but they also help Amazon to manage demand in its warehouses. “But the key motivation here is really what the Prime customers are telling us what they want, and the way they respond to this event, and what our sellers actually need in times like this,” says Ziv.