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亚马逊是如何用数据改善销售的

Leena Rao 2015年12月30日

亚马逊可以告诉卖家各种商品的销售速度,并且指出哪些商品销路不畅,指导卖家何时涨价或降价。在改善产品展示以推动销售方面,亚马逊也向卖家提供建议。

 

克丽丝·伯尔纳住在西雅图,是一家药品收纳盒公司的销售主管。和许多有智能手机的人一样,她看手机的次数远高于正常水平。不过,她并不是用手机在Facebook上灌水,或者给朋友发信息。

让伯尔纳总是忍不住查看的是一款移动应用,是电子商务龙头亚马逊今年8月份悄悄上线的一款产品,面向的是亚马逊网上商城卖家。该软件可为伯尔纳等卖家提供实时库存和销售信息,还能就定价和补货时间提出建议。

亚马逊接受《财富》杂志独家采访时透露,近几个月来,亚马逊在这款移动应用 Seller中向卖家推出了不少新功能,其中就包括Selling Coach。这些工具的作用是为卖家提供更多信息,从而帮他们提高销售额。

亚马逊有自营商品和存货,商城里也聚集了众多外部卖家。该公司表示,第三方卖家目前占亚马逊商品总销量的45%以上,今年以来同比相比增加了5%。

伯尔纳2013年决定销售药品收纳盒系列产品,她只用了几个小时就成立了公司并建起了网店。但除了亲朋好友,真正吸引到网络用户才是更艰巨的挑战。

伯尔纳说:“当时我对建起来的东西感到非常自豪,而且认为这些药品收纳盒用不了几个小时就会销售一空。但并没有出现这样的场面。”

她研究了各种方案,决定参加亚马逊为卖家提供的代发货项目,具体流程为伯尔纳把药品收纳盒发到亚马逊的仓库,然后由亚马逊负责剩下的工作,包括打包、收款和发货。当然,每做一单伯尔纳都要向亚马逊缴纳服务费,金额从1.5美元到100美元不等,具体取决于订单规模和商品重量,还有一部分标准费用。

代发货项目是2006年推出的,在过去两年中出现了井喷式增长。据亚马逊介绍,2014-2015年,使用这项服务的卖家增加了65%。虽然亚马逊没有透露签约商家的具体数量,但电商软件开发公司ChannelAdvisor估算,在亚马逊商城销售的3亿件商品中,有3000万件来自第三方签约卖家。

ChannelAdvisor执行董事长斯科特•温戈解释说,对外部卖家来说,能向亚马逊的约5000万名Prime会员销售很有吸引力,Prime会员的年费为99美元,享受的服务是无论购买何种商品,从厕纸、尿布,到书籍,都可以在两天或更短时间内收到货。只有参加亚马逊代发货,又名FBA项目的卖家才有资格使用Prime快递服务。

亚马逊负责代发货业务的副总裁马克•米特契克说:“通过FBA项目,卖家的商品可以到达Prime会员群体,而且会员的数量一直在迅速增长。对Prime会员来说,第三方卖家和亚马逊没有什么区别,用户觉得方便就行。”

众所周知,亚马逊一直相信自己的竞争优势在于送货速度比其他零售商快。该公司最近披露说,正在探索用无人机在30分钟内完成快递的方法(当然前提是这个项目能真正落实),而且还为快递业务配备数千辆印有亚马逊商标的卡车。相应地,想更快收到商品的顾客也越来越多,特别是在节假日前后。米特契克说:“大多数买家现在都希望两天内送到货。”

今年9月,亚马逊还调整了所有外部卖家的商品展示页面,这样潜在顾客就能了解到预计快递需要多长时间。以前,买家只有在结账时才能看到此类信息。此举旨在鼓励消费者买更多东西。

虽然Prime快递服务目前只限于加入FBA项目的卖家,但温戈透露,亚马逊还在测试一项“由卖家发货的Prime”服务。具体来说就是亚马逊开始和规模较大的经销商合作,因为这些经销商通常在美国各地都有自己的仓库,而且有能力按Prime服务的标准在两天内完成商品投递。温戈解释道,这些卖家不需要代发货,所以不需要使用FBA服务。但他们可以享受UPS等公司为亚马逊提供的快递协议价,一般都远低于常规费用。

温戈说:“如此一来,亚马逊既可以为Prime会员提供更多品类的商品,又省下了建立更多物流中心的费用。”

对亚马逊来说,货运成本很高。今年第三季度,该公司运输费用增长了22%,达到32亿美元。

和第三方卖家合作的零售商不止亚马逊一家。对手沃尔玛现在也可以让第三方卖家在自家网站上开店。卖家还可以通过eBay出售商品,只是eBay不提供代发货服务。

今年早些时候,亚马逊推出了一个名为Exclusives的项目,目的是鼓励卖家与亚马逊网站建立独家合作关系,由此可以获得亚马逊搜索导流以及其他推广资源。伯尔纳说,她本打算在一家“大型知名零售商”的网站上开店,但最后她选择了亚马逊的Exclusives合作项目:“公司业务出现了巨大转机,得益于亚马逊的推广,销售额上升了80%。”

米特契克指出,就连大卖家也能从亚马逊提供的一些卖家服务中受益,特别是在海外销售方面。TechArmor在亚马逊上出售手机、iPad和计算机屏幕贴膜。该公司表示,亚马逊在帮他们进入墨西哥和印度等市场方面起了推动作用。

TechArmor创始人埃里克•董说:“在亚马逊上,我们可以面向各国市场销售产品。如果只靠自己,我们可能永远也打入不了那些市场。”今年,TechArmor通过亚马逊售出了300万件商品,销售额接近3000万美元(当然是扣除亚马逊收取的费用之后)。董指出,销售额中将有近两成来自海外市场。

今年9月,亚马逊为卖家推出了商品页面翻译服务,还能用当地语言帮卖家提供网上或电话客服支持。

米特契克称,亚马逊还为卖家提供新的数据服务。今年5月登陆Selling Coach下新增了库存管理面板,可以告诉卖家各种商品的销售速度,并且指出哪些商品销路不畅。亚马逊还在应用里指导卖家何时涨价或降价,依据是亚马逊网站上类似商品的销售数据。在改善产品展示以推动销售方面,亚马逊也向卖家提供建议。举例来说,卖家可以选择自动实时调整商品售价,以保证相对亚马逊上类似商品具有竞争力。

对亚马逊来说,推出新工具提高了卖家的忠诚度。如果觉得亚马逊的服务更有价值,卖家转投沃尔玛或者自行建立网站的可能性就会低一些。

温戈指出:“亚马逊集中力量重点在做的就是我说过的基本服务,那就是选择丰富、分类明确、有价值、收货便利和信任感。为了向买家提供这些基本服务,而46%的销量都来自第三方卖家,因此亚马逊一直在改进卖家使用的工具,以鼓励卖家拿出更多的商品。”(财富中文网)

译者:Charlie

审校:夏林

Like many smartphone owners, Chris Boerner, a Seattle-based marketing executive who sells a line of pill holders, checks her phone far more frequently than she should. But she isn’t using it to post on Facebook or to text friends.

Instead, Boerner is addicted to a new app that e-commerce giant Amazon debuted quietly in August for merchants who sell on its marketplace. The app lets Boerner and other sellers get real time information about their inventory and sales along with suggestions about pricing and when to restock.

Selling Coach, which is part of Seller mobile app, is one of a number of new features that Amazon AMZN 2.81% has rolled out over the past few months to merchants who sell in its marketplace, Amazon told Fortune exclusively. The goals of these tools is to give sellers more information to help them increase their sales.

Amazon, of course, sells and stocks its own goods. But merchants also flock to Amazon’s marketplace to sell their own products. Outside sellers now account for over 45% of total number of items sold on Amazon, a 5% increase since January, said the company.

When Boerner first decided to sell a line of pill holders for organizing medications in 2013, she was able to set up a business and an online storefront in a matter of hours. But actually drawing Internet traffic to the site beyond friends and family was a more formidable challenge.

“I was so proud of what I had developed and I thought I was going to sell out of pill holders in a matter of hours,” Boerner said. “That didn’t happen.”

Boerner researched her options and decided to sign up for e-commerce giant Amazon’s fulfillment program for merchants. As part of the program, Boerner ships her pill holders to an Amazon warehouse, and Amazon takes care of the rest including packaging the items, processing customer payments, and shipping. Of course, Boerner must pay Amazon anywhere from $1.50 to $100 per order, depending on size and weight, for the service — plus a standard fee.

The fulfillment program, which originally debuted in 2006, executive chairman, has seen a growth spurt in the past two years. The number of sellers using the service grew 65% from 2014 to 2015, according to Amazon. While the company declined to reveal how many merchants are signed up, ChannelAdvisor, a software maker for e-commerce, estimated that 30 million of 300 million items sold on Amazon’s marketplace are from third-party merchants enrolled in Amazon’s fulfillment program

The allure for many outside merchants is to be able to sell to Amazon’s estimated 50 million Prime members, who pay $99 annually to get anything from toilet paper to diapers to books delivered to them in two days or less, explained Scot Wingo, ex of ChannelAdvisor. Merchants are eligible to be part of Prime delivery only if they are enrolled in the fulfillment program, also known as FBA.

“FBA offers the ability to sell to the Prime customer base, which has been growing fast,” said Mark Mitchke, the vice president of fulfillment at Amazon. “For Prime members, they don’t see a difference between a third-party seller and Amazon, and customers appreciate the convenience.”

It’s no secret that Amazon believes its competitive advantage is in getting products to its customers faster than other retailers. The company recently revealed that it is exploring using drones to deliver packages to shoppers in 30 minutes (assuming the project ever gets off the ground), and is also deploying thousands of Amazon-branded trucks to make deliveries. In turn, more customers are seeking faster shipping, especially around the holidays. “Most buyers now expect things to be delivered within two days,” said Mitchke.

Amazon also tweaked product listing pages in September for all outside sellers so that they could show potential customers the estimated shipping time rather than only doing so at checkout. The goal is to better entice shoppers to buy items for sale.

Although Prime delivery is currently restricted to FBA sellers, Wingo says that Amazon is also testing a service called “merchant fulfilled Prime eligible.” Amazon is working with a set of larger merchants that already have warehouses across the U.S. and are able to deliver within the Prime two-day window. Because these merchants don’t need fulfillment services, they don’t need to use FBA, explained Wingo. But they do get access to Amazon’s negotiated shipping prices with companies like UPS, which are much lower than standard rates.

“This saves Amazon the cost of creating more fulfillment centers, while still adding more products available for Prime,” said Wingo.

Fulfillment is costly for Amazon. In the third quarter, Amazon’s shipping expenses increased 22% to $3.2 billion.

Amazon isn’t the only retailer that works with third part merchants. Amazon rival Walmart WMT 1.42% now offers the ability for third-party merchants to sell on its online store. Merchants can also sell through eBay, although eBay EBAY 0.98% doesn’t offer fulfillment services.

Earlier this year, Amazon introduced a new program called Exclusives, which incentivizes merchants to only sell on Amazon in exchange for promotions in Amazon search and help with merchandising. Boerner said she was about to create an online store with a “large, well-known retailer,” but at the last minute, she chose to join Amazon’s Exclusive partner program. “It was the biggest turning point for my business,” she said. “Sales have gone up 80% since because of the promotion.”

Amazon’s Mitchke said even larger sellers can benefit from some of the features Amazon offers sellers, especially when it comes to international sales. TechArmor, an Amazon merchant that sells screen protectors for mobile phones, iPads, and computers, says that Amazon has been instrumental in helping it enter markets like Mexico and India.

“Amazon allowed us to sell to markets we could never have entered by ourselves,” said founder Eric Tong. TechArmor sold 3 million products through Amazon this year, representing nearly $30 million in sales (minus Amazon’s fees of course). This year, nearly 20% of those sales will come from international markets, Tong said.

Amazon also premiered a new tool in September for sellers that translates their product pages for shoppers overseas. Amazon will also provide online and phone customer service for sellers in local languages.

Mitchke says that the company is also adding new data-focused features for sellers. A new inventory control panel that debuted in May on Seller Coach gives sellers data about how quickly certain items are selling, and points out which items aren’t selling as well. Amazon also tells sellers through the app when they could increase or lower prices, based on data of similar items sold throughout the site. The company provides recommendations on how to improve listings in order to generate more sales. For example, sellers can chose to automatically re-price products in real time to make sure their prices are competitive with similar products sold on Amazon.

For Amazon, launching new tools makes selling on Amazon stickier. Merchants are less likely to head to Walmart, or even create their own sites if they find more value from Amazon’s services.

“Amazon is really focused on what I call the fundamentals: selection, assortment, value, convenience and trust,” explained Wingo. “To provide those fundamentals to buyers, since 46% of the volume is from third-party sellers, Amazon is always improving the seller tools to encourage sellers to put up more product.”

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