Home suppliers should think seriously about how Amazon can replace their bed bath and beyond business.

By Jim Lewis, CEO Enhanced Retail Solutions LLC

Now that Bed Bath has gone to the Beyond, home suppliers are desperately looking for ways to make up that volume. Small suppliers already grappled with this when the management and strategy changed just before the pandemic. Now larger suppliers, and big brands are facing the same thing. The truth is, there really are not any other retailers like BBB out there. At least not with the volume they could churn.

There’s Walmart and Target but they operate on lower margins and not everyone is equipped to service them. The assortments are fairly limited in certain categories. And better brands don’t want anything to do with a down-market stigma. Some department stores, especially Macy’s, have an opportunity to pick up some of BBB’s exclusive brands. But suppliers beware- without exclusions from deep discounting, you’ll be cutting a lot of checks to margin up. Nordstrom and Dillard’s just can’t devote enough floor space to showcase multiple brands effectively.

Get Serious About Amazon

This all means that the time has come for home suppliers, primarily those in bed and bath to get more serious about Amazon. That’s where the business is. If you’re anything like me, that Prime truck shows up at the house at least 2 days a week. Consumers are getting comfortable with buying literally anything from Amazon. That includes high end throws, pillows, and comforter sets- even if they can’t touch and feel them. Appliance manufacturers figured it out a while ago, but home textiles suppliers only dabbled with a few skus to test the waters.

BBB was an old school retailer and relatively easy to work with. Amazon requires a bit more savviness. You must understand which model makes the most sense for your business. There’s Seller Central where you can drop ship, Fulfilled by Amazon and Vendor Central. Each has its benefits and drawbacks. With a proven track record of sales Amazon will even buy a container from you.

Think Big

Amazon is BIG- and you need to think BIG to make it work. Hire or consult with someone that has Amazon experience to get you set up. Besides learning the fulfillment side, you also need to understand Amazon’s marketing programs. Know how much you can spend without killing your profit. You’ll have to balance the cost of more exposure vs. how much sales will be generated.

The same way you must plan and track inventory for other retail accounts, be prepared to put a full discipline of reporting and forecasting in place for Amazon. Luckily, Amazon’s portal provides a great deal of data to track and manage your business. If you drop ship, it gets a little tricky because of the possibility of shared inventory. We offer a full program to help track and manage eCommerce business, including Amazon.

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