How National Brands Handle the Unique Internal and External Challenges of the Amazon Channel

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Vivek Rastogi is the Director of Ecommerce at Colgate-Palmolive, the firm that sells household brands like Colgate, Speed Stick, Irish Spring, Softsoap, Tom’s of Maine, and others. Vivek held numerous leadership roles over the past 15 years, spanning across different geographies and countries,.including being responsible for the Amazon Channel for more than three years. He holds an MBA from S.P. Jain Institute of Management & Research and a degree from St. Stephen’s College.

Over the last several years, he has climbed up the ladder at Colgate-Palmolive. In 2014, he became the National Key Account Manager in India, and within a year became their Customer Development Manager in the UK. In 2016, he held the Head of the Customer Marketing/Retail Marketing position in India. A year and a half later, he earned the Associate Director for the Amazon at Colgate-Palmolive in the US position before taking on his current role.



Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Vivek Rastogi explains how Amazon fits into Colgate-Palmolive’s distribution and branding strategies
  • The challenges brands that sell heavy liquid products face selling on Amazon
  • How multi-packs help brands sell economically through e-commerce
  • What Colgate-Palmolive does to protect its brand and stay competitive on Amazon
  • Vivek’s thoughts on the emergence of private label sellers competing with large established brands on Amazon
  • What makes the Amazon supply chain challenging compared to other online channels, and what does Colgate-Palmolive do to address those issues?
  • How Colgate-Palmolive protects its brand equity on Amazon
  • Vivek’s advice to a director of e-commerce joining the Amazon Channel for the first time
  • The importance of building an omnichannel selling and Vivek’s advice to new Amazon brands on building a great omnichannel strategy

In this episode…

Amazon provides an open marketplace where anyone can create a listing and start selling their products without a lot of hassle. This is because Amazon has removed many barriers to entry commonly faced when starting a brick-and-mortar store, which has led to the entry of many private label brands and poses a threat to big national brands.

So what can these large brands do to protect themselves and stay competitive in this marketplace? Vivek Rastogi advises them to embrace this reality and not challenge it. In addition to promoting their brand’s equity, such brands should adapt and improve their marketing strategies, supply chain management, and communication strategies to cater to changing market needs. They should go back to focusing on their brand’s equity which can play a significant role in making the brand competitive.

In this episode of the Buy Box Experts Podcast, Vivek Rastogi, the Director of Ecommerce at Colgate-Palmolive, joins James Thomson to talk about the strategies Colgate-Palmolive uses to stay competitive on and off Amazon. Vivek talks about the tools Amazon provides brands to help them monitor and protect their listings, the importance of brand equity, and the challenges brought about by Amazon’s supply chain system. Stay tuned to hear all about it.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Sponsor for this episode…

Buy Box Experts applies decades of e-commerce experience to successfully manage their clients’ marketplace accounts. The Buy Box account managers specialize in combining an understanding of their clients’ business fundamentals and their in-depth expertise in the Amazon Marketplace.

The team works with marketplace technicians using a system of processes, proprietary software, and extensive channel experience to ensure your Amazon presence captures the opportunity in the marketplace — not only producing greater revenue and profits but also reducing or eliminating your business’ workload.

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Learn more about Buy Box Experts at BuyBoxExperts.com.

Podcast Episode Transcripts:

Disclaimer: Transcripts were generated automatically and may contain inaccuracies and errors.



Intro 0:09

Welcome to the Buy Box Experts Podcast. We bring to light the unique opportunities brands face in today’s e-commerce world.

James Thomson 0:18

I am James Thomson, one of the hosts of the Buy Box Experts Podcast. I’m a Partner with Buy Box Experts and the former business head of the selling on Amazon team at Amazon, as well as the first account manager for the Fulfillment by Amazon program. I’m the co-author of a couple of books on Amazon including the recent book, Controlling Your Brand in the Age of Amazon. Today’s episode is brought to you by Buy Box Experts. Buy Box Experts takes ambitious brands and makes them unbeatable. When you hire Buy Box Experts, you receive the strategy optimization and marketing performance to succeed on Amazon. We also support investors with due diligence services and go to buyboxexperts.com to learn more. 

Before I introduce our guest today, I want to send a big shout out to the team at GETIDA, a global leader in Amazon FBA auditing and reimbursements. GETIDA analyzes your Amazon data, reconciles your FBA inventory and files claims for reimbursements on your behalf. To learn more, check out getida.com. Our guest today is Vivek Rastogi, Director of Ecommerce at Colgate-Palmolive, the firm that brings us household brands like Colgate, Speed Stick, Irish Spring, Softsoap, Tom’s of Maine, and many more. Vivek has had numerous leadership roles over the past 15 years, including being responsible for the Amazon channel for more than three years. Vivek welcome. And thank you for joining us today on the Buy Box Experts Podcast.

Vivek Rastogi 1:47

Again, so happy to be here. And thanks for the opportunity to have a discussion with you. Looking forward to it.

James Thomson 1:55

So your company is a large multinational multi-brand portfolio of organizations with you in charge of the Amazon channel relationship, giving our listeners an overview of where Amazon fits in with your company’s overall distribution and branding efforts.

Vivek Rastogi 2:15

Well, I think, you know, if you really look at it, Colgate has a people-first approach and essentially what that means is, you know, we want to be where the people are, and people are shopping in as you know, today, people are moving online for various reasons, obviously, pandemic had a role to play. But in general, that’s something that we’ve been seeing over the last few years. And to that extent, Amazon or e-commerce in general definitely fits into the overall Colgate-Palmolive strategy. Because we want to be, as I said, we want to be there where people are shopping and you know looking for our products. So that not only makes Amazon very, you know, an important channel for today. But it’s also a strategic channel for us going forward. So it definitely is here to see what we believe e-commerce is only going to grow, we possibly seen only the tip of the iceberg right now. And therefore, we believe that Amazon or e-commerce and as more customers get serious about e-commerce journey, this is a challenge that’s only going to grow further and further going forward.

James Thomson 3:18

I’ve had the opportunity to work with large brand organizations that started in traditional brick and mortar, and then started to get interested in e-commerce. And as you think about your company, as it starts to embrace e-commerce, there are very distinct characteristics, what Amazon presents in terms of challenges, but also opportunities. If I think about some of the other challenges that you might be facing, you certainly sell a lot of liquids, you sell products that may be heavier than your typical one or two-pound item that most Amazon products might represent. How do you make the economics of heavy liquid products work? How do you make that work in an e-commerce space like Amazon?

Vivek Rastogi 4:04

That is a big challenge. And again, this is not specific to Colgate-Palmolive. But I believe in the entire vendor community space. And the reason you know you got to understand what’s driving that you know why certainly a heavy liquid is a problem today and it simply boils down to what I call the cost weighting equation because if you really look at the e-commerce model and you know the supply chain of e-commerce, the biggest difference is the shipping cost. And shipping costs are expensive, which makes the e-commerce model inherently more expensive. And that economics, therefore, is not easy to work because you’re talking about shipping a heavy liquid, possibly not at such a premium price point. And you know somebody needs to take that course because at the end of the day the consumers like e-commerce they are going towards e-commerce and they they you know whether it’s the convenience of it or whatever be the reason that’s where they want to shop and brands in real estate to follow The liquids obviously pose a specific challenge, or maybe even a bigger challenge because of the packaging issues as well, you know, the leakage is is a problem, because remember, all of these are most of these products were inherently failed to be sitting on the shelf, yes, not to go through and survive the e-commerce. And that’s a challenge for brands. And a lot of times we’re working on it, you’ll see some really unique innovative solutions come into the market, whether it’s, you know, the packaging solution, and so on, and so forth. And so it’s a unique challenge that you’re facing. But I think there’s a lot of work happening in the packaging industry in general to make this work. Just to give you an example, because I talked about the e-commerce supply chain, you know, and the delivery mechanism, versus a brick and mortar, I believe, you know, in a traditional brick and mortar retailer, you know, the entire product touches baby, maybe about six, seven hands, or their bills are the kind of touchpoint between getting to the consumer, a household, which is when the consumer is coming to the store and picking it up on an Amazon, for example, I believe I read somewhere, it’s 17 touchpoints. Before the consumer, the product actually gets to the consumer, consumers’ households. So you’re talking about a packaging solution, which is developed to just handle possibly 678767 hands, yes, now needs to go to a 1718 kind of a touchpoint. And therefore these packages don’t survey when you know, you’d see a lot of leakages and all that kind of stuff. So that’s something, you know, brands are working on today to ensure that they do work on e-commerce as well, which is not the consideration. I have a team and they’ve six years old.

James Thomson 6:44

So you also saw a number of products that as a consumer, I might go into a store and I might buy one bar soap. And while you can sell multipacks, I’m curious, how do you make the economics work for items that otherwise would have been sold for under $10 a month.

Vivek Rastogi 7:01

You know, multi-packs has been one of the solutions that most companies have been trying because at the end of the day, the categories and the products that we are talking about are daily essential products. So you know there is a high loyalty value, there is a high repeat value to these items. So consumers don’t buy mine by buying a multipack of the same item, say or piece of toothpaste or bar. So they know they can take any retreat. But the reason you see a lot of multi-packs today on e-commerce channels is just to make the economics work. So I’ll give you an example, a typical shipping cost for you know a bar soap or whichever be it would be bare minimum of five $6. Just to shift me now to have that $2 bar. So having a shipping cost of $5 just doesn’t just doesn’t work, right. So you get into a multi-package, you know, put five, six of those parcels together, at least get to a price point of a 10 $12. So that actually is the four or $5.03 $4 shipping costs can be absorbed. And that’s just really the simple maths of it really. So. And that is why you see increasingly even for categories like daily personal care products, you will see, you know, typically it’s a $10 price point, which is you know, which is what everyone’s trying to strive for, where you know, every unit that you want to sell on an online channel, or specifically on Amazon should ideally be $10 or above. And that’s what the Amazon contacts will also tell you. And that’s really what multipack helps you get to that point. 

James Thomson 8:37

You talked a few minutes ago about managing content on pdps that may not necessarily be products that you’re selling yourself, but somebody else’s listing. And I’d love to hear a little bit more about how you think of this process of going out and finding all of these other listings that may not be vendor central listings that you’re selling against. But finding these listings, making sure that the content is consistent with your brand equity protecting your brand on these listings. How does your company think that through? This is a question we get asked a lot on? You know, I have 100 listings on my catalog, but there’s 150 listings on Amazon. How do I stay on top of what’s going on out there? Because a big risk for a big brand is seeing its brand get eroded away by who knows who the seller creating all this content? Yeah.

Vivek Rastogi 9:27

And there is no solution to that or you know, there is no magic wand to do that. There are tools and technology out there in the market. There are third-party vendors who actually focus on this aspect thing which helps the brand to identify what might be misrepresenting or misleading consumers with regards to your brand. So you obviously kind of monitor those tools, you know, you use those tools to identify and take corrective actions if you can, or you know, so there is no efficient solution to this. Do something like this, it’s just about how paranoid you are to kind of keep your brand and your equity intact. And you know, that that’s really what it is. But, yes, it’s also an evolving space. So I think Amazon’s learning this, and I’m sure Amazon’s getting a lot of feedback from other brands as well. So they have actually upped their update capabilities for brand owners to be able to control the content still more than what it used to be in the past. So Brand Registry is a program that Amazon gives all the brand owners where you have a little more control, you still don’t have 100% control, but you still have a lot more control in terms of how you can control your brand. The cases that you raise in Brand Registry, for example, I believe, given a higher amount of priority within the Amazon system could show that they can fix it. And as I said, the other aspect is to go to some of these third-party vendors, and they are technology companies out there who’s kind of monitoring this for you and actually flagging you, in case they see anything that we need. They need, you might need attention.

James Thomson 11:06

How do you personally manage this? Do you have a team that works on some of these different problems? Or do you find yourself having to find magic time to go solve some of these day-to-day issues?

Vivek Rastogi 11:16

A combination of both? To be honest, yes, we do. I have a team, who kind of looks into it, we use Brand Registry a lot. We try to leverage Brand Registry as much as possible. So that’s our number one, you know, or the preferred way of doing it. But in terms of how we identify and monitor, you know, these things and these listings, we do, we do have some third-party partners that we work with, to help us through there, you know, to the tools kind of flag us every day, every morning, for example. Okay, here is the listing that we might want to look at and things like that.

James Thomson 11:54

When I think about challenges that big national brands face, when they first start to look at the Amazon channel, a lot of them are surprised just by how many private label sellers brands they’ve never heard of that have grown up on Amazon that are busy, attacking, grabbing, sharing and eating your lunch. How do you think about all these competitors where, you know, I think about many of your brands, there are patents that protect the manufacturing capabilities, but from a consumer perspective, a bar soap, maybe a bar soap, it may not be Irish spring, but it’s a bar soap. And there’s lots of other beautiful brands of soap out there. What do you think about all these new competitors that a week ago didn’t exist? But now there is an Amazon doing PPC trying to grab shares from you?

Vivek Rastogi 12:44

Well, that’s a new reality that we are living in, isn’t it? Right? It is an open marketplace. model the barriers of you know, what we used to call the barriers to entry into you know, launching these products have definitely come down. Yes, gonna have your seller central account listed for $40 a month, I believe, and you can start whenever you want. And that is the reality of it. And I think for brands like us, it is about not trying to challenge that team reality was really embracing it. To be honest, private labels have always been there. Yes, but the extent of it and the intensity of it. And you know, how many brands and competitors that we are looking at today have seen certainly. And I always give this example wherein a traditional big-box retailer, if you go to and look at the toothpaste style, you might have possibly 120 150 skews at a time, maybe across 3040 brands at best. But if you look at Amazon today, I believe in the last count, I have about 5000 skews of two pieces being sold. And you know I counted about 300 different brands. But you know, they’re all there. They’re all legitimate. They’re all selling possibly good products as well. But I think for us brand equity is still very, you know, holds true. Yes, bar soap is a bar. So the reason people prefer the Irish spring to something else. There’s a lot of work which has gone behind building that brand, over so many years, decades and centuries in some cases. And I think that is here to stay. And I go back to the people first concept that I spoke about right in the beginning where at the end of the day, people prefer those brands, people have an emotional connection with expats. And it’s the same people who used to be in those brick and mortar stores are now coming online, at least to a large extent. And these are the same people who are buying and searching for the same brand. So brand equity definitely takes you as has a role to play even in this highly competitive set, despite so many plans being there, but it’s it it’s equally a challenge for us as well because it’s not that we can just say oh We have the brand and we have the brand equity and we don’t need to do anything. Of course, we need to adapt and change and compete in this new environment. And you see your brands doing a lot of that today, whether it’s about tweaking your communication strategy, how you connect with these new shoppers who are online, how you give them what you want, which might be a different time from what they were looking for in a brick and mortar store. So obviously, you will have to adapt your strategy, the communication strategy, your marketing strategy, you go to market strategy, to cater to the new mindsets, the new expectation, the new demands of these consumers, but at the end of the day, they still have their brands and they still looking for those brands. And I think that that definitely is here to stay.

James Thomson 15:42

Okay, so like, let’s shift gears. I want to talk about what makes the Amazon supply chain so different for your firm, when you compare it to other channels that you might be selling into. Certainly there are extra complexities, extra requirements, Amazon puts on sellers that are selling through Amazon, take me through what those issues are for you and how you’ve addressed those.

Vivek Rastogi 16:05

Well, I always say I think supply chain is the most critical and possibly the most complicated bar. And when it comes to dealing with business. And the part of the reason is that, you know, if you look at it from the other side, I genuinely believe that a large, large part of the success that Amazon’s got today is because of their supply chain, and how are they managed to actually get this supply chain drive to be able to deliver and give that kind of experience to their customers, right to the final final mile delivery and things. But to be able to achieve that Amazon’s expectation of brands is also extremely high and very different. And that’s where that’s what poses the challenge for brands like us. Now, again, like any other function in the business, the supply chain for a typical CPG industry, or most of the industries are built to cater to a sustainable demand in a very regular pattern and to, you know, to deliver to a brick and mortar retailer. Not anymore. Amazon or e-commerce channels are growing extremely fast. So one of those days where you can really forecast down the level of the accuracy that the systems are built-in. So, you know, you used to take pride in saying I’m, I’m 99.9% accurate. Today, you know, you suddenly it’s a supply chain need to deal with 60% forecasting, you’re lucky right or forecasting accuracy lucky, the How do you deal with that your systems and processes are not built to, you know, look at that kind of, you know, swings and spy, and you know, all of that stuff, that’s one part of it. The second thing with Amazon’s very, very particular is the way you’re delivering those products to them, so are you delivering them on time in packaging format labeling and they are paranoid and extremely tough on you if you do not fall fine, you know, follow their guidelines. And the reason again, from an Amazon perspective is very simple. You can imagine with the size of Amazon, for example, they are receiving millions and millions of products, possibly every minute, or hour. And for them to be able to do that everything has to be what they call an auto receiving process, they want the unlimited manual intervention, everything has to be automated. And suddenly, you’re one case with the wrong label can actually stop that. And that’s a lot of dollars lost in time lost at Amazon as well. And they penalize the vendors for which they called chargebacks. Now those can get, and those things can add up pretty quickly. And therefore supply chain needs to our supply chain teams need to really embrace the guidelines, the requirements and ensure that we are executing that to the tee. Otherwise, it just should be on a lot of your dollars. You know, which just goes away because of all the chargebacks and the penalties that Amazon has?

James Thomson 19:01

Are there any particular policy changes that Amazon made with supply chain requirements that caused your firm to have to adjust significantly? Not really

Vivek Rastogi 19:10

none, nothing specifically, obviously, Amazon keeps coming up. And you know, they keep revising the policies as things might be. So new charges or, you know, increase or decrease and all of that stuff. But I think that has never been the trigger. The trigger essentially has been that how, how, how particular and meticulous Amazon is about the receiving process. other retailers obviously have always been because again, it’s a big part of their efficiency, right? But I think Amazon’s Amazon’s right up there. And they do penalize you over the years for the reasons I mentioned. So I think for us it was about looking inward, not only to avoid these chargebacks To be honest but also how can we become more efficient from our own cost perspective and our supply chain passes perspective to cater to e-commerce. Now, we spoke about multipacks, for example, and you know, those are the kind of thing because you create new packs for an online channel on Amazon, all of those things create complexity at our end. So how do you simplify for those? How do you ensure that, you know, we can deal with the forecasting challenge that everyone has because we know how to stop and any online business is actually double? if not more costly, then you know, running out of stock and a brick and mortar store. So for us, it’s been a constant, you know, process of continuous improvement, how do we learn? How do we embrace the changes? How do we get more technology to work for us, and ensure that from our side also be as surfy efficient as possible in delivering to Amazon and other online customers, which is, which is very, very different from how typically a supply chain process would work for a typical brick and mortar.

James Thomson 20:58

Back in the 15 years that I’ve worked with brands on Amazon, I’m constantly surprised how national or even regional brands expect to be able to start selling on Amazon and be able to convert existing offline brand equity and brand share that they have into immediate Amazon Marketplace share. And yet, as we talked earlier, there are often hundreds of new competitors they’ve never seen that are already there on Amazon. Tell me about how your firm is positioned to fight the good fight on Amazon, to protect and to leverage your decades of brand equity that you’ve already built-in non e-commerce channels.

Vivek Rastogi 21:36

I think we kind of covered this a little bit earlier as well, I think for me, the starting point is, you know, the branding is here to stay there. You know, there is a reason why people like your love your brain, and that’s here to stay. It is about us adapting to, you know, how do you translate that brand equity and speak maybe a different language or maybe a different way of communicating to these consumers who are not looking for the same brand online? And that poses a different set of challenges? Where are you? How do you translate that brand equity to make this work and convert better online? So now, that’s where the uniqueness and the nuances start coming up? So you’re talking about how do you ensure that you’re leveraging the search behavior that consumers have? Or you’re leveraging, you know, the social listening tools that we have now in the marketplace? And how are you? How do you keep the pulse of what people are talking about and what’s trending? And how do you then translate your you know, obviously, you want to be true to your brand, but how do you translate that and pick that brand imagery in, you know, converted into a manner which connects better to the online consumers? Now, to answer your question, can all that happen overnight? And can you help, you know, grow that brand, you know, online from day one, possibly not, you know, it takes time, the communication needs to be different, you go to work, it needs to be different, as I mentioned earlier, but I think it’s still, it’s still a very, very important matrix to actually have brand equity behind. Because, you know, people are still looking for familiar brands, they have something special for our categories, you know, something that they’ve been used to using it just that they don’t want to drive to a store today, and they just want to sit on their mobile phones just purchase the same item.

James Thomson 23:33

So when you’ve been involved with the Amazon channel for many years now, what tips and tricks would you offer a director of e-commerce who’s jumping into the Amazon channel for the first time? Well,

Vivek Rastogi 23:46

I have learned a lot that there’s so many things that you can learn in this business. And you know, and I still believe, you know, it’s a very, very wellbeing space. But in my experience, if I can think of the top two, you know, top things that, you know, I’ve learned the most, and I think, you know, it’s something that every account manager, everybody who handles business in the Amazon needs to definitely look into is two things. One, I think the most unique thing that I find about Amazon is their philosophy of self-service, or what they call hands-on approach. Now that’s a very, very different way of approaching business than how a traditional company has been used to dealing with other, you know, brick and mortar retailers. It has always been about Gbps and engagement and connecting meetings and discussions. Amazon doesn’t want to do it. They want you to be self-service, they want you to figure it out yourself and they want you to genuinely want to run the business. And so and I think the better and the earlier any account manager can embrace Understand that and appreciate that the less frustrated you would be dealing with Amazon.

James Thomson 25:07

So where do I get it? Where do I get this support? How did you build this support around you to learn what to do and the best roads to take when you’re running into problems?

Vivek Rastogi 25:19

It’s not been easy, let me tell you that, you know, I’ve had my whole learning curve, but I think, you know, 50 seat support, you have your Amazon contacts and you know, you do seek support, I’m not saying that, you know, I still have my weekly meetings with them and still talk to them frequently, but it’s about your hours. So for example, one of the things that I try my best to ensure is that Amazon says, Do not go to Amazon, or, you know, seek help, till the time you have tried at least three things yourself, to fix it.

James Thomson 25:54

So give me an example. Give me an example what you mean,

Vivek Rastogi 25:56

um, you know, so before I would, I would send an email to my contact, or I would pick up the phone and speak to someone at Amazon to help me with something, I would raise a ticket, I would try, you know, trying to go into the vendor center and see if I can fix something myself in a creative manner because that’s how their systems are. Right? Because at the end of the day, most of the time, you’re going to just hear the response saying, I don’t know what’s happening, please raise a ticket, I’ll let you know what happened, might as well do it first, before you actually have what you call customer relationship. And they actually appreciate that, you know, they like that, because that’s how that entire organizational skeleton is built on. So you know, it’s those kinds of things, it’s kind of difficult for me to say that there is a formula like this, and you know, you can just, you know, you can follow this. But as I said, I always challenge my team saying, I will try a, b and c things, have you tried three different routes? Before you want to pick up the phone and speak to someone by the mechanic to raise a case to Amazon or chase them on something or you know, and just understand how, you know, the so-called algorithm works, right? Or observing and saying, Okay, if this is not working out, what are the hypotheses, can we fix this ourselves, and you know, some of the hidden tries, so there’s just trial and error. But I think in the long run with experience and observation, you realize that that approach is far more effective than just sending an email and just picking up the phone and just raising it and escalating it from the get go simply because the system is not meant to react that way. And the more you try it, the more frustrated the account manager is only going to become just downplaying from there. So that’s, that’s one learning. The other learning is just internal. You know, again, for account managers how much you can create internal awareness. As I said, this is a new channel, this is still work in progress. It’s the tip of the iceberg. And it challenges a lot of established systems and processes that we have traditionally built over so many years. So I think the account managers because they are the closest to this business, they are close to this evolution, the more they can talk now, the more they can try that awareness. And to be honest, the more they can challenge me now. I think it will be good for the organization in the years to come.

James Thomson 28:26

In many organizations, e-commerce, and traditional retail sales are two very distinct groups that don’t necessarily see eye to eye. With you and your team being the group that sees what’s happening in Amazon First, there are inevitably some challenges that you need to bring back to the organization. And say we need to evolve the way we’re thinking about things we need to adapt so that we can be more successful on Amazon. Take me through some of the types of issues that create a lot of noise or a lot of thrash within your organization that you have to bring back and say, ladies and gentlemen, we need to change or we need to become more astute in the way that we go to the Amazon Marketplace.

Vivek Rastogi 29:14

That’s such an active conversation for today. And just to take a picture, how you started your question, I think Gone are the days where you can actually run e-commerce separately and retail or a brick and mortar channel separately because I’m sure omni omni channels all over the place right now everyone’s talking about it. It is true because it’s not it’s not an Amazon only in the market, right? There are other people especially after the COVID situation. You know, starting last year, people have realized that that’s where people are going to shop. And you know, a lot of things you know, so a lot of retailers are also realizing that and now I know a lot of big retailers are now pushing coming back to tanks like us and Pushing the same? What is your omnichannel strategy? You know, don’t talk to me about your e-commerce strategy. Talk to me about your omnichannel strategy. So one, those are not two separate businesses. So, but we theory and of course not started, in terms of, you know, a lot of those internal things that they lost actually, but in a good way, you know, where, you know, things are being challenged, things are being reviewed, things are being adapted. But I think just to give you an example, of, you know, packaging is very close to my heart, because I think that that plays a huge role in how successful or not successful you are on e-commerce when we spoke about the heavy liquids in the beginning. A lot of you know, so my push to the organization today is you need to come up with omnichannel marketing. So Gone are the days where you’re talking about packaging, it’s only sitting on the shelf for one of the days where we used to, in fact, I used to ask for e-commerce packaging, I said not anymore, I need to, I need to ensure that that packaging or that solution of that bottle works equally on the shelf as much as it is on your online business. And that includes design that includes packaging that includes material, and so on and so forth. And sometimes those are not easy decisions, because the company might have to put in a lot of investment capital investments now or change a huge pool, you know, put in a lot of money upfront to be able to be there when e-commerce is tall, still a small part of your overall driving. Sometimes that just boils down to, you know, am I solving for something for a long term? Or am I selling something for now? And those are difficult commercial discussions and decisions, right? You didn’t want to put x million dollars today to be able to, you know, reap the benefits maybe two years or three years down the road? And not immediately. But these are the conversations that we are having right now. And I think every company should should have.

James Thomson 32:02

So let me ask you in conclusion here, if I’m a new brand, and I’m getting the idea that I need to be on Amazon, you talked about some tips and tricks for bigger brands getting onto Amazon. But based on all of your experience to date with this channel, how can you make your organization a better organization by being at least partially focused on this omnichannel idea, and building a brand that will satisfy all channels? Oh,

Vivek Rastogi 32:35

I think it’s a paramount discussion today. And it’s not about having a passion because I think every organization needs to be fully focused on omnichannel because, again, it’s a very simple fact that the people’s journey on purchasing any product is not linear anymore, I’m sure you’ve heard this, right. It’s all over the place. So I am in a brick and mortar store or a retailer and you know, searching for prices on the phone or looking at that, you know, on a completely different retailer, or vice versa, right, I’m searching online, buying offline, and that kind of stuff. And therefore every product and every offering that you have to offer today has to cater to both retailers like in the physical shelf as well as online because that’s how people are shopping. And again, this goes back in again, to like, you got to follow what people are doing. And you got to follow wherever they are. So I’m calling those days where, you know, one of the solutions in early days used to be, I’ll have a different product offering online. Offering offline, it doesn’t work anymore. It doesn’t work from an efficiency perspective, because you’re adding complexity to your own business and you’re adding cost to your own business. And it’s okay then when one at least the e-commerce or the online part of the business is extremely small, but not anymore. So now you have to come up with a more scalable solution, which therefore has to be something that works across these different channels. So it it it it is it has to be the topmost priority for every brand, because small

James Thomson 34:12

Vivek, I want to thank you for joining us today. For our listeners interested in learning more about Colgate-Palmolive, please check out colgatepalmolive.com and be sure to join us again next time on the Buy Box Experts Podcast.

Outro 34:25

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Meet the Speakers

Vivek Rastogi

Vivek Rastogi

Director of Ecommerce at Colgate-Palmolive

Buy Box Experts
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