Working with Retailers to Maximize Your Direct-to-Consumer Sales on Amazon

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Victor Elmann is the Vice President of Vendor Management at Circuit City, a consumer electronics retailer. In this role, Victor leads the team responsible for vendor relationship management, negotiations, product management, and customer experience. 

Prior to joining Circuit City, Victor was the Director of e-Commerce at Omnicom and the Director of SMB Merchandising at Gogotech. With years of experience in merchandising, buying, and e-commerce, he is an expert at digital strategy and marketing.

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

  • Victor Elmann explains why Circuit City sells its branded products on Amazon
  • How Victor handles competition from unauthorized third-party resellers 
  • Should brands grant certain resellers exclusive opportunities to represent them on Amazon? 
  • How Circuit City represents and supports brands on Amazon and other retail channels 
  • Victor’s thoughts on Amazon sellers using third-party manufacturer warranty services
  • Victor’s advice for building successful sourcing partnerships on Amazon and other e-commerce marketplaces
  • How to create a consistent customer experience across channels

In this episode…

With the rapid growth of e-commerce, it’s becoming more and more important for sellers to have a presence across multiple channels. To do this successfully, they must understand their customers’ buying behaviors and build consistent customer relationships in every marketplace.

However, for brand owners who are just starting out, it can be difficult to manage customer support across multiple e-commerce channels. That’s why Victor Elmann and his team at Circuit City represent these sellers on Amazon and other marketplaces. By giving them the support of an established retailer, Victor and his team help sellers provide a better customer experience and successfully grow their businesses.

In this episode of the Buy Box Experts podcast, James Thomson is joined by Victor Elmann, the Vice President of Vendor Management at Circuit City, to talk about the benefits of working with an established retailer to maximize your direct-to-consumer sales. Victor talks about optimizing your brand on and off of Amazon, how to build successful sourcing partnerships, and the importance of creating a consistent customer experience across multiple channels. Stay tuned.

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. 

Buy Box Experts prides itself on being one of the few agencies with an SMB (small to medium-sized business) division and an Enterprise division. Buy Box does not commingle clients among divisions as each has unique needs and requirements for proper account management. 

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  

Hi, I’m 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 help investors with due diligence services. 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 Disruptive Advertising. For off Amazon advertising, Disruptive Advertising offers the highest level of service in the digital marketing industry, focusing on driving traffic, converting traffic and enterprise analytics. Disruptive helps their clients increase their bottom line month after month. Check out disruptiveadvertising.com to learn more. Our guest today is Victor Elmann, Vice President of Vendor Management at Circuit City. He’s responsible for the team that handles vendor relationship management, negotiations, product management and customer experience. Prior to Circuit City, Victor worked for more than a decade in various firms handling vendor management. Victor, welcome. And thank you for joining us today on the Buy Box Experts Podcast.

Victor Elmann  1:48  

Thank you, James for having me.

James Thomson  1:50 

Victor, it’s a little unusual for us to have someone from a retailer on our podcast, as retailers often get the short end of the stick when it comes to selling products on e commerce marketplaces like Amazon. Today on Amazon, your firm sells both Circuit City branded products, as well as commoditized products offered by many other third party sellers, in addition to Amazon retail itself selling some of these brands. Let’s talk about how you think about each one of those. Tell me a little bit about why sell Circuit City branded products on Amazon. What kind of SEO issues that does that create for your brand?

Victor Elmann  2:30  

Thank you for the question. It’s a very important question. And you’re right. It’s very unusual to have a retailer sell on Amazon or any other marketplace. But something that you need to know is that adequate. That’s where the trend is definitely going. You look on Amazon now. And it’s full of big box retailers that you would have not seen five, six years ago, because everybody’s plan was to be direct to the consumer. But as the market changed, and as Amazon became more of a search engine, where about 80% of all product searches start. It’s very important for retailers to get a piece of that, that search that visibility on Amazon. And you certainly see it in my industry and consumer. I try to see the top retailers there already. In other industries, you’ll see that as well. So yeah, it’s very important to be in there. And to be out when we say omni channel, it used to be brick and mortar, or your own .com. Now you say on the channel, we mean all channels, which is brick and mortar, direct to consumer comm social media, marketplaces anywhere where there’s customers, you want to have this ability. And we want to want to make sure that we own that customer relationship throughout the whole journey, and make sure that we’re there for when the customer makes that buying decision.

James Thomson  3:57  

So you’re already spending money on social media advertising to drive traffic to your own website, you’ve got an email list that you’re leveraging, how do you think about the process of bringing customers to Amazon versus bringing customers to your own website?

Victor Elmann  4:13

So we find that essentially, we find that someone who’s on CircuitCity.com or on our website, yeah, what explains that they’re opened up, they have four different tabs open to all our competitors that have the biggest competitor or industry open and one tab. They have Walmart, they have Amazon and our site opened at the same time. So our customers are already price comparing or product comparing across the different platforms. What advantages on Amazon to have the unique customer base that they’re looking for products or products journey begins on Amazon, it may not begin on social media, it might not begin on Google anymore. It begins on the marketplace and if we can offer a unique product on there, if they choose to convert on Amazon or they choose to convert on another channel, we’re okay with that.

James Thomson  5:08  

So let’s take, for example, you know, a lot of broadly distributed brands, and I was just looking at some of the major electronic brands like Java or Sennheiser. A lot of these brands are being sold by lots and lots of third party sellers on a marketplace like Amazon, and they have access to the same brands, some of these sellers are authorized, some of them may not be authorized. But because of the broad availability of these products. From a wholesale perspective, you’re often competing with companies that may not be selling at the same prices as you, some of them may be undercutting you on a marketplace like Amazon, some of them may also be using prime for you may not necessarily be using prime. So how do you think about the process of being on Amazon when on an individual listing basis, you may not be able to be quite as nimble as some of these unauthorized sellers. 

Victor Elmann  6:02 

So that’s a challenge that we face on a daily basis. And we help, we certainly help and guide our partners to help them enforce their map policies. Yep, you’re right. It’s a big challenge competing against price. And to be honest with you, we don’t want to compete against price, right. And that’s part of the part of the story here of why retail is an important part consideration for the brand owner, you want to have an Authorized Retailer that will help control the pricing across all the channels. Now, but also, we want to offer consistent customer service. If a customer was to buy a product from an unauthorized seller, they don’t, they may not get a warranty for the product. Or if they have any issues, they have no one to call, they don’t have a toll free number, they don’t have live chat, they don’t have any of those traditional customer support options if someone wants to call a major retailer that they trust. And they know that they know even if even if we’re a little bit higher, they’re going to get that service and value that they expect from a retailer that they won’t necessarily get from a third party seller.

James Thomson  7:14  

I agree with you in the concept that a customer is going to get better taken care of by a company or in this case, a retailer that they recognize and have reason to believe is a legitimate seller of the brand. In order for customers to actually experience that better service. Often you have to fight to be able to win the buy box on a marketplace like Amazon. And the way the algorithms on Amazon work, you know, often they favor the lowest price seller, which may not necessarily have some of these extra posts or post sale benefits that working with a retailer like you would offer. So how do you help to promote your offer on a listing? When so many of these other companies are going to get top billing by way of the way the Amazon algorithm works?

Meet the Speakers

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Victor Elmann

Vice President of Vendor Management at Circuit City

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