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David GlickDavid Glick is the Chief Technology Officer for FLEXE, a nationwide firm that helps brands expand their warehousing and fulfillment capabilities. Prior to FLEXE, David held senior leadership roles at Amazon for nearly 20 years, including Vice President of the Amazon Transportation and Fulfillment Technologies team.

David is also the President of Dave Glick Consulting, where he helps companies scale their organizations by improving productivity and quality in their development teams. Outside of the office, he is a Board Member of Businesses Ending Slavery and Trafficking (BEST).

 


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

  • David Glick discusses how Amazon has helped slingshot brands into e-commerce during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • David’s advice to brands looking to sell online and on Amazon
  • How FLEXE helps brands with their e-commerce fulfillment needs
  • How to decide between building your own logistics and fulfillment capabilities and outsourcing to other firms
  • David talks about how brands using Amazon’s FBA can benefit from working with a warehousing or fulfillment company
  • What Amazon can do to provide better logistics capacities
  • David’s tips for managing inventory for Q4 using Amazon’s fulfillment centers
  • Upcoming tech firms and solutions to incorporate into your e-commerce strategy
  • David shares his recommendations to big brands looking to invest in direct-to-consumer selling on Amazon
  • David’s transition out of Amazon and into the entrepreneurial e-commerce space

In this episode…

Product fulfillment is one of the most important processes to invest in when starting and growing your e-commerce brand. By improving delivery promises to customers and effectively managing your inventory, it can make a huge difference to the success of your online brand.

In addition to the built-in traffic of Amazon, one of the top benefits of using the e-commerce platform is that a brand can take advantage of FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon). However, relying on Amazon’s fulfillment centers is not enough to build and scale a successful e-commerce brand. This is where outside warehousing and fulfillment firms, such as FLEXE, come in handy.

David Glick, the Chief Technology Officer of FLEXE, joins James Thomson in this week’s episode of the Buy Box Experts podcast to discuss how brands can build an effective warehousing and fulfillment network when growing their businesses. David shares what he learned from working at Amazon for 20 years, how FLEXE helps brands with their fulfillment needs, and the unmatched benefits of working with both Amazon FBA and other fulfillment companies. Stay tuned.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

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Episode Transcript

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 of 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. Buy Box Experts combines executive level advisory services with expert performance management and execution of your Amazon channel strategy. Go to buyboxexperts.com to learn more.

Before I introduce our guests today, I want to send out 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. Go to disruptiveadvertising.com to learn more. Our guest today is David Glick, Chief Technology Officer for FLEXE.com a nationwide firm that helps brands expand their warehousing and fulfillment capabilities. Prior to FLEXE.com. David held senior leadership roles at Amazon for nearly 20 years, including running the Amazon transportation and fulfillment technologies team. During my time working at Amazon, I had the good fortune of working with Dave on fulfillment related projects. I’m very pleased to have you on our podcast today as I pick your brain on the challenges that brands are facing with COVID accelerating the speed with which logistics and fulfillment investments are needing to be made. Dave, welcome. And thanks for joining us today on the Buy Box Experts Podcast.

David Glick 2:04

Thanks for having me. It’s a pleasure to be here.

James Thomson 2:07

So Dave, for the benefit of our audience, remind me how it is we first met many years back at Amazon.

David Glick 2:16

Yeah. You know, one of the roles I had was being the technical advisor to Diego Piacentini, who was in charge of retail for international everything but the US and one of my jobs was to grow FBA adoption. And so the first thing I did was look for people who are being successful. And John Whitham said, you know, sports were really taking off and talking to James Thomson. And that’s how I knocked on your door. And you’re like, Oh, yeah, well, I just do this, this and this and, and things grow. And it was like, I write a query looking for brands who are selling well as mfn. But there’s no FBA offers. And I was like, Hey, you know, can you write that down and send it to me? And I’ll scale it up? And you’re like, No, no, no, too busy. And so I like okay, let me get my notepad out. And, and you went through it again. He said, No, this is a query I do. This is what I do after that. And I took it to the FBA team. And I handed it to him and said, do this. And that became what we call the FBA cookbook, you know, getting from zero to one with FBA, when we use that internationally as well as in the US. So thanks, you know, you are a big part of growing FBA James.

James Thomson 3:24

It’s very, very kind words as with most things at Amazon, when you see a problem, you just figure out how to solve it, even if it’s not elegant. And hopefully, somebody else helps you make it elegant, and then you can scale the heck out of it. So let me let me start by asking you, because you just happen to have a PhD in physics, not something that most of my guests have. I’m going to start by asking you a physics question. If COVID has moved brands online faster and more extensively than they might otherwise plan for this year, is Amazon acting as the gravity assist helping slingshot a lot of these brands into e-commerce?

David Glick 4:03

Well, the answer is yes. I don’t know if it’s actually a physics question. But it’s a good analogy. You know, if you think about what brands need to do, first and foremost thing they need, well, they need product, but then they need traffic, traffic, traffic traffic, yes. And all the traffic online. Is that Amazon after that you need fulfillment capabilities. And oh, yeah, there’s a program called FBA, right? The ability to take money. Oh, yeah, checkout by Amazon or Amazon payments. And so you know, you think back, I don’t know was 10 or 15 years ago, even pre FBA, there was this guy, Tim Ferriss wrote a book called The Four Hour Workweek. And one of the things he talks about was, you call a manufacturer in China to make yoga mats. And you place an ad in the yoga mat, or in the yoga trade rag at the end of the month, again, you know, for $500 and then you figure out if you get demand and then you have them shipped directly to a fulfillment house and you want the fulfillment house to take care of customer service. But all of these things end up being something that FBA does and Amazon does for you, you know, they provide, you don’t have to put an ad in the trade rack anymore, you advertise on Amazon, you don’t have to send to a fulfillment house or a CS house, because Amazon does all that for you. So, when I was working in retail at Amazon, what we told our buyers, our vendor managers is your job is to source products and get better terms from vendors and of course, we will take care of the rest, right? The same is true with merchants, right? You can live on the Amazon ecosystem, and your job will be sourcing products. And, and you know, getting them to Long Beach where Amazon picks them up and sends them to FBA. So that you know you can build a business in the box for you. There are problems and I’m sure we’ll discuss some of those right? For the most part, it’s the single easiest way to get your product off the ground.

James Thomson 5:56

So for brands that aren’t selling on Amazon today, but want to be online, what advice would you give them in thinking about how Amazon might impact their brand’s online aspirations? To your point? Some things, some things will work, some things may not work? No. Where should Amazon fit into that idea that these brands now want to get online?

David Glick 6:21

Yeah, you know, and there’s, there’s, there’s brands are building their business from the ground up. And then there’s mega brands, like Procter and Gamble, and Kraft Heinz, let’s talk about the businesses who were building from the ground up. You know, there are Shopify and BigCommerce and some other shopping carts. And, you know, obviously Shopify has taken off, and everybody’s saying, you know, this is the end all be all, and they’re gonna kill Amazon, not everybody, a few, a few people are. But you know, in the end, if you go to Shopify, you have to create your own traffic. If you come to Amazon, you get to take advantage of Amazon’s traffic. Yeah, and, you know, I’ve been a tech technologist for all my career, but I’ve been very closely linked to retail, and then to operations at Amazon and elsewhere. And the number one thing that you need, you know, you need your product in stock, you need a good product, you need good reviews, you need pricing, but all that doesn’t matter if you don’t have traffic. So Amazon’s where the traffic is,

James Thomson 7:18

what’s fascinating for some of the brands that we work with is that they have a long history of decent products, they show up on Amazon, and all of a sudden, there’s all these companies they’ve never heard of, they’re competing against. And many of these companies know how to play the Amazon game a whole lot better than these national brands do. And so they’re having to learn Amazon, just as much as they’re having to learn new competitors that, you know, they play the game a little bit differently. In the conversations that you have with brands, people say, Oh, you worked at Amazon, you must know how this works? No, how do you give guidance to a brand that doesn’t understand that Amazon is playing the channel fleet a little bit differently than every other channel?

David Glick 8:02

Yeah, one of my friends named Kim Matheson is also ex Amazon. She had said, you need to think like an Amazonian. And I would amend that to say you need to think like the Amazon algorithms, because all of the you know, buy box winning, and search ranking, and all those things have nothing to do with amazonians. They have to do with the algorithms at Amazon. And so when we work together in FBA, what I found was that the people who succeeded well, are the people who are saying, you know, Amazon’s going to change the rules for us. They’re gonna give us crappy tools to work with, you know, but the people who are scrappy enough to jump over all those hurdles. did very well on Amazon. And it wasn’t the mega brands. It wasn’t Nordstrom and the gap. It was, you know, my favorite story is these guys from New York who had, you know, $20 in their pocket and bought some Atkins bars, they bought two boxes at $10 each and sold them for $2 a bar, and at the end, they had $30 in their pocket. So they bought three boxes, and they started from $20. They built a million dollar business. Yeah. But it was because they were scrappy. And they understood, this isn’t retail, this is Amazon, right. And you have to play by the rules of the Amazon, not by the rules of traditional retail.

James Thomson 9:21

So let’s let’s talk a little bit about the fulfillment side of the equation in the conversations that you’re having today at FLEXE with brands that are waking up to e-commerce, I suspect many aren’t really set up with the right kind of logistics and warehousing capabilities to support this rapid growth of e-commerce that they may be experiencing. To two part questions for you. How should brands be thinking about e-commerce as a rapidly developing channel? And when should brands be investing in logistics and fulfillment themselves versus potentially outsourcing it to firms that do it full time?

David Glick 9:57

Yeah, you know, if you think about it, We’ll switch from the little guys to the mega brands. Yep. And Kraft Heinz is the Procter and Gamble. And, you know, they several years ago said, Hey, we need an e-commerce strategy. And the e-commerce strategy was like well sold to Amazon. And you know, the full truckloads coming out of Procter and Gamble’s warehouse in Signet, Cincinnati, and going to Walmart stores or distribution centers going to Amazon’s fulfillment centers, those are well worn paths. Recently, as you know, the statistic we always like to cite is over the last 10 years e-commerce has gone to six to 16%, market segments share. And in the last 10 weeks, it’s 16% to 26%. So we’ve made about 10 years of progress in 10 weeks, and you know, now it’s kind of six months. But if you’re one of those companies, and you’re like, man, I think I need to get out of you know, Amazon’s turning in the dog, and I’m turning into the tail, you know, I need to have a direct relationship with my customers. How do I do that? And, you know, they’re staring down at, you know, a $10 million project, right? They’re like, Okay, well, I need to find, if I need to compete with Amazon and shipped promised, you know, if I need to have a one day promise, that means I need 910 12 nodes in my network, so that I’m close, my inventory is close to the customer. And I’ve never done that before. And you know, if I go to a three PL, traditionally, they’re going to want a five year contract, they’re going to want me to put some capital out to build a rack, you know, there’s lots of expenses, a warehouse management system, license fee, and so on. And so you know, by the time before you even ship a unit, you may have a $10 million project that you need to go get approved. What FLEXE is all about is d batch defying that process. So rather than having a five, five year contract, we work with three piles who already have existing space. And so you can have a month to month contract. And you can start with a single node, say if you’re Procter and Gamble, and you want to ship into Chicago, you can start with a single skew or a few skews, set up your website on Shopify or BigCommerce, or wherever, have Google Ads target, just just the just the zip codes you want to do same day or one day, have a warehouse that’s right there that can do that. And you can see if it works. And so instead of having a $10 million investment, to see if someone works, something works, you’re looking at $100,000 investment. And so that’s why we’re excited, and we think we can help big brands stick their toe, dip their toe in the water. Right, right. Yes. And then see the results before they have to scale up.

[continue to page 2]

David Glick, the Chief Technology Officer of FLEXE, joins James Thomson in this week’s episode of the Buy Box Experts podcast to discuss how brands can build an effective warehousing and fulfillment network when growing their businesses. David shares what he learned from working at Amazon for 20 years, how FLEXE helps brands with their fulfillment needs, and the unmatched benefits of working with both Amazon FBA and other fulfillment companies. Stay tuned.

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