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Jim Knight

Jim Knight the Vice President of e-Commerce at Spangler Candy, the company that supplies America’s favorite giveaway candy. For nearly 25 years, Jim has been with Spangler Candy leading marketing and ecommerce initiatives to sell bulk candy. The company’s well-known brands include Dum Dums, Saf-T-Pops, Spangler Candy Canes, Spangler Circus Peanuts, Necco Wafers, Sweethearts, and Canada Mints. Spangler Candy and Buy Box Experts work together on Strangler’s Amazon channel.

Jim holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Management Systems from Kettering University and an MBA from Indiana University – Kelley School of Business.

 

 

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

  • Jim Knight talks about the Spangler Candy company and how it has evolved over the last 20 years
  • The biggest challenges posed by online channels like Amazon and the changes they’ve done in channel management
  • How the COVID-19 crisis has affected Spangler Candy and how they are coping
  • The role of branding in consumer behavior and Spangler Candy maintains their branding and reputation
  • What the company has learned about its customers during the current COVID-19 crisis
  • Jim shares how sales in Amazon impacted his business and how it differs from sales done through their website
  • How Jim handles reselling for other brands and dealing with competition
  • Challenges Jim faced in setting up his company’s Amazon channel
  • Jim’s advice to brands looking to join the Amazon channel

In this episode…

Spangler Candy has been in the business of selling candy for many years and their decision to enter the Amazon marketplace was the logical next step in growing their company. Consumer behavior has evolved through the years and companies need to stay on top of the game in order to remain competitive and relevant — and this includes embracing ecommerce.

Being in charge of ecommerce at Spangler Candy, Jim Knight has had his fair share of challenges. But he managed to push the envelope and drive sales for their company despite the initial hurdles; they now have a strong following in the ecommerce space and he says, there’s a thing or two you can learn from their experience.

Join James Thomson as he interviews Jim Knight of Spangler Candy in this week’s episode of Buy Box Experts where they talk about the growth and evolution of  Spangler Candy, how selling on Amazon has impacted the company’s business, how Jim ensures that the company maintains its branding and reputation in the candy industry, and what other businesses who are looking to join Amazon can learn from their experience. 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 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

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. Hi, I’m

James Thomson 0:19
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 the book controlling your brand in the age of Amazon, and co founder of the prosper show one of the largest continuing education conferences for Amazon sellers in North America. 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 received the strategy optimization and marketing performance to succeed on Amazon go to buyboxexperts.com to learn more. Today I’m thrilled to have Jim Knight the VP of e commerce from Spangler candy. Spangler is the company that supplies America’s favorite giveaway candy. For nearly 25 years, Jim has been with Spangler candy, leading marketing and e commerce initiatives to sell bulk candy. In full disclosure to our listeners, Spangler candy and Buy Box Experts work together on Stranglers Amazon channel business today. So welcome, Jim. And thank you for joining us today on the Buy Box Experts podcast.

Jim Knight 1:34
Thanks, James. Thanks for having me.

James Thomson 1:35
Jim, I’d like to start our discussion today by getting your thoughts on how you’ve seen your brand evolve. Its choice of distribution channels over the past 20 years, so as to leverage more of the online channel opportunities.

Jim Knight 1:50
Yeah, sure. Well, just to get a little bit of background, you know, Spangler is a company that’s been around a long time 1906 In fact, We’ve made a lot of different candies over those years. But we are primarily a brand manufacturer that sells at retail retail. So we’re talking through drug mass club, dollar stores, drug stores, those sorts of things. But as I started in Spangler in 1996, kind of when websites and e commerce and everything was taking off, so I actually started in a marketing position, but as kind of a little side project built our first website, Spanglercandy.com in 1996. And then we went online and sold our first product online and early 97. So for e commerce, I mean that’s an eternity in e commerce. That is that is 97. And, and we started out very slow and kind of tested it and I just knew With, with our brands, especially, you know, dum dums being known for giveaway and most people think about them, that a bank or a restaurant or beauty salon, something like that, I knew that, you know, I put together the combination of businesses and our giveaway product and the advent of you know, FedEx and UPS and the delivery model to your house and, and that was my business model right there at the start was both candy businesses, and metal ball candy. We’ve got ups that’ll shift anybody and, you know, in the United States or over all over the world, and I thought it was a great business model. So I kind of started out as a side project, I was really focused on marketing as the first marketing person at Spangler 96, but I always kept that as a side project and it grew and it grew and that’s how we were still a small percentage of our ecommerce sales. Because we really are retail, but it’s growing and becoming more important every day. It’s my job now.

James Thomson 4:08
What are some of the biggest fundamental challenges that online channels like Amazon have created for your company? When you look at the core distribution model you’ve used for decades. Now you’ve got Amazon now you’ve got your own website. Does Amazon create headaches that you you haven’t had to deal with in the past?

Jim Knight 4:28
Yes, they do. And you know, Amazon is a positive thing and its size and it’s grow us some of the issues, problems we’ve encountered. The first one is really just a litany of things. When I was in marketing, I was trying to protect our brand. And then I go on Amazon before we even joined I even as curious I went back and look, you know, we joined Amazon in 2009. On September 2009, I wanted to kind of know and when I was on before we joined and I would search for our product online, you know, I would see our product and I would see wrong descriptions and wrong you see UPC codes, wrong ingredients, wrong flavors, low pricing or, or improper pricing, item proliferation, trademark issues and errors. And we’re a food, you know, candy food products, so it’s ingested. So you know, allergen issues. Do you have the proper allergen statement on your bag? So the first thing I saw was, Wow, I’ve spent, you know, the last 1718 years in marketing trying to protect this brand. And now it’s gotten out there on Amazon and there’s no, there’s no control over it. So that worried me and I thought, I can’t just ignore it. It’s not going to go away. I’ve got to get in and try to control it. And then the second issue so that’s the first issue is brand control. The second issue is pricing. You know, we were selling a very convoluted distribution chain where we sell to distributors and resellers and retailers, and this was, you know, direct from us to Amazon. So it caused issues with pricing and with the sales department and you know, as that pricing range is very wide, it creates opportunity for sales arbitrage, or whatever I call it, right, where you can’t control your pricing. And then a retailer comes and says, I want to carry this this particular bag size at my store, but I found it on Amazon, you know, 20%, lower or whatever. And that was kind of a second, you know, problem that, you know, we’re still working through both of those issues. By the way, they didn’t just we didn’t just fix them immediately. So

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