Updated September 2021
After rumblings of One Vendor in 2019 and the still-present turbulence caused by the global pandemic in 2020, many companies are looking for assistance in creating their own seller account and increasing their control of their Amazon business.
These same issues have led brands wholesaling directly to Amazon via Vendor Central to consider hiring an Amazon Vendor Central Agency.
Whether you’re looking for an Amazon agency as a seller or a vendor, you have many options. With so many Amazon agencies and consultants to choose from, it can be difficult to discern which are worth your investment. How are you going to ensure that you hire the right ecommerce agency to help run and grow your brand’s online presence?
To start, we recommend asking these 5 primary questions and their follow-ups.
5 Questions to Ask When Shopping for an Amazon Agency
Making this decision can be daunting in a sea of options. Here are 5 questions to ask to help you narrow down the candidates, and ultimately, choose the right fit for your brand’s ecommerce channel.
1 – How Much Experience Do You Have?
The first and foremost consideration is experience. You want to make sure the consultant or agency you work with has years of experience operating an ecommerce business. The more experience they have, the better understanding they’ll have of what actions will make your products more successful on Amazon.
Is their Experience Relevant to Your Brand?
Press them on what exactly their expertise is and how their services relate to your ecommerce channel. Ask them to go into more detail as to how their experience will translate to the successful growth of your brand. This question helps you weed out potential candidates who have no direct interaction with the actual management of the channel.
You want someone with a wealth of experience that pertains to the needs of your brand. While someone who has worked 10 years in Amazon customer service will have some insights, it doesn’t equate to the value you’ll receive from an SEO or marketing expert with 5 years of experience in the marketplace.
What Is Their Track Record?
Additionally, Amazon has changed greatly since its inception. Someone with years of recent experience in the industry has gone through those alterations, and they’ve proven they can successfully adapt to maintain stability and growth for their channel. Not to mention the wealth of knowledge you will have at your disposal to help you better understand upcoming trends and changes in the marketplace.
2 – Which Marketplaces Can You Help Me Sell On?
Will They Help You Stay Ahead of Market Trends?
While it’s widely recognized that Amazon accounts for the majority of online retail, it’s wise to understand that this is not the only marketplace with ample opportunity. By asking this question, you can gauge their understanding of marketplace trends, as well as see how broad or narrow their scope is regarding online sales.
Can They Help You Expand Internationally?
Perhaps your team is interested in expanding on the Walmart marketplace, or maybe you want to launch your products in international markets utilizing the Amazon platform. A consultant that is able to bring you insights into which marketplace works best for your brand – and shows versatility and knowledge in the hurdles each of them represents – is a valuable asset in the successful growth of your online sales.
3 – What Aspects of Ecommerce Can You Help With?
Understanding your channel’s needs is crucial in order to pinpoint the specific areas you need your chosen partner to be an expert on. Inquiring about the different services they offer will not only help you confirm that you are hiring someone who has the expertise you need; you also have the chance to learn about their strategic approaches and other potential offerings that could benefit your business.
Ask for Examples
Ask for examples of the services they offer. Viewing their portfolio will not only give you some solid samples of the kind of work they are able to produce, but you will also be able to test the knowledge of the candidate.
Walk Through their Process
If you ask them to guide you through the process of their completed work, someone who knows how to properly run an ecommerce channel will be able to quickly guide you, at the very least, through a high-level workflow about their offerings and the strategies they deploy to make their campaigns successful.
Ask How They Would Customize Strategies Specifically for You
For those who are not entirely sure what marketing services your brand needs, feel free to ask them, “What marketing strategy do you think is the best option for my brand? Where would I see the biggest value?” Most agencies will be happy to put together a proposal for you, breaking down budget costs and recommended services.
If they are not able to come up with a strategy for your brand, it might be a good indication that you need to look elsewhere. The more services a potential candidate can offer you, the better. It cuts down having to outsource different sections of your business to different consultants, making the entire experience easier.
4 – What Sets You Apart from Other Agencies?
What Software & Tools Do They Use?
There are literally hundreds of tools available for agencies to utilize in optimizing their marketing efforts. Familiarizing yourself with the names of the most utilized software will help give you an idea if they are at least familiar with industry standard.
Did they Create Custom Software? Why, and How Effective Is It?
Agencies that have ventured into the software development space are always worth exploring more in depth. Typically, agencies like this start developing their own software to resolve an issue they have encountered while performing their own marketing campaigns, which means that they should have concrete examples to point to proving its efficacy. It’s good to inquire about these tools, what their uses are, and how they would benefit your company.
Can You Get Hands On Experience with Their Tools?
If you are hesitant to relinquish your channel to an agency, perhaps they have the option of outsourcing these tools as self-service software. This will allow your team to obtain additional tools to optimize the weak links in your channel, without having to completely change your current marketplace strategy.
5 – How Do You Forecast Inventory Coverage?
Supply chain optimization is critical for a seller’s long-term stability, security, and success. If you’re hiring an Amazon agency, can they help you create new efficiencies in your supply chain? How can they help mitigate risks?
Two of the main issues that sellers encounter are chargebacks and long-term storage fees. Asking agencies how they forecast the weeks of coverage will give you some insight as to what tools and steps they are taking to mitigate any of these unwanted fees.
What Tools Do They Use? How Effective Are They?
Much like the marketing tools, keep an eye open for any proprietary software they utilize to help them forecast inventory and mitigate loss. Data-driven agencies that understand seasonality spikes and lows will be able to prepare more accurate shipments to ensure you don’t run out of inventory, while also making sure those long-term storage fees do not affect your margins.
Find the Right Fit
Any Amazon agency or consultant worth their salt should have no trouble answering these five primary questions and their follow-ups. The potential hire must be versatile, flexible, and in-line with your company goals to elevate your brand and achieve your vision.
Keep an eye out for those key factors that will set them apart, like proprietary software, since it can give you an edge over competitors and other agencies. Look at their offerings portfolio to see if you there are any areas that your brand could benefit from. If they have a wide array of services, they will be able to accommodate most of your needs under one roof.
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