The learning curve for selling on Amazon Business can be steep. From the fierce competition to the constant need to reassess who’s buying and what products sell best, many brand manufacturers lack the expertise to stand out from the crowd and make the B2B marketplace anything but a loss leader.
SupplyKick, a provider of marketing and inventory management services for manufacturers selling on Amazon, is banking on a recent infusion of venture capital to help more brands break through the clutter on Amazon Business and profitably grow sales.
The company’s plan is to use the seven-figure investment from Decathlon Capital Partners to scale its services for managing online sales, logistics, product marketing and advertising.
The cash infusion, the exact amount of which SupplyKick declined to reveal, is the first round of venture capital for the company, which has bootstrapped itself financially since its inception in 2013.
Riding a revenue growth curve
Since changing its focus several years ago from buying manufacturers’ excess inventory and selling at a profit online, to partnering with brands to grow their sales on Amazon Business, SupplyKick has seen rapid growth. Revenue in 2018, the latest period for which note sales figures, jumped 50% to $23.6 million, the company says.
To help manufacturers succeed on Amazon Business, SupplyKick has two strategies. The primary strategy, which accounts for more than 90% of its business, is to set up an online store on behalf of a brand, purchase the inventory to be sold through the store, market it, and fulfill orders.
A critical part of this primary online sales strategy, however, is that SupplyKick makes the client manufacturer’s brand, rather than SupplyKick itself, the central focus for marketing and sales. On Amazon Business, SupplyKick’s name appears only in the Buy Box, where Amazon features a preferred seller for a particular product that a buyer wants to add to an online shopping cart. But the product’s packaging and any related marketing materials emphasize the brand itself.
“Our focus is on the brand,” says Vanessa Ruminski, vice president of partnerships for SupplyKick. “We use our selling account on Amazon to market and create awareness of the brands we represent.”
Because many of the brands SupplyKick partners with are not the least expensive in their category, SupplyKick differentiates its brand partners by highlighting how the product can be used and providing examples of those uses. Any awards won by the manufacturer or the item itself are also spotlighted. Comparisons to competing products may also be included to further differentiate a listed product.
Down to the details
“In the listing, we focus on A+ content that gets down to the nuts and bolts of what the product is and how to use it,” Ruminski says.
Brands that have partnered with SupplyKick include Johnson Hardware, outdoor grill products brand BlueRhino, and flag pole manufacturer Ezpole.
SupplyKick’s second strategy, under which it doesn’t purchase a client manufacturer’s inventory, is for brands that prefer to directly list their own products on Amazon Business. SupplyKick provides them consulting services for marketing and selling on Amazon. “What we provide these brands is not that much different, except that we don’t buy the product being sold,” Ruminski says.
Brands working with SupplyKick pay a fee for the company’s services, which SupplyKick declines to publicly disclose.
Going forward, SupplyKick foresees sustaining its rapid growth as many manufacturers need a third-party to bring them into the world of Amazon Business and make that sales channel more than a loss leader. Through the first half of 2019, SupplyKick’s revenues have grown about 50%, Ruminski says.
“We plan to use the funding to create more awareness about our services, and prospect for new customers to sustain our growth,” says Ruminski.
Peter Lucas is a Highland Park, Illinois-based freelance journalist covering business and technology.
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