Episode 23 Jan 28, 2021

Dynamic eCommerce Pricing with Digital Commerce 360’s Paul Demery

Paul Demery, editor at Digital Commerce 360, joins host Barrett Thompson for a candid chat about the urgency thrust onto B2B companies to sell online in a pandemic-induced paradigm shift. Listen to learn why eCommerce pricing must be dynamic and how to accomplish a consistent, real-time pricing strategy across owned eCommerce platforms as well as third party marketplaces. We wrap up the show with a recent case study of how dynamic price optimization is paying dividends for a global building products manufacturer.

You can find the resources mentioned in the episode here:

Roofing Supplies Manufacturer Takes Pricing to New Heights

Paul Demery

Paul Demery

With so many people working from home, not being able to do as much face-to-face sales transactions with their sales reps, more companies realized that they had to really move up their plans to have a good self-service electronic commerce option for their customers. It's just really pushed these plans forward.
- Paul Demery, Digital Commerce 360

Episode Transcript

Paul Demery: And whether it's a mass market like Amazon Business or a real niche player, like a node.com, which is a chemicals marketplace. But also, maybe just understanding the kind of relationship you want to have with the marketplace. If you go to Amazon, you get extreme volume, extremely high volume and great exposure.

But at the same time, you could refer to it as, I don't know, dancing with the bear. Right? Because you're playing in the big time.

Barrett Thompson: Hello everyone. My name is Barrett Thompson. I'm the General Manager of Commercial Excellence at Zilliant, and I'll be your host for our podcast today. Our topic is dynamic pricing in the growing B2B eCommerce space.

It is my pleasure to be joined by Paul Demery, the editor at Digital Commerce 360. Paul, welcome to B2B Reimagined.

Paul Demery: Thanks, Barrett. Good to be here. Of course, at Digital Commerce 360, I’m involved in the B2B part of it. We have the retail, which is another side, although we do work together. It’s great to be here.

Barrett Thompson: Paul, share a little bit about your background as a professional.

Paul Demery: Okay. I've been a reporter for more decades than I can remember now, but like a lot of reporters, I started with newspapers covering just about everything from human interest stories to local businesses, environmental issues, a lot of that sort of thing. But sooner or later, I feel like a lot of us who get drawn into business journalism, because there were [00:02:00] more jobs there for me. It was a matter of moving into New York City where I could work for business publishers.

And so, it's always been interesting for me to cover business. Because, I guess partly, because I grew up with a dad who ran this a small manufacturing company and so I was always amazed and fascinated by the rhythm of the big machine shop that they had. They were making laser machines and all that, making parts for airplanes, and they actually made a part for the lunar module back in the seventies.

So, I then to start covering and writing about businesses. It just fascinated me. And then now that is all this internet technology we've been covering since the late 90s that I've been covering. It's fascinating to me to see how companies can use all these new technology and processes to really improve their operations, as opposed to a years ago, when maybe a manager would walk around the machine shops or the factory floor with a [00:03:00] note pad or something and check all their key statistics and all that. Now what they can do with this technology just blows my mind. And it's just fascinating to try to cover it.

So, it's very challenging and rewarding to see if you're going to help play any role in trying to help explain how companies are using these technologies to rebuild their operations. It's a lot of fun for us.

Barrett Thompson: Yeah. We've come a long way from the clipboard and pencil and the continue to leapfrog, decade by decade.

Paul. Tell me a little bit about Digital Commerce 360.

Paul Demery: It’s a publishing company, although we also have been into the conference side of the business. I guess, to put it in a nutshell, we were founded by our publisher way back in the mid 90s when…I think it was actually the late 80s when he saw in the market to cover the credit card industry before anyone else had ever covered it. And the ATM machines and all that stuff. So, we [00:04:00] grew. And then had magazines that covered the credit card industry and the credit card marketing industry and all that.

And then we got acquired by a big corporation called Thompson Cork, which is a multi-billion-dollar publisher. And so, we were just one unit of theirs, but we grew into covering all kinds of industries. So, we had about 12 magazine groups. And then the mid 90s or late 90s, we started covering internet technology and markets, and I joined them back then.

So, I've covered a lot of different industries from retail and even the accounting industry - covering the big accounting firms and all that, the auditing, and the consulting and all that sort of thing. We got acquired by Thompson and in the late 90s, we wanted to get into the internet just like everyone else.

And that's when we started one of our flagship brands called the Internet Retailer, which we grew laterally and started what was called the IRCE Tradeshow Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition or IRCE. [00:05:00] And we started then, I think, ‘05 and it grew to about a 10,000 person, 600 exhibitors show.

We have since sold that and managed it for a while. Now it's called Retail X. So, it's evolved. But we've been getting back into our own conferences and online trade shows and all this, too, for both B2B and the retail markets. I'm sorry. I didn't point out that we were part of Thompson for quite a few years. But then we broke off from them back in around 2000, right after we started Internet Retailer.

And so, then we also had a B2B magazines and trade show. Kind of road that boom-and-bust period. By 2002, we were broken off from Thompson, who started her own company called Vertical Web Media. It was called Vertical Web Media because we were going to cover all these different industries we thought were going to be tied to the internet.

So, then after the investment bust came in around 2001 or so, we could only scope out getting that retailer [00:06:00] laterally. So, we build it into both the magazine publisher, online newsletters, annual conferences, and we also get into a lot of research books. We started out as a Top 500, what we call the tough farm-to-retailers based on their eCommerce sales.

And then we built it into actually the Top 1000. We have it for different regions around the world - Latin America, Far East, Europe, and all that. And now we're trying to do the same thing more on the B2B side too, where we come out with annual publications on our own surveys, based on what online sellers are doing - what's important to the buyers. Whether it's everything from their sites search on your eCommerce site or how you connect with third-party marketplaces like Amazon or Amazon business, or how are you getting into the nitty gritty of the pricing on your eCommerce site or the pricing on the marketplaces that you're selling through.

So, we try to cover all of that kind of shotgun approach, try to cover all the parts of an ecosystem [00:07:00] of eCommerce sites and marketplaces. And try to write articles. Explain how they all that ecosystem has to work together. And how some of this technology, a lot of it, has continued to evolve over the years. Back in the late 90s, it was a lot of excitement about XML, Extended Markup Language and all that.

All the ways that software talked to each other and all that sort of thing. And now years later, a lot of it is less buzz and hype that a lot of this APIs, which is really a new flavor of what they're offering back in the late 90s, early 2000s, where you had a lot of that automated software to software communications. And now we're just seeing more of it evolve and becoming more practical. And it's not just some far off thing that companies actually realize they have to get into all this. Getting into really customer-experience and customer-focused or customer-centric eCommerce that [00:08:00] really helps to give the buyers what they need, whether you're talking about on the retail side or what can be a much more complicated B2B side, where buyers may need to, for example, be able to purchase something and then have it routed to their superiors for authorization. It can get pretty complex.

And obviously with the pricing too, contract pricing and all that.

Barrett Thompson: Yes. Paul, your organization has a lot of touch points and a lot of reach. So, I know that's valuable. Paul, I'm sure many people are asking you: “Boy, what about this disruptive year we've just come through in 2020?” From where you sit, what have you observed as the most important implications of the year we've just come through and maybe project that forward into 2021?

What response or trends or challenges do you see coming out of that 2020 recap?

Paul Demery: Right. Yeah. Great question, Barrett. And I guess to me, the overall, central thing that we think of is [00:09:00] that what was already a trend toward what was already going more into online commerce. But I think especially in the B2B side, I think companies were expecting: “Okay, maybe five years from now, we really need to be really well-suited in B2B eCommerce or Amazon businesses.”

It's going to come eat our lunch, that kind of thing. In this pandemic, obviously, with so many people working from home, not being able to do as much a face-to-face sales transactions with their sales reps, more companies realized that they had to really move up their plans to have a good self-service electronic commerce option for their customers.

I think that it's just really pushed these plans forward. And rather than it being maybe something five years down the road or three years down the road, it's “Wow, we have to get it up as soon as possible. We have to get something up, at least something basic up, this year or really move up our plans to improve [00:10:00] the eCommerce presence that we already have provided. It seems like there are two broad buckets that these companies are trying to get to: One, they have to make an eCommerce presence, whether it's on their own site or on third-party sites. It has to be very user-friendly. It must meet the standards that Amazon offers and any of these retail eCommerce sites. Because what companies have come to learn on the B2B side is that, even if your business is used to the ease of shopping on Amazon for their own personal use, which a lot of them are, they expect that on the B2B site. Even though the B2B site is way more complicated. Because companies need to see way more specifications on what can be very complicated products and systems. Maybe they're buying big electronic systems with a thousand components or something, and they need to configure it on their website.

With all this if you order it with these components, you have to [00:11:00] now order this and that. And then the pricing and everything is getting extremely complicated. So, you have to handle that the complexity there. And maybe the buyer wants or has to route their purchase for approval before they actually complete the process.

You have to get it approved by all their superiors or their coworkers. Or they need to deliver it to multiple departments in their corporation. And maybe there are multiple billing departments. Again, it can be so complicated. So, it's like companies have to move up their plans, whatever plans they have, to offer a user experience - but also one that handles all this complexity.

Barrett Thompson: Let me pick up on that user-experience idea. I think that's powerful. Right? The ante for a good user experience has already been set. And you described it: Amazon and other excellent retailers and e-tailers have taught all of us what a great userp-experience and shopping experience looks like.

But then that creates some pressure for B2B. Doesn't [00:12:00] it? Because as you described: “I may be ordering a complicated process, but I want a simple experience.” And that burden is back on the B2B seller to solve that dilemma. I want to confirm also, the point that you made, Paul. Many of our customers were saying to us: “Although we knew it all along, we never felt that it was so risky to have 1/2 to 2/3 of our actual order taking happening through sellers who were showing up on site.

Just placing the order right there. Separate maintaining the sales relationship from getting today's order placed. Many businesses were double-dipping. They were piggybacking on the top of their sales and customer relationship maintenance activities, put to the sellers and asking him to take orders as well.

And then when the sellers couldn't go on site because of COVID. Suddenly the orders drop. Yeah? And then, to your point you said, the buyer starts saying: “Where can I find a good online experience? [00:13:00] Or even an acceptable experience?” It might not have to be superior. It might just have to be acceptable. “Where can I find an acceptable online experience to get my order placed?”

And sure enough, it's driven, I would say, probably a third of the customers we're talking to from the Zilliant side are telling us that they have accelerated their B2B programs. Just like you said. Where they might've been planning to move from 5% to 8%, to 10% online over the coming three years, they're now saying: “How can I get to 30 and 40 and 50% in the next 18 months? Because I don't want to lose that business to a competitor while I was caught a little bit short.” So, Paul, we've established a lot of B2B sellers are trying to move quickly into an eCommerce selling environment and add that as a channel.

What are the challenges that they face?

Paul Demery: Yeah. When you talk to a lot of the companies that we've written about in this year, a lot of them will say: “Hey, [00:14:00] we were able to really move with this market this year.” Maybe they lost a lot of their customers or some of their biggest product lines were not available from suppliers, or for whatever reason, the demand for those products were down.

So, they had to adjust quickly. They had to, maybe, start selling different products to different customers. Or adding services. A lot of the ones that have done this successfully, what they've said is, that maybe it was a little bit of luck. But we had just deployed before COVID - maybe sometime in the second half of 2019 - we had just deployed a more flexible eCommerce platform that would have let us make these kinds of adjusted prices more quickly, add new product lines and reach new customers or provide more services. And they said: “That really saved it for us because we had already set up that new eCommerce platform, which is a more, say API-driven, much more smart, flexible [00:15:00] kind of platform that we're all to take advantage of it.

So now it's just that companies are realizing that going forward, they need to have these kinds of platforms now. They can't just rely on an old homegrown…Some companies have very homegrown, highly customized systems. Or maybe they're on some of what they call big old monolithic ones.

From companies like Oracle and the old HEG and IBM, now HCL, WebSphere or like SAP and Hybris. Those are like the ‘do everything kind of platforms,’ but that could take a lot of customization work. But you could customize it and do exactly what you wanted. And maybe that's the worst way you find.

But now there's so many other options. It's these companies with more SAAS (software as a service) where you can easily deploy something. But maybe you can't customize it the way you can with the others. But then you have Magento Commerce [00:16:00] with open source.

Or their enterprise version where you can now that they're backed by Adobe. So, then you have salesforce.com, which has the old Demandware and the cloud craze B2B. But still, and they have more, a lot of sweets, and a lot of add-ons. You can add onto those platforms or, the more totally API-driven, so-called headless commerce, from companies like Commerce Tools and Elastic Path and Z node. And so, it seems like there's so many more options for these days. Because each one of these kinds of platforms can be quite valuable to certain companies, all depending on what legacy systems they’re on, what they need to do, what kind of expertise they have, what kind of third-party consultants they work with. So, there's so many more options for companies to have the kind of flexible platform that would help them grow. Because they know they got burned in 2020, because they didn't have a flexible platform. We [00:17:00] gotta be ready for the next disruption, whether it's a totally unexpected market disruption like this pandemic, or it’s a disruption from the next Amazon business who's going to take your business away. It just seems like companies are realizing they have to have this kind of you might call it, agile, where you can keep going and changing it to according to your needs. Or it can build on what you have to address new markets.

Barrett Thompson: That’s right. You described their very well, sort of technical variety, the technical options, and if you will, even the technical agility that you need. But also, in your answer at the beginning, I wanted to call attention to what I think is really ‘commercial agility’ that a business would want to overlay on that tech stack.

You were saying, for example, as a part of coping with the realities of dropping demand in 2020, businesses had to target new customers. I'll put that under the ‘commercially agile’ category. They had to think about alternative [00:18:00] products. Maybe that's adjusting the product mix or picking up additional product lines.

Again, ‘commercial agility’ and pricing. I heard many of our customers say to us: “I'm having to do things in pricing now, that if you had told me in late 2019, I was going to be taken 30 and 40% price cuts, I would have told you, never! There is no circumstance under which that would happen. I'll walk away from the business first.” But they couldn't.

They had to do these things. So, thank you for calling that out. Paul, on the pricing angle in particular, are there some things, some opportunities or challenges that you've seen around pricing in that eCommerce channel? What is eCommerce doing well, as far as pricing? Maybe, what are they doing not so well they need to pay attention to?

Paul Demery: Right. Yeah. And that's another interesting point, especially if you're with all the marketplaces now where companies can have their products, whether it's on their own eCommerce sites, or on their distributor’s sites or these third-party marketplaces, whether it's [00:19:00] big mass markets, like Amazon or Ali Baba or others, or these very vertical niche marketplaces vertical by geography or vertical by category like chemicals, it's like an area of just construction materials. A lot of them have their own dedicated marketplaces. And so, to me, what you hear that one of the biggest challenges is: “This is great. It gives you more exposure.” But what can happen is a lot of these sellers get into a race to the bottom in pricing, which can be really dangerous. So, it just seems that it forces companies to do a couple of things; make sure that they're positioning their product with their pricing, but with their branded image that they need to succeed and differentiate. Maybe they're also offering “Hey, here's the full value that we offer” instead of just competing on the lowest price. “Wait, we're also offering…” making sure that they're differentiating both with the quality of the product. Or, but if [00:20:00] it's a, maybe it's a bits of commodity product, they're also providing what they can also offer through services. At the same time, having a price that recognizes all these many criteria, like: What is their available inventory?

What are their profit margins? And how much is what's the lifetime value of these particular customers for these products? So, it seems like you're seeing companies trying to at least have available more systems that can help them reach that kind of point where they can set the price at the best way that gives them maybe the most sales, but at the best profit margin.

And they're helping them quickly change price, maybe to move inventory that they need to move or depending on, how their competitors are pricing. Maybe they set business rules to change their pricing that way. And I guess in B2B, there's also the whole contract pricing. And that's yeah, it gets into a whole different animal in itself there.

Barrett Thompson: And just before we go there, I want to talk more about this [00:21:00] area that you've opened up for us. So, pricing that responds to inputs in real time, whether it's competitive price moves, supply demand changes, inventory positions like you gave Paul, or one perennial favorite I hear from my customers is even just their cost changes. “Raw materials are changing on the manufacturer or I'm the distributor and suppliers are coming to me with cost changes all the time.”

The label we put on this at Zilliant is real-time market pricing. Taking those very dynamic inputs, usually external to your business, often publicly available to you and others, and then doing something quickly and intelligently with your price to be sure that you're staying market aligned. Right? Because if your price is way out of whack with buyer's expectation that's going to create a lot of problems for you. From where you sit and with the exposure that you have to so many businesses, do you think B2B is coping well with the real-time pricing challenge right now? [00:22:00]

Paul Demery: Wow. Yeah. I think that's a good question. But I think it's a little tough to answer because I think it would be, I'm sure it varies so widely case by case. And so, like for us, if we can latch onto a company that can tell a good story about how they're actually doing a good job with that, using their technology, to really set their pricing in a way that really makes a difference.

And even if it's just, somebody’s companies that they're especially in high volume, it may be just a small percentage and their price, or their profit margin could make such a huge difference. In fact, that brings to mind the company we wrote about not too long ago, Terreal, I think their name was, the roofing contractor. They told a good story about how they were able to make quite a substantial difference in even just making what might look to be minor adjustments in their pricing could make a huge difference in, I guess it was, I'm trying to remember it, but in both their sales volume and their profit margin.

Barrett Thompson: [00:23:00] That's right. If one's willing to do some basic business math, you can show that leverage that you were just talking about.

That a 1% increase in price is fairly modest, overall, could make an 8, 10, 12% change in profitability, under a set of assumptions. So, there's a lot of leverage in that. I hear customers when I'm looking at the people that are in the market talking about their pricing solutions and so on. Often, I see that they already have, or they're in search of things like competitive price screen scraping software. Or they're looking for a way to purchase data intelligence on supply and demand or inventory positions. Paul, are there other real-time signals you've heard people talk about either they want to respond to, or they are responding to and where are they getting that information to make a response?

Paul Demery: I think nowadays, there potentially can, in many cases are, getting these kinds of signals from so many different places now. Because [00:24:00] there's just so many. Whether it's Google ads or maybe stuff that's on some of these new social media sites or wherever it may be, they have the capability of getting that information.

What different products or different skews and different markets. Not only how they're priced, but how well conversions are related to each price. But some of the basic technology here, like for example, product information management, that's in data management, all that.

A lot of companies are coming to realize that's like a core part of any eCommerce infrastructure. Because if you don't have that, your product data, including pricing and all that accurate and up to date, it doesn't make sense to build out the rest of your eCommerce infrastructure, until that's accurate.

But I think it's even taken another step, now. Some of these companies are also adding more data analytics and artificial intelligence and all that to those kinds of [00:25:00] platforms so that you're not only making sure that you have all this product information and pricing accurate and up-to-date, and consistent throughout all your many selling channels.

But that you're also factoring in what mix of pricing and content attributes or could be images or videos related to a product or cross-selling opportunities, whatever information might be helpful to your customers, even down to specific groups of customers or maybe even individual customers.

What mix of data in pricing and other contents, specifications, and images and all that is going to help convert that particular customer to us - to a buying customer? What is actually going to convert that to a sale to increase your revenue? I think that's where a lot of this is going. All these, whether it's like that kind of product information management system [00:26:00] or other data management system, it seems like everybody's pulling all this data together. The old argument of big data. It seems like years ago; big data was this buzzword that everybody thought was just hype. But I think companies are actually learning how to use a lot of this data. Maybe not all of it, but they're using a lot of it and they're figuring out how to filter it down and analyze it, compile it, analyze it, put it to some good use.

And really understanding what mix of all this data is going to just win over the sales and this particular event that's going on our site right now? Or maybe it's on a third-party marketplace?

Barrett Thompson: Yeah, that's right. I agree with that. I've seen the same and for each ambition that a business has commercially, there's probably data implications to make that happen.

One I'm thinking of goes back to that competitive price we were talking about. Someone will say: “Hey, I've just purchased a technology to go and scrape my competitor's website. And so now I can go pull their product ID [00:27:00] and their latest price.” And then it hits them: “Wait a minute. Those product IDs that my competitor uses.

Those don't match the product IDs that I have in my system.” For the very same product. Let's say it's two distributors pushing the same commodity. So, they're faced with this additional challenge is that they have to be able to cross reference the product IDs. Otherwise, they can't pull it together and say: “Here's my price. Here's my competitor's price. Who's above? Who's below? And what policy do I want to have in response to that?”

But I do see businesses getting much sharper at this whole data management and data exploitation. I've seen people that have created entire teams, data management, data science teams over the last several years, maybe more as a generalist teams that will then turn their attention to various problems in the space.

So, I see that going on. I see a lot of people recognizing the value of that data. I'm a little surprised that I am not aware of more third-party [00:28:00] data sellers, but that just might be my exposure. Do you run across people who are selling extremely valuable third-party data in an industry to certain kinds of customers?

Have you seen anything like that, Paul?

Paul Demery: Yeah. I'm sorry. I don't think I, again, I don't think I can point to anything like that right away. But there certainly are. Even the companies that, for example, help sellers sell through marketplaces, sell through Amazon and others.

I'm sure that they provide a lot of the data on what the sellers may need. Whether it's aggregated industry data, it wouldn't be very, maybe personalized, to expose a particular company's pricing, but they certainly have the aggregated data, on for selling this skew or this kind of product category ‘here's what it's selling for.’ And I don't know for sure, but I think they'd even get into, at least ‘how well it sells at these price points.’

So, I think that's at least an aggregate [00:29:00] manner, but yeah, seems like there's just more use of all this data all the time. There's more data available and companies that are learning so much about how to better use that information. Even all this artificial intelligence, it seems like there are companies that are learning more how to actually apply that in a more practical way. And not only that, it seems like one of the biggest problems. Whereas we’ve got always so much analytics data. What do we do with it? Where we find the expertise and our staff who knows how to do that? But I know companies are just finally getting, I think, better at that, too. Maybe it's more analytics experts that are available now.

And I think there's more companies coming out with that are getting some venture capital behind them that are building more systems that help you manage all this data. Help you make your AI systems more effective. Which I've got to learn more about, but I know there's a lot of that in the works.

Barrett Thompson: Absolutely. I've seen everything from university degrees focused on data analytics [00:30:00] and modeling. The large consulting firms have stood up practices focused on this, thousands, tens of thousands of individuals, and that discipline over the last 10 years. Paul let's think about this, too. I'm aware that most of the B2Bs we're talking about are likely to be multi-channel businesses already – that have a set of traditional sales channels. When they bring eCommerce online for the first time or when it begins to grow and become a significant proportion of the overall revenues, what are some of the channel challenges or channel conflicts that you've seen that they need to think about and manage proactively?

Paul Demery: I guess maybe the most common one to me would be manufacturers who are strong to sell direct. And they're concerned about upsetting their distributors and resellers and a wholesalers who got big work for many years and got a lot of value out of them. Now they're selling direct. But it seems like companies are maybe at least finding some ways to do that. [00:31:00] Because, if a manufacturer sells direct, maybe it helps it expand the brand more. And I think there's been data to show that a lot of buyers like going to a manufacturer's website if it's available because they feel they're getting more accurate information on products.

And so, I think you're seeing more kind of blended strategies here where maybe a manufacturer is selling direct to end customers, whether it's consumers or corporate buyers or whatever. But maybe they're only selling certain products to those customers. And they sell only others through their distributors. Or they're also maybe agreeing not to undercut their distributors prices if they sell direct.

And what you're seeing a lot more manufacturers deploying these marketplace applications or micro-sites, whatever we call them. But there's a growing number of companies that are providing this kind of marketplace software that you can [00:32:00] attach to your own eCommerce platform or integrated directly.

So, you're actually running your own marketplace. You can provide maybe a lot of your distributors or maybe even some of your competitors. But under certain rules, maybe they're going to sell certain products or give distributors a chance to show their own expertise. So, maybe they all list the same products in this marketplace section that the manufacturer is offering. But the distributors can maybe toot their horn a little bit saying, “Buy from us and get these kinds of services. If you buy these metalworking products from us, we're going to give you calibration services. And we're going to give you the metalworking expertise that you can get online or on the phone whenever you want.” And that sort of thing.

Barrett Thompson: Those are creative combinations where the manufacturer and distributor can work together to make those channels, successful for both parties. Paul, I think that's really valid. Paul, if I'm a B2B company [00:33:00] and I want to get into a marketplace sales channel, do you have some guidance for me about what I should think about and what I should do first?

Paul Demery: Yeah, to me, it would be deciding which buyers you're trying to contact or that you're trying to reach. And maybe get a better understanding of which marketplaces those buyers are already using. Or at least the types of marketplaces they're using, whether it's a mass market like Amazon business or a real niche player, like node.com, which is a chemicals marketplace. But also, maybe just understanding the kind of relationship you want to have with the marketplace.

If you go to Amazon, you get extremely high volume and great exposure. But at the same time, you could refer to as, I don't know, piglets dancing with the bear. Because you're playing on the big time. Amazon may, if they see you have a really hot product, they may develop their own version of [00:34:00] it. I believe it's still the case where in. an Amazon business, you have a lot of ways that you can set up contract arrangements with your business customers. But I believe with Amazon, they really control the customer and the marketing and all that. So, it's usually the trade-off; you get the volume and sales on Amazon you wouldn't otherwise. And then maybe people will know your brand enough to come directly to your site, too.

But the fact is, Amazon more controls the market. But if you go to other marketplaces, they have a different model, Alibaba and others. Or they'll say, “We don't compete with you because Alibaba doesn't sell its own products too.” Or some of these other marketplaces. So, I guess it's the trade-off. But I think I've talked to so many companies that at the same time, they may complain that Amazon can, for example, have strict rules and standards. And they make it difficult.

But at the same time, we love the volume. We love the sales we get. So, I guess it's [00:35:00] a matter of deciding what products do you want to sell through Amazon? Maybe, perhaps, your best product or the best profit margin that also needs extra services, like a really complicated electronic system, whatever it is.

Maybe you only want to sell that on your own site because you want to keep that profit margin. You don't want other companies trying to see too much information about it and building a competitive product. You want to control the branding. You want to control the opportunity to sell value add on services with that high-end system. And then maybe just sell more of your commodity products through Amazon, where you're not so concerned.

And you can have a good say, for example, the commodities that are going to be based more on price. So, you have a good pricing system that can adjust your price based on what your competitors are doing and the supply and demand. So, I guess it's like a bifurcated strategy there.

Barrett Thompson: Yeah. I hear that a split strategy or is it not a one size fits all. I can [00:36:00] think about targeting customers. I can think about specific products and then I can select the right exchange for the kinds of properties and trade-offs I'm willing to take. Right? Paul, this has been a great conversation today and you've given us a lot of great ideas and considerations for improving the eCommerce experience.

I want to thank you for sharing your perspectives with us.

Paul Demery: Thanks very much Barrett. It's fun to talk with you guys. It's always a good to share and your expertise and what you guys see in this market. And thanks for your time. It's great to talk with you today.

Barrett Thompson: I want to thank each of our podcast listeners for being with us today.

Please see the show notes for a link to the case study that Paul mentioned for Terreal, the roofing tile manufacturer. It's produced by Digital Commerce 360. It's an excellent asset. We're committed to your success. And if you need any assistance, please reach out to us at Zilliant. If you would kindly take a moment to rate and review the show, this will help us continue to put out great free content.

This concludes our [00:37:00] podcast. And until next time. Have a great day.

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