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Amazon Academy at Glasgow with Enterprise Nation

Amazon Academy + Enterprise Nation

The Amazon Academy, with more than a little help from Enterprise Nation, visited Glasgow recently (17/04/2018), so we headed along.

It’s the second trip to the Central Belt for The Amazon Academy in two years. Their first foray north was around a year ago to Edinburgh. This year they shared their love with Glasgow instead.

So what did we think?

Engaging

Well, the first thing I noticed was that it seemed a much more engaging event that the previous one.

Maybe the venue (Glasgow’s SECC as opposed to Edinburgh’s EICC) helped, and maybe the much more obvious focus on Retailers helped as well, the technical AWS stream was dropped this year.

Whatever, the difference was, it seemed a much more successful event, in my opinion.

Doug Gurr gets the event going

The day opened with the Amazon Country Manager, Doug Gurr, giving a very positive message about the emerging trend in Scotland related to online retail (and in particular Amazon of course).

Doug gave a couple of case studies, and in ran through a potted history of Assai Records, one of the clients that use Seller Dynamics. With a strong online presence, big users of FBA, and record shops in Broughty Ferry & Edinburgh, Assai are an interesting case study.

Assai (HTS) sell a number of lines, but have a great line in Vinyl Records. We got involved with them when they got frustrated with their then supplier of marketplace management software, and they’ve been with us since 2012.

If you like your vinyl, you can find a regular Vinyl Release video – often very funny – on their Facebook page. The Assai Edinburgh Shop manager does a very passable imitation of Liam Gallacher in one of the video reviews.

Clearly Doug was keen to encourage the audience, and was suitably complimentary about the audience’s entrepreneurship and business drive.

As we chatted to the retailers throughout the day it was clear that all were looking for the next profitable thing to do in their business – and Amazon featured highly. Though it was also equally clear that many were hesitant about how to make the first step, or indeed wondering if taking the next step was going to be worthwhile.

The Case Studies

As the day progressed there was a good panel session where successful Amazon Sellers got a chance to explain how they were doing.

Michael Corrigan from Trtl is always good to listen to, and does pop up a lot at this type of event, but Trtl’s simple yet brilliant scarf to help you sleep on a plane deserves the attention. They built their business by selling on Amazon USA – a great example of how Amazon can really create success stories.

Also in good form was Karen Riddick from Second Nature, her honesty and candour was refreshing. Particularly interesting was her story of being relieved when she was able to send her stock to FBA. The reason? She could no longer see it, and because of that she no longer felt as anxious.

Karen also recommended getting a Gym membership if you use FBA. When she stopped having to lug around boxes in her warehouse, she put on a couple of stones in weight. (Now no longer evident I hasten to add).

Wearing his trade mark hat – A Panda – Chris Forbes from Cheeky Panda, explained about building his Bamboo based tissue business with Amazon. The audience started buying his stuff during the discussion – that’s pretty cool.

It was an interesting session, hosted by the unflappable and articulate, Emma Jones, of Enterprise Nation. I think she may have done a few of these before. Emma did the MC thing throughout the day, and did well to keep the energy going in the room.

Robots

After the panel it was Amazon’s Gavin Morrison's turn, and he opted for the assistance of video…

Videos of robots bringing the shelfing to the picker in an Amazon Fulfilment Centre helped to show how sophisticated Amazon’s fulfilment is. And a video of something called SCOT (can’t remember why) featured a cartoon bagpiper – if Gavin want’s a real bagpiper next time I’ll give my older brother a shout for them.

If anyone was in any doubt that Amazon can fulfil orders better than anyone else, they were surely relieved of that doubt by the end of the 15 minute session from Gavin.

The Hague Agreement

There wasn’t a poor session during the day. Perhaps the session featuring the DIT, a Tax Expert, a Forex Specialist and an IP lawyer was a little dry – but even that was handled well, with audience participation. Emma insisting that a questioner should stand up so she could be identified as the Hague Agreement specialist in the audience, that was a good way to lighten up some dry (but important) subjects.

The Afternoon Sessions

Skipping past lunch (I had the fish pie if you are wondering) there were three or four smaller breakout sessions to attend.

Going Global proved a popular draw, but I opted for the other three choices.

Deal of The Day

The Marketing Session pushed the benefit of Deal of The Day and Lightening Sales. There are some pretty heavy gating factors before a retailer can access those options – but it was interesting enough. Struck me as a little expensive for the lightening deals (I am Scottish of course), but undoubtedly a good way to establish early sales, or shift end of line items, if your pockets are deep enough.

Prime

The Amazon Prime Session was interesting, pushing the increase in sales you can expect if you adopt FBA. The session didn’t cover Seller Fulfilled Prime, which was a pity, given the increasing use. But you can’t have everything squeezed into 30 minutes.

Amazon Business

The B2B Session was the last one I attended before the after hour drinks. I’d liked to have heard how Handmade At Amazon was progressing – but I couldn’t be in two places at once and opted for the Amazon Business session hosted by Nikhil Amin, who persevered well despite his tickly throat.

We’ve supported Amazon B2B, within Seller Dynamics, since it started in the UK, and I wanted to hear how things were going.

And things on the Amazon B2B side seem to go well, though I sense not quite as fast as it did in the USA when they launched there a couple of years back. Amazon B2B has always struck me as a great option for almost every retailer on Amazon.

Amazon Business is structured so that businesses who buy on it can get bulk discounts, credit terms and the all important VAT invoice.  And with workflows and user login management it’s a great solution for businesses who want to buy online and control access. Retailers should take note and sign up on it, it’ll increase sales.

The Wrap Up

The after hour drinks allowed a few folks to have a chat and a beer before heading away. From the comments I heard it seemed to have been a good day. The only real negative comments surrounded not being able to get answers to specific questions from the Amazon folks on the various stands. Understandable I guess on both sides.

All in all, a pretty fine event, with a good audience in attendance. Most of the audience perhaps still quite early in Amazon adoption, but a few who were further down the track. On a straw poll basis I reckon 15% were making a living on Amazon but were needing to grow, and 15% would never be able to sell on Amazon due to the product type. The remaining 70% were probably just needing a good push to get over the line and to actually realise what the folks at Trtl and others have found: Amazon can really get your business moving.

Looking forward to next years already. Thanks to Enterprise Nation and the folks at Amazon for taking the time.

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