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It’s a wrap, Prosper Show

 

Virtual events got us through the worst of the pandemic and helped professionals continue to network, learn and grow – and then of course there are the benefits like avoiding the inconvenience of travel. Certainly, virtual benefits abound yet nothing, really, can replace the uplifting energy and productivity of connecting with people in person. So last week at Prosper Show, it was a merry group of Tradeswell quants that traveled to Las Vegas.

Prosper is the leading show for Amazon Sellers seeking to scale their businesses and this year’s show did not disappoint. What we loved most was the way the programming spanned a Seller’s every need. In the education track, we heard from multiple former Amazon insiders, thought leaders from top Amazon marketplace solution providers and successful Amazon Sellers themselves. If you had a question, these innovators would have a helpful answer!

We noted the broad range of relevant topics to help brands grow and flourish, including practical tips on keywords and listing optimization, video’s role in growth and loyalty, fulfillment considerations and alternative options, and how to protect one’s business from abuse and Black Hat tactics.

The event content was also full of replicable best practices and structured networking moments to meet and greet like-minded others. A key benefit of hearing about the success (or lessons learned) of other, more established Amazon brands is being able to then interpret those learnings and apply them in the context of your particular business. And, it’s always great to glean insights into consumer trends and industry predictions to consider in the coming weeks and months, especially as Sellers begin to execute Back-to-School campaigns while simultaneously putting the finishing touches on Holiday 2021 programs.

Outside of the sharing sessions, Sellers explored the exhibit floor showcasing 100+ fascinating solutions and service providers in the Amazon ecosystem, most of which one might never discover on their own. These are the innovators and modern businesses that have sprung up to solve the nuanced problems of Amazon sellers, all focused on helping brands grow, scale efficiently and make their online businesses more profitable.

While the aggregators were there en force, it was refreshing to meet with founders and team members from emerging brands who were focused on growth, whether driving their US business to new levels on additional platforms and through partnerships, or expanding into global markets. It was clear to us that the brands we met are in it to win it, employing sophisticated approaches to growing their businesses, without an eye to a quick exit. (Acknowledging, of course, that proven growth tactics and operating efficiency are a prerequisite for a successful exit.)

We heard so many inspiring stories… a nurse seeking to create a better life for her children and so is nurturing an Amazon business on the side with the intent to build it up and possibly pass it on to her kids in the future. We were impressed by another woman who, when she couldn’t find certain solutions for her own hair, came up with a specialized product line. While she was at home managing their salon and budding ecommerce business, her husband attended the show to conduct research on solutions that could help them scale their business – now that’s teamwork!

So, while much has been reported about SMBs and the unique challenges they face, many of which result in premature business closures, we were encouraged by the passion-fueled ecommerce entrepreneurs and brand builders we met at Prosper. 

Among the themes we observed:

Reimagination of traditional business models and functional structures

In so many larger organizations, separate teams handle sales/inventory, marketing and finance with minimal cross-functional coordination and collaboration. These smaller entrepreneurs have avoided overly segmenting their functional silos, streamlining organizational structures and empowering team members with almost a general management type of purview. 

In this regard, these businesses have a unique advantage over their large, established competitors. They are structured for success by being able to recognize and react to cross-functional impacts and dependencies in real time. With the right technology in place (i.e. no manual spreadsheets) like Tradeswell’s operating system that provides a cross-functional view into sales, marketing, operations and finance, with AI-powered insights automatically surfaced, they can mobilize even faster decision-making and smart actions.

A hyperfocus on assortment optimization and curation 

Rather than getting distracted with efforts to support low sales/ancillary products, these entrepreneurs are focused on becoming masters of inventory management for the products that matter most for their businesses and their customers. What we see as most promising for them is demand forecasting. Rather than trying to predict demand themselves, these leaders are embracing machine learning to do it for them so they can spend their time making the productive decisions based on those very forecasts. The Tradeswell platform is especially valued for its SKU-level forecasts with 90% accuracy, enabling brands to focus on the items that are resonating with consumers and delist products that are dragging down performance.  

Business builders, creating products and delivering value – with a long-term view  

Unlike some of the early DTC entrepreneurs who openly admitted that they launched the business for the express purpose of an exit to an established company, many emerging brands we met are thinking long-term. They want to build an enduring future for themselves, their families, their employees and their communities. 

As such, they are embracing online models that enable them to compete with healthy margins, and they recognize the pressing need to balance sales growth with operating costs. When we shared our Finance dashboard, showing SKU-level profitability and Above the Line/Below the Line P&L insights, they perked up and said, Wait, really? This is the type of solution I need to grow and scale the businesses, profitably.   

Overall, what we saw was a drive toward simplicity, a clutter-free pathway to scale: Simplifying organizational structures and processes, simplifying assortments and products, and simplifying their data analysis and associated metrics, focused on growth and their bottom line. We’re looking forward to witnessing firsthand how this straightforward strategy plays out for these determined ecommerce entrepreneurs.

 


 

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