Amazon has become both a marketing must and a frustrating mess for up-and-coming and legacy brands alike, serving as both a foundation for new brands before they launch into retail or a place where consumers scout out products before they buy in retail. However it’s approached, Amazon has become a leading source of both sales and confusion as navigating Amazon ranks second of the biggest challenges of online retail in a Nutrition Business Journal survey of natural product manufacturers.
We asked a few questions of Erika Welsh, co-founder and CMO of Wild Friends Foods, on their Amazon strategy and building community in a digital environment. Here's what she had to say.
Can you give us a little background about the history of Wild Friends Foods?
Erika Welsh: My co-founder, Keeley, and I started Wild Friends when we were college students and had run out of peanut butter—our favorite food! Instead of biking to the store to buy more, we decided to try making our own. That day, Wild Friends was born and less than a year later, we left college to pursue our peanut butter dreams.
In the early stages of growing Wild Friends, where did you start selling and why?
EW: We initially started selling at farmers markets, which was a great way for us to connect with customers early on. After several months of testing and refining our products at farmers markets, we started pursuing grocery stores because we wanted customers to be able to find our products consistently.
As your brand has grown, how do you continue to cultivate a sense of community online?
EW: Building relationships with our online community has been important to us since day one. We quickly realized how much more powerful it is when other people tell our story and talk about our products versus us talking about them. Find people in your online community who are truly passionate about your brand and love your products and pour your energy into them—quality over quantity.
Specific to Amazon, how has Wild Friends utilized Amazon Launchpad to tell a story digitally and create differentiation for your brand?
EW: Through features like A+ content, branded store pages and exclusive advertising, Amazon Launchpad has allowed us to communicate who we are and why we're different in a way that we couldn't before.
What was one of the biggest struggles when selling online and managing the relationship between digital and brick-and-mortar retail?
EW: For a while, our struggles with selling online came from not having enough people on our team to devote to focusing on both brick-and-mortar retail and e-commerce. Now that we've been able to hire some great people, we can spend more energy selling online and reaching new customers, while still focusing on brick-and-mortar retail.
What is the single most important piece of advice you can give to brands building or refining their Amazon strategy?
EW: Amazon can be intimidating when you're just starting out. Talk to some Amazon experts, whether that's another brand that's had great success on Amazon or an Amazon-specific broker, who can answer all of your critical questions and who will share the "to-dos" and "not to-dos" of the platform.
Want more? Join us for our Navigating Amazon BrandCamp webinar on June 20 to hear more from Wild Friends Foods on how they've successfully used Amazon as part of their omnichannel strategy.