Adoption of Amazon tools empowers brand owners to grow their brand and reach business customers
From cash and carry to international e-commerce
During the early 2000s, Rex Brown started out in bricks-and-mortar retail as a ‘cash and carry’, selling stock to local stores and shopkeepers. By 2013, the business began evolving into selling online through a range of e-commerce channels, and by 2015 the business was seeing real success in selling bulk toilet paper at low prices online.
The digital and physical retail entities are now entirely separate to better facilitate growth online – and Rex Brown’s Managing Director, Shahin Sacki, was appointed around six years ago to lead this growth opportunity.
Shahin explains that he was on such a mission “to crack the daddy of all marketplaces”, and to unlock Amazon’s potential as a sales channel, that in 2016 he recruited a former Amazon employee to drive growth.
In 2017, Shahin oversaw the launch of Cusheen’s dedicated, consumer-facing Amazon storefront, and in 2020 the business shifted to target more business customers through Amazon Business, with bulk hygiene supplies in high demand among those buyers.
Shahin and the team are now focused on building traction and trust with B2B customers, adopting Amazon Business brand owner tools to increase the brand’s reach, and exploring how to replicate Cusheen’s success with other brands under the Rex Brown umbrella.
Deploying brand owner tools to gain traction and build trust
Cusheen has enrolled in a range of brand owner tools available through Seller Central, including Brand Registry, Early Reviewer Program, Campaign Manager and A+ Content manager.
Shahin identified Amazon Business as an exciting business proposition to expand the brand’s customer base, with untapped markets in sectors such as hospitality, retail and commercial office space.
“Launching on Amazon Business was a natural extension of our existing customer-facing channels with Amazon,” Shahin explains. “We were motivated to get involved due to the significant business opportunity, but also the opportunity to deepen our relationship with Amazon and to access additional services like dedicated account managers and online tools.”
“We were approached directly by Amazon Business with a strong business proposition, and ultimately we were surprised at the high level of demand from B2B audiences compared to our regular B2C customers,” he adds.
Bulk buy options quickly became a tried-and-tested tactic to drive B2B sales, and Amazon Business customers shopping for Cusheen products can access big reductions in price based on quantity.
“The benefits and opportunities are endless, and in terms of our other brands, we’re only just seeing the potential of Amazon Business – from brand exposure to sales and data insights.”
— Shahin Sacki, Managing Director, Rex Brown
Pandemic triggers unprecedented demand for toilet paper
“It’s been a big year for toilet paper!” Shahin laughs, reflecting on this year’s global surge in demand for toilet paper as many customers stockpiled essential goods throughout the coronavirus crisis and subsequent lockdowns.
This demand means Cusheen has been able to keep its products flying off the shelves without needing to access promotional tools other than bulk buy reductions.
“At one stage this year, manufacturers were effectively rationing the product and prioritising major supermarkets rather than online sellers. When stock came back online, it would sell out in days. We had three weeks of stock sell in under two days, and manufacturers were producing it round-the-clock. These were Black Friday-style sales figures for toilet paper – totally unprecedented.”
Tools to manage brand image and drive new customer growth
Shahin explains that Cusheen’s digital presence on Amazon benefits from the ability to control the brand’s visual style, tone of voice, and the look and feel at all times.
“Seeing Cusheen listed as its own brand, with a storefront we can tailor and personalise, adds credibility and trust to our digital presence. We want Cusheen to be an aspirational, lifestyle-led brand, so the look and feel is vital. The fact we can make the storefront mirror the design of our own website is an extremely useful tool. Together, these tools add credibility where another brand might otherwise get lost.”
Shahin also feels Amazon Business is the best available marketplace system to access and analyse insights in areas such as sales, keyword bidding and customer feedback. In particular, his team look at return on investment, customer review feedback, and areas such as Daily Deals.
Brand Analytics can also be used to inform new product development. For example, Cusheen’s key differentiator is product scent, with Cusheen Lavender the best-seller currently. Looking at sales trajectory, customer feedback, and products which are recommended to customers alongside Cusheen products, the team can use this data to explore new product ideas such as lavender-scented disinfectant, hand sanitiser, toilet cleaners or candles.
“We aspire to be more of a lifestyle brand, leading on scent, with a range of products inspired by our most popular scents like shea butter, lemon, cherry, coconut. Yankee Candle is one brand we take inspiration from – they provide great consumer choice and have built enduring brand trust.”
Advice for aspiring brand owners
Although Cusheen is not a direct B2B proposition – businesses and consumers alike need toilet paper – Shahin feels the growth potential among business customers is huge. “The benefits and opportunities are endless, and in terms of Rex Brown’s other brands, we’re only just seeing the potential of Amazon Business – from brand exposure to sales and data insights.”
He feels other brand owners may be surprised by the potential with Amazon Business. “I’ve noticed that whenever speaking to a buyer, their first port of call to check a price is the Amazon homepage. That’s a key indicator of its importance and credibility, but it also shows a missed opportunity to capture those buyers early in their process.”
From there, Shahin advises that the key ingredients for an impactful seller presence are rich content, compelling text, crisp imagery, great customer service, and trustworthy reviews.
“Having first launched on Amazon in 2017 and Amazon Business in 2020, we are still in the early stages of our brands’ potential growth through Amazon. By leveraging the functionality and insights of brand owner tools, our vision for the future of Cusheen is becoming clearer.”