SupplyKick Helps Brands Use Amazon’s Platform for Sales, Marketing

Amazon, the retail giant with tentacles into a number of other verticals, has changed life—or shopping, at least—as we know it. The Seattle-based company has also spawned new industries and consultancies that revolve around successfully maximizing the functionality of Amazon’s various platforms.

Indianapolis-based SupplyKick is one such company helping retail brands to better understand and use Amazon, and it’s growing quickly, earning a spot on Inc. magazine’s list of fastest-growing private companies two years in a row.

SupplyKick buys, stores, and markets products for other companies selling their wares on Amazon’s platform. CEO Josh Owens says when his company started five years ago, it was buying overstock from manufacturers and selling it on Amazon for a higher price. Then, two years ago, SupplyKick pivoted, he says.

“We decided to work with brands and manufacturers directly as a resale partner,” he explains.

Owens saw a better opportunity in helping retail brands understand the complexities of Amazon’s platform and then helping them master it. “I saw two big things: Amazon’s Marketplace was expanding and they were very obvious about their growth plans,” he says. “And, in that situation, Amazon was essentially creating a giant [online] mall.”

Few brands, he felt, seemed to have enough in-house expertise to fully harness the Amazon platform, so SupplyKick decided to offer what was essentially retail-as-a-service, providing digital tools for marketing, analytics, and inventory management along with sales assistance.

His team spends a lot of time on inventory management. Brands can have the best product listing, he says, but if they don’t have the right product in stock, or if they’re overstocking the wrong products, it can wreak havoc on the bottom line.

“If you’re a brand, you have two options,” Owens says. “You can sell to Amazon directly and they set the price and do the marketing. You’re kind of giving them your product—you have no control of your brand. Or you can sell on Amazon Marketplace and make data-driven decisions, which is where we saw a big opportunity.”

Owens says SupplyKick works with about 100 different brands across the country, but cites an Indiana customer as a success story. Johnson Hardware, maker of barn doors that are popular with Pinterest DIYers, was able to double sales after partnering with SupplyKick, Owens says.

The 40-person, privately funded company plans to spend the rest of the year building new features and improving processes, Owens says. “The back end of Amazon is the same for all brands, so we’re going to take information [from customers with improved sales] and apply those lessons across our portfolio. It allows us to build our capabilities as we bring on larger partners.”

SupplyKick, which earned 4th place on Indiana Business Journal’s Fast 25 list in 2017 and a 2018 Mira Award for scale-up of the year, plans to move into a new office in downtown Indy soon. In 2019, the company hopes to continue the growth that has resulted in the business doubling annual revenues for the past three years, Owens says.

“We’re constantly talking to our partners, and we’ve begun having conversations around raising money,” he says.

Sarah Schmid Stevenson is the editor of Xconomy Detroit/Ann Arbor. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET_AA

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