How this growing startup is changing the online retail game from their new Cincinnati headquarters
Have you ever wondered how so many small businesses find success on the gigantic marketplace of Amazon? The truth is, many don’t. The online marketplace can be extremely competitive, forcing many companies to settle for smaller margins and fewer customers. But one of the newest members of the Cincinnati startup scene is helping to fix that. Amify, originally based in Arlington, Virginia, opened its second headquarters in Cincinnati in the fall, and aims to help companies survive in the crowded world of Amazon.
“We help brands sell directly to their customers on Amazon,” said Marketing VP Sean Lee. “We’re a full-service partner that helps them strategize and manage the day-to-day of selling on Amazon. That includes everything from making sure that other people aren’t selling their products and cleaning up pricing violations to creating all the content that you see on the product pages and optimizing advertising. We also do forecasting for them so that they stay in stock at Amazon’s fulfillment centers and don’t have to pay long-term storage fees.”
With so many brands shifting to Amazon as an important model of distribution, Lee said the selling process on the website has gotten complex and challenging. Many companies that Amify works with have assumed they need to reduce their profits to participate and are shocked to find how much money Amify can save them.
“We worked with a beauty care company that had about 35 different outlets selling their product,” said Lee. “They had just continued to lower their price, so it was below where they were selling on their website and through other channels. We helped clean that up in a matter of three months, improving their content and advertising. Within 12 months, they were doing about five times more revenue on a monthly basis on the platform. With Amify, you can really grow pretty quickly.”
When Amify says full-service, they mean full-service. The company handles brand protection — ensuring trademarks and brand registries are updated — monitors distribution and seller agreements, enhances the content of product pages, optimizes sales for search engines and just about everything in between. By partnering with Amify, small businesses can compete against larger distributors.
“I think the key for us is having the context behind the ways people sell,” Lee said. “Sometimes they sell to Amazon, which is just like selling to Walmart or Target, where Amazon buys a big order. But companies lose a lot of control over how their product shows up that way. They have to sell products at wholesale and then Amazon will set the price. So by shifting that model, we can help them control everything end-to-end — how consumers experience their brand, the price point and who else sells the product on Amazon. But the trade-off is that you have to do a lot more yourself, so we cover all of the additional complexities that allow companies to take back control.”
Lee said Amazon isn’t spending as much as they used to, which means dwindling market shares for middle-tier companies. But with Amify’s expertise, those companies can streamline their process enough to survive the dog-eat-dog environment of online sales.
“For a lot of brands, Amazon’s kind of winding down the amount of products that they’re buying from people directly,” said Lee. “There’s this middle market of brands — not the Procter and Gamble’s of the world, but the thousands of brands that are in the middle tier — that do $2 million to $10 million in sales and are really looking for someone to help as Amazon buys less from them. We really help medium-size businesses save a lot of time and money because often they’ll have several employees working only on Amazon. Being able to consolidate that into one place really helps to simplify the process.”
Since arriving in Cincinnati, Amify has quickly embraced their new home and is already thriving. Working out of a renovated firehouse in Cincinnati’s up-and-coming Walnut Hills neighborhood, Lee said Amify’s employees and leaders are finding a great new home in Ohio.
“It’s been awesome to plug into the startup community here in Cincinnati, especially through organizations like CincyTech and how they’ve helped as an investor,” said Lee. “There’s also Cintrifuse and the Brandery, and really just a great network of founders and resources here. They’ll make sure that you’re connected and that you can be successful, whether that’s raising new money or helping find other people who can help solve your problems.”