In a quiet rebellion against the monopoly of the digital marketplace that is Amazon, some companies are making the choice to leave the umbrella of the giant retailer and drive merchandise to their own websites.
Not restricted to one market sector, even mega brands like Nike, IKEA, and Birkenstock have made the move to pull merchandise from Amazon during the past 24 months. Departing companies – both large and small alike – share a common litany of complaints. Among them include frustration with Amazon’s business practices, a prevalence of fraudulent returns, no control over customer service, and lack of access to customer data.
Pacific Northwest Components was launched in 2015 by a former Amazon global business development employee and his wife. The startup markets to mountain bikers, supplying equipment and parts such as handlebars, levers, and other miscellaneous bike components. While off to a promising launch with gradual and steady growth, the fledgling company took a hit when the pandemic caused global supply shortages, at the same time as demand for outdoor recreational activities surged. Ironically, one of their biggest barriers to success was dealing with Amazon, the primary outlet where PNW marketed their product.
Deciding the pros no longer outweighed the cons, PNW removed their products from Amazon, choosing instead to reallocate inventory to independent bike shops, who were losing business exponentially due to extensive wait times – sometimes many months – to get parts for customers. PNW wanted to support small, independent businesses, as well as regain control over many aspects of their operations that had been ceded to Amazon.
PNW’s customer service had been suffering under Amazon. Without experts to help customers choose the right parts for their specialized equipment, satisfaction was dropping and returns were increasing. Counterfeit returns were also an ongoing frustration eating into the small company’s profits. Founders, Aaron Kerson and his wife, Emily, said among the hundreds of fake items returned to them through Amazon were steel pipes, a coffeemaker, a high end faucet, and even a child’s Superman costume.
Since PNW’s departure from Amazon, they’ve corroborated with other buyers in the industry to follow suit, in an effort to support small business and to ensure no one supplier undercuts the others. Their suggestion has been met with surprising affirmation, as it turns out other companies were experiencing similar frustrations. While no one expects the dominance of the Amazon marketplace to diminish significantly any time soon, read here to find out more: https://www.theverge.com/22618306/pacific-northwest-components-bike-company-quit-amazon-support-indie-shops.