This is Marketing Jam.
A podcast featuring the brightest minds in Canadian marketing.
So my name’s Tamir and I lead Amazon’s advertising business here in Canada. So,
our job is basically to connect brands with Amazon shoppers in ways that add
value to a customer’s shopping and entertainment experience. And we do that,
you know, on amazon.ca, on IMDB, on Twitch, on our mobile app and across the web in
third-party apps as well.
Okay, very cool. And so, jumping right in, I need to know
what are the top five apps that you use on your phone?
Sure. I mean I have to say the Amazon mobile apps, though.
Okay. That’ll be one. So, I would say Twitter, Waze…definitely helps my commute. Uber, when I don’t want to drive, and then
I’ll give you one random one that you probably, maybe don’t use. It’s ‘Teamstuff’.
And so this is what we use to manage my hockey team, basically. So, making sure we
have enough guys to actually show up and everybody knows who’s on, you know, beer
duty and stuff like that. So that’s a good one to try.
Okay. And why did you go Waze versus Google Maps?
You know, I think ultimately the back-end is
probably very similar, but I just find the experience to be more seamless. I don’t
want to be looking at my phone when I’m driving, and maybe the voice directions and just a quick glance at a screen, I find just to be super clear and convenient.
Okay. And the Amazon app. Tell me about…what do you use it for? And tell me some of the cool features that maybe some people may not know about, on the Amazon app.
Yeah I think one of the things people may
not be as familiar with, is if you’re looking for a product, whether
you’re in a store and you want to read reviews or whether you’ve just come
across something at a friend’s house and you want to know how you get it…there’s
actually a little camera icon on the Amazon mobile app. And from there, you
know, you can actually pull up your phone, it’ll scan that product, and pull that
product page up on Amazon. So, great way to save you time and figure out how you
get that product, you know, showing up at your house.
Okay, and tell me about…you know, you’re a Canadian. Sure, yes.
Live in Canada. You’re from this area.
Headquarters is in Seattle, though, for Amazon. Yes, it is.
How do you deal with, when you
scan something, and it’s only available in the American store? Or, it’s not available…
Is it something that you guys are just
trying to get more availability in Canada? Or is it just a constant thing that
you guys are dealing with all the time? Yeah, you know, I’d say the experience has
come so far in the last few years and you know, when I when I left Canada in
2007, Amazon essentially sold books and DVDs here in Canada. And then, you know, I
came back. I was kind of surprised at how far things have developed. You know, today
we sell everything from toys, to musical instruments, to diapers, to…
Salsa! I got salsa.
There you go! Salsa! I love it. It’s a huge area of
focus for us. One of the core pillars of our business is selection. we want the customers to be able to come to Amazon and find anything they’re looking
for. So, that definitely drives and motivates us everyday.
Okay. Yeah, for example, I have a retail client, ‘Ten Thousand Villages’. Their US store had all their products on Amazon.
And now they’re just starting to do it in Canada because they’re realizing that it’s such a major
request of people preferring Amazon versus their own proprietary e-commerce platform.
Yeah, you know it’s a trusted experience to shop. Customers, you know, have their login information already there, they don’t
have to enter in payment information, there’s reviews…you know, we find that customers really enjoy that shopping experience, which is our goal.
Yeah. So dissect me. Like, I’m what you just
described because I prefer to shop…like I always double-check to be like, “Is that same product…” I’ve seen their e-commerce thing, and I get an ad to their
e-commerce platform, but I always check if it’s on Amazon first, because I’m a Prime Member.
And my information is already there… so is
there much more to it than that? Is it just ’cause I…I just like it. I just
love it. I love that there’s a trusted factor. I love that I can return it. There’s that whole…
Sure. You know I think if you were to sum up our approach…it’s that our goal is to be the most customer-focused, customer-obsessed business in the world. We start with the customer and work backwards in
everything that we do. And it’s that focus to delight customers, and then on
their behalf, that drives and moves us forward everyday. And so, you know, it
makes me feel good to hear that you’re a customer and that, you know, you
definitely value that shopping experience from reviews to everything
else. And so, I think that’s what we’re focused on and, you know,
when we think about creating great experiences for customers on the retail
side of the business, it’s often anchored in a couple of key tenants. It’s around
great prices, simpler, more convenient shopping experiences, and then selection — adding as many products the store as possible.
Okay. Now, do you guys do…sometimes you’ll say it’ll take like four days to ship and then it
arrives, like, the next day. Is that an intentional thing? Or is that just by
chance sometimes, it happens? Is that part of the delight factor?
Well…I think our goal is obviously to get that product into the customers hands as
soon as possible. And so we want to make sure that we’re setting the right
expectations with customers, but the goal is to get it there as fast as we can.
Yeah. So, I’m in Langley, British Columbia, which is a suburb outside
of Vancouver and I ordered a car seat, because our car
seat had expired and we realized we needed this right away. And ‘Toys R Us’ or ‘Babies R Us’ was already closed, so I ordered it and I was saying, “Alright Rose, it’ll just be here in a few days, it says.” And then the next day it arrived. Like, the next day.
That’s great. Yeah, with a guy who had a little
clipboard. He drove to our place and yeah… And sometimes I’ve ordered stuff and it comes that night.
The same-day stuff, right? So I think it’s becoming more and more a thing.
Yeah. You know, we now offer free same-day delivery for Prime
Members in Toronto and Vancouver. Free next-day in Ottawa, Montreal, Calgary, and Edmonton. So, you know, there’s a fulfillment centre in Delta, probably not too far
from you…and, you know, it’s awesome to hear that you’re having a good experience and that the products came…
And the driver loved it! He showed me the app
that he had. He’s like, “Oh yeah, this is my route tonight”, and it kind of mapped it all out for him.
Yeah. So, 2018.
We’re walking into it; we’re already in March. But what do you see the rest of
the year, when it comes to marketing trends? From your seat where you stand.
One of the things that’s happening, which I think is really
interesting and getting the attention of a lot of marketers is that e-commerce is
really approaching that inflection point here in Canada. So, 66% of all retail
growth in this country is gonna be driven by e-commerce over the next few
years. So, to put that into context, just the incremental growth — just the growth
in each of the next few years, is more than Canadians spend in a year at Tim Hortons. It’s more than we spend on beer, and so,
that has some pretty significant implications for businesses and for
marketers. And so, we’re seeing e-commerce marketing essentially emerge as a
distinct discipline, you know, alongside search and social, for example. And we’re
seeing an entire industry emerge to help these brands make that transition. And at Amazon, we’re also eager to help and, you know, we found that there are a
few approaches that have worked really well for us and have worked really well for
the brands we work with, to help them take a more customer-focused and
customer-first approach to doing business.
Okay. And when Amazon looks at
that, what are some of things that you guys are doing, that are coming down
the pipe, that you’re allowed to share? I know there’s some stuff behind the curtain that we’ve got to be careful about, but what are you allowed to share today for our listeners?
Sure. You know, one thing that I think is really kind of neat…we
just recently launched something on our US mobile app experience, called “AR View”. Essentially, it’s an augmented reality experience. What we find is that,
there are certain products, maybe home products or kitchen products, that
customers have a harder time buying online because they want to be able to
see and handle it, and figure out how it fits.
Like a couch?
Yeah! Or a pillow or, you know, a juicer. Is it gonna fit on my countertop? And so this tool essentially lets that
customer place this product, virtually in their home. They can move it around and
see really, “Does this fit? Is it for me?” So we’re excited about that. It goes back to
our core focus of reducing friction and making things easier for customers.
Okay, very cool. Are you guys ever gonna get into the ‘Blue Apron’ or ‘Fresh Prep’ world, as
well? Like doing the packaged meals, or is that on your scope at all?
You know what? I don’t know.
You don’t know.
Yeah. Anything’s possible.
I can’t comment on that. Yeah, I don’t know.
Okay. I’m a big fan of…I have this meal delivery that comes two times a week and it’s amazing. But right now, I have multiple platforms I need to manage,
but it’d be amazing if there was just one.
So one day, maybe there will be the
one website to rule them all, right? Who knows.
I mean, we love to get feedback from customers. That’s what drives us and helps us figure out where
we want to focus next. And so, yeah that’s helpful to hear about your experiences for sure. So when we look at…kind of the person in
your shoes and someone who is listening to this and…how does someone get
to where you are today? What kind of advice would you give this young person,
or maybe person that’s like, “I want to be you one day”? What would you say?
Yeah. I just met a couple of folks who, you know, a couple years out of school…I love just the entrepreneurial drive that somebody would have. And they see these opportunities to do some amazing things and to serve customers in new
ways and take advantage of technology. I’d say, one of the pieces of advice I’d
give folks is, is really to think and act like an owner everyday. It doesn’t
matter what your role is, but act as though you’re an owner of the business. And what that really means is, you have to be comfortable sacrificing short-term
gains for the long-term health of the business. And you have to be
comfortable doing things that are right for the company, that may not be right
for you and your individual goals. And I think folks that do, folks who have
the attitude that nothing is above them or they don’t
say “This isn’t my job.” I think those are the folks that ultimately, you know, have
the right attitude to really thrive and succeed. And, you know, it’s very difficult
to coach that and so, I think that’s the… that’s really something that we look for and is important for us as a core value of us at Amazon.
Okay, and if you were to speak to like, business owners, to teach them how to embrace
where Amazon is going and where e-commerce is going, what are some tips and advice
you’d give them to make sure that, like, “Hey, don’t be fearful of this. Here’s
how you can embrace the change”?
Yeah, absolutely. You know, I would say that the
first and most important thing, is that customer obsession piece.
And really, deeply understanding the core needs of your customer and working backwards from there to come up with solutions that are gonna address their needs, inventing on behalf of those customers. And so, I think it’s about, if you’re a
big, kind of established brand, I think it’s about putting yourself in the shoes
of that challenger brand. You know, hitting a reset button and, you know,
going through that thought exercise as if you were operating with a blank canvas. Don’t let your constraints kind of hold
you back and really think about what are the core needs that you can address to
help your customers move forward. And what we found is that e-commerce marketing is a
really effective vehicle at accomplishing that. It helps businesses lead with
the right types of insights; it helps them pick the right moments and get the
right message to the right customer at the right time; it helps them create
really compelling and rich brand experiences, and ultimately it makes
buying their products more convenient and easy for customers. And so, all of
those things are really important. Yeah. It’s wild every Christmas and Black
Friday, of course in Canada, to get to see the stats afterwards in The Globe & Mail
and other publications, publishing the increase of, you know, money spent on
Amazon and purchases online versus retail shops where, actually, less and
less money is being spent. So you guys are a major contributor to
where people are going and spending their time.
Well, you know, I think we’re certainly growing as e-commerce continues to grow, but you know,
brick-and-mortar is still growing in Canada as well. And so I think it’s all
about giving customers more choice, which ultimately will produce better
experiences for them. And so we’re excited that, you know, 20 million
Canadians are gonna shop online this year — 80% of the internet population. So, it’s exciting to feel as though, you know, that experience that I craved when I was living in the US, that I wanted for Canada…it’s actually here and that’s pretty amazing.
As a Prime Member, I just discovered I also
have access to Prime TV? Is that what’s it’s called? Prime Video?
Prime Video and ‘Mr. Bean’ is on there.
Oh, that’s big!
My eleven-year-old son loves it, so I didn’t realize that. So now I have
Prime Video on my Apple TV and I can watch all these…it’s a nice benefit of being a Prime Member.
Let alone the great shipping rates and often free shipping.
Yeah. No, it’s a great part of the Prime Membership. I’d
encourage you to watch ‘Sneaky Pete’ — not for your son — not for your eleven-year-old son. But, for you, it’s a really good show. It stars Giovanni Ribisi and it’s a really good show. Season two, I think is gonna start pretty soon. And
then, just this past holiday, we actually launched Prime Music, as well.
Oh wow! Okay!
Prime Members in Canada now get access to ad-free streaming of over a million songs.
That’s part of your membership, so… Is it an app I download?
Yeah, so check that out!
That’s great to know. So, one of things I find fascinating, you guys opened up a shop. Bricks-and- mortar, an Amazon store, where they sense when things are picked up and it was amazing to see. It was
designed to have no lineup shopping, but there was a massive lineup of everyone who wanted to experience it. So, any talks of it coming to Canada?
Yeah, I mean, I can’t speak to any future plans with it, but it’s it’s a pretty amazing
shopping experience. The store is called ‘Amazon Go’, and we just opened
the first store in Seattle to the general public. And basically the idea of it is,
it’s a store with no lines, no checkout, and you just walk out. And so
you know, here, downtown in Toronto, it might take you 20 minutes door-to-door
to grab lunch. At this store, whether you want to buy lunch or a meal
kit, you walk in, grab it and walk out in a couple minutes. That’s it.
And so, for me, the part of that experience that feels so amazing is not
the technology behind it, it’s the fact that when you’re in the store, you don’t feel any of that. It feels like a normal store and
the only way that something hits you that this isn’t normal, is when you walk
out. You get this brief moment of panic that you forgot to pay, and it takes, you
know, visiting the store a few times to realize that that’s just okay. It’s part
of the experience, but I think customers will get over that once they realize how
much time they get back in their day of just waiting in line, you know, buying
lunch or a snack or something like that. So being a father of three young
children…so I have a two-year-old, four-year-old, and eleven-year-old…I don’t
often get out to the mall to go shopping. So I think…which is fine and
maybe if I had no kids I would and occasionally…I did recently because I had to go to the Apple store. Okay.
I went to a few shops, but I find
sometimes going on the Amazon app or online is like going to a mall. I can
look around and they suggest things for me and I can kind of check out what’s
trending, what new products there are. I got a new down jacket on there, recently.
Alright. Ready for spring, if it ever comes.
Yeah, exactly. So I just found it
like a mall experience of all websites. I can see VR actually being the most,
kind of, fitting for that. So yeah… Yeah, I mean, our job is to create great shopping experiences for customers, regardless of where they shop. That’s what we’re focused on.
Yeah. I love…I don’t know if you guys still do this…there was a campaign where it was…you get an Amazon purchase and then you could return
something used or, you know, something like a used shirt or a donation in
the box. And then it would go to people who need jackets or blankets and things like that.
Oh, interesting. I actually hadn’t seen that.
Yeah. It was an amazing campaign. I think it was a few years ago you guys did that.
So, yeah, it was very cool. So recommended books or magazines that you consume?
Yeah. One book that I really love, a marketing book that I would recommend
for folks, is…it’s called “Made to Stick”, and essentially it looks at the
psychology behind things like memory and applies that to a business context to
help you understand, you know, “Why is it that some stories, some commercials
really resonate and will stick with people and they can remember details
about it 20 years later, and some things just go in one ear and out the next?”
Like ‘Sapporo Ichiban’. That commercial was…yeah.
Yeah! And so what, you know…we can look at that and say, “That’s
a great ad, but why?” And so I really enjoyed that, because it applied the science
to marketing. So it’s a great read with some really helpful examples. I’d look at that.
That’s great. Available on Amazon?
Yes, for sure! And ‘Audible’?
Yeah, it is! Yes, absolutely.
Any magazines? Other reading material that you…
Not necessarily a magazine, but one thing that I would definitely recommend for folks in the
marketing space. It’s a blog slash podcast, that’s called ‘Stratechery’, and I
just find it to be phenomenal. So, the content is updated weekly and it’s
essentially, really a combination of sort of business and technology focus. And so,
you know, this week they featured, sort of a deep dive into Spotify in their
business. And so, they look at, basically the underlying business model within
these different business units that they look at. They compare it, sort of, against
historical context so, you know, “What was similar thirty years ago?” The world is
completely different, but what was similar? And what happened? And then, sort of, “What is the social impact of that? How does that impact our lives day-to-day?” I
just find it so thoughtful and thought-provoking, so it’s definitely one
that I would recommend. Either the blog or the podcast, or both.
Okay. And any other podcast that you listen to?
I think that’s the key one for me.
So, like you, I’ve got a three- month-old and a four-year-old and
so it’s a lot of…sort of…Dr. Seuss, Paw Patrol…yeah so, there’s a different type of insight you get from that. I’ve
got a lot of that in my head right now.
Paw Patrol…oh man. That name alone, that brand is fascinating. The amount of toys and new vehicles that they get every season, right? And new characters.
Yeah. It’s a nice Canadian success story for sure.
Yes. Yeah. Is there anything that you guys would never sell on Amazon…it seems like
anything these days, you can buy on Amazon, right? Is that kind of, ‘sky’s the
limit’, right now? Or have you guys ever thought, “Okay, no one’s gonna buy that online”?
I think we want to create safe shopping experiences for our
customers, and so, you definitely can’t sell everything on Amazon. You know,
there are products that may be dangerous. You know, we certainly don’t sell…you
know, there are certain types of weapons that we would never sell on Amazon. Or drugs, for example. And so, you know it’s about protecting the customer experience, ultimately.
So as someone…as a consumer, any advice on this…like ‘Sage’ is a good example. They’re a Vancouver company that sells essential oils.
And I like them, right? I trust them. I want
to support local, but I don’t want to go to a store; I don’t have the time. I
want to buy it on Amazon, but it’s only… it’s some other essential oils, but I
don’t want to get that. You know, there’s that essential oil. So I’m like…I feel
compelled to that. How do I, you know… what’s the call I can give to someone
like Sage, to go onto Amazon? Or any advice what to tell them? I just tweak them? Tweet them? Plug them?
I mean, I think as a customer, they’re probably eager to get feedback from consumers. I think you should share your own personal experiences.
Let them know that, you know, you want to be able to buy their
products across a number of different retail channels. So, I think just
sharing that feedback is helpful and, you know, we’re adding new brands
and new products to the store everyday.
Okay. And warehouses right across the
world now, I imagine, right? Or in the country?
Yeah, I mean, we have
fulfillment centres, you know, in Toronto, in the Vancouver area, and, you
know, we’re launching one in Calgary as well. So it’s, you know…we’re
excited about investing in Canada. And, you know, we have over 8,000 employees now in this country.
Wow, 8,000 employees! Okay. Anything you want to leave people with? Retailers in Canada?
Any kind of last messages to encourage them?
Yeah. I think the one thing I would just say is, you know, I think Canada is a really awesome place to
lean in and test. And I think that we have such phenomenal…the talent of the people in this country is phenomenal. What…our consumer base shares a lot of
characteristics with Americans, but also with customers all over the world and so what works here can scale and have an impact
outside of our own borders. So, I think that, you know, as marketers, as businesses, I think we need to lean in to technological change. We need to lean in
lean into e-commerce and marketing. And I think we have an opportunity to play a
really big, leading role in that and in creating these customer-focused
experiences. So, I’m excited to see how that develops over the next few years.
That’s awesome. And the last purchase you made on Amazon? Do you remember what it was?
The last purchase I made on Amazon…I bought a new hockey bag.
So it’s…my hockey bag smelled really bad and my wife’s like, “You can’t keep that around the house,
anymore.” So I bought a new bag. So that was the last thing I bought.
Very cool. Well thank you for joining us on Marketing Jam show.
Cool. Thank you so much! Yeah, appreciate it!
This is us, Marketing Jam, here at DX3. Some of the brightest and sharpest minds in retail and marketing, here in Toronto.
And we’re happy to bring you some of their insights and behind-the-scenes
footage of some of their thoughts, some of the apps they use, some of the
insights of what they’re seeing for this next year, and some great advice for
retailers and people to keep customers the main thing! So, thanks again.