Small Business Spotlight: Retail In The Amazon Age

May 22, 2019 - 5:00 am
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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- Amazon has taken over retail and redefined the marketplace.

Ross Goodhart of Rohego, LLC has built his brand on Amazon. He sells some of his innovations, including iMagniphy, on the online retail giant's website.

He says doing so allowed him to launch from concept to selling a product within about three to four months.

"It's an incredible marketplace, it's large, there's a a huge growing audience that's going there every day but it's allowed me -- someone who had no ability to sell in brick and mortar -- to be able to sell very quickly and get my products distributed to a lot of consumers," Goodhart tells Joe Connolly in this week's Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by BNB Bank -- "Community Banking from Montauk to Manhattan." "So it's been a really great experience, but I would say it's challenging."

The biggest challenge in recent years has been an increase in competitors coming to the market.

"You're starting to see people actually stealing our images, any tweaks that we make to our products you start seeing that people are selling really exact copies and we're starting to see a lot of direct Chinese sellers so the actual manufacturers are going directly to Amazon," Goodhart said.

David Roger of Felix Gray Glasses, which reduce eye strain, doesn't sell on Amazon.

"Amazon is like going to Walmart in real life and it's very difficult to tailor that experience, tailor that brand, tailor that communication to the customer where as they get to our store they get to our site they're able to learn everything they want about the effects of blue light, how we filter blue light, the styles, the frame quality that we use and anything else in between and we're able to inject a lot of personality into our site as well to really foster that brand and foster the community," Roger said.

But he does have to be aware of competitors popping up on the site. Roger says his customers are smart and know the difference between Felix Gray and knock-offs, but it does hurt business.

"We see competitors launching all over the place, they're using poorer quality lenses, they're using poorer quality frames. Amazon, honestly some of the things that they do is actually technically illegal. So they'll for instance say to customers, 'Hey, buy Felix Gray on Amazon.' We don't sell on Amazon. That's trademark infringement. But Amazon knows this is a company that is making tens in millions in revenue not hundreds, billions of dollars in revenue, they're not going to sue Amazon," Roger said. 

Watch the video above to see the challenges retailers are facing in the Amazon age nd how they are adjusting.