An interesting debate started this morning on Twitter between Dealer group heads David Langdown (XPD) and Steve Harrop (OFDA). Steve was pressing that the industry should stand up against Amazon and their tax avoidance tactics.
Whilst there is no doubting that Amazon have a ‘creative’ approach to how they pay tax which allows them to pay less, it is not why Amazon are successful. The key to Amazon’s success is in their customer experience. Don’t get me wrong, good pricing is no doubt a part of that, but a company the size of Amazon could and would still be successful even if they paid higher tax than UK SME’s.
Ask yourself what the last thing you bought on Amazon was. Then ask why you bought it from Amazon? Was it because they came up first on the search engine? or emailed you about it? or because you know you always find great stuff on Amazon?… When you went to checkout the last item you bought did you pause and check the web for a better price? I doubt you did. The reason you’re buying from Amazon is because you know you get what you want when you want it how you want it.
The conversation I presume stemmed from the concern that Amazon who have a wide range of Office Products for sale on their platform are a major threat to office products dealers. That is a fair concern and one that should be clear for anyone to see. What is not seen as clearly by dealers is why they are a threat. A majority of comments I hear from inside the industry suggest that Amazon is a threat because they are selling at a low cost.
“So what should dealers do? Stand by and let Amazon take over?” No of course not. Dealers should embrace Amazon the very same way that the book industry has.
If you look back 10-15 years ago the book industry was going through the same pains the office products industry currently is. Amazon was the big bad wolf that was coming to eat their lunch. They tried (and failed) to stand up against Amazon and those that exhausted their energy doing so are no longer around to tell the tale (Borders).
Today Amazon has a thriving book industry within its platform. Independent book sellers have a platform to sell books online that ensure traffic directly to them. They just have to get 2 things right: Price and the Service. Amazon does the rest.
My opinion is that the office products industry should save their energy going up against Amazon and use it to improve the industries approach to Amazon. For a start lets empower the industry to ensure their product data is of a calibre worthy of Amazons criteria. Then lets create a need for a software provider to create a platform for dealers to manage their Amazon business. Outside of the office products industry there are hundreds of these platforms. So who’s going to make the step to bring one in?
Coca Cola, who need no introduction, have been running a tv advertising campaign to boost awareness of the ‘Great Coke Taste’ of their Coke Zero product.
The advert shows a food and beverage assistant at a cinema pouring drinks of Coke Zero and covering up the Coke Zero cup with a Coca Cola cup fooling the buyers into thinking they’ve got normal Coca Cola, when in fact they have Coke Zero. The ad then cuts to the cinema where the assistant comes back on screen to inform the audience that they are actually drinking Coke Zero and not Coca Cola.
The idea of the ad is to make people believe that Coke Zero is indistinguishable in taste to Coca Cola only it has zero calories.
However, this morning it has backfired due to a hashtag that appears to have been started by comedian Al Murray of ‘#CokeKnob’. Al and several other tweeters have taken displeasure to the advert and as a result are causing some publicity for Coke Zero that Coca Cola probably hadn’t anticipated.
There seems to be two main issues here:
1) People that bought Coca Cola and were served Coke Zero have been miss sold to. I know it’s obviously a staged tv advert but I think that is what gets on peoples nerves that Coca Cola is perhaps suggesting that they’re daft enough to believe it’s real.
2) Apparently some people can be allergic to the contents of Coke Zero and not Coca Cola so this sets a dangerous precedent that it’s ok to swap someones drink to test whether they notice.
On the surface this looks like a bit of a Coke’up (see what I did there?) by Coca Cola. But as is often the case with these things it could turn out that Coca Cola aren’t that bothered, as the saying goes ‘all publicity is good publicity’.
It’s all going off on Twitter. Below are a few select tweets that made me chuckle. You can see the rest here: https://twitter.com/search?q=%23CokeKnob&src=hash