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DTC Brands Tell Amazon Thanks, But No Thanks

Amazon has been heavily courting some direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands – inviting them to its headquarters, paying for dinner and letting them fill their carts with gear from Amazon Go shops.

However, according to a report in Digiday, some of these brands don’t want anything to do with Amazon, because they feel that teaming up with the retail giant won’t be good for them.

For example, when DSTLD Denim was invited to talk with Amazon’s DTC Business Development Leads Jason Yoong and Chadd Ciccarelli, the company declined to work with the eCommerce giant. Among the reasons are Amazon’s hard refusal to share customer data that could aid the company, a lack of easy ways to find brands on Amazon’s search platform and the absence of any way to track attribution from places like Facebook. Brands also seem to dislike the general Amazon experience online, specifically how it is faceless and lacks customer service.

“The only advantage you have in the DTC world today is that you are defensible against Amazon because of your brand,” said DSTLD Co-Founder Mark Lynn. “That’s our whole selling point. It’s hard to build a long-lasting business in retail: the margins are low, it takes time. But we believe our brand is defensible and if you sell your soul, well, that’s kind of the end of that.”

Melanie Travis, who founded the DTC brand Andie, said she felt like she had hit a milestone when Amazon started contacting her, but that the conversations were non-starters.

“Selling on Amazon doesn’t work for a customer-centric brand. I told them it’s hypocritical for them to be so loud and proud about how much they care about the customer, and then essentially want to take that away from us,” Travis said. “They basically want to reduce us from a brand to a product. They’re all nice people, but they’re a monster platform.”

For many brands, taking an anti-Amazon stance has become a pride point, as they focus on different tactics to build brand awareness and loyalty.

“To me, I think of Amazon as one side of retail, and then the Shopify-and-Facebook brand as the other. I think they can coexist because Amazon is for the products of the world,” said Travis. “Brands aren’t going away anytime soon. But Amazon is not a home for brands.”

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