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‘Amazon is a fact of life, so find a way to work with it’

Panel of execs at Spring Fling talk retail challenges and brands breaking through.

Amazon is a fact of life and isn’t going to suddenly disappear overnight, so we all need to find a way to work with the ecommerce giant.

This was the message from a panel of experienced licensing industry executives, speaking as part of last week’s Spring Fling, organised by Licensing International.

Aysha Kidwai (consultant cmo, The Social Store); Rikesh Desai (licensing director, BBC Studios); Ian Downes (md, Start Licensing); Susan Bolsover (licensing and consumer products director, Penguin Ventures); and Rachel Wakley (general manager, UK & Ireland, Warner Bros. Consumer Products) – pictured from left to right with Kelvyn Gardner, UK md of Licensing International – were part of the traditional Question Time Panel which kicked off Spring Fling (held on Thursday May 23).

“Amazon is a fact of life,” commented Susan, “and they are not going to disappear overnight. They are absolutely driven by the customer experience and, until someone can come up with a different model, we all have to find a way to work with them.

“But they are also having to diversify what they do as a business – Amazon is no longer just a ‘retail service’.”

BBC Studios’ Rikesh said that, while Amazon was “super disruptive”, this is a good thing to have in any market as it starts to push boundaries and gets other retailers to notice.

The panel was also asked how smaller brands can breakthrough and make an impact in the market.

“You can’t always work with the big players, so create events and opportunities that look at other areas,” offered Start Licensing’s Ian. “If you have good content, then someone will want it.

“Think about who the consumer is and who the retailer is; have the potential with your content to have something that others don’t have. But also don’t have licensing in isolation – it has to be a part of a wider mix of activities.”

Aysha was also a big advocate of thinking ‘outside the box’: “Don’t copy others. Think about your brand, why children like the show for example, and then deconstruct it and be smart about it. The product has to stand on its own.”

Ultimately, WBCP’s Rachel believes that, however the retail space plays out, our industry needs to be malleable and go where the consumer goes. “Our job is to be a service provider,” she said. “Wherever the consumer chooses to buy [the product] from is up to them.

“Also, think about why you’re talking to a particular retailer. What job is your brand doing to ensure the consumer’s shopping mission. Your brand isn’t an ego mission. Think about all of that and your conversation with retail becomes a lot easier.”

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