April 3, 2023


Search “laptop bag” on Amazon and you’ll see a lot more brands than Tumi, Samsonite, Briggs & Riley or even Amazon Basics.


Instead, you'll see Voova, Kroser, PACEARM, YXKIKI, Arae, Dachee, KPL, Mosiso, LOVEVOOK.


Each of these are on the first page of Amazon’s search results even though you’d never find them inside a store and you likely can’t pronounce them.


They’re a big part of the reason why 55% of brands we benchmarked estimate competition has increased on Amazon in just the last year.


Retail vets write these products off as “junk” saying Amazon’s shooting themselves in the foot. Articles talking about the junkification of Amazon are hits because it tells us what we want to hear.

Meanwhile, Amazon’s become the largest distribution channel in the U.S.

Maybe that “junk” is “good enough” for the consumer?


Or maybe the consumer “can’t tell” the difference between products?


All those years, decades, maybe even centuries of building your brand and forging relationships with store merchants becomes worth much less if anyone can sell to consumers that search a generic term and then simply look at reviews, a picture or two, and maybe a couple of bullets, all on a 6” screen.

In other words, Amazon, and online sites broadly, commodify brands and shift competition to new dimensions:

  • Search ranking
  • Pictures & videos
  • Online economics
  • Amazon Advertising 
  • Ratings and Reviews
  • Customer Questions


Tens of thousands of sellers, particularly those manufacturing “name brand” items destined for U.S. stores, have recognized the opportunity - limited barriers to entry, a singular focus on winning on Amazon, and a known set of optimization tactics.


While these brands seem “random” to many, they’re actually very calculated and specifically designed to win.

Incumbent brands give these alternatives room to grow via:

  • Middling PDPs
  • Insufficient competitive data
  • Spending too little on Amazon ads
  • Limited shopper journey knowledge
  • Slowly adopting new Amazon tools and tactics
  • An inability to grow branded searches rather than generic
  • Keeping assortment the same as what can be found in-store
  • Focusing exclusively on other incumbents as their main competition


The agony bag manufacturers experience in developing the angle of a front pocket opening or the steel finish of a clasp or the perfect interior fabric color is wasted if the brand team doesn’t bring that to life ON and OFF Amazon.

Will these brands cross the chasm to brick & mortar?

Of course, in years past there was some solace in the fact that these factory brands were just showing up on Amazon or maybe eBay.


Unfortunately, that’s changed.


You’ll find many of these brands on Walmart.com when using the same search term.


Skeptics then point to the fact that these types of brands haven’t crossed the chasm to physical store distribution.


But then again, why wouldn’t a Walmart merchant be intrigued by a Dachee Black Peony Patten (not our spelling mistake!) bag with a 4.6-star rating from 9,674 shoppers on Amazon and another 22 on Walmart.com?


The dimensions of competition are different online, but the longer-term threat is omnichannel. 


Importantly, don’t give these competitors room to grow.