Blog > MyFBAPrep Interviews > Make Pricing Your Strength: A Chat With Mark Perone of Feedvisor

Make Pricing Your Strength: A Chat With Mark Perone of Feedvisor

In this video, Rachel Go chats with Mark Perone, head of partnerships at Feedvisor. Rachel and Mark talk about strategic pricing with AI, the power of partnerships in B2B, and much more. A successful eCommerce strategy requires a streamlined multi-channel repricing approach backed by robust data and technology. Feedvisor Essentials provides an AI-powered repricer with automatic and real-time optimizations, SKU-by-SKU competitive analysis, and more.

Transcript below.

Mark’s background

Rachel Andrea Go: Thank you, Mark, for joining me today. To kick things off, can you please share a little bit about your background and how it led to where you are today?

Mark Perone: Yeah, sure, Rachel, and thanks thanks for having me on. I would say—you know, my background isn’t probably any more unique than anyone else’s. You know, I started off in client success and account management, moved my way through sales to business development, and then found myself working for a really wonderful start-up in the eCommerce space of Feedvisor. So, I’ve been here at Feedvisor roughly six or so years and it’s been a really great ride thus far.

Rachel Andrea Go: What made you decide to move from sales and business development over to partnerships?

Mark Perone: Oh, that’s a great question. You know what? Now that I think about it a bit more, you know, sales and business development are kind of hand in hand with what you do in partnerships. I definitely think it’s a key attribute that, you know, I would look for and any type of individual trying to get into this space. You know, with partnerships, you’re not necessarily engaging with one-on-one, you know, leads for direct revenue, you’re more or less looking for other companies that are supplemental to what the current organization may have or may not have.

And so that kind of piqued my interest. I kind of found myself going in the partnership realm. It wasn’t, like, something that I kind of raised my hand and said, “Hey, I’ll do partnerships.” And I think that just comes with any start-up, right? As you continue to grow and scale, you find a unique skill set whether it’s within an individual or certain individuals and then you say, “Hey, go fly here and see what you can do.” So, taking the skill sets that I had early on in my career from the account management style, sales, and the business of development and then leveraging that in the partnership space has really given Feedvisor a really great opportunity to kind of get our name out there more often with businesses, not just our actual clients.

How partnerships support your bottom line

Rachel Andrea Go: So, I know MyFBAPrep gets a lot of really great referrals from our partnerships. Can you share kind of what makes partnerships so powerful for B2B companies in particular?

Mark Perone: Yeah, so, when I look at partnerships, I kind of look at it from a slightly different lens (although whoever’s listening might not). I look at cost per acquisition per lead, right? So, most B2B companies will either have a sales team, BDR team, and a marketing team, right? And their whole goal and how they’re measured is bringing on opportunities and seeing that opportunity from the beginning all the way to the end of the cycle. And obviously, from a management level on down, we’re looking at the cost and how much that cost—it takes to be able to bring that deal home. You know, for some really efficient organizations, you know, perhaps it’s quite low; for others, maybe it’s high, right? And that’s kind of where partnerships fits in really nicely. So, if we have, say for example, a really wonderful partnership that’s kind of turnkey and we have a really solid relationship, it knocks down that cost per acquisition significantly.

So, instead of saying that, “Hey, you know, we’re definitely going to invest obviously in that particular area of the business, but from a revenue generation and from a profitability standpoint, this is just, you know a better approach,” this is why, in my opinion, partnerships — while it’s been around for—long before my time — is getting more and more attention today, because they’re starting to see more organizations are starting to open up a bit more about their go-to-market strategy as it pertains to partnerships and then how that generates the overall bottom line. And oftentimes, you’ll see folks like myself and others in the organization where we’ll have a certain type of growth goals or quota that goes to the overall revenue number as well.

Repricing across marketplaces

Rachel Andrea Go: So, you mentioned you’ve been at Feedvisor for six years, so you must have seen how it grew and developed over that time. Can you share kind of Feedvisor’s growth and also more about what it does?

Mark Perone: Sure. You know, Feedvisor’s claim to fame in the space — again, we’ve been around since 2012, we’re known as kind of the 800-pound gorilla in the Amazon repricing space. So, when I first started, I didn’t necessarily know a heck of a lot about repricing but I quickly learned about it. So, we do a really good job at working with whether it’s small companies all the way up to the largest sellers on Amazon and helping them be able to reprice their products not necessarily on the reselling side, right? Where they’re competing directly against other individuals.

But where Feedvisor differentiates from other individuals or other competitors is that we’re also able to price adjust or make price adjustments for brands and that’s kind of a huge differentiator. So, we have some of the largest brands, if not the largest brands selling today on Amazon, and that’s kind of a unique conundrum because, for all those that are listening there, they might say, “Well, you know, Mark, I don’t compete for the Buy Box, so why would I need a solution like yours?” And the answer, I would say, “Yeah, you’re right, 100%. You own the listing. There isn’t a need. However, there are individuals that are selling something very similar to you out there. You may or may not know who they are.” So, we’re able to build a demand model around those individuals and then say, “Hey, if we were to move your price up by 20 cents, 25 cents, 50 cents, are we going to sacrifice demand? No. And then—so we’ll continue to repeat that method.

So, Feedvisor kind of found its footing primarily working with a lot of resellers. But over time, we started actually moving ourselves more and more towards actual brands. And then the icing on the cake and why we go to market with what we call Feedvisor 360 is now we offer an AI-driven advertising solution. So, that’s huge, because not many players — or many players perhaps that I know — are able to kind of cover all three areas of repricing for reselling, pricing for brands, and then advertising with a beautiful dashboard to be able to look at, you know, profitability metrics, how everything is performing on the day-to-day. So, I mean, that’s Feedvisor in terms of how we go to market today. I’ll say that, you know, we’re always looking to continuously grow.

One particular area that I’ll point out is Walmart, you know. Walmart is kind of, I would say, much smaller in size obviously to Amazon and what it produces on the eCommerce side. However, more and more of our sellers are starting to get into the space because they want to differentiate themselves because they know Amazon, being what it is, the fees are very high, it can be very competitive, they walk away and they’re like, “My margins are caught in half.” So, Walmart and other marketplaces like that open up a new frontier for them. So while it’s small right now, we are still seeing that that will continue to grow and Feedvisor will be at the forefront for the repricing capabilities and also the advertising capabilities as well.

Rachel Andrea Go: That’s really interesting. Can you share more about how pricing is different on Amazon versus on Walmart?

Mark Perone: Sure. So, for right now—actually, let me take a step back. So, about four or five years ago, you know, Walmart said,  you know, “We’re gonna come into space very heavy,” and they kind of did something interesting: They completely went the opposite way of what Amazon was doing, and that was really frustrating to sellers because, they’re like, “We have to learn an entirely new solution?” So that was kind of, like, a retractor. And so then Walmart kind of took steps back and said, “You know what? We’re pretty much gonna mimic what Amazon’s doing.” So, there’s a Buy Box on Amazon? There’s gonna be a buy box on Walmart. There’s sponsored product ads on Amazon? There’s gonna be sponsored product ads on Walmart — just making it entirely simplistic. So, for right now, where we stand, the user interfaces obviously are our way different from each other, but in terms of making price adjustments on Amazon and on Walmart, it’s kind of the same.

I’ll say the biggest differentiator still is that Amazon again is the 800-pound gorilla in the space. So, if you make that price adjustment on Walmart and—whether it’s higher or lower, and it’s not reflective on Amazon, you’re going to get hit with a suspension, right? And that’s going to take lots of time and lots of money and lots of resources to be able to get unsuspended. So, we always advise people to make sure that you’re using a solution like Feedvisor, that you have price parity — so, an anchored price whether it’s on Amazon to be used on Walmart, or whether it’s on Walmart to be used on Amazon so there’s that complete parallel path of making sure that there is no hiccups and there is no one getting suspended on one account or the other.

Rachel Andrea Go: That’s what I was most curious about when you mentioned pricing and Walmart because I had heard in the past that sellers could get in trouble because they priced lower on Walmart or on Amazon and then ended up getting suspended. So tell me, does Feedvisor kind of find the best price on Amazon and then make that the benchmark and push it to Walmart? Or, is there an option to make it the other way around? How does that work?

Mark Perone: Yeah, so Feedvisor’s capabilities right now — I’ll touch on the suspension part and then I’ll elaborate more on the pricing capabilities — is, we actually have the ability through the actual algorithms and AI, if a product does get suspended or a buy box gets suspended, our technology is smart enough to start reducing the price gradually until it becomes unsuspended, and then it will go back up to compete. So, that’s a huge, amazing thing for our sellers because, yes, you’re always going to run into those issues occasionally. Again, we don’t want them to happen, but we do have technology so you don’t have to go in there manually and make any adjustments. Now, what we do is, you know, since we realized that Amazon’s really the one that’s commanding the market, right — The market share is so much bigger than all the other spaces combined — is that we’ll say, “Let’s use your Amazon price as the anchor price and then we could push that price to Walmart up or down a certain percentage however you see fit.”

And we tell people to not go too crazy or too wild on that because if you do, again, you’re gonna find yourself suspended. So, we haven’t had any, you know, issues thus far as long as we keep, you know, the floor and the ceiling relatively close. But as we start tiptoeing more and more into the Walmart space and building out a full-fledged repricing capability that’s actually on our roadmap in the works right now, we’re probably going to start finding more and more obstacles that we’re going to have to deal with when we’re, you know, aggressively adjusting the price on Walmart, but we also have to make sure on the other side that we’re keeping Amazon happy.

Enjoy price synergy with AI

Rachel Andrea Go: So, you brought up AI in terms of pricing. What are some of the most powerful uses of AI within eCommerce in addition to that?

Mark Perone: So, I laugh when I hear this—when I hear a statement like this, because, you know, AI has been around for a while. I think it’s just now with, you know, ChatGPT and generative AI that people are just being like, “Whoa, what is this?” Like—we’re AI at our core; it’s everything that we do today. So, we make price adjustments. We do keywords bidding and optimizations based on AI and our back-end technologies to be able to then show that on Amazon. However, it is advancing quite rapidly, and there are areas that I think that are truly tremendous for our customers and future customers.

I’ll give you an example, right? Let’s say there is a certain seller that is selling an item and it’s, you know—the picture that they currently have is winter related, right? Now, they can easily put it into an AI technology and say, “I need it to go from winter to spring,” right? Or, “I need it to go from spring to summer.” What would have taken hours and hours and hours of editing and probably an entire person or staff, now you’re able to do it with, like, the snap of your fingers. Like, that’s revolutionary. That’s gonna save a lot of time and a lot of effort.

Also, you know, building out listings — not cheap, right? Oftentimes, companies will hire full-time, you know, editors to go through, and whether you have one or thousands and thousands and thousands of listings, it’s a significant investment to be able to do. So, now that you’re able to use, you know, functionalities such as ChatGPT to say, you know, “Give me a, you know, hundred-character listing or a 200-character listing about this 12-ounce coffee mug,” [or] whatever you’re selling, and it’s being built out in a way that you want — that’s also truly remarkable because that’s gonna save folks a ton of time.

So, I definitely see advancements in the AI realm. They’re taking baby steps, not like quantum leaps quite yet, but I only think it’s gonna build on that. So, those are kind of like the first areas of which I’m seeing it be deployed outside of what folks have already been doing on the repricing and advertising side. It’s just going to help folks save a lot more money and a lot more time and make them tremendously more efficient in the long term.

Rachel Andrea Go: You mentioned AI is progressing and, you know, evolving very quickly. What do you predict advances in AI will enable next?

Mark Perone: Oh, such a really, really good question. One thing that’s currently not out there today and [that] we’re kind of all scratching our head about — and whether it’s AI or—yeah, it’s probably gonna be more or less AI — is the ability—when one, for example, has an eCommerce storefront, a Walmart storefront, perhaps their own website, and maybe 10, 20, or 50 other types of venues that they’re selling at, right? What does that look like?

And I think AI is gonna play a really pivotal role in making sure that there is price synergy across the board, whether you want to be priced on Amazon a certain way and that’s gonna be repeated down the line through all the other outlets that you have. I don’t know how and what—how it’s gonna transform that, but I do think that’s a larger issue at stake when it comes to multi-channel diversification, which is huge because, obviously, if you’re suspended on Amazon, you got to make a living, you got to keep your business of float, so there’s gonna be obviously other channels that you’re gonna need to sell.

And so making sure you have a really sophisticated AI technology to make sure that that continues to go down the path where your Amazon storefront is down and that the pricing is also, you know, being translated accordingly — I think that’s an area that would really intrigue me and I would be very curious to see who and what does that. Maybe it’s Feedvisor. I don’t know.

You know, we continue to find our space. I’ve been here at Feedvisor for six years, and we started out repricing and now we’re advertising. You know, I’m not an advertising guy, but you find yourself kind of in these types of situations very similar to your earlier question, like, you know—[I] never thought I would be in partnerships kind of an account manager-sales guy now in partnerships, and the same goes for artificial intelligence. And as long as you have, like—here at Feedvisor, we have a large group of developers, whether it’s in Israel or the Ukraine, Russia, etc., who are brilliant and who bring ideas and suggestions like this up all the time, and we’re kind of always contemplating, you know, where to put our chips and what’s kind of gonna be the new frontier within the eCommerce ecosystem.

Feedvisor’s criteria for partner selection (feat. MyFBAPrep)

Rachel Andrea Go: Can you tell me more about how Feedvisor selects partners and partner activities?

Mark Perone: Sure. So, Feedvisor I would say takes a unique approach, but I’m certain there’s other organizations out there when it comes to partnerships. We’re not going to be the company that’s going to have 40 or 50 partners on our website — the reason being, based off of what I’ve seen, realistically, you probably engage with five percent of those, maybe even less. So, we’re very selective in who we want to engage with, and that’s kind of my job is to understand our clients’ pain points and issues, right? What is Feedvisor not able to deliver for them that’s not currently on our roadmap that we plan on building? And what are companies such as MyFBAPrep and other companies like yours able to provide our customers to add value? Right?

That’s—[at] the end of the day, it’s adding value for our customers. So, we definitely take a unique approach in that perspective of kind of doing a pulse check as to what’s the need from our customer base and then going to identify who those individuals are and then coming together, because it’s not just a one-sided partnership, right? There’s obviously two folks involved.

And this is what I love about the partnerships ecosystem is, once you find yourself in a really good standing with a partner, it’s kind of, like, “What are the limits that we can do with this?” At first, maybe perhaps we do a couple of leads here or there and before you know it, it’s like, “Wow, this is actually a cash cow,” not only on the revenue side of things for both parties, but the opportunities of which we’re sending each other are high quality, right? They’ve already been qualified, right? They’re exactly what we’re looking for. Our cost acquisition is extremely low. So, the profitability of the partnerships and the partners of which we choose go a long way into be able—being able to accomplish that.

It’d be an entire waste of my time and perhaps someone else’s time if we just say, you know, ‘Here’s 20 partners — just go and get contracts with them all.” No, that’s not our approach. I know companies that do do that, but it’s definitely not what Feedvisor’s gonna do now or in the future.

Rachel Andrea Go: I noticed that you separate brands and resellers in your audience. What are the top two to three things brands have to prioritize on Amazon versus what sellers should prioritize?

Mark Perone: So, I would say, with sellers — and I’ll clarify that as resellers — you know, they’ve been whacked over the head a lot this year, whether it’s increased product costs, increased competition, or increased fees on Amazon. By no stretch of the imagination have any of these individuals had a cakewalk this year. This year has had tremendous challenges that we could never have thought of or predicted, whether was on Amazon or trends outside of the ecosystem that we just can’t control. So, from the reseller perspective, I do think that’s going to continue for a bit. However, we are starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel. I just don’t know how far that runway is. Specifically for the reselling side, it’s just getting more and more competitive. Margins are falling, I think anyone would also agree with that. And it’s really, you know, what are they going to do uniquely to adjust or change themselves in the marketplace to make them more competitive?

Now, on the brand or private label side — you know, same type of scenario, just a couple of differentiators. You know, their cost of selling, their cost of goods, their cost of manufacturing, their cost of shipping, their cost of everything significantly went up this year. But they have more margin to work with, so instead of operating on a 60 or 50 or 40 percent margin, maybe they took a couple of hits here and there, so they’re still powering through. The areas of which potentially, you know, they fall victim to is, you know—as we know, Amazon—as soon as you get on Amazon, you can have a product and you’re killing it, and before you know it, there’s another product that exists that’s built, and you’re like, “Hold on, I thought I was the only person selling this,” and it’s a knockoff under a different name. And then that’s the wonderful thing about Amazon and also the bad thing about Amazon is that, if you have a great selling product, someone’s gonna find a way to replicate it and they’re going to put it underneath their own store.

So, while their margins obviously took a hit, they’re higher, [and] they’re still also having to deal with the complexity of additional competition, just not as much as on the reselling side. And I think that goes into what I was telling you earlier is that we are obviously seeing more brands coming to Feedvisor, right? And so that actually plays nicely into what I’m communicating here. It’s just because more brands are starting to see that, you know, they just can’t have a fixed price or no advertising on Amazon; they actually have to take, you know, a really larger standpoint or view on what they’re doing and build out a comprehensive strategy on how they want to go to market. And folks like us are going to be able to do it and also combat all of those different types of objectives or obstacles that they need to front going forward this year.

Rachel Andrea Go: If any merchants out there are listening and want to figure out how to improve their margins when it comes to logistics and fulfillment, MyFBAPrep is a really good partner, especially for Amazon but also for any other channel you’d like to sell on.

Mark Perone: Let me add on that. So, yeah, Tom and I had an opportunity to speak this week, and what I’ll say—what I enjoyed about Tom, which you generally—you may or may not find when you’re speaking to founders of companies, is he’s really, really customer-centric at heart. And he—I kept on hearing that over and over and over again. And at first, I thought, okay, like, you know, he’s just saying it. But no, like, he really means it, you know? He’s like, “I’ll get on the phone, I’ll text, I’ll talk with these partners,” and I think that’s a testament to your organization and why you guys are going to succeed. Because it takes an individual like Tom that goes the extra length for customers to continue to stay with you and retain that business for years on end. So, Tom—there you go. It was impressive from my view.

Stay strong and gather your allies in the face of uncertain growth

Rachel Andrea Go: Thank you. And I do a lot of customer calls as well, and something that everyone consistently points out is the team, actually. So, moving on, what are some things happening in eCommerce right now that you think will have the biggest impact on the industry’s future?

Mark Perone: I’m really curious to see. And I think it—every year, the data comes out — whether it’s from, you know, Business Intelligence or Business Insider — about the growth of Amazon: Is it sustainable? Walmart’s catching up. Shopify’s catching up. Based on the data, they’re not. They’re growing in their own perspective, but Amazon’s just absolutely in a completely other length, right? Is that sustainable? Based on what we’re currently seeing today with our sellers’ margins going much, much lower every single year, both on the reselling side and then also on the private label side.

I’m really curious to see and be a part of the ride as to what that looks like because, in any regard — because Feedvisor’s very well positioned to kind of capitalize on whatever’s going to happen — but, I mean, I will tell you, Rachel, like, you know, we have—we do have a lot of customers asking questions about, you know, what’s Walmart up to? How do we do this, you know? What are other folks doing? And these are not “small potato” customers; these are some of the largest sellers on Amazon today. So I’m really curious from that perspective.

The other area I’d say is any potential additional regulatory implications, whether it be against Amazon or Walmart or any of these other providers. I don’t know, you know? It’s kind of—every year we’re always looking for that kind of “black swan” event, you know? Obviously, we have Covid, which was good and then bad and then also really positive for some customers. You know, this year had its challenges with rocket-high inflation, the economy kind of in limbo and not necessarily sure if we’re going into a recession or not, so. I mean, 2024 is obviously going to have its, you know, its own big impact in a different way, and I’m leaning towards, if I had to make a bet, it’s going to be in a positive direction. Again, I don’t have a crystal ball, but just considering all we’ve dealt with over the last three years, I think we’re due for a break. And I’m starting to see—or, we’re starting to see, based on our data, that it potentially could be a good year for folks.

Rachel Andrea Go: Amazing. I hope so too! And, finally, what’s your advice to sellers this year?

Mark Perone: Stay strong. We’re gonna get through this together. Cut costs where you can, and I think that goes without saying. And that doesn’t really make sense for vendors like us, like, cut costs immediately looking at vendors. But understand the vendors that you currently have, right? I think a lot of companies need to reassess their Amazon tech stack. And there’s definitely areas of overlap between companies that you may not know that this company might be able to cover what you’re looking for and help reduce costs.

I’ll also say, you know, tap into the partnership ecosystem of these companies; they all have them. Whether they’re, you know, well deployed or not is kind of up for grabs, but you’ll probably be able to get a great introduction to whether it’s their C-suite or the founders of these companies, and that will probably come at a discount as well. So, kind of along the lines of trying to find, you know, the right and the appropriate vendors to help you succeed.

And then I’ll just add is, you know, don’t be comfortable, and I think that a lot of these sellers already are. I mean, they’re some of the most resilient folks I’ve ever met. But with the ever-changing ecosystem of Amazon eCommerce space—you know, I’m doing an upcoming presentation on differentiating—of looking at multi-channel, right, and continuing going down because if there was anything to happen with Amazon and what you’re currently doing, you’re going to have other operations to be able to sustain and play—and pay your employees, etc. So, you know, again, my advice would say, don’t get complacent. But I think that’s what folks already are.

And then I would say, lastly — and I think you asked such a great question early on — you know, AI—you know, this is an area of which we’re all learning as we go, you know? None of us have the, you know, key into what’s going to be the best and brightest technology out there. But some of us, like Feedvisor—you know, we’ve been doing this for 12-plus years, so we definitely have an idea as to what direction we think and we see the area is trending, but don’t be shy of using it or don’t be reluctant. Ask questions. Ask around to see, you know, who is using it, how is it helping your business, where are you saving? This is definitely an area that’s going to continue to build in the Amazon space. And I’ll just say for sellers out there who are listening, you know, definitely look into it, and if it’s something that you’re interested in or if you have questions, you know, here at Feedvisor, we would be more than happy to help tackle those with you.