Nike Cuts Ties with Amazon, but Will it Matter?

Recently, massive international sportswear brand, Nike, announced that the company ended its two-year relationship with online super-retailer Amazon. Under the deal, Nike sold its gear directly to the online retailer, allowing Amazon to stock and deliver Nike gear using Amazon’s popular Prime service of free next or same-day delivery. The end of the agreement marks a hiccup for Amazon in its quest to sign distribution contracts with major brands across multiple markets, but it may not end up being much of a big loss for Amazon shoppers, for several reasons.

First, the Nike selection that could be directly ordered from Amazon wasn’t the best, not by a long shot. The selection was limited, and none of the newest or most sought-after sneakers were available. Given this, having a contract with Nike wasn’t a huge boon for Amazon, and customers can still find Nike products on the platform. And that’s the biggest reason why most customers aren’t likely to notice. Nike products will still be available on Amazon, just through secondary sellers. Nike, for its part, plans to increase its consumer PR focus on getting more eyes on company controlled web presences, including both sales sites and social media, where the swoosh, and only the swoosh is available for purchase. If the company can manage that while not leading people away from shopping their products on Amazon, that’s a win-win for Nike.

Given that, the question here is this: Should either Nike or Amazon make a big deal out of the ending of this deal? Probably not. It helps neither brand, and could potentially create frustration or misunderstanding in the marketplace, especially with consumers who only read the headline and think Nike won’t be available on Amazon at all any more. This could cause consumers to skip Amazon when searching for Nike products online, a chief reason why Amazon declined to offer a statement when many media outlets asked about this deal coming to an end.

When it comes to consumer PR, sometimes silence really is golden. For Nike, drawing buying customers away from products they want on Amazon is a loss. And, for Amazon, broadcasting the loss of the Nike deal could create consumer confusion, resulting in a loss. The right call, then, is to promote what is available and all the places consumers can find it. Staying focused and positive, even as the old agreement goes away, allows both brands to keep all their potential customers content and focused on what they want them focused on: buying products they want from these brands. Anything else is just a distraction.

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