Jalo Helsinki’s products are familiar to a lot of Finns. The moth-shaped Lento smoke alarm is part of the product range.
The essence of Finnish design can be found in Jalo Helsinki products. The focus of the company is not only to create an appealing outer appearance but to improve the relationship between people and products. Jarkko Epäilys, CEO of Jalo Helsinki, sees selling on Amazon as an advantage and points out that products need to have a unique selling point to differentiate from the masses. “For us, it is design”, Epäilys says.
Amazon has been a sales channel for you for multiple years now. In which areas have you faced the most challenges?
Jarkko: Amazon is not an automatic gold mine. Amazon, such as other digital retail and advertising platforms are very competitive. Sellers must keep up with the continuously growing competition and regularly revise the selling environment, product range and marketing strategy. Other challenges for us include combining the traditional distribution with online sales. Amazon provides a significant sales channel for almost any company.
The challenges arise when a seller has exclusive distribution contracts in different countries. However, not all sellers on Amazon are aware of these, and even if they were, they might not respect the agreement. This might cause, not to say the least, awkward situations between different distributors and in the worst case scenario even risks to on-going customer relationships. The role of Amazon has nevertheless grown so big that it is not just another online store among others, but much more.
In which Amazon marketplaces are your products sold at the moment and when are you planning to take your products to the US market?
Jarkko: We started by selling in the UK and France marketplaces and our importer has been working with Amazon Germany for a longer period of time. During the past year, we have expanded selling in the marketplaces of Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and most recently Sweden.
The US market is intriguing. However, because of the strong regulations and standard limitations, at the moment we do not have products we could sell in the US. We are working on product development and launching in the US in a couple of years – either on our own or with an importer.
How has ‘the new normal’ affected your business on Amazon?
Jarkko: During the spring our products were out of stock after the manufacturer’s factory shut down and we couldn’t deliver products for sale. When we finally got a new batch of our products, Amazon didn’t approve to take in FBA inventory that was not related to fighting against COVID. In the summer the situation normalised and towards the end of the year the amount of orders have increased back to the normal level and even a bit over it.
Do you see Finnish design as something that is worth selling on Amazon?
Yes, definitely. Finnish design has a lot of fans all around Europe and the world. For them and other large audiences, Amazon is a great display window to find products. A product with great design stands out visually which helps finding it on Amazon. This of course, does not happen without marketing investments, since Amazon knows how to take its share of sales.
Amazon opened the Swedish marketplace at the end of October. Do you plan to list your products available also for the Swedish consumers?
Jarkko: Absolutely, we want to sell on Amazon Sweden. Most of the product listings have been made already. At the moment, Amazon Sweden does not allow advertising so sales will take place practically next year.
How have you managed the deliveries to consumers? Do you use Amazon’s Fulfillment model (FBA) or do you ship orders directly from your warehouse (FBM)?
Jarkko: We use both models after Amazon refused to take our fire extinguishers to their warehouses, even though we can ensure there is nothing dangerous in storing them. This shows their stiffness: if some product category is defined as dangerous or hazardous all items belonging to that category are automatically labeled as dangerous despite the fact that a product has been designed to be safe.
Well, eventually we can still sell these products, we just need to ship them from our own warehouse. In addition to the fire extinguishers, we currently also ship items with smaller sales volume from our warehouse in order to avoid Amazon warehousing fees. Products with larger sales volume are better to deliver via Amazon where the delivery model is fast and inexpensive.
Are there any regulations that you have to take into consideration when selling on Amazon?
Jarkko: Yes. Smoke alarms are strongly regulated and have standard limitations so they can be sold only in countries where they have a third-party certification based on local regulations. The lithium batteries included in the smoke alarms also caused some difficulties with approval and shipments.
For us, the quality of our products is something we deeply care about. Our designers and engineers always strive for exceptional performance and quality. We are proud to say our products are made from the finest materials and components with the highest quality standards. We believe that solid safety is a combination of great design and latest technology.