Teikametrics helps Amazon.com merchants figure out what to stock — and how to price it

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Teikametrics is one of those behind-the-scenes players that may have been involved in some of your online gift-buying this month. The Boston-based startup offers analytic services to companies that sell goods on Amazon.com — including local firms like Newbury Comics and Aubuchon Hardware. Among the questions Teikametrics can answer: How much inventory should a seller stock at various Amazon fulfillment centers to ensure quick delivery, anywhere in the world.

The company was founded in 2011 by Alasdair McLean-Foreman, who previously launched his own e-commerce business, HDO Sport, from a Harvard dorm room back in the dot-com era. McLean-Foreman says that HDO was one of the first companies invited to be part of Amazon’s network of third-party merchants who use the site to reach customers — and often, rely on its services to warehouse and ship their products.

With Teikametrics, he’s now supplying analytics to about 200 merchants who depend on Amazon as their major e-commerce channel. The Web-based software fills merchants in on what’s selling and what’s not, and can help merchants avoid overinvesting in inventory, McLean-Foreman says. It can also make suggestions on the optimal pricing for different items, and help with accounting and shipping. Subscriptions to the software start at $2,500 per month.

McLean-Foreman says that while some retailers may worry about losing control of their brand or their customers by selling through Amazon, “our vision is that you are in a game where you need to position inventory through someone like Amazon, because that is where all the customers are.” And, he adds, because of features like Amazon Prime second-day shipping, credit cards on file, and wish lists, “transactions with Amazon are extremely frictionless.”

Newbury Comics CEO Mike Dreese says about 30 percent of the Boston company’s revenue now comes from online sales, primarily through Amazon — a share that is “growing quickly.” While brick-and-mortar sales look to be down 2 or 3 percent for the year, Dreese says that online sales are up about 35 percent in 2014. One surprisingly hot seller online? Vinyl records.

Teikametrics, which has about 20 employees, hasn’t raised any outside funding so far, but McLean-Foreman says he hasn’t ruled it out.

Scott Kirsner writes the Innovation Economy column every Sunday in the Boston Globe, in which he tracks entrepreneurship, investment, and big company activities around New England.
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