Amazon Plays Nice with Smaller Businesses

Jon Schepke
Jon Schepke, VP of Strategic Partnerships

On September 17, Amazon announced Storefronts, which is designed to help smaller businesses generate more commerce on the site. The Storefronts portal makes it possible for shoppers on Amazon to easily find thousands of smaller businesses that operate on Amazon.

Amazon curates the enterprises in categories ranging from women-owned businesses to beauty and grooming merchants.

My take: Storefronts might be the most significant change to Amazon since the launch of Marketplace for third-party merchants, which are typically smaller mom-and-pop operations.

Earlier in 2018, Amazon released a Small Business Impact report, which asserted that more than a million U.S. small/medium-sized businesses sell on Amazon, and Amazon Marketplace is estimated to have created more than 900,000 jobs worldwide. Over the years, Amazon has faced competition for smaller merchants from sites such as eBay and Etsy. Amazon wants to protect its flank and give visitors another reason to use the platform as their primary search engine for shopping.

A Road Map Emerges

At this point, a road map has emerged for smaller businesses that want to succeed in Amazon’s ecommerce ecosystem. It looks something like this:

  • Put Amazon to work for you. Not long ago I interviewed a small business to understand practical advice for independents to succeed in Amazon’s word. It became clear quickly that Amazon offers access to a multitude of tools that retailers can use to succeed on Amazon, such as a bot to help them price their products. Amazon also provides many tools to help businesses advertise on the site, such as Sponsored Products, which promotes single products using keyword-based campaigns, among other features. (For more insight from my interview, check out this post.) 
  • Maximize all your online destinations. Amazon isn’t the only game in town. Facebook, for instance, is making its Marketplace a more popular destination for merchants, and of course the world’s largest social network provides its own set of advertising tools. In addition to being present on Facebook and sites such as Etsy (if applicable), businesses need to be managing relationships proactively with major online publishers such as Apple and Google, to ensure they are findable — whether through organic searches on map apps or advertising programs.
  • Manage your online reputation. The more you extend your reach across the digital world, the more you need to manage your reputation. That involves using the right online reputation management (ORM) platform to monitor and respond to customer ratings and reviews. Reputation.com research shows that online-sourced sales for businesses who have ORM programs in place have grown 24% faster than those who do not.
  • Focus on your differentiators. Continue to capitalize on the features that make your brick-and-mortar storefront stand apart — customer service, special events, participation in your local community or a friendly sales team.

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