By Jack M. Germain
Oct 22, 2021 5:00 AM PT
Amazon heralded its shifting strategies to help sellers expand with new tools during its two-day Accelerate Seller Conference this week.
The e-commerce giant announced its growing success with American small and medium-sized businesses empowerment this year, its glowing Sellers Report, and the results of its unique CRM tools for SMBs.
In the 12 months ending Aug. 31, the number of American SMB sellers on Amazon who surpassed $1 million in sales grew by nearly 15 percent.
Amazon’s 2021 Small Business Empowerment Report outlined how the company provides opportunity, tools, and services to help more than 500,000 third-party selling partners in the U.S. reach hundreds of millions of customers, increase revenue and profits, and create good jobs across America.
The report set a strong welcoming greeting for thousands of U.S. sellers remotely attending the Amazon Accelerate 2021 virtual conference for sellers Oct. 20-21. The second annual conference featured new product and service announcements, seller presentations, and more than 30 sessions providing insights and strategies for current and aspiring entrepreneurs.
“Over 20 years ago, we made the decision to open our store’s virtual shelves to third-party sellers. At the time, big-box retailers had been pushing small businesses out of the retail market,” said Dave Clark, CEO of Amazon Worldwide Consumer.
Amazon bet that bringing selling partners into its digital marketplace would be a win for customers who want vast product selection, low prices, and fast delivery.
“But it would also be a win for small businesses that want to reach more customers, increase their revenue and profits, and create good jobs. It proved to be a great bet,” he added.
Support for Local Sellers
Two of the most significant new marketing tools for sellers Amazon announced are Product Opportunity Explorer and Local Selling Opportunity, according to Dave Nadel, director of selling partner trust at Amazon.
The Explorer tool allows sellers to use customer data from Amazon to identify opportunities for new products that have unmet demand in the store. Product Opportunity Explorer is in beta testing now. Amazon plans to make the tool available to all sellers in 2022. The tool is available at no charge in Seller Central, Amazon’s online business management resource for sellers.
The Local Selling Opportunity enables merchants not only to sell to Amazon’s customers across the globe but to also engage with their local communities. That option lets local merchants target customers near the sellers’ stores in town or in the region. It enables new products and services to be offered and lets folks shop locally, within their community.
“For example, they can bundle services like installation along with their products, but it’s in addition to kind of their broader nationwide online sales. It gives customers a way to support local businesses, and it gives sellers a way to offer products that they couldn’t offer before such as larger fragile items,” Nadel told the E-commerce Times.
A second part of this new local sellers support program is an option to buy online and pick up in the store. That allows a customer to complete a transaction online on Amazon and then go to their local store and pick it up and get it the same day, he added.
The 2021 Small Business Empowerment Report Amazon released for the seller conference details how Amazon provides small business owners, startups, and entrepreneurs with support, tools, and opportunities to sell their products online. It also addresses how to scale their business, build their brand, and create economic impact.
More data from the 12 months ending Aug. 31, 2021 revealed that sellers posted impressive results in a climate marred by pandemic restrictions and supply chain problems. The major accomplishments by U.S. sellers include:
- More than 3.8 billion products were sold, averaging 7,400 every minute
- Average more than $200,000 in sales, up YoY from approximately $170,000
- Nearly $2.2 billion in international export sales, up from nearly $1.5 billion YoY
In 2020, Amazon invested more than $18 billion in selling partner success to help sellers quickly launch their businesses in Amazon’s store, scale to reach more customers, and build their brands. That investment included launching new tools and services, along with more than 24,000 employees focused on supporting sellers across the company.
“We had to invent new ways to make sure we can continue to invent on behalf of sellers and customers alike. But in terms of sellers, I would say their struggles with the pandemic have been in a number of areas, with the primary one being the supply chain,” noted Nadel.
The gaps in that process made it hard for some sellers to keep up. But that said, we have seen throughout the pandemic that sellers and small businesses are thriving online — and we see sales up, he observed.
“When Covid hit, BlueZone was forced to temporarily close all of its physical stores and downsize from 75 employees to 12,” said Kyle Robertson, director of marketing for BlueZone Sports. “After going all-in on Amazon in April 2020, BlueZone now has more employees and more brick-and-mortar locations than we did pre-pandemic thanks to growth on Amazon.”
Third-Party Seller Growth
Amazon’s 2021 Small Business Empowerment Report reveals third-party sellers created more than 1.8 million U.S. jobs. Amazon’s new sales tool supports those sellers by helping them identify opportunities to launch new, high-potential products.
It takes the guesswork out of identifying which products to launch. It provides sellers with rich insights into what customers are searching for, clicking on, and buying, as well as not buying.
Amazon has a long track record of inventing for sellers. The Explorer tool is the company’s latest innovation that provides insights for bringing new products to market faster and more efficiently, explained Ben Hartman, vice president of North America Selling Partner Services at Amazon.
“It is another example of how we empower small businesses and entrepreneurs by providing them with powerful capabilities to reach more customers and grow,” he said.
Silver Onyx built its business on Amazon with a growth strategy based on increasing the number of products offered, according to John Broadbent, Silver Onyx’s CEO. The digital store has seven brands in Amazon’s store.
“Product Opportunity Explorer will give us data and recommendations specifically relevant to our business, fueling our ability to develop and offer dozens of new products to our brand portfolio this year, such as successful new additions to our Nature’s Nutrition line,” he said.
Amazon offers a range of tools and services to help sellers launch new products. When sellers identify new products they want to launch on its marketplace platform, they can use Fulfillment by Amazon’s New Selection program that offers benefits on storage and advertising costs to help them accelerate their early sales.
Sellers enrolled in Brand Registry can use Amazon Vine to help them build a foundation of insightful customer reviews on their new selection for as little as $200 per enrolled product. On average, brands have found Amazon Vine helped grow their initial product sales by more than 15 percent, according to Amazon.
Search Analytics Tool Added to Arsenal
Amazon also announced the Search Analytics Dashboard to help sellers derive insights from the search performance of their products. It provides sellers with anonymized data to better understand customers’ interests and shopping choices for their products.
The dashboard supplies sellers with information to optimize their listings, inform inventory planning, and plan their product development roadmap. Sellers can grow their business both on and off Amazon, offered Srikanth Thirumalai, vice president of search at Amazon.
“We are excited about what these insights will do for sellers, and we look forward to their feedback as we identify new ways to partner with them and improve the shopping and selling experience together,” he said.
The Search Analytics Dashboard will be available in the U.S. in early 2022. The tool will be provided at no charge to Amazon sellers who are enrolled in Amazon Brand Registry.
Search term data will make it possible for VitaCup to identify high-performing keywords for its products. The company can use that information to fine-tune its marketing and product development strategies, said Jason Mclellan, director at VitaCup, a seller participating in the products’ development.
“The information has already helped us identify a new product to develop and a product category where we’re building traction,” he added.