Amazon is thinking small for a change.
The company known for its online-retail domination has launched a site that will push products from smaller operations within the United States. Called “Storefronts,” the website will direct shoppers to nearly 20,000 locations nationwide.
Amazon announced the news in a press release, which read in part:
With Storefronts, customers can shop a curated collection of over one million products, and deals from nearly 20,000 U.S. small and medium-sized businesses, and learn more about profiled businesses through featured videos and stories. Amazon launched the new store to offer customers an easy way to buy from small and medium-sized businesses in all 50 states through the convenient and trusted Amazon experience. …
We’ve created a custom, one-stop shopping experience for customers looking for interesting, innovative and high quality products from American businesses from all across the country,” said Nicholas Denissen, Vice President for Amazon. “Amazon first invited businesses to sell on Amazonnearly two decades ago, and today, small and medium-sized businesses are a vital part of Amazon’s large selection and commitment to customers. We’re championing their success with this new store and a national advertising campaign featuring a successful Michigan business selling on Amazon to customers across the U.S. and worldwide.”
Amazon released a nationwide TV ad campaign to share the news:
The moves are part of Amazon’s effort to combat the narrative that the retail conglomerate is hurting mom-and-pop businesses and other small retailers.
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The press release continued:
“Since we started selling on Amazon in October 2016, our sales have nearly doubled. Due to our success, we have been able to hire new team members from our community, including full and part time jobs,” said Holly Rutt, co-founder of Little Flower Soap Co., the U.S. business owner featured in the national TV ad. “We believe that customers like to know the story behind what they’re buying. When there is worry about creating jobs, it’s reassuring for customers to know their purchases are helping sustain jobs in the U.S.”
Earlier this year, Amazon introduced the Small Business Impact Report. According to the report, small and medium-sized businesses selling on Amazon are estimated to have created more than 900,000 jobs worldwide. In 2017, more than 300,000 U.S.-based small and medium-sized businesses started selling on Amazon.
The move has received some praise on Twitter:
— Jeff Farley (@TradeInTheZone) September 17, 2018
Being part of Amazon Storefronts has positives and negatives for participants. Though your product will get more visibility from Amazon’s push, Storefronts won’t drive traffic to your website—and small businesses have options when it comes to online marketplaces.
Those getting highlighted on Storefronts are already merchants on Amazon’s platform, but you could also see this as a way for Amazon to try to lure more merchants to do business there. Amazon is huge, but those small businesses have other options, including other marketplaces like eBay, or building their own sites and using something like Shopify to power them, or foregoeing [sic] “traditional” e-commerce routes altogether.
The idea is to bring a little more personality to the process of transaction, not unlike what you might get if you shop regularly at small businesses when it’s in a physical location, and you might know the owner by name or she or he would know you. Storefronts will highlight different merchants in the mix with videos that profile the owners, and highlight a selection of items that they sell via Amazon. It will also feature the small businesses in a marketing campaign.
No links, however, to a homepage of their own or their physical stores, if the SMBs happen to have either.
The announcement might also afford Amazon a positive narrative, as allegations have surfaced that employees are taking bribes to remove negative online reviews and sellingconfidential data.
“We are conducting a thorough investigation of these claims,” Amazon said. “We hold our employees to a high ethical standard and anyone in violation of our code faces discipline, including termination and potential legal and criminal penalties.”
What do you think of Amazon’s rollout and announcement, PR Daily readers?