Everyone knows Amazon is killing America’s small businesses — right?
Believe it or not, many small business leaders say just the opposite. When commercial insurer Insureon and business directory Manta studied the subject, they found that 81 percent of small businesses experienced “significant” or “moderate” revenue growth when they started selling online.
Just how many small businesses are benefiting from Amazon sales? According to the e-commerce giant’s latest “Small Business Impact Report,” more than a million U.S.-based small businesses use the platform. Worldwide, more than 20,000 of them have made more than $1 million in sales on the platform, creating an estimated 900,000 jobs.
With that said, some small business leaders feel left behind. Gallup foundlast August that only about two-thirds of small businesses expect to make any money online in the next five years, while just two in 10 view themselves as truly competing with larger online retailers.
Amp Your Amazon Skills
If you’re an entrepreneur who isn’t confident in your Amazon sellingskills, the good news is that you’ve got plenty of places to turn for help:
1. Attend conferences for Amazon Sellers.
Conferences aren’t just part of the corporate world; they’re essential for entrepreneurs trying to make their mark on a new space. Later this month, for instance, veteran Amazon sellers will get together for Prosper Show, a Las Vegas-based event with more than 40 speakers and 25 sessions — not to mention seven ex-Amazon employees — to swap sales and leadership tips.
What can Prosper attendees expect to learn? One of the most critical skills is digital marketing, which Amazon advertising agency Blue Wheel Media will discuss. After helping dozens of beauty, skincare, and cosmetic brands boost their Amazon sales, Blue Wheel aims to help sellers isolate search terms to increase their visibility in product search results.
2. Visit Amazon’s Seller Forums.
Of course, not every small business owner has the luxury of taking three days off for a trip to Las Vegas. If you’re in that boat, check out Amazon’s Seller Forums. Not only do actual Amazon staff members pin primers on common sources of confusion, such as Amazon’s A-to-Z Claims process, but hundreds of other small business leaders add topics each week.
What if you can’t find what you need on Amazon’s own forums? If asking a question doesn’t help, look elsewhere. Reddit’s “Fulfillment by Amazon” forum has 47,500 subscribers, for instance. WebRetailerfeatures forums, educational webinars, and product offers specifically for small businesses that sell on Amazon and eBay.
3. Take a class.
Forums work well for a question or two, but what if you’re looking for a top-down tutorial? Take an online class. If you’re truly starting from scratch, go for a general course about starting an online business. If you’ve got an Amazon Seller account already, check out Amazon’s Seller University, a series of instructional videos covering everything from seller fees to the Fulfillment By Amazon program.
But online classes aren’t only for beginners. More advanced Amazon sellers should check out Marketplace Seller Courses’ curriculum. Although all classes past the introductory video cost $500 each, they teach viewers to optimize their listings for search and purchase, create Amazon-specific campaigns, encourage product reviews, and deal with counterfeit and copyright issues. Plus, they’re taught by Amazon specialist Shannon Roddy, a marketplace management and SEO expert.
4. Get a mentor.
Even when it comes to e-commerce, there’s no substitute for personal attention. With Amazon selling classes, you’ll need to align your needs with program costs and complexity. Sellers who just need a few tips might find Amazon’s Selling Coach meets their needs. The virtual advisor notifies users when it’s time to restock, which products are most popular, whether competitors offer lower prices, and whether global sales opportunities are available.
If you’re willing to pay for the human touch, try Jungle Scout’s monthly Amazon mentoring service. In addition to four monthly consulting hours, users receive weekly webinars, access to a private Facebook support group, and office hours by phone with their mentor. You can also try it the old-fashioned way by building relationships with other sellers at conferences; expect to play the role of mentor yourself on certain topics.
More often than not, small business leaders who are upset about Amazon’s growth simply don’t see their own sales opportunities inherent in that growth. Instead of stressing about slowing brick-and-mortar sales, get into the e-commerce game. As the old adage goes, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.