Amazon on Monday launched Amazon Storefronts, which employs videos and "stories" to help customers to shop from nearly 20,000 small and medium-sized businesses that sell exclusively on its site. Smaller sellers account for half of its retail sales, Amazon noted in a press release emailed to Retail Dive.
Amazon also unveiled a national TV ad featuring a small business that sells on Amazon — the Chelsea, Michigan, based Little Flower Soap Co.
Amazon Storefronts, which includes U.S.-based sellers in all 50 states, features more than 25 product categories, including back to school, Halloween, home, pet supplies, kitchen and books, and a curated collection of over one million products, according to the release.
It's been a couple of years since Amazon's Marketplace reached one of the e-commerce giant's most important milestones, that half of the goods sold on its site come from small and medium-sized independent sellers.
It's a key development for Amazon because those sales spare the e-retailer from the most expensive aspects of e-commerce, fulfillment and delivery. Marketplace sellers either store, fulfill and deliver goods they sell through Amazon, or pay Amazon to help them with those logistics. Their importance was evident in Amazon's move earlier this year to merge its marketplace and retail groups.
That's also true for the Storefronts launch and the new ad, both of which amplify marketplace sellers to an unprecedented degree. Increasingly under fire for disrupting local retail, Amazon touted their impact with their Small Business Impact Report, saying that small and medium-sized businesses selling on Amazon have created more than 900,000 jobs worldwide, and that last year more than 300,000 U.S.-based small and medium-sized businesses started selling on Amazon.
The businesswoman featured in Amazon's new ad testified to that. "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," Holly Rutt, co-founder of Little Flower Soap Co., said in a statement.
But as marketplace sales have taken over a greater portion of Amazon's sales, its reputation for top-notch customer service has suffered as some sellers fail to provide its customers with solutions to problems, adequate packaging, shipping speeds, and authentic goods or goods-as-advertised.