Since its inception in 2015, Amazon Business has introduced a steady stream of features and services intended to help sellers grow their business. From dedicated sales representatives that provide advice to sellers on enhancing their brand and product content to policing its marketplace to ferret out counterfeit goods, B2B sellers have a myriad options for increasing their sales on Amazon Business.
“Companies that sell on Amazon Business are just as much our customers as those that are buying from us,” says Rob Green, director of selling partners. “We offer a range of support services to help new and existing selling partners accelerate their sales and expand their offerings domestically and, if they choose, internationally. That’s part of the reason we’ve been able to add hundreds of thousands of sellers the last three years.”
Many of the services Amazon offers, however, are fee-based, which can significantly erode a seller’s margins, says Jeff McRitchie, vice president of marketing for MyBinding.com, a Hillsboro, Oregon-based seller of binding and laminating products that sells on Amazon Business.
“Amazon is continually working to introduce features and services to attract new sellers and enhance the experience for buyers, which creates a lot of opportunity for sellers,” McRitchie says. “But sellers need to look at the all fees associated with the services and a sale made through Amazon to determine their true margins.”
Working with Amazon Business sales reps
One service new sellers on Amazon Business can take advantage of are dedicated sales representatives. Sales reps can help new sellers with such tasks as initial setup and launch, account registration, catalog integration and shipping and inventory settings. They can also advise new and established sellers on adopting features buyers expect, such as business-specific pricing and quantity discounts.
“If merchants have diversity credentials or quality credentials, we advise them on how to make their credentials visible to Amazon Business buyers,” Green says.
Sales reps can also advise sellers on advertising and brand-building strategies to stand out from competitors and address issues that may arise with their account, such as if it is under the threat of suspension for not meeting Amazon’s selling standards, McRitchie says.
The latter can be especially valuable. “Sales representatives can help sellers get in front of issues faster than you can through seller support, which has a lot of value,” McRitchie says. “But sellers pay for the support a sales representative provides and it can get pricey.”
Balancing act between services and costs
McRitchie says one colleague paid $3,000 a month for a dedicated Amazon Business account manager. “Amazon Business sales representatives can provide a lot of knowledge about growing your business and navigating issues that can affect your business, but there is a balancing act between the cost of that service and the increased sales it generates.”
Indeed, McRitchie points to Amazon Business’s sales commission on every sale, which in his case is 15%, as a factor sellers should weigh when contemplating hiring an Amazon Business sales representative. “Sellers need to keep in mind that Amazon’s sales commission is a cost on top of the cost of a sales representative when figuring the return on hiring a dedicated sales representative,” McRitchie says.
Rooting out counterfeiters is another major area of focus for Amazon, which in February publicly acknowledged that the sale of counterfeit and pirated items through its marketplaces is a risk to future earnings. To combat the problem, Green says Amazon Business employs dedicated teams of software engineers, research scientists, program managers and investigators to identify bad actors before they can offer any products for sale.
Fighting counterfeit sales
“Amazon’s systems automatically and continuously scan numerous data points related to selling partners, products, brands, and offers to detect activity that indicates products that might be counterfeit,” Green says. “Our global team is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to respond to and take action on reported violations and notices of potential infringement.”
In addition, Amazon Business removes suspected counterfeit items as it becomes aware of them and permanently bans counterfeiters from selling on its website. All authenticity claims are thoroughly investigated and products rights owners are encouraged to report concerns about counterfeiting, Green adds.
“Counterfeiting is a problem and addressing it can be like playing whack-a-mole,” says McRitchie. “Amazon will go after counterfeiters and they have some new programs, such as adding barcodes to each item listed on their site, that help deter counterfeiting, but again, you have to pay for the service.”
More than 100,000 registered brands
Another tool sellers’ can leverage to fight counterfeiting is Amazon’s Brand Registry. More than 100,000 brands have enrolled in the free registry to manage and protect their brand and intellectual property rights on “our store,” Green says.
While helpful at enabling sellers to protect their brand, the service is geared toward manufacturers selling on Amazon that trademark their products, McRitchie adds.
Another service Amazon Business touts to help sellers grow their business is Seller Central. A data-driven dashboard, Seller Central lets sellers view the growth of their B2B sales from registered business customers in comparison to non-business customers, compare their year-over-year growth among both customer groups, break down their B2B sales by industry and customer segments, and see their top five products purchased.
While all the features and functionality Amazon Business has added, and plans to add, can help sellers grow their business, McRitchie recommends sellers first weigh their cost versus the potential sales bump they can provide.
“There is a lot of growth opportunity through Amazon Business’s services, but they exist as ways to grow Amazon first, and many come with a cost,” he says. “Sellers utilizing these services can grow their business, too, but sellers should look at the cost benefit and what their final margin will be before deciding which services make the most sense financially.”
Peter Lucas is a Highland Park, Illinois-based freelance writer covering business and technology.
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