Amazon Exec Shares How Merchants Can Succeed With Marketplace

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More than two million sellers of all sizes and across all categories belong to the Amazon Marketplace, which gives them exposure to the online giant’s 250 million-plus consumers worldwide.

During the 2013 holiday season, Marketplace sellers shipped items to customers in more than 185 countries. On Cyber Monday, more than 13 million units were ordered from Marketplace sellers, a 50% increase over 2012.

Due to the success Marketplace sellers have seen over the past year, Amazon is providing its partners with a variety of services and solutions to help them expand their consumer base and scale their businesses.


This year, Amazon announced that deals from sellers would be featured on holiday deal pages worldwide. For the first time, Marketplace members will be present alongside their larger counterparts on the Today’s Deals page, as well as the Black Friday Store, Cyber Monday Store and other high-traffic areas of the site.

In the below Q&A, Erik Fairleigh, PR Manager at Amazon, discusses how entrepreneurs, small businesses and growing brands alike can take advantage of the Marketplace program and its myriad of services.

Retail TouchPoints (RTP): Why is the Amazon Marketplace valuable to businesses of all sizes?

Fairleigh: Amazon is an open channel that businesses can use. We like to think of it as an extension of something retailers and sellers should already be doing as part of their business.

There’s no cost to list in the Marketplace, but as soon as they add their pictures and product descriptions, they can get that exposure to more than 250 million customers worldwide We are excited to get as much selection and unique products as possible because that’s what our customers value. 

RTP: What percentage or share of the Amazon business does the Marketplace make up?

Fairleigh: More than 40% of units sold are coming from these external businesses. This not only shows the value of the Marketplace but the demand from consumers. Marketplace sellers are an important part of our ecosystem, and we want to nurture those relationships. Additionally, it’s important to note that we’re a revenue-share businesses, so we really are invested in helping our partners succeed. We want them to get sales because that’s how we’re going to get sales.

RTP: How do you ensure that Amazon customers have a great experience with your brand, as well as the brands you’re selling through the Marketplace?

Fairleigh: We do all types of things to make sure the customer experience is very seamless. Products within the Marketplace are sold right next to what Amazon itself is selling. These Marketplace sellers are businesses of all sizes: they’re mothers’ who stay home with their families but have a cool side business, or they’re SMBs of all sizes that have more traditional retail models. We have a wide spectrum of who our sellers are. 

RTP: What role does Fulfillment By Amazon play in your Marketplace business?

Fairleigh: Fulfillment By Amazon is our secret weapon; there’s really no competitive service out there right now. We want to give our customers a seamless experience while they’re buying from us, and we want to allow our partners to tap into the logistical expertise we’ve built over the past 20 years. Sellers can send in their items to our fulfillment centers, [where] we will enter them into our system. Then we’ll be able to virtually and physically track those items. Once an order is placed, Amazon will handle the shipping of the items as well as the customer service. 

Shipping is a big part of what Fulfillment By Amazon is, but the customer service is really key. If a customer has a question, issue or return, Amazon handles all that. Amazon is doing the return and whatever service the customer needs.

RTP: Does that present any long-term value to Marketplace partners?

Fairleigh: Yes, when they look to expand internationally, that’s when this service is invaluable. We’re providing customer service in Chinese, Japanese, French, Italian, German and other languages so it really helps a business scale quickly.

Not only can these sellers reach these new markets, but they can do so without having to worry about the back-end service side. As a result, they can focus on what they’re passionate about and let Amazon handle all the dirty work and all those things that would take extra staffing and resources.

RTP: Are there any other perks Fulfillment By Amazon provides?

Fairleigh: The great thing about Fulfillment By Amazon is that once items are in our possession, they’re automatically Prime eligible. As you may know, free shipping and fast shipping are the turning point for many shoppers. A lot of our most frequent shoppers shop Prime items exclusively. They have the ability to tailor their searches based on what’s available via Prime.

If a seller’s items aren’t available via Fulfillment By Amazon, they don’t get that visibility. They also get negotiator rates with our carrier partners, which gives them a better shipping rate with carriers than what they would normally get.  

RTP: How do you ensure your Marketplace sellers are successful?

Fairleigh: We have constant communication with our sellers; we give selling coaching so they have recommendations on how to grow and expand their businesses. We also give them analytics to look at in terms of how the marketplace is trending and what shoppers are looking for. One of the tools I really like is the nudge email. Amazon sends millions of these out to sellers per day. If you sell pencils, for example, we’ll tell you there’s no one selling pens and that you’d be the only one selling them if you expanded your product line. We give sellers ideas for expanding their business if they’re so inclined. 

RTP: Do you have any tips or best practices for merchants currently or planning to sale via Amazon?

Fairleigh: Here are a few that come to mind:

  • Leverage Fulfillment By Amazon: It may not be a fit for all sellers but based on what you’re selling and how you want to scale and grow your business, it could be a great fit.  
  • Always provide detailed product descriptions: This seems so basic, but if I’m a customer searching for a red sweater, you need to make sure that when I’m discovering products you have as many chances for visibility as you can get. You need to have very clear descriptions of your product, its features and what it does. Be very rich with all that detail and include pictures because customers want to be clear and know what they’re looking at before they consider and make a purchase.
  • Consider selling globally: There are a lot of customers out there; by limited your pool of where you sell, you’re limiting the number of customers you can reach. Amazon has 10 local country sites worldwide. We have a myriad of international customers out there and they’re coming to Amazon, so sellers should think about expanding their business that way. 

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