Amazon Storefronts: how can it help small to midsize retailers?

Customer Experience eCommerce Growth and Scale Trend Watch
An icon denoting Amazon Storefronts

The most powerful retailer on the planet has introduced a place to promote small businesses. But will it? James Pryor, Senior Fulfillment Consultant at James and James, investigates the impact of Amazon Storefronts.

If you haven’t seen Storefronts yet, it’s an area on Amazon that promotes thousands of small business ideas.

Amazon Storefronts has three sections: Curated Collections help consumers discover new products in verticals such as Beauty & Grooming or Toys & Games; Storefront of the Week spotlights an independent brand and its products; and Meet the Business Owners showcases groups of entrepreneurs such as “Artisans” or “Innovator-makers”.

On the face of it, Amazon Storefronts seems like an awesome way to get your name out there in front of millions of potential customers. The problem is they’re all Amazon customers.

Amazon Storefronts is a great way to establish a brand

With 51% of American households now subscribing to Amazon Prime – and 58% of the top US Amazon sellers using Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) – all the unique and innovative products sold through Storefronts are likely to arrive with customers in an Amazon box, with an Amazon receipt.

The customer service delivered by Amazon Storefronts may provide initial eCommerce growth when you’re starting up – 15 minutes in the sun, to get your brand known and cash flow running. But will it help you scale your brand and secure repeat purchases in the future?

To achieve the 200% year-on-year growth that our clients do, it’s vital to consider how you want the world to see your brand. How do you want your customers to interact with your products and staff? What feeling should they get when they buy from you, when your product arrives?

Amazon Storefronts won’t help you earn loyal customers

The only way to retain control over your customer experience is to use your own eCommerce store and order fulfillment provider – whether in place of or alongside Amazon Storefronts.

When you take this approach, you’ll still be able to offer the two-day shipping that customers have come to expect across America. But you’ll get to own the relationship with the customer  – you can provide the branded packaging and personalized communications that are critical to delighting customers and building loyalty in the long term.

You’ll also protect the unique products you’ve worked so hard to create, reducing the risk of others spotting your Amazon best seller and copying it. As Shopify CEO, Tobi Lütke, puts it: “Amazon’s worldview is that merchants don’t matter. Factories and consumers matter. Everything in between is opportunity.”

Only time will tell how brands fare with Amazon Storefronts – if it’s the stage that small to midsize businesses have been calling out for, or just another way to please the behemoth’s customers and shareholders. Either way, savvy retailers will be sure not to put all their eggs in Amazon’s basket.