November 24, 2020

Amazon Prime Day boosts small business shopping, too

Amazon’s annual shopping bonanza known as Prime Day begins Tuesday. Though, not everyone is excited: Campaign groups have urged shoppers to instead spend cash in small, local shops.

They argue the coronavirus pandemic — along with the lockdowns and travel restrictions that followed — has accelerated hardship for small- and medium-sized businesses that rely on foot traffic into their shops. Before COVID-19, many companies were already struggling to compete against the likes of Amazon, which offers quick delivery and access to thousands of products online.

One German trade union urged workers at seven Amazon warehouses in the country to go on strike and advocate for better pay conditions.

But Oliver Bristowe, co-owner of Pets Purist, an animal care business in the English city of Manchester, said a boycott against Prime Day could negatively affect his business and thousands of others like it.

“A shop in a local community finds Amazon as a way to increase their sales as well as footfall through the door,” Bristowe said. “It’s not as black and white as saying: There are shops on [main streets] and ones that are online … we find customers don’t realize that they’re buying from an independent store [when they shop on Amazon].”

“A shop in a local community finds Amazon as a way to increase their sales as well as footfall through the door.”

Oliver Bristowe, Pets Purist co-owner

In the month leading up to Prime Day, Pets Purist was featured as an Amazon Storefront, and Bristowe said on that day, sales were three times higher than usual. Prime Day helps give his shop a 10% boost.

While some criticized Amazon for taking sales away from smaller businesses, this year the company offered a promotion to encourage people to shop small. For customers who spent $10 with a small business before Oct. 13, Amazon offered a $10 credit to use on any item over the two-day shopping period.

Amazon rolled out Storefronts in 2018 as a launching pad for small and medium-sized businesses to reach a wider audience using the company’s platform and logistics. Now, more than half the products sold on the site come from those smaller companies.

“It gives small businesses like us the ability to kind of just plug into the world’s best fulfilment network and a website, which gets traffic many times more than we could on our own website,” Bristowe said.

Pets Purist uses the company’s fulfilment service to handle shipping, returns and customer service related to orders generated on the site.

“It allows us to grow without the need to increase resources,” Bristowe said. “We can send our products into Amazon, and they’ll store them and then ship them out to the customer when they make an order, which to scale the way we have on Amazon, it will just be impossible as a small business.”

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