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Not just for books

What’s the attraction of Amazon as a marketplace for manufacturers and suppliers? The commercial giant offers a fairly painless outlet for your goods, it’s true. But I have a friend who says that the main thing Amazon is selling is first position in Google searches. He has a point. You can spend thousands of pounds on advertising, getting your SEO right or any other promotional activity, in order to get people to your website. Or you could just put your stuff in Amazon’s store and use the fact that your items may then instantly appear right at the top of the Google search results for nothing. Sure, Amazon’s commission is substantial, but so is the cost of getting people to your own website.

Amazon can also do all of the fulfilment, of course. I’m sure some of you know small businesses who sort out their Amazon sales page, price and box up what they want to sell, and then wait for the Amazon van to come and collect it all. That’s the end of their sales process. I’ve even met someone who explained how he gets stuff made in China, shipped straight to Amazon, and they sell it for him. He never sees the product.

Of course, if you’re selling £500,000 bespoke widget-wobbling machinery, you’re not even going to have your own online store, never mind using Amazon to sell stuff. But I’m hearing some interesting tales of engineering and scientific businesses who are quietly using Amazon and even eBay as outlets to move quite technical products, including spare parts. It might be worth a thought.