Saturday, March 06, 2010

Amazon Webstore Targets Midmarket Retailers

From Eric Engleman's Amazon Blog on TechFlash: Last April we reported on a secret Amazon.com project code-named Vitamin C, which was working on new ecommerce services for retailers. The idea was to take Amazon's WebStore business, which gives smaller retailers simple tools to set up online stores, and add more customizable features — along the lines of what Amazon does for large enterprise customers like Target and Marks & Spencer.

Now Amazon is unveiling the new toolset — introducing a revamped Amazon WebStore with "new capabilities and a self-service toolset that improve flexibility and control over site design, branding, and catalog offering." Amazon — which has lost some big enterprise customers in recent years, and is about to lose Target — may be shifting the focus of its ecommerce platform business to more modest-sized retailers.

The new Amazon WebStore, for now, is available in beta version by invitation only to retailers who request to be included. According to Amazon, the new features include:

- Enhanced setup wizard makes it quick and easy to launch your online business.
- New design tools and widgets provide increased flexibility and control of site design and merchandizing.
- Improved catalog and inventory control for easier merchandizing without IT support.
- Unified interface to easily track and manage offers, inventory, and orders across channels.
- New pricing that scales with your business.

Amazon faces some competition from other ecommerce platform companies that are targeting small and mid-sized retailers, including ProStores (owned by eBay), MarketLive, Volusion, and others.

But Amazon likely sees this segment as a growth opportunity, as its large enterprise business loses some steam. Target, which has used Amazon to run its ecommerce site since 2001, recently said it will take back the reins of ecommerce operations next year. In recent years, Amazon has also lost Toys "R" Us and the Borders book chain as enterprise customers.

Interesting side note: I'm told the retailer "BH" pictured on the bottom right of the new Amazon WebStore invitation page stands for "Beacon Hill," the Seattle neighborhood where Amazon's current headquarters is located. Apparently "BH" is a fake retailer that Amazon uses to demo new features

6 comments:

Robin said...

Sounds right to me... I think Amazon is smart to target middle and small, instead of the giants. I found some confusion that Amazon will likely clear up in documentation. In response, we wrote a guide to help others set up a new beta WebStore. It's totally free to everybody at www.webstoreguide.info.
Thanks for your article, I hope you have more to say about Amazon and their targeting midmarket retailers.

Ernie Schell said...

Amazon has its own free guide as well at http://webstore.amazon.com/WebStore-Knowledge-Center/TrainingGuide_v0.9.pdf

There are reviews of Amazon's Webstore at http://zippycart.com/shopping-cart-ratings/amazon-shopping-cart-review.html

Rick said...

The documentation Ernie Schell refers to seems to be a 2-year old beta version of documentation for the OLD Webstore by Amazon, not the new beta Amazon WebStore. It really doesn't work for the new one. It's a nightmare.

Ernie Schell said...

Thanks for the clarification, Rick.

Amazon Webstore Designer said...

Amazon web store is designed for small and medium-sized business sellers who want to sell their products online to grow and evolve as a world-class e-commerce platform.

Sandy Mates said...

This was indeed great news. Amazon has always been fascinating its clients every now and then and this will surely impress those internet marketers who are still not using these services. If you want to know how an Amazon webstore can do wonders for any eCommerce website, then please do visit http://www.kaushalam.com/blog/ecommerce-development-blog/3-key-selling-points-of-amazon-webstore for more information.

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