In an interview, Dr. Markus Schöberl, Director Seller Services at Amazon, explains why Amazon’s marketplace is so successful and what retailers should consider when making an appearance there.
>>> GFM News and E-Commerce Berlin Expo in conversation with Dr. Markus Schöberl, Director Seller Services at Amazon
What potential do marketplaces hold for manufacturers and retailers in your view?
Marketplaces offer entirely new opportunities for manufacturers and retailers. The central role of Amazon Marketplace is this: we give our sales partners access to millions of customers worldwide. It doesn’t matter if it’s a large or small business, a manufacturer or specialty retailer, an artisan, or an innovative technology startup.
From the beginning, we’ve worked hard to help our selling partners succeed on Amazon. We support them with various tools and programs to help our selling partners focus on what makes them special: their products and development.
Give us a tip, what should companies pay special attention to?
Be brave and take advantage of the new opportunities. An excellent example of this is internationalization: it has never been so easy and cost-effective to export goods, thus opening up new markets. In 2020, Germany’s more than 40,000 SMEs had access to hundreds of millions of Amazon customers worldwide. They generated €3.75 billion in export sales and sold more than 650 million products. This enables our sales partners to expand their range and become less dependent on local developments.
And even if the similarities between the target groups in the various nations are greater than their differences, a certain amount of market-specific research is still required. Customers in the USA, for example, write more reviews than customers in Germany. And they attach more importance to emotional product presentations, while German customers prefer technical and needs-oriented product descriptions.
We also support companies that are still at the very beginning of digitization with the free Quickstart Online knowledge portal. In 2021 alone, we helped more than 30,000 small companies on their way to online retailing through this initiative.
Dr. Markus Schöberl, Director Seller Services Amazon
What makes your marketplace the first choice for manufacturers and retailers?
Customers judge whether they are satisfied with a company’s service with every purchase or non-purchase. At Amazon, we are literally obsessed with meeting our customers’ needs. It’s also deeply embedded in our leadership principles – we call it customer obsession. As a result, we provide the best shopping experience for our customers, and that’s an excellent opportunity for manufacturers and retailers.
And the benefits don’t stop at a large number of satisfied customers. Our sales partners can use many tools that make it easier for them to build their businesses. One of these tools is shipping through Amazon (FBA).
Small businesses today don’t have to spend a long time building their own distribution structure and making large investments to grow. With FBA, we take care of all their:
- and shipping
In addition, we offer a variety of other services. For example, we translate hundreds of millions of product pages for small- and medium-sized businesses using machine translation technology.
A new tool is our Opportunity Explorer: It provides sales partners with insights into customers’ buying and searching behavior using aggregated data, enabling them to identify new product opportunities and product range areas.
Are there companies that have a perfect marketplace strategy?
There are probably more than I can count. One of my favorite examples is ACE from Bavaria: Klaus Forsthofer discovered a gap in the market in 2001 when a friend was stopped by the police on his way home from a party. He founded ACE and sold breathalyzers to private customers. What followed is an impressive success story: first, the company founded its own online store, then, true to the guiding principle of making life safer, Klaus expanded from breath tests to gas detection technology and protective clothing.
In 2012, Amazon became an important driver of further business development. Since then, the company has been selling its products throughout Europe with Pan-European FBA. And since 2015, ACE has even been selling to the USA. Today, the company makes about 25% of its 20 million sales on amazon.com.
Another good example is Reishunger from Bremen. Sohrab Mohammad and his university colleague, Torben Buttjer, came up with selling high-quality rice in 2011. It was a pioneering decision at the time because food startups didn’t exist yet. Torben and Sohrab traveled extensively, visiting farmers and mediators to find their six favorite rice varieties. They started by importing this rice in very small quantities and selling it out of their garage.
In 2013, they started selling on Amazon Marketplace. They first offered rice stoves, which they delivered along with a rice pack. This idea led to traffic, cash flow, and a new customer base. The team was able to reinvest the profits generated into growing their business. They focused heavily on content and brand building, which Sohrab says gave them a huge competitive advantage. And their success speaks for itself: today, the company employs about 100 people – including an entire team for Amazon – and generates tens of millions in revenue, with 30 to 40% of that coming through Amazon.
Want to learn more about where the marketplace market is headed? Then make a note of February 23, 2023 – on this date, numerous exhibitors and speakers will be waiting in Berlin for visitors to the E-Commerce Berlin Expo (EBE).