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Probed by FTC and DOJ, Amazon Invests in Tools for SMB Sellers

Small independent sellers make up 58 percent of all third-party vendors on Amazon. Now the dominant player in U.S. online retail is broadening the scope of resources available to its SMBs to help them grow sales and success, even as the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission are probing the Seattle-based firm.

Amazon vice president of small business Nicholas Denissen, reiterating the company’s commitment to supporting independent sellers described SMBs as “the lifeblood of the economy.”

“As part of our dedication to supporting independent retailers, we have thousands of employees around the globe who work hard on their behalf,” he added, “developing tools and services to help them grow their sales in Amazon’s stores. Ultimately, our success depends on their success.”

Last year, Amazon clocked 20 percent year-on-year growth in the number of SMBs that did more than $1 million in sales, and the 150 new tools and services its offering could inflate that figure even higher. The company said the new tools and resources are a fraction of the $15 billion it plans to invest in SMBs this year.

From inventory and fulfillment to reporting and analytics, Amazon’s offering smaller sellers a variety of ways to improve operations and insights, all with the goal of fostering bottom-line success. Sold by Amazon, announced earlier this month is an opt-in program, free of charge, that takes care of automatically adjusting prices to increase sales. Once they set their pricing threshold, sellers are guaranteed to receive that minimum “even if the product is sold to an Amazon customer for less,” the company said.

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Dashboards have become the de facto approach to aggregating actionable business intelligence insights. On the Product Opportunities dashboard, sellers can access analytics- and data-informed custom reports detailing “product opportunities that align with how they want to grow and scale their business.” Rather than growing their inventory and selection based on gut instinct, sellers can turn to the dashboard and reports to review purchasing trends and quantity discount requests to understand where the greatest opportunities lie.

Sellers in the U.S., U.K, France, Germany, Italy and Spain now have access to Target Inventory Level tools that Amazon says afford richer insights into stock under the Fulfilled by Amazon umbrella. Sellers who are able to maintain their inventory at suggested levels pay lower storage fees and have more items eligible for 1-day delivery, Amazon said.

In addition to U.S. sellers, SMBs in Australia, Europe, India and Japan can avail themselves of the more than 200 apps in the Amazon Marketplace App store that help with inventory management, price optimization and management and advertising solutions.

And Amazon fine tuned its Seller University with a new feature offering “personalized guidance” and tips on how to supercharge their growth.

Tim Day, SVP of the U.S. Chamber’s Technology Engagement Center noted how adopting digital technology “could unlock small business job creation and growth to the tune of 360,000 jobs and $140 billion over the next three years.” Small businesses in rural America generating revenues of less than $100,000 stand to reap the greatest benefits, he added.

Amazon’s SMB investments come on the heels of news reports that some disgruntled sellers are sharing their grievances with the DOJ and FTC which each have their own anti-trust probes investigating the online retail giant.