EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 2990 - January 30, 2013     3 of 6

An Interview with Amazon Webstore's Scott Pulsipher, Part Three

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In Part One of EcommerceBytes' interview with Amazon Webstore's General Manager, Scott Pulsipher provided an overview of Amazon Webstore, what types of sellers are using it, and how much it cost. In Part Two, he discussed how merchants drive traffic to their Amazon Webstore, and he provided some examples of successful merchants using Amazon Webstore.

Today, Scott Pulsipher discusses the payment methods Webstore owners can use, the minimum sales volume that makes sense for an online retailer to use Webstore, and more about the features provided directly by Webstore and from third-party developers.

I think people are really curious about what kind of minimum sales volume they need to be doing before they consider Amazon Webstore. What would your answer be to that question?

Scott Pulsipher: In fact, sellers of all sizes can be successful selling on Webstore. Typically we have found that those sellers who have some degree of savviness and do about, I would say $25,000 or more annually.

So, they have some experience working with comparison shopping engines and traffic driving tools, they have some experience managing customer experience and things like that. That's typically the ones we see do quite well on Webstore. But in reality, stores of all sizes, from those just starting out online to those that can do more than a million in online sales.

Regarding payment processing, you mentioned merchants can use Amazon Checkout, which means customers don't have to provide their payment information again when making purchases. But if a seller has their own merchant account, can they use that?

Scott Pulsipher: You can. On Webstore, sellers can either establish their own merchant account, so customers shopping on their website would create their own account with that website, and that would be typical, as you imagine, across the larger sellers. Or, instead of using a merchant account, they can use Amazon Checkout. So they have the flexibility to choose one or the other.

And it's just those two options, is that correct?

Scott Pulsipher: It's just those two options. Today we don't provide any other options.

The one benefit to speak about there is if you also use Amazon credentials for login as well as checkout, if it's a seller who uses Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) and Amazon Checkout, that seller also has the option to extend Prime benefits to those customers who are Amazon Prime members.

You would see this on certain sites where customers who are Amazon customers, you are shopping on a Webstore that also uses Fulfillment by Amazon, then you would in fact see that their items are available for two-day shipping for Webstore orders.

I'm curious if there are any new features that you're working on or that you've rolled out in the past six to twelve months that we should know about?

Scott Pulsipher: As you probably know, we can't speak about anything coming in the future, but I would share that Webstore recently launched our service in Germany. That was just launched at the end of last year. So Webstore is available in the U.S. and the United Kingdom as well as Germany.

We more recently extended the capability for those who utilize Fulfillment by Amazon can now ship Webstore orders in non-Amazon branded boxes. This is something that continues to add that value in the context of a fully white labeled customer experience powered by Amazon. That now can extend to the fulfillment services so those Webstore orders are also available.

I referenced the Amazon Product Ads integration; that was something we recently introduced at the end of last year to add additional traffic-driving capability for our sellers.

The other key thing is that we continued to extend extensibility features. What that really means is that it allows our customers to customize the information that may be required on an item. This may be related to custom handling terms or it may be related to specific personalized items around a product that is being ordered that is not part of the standard product information.

The same extensibility features allows a customer to do the print on demand or do the personalized products.

The print on demand feature is an example of our APIs that we provide that allows them to manage that specific personalized product offering but not having to manage millions of SKUs; they can do it by managing 700 personalized options but allowing them the personalized option from the order. Those are some good examples.

Another one I would highlight, we recently introduced the shipping service from Amazon, that is now provided to sellers on Amazon Webstore as well. Those sellers who don't use Fulfillment by Amazon but who want to leverage Amazon's shipping services and our relationships with our key carriers, those same services are also available to sellers in their Webstores.

In terms of third party vendors, do you have pages where Amazon Webstore owners can look up services and where vendors can promote themselves?

Scott Pulsipher: We do have pages that include solution providers and partners that are currently integrated with or partnered with Webstore to provide services to the Webstore customers.

Do you have any information on number of stores, sales volume and how it's growing?

Scott Pulsipher: We can't speak specifically about growth, we have for reference that we do currently power websites for tens of thousands of customers, but I can't be more specific than that.

Anything else you would like to share?

Scott Pulsipher: One thing that I would like to share may be extending the comments you were making about the shipping service and how important it is for online retailers and those looking to come online. We do believe that is one of Amazon Webstore's core differentiators - the turnkey nature of it.

It really is an all-included service. That's why we call it a technology and services platform, because it's not just the software and technology to build a website. It's actually the integrated capabilities that relate to payment processing, to fraud security, to identity management, to even things around the fulfillment integration that we provide by FBA, as well as the shipping service that we talked about.

It's an ability to truly provide customers, our sellers, the ability to rapidly design and launch their online business. It takes all that complexity out of the equation. Not to mention that it fully runs on Amazon's infrastructure. So there are no servers to buy and operating systems and web servers and all that stuff. It is really intended to provide the ease and speed and the expertise that Amazon can provide our sellers to be successful in their online business.

See Part One and Part Two of EcommerceBytes' exclusive interview with Amazon Webstore General Manager Scott Pulsipher. And learn more about Amazon Webstore here.


About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.


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