Amazon SCOE Conference Wraps Up in Seattle
By Skip McGrath
SCOE, The Sellers Conference of Online Entrepreneurs, is an annual conference billed as The Independent Annual Conference for Online Sellers who utilize Amazon as a sales platform. But the rest of us Amazon sellers just call it the Amazon Conference.
SCOE started in a living room almost a dozen years ago and then grew to a meeting of about 30 Amazon sellers and a couple of Amazon employees a couple years later. This year's event had 460 registered attendees, 30 vendors and 75 Amazon folks attending. More importantly, the event was so oversubscribed that there were 150 people on a waiting list who couldn't fit due to constraints of the venue. I think the most overheard comment I heard from sellers was "We need to move this to somewhere larger."
The first day, Friday, July 8th, was Amazon Day. It opened with a keynote speech by Joseph Sirosh, VP of Transaction Risk Management Systems who spoke on Selling Without Constraints: How Amazon is lifting Bottlenecks to Growth. His talk was well received and consisted mostly of an overview of all of Amazon's selling systems and seller offerings (Webstore, FBA, Seller & Buyer Trust, etc.). One clear point Mr. Sirosh made was how important independent sellers were to Amazon and how they are working hard to recruit, train and support more sellers.
After the opening speech, there were several breakout sessions where sellers could meet Amazon category specialists. (Electronics, Toys, Clothing & Accessories, CDs & DVDs, Books, etc.) From the feedback I heard from other sellers, these were important sessions because they could discuss issues and learn how to sell in their specific category. Later Amazon put on several workshops on topics such as Amazon Webstore, FBA (Basic & Advanced), Seller & Buyer Trust, Marketplace Web Services, Item Creation and Matching and Listings Management.
The next day, Saturday, was Vendor Day where most of the vendors who exhibited gave presentations on their products, which ran the gamut from inventory management and launching tools, shipping and postage services, wholesale sources, various book and product scouting tools.
During all three days, Amazon sent ten Seller Support reps who were doing private 30-minute meetings with sellers where they would look at your account with you and go over issues and problems you were having where a support rep could help. Virtually every seller I spoke with agreed this was a really valuable addition to the conference - and if anything, they wanted more time with the reps. My personal session helped me resolve a long-standing issue where Amazon was assigning my products to an incorrect category. The next day after that was corrected, those items started selling.
The last day included more vendor presentations and peer presentations by sellers, including myself, on topics such as Jumpstarting your FBA business, product photography, Future of Internet bookselling, the Amazon Associates Program, managing returns and A-Z claims, and customer communications secrets.
The final morning was a brunch attended by Dave Scott, Amazon's Seller Support Senior Manager, who graciously took in comments, questions and advice from sellers - both about the conference and what they want to see in the future, and issues Amazon needs to address for sellers.
Unlike similar events I have been with at eBay, the atmosphere was polite, businesslike and highly respectful. There is no question that, like eBay, sellers have issues with the platform and are not always happy with Amazon's decisions and policies, but there was no confrontation or raised voices - somehow Amazon has managed to build communication with sellers that actually works both ways.
Correction: The article originally said SCOE started 6 years ago.
About the author:
Skip McGrath is the author of numerous books and training courses related to selling on eBay and Amazon at SkipMcGrath.com and he also publishes a twice-monthly free eZine, The eBay and Amazon Sellers News.
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