Rumors surfaced at the IRCE Focus: Digital Design conference on Wednesday that Amazon will close its web-hosting service. Kevin Richards, CEO of Ventura Web Design, was speaking on a panel about the basics of ecommerce site design. He confirmed the news with EcommerceBytes on Wednesday.
“Ventura Web Design is a Solution Provider with Amazon Webstore, so we were in direct contact with Amazon’s Webstore team on this announcement,” he said.
Confirmation from Amazon was not forthcoming – spokesperson Tom Cook said the company was not commenting.
While the Amazon name and its millions of customers might have been a draw for merchants looking for a host, Amazon Webstore didn’t provide built-in traffic.
Mary Jo Kringas hosts her site Chocoperfection.com through Volusion. In 2014, she opened an Amazon Webstore assuming it would give her additional marketing on Amazon, where she sells her gourmet sugar-free chocolate. She quickly realized that was not the case. In fact, not only did she not gain additional exposure through Amazon.com, it cost her more. She said Amazon Webstore raised the cost to $75/month just to keep the store, and charged her a per-product cost on every item that sold through her Webstore.
Kringas also sells wholesale. Of the retail business she does, 15% comes from Amazon sales and the rest through her website, which gets traffic through advertising and from repeat customers.
She operated the Amazon Webstore shop for three months in 2014 before closing it. “The main marketing support that I wanted from Amazon in creating the Amazon Webstore was access to international sales on country specific Amazon stores,” she said. “The Webstore did nothing to help with marketing on the international front either.”
In 2012, EcommerceBytes interviewed Joshua Kluger about his Amazon Webstore-hosted store, Past Generation Toys. At the time, he was satisfied with it, but he told Internet Retailer, publisher of the IRCE conference, that he moved to a different platform 7 months ago, telling the publication the functionality was not up to spec.
Richards said “Amazon Webstore was a great tool for merchants who wanted to use Fulfillment by Amazon, but also maintain an independent website. Inventory management was very easy using this combination of services, and the price breaks from Amazon were appealing as well.”
But in 2014, Amazon doubled the prices for Webstore.
Richards said he expects Amazon Webstore to send an email within the next day, but his company started announcing to their clients as soon as they had the news. “We’re very thankful to Amazon for giving its Solution Providers and Merchants such advance notice. This early messaging shows how much Amazon values and respects the relationship that it has with retailers.”
And, he added, “It is important to note that sellers can still use many tools to sell on Amazon, including Seller Central, Product Ads, and FBA.”
We asked Richards what it says that eBay closed ProStores and Magento Go, Yahoo is spinning off Yahoo Stores, and now Amazon reported to be shutting its store-hosting service.
“This seems like a great opportunity to correct some of the confusion that exists on some of the blogs and social media,” Richards said. “Yahoo is not shutting down Yahoo Stores. In fact, they are doubling down their efforts, re-energizing their employees, and significantly reinvesting in both their existing Yahoo Merchant Solutions product and the new Yahoo Stores product. We work closely with Yahoo and we’re seeing an enthusiasm, from both management and engineering, that gives us incredible confidence moving forward. Existing merchants should be looking forward to what will quite possibly be the best years yet.”
Curious about Amazon Webstore? Here’s a guide to how it works.
Update: See this September 18th article for more information.