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Amazon CEO Opens Up about Marketplace Initiatives

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos opened up about some Marketplace initiatives in a letter to shareholders where he seemed more open than usual, discussing the company culture and its willingness to embrace failure.

For many years, Amazon has reported having about (and now “more than”) 2 million sellers. But on Tuesday, Bezos provided a statistic we don’t recall the company having shared before: “there are over 70,000 entrepreneurs with sales of more than $100,000 a year selling on Amazon,” he said – a fascinating statistic.

He added that those 70K sellers had created over 600,000 new jobs. That’s an average of almost 9 employees each.

He referred to the company’s Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA) program as a flywheel that “spins faster because sellers’ inventory becomes Prime-eligible – Prime becomes more valuable for members, and sellers sell more.”

He also revealed that cross-border sales are now nearly a quarter of all third-party units sold on Amazon.

Amazon built selling tools that empowered entrepreneurs in 172 countries to reach customers in 189 countries last year. “To make this possible, we translated hundreds of millions of product listings and provided conversion services among 44 currencies. Even small and niche sellers can now tap into our global customer base and global logistics network.”

Bezos told Amazon shareholders about some new programs.

  • “This year, we created a new program called Seller Fulfilled Prime. We invited sellers who are able to meet a high bar for shipping speed and consistency in service to be part of the Prime program and ship their own orders at Prime speed directly. Those sellers have already seen a significant bump in sales, and the program has led to hundreds of thousands of additional items that are available to Prime customers via free two-day or next-day shipping in the U.S., U.K. and Germany.”
  • “We also created the Amazon Lending program to help sellers grow. Since the program launched, we’ve provided aggregate funding of over $1.5 billion to micro, small and medium businesses across the U.S., U.K. and Japan through short-term loans, with a total outstanding loan balance of about $400 million.”

He referred to the program as “click-to-cash access to capital” and said, “We hope to expand Amazon Lending and are now working on ways to partner with banks so they can use their expertise to take and manage the bulk of the credit risk.”

Bezos’s letter is a fascinating read, you can find the letter on the Amazon Investor Relations website – be aware that if you click on the letter, it will download a PDF file to your computer which you can then read.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
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. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.