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Amazon Business research shows that small businesses are investing in digital commerce

Small B2B e-commerce businesses will face many challenges in 2024, but a recent Amazon Business survey shows that almost all of them have an overall positive view of the economy.

50% of survey respondents said they were worried they would be left behind if they didn’t invest in AI this year.

93% of U.S. small businesses are “hopeful” about the state of the economy this year, despite lingering concerns among many about inflation (50%), high operating and labor costs (42%), and supply chain distribution challenges (41%), Amazon Business was found in a Small Business Survey conducted among “450-500” small business decision makers.

The study found that to grow their businesses, these decision-makers are focusing on increasing their purchasing budgets (65%) and investing in purchasing tools (49%); 68% said there is “room for optimization in their shopping operations,” according to Amazon.

Artificial intelligence also addresses their concerns: 50% of survey respondents said they were afraid of being left behind in their market if they did not invest in artificial intelligence technologies this year. The survey did not provide more detailed information on the type of AI technology projects companies were considering. Research firm Morning Consult conducted the survey this year between March 20 and April 12; Respondents came from companies with annual revenues of $25 million and between 20 and 100 employees.

Consulting and cash grants for small online businesses

Amazon Business is highlighting the challenges and opportunities facing small businesses this month as part of its third annual Small Business Month initiative. In addition to the Small Business Survey results, Amazon Business this month launched the Small Business Success Studio and the 2024 edition of its annual Small Business Grants program.

Amazon Business—which launched in 2015 and has surpassed $35 billion in annual gross merchandise sales—offers Small Business Success Studio, a free “engaging, online, on-demand information resource that helps entrepreneurs “start, grow and/or scale their business” with the necessary knowledge in finance, marketing, procurement and operations.

“Dedicated to being a strategic growth partner, the Studio supports small business owners at every stage of their journey by inspiring, educating and creating community,” Amazon says.

The Small Business Success Studio also provides online videos highlighting the growth stories of Amazon Business contributors, including Allison Ellsworth, co-founder and chief brand officer of soft drink company Poppi, and Rodney Marshall, owner and founder of Aldevra, a distributor of equipment and services for catering and health care industry.

Amazon Business is offering a total of $250,000 in funding through its 2024 Small Business Grant Program, which it says is “designed to spur innovation and support the growth of small businesses that make an impact in their local communities.”

The grant program is open to existing Amazon Business customers with annual revenue of $1 million or less. Amazon will divide the grant funds among the grand prize winner, four finalists and 10 semifinalists.

Independent sellers average over $250,000 in annual sales

Amazon also released its 2023 Annual Small Business Empowerment Report this week, which covers the e-commerce activities of B2B and B2C sellers on Amazon.

In 2023, independent sellers on Amazon.com’s U.S. marketplace, including B2B and B2C sellers, employed more than 1.8 million people and collectively sold more than 4.5 billion products, averaging more than $250,000 in annual sales, Amazon says in a report Small Business Empowerment 2023 Report.

Amazon adds that more than 60% of Amazon’s sales on the marketplace come from independent sellers, most of which are small and medium-sized enterprises.

The company also noted in the report:

● US-based sellers have exported over 300 million products to customers in over 130 countries.

● More than 100,000 independent sellers have used one or more of Amazon’s AI generative product listing tools to develop product detail pages with product descriptions and images.

● Over 100,000 new brands appeared on the Amazon marketplace, and all brand owners increased sales by over 22% compared to 2022.

● In rural areas, including parts of Alaska, Kansas, North Dakota and Utah, independent sellers on Amazon collectively achieved more than 60% year-over-year sales growth. The five states with the fastest-growing number of independent sellers on Amazon were Maine, Nevada, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

● The five most frequently shipped product categories from U.S. sellers on Amazon last year were: Health & Personal Care, Beauty, Home, Grocery and Apparel.

Paul Demery is Digital Commerce 360’s editor covering B2B digital commerce technology and strategy. [email protected].

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