Online markets in the U.S. are often major targets of blame for shifting failures in our business economy. Amazon is a perfect example of this. We love the two-day shipping, but don't hesitate to hit 'share' when we see yet another article about how Amazon kills small businesses everywhere. Somewhere between the failure rate afflicting small businesses and the expanding numbers of online sales is the real truth.
First, The Numbers That Matter
There is a common misconception that Amazon steal jobs but if we look at the numbers below, it's easy to see that our assumptions may be harsher than the reality of what is happening. Not only is Amazon creating a new sales channel for small businesses, their warehouses and offices hire in the hundreds of thousands annually.
Number of Amazon Employees: 566,000
Number of Small Businesses Currently Selling on Amazon: According to the ecommerce giant, this number comes in at just over 1 million.
Percentage of Online Sales Making Up Small Business Totals: According to Small Business Trends sixty percent of small businesses selling in online marketplaces receive more than half of their online sales from sites like Amazon.
Online Sales Growth Over the Past Two Decades: 18,233%
Online Sales Growth in the US Attributed to Amazon in 2016: 53%
So What's the Real Truth?
I think the reality is that we see small businesses popping up every day and in high growth, hiring US employees because of online markets like Amazon, not in spite of. One of the best examples I've seen lately was on the news this past weekend.
This bike shop in a small town in Illinois could not have survived selling items via local business and mail-order catalog - ecommerce channels make it possible for them to thrive, and to get a classic piece of bicycle history in the hands of eager collectors and enthusiasts.
The Pivot Point You Can't Miss
Brian Semling of Brian's Toys, a former-Inc. 5000 winner specializing in getting people the toys they love, knows this pivot all too well. He saw the shift from mail-order to Amazon in 2009. His ability to pivot saved his business and local jobs in Wisconsin because of his foresight.
Over two-thirds (68%) of small business owners who sell a product online say that Amazon has positively impacted their sales. 2018 Insureon Poll
The Amazon Effect
While no one can argue the fact that Amazon has impacted the way we buy and sell, it seems less clear whether or not that impact is good or bad. Of course with every major pivot in our business economy, there has been a learning curve that has sent businesses over the cliff, but for the ones who made the turn, the future looks open for business. The sales channels create freedom, the options feel endless, and the barrier to making a sale anywhere in the country or world is so much less than it was even just 5-years ago.